nsync in black and white

Disclaimer: this is fiction. We made it up.

The River in Front

by Crystal Rose, written for Blythe


"Another year, another season of shows," JC commented, walking through the door of the control room. Justin looked up from where he had been playing with the character generator and talking to Kim, one of the techies. He had been wondering when JC was going to get to class. Granted, he was never on time for homeroom, but one could only ever hope when it came to him.

"They better not suck this time around," Lance commented from his seat in the audio booth. Justin shot him a dirty look and spoke.

"There was nothing wrong with our shows last year, dumbass," he said. "We all did a good job putting together what we could."

"Yeah," JC agreed. He took a seat in master control, flipping a couple switches as he spoke. Justin almost told him not to touch anything--their supervisor tended to get anal about the equipment--but on second glance, it seemed like JC wasn't doing much. "It's not our fault that there's nothing to report on here and that the best we could do last year was budget cuts." Everyone in the room gave a brief shudder. Now there was a topic that had been beaten into the ground the previous season. It took a lot to put together their small newscast on campus. They did a ton of work, day and night, to get their shows up to par. But their supervisor had the tendency to never want anything he deemed 'fluff' on the show. Everything had to be hard news, but on a high school campus, hard news was hard to find. So, in turn, the shows weren't filled with much, and they all got crap for it. Especially Justin and JC who were supposed to be running the show.

Justin looked over to where JC was still flipping switches in master control. Well, Justin thought. I get crap for it. Like JC would ever get shit talked about him, Mr. Student Body President-slash-Mr. I Have So Many Connections-slash-Mr. I'm So Hot I Could Set Your Pants On Fire By Putting My Hand On Your Hip.

Justin preferred to keep that last thought to himself.

"We just have to step it up this year," he said, turning away from JC to address their staff. "Let's be ready for Hernandez's bull-pen tomorrow and start coming up with new ideas for the show. Innovative things that we can actually do. And come up with ideas for the Homecoming movie. That's where we'll get our credit this year."

A chorus of unenthusiastic 'yeahs' filled the room as everyone went back to what they were doing. Justin sighed. Sometimes he could never cut a break with these people.

"Hey," JC said, standing up. "Are you busy with the CG?" Justin shook his head. He wasn't busy with anything. He had just been writing stupid messages into the computer and playing them through the TVs.

"Then come with me to The Paper," JC continued. "We can spy on them and steal their story ideas." The Paper was the school newspaper, and the newcast's rival in press. Their supervisor never gave a shit what they were doing with their work, so their stories were a lot more fun to read, and their work earned awards. Not to mention the whole staff basically ran amuck in the newsroom. They were all idiots, except for a couple, as far as Justin was concerned. And while JC was buddy-buddy with the editors and was fine going into their newsroom at all hours of the day, Justin always felt like he was an inferior to those who worked in print. Granted, he knew everything there was to live broadcasting and held his own there, but it always seemed like The Paper was ragging on him. Just look at past issues--his name was always there in bold print.

"They hate me," Justin admonished. "You know they hate me." JC huffed and rolled his eyes before grabbing Justin by the arm and dragging him from the room.

"They don't hate you," he said. He stopped to write where they were going on the departure board. "They're just a little full of themselves over there. I've heard from many a source that they actually have major respect for you."

"I still have the issue from last year where they called me a worthless producer," Justin commented, walking out the door and into the bright sun. They began the trek across campus.

"You know they were kidding. In the same issue they made fun of me."

Justin stopped in his tracks in the middle of the quad and looked at JC incredulously.

"They said that you should be the new principal since you own the entire student population anyway."

"See?" JC smiled. He swung his arm around Justin's shoulders and pulled him forward. "It's all fun and games."

Justin said nothing as they continued passed the cafeteria. Ever since freshman year JC had been a staple in the student body, practically known throughout each of the grades ever year that passed. Justin used to think that you could only find a person like that on crappy high school television shows and had been taken aback when he met JC back in the ninth grade. He had taken a liking to JC immediately, much like anyone who met him, but Justin was afraid to say that the feelings went deeper than that.

JC was the type of guy who was modest about his high school status, not because he didn't want to offend anyone, but because he didn't know about his high school status. Justin always told him that the only reason he ran unopposed for Student Body President was because everyone was afraid to run against him. JC always told Justin that he was crazy--no one ran against him because no one wanted the job. Justin had it on personal account that their friend Johnny was going to run for President, but had backed out solely because of JC's involvement.

JC's weird obliviousness was only one of the reasons for Justin's ill fated crush on the man. There was also his light attitude about everything, and his ambition. Of course, JC's shallower aspects weren't overlooked. Anyone with two eyes could see the sex just oozing from him. JC would never see Justin as anything but a friend though. Someone to vent to about everything going on in his life. Justin remained JC's lackey, and most of the time Justin was okay with it. You know, when JC wasn't all about some guy or girl who was taking place in his life at that moment.

