Murder, Part 3
by Julad

So, this is Calico's. I was grumpily avoiding it, but she pushed and prodded and petted and soothed and wrote smut to my specifications as bribes and basically put more effort into it than I did.

"Your big chance."

"Your only chance."

"You've waited a long time for this, dude."

"What's it gonna be?"

JC was beaming. "Caveman."

Chris rolled his eyes in despair. "Fucking what?" Beside him, Lance started chuckling, and Justin was snorting, but Joey hooted and fell against the wall, holding his sides. Joey's belly laughs tended to be infectious, so JC was also smiling helplessly when he tried to be offended and pissy and said,

"Hey, what's so funny about that?"

"Dude," Justin started, and then broke off and sat down on the floor and wiped his eyes. He drew in a deep breath and tried again. "You--" Lance made a high keening sound, one hand over his mouth and flapping his other one frantically, which made Justin choke his words off in a cascade of evil laughter. Joey slid down the wall and landed with a thud.

JC watched, looking fondly bemused, as Joey crawled over to Justin and flopped on top of him, and Lance sat on Joey's back and buried his tear-streaked face in Joey's neck, and Justin rolled over and they sprawled across the floor, bonelessly hysterical. Chris stomped his foot, but JC seemed pleased just to have provided such joy to his bandmates.

"C," Chris explained, ve-ry sl-ow-ly, "Caveman is when you get your victim and drag them out of the room..."

"And then kill them," JC said, nodding sagely. "I know. We have played it before."

"He wants--" Lance gasped.

Justin wheezed loudly. "to be dragged"

"Oh, fuck" Joey managed, and the three morons were off again, slapping one another's backs and howling.

"But you're a toothpick!" Chris shouted. "You'll die in thirty seconds!"

JC shrugged mutely, then changed his mind about the muteness and said, "well, maybe," and tried to look mysterious.

"Aw, man. Not this judo shit again," Justin said from the floor.

"Not judo, kung-fu," JC said.

Lance shook his head and faked a karate move from his back. "Not kung-fu, John-woo."

"Grash-hoppah," Joey rumbled, and Justin snorted.

"Tripitaka"

"Pigsy!" and Lance oinked.

"Sandy!"

"Monkey!" they all yelled, falsetto.

"It's a stupid rule," Chris snapped, losing patience with the lot of them.

"'Cause, Midget, you always lose," Justin pointed out, looking at him upside-down from the floor. As if a switch had been thrown, Lance stopped laughing and stood up.

"So let's play," he said, game face on.

"And we always win," Joey told Justin, so they stood up too, and reached into the hat.

Joey laughed at his slip, and Justin yelled "score!" and Lance looked completely happy with his victim, so Chris couldn't even figure out which one had drawn him. JC looked resigned to defeat, and Chris finally looked down and saw 'Lance', and figured if he could survive the first minute, he might still have a shot in the game.

JC held out the hat again. "I hate this part. Just put them back."

Joey gasped. "You're fucking with tradition, man."

Justin and Lance were already chewing, so Chris shoved his slip into his mouth and got it good and juicy. Grinning, Joey did the same, staring at JC and raising his eyebrows suggestively.

"Okay, okay," JC sighed, and popped the paper in his mouth. "You guys are such fuckwits."

"Yup," Justin said, mouth full. JC pointed to the bin in the corner of the room. Chris began to object, but Joey ran for it, spat, then caught Justin and threw him over his shoulder. "Oh, FUCK," Justin shouted, spraying soggy paper everywhere, and Chris laughed and then coughed and realised, shit, and had to swallow his lumpy little ball of pulp before it choked him to death. When he had his breath back, Lance had JC in a headlock and was suffering not-entirely-ineffective karate chops to the head, and Justin was clinging limpet-like to the doorframe and yelling his head off as Joey tried to drag him away.

Chris ducked under Joey's arms and Justin's kicking legs, and fled the scene.


The only good thing about the caveman rule was that it made the bigger guys cocky, and that made them careless, and that, Chris thought, mentally rubbing his hands together, was all he needed. Plus, Allan the Stage Construction Guy was way cool, and knew how to set up all the abseiling stuff with ropes and hooks and things, so in exchange for a post-show joint, Chris ran offstage that night, skin stinging with adrenalin and screams and saw the rope hanging exactly where he wanted it, and the feeling of impending victory made him want to raise his arms and start shaking his hips again.

