nsync in black and white

Disclaimer: this is fiction. We made it up.

Competitive Trust

by Chantal, written for Spanky

Day 1
Sunday, July 24th 2005

Josh sighed as he dragged his luggage through the lobby, it was already crowded. Very crowded. This was the all state bowling tournament and it were going to be two very important weeks for every person there.

Josh’s father had dropped him off early and now here he was amongst the competition. His father hadn’t wanted to drop him off at all at first but had eventually grumpily agreed. He had told Josh he would take him but he had a lot of work to do and so he would drop him off early.

I don’t want to waste too much time on taking you to this bowling crap.” Josh’s father had said angrily and since Josh was the one who’d made the request he would have to adapt to his father’s schedule. The remark that he should just be glad he was taking him at all, was not lost on Josh but he’d accepted the ride without a word.

He looked around the lobby once, wondering why everyone was so early, before deciding he needed to go to the bathroom. He dragged his luggage to the side, leaving it there as he went in search of a bathroom.

Josh pushed the door to the men’s room open, relieved to find it empty, he was sick of the crowds already. He turned to the toilets then stopped dead in his tracks.

Did he hear… sniffles?

He followed the sound quietly, poking his head around the last stall he saw him. A guy sitting huddled in the corner, his head on his knees, his shoulders shaking with occasional sobs. Josh stepped in front of him, his shadow fell over the boy and he looked up slowly. Liquid blue eyes met his own and Josh immediately felt sorry for him.

“Hey,” he greeted him softly, bending to a crouch in front of him.

“You okay?”

The boy shrugged.

“What’s wrong?” Josh further inquired sincerely.

“Nothing,” the boy answered, his voice cracked and he grimaced.

“What’s your name?” Josh asked instead, the boy obviously didn’t want to tell him what was wrong, or not yet anyway.

The boy scraped his throat then quietly said, “Justin.”

“I’m Josh.”

They fell silent. Josh took the time to study the other boy as he’d ducked his head slightly. The first word that came to Josh’s mind to describe Justin was beautiful. Tight curly hair adorned his head, the eyes he’d seen were baby blue and his skin looked silky smooth. He was wearing a pair of baggy jeans and a light blue t-shirt. Josh unconsciously licked his lips. He could barely keep himself from touching him, feeling his skin against his hand and the curls between his fingers.

“So…” Josh began, scraping his throat, forcing himself to say something before he’d actually do the things that were flashing through his mind.

“You’re in the bowling tournament?” Justin sniffled then looked up.

“I think everyone in this hotel is.”

Josh smiled, “I guess you’re right.” Justin smiled too.

“Come on,” Josh said, stretching his hand towards him. Justin wiped his eyes then took the offered hand, allowing Josh to pull him up. Justin then followed Josh out of the bathroom. Once they were back in the lobby Josh turned towards Justin, he was about to ask if he wanted to walk with him to sign in when a voice called out just as he opened his mouth to speak.


Justin looked quickly to the right, obviously recognizing the voice.

He turned to Josh apologetically. “I gotta go.”

And before Josh could agree and say they’d meet up later Justin was gone. Josh thought that was weird but maybe he’d see him later.

He decided to retrieve his luggage and then he would sign in so he could avoid the crowd in the lobby that was growing by the second as more and more kids arrived to compete in Maryland’s most important bowling tournament.


“There you are,” Justin nodded but his answer wasn’t acknowledged.

“I already signed us in. We have room 1125, I hope it’s a damn nice room, I certainly paid enough for us to be here.” Randall Timberlake rambled as he spotted his son.

Justin nodded his head to the whole ramble, knowing his father didn’t really want an answer from him. Justin instead dragged their luggage behind him, following his father to the elevator that would take them up to their room. Justin just prayed it would be a room to his father’s satisfactory or he would be hearing about the damn room for the rest of the year. He sighed heavily, hoping these two weeks would be over soon.


Josh pulled his suitcase behind him as he stepped off the elevator, in search of room number 837. It was at the end of the hallway but Josh didn’t mind. He opened the door with his key card and it swung open easily. What he hadn’t expected however was to find someone already in the room. A guy stood next to the second bed from the door. Josh could see he was tall although he was bend over his suitcase at the moment, unpacking his things.

“Hey,” Josh greeted friendly as he came further into the room, letting the door fall shut behind him. The guy turned sideways, eyeing him up and down, there was no friendliness in the way he looked at him.

“Hello.” He said formally.

Josh frowned but stepped up to him, his earlier approximation correct, this guy was tall, taller than him even. He had light brown hair that was styled into perfection, combed to the side with a neat parting. His clothes were nearly just as perfect, pressed khaki pants with a white polo shirt and his dark brown eyes looked at Josh with suspicion.

“I’m Josh,” he introduced himself as he stretched out his hand.

The guy looked at it wearily but accepted his hand, “Eric.”

“Well okay then.” Josh let out a nervous laugh. This Eric dude was not friendly and he realized Eric was not here to socialize.

“I gotta get back to unpacking, I have a game tomorrow.”

“Oh sure, don’t let me stop you.” Josh told him, although he had a feeling Eric wouldn’t let himself be stopped by anyone.

Josh admitted that he’d come here to win of course, he was competitive when it came to bowling but it didn’t get to a point where it became intolerable to others. He enjoyed to win like everybody else but winning wasn’t the most important thing to him, enjoying himself was also very important. He was not here solely to win. He also wanted to have a good time in the process, it seemed like not everyone was. This boy was here for one purpose and one purpose alone and that was to win.


“Welcome everyone, welcome.”

The speaker who was the leader of the organizing committee of this bowling tournament had climbed the stage where everyone was assembled to listen to the opening speech.

Justin sat at a table with his father and a few other contestants and their parents. Justin saw then that there were guys who’d come alone and guys who’d brought a parent like he had, or maybe the parent had just invited himself as had his father. Justin had learned there were one hundred and twenty young men who were going to compete over the next two weeks and they all had one goal and that was to win that trophy, standing on a table beside the speaker. There was some money involved as well and of course a reputation at stake.

The man on stage, who was tall and balding spoke about the schedule of the next two weeks, when the quarter finals, semi finals and eventually the final games would take place. He spoke about how much he was looking forward to these upcoming two weeks and how exciting it would be. Justin was only half listening he was looking around the room, eyeing the people around him. He tuned back in when it seemed the man was rounding up his speech.

“But for tonight let’s not think of bowling or competing, let’s have a little bit of fun first! In the back we have set up a bar and a food stand. There is going to be music and we’ll kick this off to a good start. Enjoy these few weeks and enjoy the night, thank you.”

An applause followed as the man made his way down and the room filled with chatting. Justin looked around him once more as people around him started mingling and making their way to the back to get drinks and food. As the lights dimmed a little and the music came on, Justin was ready to participate and allow himself to enjoy this evening before he’d have to get to work tomorrow. But his father had other ideas.

“Come on Justin.”

“Wh... where are we going?” he questioned, hoping against hope they weren’t leaving.

“We’re going to our room. These people may think they can allow themselves a party but we know better, come on. You need to be fit and ready to go tomorrow.”

“But dad, can’t we stay just a little while?”

Randy looked down at his son as if he’d suggested the most incredulous thing and Justin knew it wouldn’t happen.

“What did I tell you before we left?” he questioned almost angrily, bending down to face his son. Justin knew his father was angry, he was just covering it.

“I had to be ready to win or there was no point in us going.” Justin mumbled the exact phrase his father had said as they’d gotten in the car. Justin had nodded then, he was ready, only then had his father started the car. But he was ready to win, he was just also ready to have a little bit of fun along the way. His father didn’t see it that way.

“There are sacrifices you have to make Justin and I’m sorry but you can’t kick back and relax when you have a game tomorrow. You need to be fit and ready.” Randy told his son. Justin knew although his father said he was sorry, he really didn’t mean it. He wasn’t sorry as long as he won. Justin sighed and gave in.

“Alright, dad.”

“Good boy, let’s go.” Randy praised with a gentle slap of his cheek before he lead the way out of the party room. Justin looked back once but followed his father up to their room.


Randy had studied the game schedule they’d gotten in the lobby all the way up to their room and as they got inside he was apparently ready to make an announcement and share the information he’d learned with his son.

“All the games will be held in the bowling alley down the street. You have a game at ten a.m. tomorrow and one at one p.m. and the last one at four p.m. so you better get some rest. I’m going to take a shower. I want you in bed when I get back.”

Justin nodded a little surprised but still answered, “Yes sir.”

Randy got a few things together then went into the bathroom. As the door clicked shut Justin took this opportunity to check out the game schedule himself. He thumbed through the pages and quickly glanced at the games of the upcoming few days but didn’t look at it too thoroughly. One day at a time, he always told himself and tomorrow three games would be awaiting him.

He sighed as he put the schedule back on the table where his father had left it and went to find his pajamas. He quickly changed and got into bed. He picked up the remote as he pulled the covers up to his chin. He was ready as his father had instructed. He didn’t want to go to sleep though. He wasn’t tired yet. He wished he could have stayed downstairs for a little while to talk to some of the other guys there. He wouldn’t have stayed long, only a few hours but his father demanded he went upstairs with him so he could go to bed early. It was only nine! It wasn’t fair.

He flipped through the channels listlessly, not really caring about what was on, he just wanted to post pone having to go to sleep. He’d muted the sound and just watched for a while till he heard the water stop, indicating his father was ready in the shower and would be stepping into the room shortly. Justin quickly turned the TV off, placed the remote on the bedside table between the two beds and slouched under the covers, closing his eyes.


Not much later, his father indeed stepped into the room, wearing his pajamas as well but unlike Justin he didn’t get beneath the covers. He lay down on top of the comforter and picked up the remote. He turned the TV on and turned down the volume a little bit so he could hear but wouldn’t disturb his son. It wasn’t disturbing Justin however, he was actually watching too. His father didn’t notice and so he continued to watch, happy he didn’t have to actually go to sleep yet. That was until Randy momentarily looked in his son’s direction and caught Justin’s eyes watching the TV.

“Goodnight Justin!” he said harshly.

Justin looked up guiltily, mumbling, “Goodnight” before he turned around and pulled the covers over his head so he could block out the sounds and go to sleep as his father wanted.

He closed his eyes sadly, wishing his father hadn’t come along.

He could actually be having some fun instead.

Day 2
Monday, July 25th 2005

Morning came quickly and after having breakfast and his father’s pep talk, that wasn’t really to make him feel better but actually to make him more competitive, it was time for his first game of the tournament.

It took less than an hour and Justin walked away being the winner of the game. His father stood proudly and Justin forced a smile on his face as he joined his father. Randy was a big man, some would call him intimidating. This was mostly due to his tall frame, nearly 6”2, and his broad shoulders. Justin wasn’t afraid of his father, not physically that was. Randy had piercing brown eyes that held a tough glare whenever Justin was bowling. He had brown hair and a beard. People could never tell they were father and son. Justin took after his mother with his baby blue eyes and tight curls. He had a softness about him that his father didn’t have. His father was a real athlete, whenever Justin was playing his father had a menacing look in his eyes that football players had before they attacked. It scared people and whenever Justin was bowling it scared him too. It was enough to make him want to win more than anything in the world.

“Good game, son.” Randy praised. “You did well.”

“Thanks dad.” Justin replied, actually thinking his father was proud of him. But then reality crashed down on him.

“There were some errors but we’ll go over those when we have lunch. There is always something you can do better but it’s more important how you learn from your mistakes so you won’t make them again. This time, you did good.”

Justin nodded as he was being lead away to the dining area although it was never good enough.


The second game went pretty much the same. He won and quite easily too. His father praised him and they talked about the things that went wrong. Or well his father talked, he was just supposed to listen and nod he understood before he promised he’d do better next time.

“What time is it?” Justin wondered as he watched the other games going on around him.

“Um, almost three.” His father answered.

Justin nodded. “I’m gonna go get something to drink.”

“I’ll get it, I could use something myself, what do you want?”

“Soda is fine.” Justin answered.

Randy nodded then disappeared in the direction of the bar. Justin turned towards the bowling lanes, crossing his arms over his chest as he watched silently, enjoying a moment of silence although there were a lot of people around him. He couldn’t help but experience it as a quiet moment.


Josh eyed the boy with the golden curls from a distance. He was finally alone. A man had been at his side practically 24/7, or at least at all the times he’d seen him today. The man looked kind of hard, strict and scary and Josh hadn’t approached the teenager but now it seemed safe. He should take this opportunity and he did. He walked closer till he stood by his side.

“Hey you okay?” Josh wondered. Justin turned to him with a condescending frown. A bit of surprise was carefully hidden in eyes that were still the bluest of blue.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” his tone was full of attitude. Josh was taken aback. Justin was acting as if they’d never met.

“I saw you…”

“You saw. Nothing.” Justin cut him off, the words pressed out between gritted teeth. Josh realized then that Justin wanted to pretend they’d never met. He might be embarrassed because Josh had seen him cry but he didn’t have to be.

“But…” Josh started to tell him but Justin fixed him with such a warning look that Josh held up his hands in defense.

“Fine,” he said, knowing when to back off and leave him be.

He left in disappointment, he’d thought Justin was different, but what did he really know about him? He knew he didn’t know him, at all but still he’d seemed different. He’d seemed kind and friendly. Guess he’d been wrong.


“Who was that?” his father demanded suspiciously as he came back with the drinks, handing one to Justin as he fired his question, glaring at the young boy that had approached his son while he’d been away. He’d caught him walking away from his son, they’d seemed to be talking.

Justin shrugged. “Just someone in the competition.”

It was no big deal, it wasn’t as if they were comparing strategies or something but his father seemed to think they’d been.

