Chris was beginning to think he had some kind of disease.

Every day a new mark would appear on his body. They were strange marks in embarrassing places, like stinging red spots or scrapes on his thighs, bruises that looked like hickies on his neck and collarbones. Really, his body was taking on a well-used appearance, as though he was being thoroughly laid, like, daily. It was actually pretty cool. Out of nowhere the imprint of a bite would blossom across his shoulder, and Justin would hoot when he saw Chris and slap his hand.

Except for the fact that he knew he must have taken some kind of subconscious vow after Dani. He hadn’t had sex in months.

The tour doctor was no help at all. He basically gave the old doctor guy version of a hoot and a high five, advising Chris to be more careful since he was clearly accident prone. He smiled a little, indulgently, and when Chris narrowed his eyes, actually fucking winked and asked Chris if he thought he needed any tests or antibiotics. Chris said no huffily and left.

Next morning he awoke with the most amazing, colorful, and painful splotch spreading across his neck beneath his ear. Makeup was his only hope. Before soundcheck Justin whistled, clearly impressed beyond hooting. Joey slapped him on the back, while Lance shook his head, smiling. JC just looked at him, not smiling. His expression was bemused or maybe almost disapproving; Chris wasn’t sure exactly what kind of vibe he was giving off.

During soundcheck, though, he didn’t play around much. He seemed muted. Somehow he was never there when Chris went to jostle him or grab him to play, and when Chris looked for him across the stage, he was looking back, with a serious kind of non-expression on his face.

Actually, this was pretty much not cool at all.

** ** ** ** **

JC guessed it all hit home, like, in his gut, when Chris showed up with that godawful hickey covering his neck. ‘Til then he had been able to rationalize what he saw. Chris was obviously getting sexed up, and fairly regularly, too. That hurt, of course. But he had accepted that as how it had to be a long time ago. Or at least, he was too chicken to test whether it had to be that way, and he accepted that, too, for a number of reasons he thought were good. This mark, though. This was something else.

Accept it, maybe, but he had never been able to stop wanting Chris. Lately it was really hard, too, what with the visual evidence and all. Visual aids. Chris came in every day looking like he had just dragged himself out of bed, bleary eyed with finger-gripped hair, lips all swollen and red, moving gingerly. Fuel for JC’s already healthy fantasy life.

If healthy was the right word. He felt kind of bad about it, really, but he could hardly keep his hands off himself lately, imagining putting all those marks on Chris, working out exactly what kind of sucking and biting and holding would shadow Chris’s skin like that. Working it out as he worked himself. It was embarrassing. But so hot.

The hickey today, though. JC leaned over his knees with his head in his hands. He had to get himself together. It was pure chance that the Quiet room was empty right now, and any minute Justin or Lance might stroll in, phone to ear, or Joey with a paper plate bending under the weight of a hoagie and chips, or Chris, grinning… he had to figure this out.

Last night JC had caught Chris showing Justin a burn on the inside of his thigh, pulling up the leg of his shorts slightly right there in the club. It was a beard burn. He was sure of it. Later in his hotel room, JC had smoothed fingers down his abdomen, picturing Chris’s expression as he drove into him, turning to rub his face hard against Chris’s trembling leg. That had been so good. He had heard Chris’s shaky moans in his mind as he pushed the palm of his hand over his cock. So good. And quick; he could never last long, thinking about Chris, and as he’d stroked himself faster and faster, gasping with his head thrown back on the pillow, he’d watched himself pull out and flip Chris over, sinking down over him and into him, burying his face in Chris’s neck.

He had come so hard. He was getting aroused now, just thinking about it. Fucking Chris hard, and as Chris had suddenly stiffened under him and howled, he had bitten down frantically, riding the wave, and held on as his own eyes rolled back in his head and his body convulsed, pulsing into Chris’s.

He had bitten him right below the ear. In his fantasy JC had waited until they’d both stopped shaking, then gathered Chris up in his arms, kissing his poor neck while Chris had murmured sleepy loving insults.

It had really been worth the tears afterwards. It always was. But now, remembering Chris’s laughing glare as the guys gave him shit about his neck, remembering what the makeup could barely hide… JC pushed his hands into his hair, holding tightly, pressing his face against his knees.

The mark on Chris’s neck today was the same one JC had left there, last night, in his fantasy.

He wasn’t sure how to make sense of this. But he thought he knew what he should do.