Oh, fuck it, he thought, and whooped and did it. The others turned and laughed, shaking water from their heads and bouncing in the automatic way they always did, post-show. And it was honestly easier than he thought, the casual lift of the rope from the hook, and Lance's distracted, "what?" as he looped it around his shoulders, and quickly linking the clip thing and Lance was caught.

"No fucking way" he roared, when Chris tugged on his end and Lance staggered backwards.

"To the caves!" Justin cried, and Joey looked vaguely jealous but mainly amused.

"This won't work," Lance declared, but his hands were writhing uselessly at his sides as his shoulders shrugged frantically. Chris yanked the rope again and Lance leaned out of it, but Chris had had bigger dogs than Busta, and knew how to hold a leash.

"Off we go, my sweet," and even though Lance sat down and tried to hook his leg around the table and actually got JC's pantsleg between his teeth for a few seconds, it was all to easy to drag him along the floor and out the door and into the quiet room, cursing Chris loudly in gutteral Southern epithets.

Chris had to stop and pry Lance's fingers from the doorframe, and Lance ducked under his legs and tried to run, but he was offbalance, and a hard shove got him onto the big couch.

"Oh, god, god, don't," Lance was red in the face and panting now. Chris kicked the door shut on the other guys' laughter and returned to his prey. Lance was struggling to get his arms out of the noose.

"Now, my pretty," Chris cackled, diving on top of him, pinning Lance down as he tried to roll off and escape. "I've waited a long time for this!"

"Chris, no, please," Lance was begging breathlessly. He did it beautifully, a wood-silk lightning-thunder of giggling desperation.

It was too good an opportunity to miss, so Chris shoved up Lance's shirt, and slipped his fingers over sweaty skin, and started to tickle. He was rewarded with a three-octave elevation of roar-to-squeal, and Lance's twistng body was silkyslick under his fingertips, and his shoulders jerked helplessly as he tried to lift his lassooed arms to defend himself, and tears were sliding from his eyes in all directions.

"Say uncle," Chris said, hoping he wouldn't yet, because this was priceless.

Lance looked like he was going to explode, a let-go balloon zooming around in a tiny box at maximum force. He choked and growled and, from somewhere, made an abortedly high air-escaping squeal.

"Say it," Chris sang, "say it say it say it"

"Oh, god," Lance blurted out, thrusting his hips up and spreading his legs. His eyes flew open, wide and intense. "Fuck me. God, please, Chris, fuck me." His flushed cheeks suddenly seemed a suggestive hue, and his eyes held a dazed glitter, and the helpless writhes took on a whole new resonance.

"Wha.fuck?" Chris leapt back off the couch and stared at Lance, who gaped back at him in dawning horror, chest heaving, body twitching, face rapidly going pale. If there was a clock, Chris thought absently, they would have heard it ticking. Instead, there was just busy stage-deconstruction sounds, and the distant throb of music which played as the arena cleared.

"Oh, fuck," Lance mumbled eventually, covering his eyes after what seemed like hours of mortified silence.

"Whoa," was the only thing Chris could think to say. "Uh."

"Fuck," Lance said, in a very small voice. "I, oh. God. I don't know why I said that." He struggled out of his rope and threw it on the floor, fresh tears in his eyes. "Sorry," he mumbled, and bolted from the room. The door slamming seemed to echo over the top of fading laughter, cutting it off, sealing its source.

Chris sat down heavily, adrenalin doing the giddy skip-skip-slow in his veins until he could breathe normally again. Holy shit. So he was-- so Lance was-- but Joey had a crush on-- and so Lance mustn't-- but if Lance wanted-- oh, fucking hell, he thought, putting his head in his hands. Holy shit, this was bad.

And then it dawned on him. Lance had fled before Chris had said "you're murdered."

"You fucker!" Chris screamed, jumped up and kicked his chair across the room. He slammed into the common room, but Lance was nowhere. Joey and Justin were standing there like startled fucking antelopes, and stared at him. "That fucking fucking fucker," Chris shouted. "Where'd he go? That--" he kicked another chair. "FUCKER!"

"What did you do to Lance?" Joey demanded, looking mean and violently capable.

"Me?" Chris yelled back. "Me? He made a fucking pass at me, okay?"

Joey paled.

"Holy shit," Justin breathed.

"As part of the game, fuckheads," Chris snapped. "I freaked out and he got away."

"Holy shit," Justin said again, and started giggling.

