nsync in black and white

Disclaimer: this is fiction. We made it up.

Time of the Utmost Quality

by zaen, written for Jewelianna


JC climbed onto the bus and took a deep breath. For all he knew, this could be the first day of the last tour of Nsync’s career. It wasn’t definite yet, but he had a feeling. They were all burnt out, and more than one of the guys needed more than a little persuading to agree to this Celebrity tour in the first place. He didn’t want to think about it too much, but it was always there—the uncertainty of the future. JC sighed and walked back to his bunk and threw his stuff inside. He was the first one there, but he still took the bottom like he had no choice. Justin would pitch a hissy fit if he couldn’t get the top. JC smiled at the symbolism.


San Diego

Justin was in the tiny bus bathroom with his cell phone for nearly an hour. Chris yelled that his bladder was full and threatened to pee all over Justin’s bunk. JC laughed at Chris’ antics, until Justin emerged with red eyes and quickly climbed into his bunk and closed the privacy shutter.

Half an hour passed, and Justin still hadn’t made a sound. JC kept looking back towards the bunks, so much so that Chris finally rolled his eyes.

“I doubt he’s dead back there.”

“What? Oh, I know, I was just…um,” JC stammered. Chris shook his head and returned his attention to his video game. JC shoved his nose back into his book. He lifted only his eyes, not his head, when he looked back at the bunks.

When JC woke up they were at the arena, Joey, Chris, and Lance were ready to warm up, and Justin had gotten someone to cut all his hair off again.



“Do you think something’s wrong with J?”

“You mean other than the usual?”

“I’m serious, Joe.”

“JC, man, chill out.” Joey shoved half of his packages into JC’s arms as they approached their respective tour buses. “Just because he’s been kinda quiet lately, that doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with him.”

“I know…it’s just weird. I mean, you don’t see him on the bus, man.” JC redistributed the bags, heavy with designer toddler clothes and toy weapons that were completely inappropriate for Joey’s toddler. “He keeps to his bunk, with the door closed way too much. And then when I see him, he barely talks to me.”

“Hmm.” Joey took his packages from JC and disappeared into the bus that he and Lance shared. When he came back, he was scratching his head. “You think he’s mad at you?”

“I can’t imagine why,” JC replied, but thought about it for a minute anyway. He wasn’t aware of any personal affronts he’d perpetuated upon Justin lately. Ever, really. “He’s not being mean or anything, but…”

“He’s ok with Chris?” Joey asked, even though by his tone JC could tell that Joey was quickly losing interest in this conversation.

“I think so. I don’t know.” JC blushed and rubbed the curls out of his face. “You know what, I’m just bugging. Forget I said anything. Everything’s cool over on the 3 man bus.”

“If you say so, C.”

“Yeah, it’s cool,” JC declared. He didn’t believe it, though.


Las Vegas

JC knocked on Lance’s hotel room door. It took a while, but eventually Lance answered it. He was shaving, in spite of the fact that nary a hair was on his face.

“What are we doing tonight?” asked JC hopefully.

Lance smiled and patted JC’s shoulder reassuringly; sometimes JC still felt like the odd man out—clique-less—and Lance sometimes had to remind him that Nsync’s vehicle only ran on 5 wheels. “Whatever we feel like, C. I’ll get Joey, you get the others.”

“Ok!” JC made small talk with the passers-by in the hallway; bodyguards, road managers, and some folks whose jobs he would never fully understand, but who made the tour function smoothly. Before he could reach Justin’s room, he saw Justin and Chris walking down the hall, pulling hats low over their heads, security in tow. Chris happened to look over at JC, who quickly and inexplicably turned the other way.

“Hey, C, wanna come gambling with us?” Chris shouted. JC turned back to see Chris smiling…and to see Justin frowning. JC fought hard not to feel disappointed. Justin choosing to spend his free time with Chris instead of him was nothing new. But it still stung. Sometimes.

“No, you two go ahead. Have a good time,” JC answered. Chris shrugged and Justin pulled his bucket hat further over his eyes as he walked away.

The next morning JC found Justin asleep on the small tour bus couch. He stared at him for a bit, the drool on his chin, the hand shoved into his tight jeans. Justin must have passed out there in the wee hours of the morning, while JC was sleeping alone in his bunk and Joey and Lance were having fun on their private bus. Irritation started to boil up in him, but his full bladder took precedence over that. He started to head back to the john, but quickly covered Justin with a blanket before he left.



JC had the quiet room all to himself for once. He had his eyes closed in mock meditation, but when the door flung open he knew who it was even without looking.

“Oh. Sorry. I’ll just—”

“No, Justin. You don’t have to…come on in.” JC rose and wiped the fatigue from his face. He waited for Justin to walk in and close the door, but he merely hovered at the entrance.

“I thought Lance was in here,” Justin explained, his eyes on the passion fruit candles burning throughout the room.

“No, I think Lance is in the office, making calls before he leaves for Moscow tomorrow.”

“Oh.” Justin kicked a sneakered foot at nothing on the floor. “Well…”

“Close the door, man. It’s supposed to be private in here!” JC joked, hoping to lighten the mood. Justin shrugged and walked back out. JC, appalled, grabbed Justin’s arm and pulled him back inside the room.

“What the fuck, JC?”

“What the fuck, Justin! What’s with the cold shoulder? Did I do something to you?” Justin shrugged out of JC’s grip and rolled his eyes.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Justin replied, but he didn’t meet JC’s eyes. JC sighed and tried to pitch his voice at a less sillyjealousgirl tone.

“You’ve been avoiding me ever since this tour started.” Justin walked away shaking his head slowly. “Look, I know something’s gotten you down.” Justin’s head perked up and he spun around with narrowed eyes.

“What do you know about it?”

JC felt suddenly like he was being accused of something. “Um…just that you’ve seemed down and shit lately. I know you didn’t really want to do this tour, but...I mean…is that why? Are you mad at me for that or something?”

“JC, I…um.” Justin let out a long, slow breath. “It’s nothing.”

“Why don’t you talk to me about it?” JC cringed, hoping he didn’t sound like his mother. “I mean…just…you know...you can talk to me about it. If you want. Like…you can talk to me about anything.” He hated the corniness, but he was at a loss. Justin hadn’t said more than a few words to him in days. If he needed corn, then corn he’d use.

“I gotta go find Lance.” Justin walked to the door despite JC’s sigh-cum-whine.

“Ok. See ya.” JC turned to go to the couch, but Justin suddenly caught his arm. Their eyes met in a tense exchange. Justin looked like he needed to talk, JC thought. But it appeared that Lance was going to be on the receiving end. JC offered a weak smile, and finally Justin returned it.

“Thanks, C.” Justin left and JC closed the door behind him. He waited for the warmth on his arm to dissipate. It took longer than he’d expected.


The Oklahoma Panhandle

The bus lurched to the side suddenly, jostling JC out of a restless nap. He braced himself for more bus turbulence, but none came. He sighed and picked up his book, but he really didn’t feel like reading. He was happy to have 3 days off, but it seemed like they were spending every minute of it driving to the next destination. And with Lance having physicals in Russia, Chris was spending time on the 2 man bus bonding with Joey. Which left him alone with Justin. Which meant the bus was very, very quiet.

JC plodded into the lounge, but stopped short when he saw Justin on the couch, wiping his eyes. He turned away as soon as he saw JC and curled into a ball.

“I just…um.” JC moved quickly to the small refrigerator to retrieve a bottle of water. He took a step, then stopped, unsure which way to go. “Are you…ok, J?” he whispered.

“Yeah,” Justin croaked, his face hidden by his arms. “I just…whatever.”

“Ok.” JC waited for Justin to rush out of the room, like he’d been doing whenever JC walked into one lately, or so it seemed to JC. When Justin didn’t move, JC slowly sat down on the couch next to him. “Wanna talk?”


“Ok.” JC took a deep breath, trying to be quiet, trying not to scare Justin away. “Wanna…play video games?”

“Fuck, no.”

“Ok. Wanna…set fire to the bus?”

“No,” Justin answered, after a pause.

“Make prank phone calls to Joey and Chris?”

Justin peeked out over his arms. “Um…no.” He made a sound like a giggle.

“Ok, well, what do you want to do?” JC asked carefully. Justin sat up straight and rubbed his red eyes. He looked straight ahead for a long time, like he was really thinking about it.

“Do you…never mind.”

“No, no,” JC protested, gently reaching out but not actually touching Justin. “Tell me. Anything you want, J.” Justin blushed and bit his lip.

“D’ya have any…comic books?”

It took JC 5 minutes to find it, and it occurred to him as he was combing the bus that perhaps that was why Justin asked for it. To get rid of him. JC didn’t question; he found the hentai comic book that he knew Joey had left behind days ago. If it was going to bring Justin out of his funk, the dustballs he was inhaling were worth it.

“Is it good?”

“Yeah,” Justin laughed as he flipped through the comic book.

“Good,” JC answered, and went back to reading his book. It was quiet again, but this time he was sharing the couch with Justin, and the wheels were whirring beneath them. And his left shoulder was warm where it just barely touched Justin’s right one.

After a few minutes, Justin whispered, “Thanks, JC” and flipped a page. JC nodded and restarted the same paragraph for the tenth time.

JC woke up to a pain in his neck. It was Justin’s stud earring.

“You ok?” JC whispered.

“Mmm.” Justin shifted a bit, and then laid his head more firmly on JC’s shoulder. It was an awkward position to be in; JC’s arm was pressed into Justin’s neck. Figuring Justin was as uncomfortable as he was, JC gently lifted his arm up. Justin froze, and then settled back against JC’s shoulder. When his arm started to tire, JC let it drift down to Justin’s left shoulder. Justin tensed up again, but he didn’t move away.

“You can take a nap…if you want to,” JC offered hopefully.

“Nah, I’m just…” After a minute Justin started snoring lightly, and JC went back to his book.

His arm hurt for the rest of the day.



JC was sitting in the bus lounge working on some song lyrics when Justin walked through. He looked sad, but not upset…resigned, perhaps. He carried a notebook that was open to a page with a lot of writing. Angry-looking writing. JC watched Justin stomp to and fro about the bus, and he tried not to look at the page. When Justin grabbed a bottle of water and headed back toward the bunks, JC sighed and continued nibbling on the end of his pen. Suddenly Justin stopped and turned to him.

JC looked up and shrugged. “Something the matter?”

Justin opened his mouth, then shrugged off whatever he was going to say. Instead he twisted around and around, like he was looking for something very important.

“You need something, J?”

“Just, um, looking for a pen.” JC nodded and watched him glance around the small bus lounge.

“Are you writing a song or something?” JC asked around the pen in his mouth.

“No.” Justin sighed, frustrated. He glanced at the notebook page and grunted, “A letter, I guess.”

“Oh. Sounds important.”

“It is,” Justin answered, staring at JC’s mouth. When JC shrugged, took the pen from his mouth, and held it out by the saliva-wet side, he expected Justin to make a face or give him the finger. He wasn’t prepared for Justin snatching the pen away and rushing back to his bunk. Equally shocking was that Justin slid the pen into his mouth.

JC promised himself that he wouldn’t ask for the pen back. But would accept it if Justin offered it.

Justin never did.


Des Moines

Joey and Lance sat across from one another at the table on their tour bus, holding their heads, sipping water, and arguing over the best course of action—aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or more alcohol. Lance held 5 bottles in his hands, Joey 3. As they moaned and promised themselves to never drink again, JC watched from the couch with mildly irritated curiosity.

“Um, guys? Why did—”

“Shh!” Lance and Joey hissed in unison. JC rolled his eyes and waited for them to choose their appropriate remedy. When they’d popped several pills and settled their heads on the table with closed eyes, JC cleared his throat and tried again.

“May I speak now?”

“You may,” answered Joey.

“Ok. I just want to know why you guys insisted that I ride on your bus this morning. It’s not like you’re all a barrel of laughs or anything. So…what’s up?”

Lance and Joey exchanged quick looks. Then Joey said, “We just wanted to hang out with you today, C.”

“Yeah,” Lance concurred. “We wanted to…oh, God, my head.”

“C’mon, guys. What gives?” When neither of his friends said anything, JC stood up and shook his head. “You leave me no choice.” To Joey and Lance’s confused stares, JC cleared his throat, held his arms out wide, and screamed, “Oooooooooh…Dale a tu cuerpo alegria Macarena—

“Shut up!” squealed Joey.

Que tu cuerpo es pa' darle alegria y cosa Buena—

“No, no, no! I can’t take it JC!” Lance whined.

For added effect, JC shimmied like he was doing the dance at a wedding. “Dale a tu cuerpo alegria, Macarena!

“JC, for the love of God!”

Hey Macarena!

“All right, all right, we wanted you to come on our bus to give Justin some privacy, ok?” Lance blurted out, hands over his ears. “Please, just stop screaming that song! Please…my head can’t take it!”

“Why does Justin need privacy? And why does Chris get to stay with him?” JC threatened, hands on hips ready to go into the next move.

“We’ll tell you, just…please…stop that. Sit. Please,” Joey whispered, his bloodshot eyes closed. JC sat down next to Lance and waited. “Ok, we all went out last night, you know? You wanted to stay at the hotel, remember?”

“Yeah,” JC snapped, and gestured for Joey to get to the point.

“Well, seems we ended up at some strip club, and Justin was about to get a lap dance, and…”

“And, what, Lance?”

“Well, I’m not sure, but Chris said something like the girl was all, ‘Oh, but Britney won’t like me giving you a lapdance,’ and Justin was all, ‘That bitch ain't shit’ and stuff,” Lance rambled, like it was still last night, and he was still drunk. Maybe he still was, JC thought as he turned to Joey for clarification.

“Is that true, Joey?”

“Not to the letter, but I think so.” Joey lowered his voice to near whisper. “Chris got him to confess. He broke up with Britney, man.”

“For real?” JC asked calmly. Joey nodded, and then Lance nodded. Then JC nodded, for himself. “Wow. I had no idea. I mean, I know he’s been depressed lately, but…he wouldn’t tell me why.”

“Hm, wonder why,” Lance mumbled.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing,” Joey snapped, and nudged Lance with his knee, like JC wasn’t right there and could feel it, too. “Look, C. He was pretty upset last night. I mean, he didn’t even finish the lap dance. He just played pool instead, so you gotta know he was out of it. Who’d choose playing with balls over having a hot stripper shove her knee in your groin?”


“We just thought he needed some time alone.”

“With Chris?”

“Well, Chris was there, and the two of them are all close and stuff,” Lance answered casually. “I think Justin just really needed to have a good cry—”

“And he’d probably feel too self-conscious with you there, C,” Joey explained carefully, poking Lance under the table again. “Don’t take it personally, JC.”

“Right,” JC replied sadly. “Well, what happened? Did he say why they broke up?”

“No,” Lance and Joey said in unison again. JC thought he noticed another sharp glance between them, but he wasn’t sure. He wasn’t sure of a lot of things anymore.



“Hurry up, JC. I’m tired!” Chris groaned from the door of the bus.

“I just need a few things!” JC yelled over his shoulder as he rushed down the tour bus steps and trotted over to where the other tour bus idled in the nearly empty Wal-Mart parking lot. He tapped on the door until it opened and Joey’s head poked out.

“Ran out of manpanties?” Joey laughed.

“Funny. Wanna come?”

“Nah. Just hurry your ass up. You never know when some crazed teenies will show up.” JC rolled his eyes and walked very quickly inside the store.

Once JC oriented himself, he knew exactly where he was going. He made good time, making the rounds to men’s clothes, snacks, stationary, and toiletries before the five minute buzzer on his watch went off.

“Ow, fuck.”

“Language!” JC looked up from where he was reading the ingredients on a bottle of facial moisturizer. “This is a family business, sir.”

“Hey, J.” JC went to put the moisturizer back on the shelf, but Justin grabbed it first.

“Isn’t this for chicks?” Justin quipped. JC shrugged and picked up a bottle with a chiseled man on the label. JC was fairly certain the ingredients were exactly the same.

After a moment of silence, JC cleared his throat and asked, “Are you shopping, too, J?”

“No.” Justin played with some toothbrushes, then looked at JC bashfully. “Just...you know…came to keep you company.”

“Oh. Cool,” JC said, trying to sound nonchalant.

They rushed through the DVD section, Justin slipping a few into JC’s basket when he thought JC wasn’t looking. JC pretended like he wasn’t.

JC set the overstuffed hand basket on the floor and picked up a paperback book. He hadn’t noticed that he was in front of the tabloids until Justin came up behind him and sighed loudly. JC looked up and followed Justin’s eyes to a cover featuring an old picture of him and Britney looking very happy, a zippered lightening strike graphic splitting them apart.

