"And fuck could that girl suck cock!"
"Justin!" I said, looking around and trying not to laugh. "We're in the middle of a shopping mall."
I just shrugged. I could have told him it was inappropriate, and that there would be hell to pay if we got recognized, but he knew all that. And he wanted to do it anyway. It was exactly--exactly--what I would have done, if I were him.
Luckily, I've never been Justin. I've never been the youngest one, never been the one expected to be a baby, a little brother, forever. If I wanted to go out, date, have sex, drink, be crude, I just did it and no one really hassled me. Not even the fans. For Justin...he'll never have that, but damn is he fighting for it.
I wonder if I'm the only one who lets him?
I ruffle his hair a little, because it's fun to piss him off, but he just swats my hand away absently. It's not like we really care today anyways. We'd learned long ago the painful truth that we're more likely to go unrecognized if we don't do our hair. And wear really bland clothing. Hell, I hardly recognized us, and I'm used to seeing us in the morning when we're really at our 'best'.
"I'm just sayin', I ain't never had a blowjob quite like that before," he muttered, his eyes grazing the displays of the shops we were passing by. I was thankful that his voice had lowered, but I was sad at the same time.
We could have gone in and shopped if we wanted to, motioning to Lonnie and Mike to move in closer from where they currently trailed behind us. But shopping was what usually ended up blowing our cover so we were content to wander today. We had another hour or so before we had to head back for our soundcheck and the rest of our pre-concert ritual.
I turned and looked at Justin for a moment, and grinned at the goofy half-smile that kept crossing his face at odd moments. "Did it make you kinda black out?" I ask him, "And make your whole body really sensitive for a while?"
"Well, not quite," he admitted. "Why?"
"That's what Chris says I do to him."
He turned to me and his jaw dropped for a moment before he snapped it back up again and trying to regain his too-cool-for-you expression. "Excuse me while I try really hard not to picture that," he said, walking a couple of steps away from me.
I smirked a little, knowing he'd be back in a minute or two. And probably picturing it in spite of himself, not that he'd ever admit it. I'd never make that kind of joke around JC--he'd have a harder time letting it go--but Justin bounced back from the shock more quickly than anyone else.
"Are you really that good?" he asked, lifting his head to look me in the eye.
"So I'm told," I said honestly.
"Huh," he said. "Almost enough to make me switch sides...but I think your facial hair would get old real fast. And girls just have much prettier lips." I just smiled indulgently.
"Guys," said Mike, coming up from behind us and putting on hand on each of our shoulders. "Time to get out of here." We looked up and saw there were a few girls huddled against the railing by the escalators, staring at us. Then someone started pointing.
Lonnie was already on the phone telling the limo driver where to meet us while Jay ushered us out the nearest side exit, past the pet store and the travel agency where, thankfully, no one gave us a second glance even though we were becoming more conspicuous by the second.
"Shit," said Justin as we hopped into the limo. "That sucks."
I think I was a little more easygoing about the whole thing. "Kinda hard to complain about people being fans," I said. "And we got over an hour in there without being spotted. How often do we get that, huh?"
He just shrugged and remained silent during the ride back. Now would have been a more appropriate time to talk about that blowjob, but the moment was gone. I was worried that he'd be in this foul mood all evening now.
"Is it too much to ask just to go shopping?" he asked finally. It certainly wasn't the first time. I think we've all voiced that question at least a dozen times, in our darker moods, and there was no counting the number of times we've thought it.
"Yeah, sometimes it is," was all I said. When I was nineteen we were still relatively unknown in the States. I went to the mall whenever I wanted, hung out in the food court and went to movies when I felt like it. At least I had it--normalcy--for a little while.
We were escorted through a back entrance that bypassed the worst of the crowds and took the elevator back up to our suites, still accompanied by our security guys. They were nothing if not conscientious about our safety. Justin immediately went into his room and shut the door leaving me alone in the hallway.
I put my hand on my own doorknob for a moment, then turned around and went to knock on Chris', directly across the hall from my own.
"Joey," came JC's voice the moment before my knuckles made contact. "Come here for a sec." He was leaning out of his hotel room--the next one down--and his voice sounded more urgent than I would have expected. I looked back at Chris' door for a moment and suddenly heard soft voices coming from inside. I frowned, then turned back to JC and nodded.