“Be careful.”

“Yes dad.” Justin mumbled in agreement, what the hell did he think? And the question was dropped. It was time to focus on the next game, not on some strange boy Justin really had nothing to fear from. Randy knew his son was good and that’s why he was going to win.


The day ended with dinner and Justin had the perfect score, three out of three. He wasn’t really all that happy though. Of course he was happy he’d won and his father had been pleased. It wasn’t possible for him not to win so in that aspect he was happy but to say he’d enjoyed himself today would be a lie.

His father had stood behind him practically the whole day. The spectators had to keep a slight distance from the players and that had been practically the only time his father had been more than thirty feet away from him. The few moments he’d been talking to Josh had been the only time he’d spend talking to someone other than his father. Although it had been weird and awkward and he’d reacted too strongly it had still been the only time he’d spend actually speaking to someone else in the competition.

For the rest of the day he’d listened to his father’s advice all day, had listened to how he could do better in his next game and had listened how he was certain his boy was going to win. Justin sighed softly as he turned onto his right side, facing away from his father.

The first day of the bowling competition was over, only twelve more to go…

Day 3
Tuesday, July 26th 2005

The day had passed uneventfully, Justin had won all his games easily and his father was pleased. His first game was at eleven tomorrow morning and he was trying to come up with a plan as to escape his father for a little while.

He’d been following Justin around all day with advice and pep talks and now as he was reviewing the games of the day Justin really needed to get away from him. The last game especially was a topic of lecturing, he’d been a little tired, ready to get some well deserved rest and he’d slacked off a bit. His father saw the need to tell him how important it was to focus.

“You know Justin, you can’t slack off, not even for a second, it can cost you points. This kid may not have been very good but one bad throw could land you out of the tournament and we don’t want that. We’re going for first prize so make sure you’re on top of your game and get plenty of rest in between so you’re fresh to start a new one and focus. Always focus.”

Justin nodded obediently as his father paced the room with his almost frantic rambling.

“Alright, get ready for bed, you need your rest.”

Justin looked up quickly, his eyes falling immediately on the digits of the TV clock. 8.47 p.m. Oh he had to be kidding him. It wasn’t even nine yet!

“My first game isn’t till eleven tomorrow. I can sleep in a little.”

“But you need all the rest you can get.”

“I’m actually kind of hungry still and a bit thirsty.”

“Drink water.” Randy dismissed.

“I’m just gonna go to the vending machine I saw one in the hallway. I won’t be gone long.” Justin quickly said, getting up to go to the door before his dad could protest.

“Justin,” his father called him back. Justin turned slowly, praying he wouldn’t tell him to go to bed again.

“Take some money with you and don’t be gone too long. I want you in bed by nine-thirty, understood?”

Justin nodded eagerly before practically diving for his backpack and some change, making himself scarce before his father could change his mind.

As he walked down the hall he breathed in deeply, almost feeling lighter and freer. He took the elevator to the 10th floor knowing there wasn’t a vending machine on the floor they were staying on. He walked up and down the hallway searching for a vending machine but only because his father would ask where the food and the drinks were he said he was going to buy. Other than that he was just happy to walk around without his father right beside him. He took the elevator again, ending on the 8th floor and finding the vending machine to the left. He scanned the items slowly, taking his time as he decided what he wanted.

“Did you make your choice?”

Justin whipped around, facing the person who’d spoken to him.

“Oh it’s you.” Justin said, recognizing the young man as Josh. The one who’d seen him cry two days ago. There was disappointment in his voice as he spoke the words, then turned back to the vending machine.

“Did you expect someone else?” Josh asked only amused, although he’d been disappointed in this guy yesterday he couldn’t help but be happy to run into him again. Maybe things weren’t as they seemed.

“Maybe,” Justin said stubbornly. He finally made his choice and pushed some money in the slot, punching in the numbers of the items he wanted. One by one they dropped down and Justin opened the valve, grasping the M&M’s, snickers and cake quickly so he could get out of there. But his hand caught behind the heavy valve and he struggled momentarily to get his hand free. Josh came to his aid and pushed the valve open so Justin could pull his hand back.

“Thanks.” Justin mumbled begrudgingly.

Josh smirked at him, “You're welcome.”

“So you’re feeling better?” Josh wondered as Justin moved to the soda machine, silently demanding that Josh would shut up, scowling when he didn’t.

“What do you mean?” Justin asked, shoving a few quarters in the slot, harsher than was necessary in anger that Josh hadn’t gotten his silent message to stop talking to him.

“That first day, you were cry…”

“I thought I already told you to back off, you didn’t see anything, alright!” Justin exclaimed, spinning towards him completely, an angry scowl on his face.

“Fine, I just wanted to know if you were okay.”

“Why?” Justin asked suspiciously. “Wanted to find out the weakness of the competition?” he challenged.

“Only people who aren’t confident about their own skills do that.”

“Riiiight,” Justin stressed in disbelief.

“Believe what you want Justin, I just wanted to see if you were okay.”

“What the hell for?” he demanded.

Josh shrugged. “Funny enough, I like you.”


Justin got back to the room just in time before his so called curfew. His father was scowling but Justin didn’t really see it. His hands were full with drinks and snacks but he wasn’t really hungry anymore. He hadn’t been to begin with, he’d just told his father that so he could get away from him but the bit of appetite he’d had was no longer there. He still forced a bit of the cake in his mouth, to eat something, he didn’t want any questions.

Once he finished the cake he went to the bathroom to brush his teeth, he got into his pajamas and crawled underneath the blankets, the conversation repeating in his mind even as he closed his eyes. Josh had left him with questions, by the time Justin had found his wits Josh had been gone. He tried to sleep but it kept playing on his mind.

After more than half an hour, he finally forced himself to push the questions to the side, he needed his sleep. Josh was not going to take it away from him, risking his father’s wrath for something like this and he wouldn’t let Josh succeed in what was obviously a way to get his attention and focus off of his game.

Day 4
Wednesday, July 27th 2005

Justin heard groaning as soon as he woke up. He turned onto his side and saw his father holding his head.

“Dad?” Justin questioned concerned. “What’s wrong?”

“Headache,” Randy answered softly. Justin sat up and turned to face his father.

“Can I get you anything?”


Justin nodded and got up to go to the bathroom where their toiletries were standing on the sink counter. He grabbed the painkillers and filled a glass with water, then carried both items towards his father.

“Here,” Justin said quietly, knowing how his voice could sound like a drill in his father’s head. His father got these headaches occasionally.

“Thanks son,” Randy answered just as quietly, taking the medicine quickly and washing it down with the water Justin had brought him. He layed back down.

“Can I do anything else?”

“No, I’m just gonna rest for a while, you go ahead and get breakfast, I’ll be good to go for the game.” Randy instructed and Justin nodded.

“Okay dad.” He showered, got dressed and went downstairs to the dining room to eat just as his father had said.


Almost thirty minutes later Justin made his way back up to the room. Justin could tell immediately that his father wasn’t feeling better but he asked nevertheless.

“I’m fine, let’s go.” Randy answered stubbornly and with a grimace he pushed himself to a sitting position. He groaned loudly as the pounding in his head increased and Justin was by his side in an instant.

“Dad you’re not fine, lay back down,” he instructed, gently pushing against his father’s shoulder, knowing his father really didn’t feel well or he would have said something about the tone he was using.

Randy instead shook his head against better judgment as he stubbornly said, “No I should be going with you.”

“Oh no, dad you just rest today I can handle it, I’ll knock them dead.” Justin said seriously, gently pushing his father back to the mattress. Justin didn’t know what exactly had caused this particular severe headache to come up but his father had those sometimes, they were unpredictable and came and went as they pleased.

“I’ll be fine.” He promised again as his dad started to protest once more.

Randy sighed. “Okay then, I’ll take another pill and meet up with you tonight.” He promised as if Justin would be bothered with not having him there.

“Sure,” Justin agreed. He felt bad for his father that he wasn’t feeling well but he couldn’t help to thank his lucky stars for this.

“But only if you feel well enough tonight.” Hoping his father would pass up on the game tonight as well.

Randy nodded slowly before lowering himself back in the pillows. Justin went into the bathroom to pick up a washcloth from the towel rack and wet it in the sink, he then went back to his father and placed it on his forehead.

“I’ll see you soon.” Justin whispered before quietly going out the door, once it closed behind him he let out a sigh of relief followed by an immense smile. He actually caught himself whistling as he made his way to the elevator, ready to have fun and bowl.


As he played his first game of the day, Justin began to realize that not having his father there had except for a lot of advantages also a disadvantage. His father only had to look at him a certain way and Justin was focused again. A strict look and he forgot everything around him except for the ball he was holding in his hand and the pins he was supposed to strike down with it.

Halfway through the game his eye had fallen on a guy he knew, Josh. He was playing just a few lanes away from him and as he saw him, he remembered what had happened the night before and what Josh had said to him. The unwanted questions came with it and Justin was out of balance, he was unfocussed and the next time he let go of that ball he knew it would miss every pin. The other guy smirked pleased and Justin slapped himself mentally, he pictured his father’s stern look, eyeing him right now with a death glare. With that image in mind he picked up the ball for his second throw; it went straight through the middle and till his relieve every pin tumbled over. The kid wasn’t looking quite as pleased anymore and Justin let out a sigh of relief.

He knew he should not think about Josh or what he’d told him. He decided to confront him later but for now he steadily pictured his father’s glare to get him through the game, and get him through as the winner.


“Why did you say you liked me?” Justin demanded. As soon as the game was over and the scores had been written down he’d marched over to the slim boy who’d almost succeeded in making him lose the game. Josh was too shocked to respond and just stared at him. “Think you can play with my head!”

“No,” Josh denied, getting his wits back.

“It won’t work you know, you won’t succeed.” Justin said angrily, pointing a finger at him.

“I’m not trying to,” Josh denied still.

“Yes you are!”

“No I’m not. Look Justin, I’d like to win yes but I only want to win if I’m best not cause I managed to screw with my opponents heads, as you so nicely put it.”

“Do you believe your own bullshit?” Justin questioned.

“Actually I don’t see it as bullshit and yes I do believe it.” Josh answered although knowing it wasn’t really a question Justin had expected an answer to. Justin sighed loudly, beyond frustrated, whatever he threw at this guy he had a comeback and it was starting to tick him off.

“Stay the hell away from me!” he demanded angrily before storming off. Josh was trying to play with his head well tough he wouldn’t let him.


Justin was worried. It was his second game of the day and he was behind. He needed a good throw to get him ahead again because just because his father wasn’t behind him watching his every move didn’t mean he could lose the game. His father would be angry and he’d hear about it anyway, bad headache or not. Only two frames left, he needed to focus. He’d said he wouldn’t let Josh play with his head but he realized he’d already let him.

With difficulty he managed to force himself to keep his attention on his game, his mind kept wandering back to Josh’s words and the questions his own mind had added to them. He’d once again used the trick of pretending his father was behind him again but it only worked to some extent. He needed to talk to Josh. He needed to make sure he was out of his thoughts before he would play another game.


“Can you tell me in which room Joshua Chasez is staying?” Justin asked sweetly, leaning over the front desk hoping the woman would give him the information after he’d learned Josh’s full name from the game survey.

The games of the day were over, it was nearly eight o’clock and Justin was happy he could say he’d won all of his games again today. It wasn’t because he’d managed to talk to Josh in between the second and third game however. It was because around four his father had showed up. He hadn’t said much to him but the real thing of those eyes boring into his back, knowing they held expectations and a warning not to lose, had been enough to keep his focus on the game and to completely forget about Josh. His father had retreated to his bed after dinner but Justin still felt the need to confront Josh. Justin needed to know what Josh was trying to do or if he maybe had been honest.

“I need to talk to him.”

The woman was hesitating.

“It’s important, please.”

He batted his eyelashes at her and he could see her caving in front of his eyes.

She typed the name into the computer and came up with the answer, “837”

“Thank you!” he said happily before dashing to the elevator taking it to the 8th floor. He was going to set things straight once and for all before this would become disastrous by losing a game or getting chucked out of the competition completely.


“You gotta stop this shit now.” Justin said immediately as the door opened and he saw how the nonchalant boy automatically leaned against the doorframe. Josh did a double take as the words sunk in.

“Ex… excuse me?”

“You said you didn’t want to screw with my head but you are!”

“I thought you wanted me to stay away from you?” Josh wondered confused.

“I did! I do,” he sighed.

“You really like me?” Justin wondered softly.

Josh nodded, “Yeah.”

“Then please stop screwing with my head.”

“Let me prove to you that I have good intentions.” Josh said confidently.

“If you think I only want to take out the competition, let me prove to you that I do really like you.” Justin looked wearily. His father was still in bed, he could go but did he want to?

“How do I know you’re not trying to get me to go to bed late so I’ll be too tired to play tomorrow?”

Josh sighed. “I’m coming too right? So I’ll be just as tired if we stay out late. We won’t, I promise, just come on give me a chance.”

Justin sighed, slumping in defeat. His eyes were honest or… he was a really good actor. Screw it, Justin thought suddenly.

“Alright.” Josh’s toothy grin was passed his way.

“Let’s go then.” He said, grabbing his jacket and key card quickly before stepping out of the room, letting the door fall shut behind him.


They took the elevator down to the lobby and walked out of the hotel. They turned right as they walked down the stairs that led up to the hotel and walked down the street for a bit. All of this was done in complete silence. Justin didn’t know if this was a trick, first he asked him to come out with him and then he lead him down the street, what was he doing? But Josh knew exactly what he was doing and where they were going.

