nsync in black and white

Disclaimer: this is fiction. We made it up.

holding on for precious life

by Mary, written for megan

Justin Timberlake heard the sound of wailing, even from behind his closed bedroom door. He heard someone coo over the child and recognized the voice of Britney, a friend who had offered to help with the child.

Alana, he thought to himself. Cameron named her Alana.

He felt trapped as he thought of the woman he thought he was once going to marry. Though he felt as if he'd done nothing but cry for the past two months, his throat closed up and he tried to will away the onslaught of tears and failed. Standing up, he tried to shake the emotions out of his body, stopping only at his dresser where there was still a picture of Cameron. His vision blurred and he cursed himself for remembering.

Even from his study upstairs, Justin heard the turning of the locks on the front door and heard the distinct sound of Cameron's voice talking to someone, who, he wasn't sure. He stood from his desk and walked out of the room, smiling as he descended the staircase and caught sight of Cameron Diaz, an older woman who he had fallen deeply for nearly three years before.

"Cameron," he said when he reached her, kissing her hello. "You're not supposed to be here for another hour."

"I had to come now," she said softly. Her eyes darted to the doorway that led into a family room. "I can't stay long. Sara had to come with me and," her voice trailed off.

"Oh," Justin couldn't hide his disappointment. "You could have called instead of coming all the way over here."

"I know," she responded. "But I wanted to see you." She leaned up and connected their lips. When she pulled away, she cupped his cheek and gave him a sad smile. "Justin."


"I'm leaving you," she said, her eyes staring into his, as if daring him to argue. She stepped away.

"Excuse me?" Confusion clouded his mind, the words not seeming to penetrate. "You're what?"

"This isn't working out anymore," and Justin suddenly felt years younger than she was, a feeling that had never lingered between them before. "This isn't what I want."

"What isn't what you wanted?" He knew he sounded young and there was probably a hint of a whine in his voice, but he didn't care.

"This relationship, Justin. You're not right for me anymore," she said in a simple tone, almost strained as though she was hurting from her announcement too.

"Not right?" Justin sputtered. "It's been three years and we're not right?" He shook his head. "Why?"

"Because," she hesitated for just a bit, knowing the next words out of her mouth would cut through Justin. "I met someone." Justin blinked. "And I think I could really love him."

"I thought you really loved me," he said to her, a touch of rage in his tone. "Was that all a lie?"

"No," she said, her palm smooth as it ran up his arm. "I did love you, Justin, just, I think this one's different." Justin shook his head, trying to make sense of her words, but before he could speak up again, she continued, "There's something else, Justin."

"What else could you possibly tell me?"

Sara walked out of the family room into the foyer, a bundle in her arms and Justin swallowed when he heard the whimpering of a baby. Cameron reached over and took the baby wrapped in its pink blanket from her friend. "Justin, this is Alana. She's my daughter."

"Your daughter," Justin looked at her face and felt fear grip his body and twist.

"Your daughter, too." She moved forward and held the baby out to Justin and acting on instinct, Justin took the child. "I'm not cut out to be a mother, Justin." She glanced at Sara and nodded. Leaning up, she placed a somber kiss on Justin's chin. "Take care of her, Justin."

"What? No! Cameron, what are you doing?" He wanted to walk to her as she and Sara made their way to the door, but his body felt heavy. "You can't just leave her with me. I can't do this. I don't know a thing about babies!"

She stopped and turned back to him. "You'll get help," she told him. "You have friends that will help." Seeing the distressed look on his face, she walked back towards him and brought her hand to his face once again. "I love you, Justin. Don't forget me." She glanced down at the child, at Alana. "Lie to her when she's older, will you? Tell her that I loved her once."

"Lie to her?" Justin couldn't stop the words.

Cameron hardened her gaze and stepped away. "I love you, Justin, not her. Never her." She gave him one last smile and disappeared from his life.

"Justin?" Britney stood in the doorway of his bedroom. "I have to go. She's sleeping, but she's fussy and," her voice trailed off.

