we invented the remix 5

all day long by silveryscrape: the no logo mix by bossymarmalade

The Coca-Cola can hits him in the forehead and bops his nose before tumbling down as Justin jolts awake. He hears Chris saying, guys, walmart run, yo, but all he's really aware of is that sinuous white swirl cutting through the red, twisting and turning in front of his bleary eyes. Better than the real thing, he thinks, and watches as JC stretches out like salt-caramel taffy, melting under the weight Chris's hot stare. Even better than the real thing.


They get out of the buses and Justin takes a moment to breathe in his surroundings, the groggy air and the nickel-smell of the carts in the sun, the tacky asphalt under his yellow Adidas sneakers and the slight stink of half a McDonald's cheeseburger, smashed among the litter of a meal in one of the parking spaces. A couple of crows stand in the garbage in delirious joy, taking up big beakfuls of gritty relish and meat. His stomach gives a nauseated gurgle and Justin rubs it in pleasure, planning to get a strawberry milkshake (sweet, cold, so unreal and so desirable) when they get inside.

Lance and Joey bicker loudly all the way to the door, where the greeter in worn Dickies gives them a faltering smile. Justin grins brilliantly at the man -- old enough to be his grandpa -- and watches as Lance and Joey move toward the music section, as tandem as if they're dance partners. JC bumps up against his elbow, already halfway into a sentence even though he hadn't even said the beginning part:

"--sign up for the gift registry, already, and, um ... okay, where's the clothes? The t-shirts and stuff?"

"No rush," Justin says. His nose is full of the high, sharp smells of Clearasil and Maybelline, smells that take him back to a dozen hotel rooms and a dozen different chocolate- or honey-haired girls with glossy lips and brand-new Victoria's Secret push-up bras. He's not in any hurry to move. JC starts to sigh but then cuts himself off with an interested hum, picking up a tester bottle of an Aveeno oatmeal lotion that's on sale. He holds the bottle up and Justin obediently sticks out his hands full of raggedy cuticles; JC doles out liberal squirts for both of them and they stand there rubbing lotion into their wrists and fingernails. Justin files away the smell for the future, JC's skin (soft and oily, milk cream and porridge) soaking up the lotion.

Chris shoots up muttering behind them and swats at JC when he offers the hand lotion. "The two of you reeking like Jergen's is enough," he says, and Justin bites down on his tongue because JC is just laughing and Chris doesn't care anyway, is making lame jokes instead about jerking off. He mentions Kleenex and Justin shudders, bland paper-smelling fluff and those awful dust motes, the tiny bumps along the edge where the three-plys are joined into one. He laughs a beat behind the other two, but that's okay because Chris is already heading off in a different direction.

"This way," JC says, swishing off through racks of brightly-coloured toiletries (Garnier, and Dove, and Neutrogena) until the drugstore items gave way to kids' clothes (Batman, and Winnie the Pooh, and Sesame Street) and then to women's clothing, all synthetics and frills among fleece and cheap cottons. They whir through the activewear section and Justin sticks out his fingers as he passes the racks, loving the feel of the rapidly-shifting fabrics as he breezes along until he comes upon JC stopped short, eyes crinkled with mirth.

"Oh shit," JC cackles. "Look at this shirt!" He plucks something rustly off the rack of formal clothes and holds it up against himself, a riot of slashing pink and black and green with pouffy cap sleeves and tightly-banded waist. Justin notes the label in its sisters on the rack (White Stag) and tugs something from another prong, an awful babydoll concoction (Riders) with far too much cinching in unnecessary places. As he holds it up against himself, mugging with it, he watches Chris tumble up the aisle from another direction and scuff to a slower pace, mouth tightening as he watches JC whirl the White Stag thing around to discard in favour of a frothy lace number (George). Justin licks his lips and smooths the babydoll down across his hip, timing it to the jump of the muscle in Chris's clenched, tense jaw. JC catches on, half-turning and coquettish with the fuschia-pink top, and Chris shakes his riveted head almost imperceptibly under the arc of JC's grin. The fabric over Justin's hip is starchy and scratchy under his fingers, jarring out of time with the shake of Chris's head, but what else can be expected from such a brand.

"Let's go get candy," he suggests, and JC abandons the George top instantly. The candy aisle is better, the comforting silver of Hershey's Kisses and the seventies orange-brown-and-yellow of the Reeses Pieces, the pervasive scent of cocoa and milk solids dissolving through corrugated cardboard. Justin likes candy that comes in boxes, like Turtles or Pot of Gold. It seems more special than the kind that comes in bags. He pushes aside bags with the seventies colours ugly-bright printed on the plastic in order to fill his basket with layers of mini Twixes, rolls of Sweet Tarts, a sheet of KitKats and a huge cellophane sack of Jolly Ranchers. JC is wandering up and down the aisle poking bags, picking up awful-looking marshmallow things and putting them back down; Justin looks at him from half-slitted eyes and tastes artificial Jolly Rancher green apple and raspberry and cherry, the three of them stoned and listening to Cypress Hill and everything psychobetabuckdown with piece after piece of hard, tongue-cutting candy. He liked the cherry the best, but after Chris and JC had gone off to bed he'd tasted their raspberry and apple ones too, sliding them even into the soft back parts of his mouth to make sure he got the tastes all over his tongue.

JC ends up buying some Trident sugar-free gum and a massive amount of Rolos, and it isn't until they're jostling each other up the steps of the bus that he smacks his forehead and yelps, "Oh, fuck me. I forgot the Reeses Pieces. Why can I never remember the Reeses Pieces?"

Justin does a quick, frantic mental inventory of the candy he's bought and comes up empty. JC moans like it's the end of the world and shuts the door just as Justin glances into the kitchen area and catches sight of the too-bright seventies colours on plastic on the counter, and he's suddenly filled with the idea that this is how he can redeem himself. He lurches for the bag, but JC notices and whoops, like Justin's intending to keep the candy for himself. It's nothing like that -- Justin hates the stodge of caranuba wax that covers the Reeses Pieces -- but he does want to get to the bag first. He does it, narrowly avoiding JC's shrieky grabs, and hauls ass into the back.

Chris is there. Chris must have been the one to bring the Reeses Pieces, anticipating that JC would forget them and subsequently want them. Justin failed and didn't figure that one out.

Curled up tight with his headphones on, Chris sees Justin flailing toward him and scowls; when his face changes, the scowl getting wider and more carnivorous, Justin knows JC's coming up behind him and he spins, playing with JC, withholding the bag until JC tackles him and they sprawl onto the sofa. Chris watches the stretch of JC's thighs and lobs the remote control to Justin, who automatically drops the Reeses Pieces into JC's grasping hands.

JC fondles the knobbly plastic bag and watches Chris for the rest of the night, breathing slow and syrupy. Justin tries to ignore being ignored and tells himself that it's his own fault for not remembering the candy.


He's half-asleep in bed before he remembers with great distress that he'd wanted and forgotten to get a (sweet cold unreal) strawberry milkshake from the McDonalds, and then he presses his fingernails into his Aveeno-smelling palms to distract himself from the gnawing in his belly. The gnawing has been swelling into a gnashing lately, moving inexorably up through him, and Justin's horribly afraid that it will soon reach his heart.

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