Just a Kiss
by Cody

Sometimes you think about doing it again. Or rather, What if it happened again?

Times like now, when you and Lance have just helped him stumble into bed after a night of still-illegal drinking, and Lance has ambled off to his own room, leaving you to "tuck in the kid". Lower arm slung across his forehead, baby-curls mussed, you look at his slightly-parted lips and think, I could just put my mouth right there.

And you could, maybe, and he wouldn’t wake up. And it could be just a kiss.

It had been that before, long ago. If three years counted as a long time. He’d been seventeen and had started taking girls back to the hotel from clubs. Taking them into a dark corner or a bathroom stall was an old trick, but bringing them back to the hotel was risky. What if his mom, who still went on tour back then, caught him? She’d flip out for sure. Maybe make a fuss about wanting him to quit the group. She’d never actually make him do it, but still. It would be a messy situation, one best avoided.

There wasn’t even a question of who would talk to Justin about discretion. It would be Joey, of course. He was the one who’d talked to Justin about what kind of girls he should and should not fuck around with, the one who bought him the condoms and magazines that you were carefully ignorant of. You’d turn away whenever Joey tossed the gas-station bags to Justin on the bus, pretending and wishing you didn’t know what was in them, trying not to blush. Like the way you told yourself that Lance only bought Abercrombie & Fitch catalogues to look at the clothes, and Chris took so long in the shower cause he was slow, and Joey was just talking to that groupie in that empty room backstage before a show. Because you were all sardines in a glass container, and if you could help create the illusion of some privacy, it was the least you could do.

Justin listened to Joey about things concerning sex because Joey was Experienced. When y’all went clubbing, he had a different girl for every dark corner, and took his favorite of the night back to the hotel. This was the sort of thing that impressed Justin. The fact that you were with your last girlfriend for ten months before you’d broken up just made him cop a face and say he’d "never liked that ugly ho anyway". And he hadn’t. His nickname for her had been "Captain Snaggletooth". Justin was always really nice to Joey’s girls, giving them wide, knowing grins and waiting till they left before saying, "Man, what a slut." But not as an insult.

So you were surprised when Joey knocked on your door and said, "The kid ain’t listening to me."


"I tried to talk to him and he basically told me to fuck off." Joey looked at you expectantly.

"Oh," you said, not knowing what the hell he wanted you to do about it. He looked at Justin’s door and then back at you before turning and walking away. You thought about calling after him, but instead just watched him disappear into his room. You looked at Justin’s door like instructions might be written on it.

1. Knock on this door.
2. Talk to Justin (He will smile and nod).
3. Bathe/Jack off in shower.
4. Brush teeth.
5. Put on pj’s.
6. Set alarm clock.
7. Bed.
8. Zzzz.

Hmm. That seemed do-able (especially 3 and 8).

You went to his door and rapped your knuckles on it, not too loud. If he didn’t answer, you could forget the whole thing with a clear conscience, Hey, I tried. But he did answer, and his lips quirked when he saw you.

"Reinforcements?" he asked.

"Hunh?" you said.

He stepped back into the room, letting you come in, and closed the door behind you. "You’re gonna tell me not to bring girls back to the hotel."

"Erm." You shifted your weight from one foot to the other.

"Because my mom’s gonna notice and freak and it’ll be a big fucking deal and I should just chill on it for a couple months until I turn eighteen and she leaves the tour and then I can do whatever I want, right?"

"Well." That pretty much covered it.

"Well," he sounded so amused. "It’s bad enough already, who I can have. And then you want me to give up even more." You had the distinct feeling that he meant more than you knew, and that he knew you didn’t fully understand, and you didn’t like the way he said "you", like he meant you specifically rather than a generic "you-people-around-me".

"I just--" He suddenly seemed to be standing very close, and your throat tightened around your voice. "Cause your mom will be…gone in a few weeks…"

"A few months." He stepped even closer.

Your eyes fled towards the ceiling fan, and you told it, "If you could just maybe behave…"

He laughed shortly at that, and your eyes squeezed shut in embarrassment at your choice of words. He drawled, "I always behave." And that’s when he did it.

Kissed you. His mouth bumped onto yours and his tongue slid into your mouth in one fluid moment. His hands came up and hovered over your elbows like he couldn’t decide whether or not to hold you. And you stood there, your brain short-circuiting, and concentrated on breathing.

You have no idea how long he tasted your tongue and bit at your lips, it seemed like just one eternal moment before he was pulling away. Your eyes slid open and drank him in, flushed cheeks and swollen mouth and dark, glazed eyes. You didn’t know what to say, so you just stared at him. He smiled vaguely, eyes flitting over your face like he was searching for clues, and said, "Okay. I’ll behave."

You didn’t realize you were moving until you found yourself in your own room, alone. You didn’t want to dissect it, or think about it at all, but you couldn’t help it. He’s acting out, you thought. That was a phrase you’d gotten from your mom. She’d used it a lot back when you were in high school. When she caught you smoking, when you grew your hair out, when you dated that girl with all the piercings. You’d hear her talking to her friends, "He came home at four this morning. I told Roy, he’s testing his limits. He’s just acting out." That’s all that was, that slick electric heat, his lips and tongue and breath and body. He didn’t mean it, didn’t mean anything by it. Don’t think too much; just go to sleep.

The next morning he avoided your eyes for a while, but by lunch he was himself again. He stopped bringing girls to the hotel until after his mom left the tour, and even then he was discreet. You never saw who came and went; you only heard creakings, voices, enough to know he was rarely alone. He dated Britney, but it was a lot like how you dated Bobbie. If she was there, she was the one you took to your room that night, no different than the ones you took when she was gone. Except that you escorted her places when you needed a date and bought her presents and she knew your phone number, and the nameless bed-warmers didn’t. Crude, maybe. But not as crude as loneliness.

As far as that night went, it was like it’d never happened, and you supposed that was for the best. You’d expected it. After all, it hadn’t meant anything. It was just a kiss.

Now, tonight, a million years later, you want another meaningless kiss. Is that so much to ask for? But you don’t know how to ask. You sit on his bed and look down at him, wondering if he's just dozing or passed out. He’s taken to binge drinking lately, which is uncharacteristic of him. Though he usually drank at clubs, he rarely got drunk. These past few weeks, with his twenty-first birthday on the horizon, he seemed bent on cramming in all the underage drinking he could before it was allowed and therefore no longer worth it.

Maybe that had something to do with you never pressing the subject of the meaningless kiss. If he doesn’t have it, maybe that’ll make him want it. And he’s got to want it, because. No, you scold yourself, Don’t even think it.

You hadn’t noticed how close you’re leaning as you study him, but it’s apparently too close, because his eyes are fluttering open and looking at you questioningly.

"You’re drunk," you tell him.

His eyebrows twitch as though he wants to scowl at you, but then his expression smoothes and he just shrugs.

"I think," you say, then pause, considering. "You’re drinking too much. You should just…"

You’re still too close, and his eyes are blinking up at you, he’s more awake now, his body tensing with anticipation as though somehow he knows what’s on your mind. "What?" he prompts, and leaves his mouth open just a little, Just perfect for…

"I want you to behave," you say it urgently, like a confession, and then you’re sinking down into him and he’s pushing up into you and just before it happens you think that you already don’t regret it. His hands hold you this time, and yours are on him, and he tastes like alcohol and you wonder, What if he doesn’t remember this in the morning?

Not that it would matter.

Because this doesn’t mean anything.

Because it’s just a kiss.


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