Disclaimer: This story is entire fiction plucked from little brain for your (hopeful) enjoyment. All the usual stuff applies, not implying anything, not real, blah blah blah you get the idea, right?
NB: You may think that it's going kinda slow and nowhere but if you want to read a faster story then either go read someone else's or check back in a while when there'll be more chapters. Wait, don't go and read someone else's story (at least until you've give this one a chance). Bye!
Another few months passed, silence between Steve and JC. It was only as the anniversary of Eddy's death came close that Steve's conscience wore him down. He trawled through his cell phone's address book looking for a number that maybe JC's/
"Who am I speaking to?"
"Who are you?"
"Oh hey Steve, it's JC. How did you get my number?" JC asked tentatively
"I search through my contacts list and tried every number that I didn't recognise since you never gave me your number on paper."
"Maybe it's a good thing I didn't."
"I guess I should apologise first. Sorry for hitting you."
"No prob, I guess I should have been more careful about what I was doing. Maybe I did needed bring down all them pegs after all. So what's up?"
"Nothing much. It's just that Eddy's anniversary's coming up and I wondered whether you want to go back and tidy the grave up or something."
"I guess I should. When is it?"
"It's the, let me think, August 23rd. Can you make it?"
"I don't know for sure, I'll find out. Can I call you back?"
"Sure but do it soon?"
After pulling some serious strings (no pun intended), JC arrived at DC airport. 'What the fuck do I do now?' he thought to himself, wishing they'd planned this a bit better.
"Steve it's me. Where the hell r you?"
"I'm somewhere in the airport."
"I don't know."
"Take you sunglasses off then" JC smiled, hearing Steve scolding himself
"Ah, entrance that way."
"I'm there now, see y'in a bit"
Steve finally made his way to the waiting JC and they headed to the cemetery.
"Them flowers'll look nice" Steve complemented JC on the bunch he'd brought
"Thanks but they're off all the guys really, not just me."
"So are you gonna fill me in about all this or what?"
"I don't really know much myself. I just heard someone shot him in a club."
"Pretty much. He stopped hanging with us and went with these other people. There were rumours about drugs but I doubt they were true. Eddie was stupid, but not stupid. If you know what I mean."
"How old was he? 21?"
"21 but not by much, tragic really."
The cab pulled up and they got out. They walked in silence for the short distance to the grave.
"Look at the state of you Eddie" Steve said quietly, kneeling in front of the grave, "Let's get rid of these dead things"
"Do you often talk to him?" JC asked sceptically
"Why not? Just cuz he's dead don't mean he's deaf"
"You wanna open them out?"
"What? Oh the flowers?"
"Are you getting stupid by the minute or something?"
"No it's hard to think he's dead already that's all"
"You'll get over it, I was pretty bad when I first heard too"
"I feel really guilty though, just forgetting about you lot. You all must have hated me"
"I wouldn't say hated, more of a jealousy. It still wasn't the same without for a while. It was weird only having 5 instead of an even number. But we got over you, don't go on an ego trip or anything. I guess you've still got a few pegs to come down yet"
Steve tidied up the grave, throwing away all the dead flowers and scrubbing the light moss off. He put the new flowers in the pot and they stood over the grave for a while in silent thought.
"He's really gone isn't he?" JC asked of himself quietly with a sniffle
"I think I'm on a guilt trip not an ego trip"
"Nothing you could have done bout it. Don't get all broody cause you left us, we were close but we had lives to lead you know"
Steve pulled him into a (manly brotherly) hug whilst JC sorted himself out.
"Come on let's go 'fore you start drowning us out" Steve said, letting go of JC and walking slowly away, "See ya next year Eddie"
JC followed a few steps behind, cursing himself for being so selfcentred and forgetting about his roots.
"If you don't stop moping and blaming yourself for going away, then you're gonna be sharing a bed with Eddie. Get it?" Steve told him, not looking round
"There's nothing gonna change it, deal with it. Stop thinking about it anyway, you might be famous but you can't turn back time can you?"
JC never replied and they walked in silence for a few more minutes before sitting on a bench.
"Mind if I smoke?" Steve asked, pulling out a packet of cigarettes
"I never knew you smoked" JC stated in a bit of shock
"There's a lot of things about me you dont know. To be honest, I've packed in a couple of times but sometimes I'm a sucker for temptation."
