nsync in black and white

Disclaimer: this is fiction. We made it up.

In The Closet

by seekasylum, written for Jessica

Justin shifted into park and cut the engine, stepping out of his car in one smooth motion, face turned up to take in the warm afternoon sun. He stretched, twisting one wrist in the direction of his house in the distance, almost as if he was waving an awkward hello. Laughing at the thought, Justin jogged lightly up JC’s front walk and let himself in the house, blinking quickly as his eyes adjusted to the dimmer lighting, a neon impression of the sun lingering distractingly in his left eye.

He squeezed both eyes shut, which seemed to help, then made his way further into the house, dropping his keys on a small table in the hallway before heading for the kitchen, looking for JC.

“C?” he called, peeking in rooms as he went, wrinkling his nose when he literally stumbled over a discarded shirt in the entryway to the kitchen. “What the hell?” he wondered aloud, stooping over to pick it up and toss it in the laundry room. “JC? You down there?” he asked, opening the basement door to JC’s in-house studio, thinking he may have hit pay dirt when he saw that the lights were on.

He bounced down the steps and burst through the door to the studio itself after a quick glance at the light on the wall that indicated whether JC was recording or not. “Hey, C, I’m. . .home,” Justin trailed off, finding the studio deserted, computer still on, sheet music scattered, and a stack of hand-labeled CDs piled up like JC had been playing a one man game of Jenga and was just about to lose.

Justin carefully adjusted the CDs, just enough to keep them from toppling, knowing that JC would notice even that small change and demand to know what else Justin had touched, but Justin couldn’t help himself and had to fold his fingers into his palms to keep himself from straightening the stack more than it needed.

“Okay, you’re not here, you weren’t upstairs, where the hell did you go?” he wondered, looking around at the mess one last time before he headed back up the steps with a sigh. He glanced around the kitchen, making sure he hadn’t missed a note or a message, then pulled out his phone and checked it as well. Nothing. It wasn’t like JC to just up and disappear, and Justin tried to keep the thread of worry out of his stomach as he pounded up another flight of steps to continue his search.

One glance in the master bedroom showed an untouched bed and when Justin poked his head in the bathroom he felt his shoulders slump with disappointment and then tighten uneasily. He spun around slowly, trying to think of where else JC might be when he noticed a pair of jeans on the floor. He wrinkled his brow and picked them up, opening the closet to throw them in the laundry, startling in surprise when a distinctly human groan accompanied the opening door.

“JC?” Justin asked curiously, snapping on the light to see his boyfriend curled up on a sleeping bag wearing nothing but his underwear. “What are you doing in here?” he wondered, completely at a loss as to why JC was apparently sleeping in the closet.

“Nothing,” JC managed, voice tight as he curled further in on himself, covering his eyes. “Go ‘way.”

“No,” Justin denied. “Did something happen? Did you fall or something? Are you okay?” he questioned, looking around for anything else out of place, but everything was still in order, shirts arranged by sleeve length and color, pants by fabric and style, shoes lined up in neat rows on the floor, everything exactly where JC always kept it save for the sleeping bag he’d put on the floor.

“I’m fine,” JC replied shortly. “Go ‘way.”

“You’re fine,” Justin repeated, trying to piece everything together, coming up empty because really, there was no situation Justin could come up with that ended with JC in his underwear on the closet floor. “C? What are you. . .is this. . .is this some, like, mid-life gay crisis?” he asked gently.

“I’m not old enough to have a mid-life crisis, you fucker,” JC gritted out, kicking weakly in Justin’s direction

“Uh-huh,” Justin nodded, dodging JC’s foot and sounding utterly unconvinced. “So you’re. . .what? Like, doing some literal self-awareness thing? ‘Cause I know, you know, that we have to keep things to ourselves or whatever, but hiding in the closet is a little extreme, don’t you think?”

“What are you talking about?” JC asked incredulously, squinting up at Justin, shielding his eyes against the harsh glare of the light.