** ** ** ** **

Chris rubbed his fingers under his ear. Fading, a little. It was less tender today, and Chris found himself pressing his fingertips in slightly, searching out remnants of the bright pain he had felt for a long time after the bruise first appeared. Not that he missed the feeling, because fuck, it had hurt. But since the morning it had flowered across his skin, no other strange spots had developed, and his body had returned to its damn-near virginal state. His mysterious sex life was over. Apparently. Which was okay, he guessed, since he had missed out on all the fun parts.

Ouch. With an effort, he pulled his hand from his neck.

“Quit pickin’ at it. It’ll get infected.” Lance huffed a little laugh when Chris turned a dark look on him.

“It’s a bruise, Bass. They don’t get infected. Besides, it’s healing up.” Chris swatted Lance upside the back of his head. Lance ducked, grinning, shoving Chris away from him on the couch.

“Joey! Tell this dumbass what that thing on his neck looks like.” Joey turned around in his seat at the table, where he and Justin were plotting some elaborate scheme requiring graph paper and rulers and pens of several colors. Chris, who felt he should be involved in anything described as a “scheme” by divine birthright, had been ignoring them.

Joey eyed his neck until Chris pegged a pillow at him across the room.

“It looks like you’re a great big slut, man. That is one massive lovebite.”

“It is!” Lance crowed triumphantly. “That’s what I said! Someone was totally chewin’ on his neck.”

“It is bruised on the edges, though,” Justin put in helpfully. “It’s more like a combo lovebite-hickey thing.”

“I’m dying of some rare blood disorder and you’re arguing about whether it looks like biting or sucking. Very nice.” Chris shook his head sadly. His friends were morons.

“You still pretendin’ you’re not gettin’ it, like, every minute of the day? Because, dude, nuh-uh.” Justin emphasized his point by shaking a red sharpie in Chris’s direction.

“I told you fuckers. But you choose not to listen.”

“Dude, not even JC believes that one. Right, C?” Everyone turned to look at JC, sitting as separated from them as he could get, crunched up into a big chair in the corner.

“What?” He blinked, abstracted. Chris thought he looked like he had only just realized he wasn’t alone in the room and wasn’t too pleased about it. Come to think of it, that described JC a lot, lately. JC looked back down at his ragged notebook.

“It’s not from having sex,” Chris insisted.

“Whatever, man.” Joey smiled at him indulgently.

“Listen to me, you fucker! I’m not! I haven’t!”

“Okay, Chris.” Joey had a pre-wink sort of look on his face. Chris thought he might end up having to smack him. And Lance, too, on general principle. Maybe Justin. He opened his mouth to tell them how it was going to be, when JC suddenly erupted from his chair.

“Do we have to keep talking about this? It’s obvious that whatever was going on is over now, because there aren’t any more marks, and I, for one, am so sick of hearing about it all the fucking time!” JC grabbed up his notebook. For a second he looked like he had more to say, his strained face working, but instead he shook himself abruptly and ran out of the room with little of his usual grace.

For a moment, silence. Chris could come up with nothing on this one. JC was often pissy, but never… huh.

Finally, Justin spoke. “Whoa. JC… whoa.”

Lance nodded. “Yeah. What was that about? But he’s right. That bite is old. So I guess you don’t want to talk about old news, Chris, and maybe we should leave you be.”

“Maybe,” Chris said, glaring.

** ** ** ** **

He hadn’t meant to storm out of there. He didn’t want the attention. With a sigh, JC flung an arm over his eyes. Hopefully he could have, like, two minutes of privacy here on the quiet bus to try and get his balance back.

It was working. Thank god, it was working. He was going nuts, though. No masturbation for days. That always meant Chris, for him, and he had been kind of freaked out, so nothing: no touching himself, no day-dreaming. He was hard all the time. Also fairly cranky, he had to admit; he could barely even talk to Chris, because the sound of his voice, his eyes, his goddamn constant poking and grabbing and playing, streaked right through JC’s body like fire.

He stretched a little, uncomfortably. His body was so hypersensitive lately that just sprawling out here on the big couch felt like being held. He could sense his clothes all over his body, touching him.

But since he had stopped, it had… stopped. Which was good. But also bad, because JC could no longer pretend that some mysterious lover Chris wouldn’t talk about was roughing him up.