"Okay," Justin stood up, walked to his friend, and gave her a tight hug. "Thank you. For everything."

"You'll be okay?"

Justin nodded his response, but an hour and a half later, as the cries of a broken sleep echoed into the master bedroom, Justin wondered how anything could be considered okay. His feet carried him down the hall to the bedroom his friends had helped set up, his body tensing at the thought of seeing her – his daughter. He had kept his time limited with the baby, his mind remembering Cameron every time he looked upon the small face. Instead, he left his close friends to care for her, especially Britney and Chris Kirkpatrick, whose family had worked for the Timberlakes for as long as Justin could remember.

But his friends weren’t in the house this time and though he didn’t want to see the child, he knew he couldn’t leave her crying in a crib, if only because his ears couldn’t handle it. Taking in a deep breath, he stepped into the nursery, smiling faintly and thanking Chris silently for keeping the décor simple, yet tasteful.

Justin wasn’t sure what he would feel the moment he looked into the crib to see another being made from him, but he certainly wasn’t expecting the tightening in his chest, the sense of awe he was so scared he would never feel. Tentative arms picked the tiny girl up and he couldn’t stop his lips from curling into a sweet smile.

“So you’re Alana,” he managed to whisper to the child. Justin closed his eyes and tried to forget the pain that Cameron had left him and when he opened his eyes again, all he saw was the child with wisps of light brown hair and large blue eyes. Shifting her weight onto one arm, he brought his finger to her face, feeling the baby-soft skin while she snuggled deeper into his chest.

“I think I love you.”


The door of the large estate house opened to reveal a tall, lean man. “Can I help you?”

“Joshua Chasez, JC,” the man at the door introduced himself with a hand out, though he dropped it when the hand wasn’t taken. “The new tutor for,” JC looked down at the sheet of paper in his hand.

“Alana Timberlake,” the man supplied him with the name. “Yes, yes, come in.” He widened the door and took JC’s bag and left it by the door. “Come in, come in, sorry for the whole,” the short man put on a serious face, “’I’m mean’ greeting. It’s been a rough day.” He took JC’s hand and shook it hard. “Christopher Kirkpatrick, assistant extraordinaire.”

JC reeled back a tiny bit, “Oh I’m sorry. I thought you were the owner of the house.”

“Me?” Chris laughed uproariously. “No, no, I’m the farthest thing from Mr. Timberlake, I must admit. I just run his life for him. Do you want coffee or tea or vodka?”

“Excuse me?”

“Just a joke, just a joke.” He motioned for JC to follow him towards the kitchen. “Just a tea, though by the looks of you, you need a ten-course meal. I hope you know what you’re getting into by taking on this tutoring job.”

“Miss Timberlake is only seven, is she not?”

“Miss Timberlake?”

JC smiled, “I’ve found it gets the children more comfortable.” He took the cup of tea from a maid thankfully. “What do you mean, asking if I know what I’m getting into?”

“You don’t know anything about him?” JC shook his head. “Oh. Mr. Timberlake is a bit... I mean, he takes time to get used to. My family has been friends of some sort with the Timberlakes for a long time and Justin – that’s his name in case that wasn’t on the papers you have – has always been an open, loving man.”

“That’s good, isn’t it?”

“He changed about seven years ago.” Chris nodded at JC’s wide-eyed look. “Alana arrived, but her mother was nowhere to be found. Justin won’t talk about her. Everyone says she died while giving birth, but Justin won’t confirm or deny it.” He stopped talking suddenly, his eyes on the door, and when JC turned to the door he saw a beautiful little girl, with large blue eyes and a head or soft brown curls. “Alana, darling, come here and say hello to your new tutor.”

“Ciao,” the child said easily with a smile. She then let out a stream of fluent Italian.

“Italian?” JC questioned.

“The Timberlake business has an office in Italy, so Justin thought it best to school her in both English and Italian.” He turned to the child, “English, Alana.”

“I’m sorry,” she said. “It is a bad habit. I’ve been in Italy for the past month.”

