Sand at the Water's Edge by Northern

Drowning Within Sight of the Shore Remix by Jae

This is where Justin goes when he dreams.

There's a deep rumble, always, not away in the distance but beneath him, beneath him and inside him at the same time. It's always with Justin, waiting for him to sleep before it drifts up to the surface. It's familiar, that feeling, and comforting. It's been with him so long. It's a part of him now.

There's a low murmur, steady and soothing, like the sound of words pressed gently into his skin, spoken so softly he can't understand them. He doesn't need to understand them. They're a part of him now. He can feel their rhythm lapping against his skin. It's like being underwater.

It makes him want to go deeper.

In the dreams, he can.

Chris is sleeping and Justin is quiet, drifting on some thought of his own, and JC wants nothing more than the same, to float until he falls asleep. But he can hear the relentless rumble of the engines below him, and the music in his head resolves into the same insistent rhythm. There's something hammering against the inside of his mind, something that wants out but JC knows it's not getting out tonight.

He crawls over to the sofa and slides carefully along the cushions, slotting himself against Justin, butting Justin's arm gently with his head. Justin looks surprised but he opens his arms to JC, lets JC hide his face against Justin's shoulder and runs his hand through JC's hair.

Justin's hands are so big now. It shouldn't come as a shock, seeing as how he sees Justin every single day, but somehow he's kept Justin smaller inside his mind. Justin hasn't stayed smaller, though, and for just a moment JC feels a wave of grief and even fear crest inside him, some pain richer and deeper than the ache in his head. He presses his face harder against Justin's shoulder, and Justin holds him, his hand cradling JC's head.

"Shhh," Justin says, one long smooth song. His fingers trace long smooth curves against JC's skin, the soft sound drowning the rhythm that's been trapped inside him. JC could weep with relief. Instead he lets his head sink into Justin's hands and drifts off as Justin's voice sings to him, inside him, somewhere richer and deeper than sleep.

When Justin wakes up his head is aching, a relentless dull throb like a song whose words he can't remember but that won't leave his mind until he sings along. The bathroom on his bus is filled with more drugs than a pharmacy, but he knows they won't soothe him. He flips over on the couch and rolls his head back and forth against the cushions. He slides a hand behind his neck and cradles his head, rubbing long smooth curves against his skin. He sings softly to himself, a song without words, until he sinks back into sleep.

He's too old for this shit. He used to say that all the time, laughing, and all the guys would laugh too, and hoot their agreement. The last time he said it, Justin said, "Hey, man, you okay?" and brought him a bottle of water. Now he doesn't say it any more.

He can't cover it up, though. Maybe that's because he doesn't really want to. There's a certain pleasure in the low steady appraisal as JC looks him up and down, his eyes marking all the places Chris is hurting, all the places he might try to hide. There's a certain pleasure in being caught out, in being spread out against the carpet, JC bending over him, humming a low steady rhythm that almost drowns out the endless rumble of the bus beneath them both.

The pleasure sinks darker, deeper inside him when JC calls Justin over. He wants to say no, to hide this last thing, but JC's hands won't let him go and he drifts below them, nodding and closing his eyes. There's a sharp scrape of fear as Justin hovers over him, but it passes. Justin's teeth are sharper than he expected, but Justin doesn't bite down too hard. It's just hard enough. JC exhales on a soft pleased sound and Justin won't let him go. Between the two of them Chris floats gently, easily. He's exactly where he wants to be.

There's a certain pleasure in being known.

Justin wakes with the sound of waves in his ears. The house is so close to the ocean it's almost floating, and with the water so close there's no such thing as perfect silence. He rolls over and stretches, groaning a little. Cameron is awake next to him, watching TV, and without saying a word she runs her fingers along the length of his back. She doesn't rub hard enough until Justin reaches back and guides her hand. When she's got the hang of it, Justin crooks his arm in front of him and sinks his teeth into it, not hard, but firmly. He ignores the dull throb and concentrates on the feeling of holding something steadily, tenderly. He concentrates on the way he doesn't bite down too hard.