How ironic was that? It came close to killing JC every time he had to think about Chris with some guy. But if not some guy, then what? The evidence seemed to suggest that JC’s fantasies had some strange, fucked up power over Chris’s body. Which was, mmmm, pretty intriguing, really. He could think about licking Chris’s nipple, say, and Chris would feel it. Would feel his nipple getting all tight and swollen. Mmmm. All red and swollen.

Whoa! Down, boy. It wasn’t right to do that to Chris. Definitely not. Not right. Even if Chris had no idea. Even if JC was the only one who knew why Chris looked so well-loved. No. JC didn’t want to be that guy.

But everybody was always describing JC as ‘out there,’ weren’t they? So maybe he was jumping to some weird-ass conclusion based on his own obsessions. Maybe his fantasies had nothing to do with it. Okay, that had the potential to suck, too. He didn’t want Chris to be sick.

But maybe he should test the theory. That was, like, scientific, right?

Maybe just once, to test the theory. It would calm him down a little. He could try to go easy on Chris, maybe just suck gently on his upper arm or something. Just enough to show, like, a small bruise. Chris could get a bruise just bumping his arm wrestling around with the guys, right? So it wouldn’t be as wrong. Not really. And JC would get to taste his skin, a little.

Yeah. It would be slightly salty. The hair on Chris’s arm would tickle his tongue. Chris’s bicep would tense up; his whole body would tense up, in fact, and Chris would curl around him and his breathing would change.

JC let out a slow controlled breath and eased open his fly. Gently. He could do it. Licking Chris’s arm, feeling Chris’s body push against his, JC rubbed the wet head of his cock with his palm. Easy. In his mind, he started sucking. Chris shivered against him.

** ** ** ** **

Clearly JC was needing some kind of intervention. This shit could not go on. Chris wasn’t sure what he’d done to the big freak to piss him off for days and days, but he had been acting like the ass end of a horse toward Chris for something Chris couldn’t even help. Which was over now anyway, so. Enough.

Chris stomped up the steps of the bus, rubbing his arm. Apparently he had knocked it on something, probably Joey’s face when he had noogied him thoroughly after JC had pitched his hissy fit. It was tingling something fierce, a very strange feeling. Like something was moving on his skin and his skin was… responding. Great. More weirdness.

Touching the area on his arm lightly with his fingertips seemed to help. Seemed to spread the tingling out, so it wasn’t so concentrated. Holding on to his arm, Chris made his way through the bus.

“Chasez! Show yourself, man.” The freaky tingling was intensifying, seeming to settle into his bone. He lifted his arm to peer at the spot. It was throbbing. Felt kinda good, to tell the truth. His skin was turning red. Well, fuck.

With his gaze still locked on his arm, which was changing colors right before his eyes, Chris moved past the bunks toward the back of the bus. He had never actually seen one of the marks form before. He thought he certainly would have remembered if he had. The sense of something happening was undeniable. And the sense of wanting to stroke his own arm until he felt that tingling moving over a wider area of skin, throughout more of his body, was damn near overwhelming.

Crap. Now he got the sexy part, too? Fucking perfect timing.

“Chasez, dammit!” He burst into the back, bouncing gently off the doorway in his distraction. JC was sitting, round-eyed and pissed-off looking, hugging his knees on the big couch. He was breathing kind of funny. Probably from anger, Chris thought, since he wouldn’t even look Chris in the eye, preferring, it seemed, to stare at Chris’s arm where he was gripping it tightly. Chris turned his body slightly away from JC. He wished his arm hurt more, so he could ignore it. He spoke as belligerantly as he could manage.

“What the fuck is wrong with you? You’re no fun at all lately, man, dragging around here like your dog died. What the fuck?”

JC seemed to close in on himself. Lowering his gaze to his knees, he said, finally, “I’m trying. I really am trying.” His voice sounded tight and rough.

“What? What are you talking about? What the fuck are you even talking about?”

“I said I’m trying! I’m fucking trying, so leave me the fuck alone!”

“Man, the day you start making sense is the day I take out an ad in the New York Times.” Chris moved a little toward the big couch. JC actually flinched. Chris stopped, exasperated.

“JC, I just want to know what’s going on with you. Something’s up with you. What is it, man?”

JC was silent, gripping his knees so tightly that his fingertips were white. Chris rubbed his arm roughly, and JC, who he could swear wasn’t even watching, flinched again. What the fuck ever.

“JC, for fuck’s sake…”

Why are you even fucking yelling at me?” Holy shit. JC had tears in his voice. Defeated, Chris felt his anger drop away. This was… for some reason, he was just not equal to this right now. Silently, he stood there for a minute. JC did not look at him again. Chris turned away and made his way back down the aisle and out of the bus. He could hear nothing more from JC.

