On the Bus 7
by Synchronik

Justin slid out of his bunk into the cool dark air of the bus lounge, bringing his blanket with him. Behind their curtains, his bandmates were sleeping, but he wouldn't be sleeping for a while, not after a show like that. It had been so . . . he didn't have words for it. JC would know how to describe it, but JC was asleep too, in the back, so Justin had to settle for his own half-articulated feelings of amazement.

He sat on the couch, wrapping the blanket around his shoulders and leaning up against the window. Outside the world was rushing by. Up front one of their many drivers was listening to the hum of a country music station, hardly audible above the purr of the wheels. Here, now, Justin felt small and insignificant, incapable of being that guy on the stage that everyone had screamed for, and cried for, and wanted to marry, or fuck, or whatever they wanted to do for him. He had wanted this, but he had never really expected it, and he couldn't complain about it, not really, not even to the other guys who would understand, sure, but would not appreciate his complaints.

He sighed.

"I'm worried about you."

"JESUS, Josh!" Justin clutched at his blanket, compulsively. "You fuckin' scared the hell out if me!"

JC, sitting on one of the seats in the corner, may have smiled, but it was too dark for Justin to really tell. "Sorry," he said.

"What are you doing up?" Justin asked. It was too early or too late for JC to be up. He was a notorious sleeper, and usually after a show he was dead to the world for at least ten hours.

"I'm worried about you."

"Me?" Justin smiled. "I'm great. Why?"

"You've always been famous."

Justin squinted at him in the dark. "What are you talking about, Josh? I've been famous for exactly the same amount of time that you've been famous."

"Yeah." JC slid off his seat and sat down on the couch next to Justin. "But it's different."

"Whatever." Justin smiled. JC's arm was warm against his side, and Justin shifted so that they were closer, hoping JC didn't notice.

"No, Just. Really."

"Really. You should know, JC. We were on the Club together, and now this. Exactly the same."

"Not exactly, Justin."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"How old were you, Justin?" JC's voice was louder now, a little desperate sounding. It made Justin nervous. "How old were you on MMC? How old were you in Germany? How old are you now, Justin?"

"Sounds like someone is having a mid-life crisis," Justin said. He reached out to shove JC's shoulder playfully, to do something, anything, to lighten the mood. JC's hand folded easily around his wrist and yanked him forward until he was leaning across JC, almost face to face with him. He could smell JC's milky breath on his face.

"I mean it, Justin. I know how it is for me, I know how it is. And you. I can't imagine what it's like to be you. I was Josh before I was famous, I was a kid, but Justin, what were you?"

Justin caught his breath.

"I . . ." he sighed. "I. I don't know."

JC's smile was close to him, and unbearably sad. "That's why I worry."

Justin sighed, tipping his head forward until it rested against JC's. He closed his eyes. "So," he whispered. "Now what?"

He felt JC's shrug. "I didn't get that far. You want a hug, or something?"

Justin nodded. JC hugged him, unbearably tight at first, and then normally, a normal JC hug, complete with a hand running up and down his spine. Justin looped his own arms around JC's neck and let them hang there, afraid to let go, afraid not to. He pushed his nose against JC's throat and breathed in, smelling the too-familiar scent of sweat and JC's cologne, and sleep.

"Hey," JC murmured.

Justin pulled back, ducking his head. Things had gotten a little . . . serious, or something, and he wasn't sure what to say, or how to look up into JC's face without doing something really . . . He thought he might kiss him.

"You okay?" JC asked.

Justin nodded. He felt JC's finger under his chin, and then they were kissing, just once, softly and so quickly that Justin would have to think later to know whether or not he had dreamed it.

"Okay." JC leaned away. "Go back to bed, then."

"Okay." Justin stood up. "What about you?"

"Nah. I got things to think about."

Impulsively, Justin grabbed the other man's shoulders and kissed him again, harder, so that he wouldn't have to try to remember. Then he stepped back. He thought his hands might be shaking.

"Think of me," he said. JC nodded, speechless.

Justin went back to bed.

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