They only thought it was really weird because Britney was nothing like any other girl that Justin had ever gone for. For one thing, she was a performer too, and she was charming in a slightly overbearing way, just like Justin, and she was bleached blond, unlike the natural brunettes Justin usually preferred. Also, she had curves up the wazoo, and that was interesting because Justin usually dated scrawny, tomboyish chicks with no curves whatsoever. One day, watching them kiss each other goodbye, Joey noticed that Justin never really seemed to know where to put his hands, the flat, bony planes of the girls he usually kissed gone, replaced instead with soft flesh and tight muscle.

Also, they had known each other since they were just kids. They'd been on MMC together when she was just eleven and he was twelve, both of them with dirty blond hair and cute kids' smiles. Now they were performers with perfectly blonded roots and too many white teeth. When they were together, they sparkled, they shone, they were golden. They were like twins carved out of diamonds.

Chris thought it was cute, but sang "You're just like my Ken and Barbie doll," under his breath whenever he saw them together. (He was no Gwen Stefani, that was for fucking sure.) Joey thought that it was narcissistic, although he actually called it "that flower-mirror fairy thing," and Lance thought that the whole relationship was totally plastic, and JC just never talked about it at all.

They weren't really like any of that when they were together, of course. They did all the normal teen-relationship things, complete with giggly-shy cuddling on the couch of the bus and private hotel suites, and sappy poetry dedicated to each other, and repeated declarations of eternal love to each other over long distance phone calls. They were real together, and that was maybe the weirdest thing of all.

But eventually, of course, it stopped being normal, and it stopped being real, and it started being publicity and events and everything that was normal life to them individually, but not as a couple. Chris caught Justin sniffling softly after a phone call one morning, and proceeded to poke and tease until Joey glared at him. Lance threw a pillow at him, and wrapped his arms around Justin's neck as soon as he hung up. JC just looked on silently from the couch.

Just related the conversation a little bit later, placated with some beer that Joey had on the bus. "It's cause, like, we never see each other. And she's sort of interested in one of her dancers now." He wiped his nose. "It wasn't like we really had anything goin' on, you know? Its just, like. There was always something there for me, if I wanted it." He raised his eyes, luminescent with tears, to Lance's. "Brit's been there for me since MMC."

Even later, when everyone else was already asleep in their separate little cocoons, he told Lance that Britney had sort of thought that maybe he was interested in somebody too. The light from the tv turned his skin iridescent blue as he dropped his head to his knees, which were pulled to his chest. "Like, a guy. She thought that I was maybe interested in a guy."

"A cute guy?"

Justin whipped his head up. "That isn't fucking funny, yo!"

Lance put his hand on Justin's arm, stroking the bared flesh soothingly. "I know, I know. But seriously-who does she think you're interested in?"

"Not you," Justin retorted.

Lance rolled his eyes. "Yeah, obviously. Dude, spill."

Justin buried his head in his arms again and mumbled into his knees. "Hreasee."


"JC, okay?!" Justin's head went up and he scowled at Lance. "Now back the fuck off me, bitch."

"JC?" Justin nodded. "JC," Lance said again, but slower. "JC. Hmm. Well, it kind of makes sense," he offered.

"What do you mean?" Justin was looking at him as if Lance had maybe lost a very important part of his mind.

"Well, you know. You kind of follow him around. And just…" Lance shrugged. "I dunno what to tell you. You two just kind of vibe together."


Lance shrugged. "Sure. Like, a 'we're together' vibe, maybe. I don't know. You're really comfortable together."

"But that's-! Dude, that's gross. I've known him forever. I've known him since we were mice."

"You've known Britney since you were mice."

Justin opened his mouth to speak again, but couldn't actually think of anything to say, so instead he just glared at Lance and then stormed back to the bunks.

When he got there, JC poked his head sleepily out of his bunk. "Hey."


"Look, I'm sorry I wasn't nicer earlier. Its just, I sort of thought she was wrong for you. So, like, her breaking up with you should be no big loss. Right?"

"Right," he said, and forced a glowing smile. As he got into his bunk he thought, that was the bad thing about JC. He tended to say whatever the hell was in his mind without really thinking, and sometimes the things could sting, even if they weren't meant to. JC lived life in a kind of geo-centric daze, with himself as the sun and the rest of the world as well…the world.

So, see? He couldn't possibly be in love with JC, because JC was sort of self-involved and quiet and scrawny, and he liked girls who were blond and curvy and loud but instantaneously friendly. He liked girls.

Lance was just an ass. So was Britney. Maybe they should form a coalition.

The next morning, after an extremely uncomfortable dream and a long trip to the bathroom, Justin plopped himself down next to Lance at the kitchen table and scowled. "Okay. See, like, I follow him around, I guess. But its an idol thing, like. Jayce is like my big brother. You're all my brothers."

Lance gave him a look through his impossibly dark, full lashes, but just nodded slightly and returned his attention to his laptop. "Okay."

"You are!"

"I know."

"Okay. Good." Justin grabbed the paper, and then frowned when he saw that it was the previous days. Whatever. Comics were comics.

Lance coughed almost imperceptibly, and Justin looked up to see JC come into the kitchen, shirtless, with mussed hair and stubble. "Mmm. Morning. Coffee?" Justin pointed wordlessly to the machine and Lance snorted.

He turned back to Lance, hissing, "Fuck off." Lance raised his eyebrows and laughed a little, but went back to staring at his computer.

Justin started a bit when JC leaned over him to get the sugar, feeling the warm brush of skin through his thin t-shirt. He looked up to see happy, sleeping eyes crinkled up in amusement. "Hey, Just."


Still pressed against Justin's back, JC hugged him and ruffled his disorderly curls. "For yesterday," he whispered in Justin's ear. "Still sorry."

"I know," Justin said, trying to sound nonchalant.

JC hugged him tighter for a moment, then pulled back, sugar bowl held carelessly in one hand. "Good. Because really, you deserve something better. I've known you since we were mice, Just, and-." His nose wrinkled suddenly. "Ew."

"What?" Lance asked.

"Britney's known you since we were mice, too. Didn't that feel, like, borderline incestuous?"

Justin thought that he maybe felt something in his chest tightening, like a pulled muscle, only deeper. "No."

"Oh." JC shrugged, sugared his coffee, and replaced the sugar bowl on the table. "Just cause, like, that would feel so wrong to me. Like, I’ve known Brit since we were kids. I've known you since before you hit puberty. We're practically blood-related, you know?" JC grinned at him, real big, so Justin knew that this was supposed to be touching.

He grinned back, showing all of his very white teeth. "Blood kin, baby," he said, and his voice didn't even shake.

JC raised his coffee cup in tribute and then walked back through the bunks into the lounge. Justin looked after him, and when he turned his eyes back to the table he found large green eyes regarding him sympathetically. He smiled again. "See, man? Brothers."

Lance bit his lip and arched an eyebrow, and then nodded slowly, and Justin gathered up the blanket he had bought with him and wrapped it around his shoulders. He was kind of cold, all of a sudden, and he wanted some coffee. Black.