by Pet

I don't know if it's because he's the youngest, or never had an older brother, or some other hidden whacked-out reason that only Justin knows, but he's always been a little fixated on the rest of us. How we look. How we sing. Do you know how hard he's had to work to keep his voice that nice light tenor? I'll bet he's naturally much closer to a baritone, but he'll never let his voice drop. He sings for HOURS every day, working the top of his range, running scales over and over till he sounds just like he did when he was fifteen. Because me and Joey, we've got naturally high voices. And JC just has a motherfucker of a range, can sing anywhere on the scale, and our songs are written high, so that's where he mostly stays. Justin's gotta be right up there with us.

It's more noticeable with the looks, though. He goes through phases where he'll just lock on to one of us. It's been six years now, so he's had a chance to do it to each of us at least once.

When we were getting started and Lance met the peroxide bottle for the first time, Justin bitched and moaned and pitched a baby hissy fit until his curls went from 'sun-kissed blond' to 'albino, baby!' He liked that pale look Lance had. Wanted to look just like him. Followed him around, studying him, watching the way he walked and the tilt of his head in photos. It was kinda funny for the rest of us, but I think it freaked poor Lance out a little, mostly because Just was always TOUCHING him, running fingers through his hair or wrapping a big hand around his arm and just holding on. And Justin at fifteen was a pretty, pretty piece of boy, built like a model and all angelic curls and sweet blue eyes, and I have a feeling Lance was getting some urges he wasn't quite ready for, yet. Justin grew out of that sometime in Germany, though, and hasn't been back to Lance. Lance watches him sometimes, though, and I wonder if he's remembering.

It's been easier for JC, because he's known Justin for a while, and he's pretty indulgent. He hasn't really had too many defined 'looks', either, though when his hair was really short there for a while, Justin never let his get any longer. But that whole ghetto-fabulous look he had working for a while? Jayce's fault. He went through, like, a five-minute period of big-ass jeans and gold chains and "yo, bitch,' and Justin grabbed onto it like a pit bull, and liked it so much he kept it going a lot longer than JC ever did. I almost smacked the spaz for that one. Reminded him how impressionable Justin is, and told him to watch himself in the future. He shrugged, and started flaming so hard even JUSTIN wouldn't go there. I mean. Coats with big fur collars? Naked-lady pants? Skintight glittery shit? Juju might idol-worship, but he does have SOME taste.

The Joey-phases are a bit more subtle. Joe's your basic jeans-and-t-shirt guy, which dismays wardrobe every time they have to drag him kicking and screaming into shiny pants and pretty-pretty shirts. So when Justin's being Joey, he usually looks like a normal kid. It's kind of a relief, actually. And he starts ACTING like Joey, hugging everyone and smiling a lot and toning down the divatude. We all like the Joey-phases. Joey, too, since he never had a LITTLE brother, and getting a whole lot of Justin-attention makes him feel pretty good.

Me? I only had one phase, I think, though it's lasted a while. Yeah, the bandanas. I don't know how it happened, really. We were back from Europe, just kind of kicking around Orlando, wondering what was next for us and where we were supposed to go from there. We spent a lot of time playing pool in Joey's parents' basement, because Lance and Justin couldn't go to bars, and Joe was pissy because he was used to being able to walk in anywhere and get served overseas, so our options were limited. JC and I were the only ones who were any good at it, but Lance liked it a lot, and Joe would try the most insane shots and fail and crack us all up. Almost every night for months.

Justin hated it. Hated, HATES, anything he's not good at. So he'd distract himself different ways, begging us to stop with the pool and come dance with him, or playing computer games. And one night, he showed up in a bandana and goggles, just like mine.

Now, back then I had some crazy-ass hair. I pretty much never took my bandana off, cause if I did, I wouldn't have been able to see. Not sure what I was thinking, there. But the goggles were just for fun, and I got 'em prescription so I could see better. I think it was an OK look.

On Justin, though? Oh mother.

JC just stared, mouth open, and watched as Ju went all defensive, shifting around like he'd been caught doing something bad.

"WHAT?" He finally broke.

" look like a freak!" As if Jayce was one to talk, but Justin turned red. Joey was howling with laughter, and Lance had that bemused face on, and I didn't know what to do.

"Chris?" He turned that pout on me, and I was pretty much done for. He was cute. It was my look, and it wasn't a good one for him, but he was just too cute.

"I think you look fine, Justin. C'mere, I'll show you how to bank the 3-ball in."

And he came over to me, and rested against my back, and made faces at JC over my shoulder. He was so warm, and lean, and hard. And cuddly. And WAY too young for me, as I told myself firmly about a hundred times that night, when he was holding me around my waist and giggling, when he curled into my lap, when he laughed at every joke I made. Flirting like there was no tomorrow. Did I mention the cuteness?

The goggles were never seen again, but the bandanas became a permanent fixture. Long hair, short hair, no hair, he's worn them ever since. Justin's permanent Chris phase. I'll have to tease him about that, when he wakes up slow and sleek and still glowing from last night, all wrapped around me like he likes to sleep. Run my hand over that fuzz he has on his head, now, and remind him that he doesn't NEED them any more. And he'll smile, like he does, and kiss me with that gorgeous mouth, and tell me that he LOVES his bandanas, and that he's never getting rid of them.

And that's good enough for me.

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