"It isn't fucking funny."

Joey didn't look like he thought it was funny either. Chris grabbed his wallet from the table, and walked out.


Chris finally answered his mobile during his fourth drink. JC.

"Where are you, man?"

"Nowhere," Chris snapped. It didn't take a genius to figure out that JC had followed Lance out, and dumbly swallowed whatever BS Lance had fed him about it. "What did he tell you?"

"Nothing," JC said. "He wouldn't tell me anything."

Smooth, Lance, Chris thought. Answer no questions and you won't be caught in any lies. It was vaguely disturbing, when you thought about it, how good Lance really was at this stuff.

"He's upset, Chris." In the messy, staticky noise of the bar, JC's voice was somehow close and familiar, growing more intimate as Chris' phone warmed to his ear. "Whatever it is, he's really sorry, okay?"

"I know he is," Chris said, finishing his beer and signalling for another. "He always is. Then he does it again."

JC sighed, and Chris imagined he could feel the breath against his ear. "Just tell me where you are, okay? I don't want you drinking alone."

The matchbooks on the bar a name on them. "I'm at some dive called the Carlyle Hotel," he said, and sipped off the foam of his next beer. "But don't come here."

"I'll send Joey."

"No, don't." Joey was the usual suspect for "Chris is being a hardass" duty, but Joey was the last person he wanted to talk to. Unless it was to say 'wake up to yourself, you big dumb fuck, he's a weasel'. Which wouldn't exactly promote the warm, fuzzy, cuddly boyband vibes they needed like fucking Prozac.

But if it wasn't Joey it would be Justin, and God, he couldn't deal with Justin, either. Man, be one with the 'nsync vibes, know what I'm sayin'? You gotta get down with the wicked beats of your brothers, yo. And then he'd pick up three girls and take them back to the hotel. Chris sighed. You just could not vent your ass around a kid who'd been raised to stardom by fucking Mickey Mouse.

"Chris, you there?" JC said, and sounded worried.

"Yeah, I'm here." Where else would he be? Whatever fucking city it was, he would still be on the other end of a line tethered to one of the guys. "Okay, you come. I'll wait for you."

"Five minutes," JC promised.

"Fine," he said, and rang off, and then felt guilty. He loved these guys so much his ribs ached with it; some days it felt like he'd die if he wasn't right there in the same room as them, but when shit went down between them, everything felt like it was coming unstitched. And then there would be that frantic stitch-in-time effort, with nine other tears appearing if anything was left to fester, but sometimes Chris just needed to stay mad, and sulk, and be silent, and get over it when he was good and ready; sometimes it pissed him off more than anything that he was smiling and loving them and being happy against his will.

It was ten minutes and another drink before JC slipped in a side door, cap pulled down, loose black t-shirt and faded jeans not really hiding that he was slender and moved with grace and that his nose was big and that his cheeks were more notable amid all the other nondescriptness. Behind him, blending anonymously, was JC's bodyguard, and also Chris', who threw him a frightened glare which was worse than anything else he could have sent, because Chris really could have cost Dave his job by doing what he'd just done--ducking out through service elevators and the venue kitchen and getting a ride to this obscure nowhere in the bread van, all without telling anybody. JC sat down next to him, ordered a beer, and Chris ordered two lites and took them over to the guys' corner, mumbled sorry, and Dave was apologetic too. Dave had once blurted, "I wouldn't be you for all the money in the world," and right now Chris nearly agreed with him.

He left them scanning doors and exits, calling in to base, and climbed back onto his stool next to JC. JC bumped his knee companionably and then settled down, sipping his beer and saying nothing.

"You think I'm a sore loser, don't you?" Chris whined, sighing. JC was the best loser in the world, but he also held everyone else to his own high standards of defeat. And Chris knew, he was well the fuck aware, okay, that his drive to always win, always succeed, his lifelong craving for a feeling of victory was perhaps a little unhealthy, and probably a lot unattainable, but to change that would be to let go of the part of himself that had got him here in the first place, got him through life to a place where, if he wanted, he could finally leave it all behind him.

"I think," JC said, measuring his words, "that it's not about winning or losing."

"No, it's not." Chris nodded, relieved. "It's how you play the game."

"But I also think that how you play the game, and how Lance plays the game..." he took another pull from his bottle, and traced patterns in the condensation, and sighed. "Are sometimes similar."

