Chris woke up with a hangover. Nothing new there. Nothing new about a pounding head and a desert-dry throat and odd red and green swirls in front of his eyes. Nothing new as he crawled out of bed, tripping over the sheet tangled around his ankle, opening the door to the closet and then staggering back across the room to the other door, which had a bathroom behind it.
"What the fuck," Justin said, when Chris squinted into the mirror. "Justin?"
"Holy shit," Justin said, looking as confused as Chris felt as the words he was saying kept coming from Justin's reflection. Chris looked around for Justin, but the bathroom was empty.
"Very fucking funny, Timberlake," Chris shouted, pulling the mirrored door off the vanity, and checking for wires. Justin's voice came out when he said it. Chris cleared his throat, carefully. He hadn't lost his voice. Somebody had got him a fucking good one, though. They must have brought in professionals. He was in awe.
Somewhere on the floor, a woman screamed. Fuck, Chris thought, forgetting about the wires and running to get dressed. Batten down the hatches, boys, there's a feral fan on the loose. The woman screamed again, as he tried to get his pants on. For some reason, he couldn't get his feet through the leg. The woman screamed again, louder. Chris tripped over the other pant leg and went sprawling. He hit his nose on the carpet, and it hurt like a motherfucker. The woman was still screaming, and he could hear Joey and Lonnie shouting in the hallway, and he got his feet in the fucking pants and yanked them up, but his legs shot out of the end by a mile, and he couldn't do them up, and obviously something very bad was happening out there, because now Lance was shouting, "calm down, for fuck's sake, calm down," and JC was going, "what? what? what? WHAT, god dammit!" but the screams were getting more and more hysterical.
Chris did a mental run-through, and the effect was like ice poured down his spine: Justin. Where was Justin? and oh god oh god oh god, what had been done to him, and oh god oh god oh god was that a message in the bathroom and oh god oh god oh FUCK. He kicked the stupid pants off and wiped his nose and red-hand-wet-fuck, it was fucking bleeding, but who cared. He ran into the hallway, where the screams were getting hoarser.
Lonnie was holding a man with crazy eyes, who was fighting to escape. A violent nutcase, and no Justin, and screaming--shit, shit, SHIT.
"Hey!" he shouted, running towards the others, "where's--"
"Justin!" Joey shouted, and grabbed him.
"Where?" Chris yelled. "What's happened?"
"Fuck, you're bleeding," JC yelled, grabbing his arm.
"What's happening?" Chris shouted over the top of him.
"We don't know," Lance said, looking seriously panicked. "He just won't stop screaming."
The screaming, Chris realised suddenly, was coming from the crazy guy. The guy saw him, and stopped. "Oh, fuck," he said, in a weird, tight, high voice, and there was something about that guy, Chris thought, something--
--very, very weird was--
--the hallway tilted, and the light went a funny colour, and JC was holding his arm and saying something distorted that sounded sort of like "are you all r--"
When Chris woke up, he was in a different hotel room. One with a nurse in it. And an ER-looking bleepy machine.
Okay, so he was in a hospital. Joey was sitting by his bed, holding his hand.
"Justin?" Chris asked, struggling to sit up. The nurse shoved a thermometer into his mouth.
"You're awake," Joey said, face breaking out into a smile.
"Where's Justin?" because something very very weird was happening, he remembered now, where was--
"Justin, are you okay?" Joey said, and he was frowning. "We're freaking out here because Chris went totally off the deep end and he's like fucking sedated and then you were all bleeding and shit and then you pass out and we're like..."
Chris remembered the crazy guy, and the way he'd looked at him in shock, and very, very carefully brought his hand up to his face. He could feel it, it was there, but he couldn't tell anything about it. He took a deep breath and moved his hand up to his hair. Thick. Curly.
"I think," Chris said, concentrating very very hard on not fainting again, "I know what's wrong with... um." He swallowed. "With Chris."
"Motherfucker," Dacey said, jerking back in surprise.
"Yup," Chris said.
