Placing his arms over those wrapped around his waist, Justin leaned back into Mac's arms, pressing him against the counter near Chris. He, too, realized the ramifications of the simple gesture, and unconsciously nuzzled into Mac's neck. "Are you sure we have to go to out today?" Justin whispered into Mac's ear.
"I told you, babe," Mac whispered back, "it's up to you. If you really don't want to go, I'm sure Melissa and the guys will understand."
Justin looked over to each of his friends, then back into Mac's eyes. "Nah," he said, "it's okay. We do need to spend the time with them." Justin looked over to JC and Melissa, then continued, "Besides, they could use a fun day out as much as we could. I know how great you are, it's only right that I share some of the wealth." An impish grin over took Justin as he leaned in closer to Mac's ear, "There is one condition, though." Mac arched an eyebrow and turned his head slightly trying to look into Justin's face. "I get you all to myself later," Justin said, blowing gently into Mac's ear.
A few moments later Joey arrived, and the group loaded up to head to the amusement park. Given the fact that it was a weekday while school was in session, there were thankfully fewer young people around. Once the two groups had parked their cars and met up at the park entrance, an argument of sorts ensued. It seemed almost impossible to decide which portion of the park they should visit first. After considerable banter, JC finally suggested that they let Mac decide. "It's only fair," he said, "Mac's the one who's visiting."
"Yeah, but he'll side with Justin!" Chris whined.
"Yeah! Is it just me..." Joey said, looking toward Chris and Lance, then to the others, "or are we single guys a little out numbered?"
"Look who's sayin' single!" Chris said.
"Yeah," Lance agreed. "At least you've been out on a date this millennium!"
"Yeah, what's the deal with you and this Anne girl anyway?" JC asked.
Joey blushed lightly and stammered a bit, before finally managing to say, "So ... Mac where are we goin'?"
They all laughed, then Mac said, "Good save there, Joey! I don't know ... I kinda like the roller coaster idea myself."
"Oh, man! I knew there was a reason I liked this guy!" Chris said, rubbing his hands together.
"Not very romantic," Joey said, grinning, "you sure that's what you want?"
"We can go through the Tunnel of Love later if you and Chris need some private time," Mac said, smirking. "Right now, I feel the need for speed!"
"Ooo, Tom Cruise moment?" Lance asked, laughing.
"Gotta love a man who looks that good in a flight suit!" Mac said, making a clicking sound with his mouth.
"I'm sure you look pretty hot in yours, babe," Justin said, raising his eyebrows.
"Not really," Mac said, laughing, "with the G-suit on, it just makes my ass look fat."
"Oh God," Joey exclaimed. "I'm headin' for the coasters, cause I'm not gettin' in a discussion about guys butts!" The rest of the group stood laughing for a moment as Joey ambled off toward the roller coasters mumbling. Before Joey had gone too far, the rest of them followed behind him.
After a short walk, they found themselves before a roaring monster, a screaming demon of a coaster. Though there were a few exchanged looks, no one was going to show a second of fear. In other words, no one wanted to seem chicken in front of the others. "So," Lance said, "this is our first stop for adventure today?"
"Oh yeah," Chris said, a smile of childish satisfaction on his face. "Gotta love a coaster where you spend more time upside down than of right side up!" Chris started toward the line, but was halted by a hand on his arm.
"You sure this is a good idea?" JC asked. "Didn't we just eat a bit ago?" He looked over at Melissa for her to second his opinion.
She looked at him, then said, "Josh, we ate hours ago. You gonna wuss out on us?" Melissa smiled angelically, then slipped her hand through Josh's arm. "Come on, baby, I'll keep you safe."
"Hey!" JC said, with an affronted look. "I never said I was scared ... it's just ... well, being upside down messes with my equilibrium!"
"Yeah, sure ... whatever! Let's go," Joey said, then turned back to JC. "Come on , Chicken ... oh I mean Chasez." Joey took off at a run when JC moved to chase him.
