nsync in black and white

Disclaimer: this is fiction. We made it up.

still undone

by kid sinclair, written for chantal

Part one

And I've been worried about you
Being worried about me.
Now I'm worried about me.

He really should’ve seen it coming. Even as he approached the front doors of the freshman dorm, Justin should have anticipated that the fourth floor boys would be up to their usual tricks, and this time it was in the form of a massive watermelon splattering beside him and sounding as if a body had been thrown out the window instead. He jumped a few feet in the air and counted to ten as the boys cackled in laughter above him. He flipped them off and walked inside where he was greeted by his roommate Lance who had seen the whole event occur from the pool table he had been playing at.

“I was going to call your cell to warn you, but I didn’t think you’d be back until later,” Lance said as he tried to contain his laughter, and Justin just shook his head and pressed the elevator button then flinched as he heard a few girls scream at the front entrance. At least he wasn’t the only victim of the watermelon bombers.

“If that had hit me on the head I’d be dead,” Justin pointed out.

“That wouldn’t have been as funny,” Lance stated the obvious then followed Justin onto the elevator. Justin pressed the button for the sixth floor and silently prayed that the old elevator wouldn’t get stuck again. The elevator jerked slightly and Justin tensed before realizing that it was just making a quick stop on the third floor. The odd floors belonged to the girls, and the even floors belonged to the boys, yet somehow it wasn’t surprising to find two guys getting onto the elevator, laughing as if they had just pulled off a great prank, and hitting the button for the first floor.

“We’re going up,” Lance pointed out to them and the boys just laughed even more as if that had been the funniest thing Lance ever could have said. Lance just rolled his eyes and turned to Justin to say that the only thing more annoying than watermelon bombers were drunk frat boys, but he was caught off guard by the glance that Justin was stealing at the dark haired boy that was still chuckling.

When they finally arrived at the sixth floor, Lance and Justin got off the elevator and headed straight to the small room that they shared. It wasn’t until the door was closed safely behind them that Justin finally said, “How can he seriously be that hot?”

“That guy is such an ass,” Lance said as he checked his cell phone to see if he had gotten any calls.

“And your basis for this is?”

“He’s in my Anthro class this semester.”

Justin’s eyes widened and he sat on his bed, leaning against the wall that he had decorated with what he called the “five essential movie posters of life.” “You failed to mention that yesterday.”

“I forgot you liked him.”

“You so weren’t going to tell me.”

“I didn’t want you to freak out and switch classes. And, oh yeah, by the way, you’re not switching classes.”

“But it’s a Gen Ed…”

“No. I refuse to be in the same class as you. We made a pact remember? And I can’t drop this class. I actually need it for my major.”

Justin pouted and leaned over to his desk to grab his Gatorade. He took a drink from it as he replayed the scene in the elevator, and found that as hard as he tried, he could not get those intense, bright, blue eyes out of his mind. His own blue eyes seemed so soft and pale in comparison, but Justin blamed that on his dirty blonde curls that detracted attention from his face. The boy in the elevator, however, had dark brown curls, shortly cropped to his head, which merely accentuated the eyes and the angular features of his face. Justin thought he was just, simply, beautiful.

“Stop doing that,” Lance said as he grabbed his laptop and sat on his own bed.

“I’m not doing anything.”

“You’re thinking about him and you want details. How does he sit in class? Is he a righty or a lefty? Does he pay attention or pretend to be awake? Does he chew on his pen or does he doodle? Did I get his name? Did I find out his major? And so on.”

“I was not, but since you brought it up, did you find out any of this?”

“As much as I want to tell you no, you’re my best friend, so I took notes for you. You so owe me.”

Justin smiled brightly and looked at Lance with excited eyes, “Anything you want is yours. You can even borrow my camera. Well once. And you have to promise to take extra care of it. And always…”

“Down, J. I’m not going to borrow your camera. But whatever, okay, his name is Josh.”

“Josh? I love the name Josh.”

Lance rolled his eyes, “If we’re going to continue this conversation, I’m going to need for you to calm down.”

“Calm, got it.” Justin drank his Gatorade, calmly, as he listened to Lance give him the details.

“He goes by JC, some nickname his frat brothers gave him so they didn’t confuse him with the five million other Josh’s in his frat. He looked like he wanted to pay attention, but was too hung-over to do so. He didn’t doodle, but he did seem to be taking notes. He’s a righty, and no, I didn’t really notice how he was sitting. He’s a journalism major, and he has a girlfriend named Bunny or Baby or Bubbles or something. I don’t know, his friend was asking about her.”

Justin looked confused by the last bit, but then nodded. “Wow. You found out a lot.”

Lance smiled at his accomplishment, “Thanks.”

Justin grabbed a notebook off of his shelf, to look over his course syllabus for that semester. His first semester at college had gone pretty well, but he knew that any awkward adjustment period had been avoided by having his best friend with him. Lance and Justin had pretty much decided they’d go to the same school, having gone to the same school since they both entered kindergarten. This was the school that they had both agreed upon to further their education. Little did Justin know that within days of walking around on campus, he would find the man of his dreams.

“Hey,” Justin said as he looked up from his syllabus, “You didn’t explain why you thought he was an ass.”

Lance shrugged, but didn’t take his eyes off of his laptop screen, “It’s not like he’s a mystery. You saw him. Him and his friends are always drunk, always playing pranks on people, always thinking they’re better than everyone else…” Lance looked up at this and eyed Justin carefully, “Guys like him are the reason guys like us stay in the closet. It’s okay to like him from afar, but don’t get any bright ideas.”

“You’re generalizing. Just because he’s in a frat doesn’t mean he’s like that.”

“Right. Okay,” Lance said in a resigned voice. Justin had always been the dreamer when it came to them, and sometimes there was no point in trying to make him live in reality.


It was two days later that Justin came up with an idea, but the idea seemed so impossible that he almost chose to not tell Lance about it. Justin was sitting in the commons, drinking a soda, and playing a game on his cell phone when he saw JC walk in with a couple of his friends. He watched them carefully as they stood in the coffee line, and then as JC waved bye to them as he walked over to an empty arm chair and sat down, taking out a book and sipping his coffee. Justin felt like quite the voyeur but he continued to observe JC, the way he bounced his legs up and down as he read, the way he blew on his coffee every time he went to take a sip, the way he kept checking his watch and looking around before reading again.

That’s when Justin’s idea had hit him. He had been wanting to shoot a short film while on campus and had originally asked Lance to be his star, but what if he could get JC to do it instead? With his lithe frame, his dark hair, those intense blue eyes, the confidence with which he walked, and just his natural beauty, Justin knew that the camera would love him. But the problem was how to get JC to be in the film. He couldn’t just walk up to him and ask him. Or could he? His mind and body battled for a few minutes with one silently screaming, “Do it!”, and the other not budging from the small table it was seated at. And then the moment was lost when the girl that Justin assumed was Bunny or Baby or Bubbles walked in and went straight to JC giving him a kiss before pulling him up from his chair and dragging him out of the commons with her.

“What have I told you about missing opportunities?” Lance said as he went through the line at the dining hall during the dinner rush later that night. They were surrounded by loud voices, the clanks of trays and silverware, and the cooks as they rushed to replenish the food supply for the starving freshmen on meal plans.

“You seriously think I should’ve asked him?” Justin said as he scooped some mashed potatoes onto his tray. “Weren’t you the one who told me to stay away from guys like that?”

“Under normal circumstances, yes. But you’re a film student and you have a legitimate right to ask him to be in your movie.”

Justin moved up in the line with Lance as he thought about this, “You’re not just saying that to get out of being in the film are you?”

“Dude, you know I love being in your films. I’m just saying that if you wanted the hottest junior at this university to be in your film, you should’ve just asked him.”

“He’s a junior?” Justin asked as he felt excitement from the new information. He was grateful that his best friend was a great detective.

“Don’t get all hyper on me, but yes. Anyway, if you see him again, just ask him. The worst he can say is no.”

Justin considered the truth of this and paid for his food as he followed Lance to an empty table by a window. He ate some of his food before looking back up at Lance with slight annoyance, “I saw his girlfriend today.”

“Oh yeah? Blonde, perky, typical sorority bitch?”

“Brunette, perky, typical sorority bitch.”

“Ah, sucks for you.”

“Hey, whatever, he could be bi.”

Lance didn’t say anything to that. He just hoped that he was right, and the worst that could happen was a simple, “No.”


It wasn’t until a few weeks later that Justin finally got his second chance. He had been making a pointed attempt to see JC again, but no matter where he went on campus, the boy could not be found. Even Lance pointed out that JC had been skipping his Anthro class, which really annoyed Lance who felt passionate about his major.

The chance encounter occurred at the bookstore where Justin had decided to waste some time before one of his classes. He had been reading a book from a film class that he wanted to take next year when he happened to look down the aisle and see JC browsing for something. He then watched as JC went to the next aisle and continued to look. Justin knew that he was begging to be caught with the way he was staring, but he really couldn’t keep his eyes off of him. Somehow, even though he looked as if he had just woken up, he still managed to look straight out of a magazine. He was dressed in crisp beige corduroys and a trendy, slim-fitting T-shirt that accentuated his lean torso.

Justin looked down at the gray sweats and oversized T-shirt he was wearing and wished he could magically snap his fingers and be dressed to kill. He noted that from that moment on, he would always dress for opportunities just like this. He tried to look away quickly when JC got to the center of the aisle directly across from Justin, but he continued to take peeks and then he heard Lance’s voice in his head reminding him about missed opportunities. Justin cleared his throat and said, “Hey,” hoping that JC realized he was talking to him.

JC looked up and blinked then looked around and looked back at Justin, “You talking to me?” he asked, and Justin wanted to laugh a little as he considered that JC may not be awake enough to think the conversation was real.

“Yeah, I’ve seen you around campus before, not that you probably have seen me or whatever, but yeah. Um…” Justin chided his mind and forced it to get it together. “I was wondering if you’d be interested in being in my film.”

JC squinted his eyes in thought and then looked at the aisle Justin was in realizing it was the film studies aisle. “Film major.”

Justin smiled proudly, “Yep. I have an idea for a short and I was going to get my roommate to be in it, but he’s getting overloaded with his workload, and you really fit the part.”

“I can’t act,” JC said as he looked back down at the shelves to see if the book he was looking for was present.

“Oh that’s okay. It’s a really simple film. Really minimalist. You wouldn’t really have to do a lot.”

“Well what would I have to do?” he asked as he moved down the aisle again to look at the next shelf. Justin moved down as well.

“You would really just have to stare at things. We’d go around the city and film you staring at different events. I’m hoping to naturally find the events I’ve listed in my planner, but if not I’ll have to have some of the guys in my dorms stage them. They’re good at that anyway.”

“Why didn’t you ask one of them to be the guy that stares or whatever?”

“Like I said, you fit the part that I imagined,” Justin said hoping he didn’t come off weird as he added, “You know, you’ve got that, frat, successful, future rich guy look.” Justin rolled his eyes at himself. That hadn’t been exactly what he had been going for.

JC didn’t look up at him and just laughed a little, “That’s because I’m all those things and more,” he said with a cocky nod, but then he looked at Justin with a smile and Justin knew that he had been slightly joking. “Well it sounds fun I guess. I mean, like I said, I can’t act.”

“It’ll work, trust me.” Justin then noticed that JC was in the communication studies aisle, “You a communication major?” Justin asked, even though he already knew the answer.


Justin smiled, “That’s cool, man. Do you want to be on TV and report the news and stuff?”

“No way,” JC said as he leaned down and pulled a book from the bottom shelf.

Justin hoped JC would elaborate, but when he didn’t Justin decided not to push his luck. “Okay, well let’s exchange numbers.” Justin pulled out his notebook and wrote his name and number on a piece of paper. He ripped it out and then handed the notebook to JC so that he could leave his information on it. “So I’ll give you a call in a couple of days when I’m done with my storyboarding.”

“Sure, sounds good, take care,” JC said as he headed towards the cash register with his book in hand. Justin just stared at him until he left.


Lance watched Justin stare at his cell phone for a good two minutes before finally saying, “It’s been three days. It’s not going to call him by itself.”

“I know,” Justin whined. “I just…yeah okay,” Justin knew he was being ridiculous and he grabbed his phone and pulled up his short script on his computer. When JC finally picked up he stopped and thought of exactly what to say.

“Dude, is there anyone there?” JC asked after the third, “Hello?”

“Hey, man, it’s Justin, from the book store. Sorry about that I hadn’t realized my phone had finished dialing.” Justin smacked his forehead for sounding like an idiot and Lance just shook his head at him.

“Oh hey, Justin from the book store, right.”

“Yeah, the film major? Who wants you to be in his film?”

“Oh got it, yeah, hey man, what’s up?”

“I was wondering if you’d be available this Friday for the first few shots. I wanted to do them at the playground a few streets from here.”

“Friday? What time?”

“Around eight in the morning?”

“Shit, why’s it so early?”

“Lighting. The position of the sun is conducive to the outdoor shots. I don’t have like lighting equipment to work with and stuff.”

“Oh. Well do you want me to meet you there?”

“Yeah, at eight.”

“Eight, got it.”

“Good. See you then.” Justin hung up and smiled at Lance. “I did it. He’s going to meet me at the park at eight.”

“Or so you think,” Lance said as he twirled his pen.

“You think he’s going to stand me up?”

“Asshole frat boy remember? He’ll party all night Thursday and sleep through your call time.”

Justin pouted, “You’re mean.”

“I’m honest.”

“Well what if I call him that morning to remind him?”

“You’re the director. Do what you feel you need to do.”

Justin sat on Lance’s bed and scooted up towards his best friend, then faced him as he picked at Lance’s bed sheets, “He seemed really nice when I met him at the bookstore.”

“Yes, you told me.”

“No, but, I mean, he seems like a better guy than you give him credit for.”

“I hope for your sake he is.”

“Is he still not showing up to class?”

“Nope. I’m not sure how he’s going to pass. Our professor gives out a lot of information in class. You should see my notes.”

“I bet he has a friend in there and he steals their notes.”

“You’re probably right,” Lance sighed with disapproval. Justin patted Lance on his back and then got up and went back to his own computer to look over his script. He hoped Lance was wrong and that JC would show up at eight.


Justin sat on a swing set and looked at his cell phone again. It was now 9:30 in the morning and JC had most certainly stood him up. He was more than peeved and annoyed, he was pissed off beyond belief. He wasn’t entirely sure if it was that Lance had been right, or that JC had stood him up, or if it was just that he had fallen for it, that pissed him off the most, but whatever it was he really had wanted to throw his cell phone at the slide that was facing him. He finally dialed JC’s number for the fifth time that morning, and was shocked when the boy actually picked up.

“Hey, it’s 9:30 and I’m still waiting for you at the park,” Justin said with a bitter tone he wasn’t able to veil.

“Park?” came the groggy voice and then he heard JC mutter an “Oh shit” and then a “I’ll be there in ten.” Justin wanted to tell him to not bother, but JC had hung up. Justin motioned to throw his phone at the slide but held it back and stuck it in his pocket again.

What made Justin even more upset was the way he got excited when he saw JC walking over to him. He got up from the swing and walked over as he looked down and checked his camera out.

“I’m really sorry,” JC said casually and then came the story, “It was a friend’s birthday last night and we partied until around five.” JC shrugged, “You know how that goes.”

“No, actually I don’t,” Justin said and then he pointed at a tall tree that stood beside the swing set, “I was thinking you could stand under that tree and just stare out at the swing set. I think the tree will give me a good frame for my shot.” JC hesitated a moment as he felt the icy tone of Justin’s voice, but then he stood by the tree, and with hands in his jeans pockets looked out at the swing.

“Like this?”

“Yeah that should work,” Justin said as he began filming him, and through the viewfinder of his digital camera, he could see that he had been completely right. Not only did the camera love JC, but the lines of his body created a great image beside the tree and the linear lines of the swing set.

“You don’t want me to say anything?” JC asked as he was a little self-conscious about just standing there.

“Not a word. And you just ruined my shot. Keep standing, and just stare silently.”

“Oh sorry,” JC said confused. He looked out at the swing and stood perfectly still.

Justin nodded and once he knew he had his shot told him he could relax, “Okay, I want to do the same thing over by the park bench that faces the street.” Justin grabbed his camera bag and his notebook and started walking in that direction. JC followed behind and attempted to talk to Justin again.

“Hey, so, what do you mean you don’t know how that goes?”

“Huh?” Justin asked not turning around to look at him.

“About partying. You party right?”

“Oh,” Justin said as he put his things down on the ground once he had reached the park bench, “No.”

“Why not?”

Justin shrugged and pointed to the curb, “Stand there and look at the bench. I’m going to have to compose this shot.”

JC did as instructed, “What are you anyway? Freshman? Sophomore?”

“Freshman,” Justin said as he found exactly the shot he was going for, “Now stare at the bench and hold still.”

JC once again did what Justin told him to do and didn’t speak again until he began following Justin to the new location, “Did you rush?” JC asked and Justin laughed sarcastically.


“Why not? You look like you’d be in a frat.”

Justin stopped and looked at JC, “Are you kidding? Me? A film geek? Frat boys beat up guys like me. Why? Are you in a frat?”

JC nodded with a smile, “Yep. And I can honestly tell you that I’ve never beat up a guy like you. Or any guy at all. Or anyone ever.”

Justin turned and started walking again, “Yeah, well, it just wouldn’t be my thing.”

“How do you know if you haven’t tried it?”

“I just know. Besides, you guys spend a lot of time partying and stuff and that’s just not my thing. I mean, I like a good party, but not like a frat party.”

“What’s your idea of a good party?” JC said as he hopped up on the railing of a ramp that Justin had stopped at to set up the next shot.

