The Surrogate Remix by Trixie
Sometimes Lance really hates Chris and Justin.
He feels bad about it, but sometimes when he watches them together, all he wants to do is knock their fucking heads together and make them realize just how lucky they are. But maybe, he thinks, he never should have said anything to Joey about it.
Justin has been talking about the trip he's planning with Chris for two days now. "And it was designed by Robert Trent Jones, which I know means nothing to you losers but trust me, that means it's good. And there's great surfing, and the rooms open right onto the beach—"
"The rooms?" Joey asks, leaning forward toward Justin. "You mean you're not sharing?"
"Joe," Lance says, squeezing Joey's calf, which is resting across his lap.
"Why would we share? I mean, what if I, you know, hook up with somebody?" Joey laughs and Justin throws a pencil at him. "What? It's been known to happen. Or, or Chris could."
"Yeah," Joey says and looks at Lance with a grin. Jesus, they really are the two most clueless guys on earth. "Right."
"Then stop grinning at each other like idiots. Assholes."
"Well," Lance finally breaks in, "it just seems a little strange that you'd have separate rooms on this big honeymoon trip you're planning."
"What?" Justin asks. "This big what trip?"
Joey laughs and turns to Lance. "See," he says, "see, I told you. He's fucking clueless. And Kirkpatrick's worse. I told you we'd have to say something."
"Wait," Justin says slowly. "This isn't a big—it's just a vacation. Chris and me are just going on a vacation. That's all. There's nothing going on. Nothing."
"Sure," Joey says. "Yet."
"I mean, we were just kind of wondering," Lance says, "if maybe this fabulous room right on the beach—"
"Rooms," Joey adds.
"Oh, excuse me. We were thinking maybe these rooms on the beach happened to feature, oh, I don't know, an old-fashioned bathtub big enough for two."
"And maybe one or two or twenty-six vanilla scented candles," Joey says. "A little Al Green on the boombox."
"Let me be the one you come running to," Lance sings, and he can feel Joey laughing next to him.
"No!" Justin nearly screeches. "Why? Why would you think that?"
"It's just, you've been talking and talking about this whole trip, and it just sounds, I don't know. Kind of. Romantic," Joey says.
"We're going to golf," Justin says. "We'll be golfing. God, if that's your idea of romantic, no wonder Kelly's always yelling at you." Joey shrugs. "And Lance. I can't believe you think golfing is romantic."
"Well, maybe Chris' idea of romantic," Lance says. Because Chris is a freak and thinks things like video game marathons and day long games of wedgie are fun times, but who is Lance to judge. "But it's not so much the golf, it's the way you talk about the golf."
"I like golf," Justin says.
"Yeah, well, you like golf, but you love this trip. You should hear yourself talk about it. 'Me and Chris are gonna play golf and me and Chris are gonna surf and Chris heard about this place where you can rent bikes and go all over the island and then me and Chris are gonna walk hand in hand on the beach in the moonlight and then me and Chris are gonna make mad passionate love down on the—'"
"Shut up!" Justin says. "So I'm excited about the trip. So what? I mean, me and Chris are friends, we're gonna have a great time, that's all. That's what friends do."
"Sure," Joey says. "You and Chris are friends. Good friends. Real good friends."
"Real, real, real good friends," Lance says.
"We are!" Justin says. "So are you guys."
"Sure, we're friends," Joey says. "Good friends. Best friends." Lance wraps a hand around Joey's ankle and shakes it playfully. "But we're not like you guys. You guys have your own little language and your jokes and, I don't know, your own secret handshake."
"We don't—" Justin stops and Lance is suddenly absolutely sure that they do have a secret handshake, because it's exactly the kind of thing they'd do when they were bored and mocking everyone else in sight. And also, Justin's about as transparent as glass sometimes. "You guys have your own jokes and stuff too."
"It's different," Joey says. "And you guys spend all your time together—"
"So do you!"
"It's different," Joey says again. "How many times a day did Chris call you when you were in the studio?"
"Not a lot," Justin says. "Never more than three. Except that one time when he—shut up!"
"Exactly," Lance says.
"You shut up too," Justin says to Lance. "So we like to do stuff together. So we like to hang out. So we like to talk to each other. We're friends."
"And you're always hanging all over each other," Joey says. Justin looks pointedly at Joey's legs, draped over Lance's lap and Joey laughs. "It's different," he says, sitting up and taking his legs away from Lance.
"How?" Justin says.
"It just is," Joey says. "It is," he says again when Justin scowls at him. "Ask anybody. Everybody thinks you two are, you know."