Melissa held on tight to JC's arm, "You gonna stay with me or do you really wanna ride with Joey?"
"Who's gonna ride with me?" Chris asked in a child-like voice, then turned to Melissa with wide, innocent eyes. "Lady, will you ride with me?" Chris walked over and took her hand, while squatting down a bit.
Swatting Chris' hand away from Melissa's, JC said, "Hands off, Shorty! That's my lady! Besides, did you see that sign over there? You have to be this tall to ride." JC held his hand up above Chris' head, them smacked the back of his head with it.
"Enough, boys," Melissa said, stepping between them. "Don't make me give you both a time-out. If you're good I'll ride with both of you. It is a four-seater, after all." Taking Chris by the hand, she pulled him along after her like a youngster whose legs weren't long enough to keep up with the adults.
"Well, it looks like that's one section taken care of," Mac said, then turned to look at Lance. "Guess that means you get the honor of sitting with us."
"That sounds okay as long as Justin doesn't scream like a girl again," Lance said, as he grinned at Justin. "You wouldn't believe how high pitched that man can get." Lance quickly walked off to forestall Justin commenting in return.
"Screaming like a girl?" Mac asked, as he and Justin followed the others. "Should I take it that you're scared of roller coasters? We don't have to go on if you don't want to."
"I love coasters," Justin said, "but there was this one
time that we were riding one of the hanging ones. Just before the coaster
left the docking station, Lance looks over at me with this worried look
on his face." Justin preceded Mac into the line, then turned toward him
once again when the line halted. "Then he tells me ... 'ya know, your seat
looks looser than mine'."
As they came down the ramp after the ride, Chris was hopping. "Let's ride it again!" he said, excitedly. Several heads turned in his direction with expressions of disgust. Though no one had really feared the ride, the adrenaline rush was effecting each in a different way.
"I thought he was afraid of heights?" Mac asked of the group at large, while he propped himself against a fence.
"He is!" Lance said. "And he makes sure to remind us before every concert. You should have seen his face when we did the Mission Impossible theme. We started the show above the stage, and we came down on ropes. You should have seen his face!"
"I really thought he had glued his hands to the railing a couple of times," JC said. "Then again, didn't the railing have his hand prints by the end of the tour?" JC side-stepped a kick that should have landed on his rear, then stuck his tongue out at Chris.
"Didn't we have to push him a couple of times?" Joey asked.
"That was you?" Chris almost screamed. "I should kick your ass!" As Chris went after Joey's throat with clawed hands, Mac grabbed him around the waist.
"Whoa, Chris," Mac said, as he struggled to keep hold of the squirming man. "Don't you kind of need him alive?"
"Not that badly," Chris said through gritted teeth, as he calmed down. "How would you feel if someone pushed you off a very high platform?" Chris shook free of Mac's arms and stood with his arms crossed over his chest.
"Been there ... done that," Mac said, grinning. "How about being dropped into a pool while you're inside a helicopter mockup blindfolded?" Mac rubbed the side of his face. "My best friend from flight school kicked me in the side of the head trying to get out before me. That's when you really find out who your friends are."
"Well, they've kicked me ... and they've tried to drown me, but they've never done both at the same time," Chris said before cracking up.
"Don't tempt us," Justin said, as he came up beside Mac. "Ya know, I do have a pool at my house."
"Okay ... where to next?" Melissa asked, while Chris
glared at Justin.
After their tour of the scarier rides, the group gathered in front of the fountain near the food court. Predictably, their discussion over where to stop for food quickly erupted into an argument over who wanted what. Developing their own version of being on a soapbox, Chris and Joey started trying to one up each other, literally, by climbing onto the wall of the fountain.
"Guys, I don't think that's a good idea," Lance said, as he watched Joey edge up a bit further on the wall. "Y'all gonna fall and break your necks."
"And don't think we're gonna pick your butts up, either," JC said, shaking his head at the two.
