Pairing: Popslash — JC/Chris
Thanks: Huge sparkly glittery handfuls of thanks to i_naiad, erilyn and sageness for beta.
Notes: For vaudevilles, for her birthday. Which is soon. Ish.
Disclaimer: This is fiction, yo.
"Let's play a mall date, you said." Chris leaped over a chair in the food court and dodged behind the Thai food counter. "'It'll be fun. It'll be retro.' I can't believe we listened to you! Never again!"
Tiny and Mike had been ambushed near Barnes & Noble and dragged away, and JC and Chris were on their own. Chris side-stepped the four employees and bounded out the other end of the counter by the cash register.
JC followed him, step for step, perfectly in sync. "It was fun," he said defensively. "For a while. You were having a good time flirting with that tall blond guy from JC Penney."
"No, I wasn't." Chris glanced over his shoulder. "I was making the best of a soul-destroying situation. I was trying to keep a faint spark of hope alive, against the odds. Even before they showed up, I was desperate for someone to shout 'Fire!'"
Footsteps, breathless giggling and cries of excitement chased them down the main throughway, drowning out the Britney song playing in the nearby music store. The rustle of pompoms grew louder. Chris didn't dare look back again.
JC scanned the mall ahead for an exit sign, and put on a burst of speed. "This way."
Chris swore, but ran after him. "Where'd Lance and Joey go, anyway? Don't they know about safety in numbers?"
JC was trying to run and look behind him at the same time. Chris was pretty sure JC was breaking at least two laws of physics so he grabbed his shirt to steady him as they pelted along.
"They're getting Justin out of danger." JC skidded on the tile and flailed, punching Chris in the jaw. "Sorry, man. We're the decoy party."
Chris shook off the punch, barely noticing. Too distracted. "We're the decoys?" His voice went up an octave. "Who decided this? Where was I? How come we're the decoys?"
"You were too busy talking about FuMan to the blond guy." JC hauled him across the floor and onto a crowded escalator. "The theory is we're too old for them to be interested in, if they manage to catch us."
"I'm not old," spluttered Chris, pushing some kids out of his way and racing up the escalator. "I'm twenty-nine!"
"I know, I know, sugar keeps you young. I've heard. But look at them! They're like fourteen!" JC pulled out his cellphone and speed-dialed as he ran. "Hey, Johnny! You gotta help us, man. We're being chased by—" He covered the phone with his hand, and asked, "What do you call a group of cheerleaders?"
"They're not military."
"No, troupe like a circus troupe!" Chris side-stepped a lady with her arms full of shopping bags. "Or how about a gaggle! A gaggle of cheerleaders! Or a party. A twirl. A shriek. That's it! Definitely a shriek of cheerleaders"
JC caught up and threw him an exasperated glare. He put the phone back to his ear. "—a bunch of cheerleaders."
"Bunch? I offered you a shriek of cheerleaders, and you chose bunch?" Chris stepped off the top of the escalator and looked back. A relentless tide of over-excited teenage girls swarmed up the escalator behind them. "You have no appreciation for my amazing sparkling wit. Man, that's it. I'm gonna form a new band with people who recognize my talents."
"Yeah. I'm sure the JC Penny guy will be first in line." JC grabbed him by his shirt and dragged him away. "We're by the Starbucks upstairs," he reported to Johnny.
"Don't forget to say they're demon cheerleaders from hell," Chris said.
The girlish screaming behind them swelled to a crescendo as the cheerleaders in question gained the upper level. One of them somersaulted in front of Chris, grabbed JC's cell, and hurled it into a trashcan. JC yelped indignantly. Chris got one up-close look at her pale pasty skin and her red glowy eyes before JC clutched him and yanked him through the closing doors of an elevator. They leaned against the wall, panting.
"Why is escaping from fans so exhausting?" Chris said, hitting the button for level 6 of the parking garage. "I mean, we spend sixteen hours every day bouncing around like idiots!"
"When you're running for your life, you don't breathe properly," JC told him. "Wade explained it to me once."
The elevator wasn't moving. Chris punched the button for 6 again, and then so did JC, just for good measure, but instead the doors started to open.
"Shit, shit, shit." Chris freaked out and tried to squeeze between JC and the wall of the elevator. "Protect me!"
"They're just 14 year old girls," JC tried to reassure him, but it was totally unconvincing.
"They're demons, man," Chris told him. "Didn't you see their eyes?"
The elevator doors slid back, revealing a shriek of cheerleaders, all red screaming lips and tiny red and yellow skirts, waving glittery pompoms in the air with their unnaturally skinny arms.