"You know they'll kill you"
"Yeah if the stress or disease doesn't first"
"Disease? Is there something wrong with you?"
"No no, nothing like that. Just that my apartment isn't exactly made of marble halls"
"Thought you had cancer or something or AIDS"
"Mom had cancer. Only a small lump on her breast but they cut it out or something. Shes okay now though."
"Exactly how much have things changed? Seems like everything"
"A lot of things changed but what do you expect after 10 years. You'd better take your rose-tinted glasses off"
"You know you're not making this easy on me, telling me how jaded I am. I'm still the same Josh underneath"
"Really? Fame changes a lot of people"
"I don't think it's changed me that much. What do you think?"
"Seems like you've still got some of your old self still in you, but there's that celebrity side just pushing it all down."
"How can I prove it?"
"Just be yourself, Josh. I don't really care that you're famous or anything, I never did. I just missed not having a best friend"
"Did it mean that much when I went?"
"Yeah, how would you feel if one of the group just left and never spoke to you again for ten years. Not even a phone call"
"Pretty shit I guess."
"I missed not having anyone to go with. I still had all the other guys but we were closer. It took me ages to find another best friend"
"I didn't know that you felt like that. Its no wonder I feel so shit, I'm even worse now"
"Don't do it to yourself. I forgive you know. When do you have to get back?"
"No definate time really, just gotta be at an interview for 4 tomorrow afternoon. You wanna go out or something?"
"I guess I never give youenough credit for all the work you do. Seems your ass is never still. We can go out if you want, but I don't fancy drinking"
"We can do a resteraunt or something a little easier if you want"
"Sounds good, we'd better find a hotel."
"Only if you promise to let me pay. I don't care how much you kick off"
"Look why can't I share some of my hard earned money with you?"
"If you're gonna insist"
"I insist. In future if I offer you money I want you to take it, I don't care what you do with it just take it. I know your a bit short of cash lately and I wanna help you out, k?"
"No arguing then"
They found a small hotel and booked a single room for the both of them. That night they headed out to a resteraunt for something to eat.
"So you've grilled me on my love life. Fill me in on yours" Steve demanded once they'd ordered their food
"I know it's gonna sound like a bog-standard answer but I really don't have time."
"Come off it"
"Honestly, I don't have the time to think. I don't even know what I want, let alone who I want"
"What do you mean 'what I want'?"
"Well for all I know, I might be into animals or something."
"Or men" Steve laughed
"Yeah... whatever" JC said quietly
"Josh?" Steve enquired, curious as to his sudden shyness
"Anyway, wheres that food?"
"I'm starving" Steve let it go
"So whats Paul doing in Europe?"
"Running some car business thing in Germany. He's quite sucessful apparently, he's been there for about 6 years"
"Who'd have thought that we'd all turn out so different?"
"Yeah but some of us are more sucessful than others aren't we. You're made for life"
"Why do you keep mentioning that I'm famous all the time. You're just making it harder for me to act normal. Besides there's a few skeletons in my closet that would contradict your last statement" JC said as the waitress brought over their food
"Like what? What's in your closet?" Steve was intrigued
"How about... me" JC said, staring at teh table
"What do you mean 'you'?"
"Don't you understand?"
"I've got an idea but I'm not saying it in case it's not what you mean"
"I think I might be gay"
"Are you just winding me up or something? Cuz your wasting your time, I got over all them things years ago"
"No seriously. This last year I've been so busy I havent had time to think about who I want, and then it just hit me that maybe what I'm looking for is...is a man"
"It's probably a phase, I went through them all the time before I came out definately"
"How can it be a phase? I've never thought that before and now I am. How can it be a phase?"
"It's probably cause your looking for something different. It don't mean your gay. Just confused. Believe me I am the voice of experience on this stuff. Are you like...turned on by men?"
"Not at first, it was just teh companionship thing but this last month or so I've been checking out the guys after shows."
"I doubt you're gay Josh. You don't just change into a queen after being straight for 21 years."
"Maybe it is just a phase"
"Either way, if you wanna talk, give me a ring. I think I've been through everything you could possibly ask about. Now change the subject, I can tell you're not comfortable talking about this"
"What about the weather?"
"Okay I'LL change the subject. How's your mom?"
"She's fine, I was gonna visit her whilst I was up here but I haven't got the time."
