"Aw, c'mon, J," JC wheedled. "It's not so much to ask, is it? I just wanna hang out with you on my birthday, man."
"Yeah, and that's cool, 'C, and I'd be good with that, really."
"It sounds like you have a caveat."
That was JC all over, Justin thought, annoyed, using the ten dollar words when the ten cent ones would do just as well. He laughed uneasily. "It's just—there won't be any dwarfs, will there?"
JC shouted with laughter. Justin winced and moved the cellphone away from his ear until the braying stopped. "Dwarves, J? No, there won't be any dwarves. Or dwarfs. Why the fuck would there be?"
"Well, you had dwarfs before on your birthday. Strippers. Chris told me."
"Yeah, he thought it was hilarious. I didn't arrange that for myself, you know that, right?"
"Uh, sure." Justin hadn't given it much thought. He'd tried not to think about it at all, in fact. "You thought it was cool, though, didn't you?"
"Sure. I mean, it's pretty fucking memorable, a party with dwarf strippers."
"Hmm. I guess it is." Justin was glad, all the same, that he hadn't been able to attend. He just—no. No.
"Sounds like you have something against short people," JC observed.
Justin scowled at the phone. It was true that he did object to dwarfs, and he knew it was wrong and prejudiced and not politically correct, but the idea of really short stubby little people gyrating and stripping, it just, ugh. He didn't think it'd be funny. It definitely wouldn't be sexy. "I just don't want to see them naked, is all," he said.
"Anyhow," JC went on, "I'm not planning on having a party this year. Just a couple of good friends getting together to talk music. I'll play you the new stuff I've been working on. But, you know, if it just ain't a party for you without strippers, I guess I could provide something just for you."
"No, no," Justin said quickly, "really, not necessary." People being paid to get naked, it just wasn't his thing. Sure, there'd been times... but he was over that kind of crap.
"Not even a tiny little lapdance?" JC was laughing at him now.
"What, you think I need to pay some girl to show me her tits, or some guy to shake his butt in my face? I can get that anytime for free, you know?"
"I knew about the girls," JC said. "Been there, had that."
"Yeah, but sometimes you need a guy." Justin stopped. "Uh."
There was silence.
Justin wasn't quite sure if he dared breathe. He hadn't meant to say that, not to JC, of all the people in the world. Had he gotten distracted at the prospect of being ambushed by dwarfs and dropped his guard? And now, now what was JC going to say?
Was JC going to say anything?
Was JC even there? No, he hadn't lost the connection, but...
"I didn't think you were going to say that," JC said, at last.
Justin coughed. "Me either."
"I mean, I knew you—I just never thought you'd tell me."
"You knew? That I—you knew?"
"Sure I knew."
"You never said anything."
"It's none of my business," JC said. "I don't get why everyone's supposed to be so interested in other people's sex lives. I'm just interested in my own."
"So you don't—it doesn't—"
"Matter? Make any difference? Fuck, J, how long have we been friends? Do you really think it makes a difference if you fuck boys now and then?"
"Um. No." Justin blinked hard.
"Although," JC said, thoughtfully, and Justin could see perfectly in his mind's eye the speculative expression that went with that tone of voice. "Maybe it does make a difference. You know, for the lapdance."
"I really don't want—"
"How about if I was the one dancing for you?"
"Yeah. Think about it. If you were sitting on, maybe on one of the chairs in my dining room, the tall ones with the glass backs, and I was dancing for you, would you like that?"
Suddenly, Justin was having breathing issues again.
"I'd start out barefoot, and I'd take off my t-shirt. I've been working out, you know, I'm in good shape."
"Uh," Justin managed. JC, what was JC doing?
"I'd straddle your lap, and you could undo my jeans. Would you like that? Ease them down over my hips until they drop to the floor. I'll probably be wearing a thong. You can take that off too, if you want. Put your thumbs under the string either side and peel it right off. Then I'll be naked, dancing for you. Would you like me to do that, J?"
"I, I, I—are you kidding me?" Because that would be cruel. JC wouldn't be cruel to him, would he?
"Not kidding, J. Not kidding at all. If you hadn't said, I was never going to ask, but now..."
Justin remembered to breathe. "I didn't know you, um."
"That's because you don't notice stuff, J. Didn't notice me looking at you, did you? Listen, baby, it doesn't have to make a difference. We can forget the whole thing, you just come over and listen to some new tracks with me, maybe give me some ideas."
"No," Justin said. "Let's not—I mean, sure I want to hear your stuff, you have been out of the game way too long, I want to hear it, but I want. I want."
"And more. I want everything, 'C, please."
JC chuckled. "Then you'll be here for my birthday."