i deny honeymoon

by >>Jae

The phone is ringing. The phone is ringing and ringing and you'd think Timberlake would pick it up, since he's closer, but shit, Trace thinks, if you'd think that then you don't really know the boy. Trace knows the boy.

"Dude," Trace whispers, "dude, J, phone," but Justin doesn't answer. It figures. Trace doesn't know why he thought a whisper would wake Justin up when the phone didn't do it, but in fairness, Trace is still a little drunk.

"J," Trace says, and Justin whines in his sleep and then actually rolls closer, his leg banging into Trace's. Trace considers shoving him off the bed -- it's not like he'll remember how he ended up on the floor in the morning -- but before he can take any drastic action, the phone stops ringing. Trace lies back down.

The phone starts ringing.

"Oh, fuck me," Trace says. Justin whines again, and Trace looks at him suspiciously. If he's faking, he's definitely going to end up on the floor. But Justin's body is heavy and trusting against his, and Trace sighs and puts a hand on Justin's waist and reaches carefully past him.

Just as he grabs it, the phone stops ringing.

Trace laughs and Justin smiles in his sleep. As Trace sits up, Justin rolls onto his back, t-shirt rucking up over his stomach. The shirt's too short, a girl's shirt, part of Elisha's haul from the bachelorette party. When Justin saw it he snatched it out of Elisha's hands. "A Woman Needs a Man like a Fish Needs a Bicycle," he read with delight, and tried it on. "You don't need it now," he told Elisha. "Don't be greedy."

Justin wore the stupid thing all night, partly because Nick had hated it, but mostly, Trace knew, because Trace kept laughing every time he saw it. He was actually grateful for the shirt, because it helped get rid of Chastain early. Justin apologized after Nick left, looking very sincere and very, very drunk. "I didn't mean for him to go," Justin said. "I just wanted to tell him -- you know, I just want to be a good person. He should know."

"It's okay," Trace said, and he meant it. He'd had enough of the panicked looks Nick shot him when Justin started in about being a good person, like Nick thought the wheels were about to come off, when any idiot knew that was just how Justin got when he drank. Six drinks and Justin loved everybody, four more and he just wanted to be a good person. Tonight Justin didn't even insist on it, the way he sometimes did, repeating it over and over while Trace repeated, "I know," even though he was pretty sure it wasn't him Justin wanted to convince.

"Besides," Trace said, and he meant this even more, "I always wanted it to be just you and me, tonight."

Justin smiled and it was the way Trace had always thought it'd be, him and Justin, drinking, playing some Xbox, talking a little. Mostly it was Justin talking, but that was the way Trace had figured it would be, too. Finally they just lay down next to each other on the bed, not saying anything and not wanting to, until Justin asked, "When did you know?"

"Know what?" Trace said. Instead of answering, Justin rolled onto his side and looked at him.

Trace knew what Justin was asking, because it was a very Justin question, and he knew the answer, too. He knew the exact moment when he'd known what he was doing was right. It wasn't when he was stumbling through the speech he'd practiced in his head and Elisha suddenly lit up, surprised and then sure. The thought that he could make her look like that almost stunned him silent, but he couldn't bear to think that he might make that look disappear.

It wasn't that moment, or even the moment when Elisha said yes. It was the next day, when he realized it had been twelve whole hours and he hadn't thought once about what Justin would think, that Trace knew for sure that what he was doing was right.

There was pretty much no way to tell Justin that without killing him, or if there was Trace hadn't found it in months of thinking. Somehow it always sounded horrible, hurtful, and he didn't mean it that way. It wasn't about hurting Justin, he'd never want that, he never had. It just wasn't about Justin at all.

"Sorry," Justin said finally. He blinked, like a door he hadn't known was there had just slammed in his face. "Some things are private --"

"It's not that..." Trace tried to think of what it was. He didn't think of anything he could say.

"It's all right," Justin said. "I know," he said, and when he smiled Trace breathed easier. He knew Justin really didn't.

"I want you to be happy," Justin said. "That's all I want, for you to be happy --"

"I know," Trace said, again and again, "you do," until Justin stopped talking. They lay there quietly until Justin fell asleep in his stupid t-shirt, still smiling.

The phone is ringing and Trace reaches out to tug Justin's shirt over his stomach. He leaves his hand there for a minute. Justin doesn't move. Trace turns away and answers the phone.

"It's past midnight, am I allowed to talk to you?"

"Talking's fine," Elisha says, "you just can't see me till the church. How are you guys doing?"

"We're all just trying to be good people up here."

"Oh, no," and Elisha's laughing, "why did you let him drink so much? Poor baby, he's going to be hurting tomorrow."

"Today now."

"Anyway, I just called to say good night." Trace doesn't answer. "You okay?"

"I just want..." Trace isn't sure what he wants to say. He isn't sure what he wants her to say to him.

"I know," Elisha says. "I do."

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