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The Boyband Invasion

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JC's not exactly sure how his house suddenly became the set for the summer of boyband love, but he's strongly considering blaming the entire thing on Nick Carter, or possibly Nick's mother. Although if Jane Carter knew she was responsible for acts of depraved sodomy, she might actually have a real nervous breakdown.

But really, the whole thing is Chris's fault. JC just doesn't like giving him credit.

Earlier, much earlier

If there was one thing being on MMC had taught JC, it was about the life of a celebrity or, at least, a "famous person who is popular with pre-adolescent and teenage girls, who are very prone to hysterics and psychosis." Which is why, when JC's home phone rings and the caller ID display says "blocked", JC looks at the receiver with some trepidation, weighing his options, and wondering how bad the consequences of answering could be. He really doesn't want to have to change his number. Again. He still wishes he knew how fans (and, okay, it is nice to still have fans, just maybe not the scarily-obsessed ones?) get hold of his personal information.

The last number change was prompted by this girl who screamed for ten solid seconds about how much she loved him and adored him and could she be his live-in cleaning lady or housekeeper or whatever, and then it turned out it was a courtesy call and something about a survey. JC was still half-deaf from declarations of love, and hung up in the middle of her spiel.

The landline stops ringing, and after a short, blissful silence the tinny sounds of 'La Cucaracha' fill the air. JC sighs and goes on a hunt for his cell phone. This time, caller ID isn't keeping secrets, and reveals he missed a call from Chris, so JC hits 'talk,' wondering what Chris wants. He doesn't call often; none of them does anymore, except for Justin (when they're working together, but mostly, to bitch about his popularity), and Lance, who's finally enjoying the freedom coming out afforded him, and Joey, who likes getting JC's opinions on his house, even though he doesn't listen, since even JC knows that a whole room devoted to Superman is tacky, not to mention creepy. So, okay, Chris doesn't call much, nowadays.

"Yo, Chasez! How're you doing?" Chris sounds harried and out of breath.

"Chris, hey. What's up?"

More huffing and puffing on Chris's end, a muted, bitten-off curse, and a grunt. JC wonders if maybe he called back at a bad time. Except that Chris called him first, so really, Chris shouldn't sound like he's inconvenienced and distracted, that's JC's prerogative. And that word makes JC think of the song - the Bobby Brown version, not Britney's - and before he knows it, he's missed half a conversation, if Chris has been talking while JC's mind was wandering.

"JC, heads up," Chris says, and JC looks up automatically, cursing himself almost immediately for falling for it yet again. On the bright side, he does realize that one of his favourite bracelets has somehow found its way to the top shelf of his bookcase, and that's a rather pleasant discovery; he's been missing it for a few weeks now.

"No, seriously, just wanted to let you know that I'll be there in an hour or so," Chris says, and then, "Oh, fuck. JC, I gotta go, my bags are ditching me."

"No, Chris, wait. Be where?" JC asks plaintively.

"JC, keep up," Chris admonishes sternly. "Your place. Bye."

With that, Chris hangs up, leaving JC staring dumbly at the phone in his hand, reaching up for his no-longer-missing silver bracelet with the other.

Chris. In his house. In an hour, or however long it would take him to get through LA traffic from the airport. JC rubs his forehead. An hour isn't nearly enough time to Chris-proof his house. JC drops his cell phone onto the coffee table and starts on the long task of pulling all the most expensive bottles out of his wet bar, hiding his double-stuf Oreos on the top shelves that Chris can't reach, and putting away anything that has the potential to in any way, shape or form do irrevocable damage via cutting, slashing, poking, tearing, and/or scratching - Chris gets bored easily.

The doorbell rings forty-five minutes later. Incredulous, JC heads for the door, wondering how much Chris paid the cabbie to drive faster than a caffeinated New Yorker.

When JC opens the door, he stops and stares. It isn't Chris. Close - crazy hair, curling wildly below the baseball cap, arms covered with tattoos, silver earrings glinting in his ears, dressed in black from head to toe - but it's definitely not Chris. Looking really good though, healthy and tan and muscly, and when was the last time JC saw him? Was he always this hot or is this a new development?