Justin shrugged as he tried to figure out what exactly he wanted to shoot JC staring at, “Friends, fun times, laughing.”

“Sounds like a frat party to me. You know you should come to our party tonight. See what it’s really like. Meet the guys. It may change your mind.”

“I highly doubt that.”

“Just the same. I’ve invited you. It’s the least I can do for being late this morning.”

“No, the least you can do is show up on time at the next shoot.”

“You’re harsh,” JC said but he didn’t lose the smile on his face. “Come on. I can probably even hook you up with a hot sorority girl.”

Justin sighed, “Can I bring my roommate?”


Justin knew he was just torturing himself, but at least with Lance by his side he knew that Lance would pull him out of there if the situation became unbearable.


“Two drinks and we’re out of here,” Lance said to Justin and Justin agreed before entering the frat house where the party was already in full swing. The music was blaring, the laughter of sorority girls was barely heard over the loud talking of the fraternity brothers, the booze was flowing seemingly from every corner of the house, and there in the middle with his girlfriend draped all over him was JC playing a game of poker with a few other guys.

“Drink number one,” Lance said handing Justin a beer as he took one for himself, and Justin took his drink as he continued to look in JC’s direction.

Lance, however, took notice of the sorority girls that walked by as they stared Justin down and smiled at him. He realized this could be a really interesting night if he let Justin wander alone and tried to fend off the girls. Lance knew his best friend was a good looking guy, but he also knew that Justin wasn’t completely aware of his own appeal. “My advice to you is to stop staring at him and converse with me,” Lance said. “Otherwise people are going to think you’re weird.”

“And what’s wrong with being weird?” Justin joked as he looked at Lance and smiled. “So who would’ve thought we’d ever be at a frat party?”

“You so owe me for this one too,” Lance said as he smiled at a girl who looked back at Justin as she walked by him. “If we don’t leave after two drinks you’re going to end up with a girlfriend.”

“Very funny.”

“You think I jest,” Lance said as he led Justin over to an area where they could converse and be in JC’s view. JC, however, was quite caught up in his game, his drink, and his girlfriend on his lap, and didn’t notice Justin who was pretty much in his line of sight.

By the time Justin had his second beer in hand, he was drinking it very slowly so that Lance wouldn’t drag him out of the house. “I’ve never seen you around,” a leggy, blonde said as she sat beside Justin and flipped her hair, giving him a wide smile. “Are you in a different frat?”

“No, I’m just…”

“Crashing,” Lance provided. “Free beer and all,” Lance waved the beer bottle back and forth for effect before taking a drink.

“Hot,” the girl said getting more comfortable beside Justin, “I’m Trixie, but you can call me Trix for short.”

“Your parents actually named you Trixie?” Justin asked dumbfounded.

“Yep, it’s cute right?”

“Yeah it’s…cute,” Justin said looking at Lance for help. Lance just smirked and drank more of his beer.

Trixie twirled her blonde hair in her finger, “What year are you?”

“We’re juniors,” Lance supplied again and Justin just nodded.

“That’s probably why I don’t see you,” she said in understanding. “I’m just a sophomore.”

“Sophomores are cool,” Justin said and Lance almost spit out his drink.

The girl’s eyes lit up and she took this as encouragement as she draped her leg over Justin’s lap, “We are, aren’t we? Why aren’t you in a frat? I joined a sorority just so I could meet guys like you and you’re not even in one?” She found this funny and laughed and Justin looked at Lance who pretended to look away.

“It’s just not my thing,” Justin shrugged and as he took another drink from his beer he chanced a glance towards JC who seemed to be having trouble standing up from the poker table.

“Well what is your thing?”

“Oh, um,” he nudged Lance to provide an answer.

“Boxing. He loves to box. He’s training for the Olympics,” Lance supplied and Justin looked at him as if he had grown a third head. Lance shrugged and looked back out at the commotion at the poker table.

“That is sooo sexy,” Trixie said as she put her hand on his biceps. “I bet you are sooo muscular.”

“I’m sooo not,” Justin said as he looked back towards the poker table where JC’s girlfriend seemed to be pulling his hand to lead him away from it.

“God there he goes again,” Trixie said and Justin looked at her immediately.


“JC. He always gets so wasted. I mean all the boys get wasted, but he’s like the king of getting wasted. His girlfriend is always having to drag him back to his room and making sure he’s alright. One time he was so drunk that he blacked out and came crashing down on a glass table. Luckily he only had a few cuts. The guys have been placing bets on when he’ll do it again. They were amused.”

“He’s a loser,” Lance said and Trixie seemed surprised by this, but then nodded.

“I can see why you’d think that, but he’s actually not. He’s a really nice guy. He actually…I mean when I first started coming to the parties I had a crush on him, but he only has eyes for his girlfriend so I knew that wasn’t going anywhere. So I started hooking up with one of his frat brothers instead,” she pointed out a guy who was getting up to help JC’s girlfriend take JC out of the room. “His name’s Joey. But then Joey kinda stopped talking to me, and wouldn’t return my calls, and JC was the one who told me that he had found another girl to hook up with.”

“Ouch,” Justin said.

“Yeah, but at the same time he was so nice about it,” Trixie continued, “He basically told me that Joey was a total player and to not worry about it and that I was beautiful and would find a really good guy that I deserved. He didn’t have to say that, you know? But he did. He’s just that kind of guy.”

“So if he’s that kind of guy, why does he have to get wasted every night?” Lance asked for Justin who was too busy taking all of the information in.

Trixie shrugged and watched as JC disappeared from view, “Everyone’s got their stories.” She then turned her attention back to Justin and smiled, “So what’s yours?”

“Oh, um, I’m really boring,” Justin said as he put his beer down on the window ledge behind him, “And I have to get going. I have to be up really early.”

Trixie seemed saddened by this but she wrote her number on Justin’s hand and made him promise to call her. It wasn’t until Justin and Lance were far from the frat house and walking back to their dorm that Justin finally told Lance what was on his mind.

“I told you he was nice.”

Lance rolled his eyes, “He’s nice because Trixie said so? Dude, her name is Trixie.”

“Trixie was nice too, so I have a feeling she has a good idea of what nice is.”

“Your logic is amazing sometimes.”

“Thanks,” Justin said with a goofy grin. They walked in silence for a few moments and then as they approached the dorms, Lance stopped and turned to Justin.

“You did hear the part about him only having eyes for his girlfriend right?”

“Yeah and?”

“I’m just checking,” Lance started walking again and Justin blinked and walked back with him, completely lost in thought.


On Sunday, when Justin met up with JC again, it was at a small grocery store that was right off campus. JC stared at fruits, at the bakery, at the freezer section, at the dumpster out back, and then at cars parked in the parking lot.

“Is that it?” JC asked as Justin put his camera away.

“Yeah, that’s it for the grocery store. If you have time I’d like to drive out to the museums and do some there.”

“Sure,” JC said, but then he rubbed his stomach. “I’m starving though. Let’s get some food first.”

“Oh, okay,” Justin said surprised by the suggestion. He hadn’t factored food into the equation, and didn’t want to tell JC that he had already eaten before meeting him at the grocery store. He followed JC to a small, cheap, Mexican restaurant that he had heard many students rave about, but had never actually been in. After parking, he stepped inside behind JC, and was not surprised by the amount of people JC encountered that he knew. He stopped to trade hellos, and arm jabs with a few of them before being seated at small table for two. Justin couldn’t help but feel slightly uncomfortable.

“I’ll have the tamales and a Dos Equis,” JC said and Justin paused and waited for the ID to be flashed, but when the waiter didn’t ask he went ahead and ordered a burrito and a soda for himself. When the waiter left, Justin questioned JC.

“Are you twenty-one?”

“Not yet. Next year,” JC said as he waved at a guy who passed by the table to use the bathroom.

“Oh. You know a lot of people.”

“My frat likes to take this place over,” JC explained. “We’ve sort of claimed it as ours, even though everyone comes here.”

“I’ve never been here,” Justin admitted and JC looked almost sorry for him.

“You need to get out more, man. Hey, did you come to the party last night?”

“Yeah. I saw you playing poker. I would’ve said hi, but you looked busy.”

“Good times right? See anyone you interested in? I can probably hook you up.”

“No, not really,” but then Justin realized that an opportunity had arisen where he could potentially get more information. “Actually, I met this really nice girl named Trixie.”

JC recognized the name instantly, “Trixie. Blonde girl right? She’s really sweet, man. I could totally hook that up.”

“I’m not really looking to be hooked up, but she told me she dated a friend of yours or something.”

“Oh yeah, Joe. That didn’t end well, but I can definitely see you guys together.”

Justin was slowly beginning to realize that JC was not someone who gave information willingly, or even when prodded, apparently, “Yeah, I mean, no. I don’t really want to see anyone right now.”

“Oh, I got ya. You just got out of a bad relationship?”

“Uh, yeah,” Justin lied, and he was grateful when his soda arrived so that he could focus on that instead of the awkward conversation. “So, was that your girlfriend with you last night?”

“Oh yeah, isn’t she beautiful?” JC smiled, but then was distracted when two of his friends came up to him and started talking about some event that was coming up. The food arrived moments later and as Justin ate, he spent most of his time watching JC have various conversations and knock back beer after beer while barely touching his food. It finally dawned on Justin that his crush may have a problem he was not aware of.


“So when I asked you if you wanted to be a reporter, you said no way,” Justin mentioned as he sat on the grass in front of the science museum and reviewed the footage of JC he had shot that day. JC was smiling and lying back on the grass, propped up on his elbows as he watched Justin looking at his viewfinder. “So what do you want to do with your journalism degree?”

“You are such a film major,” JC said with a small laugh, “There is more to journalism than the big production spectacles they put on TV.”

“So you want to work for a newspaper?”

“The Washington Post preferably,” JC nodded. “I really want to be a White House correspondent. I always thought that would be cool.”

“So you’re into politics?”

“Yeah, maybe, something like that” JC shrugged, “So why did you decide to go into film?”

Justin never knew how to explain his passion for films whenever people asked him that question, “I just can’t imagine doing anything else. My dad used to be a wedding videographer, so he always had this equipment, and he’d teach me how to use it. Then I’d make my friends and brothers act out in these little movies I’d write. It’s just what I do.”

“I like that answer,” JC said with a serene look on his face, “I bet most people wish they just knew their destiny like that.” Before Justin could ask him what he meant, or properly interpret the statement, JC was on his feet and looking at his watch. “I have to get going. We’ve got this event we’re planning and I got drafted to be on the committee.”

“Yeah, I heard you talking to your friends about it,” Justin said. “Can I use you again next weekend?”

“Sure, you know my number.” JC waved and Justin watched him leave then watched him again through the footage he had taken.

Later that night as he showed Lance all that he had recorded, Lance looked thoughtfully at the footage before looking even more thoughtfully at Justin.

“What exactly is the point of this particular masterpiece?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well you have your protagonist staring off at things, and it’s all very pretty and cinematic and such, but what is the point?”

“He’s lonely. It’s about being lonely. Just watching things happen instead of making things happen. Why?”

“So it’s about you?”

Justin blinked and turned off the camera, getting up from the bed, and placing it on his desk, “I guess. I mean art should be self-reflective right?”

“You’d know best.”

Justin sighed and sat back down at the edge of the bed, staring at his wall as he thought about what he had witnessed that day. “I think JC’s an alcoholic.”

“Stop the presses, a new Einstein has been discovered.”

“Dude, I’m being serious.”

“Sorry, I just didn’t think it would take you a few days to come to that conclusion.”

“But frat boys drink. That’s what they do. I mean I’m sure he drinks just as much as the rest of his friends.”

“Or not.”

Justin turned to Lance, “We went to that Mexican restaurant today that everyone’s always talking about and he drank like four beers and ate like only half of one of his tamales.”

“He’s an alkie.”

“But that’s stupid. He’s just being like everyone else.”

“How many drinks did everyone else have at the restaurant today?”

“I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Lance closed his laptop and leaned over his bed to place it on his desk. He then grabbed his pillow and held it close to his chest, “Look. Anyone who drinks to the point of blacking out, and then continues to drink heavily after an incident like that, has a problem. And while I don’t think for a minute that you would get caught up in that, I know that you have a major hard on for this guy. So let me just say this. As a product of a highly alcoholic environment, you don’t want his problems to become your problems. Shoot the movie, get your shots, and let it go. There are other guys on this planet.”

Justin knew that Lance was right, in fact, he knew Lance was often right because of the hardships he had to endure growing up. Lance’s mother was an alcoholic, and his father had divorced her after he couldn’t handle her addiction and mood swings. After he left, his mother had a revolving door of boyfriends, and Lance learned how to deal with the world every time he had to save his mother from one of them. Justin’s life had been the exact opposite.

He felt pretty sheltered, having grown up in a stable family environment with two loving parents, two younger brothers, and even two dogs and a cat. The worst family tragedy that had ever befallen him had been when his grandmother had accidentally driven her car onto the neighbor’s lawn in the dark because she couldn’t see the driveway. Lance had spent a lot of time at his house, and his family even considered him their other son. He knew Lance was always looking out for him, but sometimes Justin wondered if maybe Lance was just a little too quick to judge a situation before seeing it for what it was.


Justin was just leaving the campus library when he heard his name called from behind. He turned to see Trixie walking over to him with a smile, and he smiled back and wondered how best to let her down if she tried to flirt with him again. “I thought that was you,” she said with a smile, flipping her blonde hair so it settled behind her shoulder. “You haven’t called me.”

“Oh,” Justin said feeling his face flush pink, “I’m really sorry about that. I’ve been busy and stuff.”

“Crashing parties and stuff?”

Justin smiled and chuckled a little, “Yeah, not exactly, um…how are you?”

“Good, I was just getting ready to head to class. Would you mind walking me or do you have to get going?”

Justin thought about the out she was giving him and decided the girl didn’t really deserve it. He held the door open for her and told her that he’d be more than happy to walk her. “So what class do you have?” he asked her as he took in his surroundings. He almost hated how he was always keeping an eye out to see if JC passed by.

“Chem. It’s awful, but I’m a Bio major so I have to take it.”

Justin blinked and looked at the girl, “You’re a Bio major? That’s…wow, you must be really smart.”

Trixie laughed as her face turned red, “No, I’m not. I just want to be a doctor someday. I mean, I know you have to be smart to be a doctor, I mean I’m smart in my own way.” She shut up and shook her head as she kept on walking. “You know what I mean.”

“I’m impressed,” Justin said. “And here I am a lowly film major.”

“Film major? I would’ve taken you as a poli sci major. Or maybe public policy or business or whatever it is that frat boys major in.”

“I’m not a frat boy remember?”

“That’s right, I keep forgetting. Well I think it’s cool that you’re a film major. What kind of films do you want to make?”

“I like realism. Edgy, indie, dramas. Films that require a little thinking.”

“That sounds interesting. I’m typical. I like romantic comedies.”

Justin didn’t answer and just made a face that made Trixie laugh, “That’s the beauty of film. There’s something for everyone.”

“Very true,” Trixie lead the way to the building her class was in and stopped on the steps leading up to the entrance. “So do you ever plan on calling me or should I just thank you and expect to never see you again?”

Justin was surprised by her forthright question, and before he could answer he spotted a familiar looking girl walking out of the building. He scrunched his eyes as he tried to figure out where he had seen her before, and Trixie turned around to see what he was looking at. She turned back around and faced him, “I take that as a no.”

Justin looked back at her and realized what she had said, “Oh, no, I was just…that girl looks familiar and I was trying to figure out where I knew her from. Sorry, I didn’t mean to zone out on you like that.”

“It’s okay, that’s what usually happens to guys whenever they see Bella. The world disappears and there’s nothing but her. She’s seriously like the most perfect girl at this school, which really sucks for the rest of us.”

“Bella? Why does she look familiar?”

“She’s been on the cover of the university’s campus magazine a few times. Or maybe you remember her from the party. She’s JC’s girlfriend.”

The memory of the girl leading JC away from the poker table came rushing back in full force, “That’s it! Wait, her name is Bella?”

“Yep. Fitting of course. I’m going to be late for class, so I’ll leave you so you can stare at her uninterrupted.”

Justin blinked and shook his head, “No, I wasn’t…I mean, I’m definitely not interested in her.”

“Mhmm, right,” Trixie said with a resigned smile and she waved goodbye to him as she went up the steps and into the building. Justin didn’t have time to feel bad as his curiosity got the better of him. He watched as Bella walked down the stairs as she talked on her cell phone, and then he ended up following her as she made her way towards the student union. He was hoping that she was going to meet JC, and sure enough as she approached the student union, Justin spotted JC heading in her direction. When Justin suddenly realized that it meant he was walking in his direction as well, he quickly hid behind the first tree he saw. What the hell was he doing following that girl to him? If Lance had been there he never would have heard the end of it.


“What the hell were you doing following that girl in the first place?” Lance asked during dinner, and Justin wondered why he felt compelled to tell his best friend everything.

“I just had a feeling that I’d see him if I followed her.”

“I can’t believe you’re going stalker on me.”

“I’m not going stalker.”

“Stalker,” Lance said with a definitive tone, and he got up to clean off his tray and place it in the tray return. Justin followed Lance and once the boys were outside, Lance decided that he didn’t want to go to the dorms. “We should walk to the campus coffee shop and see if anyone’s playing tonight.”

“I seriously don’t understand your obsession with singer songwriters. If it doesn’t have a backbeat, it isn’t music.”

“So says Justin the film major.”

“Oh I’m sorry, did you become a music major overnight? Wait, I know why you want to check it out. You have a crush on someone who plays there don’t you?”

Lance just shrugged, “He plays every now and then.”

