"I'm not crying."
"What?" Chris said.
"You heard me."
"Yeah, but I was asleep. Say it again."
"I'm not crying."
"That's what I thought you said." Chris waited, but JC didn't say anything else, just looked at him calmly. Chris sighed. It wasn't like he wasn't used to JC waking him up in the middle of the night, but usually it was to hear some new lyrics or a weird dream or a story JC just remembered about a cat he had when he was nine. This not crying thing was new, and frankly, Chris didn't feel prepared to deal with it just then. But one thing he'd learned was that once JC woke him up, he wasn't getting back to sleep until JC was ready to get back to sleep.
"Well, that's great, C," Chris said slowly. "You're also not laughing or yawning or, most importantly, sleeping. You were shouting a little, though, and it's three o'clock in the morning, so "
"I wasn't shouting," JC said.
"Whatever. Did you wake me up just to give me a list of all the things you're not doing? Cause remember how we talked about how some things could wait until morning? I really think this is one of those things."
"I'm not crying." JC said it again, more quietly but just as firmly.
"Yeah, I got that, C. In fact, what would have tipped me off, even if you hadn't said anything, was the way that you're, you know, not crying. So do you wanna tell me why you woke me up to tell me you're not crying, or did you want to not cry some more first?"
"I just decided," JC said.
"Okay," Chris said. Go slowly. Nod and smile. That was the way to deal with C when he got like this. "What was it that you decided?"
"That I'm not crying," JC said. There was a note of condescension in his voice that Chris took issue with.
"Don't act like I'm the idiot here," Chris said. "I'm not the one that's not crying. I mean, I'm not, but I'm not the one announcing that I'm not crying when I'm not. Although I just did, I guess. But that's not -"
JC sat up. "I was lying here and I was looking at you and I was thinking and I just decided. And so I woke you up to tell you, because you're the person it's going to affect the most. I wanted to give you fair warning."
JC paused expectantly. But if he was waiting for Chris to know what to say to that, he was going to be waiting a long time. Chris settled for squinting up at JC and saying, "Hmmm."
"I'm not crying, Chris Kirkpatrick. I'm not crying over you or because of you or with you. Well, maybe with you, if something happened, like your mom was sick or something, God forbid, then I would. But aside from that, I'm not crying."
Chris tried saying, "Hmmm," again. It had worked well the first time.
"I'm going to be happy, Chris Kirkpatrick, and I'm going to be happy with you, and I'm going to make you happy, Chris Kirkpatrick, and I don't really care what you think about that. But I'm just telling you. I'm not crying anymore."
"Are you talking to me, C, or are you writing a Shania Twain song out loud? I'm thinking it's the second, but I've gotta tell you, you might want to think about replacing the Chris Kirkpatrick part with something a little more. Universal."
"And another thing I don't care about," JC said. Chris covered his eyes with his arm and groaned. JC just got louder. "I don't care how many unfunny wisecracks you make - "
"Hey!" Chris said. JC got even louder.
"I don't care what kind of stupid hang-ups you have or fucked-up ideas about love or childish fears of commitment -"
"It's not a fear," Chris said, moving his arm. "I'm not afraid of it, I just don't like it. Totally different thing."
"I don't care," JC said. Chris sighed. JC was on a roll. "Because it's going to be happily ever after for us, Chris Kirkpatrick. No tears, no drama, no misery, no heartbreak. Just you and me, walking into the sunset. Forever and ever. I've decided. And I'm not -"
"I know," Chris said. "I heard you the first fifty times. You're not crying. That's great, C. I'm real happy for you."
JC shot him a dazzling smile and leaned down over him. "No, you're not," he said. "But you're going to be. You're going to be so happy you won't even recognize yourself. You're going to be so happy you won't even know what hit you." He kissed the tip of Chris' nose, then dropped his head to Chris' shoulder and closed his eyes. "Good night," JC said cheerfully, and went to sleep.
Chris sighed and shrugged. JC didn't budge. Chris lay in the dark, JC's head heavy against him. He spent the rest of the night watching the shadows warily for lurking happiness.