"--what I was thinking."

Justin paused in his thoughts realizing that he hadn't been listening to JC at all. Oh, shit. Cover your ass.

"That sounds great," Justin smiled. They walked down the final set of stairs to the newsroom and stopped just outside the door. Justin could already hear the crazy shit that was going on in the room.

"So, you'll be over around seven, then?" JC said. "We can hang out on the back porch since it's still hot."

"Oh," Justin said. "Okay. Yeah. I'll come over to hang out. Seven is fine."

"Good." JC opened the door to the newsroom and a giant ball of paper flew into the bushes. JC cracked a grin and looked back at Justin. "I can tell you all about John, this guy I met at the show last week."



Homecoming was a big deal at school, moreso than prom or any other event on campus. Justin never really understood it--the sheer mania that surrounded the court and the festivities--but he knew he had never been more proud of himself in his entire life. It was tradition for the newscast to come up with a clever movie that would announce the Homecoming King and Queen, and he had had his hand in it the entire way through. This year, their idea had been a spin off of Clue, triggered by Lance's insistence that they do it.

Only a few of the staff from the newscast worked on the movie considering that the information on who won the court was confidential. JC could only work on the thing so much due to the fact that he was on the court himself. There were many late nights in the edit bay with Lance and Nick, spent trying to stop JC from looking through the windows at the computer screen.

But that's all over with, Justin thought, standing on the bleachers in the gym, underneath the dim lights and the blinking strobe. The halftime show had run smoothly, the movie had played without any glitches, and the King and Queen were announced, much to the excitement of the school. Granted, Justin, Lance, and Nick were a little peeved that they announced the movie as a product of JC and the Broadcast Class, but they finally got the recognition they deserved. Justin was getting praise up the wazoo for his work and even The Paper had cut him some slack that week. Now it was time to celebrate it all with the usual dance, or as Lance liked to call it,

"The worst example of high school life ever."

Justin turned to Lance and gave him a look.

"What?" Lance asked. "Just look at the people on the dance floor. Good God! Are those two having sex?!" He pointed into the crowd below them and Justin quickly turned his head.

"Where?" he wondered. He couldn't see anything. At least, nothing beyond the usual bump and grind of bodies.

"I knew you'd look." Lance smirked. "So, where's the King?"

"How am I supposed to know? I'm not his keeper."

Lance raised an eyebrow. Justin sighed and pointed towards the DJ booth without looking away from Lance.

"He's near the front, dancing with Hannah and her friends."

"You're so massively whipped, it's not even funny," Lance commented, shaking his head. "What's even less hilarious is having all the credit taken away from us for that fucking awesome movie." Lance set his lips in a thin line and Justin flinched. JC wasn't going to get away with that when he got back into class on Monday morning. Even if he did swear that he had no part in it.

"He did say that he told Hannah to announce us all," Justin tried. He didn't even know why he was trying.

"Bullshit." Lance shoved Justin in the shoulder. "And quit defending him all the time."

"I'm not defending him! I'm just telling you what he told me!"

"You're getting worked up," Lance sighed.

"I'm not getting worked up!" Justin was almost at shrieking level, but it was barely heard over the thumping bass.

"Here comes Georgia!" Lance suddenly exclaimed, and Justin turned to see their friend coming up the bleachers.

"Justin!" she yelled over the music. She grabbed him by the arm and pulled him into a hug. "I never got to thank you!"

"For what?" Justin asked. Georgia pulled back and smiled.

"For convincing me to stay on court!" She turned to talk to Lance. "You know, if it weren't for him, I would have dropped out of the race the week I found out I had actually made it to the court. I mean, I was nominated as a joke by Ecology Club--you know they're all crazy in there. I never expected to actually win!"

Lance smiled.

"Well," he drawled. "Our Justin tends to work miracles like that. Just look who's King."

"Oh, sweetie," Georgia laughed, slapping Lance lightly on the arm. "No one but JC had anything to do with his win. That boy is a miracle in his own right! I think we all would have died of shock had any of the other guys won."

"Some of us more than others." Lance grinned at Justin. Justin flipped him the bird in response. He put his arm down when Georgia turned back around.

"And to think, you knew for the last two weeks who had won, and you kept it all to yourself. I would have died."

"I almost did," Justin smiled. He had had to suffer through two weeks of JC's predictions of who was going to win. And none of his predictions ever included himself. Justin sometimes wondered how someone so smart was so dense.

Would everyone please clear the dance floor for the court dance?

Georgia looked up and grinned.

"That's my cue!" she chirped. She grabbed Justin by the arm once again. "Come with me! I haven't seen you with JC all night and I'm sure he's just dying out on the dance floor without you."

"Um," Justin started.

"Go Justin," Lance smirked. "He's dying..." Justin glared at Lance as he was pulled down and through the crowd.