In the sunny security enclosure, he turned to look briefly at the windows of the bus, clutching his arm tightly, pressing his fingers into the bruise he knew was forming. He could see no movement in the bus.

** ** ** ** **

JC wiped his eyes, whispering “Fuck, fuck, fuck,” into his knees. Well, that was smooth. But he had been so close, groaning with each exhalation, staring blindly at the roof of the bus as he brought himself, and Chris, to the edge.

Hearing Chris’s actual voice at that moment had been like a shock of ice water all over him. A cold and scary shock, and JC gave a painful little laugh as he imagined Chris walking in on him, like, thirty seconds sooner. Although truthfully, he didn’t see how things could be any worse. Chris was like a bulldog when he thought any of them were bent out of shape about something, claiming that the secret to their success as a group was honesty and openness. Usually that meant Chris got to be all up in their shit all the time. In fact, JC was surprised that Chris had gone when he had.

Oh, this was so fucked up. He knew he would be hearing about this again. He wasn’t sure how to deal, this time.

And his arm. Chris had been… he had been caressing his arm, stroking his palm over that spot slowly, gripping and rubbing as he shouted at JC, as though he hadn’t even realized he was doing it. JC had seen the bruise between Chris’s probing fingers. He had put that there. A bruise, on Chris’s actual arm; he had been loving on his Chris, in his fantasy, licking him and sucking on him, and now the real Chris carried JC’s mark on his arm.

Well. There was his fucking scientific proof. Now what?

** ** ** ** **

This sucked. Chris felt it was not at all like him to avoid a situation with one of his boys. But the laws of the universe weren’t working too well, lately, and his natural instinct, which guided him hell-bent across any emotional minefield, was clearly sprung.

He was going to have to consult with the JC experts. Hopefully the guys could shed some light. He made his way slowly back into the Quiet room, holding his arm away from his body with conscious effort.

Joey and Justin were back at the table. Lance sat on the couch with an ankle across his knee, paging through a magazine. They all looked at Chris expectantly as he entered. He shrugged and held out his hands.

“I got nothing.”

Justin shot him a look. “What does that mean? Nothing. You got nothing? Where’s C?”

“He’s on the bus, all pissed off. I have no idea what his problem is.” Chris shrugged again, elaborately.

“I’ll tell you what JC’s problem is.” Lance said. Joey snorted and shook his head.

“What, Bass. Enlighten me.”

“JC needs to get laid,” Lance said decisively. “He needs to get some, like, next time we hit a club or somethin’.”

For a moment Chris could only look at him, in awe.

“That’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard. How will that solve anything? It won’t, that’s how.” Chris sneered at Lance, who looked back at him with raised eyebrows.

Joey frowned a little. “Hey, man. Chill. We all know C’s been like a monk for awhile now. Well, a monk who beats off sixteen times a day, but still.”

Chris rolled his eyes. Morons. “Okay. Clearly you all don’t have a frickin’ clue about this one. Next time, just say so. Although I’m surprised, calling yourselves his friends. Huh.”

Justin, who had been watching with narrowed eyes, spoke up suddenly. “He’s totally the one who needs to get laid, y’all. He is. If he’s not yankin’ us about where all the hickies came from, then he’s probably all pent up, too.” He nodded a little, satisfied.

He thinks you’re a moron, moron. Pent up. The hell.” Chris rubbed the bruise, hard. If it would just stop… shimmering over his skin, up his arm, across his chest. Fuck. Now he was making up words. But it was the kind of feeling that made him want to hum, or something, and talking to the guys was the worst idea ever, and maybe he needed to get out of there, like, now. Yes.

He could hear Justin asking “What’s wrong with his arm?” as he fled, for the second embarrassing time that day.

** ** ** ** **

JC lay rigidly on the scratchy hotel bedspread, with the sense that he was waiting for something. The show that night had been crack, as usual. They never allowed anything to interfere with that. But JC had been surprised to realize that Chris was not glaring at him backstage, as he’d expected. Not much, anyway. Mostly, he seemed to be glaring at Joey, Lance, and Justin, all three of whom seemed highly amused.

Also surprisingly, Justin had made a point of hugging on him a couple times, and Lance had rubbed his shoulders a little, and Joey had wrapped arms around him from behind, patting his face with one hand before he let go. JC felt guilty since he thought maybe he had been a stone bitch to them for awhile now. But it had helped, a lot.

