November 10 - December 18, 2003

Disc: laimer. SeSa 2003, the few, the bold, the exhausted! Okay, not so few. This was written for Merry. Do not archive this story without permission.

And now abideth

Chris called right when Justin was trying to eat a sandwich with one hand, pick out a shirt for a morning show appearance with the other hand, and read the schedule for the next three days that someone was holding in front of his face at the same time. "What?"

"You don't have to yell on the phone, J. People can hear you just fine if you talk normally, you know."

"Hey, Chris." Justin chewed and swallowed. "Listen, I'm kinda busy right now, it's great hearing from you, but can I call you when things slow down a little?"

"No." There was a rustle on Chris's side. "Cause then you'll call me in like a year or ten, and then it'll be too late for this."

"Oh. Um." Justin pointed at one of the shirts, took another bite of sandwich, and talked with his mouth full. "Look, man, I'm sorry I haven't been in touch more, but you know how it is—"

"No, I have no idea how it is, I've never been an internationally famous pop star or anything. Listen, genius, I'm just calling to say that we're doing a charity thing together on Friday, so make sure you're well rested for it."

"Huh? Wait, no. Chris." Justin passed the sandwich to the wardrobe assistant, grabbed the pages in front of him and tried to flip through them one-handed. "That's not on my schedule. And I'm in London."

"No, really? I had no idea."

"And on Friday I'm gonna be in Rome."

"No, you're not. You're rescheduled."

Justin sighed. "Is this one of your weird ideas? Are you trying to set me up for something?"

"Don't sound so suspicious, I cleared it with Johnny, okay?" Justin could almost see Chris grin over the phone. "Paranoia is bad for the digestion. It's on your schedule, okay, or it'll be there tomorrow, whatever, just ask someone. So I'll see you Friday, okay? Love you, bye—"

"Wait, wait." Justin passed the schedule back to the person nearest to him and put his free hand over his ear. "What the hell is this? What kind of charity? What—"

"Children's hospital," Chris said. "I'll give you a number to call if you want, I mean if you think I'm trying to scam you and take your money and run off to Thailand or something."

"You came back from Thailand and said you'd had better Thai food in Orlando," Justin said.

"Well, I don't have to take your money and run off to Orlando. So you're safe, it's all set up, I'll see you Friday." He hung up.

Justin stared at his phone. After a while, he put it back in his pocket, took his sandwich back, and took another bite. Maybe it was just Chris being weirder than usual.

The next day, though, he got a revised schedule. Chris, charity gig, Friday, security all set up, no entourage you little diva you — Justin snorted — details to be revealed later. Justin thought about calling Johnny, but really, it was okay with him. He hadn't seen Chris in. Since. In a while. Rome would still be there.

So he gave everyone the day off on Friday and decided to sleep in, because there wasn't even a starting time on the schedule. He stayed up late on Thursday, just because, channel surfing and eating chips in the weirdest flavors he could find out of those tiny little bags. Justin thought the prawn cocktail flavor might be the most disgusting of all, but he wasn't sure, so he had to do more research. Smoked bacon wasn't bad, Marmite was totally horrible, baked bean flavor was just plain weird.

Justin thought about clubbing. He thought about how good it felt not to be clubbing. He thought about going off to soak the mattress in Trace's bed with diet 7-Up, because Trace was out clubbing, but then he dozed off in front of BBC2, woke up at two with a crick in the neck, called his mom just to check in, and went to bed properly.

He woke up to the sensation of something cold and wet on his face. Justin waved a hand and made a displeased sound. The cold and wet intensified. He opened his eyes. Chris was standing next to the bed with a pink plant mister in one hand and a can of Red Bull in the other. "Good morning, starshine!" He squirted the plant mister at Justin again. "The earth says hellooooooo!"

"Fuck off," Justin said, wiping his face on the sheet. "Why can't you be jetlagged like normal people?"