She took off her sunglasses and peered at him carefully, and then said "If this is a joke, Timberlake, your doll is going to have an anatomically fucking correct special edition, for people who want to shove--"
"It's not a joke," the Chris-looking-Justin-thing said. He looked extremely sick.
Dale leaned against the wall and folded her arms, looking bored. "Justin," she said, looking at Chris, "what was the name of your second-grade teacher?"
"I think you mean to ask me that," the Chris-looking-Justin-thing said. "If you're trying to check that I'm Justin."
"I know it anyway," Chris said. "Mrs Murphy."
"For fuck's sake, don't tell her that," Justin snapped.
"Ha," Dale said, and walked out.
"Wait, no. We're serious!" Chris said, "Dale, come back, we're not kidding!" She flipped him the bird and slammed the door behind her.
"Ask us another one," Justin begged.
Dacey looked at Chris, and then looked at Justin. Then she looked at Chris again. "Um."
"Christoper Alan Kirkpatrick," Chris said. He was still getting used to how his voice sounded. "Grade one, Miss Parker. Grade Two, Miss Koslowski. Grade Three, Mrs Mathers, then I changed schools and it was Mr Maloney, then I changed schools again and it was Mrs O'Neill, and then she went off to have a baby and it was Mr Kearney. Grade Four, Mrs Sorenson, then--"
"But Chris could have told you that," Lance pointed out.
"But I didn't tell-- Uh." Chris said, and looked down to where he was pointing to his body. "Never mind."
"Tell us all the license plates of all the cars your mother ever had," Joey suggested.
"Yes! Good one." Chris clapped his hands together. "Right... 1967 beige Buick, something something Big-Poo-Bum. 1974 blue Chevy, something-something Pig-Farts-Stink. 1979 blue--"
"Okay, there is no way," JC said to Dacey, "that Justin was ever that immature. Trust me, I've known him a long time."
"Yup. That's Chris all right," Joey said.
"Mom never had a Chevy," the Chris-looking-Justin-thing said.
Dacey grabbed the nearest nurse. "Do you think I could possibly get a hold of some Prozac?"
"Should I call you Chris or Justin?" Lance said to the Chris-looking-Justin-thing.
"My name is Justin," he snapped. "Call me Justin."
"This is going to be weird," Joey said.
"I can't remember that," Lance said.
JC scratched his head. "And besides, we can't call you that in public."
"Here's what we're going to do," Dale said. Dacey had fetched her back, and then taken her Prozac, and was now sitting on the floor with a happy smile on her face. "You," she pointed at the Chris-looking-Justin-thing, "are Justopher--"
"Get fucked," Justopher snarled. "I'm Justin." Chris thought he looked seriously dangerous. Who knew he'd been such a creepy guy?
"And you," Dale continued, pointing to Chris, "are Christin, and--"
Chris felt his jaw drop. "I am not having a girl's name. I don't care what the fuck you call me, but--"
Dale raised her voice. "And if anybody asks, which they are going to, you all have a bet, you've all put in a thousand dollars and the winner is the one who goes the longest without screwing up."
"We have a. to call them the wrong names. a bet?" JC said. "That's the stupidest thing I've ever fucking heard."
"No, sweetie," Dale said, pointing to Christin and Justopher. "This is the stupidest thing I've ever fucking heard, and nothing I could come up would even be close to how fucking stupid this is."
"Ah. Point taken."
"Dude, I told you not to take the green acid," Joey hissed, in the car.
"You didn't tell me," Justopher said.
"Oh, right. I told. uh. Chris," Joey pointed at Christin. "When he was still Chris."
"No, you didn't," Christin said.
"You told me not to take the green acid," Lance said. "Which I wasn't going to, anyway."
"You told me that the feather-lizard people were coming to get you," JC said, tapping Joey's forehead and making a hollow 'clock' sound, "armed with bionic typewriters."
"You told me not to take the red acid," Chris said slowly, "and that Justin was the feather-lizard queen, but you'd neutralized the fucker with a spiked Multiple Orgasm."
"Oh." Joey's eyes widened. "Uh. Whoops?"
