Mprov 5 - Passing Notes
by Elina

Words: CJ, nsync fruit snacks, grey hair, paldom, TORSO

It started out as nothing big, just their own little way of flipping off the big scary world. That was the world outside the bus, the world where everyone wanted a piece of someone famous - something to hold onto at night and feel special. Only thing was, JC and Lance needed something like that, too. They each needed something that belonged to them, something nobody else could touch or even know about.

So they made up a secret code, and used it to write to each other all the time. It was nothing very complicated - any third grader could have figured it out - but it gave them a private little space, a bubble of secrecy the other guys never bothered to pop.

JC was pretty surprised by that, actually. He figured Chris would snap to what was happening pretty quickly, decipher their code, and get endless hours of entertainment from teasing them with the contents of their private notes. This was, after all, the man who enjoyed standing up in the middle of a crowded restaurant, shouting, "TORSO!" and leaping into the ensuing tickling dogpile. But whether it was the pain from his breakup with Dani, or the girls he was using to distract himself from that pain, Chris never seemed to see the pieces of paper that slid practically under his nose.

Justin was another surprise. It seemed natural to think he would sense there was something going on, something cool and fun and without him, and demand to be included. But as long as JC and Lance kept giving him fond, tolerant smiles he was content to be the center of everyone else's univerce. JC was relieved when he realized Justin was going to give them a bye, especially considering the contents of some of the notes he and Lance slipped under doors or into books.

So of course it was Joey who busted them, who caught Lance sliding a carefully-folded note into JC's twitching fingers and said, "Dude! What are you, like, in junior high?" JC had discounted Joey as a threat ever since Joey discovered he could get drunk twice as fast if he ate NSync Fruit Snacks in between shots of vodka. Something about the sugar in the gooey treats sped the alcohol into Joey's system, rendering him harmless and incoherent.

"No!" JC spluttered. "Just, I, um - like, Lance, me, we..."

"Yeah?" Joey waited, his eyes less bloodshot than they had been in weeks.

"We write stuff to each other and - "

"Ooh, what kind of stuff?" And there was the snatch, the note wrestled out from between JC's fingers, and JC had a moment to wish it had been Chris instead after all, because then he would at least have had a fighting chance to defend himself. Joey reached in, took what he wanted, and held the note up to the light. "Let's see, shall we?"

JC felt the gray hairs sprouting out of his head as he waited for Joey to unfold the note and read what was inside. He held his breath. He felt a bead of sweat trickle down his neck.

"What the fuck is this shit?"

JC let his breath escape in a grateful gasp. The code, the code he and Lance had made up one day when they were bored, was going to save their asses.

"Is this, what's it called, mirror writing?"

JC winced. Maybe it wouldn't. "Yeah, yeah, it is."

Joey looked up at him. "Ooookay. Um. I don't know why you feel compelled to write everything backwards, but whatever, dude. It's not like I can't read this anyway."

"I know." JC swiped irritatedly at the back of his neck where his sweat had turned cold. "Just we, um. Wanted to make it a little harder for anyone who found one of these."

Joey turned his attention back to the piece of paper, then cocked an eyebrow at JC. "I can see why. Dude. 'CJ SEVOL NITSUJ'? First, what the hell kind of crack are you on, and second, what the hell kind of crack are you on?"

JC flushed. "I - I know, it's not like that, I just, um - "

"Whatever." Joey tossed the scrap of paper back to him and turned on his heel to leave. "If you want to love the Infant, that's up to you."

JC flushed even harder. "No, that's not it, really. I mean, I love him, but I don't love him, love him. Lance and me, we joke around with stuff like that. It's like, when we're writing to each other we get to be different people, and - " JC searched for words, " - Lance likes to act all catty and shit, and I kinda, um. Make him worse. But we're just playing around."

Joey swiveled back to JC and studied him carefully. "Playing is cool, and fun. But don't get lost in it, because this is Justin we're talking about here. And he's cool with friends, and love, and paldom, and being buddies, but he'll never let you get any closer than that."

JC took a step back, stunned and a little shocked by the intensity of Joey's attack. Any minute now he expected to get jabbed in the chest with the Italian Forefinger of Emphasis. "Wow, hey, I know, I know. Why do you think I never let him see any of these? Jeez." He shook his head as if to say, I get the point, dude, but Joey kept him pinned to the spot with a look.

"Good, then. Don't forget it." JC endured a few more moments of Joey's glare, then Joey seemed to remember that he was out of bed, instead of passed out drunk, and it had to be for a reason, so he turned to JC's minibar. "Got any more vodka?"

JC sighed. He considered lying, thought about how much good it would do. "Yeah, in the freezer. Take all you want."

Joey smiled wanly at him. "Thanks, dude. You're a real friend." JC patted him on the back as he leaned down to the half-size refrigerator.

"Yeah, well, don't forget that if Justin ever asks about those notes."

"What notes?" And Joey was off, back to his room, shirt loaded down with entertainment for the evening. JC scrubbed a hand through his hair, stared aimlessly around the room for a moment, then sat down at his desk and pulled out a piece of hotel note paper.


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