by Lesa Soja
They were watching the Olympics, and when the swimmers were on, JC studied them, envying the shape they were in.
"Hustle, you loser!" Justin advised.
"Damn, he looks good," Chris said.
"Yeah," JC said fervently. Everyone laughed.
Chris turned and gave him a very kind smile. JC wondered what that was about.
JC was sitting in the lounge with his notebook while Chris puttered on his laptop. JC stuck a nail between his teeth and thought, night - sight - light. Then he heard Chris draw in a breath.
"What?" JC said.
Chris shook his head. "Look at this," he said.
JC went and looked over Chris's shoulder and read about the things painted on the sides of barns in Vermont. "Shit," he said.
Justin and Joey came up from the kitchen, carrying their plates. "What are you guys looking at?" Joey asked. Chris jerked his head at the screen, and they came and read the article also.
"That's fucked up," Justin said.
"I'm sorry," Joey said.
"You didn't do it," JC pointed out.
"No," Joey said. "Just. I'm sorry."
"Yeah," Chris agreed.
Lance came in wearing leather pants, and Chris whistled. Lance laughed and said, "Eat your hearts out, boys, 'cause you ain't gettin' any a' this!"
"Don't worry, dude," Chris said, "we don't want your chunky ass anyway, do we," and he looked at JC.
"Um, nope," JC said.
Chris smacked him on the back. "So there," Chris told Lance.
"JC?" Justin said.
When JC looked, Justin was peeling off his T-shirt. "Could you get me my water?"
"Get it yourself, asshole."
"Oh, fine," Justin said. He strutted past JC to pick up the bottle and came back and lifted it to his mouth and drank, tilting his head back, and flashed JC a grin. Then he turned away and began pulling on his jacket.
"He doesn't mean anything by it," Chris said next to him, and JC realized he was gaping. "He just wants attention."
"Shithead," JC said. Chris laughed.
JC had just picked up his drink when he felt someone at his elbow. He turned and found a lanky blond guy standing there smiling at him.
"Hi," the guy said. "I'm Eric."
"Hi," JC said. Eric's smile broadened. "Uh. JC."
"Yeah, I know."
"Right." If he wanted an autograph, JC hoped he had brought his own pen.
"So, JC," Eric said, "what can I say to get you back out on the dance floor?"
JC said, "Well, I'm kind of, taking a break." He held up his glass. "So, uh, thanks anyway."
"Okay," Eric said. "Well, lemme know if you change your mind," and he moved away.
Chris came up a few minutes later and banged his elbow into JC's side. "Was that guy asking you to dance?"
"Yeah," JC said. "But I got rid of him."
Chris looked at him. "Not your type?"
"Hey, that's cool, man," Chris said. He was grinning. JC smiled back.
Chris stuck about five more packages' worth of glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling of the bus and made them all lie flat on their backs to look at the effect. It was the middle of the afternoon, though, and not really dark enough, even with the curtains closed, so all they could see were patches of greenish shine.
"Hey, there's the Big Dipper," Lance said, pointing.
Justin laughed. "Orion."
"The Southern Cross."
"The Seven Sisters."
"The Four Dorks," Chris said, and that really set them off:
"the Beer Belly" - "the Kool-Aid Pitcher" - "the Tube Sock" - "the Microphone"…
"The Mating Kangaroos," Joey said, and while Lance and Justin were giggling, Chris said,
"Mm," Justin said happily. "How old were you for your first kiss, Chris?"
"I've told you that," Chris said. "Eleven. Kevin Mikolajczak. We were messing around the swingsets at night."
"Oh yeah," Justin said. "What about you, JC? When was the first time you kissed a guy?"
"I haven't," JC said.
"Oh," Justin said, and a moment later, "But, then how do you know you're gay?"
"I'm not," JC said, a little sharply.
The others fell silent. JC lifted his head and realized they were all looking at him. Joey was frowning, Justin's mouth was open, Lance's eyebrows were raised, and a tight little smile was twisting Chris's lips.