“Mmm,” was all JC could think to say. Justin picked up the magazine and flipped through it dismissively.

“Yeah, so, um…we broke up. Britney and me.” Justin closed the magazine and looked JC decisively in the eyes. “We’re broken up, JC.”

“I’m sorry,” JC whispered, hoping the appropriate amount of comfort came through, as forced as it was.

“Yeah, well.” Justin put the magazine back with the cover facing inward. “We should get going, C.”

“Ok, but…just wanted to…um.” JC picked up his basket, straining with its weight. “Thanks for telling me in person.”

Justin blushed a little, but nodded his head. “Sorry I’ve been such a basket case lately, C.”

“It’s ok. I just want you to…we all just want you to feel better, that’s all.”

“I don’t know when that’s gonna happen, though.”

“It just takes time, J.” JC shifted the basket to left hand so he could use his right to pat gentle circles in the small of Justin’s back. “You’ll see. It’s a new month tomorrow.”

Justin smiled sadly and pointed JC toward the cash registers. Half way there, Justin took the heavy basket and carried it the rest of way himself.



After a revitalizing dinner out with his parents, JC returned to an unusually quiet hotel floor. After knocking on several doors, he finally found Joey in his room nursing a sore knee.

“Where is everybody?”

“Justin and Lance took Chris out to get wasted,” Joey explained as he sat on his bed and elevated his knee. “You weren’t here when we heard, but…poor Busta died, man.”

“Oh, shit.” JC sat on the bed and touched Joey’s knee. Sometimes he still had flashbacks to Joey’s injury last year. Suddenly he was doubly sad. “Poor guy. Is he gonna be ok?”

“Eventually, yeah. I’m sure the kids’ll load him with so much alcohol that he won’t be feeling any pain.”

“Mmm.” JC sat Indian style on the bed. “J and Lance are doing a lot of partying together lately, aren’t they?”

“I guess.” Joey yawned. “Does that bother you, C?”

“No…just…I mean, I guess, maybe it’s because Lance is going to be gone for a while, and, like, Justin’s trying to get his fill of hanging with him now…or something?”

“Or maybe J just likes going out with him.” JC nodded and hoped he didn’t look to—upset? sad?—about it. “Lance is really good to talk to about relationship stuff.”

“And I’m not?” JC did not mean to say that out loud. “I mean…we’re not?”

Joey shook his head. “Dude. Are you jealous?”

“Of course not,” JC replied. He pinched Joey’s sore knee, and that was the end of that conversation.

Later, JC was just about to get into bed when he heard a soft knock on his hotel room door.

“Hey,” Justin whispered when JC cracked open the door.

“Hey.” When he was convinced Justin wasn’t just passing by, JC opened the door all the way. “How’s Chris?”

“I just got him into bed. He’s really bummed, man.”

“Damn. I feel bad for him.” Justin nodded and rubbed his fuzzy head wearily. “You look beat,” JC offered. “Um…wanna come in?”

“I wouldn’t be very good company,” Justin answered as he walked in and flopped down on JC’s bed.

“Lance and me were gonna take Chris down to this anime-themed strip club tomorrow,” Justin yawned before taking a sip of the bottled water that JC gave him—the last one in the room. “That might cheer him up.”

JC tried to cover a yawn as he walked around the room, stretching. “I hope so.” Justin watched him, then looked down at his feet dangling off JC’s bed.

“I’d, um…” Justin muttered hesitantly, “I’d invite you…you and Joey, too, but…I think that it’s better if it’s just us. I mean, for Chris.”

“I understand,” JC lied.

“It’s just that, you know, he’s feeling all upset and fragile right now. If all of us go out, we have to take tons of security and it’s just this whole, you know, undertaking.”

JC yawned, “Uh huh.”

“I know how he feels…sorta. Sometimes lately I just wanna go out with Lance or Chris and just get wasted, you know?” JC didn’t answer. He bit his nails instead. “It’s just...a different vibe...with different people. I mean, I can’t really do that with, um, like…you.”

JC woke out of his sleepiness. “Why not?”

“Dunno. I guess I feel too self-conscious to get that out of control around…well…you. I guess,” Justin added sheepishly.

JC made a face. “Um, Justin, have you seen me drunk in public? Because, apparently, everyone else has!”

“Yeah, I know. I was just saying.”

“So, what, you like partying with me in private, just not in public?”

“No,” Justin mumbled.

JC felt his face heat up all of a sudden. “Are you…ashamed of me?”

“No, C. I just. I don’t want you to see me like that. Wasted.”

“I’ve seen you wasted before. Lots of times. In private,” JC snarled.

“It’s different,” Justin answered dismissively. JC nodded and went to the bathroom.

When JC came out of the bathroom a while later, Justin was pacing the floor nervously.

“Don’t be mad at me, JC, ok?” Justin asked softly, his eyes big and innocent. “I didn’t mean to…all that came out wrong.”

“I’m not mad, just confused.” JC sat down on his bed and was a bit surprised when Justin sat down next to him and wrapped an arm around his shoulder.

“I’m sorry, Jace. About a lot of stuff. I just totally fucked up, man.” JC looked at Justin closely. He looked devastatingly tired, sad, hurt. This was more than empathy for his friend’s lost pet. This was Britney coming back to haunt him. JC let go of his own hurt and took the higher road.

“I’m sorry Britney hurt you, Justin.”

“Yeah.” Justin looked away and sighed. When he turned back his eyes were a little red. “Thanks, C.”

“C’mere, man.” It was the first time JC had held Justin in ages. It was like old times, when Justin would jump into his arms at any given time. But it was unfamiliar as well—Justin was bigger than him, and had more muscles, smelled different now. Older. Muskier. JC moved back, but Justin wasn’t done hugging him yet. So JC held on.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Justin mumbled into JC’s neck. JC whispered comforting words and rubbed Justin’s back. He wasn’t sure if Justin was crying or not, but he didn’t want to embarrass him by looking. So he pulled Justin closer.

Eventually Justin’s breathing calmed down and he slipped out of JC’s embrace. He cleared his throat and glanced at his watch.

“I should get some sleep, C.”

“Ok.” Desperate for something comforting to say, JC blurted out, “Whatever happened between you two, I hope you know I’m on your side, J. I mean, stuff happens between people, and it must have been hard, with all the time you two spent apart—”

“She cheated on me,” Justin said softly, his eyes downcast.

“Oh. Shit. I’m sorry, Justin. Really.” JC wanted to say more, but he could tell Justin wanted to leave. “Well…it’s her loss.”

“C.” Justin stood up and shoved his hands into his pockets like a bashful, blushing prom date. “Thanks for saying that.”

JC stood up in front of Justin and laid a gentle hand on his shoulder. “It’s true.”

Justin stared at the floor for a bit, and when he raised his eyes to meet JC’s, he looked like he wanted to say something important. He opened his mouth, smiling shyly, but then a yawn escaped before he could reply. “Um…gotta go.”

“Ok. Night, J.”

“Night.” Justin took a tentative step toward JC, then, very quickly gave him a short but tight hug before rushing out the door. A moment later, JC’s hand shot up a tingly, damp spot on his cheek. It took another moment for JC to realize that Justin had kissed him there.



JC was in a bad mood, and he didn’t know why. It stayed with him from the morning taping of a TV talk show, through afternoon sound checks, all the way through the concert. It wasn’t anything he could put his finger on, and not knowing the cause made him feel worse. So he went out that night with some non-Sync friends to blow off some steam.

When he returned to his hotel room in the early hours of the next morning, he found Justin in his hotel room. In his bed.


“Mmph.” Justin growled as JC shook him awake. “Oh, hey, C. Oh…damn. I must’ve, um, fallen asleep.”

“I can see that,” JC snapped as he threw his jacket in a chair.

“I came to see you. You left your door unlocked.”

“I did?” JC’s eyes went back and forth as he tried to remember leaving. Justin looked up at him with nervous eyes. JC gave up trying to remember. He was too drunk. “Well, whatever. What are you doing here?”

“Just wanted to hang out. I didn’t know where you were.” Justin smoothed his hands over the sheets. “I laid my head down and…I guess I fell asleep.”

“Yeah, I see that.” JC sat on the bed and worked on his shoes.

“You mad at me, C?”


“You’ve been kind of quiet today.”

“You’ve been kind of quiet for months,” JC hissed, though he hadn’t meant it to come out that mean.

“Yeah, well, I have a good excuse. Did your girlfriend cheat on you with your best friend, too?” JC dropped his shoe.

“Britney…and Trace?” Justin did a double take, and then he was laughing hysterically. JC waited, but Justin kept on laughing, to the point that his eyes were watering and he was holding his stomach. “Um, what’s so funny?”

“You thought...ha!” Justin tried to catch his breath, but that just set him off again. JC kept undressing as Justin finally settled down. “Oh, God. Oh, thank you, JC. I needed that laugh, I really did.” Justin wiped the tears from his eyes and then settled back down under the covers, like he was quite comfortable. Like he wasn’t planning to leave. “I haven’t laughed that hard in a very long time, C.”

“I’m glad I can entertain you,” JC muttered as he fumbled with the buttons on his shirt. “So, I guess it wasn’t Trace.”

“No.” Justin’s smile stayed, but his eyes turned angry. “It wasn’t.” JC waited for Justin to take a deep breath and state, “Wade.”

“Shit.” JC turned around to look at Justin’s angry-sad face. “I’m sorry. I guess I should have known. You two were so close, and then he just sort of, like, disappeared from the scene. I should have known something was up.”

“I didn’t want anyone to know,” Justin whispered. He rolled on his back and pulled the covers up to his chin. “I...I promised Brit that I wouldn’t tell.”

“What? Why?”

Justin blushed and rolled to his side, his back to JC. “Just because. I don’t wanna talk about it.”

“Ok, J. Whatever you want. I’m gonna go to bed now, ok?” JC was starting to feel annoyed again, so he went to the bathroom to pee and brush his teeth. Justin was still in his bed when he returned.

“D’ya mind…if I stay, JC? I’m comfortable,” Justin mumbled groggily. “I like your bed.”

JC no longer felt annoyed.

When JC awoke the next morning, Justin was pressed against his back, breathing evenly against his neck.


East Rutherford

JC sat in relative seclusion in the melee that was backstage. One of the opening bands was revving the audience up, and it was almost time for JC to join the others for their pre-show rituals. He wanted a small space to collect his thoughts, and the quiet room just wasn’t cutting it. It was too quiet. JC needed the backstage cacophony to drown out the thoughts stirring in his head. He curled up on a small, hard chair, laid his head on his arms, and tried to think about things he wanted to think about—the upcoming and long overdue break, his family, his house, world peace, girls with big breasts, his friends, maybe a new car, his friends, hot chicks, sex, J—

“Hey, man. What are you doing back here?”

“Oh, hey, J.” JC uncurled and sat his feet on the floor, his hands folded in his lap. “I was just, um, I don’t know.”

“Trying to have some privacy?” Justin asked with a smile.

“No, not really.” JC cleared his throat. “What are you looking for back here?”

“Well, um…you. Time to warm up and stuff, you know.” Justin held a hand out for JC to take. Justin smiled and wrapped an arm around JC’s shoulder. They walked like that all the way to the quiet room.



JC was in his hotel room, about to jerk off to some porn he’d downloaded on his laptop, when he heard Justin’s loud, drunken voice all the way down the hallway. He went out only to see what the commotion was about, but ended up helping Lance drag Justin into Justin’s room and trying to get him to quiet down. Justin sat on his bed for a minute as if in deep thought, then he jumped up and started dancing and singing around his hotel room.

Come on ride the train…hey ride it!

“What’s wrong with him?” JC asked Lance, who shrugged helplessly when he wasn’t laughing. He was just as drunk as Justin.

Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!

JC watched Justin make choo-choo train movements with his arms and swivel his hips as he sang. Even falling down drunk the boy could move. “Ok, Lance, concentrate and tell me what happened.”

In between Justin’s loud performance and Lance’s hiccup-laden laughter, JC was able to pick up a few minor details:

Red Bulls and vodka

more vodka

half naked chicks

whipped cream

naked body parts

licking of whipped cream off strange women’s naked body parts

“Ah, I see,” JC said once he’d gotten the picture. “Well, Lance, can you at least help me get him to—”

“Gotta go, man!” Lance was out the door in a flash. He moved quickly for someone so drunk.

“Ok, J. How about you—”

Right about now it's about that time for me to holler Girl, I wanna waller in the back of my Impala—oh, shit!” Justin stumbled into the bathroom.

“Fuck me,” JC muttered to himself, and then quickly followed.

He spent the next half hour rubbing Justin’s back and flushing the toilet as Justin hurled.

“You ok?”

“Don’t talk to me,” Justin grumbled as he emerged from the bathroom. JC nodded and waited for Justin to walk from the bathroom over to the bed. It took him a long time. “I feel like shit, man.”

“You’ll feel worse tomorrow,” JC added helpfully.

“Ya think?” snapped Justin.

“Ok, well, you’re squared away, so…I think I’ll just—”

“No! I’m sorry, JC. I didn’t mean to snap at you. It’s not your fault. C’mere.” Justin patted the bed next to him. JC hesitated, but sat down when Justin looked up at him with sad eyes. “I’m sorry, man. I really am.”

“It’s ok. I’ve been there,” JC replied.

“I just...wanted to let loose. Have some fun. Things just got way out of control,” Justin groaned, rubbing his head. JC’s hand was on Justin’s back quickly, rubbing compassion and sympathy into Justin’s skin.

“Want me to put the trash can next to your bed, J?”

“Thanks, man.”

JC wondered if he remembered to shut down his laptop as he tucked Justin into bed. Just when he was ready to leave and find out for sure, Justin grabbed his hand.

“Um…Jace? Can you, um, can you stay? Please?”

Screw the wasted electricity, JC thought.

“You asleep, C?”


Justin sighed loudly into the darkness. “Thanks for staying. I just didn’t want to be…”



“I understand, Justin. I’ve been there.” Justin moved around a bit, and then turned to face JC.

“Was I there for you? When you and your bitch ex-girlfriend melted down?” Justin asked shakily.

“Well, um.” JC thought back to the previous autumn, when he and his ex girlfriend called it quits. For good. Finally. “Well, the tour was over by then, so, um…I wasn’t seeing a lot of you or anything at the time.”

“So, no, then.” JC shrugged. “Shit. I’m a bad friend, huh, JC?”

“No, of course not.” JC cleared his throat, to keep from laughing. “Forget it, just get some sleep.” Justin was quiet for a while, then he touched JC’s shoulder.

“I’ll be here for you now. OK?”

“Well, ok, but…oh. Ok,” JC stammered as Justin scooted over and laid himself half on top of him. Justin exhaled exhaustedly and wrapped an arm around JC’s stomach. Justin’s chin jutted into JC’s sternum, and his big toe nail scraped across JC’s ankle, but JC didn’t seem to mind. They both soon fell asleep.

The bus ride to Philly the next afternoon was very quiet. When Chris started a loud video game, Justin gave him a look so withering that Chris cowered all the way back to his bunk for an “unscheduled, unwanted nap.” Justin sat still on the couch, wearing sunglasses, holding an industrial size bottle of aspirin. When JC came to sit next to him, Justin immediately stretched out on the couch, laying his head down in JC’s lap.

“Make me feel better, C,” Justin whispered. JC stroked Justin’s temples, and hoped Justin would ask for more.



It took JC a while to figure out how to ring Justin’s hotel room, even though it was only down the hall.

“Hey, J. How are ya feeling?”

“Better. Still like shit, though.” Justin’s voice sounded like he just woke up. “Why are you calling? Why don’t you come over here?”

“Oh.” JC smiled in spite of himself. He couldn’t remember the last time Justin invited him to his room, sober. “Well, me and Lance are going out to dinner.” He paused. “Wanna come?”

Justin paused, too. “Oh, man. I’m still too…you know. I need to get some more rest before the show tomorrow.” JC waited, in case Justin changed his mind. “You two have a good time, though.”

“Ok. Well, I’ll let you get some rest, then. Maybe next time?”

“Maybe,” Justin sighed. “Um…you can check up on me, when you get back…if you want,” he added quickly, and then the phone clicked off.

JC never ate so fast.

Somehow, JC let Lance talk him into going out clubbing in Philly after the show.

Somehow, he got plastered.

Somehow, he ended up in the back of the limo SUV with a stripper’s face in his lap.

When JC woke up in the middle of the night, he wasn’t in his hotel room. He tried to focus, but his head was too fuzzy. He settled for gently poking the arm lying over top of him.

