For Dale.

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Innocence
by Lesa Soja
 

Lance meant to figure out what had happened with JC before getting up, but he wound up oversleeping, and then he didn't have time for anything but the fastest shower of his life before he ran down to the waiting car. Joey cuffed him on the side of the head when he got in, but the others barely looked at him. JC was wearing dark glasses and leaning his head sideways on the seat in a way that suggested his eyes were probably closed behind them. It felt like years since Lance had seen him.

They went straight from the interview to lunch, and then they had the sound check and a rushed practice, and the meet 'n' greet, and then the show. After the show they got on the bus again, and Lance climbed into his bunk and was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. So there was no time for thinking that day.

The next morning Chris woke him up at six o'clock by pouring cereal on his face. "Get up, Lance!" he said.

"Wha' ?"

"Get up and watch cartoons with me."

"Fuck," Lance said, but he stumbled out to the lounge and sat next to Chris and fixed his eyes on the TV. Chris was playing his favorites, the world getting saved every half hour. He sang along with every theme song and made Lance sing too. So Lance put off thinking again.
 

"Dude," Joey said, "are you, like, mad at JC?"

"What?" Lance said.

"You haven't said shit to him for the last two days. Did he do something to piss you off?"

"No. I just - " Lance looked out the window. "I'm not mad."

"So you guys are okay?"

"Yeah."
 

They were back in a hotel again after that night's show. "Hey, Lance, wait up!" Justin called in the hallway, and Lance stopped and waited. "Hey," Justin said, catching up to him. He took Lance by the hand.

"Hey," Lance said, looking down at Justin's fingers wrapped around his.

"What room are you in?"

Lance dug his keycard out of his pocket. "1473."

"I think it's this way," Justin said.

Justin kissed him first just a fast kiss, lips grazing his and gone again. The next kiss lingered longer, and then Justin's tongue pressed into his mouth and Justin's hands were all over him, rubbing his arms, brushing his stomach, sliding over his back to the nape of his neck. Justin's body felt hot, like they'd just come off the stage. He took both of Lance's hands and put them on his waist. "I want you to suck me," he said.

"I," Lance said. He looked at the strips of blue cotton between his fingers.

"I'll show you. I'll show you," Justin said, and he kissed Lance again. His hands settled on Lance's ass.

Justin's mouth was strong and wet, and Lance heard his own breathing go harsh. He struggled to pay attention so he could remember what Justin was doing. When Justin slowed down, Lance moaned and then opened his eyes again to watch. Justin slid a warm palm up to his stomach right before Lance came.

Justin rubbed spirals on his chest and smiled at him. Lance pushed himself up and lifted one knee over Justin's thigh and then the other. He bent down, and the skin of Justin's cock was smooth against his tongue.

After a little while he sat back and tried to catch his breath. He glanced up at Justin's face. Justin had his head turned to the side with a hand pressed to his temple, and his mouth was curled in a loose grin.

Lance bent forward again and tried to go faster. He thought back and shifted his hands to stroke up and down Justin's thighs. Justin was moving more under him, too. When Justin threw his shoulders back and Lance tasted fresh salt, he felt almost triumphant.

Before Justin left, he kissed Lance again softly and murmured, "JC said you were good," and smiled. Lance thought that he would have to think about that, and about Justin, as soon as he had thought about JC.
 

When they turned their backs to the audience, Lance looked at the screen at the back of the stage and watched himself dancing. His arms and legs moved through the steps, and his face and neck shone with sweat. He put his hand out and bounced up and down, and the image on the screen jumped too.
 

JC came into the lounge, looking distracted. "Hey, Lance," he said. "Have you seen my alarm clock around anywhere?"

"Uh, no," Lance said.

"Damn," JC said.

"I'll keep an eye out for it," Lance offered.

"Thanks," JC said, and he smiled at Lance and went back to his bunk.
 

Lance saw Justin and JC walking ahead of him in the hallway. JC's hand was resting low on Justin's hip.

He went into his own room and sat down on the bed and stared blankly at the wall. Then he got up abruptly and went down the hall and knocked on Joey's door.

"Lance," Joey said. "What's up?"

"Hey," Lance said. He looked at Joey and tried to think how to start. He didn't know how to start. He stepped closer and put a hand on Joey's shoulder.

"Hey, are you okay?" Joey said.

Lance moved his head a little, and Joey's arms came around him.

"Hey," Joey said again. "You're okay. You're okay."

Lance leaned in until his lips hit the curve of Joey's neck, and Joey's hands froze on his back. Joey didn't say anything, though, and Lance couldn't stand it, standing there like that, so he reached for Joey's fly and started dropping down. Joey hauled him back up again, and Lance got suddenly afraid, but Joey just pressed their mouths together in two, three, four hard kisses and then moved his hands to the tops of Lance's shoulders and pushed.