"My way is more fun," Chris said, bouncing on the balls of his feet. "Get up, get up, we have a long day of being charitable ahead of us."

Justin stretched and rose, cautiously keeping the bed between himself and the crazy man with the plant mister. "I'm'a shower. Order me breakfast, okay?"

"Such a trusting soul," Chris said as Justin went into the bathroom.

When Justin came out of the bathroom again, tucking his t-shirt into his jeans, Chris was tucking into eggs and bacon and toast with marmalade and fried tomatoes and mushrooms, washing everything down with gulps from a huge mug of tea. Justin frowned.

"That's yours," Chris said, pointing his fork at a bowl, a jug of milk, and a five-pack of mini cereal boxes. Justin sorted through them: Rice Krispies, Mini Wheats, Special K, Froot Loops, Raisin Bran, eww. But at least nothing with Worcestershire sauce flavor or anything like that. You never knew with the British.

He picked the froot loops and checked to make sure the milk was nice and cold. "I thought maybe you'd ordered me porridge or something."

Chris looked up with a bright smile. "I'm not mad, Justin."

"You're not?" Justin said cautiously, watching that smile.

"No. Catch!"

Justin dropped the spoon in the milk, trying to catch what Chris was throwing him. He looked down and grinned with pleasure. "Hey, this is like those cameras MTV gave us for the making of Pop. Don't tell me they're doing a charity event special."

"No, no. This is for my private collection of adult home movies."

"You?" Justin snorted. "There ain't nothing adult about anything of yours." He aimed the camera at Chris and hit record. "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Here we see an adult male of the chrissus kirkpatrius, uh, species, who has clearly had a lot of breakfasts in his life, sitting down to a meal of, everyone knows what the kirkpatrius likes best of all is hotel food."

"Yummy!" Chris said with another of those really bright smiles, holding his tea mug up to the camera and pointing at it. "Tea wakes you up in the morning! Sometimes you gotta add a little something to it, though." He poured the remains of his Red Bull into the tea and drank. "That's the kind of thing that puts hairs on your back, you should try it, instead of being all pinup boy addicted to waxing."

"I could stop if I wanted to," Justin said. "Honestly." He put the camera down and picked up his cereal spoon again. "So tell me what we're gonna do today."

"Okay, all right." Chris stuffed his mouth full of toast. "We're gonna go out on the town and have fun!"

"Okay." Justin swallowed a spoonful of sugary milk. "How? And how is this all about the charity and stuff?"

"It's like this. The idea is that you have a day on the town and you do stuff, except you do the cheap thing instead of the expensive thing, and you give the difference to charity. Like, you have a hot dog instead of lobster, and stuff like that."

"Uh huh. You couldn't have just stayed in Orlando instead of flying to London, donated the money?"

"I have things to do here," Chris said. "But I flew coach."

"Okay, you're shitting me."

"No, seriously. That's why my legs are this funny shape right now, I had to bend them a lot and they got stuck." Chris waved one leg in the air and banged his knee into the breakfast cart. "Fuck."

Justin shook his head, grabbed the Rice Krispies and tore the package open. "Shouldn't you start right now? Just toast for breakfast, or something?"

"If I start now, you start now. Wanna hand over that cereal?"

"Mine," Justin said, pouring it into the bowl.

"That's what I thought. Want me to call for more milk?"

"No, this is just enough." Justin poured. "So we're gonna, what? Go to thrift stores?"

Chris grinned. "I knew you'd get into the spirit of this." He bent down and rummaged in a battered flight bag, and got out the Rough Guide to London. "See, I have plans."

"Great," Justin said.

"The best things in life are free!"

"Yeah, and all the most boring museums."

Justin finished his second bowl of cereal, and then he picked up the camera again and got some good footage of Chris on his back on the bed, bouncing up and down with his legs straight up in the air and trying to read the book at the same time. Then Chris sat up and slapped the book shut and looked at Justin. "You ready?"

"I guess."