Georgia left him standing on the inside of the circle that had formed around the dance floor, and ran off to dance with JC. They danced for a minute before the DJ called for the rest of the court, and then the rest of the students. Justin was caught up by Christina immediately, seeing as her date was probably off smoking something behind the gym. This was why he had stayed in the bleachers with Lance for the majority of the night. He didn't want to be down on the dance floor, being manhandled by girls--even if they were his friends--and being forced to go through the motions of some inane--

"May I cut in?"

Justin paused as JC stood in front of them, before backing up to let him have at it with Christina. At least he could go back to the bleachers while all the others were busy dancing. But JC had a different idea.

"What the hell?" Justin quipped as JC put one hand in his and another on his hip. He swung them away from Christina and towards the outskirts of the crowd.

"Where've you been hiding all night?" JC asked, ignoring Justin's inquiry. "I thought you were going to make an effort to be more involved in these things."

"I'm actually here, aren't I?" Justin answered. He didn't stop their dance around the crowd.

"You know what I meant when I asked you get involved." JC looked at Justin earnestly. Oh, God. Not the face.

"You always complain about not doing anything," JC continued.

"It's just for kicks," Justin said, looking away. He looked up into the stands and saw Lance watching them dance with an amused look on his face. He looked back at JC.

"Maybe next time you guys have a pep rally or something equally horrendous, I'll show up."

"Maybe?" JC raised an eyebrow. Justin sighed.

"I'll show up," he relented. JC smiled wide and Justin couldn't help but smile back.

"Great!" JC exclaimed. The song switched into something faster and JC started dancing to that instead. Justin just stood in front of him.

"Come over tomorrow," JC shouted over the music, beginning to make his way back into the crowd. "We'll have lunch!" He waved one final time before disappearing into bump and grind. Justin looked up again at Lance who was making a motion with his hand.

He could almost hear the crack of the whip.


"Are you gonna get that?" Lynn called from the kitchen as the doorbell rang. Justin turned around from his spot at the computer to eye the door. He was always wary of random visitors, always worried that it would be some solicitor he could never be mean to. He was such a push over.

Deciding to suck it up, he opened the door anyway.

"Hey," JC greeted, giving a small wave. He rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet.

"Hey," Justin smiled, looking confused. "What are you doing here?"

"I was just taking a walk. I ended up here."

"Oh." Justin just stood in the doorway. "Did you want to do something?"

"Not really," JC answered. He stepped forward and Justin let him in. "I just wanted to see what you were up to."

"Just screwing around," Justin said, motioning to the computer in the other room. "I'll just put up a message and we can go get coffee or something."

"I don't have any money on me." That was a typical comment. JC held odd jobs through the years, and yet he never had the cash to show for it. Justin suspected he spent it all on clothes, looking the man over. He was clad in Diesel jeans and a shirt from Urban Outfitters. Upon closer inspection of himself, Justin found his own clothes to be second hand crap from the vintage store he worked at.

"I'll pay," Justin said, turning around to close up the computer. That was a typical comment for him. He always paid.

"Oh, no, you always pay," JC responded. Justin grabbed his sweatshirt and shoved JC out the door, yelling goodbye to his mother.

"We have this arguement at least twice a week. Let's just cut to the part where I pay and you take it." Justin grinned at JC and crossed the street to his car. JC just smiled back and followed.

"I've never been up here," JC said, looking through the windsheild at the passing scenery. Justin had driven them up the coast, heading into Malibu as the sun settled down over the ocean. In a quick thirty minutes, the moon would be up, casting a glare over the water as a background to the lights of Santa Monica.

"I figured," Justin shrugged. He took a sip of his mocha before pulling over to park. "So, what's the deal?"

JC glanced at him and scrunched up his nose. He shook his head before he spoke.

"It's not much, really," he said. "Just...you know Brett, right?"

Justin could feel his heart squeeze at the name that fell from JC's lips. He knew Brett alright, and he knew JC had a thing for him. Another day, another boy.

"Since the fourth grade," Justin answered. "I've told you that before."

"Yeah." JC looked out the window and grabbed his bottle of water. He passed it back and forth between his hands.

"We've been talking a lot lately," JC continued. "He just seems to get me, you know? More than anyone I've known." Justin stared at JC and willed himself not to start in with, Me! I know you!

"Right," he said instead. "Brett's just as weird as you can be, so I guess it's a match." He turned away to look out over the water. The sun was gone and the bright colors were fading fast from the sky.

"You think?" JC smiled. "I mean, I would figure you'd know since you can see what we're like together. I can't see it. I'm not on the outside. But I can feel it, like it's something profound, you know?"

Justin nodded. No, he didn't know, but he was just going to take it and shut up.

"Some of my friends don't think it's a good idea," JC said. "But I trust your word for it, if you think it'll be good."

