This is mainly all ripped off from Cecilia's Blues Angel. So you should really go read that instead. Also, the illo is based on a screenshot by Dacey.

Code
by Lesa Soja
 

JC was bored. He began to settle himself for a long stare out the window, but then he saw Chris pull down a bag and hunch over it, and that seemed like it would be good for something. He wandered back by the bunks and found Chris kneeling over Justin's duffel bag.

"I think his jewelry's in the other one," JC said.

Chris looked up and grinned. "I'm not stealing," he said. "I'm just - borrowing."

"What are you looking for?"

"The right color," Chris said, and tossed some bandanas onto the floor.

"What?" JC said.

"Tell me you haven't heard of the code, Chasez."

"I - what? Of course I - I mean - people still do that?"

"Not very much," Chris admitted. "Not anymore. Some places. I heard about a place. In Atlanta."

"Atlanta," JC said.

"Yeah. Me and Joey are going. You wanna come?"

JC laughed.

"Here's the list," Chris said. "Pick something."

JC took the crumpled three-column printout and read down the lines. "What color are robin's eggs?" he said.

"Kind of soft blue," Chris said. "I don't think he has one like that, though."

"Oh, no, I didn't -"

"He's got this, though." Chris held up a plain light blue bandana.

"Huh," JC said. He took it from Chris and looked at the color. The cotton was soft, well-worn under his hand. He put it back in the bag.

"JC," Chris said.

"Yeah?"

"Why didn't the skeleton cross the road?"

JC's fingers closed over his elbow. "I dunno. Why?"

"'Cause he didn't have the guts."

"Fuck off," JC said. Chris laughed and went back to rummaging. A minute later JC picked up the blue bandana again and shoved it up his sleeve.

"Tomorrow night, after the show," Chris said. "Just don't tell the kids, okay? Justin would freak."

"Yeah, right," JC said.
 

He ran into Lance in the hallway on his way to the car. "You goin' out?" Lance said.

"Yeah," JC said. He put his hand in his jacket pocket and squeezed the cloth.

"Someplace good?" Lance said, laughing. "You look psyched."

"Oh - you know - just. Some place Chris heard of."

"Oh, yeah." Lance was studying him.

"You gonna hang out with Justin?" JC said quickly.

Lance rolled his eyes. "Yeah, probably."

"Well, I should, um," JC said after a moment.

"Yeah, have fun!"

"Yeah," JC said.
 

"JC!" Joey said. "Didn't you bring one?"

"Yeah, I brought it."

"Well, come on!"

JC took out the bandana. Chris snatched it and folded it so there was a neat triangle at the top and then handed it back to him. JC slipped it into the right back pocket of his jeans.

Chris grinned and smacked JC on the ass, on that side. "There you go, hot stuff," he said.

Joey had one the same color in his left pocket. JC was a little nervous about that, but as soon as they got there, Joey said, "Catch you guys later," and disappeared. Chris had a black bandana in his right pocket. JC couldn't remember that one. He'd have to check the list again when they got back.
 

The beauty of this system, JC thought a little shakily when he had a dick on his tongue and a palm over his ear, was that he didn't have to talk about it. He still couldn't remember without blushing that first time in LA when the guy he'd followed outside had said, "So what do you do?"

"I'm, um, a musician," JC said.

And the guy had laughed. "No," he said. "I mean, what stuff do you do?" JC stammered a little, and when the guy started laughing even harder, JC fled.

So this, where all it took was a hand on his shoulder and some lifted eyebrows, and a nod on his part, this seemed like a pretty good deal. He could handle this. It was true that it seemed like slightly less of a deal when the guy zipped up and just squeezed JC's arm before walking away, but then, JC thought, he hadn't specified anything else. On the way back, when Chris asked him, "So, d'you hook up?", JC said yes and let Chris hoot. And when he was in his own hotel room again, he jerked off fast and hard before falling asleep.
 

The next morning, JC went up to Joey's floor for breakfast. He felt full of nervous energy, bouncing up and down on his toes in the elevator. When the doors opened, Lance was standing there. JC grabbed Lance's hand and tore off down the hall, shouting, "I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike," and Lance ran with him, laughing.

JC fetched up in front of Joey's room and turned to Lance, trying to catch his breath. He felt better suddenly. "Sorry," he said. "Were you heading somewhere?"

"I was coming to get you," Lance said.

"Oh," JC said.

Lance grinned and dropped JC's hand to knock on the door.
 

JC hadn't really been in the habit of going out with Chris and Joey, because some of the places they went to frankly scared him. He figured that was why they hadn't run into each other sooner. He'd been used to sneaking off by himself, looking up places in the Damron guide, and it had almost been the shock of his life to see Chris standing at a bar one night, that hair that was Chris's and nobody else's. JC tried to move back, but the crowd had closed in tight around him, and then Chris turned around and broke into a grin.

"C!" he said. "What are you doing here?"

"Um, you know," JC said.

Chris laughed. "Hey, you gotta come say hi to Joey!"

Joey was deep in conversation. When Chris said, "Hey, Joey, look who I found!" he looked up just long enough to say, "All right!" and high-five JC, but that was it. Chris dragged JC back to the bar and bought him a beer, which JC was suddenly quite thankful to have.

"Are, uh, any of the other guys here?" he said a little later.