"You need to put on something different. Like a big false beard, maybe. I thought we'd go to Oxford Street and do some shopping."

Justin shook his head. "Are you completely out of your mind?"

Chris grinned. "No one ever recognizes me. You, um, we'll dress you up like a chicken or something."

"A chicken."

"Yeah, you already have those skinny chicken legs. Or you wanna dress up like an omelet again?"

"Is it just me," Justin said, speaking into the camera, "or is that a really bad plan?" He put on a high, squeaky voice. "It's not just you, Justin! It is a really bad plan!"

"It's a great plan," Chris said, "except I didn't pack the omelet suit. But I brought you a wig, see?" He picked a tangled mess out of the bag. "You just gotta wear something a bit less Timberlake, and we're set."

A pair of unpressed dress pants, a long-sleeved green shirt with big plastic buttons, a cheap three-quarter-length winter coat with a broken zipper, and a messy wig later, Justin had to agree that he looked a lot less Timberlake. "I feel like an idiot."

"Yeah, but you're an idiot doing a good thing for charity, so suck it up," Chris said. "I'm not sure it'll hold up on the tube, though. Good thing I got us a driver."

"And security? Seriously, Chris."

"Mike is down in the lobby. Come along, already."

Justin came along.

Forty-five minutes later, he was already regretting it. It was a grey, wet day, Oxford Street was full of tourists speaking a hundred different languages who all wanted to put their feet down right where Justin had put his own feet two seconds earlier, and anyone who was taking pains to disguise his popstarness couldn't get the attention and help of a salesperson for love or money. Okay, possibly money, but that would kind of ruin the 'cheap alternative' vibe.

"Do I have to buy the cheap flip flops? Can't I just donate the price of a pair of Air Jordans anyway?"

Chris shook his head reproachfully. "You're not getting into the spirit of this, J. Anyway, you can give them to JC for Christmas."

"Christmas was a month ago."

"And it will be back in eleven months more. Have a little faith. Just put the flipflops somewhere JC won't find them till then. Waste not, want not."

Justin looked down at the flipflops in his hand. Flipflops in January. In the discount bin. Mint green with little white flowers on the toe straps. "JC would so be the better person for this," Justin said. "He'd be into it and all."

Chris clapped him on the shoulder. "Get them gift-wrapped while you're at it."

They stared through a storefront window at some really sweet Cartier watches, but Chris wouldn't even let Justin go inside, just dragged him off to where they could buy little plastic kiddie watches, pink with strawberries on the watch face and yellow with lemons. Chris put on the lemon one straight away and grinned at Justin. Justin looked at the pink one and wondered if he could give that to JC, too. Or hey, Joey had a birthday coming up any second now.

Not buying a suit at Moss Bros was not really a problem, nor was promising to go to Oxfam later, but when Chris suggested McDonalds coffee instead of Starbucks, Justin rebelled, quietly. "No way. Nuh uh."

"Is that any way to talk about your corporate sponsor?"

"Shut up," Justin hissed. "We're not going in there, okay?" He looked around. Three people were looking at him, and he fought the urge to smile, and also to check that the wig was straight. "I wanna get out of here."

"All right," Chris said. "It's almost time for lunch, anyway. You're getting cranky, I'd better feed you."

Lunch apparently involved tracking down their car and driver and navigating down Regent Street to Piccadilly. They stopped someplace they definitely weren't allowed to stop, and Chris pointed. Justin blinked. "Uh, what are we doing?"

"Looking at the Ritz."

"Okay." Justin leaned forward a bit. "Looking." He leaned back again. "Now what?"

"Now we go somewhere and have fish and chips."

Justin made a face. "I'm not really that big on stuff that's all covered in vinegar."

"Be a good boy," Chris said sternly, "or I'll buy you a deep-fried Mars bar." He grinned. "Besides, I have it on good authority that you've eaten haggis."

"Yeah, there wasn't any vinegar on it." Justin settled into the backseat and leaned his head back. "I'd even go for Marks and Spencers sandwiches, Chris."