"It'll be fine," Justin said quickly, wanting the conversation to end.

"Yeah." JC looked up to where the moon appeared in the sky. "Wow. Look at that."

"And me without my camera," Justin responded. It was clear for a fall evening and the smog from the city was lighter than usual, leaving the lights from the Santa Monica Pier to resonate brightly. Justin looked at the ferris wheel longingly, wishing for the days when that was all it took to make him happy.

"We should come up here to have dinner one night," JC said, breaking their silence. "And we can head to the pier for rides. I don't think I've ever been there."

Justin closed his eyes briefly before turning to give JC a small smile.

"Maybe Brett will take you."

JC grinned and Justin felt his heart squeeze a little tighter.


If there was ever someone Justin hated and loved at the same time, it would have to be AJ McLean, Editor in Chief of The Paper. Talk about knowing someone forever, Justin thought, rolling his eyes and standing outside the doors to the newsroom. He loved him because they had been friends since the third grade, always getting into trouble together at the expense of their mothers, but he also hated him because, well, he always let those little snide comments about Justin slide under his nose.

Justin opened the door to the newsroom and came face to face with Chris Kirkpatrick and a metal bat. He closed his eyes at the grin on the other man's face and sighed.

"What is that for?" he asked. He opened his eyes and jumped as the bat came into contact with one of the tables in the room.

"Nothing," Chris shrugged as if he hadn't just caused a dent in the furniture.

"Right. Shouldn't you be editing the sports page for this week's issue instead of causing trouble? That way when deadline night comes, you won't be swamped?"

Chris shrugged again.

"That's what Brian is for," he answered, pointing towards the back of the room. Brian gave Justin a wave before turning back to the computer.

"You're so uptight, Timberlake," Chris continued. "Loosen up a bit and maybe your show will too."

"I'm far from uptight," he frowned. "Besides, the show is Hernandez's fault and we all know it. And why am I discussing this with you? Where's AJ?"

"Ah, the real reason for you drop in visit. And to think, I thought all you wanted was to steal our stories."

"We have one show left before break and the end of the Senior Season," Justin replied. "I wouldn't have time to use your ideas anyway." Justin looked over Chris' shoulder to see AJ come out of his tiny office.

"AJ!" he called, turning away from Chris. "Hey!"

"Justin," AJ smiled. "I guess you got my message."

"Yeah." Justin looked down at the papers in AJ's hands. "There's nothing bad about me there this time, right?"

AJ folded the papers and held them out of Justin's reach.

"That's for you to find out when the issue is released Friday. Besides, that's not what you're here for." Justin narrowed his eyes at his friend, but didn't push the issue.

"So, what was so urgent that you had one of my techies harrass me, instead of JC, out of work this period?"

"We heard that you guys have got footage of the streakers from last week's football game and we wanted to know if we could get a still shot of it. JC already said it'd be fine with him, but that we had to check with you before he gave the go ahead."

"Shit," Justin sighed. "You know I hate giving you guys anything."

"I know," AJ grinned. "But you'll say yes anyway." Justin rolled his eyes, but even AJ knew that he had given up without a fight.

"I'll tell Nick to get on that."

"Right. Also, Brett wanted to speak with you. Something about Christmas shopping. He's in my office touching up one of his reports."

Justin gave AJ a look.

"Don't kill me for this," AJ said starting to walk away. "I have nothing to do with your sick love triangles."

"I hate you," Justin called after him.

"We'll do lunch this weekend!" AJ called back, walking out the newsroom door. Justin turned around and headed into his office. Brett sat behind the desk, clicking around on the computer. Justin shut the door behind him.

"I have things to get to, Brett," Justin started.

"Hey," Brett greeted, turning to Justin. "I know you do, so I'll make this quick."

Justin nodded.

"I need to know what to get JC for Christmas."

"You need to know..." Justin raised an eyebrow. "You've been dating for a month. Shouldn't you have figured something out by now?"

"That's what I thought, but he's not an easy person to crack. I've been thinking for a couple weeks now, and I've come up with nothing."

"Take him to dinner," Justin said, one hand on the doorknob behind him. He was so ready to leave.

"I can't do that!" Brett replied. "We do that all the time and it would mean almost nothing." Brett stood up and was suddenly in Justin's space.

"You could help me. You know what he's like more than anyone else." Finally, Justin thought. Someone who sees things my way.

"Doesn't that threaten you at all?" Justin tried, wanting to shy away from this conversation. Brett smiled.

"You guys are just good friends, man," he said. "Nothing's gonna go on there."


"So, Saturday? We can meet at the Galleria or I could pick you up and we can check out the stores. We can make a day of it. I'm sure you could pick up a few things for other people while we're at it."

Justin's almost overwhelming love for holiday shopping was quickly overthrowing the awkward situation of being forced to find a present for his unrequited love, as a favor to Brett.

"Okay." Justin mentally slapped himself.

