spanish for blue
"Baby blue," the girls chorus and Justin laughs. Chris doesn't know what Justin says because he's only listening to the sound of Justin's voice. Chris lowers his eyes, hiding from the stage lights, and he can see the frayed spot at the hem of Justin's T-shirt, worn ragged by Justin's fingers. Justin's T-shirt is blue, not baby blue but another, deeper blue. Chris bought it for him because it was that color, that certain shade, the one Chris has a secret word for, Chris and the other three hundred million people in the world who speak Spanish.
Azul is the Spanish word for blue.
Chris thinks of Justin in Spanish words, one Spanish word, although Justin doesn't speak it. Justin learns the songs phonetically when he has to, mouthing the words carefully, turning them in his mouth, tasting them like an unfamiliar food. He could be singing anything, Chris tells him, anything at all, and Justin just laughs. You know what I'm singing, Justin says, and Chris does, he took Spanish a long time ago, in high school, and he's fluent. Chris watches Justin bow his head over the lyric sheet, lips curving obediently over the words. Chris can tell he doesn't know what he's saying but it sounds beautiful.
Barcelona was the first time, and it didn't have to be Barcelona. It could have been anywhere they could have flown to and from in the five-day break from the tour. But the guys were going to Amsterdam and Britney was in Cannes and Justin wanted to see the sun. So it was Barcelona. Chris made the arrangements himself, whispering down the phone line, buenos dias and una buena vista and por favor and muy privado, the words like a secret code, a magic incantation that opened the gates and made the past fall away with the walls.
Barcelona was the first time, and Chris was glad. They had been there before, but it was like so many places they'd been, a few days spent bouncing from hotel room to stage and back again, their only glimpse of the city filtered through tinted windows as they sped through the streets. They had been there before, but it was still foreign to them, still new. Chris wanted it to be somewhere foreign, and he didn't really mind that he spoke the language and Justin didn't, but that wasn't the point. The point was that it had to be somewhere new.
The first thing Chris saw when they left the flat little Spanish airport was a line of palm trees. Justin laughed. Palm trees, they'd come so far for something new and there were palm trees. Then Justin's hand was just above the small of Chris' back, so close that if he swayed Justin would be touching him, and Chris thought that it wouldn't have mattered if he were home in his old room with his Clash poster over the bed. It still would have been new.
Chris looked at the palm trees and laughed, just like Justin, and then Justin's hand fell on Chris' hip. Chris looked up and saw the mountains rising above him and the sky above that, so blue it struck him like a slap and he might have fallen if not for Justin's hand. So blue that blue wasn't even the word for it. Blue wasn't deep enough.
All of Barcelona was like that, a beauty so sharp it left Chris' skin stinging and his eyes burning. Behind every corner beauty simmered, bursting out at him like a flame, and he hid behind sunglasses and in the back of cool dark bars, waiting for the night to come. Justin waited with him, slouching over sangria and smiling, watching Chris with eyes so blue that blue wasn't deep enough. Chris hid from him too.
Night fell and they walked back through the streets, the rain-dark streets and the wine-dark buildings and all around them the night. It was blue, too, smooth and warm and deeper than the word, draping the city like a veil. All around them people talked and laughed and nobody knew them. A woman spoke to them in the soft slurred accent of a native, the night shining silver on her long dark hair. Justin answered before Chris could, giving her three of his ten words of Spanish and smiling at her. Before she turned away she leaned in and kissed Justin's cheek.
Barthelona, Justin said, just like she had, blue shadows in his mouth and his eyes. They walked through the night.
At the hotel they left the balcony doors open and the night poured in, flowing over Justin's body, pooling in the hollows beside his shoulder blades and at the small of his back. Everything was new to Chris except the night's blue. When he was a kid his mother had had a bottle made of blue glass that she carried with her as they moved from shabby room to shabby room, wrapping it carefully in newspapers and blankets to protect it. It had been beautiful, and Chris remembered it shining on shelves high out of his reach. It broke, of course it broke, all those kids and all those moves, and Chris remembered it shattered on a dingy linoleum floor, the shards so blue he didn't have a word for them. He had picked them up while his mother watched. He had kept a piece in his pocket, running his fingers over it until they bled.
Justin shifted and Chris bent over him and put his mouth on Justin's back. Justin's skin burnt his lips but it was Justin who cried out. Chris traced a word across Justin's back with his tongue. Justin shivered and laughed at the same time. What are you writing? he said.
Chris didn't answer but spelled out the same word again.
Four letters, Justin said, and I know what it is, and there was something in his voice that had never been there before, Chris was sure of it, but it was familiar. Justin kept talking but Chris was only listening to the sound of his voice. Chris' tongue kept moving until the words slipped away and Justin's lips curved desperately over sound. Chris could tell he didn't know what he was saying but it sounded beautiful.
Later Chris bowed his head over Justin's sleeping body and traced a word down his back, four letters so light that Justin didn't stir.
Azul is the Spanish word for blue.