"AJ? Hi?"

"Hey, JC. Can I crash with you for a few days?"

JC blinks. It isn't an unreasonable request. If, say, this were Joey. Or Lance. Or Justin. Or anyone else JC keeps in regular contact with and has a deep and far-reaching history of mutual friendliness, or something. JC's face must express his surprise, because AJ grins widely, a little on the sharky side as always, picks up the duffel at his feet, and pushes past JC into the house.

"Uh, coffee? Tea? Juice?" JC asks inanely, padding into the kitchen to put the kettle on. AJ drops his bag onto the tiled floor by the entrance and follows. Is it okay to drink in AJ's presence, JC wonders, or is that bad form for pseudo-friends of alcoholics? But seriously, somehow the situation just calls for a shot of something strong.

A few minutes later, sitting at the kitchen island, staring into twin mugs of steaming coffee - entirely insane, considering it's almost a hundred degrees outside (though hey, his air conditioning works wonders; Santa Claus would feel right at home in JC's house) - JC clears this throat, floundering for the most polite and subtle way to ask AJ what the hell he's doing here.

AJ beats him to the punch, though.

"So, Nick's doing this crazy-ass reality thing with Aaron and the girls, right? And instead of doing it in Florida, because it's too close to their parents or whatever, they're doing it here. Kevin's out of the band and asked to not be bothered. And I know you don't know Kevin that well, but when he asks not to be bothered... One word for you: eyebrows."

AJ stops babbling to take a sip of his coffee, and grimaces, looking around. "This," he says, pointing at the mug, "needs cream. And sugar. Lots of sugar. Did you, like, brew a pound of coffee for two cups, or something?" JC thinks that tomorrow, he's totally getting that Senseo machine, and then everyone can stop mocking his coffee, thank you very much.

JC gets up to find the sugar, and AJ ditches his coffee to fiddle with his rings, occasionally drumming his nails on the marble counter, as he picks up the story. "Brian's in Georgia with his family. Which leaves me and Howie, the last fellas standing. And if you were me, would you want to hang out with Nick and his crazy-ass siblings? Seriously?"

JC has never really considered hanging out with Nick's siblings. The thought of there being four more Carter offspring, in addition to Nick, is scary enough all by itself. Though Aaron isn't too bad, and actually behaved himself at last year's Challenge, even if he did drink like an underage fish. Still, though...

"But AJ, what do you have to do with any of it?" JC places the sugar bowl and a small carton of soy creamer in front of AJ, pointedly ignoring the raised eyebrow and dark look thrown at the carton. Soy is good for you and besides, JC heard somewhere that animals shouldn't drink milk of other animals. Plus, soy has proteins and stuff. And soy creamer doesn't curdle in coffee, unlike soy milk.

AJ grabs the sugar, dumping two spoonfuls into his coffee and, just as he opens his mouth to answer, the doorbell rings.

Damnit. JC had completely forgotten about Chris.

JC opens the door and Chris shoulders past him, smacking JC in the thigh with his suitcase and almost taking his nose off with the golf clubs. He drops his laptop case on JC's foot, and is squashing JC in a crushing hug before JC has a chance to recover from the multiple assaults, or even open his mouth.

Just as suddenly, JC is released and -

"McLean!" Chris crows, darting into the kitchen.

One would think that AJ, being friends - not to mention in a boyband - with Nick and Brian, would get used to being pounced on by cracked-out monkeys, but the yelp he lets out when Chris launches himself on him is every bit as surprised as JC's own squeak earlier. JC covers his face with his hands, afraid to look into the kitchen. Knowing Chris, there might be biting involved, or weapons of some sort. Limbs could be lost, and JC kind of likes AJ with all his parts intact. Well. Some of the tattoos are maybe a little much, but not at the expense of an entire arm.