Justin smiled and followed Lance to the coffee shop and stood beside him as Lance looked at the flyer on the window that had the names of the performers. “Is he playing?”

“Yep,” Lance said. “We can walk around a bit and come back later though. He probably won’t be on until ten or so.”

“You don’t want to watch him set up?”

“I’m not a stalker like you are.”

Justin flipped Lance off and the two boys walked away from the coffee shop. They talked about inconsequential things as the time ticked by and before long found themselves confronted by a sight that they both somehow felt they should’ve expected. Lance and Justin stood side-by-side in the quad that made up the heart and center of their university. And there, surrounded by the trickling fountains, the school emblem beneath their feet, and the statue of the mascot before them, was JC and two of his friends, stumbling as they laughed about something that would only be funny to them.

“You kinda can’t escape him, huh?” Lance said with a resigned sigh.

“I wonder if he knows how to laugh like that without being intoxicated?” Justin asked more to himself than anyone else and Lance looked at his watch as he shook his head.

“You know what? I’m going to head back to the shop. Why don’t you be a good Samaritan and make sure those three get home without being run over?”

Justin blinked and registered what Lance said before realizing what Lance was encouraging him to do, “Are you sure?”

“Yeah, just call if you need help alright?”

Justin agreed then made his way over to JC and his friends. It took JC a moment to recognize Justin, but as soon as he did he said his name loudly and gave him a hug. Justin had not been expecting that reaction at all. “You guys go ahead,” JC said to his friends. “I have to talk to Justin about Trixie.”

The two boys laughed as they gave Justin encouragement to do things to Trixie that simply made him blush, but once the boys were gone, JC began walking towards the frat house with his arm around Justin. “She really likes you. Like really really likes you,” JC said with a slight slur. “I ran into her today and she said she doesn’t think you like her back. Why don’t you like her back?”

Justin wanted to say that it was because he liked him, but instead he shrugged and then realized that JC was putting all his weight on him. “Let’s sit down,” Justin said as he led JC to a shady, grassy area in front of the communications building. Justin often spent time between classes just sitting under a tree there, and sipping a coffee, while reading a book or looking over notes. It was always a peaceful place, and at night it was even more secluded and isolated since no one was usually around. He sat down on the grass and JC sat down beside him then fell backwards and laughed. Justin looked at him and found himself staring at the way JC’s eyes almost seemed to disappear into small slits when he smiled. At that moment, Justin had never seen anyone more beautiful than him.

“I’m okay,” JC said out of nowhere as he looked up at him. “I just took one too many shots at Rob’s party. He throws amazing parties. You should come to the next one okay? Promise you’ll be there.”

“I told you I don’t really like your parties.”

“It’s because you’re not hanging with me. Why didn’t you come up to me at the last party? You should’ve joined the game.”

Justin didn’t say anything at first as a multitude of thoughts ran through his head. He decided to go with the first question that made sense at the moment. “You’re always the life of the party aren’t you?”

“The party doesn’t start until I get there,” JC said with a cocky grin. “That’s my official title at the frat. The party starter.”

“You must be proud,” Justin said a little sarcastically, but JC didn’t take it in a bad way.

“If it can go on my resume then I’m set for life,” he said with a small chuckle. “So, Justin, why don’t you like Trixie? She’s really nice.”

“She’s just not my type,” Justin said looking out at the communications building that had a few classroom lights turned on even though it was late.

“What’s your type? Maybe I can find you someone right up your alley. I know all of the most beautiful girls in this school.”

Justin rolled his eyes, “I don’t really care about looks.”

Apparently this information was shocking to JC, because he immediately sat up and looked at Justin as if he was kidding, “Everyone cares about looks. You wouldn’t date a really ugly girl would you?”

“I don’t date…” Justin sighed and left it at that.

“You don’t date? Well I’m going to change that. Come on, everyone has a preference. Blondes? Brunettes? I bet you like brunettes. I like brunettes.”

“Yeah I saw your girlfriend,” Justin picked at the grass and wondered how much more of this conversation he was willing to endure.

“Is she your type? She has friends that look like her. I can hook you up with one of them.”

“Why are you so hung up on getting me hooked up?”

“Because you need some excitement in your life. You kinda said that yourself. You’re in college, man. Live a little. Get your drink on. Get your sex on. Have fun.”

“My idea of fun, and you’re idea of fun, are two different ideas of fun. You know, you should try my idea of fun, but I bet you wouldn’t last a day doing things my way.”

“I could make a movie or whatever,” JC said and then he laughed and lay back down on the grass. “I could shoot a porn.”

Justin rolled his eyes and picked up a twig as he began the process of breaking it into tiny pieces, “How long have you and Bella been together?”

“Awhile. Have you ever had a girlfriend?”

Justin wondered why it was so impossible for JC to ever just give a full answer to a question. “No.”

“We have to change that.”

“Maybe I don’t want a girlfriend.”

“What are you gay or something?”


There was a pause and then JC laughed, “You’re funny.”

Justin shook his head and threw the twig pieces to the side then looked at JC, “I’m funny because I’m gay?”

JC looked at Justin then slowly realized that he hadn’t been kidding, “For real? You’re not joking?”

“Because me pretending to be gay is funny?” Justin asked with slight annoyance and he looked back out at the building and watched as one of the classroom lights went off.

JC sat up again and looked at Justin with contemplation, “How long have you been gay?”

Justin wondered if JC was for real. Maybe he was just stupid. “All my life, duh.”

“Oh,” JC said and then he lay back down on the grass. After several minutes, Justin looked at JC and wondered if he had blacked out or something, but JC was just lying there looking up at the tree silently.

“Do you want me to leave you alone?” Justin asked. “I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable. I can go.”

“No, you’re alright,” JC said and he gave Justin a small smile. “I’m just trying to think if there are any gay frat boys I can hook you up with. But I don’t know any.”

“They’re probably in the closet.”

“You think so?” JC asked surprised by this idea. “How do you know if someone is gay?”

Justin sighed and rubbed his forehead. Why did JC have to be so impossible to deal with tonight? “It’s not like that. It’s just…look, if any of your frat brothers are gay you probably won’t find out until ten years from now when they’re at a place where they’re not afraid they’ll lose everything they’ve worked hard for by coming out.”

“That makes sense I guess. You know, I bet Joey is gay. He likes musicals.”

Justin blinked, and then blinked again, “Dude, if you want to be my friend, you’re going to have to stop with the stereotypes. No really. I can’t stand musicals. I don’t like shopping. I love electronics. I love video games. I even like football.”

“Football is life,” JC said with a nod. “And hey, I like shopping.”

Justin laughed at that and laid down beside him, “There you go. Stereotypes are pointless.”

They stayed that way for a few moments before JC asked, “Have you ever had a boyfriend?”

“No,” Justin said.

“Have you ever kissed a boy?”

“Once,” Justin admitted. “My best friend Lance is gay too, and he had this boyfriend in high school, but it was on the down low, obviously. But they broke up and then he tried to hit on me and we kissed but I told him that I didn’t think it was right since Lance was my best friend. And that was pretty much it. I felt so guilty that I told Lance about it, but Lance was cool about it.”

“Wow.” There was more silence again, and Justin wondered what the hell was going through JC’s mind. He also wondered if JC would tell Trixie and anyone else who would listen about him. He could almost hear Lance going off on him now about letting people know. “So when you asked me to be in your movie, was it because you thought I was hot?”

Justin blinked and didn’t say anything which made JC turn to his side and prop up on his elbow to look at him. “Um,” Justin said when he looked at him, “Um, well you…fit the part.”

“I stare at things. I stand there and stare. You film me. There wasn’t much of a part to fit.”

If there was one thing Justin had not given JC credit for, it was for being perceptive. “Okay, yeah, why? Does it weird you out now? You can drop out if you want. Whatever.” Justin was defensive, but only because he didn’t want JC to think that he was that obsessed with him.

“No, it’s cool. It just makes more sense now,” JC said and then he smiled at Justin. “I’m flattered. I’ve never had a guy like me before.”

Justin sighed, “Great, yeah. Just bill me for the ego boost.”

JC laughed and then looked at Justin, and for a minute Justin felt as if JC was checking him out, “Hey, can I tell you something?”

Justin was almost shocked at the request, “Anything,” he said and realized that he may have sounded a little excited by it.

“I’ve always wanted to kiss another guy to see what it was like,” JC said and Justin’s eyes widened.

“You say this because you’re drunk,” Justin pointed out and JC shrugged.

“Maybe, but I’ve always wanted to see. So can I kiss you?”

Justin’s pulse raced a million miles a minute and he nodded quickly. He licked his lips in anticipation and watched as JC moved his face closer to his. He then closed his eyes and almost wondered if he was dreaming when he felt JC’s lips on his own. Justin didn’t even hesitate to kiss him back as he tasted the hard liquor that flavored JC’s lips and felt dizzy at the intimate proximity of the boy he had fantasized about all year long.

When JC pulled away, Justin lay there breathless and with his eyes still closed, caught up in his own sensation of drunkenness from the touch of JC’s lips to his. And before he could open his eyes, he felt JC’s lips on his again, and Justin knew that he had to be dreaming. He didn’t stop from putting his hand on the back of JC’s neck as he deepened the kiss and found JC’s tongue with his own, tasting the shots of tequila and vodka and a hint of rum as he got lost in JC and the way he smelled like a mixture of alcohol and expensive cologne. When JC pulled away again he laid back down beside Justin, and Justin could hear JC breathe deeply as he caught his breath.

Justin just looked up at the tree and knew that he would never forget that kiss for as long as he lived. “So, was it what you expected it to be?” Justin asked after he was sure he could talk without professing his eternal love for the man beside him.

“No,” JC said honestly.

“Oh,” Justin said as a wave of disappointment flowed over him. “Sorry then, at least now you know.”

“I was expecting to not like it, but I was wrong,” JC said and Justin’s eyes widened again, but he didn’t move from his position and continued to look up. In order to stay calm, he focused on how he could see some of the bright stars through the branches of the tree.

“Oh,” Justin said again because he wasn’t sure of what else to say.

“Does this make me gay?”

Justin wanted to laugh, but he had a feeling that JC wouldn’t have appreciated that reaction, “No. I mean, you really shouldn’t be thinking about this while you’re drunk. See how you feel when you’re sober and then we’ll talk about it.” JC accepted this, and Justin continued to stay beside him until he realized that JC may fall asleep on him. He got JC up and told him that he’d walk him back to the frat house. Later that night, as Justin walked back to his dorm room alone, he realized that he hadn’t been dreaming at all.


“I’m worried about you,” Lance said as he jogged around the track with Justin, and Justin kept his gaze forward as he attempted to casually play off Lance’s concern.

“You’re always worried about me. You’ve been worried about me since the day we met.”

“Someone has to look out for you because God knows you don’t look out for yourself.”

“Amusingly, I knew this was the conversation we were going to have after telling you he kissed me.”

Lance picked up the pace, knowing Justin could keep up. “He was drunk. You don’t know what’s going to happen now that he’s sober. If you’re lucky he’ll just never talk to you again.”

“If I’m lucky he’ll realize he likes boys.”

“You’re not getting it are you? You do nothing but observe this guy, but you haven’t figured anything out about him. It’s like your movies. Your movies are always about observing things, but if you spent a little less time observing, and more time realizing, you wouldn’t have to waste your time looking for answers.”

“Just spit it out, Lance,” Justin said getting frustrated as he jogged a little harder in his annoyed state.

“You said that the party doesn’t start until he gets there. That’s someone who initiates things. A random person asks him to be in his movie, and he says yes. If a random person asked me, I’d have to think it through, but JC just agreed right? You said that at the restaurant he was asked to help plan an event, and he agreed right away right? You ask him to do something, he says yes. He sees an opportunity to do something that he’s thought about doing, and he takes it. Like I said, he’s the type of person who initiates things. He’s someone who tries everything. Who takes chances. Who takes risks.”

“Well that’s a good thing right? You always say I need to be more like that.”

Lance switched lanes so that Justin could move over a lane as they jogged around a person going at a slower pace in front of them, “You’re not getting it. He kissed you because he’s the type of person who likes to try new things. You’re something new and exciting to him. He lives off the thrill, off the high. It’s why he probably drinks a lot. And let’s not forget that you being a boy makes you an exception to the rule.”

“What rule?”

“The cheating one. He won’t think he’s cheating on his girlfriend because you’re not another girl.”

Justin stopped jogging as they reached the side of the track where the bleachers were at. He put his hands on his hips as he walked beside the front row bleachers and caught his breath. He was absolutely furious at Lance for bringing up these issues, and he was not going to hesitate to tell him so. He turned around and walked to Lance who had bent over with his hands on his knees as he regulated his breathing. “Fuck you,” Justin said and Lance looked up at him. “I can’t believe you would even say that.”

“Someone has to tell you these things.”

“You’re not my father. Why the fuck are you always acting like you have to protect me from the world? Let me live my life. Hell, even if you are right, and this whole thing blows up in my face, let me at least do it. I happen to have more faith in JC than you do. I know him better. I’ve gotten to know that he’s not an asshole like you think he is. So back the fuck off and go get your own life.” Justin grabbed his backpack and water bottle and left Lance alone at the track.


Justin looked through his viewfinder as he composed the shot of JC staring out at the ocean. He had had fantasies of taking this very shot, but never in his wildest dreams, did he imagine it with such a stunning subject standing before him and taking his directions so perfectly. He had been glad when JC had picked up his call that morning and sounded cool about shooting that day. That had been the first major test for Justin, and as he had left the dorm he had wanted to tell Lance that he had been wrong, but Lance’s silent treatment had made Justin just leave the dorm quietly without a word to his best friend.

When Justin had finished taking all the shots he needed at the beach, he sat on the sand and let the waves wash over his bare feet as he reviewed the footage. JC sat beside Justin and looked at the viewfinder as well. “It’s so weird to see yourself like that isn’t it?” he asked and Justin tried to not focus on the slight touches of JC’s breath against his neck.

“I don’t know. I don’t ever film myself.”

“Oh, I guess that makes sense. So you never wanted to be an actor or anything?”

“Nope,” Justin said and then he smiled at a shot where a seagull flew by majestically against the perfect sky. “This will look great with music.”

“There’s going to be music?”

“Yeah, but I’ll add that in editing.”

“What kind of music?”

“I’m not sure yet. Something instrumental, experimental, maybe a little disturbing.”

“Why disturbing?”

“The images are so solitary, and that’s disturbing to a lot of people. I like to freak people out a little.”

“Interesting,” JC said and then he rolled up the bottom of his pants as the waves climbed a little higher and started to get his pants wet. “So where are we going next?”

“Nowhere. This is it for the day. You can leave if you want.”

“Or I can stay here with you and enjoy the beach,” JC said with a smile. Justin didn’t want to smile, but he did anyway, and he shut his camera off.

“If you want.”

“I know a restaurant down the road that we can go to if we get hungry. They’ve got really good seafood.”

“Alright.” Justin wasn’t sure what else to say because all he wanted to do was ask JC if he had given the other night any thought. “Do you come to the beach a lot?” he asked instead.

“Not a lot, but often enough. We do a lot of bonfires here.”

“Oh that sounds fun.”

“It is until the cops kick us out for being disruptive. We always place bets on how long it’ll be before that happens.”

“That’s brilliant,” Justin said with a snarky tone to his voice, “Because when a cop gets a call that he has to break up some frat boy bonfire, he probably has to bring back up because of the amount of people involved, and that’s two or three less cops that are out there protecting, say a woman getting mugged, or a guy getting carjacked. You frat boys are just so cool like that.”

“Wow,” JC said taken aback by Justin’s analysis, “You really have a chip on your shoulder about frats. Did you get your ass kicked once by a frat guy?”

“No, you’re missing the point.”

“I get your point. I guess we’re all just not trying to be saints like you,” JC said with a good natured smile.

“I’m not trying to be saint,” Justin said offended. “It’s called common sense.”

“It’s called playing it safe.”

“It’s called not causing problems.”

JC looked at Justin with interest and then chuckled, “You’re different.”

“Thank you,” Justin looked down at his camera and studied it as if he had never even seen it before.

“Do you want to kiss again?” JC asked and Justin’s head shot up to look at him. He became slightly annoyed when he saw the joking grin on JC’s face.

“I’m glad this is a joke to you.”

“Hey I was just trying to get your attention. You seemed to be zoning out.”

“I was just…thinking.” Justin let out a frustrated sigh and looked at JC as the sea breeze tousled his short brown curls around his head, “Did you think about the kiss though? Or did you just wave it off as something new and fun you tried and can tell your frat brothers about later at a cool party?”

“Such hostility,” JC said with a small smile as he cocked his head to the side to look at Justin, “And yeah I did think about it. I think I liked kissing you.”

“Why? Have you ever been attracted to a guy before?”

“Not really, but you’re different. There’s just something about you. I bet you get that a lot.”

Justin rolled his eyes, “That sounds like a bad pick up line.”

“Damn, it doesn’t work on guys either,” JC gave a long suffering sigh and then smiled again.

Justin didn’t want to smile back, and he fought against it, but his emotions broke through and he shook his head at the boy and looked back out at the water. “And he’s charming too,” Justin said to himself as he let his hand play with the sand beside him.

“So can I kiss you again?”

Justin shook his head and looked back at the older boy, “Do I seriously have to remind you that you have a girlfriend?”

“I know I have a girlfriend. What does that have to do with anything?”

“Are you kidding me? You kissed me the other night. And you’re asking to kiss me again. What do you think I am? Some picture on the wall that you kiss every now and then to amuse yourself? I’m a human being. You kissing me constitutes cheating. No cheating rule exceptions allowed.”

“Cheating rule exceptions?”

