Pattern of the Whole No. 15: I Look Like a Painter
by Synchronik

I Look Like a Painter
by Synchronik

"I look straight in the mirror
and watch it come clearer.
I look like a painter
behind all the grease."

When I Fall
Barenaked Ladies

The kiss was beautiful, even though it shouldn't have been. They were in one of the dank passages under the bleachers, where everything echoed and it was never entirely dry. Justin hadn't meant to follow them, hadn't meant to be anywhere near them, really; he'd just been walking, strolling along, hands in his pockets, needing to kill time before the soundcheck and wanting to be alone. He'd looked up in the gloom under the bleachers and there they were.

It happened so suddenly that Justin found he couldn't look away in time. They were walking along talking, although the words were inaudible, first Lance's low melodious voice, then Joey's higher sweeter one. They walked close, as if they didn't have a whole wide hallway to spread out in. Their hands brushed, and Justin saw Lance flinch in reaction. Joey affirmatively took his hand then, and spun him in a neat little half-turn and put one hand on his waist. They were standing in a patch of sunlight that had managed to slide through the bleachers; Lance's hair shimmered in the light. It was like every movie kiss Justin had ever watched. Lance's head tipped back, Joey's inclined to his, his hand on Lance's hip.

"Whoo!" he called at them. "Get a room!"

They jerked apart. "Justin, you jerk!" Joey called back, but he didn't mean it; his voice was affectionate. Lance waved at him a little, one hand near his face. He waved back. Then they kept on walking, away from him, hands bumping with the rhythm of their steps.

He decided that he needed to be alone, after that.

JC found him. He knew it was JC by the way the door opened, easing open just a bit at first and then the rest of the way when Justin didn't say anything. "J?" he said, just a little hesitant.

"Yeah, C," he said, grabbing a Kleenex and swiping at his nose. "What's up?"

"I came looking for you," JC said. He sat down next to Justin on the couch. "You okay?"

Justin smiled a blurry smile. Only JC would ask that question when he had obviously been crying. "Yeah," he said.

"Yeah." JC nodded. "I'm, um. I'm not sure what to do here," he told Justin. "You're crying."

His sympathy caught Justin by surprise, not because JC was normally unsympathetic but because he'd forgotten that JC didn't work like other guys, even Chris, who would pretend that Justin wasn't crying and try to talk about the show or basketball. It made him start crying again.

"Oh, Justin," JC said. "Oh sweetheart." He put his arm around Justin's shoulders and hugged him close. "Go ahead," he whispered into Justin's ear, and Justin did, hunching his shoulders and pressing his face to his hands to catch the hot tears. JC let him cry for a minute or two, then pulled him near. JC's fingers in his hair were soothing and admonishing at the same time.

"You're okay," he told Justin. He kissed Justin's forehead.

"I'm okay," Justin repeated. He knew that, eventually, it would be true.

[ N o. 16: Some Comfort ] [ email ] [ fiction ]