They stopped finally, there was a bench that overlooked the grass field and Justin realized Josh had lead him to the park. A few trees provided shadow and they both sat down. For a moment they both stared out in front of them. Justin finally broke the silence.

“Why did you bring me here?”

Josh shrugged. “I was walking around a bit a few days ago and came across this park. It relaxed me,” Josh turned towards Justin, eyeing him.

“I hoped it would relax you too.”

Justin stiffened. “You saying I’m not relaxed?” he wondered somewhat angrily.

“Honestly? Yes.” Josh was sure he’d heard a hmph escape the boy’s lips and he wondered if this was the right way to approach him. Well tough, the words had left his mouth, he couldn’t take them back, better to explain them.

“I mean you were crying that first day. You pretend it didn’t happen and I know you want me to pretend it didn’t happen either but it did. That doesn’t seem relaxed to me.”

“So what if I was a little nervous for this tournament, what do you care?”

“If you want to pretend, be my guest.” Josh said meaningful, he knew it wasn’t just about being a little nervous, there was more to it but Justin obviously didn’t want to talk about it.

Justin scowled at him, “What do you care?” he asked again, angrier now.

Josh shrugged. “I told you, I like you.”

“Oh right, you like me.” Justin repeated sarcastically, making bunny ears as he said the word like.

“I do, why are you doubting that?” Josh wondered seriously, why would he say it if he didn’t mean it?

“Oh I don’t know, because you’re my competition. It’d real easy to take me down that way.”

“Why are you so obsessed with this whole competition thing and taking you down theory?”

“Because I want to win.”

Josh sighed. “Look Justin,” he started, looking him straight in the eye.

“I like you, honestly. I am not doing this to take you down, I am not doing this to screw with your head. I simply like you and I wanted you to know that. That’s all I swear. If you don’t like me, fine, I won’t bother you again but don’t hide behind this whole competition thing because this is not what it is about.”

Justin listened open mouthed, his eyes wide. He really seemed sincere, he was eyeing him and he didn’t look away once. Maybe he was honest about this.

Justin sighed, his defensive armor crumbling. “I think I like you too.”

Josh smiled, “You think?”

Justin nodded.

“I’ll take it.” Josh said then grinned and Justin allowed a tiny smile to appear.

The first step was made.


“What got you into bowling?” Justin wondered after a while. They’d been sitting on the bench for a while now and had talked about random things. Justin was curious. Josh frowned.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean you just don’t… seem to be… the type.” Justin explained the origin of his question.

“What type am I then?”

“Basketball, football, golf, not…”


Justin shook his head.

“You can’t laugh,” Josh started, it made Justin want to know more desperately.

“I won’t.”

“Grease,” came the soft admittance. Justin leaned in closer.

“What?” Josh looked up, searching for the beginnings of a smile but he found confusion. He sighed.

“Grease,” he said again.

“There was no bowling in that movie.” Justin said, still too confused to laugh.

“The second movie did.”

“With Michelle Pheiffer?”

Josh nodded, his head slightly ducked now that Justin knew what he was talking about. Justin bit his lip to stop his smile from forming but he couldn’t stop it. Josh looked up quickly as there was no response.

“I said you couldn’t laugh!” he cried accusingly.

Justin did his best to force the smile away, “I’m sorry!” A giggle escaped.

“Sorry,” he said again, succeeding in getting himself somewhat under control. Josh scowled but secretly enjoyed the teasing they had going on. They were more comfortable already.

“So you liked it cause of her?” he wondered.

“No!” Josh bit back, then adding softer.

“Cause of him.”

Justin looked surprised. “Oh, right.” Justin said, as if he only now realized Josh was gay. It seemed stupid he’d said he liked him and that was a sign as any but it was still a shock.

Josh saw how Justin reacted and couldn’t help but ask, “You do know I like you in that way right?”

Justin met his eyes and nodded. “Uh yeah, I well, like you that way too.” Justin admitted with a shy smile. He knew he did.

Josh had been on his mind for the past few days and although he had told himself it was because he’d said such strange things if he was completely honest with himself there had been thoughts of Josh’s sexiness as well. The way his dark brown curls bobbed loosely on his head when he walked, how his piercing blue eyes looked at Justin as if he knew everything he was thinking and the way he dressed, baggy jeans and a tight shirt that hugged his abs and biceps. There was also a nonchalance about him, he seemed at ease with who he was. It showed in the way he carried himself and it was something Justin really envied about him but what also made Josh extremely sexy to watch.

Josh smiled back, relieved he hadn’t given the wrong impression. Justin understood and better yet, felt the same way.

Day 5
Thursday, July 28th 2005

Josh returned to his room after a full day of bowling games. He’d won them all and was very pleased about it. What had disappointed him however was that he had not once seen Justin today. He smiled as he thought about the previous day, he’d finally gotten to talk to Justin who he’d met the first day of the tournament.

After Monday, when he’d confronted Justin with what had happened on Sunday Josh had been disappointed with Justin’s reaction, how he’d pretended nothing was wrong and how he refused the contact. Josh was glad Justin had changed his attitude and he’d really enjoyed their conversation yesterday. He’d just wished he would have run into him today but no such luck.

He took out his key card and opened the door. Eric was already laying on his bed, reading a book. Josh said nothing and Eric didn’t acknowledge him either. They’d come to an unspoken agreement of speaking to each other as little as possible. Josh didn’t like it at all but it was apparently what Eric wanted.

Fifteen minutes later Josh plumped down on his bed, he was ready to watch some TV before he’d go to sleep. He picked up the remote and flipped the TV on. After scanning the channels he settled on TBS, where they showed the movie; The day after tomorrow.

“Can you turn it off?” A request that really didn’t sound like one.

“What?” Josh asked as he turned towards Eric who had put his book down and turned off his reading lamp.

“Can you turn off the TV, I want to sleep.”

“I want to watch TV.” Josh countered, what did Eric think? He didn’t call the shots.

“Look Josh,” Eric began condescendingly, a tone that insinuated that Josh was stupid. Josh raised his eyebrows incredulously.

“I have a game tomorrow morning, I need my sleep.”

“So go to sleep.”

“I can not sleep if I hear the TV.” Eric explained slowly and arrogantly.

“I can not sleep if I don’t watch TV first.” Josh countered, explaining in the same manner.

“You watched TV already so now we can both go to sleep.”

“You don’t get to decided that.”

“Look, I don’t want to cause a fight or anything but I’d appreciate it if you could turn off the TV.” Eric told him, Josh still heard the arrogance but decided to agree and not pick a fight, they might be sharing this room for at least another week.

“Fine.” Josh sighed. He picked up the remote and turned off the TV.

“Thank you.” Eric said but he didn’t sound very grateful, he sounded victoriously if nothing else.

Josh ignored him and pushed the covers away, deciding to go for a walk. He was in his pajamas but he didn’t really care. He picked up his room key and went out the door. He made his way to the vending machine, hoping to run into Justin. He’d met him there before and maybe he would meet him there again. The prospect alone brought a smile of anticipation to his face.

However once he got to the vending machine, there was no Justin. He stayed though for a few minutes, hoping Justin would show up but he didn’t and when it got later Josh decided to head back. He needed his sleep as well. He would hopefully see Justin tomorrow and maybe then he could ask if they could spend some time together again.

Day 6
Friday, July 29th 2005

“Tomorrow is our day off and I was wondering if,”

Justin stood by somewhat surprised to see the nonchalant boy being nervous as he nearly stumbled over his words. Justin was a little surprised to see him in the first place. He hadn’t seen him yesterday but he was here now and Justin couldn’t help the smile that spread across his face.

“If you want to go out. With me, I mean.”

As surprised as Justin was before, it didn’t compare to how utterly flabbergasted he felt now. Josh was asking him out? For a moment Justin couldn’t help but think he was only asking him to take out the competition but Wednesday evening when they’d spend time talking to each other outside on the bench had been wonderful. He’d felt comfortable and at ease around this guy and if he was honest, he knew Josh didn’t see him as competition when they were off the bowling lane. He just saw him as a guy and apparently a guy he liked. Justin didn’t really know what to say and Josh still waited for an answer.

“I thought we could maybe go get something to eat, explore the city and stuff.”

“I um… I don’t know.” Justin finally found an answer. Josh sighed.

“Justin, I told you I’m not trying to take you down, I just like you,” he said, thinking it had to do with Justin’s obvious complex of getting screwed over by the competition.

“No, I know, I mean I think, but it’s my father.”

“Your father?”

“Yeah, I don’t know if he will approve of me wasting a day like that.” Justin spoke before he thought, it was a phrase his father used regularly but Josh looked hurt and didn’t bother to cover it.

“No! I didn’t mean it like that, it’s just what he would think.” Justin said to explain as he saw the hurt on Josh’s face. Justin sighed.

“I would like to go with you. I’ll, I’ll ask him.” He ended and Josh smiled, the hurt in his eyes gone and Justin felt strangely relieved to see it had disappeared.


Justin smiled in return.

“I’ll see you around then.” Josh said before turning to leave.

“Sure, later.” Justin said before Josh was out of the room. Justin sighed. He knew he wanted to go, now he only had to convince his father to let him.


Justin decided to ask him immediately, better get this over with. He let the door fall shut behind him and found his father laying on the bed watching TV. Here goes nothing.

“Dad?” Justin questioned as he walked over to his own bed and sat down on the edge, facing his father.

“Uh huh?” Randy acknowledged.

“Did you have anything special planned for tomorrow?”

“Nothing special why?”

“Well everyone has a day off tomorrow and I thought I could maybe go check out the city.” Randy turned his full attention on his son then.

“What about training?” Randy questioned knowingly. Justin stared in surprise.

“Nothing special doesn’t mean you’re schedule is free. Having a day off doesn’t mean you can do nothing Justin, you know this.”

“But I thought,”

“No, the answer is no. You have to train and rest, the first quarter finals are on Sunday and you need to be ready.”

They’d heard only a few hours ago, who was gonna be in the quarter finals and on which day. Although both father and son knew Justin was going to the quarter finals, they’d only heard today that his games were all on Sunday.

“But I am ready!” Justin protested, he really wanted to go, why wasn’t his father letting him go?

“I will train in the morning, check out the city in the afternoon and rest in the evening. I swear I will, I would just really like to get out of the hotel for a little while.” Justin realized he was rambling but he didn’t care. There was no reason why he should stay inside, practicing and resting when he could do all that and go out with Josh.

Randy eyed his son a little suspiciously, he was very adamant about going and Randy wondered why that was exactly. But he figured his son needed some free time and he could give him that. Under a few conditions that was.


“Yes! Thank you,”

“Hold on!” Randy interrupted his cheers of joy.

“We will get up at ten, you will practice until one and then when it’s coming along nicely and I feel you deserve it, you may go. You will be back at eight o’clock and you will rest for the rest of the evening, is this clear?” Justin, although thinking it was not very fair, nodded throughout all the conditions as long as he was able to go.


“Alright then.” Randy nodded before turning his attention back on the TV and Justin sat back on his bed, a smile plastered across his face as he watched the TV. His mind wasn’t really on the TV though, it was thinking about the day ahead and the hours he would get to spend with Josh.

Day 7
Saturday, July 30th 2005

Justin showed up at Josh’s door at exactly one-thirty. After the training he’d went through with his father to please him, focusing extra hard so he could leave early, he’d quickly went up to their room. He’d taken a quick shower and got dressed, then nearly sprinted to Josh’s room to tell him they could go. He knocked impatiently and smiled when Josh opened the door.

“I thought you stood me up.” Josh commented as he saw who it was. Justin shook his head, his smile falling a little.

“I had to convince my dad.” Justin watched as Josh walked back in the room, leaving the door open. Justin took it as an invitation and walked after him.

“You still want to go right?” he asked, a little insecurely.

Josh nodded till his relieve. “Of course, I was just afraid you forgot.”

Justin shook his head. “I wanted to come, I wouldn’t forget.”

Josh smiled now too as he saw the sincerity of the boy reflected in his eyes.

“Well let’s go then.”


Justin didn’t know what came over him. They passed a bowling alley and before he knew it, words left his mouth his brain apparently felt he needed to express.

“Let’s go bowling.” His brain apparently thought it was a good idea.

“You wanna go bowling on our first date?” Josh asked incredulously.

They’d had such a good time thus far. They’d strolled the mall and talked as they went. They’d had a bit to eat and they’d both forgotten all about the tournament and the fact that they were really opponents. It didn’t matter, at the moment they were just enjoying each other’s company and to Josh this bowling idea Justin seemed to have would prove to be a big disaster. Justin however seemed to think it was a good idea as he nodded in determination to Josh’s question. His pride was talking and Josh wanted to stop this. He didn’t want to ruin their date and so he shook his head.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

Justin’s eyes lit up as he asked challenging, “Afraid you’ll lose?”

Josh stiffened, drawing his shoulders. “No, I’m afraid you’ll lose.” And it will ruin our date. He added inwardly. Justin scowled.

“We’ll just see about that,” he said hotly then took off towards the entrance, leaving Josh to follow. And with a sigh and the hundred percent certainty that this could not end well, he followed his date inside.


Josh was saddened to realize the easygoing mood they’d both been in today was totally gone. It was completely replaced with an atmosphere of competition and rivalry, something that Josh had absolutely wanted to avoid on this day off. However Justin seemed really into it, he prepared every shot with a controlled sense of technique and strategy. Josh knew this was not about having fun. Justin was here to win.

They were neck to neck. Only one more frame and both were able to win this. Justin had a slight disadvantage of having to go first. And then although if Justin would be able to knock all the pins down, Josh would only need to strike down eight pins and he’d be the winner. Justin watched nervously as Josh got up and went to retrieve a ball, ready to win this game and make him a loser.

