"Lance, Lance, Lance," Chris sighed. "Lance. Lance."
Lance took a deep breath. I must not kill Chris, he said to himself. I must not kill Chris. "What?"
Chris looked at him, and grinned. He had been looking, and grinning, manic as usual but with an edge of... something, for the past twenty minutes, and Lance's instinctive certainty that it would be bad and wrong to kill one's sometime bandmate, however fucking irritating he might be, was being sorely tested.
"Okay." Lance stood, and headed for the kitchen. Beer. Beer was frequently the solution to Chris, or at least, the beginning of problems that were by and large easier to deal with than Chris undiluted by alcohol.
As he straightened and began to close the refrigerator door, arms went round him from behind. Give me strength, Lance pleaded mentally, but physically he was motionless. In truth, he hadn't much option, with Chris pinning his arms to his sides.
"Lance. Tell me something."
"Um. The sky is blue. The Patriots won the Superbowl. I have beer for you."
"Mmmmm, something else. Something you should have told me a long time back, but hey, I'm a forgiving guy."
Lance sighed. "Okay, what?"
"So, what I want to know is—wait, you're gay, right?"
Lance froze, suddenly terrified. All this time leaving things unspoken, all the girls and the public lies and the deceit, all this time protecting the guys from certainty and protecting himself from... anything that might change if they knew for sure. "I, uh, yes. I'm gay," he said.
It actually felt good saying it, if it weren't for the nauseated feeling in his stomach.
"Yeah, right, so, what I want to know—"
"What do you mean, yeah, right? Isn't it—aren't you—don't you—"
"Is it a surprise, fuck, no, am I shocked, no, do I feel any differently about you, no. Don't be a moron. What I wanna know is, how come you never came on to me, huh? huh?" Lance didn't have time to register the question properly before he was squirming and giggling helplessly, because Chris punctuated it with forceful pokes below Lance's ribs, the fucker. "Do you not recognize the supreme sexiness of the mighty Kirkpatrick, huh? Huh? Have you no taste?" He knew exactly where Lance's vulnerable spots were and tickled him ruthlessly until Lance was cringing on the floor with tears rolling down his cheeks, and begging for mercy.
Eventually, Chris sat back on his heels and looked down at Lance with a sort of gleeful fondness. Lance thought fast, and came up with an answer.
"You're out of my league."
Chris tilted his head thoughtfully, considering this, and found it good. "Fair enough," he said, and hauled Lance upright. "So, where's my beer."
Lance discovered both bottles under the kitchen table, and handed one over. "Chris," he began, not sure quite what he was going to say, or how, but so, so grateful he had to say something. "Um. Thanks for—"
He was engulfed again, this time from the front, and gently. He hugged back, the lump in his throat preventing any more speech from getting out.
"You don't seriously think it makes any difference, do you?" Chris said. "Moron. You're still my little brother. No, wait, maybe my little sister?"
"Hey!" said Lance, indignant. Chris danced to the far side of the table, cackling like a demented hyena.
No, it didn't make any difference. None at all.
Lance rolled his eyes, and repressed a grin. "Shut up and drink your beer."