"Joe," Lance says, because he's beginning to think this isn't the best idea. Justin's getting a little too defensive about this for it to be a good idea.
"Look," Justin says. "We like to hang out together, we like the same stuff, sometimes we touch each other. Not that way," he said sharply when Lance can't help but chuckle. "So that means we're, what, madly in love with each other?"
"Well, don't say it like it's a death sentence," Lance says.
"All we're saying," Joey says, "is the two of you are already together twenty-four seven, nobody's closer than the two of you, nobody in the universe, you hang all over each other and you somehow manage not to mind the nine hundred annoying habits you've got between the two of you. You're already married, kid. All we're saying is, maybe you should get a little play out of it." Joey's phone rings and he answers it. "Oh, hey, Kel," he says, standing up and walking toward the door. "Oh, nothing. Just hanging out with Lance and Mrs. Kirkpatrick here." He laughs as Justin throws a book at him.
Lance is quiet for a minute. He can see how annoyed Justin is, but god, these two have been dancing around each other since almost the beginning and Lance is getting pretty tired of it. He leans in and taps Justin's knee. "I'm not saying," he says when Justin looks up then he stops, because well, maybe he is. It's so obvious how much they love each other and how perfect they are for each other. This whole platonic routine is getting old. "I'm just saying."
"Fine," Justin snaps. "And now you've said it, and you're done."
"J," Lance says. "Don't be like that. Come on. Look, we shouldn't have said it all joking like that, but we might never have said anything otherwise, and I'm glad we did. It was time for somebody to." When Justin doesn't say anything, Lance sighs. "Come on. Are you saying you've never thought about it?"
"Never," Justin says and he makes it sound true.
"Well, maybe you should," Lance says. "I mean, you guys are just. You're made for each other."
"We're friends," Justin insists. "Friends. Good friends, best friends, yeah, but friends. I don't know why you of all people can't understand that. You and Joey."
"It's different with me and Joey," Lance says.
"You both keep saying that," Justin says. "How? How?" Lance doesn't say anything. "Come on, Lance. How is it different?"
It's been different ever since Lance was 18 years old and homesick in Germany and Joey found the only restaurant in the country that had anything resembling southern fried chicken. It's been different since Joey was the first person Lance ever came out to, and all Joey said was, "that's cool." It's been different since Joey looked him in the eyes and told Lance he thought he was a good actor and that the dark hair was hot, even though Lance was sure Joey was lying through his teeth. Lance doesn't know when he fell in love with Joey, but it's been different ever since.
"It's different," Lance finally says, evenly, "because Joey is straight."
"Oh," Justin says. "Oh."
"Yeah," Lance says. "Oh." He gets up and heads for the door. "Have fun on your trip," he says.
Sweat drips down Lance's side, tickling him, as he shifts the weight on his knees.
"Fuck, baby. Yeah, that's it," Frank, or maybe Hank, says, in what Lance figures is supposed to sound like a growl. Mostly, he thinks, it just makes him sound like Harvey Fierstein and that really isn't very sexy at all.
Hank, or whatever, is a friend of a friend of a friend, somehow in the business, and he blew Lance in the bathroom at Jamie-Lynn's party. He had a sweet mouth and soft, dark eyes, and he's tall and broad and kinda sexy in a plain corn-fed way, so Lance brought him back to his hotel. Now he's fucking Lance hard and slow and Lance's only real complaint is that he won't stop talking.
"Fuck, yeah. You're so hot, baby. I'm gonna make you come so hard."
Lance really hates it.
"Dude," Lance finally says, pushing back against him, "stop talking about it and fucking do it already."
Luckily, it does the trick and Jake-- that's his name, Jake!-- speeds up and puts some real intent into his hips. With the help of Lance's own hand, it doesn't take long for him to come. And it's good. Good enough for government work, as his granddad would say.
When Lance's phone rings, Jake is sticking to him and he's getting restless. He normally wouldn't answer it, but "Greased Lightning" means Joey, and it's as good an excuse as any.
"Sorry," he says, kissing Jake quickly. Digging his phone out of his jeans, he heads for the bathroom, locking the door behind him.
"Heeeeey, buddy," Joey croons on the other end, and he's so obviously drunk. "I didn't wake you up, did I?"
"No, no, perfect timing, actually." Lance runs the sink water to get it cold and fills a glass. The water tastes good and feels cool in his throat. "What's up?"
"Just checking up on you."
"I need checking up on now?"
"Dunno. Do you?"
Okay, so Joey's not only drunk, but weird about something. Lance pulls on the hotel bathrobe and sits down on the edge of the tub.