Now, he was in a kind of limbo.

Couldn’t sleep. He was too overwrought from the show and from… everything. Couldn’t concentrate to watch tv and wasn’t hungry. Hadn’t wanted to go out with the guys, because the thought of any more eyes on him, and the loud music, and the alcohol… couldn’t masturbate. God, no. He couldn’t do that to Chris.

Just… waiting.

** ** ** ** **

Chris stumbled a little coming into his room. Okay. Maybe the club hadn’t been the best idea. He was verging on wasted.

Or, well, not really. Really just tired and confused and exhausted. And tired. Maybe drunk, some. But that was because Justin had insisted that beverage color was the key to group harmony, forcing him to sample the whole spectrum of cocktails. Who knew there were so many colors? Joey had helped by pointing out every cute boy and girl in the place until Chris had upended a blue drink on his shoe. And Lance had slung an arm over his shoulder and left it there. All night.

All night with someone up on his arm. As if he would ever feel that way about Bass, of course. But. That arm. Chris was still incredibly eerily sensitive there, and he had been aware of every movement Lance made against his body.

JC had missed out on the group harmony liquor fest by choice, Lance had said. Chris felt bad about that. Kind of. But kind of not, since he still had no idea why JC was acting so uber-pissy lately. Kept looking at that spot on Chris’s arm today while the bruise burned and ached, his face frozen, his eyes narrowed. It was like he knew what was happening to Chris’s arm and didn’t like it one bit. Possibly that had added to Chris’s tone of voice. He could admit it. JC watching him like that, his breathing all messed up with anger and looking all flushed and tense… it had been upsetting.

This was torture. Chris shed his clothes, tripping slightly over his pants as he wrenched his t-shirt over his head. Maybe all the jewelry could stay on. Because bed was the best thing he had heard of, ever.

Fucking hickey. Fucking arm. All the sexy stuff happening to his body over the last weeks, and all he had gotten out of it was the aftermath. Now, one single suck-looking thing, not even a big one, and it was like he was in heat. Like all he could think of was rubbing himself off on something or someone. Yeah, pushing his body against someone’s body, someone… maybe this was what it was like for JC, sixteen times a day. If so he felt for him. It was like insanity. He wished he could have picked up on one of the pretty boys and girls.

JC never picked up. As completely fucked up and wrongheaded as Lance’s suggestion had been, it was true that Chris never saw JC with anyone anymore, and never heard stories about it from the guys. And he was a horny bastard, too. Chris had heard him on the bus. He tried to be quiet, but Chris had listened to his soft muffled moans and ragged breathing many times. It always sounded really fast and furious. Very urgent. He sounded like he’d probably make a lot of noise if he wasn’t trying so hard to hide.

It was sexy, though, picturing JC trying to keep quiet, maybe holding the back of his hand across his mouth as he huffed unsteadily through his nose, or maybe biting down on the meaty part of his own thumb or on his own bicep. Mmmm, JC sucking on his own arm. It was fucked up to think about his boy like this. Mmmm. Biting his own arm.

Chris jerked a little on the bed as a stud on one of his wristbands scratched his abdomen. He should take them off, and the rings. But he couldn’t take the time, because suddenly his cock was in his hands and he couldn’t stop himself from jerking it, while the shivery bruised feeling that had been riding him all day and all night spread throughout his body. The one tiny portion of his brain that was still processing found this ironic. In his imagination Chris was considering how to slow JC down, how to get him to stop and pay attention, wondering how to get through to him so he’d open up for once and finally let Chris in. He realized he’d have to hold JC down.

** ** ** ** **

He must be dreaming, yet he felt sure he was still awake. Laying in the center of the bed as he had been all night, JC could feel warm waves of energy flowing upward along his body. He threw one arm over his head restlessly. The waves intensified abruptly, and although he tried rolling his hand to loosen it, his wrist felt tight, felt hot and heavy on the pillow over his head.

It was like something was cuffing him. He had often imagined restraining Chris like this, pushing his arms up and gripping his wrists tightly. Strangely, he had never really thought about Chris doing the same to him. In his fantasies, his Chris let JC do whatever he wanted. It had never occurred to him that Chris might want something different, something more. He knew Chris was not exactly the passive type.