He let me into his hotel room and closed the door softly behind him. "What's the deal?" I said, noticing that even Busta had been evicted from Chris' hotel room and was currently curled up on JC's bed.
"Danielle is here," he said, sitting down on the bed and stroking the sleeping dog. "She showed up right after you guys left." His tone of voice indicated that it was something less than a social call. Which wasn't much of a surprise; she'd never shown up before without a week of planning and anticipation on Chris' part.
She'd never seen the two of us together; we'd only been fooling around with each other for a couple weeks now. She'd called him back later the same day he called her, though, and I'd thought that everything was cool. But what else could this be about?
"Were they fighting?" I asked him bluntly, forgetting he hadn't been a party to my stream of consciousness.
"Yeah, I think so," he confessed. "They were pretty loud for a while. Do you, uh, know what it's about?"
I shook my head. "No idea. I thought they were getting along fine."
I could see he was hesitant to ask his next question. "Do you think it's about this thing that you and Chris have going?"
I shrugged, trying to look nonchalant. "She knew about that even before you guys did. I don't see why she'd start having a problem with it now." But she must be, or why else would she show up like this? And fight with Chris? They never did that, at least not in front of us.
"I don't know, then," he said. "They quieted down about half an hour ago, I think. I couldn't hear much of what they were saying, even when they were loud."
"Did they, uh," I began. "Did you hear my name?"
"Yeah," he said softly. "I did. That's why I figured..."
I ran a hand through my hair and sat down on the bed with him, taking my turn to stroke Busta. Chris didn't let him up on the bed when I was in the room, which was good because that kind of thing can really kill the mood. We usually ended up in my room anyway.
"I really don't know, JC. I wish I did."
"Don't worry," he said unconvincingly, patting my knee briefly. Then he seemed to realize what he was doing and pulled away again.
I was surprised by that, so much that I don't think I was even able to hide it. "JC?" I said quietly. "What's that about?"
"No, I mean it," I said. "You're always touching us and being affectionate and stuff. Why stop now? What's different?"
"Well, everything's different now," he said helplessly. I think he wanted to explain himself better, but just didn't know how. "You're with Chris now."
"Okay first of all," I said, "I'm not with Chris. And second of all, neither one of us wants anything to change. JC, I like being touched and hugged. It's how I grew up."
He nodded slightly. "If you aren't with him," he pressed, "then what's going on? I mean...I thought..."
"Honestly, JC?" I said. "You wanna know?"
"Yeah, I wanna know."
"I don't know what we are. Neither does he. I mean, yeah, we get it on and we hang out and do other stuff but...I don't know if we're going together. Maybe we are. Maybe it's too soon to say. I dunno...it's still all kinda new."
"Fair enough," he said. "I guess that makes sense. You guys don't touch much in front of the rest of us. But when you do it's kinda...intense. Made me wonder if maybe touching was a private thing for you now."
"We don't?" I was genuinely surprised by that; I thought we touched all the time. Then again, around the other guys we tried to act like nothing was different than it had been before that fateful night at the club. Had we touched much before we started sleeping together? I couldn't even remember.
"You don't," he confirmed. "Except on the bus sometimes, but even then... I've been wondering a lot, since you guys got together."
"How you felt about one another, mostly." He looked at me. "You don't have to tell me, I'm okay with wondering."
"JC, I'd tell you if I could," I answered. "Gimme us a little more time."
"One more question?" he said, almost meekly.
I grinned. "Sure."
"Do you want to be 'with' Chris?"
"I...uh...yeah. Maybe. JC...I just don't want to have to decide yet. It's a huge thing to deal with."
"In more ways than one," he added. "Okay, Joey. I'll stop bugging you now."
I hated lying to him, even though I didn't realize I was lying until after I'd said it. I knew what my decision was already; I just wasn't ready to talk about it. Or even acknowledge it.
"Can I have my damn hug now?"
He laughed and hugged me tightly, rubbing my back a little. "It's gonna be okay, Joey," he whispered in my ear. "I'm sure it's nothing major."
