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Starry Eyes

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Ryan stumbles out the back door of the venue, his head pounding so hard he can barely see. The house music follows him even after he tightly shuts the door and he winces, shoving his fingertips into his temple to try and dull the ache even just a little bit.

Between the shitty rap song blasting through the air and the ruckus of all the other guys in the green room backstage, he just hadn’t been able to take it a moment longer. He’s pretty sure the bus is empty, and he has just long enough to pop some ibuprofen and take a short nap before the show. Fucking figures, he thinks to himself. Of course he’d have a near-debilitating migraine the last night of the tour. As he types in the lock code with one eye closed so that the numbers come into focus and tugs the door of the bus open, a nap is just what he plans to do.

His plans are immediately cut short by the sound of someone singing. It’s a voice he vaguely recognizes, but it definitely isn’t Chris. The sound’s coming from the back of the bus toward the bunks, the rest of the bus seemingly completely empty as Ryan had suspected.

Ryan creeps back toward the sound, the throbbing in his head momentarily forgotten about. His initial goal is to scare the shit out of the owner of the voice, but then as soon as he catches a glimpse of Justin, that plan flies right out the window with the nap plan.

He’s got headphones shoved down onto his head, his faded hair tufting out around them. His tall frame and broad shoulders take up almost the entire narrow space between the rows of bunks and his hips sway slowly as he sings and packs his things into a nearby duffel bag.

Ryan doesn’t recognize the song, but something about the way Justin’s singing it, the passion behind the words, makes him assume it’s one of the ones he’s been working on for a solo EP.

Justin’s folding a shirt in front of himself, launching into what Ryan can only guess is the chorus of the song when his eyes wander up for just a second, catch sight of Ryan, and go as wide as a deer who’s just been caught in the brightest headlights imaginable. The shirt slips through his fingers and he reaches up to yank the headphones off his head, his cheeks turning a bright cherry red.

“Sorry,” Ryan mumbles. “Didn’t mean to scare you.”

“It’s okay, I just… uh, I’m not used to people hearing me sing,” Justin says, his voice wavering just slightly. Ryan shrugs.

“It sounded really fucking good, dude. If you hadn’t caught me, I probably would’ve kept spying,” he says, and Justin rakes a hand through his hair, another blush rising quickly up into his neck and face.

“T-thanks,” he mutters in a voice barely above a whisper, and Ryan nods.

“Was it yours?” he asks, and Justin nods. “I like it.”

The smile that splits Justin’s face in half damn near makes Ryan completely forget about the migraine. Somehow, he’s never noticed how absolutely handsome Justin’s smile is; big and goofy, making his eyes light up with it.

“It’s not finished yet, I just… I like it too, I think,” he says, and Ryan smiles back.

“That’s good. You should like it.”

They fall into a silence as Justin smiles again, picks the shirt back up to properly fold it before shoving it in his bag. Ryan moves to his own bunk and digs around, finally finding the bottle of ibuprofen he knew he had stashed somewhere. He dumps a few of the small pills out into his hand, ready to move to the front of the bus when Justin holds a water bottle out to him.

“Headache?” he asks, fully aware of Ryan’s migraines. Ryan nods, closing his eyes as he downs the pills. “You gonna be alright for the show?”

“Yeah, I just… I need to sit down,” Ryan manages, a new wave of pain hitting him like a truck. He staggers, the overhead lights entirely too bright for him to keep his eyes open. They snap shut and in a second, Justin’s hand’s on his arm.

“Okay. C’mon, I’ve got you,” he says gently, guiding Ryan in the direction of his bunk. Ryan shakes his head firmly.

“No, I… I don’t wanna be alone,” he whimpers, and in a second Justin’s making a small noise of acceptance in the back of his throat and leading him carefully to the front lounge of the bus.

“I’ll stay with you.”

They make it up front and Justin urges Ryan to sit on one of the bench seats, which he does. His eyes are still held tightly closed, but he feels Justin sitting beside him.

“Can you turn the lights off?” he asks, and Justin doesn’t respond, but Ryan hears him moving and hears the switch click, the burnt orange color on the inside of his eyelids fading to black.

Ryan opens his eyes slowly, looking up at Justin. It’s not completely dark; there’s a night light plugged into the wall so that they don’t kill themselves when they wander out of their bunks for midnight snacks or whatever else, and Ryan can clearly see Justin’s eyes sparkling in the dim light.

“Do you need anything?” Justin asks, and Ryan starts to shake his head but then an idea hits him.

“Can you sing to me?” he asks, and even in the mostly-dark, Ryan can see a blush rise to Justin’s cheeks again. Ryan likes this side of him, this bashful hesitant side. He’s never seen it before and quite frankly, it’s hot as fuck.

“I don’t know…” Justin trails off and Ryan has just enough energy to manage to jut his bottom lip out in a pout.

“But I don’t feel good,” he groans dramatically, making Justin smile. “Please?”

Justin sighs, closing his eyes.

“Did you know that sometimes when I have migraines I just puke everywhere?” Ryan asks, fully aware that this isn’t a pukey migraine. “If you don’t sing to me, I’m liable to just puke right in your lap,” he says with a smirk, and Justin’s eyes open just to roll into the back of his head.