He didn’t know if Chris was big enough, or had long enough arms, to be able to hold on to him like that. But his compact body would be heavy on JC’s, pushing him down into the bed, pushing into him. JC knew that Chris would talk to him as he held on. He would hum into JC’s ear, tickling him and murmuring when JC tried to pull away, soothing him with languid kisses that would drive JC insane as they got slower and deeper.

He had sworn he would not do this to Chris anymore. But he sensed that this time might be different, because he wasn’t doing it, not really. It was Chris licking his neck and pinching his nipples, laughing breathily as JC whimpered deep in his throat and moved desperately under him; Chris letting him up just long enough to push him over on to his belly, coming down heavy again on top of him; Chris scratching those leather wristbands he loved all over JC’s shoulders and back and humming into the hair at the back of JC’s neck.

It was Chris.

** ** ** ** **

Chris woke the next morning as if from a coma. He felt like he had been asleep, unmoving, for years. But the ferocious light that stabbed him in the eyes when he opened them made a coma sound good. He groaned.

And sat up, abruptly, as the pre-pass-out events of the night before flooded through his brain. Ow. He may have given himself a stroke moving like that. But. Holy fucking shit. That had been one hell of a… it had been… Chris didn’t rightly know what that was last night. But it had been the most amazing sexual experience he could remember, that much was for sure. He was covered in dried goo to prove it.

JC had been phenomenal in his fantasy, gasping and growling under Chris, undulating that long body wildly until Chris had been forced to bite down hard at the back of his neck to hold on and try to make him focus. It had worked. Too well. JC had stopped suddenly, whining high in his throat and shuddering. Then he had damn near tossed Chris over the side of the bed as he convulsed and came, groaning loudly and breathing like he was dying. It was the sexiest thing Chris had ever seen. He had immediately come, too, helplessly caught up and shaken and tossed back down to earth, gripping with his teeth as JC shook beneath him, whispering brokenly.

Chris realized he had a deathly hold on the blankets. So fucking real. After his brain started functioning again in a few hours, he would have to think about what was up with him. And JC. The whole him and JC thing. In the meantime, though, coffee.

When Chris opened the door to let room service in, JC was standing there, white faced and intent, holding the tray.

“JC,” Chris said, feeling his stomach flipping around. Too soon. He was still recovering from the coma and the stroke and… everything. “Okay. Come on in, then.”

JC pushed past him to set the tray on the table under the curtained windows. The tray clattered as it hit the table top and JC seemed to be shaking a little. Chris peered at him from across the room. JC stood with his back turned, head down, holding onto himself with a hand cupped around the back of his neck. Chris’s stomach did that thing again. Fucking hangover.

“Thanks for bringing that,” Chris offered at last, when it seemed JC would be content to stare at the curtains all day, rubbing his neck. JC jumped. With clear effort, he inched his hand down and clamped it across his middle. He turned his head slightly.

Chris saw two things simultaneously that threatened to send his stomach leaping around the room. JC was watching Chris over his shoulder from the corner of his eye. And his hair had fallen away from his neck.

His neck. Actually, Chris was not sure what he was looking at. Yes. JC had a fresh-looking bite mark on the back of his neck. Okay. But also, JC had a… bite mark. On the back of his neck. JC… he. Had. He.

Chris shook his head as his mind sputtered and looped. JC turned away again. Finally, he straightened and started back toward the door, moving jerkily, whacking into a chair with his hip as he went.

Chris’s brain came online instantly. Oh, no. Not again. He stepped back a few feet, putting himself in JC’s way.

JC sent an agonized look toward the door. “Chris. I have to,” he said and stopped, clearly unable to come up with anything more. Chris pointed sternly at the couch. JC shook his head but moved to perch on the edge, tensing when Chris sat down, too. Chris held up his hands and slid a little farther away.

“JC.” Chris tried to speak as if coaxing a cat out from under a dresser. “JC. What’s going on?”

JC stared at him, mutely, his mouth working, his forehead creased.

“JC, man. Can’t you talk to me? Why can’t you talk to me, man?”

JC closed his eyes. A minute later he opened them and spoke, as awkward as Chris had ever seen him. “I don’t know… it’s not easy for me to talk about this.”

“Well, did you come here to yell at me again? Or not speak to me? I’m sorry. I’m really sorry you’re all pissed off. That I pissed you off.”

But JC shook his head. After a minute he said, tentatively, “I’m not mad at you. I’m sick of… I’m not. Not mad.”

