"Does this shirt go with these shoes?" asked Lance, holding the shirt in question up to his bare chest and looking down at himself.
Justin looked up from where he was combing his hair. "Oh God, no," he said, making a face. Wear something darker. Please. That's painful."
Lance frowned. "I like this shirt," he protested. "I picked it out myself." He held it up again, briefly, then tossed it on the bed. "Fine, so tell me what I should wear."
"Why isn't someone picking something out for you?" asked JC, frowning. "This is a scheduled appearance. We have people who do this sort of thing."
"I'm perfectly capable of picking out my own outfits," he protested, pulling another shirt out of the closet. "I told them I'd dress myself tonight. A 'Dream Date With Lance Bass' isn't exactly a public appearance, anyway."
"With the amount of pictures they're going to be taking, it sure as hell is," said Justin, turning back to him. "Don't wear that either. It makes you look like a pansy. Uh...no offense, guys."
I was watching, bemused, lying on my front on the bed. I waved my hand to brush off the comment. Yeah, sure, it stung a bit, but it wasn't worth fighting over, and it wasn't like he was trying to hurt us or anything. Chris wasn't so easy on him.
"Maybe you'd better pass me that shirt, then," he said, reaching out his hand from where he was lying beside me. "'Cause we all know who the real pansies are, here."
"Fuck, I said I was sorry," said Justin, scowling.
"No, actually you didn't," said Chris. "But apology accepted. You're a smart guy, Just...you just gotta think before you talk sometimes."
"Sorry," he muttered, turning back to the mirror. "JC, pick out something for Lance to wear. We wouldn't want him to embarrass himself."
"Shut up!" said Lance, throwing the second shirt aside and reaching for a third. "There must be something in here that His Highness approves of." JC beat him to the closet and pulled out a deep blue shirt.
"Here, wear this," he said, handing it to Lance.
Justin turned around. "Yeah, that looks good," he said. "You'll knock her off her feet, Lancey-poo."
Lance snorted. "She's probably twelve. Yeah, I really wanna knock her off her feet, Just."
"You're right," he agreed. "That's more JC's style."
"Fuck you," said JC mildly, joining him at the mirror to make sure he was beautiful. "She was sixteen. And I didn't know until afterwards. So lay off, already."
"So, what, do you card 'em now?" asked Justin. "'Sorry, honey, you can't blow me 'til I see some ID'?"
"Shut up, Justin," said Lance. "Okay, how do I look?"
"Like a Teen Dream," said Chris breathlessly. "Ohmygoditslancebassithinkimgonnascream!" I smacked him on the back of the head and he just started laughing. "Seriously, man, you look good," he said, trying to control himself. I left my arm slung across his back after smacking him. You know...just in case he needed it again.
JC turned back to look at him, now that the shirt he'd picked out was actually on him. "Yeah, that looks good. How long 'til you gotta meet up with the camera crew downstairs?"
Lance looked at his watch. "Five minutes ago," he said. "And I've still gotta get my outfit approved. Fuck."
JC grinned a little. "So they didn't give you total control, then."
"Yeah, like that'd to that," he muttered. "Okay, I gotta go. I'll catch you guys later. And for heaven's sake, go to bed early tonight. We have a busy day tomorrow."
"Yeah, we will," said Justin, obviously having no intent whatsoever to do that. He never did...and he always looked and sounded great. It was enough to make you hate the guy, sometimes. "Have fun!"
Lance rolled his eyes as he left the room, already half jogging to make it on time. It was his turn to be a 'prize' for some lucky teenybopper. Two weeks ago it had been JC, and next week was Justin, which was like the Grand Prize in most circles of under-eighteens. Me and Chris didn't have to do them as much, but we'd still been through a few. It was hard to hold dinnertime conversation with someone who could barely make a coherent sound around you.
"I don't know why you're bothering to get dressed up," said Chris, directing his gaze to Justin who was still primping in the mirror. "You know you're going to be naked and sweaty in a couple hours anyway." I almost smacked him again, but Justin didn't rise to the bait so I let him off the hook. Justin's earlier comment had made Chris testier than he was letting on.
"But the look affects who I'm going to be naked and sweaty with," he said simply. "I don't want to end up with some skanky ho tonight."
"Get real," I said. "You could go out in a garbage bag and shower cap and still get some. And most of them are pretty skanky anyway...no offense." He glared at me, but again didn't comment.
I guess I was still a little pissed too. I'd never really 'identified' as a particular sexual orientation before...even knowing that I was bisexual meant just dating men and women, not Being Bisexual as some sort of way of life. Now, suddenly, all those derogatory comments were actually about me, and I felt it for the first time. And where the hell did he get off, anyway?
