nsync in black and white

Disclaimer: this is fiction. We made it up.

Fishing in Streams

by Withdiamonds, for Terri

Justin stormed onto the bus in an obvious rage. His face contorted in an ugly frown and the tips of his ears glowed bright red. It would give Chris great pleasure later to tell him what an unattractive look that was.

His hands closing into fists, Justin threw his water bottle across the tight confines of the bus kitchen, narrowly missing plugging JC right between the eyes. As it was, water sprayed out in an arc as the bottle flew through the air. "Hey," Chris groused, looking down at his wet shirt.

"Dude," JC said, not unkindly. Not yet, anyway. It was only a matter of time before he'd in Justin's space, but JC always gave him the chance to not be an ass before he lost his patience.

"Fuck off," Justin snarled. Chris rolled his eyes. Yeah, that would work.

JC looked at Chris, water dripping off his eyelashes. Chris looked back at him and shrugged. This ball was going to have to be in JC's court. Chris's approach to such epic levels of pissiness usually left the three of them worse off in the long run. There was only so far bitter humor could take them.

JC narrowed his eyes and considered Justin thoughtfully. Justin glared right back at him.

Chris watched Justin with bemused exasperation. He got it, he really did. He himself was nursing a not-so-quiet rage at Britney. Of all the stupid things to do, cheating on your boyfriend with his new best friend was right up there at the top of the list.

He wasn't too thrilled with Wade, either. Being Justin's best friend was frequently exhausting, even for Chris, and it had been kind of nice to have Wade around to take some of the pressure off, even if all that chummy song-writing and hanging out sometimes fucked with JC's head, and not in the good way.

And then Wade turned out to be a faithless bastard, the prick. Chris maybe could sympathize with Britney just a little, it was Justin after all, but Chris and JC managed to love him unconditionally and Chris really had no patience for other people when they didn't.

"Pick that up, Justin," JC said in a quiet voice, pointing at the bottle on the floor, water still trickling out and making a slow puddle in front of the fridge.

Justin stiffened, still staring at JC. JC stared right back, face implacable. Chris waited.

It was only a minute or two before Justin lowered his eyes and bent to pick up the water bottle. His shoulders were set, his movements stiff with anger, but he picked up the bottle, stood there with it in his hand.

JC gave a nod of approval. He studied Justin's face appraisingly, dispassionately, and Justin shifted, unsure now.

Chris knew the feeling.

"Chris," JC said without taking his eyes off Justin. "If no one's left yet, find somewhere else to be."

Chris sighed, not surprised but not happy, either. He hated being left out.

"Yeah, sure, JC." Chris kept his voice as neutral. No sense pissing JC off if there wasn't going to be any payoff. Where was the fun in that? He just went to the front of the bus and told the driver to hold on a minute, he was switching buses before they pulled out.

Their fleet of buses was lined up in the arena parking lot in the usual order, and Chris had no trouble finding the one he was looking for. Lonnie would kill him when he found out Chris had been wandering around without security, but he'd phoned ahead and crew bus number four was waiting for him with the door open.

Marty the lighting guy and Hank the second sound tech were seated at the small table in the front, apparently engrossed in a cutthroat game of Go Fish, if the scattered cards on the table were anything to judge by. Hank had a nice little stack of quarters next to his beer.

Chris pasted on a grin and clapped Marty on the back. "Ha! You fuckers ready to get your asses kicked?" He waved a greeting at Billy and Frank, who'd poked their heads out of the back of the bus to see what all the commotion was.

If anyone wondered why Chris was suddenly here on such short notice, they didn't say anything. They were pretty used to it by now, and they never seemed to mind. Chris threw his hastily packed bag down the aisle towards the bunks and shoved onto the bench next to Hank.

"Deal me in."

When they arrived at their next hotel in the morning, Chris had no idea what city they were in. Lonnie frowned at him in the elevator, but Chris just shrugged at him. He wasn't about to admit to their security that he'd been kicked off his own bus because Justin was in a snit and JC decided he could best deal with him without Chris's help. Lonnie wouldn't be surprised, but Chris preferred to maintain as much dignity as he could. It wasn't like he didn't spend at least one night a week on a crew bus, so, whatever.

Chris stayed in his room until it was time to go to the venue. He pretended he wasn't waiting for either Justin or JC to come find him. Lance stuck his head in at one point, and raised his eyebrows in Lance-speak for do you want to talk about why you spent the night playing Go Fish with the crew?

Chris didn't, so Lance nodded and left.

Chris rode the crew bus to the arena from the hotel. Lonnie cornered him and said he didn't give a good goddamn which bus Chris rode, as long as someone knew where he was. As tempted as Chris was to retort tell that to JC, he didn't. He just nodded and said, "Yeah, sure, sorry."

Lonnie nodded back. Chris didn't envy him his job most days.

In the Quiet Room, Justin was subdued and apparently attached to JC by some kind of invisible tether. JC couldn't seem to make a move without Justin practically shadowing him.

Justin met Chris's eyes with a sheepish smile and JC gave him a conciliatory one, and Chris smiled tightly back at both of them. He took in the purple smudges around Justin's wrists and the dark bruise at the base of JC's neck and heat flared in his belly.

There was an expression of dark promise in JC's eyes, and Justin threw him a playful grin as they finished their hackey and waited for their cue to move onstage.

Right before they took their places, JC sidled up to Chris and whispered in his ear, "Me and J have plans for you tonight." Chris shivered.

They left whatever city they'd been in to the accompaniment of thunder from an early spring storm. Lightning flashed across JC's face, making his eyes glitter as he smiled down at Chris. Chris arched back against Justin, his breath caught. Justin soothed him with murmured words in his ear.

Another flash of lightning illuminated the interior of the bus and Chris closed his eyes against it and let go.


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