“I didn’t even know why you were, man. Are. It sucks.”

JC just looked at him. Kept looking at him with something like sadness in his eyes.

“Come here, freaky Chasez.” Chris held out his arms for a hug. JC really looked like he needed one. JC hesitated, the something in his eyes changing, sparking into a fire Chris thought he could recognize, had felt in his own bones and throughout his body. JC hugged Chris suddenly, fiercely, trembling a little. After a minute he pulled back.

“No, man. Just stay here awhile,” Chris murmured, tugging JC back into the hug and leaning them both into the couch cushions comfortably. He slid his hand under JC’s hair to stroke his neck, pushing gently against the mark there. JC shuddered against him. Finally, he relaxed a little and started to breathe again. Much better. Much, much better. Chris turned his face into JC’s neck and felt he was breathing, himself, for the first time in a long time.

** ** ** ** **

He could feel Chris breathing against him. Feel the gentle motion of his chest and hear the quiet sounds. It was not at all as he had ever imagined, simply laying here against the back of the couch with Chris holding him, listening to Chris’s body with his own, aware. He felt he could happily stay here forever. Chris.

Slowly JC rubbed his face over Chris’s shoulder, inhaling, and began to move away. This time Chris didn’t stop him. He ran his hand up Chris’s arm gratefully, thinking to pat him a little, looking into his eyes. Chris let out a small sound. JC froze.

His arm. JC had his hand on Chris’s arm, his fingers rubbing without conscious control over Chris’s robe, right there. He was filled with a sudden sense-memory of licking and kissing Chris, of tasting him while Chris held on and panted against him. He found he wanted to see the bruise. To make sure. Chris’s face changed, his eyes widening, and JC realized he was licking his lips. He thought he might be smiling, too.

Watching Chris’s face, JC slid his hand down to the cuff of the robe and pushed it up. It was too tight. He couldn’t get it far enough up. Impatiently, he tugged at it. No good. He reached swiftly for the lapels of the robe, watching Chris’s mouth open slightly as he tried to shove the robe off his body to get at the bruise. He would taste it. To compare. JC gave a low triumphant laugh as Chris closed his eyes in surrender. Quickly, now. He rubbed his cock against Chris’s hip, keening in his throat, and yanked at the belt of the robe.

Only to find himself on his back on the couch, Chris’s forearm across his neck, Chris hissing down into his face, “JC. What are you doing?

He. What… Oh, god. What was he doing. Oh, god. This was Chris, here, Chris, and he had just fucked up beyond belief. Fucked up, and now he was fucked, truly, because Chris would know and shake his head and he had just fucked up the group and everything. Chris. JC bit his lip, feeling sick to his stomach, heaving for breath beneath Chris’s body and turning his head to the side. Fucked.

“JC,” Chris murmured. JC closed his eyes. He couldn’t stand to see the disappointment in Chris’s eyes. His heart was hurting him as it was, beating slower and slower in his chest. He wished Chris would look away. He thought his face must be twisted up, a little.

“Oh, JC.” Chris let out a breath, sounding tired and sad. JC couldn’t blame him. Chris had pretty much lost a friend today, someone he had thought he could trust. Shit. He was going to cry, maybe.

With a shock that sent his heart beating wildly again, JC felt a gentle kiss against the point of his jaw below his ear. Chris rested his face against JC’s neck for a moment. Then he pulled away.

“JC. Look at me, man,” he murmured. With a feeling of choking, JC opened his eyes again, looking past Chris’s shoulder at the door of the suite.

“Dammit. You’re killing me, dude.” Warm fingers on his face turned his head. JC could feel Chris’s breath, his eyes.

“JC, man. Just tell me. What do you want?”

JC’s heart lurched in him and he felt a rush of heat. He tried to focus on Chris’s eyes. Warm. Not… no dislike. No anger. Well. He had nothing more to lose. He pushed up against Chris’s weight on his throat, barely breathing anyway, and touched his lips to Chris’s ear.


To his immense surprise, Chris collapsed on to him entirely, a limp weight all over him, laughing. Then he rolled off of JC and the couch, landing with a thud on the floor. Still laughing. Huh. That was… laughing. Fine.

JC started to push himself away from the couch. Chris grabbed his ankle. Holding on as JC lurched a bit for balance, Chris looked up at him, smiling.

“Get down here, moron,” he said in a low voice.

JC stilled and looked down at him, his mind a blank. He could feel a small shiver start to build in his stomach. Chris tugged again, his smile slipping at the edges. He looked… nervous. Huh.