"I thought you were doing something with Chris tonight?"
"Yeah." Lance can hear the sound of Joey's sliding glass door and imagines him in his backyard, walking around the pool. He always likes it out there when he's trying to work something out. "We went to a bar. He was in a mood."
"What kind of mood?"
"A Chris mood, you know? Whatever." He drinks something and clears his throat. "Actually, J showed up and they did their bickering couple routine and I came home. So what are you up to?"
"Nothing now. Party was lame, but I got laid, so."
"Yeah?" Joey seems to perk up and Lance rolls his eyes, because nothing makes Joey happier than talking about sex. "Who's the guy?"
"Jake something. He's a friend of Lyza-with-a-y, I think."
"You gonna see him again?" This was not at all the question Lance was expecting.
"Jesus, no. He was okay, but it was like being in bad porn with all the dirty talk. Just, gross."
Joey cracks up and that makes Lance smile. "Maybe I'll give him C's number."
That makes Joey laugh more and then he gets quiet, so Lance closes his eyes and listens to Joey breathe. It's the kind of thing he will only let himself do in the middle of the night, hundreds of miles away from Joey, when Joey's drunk. He leans his head against the cool tile wall and waits.
"Lance?" Joey finally asks softly, breaking the silence.
"Are you okay? I mean, are you happy?"
Lance sits up. "What the fuck, Joey?"
"I know, I know. But seriously, man. I just. I worry about you. And shit, I've turned into some kind of girl." Lance can tell Joey is trying to sound embarrassed, but mostly he just sounds serious in that way that he only ever is when he's drunk.
"Joey, you've always been some kind of girl."
"Fuck you," Joey says, immediately, but he laughs. "I just want you all to be happy, is that a fucking sin?"
"No, Joe, but the hangover you're going to have in the morning will be." Lance stands up and looks at himself in the mirror, grimacing. "But I'm fine. I'm rich and famous and reasonably good-looking. Also, I have a best friend who worries about me when he's drunk in the middle of the night. Not a bad life if you can get it, right?"
"Joey," Lance interrupts him, because he has a mother for this crap. "Go take some aspirin and drink some water and go to bed. I gotta take a shower."
"Yeah, all right. Night, bonehead."
Lance says goodnight and hangs up, tossing his phone on the counter. "Freak."
When he gets out of the shower, Jake is gone. There's no phone number left on the bedside table and Lance only feels a little bit guilty for being glad. He pours himself a vodka over ice from the mini-bar and turns on the tv, finding an old Laverne & Shirley on Nick at Nite to fall asleep to.
Lance goes from New York to Vegas for a charity thing and he mostly plays phone-tag with Joey for a while, but he talks to Justin, who informs him that he and Chris are friends, the best of friends, and asks him to please keep his nose out of their relationship. Lance figures there's a whole lot more story there, but Justin's not volunteering and Lance isn't really in the mood to pursue it.
The day after he gets back to Orlando, Joey shows up, already happily buzzed from a family birthday party and drags Lance off to a club. Nobody's as fun as Joey at a mixed club, because he's an expert at being simultaneously the gayest and straightest person in a room. He flirts outrageously with people of both sexes, dances his ass off, and manages to leave the club with no one other than who he came with. Not these days, anyway.
Tonight, Joey dances and drinks steadily and Lance has to practically carry him to the car when they leave. Lance takes Joey home with him and forces him to drink water before he collapses in the spare room. Before Lance can leave, Joey grabs him by the arm and pulls until Lance sits down on the edge of the bed.
"You don't hate me, do you?" Joey asks, his hand gripping Lance's arm hard. God, it's been a really long time since he's seen Joey this drunk and it's kind of freaking Lance out.
"What?! Joey, where's this coming from?"
"I dunno. Just. Chris said." Joey furrows his brow and shakes his head like he's having a conversation with himself. "And then Justin said no, but I think he may have been lying. So."
Joey sits up, suddenly in Lance's face and Lance can smell the beer and tequila on his breath, but he doesn't pull away. "Maybe," he says and leans in and kisses Lance. It's short and tentative, but it's pretty clear that it's intentional and not meant to be friendly.
"No," Lance says, pushing Joey away and jumping up. "No, Joey. You're really drunk and this is really, really stupid."
Joey stares at him for a minute and Lance stands still on the other side of the room, trying to figure out if the fact his heart is pounding and he can't really breathe means he's having a heart attack.
"Yeah," Joey says, flopping back on the bed, putting an arm over his eyes. "Yeah, I know."