Chris put a hand on Justin's shoulder and squeezed. "Just relax. Cheap, Justin-friendly food coming right up." He leaned forward to talk to Mike and the driver, and Justin closed his eyes.

When he opened them again, the car had stopped on a smallish street, and the rain had picked up. People on the street were huddled under black umbrellas, walking fast. "Where are we?"

"Lunch," Chris said. Justin lifted his head, and Chris looked closely at him and then straightened the wig. "There, come on."

All four of them rushed across the street and into what Justin realized two seconds later was a pub, full of people escaping from the rain and their wet clothes and their lunches and their energetic conversations and steam and smoke and the smell of food. Chris somehow got Justin and Mike wedged into a corner by a wobbly table and disappeared along with the driver into the sea of clanking cutlery and rolled-up umbrellas.

Justin wondered if he should get this particular installment of their charity hijinks on camera, but he didn't want to be that weird guy in the corner, so instead he toyed with a coaster and talked to Mike about sports and the weather and how Chris had certainly not flown coach, the liar.

When Chris came back he set a pint glass in front of Justin and one in front of Mike and one in front of himself. The driver, whose name Justin had never caught and at this point he felt vaguely embarrassed to ask, had bottled water. Justin sipped. "This isn't beer."


Justin grinned. "No way is cider cheaper than beer. How come you're not getting me tap water?"

"Have you tried London tap water?" Chris settled himself into his chair, and Justin grabbed at the glasses as the wobbly table wobbled some more. "Okay, so this is for charity, but it's not supposed to be painful or anything."

The cider was pretty good. Justin drank some more. "You got the afternoon all planned out, too?"

"I've got a few things in mind," Chris said. "You can help me pick the best alternative. Hey, I think that's our food." He waved his arms, and moments later a cheerful man with a sauce-stained apron came up and put plates of steaming food in front of them.

Justin looked down at a mountain of mashed potatoes, a smaller mountain of fried onions, a whole lot of those funky pale sausages, gravy, peas, and baby carrots. He grinned at Chris. "Pass the salt, please."

The mashed potatoes were incredibly good. Justin decided he could eat just mashed potatoes for a year, if they tasted like this. A month, anyway. A week. Two weeks, with the gravy and the onions and stuff. It was really warm in the pub, and it was still pouring down outside, he could see the street through a window and the rain splashed against windshields and umbrellas and he was dry, or at least just a little damp, and not at all sorry not to be at the Ritz. He kicked gently at Chris's feet under the table to get room to stretch his legs out, and spooned more mashed potatoes and gravy into his mouth.

"You eat like you're still growing," Chris said. "You can have my carrots if you're that hungry."

"Thanks." Justin swiped a sausage from Chris's plate.

"That was not a carrot. I notice you're not stealing Mike's food."

"Well, duh. He's bigger than me. I only pick on short, old people."

"It's good to know we raised you right," Chris said and swiped his fork through Justin's mashed potatoes.

Justin finished his cider and his onions and leaned back in the chair, wishing he had a big fleece sweater to curl up in. The sleeves of the green shirt ended an inch above his wrists. The whole pub was kind of like a very large, warm, slightly damp sweater, though. He tried not to yawn, and his jaw popped with the strain. "So what's next?"

"Ever been to the National Gallery?"

"No." Justin eyed Chris. "Paintings."

"Old paintings." Chris grinned and flipped through the guidebook. "I'm just trying to find something really, really expensive for us not to be doing."

Justin frowned. "Is there. uh. Not to sound like a cheapskate, but is there some kind of limit to this, here? Like you're not going to suddenly decide that what we're not doing is buying a stately home for ten million pounds or something, right?"

"No, no." Chris shook his head. "No. Nothing like that. C'mon, let's move. Those paintings are waiting for us."

"You told 'em we were coming?" Justin got up and suppressed a yawn. He walked out behind Chris and the rain promptly dripped down the back of his neck. "Euw."

