by Cody

"Whew. Smells like animal in here." Justin wrinkled his nose in distaste.

"Well, it's a pet store. What do you expect?" JC pulled Justin's hand away from the glass cubicles the puppies were sleeping in. "Read a sign, J. Don't tap the glass."

Justin peered in at a Yorkshire Terrier. "Nine hundred bucks for a dog? What the fuck is that?"

JC sighed. "Quit bitching and get your stupid fish already, I'm starving to death here."

"All right, shit." Justin bit his lip as he grinned. "Don't have to be a bitch about it."

JC rolled his eyes as Justin ambled off, then turned and bumped into a counter, nearly knocking a fishbowl over. "Shit!" He grabbed it before it could fall. After righting it, he studied the bowl, or rather, the little glass pebbles inside the bowl. They were a deep, bright blue, and he liked the way the light glinted off of them. He picked one up, rolled the cool smoothness in his palm, over his knuckles. He put his whole hand in the bowl, spread his fingers and combed through the stones, liked the way they clinked. A saleslady was feeding the turtles nearby, and JC asked her, "Hey, how much for this?"

She looked at the fishbowl, and at him, a small smile on her lips. He took his hand out of the bowl, blushing. "Uh, $6.49 for the bowl, plus $4.99 for the bowl decors."

"Bowl decors?" JC looked at the fishbowl, wondering what part of it was considered décor, and why it was worth $4.99.

"The glass stone-thingies," she explained, coming to his side. "You want a bowl? The bags of decors are over there," she pointed. "and there are boxed bowls there."

"No, I want this one," JC said, his hand going to the lip of the fishbowl. "Can I take this one?"

She shrugged. "I guess so. I mean, it's a display, but…I guess it doesn't really matter. Let me, like…" She picked it up. "I'll just ring this up for you."


JC was just putting away his wallet when Justin reappeared with a satisfied smile on his face and a plastic baggy of water in his hand. He held up the bag, showing off a goldfish. "I'm done."

"Okay, good. Let's go get something to eat." JC switched the bag he held from one arm to the other.

"What'd you buy?" Justin reached for the bag, but JC swatted his hand away.

"I bought a fishbowl," JC said, leading the way out of the store and towards the food court. He hadn't eaten since breakfast, and it was almost three. Happy Panda, anyone? Two side combo plate, egg roll, and a giant root beer: eight bucks. Can't beat that with a stick.

"You bought a fishbowl?" Justin reached for the bag again, and JC shoved his hand away harder. "What for?"

"I liked it." JC was too hungry to put up with Justin right now. He didn't want to talk about fishbowls, he wanted to eat. "You can see it when we sit down; let's just get some food."


JC shoveled a heaping plastic forkful of fried rice into his mouth and watched Justin inspect the fishbowl. "Why'd you buy it? You gonna get fish?"

JC shook his head. "Nah, I just. I don't know. I wanted it."

"The rocks are pretty." Justin held one up to the light. The stone shone the same shade of dark blue as his eyes.

JC looked away, speared a piece of stir fried broccoli. "Yhea."


He put the fishbowl in his living room, on the side table by the window. From his favorite spot on the couch he could stare at it, and the sun hit it just right, brought it to life.


"He named it Justin," Justin laughed, grinning like he'd just won a Grammy.

You're stupid, JC wanted to tell him, to smile like that after being with him. He doesn't give a fuck about you. He's got a different groupie in his bed every night; and sometimes it's you. That's all there is to it, Stupid.

"What?" JC said instead, sipping the café latte Justin had handed him when he'd shown up at his front door.

"The fish I gave him. He named it Justin." Justin waited, like he expected JC to laugh or comment on how cute that was.

"Oh," JC said. "Okay."

"I know. Isn't that funny?" Justin plopped down on the couch, spread his legs with a sigh and picked up the remote. "What're you watching?"

"I don't know." JC watched the screen as Justin changed the channel. "You can change it, by the way."

"Oh," Justin grinned sheepishly. "Thanks."

"So, are you gonna see him again tonight?" JC watched Justin's face now, already knowing the answer. Two nights in a row rarely happened, variety being the spice of life and all. Justin never seemed to notice the pattern, blindly accepting any excuse he was given.

A small frown. "No, he's busy. Some meeting or something…he didn't say, really. But, he said he'd give me a call later on, maybe."

"Oh, I see," JC said. Because I do see, even if you don't, he thought, sighing as he watched Justin flip through channels, Stupid.


The club was hot, dark, and crowded. JC didn't mind. Mainly because Justin was pressed up close, grinding against him to the rhythm of the pounding music. His skin was slick and glistening under the strobe lights; his muscular arms reaching for the ceiling; his hips swaying wantonly; his grin dazzling; his eyes glowing with reckless delight. JC's hands couldn't help but reach for Justin's waist, slip up the sides of his torso, beneath his shirt. Justin just laughed, threaded one hand into JC's hair, and JC bent his head into the crook of Justin's neck, pressed even closer. There was a moment when it seemed like they would melt together; a fluid moment where they moved as one.

And then Justin stiffened suddenly, froze in place. JC looked up into his face, "What?" When Justin didn't answer, JC followed his line of sight and saw…Nick. Looked back at Justin, at the shock and hurt in his expression. It was strange, because JC had been waiting for this moment. He'd been hoping for it; when Justin would finally realize what was going on, that he was being played. This was what he had been anticipating since the beginning; he should be relishing this, but he found himself saying, "Maybe the meeting got out early."

