the pull

by Chris J

Request: I'd love a juni AU where they're both con-men trying to con each other out of something. Or into something. Mmm.

Justin thought carrying the X-ray around was the stupidest thing he'd ever heard... until the first time it worked. Not that he ever told his mama that, because he never said things like that to his mama, but he thought it. Oh, he thought it.

People were willing to part with a surprising number of things, when they thought you were two steps from your deathbed. They gave you sympathy when you said you were sick, but they gave you things that were a little more tangible when you could prove it.

He picked his places and times carefully, gauging the mood, gauging the crowd, looking for the right place and right moment. Today that place and time was just outside the arena an hour before the Nsync concert, when kids were streaming inside and parents were lingering outside. He found a nice, solid, visible pole to lean against and the game was on.

Justin coughed lightly, then fell against the pole and started gasping dramatically for breath.

"Hey, man, are you all right?"

"I'm fine," he said, making a point of wiping his mouth with the back of his hand and staying just bent over enough to shadow his face without hiding it. "Really, I'm okay."

"You sure? You don't look great."

When he looked up, Justin was surprised to recognize the young man he'd checked out when he scoped the place. Tall, blond, gorgeous. Scalper, he'd figured when he watched, but there were worse things.

"I'm..." began Justin, then screwed up his face a little so that he looked on the edge of breaking down without *actually* breaking down. Breaking down just freaked people out. "I just... just came from the clinic. They found a spot on my lung."

"Really." Justin knew skepticism, and that was skepticism. But Justin had handled skepticism before. "Is it serious?"

Justin coughed again, just enough so that it stopped short of alarming. "They think so," he said after 'catching his breath'. "But they gave me my X-ray so I can get a second opinion." He lifted his bag slightly, an indication of where to find it without forcing the guy to look. Most people didn't want to. "I hope they're wrong. It's just too soon..."

The man was silent for a moment, and Justin was worried he'd laid it on a little *too* thick, then he felt a clap on his shoulder. "I'm sorry to hear that," he said. "Wish I could do something to help."

'You can,' thought Justin, and said, "Really, that's not necessary--"

"You know," he interrupted. "I'm down to just one ticket for the show. Why don't you take it, give yourself a night out to forget about your troubles. And hey, even if you cough, won't do no harm. The screaming will drown you out."

Bingo. "Well that's... that's real nice of you," he said. "Are you sure?"

"Really, take it. The show's gonna start soon, you should get inside."

"Well... thank you. Thank you." A concert ticket wasn't cash, but it wasn't a bad haul either, and he'd been wanting to see this show. He waited until the other man was out of sight before marching right up to the gates, not a cough or a weak slump in sight.

"I'm sorry, sir, I can't let you in with this ticket."

"You what?"

"I can't let you in, it's not genuine. If you'll follow me--"

God damn motherfucking rat bastard pretty blond scalper.

Justin delivered an impromptu coughing performance. "I'm sorry," he said, leaning against -- clinging to -- a guardrail and preventing them from leading him away. "I had no idea. It was a gift from my--" He coughed again. "--sister. She wanted me to have a night out before I start treatment tomorrow..."

He'd barely finished talking before a security guard got onto a walkie talkie, and a few minutes after that he was being led up to a private side box. "We don't normally do this," said the guard, "but given your circumstances... well, have a good time, sir."

"Thank you," said Justin, and stretched decadently as soon as the guard was gone, surveying the elite crowd he'd be sharing space with.

"Well, fuck me," he murmured, because there was the damn scalper, leaning against the edge of the balcony and surveying the crowd. Justin sidled up to him and waited to be noticed. It didn't take long.

"Damn," said the man, raising his eyebrows. "I'm impressed. You pull the same thing at the door as you tried to pull on me?"

Justin grinned at him. "Something like that," he said. "Nice seats you got us here."

The guy grinned back. He looked even better when he did. "Whose X-ray you carrying around anyway?"

"Dunno," admitted Justin. "How much you pull in on forged tickets tonight?"

"Something over a grand," he said, and held out his hand. "Nick."


"So, Justin, you want to leave the screaming girls to their idols and get out of here?"

"Why not stay?" said Justin, gesturing at the otherwise empty box. Pulling the guy, he figured, was even better than pulling the ticket. But ending up them both was better still.

For LJ Ficlet Request Meme, for eponymous. January 22, 2004

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