Josh prepared his shot carefully: his index, middle and ring finger tugged in the holes while supporting the ball with his left hand, holding it up to his cheek in concentration.

However somewhere during the preparation of the throw and the few short steps he took before releasing the ball, it seemed he’d decided to miss and let Justin win. This date meant more to him than winning and if that meant he had to lose to keep the relationship they’d built today, he would do it. Satisfied he watched as only six out of the ten pins tumbled to the ground as the ball hit them. He changed his expression however before he turned to face Justin.

Justin scowled at him when he turned around. Josh was surprised, anticipating a smug grin instead of this glare.

“You missed.” Justin stated.

Josh nodded, although he hadn’t missed them all, there were four left standing but that wasn’t what Justin meant. He meant he’d left four up and Josh still didn’t understand the anger in his voice.


“On purpose.”

Josh frowned. “What?”

“I saw it Josh, you missed that shot on purpose!”

“No, I didn’t.” Josh denied, although if he was completely honest with himself he had to admit that he had not missed that shot accidentally.

“Yes you did!” he nearly yelled.

Josh sighed, “Fine, I missed on purpose so what?”

“That’s not why we came here!”

“Then why did we come here?”

“To win!” Justin said in the heat of the moment.

Josh snorted. “Funny. I actually thought we came here to have fun,” Justin squirmed.

“Guess I was wrong,” he stated before grabbing his jacket and turning to leave.


Justin watched in shock as Josh stormed out of the bowling alley. He couldn’t move to stop him, didn’t know if he even wanted to. He scowled as he turned back to the bowling lane they’d played on, the four pins Josh had left up on purpose were still standing there, waiting for someone to finish the game. Justin walked towards the lane in a few short strides, he picked up a ball and almost threw it at the pins. They all tumbled over. He was even angrier after that. He plumped down on a hard plastic stool and dropped his head in his hands.

Josh had let him win and that angered him, Josh didn’t have to baby him. He didn’t have to let him win because he thought he couldn’t handle it otherwise. Justin knew he would be angry if Josh had won as well but it would be different. He would be angry with himself, now he was angry at Josh. Justin sighed heavily, if he was honest he knew he wasn’t really angry at Josh. He knew this bowling thing had been a bad idea but he honestly hadn’t known what had come over him. Maybe it was pride or that he wanted to prove something to Josh. But what? And why had he even felt the need to prove something to him? They weren’t competing, they’d been having fun and Justin realized… he’d ruined it. He kicked himself mentally. He’d ruined their date. How could he be so stupid? He kicked at the chair’s leg, then got up quickly. He needed to find him, he needed to apologize for acting like a complete asshole.


“Here.” Justin offered softly as soon as the door opened and he was met with Josh’s angry scowl.

“What’s this?” Josh wondered, although you could see he’d promised himself to not make this easy on Justin. There was reserve in his question and trepidation in his movements as he reached out to take the single piece of paper Justin was holding out for him.

“It’s a peace offer.” Josh unfolded the paper and saw instantly he was looking at game scores.

“What is this Justin?” he questioned frustrated although he knew what it was, he was just wondering what the hell Justin was trying to do.

“I got it when I paid for our game of, bowling,” he said the last word quietly, shame taking away his volume.

“These are our scores, you won Josh.” Justin said, thinking this could make it better.

“You still don’t understand,” Josh said simply then stepped back to close the door in his face. Justin was shocked as Josh started to close the door and quickly shoved his foot in front of it to stop it from happening.

“What?” he questioned truly confused.

“You don’t understand what this is about, just go.” Josh said again, trying once again to close the door but Justin didn’t move his foot and the door wouldn’t close if he didn’t.

“Then tell me!” he cried, thinking he was screwing up all over again.

“Just explain to me what this is about.” Josh sighed, finally giving up on trying to close the door, it obviously wasn’t working and Justin wasn’t willing to leave.

“You come here with this to show me I won the game. You don’t get that I don’t care about the fucking game. I don’t care about winning. I was having a really good time with you till we went bowling. Winning obviously is everything to you and I’m sorry but… I don’t want to go out with someone who puts winning above everything else.” Josh explained, he really hated to do this. He really liked Justin but if winning indeed meant everything to him, it wasn’t worth it. Justin was too dumbfounded to react but once Josh started closing the door again he quickly snapped out of it.

“Wait! Okay, okay.” Justin caved.

“I understand, I’m sorry it was a stupid idea to go bowling and it was even stupider to give you that,” Justin said as he gestured towards the piece of paper Josh still held in his hand.

“But I meant well, with the peace offer I mean. The bowling idea, I don’t know why I thought that was a good idea and I’m sorry I got caught up in the whole thing. Winning is important to me but not the winning itself. I just, can’t… help it,” he let out softly, slumping in defeat. Josh’s angry scowl disappeared somewhat, his attention peaked.

“What do you mean?” Justin sighed, then looked up.

“Can we, um, go inside?” Justin asked, not wanting to discuss this out here in the hallway.

“Eric is inside.” Josh said as an answer, as if that should explain it. But it did.

“Come on.” Josh suddenly said, taking Justin’s hand and letting the door shut behind him.

He took him to the end of the hallway and around the corner. There was another hallway but there was also a niche that overlooked the street. There was a small table and a couch. Josh pulled Justin down to sit, then faced him. Justin looked a little nervous, he was gazing down at his hands and kept quiet. Josh gently took his hand and Justin looked up.

“Why can’t you help but want to win?” Josh asked quietly, wanting to continue their conversation. Justin eyed him suspiciously, obviously debating with himself whether or not he should reveal this. But he knew that he could either keep his secret or he could keep Josh. He chose Josh.

“I don’t enjoy winning, I can’t honestly say I enjoy the game even it’s just… my father.”


He’d said it.

“Your father?” Josh urged him on.

Justin nodded. “I was into basketball for a long time. I loved it, loved the game and I really loved to play. My dad ruined it. Once my mom was gone he started to come to all the games and I mean all of them. He came to a lot of my games before but he just went overboard after that. He never missed a game. He pushed me to compete and of course to always, always win. It got so bad I decided to quit, he was really mad at me but I didn’t care, I was mad at him too. He’d ruined all the fun I had in playing basketball. For a while I did nothing but after a few months I really wanted to play sports again. I picked up bowling. I knew football and baseball would cause the same pushiness from my father and I kind of liked bowling and most importantly I knew my dad hated it. So I figured he wouldn’t bother me.” Justin took a deep breath, letting it all out in a sigh before he continued.

“But I was wrong. He did get involved and it started all over again. I had to be the best at everything and he pushed me into winning, telling me it was the only thing that mattered. I don’t really enjoy bowling anymore either but he’ll be so mad if I quit, I just can’t.” Justin looked Josh in the eye.

“I can’t help but compete, I have to win although I don’t really want to. And I hate my father for making me think that way. I just can’t help it, I’m sorry.” Justin finished finally, letting his head drop in his hands very similarly as he’d done at the bowling alley when Josh had stormed off. This time however he felt hands pulling away his own and lifting his head gently. He was met with a gorgeous smile and Justin couldn’t help but smile back although he didn’t really feel like smiling.

“It’s okay,” Josh whispered, “I understand.”

Justin looked surprised. “You do?”

Josh nodded. “Let’s just agree not to go bowling on our next date,”

“Our next date?” Justin wondered surprised.

Josh nodded. “If you want to.”

Justin smiled and nodded.

“Good but we’ll go to a movie then or something.”


“I really like you Justin.” Josh expressed honestly.

“I really like you too.” Justin replied in the same manner.

Their eyes locked and they stared deeply into the blue pools that were the other’s eyes. They were both lost and began to lean in at the same time, both so drawn to each other they could not stay away. Their lips finally met in the middle and both eyes slipped closed at the contact. They grazed each other’s lips and a hesitant tongue flipped out, gently pushing at the other’s lips. Justin’s mouth opened immediately and Josh’s tongue took up the invitation right away. Hands came into the picture now as the kiss became more lustful and needy. Josh’s hands went up to cup Justin’s cheeks while Justin’s hands found Josh’s waist and he pulled himself closer. He was nearly sitting in his lap but neither seemed to notice nor mind.

They were forced to break apart when they both began to feel a lack of oxygen in their lungs and they did so with a gasp. Both from surprise of the wonderful kiss they’d shared as the need to take in a gulp of air. They breathed heavily as they stared at each other, almost not believing the other was real. Justin couldn’t stare any longer however, he pushed himself closer again and pressed his lips to Josh’s who accepted the warm and wet lips eagerly.

“What… what… time… is it?” Justin gasped in between contact, several moments later. Josh frowned but looked quickly at his watch, never breaking free from Justin’s eager and loving lips.

“7.52.” He gasped his answer and was ready to deepen the kiss again but till his surprise Justin pulled back completely.

“What?! It’s almost eight?” he questioned in shock. It was eight already?

“Yeah so?” Josh wondered, not understanding what the big deal was.

“I’m sorry but I have to go.” Justin told him apologetically.

“You have to… what?”

“I have to go, I promised my dad I would be back by eight to rest. I’m sorry.” Justin explained quickly but he didn’t get up.

“Oh, okay,” Josh said in response, understanding although he didn’t want to let Justin go now.

“I had so much fun today, till I was an ass, thanks for understanding.” Justin said, a slight blush creeping up his cheeks from embarrassment at the way he’d behaved but Josh just smiled.

“It’s fine, let’s just forget about it. I had a lot of fun too, I’m glad you came.”

“I will see you tomorrow.” Justin said, trying to draw this conversation to an end but not really all that convincing as he smiled, already eager to meet again. Justin let his lips land on Josh’s again, a few quick kisses as he didn’t seem to be able to get enough of this guy. He finally forced himself to let go and stood immediately, knowing he would never leave otherwise.

“Okay I really have to go.” He bend down and kissed him quickly.

“Bye,” he said hastily then turned and practically ran to the elevator to make it in time.

He did, he closed the door behind him at exactly eight and although his father scowled at him when he entered, he’d pushed it, he however said nothing and Justin knew better than to risk it now. He got into his pajamas and crawled under the blankets, resting as was the deal. And being in bed this early was definitely worth it in comparison to what he’d gotten in return. Josh.


Josh had sat on the couch, the feel of Justin’s lips on his still fresh, for more than ten minutes before he was finally able to push himself up and walk back to his room. He knocked, seeing he’d forgotten his keycard when he’d ushered Justin away from the room just a short hour ago and was met with Eric’s carefully concealed expression.

“What?” Josh wondered.

“Just forgot my card.” He said as if he needed to explain anything to him.

Eric hummed under his breath then returned to his bed, laying down on his back and holding the magazine he’d been reading but his eyes were on Josh.

“What are you planning going out with him?” he wondered nonchalantly.

Josh whipped around, eyeing him, surprised he even knew they’d went out. Well he must know but he always seemed so closed off. Josh discovered that it was hard getting through to him but it didn’t mean everything was getting past him. He may give the impression he was only focusing on the game but apparently that wasn’t true, at all.

“I’m not planning anything.” Josh denied, shaking his head.

“Maybe you should, he’s your competition.” Eric said meaningfully before he put the magazine up in front of his eyes and continued to read.

Josh shook his head and ignored him, he got his discman out of his backpack and turned his back to Eric. Josh couldn’t believe people would be that sneaky, in his eyes a competition is about who is the best, not about who can play the dirtiest game. Josh felt sick thinking about it. Some people would do anything to win. He listened to his music but his thoughts were on Justin and the most amazing kiss they’d shared.

Day 8
Sunday, July 31st 2005

“Hey,” Josh greeted Justin after the last of his quarter final games. Justin was surprised but a smile came to his lips almost immediately.



Justin frowned.

“I watched your games, I’m glad you won, congrats.” Josh elaborated before kissing him quickly.

Justin smiled, “You watched my games?”

Josh nodded. He’d made sure he was out of sight. He didn’t want Justin to think he was only there to throw him off.

“You did good, especially the last game, you blew that kid away.” Justin laughed softly.

“So the semi finals eh?”

Justin nodded, “Yeah.” He really didn’t want to talk about this anymore. With every step up in the competition his father became more demanding and competitive. Justin wanted to ignore it for now and talk about anything but bowling. He changed the subject.

“I had a really good time yesterday.” Justin told him, accompanied with a smile that lit up the room.

“So did I, actually I wanted to talk to you about that,” Josh replied, it had been the reason he’d waited for him.

Josh had been thinking about when they’d be able to go out again. He’d looked at the game schedule and he’d seen Justin had had all his quarter finals games today. Josh himself had all his games on Tuesday. That would make tomorrow the perfect day to go out. He knew Justin would have two days off then and would less likely think he was just asking him to take him down although Josh didn’t know if Justin still felt that way.

“I know you had all your games today and the semi finals won’t be till Wednesday and since I don’t have a game tomorrow either, I was wondering if we could maybe do it again. Go out, I mean.” Josh wondered. Justin smiled still.

“I’d like that. I think I’m free or I can make sure I am.”

“Yeah?” Josh wondered, knowing Justin’s father was more behind this than he’d known when he’d asked him out the first time.

Justin nodded. “I’ll ask.”


Justin nodded too, great indeed.

Day 9
Monday, August 1st 2005

His father had agreed, it’d been a bit difficult since his father didn’t want him to risk losing his semi final game but Justin had reassured him, he could take this day off, he would work twice as hard tomorrow. His father also wondered why he wanted to go again so soon but Justin just told him he hadn’t been able to see everything he wanted last time. His father had eyed him suspiciously but had eventually nodded.

