Justin's Dark Design by Silveryscrape

the Ride It On Remix by

Justin never gets things. It's maybe his best quality, Chris thinks, watching him sway in the doorway of the bus, his hands holding on to the door frame above his head. Chris has been looking for new music on the giant shelf where they keep all the CDs alphabetically—it was Lance's idea, of course, but no one remembers to label their CDs, so at the end of the tour Justin and JC always end up in a shouting match over who bought the latest Nelly—but Justin's got a glint in his eyes that means he's been thinking about something and that's bound to be more interesting than music.

"You have to help me," Justin declares dramatically. He flops down on the couch and puts his head in Chris's lap. "I'm dying."

Chris rolls his eyes, but rubs his hand over Justin's hair anyway. Justin's always dying over something or other. He was dying when they had to sue Lou and he was dying when Britney broke up with him and he was dying when they only had grape Gatorade at the craft table and not cherry. "What now?" he asks.

"Okay." Justin takes a deep breath. "Okay, so, you know I have this thing for C."

Actually, Chris had forgotten about that. Or, rather, he'd thought it had gone away back when Justin was sixteen. Apparently, he'd been wrong.

"I know all about your thing," he says, stalling for time. "I know more about your thing than any human being should have to know."

Justin makes a face. "Listen, you have to help me! You have to pretend to like him, and then I'll get all jealous, and he'll understand that I'm totally in love with him. It'll be, like, demonstrated."

"Demonstrated," Chris repeats. This is the problem with Justin's early experience with superstardom. He's never had to meet a person in a normal way, so he thinks that everything has to involve intricate plots and drama and roses and high romance. There's no such thing as a dinner date in Justin's world.

"That's the plan." Justin's smile is happy and self-satisfied.

"Dude, that's not a plan, that's the plot of a romance novel."

But a good one, right?" Justin asks.

Chris closes his eyes for a moment. Justin is warm and his hair is soft under Chris's palm and he can feel Justin's pulse on his thigh. "Sure. A great one," he says, finally.

Chris thinks Justin will forget about it, the way he forgets about almost everything except music, but he doesn't, because the next time they're at a club in Chicago Justin sidles up to him and says "this is it. This is your chance."

"Chance for what?" Chris says, even though he remembered the minute Justin said it, his voice hissing in Chris's ear.

"Go pretend you like JC so that I can get jealous," Justin says, shoving him.

"Jesus Christ," Chris says, but he downs the rest of his drink and heads out on the dance floor, where JC is shaking it with some nubile nineteen-year-old girl while the bodyguards look on. He steps up behind JC and puts a hand on his shoulder. JC turns and smiles.

"Hey," he shouts over the din of the music. "What's up?"

"Justin wants me to pretend to like you so that he can get jealous," Chris says in his ear.

"What?" JC shouts.

"JUSTIN WANTS ME—" Chris points to himself, "TO PRETEND TO LIKE YOU—" Chris points at JC, "SO THAT HE CAN GET JEALOUS." Chris doesn't know what to do about "jealous" so he sort of swirls his hands around in a way that suggests Justin being an ass. Or an angry mime. Whatever. He's tired of the whole thing.

"Why would Justin want to be…" JC blinks. He leans in, his hand on Chris's shoulder. "Really?" he shouts in Chris's ear.

Chris nods.

"I thought he was over that when he was, like, fifteen," JC shouts.

"Tell me about it," Chris says.

JC looks concerned for a minute, but then the girl, who's a red head, taps him on the shoulder and he leaves with her. Chris doesn't blame him—even a club girl can't be as psychotic as Justin.

Justin's pissed at the failure of his Master Plan, but he settles down after they go back to hotel and Chris pays for a totally overpriced room service pizza, because he knows how much it hurts Chris in his heart to pay twenty dollars for an eight inch pizza.

"It's just a temporary set-back," he tells Chris though a mouthful of pepperoni and crust. "You can make him jealous tomorrow."

"Great," Chris says. He goes back to his own room before he has to see the chewed pizza again.

Chris is asleep when someone knocks on his door. "There better be a fire!" he yells, but there's not a fire, there's just JC. His hair is messed up and his shirt is unbuttoned and he's smiling a very recognizable smile. "What?" Chris says.

JC's smile grows wider, and he takes a step forward.

"What?" Chris says again, stepping backward.

JC puts his hand on Chris's shoulder.

"Wait, wait, whoa," Chris says, but JC is like an amoeba, his shape shifting to accommodate Chris's resistance, and before Chris really understands what's happening he's on his back on the mattress and JC's straddling him, his hands on Chris's face.

The kissing is good, really good, just like every other time he and JC have fucked, but Chris keeps opening his eyes and watching JC's hair fall over his forehead. He keeps seeing the light of the lamp through his eyelids. He keeps getting distracted. All of the other times, Chris realizes, when JC leans back to peel off his shirt, he didn't know that Justin wanted him. JC leans down again, but he stops kissing Chris after a minute.

"What?" JC murmurs against his lips.

"It's just. You know. He really likes you."

JC sits back again. "Really?" he asks. "Are you sure this isn't just a thing? Like when he only spoke in ebonics?"

"God, the dreads," Chris groaned. "No, this is not like that."

"Oh," JC says. "Wow. So we…"

"Shouldn't," Chris says.

"Well, this sucks," JC says.

"For me, sure. You get to fuck Justin."

JC brightens visibly. He runs his hands through his hair to fluff it out.

"Ugg," Chris says, and rolls out from under JC. He follows JC to the door and watches as he crosses the hall. He watches until Justin's door opens, and JC smiles and says "Chris says you want me." Then Chris goes to bed.

He's lying on the bed listening to Mazzy Star on his iPod. He hears the knock on the door over Hope Sandoval's plaintive croon to "ride it on."

"What?" he shouts, but he can't hear the response, if there is any, over the music. He yanks out his earbuds and stomps over the door. "What?" he says, flinging the door open.

It's Justin.

His shirt is open and his hair is messed up and Chris thinks jesus, does he have to thank me NOW? before Justin's arms are around his neck and Justin's mouth is on his.

"Whoa, whoa, what?" Chris says. He's both confused and weary. He's done this already today. He's tired of it.

"It's you, Chris," Justin gasps, pushing Chris backward and kicking the door shut behind him. "I thought it was JC but it wasn't."

"It wasn't. But you had a Master Plan?"

"I know," Justin says, nodding eagerly. "But it was screwed up. I thought that I wanted someone hot like JC, but I wanted you instead."

Chris raises an eyebrow.

"I mean. Fuck you! You know what I mean," Justin wails.

Chris makes him suffer for another long minute and then he says "okay." Justin is on him, almost before the words are out of his mouth.

Afterwards, when they are lying side by side, panting with joy and exertion, Chris says "so, you're not mad that I sexed up JC before I sent him over to your room?"

Justin's laugh is loud and obnoxious and sounds like music to Chris. Music that's practically puncturing his right eardrum at the moment, but music nonetheless.