They got back in the car and the driver turned the heat up. Justin leaned back and thought he was going to ask Chris about since when did he like paintings, and he looked at the rain sliding across the rear window and then he was asleep again.

"Justin. Justin. Justin!"

"Mmm." Justin blinked his eyes open. "Forgot to bring the plant mister?"

"Yeah. Come on, now. This isn't the place for a nap."

Justin looked out the car window. "This isn't the National Gallery. Unless they changed it to look just like my hotel."

Chris opened the car door. "I didn't feel like dragging a zombie with me, okay? Come on."

"What, we're giving up on this?" Justin scrambled out after Chris. "Wait, no." The rain got him full in the face. "Look, if we're doing this charity thing, we shouldn't stop just cause I'm a bit sleepy. Maybe we should pick up umbrellas, though."

Chris took his arm and dragged him into the lobby and over to the elevators. They were both dripping on the carpet. Justin reached up and tugged off the wet wig; he couldn't stand the way it was plastered to his neck and sending drops of water running down under his collar. The receptionist stared at him, and he grinned weakly at her before Chris dragged him into the elevator.

"Okay, it's like this," Chris said, hitting the button for Justin's floor. Then he fell silent.

"Like what?" Justin prodded. He held the wig in two fingers, well away from himself. "Are you really attached to this thing, or can I throw it out? Give money for a really good wig to charity, or something?"

"Yeah, about that." Chris rubbed the inside of his wrist over the back of his head. "It's like this."

The elevator doors opened. "Like what?"

"Like you should get out before we end up down in the lobby again," Chris said and pushed him. "You got your keycard, right?"

"Yeah." Justin dug it out of his pants pocket and checked that it wasn't bent or broken. "Now tell me what's up." He opened the door to his suite and ushered Chris inside. "Are we going back out there in the rain or can I get out of these clothes? Seriously, I don't know where you got these pants from, but they itch."

"Hey, if your crotch itches, don't blame my pants." Chris paused. "Uh. Anyway. I think you need some more sleep, so why don't you just go back to bed, and we can talk about stuff later?"

"How about we talk about stuff now," Justin said, taking off the coat and stripping out of the shirt. He went into the bathroom for towels, came back out and tossed one of them to Chris. "Seriously, what's up?"

Chris took the towel and started drying his hair. "I kind of made this charity thing up."

Justin kicked his shoes off. His socks were wet through, too, so he bent down to take them off. "That explains why it kind of sucked."


"So you really were scamming me." Justin tossed his socks across the coffee table. "Were you planning to use my money for Thai takeout in Orlando, or what?"

"No, asshole. I was gonna give it to Arnold Palmer. I just wanted to give you a break, cause you looked so tired. But you kept falling asleep, so I figure it might give you more of a break if you got to actually lie down instead of look at paintings."

"Uh huh." Justin stripped out of the itchy pants. "You came all this way to make sure I got a nap."

"No. Yeah. Look, Justin, I know it seems weird, but honestly, I'm not mad."

Justin folded the pants while he thought about how to phrase things. "What, exactly, is it that you're not mad about?" He scrubbed the towel over his head and turned towards Chris, who was standing there with one shoe on and one off.

"Well, you taking off like a bat out of hell, to start with. I figured you'd run. I just didn't realize you'd run so far and stay away so long."

Justin blinked. He sat down on the couch and stretched his legs out. "It's only been since Christmas. Um, if you're not mad about what I think it is you're not mad about."

Chris snorted. "Right."

"You mean that's not what you, I mean—"

Chris sat down across from him and started to work on his soaked shoelace. "That was the part that made me decide to come after you."

"But that's the only part," Justin said. "I mean, there isn't, there hasn't been."

The shoelace snapped in Chris's hand. "So that last night of the Celebrity tour, that wasn't your tongue in my mouth?"

"No," Justin said. "Yes. But that was just a friendly thing." Chris looked at him. "Mostly. Partly?"