Justin gave a frustrated grunt and stood up wiping the sand off his shorts, “You can’t use me for your little fun and games or whatever it is you’re trying to get out of this.”

JC got up as well and followed Justin as he began walking to his car, “I didn’t mean it like that. I’m sorry. I didn’t think that, you know, you would take it like that.”

Justin spun around and looked at him with hot, blue eyes, “How did you think I would take it?”

“I don’t know. I just thought you liked it.”

“You are such an ass,” Justin turned around again and made his way to his car, throwing his things into the backseat.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t think it through,” JC said as he stood in front of the car door so Justin couldn’t open it.

“Do you ever think anything through? Or do you always just act on impulse?”

“I…I don’t know. I just do what I do.”

“Yeah well why don’t you think about other people sometimes before you do what you do? And you can start with your girlfriend. How would you like it if she was cheating on you with another girl?”

“That’d be hot,” JC said honestly and Justin wanted to yell. He yanked his car door open causing JC to jump as he was pushed aside by the force. “Dude, I’m sorry. Look, I thought about it a lot after it happened and…I don’t know, I really liked kissing you. Can’t we just do that?”

“And what about Bella?” Justin asked with his hand on the door ready to slam it shut as he started his car.

“She doesn’t have to know about it. I mean, I’m just experimenting right?”

“You’re cheating,” Justin said and he began to close the door but JC caught it and held it open.

“Do you want me to break up with her?”

Justin paused and then looked at JC, “You would break up with her to experiment with me?”

“I don’t know. Do you want me to?”

Justin looked at JC with disbelief then tried to shut the door again, but JC’s grip on it was pretty tight. “I want you to stop being an asshole,” Justin finally said. “Are you and her having problems or something? Why would you do this to her?”

“I’m not doing anything to her.”

“You’re still not getting it!”

“I’m getting it. You’re the one that’s not getting it,” JC finally said with a raised tone, and Justin stopped, surprised that something had made him break out of his calm exterior and placating smile.

“What exactly am I not getting?” Justin asked curiously.

“I can’t kiss you and let people know about it,” JC explained, “But I liked kissing you, so why can’t we just kiss and not let people know? Why do you have to harp on about me having a girlfriend? Yeah she’s there, but am I going to break up with her because I’m questioning things and I want answers? No. Are you kidding? What if I’m wrong? Why won’t you give me this and let me figure things out?”

Justin wanted to say because he didn’t want to get hurt in the process, but as he looked up at JC’s blue eyes, he knew that he wanted a chance to not only kiss JC some more, but maybe touch him, and feel how he felt next to his own body. “Fine,” Justin finally said.

JC looked almost surprised and then he smiled, “Really?”

“Yeah, whatever. You always get what you want don’t you?”

“Only when I promise to kiss the person I’m trying to get something from,” JC said with a smirk and Justin groaned as he pulled the door shut. JC motioned for Justin to roll the window down and Justin did so hesitantly.

“What now?”

“Are you sure you don’t want me to feed you? I’ll buy you dinner and everything.”

Justin let out an annoyed sigh then told him fine. He then followed JC’s car to the seafood restaurant on the beach.


Lance remained silent as Justin told him about how he agreed to be JC’s kissing buddy, and even though Lance was holding tight to his vow of silence, his eyes widening from time to time in disbelief would tell Justin exactly what he was thinking. When Justin was done he looked at his friend for a word or two. “Are you seriously just not going to talk to me?”

Lance looked at Justin with a million and one comments running past his eyes, but the only one that Lance uttered was, “I’m really scared for you.”

“God you’re so dramatic, you’re going to give yourself an ulcer.”

“This is why I’m not saying anything else.”

“Fine,” Justin accepted, and true to his word for the next few days Lance didn’t say anything to Justin in regards to his new relationship with JC. Justin for his part began to look forward to meeting up with JC to shoot the film, usually in locations far from campus where no one who knew him would appear. They’d shoot for a few minutes and then find an isolated place where they could kiss for awhile before JC had to leave for some meeting, or party, or date, or whatever his active lifestyle had in store for him.

Justin would stumble into his dorm room with a goofy grin and Lance would just focus on his laptop or a textbook in front of him. That was until JC had invited Justin to another frat party and Lance finally put his foot down. “I’m not letting you go alone.”

“What do you mean you’re not letting me go alone?” Justin asked as he changed his shirt for the tenth time.

“This is a seriously bad situation and I need to be there in case something bad goes down.”

“What could possibly go down?”

“Oh I don’t know, JC’s girlfriend and boy toy in the same room at the same time? What could possibly go right with that? He’s going to see if he can get away with two timing you guys at once.”

“Why are you always so negative about things?” Justin asked testily. “Why can’t you just let me go and have some fun?”

“Since when have frat parties been something you considered fun?”

Justin stopped moving and closed his eyes as he attempted to regain his composure, “You know what? You just want to rain on my parade because you can’t find anyone for yourself. Maybe you should come tonight. Maybe he has a friend who wants to experiment and can do it with you.”

“Yeah, no thanks. But I am going with you because someone has to be there to pick up the pieces after you fall.”

Justin didn’t say a word to Lance as they walked to the frat house, and he hoped that he could ditch him the moment they walked inside. Lance’s attitude towards the situation had been getting on Justin’s nerves, but the last thing he wanted to do was fight with his friend. He didn’t like how he and Lance were at odds, and he really wished that Lance would chill out a little and stop worrying so much about him. He was definitely going to try and find someone for Lance to occupy his mind.

The party was as rowdy as Justin had expected, and he was hit with spray from a beer bottle that had been carelessly opened and then used to wet the T-shirts of the girls standing in front of the guy who had opened it. Justin wiped his face as he walked through the onlookers that were cheering the spectacle on. He made his way to the bar area and grabbed a beer when Trixie popped up beside him, “Hey,” she said with a small wave. “JC told me the news.”

Justin said “Hey” back and then looked at her confused, “What news?”

“That you were officially off the market,” Trixie said with a good natured sigh, “He said that he hooked you up with a hot film major and that you guys really hit it off. And in JC’s words, she’s so beautiful she can probably star in every movie he makes.”

Justin was too dumbfounded to say anything and he looked around the party as he took a sip of his beer, “Um, is JC around? I need to talk to him.”

“I think he’s out back, come on,” Trixie lead him out the back of the house and into the back yard area where Justin was suddenly hit with the overwhelming smell of barbecue. “I guess Joey got hungry,” Trixie said with a chuckle as she looked around. “Oh there he is,” she pointed towards a group of guys who suddenly set off a firework and then busted out laughing as they congratulated themselves on their accomplishment.

“Brilliant,” Justin said as he rolled his eyes at their stupidity, then he thanked Trixie and walked over to where JC had just taken a shot of whatever liquid was being passed around the friends. “Hey,” Justin said to him and JC looked at Justin and then smiled as he pointed up at the air.

“Did you see that? I did that one.”

“I’m impressed to see that you can do two illegal activities at once. Your parents must be proud.”

JC pouted and told his friends he’d be back later. He then grabbed Justin’s arm and led him back into the house, “No bad mood at the party. Come on, relax.” He grabbed a bottle of vodka from the bar as he motioned for Justin to follow him down a hallway, and up a side set of stairs. He realized shortly that JC was leading him to his bedroom, and Justin felt some alarms go off in his head, but he kept his composure and followed JC into the room. JC shut the door and locked it before taking a drink from the bottle and handing it to Justin, “Make yourself at home.”

Justin held the bottle and looked around the room which JC obviously shared with another one of his frat brothers. He studied JC’s side and was slightly surprised to see that, aside from a school banner and the football poster that had the season’s schedule on it, the only other thing that adorned JC’s wall was a poster of Washington D.C. “You ever been to D.C.?” Justin asked as he looked at his roommate’s side of the room to see his wall littered with pictures from various swimsuit calendars and porn magazines.

“I was born there,” JC said and he grabbed the bottle from Justin’s hand and took another drink before sitting on his bed and motioning for Justin to sit next to him.

“Um,” Justin hesitated then sat beside him, “I’ve never met anyone that was actually born there. That’s really cool.”

“Yeah I guess. Where were you born?”


“Well there you go. I’ve never met anyone actually born in Memphis.”

Justin smiled and looked around the room again, “I’m surprised you don’t have those types of pictures on your side,” Justin said pointing towards his roommate’s wall.

“Joey has enough for the both of us, besides Bella hates them and she said she refused to have sex with me in this room if I had a single picture of a naked girl up on my side.”

Justin suddenly felt uncomfortable as he looked back at the bed he was sitting on, “Isn’t she here tonight? We should probably get back out there.”

“She’s busy with her girls, besides, I like it in here. With you.” JC smiled and leaned in to kiss Justin and Justin kissed him back even though he still felt uncomfortable kissing him in this new environment. JC sensed this and pulled away looking at him with an amused expression. “Is everything okay?”

“No. This is a bad place to do this. Not to mention I don’t like the idea of you kissing me on the very bed you plan on screwing your girlfriend in after I’m gone for the night.”

“Alright, we can kiss on Joey’s bed,” JC said with a laugh as he got up and went to his roommate’s bed. He patted it and Justin once again had that sensation of yelling at him, but could only bite his lip to stop from smiling.

“You know, sometimes I really hate you,” Justin said as he got up and sat beside JC on Joey’s bed.

“Why?” JC asked as he drank some more than handed the bottle to Justin. Justin took the bottle and looked at it for a moment, but didn’t take a drink.

“Why do you drink so much?” he asked him and he knew from the way that JC paused and seemed at a loss for words that he had hit a nerve with that question.

“It’s a party. That’s what we do at parties,” JC said taking the bottle from Justin and taking another drink. “You know you’re spending a lot of time questioning things when you should just be having fun. Why are you trying to rain on my parade?”

“It was a simple question.”

“It was a stupid question. Whatever, if you don’t want to kiss me tonight that’s all you had to say,” JC got up and began towards the door but Justin grabbed his hand and pulled him back. As he sat in front of JC’s lean figure, he realized that the truth was that he didn’t want to just kiss JC anymore. He wanted to do other things, but he was too scared to ask him for fear that JC would call the whole thing off.

“What?” JC asked as he looked down at Justin and Justin looked up at him and almost said something when he decided he would try things JC’s way. He looked straight ahead at the sliver of skin from JC’s stomach that he could see between the bottom of JC’s T-shirt and the top of his jeans. He moved his face closer until his lips touched the skin and he kissed him lightly and then paused as he waited for JC to react. When he didn’t hear anything, and when JC didn’t pull away, he kissed his stomach again and put his hands onto JC’s hips as he took in the scent of JC’s perfectly taught body. Justin was intoxicated by the intimacy that JC was allowing him, and he moved his hands across his jeans and to the front where he slowly undid the button and pulled the zipper down at a snail’s pace.

He thought for sure that JC would protest, but when he didn’t, Justin slid his hands down JC’s legs as he pulled the boy’s jeans down in a slow motion. It was as he slid his hands back up JC’s thin legs that he chanced a glance up and saw JC looking down at him intently as he bit his lower lip. Justin knew that JC was giving him permission to continue, and he also knew that JC was very curious about the sensation he was about to feel. When Justin’s hands reached JC’s hips again, he reached out to grab the bottle of vodka from JC’s hand and took a quick swig of it before putting it down beside the bed. He then looked at the bulge that had formed behind the fabric of JC’s dark blue boxers and he let his thumb graze over it and smiled as JC’s body shuddered.

Justin hooked his fingers over the top of JC’s boxers and pulled those down as well, much as he had the jeans. He found himself staring straight at JC’s groin as he moved his hands back up as panic began to set in. Justin wasn’t sure if it the right time to be honest, but he realized he didn’t have much of a choice. “I’ve never actually done this before.”

“You’re doing a great job so far,” JC said and then JC leaned down and gave Justin a kiss, almost as if to encourage him to give it a try. He pulled away and stood up straight again and Justin swallowed and touched his fingers to JC’s member, sliding his hands up and down it and smiling as he watched it jerk a little. “I knew you were a tease.”

Justin chuckled and was grateful for the break in the emotional intensity of the moment. He put his hand around it and realized that he knew better what to do than he had given himself credit for. He began pumping slowly, with the intensity and rate he had used on himself many lonely nights before. He looked up at JC who had closed his eyes and seemed to be biting his lip even more as he allowed Justin to do what he was going to do. Justin realized that JC was placing a certain amount of trust in him, and he decided to try and exceed all expectations. He touched his lips to the tip of JC’s cock then let his tongue slip out as he licked at the slit that was already moist. JC let out a small grunt that Justin took as a good sign, and he continued to pump and lick as his other hand held onto JC’s hip, more for his own support than JC’s.

Justin then lit the tip slip into his mouth and after a few moments, he took his hand away and allowed JC to slip fully in. He sucked him smoothly and lightly at first, but then sucked harder as he felt JC’s body begin to move against his face. Justin gripped JC’s hips tighter to keep him steady and let his teeth graze over JC’s cock before feeling the warm and salty liquid spill into his mouth. Justin hadn’t been expecting it and swallowed it accidentally. He pulled back when he was done and coughed a little as he took in a deep breath. He banged his chest a little as he coughed again and watched as JC pulled his boxers back on and fell backwards onto his own bed, satiated, and panting slightly.

Justin watched him for a moment and then reached down and took another drink of the vodka. He wondered if JC would return the favor, but pretty much knew the answer to his own question. He took another drink and hoped that the alcohol helped to calm his own throbbing hard-on which was begging for release. Unfortunately, he’d have to take care of that in his dorm bathroom later on that night.


The next day in the cafeteria, Justin told Lance what had happened and Lance pointed out to Justin that he was eating breakfast and really didn’t want to hear about that sort of thing that early in the morning. But Justin’s mind could only focus on that one thing. He tried to think about his exam in his class later that morning, but all he wanted to do was write scripts for movies that could star JC. When he went to grab something to eat for lunch, he kept hoping he would run into JC and ask him if they could talk about what had happened. Even in his late day class, Justin just stared out the window in hopes that JC would somehow walk by on his way to his own class.

“I knew you were going to fall for him,” Lance said later on that night as he flipped the channels on the TV.

“I have not fallen for him,” Justin replied with an offended tone, “Me giving him a blow job does not constitute falling.” Justin rolled his eyes and played with his laptop as he uploaded the last footage he had taken of JC.

“You have this look in your eye that’s really freaky,” Lance pointed out. “It’s that glazed over look of infatuation.”

“I’m not infatuated, God.”

Lance looked at Justin with worried eyes and then turned his attention back to the TV. He was about to change the channel again, but then decided to just watch the 11:00 news instead. “Ha,” Lance said as the promos for the night’s news wrapped up, “I love it when rich pricks get busted and the news is there to catch them.” Lance turned the volume up, and Justin looked up at what Lance was watching.

Our top story this evening, the son of Senate Majority leader, Richard Gallagher was arrested a short while ago for driving under the influence. Twenty year old, Joshua Chasez, was driving on Davenport Avenue when he ran a red light and hit another car with a family inside. The youngest child, age four, was airlifted to a nearby hospital and is said to be in critical condition. Let’s go live to the scene where reporter Vicki Rose is at the hospital with the latest information.

Justin watched in stunned silence and with his mouth wide open when they had flashed the photograph of JC after they had said his full name. Justin realized at that moment that he had never even bothered to ask JC what his last name was. Lance wasn’t sure what was more interesting to watch, the news or Justin’s expression.

The accident occurred just a little past 10:00 p.m. when witnesses say that Chasez sped through a red light, and hit a small car carrying a family of four. The mother and the father, who was driving the vehicle, suffered only minor cuts, while the oldest daughter, age seven, was taken to the hospital and treated for minor injuries. The youngest daughter, however, is being treated right at this moment and is still listed as being in critical condition. Chasez was immediately taken into custody by police after he failed field sobriety tests. The arrest comes at a bad time for Chasez’s father, Senate Majority Leader Richard Gallagher, who has recently been embroiled in controversies surrounding campaign funding. Phonecalls to Mr. Gallagher were not returned, but we will be keeping an eye on this story as it develops.

Once the news had moved on to another story Lance turned off the television and looked at Justin, “Wow. You didn’t tell me your boyfriend’s dad was so important.”

“I didn’t even know his last name,” Justin said in a daze as he stared at the television set even though it was no longer on.

“His dad’s last name or his last name? It’s interesting that they have different last names.”

“I don’t know anything about him,” Justin said as he shook his head in disbelief. “Oh my God, do you think he’s okay?”

“There’s a four year old child in critical condition and you’re wondering if the dickhead that did that to her is okay? Wow.” Lance typed furiously away into his laptop as he pulled up sites on JC’s dad.

“I know, it’s just that, I bet he’s…should I go down there and see him?”

“He gets a phonecall right? If he needs you he’ll call, and no offense but I don’t think you’ll be getting a call from him anytime soon. Aha, we have answers. He’s the illegitimate son of the good senator and his mistress. His dad apparently has three other children, all legitimate, all with his wife, and all older. Let’s see…apparently JC’s birth was a huge scandal and his father denied it at first, but then accepted him a couple of years later and took care of him financially. Well that obviously worked out for the best.”

“Could you not be insensitive right at this moment?” Justin said as his heart beat faster. “What do you think is going to happen to him?”

“It depends if that girl lives or not. For your sake I hope she makes it out of this and recovers fully.” Lance looked over at Justin and realized that his friend was really beginning to freak out. He closed his laptop and put it to the side as he got up and sat down on Justin’s bed. “Hey, I’m sure everything’s going to be okay. He’s a politician’s son. They’re good at making this kind of stuff go away. And I can’t believe I’m hoping that happens in this case, because under normal circumstances I’d say they should lock him up and throw away the key.”

