Me and Chris skipped the showers at the pool in favor of the one in our room, stripping off our wet bathing suits and T-shirts and stepping into the warm stream of water together. Normally showering together meant we would spend more time getting off than getting clean, but we were both a little worn out from an afternoon in the pool. That and we'd already had that long, hot shower this morning. Of course, a little groping and a few stolen kisses were inevitable.
We stepped out about ten minutes later and toweled one another off slowly. I was tempted to fall into bed with him right then and there, skipping dinner and whatever other plans the guys might have come up with, and hold and touch and feel him for hours, but he quickly dressed after drying off so I reluctantly did the same.
Chris had a bit of a strange look on his face--he'd had it ever since we'd left the pool--and I didn't know what to make of it. What I did know was that it was something that was distracting him from me--distancing him--and that reason alone would have made me want to get to the bottom of it.
Before I could ask, though, the phone by the bed rang and he went over to answer it. "Hello," he said, stretching across the bed on his stomach to reach the phone. I sat down next to him and rubbed the lower half of his back under his shirt as he spoke. "Oh, hey JC," he said, turning his head to smile at me briefly, as if giving me permission to continue.
I loved the feel of his skin after a hot shower, so warm and soft and just slightly damp. I moved further up, to his shoulder blades, then drew my hand down in long strokes over his back and sides before going back to making small circles with my palm.
"Yeah, we'll be right over," he said, right before hanging up the phone and turning his head to me again.
"The photo proofs are here," he said, rolling himself over onto his side and raising himself onto one elbow. "They left copies with JC for us to go through when we can. I figured we may as well get it over with, while the other guys are there to second guess our choices."
I rolled my eyes as I moved my hand around to stroke his stomach lightly. "May as well. Last time I did it when you guys weren't around and--"
Chris put a finger to my lips and grinned. "I remember, Joey. Come on, let's go." He sat up and kissed me firmly. There was still a bit of distance there, but not as obviously as there had been before. Maybe he just needed to get his mind off things. One of the other guys had probably said something to piss him off and he needed a little time to get past it. It certainly wouldn't be the first time.
"Just let me find a shirt," I told him, taking my hand back and going over to the closet where Chris had hung up my things. "JC won't let me live it down if I start wandering the halls shirtless again."
"I like you shirtless," he complained, but he didn't try and stop me, knowing how right I was. Instead, he walked over and picked something out, laying it across my shoulder and kissing me again.
"Well, then, I'll have to take it off later when we're alone," I promised him, slipping into the shirt and buttoning it quickly. "The sooner we get this done the better. Are these from the shoot with the animals and stuff?"
"I think so," he said, but sounded uncertain. "Or the one where they used that psychedelic backdrop, like they thought we were the Beatles or something."
"Oh yeah...we did that one last week too, didn't we," I mused. It hadn't been a long one, and we'd squeezed it in between a rehearsal and a show, which is probably why it didn't stand out in my mind. "Well, I guess we'll see. Coming?"
"Not yet," said Chris, pinching my ass as I stood in front of him to open the door. "But I have high hopes for tonight." I reached around to smack his thigh fondly before leading him out into the corridor and down around the corner to where JC was staying.
"Hey," said Lance, barely looking up as he held out two sheets of slides to us. "The lovebirds have arrived." That distant look crossed Chris' face again as he took one of the sheets, moving over to the corner of the room with it and sitting down. I shrugged and took the other, the one of my individual shots, and sat down on the bed next to Lance, leaning up against the headboard and tucking my socked foot under his thigh comfortably.
Grabbing a pencil, I marked off the ones I thought we should use. I was right; they were the animal shots. Some of them had stuffed animals, some of them had us acting like animals, and some had this funky jungle backdrop that Chris had fallen in love with. The backdrop didn't really translate well--clashing too much with the wardrobe--but there were still some printable ones.
I felt a tug at my pant leg and looked up to see Lance holding out his sheet to me, pointing at one of the shots. "What do you think?" he said, asking me for a second opinion. "Do my cheeks look too fat in this one?"
I looked closely. Lance was always pretty self-conscious about that; he had really grown into his looks, but it had taken him a while and he was conscious of a lot of the little things that he used to hate about himself. "No," I said. "You look good. The little girls will be swooning." I handed it back and grinned at him as he groaned and shook his head.