"I don't pull shit like that," Chris said, losing a few degrees of warmth. "I don't... play people like that."

JC agreed easily. "No, but you both lose sight of. While you're playing. You forget, I don't know, something, and as soon as it's over you're good but at the time. it's."

Chris watched him, sure that JC knew exactly what he wanted to say and just didn't want to say it. "Go on," he said, carefully, bracing himself.

JC took a deep breath. "You're both out to prove something here, and I don't know for sure what that is for either of you, and I mean, whatever, we all do that sometimes, but you both sometimes forget that the game should be about us. The game isn't ever about the game, you know? You both forget us."

And his vague gesture, the one which seemed to reach beyond the two of them and include a shadow Lance and Justin and Joey, made the "us" into something which made Chris' stomach lurch for fear of fracturing it. JC saw the fear, and smiled, and slung an arm around his waist and put his head on his shoulder. "You're okay, though," he said.

"Thanks," Chris said, and didn't mind too much that he was feeling warm and fuzzy again.

"You're welcome," and JC melted warmly against his side.

Chris waved for one more beer each. "When did you get so smart?" and JC smirked and said,

"try losing sometime, it's kinda interesting."

"What, you people-watch us?"

And JC's eyes crinkled up sweetly, and he mustn't have eaten because he seemed a little tipsy, and then Chris realised he hadn't eaten either and he was pretty much-- Okay, five point check: far side of room blurry, walls tilting, blood tingling, tongue feeling liquid and lips feeling numb--yeah, he was pretty much completely smashed. "Oops," he said, and felt giggles starting to bubble inside him. JC giggled back.

Chris turned around to check on Dave and Syd's beer situation, but they looked tense, and primed for action, eyes on two girls, clustered in a corner, talking excitedly on a cellphone. He nudged JC. "We gotta get out of here." But he took two more bottles, for the road.

In the car, Chris realised that, what, nine? beers in two hours hadn't been all that good an idea, cause they were hitting him like nine big-assed hammers now. And he was slumped against JC and patting JC's knee distractedly, but in his mind Lance kept appearing on the other side of him, and saying, "fuck me". And, well, Joey was singing Space Cowboy in his ear, too, but that was probably just the alcohol making things up, and Lance, Chris was fairly sure, had been for real.

And so it slipped out, the thing which for five years had been totally and utterly unspoken, gathering layers of dust after month after month of not commenting, until they were too scared to disturb it, scared that the rising clouds of grey detritus would choke them to death when the book was finally flipped open.

"Lance is gay."

And strangely, it wasn't so much dust flying up as rivulets of contradiction flowing off it as it rose into the spoken realm, memories of Lance kissing girls and being caught jerking off to Basic Instinct, and Joey tapping his cheek and Lance grinning goofily as he turned his eyes away from Janet Jackson's slipping silver top.

"Isn't he?" Chris asked, less sure now, because JC was staring out the window and not answering. And JC would know, if anyone did, and god, everyone knew JC had fucked guys a couple of times, when he met somebody he thought was 'gender-transcending-fucking-hot'.

"I don't know," JC said, shaking his head. "Possibly."

Chris shifted against the leather seat, dissatisfied. "He should say something. It's not like we couldn't be cool with that."

JC snickered, but it was kind of a bitter sound.

"I could have been cool," Chris snapped, "if he hadn't suddenly out of nowhere just begged me to fuck him."

"Whatever that was," JC said pointedly, "he's probably freaking out."

"He should tell us," Chris insisted, belligerently, not wanting to think about his own part in Lance's presumed freakout.

JC shook his head, and was silent.

When they got back to the hotel, and rode up from the basement to the top floor without a single other stop, the hallways were dark and silent. Chris followed JC into his room, and took a beer from the fridge and went onto the balcony and sat. Inside, JC shuffled around by lamplight, and eventually appeared too. He had a something-and-coke with ice, and his battered pack of cigarettes which he took on tour but hardly ever smoked. This time he sat down and lit one up and closed his eyes and blew smoke over the railing, into the city night. It looked, grey and soft and bitter, like dust.

"C?" Chris asked nervously.

JC shook his head. "I just worry sometimes," he confessed.

Chris was sure he was too drunk to say the right thing about anything, and gestured helplessly. "What, that he's still hiding it?"

"No." JC sighed, and stared into his glass. "That it's some other thing." He flicked ash over the balcony, and took another drag. "That it's something else altogether."