“I don’t know!” Justin replied, throwing his hands up in the air. “I’m just trying to figure out what’s going on in that head of yours, man, which let me tell you, never follows any rules of logic I know.”

“You don’t know any rules of logic,” JC countered, closing his eyes again and covering them with one arm. “And what’s going on is that there’s a little man with a knife in my head and he’s stabbing me behind the eyes, okay? And the closet is cool and until a minute ago, it was dark. And <i>quiet</i>,” JC said pointedly.

“Oh!” Justin realized, shaking his head and quickly killing the light, leaving himself blinking against neon impressions again. “Sorry!” he apologized, his voice little more than a whisper. “When did it start?” he asked, feeling his way through the darkness to JC’s side, crouching down beside him.

“Awhile ago,” JC answered. “I was working and it the room got real bright and everything was too loud and you know how it gets,” he explained. “I just wanna sleep, okay?”

“Right,” Justin whispered, nodding because he did know how JC’s migraines got but then he shook his head because he also knew that JC couldn’t sleep with a migraine and sleep alone wasn’t going to fix anything anyway. “Did you take anything? Did you try eating?”

“I just need to sleep,” JC managed, ignoring Justin’s questions. “It’ll go away.”

“Uh-uh,” Justin denied, rolling his eyes. “Stay here,” he ordered, feeling his way back toward the door and slipping out into the bedroom. He closed the door quietly behind himself and went back downstairs, grabbing a can of soda from the fridge and quickly slapping together a peanut butter sandwich before heading back upstairs and ducking into the bathroom to rummage through the medicine cabinet for the migraine medicine he knew was in there. Armed with medicine, food, and drink, Justin headed back to the closet, opening the door just enough to slide back inside, conscious now of how even the faintest light seemed bright as the noonday sun to JC’s eyes.

He left the door ajar – just enough so he could make out where he was going – and settled down at JC’s side, using his body to shield JC from what little light crept into the dark space.

“Here,” he whispered. “I got your medicine. And then you need to eat and drink, okay? It’ll help,” he promised.

“Justin, I don’t feel good,” JC complained, wrinkling his nose at the thought of eating.

“I know,” Justin replied sympathetically. “But it’ll help. You know it’ll help,” he prodded, moving the plate and soda aside and reaching for JC.

“Don’t touch,” JC protested, shuddering, his skin overly sensitive to any kind of contact, which was why he had abandoned most of his clothes earlier and opted for the silky smooth covering of the sleeping bag over the rough fibers of the carpet when he’d laid down.

“I’m not touching,” Justin denied easily, grabbing JC under the arms and slowly hauling him upright.

“I’m gonna puke on you,” JC groaned, his head pounding as the his surroundings shifted, making his stomach turn in protest.

“Then I’ll clean it up,” Justin shrugged. “You gotta eat, babe, I’m sorry.”

“You’re not sorry,” JC accused miserably, but he let Justin slide in behind him, slouching back against his boyfriend’s chest, flinching as Justin’s shirt rubbed against his skin.

“I am sorry,” Justin countered. “I’m sorry your head hurts, and I’m sorry you don’t feel good. I’m trying to make you feel better,” he soothed, resisting the urge to run his hands up and down JC’s arms, knowing the friction would just make JC feel worse. Instead, he reached for the sandwich and tore it in half, handing the smaller section to JC. “Eat.”

JC sighed but took a small bite, chewing slowly and swallowing with some difficulty.

“Justin. . .”

“Uh-huh, here,” Justin interrupted, handing him the open soda. JC sighed again, taking the can and washing the bite of sandwich down before taking another, switching back and forth between food and drink until his half of the sandwich was gone.

“Okay?” he asked wearily.

“Mmmhmm,” Justin nodded, using his thumb to line up the arrows on the medicine bottle and pop the top off. He took JC’s hand and turned it over, tapping two white pills into his palm. “Now those,” he prodded.

JC took the medicine without protest, chasing the pills with another sip of soda before he pushed back into Justin and closed his eyes.

“No more.”