I finished going through my sheet and looked at it critically. "Chris," I called. He looked up at me, letting his own sheet fall to his lap. "You wanna trade with me when you're done?" I asked. "I'm not sure of some of these."
"Sure," he said. "Just gimme a minute, here." He turned back to his own proofs, and I set mine aside.
"Who's got the group shots?"
"I do," said Justin, holding up the first of the three sheets. "I just started. You can have 'em when I'm done." He went back to examining the photos, making faces as he went, and marked a few of them as approved. Someone from marketing would look over these when we were done, of course, but when it came to photo shoots these days we were all pretty much in agreement about what was good and what just shouldn't be shown.
"Shove over," said Chris, and I suddenly realized he'd moved to my side as I'd been talking to Justin. With a smile, he pushed against my hip, and I was relieved that he'd decided to close that distance again. I untucked my foot from under Lance and moved over so that Chris could sit next to me. He finished going over his photos, then picked up my sheet as he handed me his.
Chris has this habit of making funny faces while he's getting his picture taken. It's adorable to watch while it's happening, but it usually means that he has less than half as many pictures turn out as the rest of us. This time, however...this time he'd actually managed to sit still for most of it. There were a few kissy face pictures that wouldn't be showing up in any teeny mags any time soon, though, and he'd made some weird-ass faces when he was growling that didn't exactly become him. I didn't think I would mind seeing them at some other time, though.
I glanced over at Chris, who was studiously examining my pictures, and blushed a bit, thinking about when exactly I might like to see him growling at me.
I added one picture that I thought he could probably use and set the sheet aside, knowing that at least one of the other guys would probably go through it when they were done with their own...or whoever's they were currently looking at.
"Oh, wow," said Justin out of the blue, sounding a bit awed. "Oh wow...we definitely can't use that." He paused what he was doing for a moment, setting the pencil to the side as he continued to look at the picture.
"What do you mean by 'oh wow', Just?" asked JC, finishing with the sheet he was looking at and putting it aside, on top of Chris'.
"I mean..." He shrugged and handed the sheet over. "Take a look for yourself." JC took it and looked at the picture Justin pointed out to him, raising his eyebrows.
"Wow is right," he said quietly as Justin sat back down in the chair and picked up the next sheet. "Joey...I think maybe you'll want to see this."
"See what?" I asked, leaning over towards the side of the bed he was sitting on and trying to catch a glimpse of the picture in question. Wordlessly, but with a small smile, he handed it over.
When we get in front of the cameras to do a photo shoot, we put our game faces on and keep them there and that's just the way it is. We offer false, toothy smiles to our fans to pin up on their walls and try not to leave any parts of our real selves behind. But, once in a while, the camera captures something we never intended it to.
In the middle of the photo, JC, Justin and Lance were just goofing off like we all do when we're doing the group shots and we start to get punchy, but from opposite sides of the group, somehow, me and Chris had managed to capture each other's eyes, and that look...well, the other guys might as well not have been there. Everyone may as well not have been there.
The rest of the world may as well not have existed for all the attention we were paying to it. My breath caught in my throat as I looked at it, the first real picture of me and Chris that I'd ever seen, and I couldn't think of anything to say.
"Like I said," offered Justin, looking up from the photos in his lap and giving us a warmer smile than I'd seen in a while. "I don't think we'll be letting that one out."
"I...uh...yeah," I said. Chris had been looking at the picture over my shoulder, and reached out to take my hand, squeezing it gently and caressing it with his thumb. "That would probably be...bad."
I felt fingertips on the side of my face, and turned towards Chris as he gave me a soft kiss. I closed my eyes and let our lips linger, pretending again that we were all alone, that nothing else existed. Justin cleared his throat.
"Maybe," he said, when he'd gotten our attention, "we can get a print made up of it. I mean, just for you guys?" He looked vaguely embarrassed, as though he'd intruded on an intimate moment, and when I looked around I saw JC and Lance discreetly looking away from us.
"That would be nice," I said, quietly, looking at the photo proof again. "Thanks, Justin."
I'd had enough of the pictures, and gently nudged Chris to indicate I wanted to go. I doubt that any prompting had been necessary though; he was certainly quick enough to get off the bed. "We'll, uh, go with whatever you guys think on the group shots. I think we're done with ours now."
JC gave us a knowing smile. "Go," he said. "We'll talk to you later."
With one last wave to the guys, we were out the door.