When Chris woke up, Lance was sitting on the end of his bed, reading.

"What's up, Lansten?" he said groggily, and then woke up properly, and remembered. "What are you doing in here?"

Lance shrugged, and raised his hands in surrender. His face was blank, but he looked like he hadn't slept much, either.

Carefully, Chris sat up. He put his fingers in the middle of Lance's brow, and cool eyes stared blandly at him.

This stupid fucking game, Chris thought, and suddenly hated it. He'd had a nightmare, once, that they'd played it for real. "New rule: Russian," Joey had said, and dumped a sack of guns on the table instead of a hat. And the worst thing about the dream hadn't been when Lance had killed JC, it had been when he'd had Joey coming after him through twisting backstage corridors, and was so fucking scared that he was hunting for Justin so he could kill him and then kill Lance and kill Joey and be the winner, because all he cared about anymore was not dying.

"Do it," Lance said flatly.

Chris dropped his hand. "No."

Lance looked at him like he had no manners. "I'm trying to apologise, here."

"Why?" Chris said. "All's fair in love and war."

Lance looked at him sadly. "It's not the one you think," he said.

Chris realised his head was hurting with his own guilt, and JC's worry, and latent pissed-off-ness, and confusion about what the fuck Lance was, and, on top of it all, a fucking hangover. It was too early in the morning for this conversation. "I don't think anything." Chris rubbed his face. "There's no point thinking anything, when it's you."

Lance took his hand and folded it into a gun. "So do it." He lifted Chris' arm and aimed his fingers. His hands were soft and warm.

Chris studied him for a long time. "Bang," he said eventually.

Lance let go of his arm, and looked, under the passivity, relieved. "I had JC." He stood to go.

"Lance," Chris blurted, and held out his hand. "Come here." Gingerly, Lance sat down again, and Chris grabbed his shoulder and dragged him down to lie beside him. "Get under the covers."

"But I'm already dressed," Lance objected faintly, his body stiff, face to the ceiling. And it was strange, Chris thought, that Lance was infuriating when he was Cool Hand Lance, when his face showed you only and exactly what he wanted you to see--a mask on a fluid ice statue. The bare and stiff statue, though, was infinitely warmer.

"Just--" Losing patience and starting to wonder why the hell he was trying to do this at all, Chris scrambled over to Lance's feet and jerked off his shoes. "Now get under."

Like Chris was a gunman in a 7-11, Lance did what he was told.

"Good. Wake me at nine," Chris said, and buried his face in the soft t-shirt around Lance's shoulder, and hoped whatever the hell he was doing, somehow, made some kind of sense. He feigned sleep, snuffling occasionally into Lance's shoulder, and eventually, just when he was starting to think that whatever impetus he'd had to make this ridiculous gesture was gone, Lance relaxed in his arms and pressed back against him. Chris hugged him, then, in his relief at the thaw.

"You're awake." Lance's back stiffened, and he sounded a little nervous.

"mm."

"I've gotta go," Lance said, but stubbornly, Chris held him as he tried to get up. "Chris, what the fuck?"

And snap, snap, snap, like the spotlights coming onto them at the start of the show, Chris figured out what it was he wanted here. "I just want to know," he said, and then paused--knowing what he wanted didn't tell him, apparently, how to ask it. "You don't have to tell me anything, but." Lance rolled over and stared at him, face perfectly, utterly blank, but attentive. The openness of nothingness, Chris thought, and was reminded suddenly of Chinese mysticism, and words like ineffable, and wondered if the Lance which could be seen was ever truly the true Lance. "I don't need to understand you," and it was true. He stroked the side of Lance's face. "But I want to know if you're okay."

"I'm okay," Lance said, smiling gently, but after a minute he sighed, a gentle tuft of air across Chris' nose. "Confused, maybe."

"About... what you want?" The word 'who' lingered between them.

"No. Yes." Lance laughed softly, a little bitterness but mostly something wry. "Kinda. It's complicated."

And fuck, his head really was hurting. "Stay there," Chris ordered, and went to the bathroom and found capsules and swallowed them with as much water as he could stand. Then he got back into bed and pulled Lance close and said, "stay here," but when reception called and woke him at nine o'clock precisely, Lance was gone.


"JC."

"Yeah?"

He just looked so clueless and pathetic and, well, alone, that Chris felt guilty. "Um. Sorry about this, but. Bang."

JC grinned. "Oh. Right. That's okay."