And then suddenly Lance gets it. He understands exactly what's going on in Joey's big stupid fucking head, and it's sweet, really, in some twisted Joey Fatone logic kind of way, but Lance is pissed. He's suddenly so angry at the whole thing that he wants to scream and hit something, but taking it out on Joey right now would just be mean.
Instead, he grabs a trashcan and puts it next to the bed, puts some aspirin and bottled water on the bedside table and tells Joey, "pass out on your side so you don't choke to death," and closes the door. Lance paces around his kitchen and living room for about half an hour and then grabs his keys and leaves.
Chris is wearing boxers and a long-sleeved t-shirt when he answers the door, but he looks awake enough to be annoyed at Lance's appearance.
"What the fuck?" he asks, but steps back and opens the door all the way.
"Yeah, Chris, what the fuck?" Lance walks past him and turns around. "What the fuck did you say to Joey?"
It's only because Lance knows Chris so well that he sees the second of understanding before the feigned surprise. "What are you talking about?"
Lance doesn't even really know he's going to do it before he does it, but he's so mad and so fucking scared, that he doesn't think, he just swings at Chris. Chris isn't an idiot and he sees it coming, tries to duck at the last second, and Lance only connects with the side of his face, but the momentum keeps his hand going right into the wall. His hand and arm explode in pain, but the anger is gone as fast as it came.
"God dammit, Lance!" Chris yells and pushes him away.
Lance groans and slides down the wall, cradling his hand to his chest and wishing he'd stayed in Vegas. "I think I broke my hand."
"I didn't tell him anything, Lance. I just. I may have implied things." Chris looks really, honestly sorry, even behind the bag of frozen corn he's holding to his cheek.
Lance has a matching bag of peas on his hand, which Chris assures him is not actually broken, and they've got a bottle of Jack Daniels between them on the breakfast bar.
"But fuck, man, you and Joey and your stupid god dammed fucking matchmaking bullshit. Jesus. Joey, I get, but you should know better than to mess with this shit, Bass."
"I just wanted you guys to be happy."
"We are fucking happy. God. We're just fine the way we are."
Lance takes a swig of Jack and looks away, flexing his knuckles under the cold bag.
Chris sighs. "I can't be your surrogate, Lance."
Lance just nods and takes another drink, passing the bottle back over to Chris.
"You should have seen his face. It was like he was ready to sacrifice himself for me or something. I wanted to kiss him and I wanted to ring his damn neck."
Chris laughs, shaking his head. "That's our Joey. The biggest idiot with good intentions in the continental US."
"No," Lance laughs harshly, "that'd be me, except without the good intentions."
"You can't help who you love." Chris looks so sympathetic and sorry that Lance wants to cry. He wants to put his head down in Chris's lap and cry, but that's not the kind of relationship they have. Joey's the only one who's ever seen Lance cry.
"No. But I can stop..." he pauses, because he's not actually sure if he can.
Thank god, Chris says it for him. "You can let go of the fantasy."
"Yeah." Lance puts his head down on the table, suddenly exhausted. Chris puts a hand on his head, just rests it there, and it's enough. "Yeah, I can."
"Also, you can learn to throw a fucking punch. Because geez, Lance, that was pathetic."
Lance laughs into the table.
When Lance gets home the next morning, Joey is gone, but there's a paper-bag on his fridge with a note from Joey: "JOEY FATONE IS A GIGANTIC ASS. AND HE'S SORRY."
He also has a message on his house voice mail from Joey. "So. Right. I guess we have two ways to deal with this. Obviously, either we talk about it or we agree to never talk about it again. Call me."
Lance takes a shower and eats some breakfast, then downs two shots of vodka before dialing Joey's cell. He's relieved when he gets voicemail.
"Hey. For the record, you're not an ass, just a big dumb idiot. God, Joey. Look. I. I agree with Chris. Friendship is like, so much more important. You know? And fuck, Joe, if you weren't totally straight and you were willing to do this to Kelly and Bri, you wouldn't be the guy I loved anyway. My shit is my own shit, man. There's nothing to fucking fix, here. Just. Don't stop being my friend." Lance starts to hang up and then adds quickly, "And also, my vote is for never talking about this again."
Then Lance does the only thing he can do. He packs a suitcase and goes to LA for a couple of weeks. A week later, he gets a message from Joey saying, "I've got the Friday the 13th DVD set sitting here waiting for a marathon of Stupid Human Tricks Drinking Game. When are you coming home, bonehead?"
And Lance starts to think, for the first time, that things are going to be okay.