"That's right ... we're gonna walk away like we don't even know ya," Justin said, adding his objection to the discussion.
JC and Lance continued trying to talk them out of the action, but they were past listening. Soon, what had stared as a minor disagreement had evolved into a comedic spectacle that was drawing far too much attention. When neither of them seemed ready to back down, the others decided to take matters into their own hands. JC and Justin reached to grab them and pull them down.
The moment Justin placed his hands on Chris' arm, Chris began acting as if he were off balance, teetering back and forth. "Come on, quit jokin' around, man!" Justin said, tugging on Chris' arm. "You're gonna fall, and I'm just gonna laugh!"
A foot away, as JC was pulling at his arm to get him down, Joey encountered a wet patch on the concrete surface. Between JC's pull and the sudden lack of traction, Joey lost his footing. Realizing that Joey was in actual danger of falling, both Chris and JC reached for him. Chris' sudden lurch pulled Justin away from his center of gravity, and sent him toppling toward the water.
JC managed to pull Joey safely from the wall, only to end up directly in Chris' path. When Chris almost stepped on him, JC instinctively jumped out of his way and collided with Justin, sending both of them headlong into the water.
The two sat up unceremoniously, water dripping, as the others stood by in shock. Passers-by, mostly older individuals and couples, shook their heads as they observed the group of rowdy young people. It started slowly at first, a quiet giggle from Chris, a chuckle from Lance. To their credit, Mac and Melissa made a valiant effort, but they too soon joined in the laughter.
JC and Justin looked at one another as both ran their fingers through their hair and wiped the water from their faces, then looked at the others. "Oh yeah, very funny," JC said, raising himself to his knees and crawling to the side of the fountain. "By the way Joe, you're welcome."
Joey tried his best to quiet his laughter, but failed. "I'm sorry, Josh. Thanks for keepin' me dry, but...." Joey turned his head to keep from laughing in their faces again, then went over to offer JC a hand to help him from the water.
Justin drug himself to the side of the fountain and found Mac's hand waiting to help him out as well. "Well, you look cute with your hair all slicked back like that," Mac said, shrugging as Justin hoisted himself over the knee high wall.
Justin glared at him for a moment before smiling. "That was cold!" Justin said, pouting and pointing to the water, as a slight shiver raced through him.
Melissa gave JC a sympathetic smile as she walked over to him. "I would hug you," she said, "but I don't wanna get all wet, too." She stifled another laugh as JC rolled his eyes.
"We better go get you guys some dry clothes before you catch a cold," Lance said, looking at his shivering friends. Florida wasn't known for frigid winters, but it was the end of January and being soaking wet was certainly not the best of ideas.
"Yeah, thanks," JC said, his teeth beginning to chatter. "I think those two should buy, though," he said motioning toward Chris and Joey, "since they're the reason we're like this." Chris gave him a beautiful attempt at a sympathetic, yet angelic, face before cracking up again.
"Next time I say we dunk them ourselves," Justin said, heading toward the nearest restroom with JC.
"I hear ya!" JC replied, looking back over his shoulder at the rest of them.
Lance collected some money from Chris and Joey, but not after considerable coaxing from Melissa, then he and Mac headed to the nearby gift shop to get their waterlogged friends a dry wardrobe. Lance told Mac their sizes and the two quickly searched the shop for items that would be suitable, but not overly touristy. There were, of course, a multitude of t-shirts with the name of the park on them, but they were not exactly warm looking. After a quick perusal of the store, they found a few pieces that would be acceptable, paid for them, and then headed over to the rest rooms.
Once inside the men's room, Lance called out to JC and Justin. They both yelled that they were in the last stalls, and Mac and Lance headed toward the voices. "We got the dry duds, guys," Lance said. "Ready for them?"
"Hell yes, I'm freezing!" Justin said, as the two approached.