When the sounds of a scuffle die down, JC cautiously peeks from behind his fingers, wondering if he needs to call 911 or just the coroner's office. AJ's sprawled on the floor with Chris seated on his stomach, and both are gesticulating wildly. And possibly discussing their tattoos. Or maybe their hair. Or maybe life on Mars; it's hard to tell with all the hand-flapping and the gesticulating. Weirdos.

JC shakes his head and trudges upstairs to prepare another guest room. It's going to be a long... Wait, they didn't say how long they were staying. JC moans and heads to the closet for a set of bed linens.

***

If there was one thing being in *NSync had taught JC, it was - well, it was to check under the room service cart before the hotel staff left the room, but that's not so useful right now. One other thing he'd learned was, when in trouble, call Joey. Which he does while making the bed in the guest room, after opening up the drapes and cranking up the air conditioner. Joey doesn't answer, so JC leaves a message after the beep.

"Hey, cat. So, Chris just showed up out of the blue, and I'm kind of scared to have him here, even though yes, I did have time to Chris-proof the house. Somewhat. I hope. Anyway, I could really use your help, so call me back ASAP. Love to your girls, bye."

Then he hangs up and dials Lance.

Lance's phone rings for so long that JC wonders if Lance has figured out how to turn off voicemail and if so, if he can be persuaded to teach JC. When Lance finally picks up, he sounds breathless, and JC feels a tiny pang of guilt for distracting Lance from... whatever. A pang that disappears almost immediately because really, why should it be just JC's problem that he's been besieged by members of two boybands at once? Chris stopped being JC's problem the minute they broke up - that's JC's story, and he's sticking to it. Even though they continued being friends and maybe even hooking up from time to time, and JC was second oldest, so he tried to keep Chris from driving everyone nuts. Well, it was Justin's job, theoretically, but Justin didn't hinder Chris as much as abetted him.

"Hey, JC," Lance rumbles, taking two deep breaths to stop panting, just like Robin had taught them.

"I need your help. Chris is here, and AJ showed up, and you need to come and take one of them away because together, they'll burn my house to the ground and possibly dance on the remains," JC says in a rush, bringing his hand up to his mouth to nibble on his thumbnail, his manicurist be damned.

"JC? What? No... I mean, Reichen and... I can't, you know? Like... oh shit, hang on." Lance sounds frazzled. There is a moment of dead air, like Lance put his phone on 'mute,' and then Lance is back, sounding very sad and apologetic, but firm.

"I'm sorry, JC. I can't. I just... Please? I'm sorry."

"What are you doing that you can't, you fucker? All you do is travel around the country with your pretty boyfriend, and show up at club openings. You aren't busy at all."

Lance says frostily, "What? I'm sorry, I think I just heard you denigrate my activities. Sorry, JC, I have to go screw my pretty boyfriend now, and there's a very important club opening tonight, so next time you want my help, maybe be a little nicer to me about it."

And then he hangs up. What a bitch.

He needs Joey. He really needs Joey. Joey can make it all go away, JC is sure of it. Sadly, after several more calls and voicemail messages of increasing frustration and desperation, Joey still doesn't realise he is urgently needed and thus, continues not being available, and not picking up. Fucker.

It doesn't occur to JC to call Justin, but when Justin calls not two minutes after JC finishes leaving Joey yet another message, he decides to take it as a sign. Except that Justin is babbling excitedly about this riff he's thought up for Until Yesterday, and some clips of new songs he wants JC to listen to. Normally, JC would be all over that, but normally, JC's house isn't ground zero for The Boyband Invasion.

Which is what he tells Justin. Or, what he means to tell Justin, and doesn't, not even to ask for help, because why bother? It's Justin. Instead, he just says, "Justin, hey. Now isn't a good time for me, you know? I'll talk to you later, okay?" and hangs up before Justin has a chance to say anything.

***

If there was one thing being with Chris had taught JC, it was how to deal with a constantly-hyper mental twelve-year-old with the attention span of a gnat; knowledge that, JC is certain, will be useful sometime in the future, if only should his siblings decide to procreate. It also taught him patience. Knowing not to expect help from Lance's corner, and with Joey being stubbornly unavailable (by now, JC is pretty damn sure Joey's screening him), JC swallows a whimper, squares his shoulders, and marches downstairs.

