the Whole No. 16: Some Comfort
"You're in the arms of the angels.
"When are you gonna dump that loser and realize that I love you?" Chris asked. Joey was sitting at the drum set, tapping one of his drum sticks on the rim, idly. He'd been banging around up there for a good fifteen minutes, but he wasn't really playing because Lance was on the stage with Alan the pyro guy, practically clapping his hands with joy. Lance got excited around pyro. Maybe too excited, Chris thought, but it wasn't his problem. Maybe he should get some sparklers for Joey, though, just to get the ball rolling in the bedroom.
"Hey, Chris," Joey said. He tapped the foot pedal.
"So, you have sex with him, yet?"
"God." Joey caught him with one arm and dragged him down, squishing his face between his forearm and his meaty bicep. Chris hated that he always forgot how fucking strong Joey was. He should write himself a note or something.
"So, that's a no," he mumbled against Joey's arm, and Joey released him.
"Fuck you, man. Like I would tell you."
Chris rolled his eyes. "Lance would," he said. "Lance tells me everything."
"Lance tells you shit. And how do I know that? Because Lance tells me everything." Joey tapped Chris on the forehead with a stick.
"Uh huh." Chris looked around. It was a beautiful day, it would be a beautiful night, it would be a great show, but he hated this part, the part where there was nothing to do but talk to people about things other than the show. JC and Lance liked to talk about the show. Lance would be with Alan for another twenty minutes at least, wondering if there was some way to make the explosions bigger without actually taking out some of the girls in rows one through three. And Justin, Justin *loved* to talk about the show, but more in the abstract. He liked to discuss the theory of what they were doing, what messages they were trying to get across to rabid adolescents. He'd read a magazine article, once. Chris had given it to him. Some things there was no taking back.
"I haven't. We haven't," Joey said. Chris blinked at him.
"Oh," he said. Joey sighed, and looked at Lance again with something like longing in his eyes. "Oh!" Chris said. "Sorry."
"No, it's just. We're. It's cool."
"Cool." Chris nodded. He hadn't thought Joey would actually tell him. Not on purpose, anyway. He squinted into the sun. A truly fine afternoon.
"Justin saw us," Joey said.
Chris blinked. "Saw you," he said. He glanced into the wings, but Justin wasn't anywhere he could see. That was. He considered going to find him, just slapping Joey on the shoulder and going to find Justin right away -- Joey would understand -- but it wasn't like Justin was going to off himself or anything, and as much as Chris hated to admit it. Well. The kid had done it to himself.
"Saw you what?" Chris said.
"I. He. Um."
"You kissed him, didn't you?" Chris asked, knuckling Joey on the head. "You kissed him, you kissed him. You kissed Lance!"
Lance turned around, hearing his name. Chris waved, and made a smooching face. Lance shook his head. His smile was wide and sunny and mostly not directed at Chris at all.
"Yeah," Joey said. Chris hadn't seen his expression before, the strange combination of happiness and misery. It was. Chris hated it.
He slung his arms around Joey's neck, and pressed his nose under Joey's ear, smelling the salty Joey smell. He planted a kiss there. "Good for you," he said.
"Yeah, I." Joey sighed. He didn't seem happier.
"Look," Chris said. "Don't make me kick your ass and steal your boyfriend."
"He's not --"
Chris pinched Joey on the arm, hard. "What did I just say, you fucker?"
"Jeez!" Joey rubbed his arm. "No pinching, ass!"
Chris stepped back and slapped Joey on the shoulder. "Be happy, man," he said.
Joey glanced at him, then stared at the drum sticks in his hands. "I am," he said. It was hardly a whisper, but that was cool. He meant it.
"Good deal," Chris said. Then he went to find Justin.