"Are you guys staying in tonight?" asked Justin, finally moving away from the mirror, satisfied with his appearance. Frankly, he didn't look all that different from when he started, if you ask me.
"We're going to dinner," Chris answered for us.
"Dinner?" said Justin. "Like a date?"
"Yeah," said Chris. "Like a date. Pansies are allowed to have dates, too, you know."
Justin sighed harshly. "Look, I'm sorry, okay? I wasn't thinking, Chris. Can you just let it go?" He sounded a lot more sincere that time than he had before. Angry, but sincere. I turned my head to see Chris' reaction; he was softening a bit.
"Guys?" said JC, trying to play peacemaker. "Is everything cool?"
"Yeah, we're cool," said Chris, nodding at Justin, both agreeably and questioningly. Justin nodded back, chewing his lip a little.
"So where are you going?" he asked.
"Just downstairs," I said. "We don't want people talking, you know?" I'd wanted to go out somewhere nice, but that had gotten vetoed pretty fast.
We'd finally told management about us, earlier today. It had gone better than expected, but for the purposes of the relationship we were pretty much under house arrest. Still, they needed to know. If anything ever went that wrong, we'd need them to do some spin doctoring, and fast. I anticipated many more lectures on proper conduct, but for tonight I was just going to go enjoy my dinner with Chris in the hotel restaurant, trying to ignore the fact that we were surrounded by security and probably a PR person or two.
"Yeah," he agreed. "Sucks. So, C, what are you getting all dressed up for? You got a hot date, too?"
He shook his head. "I'm going out to dinner with Lisa again before we leave town tomorrow."
"Lisa, the fat chick?"
"Justin--" I began, warningly, but JC cut me off. One day that boy was really gonna say the wrong thing, and he wouldn't be so easily forgiven.
"She's not a fat chick," he said. "And it's nice to hang out with someone other than you guys, once in a while. She actually has personality."
Justin laughed. "JC...have you listened to yourself? 'She's nice. She's a good conversationalist. She has personality.' Is it any wonder we think she's a dog?"
"Whoa, speak for yourself," I said quietly. I wasn't about to even try and warn him this time; the guy was digging his own grave. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Chris nod in agreement.
"I've had about enough," said JC. Now, JC's a pretty serious guy, so his tone doesn't always mean what you think it means, but this time he sounded positively deadly. "You've never even seen her, not that it matters. She's just a friend anyway."
"Yeah, I wonder why," said Justin.
"Why? Because trying to maintain a relationship on the road is pure hell, that's why. Not that you know anything about relationships. Have you ever even slept with the same girl twice?"
I didn't even want to breathe too loudly, for fear of drawing either of their attention on myself. My hand around Chris' waist tightened as I drew him closer to me. If Justin didn't back down now, JC was gonna blow. And JC blowing up was a rare and frightening sight.
Justin just looked at him darkly. "Yeah," he said unconvincingly. "I have."
"So you know I'm right."
"I know you're right," he agreed. "Sorry." He jerked her eyes away from JC's face and turned toward the door. "Well, I'm outta here. Don't wait up."
"Have fun," said JC, and waved him out the door.
I waited a couple moments before doing anything, still a bit fearful of how he might react. Usually I would be right in there, cheerfully getting everyone to back down, but not this time. And usually not when it was between JC and Justin. The guys had been great friends for years, but when they got pissed at each other it was best to just stay the hell out of the way.
"I'm probably going to be back early," said JC finally. "If you guys aren't...uh...'busy' after dinner, give me a call or something and maybe we can catch a movie."
Chris and I had already been 'busy' once today. That didn't mean we weren't going to be again, but it greatly improved our chances of wanting to do something else. I looked at Chris and he shrugged.
"With JC along, it would give us a chance to get out together," he admitted quietly. "That might be nice."
"Yeah," I agreed, giving him a quick kiss on the lips before turning back to JC. "Give us a call when you get back," I told him. "We'll do something."
"You sure?" he asked, giving himself one last glance in the mirror before moving towards the door.
"Positive," I said, smirking a little.
"Yeah," said Chris, with his usual amount of tact. "There are only so many times you can do it, man, and I think we'd already reached that at three this afternoon."
JC blushed an unflattering shade of pink and just nodded. "Okay. I'll, uh, call you later."
"Bye," said Chris, smiling broadly.
"You jerk," I said once JC was gone. "You didn't have to say that to him!"
"Oh, come on, Joey, he was just asking for it. You aren't embarassed, are you?"
"Maybe a little," I admitted. I didn't really want to get into it, though. "So you really think you can't get it up again today?"
"Ask me again after the movie," he said, kissing me on the nose and getting up off the bed. "Right now we have a dinner to go to."