"I'll call you Friday night," Brett said. He reached behind Justin and opened the office door. "You should probably head back to the control room. I'm sure JC's gonna need you for something."

Justin nodded and fled the newsroom. When he walked back into master control, JC was fooling around with the teleprompter.

"Where were you?" he asked, not even looking up from his work. "We have to set up for Johnny's Student Body Report."

"Brett says hi," Justin said, in lieu of his own greeting. JC looked up at him then and laughed a little.

"You made a trip to The Paper by yourself?" he asked. "I'm proud of you."

Justin nodded.

"You want to start writing Johnny's script?"


"I brought you your tape recorder back," JC said as he walked through the front door. He gave Justin a kiss on the cheek and ran off towards the living room where the party was in full effect. It was the big one-eight, as Lance liked to refer to it. Justin, Joey, and Nick had a habit of celebrating their birthdays together and had planned a small dinner get together at Justin's place as opposed to previous years where they had just had a water fight in the nearby park. And by small, Justin meant forty something guests. Most of the people in his house at the moment, Justin didn't know. Joey's friends weren't really his, and Nick's friends were really just acquaintances. But still, he wasn't having a bad time. And he was getting presents up the wazoo.

"Joey's mom really did a number with the food," Lance said, walking up beside Justin with a plate full of pasta. "I think I'll have to spend an extra hour at the gym to burn it off."

"That's such bullshit," Justin laughed. "You know as well as I do that it'll all just go to your hips and give us more reason to call you The Child Bearer."

"Fuck off." Lance shoved Justin with the hand that wasn't carrying his plate of food. "Have you snuck a peek at the stuff you've gotten?" He motioned to the dining table covered with presents.

"Nah. Nick's been guarding it just for that reason. He says we're supposed to open everything together. You know how he is."

"He's anal when it comes to things like that, but when you ask him to touch up a news piece, he gives you his minimum effort."

"Well, at least that hell is over with," Justin replied. "No more Hernandez and no more news pieces." Lance snorted.

"Yeah," he said. "For you. Some of us chose to stay the second semester."

"I'm just smarter." Justin smirked. Lance shoved him again and Justin walked off in search of Joey. He found him hovering in the kitchen.

"You wanna cut the cake in like, thirty minutes?" Joey asked when he saw Justin. "It'll give us time to take a crack at the presents before your parents kick us out."

"Sounds good to me," Justin replied. "You can take care of it." He was about to say something else when a pair of arms wrapped around his midsection and hugged tight. Justin felt lips against his neck and squirmed.

"Hey, baby," JC whispered. "How's the birthday boy?"

I'm about to make this situation very uncomfortable if you don't let go, how about you? Justin thought. He unwrapped JC's arms and turned to face him. The man had obviously started dancing as soon as he hit the party, because there was already a light sheen of sweat on his forehead.

"Gross," Justin smiled as he pointed to the offending spot. JC just giggled and pulled Justin to him by the belt loops.

"You should come dance with me," he said. "You don't have that music playing for nothing."

"It's playing so you and the others can dance. I'm just here to mingle and get free shit."

"You and your one track mind," JC grinned. He backed off and pulled something from his back pocket. He handed it to Justin.

"Here," he said. "It's your present from me. I didn't have the cash for something really sweet, so I put together a little something instead." Justin took the cassette from him and read the writing.

Justin Fucking Rawks!!!

"Should I be afraid?" he asked, smiling at the man in front of him. JC laughed once more and made a move back to the dance floor.

"Just listen to it later!" he called before getting sucked back into the grinding bodies.

"What do you think it is?" Joey asked, coming up behind Justin. Good ole Joey. He wasn't even trying to pretend that he wasn't eavesdropping.

"I guess I'll find out after the party."

"Alright! Get out of my house already! And take the stupid balloons with you!" Justin laughed as he shoved Lance and Nick out of his house, watching them try to pack as many of the colorful balloons into the back of Nick's truck.

"And don't crash into anything because of them!"

He shut the door on Lance and Nick's laughter. Shutting off all the lights in the house, he made a vow to clean up the mess everyone left behind first thing in the morning. But at that moment, he was too tired to give a shit about what his parents might find when they left for church the next day.

Justin climbed the stairs to his bedroom and began to undress when the cassette JC had given him earlier fell out of his pocket. He smiled as he held it up, reading the label once again, and decided that it was as good a time as any to listen to it. He figured he might actually stay awake for whatever was on it.

He pushed play and the muffled noises of a microphone filled his bedroom.

Justin Timberlake...it's his birthday? Oh. Is that why you're cramming this thing into my face? Say what? What? Oh. Okay. Justin, this is Kevin, JC wanted me to wish you a happy birthday, so, have a good one.

Justin sat down on his bed and furrowed his brow.