“Um, hello? Who, I mean, where am I? Hello? You awake? I’m, um…what?”

“Shut up, Jace, and get some sleep.”

“OK, Justin,” JC said obediently, and quickly did what he was told.

In the morning, JC refused to get out of bed.

“C’mon, C. We’re checking out now,” Justin groaned as he tried to put shoes on JC’s prone body.

“My head. Can’t move.”

“That’s what you get for partying all night with Lance and crazy hookers,” Justin retorted, softly.

“There were no hookers.” JC finally sat up and attempted to tie his own shoes. “They were very nice girls.”

“So I heard from security.” Justin pulled the luggage over to the door. He had twice as many bags.

“Why do you have…oh.” JC squinted and then understood. His bags were with Justin’s. “How did I get in your room last night?”

“It doesn’t matter. Let’s just go. We’ll be late.” JC stood up shakily and tried to form more questions in his head—did he ever get to his own room, what happened to the chick from last night, how much did he drink, what exactly did the security guys tell Justin—but all he could get out was, “Are you…mad at me, Justin?”

Justin took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. “No, JC. You’re allowed to hook up with—you can do whatever you want, alright? Let’s go.”

It was JC’s turn to sit stone-faced and sunglassed on the couch in the bus. Chris, exasperated at being forced into silence by his lightweight bus mates, quickly went over to hang out with Joey and Lance, who seemed to have a much higher alcohol tolerance than JC.

“Here, take this,” Justin ordered as he handed JC a glass of orange juice and a large pill. “Multivitamin.”

“Thanks, Justin.”

“You’re welcome.” Justin sat down next to JC and waited for him to finish the juice. When the glass was empty, Justin took it to the sink and came back with a large glass of water. When JC finished that, Justin took it to the sink and returned with a pillow. “Ok, C. Lay down.” He sat at the end of the couch, put the pillow in his lap, and pulled JC’s head down. “Rest. We have a show tonight.”

“Ok,” JC grunted as he allowed himself to sink down into Justin’s warmth. “Wait…it’s too…can I take this off?” He didn’t let Justin answer; he just tossed the pillow away and rested his head right in Justin’s lap. “Better.”

“Whatever you want, C,” Justin whispered. He slipped his fingers into JC’s curly hair and massaged the throbbing head until JC’s eyes closed.

“How long have I been asleep?”

“Not too long,” Justin answered as he put his book down. JC turned so he was lying face up in Justin’s lap.

“Did I thank you? For taking such good care of me today? And last night?” asked JC sheepishly. “Did I throw up on you or anything?”

“No, you didn’t. And you’re welcome.” Justin smiled down at JC and gently traced his face with shaky fingers. “Did you have fun last night?”

“I don’t know,” JC groaned as flashes of last night’s bedlam came back. “I hadn’t been out in a while.”

“So, um, is that why you hooked up with that…woman?” Justin asked softly.

“Didn’t really hook up. Did I? I remember getting a lap dance,” JC said seriously, “and then she, um…um…”

“Went down on you, I know, I heard,” Justin hissed. “I also heard you invited these women up to the room, but that you were so fucked up that security had to haul your ass upstairs, and then they couldn’t find your key, so…um.” Justin’s voice lowered. “So I had them bring you to my room. Just, so, like, someone could watch you.”

“Shit, man. I’m really sorry.”

“Yeah, well,” Justin muttered. “You were lonely, so…”

“I meant, I’m sorry that I lost my key and you had to take care of me,” JC said matter-of-factly. “Not sorry for, well, the other stuff,” JC lied.

Justin blushed and looked away. “I know that.” JC cracked a smile. Maybe Justin was jealous that JC was hogging his drinking buddy Lance. Maybe it was some other reason. JC held onto the other reason and nuzzled Justin’s stomach.

“Gimme 20 more minutes of napping, and then I’ll be out of your hair. Ok, J?”

Justin wrapped an arm around JC’s waist. “Ok.” He stroked JC’s skin where the bottom of shirt and the top of pants left a gap. “20 more minutes.”

Two hours later, Chris shook Justin and JC awake from where they were sandwiched together on the couch.



“Hey, can we find a Dairy Queen or something before we get back to the hotel?” Justin asked out loud, to anyone within earshot, as they piled into the SUV limo after the show. “I could really go for an ice cream sundae or something, man.” After some map mishandling and a few 411 phone calls, word came down that the closest ice cream place was 20 miles away, in the opposite direction of the hotel. “So what does that mean?” Justin asked incredulously, “that we can’t go?”

What it meant was that they went back to the hotel, and Justin grumbled that he never got his way. Joey, Lance and Chris each took turns smacking him upside the head, but JC smiled and mentioned, “Hey…I could, you know, go for some ice cream, too. If you don’t mind the company?”

After a lot of coercion and some mild wrestling, Justin and JC managed to “borrow” keys to one of the tour’s cars. After getting lost and then racing to dodge some screaming, drunken grown women who recognized them, they found the small ice cream stand, with just a few minutes to spare before it closed for the night. They both got vanilla cones with rainbow jimmies and ate them outside, sitting on the hood of the car.

“We haven’t done this in a long time,” JC said.

“No, we sure haven’t, C.” Justin sighed. He looked up at the sky, and then at JC. “You look happy right now.”

“Mmm…jimmies.” JC tried not to blush, tried not to stare at Justin’s slick lips. Justin merely shrugged and looked up at the sky again.

“Is it gonna rain?”

“No, I don’t think so,” JC replied, just before a large raindrop hit him between the eyes.

They made it back into the car right as the deluge began.

“Shit…mph.” JC lapped up the ice cream that was dripping down his fingers. When he looked up, Justin was looking at him. “Is it on my nose? Am I making a total mess?”

“Um…yeah, you’ve got some…here.” Justin took a napkin out of the huge stack he’d nabbed and reached out to hand it to JC, whose hands were full of cone and napkins already. Justin hesitated for a second, and then he dabbed JC’s face with the napkin. “There,” he whispered as he thumbed JC’s lips.

“Thanks.” They finished their cones in silence, looking out their respective windows at the heavy rain.

“Justin, you want me to drive?” They’d gone only a couple of miles, but the rain was so heavy that the roads were already flooded. Not knowing exactly where they were going didn’t help. Justin slowed down even more and played with the controls again, switching from heat to air conditioning to try to clear the fogged windows. “Justin, stop doing that!”

“The windows keep—ugh! Fine, you wanna drive?” Justin pulled over carefully to the shoulder. “You drive!”

“Calm down, ok? I’m used to driving in heavy rain more than you are,” JC explained as he undid his seatbelt. Justin huffed. “I’ve got 5 years of driving on you, cat!”

Justin grunted, “Whatever,” and twisted in his seat. “Hurry up.” In a vain effort to avoid getting wet, they tried to switch seats inside the car…without touching one another too closely. It didn’t work.


“Sorry…um. My leg, C.”

“Wait…I’m caught…ok. There.” JC sat in the driver’s seat and pulled his shirt down where Justin’s behind had pushed it askew. JC’s hands shook as he buckled his seatbelt—he could still feel Justin’s body pressed against him.

“Ok, know-it-all. Let’s go.” JC rolled his eyes and put the car in gear, the mood blown.

JC didn’t remember the route being so rural on the way out, but Justin assured him that they were heading the right way. JC nodded, promised himself to trust in Justin’s supposed great sense of direction, and thanked God that he remembered to wear his glasses.


“You ok, C?”

“Yeah, just a little hydroplaning,” JC grunted as he struggled to keep the wheels straight. “Shit, shit, shit!”

“You’re doing fine, just—look out!” Luckily, JC saw the deer before Justin did. He swerved enough to miss the animal by a mile, but the sudden motion sent the SUV into a small bit of tailspin. As he steered into the spin, JC kept his eyes on the road, only looking up for a split second to check the rearview mirror. Justin looked a little pale, his mouth set in a grim line, but his eyes were focused directly on JC. Just as quickly, JC looked back to the road, and they were driving straight again.

“We’re ok, we’re ok,” JC whispered. He looked down at Justin’s white knuckled hand clutching his knee. “It’s ok, J.”

“I’m sorry I doubted…you’re a better driver…totally, man,” Justin mumbled quickly. JC wanted to pat Justin’s hand reassuringly, but he was afraid to take his hands off the wheel.

“Couldn’t have done it without you,” is what JC said. He couldn’t see Justin’s face, but Justin’s hand on his knee loosened a bit. It stayed there the rest of the way to the hotel, though.

Their security guards met them at the hotel entrance and started berating them for their stupidity as soon as the car doors opened. Only for a few seconds, and then they wrapped their charges in dry warm towels and hustled them upstairs, where they berated them some more.

JC put on a fluffy hotel robe, wrapped his hair in a fluffy hotel towel, and was just about to call down for some fluffy hotel tea when Justin knocked on his door.

“Hey there,” Justin said with big, guilty eyes, “I thought maybe you’d like some tea.”

“Wow, thanks.” JC took a proffered mug and pulled Justin into the room. “I should have thought of that.”

“I can’t believe this rain.” Justin sipped his tea and moved from the desk chair to the bed where JC was rubbing his hair dry. After a minute of nothing but rub rub rub and sip sip sip, Justin cleared his throat and uttered, “Were you scared?”

JC stopped rubbing. “Just for a second.”

“Yeah, me, too. Just for a second.” JC continued rubbing, but his hair just seemed to keep dripping. He sighed impatiently. “What’s the matter?”

“I can’t find the hair dryer and my hair won’t dry.”

“Here, C.” Justin went into the bathroom, came back with a new towel, and crawled onto the bed. He knelt behind JC, taking the saturated towel and flinging it across the room. “It’s soaking, that’s why it’s not doing anything, genius.” JC was about to think of a biting retort that would make Chris proud, but then Justin opened the dry towel and started gently rubbing JC’s hair with it. JC closed his mouth and let the snap go—no witty repartee would be worth risking Justin stopping doing this.

It was quiet for a while as Justin dried/played with JC’s curls and JC sipped his cold, bland tea. Then Justin suddenly said, “You know what I was thinking, C? I was thinking, um, like, we don’t have to mention this to the guys, you know? They’ll just make fun of us for, like, ever, and…well…we’ll just never hear the end of it. So…what do you think?” Justin tossed the towel away and set his hands on JC’s shoulders. “Do you agree?” JC shivered when he felt Justin’s fingers making swirling motions on his bare neck. “C?”

“Yeah, ok, just…keep doing that.” Justin snickered, but he did as JC requested.

“Hey, you want something from the minibar?”

“Um, ok, C.”

JC went over to the small refrigerator. When he crouched down to inspect his alcohol holdings, his robe came undone. He stood up and looked down briefly at his junk poking through the terrycloth.

“Here,” JC said as he poured some brandy in Justin’s tea.

“Th-thanks.” Justin’s eyes traveled down JC’s body, and then he quickly looked down at his tea, a small blush heating his cheeks. JC smiled and gulped down the rest of the tiny bottle. Justin flinched when a loud clap of thunder roared outside. “Man, I’m glad it wasn’t doing that when were driving back. You know how I hate electrical storms.”

“I kinda like them,” JC cooed. Justin took another sip of his tea. “I mean, not driving through them, but…when you’re safe…inside…they’re, like…sexual. Or something.” Justin crossed his legs and cleared his throat, which JC found oddly appealing at that moment. “You ok, J?”

“It’s, uh, really getting loud out there.”

“Yeah, it is,” JC replied as he crawled to the top of his bed. He propped himself up on pillows and watched Justin’s back rise and fall. When the windows lit up with lightening, Justin flinched, and then he promptly swallowed the rest of his intoxicating tea. “Hey, man. You know it’s cool if you want to stay.” JC hoped that came out as casual as he wanted. Justin shrugged, but when a loud clap of thunder seemed to shake the entire room, Justin jumped up and sat on the side of the bed next to JC.

“Did I thank you, by the way, for getting us home safely?” Justin asked nervously.

“I didn’t do anything.”

“Yeah, you did.” Justin looked at JC seriously. “You did, C.” They stared at each other for a bit. Before JC knew it, his hand was crawling up Justin’s back and rubbing soothing circles. “You want me to stay?” Justin whispered.

“If you want to.”

“Um.” Justin pulled his leg up so he was half on the bed, half off. He looked out the window at the streaks in the sky. JC watched his profile, thinking how much he’d like to paint a portrait of Justin like this—anxious, tipsy, and unsure. Then Justin looked at him with dark eyes and murmured, “What time do we have to get up tomorrow?”

“Oh…um…I think, lemme call, um…Lance…should, um, know, right?” JC sat up and reached around Justin to get the phone on the nightstand. It was further away from his grasp than it looked; he had to press closer to Justin in order to reach it. He told himself that he had to press his open-robed bare chest into Justin’s side in order to grab the phone. He told himself he wasn’t overextending on purpose, that it was only by accident that his arm grazed Justin’s pecs and that he kindasorta nuzzled Justin’s neck. And inhaled. He would have believed himself if his skin that touched Justin’s wasn’t all goose pimpled while he dialed Lance’s number. He didn’t offer an apology for the physicality, and Justin didn’t ask for one.

“Lance said we’re checking out at 7, so…um…we should get some sleep,” JC said as he closed his phone. “So…are you staying?”

Justin, who had been staring at a hole in his shorts since JC had sort of pawed him, made a noncommittal noise. “I don’t know, C.”

“Well,” JC replied while he reached behind Justin to place his phone down—rubbing the small of Justin’s back in the process, “make up your mind, man. I’m tired. Aren’t you?”

Justin finally looked JC in the eyes. “Yeah, C. I’m tired.” Justin’s eyes traced JC’s face slowly, and then his body quickly. It made JC blush. “So…I should go.” Justin reached out suddenly, as if to touch JC’s face, but then he withdrew his hand and stood up. “I gotta go, C.”


“I’ll see you in the morning.” Justin rushed to the door. He stared at it like he was weighing some big life decision. When he looked back at JC, his eyes looked sad. “Good night.”

“Good—night,” JC whispered to the shutting door. “Shit.” He would have kicked himself for flirting so much…if there wasn’t some tiny part of him that thought that Justin was flirting back. He fell asleep with a confused but hopeful smile on his face.

JC was last on the bus the next morning. Justin and Chris were sitting at the table drinking coffee and milk respectively. Justin didn’t look up when JC said, “Good morning, guys.”

“Hey,” Chris teased once JC was almost back to his bunk, “I hear you guys had a bit of car trouble last night! You’re Justin’s hero!”

JC took his time returning, and when he asked, “Is that right, Justin?” Justin merely shrugged and looked at his milk.

“You almost died, and for what? Ice cream cones? That’s lame, man,” Chris laughed.

“It wasn’t that big of a deal,” JC mumbled softly.

Justin whispered, “Was, too,” and got up. “Going to my bunk. I didn’t sleep well last night.”


I-95 South, outside New York City

It was a while before JC found himself alone with Justin. Chris had talked their ears off about his and Joey’s night out in Hartford, despite Justin’s insistence that he was tired and didn’t care. Eventually Chris gave up and trudged back to his bunk. When he was gone, Justin flopped down next to JC on the couch and said, “Are you mad? That I told Chris about our…adventure?”

“No,” JC half-lied. “I just thought that…” He was about to say It was our private thing, but that just sounded too silly.

“You thought what?” Justin put his arm along the back of the couch, behind JC’s head. “What, C?”

“Nothing,” JC gulped.

“I’m sorry, C.” Justin’s arms slipped down from the top of the couch to curve around JC’s shoulders. “You know I have a hard time keeping stuff from Chris. He always seems to know when something’s going on with me.”

“Is that so?” JC replied as he squirmed in Justin’s strong grip.

“Well…I don’t tell him everything. Some things I keep just for myself.” Justin’s mouth was quirked into a flirtatious smile. JC gnawed on his lower lip. “So, um,” Justin said softly as his fingers brushed JC’s arm, “what I’m saying is…the next time we have a, um, ‘moment’…like last night…I won’t tell him. Ok?” JC nodded his head slowly. “Good. Glad we cleared that up,” Justin yawned.

“You look beat, man.”

“I know. I couldn’t sleep with all that thundering and shit last night.” Justin played with a curl at the back of JC’s neck. “I should have stayed with you,” he murmured. “I just…um…I tend to get all clingy after a traumatic event, so…I didn’t want to…be too clingy.” Justin’s cheeks reddened. “You know…clingy is so not attractive.”

JC’s heart started to race. “I wouldn’t have minded, Justin.”

Justin bit his lip and looked at JC with dark eyes. “I’ll remember that, JC.”