“Fine. Come here,” Justin says, sitting back against the seat and reaching for Ryan. Ryan lets himself be tugged down into a horizontal position, his head nestled on the thigh of Justin’s soft sweatpants.

Ryan closes his eyes and Justin’s hand finds its way to his face, stroking his cheek gently, nervously. It takes a few seconds for him to settle into the movement, brushing Ryan’s hair off his forehead and rubbing slow circles into his temple.

“This okay?” he asks, and Ryan hums an approval. In reality, it’s way more than okay. He’s pretty sure just the warmth of Justin’s body heat and the gentle almost-massage could lull him to sleep on its own.

“Whaddya want me to sing?” Justin asks, and Ryan half shrugs.

“Whatever you want.”

Justin’s quiet for a moment, and Ryan’s starting to think he’s abandoned the idea of singing at all when he clears his throat. He hums under his breath for a few seconds like he’s trying to get a feel for the song, and when his voice finally picks up, it’s quiet and timid.

“Don’t be nervous. Your voice is pretty,” Ryan mumbles, his own voice scratchy with a new layer of tiredness that’s just hit him. Justin doesn’t say anything, but his voice does get just a little more steady as he sings.

It’s the same song he was singing before, his song. Ryan doesn’t know the words of course, but it doesn’t matter. Just the sound of Justin’s voice mixed with his soft fingers on his head really are soothing his headache and his aching muscles much more than he even would’ve expected.

God, Justin’s voice really is just very soft and sweet and before Ryan knows it, he’s drifting off to sleep without even really meaning to. Next thing he knows, Justin’s gently shaking him awake.

“Ry. Show’s in a half hour and neither of us are ready,” he informs him, and Ryan groans as he wakes, pushing his palms into his eyes. The headache is still there for sure, but between the ibuprofen and Justin singing him to sleep, it’s better, more tolerable.

“Thanks,” he says as he sits up, and Justin nods.


When Ryan looks up at Justin, he’s got that adorably shy look on his face again.

“No one’s heard that song yet,” he says, and Ryan nods.

“I really like it. Everyone else will too,” Ryan assures him, and Justin smiles.


Silence falls between them, and Ryan’s not sure if it’s the headache or the shy look on his face or just the memory of his soft singing voice, but suddenly he’s overwhelmed with the urge to kiss Justin, something he’s definitely thought about before but never quite hard enough to actually do it. Somehow in this moment, though, it’s all he wants to do.

Justin’s still watching him, still has a hand on his forearm from helping him up into a sitting position. He’s so soft and honestly adorable, and…

As Ryan’s thinking about it - overthinking it - Justin leans in and does the work himself. He kisses Ryan softly, slowly, and it’s all Ryan can do to not just melt into a puddle right there on the bench seat of the bus.

Ryan’s just entertaining the idea of deepening the kiss, his mind swimming with new possibilities, when the door of the bus slams open.

Justin’s lips leave his, but he doesn’t pull away all the way, doesn’t let go of his arm or even really turn his head in the direction of the noise. Ryan leaves his hands on Justin too, one of them resting on his thigh while the other cups his cheek, his thumb tracing the soft line of stubble that lives there.

Chris appears at the top of the stairs just inside the door, a wicked smirk on his face.

“Clearly you guys are… busy, but we do have a show to play tonight,” he reminds them, and Ryan nods.

“We know.”

“Okay. I was just coming to make sure you weren’t sleeping or anything, but I can see now that’s probably the furthest thing from your minds,” Chris says, winking at them stupidly as he backs out of the space and slams the door again on his way out.

Justin and Ryan both laugh quietly, their eyes reconnecting. Ryan’s pretty sure all either of them want to do is get right back to where they were before Chris barged in, but there really isn’t time. They’re already going to be cutting it close.

“They don’t actually need us out there, right?” Justin asks, a smile at the corners of his lips. Ryan shakes his head.

“Bass and guitar? Nah. Rick can handle it and Chris can play bass,” he says, smiling back at him.

“I’m gonna kiss you again,” Justin informs him, and he nods.

“Please do.”

Their lips connect again with much more feeling behind it and Ryan can’t stop himself from letting a small noise escape the back of his throat. Justin smiles into the kiss and groans dramatically when he breaks it a few moments later.

“We should go,” he whispers, and Ryan nods.

“Yeah, we should.”

He pushes his lips into Justin’s one last time, doing his best to savor it. When they pull apart again, he stands to stop himself from just doing it again.

“C’mon,” he says, reaching for Justin’s hand. Once they’re both standing, they seem to be able to make a more solid effort to actually go inside and get ready for the show.

“How’s your head?” Justin asks as they step out into the chilly evening air. Ryan smiles.

“A lot better now, actually. Thanks.”

Justin nods.

“I don’t actually believe it was me that helped and not the pills, but I’m glad you feel better,” he says, and Ryan shrugs.

“You’ve got the magic fingers,” he jokes, raising his own hand and wiggling its fingers as they step into the venue. “And the magic lips, for that matter,” he adds, and Justin casts a glance down the hallway in front of them before bending slightly to plant another quick kiss on Ryan’s lips.

“We’re gonna revisit the magic lips thing later, don’t you worry,” Justin informs him, laughing. Ryan nods.

“I’d be pissed if we didn’t.”