The same rules applied again and so Justin was ready to go after lunch and had to be back by eight. Justin had agreed again, it was better than not going at all and so he met up with Josh after lunch.

They kissed as soon as they saw each other. Eager to spend the day together.

“You ready to go?”

Justin nodded happily, “Definitely.”

“Let’s go then.” Josh closed the door behind him and together they walked to the elevator.

“You don’t mind going out now, do you?” Justin wondered suddenly as the doors whooshed closed and they were alone. Josh turned towards him.

“What do you mean?”

“Well you have a game tomorrow, don’t you mind going now? You could be preparing and practicing.” Justin said a little guiltily Josh considered his training schedule but he didn’t consider Josh’s.

“Nah, what I can’t do now, I’m not gonna learn it before tomorrow. It’s fine, if I win I win, if I don’t I don’t.” Josh said simply. Justin eyed him in awe at how well Josh took it but then Justin realized he would probably feel the same way if his father wasn’t behind him. They reached the first floor. Josh kissed him quickly and enthusiastically before the doors opened and then said,

“Let’s go!”


The weather was wonderful, the sun was shining and there was a slight breeze to make sure it wasn’t too hot. Justin and Josh walked towards the cinema, their hands entwined and swinging lightly between them. As they’d walked down the street away from the hotel they’d decided to go to the movies and then have a bit to eat to fully soak up the few hours of free time that they could spend together.

“How did training go this morning?” Josh asked conversationally, the cinema in sight.

They’d checked out a few stores on their way there, taking their time enjoying each other’s company. They’d asked a few people along the way for directions to the closest cinema and Josh was glad to see it finally appear. They didn’t need to waste their time searching for a cinema.

Justin shrugged, “Fine.”

“Your dad wasn’t too hard on you?” Josh worried a little, he knew how serious Justin’s father took this and he wanted to make sure Justin was okay. However Justin wasn’t really in the mood to talk or even think about this.

“He was but he feels he has to because I’m in the semis,” he answered anyway.

He eyed Josh as he added, “Can we please not talk about bowling or my father?”

Josh nodded quickly, “Of course.”

“Because we both know how it ended last time,” Justin finished but this time there was a smile in his voice. Josh chuckled.



They reached the cinema and studied the movies that they were showing at this time.

“What movie do you want to see?” Justin asked finally, leaning back into Josh as they stood in front of the movie listings. Josh wrapped his arms around Justin as they swayed lightly.

“I don’t mind,” Josh answered. “You pick.”

“You sure?” Justin wondered, tilting his head to look at Josh.

“Yeah, which one do you want to see?”

“Um…” Justin hummed, scanning the titles.

“European Gigolo?” he suggested still asking if Josh was okay with it although it was the only one at this time.

“Sure.” Josh agreed, stepping back, taking Justin’s hand again as they went to the cashier. Josh paid for two tickets and they went in right away. They stopped for drinks and popcorn before going to the theater. They settled in their seats and waited for the movie to start.

As soon as the lights went out Justin moved against Josh, he rested his head on his chest and smiled as he felt Josh’s arm go around his shoulders. There was no need to provoke people as they came in, they could wait till the lights went out. But as soon as they were and Justin was laying half on top of him he turned Justin’s head towards him, kissing him sweetly.

“I’m so glad you came along,” Josh whispered.

“Me too.” Justin said, kissing him back.

They kissed for a little longer till the movie really started and Justin turned his head to the screen, he left it to rest on Josh’s chest however, feeling his heart beat calmed him down and made him forget everything. He sought out his hand and stroked the back of Josh’s hand gently as he let them rest in between them. Content and at ease.


“That movie was boring,” Justin sulked as they got out of the theater and made their way to the exit.

“Good thing we had other things to keep us occupied then,” Josh answered, wiggling his eyebrows. Justin’s smile lit up and Josh couldn’t help but steal another kiss. The movie had been a disappointment but they’d more than enjoyed their time together in the dark room. They’d had all they needed; each other and lack of space between their lips. Justin slowly opened his eyes after Josh pulled back. He could not get enough of his taste. But he’d have to wait.

“You hungry?” Josh wondered with an amused smirk as he saw the blissful look on Justin’s face and knowing he’d put it there.

Justin nodded. “Yeah I could use some food.”

“We’ll find a restaurant then, come on,” Josh said before taking his hand, kissing the top before pulling him along, in search of some food.


“You know I actually don’t know a lot about you,” Justin said after they’d been seated and their waitress had taken their order. They’d come across a nice diner and had decided to eat there. It seemed like the perfect time to get to know each other a little better.

“Except that you like to bowl and that you’re gay.”

Josh smiled. “Well I don’t really know much about you either, what do you want to know?”

“Um, well let’s start with basics; how old are you?” Justin asked, taking a sip of his ice water.

“Seventeen, you?”

“Sixteen.” Justin answered with a smile.

“So you’re gonna be a junior in high school as well?” Justin asked for confirmation. But Josh shook his head.

“No actually, I’m gonna be a senior,” At Justin’s surprised look he continued, “I’m gonna be eighteen next week, the 8th.”

“Ah.” Justin nodded.

“When is your birthday?”

“January 31st.”

The waitress was back with their order, a burger and fries for both of them. They were both silent except for the thank you as she placed their food in front of them.

“I’m starving,” Justin exclaimed when she’d left.

Josh smiled, “Me too.”

“So where are you from?” Justin asked after he’d swallowed his first bite.

“Bowie,” he answered. “You?”


“That’s on the coast right?” Josh wondered, he’d heard of the town.

Justin nodded as he took another bite.

“You like it there?” Justin swallowed before answering.

“It’s fine, nothing special. I live there with my dad, I go to school, bowl,” he sighed. “And read.” Josh looked up from his burger in surprise.

“You read?”

Justin stilled his eating to laugh out loud, “Yeah I can read.”

Josh shook his head. “That wasn’t what I meant.”

Justin chuckled, “I know,” he reassured him.

“I mean you like to read?”

Justin nodded.

“That’s uncommon.”

“It is?” Justin wondered. He shrugged answering his own question.

“Maybe but I enjoy it, it’s peaceful and something no one can ruin for me or bother me with to be the best at. It’s just about the story.”

Josh nodded as he took a bite, only now fully realizing what kind of affect his dad’s pushiness had on Justin’s life.

“So what do you like except bowling?” Justin returned the question before taking a few French fries and dragging them through the ketchup then bringing them to his mouth.

“Um, I like watching movies and listening to music. I write too.”


“Yeah music and just stories.”

“You write stories?” Justin asked as incredulously as Josh had asked him if he read. It caused Josh to laugh now.


“About what?”

“About all sorts of things, just whatever inspires me.”

“Cool!” Justin said enthusiastically. “Can I read it sometime?”

“Sure.” Josh nodded with a smile as he sipped his water, he never really showed his writings to anyone but he trusted Justin, had a feeling he could share it with him. Not yet though, they didn’t know each other that well yet.

“Do you have any brothers or sisters?” Justin wondered, taking another French fry from his plate.

“Yeah, I got a brother and a sister actually.”

“Cool, I’m an only child, just me and my dad. Why didn’t you bring anyone?”

Josh shrugged. “No one really felt like coming, they don’t enjoy bowling really,”

“Sorry,” Justin apologized, he knew his father went overboard with everything but at least he cared.

“They rather go to my brother’s football games. It’s fine, I enjoy bowling I don’t care what they think.”

Justin swallowed his last bite of his burger then smiled. He couldn’t believe how confident Josh was and how he truly didn’t seem to care what other people thought of him or what he did. He was confident in an extremely sexy way. He was comfortable in his skin, he loved bowling and he was good at it. He was also comfortable with being gay and Justin envied and admired him at the same time.

“Does your family know you’re gay?” Justin wondered cautiously, not sure if it was a touchy subject. But Josh nodded without hesitation.

“Yeah they do.”

“And they’re okay with it?”

“I wouldn’t say okay with it, accepting I don’t know either but they tolerate it.”

Justin nodded.

“What about you, did you tell your dad?”

“God no!” Justin exclaimed as if it was unthinkable, maybe it was. “No, I didn’t.”

“Would he accept it?”

“What do you think?” Justin countered. Josh ducked his head, that was enough answer for Justin.


And that ended the topic, silence stretched until Josh swallowed his mouthful of junk food then scraped his throat making Justin look up.

“Is your food good?” he asked to just ask something. Justin laughed, stopping from biting into his French fries he had prepared to eat.

“Is that all you can come up with?”


Justin laughed louder. “Forget it, yes the food is good,”

Justin knew what Josh had tried to do, he’d tried to get him to forget they’d even talked about it but Justin had kind of come to terms with the fact that he wouldn’t be able to tell his father about his sexual preference and get a positive reaction in return. He knew that he would either never tell him or be prepared to get kicked out of the house when he did. He wouldn’t tell him before he graduated high school and after that he didn’t know, maybe it would never come up but he doubted it.

Josh smiled too, “I know, I couldn’t come up with anything else, my intentions were good,” he said a fake pout gracing his lips.

“I know,” Justin returned, leaning over the table and kissing him quickly.

“But it’s okay, I know how my father is I accepted it.” Justin said although it was only partly true because how could you ever just accept your father would never accept you? Josh understood and let the topic drop, for real this time.

“Do you know what time it is?” Justin wondered after a bit longer of talking about this and that. They’d finished their dinner and they’d paid. Josh nodded and looked at his watch,


Justin scowled. “Already?” he asked.

Josh nodded.

“I can’t believe we’ve been here for over an hour and half,” Justin noted surprised.

“I don’t want to go back yet.” Justin whined.

“I know,” Josh smiled. “But we have to,”

“I know, I wonder what my dad would do if I got back a little later…” Justin wondered playfully.

“He wouldn’t let you go out with me again,”

“If he knew I was with you he wouldn’t have let me go at all.”

Josh caught his words and smiled sadly but he decided not to say anything else, instead he said, “Let’s go back, we have a day off Friday we can go out then or meet up.”

Justin nodded as he slid out of the booth, he wrapped his arms around Josh’s waist.

“I like your ideas.”

“I like you.” Josh countered as he wrapped his arms around Justin in the same way.

“I like you too.” Justin smiled before he leaned in for a quick kiss. He knew people were staring but frankly he didn’t care. Justin was the first one to pull back, he released his hold on Josh’s waist and took his hand.

“Let’s go back.”


Back at the hotel. They took the elevator to the 8th floor. Josh had wrapped his arms around Justin’s waist, his hands clasped on his boy’s stomach. Justin had rested his head against Josh’s right shoulder and they were waiting patiently for the doors to open. They were content like this but the elevator reached the 8th floor and Josh had to get off here. He was however very reluctant to let this day end. Josh turned Justin around so they were facing each other.

“I had a great time,” Josh told him. Justin looked up at him.

“So did I.”

They leaned in at the same time, kissing passionately. They heard a ding and then the doors started closing. Josh reached out quickly to push the button to make sure the doors stayed open. They shared a smile.

“I guess that’s my cue to leave.”

“I guess so.” Justin nodded but it didn’t stop him from leaning in again.

“I really have to go now.” Justin said finally, breathless as they pulled back.

“I know.” Josh nodded, pushing the button again before kissing him quickly. He stepped away but still held Justin’s hand, one foot outside of the cart, the other inside. Still not ready to go.

“Are you coming to my game tomorrow?” he wondered.

“Do you want me to come?” Justin asked, somewhat surprised.

Josh nodded.

“Then I’ll be there.”

Josh beamed. “I’ll see you tomorrow then,”

Justin nodded.

“Goodnight Justin.” Josh said kissing his hand before releasing it.

“Goodnight.” Justin said as Josh finally stepped out of the cart. Josh didn’t walk away though, they smiled at each other till the doors closed.

Justin let out a contented sigh as he slumped back against the wall. He couldn’t help the smile that appeared, he knew he was silly, he felt like a twelve year old but Josh made him feel so… happy. He had not once thought about bowling or his father today and it was all because of Josh. He could get used to this. He never wanted this to end, he didn’t want this tournament to end suddenly. Of course he wanted his father to back off and that he’d win and that the whole competitiveness would be over but once the tournament would be over so would these trips with Josh be and he wasn’t ready for them to be over.

Day 10
Tuesday, August 2nd 2005

“Can I watch the games later dad?” Justin asked his father as they were practicing.

His father hadn’t said anything to him last night when he’d come in, just told him to get some rest. Today they were out on the bowling lane again, practicing. His father was giving him tips and critiques but Justin took them all without protest. He hadn’t forgotten how sweetly Josh had asked him if he was coming to his game yesterday, he’d told him he would be there and he really wanted to keep his promise. He’d worked hard all morning and knew now was the time to ask if they could watch the games. He couldn’t ask if they could watch Josh’s game but he had a plan.

“We are not done here.” Randy dismissed.

“I know but I mean it’s only twelve we could watch one of the three o’clock games,” Justin suggested, knowing that would be Josh’s game. He’d looked it up in the game schedule.

His father raised his eyebrows suspiciously and Justin quickly added, “To you know check out the competition, I could be meeting these guys in the semi finals.”

Randy nodded then. “Maybe you have a point. Alright, we’ll go watch the games but practice first.”

Justin nodded quickly, pleased with his quick thinking and happy his father went for it. He would get to see Josh again, real soon.


“Hey, how did the training go?” Josh asked. Justin had went ahead to the games, his father would be there in a little while and he’d used this time to search out Josh and talk to him for a little while. He knew he wouldn’t have the opportunity once his father would join him.

“Fine,” Justin shrugged. “Nothing special.” Josh knew his father made him practice in between games and Justin thought it was sweet that he asked him about it.