New Jersey Turnpike, just passing exit 14

For the first time in forever, JC was tied with Justin at a video game.

“Oh, you can forget it, JC,” Chris crowed behind them. “Justin always wins at this level. Always. You put up a brave fight, my friend.

“Well, I tried,” JC grunted as he pushed the buttons like his life depended on it. He’d been neck and neck with Justin through 15 levels, but now it seemed that Justin was poised to win. “I’m used to losing,” he said pathetically. Justin cleared his throat and pushed the buttons on his controller faster.

“I’ve got you now, C” Justin growled. JC squinted at the screen and concentrated hard. “I’ve got you now.”

“Maybe not,” JC purred.

“Maybe,” Justin purred back, and nudged JC with his elbow. “Don’t be so sure.”

“Maybe this time I’ll get you,” JC murmured. And then it happened. He won. “Did I…did I just win?”

“Whoa, man! There’s a first time for everything!” Chris applauded a very stunned JC. “Congrats, man.” He walked away singing, “JC finally got the kid. JC finally got the kid!” Justin put down his controller and smiled at JC.

“You let me win, didn’t you?”

“Maybe,” Justin grunted as he moved to stand up. When he was to his knees, he quickly leaned forward and kissed JC briefly on the cheek. “Or maybe you got me fair and square, JC.” He walked away, and the controller dropped from JC’s sweaty hands.

…exit 5…

JC felt a tap on his shoulder. He rolled over in his bunk to see Justin crouching down, smiling at him.

“Chris is asleep on the couch.”

“Oh, yeah?” JC asked slowly, pulling his earphones out of his ears. Justin pointed to them, and JC offered them easily.

“What are you listening to?”

Express, by Love and Rockets. You know it?” Justin shook his head and tried to put the ear buds in, but the cord wouldn’t reach. “Here, why don’t you, um…” Justin shrugged like it was nothing, like it was totally natural for him to climb into JC’s bunk and lie down alongside him. “Ok, ok,” JC murmured to himself as he pulled the covers over both of their legs.

“I like this,” Justin said as he folded his hands behind his head and closed his eyes. JC waited, but Justin wasn’t moving, so JC rummaged around in the bunk for his book and turned his back to Justin to read.

Suddenly, “All in my mind” started playing in JC’s left ear. He looked up to see Justin smiling down at him and securing the connecting earplug into his own right ear.

“We can both listen,” Justin uttered as he lay down behind JC. He walked his fingers up JC’s arms and made them dance along with the song until his breath on JC’s neck came slower. Then the hand slipped around JC’s waist. JC played with Justin’s fingers and let Daniel Ash’s voice and Justin’s warm breath on his neck lull him to sleep.

Interstate I-95, Wilmington

JC awoke suddenly from an erotic dream, and once he opened his eyes he knew why. He’d turned over in his sleep, and was pressed against Justin from chest to toe. He inhaled sharply, and Justin’s eyes flew open.


“Nothing, J. Just…had a weird dream,” JC murmured, marveling at their arms and legs wrapped together.

“Oh. Mmm. Sleep.” Justin rubbed his nose against JC’s and fell back asleep.

“Oh, God,” JC whispered as he closed his eyes, pressed closer to Justin, and tried to get his dream back.


Washington, DC

As the bus pulled up into the hotel parking lot, JC felt Justin embrace him from behind.

“It was nice riding the bus with you today,” Justin whispered in JC’s ear. He kissed JC’s neck playfully and scooted past him to the front of the bus. JC wasn’t so sure how playful the hand he felt on his ass was supposed to be.

At first JC was glad that no one wanted to go art museum hopping with him. Chris, Joey, and Lance were never really into the artsy thing, and Justin was hitting the hotel gym. Yes, going with just security guards was much better, he’d thought. That was before his mind started to wander, and he kept picturing Justin, alone, sweating, doing crunches with his legs spread. Then, all he wanted to do was go back to the hotel.

The lot of them had dinner together in the hotel restaurant that night. They hadn’t all dined together in public in a long time, but JC was too distracted by Justin’s big smile and Justin’s left thigh pressing against his right one to fully enjoy the moment.

The moment was ruined when JC came out of the bathroom and saw Justin at the bar with a somewhat familiar looking brunette. JC tried not to stare, but it was hard with Justin touching her shoulder and her hugging him before she walked away. When Justin returned to their table he mentioned her name, that she was a dancer on their previous tour, and that she wanted to hang with them all that night, but JC wasn’t paying too much attention by then.

JC said he was too tired when Justin sent Joey to get him later.

“Justin said he wanted you to come,” Joey said pointedly, like that was supposed to mean something.

“Tell him…just tell him to have fun with…you guys,” JC said sharply.

Joey shook his head commiseratively. “JC, man.”


“Nothing.” Joey walked away from JC’s door, still shaking his head.

JC woke up when he heard hubbub in the hallway. There was a soft knock on his door, but he ignored it and forced himself back to sleep.

The DC show went off fine, despite JC not being able to look Justin in the eyes all day. The fact that Justin spent some time in the afternoon with the long lost dancer didn’t help. Nor did the fact that she and Justin went out together after the show. Alone.

When JC climbed onto the 3 man bus in the early morning, he was surprised to find Justin in his bunk.

“Hey,” Justin yawned as JC pulled the privacy curtain back. “I was too tired to crawl all the way up there,” he explained, pointing upward to his own bunk.

“Uh-huh.” JC shook his hair, still wet from his shower at the hotel, and stared down at Justin. “So, what, am I supposed to take your bunk, then?”

Justin looked a bit startled. “Um, no. I just thought. I mean…we could.”

“We could what?” JC snapped.

“Nothing.” Justin got out and pushed roughly past JC. “Forget it.” He stumbled to the front, where he was met by Chris. They whispered something, and Chris gave JC a mean look. JC sighed disgustedly and rolled into his bunk, shutting the curtain with a bang.

JC pouted in his bunk for a while, until the bus was out of the city and rain-wet roads made the tires make a comforting whoosh beneath them. He pushed his curtain back and started to call out to apologize, but Justin beat him to it.

“You awake, C?”

“Yeah.” JC poked his head out, but didn’t see Justin. “Where are you?”

“Up here.” JC looked up to see Justin’s hand waving lazily from his bunk.

“Is Chris awake, too?”

“No, um…” There was a pause. “He’s on the other bus. The news said there was gonna be more thunderstorms, so he didn’t want to be around when I was bitching about it, so…yeah.” JC lay still, and eventually he heard the rumble of distant thunder. “Fuck. Nothing I hate more than being in a car with bad weather—”

“Stuck with me.”

JC could hear the smile in Justin’s voice when he said, “Yeah, but…you’ll protect me. Right?”

He wanted to say something sarcastic, but JC ended up responding, “Always.” Justin didn’t say anything for a while, but JC could hear him scribbling in a notebook. “Writing a song, J?”

“Yeah. Actually…um…I’ve written a few. I’m, um, I might, you know, do something. With them. While we’re on break.”

“Oh yeah?” JC took a deep breath. He was all behind the possibility of Justin doing a solo album. He wasn’t sure how he felt about the reality of it. “Well, I’m sure it’ll be great, man. I know it will be.”

“Thanks.” The thunder grew louder, and Justin moved around nervously in his bunk as they drove closer toward the storm. “I’m gonna get some water.” JC watched Justin’s bare legs appear in front of his face and then walk away. They came back accompanied by a proffered bottle of water. “Want some?”

“Thanks.” JC leaned on his elbow while he took a small drink. Justin crouched down to sit on the edge of JC’s bunk. He took the bottle and drank the rest of it in only a few gulps. JC licked his lips.

“So. What did you do last night? Why didn’t you come out with us?”

“I was tired,” JC lied, eyes downcast.

“You should have come, C. We…missed you.”

JC harrumphed. “We? Who, you and what’s-her-name?”

A sinister smile crept across Justin’s face. “Her name is Jenna. And I do believe you’re jealous.”

“Please.” JC slid over closer to the wall, so Justin couldn’t see him blushing. “That’s ridiculous, Justin.”

“If you say so.” Justin tilted his head back and tapped the empty water bottle against his lips, his eyes on JC’s as he licked the last drop from the tip. He smiled when JC looked away. “You remember her from the last tour, right? She’s fun. We had…fun.”

“I’ll bet you did,” JC grunted, which only made Justin smile more.

“C, man. Don’t worry. She’s not gonna steal me away from you.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” JC stammered.

“I mean,” Justin explained like was talking to a child, “that…you know. I can hang out with her and still be friends with you.”

“What grade are we in?”

“I’m serious.” Justin crawled a little into the bunk and nudged JC’s arm. “Like, we’ve been spending a lot of time together. Like, more than we have in a long time, and…I just didn’t want you to worry that that would change just because I was, you know, hanging with her.” JC looked at the ceiling. He wouldn’t look at Justin even when Justin crawled all the way in and lay on his back next to him. “Are you listening to me?” JC made a small noise of response.

“Justin.” JC spoke slowly, weighing his words. “I would never try stand in the way of your, um, dating.” He almost rolled his eyes at the word. “You’re single now, so you should, you know, get out there. Play the field and stuff.”

“JC.” Justin nudged JC’s shoulder until he would look him in the eyes. “I didn’t sleep with her, if that’s what you’re getting at.”

“Oh…oh.” It was all JC could do not to say Thank God aloud.

“Not that I couldn’t have.” Justin rolled onto his side and fingered JC’s t-shirt. “She’s kinda hot, you know? And it’s…been a while. You know?”

“I know, J.”

“Yeah, so then…you know that I’m kinda…um…well…anxious.” Justin wiggled his eyebrows comically. “Do you know how long it’s been since I got laid?”

“Um…” Luckily for JC, a bright streak of lightening followed immediately by a bus-shaking thunderclap interrupted their conversation. Through the window they could see the storm intensifying every second. JC laid his hand on Justin’s shoulder. “You ok?”

“Yeah.” Justin lifted the covers, shoved his legs underneath and plopped one of the pillows before he even thought to ask, “Hey, is it ok if I stay here?”

They lay quietly for a bit, waiting to see if the storm would dissipate, but it seemed to circle just over them. Justin shifted continuously, nervously.

“You really don’t like storms, do you?”

“It’s not that, JC. I mean, they’re not my favorite thing, but…I’m just.” Justin blushed and looked up at the ceiling. “Like I said before, I’m…pent up. I guess. I just have all this nervous energy, and I need to, like, release.” Justin looked at JC with soft, eager eyes. “Do you get me?”

“Of course. It’s been a while for me, too.”

Justin rolled on his side and shifted closer to JC. “Why haven’t you hooked up with anyone lately? I mean, besides that whore a few weeks ago?”

“She wasn’t a whore.”

“Whatever,” Justin spat. “You’ve been single for…I don’t even know how long. Why aren’t you dating?”

“Maybe I haven’t met anyone I want to date,” JC replied with a shrug. Justin started to reply, but JC cut him off. “Anyway, this isn’t about me. I don’t know why you thought I was, um, jealous of her—Jenna—but…I’m not. I want you to get out there and sow your oats and stuff.” Justin’s eyebrows darted up. “I meant that—look, Justin, do what you want, ok? I just want you to be happy, that’s all.”

“Yeah, but—never mind. Thanks. For wanting my happiness, C.” Justin rolled on his back again. This time their shoulders were pressed together, and their bare legs were touching. Justin didn’t seem to mind, so JC didn’t move one inch.

The storm wasn’t letting down, and they were still a few hours away from their destination. When JC told Justin that, Justin sighed loudly and stamped his feet insolently.

“Chill out, man!”

“How can you like this, C? How can you think this is…sexy?”

“I don’t know. It just is. It’s like…wild. Out of control. The way the earth smells after rain. It’s just…sexy.” JC looked over to find Justin staring at him. “What?”

“Do you…I mean, when it’s storming out…do you?” Justin licked his lips, eyes smoldering as he cleared his throat. “You like to have sex during storms?”

JC swallowed, intent on not giving anything away, but the closeness in the bunk was getting to him. “Yeah, I do.”

“Oh.” Justin looked up at the ceiling and breathed deeply for a while, only flinching when the sky lit up. “Yeah, I guess I see what you mean,” he murmured. “It’s primal.”


“So, if you’re alone during a thunderstorm, do you…take care of yourself?” Justin whispered.

JC pulled his hands behind his head, jutting his chest forward. “Yes.”

“I guess it’s relaxing, huh?” Justin’s voice was soft.

“Absolutely.” JC was breathing faster and trying to hide it.

Justin looked back at the ceiling and sighed. “That’s what I need. To relax. To let go, you know?”

Before he could bite his tongue, JC blurted out, “Go ahead. I don’t mind.” JC froze, not quite believing his own ears. “I mean, it’d relax you, and then you’d be able to get to sleep, and I just meant that you—”

“I’ll do it if you do it.” JC was afraid to look at Justin and see that this was a joke, or maybe just a dare. Justin was always one to make propositions he never intended to follow through with in his youth, when they’d be in a hotel room and Justin would ask one of them about sex or drugs. Back then, Justin would occasionally raise an eyebrow and throw in some sexual innuendo—I’ll bet you I’m a better kisser than you…I’ll smoke some, I’m not afraid…Wanna feel my abs?—and then laugh and say “Just kidding!” If this was going to be one of those moments, JC was not going to be the one to fall for it. Not this time.

“Did…did you hear me, C?”


“Yes, you heard me…or yes…you’ll do it?” Justin whispered.

“Um. Are you kidding, Justin?”

There was a long pause, and then Justin muttered, “No, I’m not kidding.” JC let his mind swirl with all the consequences—good and bad—that could arise from this. Part of him wanted to bolt and never speak of this again. Then he saw Justin’s hand rubbing his stomach, gently pushing the tank top up to expose his quivering abdomen. JC licked his lips and asked God for strength.


“Are you doing anything yet?”

“Are you?”

“Maybe we shouldn’t.”

“JC, c’mon.” Justin turned his back to JC. “I won’t look at you, ok?” Relieved and disappointed at the same time, JC rolled on his side and lifted his shirt in the same motion.

“Ok. Go.”

It was quiet at first, so quiet that JC was starting to believe that this was all a joke, that any minute Chris was going to burst in and he and Justin would laugh so hard that JC would go catatonic. Then he heard Justin moan, just a small, soft, “Oh.” JC waited to hear it again, then he echoed it. And slid his hand down the front of his pants.

Knowing Justin was right behind him made JC want to go.

Knowing Justin was right behind him made JC want to come.

He wanted to giggle when he heard Justin lick his fingers, but then he thought about what Justin might be licking off those fingers, and he purred like a kitten.

“You doing it, C?”

“Uh huh.”

“Good. That’s…uh…good.”

JC rolled his nipple between his fingers and bit at his pillow. He wanted to roll on his stomach, hump the bed a little, but he was afraid. That Justin would freak and stop. Or that Justin would turn over and watch. Or that Justin wouldn’t notice at all.

His t-shirt came off softly enough, but JC was afraid that Justin would laugh if he overheard him taking off his pants. So he just eased his pants down a little, just enough to expose the top of his ass, just enough to free his cock. He wondered what Justin was doing; if he was fully undressed or if he just slipped his hand into his underwear. He wanted to ask Justin if he was even wearing underwear. He couldn’t, because if the answer was yes, JC was afraid he’d ask for them, so he could smell them and rub them over the wet tip of his cock.

JC pressed his mouth against his left hand, to stifle the moans that were building in the back of his throat, and so he could pretend like his wrist was a pair of lips.

“Oh…yes. I’m so hard right now.” JC started to panic, until he realized his mouth was closed and it was Justin’s voice filling his ears.

I’ll just whisper it, JC thought, in case he didn’t want me to hear. “M-me, too.”

“Ugh. So good.” Justin flinched, and then he and JC’s backs were touching. JC could feel Justin’s hips arching, his ass tensing. JC’s hand quickened on his cock, and he pressed his ass back, so Justin could feel him moving. Justin pressed back too, until there was no space between them, and JC could feel Justin’s legs rubbing against his. Emboldened, JC slipped his free hand into his waistband and quickly pulled all the way down, letting his pinky graze Justin’s bare leg as he removed his track pants.

“You naked, C?” Justin whispered breathily.

“Is that…ok?”

“Yes. You should be. I want you to be.” Justin’s movements changed, and then JC felt material—Justin’s shorts—slide down to the foot of the bed. JC moaned louder than he’d wanted when he felt Justin’s bare ass brush against his.

“Are you relaxed?” JC asked, just to say something, anything but what he wanted to say.

