Diamonds Are A Boy's Best Friend
As soon as he could talk his mother into it, Justin had his ears pierced. Chris and Joey had piercings, innocuous ones for earrings, mainly, although Joey was talking about a brow pierce, and Justin was sure that would happen soon enough.
It was funny, he sometimes thought, being best friends with the other guys in the group. There was no question that he was a full partner: Chris had come to him, first, and he had brought in JC and found Lance. In the beginning, of course, everything seemed a bit like make-believe. He had the Mickey Mouse Club for comparison, and somehow rehearsing at midnight in a warehouse in the suburbs seemed like a giant step backwards.
He was the youngest, of course. He carried himself like an adult, but the others - 'Thank God!' he often thought - treated him as their kid brother. One minute they would be doing an interview with the Hamburg morning newspaper, politely deferring to Justin, the breakout kid; the next, they would TP his bunk, or douse him with cherry soda, or give him a killer wedgie.
He loved the guys: he did. Chris was a scream, a bouncing puppy who snuffled against his neck. Joey's happy laughter made his skin flush. JC was his oldest friend, the one whose raised eyebrow and crooked smile spoke volumes. And Lance: Lance was just so sweet Justin wanted to eat him up.
So friendship spilled over into love, and Justin got his ears pierced.
* * *
For his eighteenth birthday, Joey bought Justin a pair of diamond studs. They glittered in the small box against a field of baby blue velvet, and Justin's eyes filled. "Oh, Joey," he sighed. "They're beautiful. Oh, man, I love them!"
Joey hugged his friend, and Justin's head dropped against Joey's shoulder. At last, Justin pulled away to look Joey in the eye. "You know," he said, softly, "I'm legal now."
And he blushed.
* * *
Joey watched Justin sleeping on the bus. These days, Justin wore the earrings everywhere. Often, interviewers asked if he had bought them himself, or were they a gift from someone special? "Very special," he would answer, eyes dancing. Joey wondered if the others speculated about their relationship: he knew he wondered himself. One minute, Justin would wrestle him, folding him in his arms; the next, he stalked around with a girl. Often, these days, it was Britney, and Joey sometimes felt a little tug of jealousy when he saw them. It wasn't as if he were exactly celibate, himself, but watching Justin, sleeping with his mouth agape against the picture window, made Joey's stomach clench.
He was still staring when Justin awoke with a start. "Hey, Joe," he breathed, stretching. Justin waited for a reply, smiling as Joey's face brightened. "'You up for a game?"
"Sure," Joey answered, pushing off the sofa with his fists.
"I wasn't thinking of a video game," Justin continued, as Joey sat down across the table.
"No. We could play 'Twenty Questions.'"
"Oh." Joey thought for a moment. "OK."
"OK, then." Justin closed his eyes; when they fluttered open again, Joey could see himself reflected in their clear blue depths. "You start."
"Ahh. Is it an animal?"
"You could say that. Yes."
"Is it bigger than a bread box?"
"Hmm. Gimme a hint."
"Jesus, Joey, give it more of a try than that, would you?"
"Just a little-widdle hint."
"I like it."
"That's a hint?"
"Take it or leave it."
"OK." His eyes scanned the kitchen. "Is it ... cereal? Count Chocula?"
"Ooh, gross. I'm not even... No."
"Is it on the bus?"
"Hmm. That narrows it down. Yep."
"Is it in this room?"
"Do I like it?"
"Depends. But I guess I would have to say 'yes.'"
"The SI Swimsuit Edition?"
"Is that bigger than a bread box?"
Joey's eyes came to rest on Justin's necklace. "I suck at this."
Justin smirked. "I'll give you another hint."
"I love it."
Something about the way he said it made Joey tingle, as though Justin's fingers were running, tantalizing, over his skin. "Oh. It's bigger than a bread box, and you love it."
"Yeah. You know, you would never make it in the CIA. It's an animal, too."
"Is it the sort of thing that you might take to bed with you?"
Justin's eyes widened. "Yeah, you could say that."
"Like ... a pillow, or a teddy bear?"
Justin giggled. "Something along those lines."
"Is this a sex game, Justin? Are we playing some weird seduction game?"
"Joey." Justin sounded hurt. "This is just 'Twenty Questions.' It's nothing more than that."
"Are you coming on to me?"
Justin smiled. "It's just a game, Joey."
"It isn't, you know," Joey said as he stood. "I don't wanna play anymore."
He took a step away. Justin leaned forward and grabbed Joey's hand, holding him in place.
"It isn't, Joey. It's not a game."
Joey stooped to kiss Justin's lips. "I didn't think so."
* * *
Coming out to the other guys took some time, even though Joey and Justin were sure the others would be fine with it. It was a big step to take, saying that they were together.
As expected, everyone accepted it, and Britney even volunteered to act as Justin's official girlfriend. It became commonplace to see Justin and Britney together, often with Lance and Joey: they were just one big happy family.
Just before the tour started, Justin bought Joey a pair of diamond earrings:
"It's sort of a late Valentine's present."
"They're beautiful. I'm gonna wear them all the time."
Half the time, Joey is wearing Justin's earrings, because nowadays they share everything, including the contents of their jewelry boxes.