It always amazed him that Joey could dance, and that he loved to do it, almost as much as he loved to sing. At first sight, Joey was just this big Italian guy, almost thuggish if he was wearing a suit or in the wrong light. In the video for This I Promise You he looked like nothing more than a disgruntled homeless man who wandered onto the set. But most of the time he just looked cuddly, and when he got onstage, this beautiful pure voice came out of him, and no one could deny that the boy had rhythm.
The thought first occurred to him when they were onstage, while the harsh lights and thick makeup practically disguised them from each other. But still, even if he was blindfolded, he could have recognized their dancing from touch alone; JC, sprung tightly like a wire; Lance, mellow, quickly growing out of his awkward stage and becoming smooth; Chris, bouncy and oddly sinister when he danced, ever-present smirk set tightly on his face.
And then there was Joey, who was usually just a lot of big happy Joey. Joey, who moved so lightly on his feet and was so very balanced that he made even Justin feel ungainly, awkward, with his long skinny limbs. He was...people called Justin the Sexy One, the One with the Hips, but Joey had hips, damn, and he was so oddly sexy right now, so smooth, so assured. Justin secretly thought that he seemed to be the most self-assured during Space Cowboy because he was so very familiar with the moves; the thrust, the shimmy, the motherfucking tease of it all. Because really, even with the laughable choreography that permeated it, it was all a big tease, with thrusting hips and other badly-disguised sex moves.
Not that Justin could recognize a sex move from actual experience. Sure, he'd had blowjobs before, and he noticed that after that first one the movements of his hips became so much more fluid, more natural. As if, onstage, he was thrusting into her hot mouth again, only in front of a million screaming fans. But no, he'd never actually had the whole deal, which had part to do with him and part to do with Britney, who claimed that she wanted to "save it" but was actually dating--and screwing--one of her dancers.
Well, good for her. He was kind of cute.
But anyway. Joey, man. During Space Cowboy, Joey got into it. He was center fucking stage, too, because even though it was JC's stupid song, it was Joey who really got into the groove of it. JC's thrusting tended to be a bit to...impassioned. Especially in those red pants. Joey's thrusts were just right.
And then he felt kind of, um, weird. Because who thought that their best friend's rolling hips were "perfect," and even, on a particular day when Joey had gotten laid right before the show, fucking the girl in the back of his and Lance's bus, "fucking sublime"?
But it was just...awing, he guessed. Because Joey could look like any dumb guy from Brooklyn, fooling around on the bus and laughing, smiling, acting so normal, and then onstage he just turned into sex. What the hell was with Joey?
One night, while lightly buzzed on whiskey from Chris' minibar, he asked Lance that same question. "Because he just turns into, like...this living, moving sex object. What is with that?"
Lance gave him a weird look, took the alcohol back, looked at him again, and then handed it back. "Maybe its not something with Joe, Justin. Maybe its something with you."
But that couldn't be right, right? Because it was just something that happened, some change that occurred between stage and life, where Joey went from his friend to some foreign, unknown sexual entity. Because guys who looked like Joey couldn't dance, right? It was just...unnatural. Or, not unnatural, because he suspected that the roll of Joey's hips was completely natural for a New York guy who'd lost his virginity when he was fifteen. It was the roll of hips that would father children and please hordes of women throughout Joey's lifetime. That part was natural.
It was just the rhythm, the fucking natural rhythm that Joey had, that happy sexy way he was when he was dancing. That's what got to Justin, that was all. It was just this part of Joey that responded to music, so when Justin responded to it, really he was responding to the music too, right? Had to be.
He looked for it in his own movements, but he didn't think it was ever there. One day he was practicing the moves for his beatbox in the mirror, twisting his hips in that way that came natural for him. He smiled, thrusting and not thinking, because really, this had stopped being fun awhile ago, when he had stopped getting blowjobs, and now when he thought about Joey dancing it was suddenly fun again, and he wasn’t going to protest or overthink that.
He felt someone stop beside him but didn't look up from the reflection of his own hips until two heavy arms went around his waist, a face fitting smoothly above his shoulder. He could feel Joey's breath on his ear as he laughed. "Did you finally get laid again, kid? You've got that glide back." He could feel Joey mimicking the thrusting against his back and he tried not to blush, tried to start breathing again.
"No," he finally said, voice a little choked. "Just. You know. Thinking about stuff."
"What kind of stuff?" Joey asked, leaning into him further, guiding him into a little salsa dance until he could see their hips moving together in the mirror. It was kind of difficult, what with Joey still behind him and all, but he wasn't going to complain. "Britney?"
"No." Justin unwrapped Joey's arms from around his waist and stepped away, pulling off his do-rag, flustered. "Just stuff. Sometimes. You."
He looked up and Joey was looking back at him, face neutral. "Well. You could have told me." An eyebrow quirked. "I could have told you what I think about during Space Cowboy."
And then Joey smiled, and it was just like being back onstage. Because it was full of sex and promises, but mostly just really happy, and when Justin started to breathe again he thought that maybe everything had a rhythm, not just dancing and sex, because that smile had been made out of music, but damn. Joey had the best rhythm in those first two.