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"Knitting? Really?"

Chris shrugs, a smile on his lips as he watches JC wrap one of the purplish knitting pieces around his waist. "It's just, well, hot, really."

"Hot. Really?" Lance repeats incredulously. "Wow. Does that mean I should lock my nana away next time you're around?"

"Dude. No. Knitting's not hot. I mean, it isn’t, but - it's hot when C does it," Chris finally manages, not above - silently - admitting to himself that he too is a little weirded out by the fact that the actual sight of JC working those knitting needles is something of a turn on.

"Well, everything's hot when C does it."

Chris raises his eyebrow. "Should I be keeping C locked away, man?"

"Been there, done that. Got the knitted sweater," Lance deadpans.

"I'm still waiting on that," Chris muses, frowning when he notices the gold yarn alongside the purple. "Waiting in its loosest terms, that is," he clarifies quickly.

Lance grins. "Be careful what you wish for."

~

"You do have some amazing focus right there," Joey says dryly, a pained look on his face as he watches JC butcher one of his family's most precious recipes.

"Damn straight," Chris says, smirking.

"Maybe we should, you know, lend a hand. Maybe?" Joey tries, and if Chris only knew where JC's sudden urge to try his hand at some serious cooking sprouted from he could - probably - use the information to comfort Joey.

But since Chris has no clue whatsoever himself he's more than happy to just sit there and watch. He shakes his head and smiles when JC pauses to squint at the oatmeal-like substance he's been stirring for the past fifteen minutes. "I like to watch."

"Obviously. You know, I really think I could have done without that little insight into your - whatever - "

"Ain't nothing little about it," Chris retorts quietly, keeping his PG audience, both of Joey's girls sitting in the corner and watching their uncle mess up the Fatone family kitchen with all too obvious glee, in mind.

Joey just rolls his eyes and reaches for the handset on the counter. "I'm ordering in."

"Probably best," JC admits.

~

"Oh, man," Chris sighs below his breath, resisting the urge to cover his face with his hands, or better yet, his ears, because he's always known JC’s not much of a public speaker and knowing JC is well aware of that too makes him wonder what - or who - possessed him to accept the invitation to introduce AJ's speech.

"I know, right," Nick whispers, shaking his head. "Damn, if only I'd known you had a thing for inarticulateness - "

Chris grins. "Your loss, man," he says, his smile softening as he locks gazes with JC, nodding his encouragement when JC takes a deep breath: somehow watching has suddenly lost some of its appeal.

Nick chuckles softly. "Totally."

"So, is C lowering expectations or something?" Chris asks hopefully when JC's arms start flailing once more. "AJ - does he suck, well, even more?"

"What?" Nick frowns, needing a moment before shaking his head with a little too much adamance. "No way, man. He rocks."

Chris groans. "Of course he does."

~

"Rumor has it clips of someone's speech have gone viral," Justin says when Chris answers the phone, foregoing their slightly more traditional 'what’s up, bitch'.

Chris hums in confirmation as a light frown creases his brow. "Yeah, that AJ was on fire, man. Inspirational stuff."

"I'm not talking about - AJ was, wasn't he? Maybe he should consider a career in motivational speaking. You know, if the cruise entertainment business ever hits a slump."

"Ouch," Chris mumbles, and despite having managed to successfully - and intentionally - derail the conversation, he can't stop himself from asking, "Seriously, is it all over the place?"

"Pretty much," Justin says. "Jessica showed it to me this morning, and several people sent it to me - of course it's not like I hadn't seen it before since JC emailed me the clip himself," he adds, his voice going familiarly quiet.

"What did you do?" Chris prompts.

"Nothing. Seriously. Nothing, I just - " Justin sighs. "I just figured it'd get him out there. Get him some exposure."

Chris snorts. "Right. Doing a crap introduction for a crap award and, you know, performing crappily - seriously? I mean, I'm pretty sure C's got the crap manager area covered, dude."

"He said he wanted to try something new without it being a thing, and AJ had already asked him so I just said 'what's stopping you'?"

"I definitely would have if I'd known about it," Chris sighs. "You know, beforehand."

"Yeah. I just figured he'd have gotten a little better. What with the judging thing and all?" Justin tries.

