msktrnanny: (4:treasurer of the board)
[personal profile] msktrnanny
ome nights the bodyguards would let them wander around unattended in Wal-Marts and Targets all over the country, around 3 a.m. when no one would be in the store except for them and the stock boys. Justin would buy new blades for his hair clippers and Chris got No-Doz to keep him hyper when he needed it. Joey looked at baby toys or massage gels so that he could rub Kelly's swollen ankles when he got back on the bus. JC and Lance always went straight to the art supplies, picking up thin paintbrushes and washable paints, and always plenty of scented markers.

The first time they used paint was three or four days after JC woke up with the word "yes" on his forearm. Lance had gotten the idea one day and came back to the suite that no one knew they shared with acrylic paint and thin brushes, laughing as JC's eyes widened with excitement. They both stripped down naked and JC lay on his stomach, shutting his eyes and sighing as the brush moved cool and smooth along his thighs. Lance would kiss each inch of skin right before the paint touched it, and then he'd blow along the paint to dry it quickly. His breath made JC shiver every time.

"Be still," Lance would whisper, but then he'd send that smooth wind right across JC's skin, and his brush would go askew as the body beneath him quivered.


JC woke the next day to an empty room, bright with the color of the sun, and written in felt pen on top of his hand was, "Look in the mirror."

He went to the mirror and saw painted red on his chest, Forgive me for loving you while you sleep. See you tonight.


JC stood downstage with Wade working on choreography, and behind him Justin was watching his shoulders carefully. Not because they were stronger or thicker than his, but because he could almost swear that there was something written on them. He squinted. One word. You. It was faded away, as though it had been written there in a marker or something, and it peeked out at him every time JC's tank top moved over his skin. One word. You.

A few days later while they were at dinner, Lance rolled up his sleeve to reach across the table for steak sauce. Before he rolled it back down, Justin saw something on his forearm. Two words. Like this.

Beside Lance, JC was smiling.


Chris and Joey were toughing it out on Playstation when they heard Justin say, "Hey, y'all, I think someone's been writing all over JC and Lance."

Justin waited for a chorus of 'shut up' and 'whatever,' but instead he just heard Chris mumble, "You know what? I noticed that too."

On the TV screen, Brazil was pouncing France in World Cup Soccer.

"You think it's some kinky thing they've got going on together?" Joey suggested, and he angled his body to the right as he scored another goal for France.

"I'd like to think not," Justin replied, and he looked down to his notebook that he wrote his lyrics in. "There's just something kind of odd about them writing on each other."


As weeks passed, the other three guys would catch moments where JC and Lance laughed a little bit too loud or stood a little too close. Some evenings Chris would notice that JC would go to Lance's hotel room and not leave until they were loading the bus in the morning. Joey nearly yelped when Lance stretched languidly at the breakfast table one day, and his shirt raised up to show I always liked summer best written in faded blue ink along his abs.

"Something wrong?" Lance asked him.

"No," Joey said, and he continued to eat as though he'd never noticed those words in the first place.


JC went home to Mississippi with Lance while they had a tour break, and they spent most of their days nude and eating fruit in Lance's bed, smearing the soft meat of strawberries on each other's faces and doodling out single words on each other's skin.

JC leaned over Lance and kissed his collarbone, then wrote one letter.


Kissed between his breasts.


Kissed his stomach.


Kissed his belly button.


Lance was singing, low and soft, and outside it was raining. His voice was soft but loud enough to be heard over Mother Nature, and he wrote in golden letters along JC's back, Hallelujah!


One day Justin was suffering from a tiny bout of insomnia, so he decided to walk around the halls of their hotel. Bodyguards waved politely as he walked by, just moving back and forth up and down the hall. He passed JC's room and the door was cracked open, a sock wedged between the door and the jamb. He imagined that whatever was going on behind those doors was none of his business, and he most certainly should not go into that room because that wasn't his room, and JC would kill him if he snooped around in there....

Justin was happy that the hinges didn't squeak as he let the door ease shut behind him. He tiptoed in, carefully stepping over shopping bags and jackets, and when he rounded the corner, what he saw knocked the breath out of him.