Chris and AJ have assumed more conventional positions by now, sitting by the island, drinking coffee (Chris having stolen JC's, of course, the fucker) and discussing Chris's decision to be in the Man Band, the thought of which alone is enough to give JC a migraine and raise his blood pressure to alarming levels.

Mentally sweeping his worries - and Chris's catastrophic life decisions - aside, JC pulls up another stool and plops down, retrieving his mug from Chris's hand - like Chris needs more stimulants - and calmly taking a sip.

Looking expectantly first at AJ, then at Chris, he says, "Why are you here? Start talking now, or go check into the Beverly Hilton or whatever." After a pause, he adds, "Though, okay, maybe not the Hilton, because Paris is a skanky ho, and you probably don't want to finance her self-destructive party-girl habits. Plus, she totally cheated on Nick with that short guy from that WB show, and that's not cool at all."

AJ noisily gulps down another swallow of coffee and says, "Nick wants me to be on camera. Promote the recording of our next, Kevin-less album, blah blah. I said I'll do it once; he started making noises about maybe doing it more. And I feel bad for the guy, having to share his house with those vultures, but not that bad. And he knows where I live, so." AJ glances at JC, his eyes hopeful, like he can't afford the hotel or whatever, and then swings his attention to Chris, indicating with his chin that it's his turn now.

Chris shrugs. "Florida is boring, my friends are boring, and I thought, hey, JC is in LA, he loves me, he'll entertain me."

JC can't help protesting, "Hey, my obligations toward you ended the day I went on rebound from you. So you can ju-"

Chris cuts him off. "You're my personal entertainment just by way of your existence."

AJ chuckles, and JC glares at Chris, but Chris just steals the coffee back, finishing it off in several loud, slurping gulps.

***

If there is one thing being in the house with Chris and AJ teaches JC, it's something about them as housemates. AJ is quiet and respectful; he does his own thing, tries not to be underfoot too much, and on occasion, cooks meals, depending on whether he's the first person up in the morning or the first person back in the evening. JC tries telling him that he doesn't have to, but AJ ignores him, which is a good thing, since a) AJ loves cooking and b) he's good enough at it that JC enjoys the final outcome, so everybody totally wins, in the end.

Chris, on the other hand, is every bit as obnoxious as JC remembers (and absolutely doesn't miss). He leaves dirty dishes in the sink and plays Halo and XBox in the living room despite a perfectly good TV in his room. He burns toast at three in the morning, setting off fire alarms that he can't reach up to turn off, waking everyone up and making JC run to get the step-stool. He leaves his shoes in the middle of the hallway and his wet towels on the bedroom floor. JC's cleaning lady keeps giving JC disapproving looks, so JC starts slipping extra money into the envelope for her and hiding out in the studio when she comes around.

Justin keeps calling, each day hoping that will be the day when it's a good time to talk to JC about his music, his album, his songs, and the rejuvenating effect of the writing process. Three days into it, JC snaps.

"Justin. Yes, it's fucking fantastic you're writing again. The melodies are lovely, and no, it's still not a good time. You know why? Because your former best friend has been crashing here forever, driving me insane, and nobody wants to help me!" And yeah, maybe he is screeching by the end, but it's good to get some release from frustration.

Justin says, all earnest and sincere, "Oh hey. Oh hey, JC. I didn't know; I'm sorry. But I can't... I can't help you." He takes a deep breath. "Chris and I, we developed a very unhealthy, codependent bond, which caused me much mental anguish and duress when we had to part ways, so I had to sever all relations with him, and am now trying to live one day at a time, perfectly independently, and am slowly building an adult, functional relationship with Cam."

Wow, Justin's shrink is good.

"You suck," JC says moodily. "And also? So do your lyrics. And the title of that song, the tinkly, sort of jingly one, is idiotic."

Sadly, it's impossible to slam cordless phones down with much effect, so JC thumbs the 'off' button and throws the receiver on the floor. Carefully, because he'd hate to have to buy a new phone. Again.