“JC…I’m so relaxed now, man.” Justin hissed, and his arm, the arm that was stroking his cock, started moving faster, bumping JC’s arm with a sharp elbow on every other downstroke. “It feels so good, you don’t know, man.”

“I know. I know how good it feels.” Understatement of the year, JC thought as he massaged his balls and imagined it was Justin’s hand.

“You don’t know, C. You don’t know…how long it’s been. Since I’ve touched…since I’ve let anyone touch me.” Justin panted and whispered, “I’ve needed this for so long. JC. Oh. Oh, God.”

JC felt like his body was going to split in two, one staying here, safe on his side, the other going where he wanted, where he hoped he was needed. He was so scared, and so turned on, and so full of want and need and compassion that he threw caution to the wind and turned over quickly. He kept his eyes shut as he embraced Justin, spooned him, held him for what he hoped was long enough to give Justin what he needed.

“Oh…JC…yes. Yes, bab…yes.” Justin pressed himself against JC’s chest and his belly. He sighed and moaned and cursed and jerked off faster, and didn’t seem to mind JC’s erection pressing against his back. JC hoped to God that Justin wouldn’t mind. He hoped to God that Justin’s hips and ass dancing against him wouldn’t make him come all over them, ruining this moment, Justin’s moment. JC nuzzled Justin’s neck and stroked his arms and hips, careful not to let his hands go where he really wanted, between Justin’s legs.

“I’ll hold you, ok?”

“Don’t let go, JC. Ok? Please?” JC’s eyes sprang open at the sound of desperation in Justin’s voice. “Don’t let go,” Justin whispered over and over while JC kissed promises into his scalp. “Touch me, JC. Please.” JC’s shaking hands slid from Justin’s arms to his belly and up, massaging comfort into Justin’s skin.

“You’re ok, J. Just let go, man.”

“JC, don’t stop…don’t stop…touching yourself. Please. Want you to…with me.”

“But I—”

“C’mon.” Justin let go of his cock and reached behind himself to grab at JC’s body, to pull him closer to him. “C’mon, C. It’s ok. You can…against me.”

“Justin.” JC nearly choked on the word. He knew Justin had no idea what he was asking, how good it would feel for him, how much he wanted it. But Justin wasn’t letting go, seemed to be purposely tilting his hips to stimulate JC’s genitals. “Justin…you sure?”

“C’mon.” JC nodded and rubbed his lips against the back of Justin’s neck. “Oh, C.” JC grabbed Justin’s hips and pressed himself against Justin’s ass, methodically, rhythmically, like he was actually going to get to slide his cock inside the flesh he was too afraid to even look at. When Justin parted his legs, wrapping the top one over JC’s, JC couldn’t not look. The movement had shifted them so that Justin was on his back, partially on top of JC, and his cock was in plain view, as were both hands that were milking it. JC growled as he kissed the side of Justin’s face and stroked his chest. He nearly cried when Justin guided JC’s hand to his nipples. “Oh…JC. I’m so close. Want to come so bad for you.”

“Want to…” JC forced the touch your cock back down his throat. Instead he licked his fingers wet and slipped them back to Justin’s nipples. He rubbed and squeezed them as he watched Justin pounding his cock like his life depended on it. “Come for me, Justin. I want to see you. “

“Oh! Fuck!” Justin suddenly grabbed JC’s hand and shoved it down between his legs. They panted in unison as Justin neared his end, his hand working the top of his cock in frenziedly, JC gently stroking the base and Justin’s testicles. It was happening so fast that JC didn’t have time to freak out that he was finally touching Justin everywhere. JC was so overwhelmed that he thought he might cry.


“Do it for me, Justin.” Justin started to shake in JC’s arms. Suddenly he twisted his neck so their faces were only millimeters apart. His big eyes opened wide, like his mouth, and he groaned, “You’re so beautiful.” JC barely was aware of his hand pushing up, grasping Justin fully, and stroking the entire organ with Justin until it erupted in their hands. Justin moaned nonsensical words and let JC stroke him through his climax, let JC rock him through his shudders. His hand slipped behind JC’s head, pulling his face so close that they were almost kissing. Mouths agape and lips wet, they breathed into each other until Justin collapsed.

“Oh. Oh, God. Oh.” While Justin caught his breath, the full realization of what just happened finally occurred to JC. He looked down in a panic at his hand still gently, softly stroking Justin’s softening penis. His brain screamed at him to drop it and beg for forgiveness, but his hand wasn’t listening. It was too busy learning the flesh it held, too busy rubbing warm semen into the skin and pubic hair to heed any warnings. And really, the last thing JC wanted to do was to stop touching Justin. But once Justin was calmer, JC’s mind returned to his own needs, his own erection leaving clear streaks across Justin’s lower back.

“Justin.” JC tried to pull away so he could turn his back to Justin, so he could finish. “I need to…um.”

Justin shifted around, pressing his chest and his warm crotch to JC’s side. He looked a little embarrassed, and very satisfied. JC tried to smile, and then was struck with sudden unwarranted modesty. He blushed a little as he tried to cup his hand over his erection, to little avail. It jutted out angrily from his body. Justin looked down at it. His eyes were full of wonder, curiosity, and, JC hoped, desire.

“Go on, JC,” Justin whispered huskily. “I want to watch you come.” This was different. This was face to face, with Justin’s naked, sticky body right next to him instead of behind him. This was Justin’s eyes on him, on his body, his hands as they started to stroke again. And this was Justin nodding and whispering “Yeah…stroke it for me…you’re so hot.” And this was Justin’s hand on his chest, over his heart, on his nipples. JC closed his eyes and tried every mental trick he knew to keep from coming, even though he knew he was almost there. There was no way JC wasn’t going to come, not with Justin kissing his neck, not with Justin grinding against him in perfect rhythm with him, not with Justin stroking his nipples one second and his inner thighs the next.


“It’s ok. Let it happen, JC.” Justin massaged JC’s thighs and hissed when they spread apart and held JC’s hips nearly off the bed. “You’re so close. I want to watch it happen. I want to…feel…it happen.” JC looked up to see that Justin meant it. He licked his lips and nodded his head, and let out a low moan when he felt Justin’s hand on his cock.

“Fuck, J. Don’t stop.”

“No fucking way am I stopping, man,” Justin laughed as his hand quickened and replaced JC’s. JC spread his legs further. He licked his lips, wanting badly to feel a tongue in his mouth. He looked at Justin desperately, but he couldn’t ask. It was enough that Justin was there, next to him, almost on top of him, stroking him, looking at him and whispering to him. And Justin was so close that JC could smell his breath. If he leaned just a little bit, just a little bit…

“JC…mmm.” Justin watched his thumb rubbing the very tip of JC’s cock. He smiled when it left his thumb all shiny and wet. “I had no idea you were so…” Justin leaned close enough so that the very edges of their lips brushed together when he whispered, “Big.”

“Please,” JC begged, “make me come.”

“I’ll make you come, JC.” Their eyes locked, Justin moved fluidly, quickly, so he was on top of JC, only leaving enough room between them for his hand and JC’s erection. “I’ll make you come.” JC wrapped his arms and one leg around his friend and stared up at him, his eyes, his mouth. Justin didn’t kiss his mouth, but he grinded him as he jerked him off. He nuzzled JC’s nose and exhaled hot breath into JC’s mouth. He kissed all over JC’s face, the corner of his mouth, and let their lips brush just the slightest bit as he moved across JC’s face. It was tantalizing and frustrating at the same time. He wanted Justin’s mouth on his, and it was so close, and Justin kept wetting his lips and looking at him with such danger and lust—JC was more confused than ever. But he’d already made a big move—the next one had to be Justin’s.

“You look so…deep in thought. Don’t think, JC. C’mon. Let me see you.” Justin rubbed a wet finger over JC’s lips, then slipped it inside JC’s mouth. “You’re so damn gorgeous like this. You don’t know how long I’ve wanted—”

“What?” JC asked as best he could with Justin’s fingers in his mouth and with Justin’s other hand squeezing his cock. Justin didn’t answer. He leaned down and pressed his mouth against his fingers and JC’s mouth. They sucked Justin’s fingers together. They tasted like sweat and semen. Justin whispered, “I want to taste you, JC,” against JC’s open mouth and slick tongue, gave JC’s cock a good fast jerk, and that was it. JC turned his head so Justin couldn’t see the grimace on his face as he came, shaking and spurting hot semen between their bellies.

“Fuck…Jace…look at…oh…you…you’re so…baby.” JC trembled as Justin kissed the side of his face and his neck and his chin, his hand still working the cock even as it began to go limp. “You’re so gorgeous, JC. I always knew it.”

“Th-thank you.” JC kept his head turned; if he looked at Justin, he’d kiss him. And maybe say something he shouldn’t.

“Mmm. JC. Look at me.” JC waited until he could control himself, and then he turned his head. Justin was smiling at him. He looked down to see Justin smoothing his release into his stomach. JC took that hand gratefully and kissed the palm. It smelled of sex. It smelled of him.

“Thank you. For that.”

“Thank you, Jace. I really wanted…this. Do you know what I’m saying?” JC nodded, but he didn’t. Maybe it was the great orgasm, but JC’s mind was a complete jumble, and he suddenly felt very stupid. But he couldn’t tell Justin that. Justin was looking at him like he was hot and cool and sexy and certainly not stupid. He didn’t want to burst Justin’s beautiful post-sex bubble.

“Um. Are you cold? Want more blankets?”

“What?” Justin almost laughed, but then he shook his head and pulled the covers up over them. He nestled on top of JC and kissed each nipple. “Always the protector. You don’t have to protect me, C. Not from you.”

“I don’t…I mean…I don’t know what you’re…never mind.”

“Mmmm. JC.” Justin kissed up to JC’s face. His eyes were searching for something in JC’s face, but he didn’t find it. Looking mildly disappointed, Justin switched the bunk light off and then wrapped his arms around JC. “Rest now, C.” In the dark, JC could still see Justin staring at him. He stared back, and silently willed Justin’s lips to touch his. He continued his vigil even as his eyes started to close. When he opened them, the bus was still and Justin was gone.


JC stared at the bathroom, but he was too tired to shower. The bed looked too good, and the hotel air conditioning was up way high, and it was still raining out. Perfect sleeping weather, made more perfect by the fact that he still had remnants of Justin dried and flaking on his stomach. Before he could get into bed, there was a soft knock on his door. JC opened it without checking the peephole—he knew it was Justin.

“I know it’s late or early or something, but, um.” Justin looked sheepish as JC ushered him inside. “I just…forgot to do something earlier.”

“What?” He saw it coming, but it was still a surprise when Justin closed the space between them and kissed him on the lips. It was soft and sweet and a perfect first kiss.

“I just wanted to tell you that. See ya later, C.” Justin licked his lips and hurried out the door before JC knew what was happening.



When they ate breakfast together in Joey’s room, Justin didn’t sit next to JC. But he stared at JC the entire time. And he ordered a cherry cheese croissant especially for JC. And when he walked past JC to leave, he rubbed his fingertips in JC’s curls.

JC spent his afternoon wondering where Justin was, and feeling guilty for feeling so possessive already, when he really had no idea if he had that right. Then Justin called him from the gym, just to say, “I’m thinking about you,” and nothing more. The call ended, and JC immediately felt better.

JC and Justin passed each other backstage, both of them meandering around, not looking for anyone in particular. They didn’t look at each other when they passed, but their hands touched.

As they were leaving for the quiet room on their way to the stage, JC tried to pull Justin aside for a quick kiss, but Chris interrupted them, playfully pulling Justin’s left hand while JC tried to hold the right. Justin shrugged as Chris pulled him away, but he sent JC a mischievous wink over his shoulder.

When they bowed at the end of the concert, Justin squeezed JC’s hand extra hard.

“Hey, Jace!” Justin popped up from the bus couch and shifted his weight nervously as JC boarded the bus with his duffle bag. “Here, let me…” JC laughed when Justin took his bag and stowed it safely away. “I, uh, put it right next to mine.”

“I appreciate that,” JC giggled. Justin approached JC slowly, eyes darting out the bus windows as he walked. When he stood right in front of JC he reached out and stroked his shoulder, his arm, down to his hand.

“How are you?”


“Great show tonight, man.”

“Same to you, J.” Justin’s hands slipped up JC’s stomach and chest, landing in the center, the fingertips right atop JC’s pendant necklace. His eyes stayed on his hand, like he was picturing JC’s heart speeding up.

“Wow,” Justin whispered as his eyes traveled over JC’s post-concert sweaty body, “I touched you last night.”

“I touched you, too.” Justin nodded and finally met JC’s eyes.

“You really did, man.” He came closer and lowered his mouth to JC’s, mumbling, “You felt so good, ba—”

Before their lips touched, they heard footsteps and laughter at the door. Chris.

“Damn it,” they both grumbled as they separated. Justin sighed and threw himself on the couch. JC would have found it funny, if he hadn’t been waiting all day for that kiss.

Chris, JC and Justin watched a DVD while they traveled to the next destination. Apparently it was a comedy, based on Chris’ raucous laughter. But JC wasn’t laughing. He was too busy playing footsie with Justin. And stealing glances at Justin. And pretending to hand Justin things so their hands could touch…and their fingers could entwine. It was silly and romantic and JC hoped the ride would last more than 3 hours.


Columbus, OH

JC sat in a chair in the corner of Justin’s hotel room, waiting patiently for some alone time with Justin. It took a while for security and tour people and hangers-on to leave, even though it was nearly 3 am. Finally it was only Chris and Lance, who alerted JC that it was time to go. JC pretended he had to go to the bathroom and sat on the toilet, waiting. When he still heard more than one voice, JC growled and pulled at his hair, gently. And then peed anyway.

The lights were dimmed and soft music was playing on the radio when JC came out of the bathroom. Justin smiled shyly and went into the bathroom himself. When he came out he was wiping his mouth. JC thought he saw Justin breathe into his cupped hand and sniff, but the light was too dim to be sure.

“It’s been a long day.”

“Yeah.” JC’s foot tapped nervously. “Are you tired, because if you are, I can go.”

“I am tired, yeah, JC, but…I don’t want you to go.” Justin came to him slowly, and slid his hands around JC’s waist carefully. Cheeks red, JC placed his hands on Justin’s shoulders. It was awkward, like preteens at a dance when the girl towers over the boy. JC felt suddenly like he was coveting his neighbors wife, and then he remembered that his neighbor broke his wife’s heart. JC took a quick breath and leaned in to capture Justin’s’ trembling lips. Justin’s mouth opened to him immediately. They both sighed when their tongues met for the first time. JC wanted to lose himself in Justin’s mouth, in his arms, in his warm breath. They pressed together, kissing deeply and wet one minute, closed mouth and innocent the next. JC pulled Justin into his body, kissed his cheek and his neck, and slid both hands down to squeeze his ass.


“Is this ok?”

“JC. Are you kidding?” Justin held JC’s face and kissed him softly. “I’ve been waiting all day for this.” JC agreed with his eyes and his hands, strong and supportive on Justin’s lower back. “I just…um.” Justin looked amused, like a teenager finally given the keys to the car. “I want to know, like, stuff. Like…what do you, um, like…do.” JC almost laughed, but he forced himself to smile instead. “I just want to know…more. Everything. I want to know you better, JC.” It sounded sincere, which warmed JC’s heart.

“You know me better than almost anybody, cat.”

“Not this way,” Justin whispered, and walked JC backward toward the bed. “I want to know you the way…the other men you’ve been with have known you,” Justin admitted bashfully. “I want to…I want to…I want.” He laid JC down on the bed and covered him with his weight. “I just want, C. There’s so much I want.”

“You have only to ask,” JC whispered, his voice quivering as he brought Justin’s lips closer to his.

“Tonight I want to…I really, really want to just…make out with you.” Justin looked away, obviously embarrassed, even though he had no need to be. “Last night, I wanted…I mean, we didn’t really. And now we’re here and we’re, um, kissing and stuff, so now I know you’re into it.”

“I was into it then,” JC admitted regretfully. “I wanted to. I didn’t know if you wanted to kiss me.” They shared a silly, embarrassed grin.

“Shit, man. I’ve wanted to kiss you since—” Justin bit his lip. This wasn’t the first time he had done this, but JC didn’t want to push. So he leaned up and kissed Justin softly, until they both relaxed and wrapped arms around each other.

They kissed softly, shyly, for a while. And then they kissed hungrily, hands roaming all over. Then the kisses moved from mouths to chins to chests. JC suckled Justin’s nipples slowly, until Justin whimpered and begged to have JC’s tongue in his mouth again. JC pulled his own shirt open, so he could feel Justin’s skin against his when he stretched out on top of him. Their nipples crushed between them, rubbing hard and wet with JC’s saliva.