“He didn’t mean it,” Justin said not believing how hard he himself was taking it, “I know he didn’t mean it.”

“Of course he didn’t mean it. He was drunk…driving, and speeding, and running red lights.”

“Maybe he was trying to outrun something?”

“Maybe you should save your questions for when you actually see him again. And for now just be happy that he didn’t die or anything.”

Justin nodded and put his own laptop away before calling it a night. But as the minutes ticked by, his mind just kept thinking about all of the possibilities of what had led JC to do what he had done. After looking at the clock and realizing that thirty minutes had gone by, Justin took a chance on Lance still being awake as well.

“Hey, Lance?”


“You’re still awake.”

“Good observation.”

“Shut up.” Justin sighed and thought about all the things running through his head, “Why do I care so much?”

“Because you fell for him.”

“How do I un-fall for him?”

“Do you want to?”

“I don’t know.”

“What do you want from him?”

“What do I want from him?”

“Do you want this to lead to a serious relationship?”

“I don’t think that’s ever going to happen.”

“Then you need to come to terms with that and let him go.”

“Is that what you’re hoping for?” Lance didn’t answer right away and Justin wondered if Lance was going to pretend to be sleeping. “Lance?”

“I don’t know why you think that I want you to not be happy. If I thought for a second that JC would treat you the way you should be treated, then I would be all for this, even if I thought he was an asshole. All I’m hoping for is that you come out of this with your head still on straight. You’re like one of the few people in my life who isn’t entirely screwed up, you know? I kinda want you to stay that way.”

“Wow,” Justin said. “And all this time I thought you were jealous that I had found a hot guy who wanted to kiss me.”

“You just keep thinking what you want to think. So long as I know the truth I remain the superior friend.”


Lance chuckled then stayed quiet for a moment, “Try and get some sleep. Tomorrow we’ll find out what’s going on and you’ll see that everything will work out. Okay?”

“Yes dad.”

“You love me.”

“Whatever,” Justin joked back, and then he focused on getting some sleep.


Justin scoured the television news channels and the Internet for any update on what was going on with JC. He wavered between being worried, and being sad that he hadn’t become closer to the man before this happened, but when he really thought about it, it left him really confused. “I mean, we’re not dating, but…I mean, it was like we’re friends with benefits. Do you think I’m the only one who saw it like that?”

“You don’t want me to answer that,” Lance said as he walked beside him across the campus while they made their way to their next class.

“Which means yes. It’s just not fair. You know he probably won’t even give a crap about me when he gets out of wherever he is right now. He’s going to have all this legal stuff to deal with and he’ll probably turn to his girlfriend for support and I get stuck as the boy with the crush who was this close to having him.”

Lance stopped walking and looked at Justin with serious eyes, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but perspective would be your best friend right now. I’ll talk to you later.” Lance headed off towards the building his class was in and Justin just stared after him with a puzzled look. He thought about what Lance could have possibly meant as he sat a few minutes later in his own class, but the only perspective that he had on the situation, at the moment, was that from his perspective it looked as if his days with JC were over.

After his class finished, Justin walked to the commons to grab a coffee and maybe a snack before heading to the computer lab for a bit. As he stood in line, he noticed Bella at a table, sitting by herself as she read a book and sipped on a coffee. He debated with himself whether or not he should take a chance and try to speak with her, and by the time he got his own coffee he had talked himself out of the idea. His feet, however, had a mind of their own as they walked over to her and he stood beside her table for a second without a single thing to say.

Bella looked up at him with a questioning glance, and Justin was able to get a really good look at the girl that JC called his. She was beautiful, yes. Justin could say that without a doubt because she looked like a girl that should be a model, or on someone’s runway, or in a movie, or television show. She was perfectly manicured and put together with a classy and understated style of dress. She was the kind of girl that made a pair of jeans and a T-shirt look sophisticated, the kind of girl who was welcomed with open arms at all clothing stores, the kind of girl that every straight guy at the university wished they could date. “Can I help you?” she asked and Justin realized that he was probably creeping her out.

“Sorry, I…” Justin wished his mind would work. “You’re Bella right?”

“Right,” she said tentatively. “And you are?”

“Justin,” he was surprised to say his own name, almost as if his mouth was having a conversation without his mind being involved. “I’m a friend of JC’s. I was just wondering if he’s alright.”

Bella looked at him suspiciously then shook her head, “No comment.” She began to put her book away and Justin realized that she must have thought he was from the school paper.

“No, I’m not…I mean, I just…I really want to know if he’s alright.”

“I’m sorry, but I don’t know you. I’m sure if he knows you then he can answer all of your questions when you see him again.”

“Is he coming back soon?” Bella grabbed her coffee and began heading out and Justin followed her. “Can you just let him know that...” but his mind finally caught up to his mouth and he immediately stopped himself from saying anything else. He watched as the girl walked away briskly, and then he felt an overwhelming sensation that he had yet to feel when it came to JC—jealousy.

An hour later while he was in the computer lab, Justin had pulled up various sites that related in some way to JC or his father. The latest news involved the condition of the little girl, who was now in serious but stable condition. Justin knew that was a good sign, but there was very little said outside of that. So far, there had not been any comments from his father, and the only thing that Justin could find out about their relationship was from an old People magazine article on the senator’s wife, where she was quoted in saying that, “Richard sees his other son regularly and often invites him to stay with us.”

Justin could imagine why JC liked to keep his private life private seeing as how high profile his dad was, and part of Justin knew that JC would hate the attention that the accident would bring. He drifted off into thought as he imagined JC in a jail cell, meeting with his high priced lawyers, and the expression on his face as they told him how the media was all over this story. He wished he could have found out from Bella if she had at least talked to him. He continued to look through sites and articles, but when not much else was revealed, he finally focused his attention on doing research for his class assignment.


The following day, Justin saw his next opportunity to find out information when he spotted Trixie walking out of a building on his way out of class. He rushed through the mass of students that were heading out of the buildings and made his way to her, giving her a wave, “Hey.”

“Hey, Justin,” Trixie said as she waved to some passing friends and walked with him. “How’s it going?”

“Everything’s good. Um, I was just wondering if you had heard any news on JC? Like how’s he doing and stuff?”

“The whole thing is pretty hush hush,” Trixie said as she lowered her voice for effect, “But he’s out on bail and stuff. Joey said that they probably won’t kick him out of the frat, but he’s definitely losing his position on council. It’s a shame too. Everyone thought he would definitely be president next year.”

“Oh, that’s…too bad I guess. Has anyone actually seen him?”

“He stayed the night with Bella at her parent’s house last night. She’s from the area so they offered him their place to hide out from the media. Don’t tell anyone I told you that though, it’s supposed to be secret. He probably won’t be coming back for classes until the whole thing dies down a bit.”

Justin felt highly disappointed by that information, “Did Bella say anything about him? Like how he’s holding up or whatever?” Justin wished he could just find out the girl’s address and drive over there and find these things out for himself.

“My friend is pretty good friends with her, and she said that Bella told her that he’s pretty much a wreck right now. He feels so guilty and has been sending all these flowers and teddy bears to the little girl at the hospital. I just can’t imagine what it would be like to go through something like this, could you?”

Justin shook his head no and tried not to think too hard about JC as he was falling apart. He wanted to ask so many more questions, but he knew if he kept pestering Trixie about it she would probably start to get suspicious, so instead he waited until he and Lance were eating dinner at the cafeteria and talked his ear off about it instead. Lance listened patiently and nodded appropriately when Justin would ask a rhetorical question.

“You know what you should do tonight?” Lance finally said as he finished his chocolate frozen yogurt. “You should get your mind off of it for a little bit. Why don’t you come down to the coffee shop with me and watch my crush play?”

Justin agreed to go, more for Lance’s sake than his own. But even as he sat in the coffee shop listening to the singer strum his guitar and pour his heart out, all Justin could do was relate every song to JC. He tried to remember the last look that JC gave him, the last thing JC said to him, the last smile that JC gave. He almost wished that he could go back in time to their last night together, just so that he could freeze time and memorize every aspect of it. The realization that he would not be seeing JC for awhile made Justin’s face fall into a sad pout, and when Lance looked over at him he tried to smile, but he was too late with the gesture.

Walking back to the dorms in silence later in the evening, Justin knew that Lance was trying to formulate the right thing to say, but Justin was prepared this time for the honesty that came from his best friend’s lips. “His issues are bigger than you.”

“I know that.”

“It might be awhile before things get back to normal for him.”

“I know.”

“And it may take a little longer before he gets around to talking to you.”

“I know.”

“His life has literally changed now. Hopefully for the better. Hopefully he learned something from it, and got something out of it. But the thing is…he may not be the same JC.”

Justin hadn’t been prepared to hear that. He stopped walking and looked down at the sidewalk beneath his feet. “What do you mean?”

“He was a pretty carefree guy right? Things like this…I mean, granted, if he gets out of this with a slap on the wrist, he probably won’t change much. Hell he may become cockier. But…dude, he almost killed a four year old girl. You don’t come back a carefree guy after something like that.”

“So I should stop liking him because he’s going to be different?” Justin asked with a surprisingly angry tone.

“You had a crush on a guy whose last name you didn’t even know.”

Justin brought his hands up to his face and rubbed his temples as he tried to not think about how right Lance was. He took a deep breath and started walking again, and he slowly began to realize that he was going to have to face the fact that he was nothing more than the boy that JC had experimented with.

Part Two:

My frustrated hands can't untangle this,
I'm waiting for the flipside of this world,
My frustrated hands hold this beautiful mess,
And I'm laying on the ground,
Without a sound I'm spinning around again.

“That is the last time I ever go on a road trip with you,” Lance said as he packed away the groceries he had bought. Justin was in the living room of their off-campus apartment reviewing the footage from the road trip they had taken over the summer.

“This footage is priceless,” Justin said as he cracked up while watching the footage of Lance trying to find where on the gas pump the credit card went before finally realizing that the gas pumps in that part of Texas had yet to be modernized.

“If you win an Oscar off of this stuff I better be the first person your ass thanks.”

“You know you’ll be.” Justin looked up at the time and got up from the floor. He took the cassette out of his camera and labeled it then went to put it on his shelf. He paused as he saw the cassettes labeled JC – Still Undone staring back at him. He had hoped that by the time he and Lance got back from summer vacation and started their sophomore year, that he would be completely over him, but something strange had happened instead. JC became almost a myth in Justin’s mind, sort of like a muse that wouldn’t leave him alone no matter how hard he tried.

He wrote scripts based on this ideal of a man that deep down inside he knew no longer existed. He came up with ideas surrounding a man who had transformed into something bigger than he was before. And he often daydreamed about what would have been, what could have been, and mostly what should have been. But Justin did all this with the sad satisfaction of knowing that JC would remain a figment of his imagination. Sometimes Justin had to think really hard to even remind himself that some of it had actually happened.

“I’m off to class,” Justin said as he grabbed his backpack and made sure he had everything he needed.

“Which class is this?”

“A stupid English Lit gen ed because the cool English Lit gen ed that I actually wanted filled up in like .2 seconds.”

“Good luck with that,” Lance said waving him off.

Justin took off towards campus and saw some familiar faces along the way. Most of them film majors and one of them, luckily enough, was taking the same class he was. They walked together and talked inconsequentially about their summer vacation and how they weren’t ready to start this semester. When they finally walked into class, they took a seat by the windows and continued their conversation without interruption. That was until Justin looked over at the door that opened, expecting to see any average student walk in, only to be blindsided by the familiar lithe figure, impeccable style, cropped brown curls, piercing blue eyes, all around essence of JC.

“Oh shit, it’s that guy,” Justin’s friend said and Justin prayed that JC hadn’t heard him. Justin watched as JC took a seat towards the back corner and opened up a notebook, paying attention to absolutely no one in the class. It was so odd to see JC in a room that didn’t instantly light up by his presence, or where a mass of people didn’t immediately rise up and swarm to him to trade quips and jokes and smiles and hand slaps. As hard as he tried, Justin could not stop staring at him, almost as if trying to figure out if he was really real. He tried to tune back into the conversation that his friend decided to continue, but all he could do was glance at the man that had become someone who he had convinced himself didn’t exist. And when JC took his glasses out from his backpack and put them on, Justin almost choked at how he had transformed into something that he had never expected him to transform into—someone more beautiful than he had originally fallen for.

Justin hated everything about the current situation, but then JC looked in his direction and Justin looked away so fast that he almost pulled his neck muscles. He rubbed his neck and his friend asked him if he was alright, and luckily for him the professor began the class. Not that Justin paid close attention because he was too busy taking glances at JC who was paying attention and taking notes. Justin wasn’t sure what to make of an alert JC that wasn’t suffering from a hangover. For starters, he seemed far more subdued and less approachable. At first, Justin suspected that the veil hanging over JC’s aura was humility, but the more he watched him, the more he realized that it was the veil of aloofness. When class was over, Justin gathered his things and by the time he got up from his seat, JC had already left.

Lance was as pessimistic as ever when Justin told him later that night about the class. “He’ll probably drop it,” was his answer and Justin conceded that he was probably right. He could only imagine how awkward JC had felt in class with him, especially with all the looks Justin kept giving him.

“I was doing so well in forgetting he really existed,” Justin lamented and Lance just shrugged and turned the TV on to watch his favorite show. Justin slumped down next to him on the couch and stared at the TV, secretly hoping that JC didn’t drop the class after all.

Thursday could not arrive fast enough, and even as Justin got dressed that morning, he did so with the intent of making an impression on JC. Even if JC had dropped the class, maybe he’d be taking another one at the same time in the same building. Regardless, Justin had decided that he was going to talk to him, even if just to say, “Hey.” Maybe he’d even ask him how he was doing. He wasn’t looking for a conversation with the man. He was just looking for a way to feel him out, to see who he was now, or where his head was at.

When Justin walked into class, he was not surprised at all to see that JC wasn’t there. He hid his disappointment and sat down next to his friend once again, engaging in a light hearted film debate. He wanted desperately to glance at the door every time it opened, but he restrained and continued to talk, up until the professor began class. It was only then that Justin took a glance, and his heart slightly leapt when he saw JC, sitting in the same seat, and reading over his notebook.

Once again, Justin had a hard time paying attention, but this time he made sure to be ready when the professor dismissed them. He darted up from his seat and made his way to the door before JC even got up, then waited for him to come out. Once he did, Justin said, “Hey,” and JC almost ignored him, but then looked at him and just gave him a nod before walking down the hallway in the opposite direction. Justin followed him and once outside he was able to walk beside him, “Hey, I just wanted to say hey, and ask how you are? I haven’t seen you in forever.”

JC just kept walking and Justin noted that he had anticipated this sort of reaction from him.

“Oh okay. Well I’m just glad you’re alright and stuff, and I hope you have a nice life and everything. Hope you…uh, I don’t know, just…yeah.” Justin stopped walking and watched JC walk away. He wanted to be strong about the situation, but the truth was he died a little inside at that moment.

He knew that a conversation would ensue when Lance arrived earlier from the coffee shop than Justin anticipated, and caught Justin watching his JC footage. Lance grabbed a soda out of the fridge and sat beside Justin on the floor. “What happened?” Lance asked.

Justin gave him an honest account and then sighed as he looked at the images of JC on the beach, “I guess he’s trying to leave this part of him behind or something. Or maybe he just doesn’t want to remember. Or maybe he doesn’t remember.”

“Or maybe he doesn’t like this kind of attention,” Lance offered. “He’s used to having superficial attention, not the type of attention that would require him to expose parts of himself he keeps hidden.”

“I wonder how much he tells his girlfriend. She wouldn’t stay with him if he didn’t talk to her right?”

“It depends on why she’s with him,” Lance reasoned, “Maybe she doesn’t care about him, and just likes the idea of being with him.”

Justin shook his head. He knew Bella cared plenty about JC. “You know what I need? I need a new object of affection.”

“I’ve been saying that since you first saw him,” Lance agreed.

“And I think it’s time that I get a boyfriend. I’ve never had a boyfriend, and I want one.”

“Where do you plan on finding this boyfriend?”

“Come on, doesn’t our school have a gay alliance or something? There’s got to be a place we congregate.”

Lance chuckled and told Justin to get dressed. Lance took Justin to an off-campus restaurant where he knew some of his classmates hung out. Justin was surprised at the amount of people Lance knew and he wondered when Lance had the time to lead a double life. “How do you know all these people?”

“I meet them in class,” Lance shrugged. “Oh, and the coffee shop.”

Justin realized he needed to get out more. He sat at a large booth with Lance’s friends and was introduced to some of Lance’s fellow Anthropology majors, as well as some of the coffee shop regulars. As they discussed a variety of things from politics to music to places they had traveled around the world, Justin found himself completely engaged in the personalities around him. It was while they were discussing classic films that Justin came alive and the attention turned on him as he listed the must see movies according to him. It wasn’t until one of the friends stated that they had to go because they had an early morning class that Justin even bothered to look at the time, and he was surprised to see that it was already three in the morning.

As he and Lance walked back to their apartment, Justin had a look of bliss on his face, “That was a lot of fun.”

“Good,” Lance nodded. “What did you think of Nathan? The brown-haired guy sitting two down from me. He was wearing the gray vintage T-shirt.”

“Was he the coffee shop kid that did a summer abroad in Costa Rica or something?”

“Yeah him.”

“He seemed really cool.”

“Did you think he was hot?”

“Yeah, why? Do you like him?”

“No. But he likes you. He kept looking at you the whole time and paid close attention every time you talked.”

Justin’s face lit up, “Really?” Justin had never felt so flattered in his life.

“Yeah, why don’t I set something up with you two? Maybe a movie or whatever.”

Justin hugged his best friend and practically floated back to the apartment.


