Looking Glass

by Chris J

Justin's mom snored, which was one of the ten million reasons why he hated having to share a hotel room with her. And they thought he would get a worse night's sleep rooming with Lance? Not. Possible.

He threw the covers off and climbed out of bed, at least confident that she was asleep and wouldn't be pestering him to do anything else, like she had been all night. Do your homework, lay your clothes out, help me with the washing...it never ended. He wasn't even left with ten minutes to himself to hang out with Chris or anything. At the very least, he could steal these few moments for himself.

Justin pulled his jeans back on and found a T-shirt that he'd only worn once and dug around in his suitcase to try to find his headphones, so he could at least do something fun without waking her up. They were nowhere to be found, though, and Justin had vague memories of Chris taking them a day or two ago. 'Borrowing' he said, though in Chris's world that meant keeping them long enough for Justin to give up on ever getting them back and just replace them.

"Fuck," he swore softly, then just grabbed his wallet and room key and headed into the hallway to get himself something decent to drink. Something that wasn't milk and juice or some king of awful, awful protein drink.

Apparently he wasn't the only one sneaking out tonight.

He heard the door before he saw anything, and ducked into a crevice at the end of the hall so he wouldn't be seen. He was just getting a drink, sure, but Lou's people were death on them breaking the rules, when they were caught. If they were caught.

It was just Joey, though, Justin saw when he peeked around the corner. Joey, who was carefully closing the door behind him so as not to make a sound. Joey, dressed in a tight T-shirt and loose pants and very obviously trying not to be seen.

When the door clicked shut, Joey headed in the opposite direction, toward the stairs. On an impulse, without even getting his drink, Justin followed.

* * *

Justin was breathing quickly, not because of how fast Joey was moving -- he wasn't, not at all -- but because he was out on the street alone in a foreign city and he had no idea where he was going and any moment someone could discover he was missing and flip out and he could be in big, big trouble.

And still, when Joey turned down an unfamiliar alley -- unfamiliar to Justin, but obviously Joey knew where he was going -- Justin still followed, staying a discreet distance behind him and hiding in the shadows. He felt very sneaky, and liked it.

Joey came out the other end, behind some restaurant that Justin thought maybe they'd eaten at once, and it looked like someone was waiting for him. Or he didn't seem surprised to see Joey there, anyway, because he came walking up to him, a slight swagger in his step. A little cocky, and Justin knew cocky.

Justin lurked in the entrance to the alley, leaning against a stone wall that was probably older than his country. Joey reached into his pocket and pulled out something. Money, Justin figured; he didn't know what else it could be. The guy took the money and handed something back. Justin didn't see it before Joey stuffed it in his pocket, but he could make a really good guess what it was.

He really shouldn't have been there, he should have been at home in bed listening to his mother snore, not watching Joey buy drugs from a stranger in an alley behind a restaurant. But Justin wasn't going anywhere. He was tired of should have; he just wanted to be sometimes, be himself. As if he even knew what that was. And this seemed like step in the right direction.

* * *

After a brief conversation that pretty much had to be brief because Joey didn't speak all that much German and the guy obviously wasn't speaking English to him, Joey was on his way again, heading back out onto the main street. And thankfully not getting in a vehicle, because then Justin would have lost him and the last thing he wanted was to lose him.

Justin hated being younger most of the time, not because any of them treated him badly for it but because he knew there were things out there that he didn't know, that were kept from him. And he was ready to know, he wanted to know. He was on the cusp of...something, he felt it, he was feeling it all the time these days. There was something new for him right around the corner, and he wanted to be able to find it. He wanted people let him.

And let him or not, he was here now, chasing Joey around corners and hoping he wasn't being seen, because he knew the moment Joey saw him he would be marched right back to the hotel again, into his mother's waiting arms. Joey was cool, but he wasn't that cool.

Justin was hopelessly lost, and desperate to keep Joey in his sight even more, when they finally got somewhere. He didn't know where, but Joey stopped and Justin could hear noise and they were at a big building. Maybe a warehouse, or a machining shop. Justin couldn't read the sign above the door.

Joey spoke briefly to someone at the door, and handed over more money, and then he was slipping inside, disappearing. "Shit," murmured Justin, and with only a moment of hesitation, rushed up to the door behind him. "Uh," he said, fumbling for his wallet, but the guy at the door just gave Justin a slow once over and smirked and opened the door for him. No charge.

The sound washed over him as soon as he stepped inside, pulsing so hard it almost controlled the beating of his heart. Lights flashed and there were people everywhere, all around him, moving and dancing and all pressed up against each other. A hand brushed over Justin's arm, another across the back of his neck, and someone murmured something in his ear that he thought meant 'pretty' but he wasn't sure.

It felt really good.

It took a few minutes to spot Joey again, right in the thick of things. His eyes were closed and his arms were above his head and he was moving, dancing, swaying, being one with everyone around him. It was the only way Justin could put it. They moved together, maybe even breathed together.

Justin watched them, moving himself, he couldn't help it. Someone's arm came around his waist and he moved with them without even thinking, but his eyes were still on Joey. Always on Joey. He glowed in the lights and looked like the personification of bliss.

Then Joey was pulling someone into his arms, a boy, a beautiful boy, and they were kissing, and Justin watched even harder. Licked his lips and watched, breathless with anticipation, as Joey touched this boy, kissed him, danced with him, laughed with him, and never spoke.

* * *

They were there for what felt like hours, but Justin never got tired. Never wanted to leave, never wanted to stray from the orbit he was dancing around Joey. Finally Joey poured a bottle of water over his head, and kissed his boy goodbye, and was heading for the door. Nothing inside had slowed down; it felt like it could go on forever.

Joey was shaking his hair out when Justin slipped outside, but he didn't look back. Justin didn't deserve to be so lucky. He wasn't sure he wanted to be so lucky.

But again he followed, back through the streets, through the alley, along the same path to the hotel, a path that Joey seemed to have memorized. They'd stayed there before; Justin wondered how often Joey did this. He wondered if he did it all the time.

Justin counted to twenty after Joey went back into the hotel, then went inside himself, heading straight for the elevator. He hoped he didn't reek of smoke and alcohol and sex, and knew he did.

He pressed the button for the elevator and the doors opened immediately, and there was Joey, leaning against the back wall, eyes closed and head tilted back. His T-shirt was soaked with sweat and water and clung to his chest like a second skin.

Justin took a deep breath and tumbled over the cliff he had been poised on for so long. He knew who he wanted to be, and what he wanted, and he was looking at him.

For Pet, in thanks for Don We Now Our Gay Apparel 2003

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