Signs and Wonders

An NSync story by s.a.

You speak to me low and fondly,
like a cat from the Coliseum
that followed you back
to your hotel in the rain.
  - from You Talk to Me About Italy by Kristy Bowen


Rating: R.
Pairing: Chris/Joey
Disclaimer: Other people's gardens. I just like to play in them.
Feedback: It's the best kind of crack. email:
Distribution:; List archives. Just ask.
Author's Notes: Written for Mosca's lovely Free Verse challenge. Influenced by Jessi Albano's "Beautiful," hence the Choey. The chunk of verse I got was a really evocative image.
Summary: Friends always have the potential for more.


Everyone knows that Chris is a hard nut to crack. It seems like whenever someone good tries to take him on, he hunches down and becomes less of himself, so that all the things that people find attractive about him seem withered and dark in the light of this half-Chris.

Joey should know. He's seen it happen too many times. He's often wondered how the guys slipped under Chris's radar, that four people who were all kinds of blatant about their affection for the hyperactive dumbass could have managed to avoid Chris shutting them out. Instead, they have all Kirkpatrick, all the time, and really they're all so codependent on each other they really wouldn't have it any other way.

The thing is.

The thing is, Joey says to himself, Chris seems to think that all they're really good for is friendship. Which isn't a bad thing to think, because who wouldn't want to be blessed with four friends closer than family almost always by your side?

It's been almost a year and a half since they went on hiatus, and Joey hasn't gone a week without seeing one of the guys. He thinks he would probably go into withdrawal if there wasn't an NSync member somewhere close by at least every other day. Of the ten numbers that make up his speed dial, the four of the first half are them.

He sees Chris a lot, because Chris likes Orlando and Joey's made the city his home. It's become common to find Chris reading the paper in his kitchen in the mornings, coffee already made and toast in a neat stack on the corner of the counter. Joey likes that Chris feels comfortable there, with him. Waiting for him, really, because usually they'll take Bri to the park or play skee-ball down on the boardwalk if Joey doesn't have rehearsal or Chris pretends he doesn't have things he should be doing.

Kelly agreed to marry Joey because he'd made a promise to himself that after ten years, he would be stupid not to marry her if she wanted. And they both agreed it would be better for Briahna. The first reason is probably not as logical as the first, but it works for them and still leaves this open-ended Chris-shaped space that makes Kelly look knowingly at him until he exclaims "What!?" and she just smiles in that way that's uniquely woman. His mom did it too.

Chris and Joey are friends, and friends always have the potential for something more. At least, it's always worked that way for Joey, and while he might not always get what he wants, he tends to get what he needs. Right now it's Chris. Probably forever it's Chris.

So Chris is sitting in his kitchen one morning as the rain pours endlessly outside, rattling the swing set with a soft racket that can be heard through the screen of the open back door. Its early fall in Florida, which means annoyingly inconsistent weather but a generally steady temperature. And Chris is reading the paper, like he often does, absentmindedly sipping at his coffee and pretending that it's not the funnies he's so engrossed in.

When he sees Joey, he raises his mug in greeting and Joey grunts in response. Joey's never been great at mornings, and he's not really looking forward to rehearsal and a show tonight when it's this icky outside. Chris starts to chatter away about the state of politics in Uganda or the impending breakup of Jen and Ben or something ridiculously inane at fucking early o'clock in the morning, but Joey's used to it and makes the appropriate noises of assent and incredulity when they're called for.

Truth be told, Joey likes their little morning ritual, even if it demands he be semi-conscious during it. He's really fond of Chris's babble, because unlike most babble it often ends up having some sort of point or impact on their lives. While he's not sure where this is going, he's glad to know that it's most likely going somewhere.

Chris is sorta wet, now that Joey looks at him. He must have just run over from his house. Chris has a tendency to lose umbrellas like pennies, dropping them at offices or meetings and then forgetting them in his manic rush to be doing something else. It's okay, though. He knows where the towels are, as evidenced by the one hanging around his neck, and Wet Chris is kind of a phenomenon in and of itself.

Wet Chris has his longer hair plastered to his face, and all of his clothes save his undershirt and cargo shorts laid out in the laundry room to dry. Wet Chris shows his stomach a little more, and even though they've both been doing stuff neither of them are in tour shape. Joey likes that he doesn't feel too thick around Chris. They're just guys, really, with the fame thing tacked on.

The thing about Wet Chris, though, is that little water droplets fly from his hands as he illustrates his latest story with wide sweeps of his arms so that Joey is splashed, just a little. And really, Joey can't help but find it as incredibly endearing as it is, so he leans over the breakfast table and kisses Chris good morning.

He should probably be surprised by Chris's hand coming to rest against the side of his neck, urging him on, but he's really not. Joey stumbles over to the other side of the table, hauling Chris close, close enough to hear him mumble, "Joe, man, Joey, why'd you pick now? I'm gonna get wet all over again--"

and Joey says, "I like you wet,"

and Chris can't help but chuckle because there's a dirty joke in there, so Joey says, "I like you naked,"

and Chris's fingers scrabble at Joey's shirt and he mumbles against his shoulder, "We're gonna wake up Bri,"

and Joey kisses him quiet.

Joey is really, really glad that Kelly and Briahna like to sleep in late because as he moves Chris up against the wall he realizes that getting what you want is a lot like getting what you need, and it's easier than he expected it to be. So he locks an arm around Chris's waist and shoves a thigh through Chris's legs so that he's flush against the wall and balanced precariously on Joey with his arms around Joey's neck and he can't get away.

Joey really likes that idea. "You can't leave," he states as he licks and bites up Chris's jaw.

"um, okay," Chris says breathlessly, his hands clenching and unclenching in Joey's hair like the old cat his grandmother used to have.

Joey pulls back long enough to say, "Tell me you're gonna stay, Chris, 'cause I know all your tricks and I know the shit you pull and none of it's going to fly with me. And besides that, you're here anyway and I don't want you to go."

Chris looks at him like he's the biggest idiot in the world. "Joey, if you haven't noticed, I live like three minutes from you and see you every day of your life. I eat your food, I play with your kid, I sweet-talk your fake wife. I live, eat and breathe you, Fatone. Get your head out of your ass." Okay, so he might be the biggest idiot in the world.

"Good," he says finally, because it really is.



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