“You’re up next right?” Justin wondered.


“Good luck.” Justin said sincerely, quickly looking around to make sure his father wasn’t around before he gave him a peck on the cheek.

Josh beamed. “Thanks,”

Justin grinned back.

“Are you gonna stick around for a while?”

“Yeah I think so, I asked my dad, we can watch the game.”

“Cool, I’ll make sure I won’t lose then.”

“You won’t. Although my dad would like to see you lose.” Josh’s smile faltered a little.

“I hope you win.” Justin informed him surely, noticing the insecurity. Maybe his father wanted Josh to lose, his father knew just as Justin how good Josh was and if he lost it would be less competition for Justin. However Justin didn’t care really, he wanted Josh to do well. He’d think about the consequences for himself later.

Josh’s smile was back, “I better get ready,”

Justin nodded in agreement. “I’ll see you later.”

Justin smiled. “Good luck.”

Josh smiled still and with a slight brush of his hand he walked away, getting himself ready for the upcoming game. Justin touched his own hand where Josh’s hand had brushed against his own, he couldn’t help but smile as he watched Josh.


“That kid is good.” Randy mumbled under his breath as he sat next to his son watching lane eight. He’d joined him soon after the game had started. Justin knew his father was talking about Josh. It couldn’t be the other kid because Josh was winning, big time. He had almost fifty points more than the other kid. Justin was proud of him but didn’t like the fact that his father was talking about him.

“Do you know that boy?” Randy questioned his son. Justin peeled his eyes away from Josh and turned to look at his father.

“Um, a little,” he answered. Randy nodded thoughtfully.


The game was over, there was a round of applause and Josh was written down as the winner. Justin wanted to go to him and congratulate him but his father was standing right there. Till his surprise Josh made his way to them and smiled at Justin in greeting.

“What’s you name kid?” Randy questioned.

“Joshua, Joshua Chasez sir.” Josh answered. Randy outstretched his hand.

“Congratulations Joshua. Good game.”

“Thank you sir.” Josh replied shaking the man’s hand. He’d seen the man beckoning him over and he hadn’t known if Justin had been behind it but he guessed not. They fell silent and Josh knew the conversation was over.

“If you’d excuse me, I’m gonna go get a drink. It was nice meeting you sir,”

“You too.”

“Bye.” Josh turned and walked away, he eyed Justin before he turned the corner, hoping he’d gotten his message across.


He had. Justin knew Josh wanted to meet him, now he just needed a cover to get away from his father without making it too obvious.

“I’m just gonna go to the bathroom, I’ll be right back.”

Randy nodded, still deep in thought as he watched the game one lane down where the decision still hadn’t been made. Two guys were still competing to win. Justin slipped away quietly and walked in the direction Josh had disappeared to. He turned the corner and walked right smack into someone. Arms came around his waist immediately and Justin knew who it was before he could actually see him.

“Hi,” Justin smiled.

“Hey, so you got my message huh?”

“How could I not?”

“Come on,” Josh urged him, taking his hand and pulling him with him out of sight. Josh pressed Justin against the wall with his own body, before he leaned in quickly, letting their lips meet in an eager kiss.

“I’ve been wanting to do that all day.”

“Hmm,” Justin moaned into the kiss. “Me too.”

The kiss didn’t seem to end, both didn’t want it to. Justin finally pulled back and pushed Josh away gently so his lips wouldn’t independently start on round two.

“I have to go, my dad will wonder where I am.” Josh nodded but still leaned in again. A quick kiss this time and now he was the one who gently pushed Justin away so he could use his mouth for something else.

“Let’s meet tonight.” Josh proposed.

Justin squirmed. “I want to, I do but my dad…”

“Just for a little while, I need to see you.”

“You see me now,” Justin smirked, knowing that wasn’t what Josh meant.

“I need to see you alone, and longer.” Josh said nevertheless.

“I know, I’ll see what I can do.”

Josh smiled. “Okay,”

“I’ll come to your room.”

“No.” Josh said quite abruptly, startling Justin.

“Let’s meet on the couch in the hall kay?”

“Okay.” Justin agreed although he thought it was a bit strange.

“I’ll see you tonight after dinner.”

Justin nodded then went back to his father. Randy asked what had taken him so long but he made up some excuse of running into someone on the way back and his father accepted it. Randy was telling him about the game in front of them but Justin wasn’t really listening. He was already thinking about Josh and how he could get away tonight to go see him.


“We have an hour.” Justin informed Josh immediately as he came around the corner. Josh was already sitting on the couch waiting for him.

“What’s with the towel and the trunks?” Josh wondered as Justin sank down beside him, tossing a towel and a pair of blue flowered swimming trunks to the side.

He smiled sheepishly. “I told my dad I was going swimming.”

Josh laughed. “Good thinking.”

“Hi.” Josh said, realizing he hadn’t gotten a kiss hello.

“Hi.” Justin returned, getting his message from the twinkle in Josh’s eye and he leaned in, kissing him softly.

“So why couldn’t I come to your room?” Justin wondered when they pulled back and Justin had settled himself against Josh’s side.

“My roommate is strange,”

“You have a roommate?”

Josh nodded. “So do you,”

“Yeah but it’s my dad.” Justin said in a tone of voice that made it obvious to Josh that you really couldn’t compare having a roommate with having your dad there.

“I know but I didn’t bring anyone, guess they didn’t want to give us single rooms. Although if you ask me; it’s not always a smart idea to stick competition in the same room.” Josh smirked.

“He’s that bad?” Justin wondered.

“Oh yeah, he’s pretty intense. Here to win and that’s it. I don’t think we’ve spoken for more than five minutes.” Justin giggled.

“It’s not funny.” Josh complained but Justin knew he didn’t mean it, he wasn’t upset.

“I’m sorry,” Justin giggled still.

“I mean I wanted to listen to some music a few nights ago and he told me to turn it off cause it bothered him.”

“Really?” Justin asked incredulously.

Josh nodded. “He’s no fun. Now if we could share a room…” he let his sentence trail off to get his message across.

Justin laughed. “Yeah that’s a good idea,” he said sarcastically.

“What?” Josh wondered. “It’s a great idea!”

“Sure if this were a vacation,” Justin laughed.

“I don’t see why we couldn’t share a room.” Josh said, taking the joke a step further. But Justin went along with it.

“Well, for one we would have too much fun, we would be too distracted, and we would probably have been eliminated in the first round.”

“You think?”

Justin nodded. “Positive.”

They both burst out laughing. Justin snuggled closer. He knew he would have more fun if he’d been rooming with Josh but things just weren’t like that.


“Shouldn’t your hair be wet when you go back?” Josh wondered suddenly, out of nowhere as they quietly spent time in each others arms. Justin opened his eyes and turned to him in confusion.


“Didn’t you say you told your dad you were going swimming? Shouldn’t your hair and trunks be wet then?” Justin pondered it seriously.


“You only have fifteen minutes to do that,” Josh informed him.

“Shit,” he cursed.

Justin sighed, “Let’s just stay here for a few minutes longer kay?”

Josh nodded. “Sure.”

Almost ten minutes later Josh nudged Justin, “It’s five to eight.”

Justin nodded and pushed himself up.

“I should go then, gotta wet myself.” Josh looked at him strangely before bursting out laughing.

Justin looked up at him, “What?”

“Did you hear what you just said?”

Justin eyed him, “Probably not or I would have understood why you’re laughing so hard.”

“You… you said, you were gonna…” Josh choked out laughing again and he couldn’t talk at the same time.

“I was gonna what?” Justin demanded, he didn’t enjoy being laughed at, especially not when he didn’t know because of what.

“You said… you were gonna… wet yourself.” Josh finally managed. Justin looked offended.

“I did not say that.” He denied.

“You did.”

“I didn’t.” Justin again denied but Josh was still laughing.

“Stop it!” Justin chastised him, smacking his arm. Josh just couldn’t stop and Justin finally cracked a smile himself as Josh started giggling. When Justin heard the giggle he couldn’t help himself from laughing with him.

“Okay, okay I really gotta go, wet my hair,” he said, forcing himself to stop laughing as he put emphasis on his last two words, eyeing Josh pointedly who was still giggling.

“I’ll come with you.”

“Maybe I don’t want you to come.” Justin replied haughtily.

Josh stepped back with a pout.

“Oh stop it, you teased me!”

“I know, I’m sorry, I just… you said,”

“Okay, I know what I said, you can come, just stop it.” Justin said, faking irritation, it was playful bantering and Justin kind of enjoyed it if he were honest.

Josh followed him, chuckling under his breath.



Justin and Josh went to Josh’s room where Justin wet his swimming trunks and then stuck his head under the faucet, getting his curls wet to make it look like he’d just been swimming. He dried them a little with his towel to get that moist as well and let them stick up in every direction. He knew his hair would look like this if he had actually been swimming. He hated to leave it so messy but it would convince his father so he let it be.

Josh smirked when Justin came out of the bathroom with his towel around his neck and his swimming trunks in his hand. They stepped out into the hallway. Strangely they wanted privacy and the hall was better than staying in the room where Eric was laying just around the corner.

“Not a word.” Justin warned as Josh pulled the door closed and eyed Justin’s hair.

“I wasn’t going to!” he defended himself, holding out his hands but it was clear what he was thinking.

“What? It’s my hair, I can’t help that.”

“I know,” Josh said, wrapping his arms around the other boy, “It looks cute.”

Justin smiled. “You think so?”

Josh nodded, “Definitely.”

Justin’s smile grew wider. “Glad I made your day,” he said jokingly.

“You did, seriously. I was really glad you came to the game.” Josh told him, although he teased him, he did really mean what he was saying and he needed Justin to realize this.

“Me too, I’m glad you won.” Justin said, he knew the teasing was just teasing and he had been happy Josh had won.

“So semi final tomorrow.” Josh breeched the subject carefully.

“Don’t want to talk about it.” Justin warned quickly.

“At least we don’t have to go up against each other,” Josh continued.

After Josh’s games, the last in de quarter finals there were only four guys left. It was decided through drawing of lots that Justin had to go up against a guy named Eric. Josh went up against Dave.

“Yeah,” Justin said, although he couldn’t help but worry what would happen if they’d meet each other in the finals. He didn’t want to think about that, maybe he wouldn’t even win tomorrow, no he couldn’t think that either. He didn’t want to think at all! He just snuggled closer to Josh.

“I should go or my dad will think I drowned in the pool.”

Josh let out a short laugh, “Yeah, I’ll come to the game tomorrow kay?”

“Sure.” Justin said happily. Josh leaned in, kissing Justin.


“Goodnight.” Justin replied, giving him a kiss in return before he stepped out of Josh’s embrace, he held onto his hand though as he stepped away. He walked away, his eyes still on Josh and his hand still holding his. Justin smiled before releasing the hand when he was too far away to hold on to it. He walked backwards down the hall, waving once before he turned completely and walked to the elevator, a skip in his step.

Day 11
Wednesday, August 3rd 2005

It was the day of the first semi final and Justin was in it. Justin was pretty nervous, he had to win but he also knew that if he’d let his nerves get the best of him, he’d go down. And that was just not an option.

“Today is the day Justin,” his father began as he waited for his son to get ready.

Justin nodded as he slipped into his t-shirt.

“It’s the semi final, you’re going up against Eric. Now I’ve watched a few of his games and he’s pretty good but you shouldn’t really have any trouble. He hardly ever takes a risk, he plays it safe so that’s your way in,” Randy rattled and Justin really made an effort to listen to him. He knew if he didn’t listen and he wouldn’t make use of his dad’s advice there would be hell to pay so he took it all in and really hoped he would be able to use it in practice. He slipped a sweater over his head and watched his father as he continued to point out the obvious.

Justin could see his father was getting more nervous because the big games were coming closer. He always began to rant more and lecture more once the bigger games came up and it had started a little with the quarter finals but the semis were even more important since the final game would only be one step away now. Justin could only imagine how he would be when the final would come around on Saturday.

No use thinking about that yet, he had to concentrate on this one first. Because the same rules applied; concentrate, fight with everything you’ve got and make sure you come out as the winner in the end.


Justin took a deep breath as he hunched over the sink. He splashed some cold water on his face and tried to get himself under control.

He’d excused himself for a moment to go to the bathroom and he admitted to himself that he was nervous. He’d been fine a few hours ago when he’d gotten himself ready but now as it was coming closer the nerves formed a tight knot in his stomach and it got worse by the second.

“Hey,” a voice greeted and Justin looked up in the mirror seeing Josh’s smiling face.

“Hi,” he returned a little shaky, as he turned around.

“What’s wrong?” Josh wondered.

“Nervous,” Justin admitted sheepishly.

“You have no reason to be nervous. You’ll do great!” Josh reassured him.

“I just,” Justin sighed.

“I don’t know why I’m so nervous, I normally don’t really get so nervous but it’s just… my dad was lecturing this morning and I really can’t fail him.” Justin’s eyes glistened with tears and his voice softened at the end of the sentence. He just couldn’t help the nerves and he felt frustrated because of it.

“I’m sorry,” Josh whispered stepping up to him and slipping his arms around his waist.

“You’ll be fine, just have fun.” Josh advised, knowing no one ever told Justin to just have fun. His father always had expectations and demands, but he never told him to just have fun. Justin slumped against him, taking a deep breath. Josh let his hands rub Justin’s back as he swayed a little.

“It will be okay,” he promised, kissing the top of his head.

Justin pulled back, sniffling, “Thank you.”

Josh smiled, “Your welcome.”

“I should head back,” he said as he stepped out of Josh’s embrace.

“I can’t be late.” But it was said with a smile.