"I guess I'll just have to wait and see," I said, resisting the urge to go back to the room and knock on the door, demanding to be a part of whatever conversation was taking place. They had been talking about me after all; I almost felt justified.
I couldn't get my mind off of it, what they might be talking about, what the problem might be. Which led me to think more and more about my relationship with Chris, and what it was, and what it was becoming. I looked over at JC and was surprised he was still looking at me. With questions in his eyes.
"It's just really nice to have someone to hold me, who's always here. And someone I can hold right back. Someone who isn't a thousand miles away most of the time. Someone who doesn't change faces with each new city. I never thought it would be Chris, but..."
He smiled. "You're lucky, you know that?"
"To have that option, you know, open to you. I mean, I don't date guys, and I don't think I ever will, but I've thought about how nice it would be to have a lover with me on tour, who knows--really knows--what it's like to be us. And who better than one of the guys to do that, you know? So you're lucky that you can feel that attraction and act on it."
"So you're not just saying I'm lucky to have Chris, then?"
He laughed. "I don't know about that, Joey. I think I'm glad you're the one who has to put up with him and not me."
JC's such a liar...he loves Chris as much as the rest of us do. But I can see where he's coming from--Chris is certainly a handful. But, well, it made me pretty happy to know he's my handful.
"So, if you had to pick one of us, then," I asked him, "who would it be?"
"If I had to pick one of you guys? To date? Oh, man," he said. He began stroking Busta again, thoughtfully. "I guess...probably Lance. He seems to be the most sane."
"Lance? Sane?" I argued. "Sure, if you can put up with the endless sarcasm and want to endure the activities he considers 'fun'."
JC shrugged. "Compared to the rest of you guys..." The phone rang and JC leaned back to answer it. "Hello....yeah....yeah, he is...okay....thanks, Chris....bye."
At Chris' name I reached out my hand for the phone, but JC hung up too quickly. I frowned a little and pulled my hand back.
"They've been looking for you," he told me. "Chris asked me to send you over to his room." I nodded and stood up, trying not to look as eager as I felt. He gave me another hug before sending me on my way. "Come back if you need to, okay?"
"Thanks," I said, stepping back out into the hallway. I took a deep breath, then walked the half-dozen steps it took to get to Chris' door. Danielle answered when I knocked.
"Joey!" she said brightly, pulling me into a hug. "It's been way too long. I hardly even got to see you the last time I came to visit."
"Uh, hi," I said, my confusion obvious to both of them.
"Joey, what's wrong?" asked Chris, coming to my side as I let the door shut behind me.
"Wrong?" I repeated. "Nothing, I just thought... JC told me you guys were fighting. And that it was something about me."
They looked at one another, then back at me. "Fighting?" said Chris. "No way, man. Now being lectured, maybe..." He grinned at Danielle, who gave him a stern look back.
"I wasn't lecturing," she said. "I was just making you think a little bit about what's going on. Which you both should do," she added, shooting a look at me too.
"Uh oh," said Chris. "Joey's turn for a lecture. Does that mean I can watch TV for a while?" he asked his ex-girlfriend.
She sighed indulgently. "Tell me again what I ever saw in you?"
"It was my irresistible charms," he said, pinching her cheek.
"Try again," she said, but she was laughing.
Me, I was still pretty confused. This still didn't explain where Dani had come from, or what she was doing here. Coming by just for a chat? With no notice? It didn't make sense.
"So...what are you doing here?" I asked Danielle, who was busy swatting Chris' hands away as he tried to muss up her hair.
"I had to come up here to meet with a designer," she said. "I realized at the last minute that you guys were going to be in town at the same time, so I called Chris up and he told me what hotel you were staying at. I'm sorry I missed you earlier--Chris says you left before he got a chance to tell you I was coming."
"The guys think we were fighting?" she said. "Maybe we should say something to them..."
"Later," said Chris, returning to me and wrapping his arms around my waist. I felt self-conscious for a moment, kissing in front of Chris' ex, but then I stopped thinking entirely and let him carry me away.
"Don't mind me," I heard Dani say, somewhere in the background. "I'm just going to freshen up. We can all talk in a bit."
I think I nodded, or grunted, or something. At least, I hope I did. But Chris was still kissing me and I didn't want to let go, for anything.