"Do remind me to send you some clips some day, because clearly you haven't been watching," Chris says dryly.

"Ouch." Justin inhales audibly before saying, "Okay, so is this a good time to tell you JC's also expressed an interest in cooking?"

Chris sighs once more. "Right. Of course. Wait, the knitting - is that part of it?"

"What knitting?"

~

"Justin thinks AJ should consider a career as a motivational speaker if the cruise entertainer business goes bust," Chris announces as he plants himself on the couch next to JC, studiously not looking at JC's all too nimble fingers working his knitting pins.

"Yes, he should and yes, Justin's a bitch," JC says without missing a beat.

"Goes without saying," Chris nods, grinning. "So what's up with you sending him a recording of the, well, thing?"

"My train wreck?" JC asks, smiling to himself. "I just figured he should see it. If only because he's the one who told me to go for it in the first place."

"Well, in his defence, he thought you'd gotten better."

JC glances up from his knitting, one eyebrow raised. "What on earth made him think that?"

"Not so much in his defence: he hasn't exactly kept up with your other public performances," Chris says, not missing the fleeting flicker of disappointment that crosses JC's face. "So tell me, what's up with the whole wanting to try new things?" he sidesteps belatedly.

"Just a little idea we're floating around," JC says after a moment’s hesitation, all too aware of the fact that Chris isn't the biggest fan of the floating his management tends to do. “You know, me and my crappy management?” he clarifies with a knowing smile.

"Ah." Chris nods. "So instead of doing any of all the things you're brilliant at, the idea is to go and do stuff you're crap at?"

"I guess there's some room left for improvement," JC agrees and for a brief - and frightening - moment Chris thinks he's actually being serious but then JC's smiling and Chris can barely contain a sigh of actual relief.

"I'll say. Wanna tell me what that brilliant idea was - something like becoming the next Gordon Ramsay or something - "

JC bites his lip, his knitting needles finally stilling.

"Oh, god, C, please tell me - "

"Maybe just the next Graham Elliot?"

"Right. No more Masterchef for you. Or Eric," Chris adds, shaking his head. "And please - no more cooking."

"I already promised Joey I'd give it up when I set the tiniest of fires to his kitchen this morning," JC admits as his knitting needles start to move almost of their own volition. "Apparently his insurance only covers so much - "

"Of course."

~

"Honestly? That probably wouldn't even be the worst show ever," Lance muses once Chris finishes his tale about JC’s short-lived aspirations to become a celebrity chef.

"It wouldn't?" Chris asks automatically before rolling his eyes, knowing he walked right into that one.

"No, see there was this show once. About these men who wanted to be this, well, band of men - "

Chris huffs. "Hey, at least my show got on tv," he says halfheartedly, watching Justin as he carefully starts to unwrap the package JC has just handed him.

"I'm working on it." Lance's eyes narrow when Justin pushes the silver wrapping paper away, revealing his gift. "Hey, isn't that - ?"

"Yeah," Chris nods, grinning at how Joey’s gleefully holding a bright purple sweater - sweater-slash-poncho, as JC keeps correcting him - with gold sleeves-slash-sides to Justin's chest.

"Wow, C, that's just - I've never seen anything like that before," Justin babbles.

"I do like to try new things," JC says dryly. "Happy birthday."

"Thanks, man," Justin snorts.

JC smiles enigmatically. "You're most welcome."

"So," Lance muses out loud, his voice deceptively innocent. "Where would one wear something like that?"

Justin's eyes narrow because they’re all more than familiar with that particular tone of voice.

"I think one would wear a nice little number like that to say - a cruise maybe?" Joey suggests helpfully as he leans back in his chair, folding his arms across his chest and looking very pleased.

"One could," Lance agrees, his lips curving upwards ever so slightly.

"And one will." Chris says as he slides the tickets across the table with grand flourish, unable to stop himself from smirking at catching the look of something close to actual panic that flashes in Justin's eyes. "You'll be our special guest."

To his credit Justin recovers quickly. "Sure. If JC provides the introduction," he suggests with a smooth smile.

"Oh, it's on," JC says, smiling his most innocent of smiles.

"It's so on," Justin nods.

Chris smirks. Cruise line entertainment isn't about to hit a slump any time soon: Backstreet so owes him.