There were two naked boys lying in bed together, Lance on his side with a leg arched carefully over JC's hips. His arm was around JC's shoulders, and JC slept with his face towards the ceiling. Written along Lance's hip, a sentence that moved all the way down his thigh, was no no no, this curve is beautiful. Exquisite even.

JC's handwriting. On Lance's nude body. Lance's handwriting. Sprinkled in sentence fragments all over JC's chest and arms. On his belly. Kiss you here and you shout like a schoolgirl. Such a pretty boy. Shout it now for me.


Kelly eased carefully from under Joey's arms and out of bed, waddling over to the bathroom. The baby was sitting right on her bladder now, and apparently the kid really liked her resting place because Kelly had to pee every other hour or so. She was careful on the slippery tile in the hotel's bathroom, holding on to the counter and the doorknob as she exited the room.

She passed the full-length mirror. She stopped. Something was on her stomach, and not just stretch marks. The raised up the "Pooh Triathlon" T-shirt that she slept in and nearly jumped back, because there was nearly a paragraph of prose written on the curve of her belly.

You will grow up to be healthy and strong.
You will be beautiful.
You will be smart.
You will laugh big and loud, like me.
You will be tone-deaf but still sing loud and happy, like your mother.
You will be brave.
You will love everyone.
You will always be ours.
You will be all of these things, because even if I am not a good father, I want you to be a good child.

In the darkness she could make out the figure of Joey Fatone snoring in her bed. On the bedside table lay a marker. Kelly walked over and picked it up, and she wrote on the tender skin of his forearm, You will be an EXCELLENT father, Joseph Anthony Fatone, Jr.


"Okay man. Thanks."

That was the third time JC had said that, but Justin still stood there with his feet stuck to the carpet of his friend's suite. He had done everything he was supposed to do, such as return JC's brand new Sade CD and make small talk. But he couldn't ignore the word Hallelujah!, exclamation point and all, peeking at him every time his friend leaned over to put away his clothes. He should leave now. They had to be out of the hotel in fifteen minutes. Justin hadn't even packed yet.

"Dude, is there anything else?" JC asked with a soft laugh, and Justin jumped as he was yanked out of a daydream. JC had an armful of dirty clothes and was trying to shove them into an already full laundry bag. "We gotta be out of here in like thirty seconds, and I know you probably haven't even thought about packin' yet."

Justin laughed, and he heard JC groan as he walked over to the bed and sat down on it. The sheets were smudged with a myriad of colors, green and red and blue.

"Well, I do wanna ask you something," Justin mumbled. He twirled the edge of that sheet between his fingers.

"Go for it," JC said, cheerful. He was whistling.

"Who's writing all over you?"

The whistling stopped, and for a moment so did everything else in the world. Justin watched a million and one expressions cross JC's face - from shock to horror to fear - and then his expression settled on something calm and cool. JC stopped packing his bag and stood up straight, looking down on his friend in front of him.

"Why?" he asked.

"Well, I just keep seein' all these words on you," Justin began. "And Lance. I was just thinking how crazy that is, and...well...why do you write on each other?"

JC crossed his arms over this chest, his lips forming a thin line. His eyes met Justin's for a brief moment before he said, "It doesn't concern you." He leaned back over, continuing to pack his bag.

"JC, dude," Justin said, and he stood up beside him, "do you have any idea how all of this looks? I mean...just, look. You and Lance, you're not...funny, are you?"


JC dropped everything into his suitcase and shut it, and he turned to Justin.

"I said that it's not for you," he said. "It's ours, mine and Lance's. You already know everything else about me, so why can't I just have something for myself?"

Justin blinked. Had he upset his friend? "Josh, I didn't-"

"You didn't mean to," JC interrupted. "But you did." He looked down at his messy bag and frowned. Markers and paintbrushes were still in the bathroom, by the tub. He'd need to get those. "Look, Justin, it's not that I'm trying to shut you out or anything, but it's special to us, okay? It's fun, it's interesting, it lets us be's intimate, personal, sensual, sexual sometimes. So yeah, I guess it's a little funny too. But it's ours, and I would really like to leave it at that."

The door opened and Lance walked in with his bags slung over his shoulders and shades on his face. He nodded to Justin and walked past them to pick up a few clothes he'd left in the room. There was a word, faded and gray, on the back of his leg. Love.


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July 2017


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