“No more,” Justin agreed softly. “You want to stay here? Or try your bed? The sun’s going down and I can close the curtains,” he offered.

“Too much light,” JC denied.

“Okay,” Justin allowed, easing himself out from behind JC and helping him lie back down. “I’ll be right back,” he promised, quietly slipping back out, taking the plate and soda can with him. He dropped those off in the kitchen then headed back upstairs and started searching closets, finally finding what he was looking for in the second guest room. He pulled the heavy bundle down with a small oomph and headed back to JC’s closet.

“Hey,” he greeted softly. “I’m gonna sit you up again for just a minute, okay?” he checked, already moving toward JC.

“Justin, no,” JC whined. “Go. Away.”

“In a little bit,” Justin nodded, sliding his hands under JC’s arms and hauling him upright again. JC groaned but put up no fight, letting Justin prop him up against the back wall of the closet. Justin stepped back slowly, hands out in case JC couldn’t keep himself up, but he did and Justin quickly returned to the task at hand, scooping the sleeping bag up and out of the way before sliding the aerobed out of it’s bag and spreading it out on the closet floor, breathing a sigh of relief when it fit, brushing both walls, but not enough to cause problems.

True to the commercials, the bed inflated in no time at all and Justin hastily spread the sleeping bag back out on top of it and then returned to JC’s side, stooping low to check on him.

“How you doing?” he asked softly.

“My head hurts,” JC sulked. “And my boyfriend won’t let me sleep.”

“Your boyfriend just got you a bed, dude,” Justin replied, gesturing toward the waiting mattress. JC opened his eyes and squinted at the closet floor before smiling weakly.

“I take it back,” he declared, looping his arms around Justin’s neck.

Justin steadied his balance with a hand against the wall, resting his other hand at the small of JC’s back.

“Take what back?” he wondered.

“That I hate you,” JC answered and Justin laughed lightly.

“You never said you hated me,” he pointed out.


“Tell you what, I’ll just chalk that up to your headache and let it slide, huh?”

“Yeah,” JC agreed, yawning.

“Okay, c’mon,” Justin decided, prodding JC to his feet and over to the air mattress, getting him settled again.

“You’re staying?” JC checked, grabbing at Justin’s calf when he stood back up.

“I’m staying,” Justin confirmed softly, pulling off his shirt and gently shaking JC loose so he could step out of his pants before joining his boyfriend on the mattress, lying close enough to feel the heat of JC’s skin bounce between them, but not quite touching. JC already had his eyes closed, head cushioned on his arms and Justin smiled softly, sliding the fingers of one hand over JC’s scalp. “Love you.”

“Shhh,” JC replied.

“Okay,” Justin whispered, continuing his scalp massage, waiting for JC to fall asleep. JC was quiet for a few minutes, relaxing as the food, medicine and Justin’s fingers started to do the trick.


“Yeah, baby?”

“Thank you.”

“There’s no other closet I’d rather be in,” Justin replied softly, smiling as JC huffed out a small laugh.

“You’re gonna bring this up forever, aren’t you?”

“Probably,” Justin acknowledged. “How’s the head?”

“Better,” JC answered, yawning again.

“Good. Go to sleep, I’ll be right here,” Justin promised, leaning forward to ghost a kiss on JC’s lips. “Right here in your closet,” he added with a grin.

“’S your closet, too,” JC argued.

“Yeah, it is,” Justin nodded, glancing over at the section JC had cleared for him, at the shoes that were a size or two larger than all the rest, at the shirts and pants arranged not by type and color but instead by brand name with pieces most recently worn toward the back in a rotating cycle. JC hadn’t even tried to mess with his system, just watched Justin hang things up and tried to keep everything in order when he did laundry and put things away. Justin loved him even more for it. “I love you.”

“Love you, too,” JC replied, pulling Justin closer so he could hide his face against Justin’s neck and block out everything – the song that just wasn’t working, the deadlines that were looming, the light that came in under the door, the rub of fabric against his skin, the pounding in his head – everything but Justin until he finally drifted off to sleep.



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