“I missed this all day,” JC sighed into Justin’s mouth. “Missed you.”

“Baby.” Justin cradled JC with his arms, his legs. They rocked into each other, sighing as they watched and learned one another’s movements. They learned quickly; soon they were moving together perfectly, staring at each other when they weren’t kissing, grinding their pelvises together when they weren’t fondling each other’s erections.

“Justin…wait a sec.” JC leaned on his hands, rising up over Justin a few inches.

“Don’t stop…Jace,” uttered Justin helplessly. JC kissed him back into appeasement.

“I just want to…oh.” JC scrambled to get his pants down, but Justin was kissing him and writhing underneath him, and JC could barely keep his concentration. “Jus…mmm…just want to feel you.” Nodding ungracefully, Justin ripped at JC’s pants with one hand, his own with another, so that neither was making much headway getting each other’s clothes off.

“I don’t care…I don’t care,” Justin growled, flailing his hips up insistently against JC. JC dug in with his knees and his hips, thrashing against Justin until they both started to wail. This time JC came first, and Justin smiled proudly as he watched JC shiver on top of him. Then Justin cried out softly, trembling helplessly, though his grip on JC was stronger than ever.

They kissed without looking at each other. Then JC’s eyes flew open. Justin’s hand was down inside his pants, tenderly stroking his spent penis.

“I love doing this with you, JC,” Justin whispered. He nuzzled JC as he pulled his hand out of JC’s pants and reached into his own. JC sighed happily as he watched Justin rub his semen all over his own penis, mixing their seed as if a childhood blood brother ceremony.

“I love it too.” Now free of incapacitating lasciviousness, JC was coordinated enough to quickly finish undressing the both of them. He lay on his side and pulled Justin to him, laying Justin’s top leg over his so their warm genitals met in the vee of their legs. “Let me help you do that.” They Eskimo kissed as their hands moved between them slowly, rubbing their combined stickiness into their bodies. Like that, they fell asleep in a mixture of sweat, semen, saliva, and breath.


I-71 South, outside Cincinnati

JC sat on the bus, trying to meditate, even though he really didn’t know how. He was more frustrated than he’d ever been. It had been a whole day since he’d been alone with Justin—somehow the time before the show was just as busy as the evenings. And when they’d gotten together at the hotel, they were both so tired that they’d fallen asleep side by side with barely more than a kiss. Now, riding down paths of endless highway, JC was vibrating with sexual energy. Being with Justin twice had somehow recharged his libido instead of depleting it. He wanted more, more time, more touching, more Justin. He looked over at Chris, who was only sitting quietly reading a book, and thought, Get out. He thought it over and over, sending his brain waves over to the couch, hoping his desire to get rid of his friend wasn’t going to bring him bad karma.

Eventually Chris looked up sharply. “Did you say something, C?”

“What? Did I?”

“I thought you did,” Chris replied. He looked over at Justin, who was staring out the window, his leg bouncing uncontrollably. “What’s wrong with you, J?”

“Nothing.” Justin glanced at JC and blushed. “Just…tired of being on the bus.”

“Mmm.” Chris shrugged and picked his book back up. JC groaned—he couldn’t help himself. “What?”

“Nothing! Just…stir crazy,” JC offered.

“We’ve only been driving for 10 minutes, C.” Chris looked from JC to Justin and then back again. “What’s going on with you two?” Neither answered; Justin looked back out the window, JC nibbled his thumb. Chris watched them closely for a while, then he sighed and yawned, very loudly. “I’m gonna go lay down now. Maybe I’ll take a nap.” JC nodded but didn’t look up for fear that he’d jump for joy. “Here I go…back to my bunk. Yep.”

“Thank God,” JC groaned once Chris was in his bunk. He moved quickly, sliding quietly onto Justin’s lap. “Hey.” He turned Justin’s chin to him. “Hey. Justin. He’s gone. It’s ok.”

“He might come back,” Justin whispered uneasily, though his hands were already pulling JC closer.

“I’ll keep my eye out for him, ok?”

Justin smiled and nodded.

They were kissing frantically within seconds, but Justin kept flinching every time he heard a noise. JC looked over his shoulder several times, and assured Justin that Chris wasn’t coming.


“Shh. Let me kiss you, Justin.” JC held Justin’s face tenderly, covering him with soft kisses until Justin giggled and relaxed a little.

“I’m sorry, I’m just…we’ve never been this open before. We could get caught,” Justin sighed while JC sucked on his neck.

“And that would bother you. If Chris caught us,” JC said carefully, unsure if he really wanted to hear the answer. Justin lifted JC’s chin to look into his eyes.

“Would it bother you?” He looked serious, and JC did not want to have a serious talk right now. So he kissed Justin hungrily and slid his hands up inside Justin’s shirt. Justin didn’t flinch, so JC pinched at the already hardened nipples. Justin seemed ok, didn’t stop kissing him and rubbing his back, so JC moved down to suck on Justin’s neck again. He bit just a little, waiting for an objection, but it didn’t come. Justin sighed and slid a hand down the back of JC’s pants. “Are you…giving me a hickey?”

“Would you like a hickey, Justin?” Justin groaned and pulled JC into another deep kiss.

“I’d like a lot of things,” Justin murmured. JC smiled and slid off Justin’s lap. Justin watched with sparkling, hungry eyes as JC slid to his knees and pushed Justin’s legs slightly apart. “It’s the middle of the day,” Justin stammered.

“I know.” Justin’s stomach quivered beneath JC’s lips. He pushed Justin’s shirt up so he could rub his cheek against the hard abs. “Your skin feels so good, J.” He rubbed his nose along Justin’s navel, his lips at the top of Justin’s waistband.


“Relax, baby. It’s such a nice day outside,” JC whispered as he kissed Justin’s hipbones and massaged his inner thighs. Justin’s legs spread wider. “Mmm…the sun is shining just for us, J. So I can see you.” He cupped the bulge in Justin’s pants, and smiled at the hardness he felt there. “I’ve never seen you naked in broad daylight before, Justin.”

“God. Do you know how sexy you are?” Justin whimpered. JC thanked him for the compliment with a gentle kiss between his legs. Justin sucked in a sharp breath, and then another when JC kissed the tip of his cock through his pants. “JC…JC…oh.”

“Don’t worry about anything, Justin.” JC rubbed his nose and lips against Justin’s crotch. “I’ll take care of you, honey.” Justin pressed his hips forward, eliciting a broad smile from JC. “Justin…will you show yourself to me?” Outside, an annoyingly loud motorcycle sped by, polluting the air with its noise. Justin didn’t seem to notice. Eyes locked on JC, he undid his shorts and pulled his cock out, shoving his underwear down as far as he could so JC could see him all, up close. JC kissed Justin’s thigh as he stared at the engorged flesh in Justin’s hand. “It’s lovely, J.” He took it in his hands and stroked it as he slowly brought his mouth to it.

“Oh my…oh, Jace.”

“Relax,” JC whispered. It took a few seconds for JC to realize that he had Justin Timberlake’s cock in his mouth. When it hit him, he moaned almost as loud as Justin.

“Fuck, that’s hot,” Justin whispered, pushing loose curls behind JC’s ear so he could see better. JC closed his eyes and inhaled slowly, letting Justin’s taste fill his senses.

“Mmm.” He pulled back and rubbed the erection along his cheek, his nose, his lips. “Feels nice.”

“Y-yeah. JC,” Justin sighed, his hands reaching anxiously at JC’s neck. “Can you…oh.”

“I can do whatever you’d like, baby.” JC wet his lips. “I can…” He kissed the tip of Justin’s penis, very softly, mouth closed. “I can do this.” JC’s tongue hadn’t even made contact, and Justin was purring, hips pulsing. And when the tongue touched, and swirled, and flicked along the hypersensitive opening, Justin howled and grabbed JC’s hair.

“Mmmph…J…not so loud,” JC muttered between licks.

“Don’t fucking stop.” JC moaned in the back of his throat and took the head of Justin’s cock in his mouth. Slowly he descended on it, only stopping when Justin’s frantic movements made him almost choke. “Sorry…sorry.” JC cleared his throat, and then smiled shyly at the red, swollen flesh jutting out from Justin’s pants. He moved in again, kissing and licking the sides of the penis while simultaneously pulling Justin’s shorts and underwear down. Justin panted as he lifted his hips, panted more once he was free of his clothes and could spread his legs more, to let JC closer. He massaged his balls, waiting for JC to notice them for himself. JC noticed; he licked at the wrinkled skin until it was wet, and then sucked the balls into his mouth.

“Oh! Fuck! Want y—oh!” Justin was breathing heavily and thumbing his own nipples already. When JC took the cock all the way to the base, Justin started cursing with every breath and squeezing his nipples painfully. JC let the cock slide out of his mouth. He stroked it with a firm hand, licking into the meatus on the downstroke. “Ohmygoooood.”

“Do you like it?” JC sighed. Growling his answer, Justin leaned forward quickly and kissed JC hard. He whimpered loudly as they kissed, JC still jerking him off as they searched each other’s mouths. Suddenly JC broke the kiss.

“I want you naked,” JC growled as he pulled Justin’s shirt, already bunched up around his neck, all the way off. He pushed Justin backwards, taking in the whole body, the taut thighs straining forward, the chiseled torso, the perfect arms reaching for him, the electric blue eyes, the hungry mouth begging for more. JC stroked himself as he looked at the man in front of him, who was gyrating for him and spreading his legs for him. “Justin. You’re so beautiful.”

“Oh, man. Please. Please suck me,” Justin demanded. “Please. I need your mouth again. Need it so bad.”

“Yes.” This time when JC let the engorged penis distend his throat, he slipped two fingers down behind Justin’s tight balls. Justin rocked hard against him, his throat, his arms, threatening to come any second. JC felt for the tight aperture and just let his fingers rest against it, so Justin knew what he was thinking. A few gentle circles of fingers around anus, a few long, fast sucks of mouth on cock, and Justin was grunting like an animal, filling JC’s mouth with liquid heat.

JC held on to Justin’s pulsating body as he swallowed. He needed a moment to collect himself, to process what just happened, what had been happening recently. He looked up at Justin’s face and saw a wealth of emotions there. Something inside him wanted to beg for explanations and definitions of what they were doing, but Justin gave him no time. He was in Justin’s arms, being thanked between kisses, being undressed between hastily caught breaths.

“Justin, mmmph…slow down…J…sweetheart.” They both stopped for a second, JC blushing and Justin grinning.

“Wow.” Justin stroked JC’s hair away from his face, and then quickly lifted him to the couch. He pressed him onto his back on the cushion, gazing down at him with disarmingly blue eyes. “Sweetheart. I like that.”

“I like you.” JC hadn’t meant to say it, he wanted to kick himself for saying it, but it was too late. He covered his eyes, but Justin pulled them away.

“JC. I like you, too.” Justin took JC’s hand and kissed the fingers. “May I show you?”


“Thank you.” Justin stood up, his legs shaking a little from the movement of the bus and the after-effects of a stupefying orgasm. He looked at JC from above, just for a few moments, smiling at the skin, the muscle, the fluttering stomach, the open mouth, the dark cock. “In this light you look…radiant. God, JC. I just want to…” Justin knelt down in front of the couch and let his hands travel all over JC’s body. His jaw was open like a boy in a candy store, salivating at all the possibilities, one better than the next. He pulled a leg up and kissed it, the knee, the shin, the thigh, the ankle. JC watched him closely. He appreciated the attention; no one had ever touched him like this—almost reverently. It was a bit confusing as much as it was intoxicating. JC tried to contain himself as Justin worked him over, learning his body. But he knew it was a losing cause. Once Justin took his penis in both hands and licked his lips hungrily at it, JC could feel the explosion already starting to build. It was Justin, after all.


“I’m…not going to last long,” JC admitted. “Who could?” Justin bowed his head and kissed JC’s penis. JC held his breath. Justin turned his head and kissed the tumescence again, this time with his eyes closed. JC tried to shove his hands underneath himself. Then Justin took the very tip into his wet mouth and sucked softly, moaning like he was drinking ambrosia. “Please, Justin. I can’t take it.”

“Yes, you can.” A long, slow lick from the base to the tip of the thickness, and JC was already pressing his hips forward. “Mmm. JC. You can take it. I did. You made me wait.” Justin held the cock firmly and licked it up and down like a popsicle. “Yeah,” he snorted when JC mewled impatiently. “Now you know how I feel. How I’ve felt for a long time.”

JC’s ears perked up. “How…long?”

Justin grunted, “Too long,” and then sucked the penis into his eager mouth.

“Jus…oh…aw, yeah. I like that.”

“Gooddthhfff.” When Justin wasn’t sucking JC hard and slow, he was staring at the penis up close, or kissing it playfully, or smelling it, like he wanted to really know it. JC was torn between begging to fuck his mouth and singing his praises.

“Man, where did you learn to do that?”

“Um.” Justin blushed and rested his head on JC’s thigh. “I guess I have a, um, good imagination.”

“Wha-ooohhhh!” JC hadn’t expected Justin’s thumb pressing into his perineum. It was a perfect distraction; JC forgot what he was asking at first, and ended up asking Justin to touch him there, again, please. Justin pushed JC’s hips up off the couch, tilted his head and did JC one better. JC started to shake the minute he felt Justin’s wet tongue licking at the space behind his balls. He scrambled for Justin’s hand, his hair, any part of him to hold on to.

“J! I’m… baby…I’m!”

“God, yes.” Justin moved quickly to steady himself on JC’s legs. He took as much of JC’s cock into his mouth, sucking hard and fast until JC exploded into a million little pieces.

JC covered his eyes with his arm. It was too much, too good. He didn’t want to open his eyes and face the fact that he’d merely been having an exceptionally hot erotic dream. Again. But it wasn’t a dream this time. Justin was there, kissing his soft penis and licking JC’s semen from his lips. The sight alone threatened to make JC hard again, immediately.

“C’mere, Justin.” JC reached out and took Justin gratefully in his arms. He tried to say thank you, but he was too choked up to talk. So he thanked Justin with a kiss.



JC was sure that everyone could tell. When they checked into the hotel, he went straight into Justin’s room and dropped his luggage right on the bed. Justin laughed and promised him that no one noticed, but JC wasn’t so sure. He rushed into his own room, threw himself on his own bed, and giggled like a schoolgirl.

Then, when the lot of them went to Justin’s mother’s house for dinner, JC thought they were all smiling a little too much. No one mentioned anything, not even when Justin let his hand linger on JC’s when he passed the green beans.

JC was positive that their secret was out when, halfway through dinner, Lynn said, “Oh, Justin. I talked with Britney’s mother the other day, and she told me that you and Britney have talked a few times. She made a point of mentioning that Britney’s not seeing anyone, so…um…is there something you want to tell us?” It was only a small sip of iced tea, but JC managed to choke on it nonetheless. He ensured everyone that he was fine, clearing his throat and waving them on to continue the conversation while Joey rubbed his back. Justin didn’t lift his eyes from his dinner. And he never answered the question.

The bathroom door opened just as JC finished washing his hands.

“Don’t you knock, Justin?”

“I knew it was you in here.” Justin came in and locked the bathroom door behind him. “Besides, this is my house—”

“Your mother’s house.”

“Either way, I’m allowed access to anything that comes in this house.” Justin stepped closer and brushed his lips lightly over JC’s. “Or anyone.” They started to kiss, and then JC remembered Lynn’s comment earlier.

“Um. You talked to Britney?”

Justin cleared his throat and took a step back. “Yeah.” He rubbed his fingers over his shaved head, and then smiled and rubbed the same fingers through JC’s hair. “It’s not a big deal. Anyway, Lance wants to go to some casino down in Mississippi. It’s only an hour away. You up for it?”

“My head is kinda hurting a little.” JC turned around to look at their reflections in the vanity mirror. “You guys go without me.”

“But, I don’t want to go without you,” Justin whined. He pressed himself against JC’s back and rubbed JC’s temples. “Are you sure, C? I can stay with you if you want. We can think of something private to do,” he murmured.

Private, JC thought. “No, go on with the others. I’ll stay behind. Again.”

It took a hot bath, chamomile tea, and finally 2 pills of valerian root for JC’s head to stop pounding enough for him to get some sleep. So he was a little peeved when that sleep was interrupted after only 1 hour by Justin gently stroking his shoulder.

“What?” JC hissed, still in a ball under his sheets.

“I just…I took your key,” Justin whispered. “Can I stay with you tonight? How’s your head? Would you rather I leave?”

