Grown Up
By: Chaos and Raven

chandelier; aim; hotness factor; incompatible

In the beginning it was a lot different. Mostly because Lance looked like a fucking little girl and nothing like the man he was going to become. Joey always felt a little sleazy when he looked at Lance and thought "God, he's pretty." Lance was pretty like a girl and it seemed... disloyal to think of him as anything other than a boy.

Then, Lance grew up.

It didn't happen overnight, obviously. But Joey wasn't looking and so it kind of seemed that way. He noticed in an abstract way just after Lance turned nineteen. In his mind though, the realization was a little condescending. Hey, Lance is becoming a man. Which, the more he thought about it, was really pretty obnoxious.

He didn't think about it again until after the movie. They were at a party in Orlando with JC. JC was... hopefully just high on life and talking about the way the light from the chandelier was refracted by all the little prisms. Maybe he was just working out lyrics to a new song. Either way, Joey wasn't really interested. Then JC looked up and shouted "Bass, you sexy hunk of man! Come give me a kiss."

And Lance, the forever accommodating drunk that he was, wandered over to lay an exaggerated smooch on JC's cheek. Joey mentally staggered backwards when he noticed that Lance had stubble -- beard growth! -- along the underside of his jaw. And yeah, it had been there for a while.

He called Chris first thing the next morning, hangover not withstanding. "When did Lance grow up?" He growled into the phone.

Chris laughed despite being jolted awake at seven AM. "Where the hell have you been? He's been legal for years."

"He has a beard." Joey frowned at the phone. "When did he get that?"

Chris's laughter mellowed. "Oh, Joey, it's been ages. When did you stop looking at him?"

Joey shrugged, knowing Chris would figure it out.

"Dude, you guys aren't as incompatible as you think."

"Sure Chris, thanks."

Joey frowned again and flipped off the phone. He stumbled downstairs and stopped short. Lance was asleep on his couch. In his house, on his couch. He tripped on a pair of pants as he rounded the sofa. Lance groaned lightly and shifted over, his eyes fluttering open.

"You're on my couch," Joey said inanely.

Lance smiled, his happy open smile, not the contrived Hollywood one. "Yeah. Jayce didn't want me. Didn't want to take me? I think I'm still drunk."

Joey nodded solemnly and then stopped when his head throbbed. "Me too."

Lance flung out his arms and almost knocked a lamp off the end table. "Come back to bed. It'll go away."

Joey stared at Lance's outstretched hand and said, "Watch where you aim that thing." He flopped down half on top of Lance anyway.

When he woke up again Lance was staring at him from where he'd been wedged into the crack of the sofa. He was still sleep tousled and Joey took a minute to look, really look, at what Lance grew into.

His eyes that had always been so huge and alien on his face were simply remarkable now. His jaw defined strongly by a line if scruffy dirty blond hair. Joey reached up and ran a finger along the line.

"You grew up," he said softly.

"Is that okay?"

He nodded and rolled to his feet. It was suddenly more revelation than he could deal with. He went upstairs to the bathroom and stepped into the shower. Most of the throbbing in his head washed down the drain with the shampoo. He pulled on a pair of ratty jeans and, after a minute's consideration, a T-shirt as well.

He could smell Lance's hangover remedy coffee from the bedroom. It was, he thought, exactly what he needed right then. Lance was standing over the counter reading the paper when he stepped into the kitchen and it took all of Joey's considerable willpower to avoid fitting himself firmly against Lance's back. It should not be that easy. Except he'd done it a thousand times before, only with different intent.

"Hey," he mumbled after a few more seconds of staring.

"Feel better?" Lance asked, handing him a cup of coffee.

Joey took a sip and grunted an affirmative.

"You don't have a scale do you? Because that's what Chris did when he noticed. He claims that every year my 'hotness factor' increases exponentially. What I don't get." Lance continued, "is why it's me you guys do this to. I would think Justin, cause he's the baby."

Joey shrugged. "Justin's obvious. The entire world has been waiting for him. You've always been the wise old man, just, you never looked like it."

Lance bumped him with his shoulder. "Who you callin' old?"

Joey smiled and palmed the side of Lance's face, stroking his thumb the wrong way against the stubble. "Not a little boy like you."