His friends all suck. A lot. JC stomps down the stairs into his studio, locks the door behind him, and plays video games until he's sure he can safely go to his bedroom and not be bothered by anyone.

When he does get upstairs, though, he realises that some idiot (well, Chris) has decided that JC's bedroom makes a perfect furniture storage room. JC doesn't even want to think about how Chris managed to move all the living room, dining room, and spare bedroom furniture all into his bedroom. What he does know is that he can barely enter the room and, unless he flies, there's no way he can reach the bed. And man, if he could fly, he'd get a house built someplace you can only access by flying and that Chris wouldn't ever bother with, because of his phobia and all.

JC turns around, walks down the hall, and bangs on Chris's door. He waits a moment before pounding his fist on the door again, then twists the handle and opens the door. Chris is in bed, rubbing his eyes sleepily, and squinting in JC's direction.

"Kirkpatrick, what did you do?"

"I was bored?" Chris asks.

"You want to try that again?" JC inquires menacingly.

"Well, you really suck as an interior decorator, so I decided to lend you a hand in redoing the rooms. You'll see, it'll be so much better when I'm done."

"Oh, I doubt that, so much!" JC moans. "In the meantime, where am I supposed to sleep?"

"With AJ!" Chris suggests brightly. "He's tiny, all alone in that king-sized bed. You'll totally fit."

"Uh-huh." JC nods. "You're sleeping downstairs, possibly on the floor. I'm taking your bed." JC reaches down and lifts the edge of the mattress, rolling Chris off the bed. As soon as he hears the thump!, he climbs into bed, wraps himself in Chris-warmed comforter, and is asleep in seconds. In the morning, it occurs to him to wonder why Chris tried sending him to AJ's bed, but then he realises that Chris burnt two - two! - of JC's (favourite, personally sent over by Emeril) frying pans, and JC's head gets filled only with thoughts of planning Chris's impending demise.

A couple of days later, most of the furniture is (mostly) back in place, and JC breathes a sigh of relief. His respite lasts only until evening, however, when he gets home from running a few errands and sees the dining room set up for a date, complete with candles, crystal goblets, mood lighting, and a bottle of something chilling in the ice bucket. On second thought, actually, the place looks more like a scene from a porno that maybe involves a brothel, and it smells like someone's been taking candle advice from Justin.

Baffled, JC tries to remember if he'd spazzed on asking someone over, but no, he wouldn't have, not with house guests. Chris would've, though, so JC marches upstairs, ready to give him a stern talking to, only to find Chris's room deserted.

The front door opens, and AJ calls out a hello. JC goes to greet him.

"Hey. I'm sorry, do you want me to leave? Do you have a date, or something?" AJ asks.

"Well. No. I came home, and this was all set up. I thought maybe you or Chris...?"

"Oh god, no, JC, I wouldn't, not in your house!" AJ's eyes are huge behind his glasses, aghast at the idea. He focuses on something behind JC and asks, "What's that?"

'That' turns out to be a note from Chris: Enjoy a Chris-free evening, gents! Mwahaha! They do; while Chris lacks even the most rudimentary cooking skills, he can order take-out like a champ.

The bottle turns out to be sparkling apple cider, AJ turns out to be a good sport about the pseudo-date, and the candles turn out to be spiked with some hallucinogenic smoke-producing weeds or something, because AJ looks so hot, he's smouldering. And he has really nice arms that JC wants to examine really closely for, you know, research purposes. But AJ is definitely hot.

AJ doesn't mind JC's ramblings and, in fact, doesn't have any trouble following JC's convoluted thought processes and frequent off-topic tangents. They have molten lava cake for dessert and later, when AJ helps JC clear the table and says he had a nice evening, something wobbles in the pit of JC's stomach.

***

Late one afternoon, JC comes up to take a short break from the studio and sits down in the living room to leaf through the paper, only to he hear crunching underneath him. Getting up and turning around to glare at the couch, he realises he's just squashed a bag of Doritos stuffed between the cushions. An open bag. His white leather cushions.