The guilt came like a wave, bringing the ache back into his temples, but JC felt he deserved it. “Please stay.” Justin smiled as he undressed. “Did you guys have fun down there?”

“Yeah. I mean, well, they had fun. Wasn’t so much fun for me. You weren’t there.” JC nearly gasped; it was such a sweet thing to say. Justin climbed into bed next to him and touched his face. “Is your head better?”

“It’s ok now.”

“I kept wondering if you were ok,” Justin admitted. “I was…worried about you. I missed you.” JC gulped and pulled Justin to him, kissing him as hard and deeply as his drowsy lips would allow.

“I like to be missed, Justin.”

“You’ve been missed often. For a long time.” Justin stroked JC’s cheekbones. “Years.”

“Justin.” JC kissed him again, opening Justin’s lips with his, offering his tongue. He sighed and rolled on his back, trying to pull Justin on top of him, but Justin wouldn’t go. “What’s wrong?”

“Can we do something else tonight?”

“Anything you want,” JC murmured, his voice trembling.

“Can we, um.” Justin turned pink. “Can we cuddle tonight? I just wanna hold you, man.” JC kissed Justin’s hand gratefully. “I know it’s corny.”

“No, Justin. It’s exactly what I needed tonight.”

They were falling asleep, wrapped tightly around each other, JC’s head resting on Justin’s chest, when Justin whispered, “I didn’t tell you that I’d talked to Britney because I kind of forgot about the calls.”

“Justin, you don’t have to tell me.” JC stroked the strong chest underneath his chin. Justin was holding him tonight, not Britney. He told himself to be grateful for that. “I guess it’s really not my business. Is it?”

“What does that mean?” Justin asked solemnly.

“Well, we haven’t really talked about what we’re…doing. We—this—happened so fast.”

Justin was quiet for a long time. “Actually, I don’t think it was fast at all. It’s taken a long time for you to—um.”

“What, J? Tell me.”

“Let’s just get some sleep, C.” JC looked up at him with questioning eyes, but Justin quelled him with a soft kiss. “Holding you, remember?”

JC sighed, but he smiled away his growing unease. “Goodnight. Baby.” Justin smiled, gently pushed JC’s head back over his heart, and they both fell asleep. Eventually.

Lynn was somewhere in the building.

“I know, Jace, but she’s not coming in here,” Justin groaned as he tried to get in JC’s pants. They were in the quiet room, making out in the corner even though there was a big soft, empty couch right there.

“One of the guys might come in…and she’d be with them…and…and—”

“So what if she did?” Justin pressed JC against the wall and licked into his mouth. “So what?”

“She’d, like, kill me, Justin.”

“No, she wouldn’t. She likes you. She loves you.” Justin pulled away and looked at JC squarely in the eyes. “JC. I…um.” He scratched his head nervously. “We never finished our talk last night.”

“Well, you were working out all afternoon,” JC carped. “I would have gone with you, but…”

“I didn’t ask you.”

“Right. You didn’t.”

“C, you’re not mad that I didn’t want to work out with you, are you?”

“No.” JC shrugged. “It’s like, all in public and shit, so…you know. You and me aren’t exactly…public, are we?” Justin stepped back and glared at him. “I don’t mean public, I mean…like…together. In front of our friends. Or, you know, out at night or whatever.” He was babbling, and Justin seemed to be getting angry, but JC couldn’t stop. “Justin, until recently you never wanted to hang with me in public. And I know you said you didn’t want to get wasted in front of me, but…I mean, fuck! That still doesn’t make sense and…and…um. I just feel like…maybe…I’m your dirty secret friend or something.”

Justin looked down at the floor. His eyes were hard, like he was choosing his words carefully. “JC,” he said calmly, “I don’t invite you to work out with me because…I really don’t think I could concentrate with you there. You distract me. I don’t want to be distracted when I’m working out. Or when I’m out trying to get shitfaced. Or when I just want to stare into space and be pissed at the world. If you’re there, I can’t be pissed. And I can’t get shitfaced because...I worry about what you think of me. And I can’t get all sweaty and shit because…I want you to…think I smell nice or something.”

“Oh, J. Shit.” JC wrapped himself around Justin and pressed his forehead to Justin’s. “I’m sorry. I just, sometimes I’m so insecure about where I stand with you.”

“I’m sorry I made you feel that way. If I didn’t have my head up my ass I probably would have figured that out.”

“I’m not trying to horn in on the time you spend with your other friends, I’m really not,” JC explained. “I just want some of your time. Just a little.”

“Jace, you can have all the time you want. You just have to know that it’s yours to take.”

JC pretended to know what that meant. It was nearing time to go on, and he didn’t want to bring any drama, no matter how small, on stage with them. So he kissed Justin softly and nodded his head.

“Everything’s going to be ok,” Justin promised.

Justin stayed on an extra day in Memphis while the others returned to Florida. JC wasn’t concerned about the sudden change in plans, until he overheard Chris saying that Britney was in Memphis, too. And then JC knew that everything was absolutely not going to be ok.


Sunrise, FL

They rushed back to the hotel after the next to last show to check out. As tired as JC was, as much as he was looking forward to the upcoming break, hearing crew members talk about the last show of the tour the next night was making his chest hurt. Not knowing what was coming next was kind of exciting. It was also kind of frightening. And the thought of not seeing Justin on a daily basis was downright depressing. He feared what would happen to them—and he still didn’t know what Justin thought “they” were—once Justin started his solo career. And he feared what a 2,500 mile difference might do to them, since Justin seemed intent on spending more time in LA than in Orlando. More than anything, JC feared that he was nothing more than a transitional fling for Justin, and that Justin had stayed behind in Memphis to patch things up with Britney.

JC boarded the 3 man bus and stopped in his tracks. The lights were dimmed, and there were yellow roses lying on the couch. A bottle of wine and 2 glasses sat neatly in an ice bucket. For a second JC was afraid that he’d walked into someone else’s romantic date. Then Justin emerged from the bunk area, holding out a long stemmed rose, and JC knew that the date he’d barged in on was his own.

“Where’s Chris?”

Justin chuckled and shook his head. “He’s on the other bus. I asked him to give us some privacy.”

The knot in JC’s chest unfurled. “You did? Did you tell him why?” Justin walked past him and closed the heavy curtain cutting off the driver’s seat from the rest of the tour bus.

“I told him that this was the last drive of the tour, and I wanted to drive it with you.”

Once the bus pulled away, they sat down to drink some wine. It was good, but something told JC not to drink too much. Justin seemed a little impatient; he looked at his watch more than once.

“What’s wrong, J?”

“Nothing’s wrong. But we only have 3 hours left until we get to Orlando.” Justin scooted closer to JC and looked at him, really looked at him. “I don’t want to waste any more time, JC.”

JC looked down to hide the redness in his face. “I see.”

“It’s our last night on the bus,” Justin whispered as he took JC’s hand. “I wanted to make it special. After tomorrow—”

“Yeah,” JC interrupted. He didn’t want Justin to finish that sentence. Justin leaned in and captured JC’s lips in a soft kiss. “Only 3 more hours.” Justin nodded sadly. JC nodded resolutely and stroked Justin’s cheek. “Ok, then. Let’s make them count.”

It felt good to be naked on the couch with Justin again. The passing street lights flickered on his skin like a movie, JC thought. He wanted to lay Justin out and kiss every inch of that skin, to hold it and treasure it, in case he’d never have access to it again.

“Your lips are so soft,” Justin uttered between kisses. He pulled JC’s leg over his own, so JC was blanketing him. “Damn, your mouth is so sweet. I wish I could take it with me.” He ducked his head. “Was that a silly thing to say?”

“I like silly.” JC pressed himself down on Justin. They groaned when their cocks glided along each other. “Fuck…Justin. I love silly.”

“Don’t worry, they’re tinted,” Justin whispered as he pressed JC against a cool window. JC spread his arms wide, squishing his cheek against the glass as Justin kissed down his back. Justin played with JC’s nipples as he mouthed along the swell of his ass.

“That feels so good, Justin.”

“Mmm. Spread your legs for me, baby?” JC shifted a bit so he knees were a little farther apart where they were digging into the couch cushions. Justin kneeled on the couch behind him. He positioned himself so JC was sitting on his lap, facing away from him. JC groaned and reached between his knees to wrestle with the hardness pressing against his ass.

“I love touching you like this.” JC leaned back so they could kiss. He didn’t care about the awkward angle; a crick in the neck would be worth Justin’s hot mouth.

“Want you in my mouth, baby.” They moved quickly, both aware of the ticking clock. JC sat on the back of the couch and spread his legs, watching impatiently as Justin’s mouth reached his cock. It was only the second time they’d done this, but Justin already knew exactly how to blow JC. He sucked him deep, and looked up into JC’s eyes when he reached the tip. He held the penis firmly in one hand and let JC suck and kiss the other. JC drove his hips forward, growling as his cock slid in and out of Justin’s mouth. “You look so good. Love watching you eat me.”

“Jace.” Swirling his tongue around the head of JC’s cock, Justin removed his licked-wet fingers from JC’s mouth and shoved them between his own legs, stroking himself with the same rhythm that he stroked JC. “You get me so hard, C.”


“Yeah. Hard and—” Justin looked down at his cock dribbling pearls on his fingers. He lifted his hand to JC’s parted lips. “Wet.” JC sucked the fingers in hungrily. “You’re making me crazy, C. I can’t stand it. I’m so into you, baby.”

“Let me feel your mouth just a little more,” JC whimpered, groaning when Justin gave him what he wanted. He fucked Justin’s mouth for a few more glorious moments, and then he pulled free. “Stand up, sweetheart.” Justin nodded and stood while JC slid down to his knees on the floor. “I love this cock,” mumbled JC right before ingesting the flesh like someone starved of food.

Justin braced himself against the bus wall and watched with huge eyes as JC went down on him. “Look at you, C. I’m so crazy about you.” JC hugged Justin’s legs gratefully. It was just what he’d always wanted to hear. Almost. “Aw. Aw. God. JC. You don’t even know what you mean to me, do you?”

JC gazed up into Justin’s eyes as he licked the engorged flesh in front of him. “Tell me,” he whispered.

“Baby.” Justin cradled JC’s face. “Tell me what I mean to you,” he demanded.

“We’ve so little time,” JC blubbered, “and there’s so much to say. So many ways you touch me, Justin.”

“Josh.” Justin leaned forward and collapsed gently to the floor on top of JC. Not missing a beat, JC slid down underneath Justin’s body and quickly sucked the flesh bouncing between Justin’s legs into his mouth. Justin called JC’s given name again and again, and then he leaned forward and let JC’s erection find his mouth.

“Fuck, Justin!” JC held his breath, enjoying the tight wetness enveloping his cock until he knew he had to stop. “Baby. Don’t make me come yet.” He wrestled Justin over on his back and quickly slid down between Justin’s legs. He growled as he spread Justin’s legs wider. “Justin…mmm…want you.” He devoured Justin’s sex, then lifted the tightly drawn testicles up into his mouth and consumed them. He looked up at Justin’s awestruck eyes for silent permission before lifting Justin’s hips off the carpet and licking gently at Justin’s anus.

“Oh God! Jace…oh, I love…love this. Please!”

“Mmm.” JC licked at the pink bud again and again, and then Justin started pressing himself against JC’s tongue. JC held Justin’s legs in place, and was nearly thrown across the floor when he penetrated with his tongue. Justin cried out and reached down to pull JC’s face closer.

“Don’t stop, JC! I want you like this!”

“You do?” Justin bit his lips nervously.

“I want…you. Inside me, JC.” He reached down to caress his own entrance, hissing when his fingers and JC’s saliva made suggestive, slick sounds. JC nearly came just watching. “Oh. I want you to make love to me right now.”

“I…I…oh. Please. Yes.”

“Yes, baby.” Justin braced himself on the couch in order to stand up, and then he reached down to pull JC into his arms. “I want this with you, JC.”

“I want that more than anything.” They smiled nervously, despite their erections threatening to burst, despite JC’s saliva making Justin glisten everywhere from his lips to his thighs. They kissed hungrily as they rushed back to the bunks.

“We haven’t been in my bunk yet,” Justin whispered as he motioned for JC to jump up into the top bunk. He followed and quickly jumped on top of JC, showering him with kisses. “Jace…mmm…fuck me.”

JC stopped and gazed at Justin. His eyes were so big and deep blue, and he was breathing fast, and his smile was so big. He wanted this as much as JC did, JC was sure. “Justin. Say that again.”

Justin licked his lips and tilted his hips to rub his cock against JC’s. “Fuck me.” They kissed slowly at first, like they were starting all over again. But their lips quickly caught up with the rest of their bodies. Purring and begging for more touch, more mouth, more hands, they rolled over and started dry humping each other as if they were already joined.

“Wait. Baby, we have to get—”

“I know, C.” Justin reached in the corner, underneath his second pillow. It wasn’t until JC saw the condom and lubricant in Justin’s hand that it really hit him; he was going to be inside Justin. He emptied Justin’s hand and kissed it gratefully.

“Justin. Oh, God.”

“C’mon. Jace. Do it. Before you get me going,” Justin whimpered. His eyes were red with frustration and desire, just like JC’s. Red like he could start crying any minute. Just like JC. So JC sniffed back his emotion and tried to think of something sensible to say.

“I should tell you that, uh…I’ve never.” He ripped at the condom packet. “I mean, not this. Not all the way. I mean, with women, yes. Not with…others.” Justin smiled. “You know what I mean, J. Just that, um, you’re the first guy I’ve gone this far with.” JC stared at his hands rolling the condom down on his penis. “Just thought you should know.”

Justin didn’t say anything, he just stared at his hands sliding up and down JC’s body. He didn’t say anything while JC simultaneously licked at his cock and smeared lube around his entrance. When he felt JC’s pinky slip inside him, he gasped, “You’re mine, too. My first, Jace.” They locked eyes. “I’ve never had any man before you,” he murmured.

“Aw, J. I don’t know what to say.”

“Just say that you…you’ll take care of me,” Justin sighed a bit nervously. “Just say that—ooooh!” He tensed all over when JC slid a forefinger into him. “Fuck. Yeah. Oh.” Justin opened his legs further as he fucked himself on one, then two of JC’s slicked up fingers. “Jace. I want you, I want you, I want you…”

“I want you,” JC mewed, his eyes flitting between Justin’s grimacing face and Justin’s tight body swallowing his fingers. He curved those fingers upward a little, which resulted in Justin roaring and gracelessly jerking his own cock.

“JC, oh…now. I’m ready.” Justin caught his breath and lifted JC’s chin so they could lock eyes. “It’s time for us, baby.” Trembling, JC crawled on top of Justin and kissed him. He mouthed, “Ok?” and Justin answered with a small nod.

Justin’s legs seemed heavy when JC tried to lift them. “It’s ok, J. I won’t hurt you.”

“I’m just nervous,” Justin admitted.

“Don’t be. I’ll take care of you.” The words eased Justin somewhat; he relaxed enough for JC to lift his legs up in the air. But Justin tensed up again when he felt the head of JC’s cock at his tight entrance. “It’s ok, it’s ok.”

“I know. I just…” Justin scrambled to touch JC all over and make him understand. “It’s just…it’s you. I want this so much, and it’s you,” he gushed. “It’s you, JC.”

“Sweetheart, it’s me. Don’t worry. I’ll take care of you,” JC whispered, his heart beating quickly as Justin opened up to him. “I’ll take care of you. I need you.” Justin nodded quickly and took a deep breath. JC did the same and quickly pushed the head of his cock into Justin’s body.

Justin gasped, but he didn’t break their eye contact. JC released his held breath and pressed again. He squeezed his eyes shut to block out the sight of Justin panting underneath him, the smell of Justin sweating with him, the feeling of Justin tightening around him. Supporting his weight on his hands was sapping the energy he needed to stave off his orgasm, and he wanted—needed to make this last. But Justin was so hot and tight inside, and the fact that Justin waited for him was making his heart hurt with joy.

“Josh…oh.” Justin leaned up for a hungry kiss. When his head fell back to the pillow, a bulb lit over JC’s head. He grabbed the other pillow and squished it under Justin’s ass. It lifted Justin’s up just enough so that JC could more easily get to him. “Th-thank you. Oh.”

“J, baby, are you ok? Do you want me to stop?”

“Don’t you fucking ever stop…don’t ever stop.” Justin scratched at JC’s chest to get him to move. “Come on. Deeper. I want all of you. I don’t want you to be scared, C. I’m ok…oh…yes…yes…sweet.” JC tried to hold back his own moans, but listening to Justin gasping, wailing, and begging only made him do the same.

