Justin hadn't wanted to go shopping with them. He'd been in some sort of complicated, over-the-phone break up and make up cycle with Britney for days now, and JC suspected he wanted some privacy for another call. JC didn't mind. The two of them had broken up again yesterday, and while JC didn't mind hearing Justin's half of the arguments, he really didn't need to hear them making up.
When JC got back to his room, Justin was lying on the bed with MTV on mute. "Sorry," Justin said without looking up. "I didn't think you'd mind."
"It's fine," JC said. "Everything all right?"
"It's fine," Justin said. He sat up. "What'd you buy?"
JC handed him a small brown bag and Justin opened it, pulling out a square white magnet with black lettering. "'Any letter is an alphabet'," Justin read. "What is it?"
"There was this store, they had a bunch of magnets with quotes from all over and I just - I really liked that one," JC said. "I really like it."
"It's pretty," Justin said. "I don't really get it, but it's pretty."
JC sat down on the bed next to him and took the magnet back. "It just made me think - that's what I want to do, you know?"
"Don't be an asshole."
"I wasn't, I just - I don't think I understand."
"I just, I don't know," JC said. Justin waited patiently. "When I saw it, I just thought, that's really cool, you know, and it's true, or it can be. It's just that idea, that any letter can have the whole alphabet in it, can have everything in the world inside it, just one tiny part but inside it there's everything, and I just thought, that's what I want to do. With music, you know? You could do it, not, I mean - somebody could, a person could, it could totally be done, you can write a song where every word, every note is just so deep that it's got everything inside it, you can live your life that way, too, but that's harder. But you could totally write a song where every single beat has the whole song inside it, the whole song and every song, and when people listened to it the first time it would sound like they'd been listening to it their whole lives, and every time they listened to it afterward it'd be like that but there'd be something new, something more, every time. Every time afterward it'd be like they were listening to it for the first time." Justin was still watching him. "I could totally write a song like that, if I got good enough. It might take my whole life, but it'd be worth it. To write something like that? That'd totally be worth it."
"I guess," Justin said slowly.
"You don't think so?" JC said. "I think it'd be worth it. I don't think, maybe, anything else would be worth anything at all, if you couldn't do that."
"Maybe," Justin said. "I guess - I just always thought I wanted to write songs that were what people wanted. I mean - I don't mean, like, give the people what they want, any old shit as long as they pay for it, I don't mean -"
"I know, J."
"But just something that's what they want, they really want, deep down, you know? Something that makes them think of the things they want, the things they wanted and got, or the things they wanted and didn't quite get yet but maybe they will, someday, you know? Simple things, maybe, love or sex or hell, even just that they wanted to dance, but I think people want that, you know? I think they do."
"You're right," JC said. "Sure, I mean, people want that. Lots of people."
"I know," Justin said. He leaned in and brushed his lips against JC's, softly.
"And no one's better at that than you," JC said suddenly. "At giving people what they want, no one's better."
Justin smiled and got up off the bed. JC watched him leave and then looked at the black letters in his hand. He was an adult, of course, and he'd known for a long time that he might want to go places where Justin wouldn't want to follow. This was the first time he'd thought he might want to go somewhere that Justin wouldn't be able to follow.