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not real, made up, purely intended for entertainment

II Sparkle

by Pen

Funny how he can forget how much he loves the kid, but they don't see one another for months, years at a time and it's just not something that jumps into a guy's mind, really, Hey, I love that Timberlake kid, he doesn't have time to think about it. And now, here's Justin, tall and perfect, every inch a superstar, and that megawatt grin hasn't changed even if the rest of him has gone light years away.

Except not, because here he is, buying Joey lunch in the VIP room of one of the most exclusive restaurants in LA, and they hugged when they met because of course they did, what else would they do, and Justin prodded Joey's broad, squishy middle and called him Fat One, and Joey threatened to sit on him, and everything felt just like it always used to. Doesn't matter that Joey's comfortably unfit nowadays, picking his appearances for fun and how they work around his family.

Justin talks about his Hollywood projects, and Joey hears something underneath, a hint of puzzlement below the pride. He doesn't comment, though. Justin isn't the cinematic idol he probably expected to be by now, and he doesn't know why, 'cause he's doing everything right, picking the challenging projects, working with great people. Joey has a feeling it's good for Justin not to have everything he wants, not right away. It'll come along, in time. That's how Justin is, he gets what he wants. Law of the universe. Joey doesn't resent it, none of them ever did—okay, maybe Lance, but not often, because they all knew it. Law of the universe. So Justin's not Hollywood gold yet, he's not the green light that gets films made and box offices buzzing. Give it time. 'Sides, it's not like the kid doesn't deserve it. He's still out there, driving himself, and here's Joey, getting fat.

Eh, he's Italian. Yeah, blue cheese with the salad, thanks.

Joey doesn't comment on the hand sanitizer, either. Justin doesn't seem to notice he's using it, his hands are so practiced. Kelly says a few germs are good for the kids, she never worried about Briahna playing in the yard, crawling amongst the flowers. They talk about Joey's girls for a while, and of course Joey has pictures, he passes his phone across the table and Justin flicks through, proud big sister with baby Kloey on her lap. Joey knows the pictures by heart, but he can't help the smile that slides across his face as Justin pauses over that one, where his girls have ear to ear identical grins (except the baby has only the one tooth).

Joey pockets the phone and pretends not to see the sanitizer, again.

And Justin talks about his own girl, his woman, that is, Kelly would smack Joey if she heard him describing a grown woman as a girl. Justin's talking about commitment, and Joey puts on a serious face, because Justin means it, or he thinks he does. Joey used to talk about Kelly, too, used to ask Lance whether it was a good idea, but that was before he knew for certain, because when he did know, he just went right ahead and asked her.

Of course, there was a whole lot more talking after she said no, but that was different.

So is that what Justin wants to know? How's it possible to survive, to keep a relationship alive, if she doesn't want to marry you after all? Joey is careful not to smile, because Justin is so very earnest about it all. He bought a diamond, even. Which surprises Joey, actually, because that's something, that's definitely something, even if Justin Timberlake can afford a hundred diamonds—a hundred fucking enormous diamonds, diamonds the size of fucking coconuts, it's not like he's investing his life savings, but damn, that thing is huge. If Jessica ends up wearing that ring, paparazzi will be able to spot it from three states away.

Jesus, and earrings too?

Joey does his best to say the right things. He babbles, a bit, because he is a big, sentimental sap, and actually gets kinda teary about it all, and Justin watches with big, earnest blue eyes and Joey wonders whether he gets it, really gets it, or if he's just... studying. Learning how to be the marrying kind. He learnt how to be cool, he studied them all for years, and everyone they met who deserved the title; he learnt how to be funny, too, he worked hard for that. He can probably learn to be a husband.

The diamond goes back into its little box and hides away in Justin's pocket again, waiting for the right moment. Hand sanitizer.

Then they get frivolous, and talk about Lance's latest photoshoot, which is insane, and Chris's new charity project, which is brilliant, and JC's vague promise of new music, which is clearly driving Justin out of his skull with frustration, because that's another thing about Justin that hasn't changed, he still worships JC, and still hasn't noticed how much.


On the plane home, Joey gets out his phone and checks the pictures again. Who needs diamonds, he thinks, when his baby has a new tooth?

Although it wouldn't hurt to get Kelly a little something sparkly. It'll make her smile.



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