“Well, it’s lovely to meet you, Miss Timberlake. My name is Joshua Chasez.”

“That’s French,” Alana said smartly. “Will French be one of my studies this time?”

“Perhaps,” JC smiled.

She shot JC a dazzling smile. “Then I cannot wait. I love languages.”

“Alana, why don’t you go find your father?” Chris said. “I’m going to show Mr. Chasez to the room he will be staying in.”

“Era piacevole per incontrarla. Arrivederci.” She giggled. “I’m sorry. It was very nice to meet you. Good-bye.” She left, a small skip in her step as she made her way to the staircase near the front of the house.

“She’s very smart for her age.”

“Well, with Justin as her father, that’s not a surprise.” Chris smiled and once again, motioned for JC to follow him. “I’ll show you to your room.”

Hours later, after a light dinner, Chris entered the dining room, where JC was sipping a glass of wine. He watched as the servants cleared the empty plates from JC’s setting. “Was dinner enjoyable?” Chris asked.

“Very, thank you,” JC replied with a smile.

“Mr. Timberlake is asking to see you in his office.” Without another word, he turned, and JC had no choice but to get up and follow, leaving the glass on the table. “It shouldn’t take long.” Once they were on the second floor, Chris stopped in front of a door and knocked, waiting for a voice to call in. “Go in, then. Good night.”

Apprehensively, JC pushed open the door when the voice called out to enter the room. His eyes immediately found the tall frame of Justin Timberlake, sweeping over the expensive suit that fit snugly against his frame. JC couldn’t help the shiver that ran through him when Justin turned around, feeling blue eyes zeroing in on him.

“Mr. Chasez, I’ve heard many great things about you.” The tone was commanding, regal, but the slight smile that was said with the statement softened it just a bit. “I hope everything I’ve heard is true.”

“That would depend on what you’ve heard, Mr. Timberlake,” the words were out of JC’s mouth before he could stop them.

With amusement on his face, Justin spoke, “Well, that made me interested. I was going to just welcome you to the house, but you have me intrigued, Mr. Chasez. Please, sit.” He motioned to the brown leather couch running along one side of his office. “Drink?”

“No, I’m fine. Studies begin tomorrow for Alana, don’t they?” Justin nodded, pouring whiskey in a glass, and taking it over to a large armchair near the couch. He settled in, unbuttoning the top few buttons of his shirt, and JC had a sudden glimpse of skin that made him roll his shoulders. Trying to shake off the uneasy feeling, “She seems incredibly smart.”

“Oh, she is, I assure you. You shouldn’t have a problem with her; she loves to learn though she may ask you if you speak a new language for her to learn.” He took a drink from his glass and raised an eyebrow. “So, what is it that I may have heard about you that brought forth that comment?”

Another knock sounded on the door and JC breathed a sigh of relief. Chris’ head came into view, “I apologize, Mr. Timberlake, but Ms. Aguilera is on the phone. She says it’s urgent.”

Justin nodded and the door shut. He sent an apologetic look to the new tutor. “I’m sorry, myself, but I should take this call.” His eyes roamed JC quickly. “But we’ll have this conversation one day soon.” Walking to his desk, Justin picked up the phone. “Have a good first night, Mr. Chasez.”

“JC.” Once more, JC wanted to smack himself for the random things spewing out of his mouth. “Mr. Chasez makes me feel older than I feel I look,” he tried to explain, heat rising to his cheeks.

“Trust me, you do not have to worry about your looks.” He smiled once more before pressing a button on his phone, dismissing JC quietly. “Christina, how are you?”


Justin smiled from the doorway leading into the dining room. After three weeks, he still loved coming home to see Alana and JC working at the dining room table up until a few minutes before the servants came in to shoo them away so they could set the table.

His eyes rested on Alana, her eager face, and he breathed out loudly. Her head shot up and she squealed out an energetic “Papa!” before jumping from the table to kiss him hello. Justin kneeled down to her level, pulling her into a hug. “I started to learn French today,” was her excitement of the day.