Justin had made it a point to not acknowledge, or even look at JC in class. It turned out that another one of Lance’s friends was in the class as well, and soon Justin would spend the time before and after class hanging out with him and his film major friend. His blossoming relationship with Nathan also helped things along, as the movie date that Lance had set up for them had been more than successful. Justin thought Nathan was fascinating and intelligent, and he liked to listen to his stories about his summer in Costa Rica or his previous summer teaching English in Japan. Justin had never been out of the country and Nathan was determined to convince Justin to go on a backpacking trip with him through the Andes over the winter break.

The first time Justin and Nathan kissed was in Nathan’s bedroom at his off-campus apartment that he shared with three fellow History majors. And even though Justin loved the feel of Nathan’s lips on his, it lacked the magic and breathlessness of JC’s kisses. The only time that Justin thought of JC anymore was whenever he and Nathan were being intimate, and he kept comparing what Nathan did to what JC had done, and once they had progressed beyond kissing, to what JC could’ve possibly done. As the semester began to wind down, Justin realized that while Nathan was everything he could’ve wanted and more, he still wasn’t JC.

“Well that’s not good,” Lance said as they sat in the library studying for their finals.

“But it’s just something I have to get over right?” Justin reasoned.

“It’s something you should’ve gotten over by now,” Lance looked up at Justin and twirled his pen in his hand. “I’m starting to suspect that you’re going to have to confront this whole JC thing head on.”

“What do you mean?”

“I gave you the hottest guy in the coffee shop crowd on a silver platter, and you’re still thinking about JC. I think you need closure.”


“Yes. Closure.”

“Well how do I do that?”

“You’re just going to have to find a way to talk to him, and talk about how you’re feeling, and get him to somehow talk about how he’s feeling or what it all meant to him. You’re going to have to end this chapter of your life.”

“Oh,” Justin said because in reality he knew exactly what Lance meant. A part of him was still carrying a torch for JC, silently hoping that JC would walk up to him and tell him that he was over his new solemn attitude, and ready to be in movies again and go back to kissing him. Suddenly it hit Justin with an overwhelming force just how “not” over JC he actually was.

On the last day of class when they were to submit their final paper, Justin had made it a point to finally confront JC head on. He probably wouldn’t get the chance to do it again once this semester ended, so it was a simple case of now or never. Once the class was over, Justin went over to JC and gave him no room for avoidance. “We need to talk.”

JC grabbed his notebook and looked at him with a slightly confused look, but he followed Justin outside of the building and to a quiet patch of grass that was in between two buildings. JC just stood there looking at Justin and Justin tried to gather the words he wanted to say.

“Okay, I know you don’t care one way or another about whatever, but I need closure. So could you just tell me if you’ve even thought about what we did before? Am I completely erased from your mind? Do you even remember who I am or why I would be freaking out like this?”

JC blinked and then he opened his notebook and wrote something down. He handed the paper to Justin and walked away. Justin could not have been more confused about this act if he tried, but when he looked down at the paper, he saw a phone number written on it and a time to call.

The time was eight p.m. and Lance had made popcorn and told Justin that he had to have the phone conversation in plain earshot of him. Lance was not going to miss this for the world. Justin looked at his cell phone nervously and started dialing several times without finishing.

“The suspense is killing me,” Lance said as he poured more butter over his popcorn.

Justin scratched his head out of habit and finally dialed again, this time in completion. “Hey,” JC answered and Justin’s breath caught for a moment.

“Uh hey. I’m…calling you.”

“I just wanted to say I’m sorry.”

“Oh,” Justin’s knees were shaky and he sat down next to Lance because he knew he wouldn’t be able to stand. “Sorry about what?”

“Using you the way I did. It wasn’t right and I shouldn’t have done it.”

“Oh, I…oh.”

“So yeah, that’s what I wanted to say.”

“That’s it?”

“What more do you want me to say?”

Justin could think of a million things he wanted him to say, “Um, nothing I guess. I just…I guess I wish we could still be friends or something. That’s all.”

“I don’t think that would be a good idea,” JC said and Justin wanted to reach through the phone and strangle him.

“Fine,” Justin said and he held his voice so that it wouldn’t quiver. “Then I guess it won’t matter if I tell you this. I fell for you. I didn’t mean to fall for you, but I did. So yeah. Now you know. And I guess that’s it.”

JC stayed silent for what seemed like an eternity and then he said he had to go and hung up. Justin closed his cell phone and almost threw it at the wall in frustration.

“What did he say?” Lance asked.

“Nothing. That was the most pointless call of life.” Justin stood up from the couch and marched into his bedroom, slamming the door behind him.


Justin sat beside Lance at the gate as they waited for the announcement that their plane to Memphis was ready to board. Justin ate his M&Ms in relative silence as Lance read a book, and Justin thought about how disappointed Nathan had been when he had told him he was going to go home for the holidays instead of backpacking through South America with him. Luckily the lack of a passport gave Justin the best excuse he could have asked for, but deep down inside he knew that the reason he didn’t want to go was because it wouldn’t have been fair to Nathan. After the conversation with JC, Justin had wanted to do anything and everything with Nathan imaginable, until he realized that he only wanted to do it to try and prove to himself that he wasn’t torn up about how JC had handled him.

“Huh, you would almost think there was only one airline that flew out of here,” Lance said out of nowhere and Justin looked at him with a questioning glance until he followed Lance’s line of sight to the neighboring gate. Justin blinked and cursed his luck.

“What is he doing here?” Justin asked as he took in how sophisticated JC looked in black pants and a black sweater.

“You really want me to answer that?” Lance asked him with an antagonizing grin and Justin flipped him off and observed JC who was standing in the boarding line. Justin then noticed that he wasn’t traveling alone.

“He’s taking Bella with him?”

“Do you want me to answer that one too?”

Justin elbowed Lance and then looked at where JC was flying to. “He’s taking her home to D.C. Wow, that’s…huh, I wonder if he’s ever done that before?”

“Should I…”

“Shut up.”

Lance chuckled and went back to reading his book while Justin glanced over at JC as he talked with Bella. When they finally boarded and were gone from Justin’s view, he sat back against his own chair and waited for his own flight to start boarding.

However, on the entire flight to Memphis, all Justin could do was stare out the window and think about how he wished he could’ve been flying to D.C. instead. It must have been nice for Bella to be given the grand tour of the city, and meet his mom and maybe his senator dad, and probably get to see some behind the scenes stuff in the government. Not that Justin thought that it was interesting, but it still could have been neat. Lance was nice enough to let Justin stay lost in his own world, but the nice guy turned disbelieving, when he stared at Justin while they were waiting at baggage claim for their bags.

“Have you lost your mind?”

“I gave up South America!”

“You didn’t have a passport!”

“See? I don’t need a passport for D.C.”

“Justin, listen to me. What the hell would you do once you got there? Look around for him? Do you not think that would creep him the hell out if he was walking around and saw you there?”

“I don’t really even want to run into him. I just…” Justin sighed and knew that Lance was right but he was in the mood to do something a little different, and maybe a little crazy, this holiday break. “Fine.”

Lance eyed his friend with worry, but five hours later they were on I-40 in a rented car and on their way to D.C.

“There are two reasons why I’m agreeing to this,” Lance said as he drove through the wintry Tennessee landscape. “The first is because I’m your best friend and I don’t mind going on a crazy adventure with you. The second is because I have a feeling that you’re not going to get over this guy until you’ve explored every aspect of his life that you feel you need to explore. So here’s the plan. We stick to the tourist attractions, that way if we run into him it’s not as weird. And, we’re only staying their two nights. Two nights, Justin.”

“I got it.”

“We’re going to be back in Memphis in time for Christmas.”

“Yes sir.”

Lance looked over and saw the wide grin on Justin’s face, and when he looked ahead he sensed that things were going to change because of this sudden change of plans. Lance had the distinct feeling that he was driving Justin to the moment that his life would change forever.


Justin wasn’t sure if Lance had realized that Bella would probably wish to go to the museums when he told him to stick to touristy places, but something told Justin that Lance didn’t care how they ran into JC and Bella, just so long as it somehow culminated to an end to the drama. Justin had noticed her first as he had walked by a painting that caught his attention, and then transferred his attention to the girl staring at it, which in turn led to staring at the boy standing beside her. He walked briskly to Lance, grabbed his arm, and pulled him into another room.

“They’re here,” Justin whispered to him as he peeked around the wall to see if they were still in the spot.

“Who’s here?” Lance played along.

“They are. What are the chances?”

“Kind of high.”

“Whatever, there are like a million museums in this city, she could’ve gone to any of them.”

“She’s an art major.”

Justin blinked and looked at Lance then he widened his eyes, “You knew this? How did you know this? I didn’t know that.”

“Yeah, you suck at research,” Lance agreed.

“Wait, you totally knew we’d run into them here?”

“I had a suspicion,” Lance shrugged and turned his attention to the painting in front of him. Justin’s mind raced and he peeked again to see them walking towards the room.

“Okay what do we do?”

“You’re a tourist. Start acting like one.”

“Right.” Justin stood beside Lance and looked at the painting before him without really paying attention to it. When Lance moved down to the next one, Justin followed him and looked at the new one, fighting every urge and temptation to turn around and see where JC was.

“Small world?” came the voice beside him and Justin looked over to see JC giving him a suspicious glance. He took in JC’s dark jeans and white turtleneck, as he held his black coat in his arms and cursed himself for staring a little longer than he had intended.

Justin opened his mouth to say something then just closed it and grabbed Lance’s arm, leading him out of the room. Lance was dragged in confusion and as they entered the next gallery, Lance released his arm from Justin’s grip. “What the hell?”

“This was a bad idea.”

“You couldn’t decide that before we spent all that money on gas?”

“I’m sorry. I’m just…why am I such a mess about this?”

“For a lot of reasons that I can’t even begin to fathom. Come on, let’s get out of here.”

Justin and Lance left the museum without even a glance back, and as they put their coats on and walked down the street, Justin had a strange feeling that his day was going to become more interesting. It was after Justin and Lance had stopped at a pizza place to get some dinner that Justin’s phone went off. He recognized JC’s number and looked at Lance with wide eyes before answering it.


JC spoke quietly and somewhat hastily as he told him to meet him at the Lincoln Memorial in half an hour. When Justin hung up, he looked at Lance with disbelieving eyes and Lance just smiled at him. “I’ll be in the hotel room if you need anything,” Lance provided.

A half an hour later, Justin had paid the cab driver and walked to the Lincoln Memorial, spotting JC at the foot of the large number of majestic marble steps that led up to the statue of the famous President. He took a deep breath before walking over to him and nodded slightly before looking up at how surreal the memorial looked at night. It glowed against the dark sky and there were many tourists around taking pictures of both the memorial and the Washington Monument which reflected as a beaconed pillar against the long Reflecting Pool leading up to them.

“This is pretty at night,” Justin said because he didn’t know what else to say.

“It’s neutral enough,” JC shrugged. “And I knew you wouldn’t get lost coming here. People always get lost in D.C. They can’t figure out the circular roads.”

Justin smiled a little as he realized JC was rambling. That was new. “Why did you call me?”

“Why are you here?”

“Am I not allowed to be here?”

“It seems…convenient.”

“Yeah because I go to art museums for the sole purpose of seeing you and your girlfriend,” Justin rolled his eyes and hoped JC believed him.

“It still seems weird.”

“Well if it makes you feel less weird, my boyfriend invited me to go backpacking through the Andes, but since I didn’t have a passport, my best friend brought me here for a mini vacation before going home for the holidays. If I had been aware that you required a special DC passport or something, I would have consulted with you first.”

“Why are you still so damn defensive?” JC asked him and Justin looked at him as if he had been slapped.

“At least I haven’t changed into an aloof guy who won’t talk to anyone or acknowledge anyone,” Justin lashed back and he wished that he had had some restraint.

“I’m not the same guy I was then.”

“Newsflash? Duh.”

JC looked down at his feet and then walked up the steps and stopped in the middle, sitting down upon the steps and looking out at the tall monument in front of him. Justin sat beside him and when JC didn’t say anything, decided to do all the talking. “You know, I didn’t realize what I liked so much about you until you unveiled this new you. I liked how happy you always were, but I always questioned if that happiness was real or just alcohol induced.”

“Did you switch majors to Psych or something?”

“Just listen to me for a second. I didn’t really get to know you. But the parts of you that you let me see I really liked. The parts you let me see now, just make me sad, but they don’t make me dislike you. Not even a little. Do you know how shitty I feel when I’m kissing my boyfriend and thinking about you instead? I feel like…”

“You what?” JC looked at Justin with a discomforted gaze.

“I’m just being honest. I feel like I’m emotionally cheating on him, and the worst part is that I’m doing it with a guy who doesn’t even care. I can’t get you out of my head. I can’t get you out of my thoughts, or my dreams, or the things I write, or just whatever. I can’t. That’s why I was telling you that I needed closure. I needed this chapter closed, and I thought when I called you that one day I could get it, but you said…”

Justin was shut up by JC’s lips on his again, and Justin knew that he had fallen down a rabbit hole and would probably never surface. He had forgotten the way that JC’s lips caressed his with a knowing confidence, and the way he smelled like fresh water and light whisps of air and other pure and natural elements. And as JC pulled away, Justin licked his lips and noted the absence of any taste of liquor.

“Wow,” Justin said since he suddenly lost his entire vocabulary.

“Sometimes when I kiss Bella I think of you,” JC said. “I haven’t forgotten. I just don’t think it matters.”

“It matters to me,” Justin said and he hated how he sounded so desperate at that moment.

“I dropped a lot of my pretenses. I got sentenced to rehab after the accident. I don’t drink anymore, and in case you haven’t noticed, I’m not nearly as fun when I’m not drunk.”

“I wouldn’t say that. That kiss was fun.”

JC looked down at his hands, “I’m reminded about who I am and why I started drinking in the first place. I don’t like myself very much, obviously. I don’t feel like I have much to offer. I was never popular in school until I started drinking. No one even noticed me until I started drinking. Hell, my own dad didn’t even pay a lot of attention to me until he started yelling at me for being intoxicated whenever I had to stay with him.”

“Is this who you were when you didn’t drink? Reserved and quiet?”

JC nodded, “I’m shy. I’ve always been shy. My mother is not shy at all so she never understood why I was always in this shell that I created. She thought I needed to spend more time with my dad to break out of it, but every time I was around him I just became more reserved because I would always realize how differently he treated me from his own kids. One time my mom dropped me off at his office, and there were some other kids there, and they kept asking me all these questions. So finally I said I was just there to see my dad, and when I took them to his office they made fun of me because they thought I was lying. They pointed out that we didn’t have the same last name, and that he had pictures of other kids on his desk but none of me, and then they didn’t want to talk to me after that. My dad had walked in on them making fun of me, and when he found out why, he tried to cover his tracks by saying that he had a picture of me but he was waiting for the perfect frame to put it in before he put it on his desk. I was like eight or nine and I knew he was lying. I didn’t say anything to him. I just stayed quiet. That’s how I protected myself I guess.”

“I understand that.”

“Yeah right. I saw you in class. You talk to people easily. People just naturally like you, and you don’t have to party or pretend to be someone else for them to do it.”

Justin just looked at JC as he processed JC’s insecurities. He never would have guessed that these were the thoughts that were running through his mind. “Does Bella like this version of you?”

“She’s…she’s this amazing girl. She’s a bit reserved herself, and the reason she was attracted to me was because I was so outgoing. We met freshman year, when I first got into the frat, and she first got into her sorority and it was like our first big party. I got drunk, as I always did, and she made sure I got back to my dorm and everything. She called me the next day to make sure I was alright and then she asked me if I wanted to meet her for breakfast at the cafeteria. And then we just went from there. She’s trying to get to know this part of me, this real part of me, and she says that she kind of likes this more laid back me. She complained that she never really got to talk to me a lot before.”

Justin smiled and nodded, “I understand that. I was trying to figure out why you never said anything about yourself.”

“I just always feel that if I talk about myself, people will find out that I’m not really that fun or interesting.”

“And you’re wrong, because already you’re so much more interesting than you were before. You know, I’m trying to get over you and you’re not making it easy.” Justin smirked at him to let him know he was joking.

JC nodded and he continued, “My frat brothers are being really supportive, but I can tell the dynamic has changed. They don’t come to me like they always did. They don’t hang out with me like they always did. Even Joey has other things he likes to do now that don’t involve me. They’re not doing it on purpose, but it’s just different. I’m not the cool guy that they liked anymore.”

“So screw them. Who cares? Your real friends are the ones that like you for who you really are. I told you frats sucked.”

JC raised his eyebrow then shrugged and looked around, “So what do you want to do about us, Justin? You want to try this friendship thing out? You want it with the kissing? You want it without the kissing? Because I’m not breaking up with my girlfriend.”

Justin had no idea how to reply to that, “You confuse me. It seems as if you’re this new person, and yet something tells me that you haven’t changed that much. You’re still willing to cheat on her with me so long as she doesn’t know?”

“I can’t give you what you want. That’s all I can give you. Take it or leave it.”

Justin looked out at the still Reflecting Pool and wondered how best to phrase his next question, “So…are you bi then?”

“I don’t think so,” JC answered. “I thought a lot about it, and I realized that the only guy I have ever been attracted to in my life is you. Do you think it’s possible to just be you sexual?”

Justin shrugged, “Sure why not? Life is weird, anything could be possible.”

JC seemed to like this answer, “Okay, well, I have to go. I left Bella with my mom and I’m sure my mom has driven her up the wall by now.”

Justin smiled and got up from the steps, “I’m heading back to Memphis tomorrow night so…I guess I’ll see you at school.”