Joey's dick looked bigger than Justin's, but that might just have been because of the curve to it. Joey shuddered after an especially long draw, and Lance felt a smile quirking in the corners of his mouth. He was getting the hang of the breathing better, too. He was hard himself but he tried to ignore that. He jumped a little when Joey's fingers started pulling through his hair, but then he relaxed again and pushed a hand up under Joey's shirt to his stomach. Also he noticed that Joey talked a lot, saying things like, "Yeah, oh yeah - like that - fuck, Lance - " over and over again, and finally just "fuuck..."

Lance sat back on his heels and looked at Joey. Joey scrubbed a hand across his forehead and said, "Damn, Lance. C'mere."

Lance let Joey pull him over to sprawl on the bed, kicking off his shoes. Joey leaned over him and kissed him. He pulled Lance's T-shirt up under his arms and licked a strip down the middle of his chest. Lance sat up quickly and tugged the shirt off over his head. Joey put a hand on his shoulder and pushed him back down. Lance shivered when Joey's tongue swiped over his nipple. "That, huh," Joey said into his skin, and moved on to the other one. His hand traveled down Lance's side and over his hip to dip inside his pants.

Lance thought he could have stayed there for a long time, with Joey's fingers stroking his cock and Joey's mouth on his chest, and every so often a breathy mutter of "c'mon, c'mon, yeah, Lance." But it turned out not to be so long after all.

Joey was lying back with his eyes closed. Lance got up after a while and started looking for his shirt. He found it crumpled half under the bed. His shoes were lying against the wall.

"Hey," Joey said. Lance went back over to him and kissed him, trying not to drop anything. When Joey let go of his hips, Lance went back to his own room and got in bed.
 

He was holding a magazine on his lap, but he felt too tired to read. He finally gave up on it and just stared out the window at the fields going by. The furrows fanned out in front of him, one after another after another.
 

"Hey Lance, where are we going after Chicago?" Chris asked.

"Dunno," Lance said.

"Yeah, are we going to Minnesota?" Justin said. "'Cause I wanna see where Jesse Ventura lives, dude."

"I don't know," Lance said. "I haven't been keeping track."

"Oh," Justin said.
 

Lance looked through the peephole and saw Justin standing in the hallway, tapping out a rhythm on his thigh. He smiled when Lance opened the door. "Come on," he said, and Lance followed him to JC's room.

JC was on the phone when he answered his door, and he said, "Uh huh. No. Right," as he stepped back to let them in. Justin went to him and started unbuttoning his shirt. JC switched the phone to his other hand to let Justin pull it off his wrist, but then he shook his head at Justin. "No, of course," he said. Justin came over to Lance and pulled him across the room to sit on the bed.

"We were good tonight," he said.

"Yeah," Lance said.

Justin smiled and kissed him. Lance closed his eyes and heard JC saying, "No. Nothing like that." He pushed his tongue into Justin's mouth. Justin ran a thumb around the shell of his ear.

"Okay. Okay. Bye," JC said after a while.

Lance hesitated, but Justin went on kissing him. JC came up behind Lance and laid his hands on Lance's shoulders. Lance felt himself go limp under JC's grip. Justin's hands on his waist steadied him. JC dragged teeth across his neck, and he sighed into Justin's mouth. Justin rocked against him, and he leaned back against JC.

Justin kept on kissing Lance while JC lined him up at the edge of the bed, Justin draping himself alongside them and leaning on one elbow to bend down to Lance's face. His lips were soft and wet on the corner of Lance's mouth while JC fitted his cock into Lance's ass, and quick and light under Lance's chin while Justin reached in between them to curve his fingers around Lance's dick. JC's mouth was open in a small grin. Lance wished he could see Justin's face.

When Justin knelt up to kiss JC, Lance felt the air cold where Justin's tongue had been. He looked up at them, at JC's face turned away to the side to meet Justin, Justin's mouth straining forward, and the next thrust, the next squeeze, had Lance coming. Justin let go then and dropped back down next to him. Lance closed his eyes and let JC shake him until JC groaned.

"Sit up, sit up," Justin said. His hands pushed eagerly at Lance's chest. Lance moved back, and Justin crawled in between his legs, and then JC moved in between Justin's. When JC started sucking, Justin's head lolled back on Lance's shoulder. After a little while, Lance thought to move his hands up to Justin's chest.

Afterwards, Justin picked up his shirt and threw Lance's pants across to him. Lance got up and put them on. "Night, C," Justin said.

"G'night," JC answered.