"Oh, Chris is so dead," he growls, then jumps with surprise when a voice answers him, "You need help planning his demise?"

JC looks around and finally notices Chucks-clad feet sticking out from behind the couch. Further investigation reveals AJ sitting on the floor with his back leaning on the side of the couch, reading a book, black-framed glasses perched on his nose. AJ, JC decides, should always wear glasses. He looks really nice in them.

AJ looks up when JC pokes his thigh with his bare toes, and smiles. Pretty smile, pretty, long-lashed eyes behind the glasses. Damn.

"You know Chris only does it to get a rise out of you," AJ says.

JC crosses his ankles and sits down on the floor next to AJ. "I know. Sometimes, I swear, it doesn't even occur to him it's just nasty, and that he's too old for that shit."

AJ laughs and bumps his shoulder against JC's. "Chris won't ever be too old for this shit."

JC nods and lets his gaze wander, mindlessly settling on the ornate glass doors of his wet bar. "I'm going to kill him," he says matter-of-factly, when he sees what Chris has done to the contents.

It's just as well that JC had removed and hidden all the fancy, expensive, special-occasion liquor from the cabinet; of the stuff he left behind, most is gone. The Patrón now has only about two fingers worth of tequila in it, as does the bottle of Wild Turkey, and the three bottles of Lance-recommended imported Russian vodka, now completely empty, are sporting bright-yellow smiley-face stickers on their labels. Yup, JC's going to kill Chris. Slowly and painfully. Like, maybe with a plastic spoon. Or, 'sporked to death' has a nice sound to it, as well.

JC grunts with frustration and, in his peripheral vision, sees AJ follow his gaze.

"I like the stickers; they're a nice touch. Bright and cheerful," AJ says blandly. JC makes a face at him, and goes off in search of his phone to order dinner. He almost, spitefully, doesn't ask AJ if he wants anything, but his mom raised him better than that. After dinner, JC disappears down into his studio and doesn't come out till the wee hours of the morning.

Which is when Chris gets back from wherever it is he's been, stumbling through the door, though not, it seems, particularly drunk. JC comes up to him, poking him in the chest, and says bitterly, "You drank all my liquor. Even my special Lance-endorsed vodka."

Chris pats him on the shoulder. "I'll buy you new stuff. Or, hell, you can buy you new stuff. But I'm just helping you, you know," Chris feebly flaps one hand, "it's not healthy for AJ to be in such close proximity to that much booze. A man's got only so much will power."

JC doesn't see how his liquor cabinet is really about AJ at all, but it's still a valid point. But Chris isn't done. "I mean, how can you woo a man if you don't pay attention to this stuff?"

Woo? JC blinks in confusion. "Who says I'm wooing AJ? Who says I want to?"

"Well," Chris points out reasonably, "should you want to, there'd be nothing stopping you, because you won't be scaring him off with your full liquor cabinet. Good night." And with those parting words of wisdom, Chris turns around and heads upstairs to his room.

After a minute's consideration, JC follows him, finding Chris in his bathroom brushing his teeth. He's wearing only his boxers, so when JC enters the bathroom and leans against the doorway, Chris holds his toothbrush in his mouth and pretends to cover his crotch with both hands.

JC just rolls his eyes at him. "Save it, Kirkpatrick. Ain't nothing there I haven't seen." He pauses. "Unless, of course, there's something you haven't been telling me."

That, of course, prompts Chris to put his hands on his hips, lowering the waistband of the boxers until he's barely covered up, and turn around, waggling his ass in JC's direction.

"Chris. Seriously. No, cut it out," he says, when Chris doesn't stop with his overly-dramatic gyrating. "What's this about wooing AJ?"

"I've seen you look," Chris declares, pressing one palm to his chest and batting his eyelashes farcically.

"Yeah, but. Chris. I want to fuck him, not woo him. Also, with you two in the house, I can't bring anyone home, so yeah, I look. You know how long it's been since I'd gotten laid?"