“And how is it?”

“Okay. I still like Italian better.” She glanced over at her tutor and turned back to Justin, speaking to him rapidly in Italian. JC saw the look and wished he knew the language to understand her, especially when Justin replied back just as easily, the Italian rolling off his tongue.

When they finished, JC stood up, “Do I need to be worried?”

“No,” Alana said sweetly. “I would never say anything bad about you; I’m a lady,” she stated matter-of-factly, as if that was all the explanation she would ever need to give. She looked up at her father now that he had stood up, “May I go watch television for a while before dinner?”

“Alana, you know what the answer to that is.”

“Please? Just tonight?” She stared up at him and Justin felt his resolve breaking when he saw the look on his child’s face. “I promise to turn it off the moment you call me for dinner.”

“Just this once, then.” Justin leaned down to kiss the top of her head and she ran from sight. “I really need to learn to say no to her.”

“You love her,” was JC’s only response. Justin raised an eyebrow at him. “People do things they don’t expect for the ones they love.” He smiled as he gathered the books from the table and handed Justin a piece of paper with big, loopy writing that was unmistakably Alana’s. “I hope you know that she loves you just as much.”

Justin looked down and read the first sentence out loud, “I know my papa is important in the world, but all that matters is that he’s important to me.”


“Hey baby girl,” Justin said to Alana as he sat on her bed one night, a few days after he had read the essay she wrote for JC. “Sorry I wasn’t at the dinner table tonight.” She just nodded her head at him. “I couldn’t get away from work.”

“It’s okay.”

“Did you have a good dinner anyway?”

Alana smiled. “It was just me and Mr. Chasez tonight, Papa.”

“Oh, was it?” Justin asked her, briefly wondering where Chris was; he usually ate with Alana when Justin couldn’t get home in time. “And how was that?”

“Fun. I like him, Papa. I’m glad he’s staying for a while.” She blinked innocent eyes at him and Justin felt warm as he agreed silently with her words. “You like him, don’t you Papa?”

“As much as you,” was all he said. He kissed her forehead and ran a finger down her cheek. “Dream sweet, baby girl.”

“Love you.”

“I love you, too,” Justin said softly. He stood up and turned the lamp off, shutting the door behind him. He stopped when he reached the hall, looking one way to his own bedroom before looking to the other end of the hall where JC’s room was near. He turned one way, stopping in front of JC’s door, sighing before knocking.

The door opened slowly. “Mr. Timberlake? Is something wrong?”

“No, no,” Just assured JC. “I just wanted to thank you for being with Alana tonight when I couldn’t be here.”

“Of course.”

Justin paused. “Would you like to have a drink in my office? We never did get around to talking about what I may have heard about you.” JC blinked in confusion before his first night at the estate flashed through his mind,

“Oh. I have to,”

“Teach Alana tomorrow, I know,” Justin said. “Just the talk then?” He turned and walked towards one of the other rooms and JC felt compelled to follow him.


“Alana, concentrate,” JC said for what felt like the hundredth time that day. She was supposed to be writing out her French sentences, but she kept glancing at the watch on JC’s wrist and looking out the window. At his command, Alana turned back to her piece of paper and wrote a few more lines before she began fidgeting. “Alana.”

“I can’t help it, Monsieur Chasez!” JC pulled his lips into his mouth to stop the smile from showing; she knew that calling him Monsieur was almost a guaranteed way out of trouble. “Papa is coming home today!” JC felt his stomach clench at her words. “He’s been away for three weeks!” She looked down at her writing forlornly and JC couldn’t help but laugh inwardly at her actions.

“Then you better finish up your work so you can wait for him to come home.”

“Oh!” she groaned, but tried to concentrate on her studies so that she could spend time with her father when he arrived. Hours later, she was still hard at work, this time, her mind focusing on the numbers in front of her.

“Hard at work?” Alana jumped in surprise at the voice and her head whipped around to see her father standing in the doorway to the living room, a smile on his face.