This is the only place he wants this.

He lies in plain sight and waits for one of them to find him. One of them always does. He keeps his eyes hidden so that he can't see them seeing him. He doesn't say anything. They never make him ask. A finger drifts across his face, and Joey parts his lips and knows that it's Chris. Chris never makes him ask out loud.

Chris' hands hold him firmly, following Joey's lead so well it's like Chris is guiding him. When Chris ties the bandanna over his eyes Joey sinks gratefully into the darkness and opens his mouth for Chris' cock. The bus rumbles beneath his knees and Chris' hands cover his own and this is the only place Joey lets himself want this. When Chris pulls away Joey keeps his lips parted, and Chris chuckles and leaves his hands over Joey's as he reaches for Justin's hips. Chris never makes him ask out loud.

In his darkness he hears Justin gasp above him, his voice coming short and high, like the call of some strange small bird. Chris' hands are holding both of them now, and Justin is gasping desperately like he's drowning and then he's grabbing Joey's wrists and coming and suddenly Joey knows, with a rich deep flash of fear he will never be able to explain. This is the only place that he will ever want this.

Justin sleeps in the limo all the way to the club. He floats through the crowd in the wake of his bodyguard and walks out of his dream into the back room, buried so far in the depths of the building that he can hardly even hear the music any more. The bass throbs beneath his feet as he catches someone's eye and lets his mouth drift open. He feels the bass pounding harder as he drops to his knees without saying a word. He never has to ask here. He puts one hand on the guy's hip and with the other he tips his sunglasses down over his face. Behind the dark glasses he closes his eyes. This is the only place he lets himself want this.

For what Lance needs, Justin is the best.

Lance never tells him that, because he's never quite sure how to explain. He thinks maybe it's because Justin is the only one who's younger than he is. All of the others watch out for him and take care of him. They will always give him what he wants.

Justin tries to give him what he wants, too. He undresses Lance carefully, humming softly to drown out any awkwardness between them. They never speak. He pushes Lance onto his stomach, the way he knows Lance likes it, and sinks into him. He fucks Lance with a slow steady rhythm, the way he knows Lance likes it, while the bed rumbles and creaks beneath them.

Justin tries so hard to give him what he wants, but Lance can feel the struggle inside him. He can feel how Justin wants to move faster, harder, wants to take what he wants the way he wants it, and Lance's breath comes faster and harder. Justin's teeth scrape his shoulder and his hand closes around Lance's cock, and just for a moment Lance is almost afraid. Then Justin's lips slide down to kiss Lance's neck and the moment drifts away. He knows Justin would never hurt him. It's just that with the others, he can't even pretend to himself that they might lose control.

It's only with Justin that Lance ever even comes close to fear.

Justin's arms are killing him when he wakes up. He jerks against the cuffs, but the man standing over him just laughs. Justin would beg, but he can't remember the man's name. "Maybe I won't untie you," the man says, and his voice is just barely teasing, "maybe I'll just keep you here." Justin knows there are men outside paid to keep him safe and desire washes over him, drowning out the pain in his arms. "Or maybe I'll take your picture," the man says, "let everyone see what you look like just like this," and Justin knows there are men outside paid to keep him safe. Something not quite fear but just as sharp rushes over him and his whole body arches toward it, then sinks back down into the hotel bed.

"Miss them?" Justin says. He wants to laugh but he thinks this girl and her tape recorder might take it the wrong way. "No, I don't have to."

He pauses, but she's still waiting for something. He listens to the low rumble of the engine as his bus speeds through the night.

"Sometimes you share something with people, and it doesn't matter what else happens. They'll always be part of you."

The girl starts to tell him something but he doesn't listen. When he closes his eyes, he can hear his heart beating. The sound is distant, like the echo of the ocean when you lift a shell to your ear, even miles away from the beach. The girl wants to keep asking questions but Justin sinks back into the couch and waits for sleep. While he's waiting she's still talking. To drown her out Justin says again, "I don't have to miss them."