Chris laughed. "Have it your way, J. But Christmas, now."

"That was me," Justin said. "And my tongue, and, yeah. Pretty much the rest of me, too."

Chris nodded, taking off shoes and socks. The legs of his jeans were soaked halfway to the knee. "And that was you who took off running?"

"Yep." Justin scratched at his chin, thinking back. "I figured it was better than, well. Remember Köln?"

Chris looked honestly taken aback. "What, oh my God. You remember Köln?"

"Dude, it was the first time I smoked up with you and the first time I kissed a guy, of course I remember." Justin grinned reminiscently. "But since you freaked out and all, I figured it just wasn't, well. That that wasn't us. And that was okay with me, you know? It's not like we didn't have a lot of other stuff going for us. That night in Orlando, I just got carried away."

"Your tongue got carried away," Chris muttered. "And what about Christmas?"

Justin shrugged. "Well. You know. It was Christmas. And Cam and I just decided to call it quits, and I hadn't seen you in ages, and you were gettin' all cuddly with me. I figured it could be my Christmas present to myself." He grinned. "Chrismas present. Geddit?"

"Oh, great. I was your rebound fuck." Chris stood up and unzipped his jeans. "You do this stuff, and you keep taking off like it's duck-hunting season and your name is Donald—"

"I did not start a whole solo career thing just cause I was embarrassed about having put my tongue in your mouth, Chris." Justin put a hand on Chris's hip to steady him as he stood on one leg and yanked the wet jeans off. "And I pretty much had to go back here because I had tour dates and appearances booked. I wasn't running away."

"You didn't exactly try to talk to me, either." Chris kicked the jeans away.

"And that doesn't go both ways? Like if you minded my tongue in your mouth so much, not to mention my dick—" Justin broke off as Chris's shirt landed on his head. "Hey!" He flung the shirt aside. "You could have said something. You're not, like, a shrinking violet or anything, man."

"No, I'm not." Chris looked down at Justin. "Which is why I'm here now."

"With a lame fake charity excuse."

Chris whapped Justin's legs with his towel. Then he dropped the towel on the floor and pushed Justin back on the couch, kneeling astride his legs. "Like I said, I'm here now."

Justin tilted his head back. "Can I put my tongue in your mouth again?"

"You can put your tongue anywhere you want," Chris said and kissed him.

Justin kissed back because hey, it was only polite, and apparently he had to mind his manners carefully around Chris. Chris was solid and heavy on his lap, and his skin was chilled from the rain, and his mouth was warm. The beard scratched Justin's chin. That might possibly be the only thing he didn't like about kissing Chris. Probably you had to take the rough with the smooth. Literally.

He ran his hands up and down Chris's back, trying to warm Chris up. "You're cold." Justin could feel goosebumps on his own arms and leg, too, and not all of them were from the way Chris's hand closed tight around the back of his neck.

"Well, you're pretty hot," Chris said, and Justin felt a grin against his collarbone.

"Yeah, yeah." Justin licked at the rim of Chris's ear. It tasted like rainwater. "I'd be even hotter in bed."

Chris snorted. "You certainly don't lack confidence."

"Didn't hear you complain at Christmas. But I was thinking more about blankets."

Chris leaned back and looked at Justin. "If I let you horizontal, are you gonna fall asleep on me?"

"Sooner or later." Justin ran both hands down Chris's sides. "I'm gonna get up now. You can get off me or you can fall on the floor."

"Are you threatening me, pretty boy?" Chris scrambled to his feet. "Cause I still have that plant mister." He looked around. "Somewhere."

Justin slung an arm around Chris's shoulders and steered him into the bedroom. The hotel staff had come and gone, clearing away the breakfast trays and making the bed. Justin yanked at the covers. "You get in first."

Chris got in first. "I'm gonna put this on my resume. Official bedwarmer for Justin ohmygod Timberlake! Oh wait, this is Britain. Trousersnake."