"Night," Lance said.

Justin walked along to Lance's room with him, and for a moment Lance wondered if he was going to come in. But Justin just grinned at him and said, "See you tomorrow."

"Yeah," Lance said.
 

Joey closed his phone and threw it at him. "Lance, man, call your mom, willya?"

Lance jerked a hand out but missed the phone. "What are you talking about?"

"Your mom, dude. She's worried about you. She left two messages on my voicemail asking if you were doing okay."

"Oh," Lance said. "Sorry."

"Don't tell me, idiot. Call her."

"I will."

"Call her."

"I'll call her," Lance said, and he picked up the phone and threw it back at Joey, who caught it neatly.
 

"Are you dating anyone?" the interviewer asked.

"No," Lance said.
 

His gray T-shirt was missing. He thought about asking if anyone had seen it, but he kept forgetting to bring it up.
 

Joey didn't touch him in front of the others, and JC didn't touch him in front of Joey or Chris. Justin would sometimes wrap an arm around his neck, though, or put a hand on his knee, and Chris noticed that. He cornered Lance in the kitchen and asked, "What's up with you and Justin?"

Lance saw that Chris was laughing, so he relaxed. "Nothing," he said. "You know how Justin is."

"Yeah," Chris said, and he rolled his eyes. "He's a piece of work."

"He is," Lance agreed.
 

When he got back after the show, he closed the door to his room, and then went into the bathroom and closed that door too. He turned on the hot water and let it run while he stripped. He stood under the shower so long that he hardly felt the spray on his skin, and afterwards when he dropped the white hotel towels on the floor, there wasn't a smudge on them.
 

Joey came to the door with all his clothes on, but a little pale lipstick showing on his mouth. "Lance," he said.

Lance shifted his weight to his back foot.

"Listen, can I - can I come see you tomorrow?" Joey asked.

"Yeah, sure," Lance said.

When Joey came to his room they lay on the bed and kissed for a long time, and then Lance lifted his legs and Joey slid into him. Joey's thrusts were steady and sure, and he was grunting out "yeah - baby - baby." Lance threw his head back and turned his hands palm down on the sheet to keep from grabbing at Joey's sides. Before Joey left, he leaned down to Lance's mouth again and brushed his palm across Lance's cheek and forehead.
 

Justin came up behind Lance and put a hand on the back of his neck. "JC's gonna fuck me tonight," he said low in Lance's ear. "Do you wanna come over and watch?"

Lance stood still, feeling Justin's calluses scraping his skin. "Okay," he said.

"It'll be hot," Justin promised.

"Okay," Lance said.

He sat with Justin's head in his lap and rubbed his hair a little and felt his own cock jump when Justin squeezed his hand painfully. JC came a few minutes later, his head bent sharply and his eyes nearly all the way closed. When he got up, he got a glass of water and sat in the armchair drinking it while Justin turned over and put his mouth on Lance's cock. JC caught Lance's eye, unsmiling but intent, and Lance gasped.
 

Lance sat on the bus with his headphones on and tried to run through the steps in his head. It was surprisingly difficult to remember them when he wasn't actually doing them. He went back to the beginning of Digital Getdown again and twitched his knees where he thought the jumps were.

His foot jostled Justin's back, and Justin's car swerved off the racetrack. "Cut it out!" Justin screeched. He tried to steer it back, but Joey sideswiped him and Justin's car span off end over end.

"Denied," Joey cackled.

"Shit!" Justin yelled.

"Sorry," Lance said. He turned his volume up and closed his eyes and just sat there, letting the music fill his ears.
 

JC, Justin, Joey, and Lance were all sitting in the quiet room. Lance was just thinking how actually quiet it was when the door burst open and Chris came in. "Okay, Bass, where the hell were you?"

Lance looked up at him.

"You were supposed to pick me up forty-five minutes ago!"

"Oh, oh shit, I'm sorry," Lance said. "I'm sorry, Chris."

"What the fuck is wrong with you lately?"

Lance went still. "Nothing," he said.

"Don't tell me nothing," Chris said, and suddenly he was in front of Lance, yanking him up by the shoulders. "What is your problem, man? What the hell is going on with you?"

"Nothing!" Lance said. Joey loomed up next to them and laid a heavy hand on Chris's elbow.

"Lay off him, Chris," Joey said.

"Yeah," Justin chimed in, "leave him alone, man."

Chris glanced at Joey and Justin and JC, and then back at Lance. "Lance," he said.

"Really," Lance said quietly.

Chris let him go with a shove and turned away. Lance stumbled and fell back into the couch and watched Chris stalk off in the direction of the snack table. He sat up and picked up his book again and stared at the page.
 

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