Justin Timberlake is hot. No, seriously. If he weren't all into this other guy I'm not allowed to name, I'd jump him in less than a second. Not to mention he's just a good guy all around...oh. This is Howie.

Hey, it's Britney. Wow, eighteen huh? I'm glad I've known you for as long as I have and you're a really great person. Trustworthy, honest, and all that good stuff. I love you, Justin!

No, JC, get the hell away from me. I'm not going to talk into the recorder. I don't care if it's for Justin! I'm going to see him at the party anyway!

Justin had to laugh at the voice that was so obviously AJ. He could see him trying to avoid JC and his overzealous nature. The rest of the tape consisted of the same thing--people generally saying that Justin was beautiful, trustworthy, caring, kind, honest, individualistic, and just wonderful to hang out with. Nearing the end of the cassette, Justin was so riled up, he was almost afraid he wouldn't get a chance to sleep. But, the end came, and silence filled the room, leaving Justin with a wistful smile on his face. He reached over to stop the stereo when the muffled noise of the microphone came once again.

I guess it's my turn, JC started. Everything about you has already been said on the tape, and everyone has been right. Well, except for maybe Bobby and his death threat. But I think that was aimed more at me. You are the most amazing person I have ever met in the history of...well, my history. It's been four years--four, right?--and I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't been there to deal with me. I've been told I'm difficult and even the closest of my friends can only take me for an hour at a time, but you, you're something different. I can let everyone else on this tape express my own beliefs about you, but just know that no matter what, I'll love you more than them. And even more than that at times. Happy birthday.





"I think I broke up with him."

"You think you broke up with him?"

"I told him we should cool it off."

"You told him you should cool it off?"

"Are you going to repeat everything I say?"

"Am I going to repeat--no, I'm kidding. Why the sudden drop?"

"I don't think it was sudden."

"It seems sudden to me. You guys were going strong there."

"Somewhere, something went wrong."

"Did he not get you the right chocolates for Valentines Day? Was that it? I told him to get the Godivas..."

"Don't mock me. Of course it wasn't the choco--wait. You told him what to get me?"


"You're lying."

"I am not."

"You are too! You're eyes get shifty when you lie. Have you been telling him things?"

"What things?"

"Things! Things like what to get me and where to take me on dates. I thought it was funny that he knew exactly what I wanted for Christmas."

"Lucky guess?"

"No one's that lucky. Well, except you."

"I don't have to guess. I know."

"And you told him."

"Is that a crime? He asked me."

"It's not a crime. I just wish you would have told me."

"What good would that have done?"

"I don't know. I just don't like you going behind my back."

"I wasn't going behind your back. I was helping him to make you happy."

"You don't think he could have done it on his own?"

"He certainly didn't think so."

"Well, I'm glad I broke up with him then."

"You think you broke up with him."

"No. Now I know I broke up with him."

"What now?"

"What do you mean, what now?"

"You just gonna jump the next piece of flesh you see? That seems to be par for the course."

"Oh, shut up. I'm not that slutty."

"I never said you were slutty at all."

"No, you never do."

"People call you slutty?"

"I get called a lot of things."

"You want me to beat some people for you?"

"I appreciate it, but I think I'm okay."

"Did I tell you how much I loved your birthday gift for me?"

"All the time. But I like hearing that."

"I love the birthday gift you gave me."

"How do you do that?"

"Do what?"

"Make me feel less like shit."

"I'm not doing my job then."


"You're not supposed to feel like shit at all."

"If you buy me ice cream maybe we can remedy that."


"You love it."


"Ow! Jesus, Brian!" Justin rubbed the patch of skin on his arm that was just pinched.

"Shoulda worn green, laddie!" Brian said.

"That's a horrible Irish accent," Justin replied. "Ow! You're not supposed to do it twice! JC! Can we leave!?"

"I'm talking to AJ," JC called out. "Give me a minute and we can get to dinner. He just needs help on this story."

"I hate deadline week," Justin mumbled to himself. He turned back to Brian. "I always get stuck in here somehow. I don't even work for you people."

"You just follow JC around," Brian shrugged. "Maybe you wouldn't be stuck in here if you quit following him like a puppy."

"I am not following him like a puppy," Justin snapped. "Besides, you shouldn't be one to talk. Just look at the way you fall all over Leighanne over there in yearbook." Brian had the good grace to blush. Justin smiled.

"Anyway," Justin continued. "These days, he's been calling me. He always wants to go out and then he kinda just drags me places. I don't have the heart to say no."

"Because..." Brian raised an eyebrow.

"He just broke up with Brett! I can't leave him alone after that."

"Brett was a month ago. JC has been over that. I saw him getting over it with Todd."

Justin frowned at that. Todd was an older guy JC had been seeing on and off for a year. Justin didn't like Todd. Todd was always...there. Always fucking things up and distracting JC.

"Sorry," Brian continued. He patted Justin on the back. "I'm sure he'll come to his senses one day. Just wait."