"I just want to get this game over with," Chris admitted. "Who'd you have?"

"Joey," and Chris couldn't help laughing at that.

"Thanks. That'll be great fun."

JC nodded, and leaned back in his chair. "Chris?"

"Yeah?"

"You and Lance okay now?"

"Uh. Yeah. Fine," Chris said, and didn't mention that Lance was avoiding him now, and that he'd bought a copy of the Tao Te Ching, and had spent the last two nights getting stoned and watching tapes of Monkey, which had to be the weirdest thing Joey had ever used his fame to acquire. Chris had been there when he'd explained it to Johnny--"It's this Chinese show, from the sixties, right? and it teaches kids about Buddhism, and it's like Astro Boy but funnier. And not a cartoon. And not Japanese. And not about a family or robots or anything either. Well, maybe Astro Boy was a bad example, but it's got kick-ass martial arts, and it's--"

"A children's show?" Johnny had clarified, looking sincerely confused. "Like a Chinese Sesame Street?"

"No!" Joey had said, appalled. "Well, okay, but it is a kid's show, and maybe it's like Sesame Street if John Woo had made it, and everybody in it was Oscar the Grouch, except they're not puppets or anything, they're a pig-spirit and a fish-spirit and a Buddhist monk played by a bald woman, and the main guy is the king of the Monkeys, who flies around on a painted cloud."

"Uh huh," Johnny said.

"And I don't want a subtitled version; there's a really bad dub by the BBC, which is better."

And then Johnny had said something about fucking boybands, and wanting to manage Nana Mouskouri.

It was a freakishly cool show, though, and most fun to watch when Joey or Lance or Justin were there to repeat the lines in fakely-Chinese British accents and giggle inanely, but after they'd gone out or passed out or curled up quietly on Chris' carpet, the show was kind of. Really deep. And yet somehow only vaguely enlightening.

He was basically putting a lot of effort into being calm, and a lot of energy into being Zen, and wondering perhaps if he wasn't barking up the wrong tree altogether, but when he read things like

  As always hidden, we should look at its inner essence; As always manifest, we should look at its outer aspects. These two flow from the same source, though differently named, And both are called mysteries

it was reassuring that at least somebody else in the history of time had been as baffled by something as he was by Lance these days-- by Lance's blithe wave when he went off to shoot hoops with a gay guy who'd driven his sister to the meet & greet, or his flawless mask when he told a reporter, laughing, that the roadblock six girls had made on a South Dakota highway had been no big deal and only delayed the bus for, "like, sixty seconds," and his perfect, innocent dismissal when the reporter had been surprised and said, "all the rumours were that it was pretty serious."

Most of the time, though, Chris wished he'd never said the words and never blown the dust up so he'd never have had to think about anything except how to win and how not to lose.


"So guess what?" Joey said at two in the morning, after dragging Chris into his room to show him something.

"What?" Chris said, not sure if this would be some retarded Joey thing, or actually something good.

"I got passes to LL Cool J!" Joey waved them, grinning.

"What, when? Fatone, fuck off!"

"We have to fly to Austin after the radio thing tomorrow, and then get into Dallas at like six in the morning and have no sleep, but--"

"Fucking cool!" Chris grabbed him. "You rock!"

"They're not letting Justin go, and JC and Lance said no, so it's"

"It's you and me, baby!"

And then Chris realised that the two of them were alone, and the game was down to the two of them, and that he had been blithely waiting for Joey to drag him away and kill him, and it just kept not happening. And now Joey was doing his seduction thing, like he couldn't just pick Chris up with his thumb and finger and drag him somewhere private, which by the way they were, right this minute, and whatever game Joey was playing Chris suddenly didn't care, whipped out his fingers and pointed them at Joey's head and said

"Oh, whoa, ho, fuck!" as the room spun upside down and he found himself backwards over Joey's shoulder. Joey slapped his ass, and laughed. "You bastard," Chris screamed, but Joey had him fast and there was no escaping. He had to endure a tour of everyone's rooms from that position, and Justin taking a photograph of Joey with his prize, and JC saying, "it's a good rule, Chris," and grinning, and Lance hugging Joey and calling him his hero. And then Joey took him to his own room and threw him on his bed and said, "BANG!" and "see you tomorrow!" and chanted "some-thing like a phen-om-en-on" as he danced out.

Chris watched two more episodes of Monkey, and finally fell asleep, still laughing.