“Okay, I’ll be right behind you, okay?”

Justin nodded, then leaned in and kissed him gently on the lips.


He then left the bathroom, took another deep breath and went back to the bowling lane where he would play his semi final game. His head felt lighter and he was confident again.

He was going to win.


Josh watched from the sidelines how Justin struggled with his opponent for a spot in the finals on Saturday. He’d gotten over his first shock of finding out that that opponent happened to be his roommate Eric.

Josh hadn’t really known Eric had made it to the semi finals. He hadn’t really paid any attention to that fact. Eric was still sharing a room with him but it hadn’t crossed his mind that that was because he was still in the competition. He’d been too busy with his games and spending time with Justin that he hadn’t realized Eric had made it to the semi finals as well. It was not like Eric had told him this but the suspicious glare he’d received the night before when he’d closed the door after Justin’s departure made a lot more sense now.

Needless to say Josh just wanted Justin to win. Even though that could mean he would maybe have to go up against Justin himself if they both won their semi final game and Josh didn’t know how that would turn out. For now however he wanted Justin to win and he cheered him on inwardly, praising him silently and sympathized when something went wrong.


“We have our first finalist; Justin Timberlake!” they announced when the final scores came up on the scoreboard. There was a difference of only twenty-three but they were in Justin’s favor.

Josh watched how Justin’s father came up towards him and hugged him tightly while Justin’s smile grew. He’d won and Josh was relieved he did. Justin had taken some risks but they’d worked out well, he’d deserved to win. Josh however also noticed Eric’s scowl as he eyed father and son who were celebrating their victory. It gave Josh the creeps and he avoided eye contact, instead focused on Justin and his smile.

A row of people formed and Justin and his father walked past them to the exit. Every now and then people stopped the first finalist to congratulate him and Josh quickly joined the line. Justin saw him almost immediately and halted to a stop in front of Josh who smiled at him.

“Congratulations,” he began. Justin looked behind him quickly to see where his father was. He smiled when he saw a man had approached his father and was complimenting him as well. That was good, it would give them some time to talk.

“Thank you.”

“Meet me tonight,” Josh whispered quickly.

Justin shook his head, answering just as quietly and quickly. “You need to rest and prepare for tomorrow.”

“I don’t have to.”

“I don’t want you to risk losing because of me, I’ll come to your game tomorrow and we’ll meet after that,”

Josh sighed. “Okay then,”

“Thanks again for what you did,” Justin told him, his smile bright, his eyes grateful.

“You’re welcome.” Josh returned, seeing how Justin leaned in a little, wanting to kiss him but they both knew they couldn’t. Justin pulled back quickly.

“Thanks again, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Josh nodded and watched him go with his father. They were stopped every now and then, people congratulated him and complimented him, Justin being very humble about it all. Josh realized he might have to prepare for his own game now…


“Did you two plan this?” Josh looked up shocked. Eric was standing at the end of the short hallway that lead into their room with his right hand in his side and an angry scowl on his face. He’d obviously been waiting for Josh to get back to the room.

“What?” Josh wondered as he closed the door behind him.

“Did you two plan this?” he repeated simply.

“Plan what?”

“Plan to take me out.”

“What are you talking about?!” Josh asked incredulously, what was Eric thinking?

“Do you really think it’s a coincidence your boyfriend beat me? You two planned this!” Eric accused. Josh looked shocked.

“You think we planned to make you lose?” he wondered incredulously.


Josh couldn’t help but laugh, this was ridiculous. “Eric, Justin won, end of story.”

“Maybe, you said you weren’t planning anything going out with him but maybe you two planned something together.” He mused.

“Why the hell would we do that?”

Eric eyed his roommate up and down. “This is a competition, winning is all that matters.”

“Maybe for you.” Josh told him, walking past him to go to his bed. Eric stopped him however, he put his right arm against the wall to block the way and grabbed Josh’s arm with the other, pushing him against the wall to face him.

“Don’t walk away from me!” he warned.

“Fuck off Eric. We didn’t plan anything. He was just better for god’s sake man!” Josh cried in frustration.

“Let go off me.” Eric pulled his hands back, letting him pass.

“Justin won fair and square, what could we have done to make you lose the game? You lost, not because of us. Justin was better and that’s all.” Josh told him honestly, annoyed Eric was pinning the fact that he’d lost the game on him. He slammed into the bathroom and locked it behind him.


Eric turned away from the bathroom door after glaring at it for a few minutes. He was boiling, he’d lost the game, he was out of the tournament and of all people he’d lost the game to Justin. He’d known who Justin was as soon as he met him on the bowling lane that afternoon, he’d seen him hang around Josh a couple of times during the past few weeks.

He plumped down on his bed, taking a few deep breaths and putting everything in perspective. If he were honest with himself he knew they probably hadn’t scammed him into losing, it wasn’t really possible but that didn’t mean he could let this go, not just like that.

Josh would have his game tomorrow and if he would win as well…

Eric would be very unhappy.

Day 12
Thursday, August 4th 2005

Justin was early, he knew they’d agreed to meet right after dinner, around six but he’d eaten quickly and he was eager to spend time with Josh after he’d won his game as well. They were both finalists and they would have to go up against each other on Saturday but they’d agreed not to speak about that tonight. Justin had praised Josh for his victory that afternoon, it had been an easier game than his had been the day before but Josh had brushed it off. He only wanted to speak about meeting up tonight.

Justin knocked impatiently, he heard the hatch unlock and the door swung open. It weren’t Josh’s sparkling blue eyes that met his however, it were Eric’s frowning brown ones.

Justin unconsciously took a step back and nervously stuttered out, “H…hi.”

Okay this was awkward. He hadn’t known he’d beat Josh’s roommate in the semi finals till Josh had informed him of this. He also hadn’t realized he’d meet him tonight.

Where was Josh?

“Hi.” Eric greeted in return.

“Is Josh here?” Justin wondered, wanting this uncomfortable moment to end. Eric on the other hand leaned against the doorframe completely at ease.

“He went out to eat, you want to come in?”

Justin eyed him suspiciously, wanting to say no but the intent gaze Eric was training on him was almost hypnotizing and he said yes. Eric smirked and allowed the boy to come inside. Justin stepped into the room hesitantly and jumped slightly when he heard the door close behind him.

“So you meeting up with Josh again?” Eric asked him nonchalantly as he walked around Justin to face him.

Justin nodded yes.

“Do you think that’s wise?” Eric asked as if he had Justin’s best interest at heart.

“W… what do you mean?” Justin wondered, frowning at the taller boy.

“Well,” Eric started. “You two are going to meet each other in the finals.”

“So?” Justin asked, forcing himself to be defiant, he knew Eric meant no good and he shouldn’t even be listening to him but he was and he couldn’t stop himself.

“Do you think it’s a good idea to show your opponent such vulnerability?”

“I don’t look at him as my opponent.” Justin countered, Eric didn’t know what they’re relationship was like.

“Maybe you should.” Eric said meaningfully as he turned his back towards Justin, luring a reaction from him. And he got it.

“What’s that supposed to mean?!” he demanded as he took a step forward.

“Look,” Eric sighed, shaking his head.

“Maybe I shouldn’t tell you this.”

“Tell me what?” Justin wondered feeble voiced.

Eric sighed again, indecisive.

“Tell me what?” Justin repeated, his voice stronger.

“Okay.” Eric agreed.

“Look, Josh told me,” Eric began, seeing how Justin eyes grew wide in desperation.

“It’s just a scam.” Justin’s eyes grew even more as he heard what Eric was telling him.

“W…what?” Justin stammered, closing his eyes and shaking his head in disbelief.

“Josh told me he’s only hanging out with you so he can take you down.”

Justin shook his head in disbelief. “That’s not true.”

Eric shrugged. “He told me himself.”

“He, he wouldn’t do that.”

“Okay don’t believe me then but he told me a week ago Wednesday you were afraid he was going to take you down and that you should be.”

Justin shook his head.

“He told me he was going to win your trust though and he was going to win the competition that way.”

“He seemed really pleased last Saturday, I don’t know why but I guess you gave him your trust. He knew he was going to win and…”

“Stop it!” Justin cried. He wasn’t going to believe him, Eric was trying to denigrate Josh. It wasn’t true! Josh was honest, he wouldn’t betray him like this.

“I’m sorry Justin, but I thought you had to know.” Eric said, Justin looked up at him with tears glistening in his eyes. But how did Eric know all these things then? Josh must have told him. But Josh had told him they never spoke to each other. Justin’s head was spinning. He shouldn’t doubt Josh but Eric seemed honest.

“He tried to get me involved too,” Eric began again. “He asked me if I could spy on you while you were training with your father in hall three so we could use the strategies against you.”

“But I said no.”

Justin couldn’t hold his sobs in any longer. He spun around and ran for the door.

His tears falling freely, Josh had betrayed him.


Josh waited impatiently for the doors to open. He knew he was a little late and couldn’t wait to get to his room where Justin must be waiting. He couldn’t wait to spend time with him. He turned the corner, heading for his room when someone fled past him crying out familiar sobs.

“Hey what’s wrong,” Josh asked concerned as he noticed Justin came from his room. Josh reached out to grasp his arm but Justin turned to him with fury in his eyes.

“Leave me alone!” he cried out, twisting his arm out of Josh’s grasp and continuing his flight to the elevators to get away from Josh who stayed behind in stunned silence.


“What did you do to him!” Josh demanded the second he got in the room. Eric was packing and turned to him with a smirk carefully hidden underneath a confused mask.

“What did I do to whom?”

“You know damn well who I’m talking about! You did or said something to Justin. Now what is it?!” Josh said angrily, he’d known Eric was in the room and the only conclusion was that Eric must have said or done something to get Justin to react the way he had.

“I said nothing that isn’t true.”

“What. Did. You. Say.” Josh demanded through gritted teeth, his fists clenched at his sides.

“Tell me, asshole!” Josh lashed out, taking a few quick steps towards his roommate, grabbing his shirt and pulling him towards him.

“Whoa, relax dude,” Eric told him a little startled but otherwise only amused.

“What did you do?”

“Nothing he didn’t deserve.”

Josh eyed the other guy, searched his eyes and his face for clues and suddenly he had an idea what had happened.

He pushed Eric away from him, “I can not believe this, is winning really that important to you?” Josh wondered in disgust, realizing Eric’s motives.

It must have had something to do with Justin beating him in the tournament, he remembered Eric’s angry gaze from the day before. It couldn’t be a coincidence. The dark gaze Eric leveled him with told Josh everything he needed to know. He was jealous beyond belief, Josh could see it in his eyes. He was jealous, he probably thought he’d deserved to be in the finals and they’d taken that from him. Josh knew whatever he had said or done to Justin it was his revenge. Well he wouldn’t succeed.

Josh left Eric and went after what was really important; Justin.


Josh hesitated as he stood in front of Justin’s door. He wondered if he should knock, what if Justin wasn’t there and his father would open the door. How could he explain that? He debated to go and leave it. He’d already turned when he stopped dead in his tracks. He couldn’t walk away. He had to talk to him, if his father would open the door so be it, he’d say he had the wrong number or something but he couldn’t leave it like this. He turned back around, took a deep breath and knocked, quietly at first but louder the second time. He waited nervously for someone to open the door, hoping it would be Justin.

He took in another deep breath when the door opened and he was met with a mop of golden curls. It was Justin. He released the breath he’d been holding and it was then that Justin looked up. Josh saw how his eyes were red and his features were miserable.

As soon as he recognized Josh he stepped back again, telling him to, “Go away,” before trying to close the door.

Josh shoved his foot in the door and shook his head, “No, not before you tell me what Eric said to you.”

“Nothing,” Justin denied. “He said nothing, now leave me alone.”

“I can’t, he has to have said something or you wouldn’t be so upset.”

“I’m not upset!”

Josh raised his eyebrows, telling him silently ‘are you kiddin’ me?’.

“Now leave before my father wants to know who I’m talking to.” Justin told him, ignoring the look.

“But Ju…” Josh started when almost on cue a voice called from inside the room,

“Who’s at the door?”

Justin’s eyes became slightly panicked as he quickly looked over his shoulder.

“Go!” he urged silently before calling over his shoulder to his father, “No one!”

“Go!” he urged Josh again, his eyes pleading as he shoved him away, trying to close the door before his father would come closer.


Josh held up his hands, “Fine, but I want to talk to you tomorrow.” Josh whispered back.

“Fine, fine.” Justin agreed quickly and till his relieve Josh stepped back allowing Justin to close the door. He heaved a sigh of relief.

“Who was at the door?” Randy wondered as Justin came back into the room.

“No one important.” Justin answered and it was the truth, it wasn’t anyone important.

Not anymore.

Day 13
Friday, August 5th 2005

It was another day off and it should have been a fun day for Justin and Josh. They’d planned to go out together again but it was everything but a fun day today.

Josh woke up late to discover the room was empty, Eric had left and on one hand Josh was relieved he’d checked out. On the other hand now he wouldn’t be able to ask Eric again what had happened, although Josh didn’t really believe Eric would tell him he could have at least tried. Now he didn’t even have the option to.

As he went about his daily routine of watching a little TV, getting dressed and having breakfast downstairs his mind wasn’t really with it. He kept wondering what had happened exactly between Eric and Justin last night, it must have been something bad or Justin wouldn’t have reacted the way he had. Josh didn’t understand and he hated the fact that Justin wasn’t talking to him, explaining what was wrong so he could make it better. Justin didn’t allow him to explain and it frustrated Josh, he didn’t want to lose Justin. And certainly not because of a jealous asshole like Eric.