"Nah," Chris said. "Geeze, can you see Justin sticking his nose in the door? He'd run like a long-legged jackrabbit."

"Oh, um, Justin," JC said. "Yeah, right. I guess not."

"But. Look at you!"

"Yeah," JC said, and he felt a smile begin to spread over his face.
 

After that he sometimes kidded himself that the back of a close-cropped blond head might belong to Lance. But of course it never did.
 

"You should come out with us, man," Chris told him later. "I always find the good places."

"Yeah," JC said.

But the time he did go with them, he suddenly realized that he wasn't wearing a single piece of leather, and he spent most of the night nursing one beer after another at the dim end of the bar. No one bothered him. From then on, he usually just made excuses when Chris suggested going out.

When Chris started the bandana thing, though, JC found himself getting swept along in it. He never felt that pleased with himself in the morning, and in between times he sometimes thought that he would stop going, but whenever Chris announced that he'd found a new bar, and JC still hadn't gotten any anywhere else, he wound up picking through Justin's collection with them again. He looked at a lot but ended by taking the same light blue one two or three times in a row, until Chris punched his shoulder and said, "Live dangerously, dude! Pick something else."

So he took the navy blue one he'd been eyeing, and Joey punched his other shoulder and said, "Way to go, Jayce!"

It was a good choice, JC thought, bracing himself over the bench and gasping at the pressure, it was, especially when he got a reacharound and came under the strong hand. He kind of wished the guy hadn't pulled the bandana from his pocket and used it to wipe up with, though. JC washed it three times in the bathroom sink at the bar, as well as he could with trembling fingers, and again in the hotel the next day, until you could only see the stain if you knew where to look.

Lance came in while JC was trying to hold it steady under the blowdryer. "Whatcha doin'?" Lance asked.

"I'm just, um - "

"Hey, is that one of Justin's?"

"Yeah. I was just, wearing it."

"Sure," Lance said. He was smiling a little, and JC was afraid he was going to make a comment, but all Lance said was, "Hey, you wanna get some movies tonight?"

"Yeah," JC said gratefully. Chris and Joey were planning to go back to the same bar, he knew, but he figured he'd had enough excitement for a while.
 

When Joey rapped on his door, JC said, "I think I'm just gonna stay in tonight, actually," with an odd sense of relief. Then he went to Lance's room.

Lance had picked the funniest movies, and JC laughed until he slid down against the pillows Lance had propped against the headboard. He glanced up at Lance, who was shaking his head benevolently, and that only served to set him off even harder. Eventually Lance reached over and put a hand over JC's mouth, saying, "Easy, take it easy," and JC subsided. He took a deep breath and sat up. Then he saw Lance looking at him out of the corner of his eye and burst right back out again. Lance gave a longsuffering sigh as he rubbed JC's shoulder, but JC saw that he was smiling, too.
 

A few weeks later, when they were all having sandwiches on one of the buses, Justin said, "Hey, have any of you guys seen my red bandana?"

"Don't talk with your mouth full," Chris said.

"Did you take it?" Justin said.

"Not me," Chris said, showing his empty palms.

"Well, who else wears them? 'Cause I really wanted that one for tonight, and I made sure I put it in my bag, and I know it was there Friday morning, and now I can't find it, and if you took it I just wish -"

Joey stood up abruptly and reached for his jacket.

"Joey?" Justin said.

Joey pulled out the bandana and tossed it into Justin's lap. "Here," he said. "I was gonna wash it, you know, but if you can't live without it for another second, I don't wanna be responsible."

"What the fuck?" Justin said, picking it up.

"C'mon, Justin, it's no big deal," Chris said. "We just borrow them, sometimes. That's all."

"What for?"

"Hanky code, man," Chris said, winking.

"What?"

"It's -"

"I know what it is," Justin said. "That's disgusting!" He got to his feet. "I can't believe you just - oh, man. I -" He stomped off towards the back of the bus and came back with his bag, pulling handfuls of bandanas out of it and throwing them down on the table. "You know what, you need 'em so bad, you can have 'em, just take 'em, okay, 'cause I am not putting a one of these on my head ever again, you hear? You hear me?"

"Yeah, everybody hears you, Justin," Lance said. "C'mon, don't get all worked up. Whyncha come sit back here for a while," and he took Justin by the elbow and pulled him away towards the bunks.

"I'm getting on the other bus," Joey announced.

"Me too," Chris said.

Lance looked back and nodded.

"You coming, JC?" Chris said.

"Oh - yeah," JC said.
 

Justin, who was actually a fairly resilient soul when all was said and done, was over it by the next day. He tried to tickle Joey and then screeched, "Ow, ow, okay, I give, you jerk!" when Joey wrestled him to the ground, and they all breathed a collective sigh of relief. JC noticed that Justin did actually stop wearing the bandanas, though. He kind of wondered what had happened to them, but he didn't really want to ask.
 

"Wanna get movies tonight?" Lance said.

"Yeah, sounds good," JC said.

So he went over after the show and knocked. Lance came and opened the door.

"Hey," he said. "Come on in." He went over towards the TV. JC shut the door carefully and looked up.

There was a corner of navy blue in Lance's left pocket.

"Lance?" JC said, and Lance turned around and smiled.
 

[Note: There are lots and lots of listings of the code. The one I used doesn't seem to be up anymore. Hm. Try this one, maybe.]

[smile]