Chris grabbed JC by the waist, braced himself, and kicked off against the back wall of the elevator, using JC as a battering ram. "Make way! Coming through!" he yelled.
"What the hell are you doing?" JC screamed. He struggled to get free. "Are you crazy? Put me down!"
The cheerleaders parted like a reluctant Red Sea, their hands clawing at Chris' clothes, their blonde hair whipping at his face, their pompoms blinding him. Chris put his head down and shoved the indignant JC as hard as he could. Some of the cheerleaders went flying into innocent bystanders, but Chris figured collateral damage was inevitable. JC and Chris cleared the tight cluster and took off running. A second later, the cheerleaders were hot on their heels again.
"Jesus," said JC. He was pale, and fear seemed to have overridden his fury. "They really are demons. Did you see their eyes?"
"Would you shut up and help me figure out how to get rid of them?" Chris dove for the escalator, only it was the wrong one so they ended up pushing their way down the up escalator, saying Excuse me! and Pardon me! and finally, desperately, MOVE! "We should never have split up," Chris yelled over his shoulder. "We could've thrown Justin to the ravening horde and made our escape while they mauled him."
"What about the band?" JC jumped over a potted plant and splashed through a fountain.
"Fuck the band. This is survival, baby." Chris looked around. "Where the hell is Mall security?"
"Fuck you! Where's our security?" They turned a corner, and just like the punch line to a bad joke, there were Tiny and Mike and a dozen mall security guards, lined up against the wall. They all had glazed looks on their faces and were completely immobile. The mall security's uniforms made them look like a row of matching statues.
"Help!" Chris yelled in one of their faces. "Help! We need help!"
There wasn't even a flicker of response.
"God, why are we paying these guys?" Chris moaned. "The first sight of a young girl in a short skirt, and they go to pieces." He grabbed Tiny's arm and tried to shake him awake, but got nothing.
"Face it, Chris, we're on our own. They must have zombified them or something." The shrill cries grew louder again. "Come on, we have to get out of here."
Chris dropped Tiny's arm reluctantly, inched to the corner, and peered out. The cheerleaders were milling around by the fountain, sniffing the air. Chris stripped off his black outer shirt and smoothed down his hair, hoping that was enough of a disguise to fool them. "This way," he whispered to JC, and walked quickly and calmly toward the nearest exit. Unfortunately, at that moment, a family of normal non-demon people saw them, and the teenage girl who was with them screamed, "Oh my God! It's JC! Where's Justin?"
"Shhhhhhh!" said Chris desperately. "Keep quiet and we'll, uh, we'll give you his personal cellphone number. Just please, keep it down—" But it was too late. The demon cheerleaders had noticed. They bayed like hounds and resumed the hunt, and JC and Chris took off again, worn out and increasingly resentful, but not knowing what else to do.
"We've got to think," JC said, flinging himself around a corner and into an expensive-looking chocolate boutique. "How do you stop cheerleaders in their tracks?"
"Give them gum and tell them to walk while they're chewing it?" Chris guessed.
JC quelled him with a glance. "Get serious. That might work on you. They're coordinated."
Chris glared back. "Okay, how about this: football players, Jello shots, clothing sales, Justin—" He ticked them off on his fingers.
JC shook his head. "We've been past half a dozen clothing sales already and none of them slowed them down for a second."
The cheerleaders were heading toward them, and a chocolate store seemed a dumb place to hide—what if they were all on the rag? Chris stole a handful of chocolate for energy, apologized to the store attendant, and dashed out again, hot on JC's heels.
Chris grabbed JC's sleeve and tugged him into a recess in the wall, next to a door marked 'Personnel Only'. "We're being chased by demon cheerleaders from hell." He tried the door, but it was locked.
"I noticed," snapped JC.
"They really are demons. Fuck, man, their eyes glow red. They have shrill unholy voices, and unnatural stamina. They can find us by sniffing the air. And they turned our security guards into zombies, so they probably do mind-control, too."
"I know, Chris. Your point?"
Chris spread his hands for effect. "Hell has cheerleaders!"
JC blinked, then snorted. "Oh, like you couldn't have worked that out on your own. Hell probably has nothing but cheerleaders, all giggly and vacant."
Chris leaned against the wall, breathing hard. He was jittery and scared. "So that does it. I'm going straight. I'm going to be good from now on. I'm getting religion."
"I don't know. All of them." The screeches (which Chris had begun to think of as the cheerleaders' hunting cries) came closer. "Shit, man, I'm out of ideas."