Mac quickly surveyed the room, finding it to be empty except for the movement in the two end stalls. He quickly looked over at Lance, grinning, as the reached the end of the row of doors, then turned toward the stall and said, "Maybe I can do something about that later." Mac knocked on the stall door, and it pushed open. Expecting to find Justin, Mac held the dry clothes out with a broad smile and said, "Here ya go, babe." Instead Mac found a very surprised and very naked JC. "Oh my God!" Mac said, his eyes growing wide then snapping tightly shut.
Surprised, JC quickly attempted to cover himself with the paper towel that he had been using to dry off with. "Uh ... wrong door?"
Lance burst out laughing as Mac quickly nodded his head, stammering. "Sorry, I ... uh..." Mac said, "oh man!"
"Over there," JC said, directing him toward the stall opposite his. He then quickly poked his head around the door frame to look at Lance. "Are you gonna stand there laughing, or hand me some clothes?"
"I'm thinking about it!" Lance said through his laughter.
"What are you guys doing out there?" Justin asked.
"Nothing!" Mac said quickly. "I ... uh ... here, here's you're clothes," Mac said, shoving the clothes over the top of the door. "I think I'm gonna head outside, I'll be waiting for you."
Chris, Joey and Melissa were milling around outside when Mac emerged from the men's room. He was a striking shade of beet. "What's wrong?" Melissa asked.
"Nothing!" Mac said. "Did we ever decide on where we were eating? I'm dying for a drink right about now."
"Are you sure you're okay?" Joey asked, Mac's quick answers and attempts at evasion had set off his protective instincts.
"Yeah, yeah ... fine," Mac said as JC, Justin and Lance emerged from the restroom.
"Everything fit alright?" Melissa asked, putting her arms around JC. Noticing the light blush on his face, she asked, "Okay, what just happened in there?"
Lance burst into a chuckle and said, "You better watch out, you may have some competition!" Mac's complexion, which had settled back to a normal flesh tone, blazed back toward crimson.
"What?" Melissa said, looking to the four for some kind of insight.
"He mistakenly got the wrong stall," JC said, shaking his head, "no big deal."
"You mean you were..." Joey said, "and he saw...."
"And he's not blind?" Chris yelled.
They all dissolved into another fit of laughter. "Shut up!" JC and Mac both said through stifled chuckles.
Leaning close to Mac's ear as he calmed down, Justin
said, "It's okay, babe. You can look, so long as you didn't touch."
The group headed into the food court and found a table. After deciding what they wanted, they elected Justin and Mac to go get the food.
"Lance, did you ever call Julie?" JC asked.
"Yeah, I called her yesterday," Lance said, "but I better call her again to remind her." They had set up a recording session at the studio as a cover to keep Justin busy while Mac worked on his surprise. Julie, one of the secretaries at the studios, was their added insurance. She could always smooth any of Justin's ruffled feathers. Lance took out his cell phone and dialed her number. "Julie?" Lance asked, as the call was connected. "Yeah, hey ... are we still on for tomorrow?"
"Yeah, Lance," she said, "everything's all set. Are you sure you want to do it so early in the morning? I know you said it was for a surprise for Justin, but ... he's gonna be really pissed when he finds out he has to go in that early, and on his birthday to boot."
"Yeah, I know," Lance said, smiling. "He'll get over it, though, especially after he sees the surprise."
"If you say so," Julie said. They briefly went over the plan once more, then Lance quickly said goodbye when he saw Justin and Mac returning.
"Who was that?" Justin asked, placing the hotdogs he was carrying on the table.
"Management," Lance said, his tone a bit disgusted.
"What ... did they cancel our vacation?" Justin said, jokingly.
"Pretty much," Lance said, far to seriously for Justin's liking.
"What?" Justin almost yelled.
"The studio called and said that they lost the masters for a couple of tracks and they need us to redo them," Lance said, frowning.
"When?" Justin asked, looking from Lance to Mac.
"Tomorrow morning," Lance said.
"No way!" Justin yelled, turning back toward Lance. "That's my birthday, and they promised I'd have this one off!"