Chris spits and rinses, then comes up to JC and wraps his arms around JC's neck. "Are you asking, sugar? Because, you know, if you want..." Chris trails off, just as one hand starts sliding suggestively down JC's chest.

JC pushes him off, "Oh no, nope. You don't get to hit this anymore. You had your chance and you gave it up, so hands off."

Chris pecks a swift kiss on JC's lips, not looking too upset at the rejection, pushes him out of the bathroom, and closes the door in his face. "Good night, then. Sweet dreams!"

JC has no choice but to leave.

***

Chris is out again the next evening, so JC makes himself comfortable in the corner of the (chips-free) couch, reading some thriller Lance recommended two months ago. He looks up when AJ walks into the room, pulling a cigarette pack out of his breast pocket, tapping the bottom against his palm. AJ looks over at JC, tilts his head thoughtfully, and disappears upstairs, instead.

When he comes back, in glasses and with kohl-free eyes, carrying his own book, he settles into the other corner, wiggling into it, and starts reading.

Without taking his eyes off the page, though he's certainly not interested in the book any more, JC says, "We should formulate a plan of revenge. I think you have more experience with cracked-out monkeys than I do."

"Which is why I'm hiding out with you," AJ says. His eyes are shining, and he appears really happy to have escaped his dire fate at the hands of said monkeys. And the sizzling hotness is back, so it probably has nothing to do with candles or whatever, so JC has no choice but to kiss that smile, crawling on his hands and knees over to AJ and pressing their mouths together.

He pulls back to gauge AJ's reaction, and AJ says, "Oh no you don't," and hooks an arm around JC's neck, pulling him forward again.

AJ's goatee scratches at JC's face, and he knows he'll be chafed red tomorrow but he can't bring himself to care. He runs his hand up AJ's throat, around his neck, and into AJ's curls, and AJ makes a pleased sound and shifts closer, pressing himself tighter against JC. AJ's hands are hot and frantic, clawing at JC's t-shirts, scrabbling to get underneath them, to find bare skin.

JC mirrors the action, slipping his palm beneath the layers of AJ's tops, sliding the tips of his fingers along the groove of AJ's spine from the small of his back to the top knob at the base of AJ's neck, then down again, tucking his hand under the waistband of AJ's jeans, unable to go further because he'd forgotten to get them undone first. He shifts his hand to remedy that, and his wrist is caught by AJ's fingers.

JC pulls away from the wet warmth of AJ's mouth to look at him questioningly. Except he forgets what he wanted to say, because he's too busy staring at AJ's face, flushed and damp, his lips red and swollen, dented with marks from JC's teeth. JC leans forward again, ignoring AJ's feeble attempts to stop him, and gently pulls at AJ's bottom lip with his teeth, moving his mouth lower to scrape over AJ's jaw, the narrow strip covered with stubble but not beard, lips dragging across rough skin. He presses his fingers, now liberated from AJ's grasp, to the hollow of AJ's throat, feeling AJ's pulse race beneath his fingertips. JC moves his head a little more, closes his teeth on the tendon in AJ's neck, and tugs, and AJ leans his forehead against JC's shoulder, panting humidly into his shirt.

When JC raises his head, satisfied with the bruise purpling underneath the tattoo, AJ gulps in air and forces out, "Upstairs. Bedroom." JC has no desire to argue.

They almost don't make it, because JC stumbles on the stairs, tripping over one of Chris's carelessly discarded sneakers, and only AJ's quick reflexes - grabbing the banister with one hand and JC's wrist with the other - save them both from a tumble down the stairs. Sometime in the future, when JC has time in-between the sexing, he is going to plan inventively cruel ways to kill Chris. Not right now, though.

At the top of the stairs, JC tugs AJ in the direction of the master bedroom, walking him backwards, attached at the lips again, toeing his shoes and socks off. He steps lightly on the tip of AJ's sneaker, and AJ gets the hint. JC snakes his hands to the front of AJ's jeans, unbuckling his belt and sliding it off, dropping it in the hallway, uncaring where it lands.