“Papa!” she jumped up and ran to him, launching herself up into his arms and wrapping her arms around his neck tightly. “You’re home! L'ho mancata! Odio quando lei me parte. Non va via ancora. Non-ancora.” Her words were quick and partially lost as she buried her face in Justin’s shoulder.

“I missed you too, baby girl.” From the corner of his eye, he saw JC stand from the dining room table. “JC,” he said simply, his eyes never leaving the man’s movements.

“Mr. Timberlake,” he replied softly and his eyes glimmered as he looked at Justin. “I’ll give you two some privacy.” As he walked out of the room, he paused by Justin and looked at his eyes, trying to read something – anything – but ended up turning away again to walk up to his room.

After the evening had closed down and Alana was tucked safely into bed with one of the new gifts Justin had brought for her, Justin walked to JC’s door again, knocking once and blinking rapidly when JC opened the door. “Mr. Timberlake,” he said again in the same soft tone as he had when Justin first entered the house.


Justin entered the room with no invitation and the door shut behind him, the faint sound of a lock clicking into place resounding in the room.

“Welcome back,” JC said, turning from Justin, the tension in the room building with each passing second. “How was the trip?”

“Business,” Justin said and JC shivered when he realized that Justin had stepped forward, bringing the two of them close. “JC,” he said again, almost urgently this time, and his hands moved to JC’s shoulders to turn the man towards him. “I know things were left unsaid before I left.”

“Yes, well, that happens.”

“I hope this clears things up.”

JC reeled back in shock when Justin’s mouth covered his, but Justin’s hands moved to the back of his head, holding him in place. There was a soft nudge of Justin’s tongue and JC opened his mouth beneath Justin’s, his heart racing as his mind tried to keep up.


“Mr. Timberlake?” JC stood in the doorway of the man’s office and waited for a sign to tell him it was okay to enter. He received it when Justin smiled at him.

“How many times have I told you to stop calling me that?”

JC shook his head with a smile as he walked to the desk, where Justin sat behind it. “It’s a habit; I’ve told you that.” Justin opened his mouth, and then closed it as if thinking of what to say. Noticing the hesitancy, JC reached over the large desk and spread his fingers over Justin’s, the undercurrent of electricity of the past few weeks coursing through their arms. “You look...”

Justin sighed when JC trailed off and turned his hand so that their palms were touching. “This,” he began, motioning to their joined hands, “this is still new.” JC nodded in agreement, his eyes watching Justin’s face, noticing the tiniest movements. “I’m scared,” Justin admitted.

”Of what?”

Taking his hand away, Justin stood from his chair and turned his back to JC, leaning against one of his bookshelves. JC could see his shoulders moving up and down steadily as the younger man took in deep gulps of air. “JC,” he said softly. “You say you care about me.”

“I do.” Justin turned at the words and saw only sincerity in JC’s eyes. “Justin, I do care about you.”

“You don’t know anything about me,” Justin pointed out. “You’ve been here less than a year and you haven’t heard the things said about me. You don’t know anything about me,” he repeated.

“That has nothing to do with how I feel for you.” In a few strides, JC was by his side and he placed a palm flat against his back, fingers pressing down lightly in a calming move. “What is this about?”

“You may hear things, JC. When you do, when you hear about the man I used to be, when you hear about the life I used to lead, you have to come to me.” He lost any reserve he originally had and let his forehead fall onto JC’s shoulder. “I don’t want you to run.”

“Your life is yours alone. I won’t leave.”


“Mr. Chasez,” Alana called to him one weekend. She ran into the sunroom, where JC was reading a novel. He set it down and waited for her to speak. “Papa said to tell you to please wear something extra presentable tonight. Ms. Aguilera and Mr. Bass will be here for dinner.”

JC shook his head, still amazed by the distinct way Alana spoke at her age. “And just who is Ms. Aguilera and Mr. Bass?”