They talked for another hour or so, carefully avoiding JC's earlier sexuality bombshell. Once they'd fnished eating and split the bill they walked along the street slowly.
"What you wanna do now? It's only 11" JC asked excitedly
"What can you do in DC at 11 at night? I don't remember"
"There must be something. How about a drink? Just a couple though"
"What happened to 'I still know how to party'?"
"Hey I can still drink you under the table. But I'm mature now, I won't"
"No, just sensible"
"Jesus you really are as sensible as all them teenybopper magazines make out"
"You read them?"
"Sometimes, I think theres still a little 12y/o girl trying to get out of me. Plus that darling Chris might be in"
"Oh did you enjoy the little we payed you?"
"When you came to the store? Yeah it was great, I almost died. You bastrd, how did you know that I liked him really?"
"Sixth sense, I can still make you squirm"
"Curl up and die would have been closer"
"Do you like him that much? I'll introduce you again, although he might kick your ass after that fight we had, he's a bit protective"
"But how could I hit him back, he's so yummily gorgeous" Steve laughed
"Do you like any of the other guys?"
"That would be telling. Plus I couldn't handle it if you brought them along like you did last time"
"Maybe I can set you up with one of them. I know you enjoyed it secretly"
"I doubt they're that way inclinde."
"I don't know, we've always had our suspicions about Lance."
They got a bar and drank casually for another two or three hours before heading back to the hotel. It was 1 o'clock when Steve scraped himself out of the bed. JC had left him a message on the bedside table.
Thanks for inviting me out here,
Had a blast these last few times, maybe we can make it a bit more like old times?
I know you might not believe me but I missed all this.
Call you next time I'm close, I'll show you I can still party!
Open the envelope, I know you'll be pissed off with me but I'm sure you need them more than me.
Steve put the letter back on the table and took the envelope.
"Jesus Christ, what has he done? Where's he got all this from?" Steve thought outloud, counting the bills roughly, "There's $3000 here. What the fuck is this?"
Steve sat on the edge of the bed, staring at the thick wad of green dollar bills layed out in front of him. As much as he hated to accept charity, he couldn't deny that he needed the money what with rent, that credit card bill still to arrive and every other financial pressure possible.
Steve packed all his stuff back into the small bag he'd brought and headed for the airport. He sat himseld down on the heaving furniture he had become accustomed to and assessed the situation, reaching for the phone.
"Hello, Macy's. Pamela speaking, how may I be of assistance?"
"Hi can I speak to Karla Urador please?"
"Who shall I say is calling?"
"Steve from Menswear, she'll know who I am."
"What is it Steve?"
"Ah Karla, I'm got some news that's gonna make the both of us happy."
"I'm resigning. I've had enough. Enough of you and your damn shop"
"Fine, it's your choice. Sad to see you go. I'll send you you cards in the post"
Steve replaced the hand set, smiling at his new liberation. He'd made his mind up, he'd had enough of this dump and his life - he was gonna start again. Over the next month, he grabbed another job out of the blue working as a care assistant in a residential home (not his ideal choice of work, but that's life) and he had his eye on a better apartment which he could now afford because of his increased wages and the money JC gave him.
"Hello?" Steve croaked down the phone, waken from his heavy sleep. "Who wants me at 6 in the morning?"
"Josh. I almost forgot, it's your birthday in two weeks!"
"Thanks for reminding me, I almost forgot"
"I guess thats your attempt at sarcasm but never mind, what can we do to make it special?"
"I can't do much, I'm moving house then so it's gonna be kinda awkward"
"You finally getting out of that dump? How comes?"
"I got a new job, it's wiping old people's arses but it's still better than Macy's"
"I'll take your word for it. Why am I always the last to know everything? Well what do you suggest?"
"It's yours the week after so maybe we can do something then, a joint thing?"
"Great idea, I'll look into it. Ouch, Joe you fat piece of sh- sorry Ste I gotta go"
JC's birthday arrived, Steve travelling out to Ohio where the band where to join them. He brought Simon along with him, Partly because he didn't want to go alone and he thought it would be a surprise for JC.
They were holding the 'party' in their hotel room, which JC has made special arrangements with the receptionist to allow him up. The party wasn't much more than a free-for-all on booze, birds, and birthday cake.
Lance answered the door
"We're here for JC's party?"