"Shut up." Justin unzipped the small toiletry case on the bedside table. Lube, check. Condoms, check. He crawled under the covers and wrapped himself around Chris. "You're too cold to be a bedwarmer."

Chris waggled his eyebrows. "Warm me up?"

Justin kissed him. Then he pulled back. "That was my tongue in your mouth."

"Yeah," Chris agreed.

"This is me not freaking out and running away, you'll notice."

"Well, not yet," Chris said, sliding a hand between Justin's legs and cupping his balls through the washed-soft cotton of his briefs.

Justin tipped his head back, closed his eyes, and spread his legs a bit more. "Mmm."

"I mean, you never know." Chris brushed his fingertips up and down the inside of Justin's thigh. "Maybe I'll do something weird and whoosh, there you go."


"Are you falling asleep on me, J?"

"Mmm." Justin rolled over, slowly and cautiously, wrapped himself around Chris, and buried his face in Chris's neck.

When he woke up again, the sky outside the window had gone from mostly dark to completely dark, and Chris was stroking his back. Justin felt warm all the way down to his toes. Chris smelled very Chris, like maybe he needed a shower, except that Justin kind of liked it.

"Way to make me feel sexy there," Chris said softly. "You fell asleep and drooled on me."

"You're talking to me." Justin didn't move. "How do you know I'm not still sleeping?"

"You're talking back."

He could hear traffic distantly through the window, but everything still seemed very quiet around them. "Nobody back yet?"

"No. You want them to be?"

Justin shook his head. Chris went from stroking Justin's back to scratching it, and Justin wriggled, arching his back against Chris's nails.

"Right there — no, up a bit. There. Right. No, not right, I mean — mmm."

"Official bedwarmer and back-scratcher. You think those are marketable skills?" Chris dragged his nails over the back of Justin's neck.

Justin felt warm with sleep, slow, weighted down by the comfort of it. Chris's hand alternately stroked and scratched down his back, waking his skin up and then soothing it again. Chris shifted, but Justin stayed where he was, because Chris's hand curved around the back of his neck asked him to. Slow, even strokes dipping lower and lower; light, rough-edged scratches up the backs of his thighs. Justin breathed deep when Chris's thumb slid down to press against his perineum. He shifted his legs, saying yes.

The lube was cold, and Chris smeared it on like it was fingerpaint. Justin took another deep breath and relaxed, sinking into the mattress just as Chris's finger sank into him. And fuck, Chris knew the twists and turns, the slow pressing glide and rub until Justin felt hot and slick and about a lightyear past ready.

Chris shifted, put a hand on Justin's hip, rolled him to lie on his side. Justin drew his knee up a little. Then Chris was right there, sliding in very slowly and it was like hitting the first crazy-steep drop of a rollercoaster; gravity fell away and then sucked him dizzily back in, hooking him but good. The hand on Justin's hip bit hard, holding him still.

Just breathing, the pressure of each breath making itself felt from his chest all the way down to his pelvis, sent tiny shocks through him. Justin breathed a little deeper, a little faster, and felt Chris's thumb rub over his hipbone. He tried to stay relaxed. The stillness filled him up with sensation, until he felt everything, felt the breath Chris drew in right before pushing closer. Chris rocked against him, into him, in tiny, measured movements that reverberated up his spine like a heavy bass groove. Justin thought he could feel it in his teeth.

He kept breathing steadily, evenly, but there was very nearly a sound to it now, a low whine. Justin rubbed his hand down his chest, his stomach, and wrapped it around his dick. Chris yanked it away, mashing their fingers together in a hard grip on Justin's hip.