“Jus…you’re…you feel so good. I love being with you like this.” Justin brought his legs in and up, so JC could get deeper, closer. They kissed as JC fucked him faster, sliding in a tiny bit further with each thrust of his pelvis. He planted Justin’s legs over his shoulders. Justin jerked his hips up to meet him, and the push-pull allowed JC to slide in all the way.

“Yes, fuck me…fuck me…fuck me.” Glad to obey, JC thrust harder, which only made them both howl louder. “Oh, baby. It’s so good. I love you inside me.” They kissed when JC could reach Justin’s lips, when he wasn’t leaning over him on his hands and plowing Justin’s ass with the force of his legs and hips. From that distance JC could watch Justin’s enraptured face, the sweat forming on his temples, the muscles in his torso flexing, Justin’s mouth open and wet. JC wondered momentarily which was more enraptured, fucking Justin’s ass or fucking Justin’s mouth. He snickered at the absurdity.

“What? Are you…oh…laughing at me?” Justin gasped, eyes wide.

“Baby, no. I’d never laugh at you! I’d never hurt you, I’d never hurt you…I love you!” JC gasped, and Justin gasped, and they both froze. The look on Justin’s face was of total shock. JC was equally shocked that he made such an admission, but there was no way to take it back. The only thing he could do to protect his heart was lie. “Justin. You’re my best friend…I love you.”

Justin nodded and pulled JC down for a kiss. He whispered, “I love you, too,” and turned his head away from JC’s lips.

“What’s wrong? Honey, what’s wrong?” It was too much, JC thought. A final end to a short fling, and now he’d ruined it with a bumbled display of emotion. “Justin…baby.” JC slid a hand down to squeeze Justin’s long-neglected cock.


“Isn’t this good? Don’t you still want me?” JC pleaded as he resumed making love to the man who, he thought, wanted fucking, not lovemaking. “I can make it good for you, Justin. Please let me…let me…let me love you now. Please.”

Justin turned back to gaze up at JC. His eyes were a little wet. “Damn it, Jace. You’re killing me.”

“No.” JC plunged his tongue deep into Justin’s mouth, forcing Justin to kiss him. Soon Justin’s arms were wrapping around JC’s shoulders, and their thrusts sped up, synced up. “I want to make you feel what you do to me, Justin,” JC growled as his fist tightened on Justin’s cock. Justin wailed and danced on his back. JC altered the angle of his hips as he thrust. Justin curled up around him and wailed like he was being tortured. “You like that?” JC managed to utter with a bit of cockiness.

“Fuck, yes! Yes, I fucking like it, JC.” Justin growled as he pumped faster against JC’s pounding hips. “Do you like that?”

“I love it, Justin. You know I do.”

“You love fucking me?”

“I love fucking you, Justin.”

“You love—oh—coming inside me?”

“God, I’m gonna come inside you, Justin. Oh, God, I’m going to…baby.” JC held on with all his might, wanting this to last, wanting to make Justin happy, wanting to take everything he could from this moment, as it was probably the last one they would have. “Wanna come with you. Can we come together, baby?”

Justin peeled his hand from JC’s nipple and added his hand to his cock. They double fisted him until he started to shake. “C…C...oh…let’s…please.”

“Justin. Fuck. I’m so deep in you. I want you more than anything.”

“God. Josh. I’m going to…oh…”

“Look at me, Justin!” Their bodies from mouths to arms to genitals to legs raced together, and their eyes widened with the realization that this was it…the end. “Look at me…look at me…look at me.”

“I’m going to—JC—oh—love me…oh, God!”

“Don’t wanna stop. Shit…Justin!”

“I’m…oh! I love you…JC.” Justin came hard, his body clenching around JC as his cock gushed all over their hands and bellies. JC tried to watch, to get in every detail, every screamed curse, every lip curl, every admission of apparently fraternal love. But Justin kept whispering to him and fucking him and caressing him, even after his climax started to subside. So all it took was a plainly stated, “I’ll always love you for this, sweetheart,” and JC lost his mind. He could feel Justin from where their mouths met in a hungry kiss to where their bodies met between their legs. He felt Justin more at that moment than he’d ever felt anyone, and knowing that he’d never feel him again was going to kill him. So he pushed that thought aside and held Justin tightly, for as long as he’d have the chance.

“Are you ok, Justin?”

“Are you?” It was a valid question. They both had tears in their eyes.

“Here, let me…um.” JC carefully rolled out from between Justin’s legs. He massaged Justin’s thighs as he pulled Justin toward him. “Are you, I mean, ok? Is everything ok?” Justin blushed and wiggled his bottom. JC watched and then pulled the condom off. Only a few seconds of separation, and already he was missing Justin’s warmth.

“I’ll get rid of that,” Justin mumbled, holding his hand out to take the condom away. JC shook his head briskly. He looked around frantically, and found a bunch of tissues in the little compartment in the wall. He wrapped the filled latex in several tissues and placed it at the foot of the bunk, where they’d see it when they left. Then he lay down on his side and pulled Justin against him. Their eyes held love and confusion and satisfaction. And sadness. And regret.

JC wanted to say I love you a billion times until Justin understood, but he assumed it was too late. So he kissed him and murmured, “Let’s rest, Justin. It’s late.”

Justin sniffed and answered, “Yeah. It is.”



It was the wee hours of morning when the buses arrived in Orlando. Before they walked to the door, JC asked Justin to come home with him.

"I'd like to wake up next to you...one last time."

"One last time,” Justin whispered. He nodded, and then turned to look behind them at the bus, the couch, the bunks.

He left the bus rubbing his eyes.

JC and Justin spent the eve of the last concert of the tour sleeping fitfully in each others arms.

The knock on the door that 5 men had been dreading finally came. The members of Nsync rose from their seats in the quiet room and prepared to do their last show of the tour. Anxious hugs went all round, but when JC and Justin hugged, they didn’t seem to want to separate.

“C’mon, guys,” Lance said softly. He, Joey and Chris watched their 2 band mates gently rocking in their embrace. The three exchanged glances, and then smiled.

“Let’s give them a minute alone,” Joey offered, but JC cleared his throat.

“Not necessary. Let’s go,” JC said solemnly as he walked to the door. Before they opened it, Chris put his hand on Justin’s shoulder.

“Dude,” Chris chuckled, “for someone who finally got what he wanted, you sure don’t look too happy.” Justin shrugged and rushed out the door, leaving JC behind feeling more confused than ever.

Being on stage always made JC forget his problems. His biggest problem tonight—other than the Justin thing, and the career limbo thing, and the threat of Justin going solo thing—was that Britney Spears was in the audience. Talking to Justin’s mother. Ever the consummate professional, JC performed like he was on top of the world, when in fact he felt like the world was on top of him.

The end came faster than expected. The end of tour ritual of getting the entire road crew up on stage was especially bittersweet this time. JC was already having trouble controlling his emotions, and then Joey grabbed him in a sweet bear hug. He couldn’t stop the tears from showing after that. Not with the din of applause, not with the hugs and kisses of his colleagues, and not even when he saw Justin trying to hide his own tears.

Backstage was pandemonium with all the laughing and hollering and drinking. JC walked around in a daze, constantly wiping his eyes that refused to dry. Joey, Chris and Lance were bewildered as to why he and Justin looked so miserable. When asked, JC would attribute his sad face only to the fact that he was going to miss everyone. It was true.

JC was watching Justin and Britney having a private conversation in a secluded room when Lynn wrapped an arm around his shoulder.

“How ya doing, honey?”

“You know me,” JC said with a shrug. Lynn saw what JC was looking at and sighed.

“They have a long history together, JC,” she said calmly, in a mollifying tone.

“Huh? Yeah, I know.”

“Sometimes when people break up, there’s unfinished business,” Lynn explained. “And, well, sometimes, when there’s still love between two people, they fight for the relationship,” Lynn said slowly, looking at JC closely. “They’ll work through their problems and get back together…before it’s too late. Do you know what I’m saying, JC?”

JC smiled politely. “Yes, of course. I know you always liked Britney so…well…I hope she’ll treat him right this time,” he said with some difficulty. “He deserves the best.”

Lynn gave him a questioning look. “Yes, my son does deserve the best, and I did like Britney an awful lot before she cheated on my boy, but…JC, I think you misunderstood me.”

“I get it, ok? I know he saw her in Memphis, and she’s here now, so—”
“So?” Lynn grabbed JC’s shoulders and shook him exasperatedly. “Josh, honey, did Justin tell you that he and Britney were getting back together?”

JC didn’t have time to think of the answer. Britney, flanked by one of her bodyguards, tapped him on the shoulder.

“Hey, Brit,” JC said as calmly as he could. “Did you enjoy the show?”

“Uh, yeah.” Britney leaned over to give Lynn a curt hug. “I just wanted to say ‘hey’ before I left.”

Lynn hugged her back and then gave JC a pointed look. “Take care of yourself, Britney. And JC, think about what I said.” They both watched Lynn slip into the crowd.

“Um. Well. This is awkward,” Britney said under her breath. JC agreed with a nod of his head. “Look, I’m gonna get outta your hair. I just wanted to see ya’lls last show and everything.”

“Oh. I see,” JC said, though he absolutely did not.

“You guys were great, as usual,” she chirped nervously. “So…um…are you gonna do a solo album on the break—”

“Look, Britney, I know it’s not my business, but…” JC calmed himself, took a breath, and continued. “I care—we care about Justin, and we’re just…um. Be good to him, ok?” Britney’s eyebrows furrowed.

“Ok, but. JC, what are you talking about?”

“I get the big secretive thing, like, you’re not telling anyone and stuff and I can understand that and, um, because…you should just…I mean…not hurt…like…stop…no.” Britney nearly laughed at JC’s babbling. “I’m just saying that Justin is very sensitive and you should be careful what you do with his heart. That’s all I’m saying.”

“JC, you’re cute and all, but I don’t know what you’re…” JC followed Britney’s line of sight through tons of raucous people to a man standing by himself, rubbing his closely shaved head like he was lost in the world. Justin’s eyes were red, and he looked almost as miserable as JC felt. Britney looked at one, then the other, and then at the gaze they were sharing. “I knew it.”

“What?” JC asked, but his eyes were still on Justin. Britney put her hands on her hips and frowned, but then she took a calming breath, let it out, and waved a hand behind her for her security guard.

“I gotta go, JC.” Britney gave JC a quick kiss on the cheek. “Take care of him. I know you can better than anybody.”

“Wait a minute…what are you…I don’t know what you’re talking about!” JC yelped. Britney smiled as she walked away.

“I knew I was right,” she boasted. “I’m always right. You can thank me anytime!” JC watched her slip out of sight, and then he frenziedly set about finding the one person who could shed light on his darkness.

Justin was leaning against a wall, staring out into space while the people around him talked at him. He nodded his head, but didn’t seem to be listening. When he saw JC at the other side of the room, staring at him and pointing to the quiet room, Justin mouthed, “Ok” and slowly walked away.

“This isn’t really our room to claim, is it?” Justin asked when he walked in and closed the door. “Somebody’ll probably be in here soon to, um, collect the furniture or something.”

“They’ll have to wait.” JC walked over to Justin and hugged him. “They can all wait, Justin.”

“Ok.” They held each other for a long time, until JC’s arm started to ache, and the words of the two women Justin loved the most haunted his brain.

“Can I ask you something, J? I’ll understand if you don’t want to, um, tell me, because, it’s personal and shit.”

“JC, we made love last night. Isn’t that personal?” JC’s heart started beating faster when Justin said those two words. He’d wanted to inquire about Britney in a casual manner, like he didn’t care, like hearing that they were reconciling wasn’t going to kill him. But he couldn’t lie anymore. Justin was there with him, in his arms, and the stage was being struck for the very last time.

“Are you still in love with Britney? You can tell me, I can take it.”

“No, JC,” Justin murmured, “I love you.”

“Because I know you saw her in Memphis, and she was here, and your mom hinted that maybe you two were thinking about getting back together—”

“Impossible,” Justin said calmly. “My mom knows that I’m in love with you.”

“And then I talked to Britney!” JC exclaimed, his hands animated, “And she kept saying shit like ‘I knew it, I knew it,’ and I thought she was saying that—um, what?”

“Do you ever listen to me?” Justin sighed. “Do you ever listen when I tell you something?”

“But…but…but,” JC stammered. “Justin. Did you say that…me? It’s…me?

“Yes, you, stupid.” Justin sniffed and pulled JC’s arms around his waist. “I’ve been waiting for you for so long, Jace. You never wanted me until now.”

“That’s not…oh, God, that’s not true.” There was a catch in JC’s throat. His brain was moving faster than his mouth could articulate. “Justin, if I’d known you cared about me, I would have told you how I felt the minute you were single.” Justin attempted a smile, and JC ducked his head and murmured, “Maybe I would have tried before. I mean, I knew you loved her, and I would have never done anything to come between you.”

“But you did, C.” Justin kissed the confusion away from JC’s face. “When I confronted Britney about Wade, she made all sorts of excuses about why. I wasn’t around enough, I was too competitive with her, all kinds of shit. But then she told me that…the real reason she cheated on me was, well, because she assumed that I was cheating on her. With you.”

JC fought the smugness swelling in his chest, but he couldn’t help smiling. “But, um, we weren’t together then.”

“Exactly, so I denied it, but she didn’t believe me.”

“Why didn’t she believe you?”

“Because…she thought that, even if I wasn’t fooling around with you…” Justin lowered his eyes and hugged JC with trembling arms. “She thought I was in love with you. And I didn’t deny it. That’s why I promised her I’d never reveal her cheating. Because I felt so guilty, because, well, she was right.”

JC could hardly get the words out. “Wait. But. So. You love…in love…with me? For how long?”

Justin shrugged. “How long have we known each other?”

“Justin, sweetheart, long enough that you should have known that I love you more than anything.” Justin bit his lip, but JC made him hand it over in a sweet kiss. “I thought you were on the rebound, baby,” JC whispered in between kisses. “I thought once the tour was over, you were going to move on, Britney or no.”

“Shit, I thought the same thing about you!” They both laughed through the returning tears.

“Oh, baby. I wanted to tell you everything last night, but I was so depressed. I thought it was your way of saying goodbye to me. To us.”

“Mmmm, JC. We’re pretty pathetic, aren’t we?”

“I don’t care,” JC snickered, “As long as I have you, that’s all that matters.”


“Do I? Have you?”

“You’ve had me all along, C. You just have to know that.”

“I’m so in love with you, J. And I’m sorry that Britney hurt you, but…thank God she did. I’ll have to send her a fruit basket, or open up for her on tour or something.”

“My boyfriend is so sweet.” They leaned in shyly, and they wiped tears from their eyes as they kissed, but they were happy tears.

“Do you think the guys know that we’re in love?” It tickled JC to say it, but he was going to have to get used to it eventually.

“I’m pretty sure Chris figured it out,” Justin replied. He kissed behind JC’s ear. “He’s pretty smart.”

“He’s your best friend.”

“You’re my best human being, JC.” Justin kissed his boyfriend deeply, so there’d be no doubt on the subject. Soon JC’s lips and JC’s hands had him gasping. “Um…um…should we tell them? About us?”

“Later,” JC hissed as he tried to get deeper into Justin’s mouth. “It’s our time, now.”

“But…but…we’re all going our separate ways tomorrow,” Justin groaned happily, the hand inside his shirt slowly moving down to his waistband. “Maybe, uh, we can tell them…oh…when we all go out together sometime soon. Or something. What do you, oh…baby, what do you think?”

“I think that I won’t interfere with your social life…and you don’t interfere with my trying to seduce you,” JC hissed. “I mean, do you think I really want to go clubbing and barhopping with you all the time, huh?”

“Oh, baby, somebody could come in…” Justin sighed delightedly, but eased JC’s hand into his pants anyway.

“I know you want to spend some quality time alone with Lance and Chris and Joey before we all scatter to the winds…and so do I and…mmmm. We both have other friends we’re gonna want to see during the break. As long as we make time for each other where it really counts, then—Justin, are you listening to me?”

“No. Now, keep doing that with your fingers…mmmm.”

JC held his lover and sighed happily in his ear. “Were you hard on stage tonight?”

“JC, I’ve been hard ever since last night.”

JC pressed Justin’s hand to his crotch. “So have I.” Justin smiled and squeezed JC just a little bit. He kissed him and led him over to the door. Another soft kiss, and then Justin opened the door and wrapped his arm around JC’s shoulders.

“Let’s get out of here,” Justin whispered in JC’s ear. “I want to start spending quality time with my boyfriend, right now.”

JC smiled broadly as they walked away. Everyone could see them.


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