“No, you know what? Why don’t we hang out tomorrow? Your friend is here right? The four of us can hang out. There’s this bowling alley my friends and I used to terrorize when I was in high school. We should go there.”

Justin agreed and JC made sure to give him another breathless kiss before leaving him on the steps of the memorial, touching his fingers to his lips, and wondering what exactly it was he had just agreed to.


“I’m not sure who’s out of their mind more, you or him,” Lance said as he buttoned his shirt and looked at Justin through the reflection of their hotel mirror he was standing in front of. “What kind of an idiot asks his boy toy to hang out with his girlfriend and him?”

“Could you not refer to me as his boy toy?” Justin said as he looked up the directions to the bowling alley.

“Okay, would you rather me call you the other woman?”

Justin flipped Lance off and wrote down the directions on the back of the hotel notepad by the bed, “You really don’t have to come if you’re going to be a dick about it.”

“Yeah, I so would not miss this for the world. You ready?”

Justin nodded and grabbed his wallet and coat. He checked himself in the mirror and once he had approved of his looks, he followed Lance out of the hotel room and down to the lobby where they awaited the car from the valet. Once inside the car and safely on their way to the Maryland outskirts of D.C. where the bowling alley was located, Lance decided to play the morality card on Justin.

“So you’re breaking up with Nathan right?”

“I haven’t given that much thought,” Justin said as he reached for the radio to find them a distraction.

“What do you mean you haven’t given it much thought? Just because JC is cheating on Bella does not mean you need to sink to his level. If you’re going to fool around with him then you need to let Nathan go.”

“But he’s kinda right, you know? I mean, if people can’t know about us, then what difference does it make? He has a girlfriend. I have a boyfriend. Our thing is just this weird anomaly that happens in between. It’s our secret. No one needs to know and no one needs to get hurt.”

“Wow,” Lance said. “It’s amazing.”

“What’s amazing?”

“Every time you step into JC’s world you manage to pick up a new bad habit.”

“Oh really? Enlighten me, Lance, because I seriously have no clue what you’re talking about.”

“I’m talking about how you suddenly liked going to frat parties, or you suddenly liked being social, and now you’re suddenly okay with cheating on your boyfriend. It’s not like you.”

“I’m experimenting. It’s what college is for.”

Lance sighed and gave up on the conversation, “Yeah okay. Whatever, Justin.”

Once Lance and Justin had arrived at the bowling alley they found JC already at a lane with Bella. Justin walked up and quickly said hello to JC who smiled and nodded at him and Lance. “Hey, Justin, this is my girlfriend Bella. This is Justin and his friend…”

“Lance,” Lance provided as he extended his hand and shook Bella’s. Justin shook Bella’s hand as well and then looked up at the scoreboard.

“You guys started yet?”

“Nah, we were waiting for you,” JC informed them as he sat at the scorekeeping screen and input their names. “Ladies first,” he said after he was done and Bella grabbed the red ball she had found and threw it down the lane. “So how are you enjoying D.C.?” JC asked Justin and Justin shrugged as he tied the laces of his bowling shoes.

“It’s cold.”

“It doesn’t get cold in Memphis?”

“Yeah, but a little later. Or maybe it just feels different.”

JC nodded and praised Bella when she picked up the spare. The banter was polite, the comments were encouraging, and by the time they had finished their game, Justin felt quite at ease around Bella. She was nice in a lot of ways, although a bit shy in a way that came off as slightly aloof. She did however laugh at all of Lance’s jokes, and by the end of the night was excitedly talking to him about how their majors were conceptually similar. JC on the other hand watched in amusement and kept grinning at Justin as if reminding him of their little secret.

After turning in their shoes, JC suggested a small diner around the corner that he claimed had the best pie in Maryland. They decided to walk instead of drive, and once they were seated, Justin found himself glancing at Bella with jealous eyes as JC put his arm around her, or gave her a kiss every now and then as they listened to Lance go off on one of his tangents. Justin sipped his coffee quietly and hated the way it was so easy for Bella to lean into JC when she wanted to, or to share her pie with him as he shared his with her.

He felt slightly guilty as he thought about Nathan, but then felt less guilty as he thought about how he should invite JC to go out with him and Nathan and have him watch as Justin and Nathan canoodled in front of him. Justin almost began to think that JC even deserved it. When the night had finally worn out, and Lance and Justin were driving back to their hotel, Lance stayed quiet as he allowed Justin to process the events of the evening.

“So you liked Bella, huh?” Justin asked and Lance smiled then tried to hide his smile.

“She’s alright,” Lance lied and Justin sighed and looked out the window.

“I know you don’t agree with any of this, but I just know this is something I have to do. It’s like an opportunity I can’t let pass me by. I can’t help it that I’m that into him.”

“Do what you have to do, man. Just because I don’t agree with it doesn’t mean I’m going to stop being your friend or anything. I just know that there’s no way this can end on a happy note. Someone’s gonna get hurt, whether it be you, or him, or Bella, or Nathan.”

“It’s not like we’re going to do this forever. Just maybe this semester.”

“Whatever you say.”

Justin didn’t like that comment, but he stayed quiet and thought about JC the rest of the way back to the hotel.


Nathan had brought Justin back a bag load of gifts from his South American trip, and as Justin inspected each one, he realized that he should have at the very least brought something back from Memphis for him. “So you had a good time?” Justin asked once he had finished thanking him for the gifts and Nathan settled in beside Justin on the couch and nodded.

“It would have been better with you.”

“Maybe next year.”

“Or spring. I was thinking of doing something really fun for spring break, and you can’t say no to that. Even if we just go to Cancun like every other college student does.”

“Cancun sounds like it could be a lot of fun,” Justin agreed, and he tried to keep his mind from envisioning JC relaxing on the beach with him.

“Then it’s settled. Get your passport.”

“I’ll do that tomorrow.”

“Good. Did you film anything over break?”

Justin looked over at the shelf where he kept everything he filmed, “Um, just some family stuff really. I got my brothers to do some stuff, but it’s not that interesting.”

“I want to see it,” Nathan said with a new excitement in his voice. “I want to see what your family looks like.” He hopped up before Justin could stop him and picked up some of the small cassettes. “Did you label them?”

“No not yet,” Justin said reaching for his camera. “I have one still in here.”

“Hey, I meant to ask you this before,” Nathan said holding up some of the cassettes, “What’s JC – Still Undone? Have I ever seen these?”

Justin froze and tried not to look over at him, “Uh, it’s nothing. It was just a project for class that I never finished.”

“Let’s watch it. You know I love seeing all of your work. Maybe I can inspire you to finish it.”

Justin shook his head rapidly and popped the cassette out of this camera, “Here’s the family one. Let’s just do the family thing.”

Nathan put the JC footage back and sat down next to Justin. He immediately forgot all about the other cassettes as he asked Justin about his family and laughed at the antics that Justin’s brother’s got up to. However, later on that night, after Nathan had left, Lance was kind enough to throw it all back in his face.

“You know he’s going to ask you again to watch it,” Lance said as he made himself some chocolate milk before going to bed.

“I’ll just hide them.”

“And then he’ll ask about them.”

“He won’t ask about them.”

“Ten buck says he will.”

Justin just sighed in annoyance, “I’ll just start going to his place then.”

“I’m sure his five million roommates won’t mind that.”

“They don’t actually. They like me just fine and they don’t give me a hard time about things. Unlike some people.”

Lance laughed and tasted his chocolate milk before adding some more chocolate to it, “So when are you and JC starting this tryst of yours?”

“He’s coming over tomorrow.”

“Wait, hold up, he’s coming here?”

“Duh. It’s not like we can do anything at his place.”

“Yeah but Nathan could just show up right?”

“He does his internship tomorrow and then has a night class. He won’t be by.”

“Alright. It’s your deal. I’m going to bed,” Lance said and he disappeared into his room with his chocolate milk. Justin wondered if Lance was really concerned or if he just didn’t want JC to come over. He shrugged it off and went to his room, excited by what the next day would bring.


Justin practically ran home from classes the next day, and in anticipation of JC’s arrival, he cleaned his room, did a load of laundry, made sure the kitchen and living area were immaculate, and then tried to pick out the right thing to wear. He took a quick shower and dressed in a pair of black jeans and a fitted white T-shirt. He contained his dirty blonde curls and splashed on some cologne before doing another sweep of his room to make sure nothing embarrassing or incriminating was on display.

When the door finally rang, Justin took a deep breath then opened it, smiling as he allowed JC in. He looked well put together as he always did and Justin’s first thought was that he wanted to get JC out of the striped polo and classic denims he was wearing. “Do you want anything to drink? Or eat?”

“Nah, I’m good,” JC said looking around. “Is your roommate here?”

“Not yet. He’ll be back late. He hangs out at the coffee shop.”

“Oh yeah? That’s cool. Does he know?”

“Yeah, he’s cool with it.”

JC nodded and looked around again, then looked at Justin and shrugged, “So…”

“Um, yeah, do you want to come to my room?” Justin wanted to slap himself for that one. “Boy that came out wrong.”

JC chuckled a little, “I’d love to see your room. Lead the way.”

Justin led JC to his room and then looked at him, “Yeah this is it. Not much to offer.”

“It has a bed. What more do you need?”

“If I could get the fridge in here, I would be set.”

JC smiled and nodded towards the movie posters along the wall, “Those are your favorite movies?”

Justin’s face lit up at the subject of film, “No, they’re just the five essential movie posters of life.”

JC looked confused, “Huh?”

“If a person claims to be a film geek and doesn’t have these five posters in their collection, then they’re lying. Movie posters are supposed to be promotion, you know? A bad movie poster has no effect and doesn’t make people want to see your movie one way or the other. A good movie poster makes people want to see your movie. But these five are as iconic as the movies themselves. They’re essential.”

JC looked at the posters again, “Who knew movie posters were so…dramatic?”

“Not dramatic. Just essential. I guess you just have to be a film geek to understand.”

“I guess so.”

“I’m sure you feel that way about journalism don’t you?” Justin asked as he sat on his bed. “I mean, are there like five essential newspapers or five essential reporters or whatever?”

“Uh…not really,” JC said as he sat beside him.

“Okay…well, as a journalism major, don’t you have favorite journalistic type things? I mean, something must have made you want to be a journalist.”

“I’ve actually been thinking about changing my major.”

Justin blinked, “Why? You’re a senior. You’re practically done with school. Isn’t this your last semester?”

“I have to take summer courses to make up for the ones I failed two semesters ago. The thing is, I decided to be a journalist because in high school I was on the school paper and I was really good at it. My advisor encouraged me to do it, and I just got it into my head that it’s what I should do.”

“So what changed?”

JC took a deep breath as he looked around the room and then at Justin, “In order to be a good journalist you have to be social. Or at the very least, be able to talk to people and get the scoop. I was good at it in high school because I had alcohol to help me be social. I don’t think I could pull it off now.”

Justin couldn’t even begin to understand the way JC’s mind worked, but it fascinated him nonetheless, “You really don’t think you can be social without alcohol? I mean, have you even tried?”

“I invited you and your friend bowling right?”

“Oh boy, we’re going to have to work on your social skills,” Justin said. “Well look, it’s not hard. You do the same thing. You introduce yourself to people. You find out their interests and see if you have anything in common. It’s really not that hard.”

“I just don’t want people to judge me. I always felt like people were judging me when I was younger.”

“Believe me, they were judging you more when you were drunk.”

“Yeah, but I didn’t care.”

“Good answer. Now transfer that to the sober you. You don’t care.”

“I don’t care.”

“Right,” Justin nodded with a smile and then allowed a contemplative silence to drift between them.

JC looked down at his hands, and then out the window, and then back at Justin as he tried to piece together his next sentence mentally before saying it out loud. “Should we pick up where we left off?”

“Okay,” Justin said in a voice that was barely above a whisper. “We left off with me giving you a blow job.”

“Yeah, that was…yeah.”

“You seemed to like it.”

“I did. A lot. I should probably return the favor, but I’m…I guess I’m not ready for that.”

“Yeah I figured.”

JC looked at Justin curiously, “What do you mean you figured?”

“The drunk version of you, did things without thinking. This version of you, thinks first.”

JC thought about the analysis for a moment and then conceded to the truth, “I probably would have returned the favor the next time I saw you if the accident had never happened.”

“I’ll live. Let’s just do the kissing thing then.”

JC smiled and turned to face Justin, leaning in to give him the kiss he had been thinking about giving him all day. Justin just relaxed into it and noted how different it was to kiss JC when there was no alcohol on his breath. His mouth was minty fresh and Justin smiled into the kiss as he thought about JC making sure his breath was just perfect before arriving for his kissing session. When JC pulled away he was smiling as well.


“Yeah?” Justin said with a lazy grin.

“I really like you.”

Justin’s grin gave away his excitement at that statement and he replied to JC with another long, and lingering kiss.


The kissing sessions occurred sporadically throughout the weeks. Sometimes it was early in the morning before either of them had to get to class. Other times it was during their break in classes. It occurred less frequently at night because Justin and Nathan would have plans, or JC and Bella would have plans. On special occasions it would happen in the moments when the moon began to go to bed and the stars began to disappear over the horizon. But the one constant, was that both boys made sure that it did happen.

It had barely moved on from the kissing, to light touches and soft caresses, and halfway through the semester Justin had had enough. He met JC at the beach on a clear day with the intention of telling him that they needed to progress further, but when he touched his lips to JC’s, he instantly pulled away and looked at him with a slightly disturbed expression. “What’s wrong?” JC asked and Justin wasn’t sure how to answer him.

“You’ve been drinking,” Justin said and a part of him wished that he had been able to stop the words from tumbling out as they did.

“No I haven’t,” JC said, but his demeanor had changed and Justin could feel JC’s defensive wall spring up.

“Okay,” Justin said, and he looked down at the sand and licked his lips as he tried to taste the alcohol that he had clearly smelled on JC’s breath.

“No I mean, I just had one drink earlier. It was a friend’s birthday party. You know how that goes.”

“Yeah,” Justin answered, but his mind was racing in circles. JC was drinking again.

“Dude, you’re not going to flip out over this are you?”

Justin looked at JC and shook his head, but when he tried to kiss him again, he just couldn’t. “You know what? I have to study for my exam tomorrow,” Justin hurriedly got up and brushed the sand off of his pants.

JC looked highly perturbed by Justin’s attitude and he stood up as well, “You’re really doing this?”

“I’m not doing anything.”

“You’re really not going to kiss me because I had one freakin’ drink?”

Justin sighed loudly, “I’m not kissing you because I’m tired of kissing you. All we ever do is kiss. I want more than kissing. And now you’re drinking so I know I’m going to be losing you back to your frat ways or whatever and I just need to think about this and things and…” JC shut Justin up with another kiss and Justin shoved him away. “You don’t get to do that.”

“It’s what we do.”

“No. I’m done with it,” Justin started walking hastily back towards his car and JC made sure to keep in time as he walked beside him.

“What do you want? You want to take it to the next step? Then let’s take it to the next step.”

Justin reached the sidewalk and stopped walking. “You don’t even know what the next step is.”


Justin looked up at JC who had a slight smirk on his face, “What?” he asked in exasperation.

“I know what the next step is.” And even as JC said it, Justin realized that he had very little willpower left within him to fight JC’s charming, if somewhat diabolical at the moment, smile.

“I’ll believe that when you do it,” Justin got into his car and JC got into the passenger side before Justin even realized it. “Now what?”

JC said nothing and cupped Justin’s face in his hand, leaning in to give him a hard and deep kiss. As he did so he let his hand drop from Justin’s face and onto Justin’s lap. Justin wasn’t sure what exactly JC was attempting to do until he felt his zipper being pulled down. Somehow, in the back of his mind, Justin knew why JC was able to do this. He didn’t believe for one moment that JC had simply had one little drink at a friend’s birthday party. And as JC’s hand began to explore Justin’s crotch, Justin wondered if he should stop JC and be a good Samaritan about the situation.

He decided he’d try that route a little later since at the moment, JC was pumping Justin slowly with his hand and leaving a trail of kisses down the side of Justin’s neck. Justin allowed some words to escape his mouth, but he wasn’t sure what he was saying and realized that they weren’t words so much as noises of pleasure that his body insisted he emit. And then his theory about JC was confirmed when JC repositioned himself and Justin watched as his head went down to Justin’s lap and took Justin fully into his mouth. Justin shuddered at the electricity that he felt with each swirl of JC’s tongue, with each long and hard suck, with each graze of JC’s fingers against Justin’s very sensitive shaft, and before Justin knew what was happening, he felt himself being driven over the edge.

When JC’s head came up, Justin was leaning his head against the back of his car seat and panting. He heard JC open the door and then close it and let out a soft chuckle. “Dude, I totally swallowed yours.”

“Yeah, I couldn’t do it,” JC said and Justin chuckled a little more and zipped up his shorts, then put his hands on his steering wheel as if bracing himself.

“That was…thanks,” Justin said and JC leaned into him and kissed his arm, up his shoulder, and then to his cheek.

“Anytime,” he whispered into Justin’s ear, and then he pulled away and opened the door, getting out and leaving before Justin could even offer to return the favor.


Justin hadn’t seen Trixie since the previous semester and he smiled at her as she waved him over to the tree she was sitting under. “Hey,” he said as he dropped his backpack and sat in front of her.

“Hey,” she said with a questioning glance and Justin suddenly felt as if he was being inspected.

“Do I have something on my face?” Justin immediately wiped his mouth, but Trixie shook her head and closed her laptop.

“I saw you.”

“I know, I saw you too.”

“No, I mean…at the beach. You and JC.”

Justin knew he had turned pale and he looked directly into her eyes to make sure she wasn’t lying, or joking, or had said something differently than what he had heard. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I was with some of my friends and luckily I found them a distraction. I saw you guys kiss, then I saw you guys go back to your car.”