Justin just shook his head, eyes locked on Nick, who had his arm around the waist of a tall, dark man and was whispering something in his ear that made him smile.

"Hey, Jace, Joey wants--" Chris stopped mid-sentence when he noticed the look on JC's face. Justin didn't acknowledge Chris at all. "What's going on?" JC looked towards Nick, letting Chris follow his gaze. "Oh, shit," Chris breathed. "Fucker."

"Joey wants what?" JC said, trying not to lose his footing amid the crush of people on the dance floor.

"He wants to talk to you, it's important." Chris was looking at Justin.

"Where is he?" JC scanned the club, not really wanting to leave Justin right now, but if it was important…he'd just make it quick.

"VIP section, in a booth. Lance is with him." Someone bumped into Chris, and he anchored himself on Justin, grabbing his arm for support.

"All right, I'll be back." JC made his way through the crowd towards the door to the VIP room.


"You made me come all the way back here for that?" JC voice rose incredulously.

"Dude, this is important!" Joey insisted. "We have money on this! Lance is trying to say they're real, cause she promised him they are or some bullshit like that. I say they're fake ass titties. I know fake ass titties when I see `em, and those are some fake ass titties. We can't ask Justin, he won't tell us. You know. You've got to know. She definitely told Justin the truth, and he definitely told you. So, spill it."

"God, fucking shit. You guys are pathetic." JC started to walk away, but Joey grabbed his arm.

"Come on man, I got two hundred on this. Just tell us." He tightened his grip, letting JC know he wasn't gonna leave until he told.

"They're as real as I am straight, okay?" JC snapped, yanking his arm away. "See you guys later."

"Have fun!" Joey called after him happily, giving a little wave.


As he stepped out of the VIP room he bumped into Chris. "What are you doing? Where's Justin?"

"He left," Chris shrugged, tried to brush past JC.

"Wait, what?" JC put a hand on Chris's chest to detain him, "He left? Where'd he go?"

Chris made a face. "Nick's."

"What?" JC asked again, because he must've heard wrong.

"He left with Nick." Chris said, and disappeared into VIP.


"Stupid motherfucker," JC muttered to himself, fumbling to unlock his front door. It was around six in the morning, he guessed, because the sun was starting to peek over the horizon. He'd stayed at the club, and then at an after hours club, dancing and drinking until he reached his limit of both, and Lance had dropped him off. He stumbled a little when he finally got inside, made his way to the living room to rest for a minute before he tried to make it to his room. He tripped over his own feet, but the couch broke his fall and he slid into his favorite position with a grunt. He looked over at the goldfish. Wait, no. The fishbowl. No goldfish. But there it was, swimming around like it had been there all along. But it hadn't, had it? He didn't have a goldfish. But he did. "What the fuck?"

He pushed himself to his feet, went into the kitchen. Empty. Made his way down the hall, his brain too foggy to really hope or suspect anything. In his bedroom, in his bed, there he was. It was. A lump under the sheets.

JC stood for a few minutes, not sure what to do. Wake him? Let him sleep, and ask about it in the morning? Let it go, and wait for him to bring it up? I'm too drunk and way too tired to deal with this right now, JC decided. So he went to the bathroom, peed, went back into the bedroom, got undressed, and got in bed. He lifted the covers and slid in, not meaning to get too close to Justin and wake him, but he slipped a little and ended up kneeing him in the back. Justin stirred, making soft noises of protest in his sleep, and JC instinctively moved to wrap an arm around him, soothing him with whispers. "Shh, it's okay. I'm sorry. Don't wake up."

Justin mumbled incoherently and wiggled back, snuggling into the embrace. JC sighed, let his eyes fall closed.


Morning. He woke up with his face in an armpit. Moved and rubbed his face against the sheets in disgust. Not the best way to wake up, especially when he felt sticky-mouthed and dehydrated, thrumming with a mild, but full-body, hang-over. He stretched, rolled out of bed and padded into the bathroom. Peed, washed his face, brushed his teeth, drank handfuls of warm tap water.

He went back to the bed, kneeled on it, thought about waking Justin up, thought about laying back down beside him.

Justin rolled over, his arm flopping out and hitting JC's leg hard. Justin woke at the impact, eyes going wide and then shutting again. "Shit." Soft and sleepy.

JC smirked at that. "Thanks."

"Sorry." His hand reached for JC lazily, rested on the spot he'd hit. "Y'okay?"

"Yhea, it didn't hurt." JC studied Justin, who seemed on the brink of falling back asleep. "So, what's up with the goldfish?"

"Hmm?" Justin shifted a little, scooting around, trying to get comfortable.

"The goldfish in my fishbowl. Where'd he come from?" JC leaned down, touched Justin's shoulder, wanting to keep him up long enough to answer.

"Took him back. From Nick," Justin yawned. "Want you to have him."

JC leaned back, away from Justin's morning breath. "Why?"

Justin smiled sleepily. "You'll take care of him." Then he rolled onto his side, his back to JC, and burrowed deeper into the covers.

JC stayed still for a while, kneeling there on the bed. Then he got back under the covers and slid close to Justin, putting his arm around him.


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