"I've been waiting," Justin pouted.

"I didn't take that long," JC said, coming up on the tail end of their conversation. He threw an arm around Justin's shoulders and tugged him towards the door.

"Don't worry about it, Justin!" Brian called after them. Justin waved over his shoulder as they walked out the door.

"So," JC started. "Dinner's on me, for once. Where do you want to go? Try to make it cheap."

"Have you been seeing Todd again?" Justin asked, pulling away from JC. They stopped in the middle of the hallway, halfway to the parking lot. The smile fell from JC's face.

"I haven't been seeing him, per se," he said. "I ran into him a couple times."

"Like, ran into him and partied at a show, or ran into him and fell onto his lips?" Justin wondered. Don't get mad. Don't get mad.

JC looked away from Justin's eyes.

"We caught up a couple times," he rushed out. "Look, I know what you think about Todd--"

"But you don't care. You never care what I think." JC looked at him, confused.

"I always care what you think."

"Then what's with Todd?"

"That's just, you know, pain management."

"Pain management," Justin nodded. He started walking towards the parking lot again. JC reached out for him.

"Don't act like you're jealous just to get my sympathies," he said. Justin pulled away from him again. He turned to look JC in the eye.

"Don't pretend that you know what I'm feeling," Justin spat out. He looked away to compose himself, not able to look at JC's shocked features. "I don't think we should do dinner tonight."

He walked away once more.

"I drove us here," JC tried.

"I can walk home," Justin called back, turning the corner to cut across the lot.


"Justin, are you going to go out?" Lynn asked, walking into the living room. "You shouldn't spend your Spring Break cooped up in the house.

"It's raining," Justin answered, looking back at the fireplace. He crammed another marshmallow onto his stick and held it over the flames.

"The rain has never stopped you before. You love running around, getting soaked, and trying to convince me that you won't get a cold."

"Well, now you don't have to worry."

Justin could tell by his mother's silence that she was pressing her lips into a thin line. She was biting her tongue about something.

"JC's been calling." Scratch that, she never bit her tongue about anything. Justin pulled his marshmallow off onto his smore before he replied.

"Just keep telling him I'm busy. You know how it is."

"You're busy stuffing you face full of junk," Lynn scolded. "That's not busy." When Justin didn't say anything, she sighed and sat next to him on the floor.

"Whatever has happened between you two can't be that bad. You can't keep avoiding him. It's been at least a month since I've seen him over here." She brushed a hand over the back of Justin's neck and he closed his eyes.

"Yeah, well...it's just not working out." He shoved the smore into his mouth.

"That's disgusting." Lynn wiped as his face with her hand and Justin tried to bat her away. "And what's not working out? You love him, he loves you, what's the problem?"

"He doesn't love me," Justin answered, swallowing his food. "He loves everyone else."

"Ah," Lynn smiled. She opened her mouth to say more when the doorbell rang. She kissed Justin on the temple and went to answer it.

"I'm not here!" he yelled. He reached over to throw another log on the fire as Lynn walked back into the room.

"Can you get me a can of Coke?" he asked, not turning around. "I think I need more crap to put in my system."

"Your hips will start looking like Lance's if you keep that up," JC said. Justin whipped around to see him standing there with his hands in his pockets.

"Thanks, mom!" he yelled towards the kitchen. "I'll be sure to get you back for that later!" He turned back to the fire and roasted another marshmallow.

"Mind if I join you?" JC asked. Justin said nothing. JC sat down next to him anyway.

"I know you're mad at me," he continued. "But we're not going to get anywhere if you won't talk to me."

He waited. Justin just checked on his marshmallow.

"You are seriously going to be a douche about this, aren't you? Wait, no. I take that back. Calling you names is not going to get me anywhere. I came here to apologize and that's what I'm doing. So, I'm sorry. I'm sorry about Todd and I'm sorry for being stupid about it. I know you don't like him and I understand why. But I just--it was hard." JC rubbed a hand over his face.

"It's always hard to be without someone. Or at least that's how it is for me. I don't know how it is for you since I've never seen you with someone. Maybe you're used to being without. I don't know. I realize that I don't know anything about you and you have to know everything about me with the way I go on and on. But it's only you I get that way with. I can't tell anyone else everything about myself. They can't take it. They think I'm too complicated. And you just take it and run with it every step of the way. And...what the hell am I saying?"

"You're saying you're sorry you're a selfish dickwad," Justin spoke up. JC smiled.

"I am," he said. "I am a selfish dickwad and anything else you can think to call me."

"I don't think there's anything else."

"If I were you I'd think of something." Justin smirked.

"Good thing you aren't me then."

JC's smile grew bigger and he placed a hand on Justin's arm.

"Come to prom with me," he said. Justin looked at him and scoffed.

"I'm serious," JC tried again. "You and me. You promised to get involved."