AJ shouldn't taste as good as he does - he's a smoker, for Christ's sake - but he tastes like coffee, and mint toothpaste, and all those other clichés, even though his clothes and even hair still smell of cigarette smoke. JC runs the tip of his tongue across AJ's teeth, explores the far reaches of AJ's mouth, then wraps his tongue around AJ's, sucking. They have to part a couple of times to pull their shirts over their heads, but as soon as the necklines clear their faces, they're back to kissing again.

The backs of AJ's knees hit the edge of the bed, and JC pushes AJ back onto it. He digs through the drawer of his nightstand, pulling out condoms and lube, dropping them on the bed beside AJ, and following them onto the bed, lying with his chest on top of AJ's but his legs still on the bed. He leans over, breathing onto AJ's mouth, pecking quick, teasing kisses onto AJ's lips, until AJ twines his fingers in the hair at the back of JC's head and holds him tight, biting into his mouth, kissing roughly, possessively.

JC slides his hand down AJ's side, trailing his fingers over warm flesh, sliding his fingers under the waistband of AJ's jeans until he reaches the button, popping it open, and pulling down the tab of the zipper. Access granted, JC slides his hand inside, loosely-fisted fingers resting on AJ's hip while he rubs his thumb over the sharp curve of AJ's hipbone. When he moves his hand to teasingly stroke AJ's dick with an intentionally light touch, AJ wriggles, pulls his hand from JC's hair, and pushes his jeans down, kicking them off, then helps JC get naked as well.

Finally letting go of the addicting warmth of AJ's mouth, JC drags his lips down AJ's chest, scratching at his nipples with his nails while continuing further down with his mouth, licking at AJ's abs, scraping his teeth over the tattoo around AJ's navel and the hair below. JC nuzzles the damp, wiry curls above AJ's dick, breathing in the scent of sweat and musk, and reaches over for the condom.

JC rolls it on and bows his head, concentrating on the task and watching AJ's hands tighten convulsively in the sheets. AJ does admirably well the first few minutes, but then his hips start flexing and rolling, so instead of exploring the contours of AJ's chest with his hands, JC clamps them down onto AJ's hips.

Apparently, AJ likes that. A lot. He comes with a hoarse shout, thumping his fists on the bed, back and neck arched, tendons starkly standing out against the red skin of his throat. He collapses back with a happy whimper, and JC pulls off, wiping his mouth. AJ removes and ties off the condom, pausing, and JC says helpfully, "Floor is fine."

AJ rolls onto his side, watching JC through hooded eyes, looking sated and sleepy. "I'm more than happy to return the favour," he says, voice raspy and low, "but man, I would really love to see you jerk off till you come." His voice slips into an even lower register, a hoarse murmur, and JC shivers despite himself.

"A handjob lets you see me come," JC suggests. He rolls onto his back, arms and legs spread for easier access, and shifts his hips, sucking in air when it makes his already painfully hard dick bounce against his belly, painting traces of precome on the skin.

AJ takes the invitation, lewdly licking his hand and wrapping it around JC's cock. And that suits JC just fine, so he hums happily and pumps his hips, fucking AJ's fist until he comes all over both of them.

Later, after cleaning up, AJ rubs his rough face over JC's shoulder and says, "I'll shave tomorrow."

"Really?" JC asks. "Because don't bother on my account. I love being scraped by sandpaper."

In retaliation, AJ bites his shoulder, soothing the bite with his lips.

"Yeah, okay, fine. Since you insist," JC says magnanimously, and closes his eyes.

Chris will be really intolerable tomorrow, since he'll not only see JC's face but he also probably heard them - or at least AJ - tonight, but JC will just have to come up with a quick and easy way to kill him before he even starts in on it.

***

In the morning, JC's phone reveals three missed calls from Joey, with corresponding voicemails, but JC decides it's his turn to be unavailable. At least for a day. Or maybe even two.

So, in the end, JC spending the rest of the summer in bed with AJ has nothing to do with candles or free dinners (although free stuff does tend to put JC in the mood) or even Chris's lame attempts to hook them up as a crazy-ass apology for messing up JC's house. No, it's all Jane Carter's fault.