Pleasure as slow as this was close to pain. Justin locked his fingers around Chris's as hard as Chris's were locked around his and dragged their hands up again, up to his face. He drew two of Chris's fingers into his mouth and rubbed his tongue against them messily. Chris grunted and slammed into him, zero to a hundred in less than a second, and then it was hard and fast and loud. Chris went deep and Justin was shoved forward until he braced his knee against the bed and pushed back, keening a little around Chris's fingers. The bed was too big and heavy to shake, so maybe it was the whole hotel. The whole city. Earthquake in London, film at eleven, and then Justin's dick brushed against the sheet and he came so hard he couldn't breathe.

He slumped down, because his whole body felt like wet silk and gentle electricity, face pressing into the pillow as Chris hammered into him in those final crazy-fast strokes. Chris slumped down, too, and they were both still.

Justin could hear sirens in the distance, growing louder and then fading into the low steady rumble of traffic. He breathed deeply and steadily. The wet spot under his hip grew uncomfortable, and he shoved one shoulder back at Chris, who was panting into his shoulderblade. Chris pushed up a little, pulled out, rolled away, and Justin rolled after him. They lay close, face to face, not quite touching each other.

"I think, um." Justin wiggled his toes to make sure they were still there. "I think maybe you are mad. A bit. At me."

"Maybe a bit," Chris said softly. Then he stiffened. "Shit, did I hurt you?"

"No." Justin wiggled his whole body, pressing closer. "You hurt me, you would have noticed. I have elbows. But, yeah. I think there was definitely something there that was a bit. You know."

"Mmm. Listen." Chris did a chin-rasp of stubble over Justin's shoulder. "I didn't think you ran away to Europe to get away from me. You know I understand about concert schedules. It was more the part where you left me sleeping in bed, left the house, left the state, left the country, did not leave a note, and didn't answer your phone until earlier this week."

"Well." Justin picked at the sheet. "In Köln, you said don't ever, ever do that again oh my God that didn't happen." He took a deep breath and rolled over, looking at Chris. "And in Orlando, you—"

"I said you were taking out your Brit issues on me and I wasn't going to be your rebound anything. And then you came home over Christmas and I was your rebound fuck anyway." Chris looked resigned. "I was actually just gonna come over here and talk to you, you know."

"Uh huh. That's why you made up a fake charity thing?" Justin had to admit, though, that it was a fairly Chris thing to do.

"Well, I had to lead up to it somehow." The corner of Chris's mouth curled up. "I was really looking forward to taking you to a few boring museums, dude."

"Yeah, I could tell." Justin scratched the tip of his nose on the stubble along Chris's jaw. "Also, you know, this might be a technicality, but."


"I don't think it counts as a rebound fuck if I've wanted you since before I even started dating either one of them. Does it?"

Chris snorted, but now both sides of his mouth were smiling. "Pining for me, were you?"

"Uh, sure." Justin grinned. "Sometimes? When I remembered to?"

"I'm gonna take you to the British Museum," Chris said dreamily. "They have rooms and rooms full of marble heads with missing noses, and really old pottery, and old books, and—"

"Shoes?" Justin said hopefully.

Chris shook his head. "No, I think that's a different museum."

"Then I'm not going." Justin yawned and stretched. He looked at Chris. "Are we good?" Chris nodded. "Are we gonna do this again sometime? Without having to wait for me to break up with somebody else first?"

Chris looked thoughtful. "I guess we could do that. If it's mutually agreeable and we can work it into our schedules." He poked a finger into Justin's shoulder. "I'm a pretty busy guy, you know."

"You'll have to tell me what that's like, one day." Justin wiggled his toes. He was going to have to do a lot of thinking about this, if it was, if it was going to be, if it was more than just. But not right at the moment. "The way I see it, we have to make a choice," he said.

"Yeah?" Chris looked wary.

"More sex or more napping." Justin yawned. "Or food, that's another good option."

Chris grinned. "Shower?"

"No, no, now it's starting to be too much." Justin tucked his head under Chris's chin, with some difficulty, squirming down in the bed. He wondered where his cell phone was. He hoped it was turned off. "Sleep now. Everything else later."

"Everything," Chris agreed.

Justin smiled, and slept.

* * *

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