Justin rolled his eyes and tossed JC the bag of marshmallows. JC took that as a yes.


"I'm having flashbacks," Lance said, standing next to Justin on the balcony overlooking the dance floor. "Only, in those, I'm not as well dressed."

"The tux does do wonders for you," Justin smiled. Lance flipped him off and took another sip of his soda. "Where's your date?"

"Probably with yours. Nick likes to fuck around on the dance floor as much as JC sometimes."

"How are you guys dealing with the college separation thing?" Justin asked, tentatively sneaking a glance at Lance out of the corner of his eye. He saw him frown.

"We're making the best of it for now," he answered. "I don't leave for Berkeley until August, so we'll cross that bridge when we get to it."

"You'll work something out. You always do."

Lance shrugged.

"What about you and JC?" he countered. "I know you're going to UCLA, but where's he off to?"

"You know what?" Justin frowned. "He never said. I don't think I've even asked. I know during applications he was making noises about NYU, but I didn't hear anything about that."

"Weird." Lance took another sip of his drink.

"When do you think Nick and JC are going to come after us?" Justin asked, changing the topic.

"Now," Lance replied, pointing towards the stairs. The two other men were making their way up to the balcony.

"Oh, no, Lance!" Justin said loudly, grabbing Lance by the waist. "They'll see us!"

"Fuck off, Timberlake," Nick said, shoving him away and laughing. He wrapped an arm around Lance's chest and kissed him on the side of the head. "You can't woo my boyfriend with your advances."

"He couldn't woo anybody," Lance chimed in. The blondes snickered and Justin narrowed his eyes at them.

"Leave Justin alone," JC defended. "And go meet up for prom court. They're gonna do announcements in a minute. I don't think Nilo needs any of you to be late."

"We'll see you later, Justin," Lance said, walking away with Nick. Justin leaned over the balcony again, feeling JC brush up next to him.

"It's a lot more fun this year than last year," JC said. "Even you have to admit that."

"Only because it's our last thing together," Justin replied. "Besides the actual graduation and Grad Nite."

"Why, Justin! Are you getting nostalgic?"

"Hell, no." Justin blushed. "I'm just making an observation."

"And a very astute one at that," JC grinned. "So tell me, Mr. Timberlake, have you any regrets?"


"You know, things you wish you would have done. Things you wish you could take back?"

"Things I wish...what makes you think I have any regrets?"

"Everyone has them," JC said, placing a hand at the back on Justin's neck. "I have them."

"Well, if the almighty Chasez has them, then I guess I do too," Justin joked. JC took his hand off of Justin's neck and placed it in Justin's. He laced their fingers together and smiled at him.

"How about we don't have any more from this point on?" he asked. Justin looked at him confused.

"Is this supposed to be one of those moments where I dechiper your logic?"

"This is one of those moments where you tell me the truth." Justin turned away again. He looked down to see Kevin and Kristin being crowned on the dance floor.

"I've never lied about anything," he said. "Not to anyone, and certainly never to you."

"Then do you love me?"

"I always say I do."

"Are you in love with me?" JC felt Justin try to pull away, but he held tight.

"What difference does it make?" Justin replied, closing his eyes. He was always closing his eyes. He was always dodging this question.


"What?" Justin looked at JC.

"I've decided to go to UCLA." This time JC looked away. "I decided that the minute I got my acceptance letter."

"But you wanted to go to NYU," Justin said, wide-eyed. "You've wanted to go to NYU for a while."

"Yeah, well. NYU lacks a certain charm that UCLA has." Justin laughed.

"You're so stupid," he smiled. "So. Stupid."

"It takes one to know one," JC smiled back. He pulled Justin away from the balcony as the opening strains of a song floated into the air.

we get it on most every night
when the moon is big and bright
it's a supernatural delight
everybody's dancin' in the moonlight


"It's June! Why's it so fucking cold in June?!"

"Don't be a baby," JC scolded. "I told you it's the sea breeze that knocks the temp down at night. Now quit bitching and throw down the blanket."

"You're pushy for a guy who's got three layers on," Justin remarked, laying down the blanket they had brought. JC placed the cooler he was carrying in the sand.

"I also told you to dress for the occasion. Besides," JC smirked. "I'll keep you warm."

"My balls are going to freeze off."

"You're such a romantic," JC said flatly. Justin rolled his eyes and tackled JC down onto the blanket. They wrestled for a moment before JC got the upper hand and pinned Justin to the ground. He snuggled up on his chest and sighed.

"There," he said. "Better?"

"I think you kneed me in the spleen," Justin laughed. He rubbed a hand across JC's back and let the silence fall over them. The sun was gone once more, being replaced by the full white moon. Justin gazed up at the few stars he could see despite the lights from the nearby pier.

"I'm glad it's you here," JC said, his lips brushing against Justin's neck.

"Could there be anyone else?"



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