Years ago, before the group, even, Chris and Joey were sitting in an auditorium at Universal, shivering a little in the over-airconditioned room. It was some sort of mandatory sensitivity training, and Chris was bored. Turning to his friend, he ran his hand down Joey's arm. “Christ!” he whispered, recoiling. “You're burning up.”
Joey looked down and smiled. “Nah.” He put a hand to his own forehead. “Nah,” he repeated, “I'm always warm. Like five degrees more than the room.”
Chris filed that fact away with a million other useless facts about Joey: Joey was always warm, he swam like a fish, he cried during the last ten minutes of “The Wizard of Oz.” Joey liked cheerful people, and he would do anything to make his friends happy. Chris was glad to find, as he was putting the group together, that Joey also had a wonderful voice.
The group started touring – in vans, mainly, performing at high schools and county fairs – in the summertime, and Joey complained loudly about the heat. In December, they went to Stockholm to record “I Want You Back,” and suddenly the guys – Chris and Justin and JC and Lance – wanted to cuddle with Joey, who was always warm.
They always shared rooms in the early days: Lance and Justin shared rooms with their mothers, while the other guys would crowd into two beds. It was a mixed blessing to share with Joey: he was fun to sleep with, but he snored like a bandsaw.
Eventually, Lou allowed them to double up, so no one had to share a bed any more. Even so, the others ended up, once or twice a week, draped over Joey on a twin bed. It was just so easy: watching some crummy Hong Kong action movie, dubbed into incomprehensible German, Chris would fall asleep in Joey's arms, and Joey let him snuggle there, all night if necessary.
Sometimes, as Chris drowsed beside Joey, Joey would kiss him on the cheek. It was comforting and sweet. Once, Chris turned to ask a question as Joey's lips brushed his jaw, and afterwards they often kissed, just brief little pecks on the lips, before turning in for the night.
JC was always cold in Germany. On the bus he curled into Joey's arms: more than the others, he used Joey as a human blanket. Late one night in Budapest, he lifted his head from Joey's chest and kissed him on the lips, and they lay there, lazily caressing one another, until JC slid down Joey and unzipped his jeans.
Joey liked blowjobs, and JC certainly liked to give them, but after they came home from Europe JC would just fall asleep in Joey's lap, Joey's fingers massaging his scalp.
Joey and Lance were opposites who ended up as best friends. They laughed together at Joey's terrible puns and Lance's shy little jokes; when Lance was homesick, or frustrated after a rehearsal, he would seek out Joey's comforting arms. When he came out, it was to Joey – terminally straight Joey – who had plenty of useful advice about seducing JC.
A few days later, Lance caught Joey beating off on the bus. One thing led to another, and they ended up crushed together in a bunk. Afterwards, Lance snuggled into Joey, murmuring, “Thanks, man, that was nice.”
When Justin was drunk, he had a tendency to flirt with the guys. They all put up with it – mainly because Justin could be a pest if denied – but he preferred Joey to the others. He liked to see how close he could fly to the candle without getting burned: it was the sort of game Justin liked to play. On those nights, after a concert, perhaps, Justin would hunt Joey, teasing him until Joey grabbed him and threw him on the couch. If Joey got a kiss, with tongue, he won; usually it was a draw, and after Justin fell asleep Joey would head out to get himself laid.
* * *
JC was talking about blowjobs, and Chris was not really listening. “What was that?”
“You were saying…? About Joey?”
“Oh. Just that you should ask him how he liked my blowjobs.”
“OK, Jace. I sure will.”
* * *
Chris found Lance sitting on the balcony, looking out over the Hollywood Hills. “Hey.”
Lance looked up and smiled. “'Zup, Fuboy.”
“Umm. I'm sorry to interrupt—“
“What is it?”
“I don't know how to say it. Uhh. Have you and Joey, you know, ever…?”
“Ever…?” Lance prompted, after a moment.
Chris made a helpless gesture and Lance nodded, slowly. “We've … made out, is all. I'm sure… Well, you know Joey. He likes to feel good, and…”
“OK, OK, I get it. Thanks.”
Lance looked back at the setting sun before continuing, blushing: “You won't tell JC?”
* * *
The thing was, Chris put out his own heat. It was different from Joey's, and it wasn't really about temperature: he was like a trick candle, all perpetual sizzle. After talking with JC and Lance, nothing really changed, although he watched Joey, head tilted to the side, appraising.
Joey felt it. Like a flower, he bent a little toward Chris' warmth. Sometimes, turning quickly, he caught Chris' hooded glance, and smiled.
They were back on tour when Chris asked Joey if he wanted to watch “Road Warrior” again. “Come here,” he said, pulling Joey onto his bed. Joey spent the film resting comfortably in Chris' arms. “Mmm,” he breathed, as the credits rolled, and Chris blew softly on Joey's ear.
Joey glanced at him, eyes already half closed.
“You might've told me.”
Joey's eyebrows arched, and he melted into Chris. “Mmm. Should've.”
* * *
In the morning, when it was still dark, Joey stirred and woke Chris. They were under the covers, and the TV and lights were off: at some point, Joey had put them both to bed, crawling back into Chris' embrace. “Hey,” Joey whispered, rolling over. He wrapped his arms around Chris' chest, kissing his friend's neck. “Sorry in advance for the morning breath,” he said, before his tongue parted Chris' lips, and for a long moment they explored one another's mouths.
Both men were hard, and Joey started rubbing his crotch against Chris' erection. “Oh, God,” Chris moaned, nibbling on Joey's lower lip.
“Hold on,” Joey rasped, surging against Chris. He pulled, clumsily, at Chris' tee-shirt and boxers, and when both men were naked they subsided back into each other. Chris' hands slid down to cup Joey's ass, and their bodies arched together, cocks rubbing, thrusting against the other's hot flesh. “…wanted this,” Joey moaned. “Always.” “…love you.”
“…love you, Joey,” Chris answered, nearing his climax. “…love you so much.”
When they came, almost simultaneously, chests flooded with a sticky warmth, Chris clung to Joey, murmuring “…so long, oh, God, so long.”
* * *
Now, when they watch a movie on the bus, Chris sprawls across the couch, Joey wrapped in his arms. Lance will usually curl up beside Joey, his head resting on Joey's thigh. Justin leans against Chris, a hand thrown along the couch to play with Joey's hair, while JC sits on the floor below Lance, head lolling back against his lover.
When JC and Lance fight, Lance will seek out Joey. JC prefers to confide in Chris. Justin has stopped teasing Joey when drunk, because Chris doesn't like it, and the guys have learned not to antagonize Chris.
Still, when it's cold outside, the others turn to Joey and Chris, like cats following the sun from room to room, drawn by their warmth.