The group almost collectively winced. They had expected Justin not to be pleased with the news, but they were now beginning to wonder if they might have pushed him too far.
"Calm down, Jus," JC said, "don't bite Lance's head off, he didn't come up with it." That would be my fault, JC thought as he took a deep breath.
"I'm sorry, Lance," Justin said, seeming to deflate into his chair. "I just kinda wanted to spend some time with Mac while he was in town," Justin said, through gritted teeth.
"It'll be alright, Jus," Mac said soothingly. "We can get together afterward. What time do you guys have to go in?"
"Seven o'clock," Lance said, bracing for Justin's reaction.
"Perfect," Justin said, shaking his head. "That's just
perfect ... happy birthday. Hey look, we forgot Joey's mustard. I'll get
it ... I'm suddenly not very hungry." They all followed him with their
eyes, guilt clouding them, as he trudged toward the hotdog stand. Each
looked to the others, mentally trying to gage whether the disappointment
he was feeling now would be out weighed by his delight tomorrow evening.
The news Lance had broken had all but ended Justin's fun. He basically moped the rest of the day. The only upbeat moment was when they took the ride in the Tunnel of Love that Mac had promised Chris and Joey. Chris had insisted, outwardly playing off the joke, but inwardly praying that some time with Mac would make his younger friend feel at least a bit better.
It was a valiant attempt, but one that was doomed to failure. Justin reveled in the chance to hold Mac's hand in the darkness of the ride. That brief euphoria was doused, however, as Justin sank into the old quagmire of resenting the fact that he had to steal moments such as this. He saw the other lovers, their arms around one another, openly showing their affection for each another and the nagging question resurfaced ... Why?
I'm better than this, Justin thought. I've
dealt with this already. This is just the way it is for now ... but it's
never felt this bad before. He sighed, then felt Mac gently squeeze
his hand. Justin looked up into those green pools and instantly smiled,
as he thought, I think I know what's different this time, though.
Their day ended with a late dinner at a local pub. The place was cozy and a departure from their usual fast food. The warm fireplace, and the lack of anyone who would be classified as a fan, added to the perfection of the moment. Justin was even beginning to come back out of the shell to which he had withdrawn.
After they finished, they all went back to Justin's house to pick up their cars and head home, leaving Justin and Mac alone. "How are you feeling, babe?" Mac asked as Justin closed and locked the front door. "Any better since dinner? You didn't eat very much."
"Well, we're alone now anyway," Justin said flatly.
"Do you want something else to eat?" Mac asked. "Or some coffee or something?"
"I'm fine, Mac," Justin said, attempting a smile. "I'm sorry I'm being such a downer. I just want to spend some time with you, but every time we turn around it seems like something else is coming up."
"I'm sorry, Baby," Mac said, enveloping Justin in a hug.
"Don't be," Justin said, running his hands across Mac's back. "It's not your fault."
I just hope you feel the same way when you find out the whole story, Mac thought, returning the gesture. "Are you sure you don't want anything?" Mac asked.
"Can we just go to bed?" Justin asked. Pulling back to look into Mac's eyes he said, "I just wanna be with you, just...." Justin stopped as Mac grinned, then suddenly his own words struck him. "Oh gawd, I did not just say that."
"You did," Mac said, smirking, "but I'll forget I ever heard it. On one condition ... two actually."
Justin returned the smirk, and said, "Name them, and I'll see what I can do."
"First, finish what you were saying," Mac said, smiling. "Then kiss me ... high price, but then blackmail doesn't come cheap these days."
"I think maybe I can afford it," Justin said, then kissed Mac deeply.
Once the kiss was broken, Mac leaned back and said, "Wrong order, but I'm not gonna complain. Now what were you saying?"
"It's late, so we couldn't do much even if we wanted to," Justin started, "but will you just hold me? I just ... last night was wonderful and I...." Mac's finger over his lips silenced him.
"Justin, you don't ever have to ask me to do that," Mac said, then replaced his finger with his lips. After a few moments they shut off the lights and went upstairs.