"You motherFUCKER!" Justopher screamed, and Lance and JC had to hold him down while Joey cowered behind Chris.
Chris thought that, yeah, he really was a scary little freak. Jesus. He'd had no idea.
"You don't have to act like it's a fate worse than death, you little prick," Chris said, while Dale and Dacey were on the phone telling lies about their hospital excursion. Now that he was basically over the shock, he felt fine. Except for his nose, which hurt when he talked. It wasn't broken, thank god, or Justin would have killed him. Except that would have amounted to suicide, Chris figured, so perhaps he wouldn't have, after all.
"Fuck you," Justopher said. "I think we both know who got the better end of the deal here."
"Fuck you, asshole," Chris said. "I'd rather be me than you any day."
"That's because you've never been me."
"FUCK!! YOU!!" Justopher screamed, and screamed, and screamed.
"Hey!' Chris shouted, and slapped him. "That's my voice you're wrecking, cunt, so leave off the histrionics."
Justopher spent the rest of the day refusing to do anything except curse Joey and curse Chris and curse Dale and curse Dacey, who just sat there and smiled politely. When he got sick of cursing, he kicked chairs and hit walls and threw vases.
"He has got a major bug up his ass about this," Joey said, a little defensively.
"It's not that bad being you," Lance promised, patting Chris' arm.
"Yeah," JC said reassuringly. "It's no big deal. He's got some adjustment issues to work through, that's all."
Chris jumped up and slapped his forehead. "Oh, god, I'm stupid." He ran into his room and came back with an armful of candy bars.
"Dude," he said to Justopher, who paused with a lamp in his hand, eyes glinting ferally. "You're fucking hypoglycemic, okay? You need to eat like five of these a day, or you turn into the raging psychobeast from hell."
"I'm hypoglycemic now?" Justopher said incredulously, lamp still poised for maximum damage. "On top of everything fucking else, I'm fucking h--"
Chris ducked under the flying lamp and wrestled Justopher to the floor. "Check it, turdboy, I'm bigger than you now!" Justopher screamed, and hit and kicked and screamed some more, but Chris just unwrapped a Mars bar and shoved it down his throat next time his mouth opened. There was choking, and more kicking, and muffled shrieks, but Chris was ruthless. When the Mars bar was gone, he force-fed Justopher a Hersheys, and looked at his watch, and sat on his chest and waited.
Dale, Dacey, Joey, JC and Lance looked at the wall-clock, and in the silence, it ticked loudly.
At one minute and forty seconds, Justopher started giggling. "Dude," he said, looking at Christin. "You are a fucking freak."
Chris rolled off him and wiped his hands on his pants. "Who? Me or you?"
"Him." He pointed at Christin and burst out laughing.
"Okay," Dale said, brushing off her hands as if she'd done something. "Now you just have to learn all of one anothers' vocals and choreography, and practice being one another in interviews, and perfect your autographs."
"Thanks, Dale," Lance said sweetly. "You've been a real help."
"You've both got food poisoning, for maybe a week. Make the most of it."
"Hahaha HA HA HA!" Justopher shrieked, dancing around the room. "I can go to clubs now and you can't! HA! HA! HAhahahaha--"
"He'll get used to it," Chris said, shaking his head.
"Used to what?" Lance said.
"The sugar rush."
They stared at him blankly.
Chris blinked, and looked at the giggling maniac doing a somersault over the table. "That doesn't seem even a little weird to you?"
Joey shrugged. "He looks just like you to me."
"I still don't understand the bet," Joey complained. It was three in the morning, and somehow the whole day had been spent running around like shell-shocked chickens in a three-ring circus, and getting nothing done.
"It's like the one on Seinfeld," JC said, yawning, "except instead of who can go longest without... you know, it's who can go longest without calling them the wrong name."
"Except we are calling them the wrong--"
"God. Dude!" Justopher said to Christin, dropping his sandwich.
Christin sat up like he'd been electrocuted. "Oh, fuck, yes. A thousand dollars?"
"Make it ten thousand."
They shook hands.
"What the fuck?" JC said.
Joey nodded approvingly. "Now that bet, I understand."