JC tilted his head a little, trying not to let the smile growing in him show.

“Down there?”

Chris narrowed his eyes. JC shook his ankle free and turned away from the couch, holding Chris’s suspicious stare briefly with a cool gaze over his shoulder. He made his way over to the bed.

Rumpled sheets and blankets. A cozy-looking Chris nest. He was incredibly conscious of Chris behind him, watching. He turned back.

“Down there?” he repeated, standing with his leg pressed against the mattress for support, allowing the shiver to take him over and spread a smile across his face. Chris looked like someone had hit him with a brick.

“JC.” Clearing his throat, Chris tried again. “JC.” He smiled, suddenly, lying on the floor, and JC thought for a minute his heart had exploded inside of him. Chris got to his feet.

JC sat down on the edge of the bed as his legs suddenly gave out under him. Chris was… stalking towards him. Stalking him, with an intent look on his face. The shivery feeling was making him dizzy. He scrambled backwards on to the bed, over the jumbled covers, just as Chris hit the bed, reaching for him. Again, Chris grabbed his ankle.

“Oh, no you don’t. That’s enough of that, I think.” Chris slid his hand over JC’s ankle, caressing his leg as JC sat propped on his hands tensely, watching with wide eyes. “JC. Come here.”

JC swallowed. Chris touching him, looking at him with something glowing in his eyes. In Chris’s bed, surrounded by his smell and his warmth. Chris. JC smiled, finally, relaxing back into the blankets, pushing his arms up over his head on the pillows.

“But. I am here.” He made a small happy-sounding purr in his throat.

Chris gave him the brick upside the head look for a split second. JC couldn’t imagine ever getting tired of that look. Then he launched himself on to JC’s body, laughing as the air whooshed from JC’s lungs in a yelp and he clutched at Chris convulsively, struggling to escape being crushed. He wrestled Chris over on to his back, panting down into his face, muttering, “Fuckingfucker. Fuck. Dammit. Fuck! You fucker” as Chris grinned up at him.

“Glad to have you back, man,” Chris said. He wrenched his hand free from JC’s hold and patted his face. JC turned his face into Chris’s hand, closing his eyes briefly.

“Glad to be here,” he said. “I’m going to kiss you now.”

That wonderful brick look. Then he thought he heard Chris saying, faintly, “Oh. Okay,” but he was studying Chris’s mouth and wasn’t sure. Chris was moving toward him, though… he let it go. Abruptly, he lowered his mouth to Chris’s.

And promptly lost his mind. He thought he’d better warn Chris. It came out as “I’m” and “oh, shit” and “taste so fucking good” in between deeper and deeper kisses. Luckily Chris seemed to understand, because he wound his arms and legs around JC and pulled him down hard against his body. Maybe it would be okay. Maybe…

Maybe it would be fucking amazing. Chris was humming roughly deep in his throat and had a hand knotted into JC’s hair, holding his head as he bit and sucked at JC’s lips. JC whined into Chris’s mouth. He was afraid he. He was. Chris.

“It’s okay, baby,” Chris whispered unevenly, gasping as JC finally finally got the robe open and sat up to rip his shirt over his head, fumbling it off his arms and throwing it over the side of the bed. He could feel Chris beneath him, straining upwards to push his cock into JC’s straddling body. JC looked down, panting. Beautiful hard cock rubbing against him. Wet and red and JC needed to feel it against his skin and he was so close. He fumbled with his zipper, cursing brokenly, until Chris slapped his hands away.

“Let me, let me, let me,” Chris growled, yanking at his fly until his spine bowed involuntarily and he gasped. But then Chris had his fly open and was pushing his pants down by running his hands down his ass and he could feel Chris’s warm hairy belly against his cock. He could hear himself making a strange sound like a throbbing groan dragged out of his chest with every thrust. Chris was humming and biting his shoulder hard, hard, gripping his ass bruisingly tight and rubbing his cock wildly against JC’s body, and JC’s world was starting to go white around the edges. He was so close. So close to that perfect silvery moment, free-floating in the storm, just so beautifully… Chris. Chris. There. JC opened his mouth and came.

** ** ** ** **

“Man, you marked me all up.” JC stretched until his body shuddered.

Chris glared at him pointedly. JC smiled and wrapped himself around Chris’s body, drowsy, licking randomly over his skin, perfectly content.


September 2003