"If we can just get to the parking garage—" JC stuck his head around the corner, and froze.
Chris grabbed him. "What is it?" An irresistible force drew him forward, and he stood helpless, face to face with the tallest, scariest of the cheerleaders. She was about Chris' height, and her hair was in pert bouncy bunches. She was wearing way too much makeup for someone her age (not that Chris would've dared hazard a guess what her actual age was). Her teeth were sharp and pointy like a cat's. And she was holding her glittery pompoms like weapons. She reminded Chris of the head cheerleader from his high school, Candy Cookson.
The other cheerleaders stood around her like they'd obey her every command. An eerie hush had spread throughout the gathering. In the distance, Chris heard an REM song coming from a nearby shop. None of the innocent shoppers were paying them any attention. Like he'd thought: mind control.
The Candy-clone looked Chris and JC up and down, and Chris tensed, not sure whether he was going to fight her off to protect JC or throw heroism to the wind and JC to the wolves, and try to make a solitary bid for freedom. But the cheerleaders didn't move.
Chris lifted his chin. It wasn't that different from facing his sisters down. That is, if his sisters had been creepily intense stick figures with blonde hair and tiny skirts. "What do you want?"
The Candy-clone rolled her eyes. "What do you think we want?"
"Hair care products?" hazarded Chris. "Because that would explain why you were chasing JC."
"God," whined the Candy-clone, putting her hands on her hips. "No one gives us any respect! It's all stereotypes and blonde jokes. I watch Buffy! I enjoy a good Stephen King novel as much as the next demon! I have depths!"
JC gave her his best fake meeting-the-fans smile. "So what do you want?"
She tossed her hair and sneered at him. "We want you to score, moron, so we can do our stupid cheer and go home. Score, get it?"
For possibly the first time in his life, Chris was speechless.
"Score," repeated JC, slowly. "As in—?"
"Score," she enunciated clearly. "Get it on."
"Fuck," elaborated another of the cheerleaders, helpfully.
"Do the nasty," said a third. And then they were all shouting. "Screw!" "Make sweet, sweet love!" "Bump uglies!"
Chris and JC shrank back against the wall. Chris couldn't look at JC.
"With, uh, with each other?" JC clarified.
The cheerleaders nodded enthusiastically, and howled like hell-hounds.
JC held up his hands to quiet them. "But we don't—We're not—"
Chris knocked JC's hands down, and found his voice. "What he's trying to tell you, in his stuttering and overly polite kind of way, is that JC is nowhere near as easy as his public appearances might lead you to believe. I'm not his type, and even if I was, he wouldn't screw me—not even to get us away from the demons of hell. We're a band. We have rules!"
"Well, actually—" JC started.
Chris' head whipped around. "What?!"
"Since we're talking real demons—"
"Shut up, dumbass," Chris hissed. "I'm talking our way out of this."
"Oh, right." JC folded his arms and looked pissed, which made no sense whatsoever.
The cheerleaders howled again—not, as Chris had initially assumed, for blood, but instead for spunk. Which was such a weird thought that he instantly tried to unthink it. "Listen," he said. "You're fucking crazy. I mean, we sing, we dance, we don't—Maybe we can sign some photographs, or give you t-shirts. We've got plenty of t-shirts on the bus."
The cheerleaders yelled angrily at him, their voices high and painful on the ear. A nearby window shattered. The demons stared at Chris determinedly and rustled their pompoms.
JC waved the cheerleaders quiet again and turned to the Candy-clone. "Do you, uh, do you guys have to watch?"
"WHAT?!" said Chris, but apparently negotiations were in progress, and Chris' ass was being bargained away for a few pieces of silver. Or, at least, some peace and quiet and a chance to get out of this goddamned mall.
The Candy-clone held her pompoms above her head and shook them, and all the lesser demon cheerleaders copied her. "We have to bear witness," they chanted together.
Chris looked around wildly. He was an exhibitionist, but even he drew the line at providing live gay porn for delinquent demons. He saw a booth and had a brainwave. "How about if we show you photographic evidence?"
JC followed his gaze and nodded. "You'd be able to hear us, too," he pointed out.
"Shut up!" snapped Chris.
JC shrugged. "I'm just saying."
"Well, don't." Chris was starting to realize this was real, this was actually going to happen. If they couldn't hatch some clever escape plan (like, maybe there was a trapdoor in the floor of the photobooth), he was going to have to screw or be screwed by his good friend and fellow bandmember, while a phalanx of demons listened in, and subsequently examined the photos.