Justin wished a hole would open up beneath him and swallow him whole. “It wasn’t what you think.”

“What was it then? I didn’t know you were gay.”

“I’m not! I mean, he’s not. I am. I have a boyfriend. He’s just…experimenting. I let him experiment on me because…well I like him, but I know I can’t have him, because he has Bella, you know?” Justin knew he was talking nervously, and Trixie’s unwavering gaze only made him more self-conscious.

“He’s experimenting?”

“Right. It’s what college is for. I mean, I’m sure your sorority sisters kiss each other every now and then and experiment. Don’t they?” Justin prayed that Trixie said yes.

“I guess. But only when they’re really drunk. Is JC drinking again?”

Justin swallowed and looked away for a moment then back at her, “I think he is.”

“I’m not surprised. My friend who’s dating one of his frat brothers mentioned seeing him drinking again, but I guess I didn’t want to believe her. You kinda want to think that people learn their lessons you know? Maybe someone should show him the picture of the little girl he almost killed to give him some perspective. It’s funny. I used to think he was the nicest guy. Now I just wonder.”

“He’s still the nicest guy,” Justin defended. “He’s really nice, and I don’t think it’s easy for alcoholics to stay sober the first time they try.”

“Nice guys don’t cheat on their girlfriends,” Trixie said looking Justin in the eye, “Not even to just experiment.”

Justin felt guilty and he looked downward and took sudden interest in the grass around him, “When my friend called him an asshole at the frat party, do you remember what you said?” Justin looked up at Trixie who was waiting for him to inform her. “You said everyone’s got their story. That hasn’t changed.”

“Do you even know his story?”

“I know a little.”

“What do you know? What they wrote in the news? What they wrote in articles about his politician dad?”

“We’ve talked about things. He’s told me a lot about himself.”

“Has he told you that he’s cheated on Bella?”

Justin looked at her strangely, “No. How would you know that?”

“I know some of the girls he’s cheated with…including me.”

Justin’s eyes widened and he felt his stomach churn slightly at the information, “Holy shit.”

“Yeah,” Trixie nodded, “Two years ago. I don’t tell anyone about it. I never even told my friends who bragged about sleeping with him. In fact, you’re the first person I’ve ever told. He had been drinking a lot and it was my first real frat party as a full fledged sorority girl and I did what I thought I was supposed to do. He was the hottest guy in the frat, and he paid attention to me, and I just sort of…fell for it. But he was never mean to me after that. He was nice. And what I told you about Joey and how JC made me feel better about it was true. But, you know, I thought a lot about him after the accident happened, and I realized that I didn’t think he was such a good person anymore.”

“It was an accident,” Justin defended.

“It was preventable. And that’s not the point. The point is that you’re not the first. And you won’t be the last.”

“But I’m the first guy he’s ever done it with,” Justin said as if that somehow justified the entire arrangement.

Trixie looked at him with almost sad eyes and shook her head, “No, you’re not.”

Justin felt a swell of anger rise up in him as he looked at her with hard eyes, “How would you know?”

“The next time you see him, ask him about Chris.”

“Who’s Chris?”

“Just ask him,” Trixie said as she gathered her books together, “I’m not going to say anything, and I’m trusting you to not say anything about me either. I think in the back of my head I knew that he wasn’t the greatest guy, but when he smiles and laughs…” Trixie paused as she looked off at nothing in particular then shook her head, “Well you know. JC gets away with it because we let him get away with it. I really do feel bad for Bella though.” She got up and picked up her backpack then quickly said good-bye, before leaving Justin to sit alone under the tree and process the information he had been given.


“Breathe,” Lance said as he watched Justin collapse onto the couch after ranting and raving for a good ten minutes.

“How the fuck can I breathe? He lied to me!”

“I know.”

“He totally used me!”

“I know.”

“He made me feel like I was his first guy!”

“I know.”

“And who the fuck is Chris!?”

“That one I don’t know,” Lance sat beside Justin and put his arm around him, “Just breathe okay? I know you’re hurt. I know you’re angry. I know you want to pull his nuts off and shove them down his throat, but right now you just need to calm down so you can think rationally.”

“How? I don’t think I’ll ever be able to think rationally again.”

Lance bit his lip and looked at Justin as concern washed over his eyes, “You know, when I said that someone was going to end up getting hurt. I was praying that it wouldn’t be you.”

“I just wanted him to like me.”

“He does like you.”

“The way he likes the God knows how many other people he’s fucking around with?”

“Well if it makes you feel better, it’s not like he’s made a move on me, or any other guy other than you and this Chris guy. So the fact that he was into you probably means a lot, in his own messed up way.”

“I just…” before Justin could complete his thought they were interrupted by the sound of Lance’s cell phone. Lance picked it up and Justin used that time to go to the kitchen and get himself some water. He tried to not think about JC, or how angry he was at JC, or how disappointed he was in himself, or how sad he was that it had to end like this. Justin couldn’t even imagine what tomorrow would be like, or the day after, or the day after that, when he no longer would be able to kiss JC, or see how far he could go with him. And then he suddenly became angry as he wondered just how far JC had gone with this Chris guy, whoever he was.

“Um,” Lance said as he walked into the kitchen and turned the phone over and over in his hand nervously, “That was Bella.”

“She calls you?”

“Only when she needs help in Anthro.”

“Oh, so she called you for help?” Justin tried to sound disinterested, but he knew Lance could see through that act.

“Not exactly. Her and JC had a fight.”

“They had a fight?”

Lance nodded, “She’s on her way over because she says she’s an emotional wreck and she’s nearby.”

Justin didn’t know what to say to that, and he resigned himself to helping Lance pick up the apartment a little for their impromptu guest. His mind was racing with the myriad of possibilities as to the cause of the fight, but Justin just hoped that Bella hadn’t caught JC cheating. Then he reminded himself that he was supposed to be mad at JC, and hoped that Bella had caught him cheating after all. But then Justin felt bad for Bella if that was the case, and went back to hoping that it wasn’t something like that.

When Bella arrived, Justin couldn’t help but admire how perfectly stained her cheeks were with a mixture of tears and mascara. He thought for sure that any girl who could look that good while falling apart, was probably worth keeping. Lance provided Bella with a cup of coffee and Justin suddenly felt like an intruder, but he still sat on the floor and waited for Bella to explain what had happened.

“He’s started drinking again,” Bella said once she had calmed down a bit. “He said it wasn’t a big deal, but I told him that if he didn’t stop drinking then I would leave him. Then he went off on me and said that I was just looking for an excuse to break up with him, which wasn’t true at all. I love him.”

“I know,” Lance said as he ran his hand soothingly up and down Bella’s back.

“He just got so defensive, and we were yelling, I mean we never yell. We’re like the two quietest people on the planet. But we were yelling.” Bella sniffled and drank some more of her coffee before continuing. “I told him that I wanted what was best for him, and he said that I just wanted the hot boyfriend that all my friends wanted to sleep with so that I could brag about it. How the hell can you date someone for almost four years and think that?” Bella broke down again and Lance put his arms around her and allowed her to lean into him as she cried.

“He didn’t mean it,” Lance said softly to her. “He just got defensive because you called him out on his drinking. He wanted to hurt you because you were right. My mom’s an alcoholic. She used to do the same thing.”

Justin had had enough. He got up from the floor and went to his room to grab his wallet and keys. He then mouthed to Lance that he was going to see JC and he left towards the frat house, not knowing exactly what he was going to say, but knowing he had to say something. Trixie was completely right, JC was that way because people like himself let JC be that way, and the one person who loved him tried to set him straight and he had hurt her in a horrible way.

Justin was let into the frat house and he made his way to JC’s room, hoping Joey wasn’t there. JC opened the door and was taken off guard by Justin, clearly he had been expecting Bella to come back and beg for forgiveness. Justin pushed past him and turned around in the room, waiting for JC to close the door. As JC did so, Justin took in JC’s flushed face, and red eyes. He had been drinking, but he had been crying as well.

“Your girlfriend is crying in my best friend’s arms right now,” Justin said.

“We…we had a fight,” JC said almost monotonously.

“Yes. I know. She told you to get help and you lashed out at her.”

“If you’re here to tell me how to live my life then you can just leave too.”

“Who’s Chris?”

JC blinked and then shook his head in confusion, “How the hell should I know?”

“Before me, you fooled around with a guy named Chris. Who the hell was he?”

JC’s eyes widened and then narrowed dangerously, “Who told you that?”

“What does it matter? I want to know who he was. I want to know what you got out of lying to me, and using me, and making me feel like I was special when I was just another one of your…whatever the hell I was. You know what? I hope Bella dumps your ass. Because she is way too good to be dating a self-centered, egotistical, selfish, alcoholic like yourself. And you know what? I’m too good for you to. Have a nice life.” Justin walked past him and opened the door and then paused and looked back at him, “The next time you want to take a drink, just remember the little girl you almost killed. If that doesn’t make you put the bottle down, then you’re just a waste of space. No one needs someone like that in their life. Especially not me or her.” Justin closed the door behind him and held his emotions in check as he left the frat house. It wasn’t until he was back in his car, and safely on the road, that he allowed his emotions to surface.

Instead of driving back to the apartment and into an already uncomfortable situation, he drove to Nathan’s and then had to try and explain why he had been crying. All he could do, however, was tell Nathan that he was sorry as if he was a broken record. Nathan wasn’t sure what was wrong, but when Justin said, “I have to break up with you,” Nathan knew that there wasn’t much he could do to change Justin’s mind. Justin couldn’t explain it all to Nathan, but what he could explain was that he needed to figure some things out for himself, and that Nathan needed someone else to be on the same page with him. Justin knew he was letting a great thing go, but at that moment, he felt that he didn’t deserve such great things either.


And I don’t know if these
Are the answers to questions
Of loneliness, emptiness, loss of direction
Or the resolution to my deprivation

Justin spent the rest of the semester trying very hard to not pay attention to the rumors, or dropped information, he heard walking around campus. It was virtually impossible, however, since all everyone seemed to want to talk about was the last frat party they had attended and how fun JC had been. Justin was most disconcerted by the information that JC and Bella had officially broken up, which only served to make JC’s popularity rise even higher among the girls on campus. He was seen with a different girl every day, and they were all attempting to be the new Bella in his life.

Trixie cornered Justin at the bookstore when he went to sell back some of his books after he had finished his last final, and once he had completed the transaction, he accompanied her to the small coffee shop on the first floor. They ordered some cappuccinos and sat down in a corner where they could talk and not be overheard. “I try to escape him, but it feels like everyone is talking about him,” Justin said and Trixie nodded in understanding.

“I feel the same way. It almost feels like he’s trying to outdo himself. You should be happy you’re not part of his world right now. At the last party it almost seemed like he was trying to drink for the sole purpose of passing out. He used to have Bella to take care of him, but now he has no one.”

“He did it to himself.”

“That’s true, but at the same time…” Trixie couldn’t seem to find the words to say what she wanted to say, but Justin read between the lines.

“I think we all fell into his trap,” Justin assured her, “But you know what? He fell into his own trap as well. And just as we all fought our way out of it, he has to fight his way out of it too.”

Trixie nodded in agreement, “I just wish he could see the potential he has within himself. Why do you suppose he can’t?”

“I think we all have that problem actually,” Justin said as he thought about himself for a moment. “I had the potential to be a kick ass boyfriend to a really hot guy and somehow I couldn’t see it. Now I’m boyfriend-less.”

“I’d be your boyfriend if I had the right parts,” Trixie said and Justin thanked her and talked with her a little longer before giving her a hug and telling her to have a great summer.

After coffee, Justin returned to his and Lance’s apartment where Lance was packing up his boxes of things they were going to put into storage until the next semester began, “How did we manage to accumulate twice the amount of crap we started out with this year?” Lance complained.

“I blame you and your hoarding tendencies.”

“Hey, you never know when you might need a…” Lance picked up the object in front of him, “rolling pin.” He shrugged and tossed it into the box.

Justin shook his head at Lance and went to start packing his own boxes. He decided to start in the living room and when he looked at the shelf of digital cassettes, he couldn’t stop from reaching out to the ones with JC on them. He took them over to his camera which was hooked up to the TV, and put the first one in. Justin was surprised to see how different JC looked a year ago. He looked more carefree, more confident, a little more bright-eyed than what Justin remembered. The JC he had caught on camera had been the JC who lived in a world where no one got hurt, and that world had collapsed all around him.

Justin could sense that Lance had sat beside him, even though he didn’t bother to look to see if this was true. “It’s strange how a year ago he seemed like a different person, when he was the same person just under different circumstances.”

“Yeah but so were you,” Lance said.

“Was I?”

“You were a lot more green a year ago. You’ve grown up. You learned a tough lesson, and you survived it and became stronger. And I think you learned a little more about who you really are.”

“Who am I really?” Justin asked as he continued to watch JC stare off at the beach.

“Someone who knows how to love. Someone who’s been in love. Someone who gave up love because it was the right thing to do. Even if you feel like shit, I want you to know that I’m proud of you. And I’m proud to call you my best friend.”

“Wow,” Justin said finally looking at Lance, “This is officially the cheesiest moment we’ve ever had.”

“Yeah well don’t get used to it because I’m not doing it again. Come on. Pack JC up, some movies are best left unfinished.”

Justin looked back at the television and had to agree that Lance may once again be right about things.


Justin sat outside on the steps of the front porch of the house he had grown up in. He drank some of his mom’s refreshing sweet tea and watched as dusk began to settle into his neighborhood. When he had been a young boy, he used to love sitting there, even in the hot and humid summer months as he was now, and watch the day turn into night and count the number of fireflies that would appear and dance around the flower beds that led up to the porch. He found it amusing that now that he was older, he sat out there waiting for his two younger brothers to ride home from their friend’s house on their bikes. Especially because he remembered always doing the same thing when he visited Lance down the street.

He thought nothing of the car that was approaching his home, and only noticed it when it passed the house and then backed up and ultimately parked on the street. He squinted to try and make out if it was a relative or a family friend, but the only person that stepped out of the car was the one person he never would have expected to see in Memphis. Justin said nothing as JC walked up the walkway to the porch, looking as if he was some sort of rock star with a pair of shades and a baseball cap low on his head. JC sat beside him and said nothing and Justin offered him his sweet tea, which JC politely declined.

“My mom makes the best sweet tea in Memphis. You don’t know what you’re missing,” Justin said and then shrugged when JC said nothing back. They sat like that for a few moments before JC finally spoke.

“Chris was a TA in one of my classes sophomore year. He was a grad student studying communications. I wasn’t attracted to him or anything, but I ran into him at a party, we both got wasted and he said that I was hot and he wanted to kiss me. And me being my drunk self let him. And I don’t know, we’d hook up every now and then, but then after that semester he had moved on, and I kinda thought that I had just been going through some phase, or was just experimenting. But then I met you and I don’t know, I had to really think about it, because I really was attracted to you.” JC looked behind him at the door, almost as if he realized where he was for the first time. “Do your parents know that you’re…you know?”

“Yes, they know I’m gay,” Justin said.

“Wow. And they’re cool with it?”

“Well if they’re not then they’re putting up a good act.”

“I can’t even imagine what would happen if my parents knew I’ve kissed guys before. I’m pretty sure both of my parents would disown me. Especially my dad because that would be bad for his political career.”

“And drunk driving isn’t?”

JC looked hurt by that question and looked out at Justin’s street, “I’ve been sober for twenty-four hours.”

“That’s…well that’s a start I guess.”

“I woke up yesterday morning and puked blood. I seriously thought I was going to die.”

“Ew. Did you go to the hospital?”

JC shook his head, “I got a hold of Lance who gave me your address, and then I rented a car and drove straight here.”

Justin blinked and looked at JC with disbelief, “Why?”

“Because I can’t do this alone.”

Justin dropped his head and ran his hand through his messy curls which were slightly wet from the dense humidity in the air, “I can’t do this at all. You’re a liar, and a cheater, and I’m not going to get myself into that again. You seriously fucked up.”

“I know that. But…I guess I’m not asking for that with you. I just…I need a friend right now. I seriously don’t have a single friend. All the people who I call my friends just keep the drinks coming. I need help, Justin, and I’m begging you to help me.”

“What about your family? What about your mom or your dad?”

“My mom doesn’t believe that anything’s wrong with me. She just thinks I’m acting out. And my dad doesn’t have time for me. He’s never really had time for me. I’m on my own.”

Justin finally looked over at JC and reached up to pull his sunglasses off of him. When he looked at JC’s blue eyes he didn’t recognize them at first, and he then understood that it was because the look of sincerity was one he had never seen from JC. “Okay,” Justin finally said. “What do you need me to do?”

“Just tell me everything’s going to be okay.”

Justin smiled and got up, “Come on. I don’t have to tell you that. You know everything will be okay, just as I know it. And if you’re not going to try my mom’s sweet tea, then the least you can do is try my nana’s cobbler.”

JC got up and followed Justin inside, sitting at the small table in the kitchen as Justin had instructed him to do. Justin set the cobbler in front of JC and then sat down across from him and watched him for a moment.

“Alright, this is what we’re going to do. We’re going to find you a place where you can get better, and then when the new semester starts, you’re going to move in with Lance and I. We’ll get you out of the frat environment and away from temptation. We’ll have you actually finish this semester so that you can finally graduate, and we’ll have you star in my new film project for the semester.”

JC seemed intrigued by this plan, “Alright, but what happened to the old film project?”

“Some movies are best left unfinished,” Justin said with a smile, and then he grabbed a spoon and helped JC finish the cobbler.

*Gratuitous use of lyrics from “Irony is Thick”, “Tangled”, and “Oxygen”, by Big 10-4.


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