"I'm Steve and this is Simon. He should be expecting us"
"Ah Steve, so you're the one he's spending so much time with. Good thing reaelly, we all wanted to kick his ass lately"
"Sorry come on in, he's probably mincing about somehwere"
They mingled for a while amongst the hangers on and PR freaks who somehow managed to tag along
"So this is where you're hiding" Steve observed out on the balcony
"I'm not hiding...I'," JC threw up before he could finish
"Heaving, I can see" Steve laughed, rubbing JC's back as he bent over throwing up, "You okay?"
"I am now. So how are you doing?"
"Loads better, I'm wiping arseholes but it's better than kissing em, right"
"I guess. There's something I want to tell you, about what I told you when we went up to DC?" JC prompted, "I'm pretty much decided I am"
"That's why you're throwing up"
"Don't tell anyone, but last night I tell the bellboy-"
"Please tell me you didn't"
"No I diddn't, I only kissed him. To see what it was like"
"I liked it, a lot. And those other feelings are more permenant as well"
"Good for you but you've not reached the summit yet. Now is this your party or not?"
"No. It's ours remember"
They returned to the party which lasted another 5 hours, ending at about 4am
"Come on you lazy sons of bitches, get up it;s 2 in the afternoon" Lance paraded round, kicking everyone on the floor or banging on locked doors
"Lance fuck off. Just because you don't drink" Chris mumbled. Lance went on to give him a semi-serious lecture on the evils of alcohol. Chris, in usual listening mood, wrestled Lance out onto the balcony and locked the door, going back to sleep leaving Lance stuck outside.
It was another hour before Steve woke up feeling strange. Then he noticed someone's hands around him, 'Oh please no, don't let it be Josh' he said before looking at the person behind him
"Oh fucking hell no. This can't be happening!" he jumped out of the bed
"Hmm? What?" JC mummbled into the pillow
"Why was I just sharing a bed with you?! With your arms around me?! Thank God we're still fully clothed!"
"We didn't do anything, I don't think. Just sleep"
"Why did you have your fucking arms around me?!"
"I do it all the time, it's a habit. It's nothing personal"
"Why is the door locked?! This just gets worse" Steve was almost crying. He'd only just come to terms with his sexuality and got his life sorted when he might have just slept with his best friend.
"It's not locked, you're turning the handle the wrong way"
After Steve had spent over half an hour sobbing and flushing last ngiht's excesses down the toilet, the rest of the guys were up or at least moving slightly. Someone had kindly let Lance back in off the balcony after an hour there
Steve sat on the stool along the kitchen worktop
"Can someone pass me an ashtray? I need to smoke!"
"Does JC approve of it?" Justin asked, "He usually takes a fit on us"
"I couldn't give a fuck what JC thinks. Thanks" he said as Justin passed him an ashtray
"Are they what I think they are?" he asked, looking
at teh stubs in the glass ashtray
"I believe they are marajuana Justin, ten points"
"WHO was smoking pot last night" Lance demanded, in typical parent fashion.
The other 3 guys played innocent although Lance has supicions. Jc made his way out of his bed to join the others
"JC was you smoking pot last night?" Lance demanded again
"I don't know, I think I may hav had a bit"
"I can't believe this!"
"Calm down guys, so you smoked some pot. big deal, you never got raided or anything" Steve said
"This isn't any of your business, butt out. I'm not too crazy on fags either"
"I'm gone" Steve jumped up, grabbing his coat, "By the way Josh, happy birthday. It's a shame you have to spend so much time with Moses here. By the way GodBoy, you can shove your old testament so far up your ass you'll need your divine intervention to get it back out again. That's if there's enough room with your head so far up there"
Steve slammed the door, angry yet satisfied with his tirade on Lance
"Hey wait up" Chris called after him
"What? I've got a plane to catch"
"Can I apologise for Lance? He's got a strong religious thing going on and he goes on the offensive if anything challenges it."
"You can apologise all you want, I stopped hurting at comments like that years ago. I think he needs to be a bit more open-minded"
"I agree but I think you put him in his place. Man I'd be proud of some of them one-liners."
"Yeah well bitching kinda goes with the territory"
"I guess you can go catch your plane now we sorted all that out"
"Tell Josh I'll call or he can call me"
"Sure, have a good trip"
Steve had just turned his phone back on when JC rang
"Steve where HAVE you been?"
"On the plane, dumbass, where else?"