JC grabbed his arm. "C'mon, let's get this over with."
"So romantic," murmured the Candy-clone sarcastically, and Chris would have flipped her off except that a) she was a scary demon chick, and b) that was exactly what he'd been thinking, too.
JC marched Chris over to the photobooth, with the demon girls following on behind (much quieter now they were getting what they wanted). JC pushed Chris through the curtain, and then followed him in so they were squeezed into the little booth. The curtain only came halfway down, and it didn't look like there was an escape hatch in the floor, or an ejector seat. "Now what?" Chris said, eyeing JC resentfully. Even if the photobooth had been his idea in the first place, he'd just been buying time. There'd been no need for JC to have grabbed the bull by the horns with quite so much gusto.
JC shrugged, and looked away. "We could just, you know, fake it. We could jerk off. Or—hmm, maybe if you give me a few minutes and we can get this panel off, I can turn the camera into a laser gun." He pulled a tiny Swiss army knife out of his pocket and extracted the screwdriver.
Chris stared. "What are you, MacGyver? Since when?"
JC was already loosening the screws along the top of the panel, but he glanced over his shoulder. "I'm the guy who's trying to save your stupid ass, Kirkpatrick. Once we've got the laser gun, we can blast our way to freedom, and—"
Outside, a deafening high-pitched chant started up. Chris listened through a few rounds until he'd caught all the words.
Lips on lips, and slip some tongue
Dick in ass and come, boys, COME!
Chris sat down on the narrow seat and looked at JC's hands working the screwdriver. JC had nice hands. And nice arms. And his ass wasn't bad, either. "Hey," said Chris. "You know what? Let's just screw."
JC dropped his hands, and turned around to look at him. His face was serious, his mouth twisted uncertainly. "Yeah?"
"Yeah," said Chris, shifting uncomfortably under his gaze. He glanced at the flimsy curtain between them and the rest of the world, and then stared down at his hands. "What the hell. I've been wanting to nail your ass for years. This way, I get pictures."
The cheer from outside was still loud and piercing, but inside the booth it was as though everything had gone quiet and still.
JC's hand landed on Chris' shoulder, and his thumb slipped into the neckline of Chris' undershirt and rubbed softly along his collarbone. "We get pictures."
Chris blinked up at him. JC was smiling a little now, and the curve of his lips made Chris' mouth dry with anticipation. "All right." He put his hands on either side of JC's ribs, and pulled him down into a kiss.
"And then they let us go," JC told the guys. He was sitting on the back of the couch on the three-person bus, and the others were sitting, sprawling, and lying around listening. Chris stood by the window and watched the road rush past out of the corner of his eye. His ass still ached, but there was no way he was admitting that to anyone unless he had to.
"What," said Lance, confused. "They chased you all over the mall, and they didn't want anything? They didn't make you sing or anything?"
Chris caught JC's eye, and looked away quickly.
"Well, they did ask us to do something," said JC, slowly.
"What?" asked Joey.
"They wanted us to give them Justin's cellphone number," said JC. "We tried to talk them out of it, but in the end, it was the only way we could get away."
Justin looked up from his place on the floor next to Chris and scowled. "You did what? Fuck, you guys! Not again!"
"It was the only way," said Chris, nudging Justin's shoulder with his knee. "So expect some phonecalls from hell, J."
Justin huffed a sigh, then said, resignedly, "Bring it on. I'm a world-class champion at phonecalls from hell. Me and Britney went out for years, remember?"
"As if we could ever forget," JC teased, but he was looking at Chris when he said it, and his eyes were soft and serious.
That night, Chris lay in his bunk with the road rumbling beneath them, and the demons' final cheer still echoing in his ears:
You did it! You did it! You told us that you would!
You went into the photobooth and then you fucked him
And then you fucked him good!
He smiled to himself in the dark. Most of the day had been an insane, scary, adrenalin-fueled nightmare, but thanks to the Candy-clone and her perky hellspawn cohorts—and even more thanks to the fact that he'd been trapped in the photobooth with JC, and not, say, Joey or Lance—there'd been a few minutes of heaven in there too. He slipped his hand under the pillow and felt the sharp edge of a strip of photos, and then he drifted off to sleep.
I do not write popslash. This is an aberration. Crack doesn't count. I am not protesting too much!!!1!!1111!!!1!1eleventy-one!! ;-)
I suck at secrets.
Luckily vaud isn't a birthday purist, and said I could post it before the actual day.
With apologies to any cheerleaders reading this.