Justin didn’t wake up in a good mood either. His eyes felt puffy and his head hurt. He really wanted to go home now. Josh went through his mind and he quickly shook his head to rid himself of the image and the words Eric had pushed into his mind that accompanied Josh’s picture now. Just yesterday all Josh’s picture brought was a smile onto his face, now it brought a fresh stab of pain to his heart. He squeezed his eyes closed, he couldn’t help the few tears that dripped onto his pillow.

“Hey you’re awake, how’s my finalist doing?” Randy greeted happily. Justin groaned inwardly, it really wasn’t something he needed this morning.

“Fine,” he answered nevertheless, knowing there were going to be questions he did not want to provide with an answer.

“What time is it?” he wondered.

“Almost twelve, we missed breakfast.”

“I’m sorry.” Justin apologized, all the while realizing his father had let him sleep.

“You looked exhausted yesterday, thought you could need some sleep.”

Justin nodded. “Thanks.”

“Go take a shower, we’ll get some lunch.”

Justin nodded, hoping he would feel better after a shower. He pushed himself to a sitting position and stumbled to the bathroom so he could wash Josh’s picture from his mind.


It was almost eight p.m. Josh couldn’t hold back any longer. Justin hadn’t come to him all day and he hadn’t really expected him to but he’d hoped. It really looked like he wasn’t coming and so Josh went to the eleventh floor. He once again stood in front of the door nervously. He took a deep breath and raised his hand to knock.

It was then that he heard it. A voice. Lecturing. Angry.


“You know how important this is, don’t you Justin?”

Justin was sitting on the hotel bed, obediently listening to his father’s ranting. It seemed this was more important to his father than to him. It probably was. Always had been.

When Justin had woken up this morning his father had been pretty considerate but as the day passed the consideration turned to non-existent. He was strict and harsh, maybe more than ever. Justin had more or less expected it being only a day away from finals but it really wasn’t something he needed right now. He hadn’t even gotten the chance to go to Josh. Somewhere during the afternoon Justin had realized maybe he needed to give Josh a chance to explain. He didn’t say he was going to believe him but he could at least listen. His father hadn’t allowed it though. He needed to train and rest according to him. What if he would be just as tired tomorrow as he had been today? They couldn’t have that he’d lectured. Justin had nodded then and he was nodding again now.

“Sure,” he mumbled. His father was in his face before he could even look up, grasping his chin and making him meet his eyes.

“Don’t you?” he questioned again, harsher this time not pleased with the nonchalant answer his son had given him.

“Yes.” Justin answered this time, quickly and clearly. His father nodded and backed away.

“We can win this Justin, we are going to win this.” Justin wondered why he was speaking of we, he would be the one doing it, not his father.

“Dad it’s just a game,” he said before he could stop himself, discretely telling his father to lighten up. But his father understood and was not amused. He slapped him across the cheek, not hard enough to cause any real damage but enough to make it painful and serve as a warning. Justin berated himself immediately as he held his cheek protectively in his hand.

“Watch it son.” His dad warned and Justin nodded.

“I will win dad, I will.” Justin said determined, knowing that was what his dad wanted to hear.

“Good, now go to bed, tomorrow is going to be a big day.”

Justin sighed inwardly, it was only eight-thirty but he said nothing and obeyed. He undressed, washed up and crawled in bed, turning his back to his father as he held his cheek that was now glowing and let silent tears fall from his eyes. He knew he couldn’t fail tomorrow, he couldn’t but he wasn’t convinced he could prevent it from happening. He fell into a restless sleep, dreaming of failure and his father’s consequences.


Josh pulled his ear back from the door, he’d been shamefully listening in but what he’d heard hurt him. He’d known Justin’s father was bad but he didn’t know it was like this. Josh had heard the smack, flesh on flesh, he knew what it meant. Justin was hurting and at the moment there was nothing he could do. With the conversation between father and son ringing in his ears he turned and went to the elevators, going back to his own room with a heavy heart.

Day 14
Saturday, August 6th 2005

Justin made his entrance, his father only a step behind him. He sat himself down on a plastic chair, taking a deep breath. This was it, this was the final game of the tournament. If he would win this he could call himself a state champion. But most importantly, his father would be ecstatic. Needless to say Justin was more nervous than ever. This was the most important game and he knew Josh was good. He shook his head, not wanting to think about Josh although he couldn’t help but think back to Wednesday when Josh had helped him relax for his semi final game. He didn’t need to expect it now. He forced himself not to think about Josh, he avoided eye contact because he knew the man would throw him off. He needed to focus on this game although he felt Josh’s eyes on him, nearly begging him to meet his eyes but Justin focussed on the bowling lane in front of him and his father who was giving him a pep talk disguised in a lecture because this was the big day. Whether his father would make the upcoming few weeks hard or easy on him depended on what Justin would do in this game and how everything would come out at the end of this day.


Josh watched Justin, how he sat, almost completely blocked by his father. Josh had seen a glimpse of his eyes though, had seen how sad they were and how miserable his expression was still. He wished they could have talked before this game, it would be a hell of a lot easier on both of them. But Justin steadily avoided his gaze and sadly there was nothing Josh could do to soothe both their minds.


Justin stretched a little to take his mind off of things, preparing in concentration for this game. When he was satisfied he took off his sweater, jumping up and down a little when the announcement sounded, “Would the finalists please step forward.” Justin left his place with a last shoulder pad from his father and stepped onto the lane. Josh wasn’t far behind.

Justin was ready. And so was Josh.

May the best man win.


Justin bit the nail of his right index finger nervously as he watched how Josh picked up his ball and took the few steps towards the lane in concentration. Justin had had his turn and now it was up to Josh. This moment felt very much like déjà vu.

It had been an exciting game, they were neck to neck and who would win this would be decided in the last frame. This was Josh’s second shot, if he would strike down the three pins that were left standing, he would the winner. There were two pins on the far left and one in the middle. Justin was nervous, he’d seen Josh make a similar shot without trouble, he shouldn’t have any trouble this time. The last time they’d went up against each other it had all come down to the final frame as well, Josh had let him win that time but Justin knew there was no chance in hell he would do that again, he could not expect that again. He didn’t think Josh would do that even if they’d been on good terms but with what happened on Thursday Justin was sure Josh wouldn’t even give it a moment’s thought. He was going to kick his butt.

Josh eyed the three pins carefully, preparing his shot to take down all three of them in one go, knowing perfectly well that if he succeeded it would make him the winner. He’d done this before, he needed to focus but he was confident that he could do it.

He took a step forward, angry words flew through his mind. Another step closer, a miserable voice sounded in his ears. The last step and sad eyes blue eyes danced in front of his own. He shook his head and made his choice. He repeated his action without a moment’s regret, he let the ball fly off his fingers heading towards the two pins on the left, knocking them down effectively but one pin was left standing and both competing knew what that meant: Justin was the winner.


Justin was in shock, Josh saw him when he turned back around. He shrugged his shoulders almost unnoticeably and saw how Justin’s father jumped up and down, whooping with joy as he ran towards his son, lifting him off the ground and bouncing him up and down in his arms. Josh watched the whole thing. He knew he’d made the right decision.


Josh had packed his suitcase, he was almost ready to go. He sat down on his bed, grabbing blindly for his prize. The award ceremony had already taken place, he’d gotten a relatively big statue and a chunk of change but of course the biggest trophy and the big bugs were for the winner. Josh smiled as he’d seen the smile on Justin’s face when he’d come to collect his trophy. His father had been taking pictures throughout the whole ceremony, he was clapping loudly and he had the biggest and friendliest smile on his face Josh had ever seen him wear. Justin had looked as if the weight of the world had been lifted off of his shoulders. Josh had been happy to see him so at ease, it was a lot better than the worried frown he’d worn for almost two weeks.

Josh sighed, eyed the statue again and then turned his head to look at the window. He thought about his own father and how he would probably laugh at him that he hadn’t gotten first place but that really didn’t matter to him right now. His father would laugh at him no matter what. Justin was more important. Unfortunately he hadn’t talked to Justin after the game, he’d briefly congratulated him but that had been all before his father and people from the bowling tournament had ushered them off to the ball room where they’d started the tournament fourteen days ago.

There had been a speech then and there had been one now. Justin’s smiling face had told him that he’d made the right decision. The moment he had to throw he’d thought back on the conversation he’d overheard between father and son the night before. Josh knew Justin would seriously get it if he didn’t win and Josh just couldn’t do that to him. Josh knew he could have made that shot but he still really liked Justin and didn’t want him to suffer. Justin probably didn’t think very highly of him after last night’s incident but Josh didn’t care because despite what Justin did or did not believe Josh would never intentionally want to hurt him.

Josh pulled his gaze away from the window and pushed himself to his feet. He slung his backpack over his shoulder and lifted his suitcase from the bed. He picked up his trophy and took the handle of his suitcase with the other hand, dragging it behind him to the door. He stole one more glance into the room, making sure he’d left nothing behind before he opened the door. He was ready to go home.


“You were gonna leave without saying goodbye?” a voice wondered behind him.

Josh pulled his hand back, he’d intended to press the elevator button but he retracted it immediately at hearing the voice and turned swiftly. Justin.

He ducked his head a little, “I didn’t know if you wanted me to.” Justin pushed himself off from the wall and walked towards him.

“You let me win.” Justin stated and Josh looked up, searching his beautiful face for clues.

Was he mad?

Was he upset?

Was he happy?

Josh couldn’t read him. He decided to play it safe. “I’m sorry.”

Justin frowned, wondering, “For what?”

“You… you’re not mad I let you win?”

“No, why would you think that?”

“Well…” Josh started, remembering when he’d done it the first time. “Last time you…”

“I know,” Justin cut him off. “But it was different this time.”

Josh found himself nodding.

“I know why you did it and I’m sorry for that.” Justin apologized, he hated the fact that Josh had deliberately lost because of his father. He shouldn’t have to do that but he had.

Josh shook his head, “It’s not your fault,” he denied, knowing what Justin meant. He could see the blush staining his cheeks.

“I just wanted to let you know how… thankful I am. You shouldn’t have let me win but…” The red was back on his cheeks.

“I’m really grateful you did. You don’t know what you’ve done for me.”

“I do.”

“You what?” Justin asked confused.

“Last night I came by to talk to you and I heard… some things your father said.”

Justin’s eyes grew. “You heard him?”

Josh nodded. “I’m glad I let you win,”

Justin sighed, still embarrassed. “You let me win, even though I doubted you.”

“You doubted me, how?”

“It was because of Eric. Thursday night, I was a little early so Eric let me in. He told me you’d said to him that hanging out with me was just a scam to win. That you wanted my trust and then you could take me down.”

“Why would you ever believe that?” Josh wondered shocked, had that been it? How could Justin have thought it was real?

“I’m sorry! He just had all these details he shouldn’t know, I thought… the only way he could know about them is when you’d told him.” Josh stood a little shocked.

“I let him play with my head, I was nervous about the final game if we had to go up against each other and I wondered if maybe… you were too good to be true.” Josh pulled Justin towards him, looking him straight in the eye.

“I would never do something like that,” Josh said firmly.

“I don’t know what Eric said and I don’t know how he got the information, maybe he listened in or spied on us but I would never even think about doing something like that.”

“I know,” Justin said, very sure now.

“I’m sorry I doubted you. You even let me win and…” Josh saw the tears building in his eyes.

“I’m so sorry!” he cried, letting the tears fall. Josh released the handle of his suitcase, dropped his bag and trophy blindly and pulled Justin against him immediately.

“It’s okay, Justin. I understand, you were under a lot of pressure and you had to win. It’s alright.” Josh soothed as he simply held Justin. Justin cried out all the stress, the nerves, the sorrow and the pain.

After a few minutes the sobs turned into sniffles and he pulled his head off of Josh’s shoulder. Justin’s teary eyes met Josh’s, their faces only inches apart. They stared at one another for a few moments, taking in the other before them, both a little insecure but when they started to lean in it became natural again. Their lips touched gently at first. The touch of their lips soon became more urgent and needy as they greeted one another, silently agreeing to let bygones be bygones. It was like everything fell back in place. They stood in front of the elevator, wrapped in each other’s arms and oblivious to the world around them. As if the past few days had never taken place, Justin wasn’t a winner and Josh wasn’t a loser. They were just two guys, immensely enjoying being in each other’s embrace and feeling the other’s lips on theirs again.

“Wow.” Justin breathed once they finally pulled back. The kisses between them had always been overwhelming and literally breathtaking. Justin had missed it, he couldn’t believe he’d been so stupid but thank God Josh forgave him.

“Yeah.” Josh smiled.

“We’re okay now right?” Justin wondered still a little insecure, needing confirmation.

Josh nodded, still holding Justin close. “More than okay.”

“Good.” Justin sighed.

“You on your way home?”

Josh nodded. “Yeah.” He’d totally forgotten about his luggage that was laying abandoned around them. He hadn’t even given his trophy a moment’s thought when he’d dropped it to take Justin into his arms.

“Do you think that we could, maybe, meet up again?” Justin wondered, they had never talked about a romance after the tournament. Both had wondered if they would even get that far but the tournament was over and here they were.

“I’d like that.” Josh agreed, he’d had no hope that this would happen just an hour ago but now that Justin asked and they were okay again Josh made sure to grab onto it with both hands. He’d really like to see Justin again and by the smile Justin passed his way, Josh reckoned the feeling was mutual.

As he looked into Josh’s eyes, Justin smiled at their happy ending; he’d never expected to have had such a good time. He’d been dreading this tournament for months but he was glad to realize that his worries had been unnecessary because these two weeks had not been a complete waste.

Not at all.


Thanks to Jacie for answering all my questions about English grammar!


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