Once in Justin's room the two stripped down to their boxer briefs and climbed into the bed. Justin snuggled into Mac's arms as they wrapped around him. The feeling of their bare skin pressed together warmed him in a way that no blanket could. "I don't ever want this to end," Justin said. "Does it have to?"
"Not as far as I'm concerned," Mac said, then kissed the top of Justin's head. They sat quietly in one another's arms for several minutes, before Justin chuckled lightly. "What is it?" Mac asked, nuzzling into Justin's neck.
"Just wondering if I had anything to worry about," Justin said, grinning.
"About what?" Mac said, pulling back to look into Justin's face.
"You and Josh," Justin said, laughing. "You were gettin' to know him a little better in the restroom today, huh?"
Mac tried to look angry, but ended up joining in Justin's laughter. "Well, all I can say is that Melissa's one lucky woman," Mac said, squeezing Justin. "That paper towel he had did nothing!"
"Ain't that the truth!" Justin said. Mac gave him a funny look and Justin added, "Hey, I've lived with the guy on a bus for more than half a year, I've seen ... I couldn't help but see. Seen way more than I've wanted to see! It's like catching your older brother." Justin forced a shudder at the last statement, renewing Mac's laughter.
"May I ask you something that I've been curious about?" Mac asked once their laughter had subsided.
"Of course," Justin said. The seriousness of the question caused Justin to pull himself from Mac's arms so that he could turn to look him in the eye. Through the whole maneuver, however, he never lost contact with him, ending up beside him. His arm then moved around Mac's back.
"You and Lance..." Mac started, then paused as if to try and better phrase his query.
"Oh," Justin said, nodding.
"I'm not jealous or anything," Mac said quickly. "I mean I see how you are together, you're best friends, it's obviously not a lover kind of thing. I just ... well, you mentioned it the other day and I was wondering."
"It's okay," Justin said, "I told you that I'd tell you later ... and it's later." Justin smiled as he thought back. "There's not much to tell. We were involved briefly when we were younger, a little while after the group got together. He was just coming to terms with being bi ... I was dealing with being gay ... common interest kind of thing," Justin said, a little chuckle accompanying the end of the statement. Mac smiled at him, and Justin pulled him closer. "We were both young, lonely ... and horny, basically." Justin stopped and looked up into Mac's eyes and continued, "Eventually, though, we both decided that we made better friends than lovers, and that's what we are."
Mac said nothing at first, and Justin was beginning worry that he was more effected by the story than he had at first let on. Mac stared into Justin's eyes, then began to move closer. He pressed nearer and nearer until his lips brushed Justin's. The kiss began slowly, but soon grew more passionate, each one's tongue exploring the other's mouth. Their hands explored their partner's body, tracing the outlines of muscles, discovering new contours.
Justin's hand moved down over Mac's hip. He could tell by the feel of his briefs that Mac was aroused, the fabric pulled taught, straining under the pressure of his erection. Mac's leg was pressed near Justin's crotch and Justin began slowly grinding his own erection against it.
Low moans, muffled by the other's mouth came from each of them, then Mac suddenly pulled away. "We'd better stop," he said breathlessly. "You've got to get up early in the morning."
"I don't wanna stop," Justin said, equally as breathless. His mouth curled into a little boy's pout.
"Neither do I," Mac said, "but if we don't stop right now, I won't be able to."
"That would be a bad thing, huh?" Justin said, now wearing a smirk on his lips.
"You're the one who hates mornings," Mac said, leaning his forehead against Justin's. "You tell me."
"I guess you're right," Justin said, "but for the record, I protest. Can we at least pick this up where we left off tomorrow night?"
"I promise," Mac said, kissing him tenderly.
Justin reluctantly rolled over onto his side, snuggling back against Mac's chest. "I love you," Justin said.
Mac brushed his hand lightly across Justin's chest, then kissed his neck. "I love you, too, Jus," he whispered into Justin's ear.