"Sorry about Lance, he's a cunt. You'll get used to him"
"You actually think I'm gonna talk to that asshole again?!"
"Sorry Josh, I don't hold grudges but I never forget"
"Well where does this leave us?"
"The same as before. I'm quite impressed with you and your dope smoking, I never thought you had the balls"
""I don't smoke dope, that was the first and last time. Have you calmed down about that whole bed-sharing thing beofre?"
"Yes, I'm pretty certain we didn't do anything"
"I wouldn't be bothered if we had"
"What are you saying?"
"That I wouldn't be upset, I'd want my first time to be with someone I love"
"Not love like that, but love in the other way"
"You wnat a spade for that whole your digging yourself into?"
"You know what I mean"
"I guess so. I've gotta go Josh"
"Bye then, happy birthday even if it is a week late"
As another couple of months drew by, they talked less and less on the phone. JC was submerged in pre-tour planning and promotion and Steve had met Adam. By now it was coming close to Autumn but it was still the tail end of summer.
"Josh, hey. Long time no see". How've you been?"
"Hectic but I can't wait for that $2million cheque"
"Are you lieing or not?" Steve asked semi-seriously
"Of course, I'm worth much more"
"If you say so. Do you carry that ego round in bag cuz I doubt it'll fit in your head any longer"
"When are you coming to New York next?"
"It'll be when we start the tour but we've got next week off to prepare for it. Why don't you come down here for a couple of days?"
"Better still, why don't YOU come HERE, money bags"
"Okay I will, I'll book a flight for Tuesday. Can you pick me up from the airport?"
"Yeah I got a car and everything, four wheels, the whole deal"
"Wow a car with four wheels I just can't wait to see it!"
"Is that all you wanted?"
"Lance told me to apologise on his behalf"
"Is he there?"
"Lance tell him you're sorry" JC could be heard saying
"Hello is this Steve?"
"I just wanted to apolgise for what I said"
"It's OK Lance. I guess I over-reacted too but it's just so hard when you're so damn gorgeous and pretty" Steve put on his campest voice
"Don't you see, honey? It's because your the man of my dreams, I couldn't bare to see you angry, honeybun. Why, your virtually a god in my apartment block Lance. All the guys have your picture on their walls. You're a gay icon, sweetheart" Steve desperately tried not to laugh, knowing Lance was about to explode in anger. Silence on the other end of the phone, then he could hear Lance ranting on at JC about his "arse-bandit friends" and "dirty faggots". Steve erupted in laughter, knowing his plan had worked
"Steve?" JC asked
"Yeah?" barely able to control himself still
"What did you say to Lance?"
"Just a little teasing. Call it payback"
"Well it worked, cuz he's just stormed out. What exactly did you say?"
"I just called him honeybun and sweetheart a few too many times"
"You know he'll need therapy for this"
"Good ,maybe it'll sort all of his thick Mississippi head out"
"We'd better go rescue Lance, Steve. Bye"
Steve was still laughing for days after about what he'd done to poor old Lance. He admitted it was cruel but he'd deserved it, maybe he'd think twice about opening his mouth.
"Where the hell are you?!" JC demanded down the phone
"What? Who is this?"
"Steven McVitty you've got 10 minutes to come and pick me up or I'm hunting your ass down sweetheart. And believe me, your ass won't be much use to no man once I've finished with it"
"Oooh promises promises. I'm coming to get you now Josh"
Steve quickly jumped out of the bed and picked JC up from the airport
"So when did you start using 'sweetheart' at the end of sentences?"
"Since I came out"
"Oh my god, you've told them?!"
"Uh-huh, all by myself"
"And how did they take it?"
"Everyone was okay with it 'cept you-know-who. He's more angry I lied to him to himthan the fact I'm gay"
"I'm so proud of you, Josh. Found any nice Orlando beefcakes yet?"
"Err I'm not really looking yet"
"Only teasing, I know how it feels. It took me 6 months to find a decent guy. How did Justin take it?"
"Probably the best of the four of them. He was more excited than me, he's already trying to set me up with an old friend of his"
"Aw how sweet. Look we're gonna head back to my apartment so I can get changed and you drop your bags off. Then we can hit the town, sweetheart"
"Sounds good, honeybun" JC replied with a smile
There you go! Hope you like it, if you don't then tell me about it you fussy turds. the good, the bad and maybe the ugly to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!