“Ms. Aguilera is Papa’s best friend from when he was younger. He always tells me stories about the two of them and Ms. Spears from when they were kids.” She nodded, as if to make certain of what she was saying. “Mr. Bass is her brother, but they don’t have the same,” she paused, “dad? I think that’s what Papa told me once.” She nodded again. “They’re extra special guests, Papa says, so please be on time for dinner.”

“Thank you, Alana.”

At dinner that night, JC, Chris, and Alana were seated at the dinner table, waiting for Justin to arrive with the guests. Chris looked less than happy about having dinner with Justin’s friends, but wouldn’t dare say anything.

Justin breezed in a few minutes later, his face flushed from wine. “Apologies. We were held up in town.” A petite blonde followed him in, a man in a suit by her side. “JC, this is Christina Aguilera, a dear, dear friend, and her brother Lance Bass. Christina, Lance, Joshua Chasez, Alana’s tutor,” he introduced and a part of JC cringed inwardly at his introduction. “Let’s eat, shall we?”

Dessert was in the sitting room for the adults and while Justin brought Alana to her room, Christina sat by JC, speaking to him about anything that came to mind. She was nice enough, though something about her made JC feel uneasy, especially when she talked about her friendship with Justin.


There was no one outside of Justin’s room, at least, in his own mind. All that mattered was the locked door and JC standing in front of him.

“Justin.” JC’s moan reverberated in Justin’s ears and he pushed JC against a wall, his hands sliding under JC’s shirt to feel the warmth of skin beneath his palm. A shiver flowed through JC’s body at the feel of blunt nails raking across his lower back.

Justin couldn’t say anything, his mind not quite up to speed as the rest of his body. His mouth traced the curve of JC’s jaw, down towards the collarbone, moving away only to pull JC’s shirt up and Justin felt the heat radiating off of JC.

Needing a taste of Justin, JC slid his tongue over Justin’s bare shoulder, tracing an invisible pattern that seemed to travel to Justin’s chest and back up to his mouth.

“Come on,” Justin finally managed to whisper and pulled away to lead JC further into the room than next to the bedroom door. All JC could hear was the sound of his heart beating and as he followed Justin, he drifted a hand over Justin’s back, his fingertips barely grazing over the skin and Justin’s back stiffened at the simple touch. He relaxed slightly when JC pulled his hand away but the same reaction happened when JC repeated the action, his fingers sliding lower, dipping slightly past the waistband of Justin’s hands.

Instead of just tensing up, Justin turned back around and gripped JC’s wrists, tight enough to hold him still, loose enough to not hurt him. His eyes danced with blue flames that stared deep into JC while his fingers deftly undid JC’s pants until he could ease them off JC’s thin frame. At the sight of JC’s body, naked in front of him, Justin leaned forward and caught JC’s mouth in another kiss, their lips parting to pass breath between them.

JC moaned out a sigh of relief when Justin’s fingers followed the line of his hipbones until they wrapped around him and JC felt his body follow the strokes on its own accord. His own hands pushed into Justin’s skin at the waist, wanting nothing more than Justin at that very moment.

Turning his back on Justin, JC’s body spoke volumes as he leaned down more to place his palms on the dresser they had managed to lean against. His body tensed but Justin soothed him down until JC heard the sounds that had once been so familiar to him, but not in years – a zipper being lowered, a foil packet ripping. He breathed in sharply at the first push against his body but let it out slowly when he felt Justin’s lips smooth away the tension at the back of his neck.

He brought a hand up and behind him, his hand finding the back of Justin’s neck as their bodies arched together, the sweet and torturous feeling causing both of them to gasp out into the heavy air of the room.

“This,” Justin managed to say in a breathless whisper. “JC. This is love.”

Remembering everything he had told Justin that night before he left for a business trip, JC shut his eyes tightly, letting the burn of tears gather behind his eyelids. When he finally opened his eyes again, they were clear and muttered out a “yes” to Justin before his entire body thrummed with the familiar feeling of being taken over.


“Timberlake.” Justin was in the main office in town and was glad to welcome an interruption.

“Mr. Bass is here to see you,” his assistant said over the phone.

