Chapter 14

 "What do you want?" Lance snapped, finally poking his head up from behind his laptop. "I'm busy Joe!"

Shhhhh!" Joey insisted. "You'll wake them up!"

"Wake who up?" Lance asked. "Oh. OH!" He repeated.

"Isn't that the cutest thing you've ever seen?" Joey asked, nodding his head almost imperceptibly at the two men who had fallen asleep on the sofa together as Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves still rolled on the TV. They had both started out upright but as the movie had continued Chris's head had begun to drift down until it had rested on Justin's lap. Justin had lasted a little longer, but now he was asleep as well, his hand still tangled loosely in Chris's hair.

Lance shrugged. "I'm partial to Shania Twain, myself," he said.

Joey rolled his eyes. "Lance, admitting that you're happy for your friends won't make you gay too."

"Joey," Lance said, matter-of-factly, "Go to hell." He closed his lap top in a swift movement and left the room. Joey took one last look at the couple and followed him.

A tour bus did not provide for many hiding places and Joey soon had Lance cornered in his bunk, only the curtain separating them. "Lance?" he said softly, "I didn't mean to piss you off..."

"Joey," Lance said from behind the curtain, "I'm not mad at you okay?" Joey tugged the curtain open and Lance looked up at him from his spot cross-legged on the bed. "I'm just trying to deal with things and it's hard. This isn't something I really had to deal with back home you know?"

Joey shrugged, "I guess," he said, "but it just seems like you're not really trying to get used to it. You just think if you pretend it doesn't exist, then it won't. What are you so worried about?"

"I'm not sure I like what you're implying," Lance said. "Let me ask you something... Why the hell do *you* care so much? I mean it's not like it's *your* relationship Joe. If I didn't know you better I'd think you're trying to live vicariously through them."

Joey held up his hands. "Hey, I'm not implying anything, I'm just wondering. I'm nosy like that. And why shouldn't I be interested, huh?" he asked. "You've seen Chris for the last few months. Ever since his birthday he's been depressed. I'm for anything that cheers him up. I'm his best friend. I'm supposed to be worried about him."

Lance sighed. "Tell you what. You shut up about 'how cute' this is, and I'll try to be more open-minded. Not that I'm NOT open-minded all ready. I'm working at it, okay?"

Joey thought for a minute, and then nodded. "Deal," he said. Joey hesitated a minute and then added, "But if you ever need to talk... about anything... I'm here for you, all right?"

Lance nodded, and Joey left. "Well that's just peachy," Lance said after Joey had gone. "Joey thinks I'm gay now."

"Are you?" Justin asked.

Lance jumped. "Damn Justin!" he said in shock, "When did you learn to be quiet?" Then he scowled. "No, I'm not. Of course not."

"Okay then," Justin said. "So don't worry about it."

"Where's Chris?" Lance asked.

"Still sleeping. He needs it," Justin said. "It's not like we're attached at the hip. Or even like... steady... I guess, although we're not really dating anyone else. We haven't discussed it... and we've only gone out like 3 times... if you can call ordering room service and watching a movie 'going out.'"

Lane shrugged. "Better than any of my dates recently."

Justin rolled his eyes. "None of us gets to go out anywhere good anymore. Not without a shadow."

"Nope," Lance said. "Guess you guys were smarter... At least date someone you'll see... every once in a while." Lance smiled tentatively and Justin giggled.

"We'll be a little more sensitive," Justin said.

"No," Lance insisted. "I mean, this has to be hard enough for you without tiptoeing around me. I'm the one who needs to deal. I'm just still a little squeamish."

"It's okay," Justin said. "It's not something you've had to deal with all that much. I didn't really either. I haven't told my mom yet, you know."

"You should," Lance said. "She's a beautiful woman, you know she'd love you no matter what."

"I know." Justin said, he started to say more but was interrupted by a frustrated shout from the lounge.

"Dammit!" Chris yelled.

"I wonder what that was?" Lance asked.

"I'll go see." Justin said. "We cool?"

"Sure," Lance said. "I'll get used to it."

Justin smiled, then hurried into the lounge when he heard a loud crash that sounded like glass breaking.

"Chris!" he called out, "are you okay?"

"I'm fine," Chris snapped. "I couldn't open the damn pickles and then I dropped them and the jar broke." 'Dropped, threw... what's the difference?" he thought.

"Poor Gramps," Justin said. "Next time get me and I'll open the jar for you."

Chris scowled. "I'm not a fucking baby. I can open my own food."

Justin held up his hands in a gesture of peace. "Hey, Chris, I'm not saying that you're weak..."

"Sorry," Chris said, his anger leaving him as quickly as it had entered. He grinned crookedly and began to clean up the glass. "Guess I needed a longer nap, as cranky as I am."

Justin laughed softly. "Guess so. Here, let me get that, you go sleep."

"Would you come sleep with me when you're done?" Chris asked.

"Um..." Justin said. "Sure. If the bunk's big enough."

"We'll squeeze," Chris said.

"Okay," Justin said, and Chris left.

The time alone gave Justin a moment to think about what Chris had said. The thought of them sleeping together in a bed had conjured up images in his mind that, although they had been particular fantasies of his, Justin wasn't sure he was ready to follow through on yet. "We should talk about that," he thought aloud.

"Let's talk about sex baby..." Joey sang softly.

Justin grinned, "You're as bad as Chris," he said. "Everything reminds you of a song."

"We've all gotta have a quirk," Joey said, shrugging his shoulders. "Just don't do anything that makes you uncomfortable." With that Joey turned and left the room and Justin finished cleaning up the glass. He was walking towards Chris's bunk when another thought occurred to him. 'Hey!' he wondered, 'How did Joey know I was thinking about sex?'