“Let him in.” A few moments later, Lance walked into the room. “Lance,” Justin greeted, waving his hand blindly to the seats in front of him. “I was surprised to see an appointment with you. What can I do?”

“We’ve never been anything but blunt with each other, so I’ll make my stay brief.” Justin was surprised but quickly hid it. “I’m here to talk about Christina.”

“Is she okay?” Justin said, feeling protective over his friend.

“That remains to be seen.”



JC looked up, unable to hide his surprise. “Ms. Aguilera.”

She smiled sweetly at him as she stepped onto the back porch, her eyes taking in the beauty of Justin’s estate lands. “Please, call me Christina.” She sat next to him and turned to him. “If you are as important to Alana and Justin as he says, we should be on a first name basis.”

“Christina, then.”

Minutes of silence passed until Christina took in a deep breath. “You don’t like me very much.”

Sitting up quickly, JC shook his disagreement, “Of course I do.”

“Excuse me,” she acquiesced. “Perhaps it is that you don’t completely know me and therefore don’t trust me.”

“With all due respect,” JC countered, “I may not know you, but I have the utmost faith in Justin’s ability to choose fine people as close friends.”

Her face softened as she beamed at him lightly. “I can see why Justin has found such a good friend in you.” She didn’t notice JC’s tightening at the word friend. “I hope we can become close, JC. After all, we share a very important person in our lives.”


JC revelled in the feel of Justin’s body behind his, the soft snores of the younger man hitting the back of JC’s neck. From where he was in Justin’s bed, JC stared out the window, pretending he could see the midnight-colored sky through the heavy curtains blocking them from the world.

Justin shifted behind him. “Go to sleep,” he said with a gruff, sleep-laden voice. His arm tightened around JC’s waist.


JC walked into the Timberlake Estate, feeling a shift in the air that made him uncomfortable. He heard the sound of laughter from the sunroom and made his way cautiously toward the voices. The moment he entered, Alana had somehow made it into his arms.

“Mr. Chasez! Have you heard? I’m so very excited!”

“You are?” JC grinned at her excitement, wondering what was going on. “And why is that?”

“I am getting a mother!”

The grin on his face faltered for a moment and his eyes searched the room quickly. Justin was across the room, surrounding by men in designer suits and seemed oblivious to JC’s entrance.

“JC!” Christina’s voice was high, pitched with happiness, and across the room, Justin lifted his eyes to the scene by the doorway. “Oh, JC, isn’t it wonderful?” She held out her left hand, her eyes dancing, not seeing the tenseness in JC’s body. “He gave it to me this afternoon and had this party set up already. Oh, say something!”

The ring was large against her small hand, but it showed Justin’s taste for design and money and simplicity. It gleamed in the twinkling lights of the sunroom. JC swallowed, “It’s beautiful.”

Without a thought, Christina threw her arms around JC’s neck, barely allowing Alana to drop back down on the floor. “In case Justin has a momentary lapse of judgment, I want you to know that you have to be one of the groomsmen. Justin goes on and on about you so much that I feel I already now you.” She kissed his cheek, laughing when she saw the outline of her lipstick on resting by his lips. “I have to go and speak to more people, but I’m glad you’re here.”

JC felt Justin’s eyes burning into his back as he left the room with a heavy heart.


Justin wondered how JC had felt when he saw the ring on Christina’s finger. Hurt. Angry. Upset. He had watched JC leave the sunroom, leave his – engagement – party, but couldn’t follow him.

The guests had left. Christina and Lance had been given rooms. Alana was asleep. JC was in his own room.

Justin was in his.

Sleeping with JC by his side had been a comfort and now, without him, Justin wondered how he would survive with Christina in his bed instead.

Fingers found the edge of the curtains that hung heavy over window and Justin pulled the fabric back, his eyes closing slightly when the light of a full moon flooded into his face.

As he looked into the sprawling land he owned, Justin felt his stomach rolling in fear and anger and uneasiness. He wondered what JC was feeling.


“Tell me the truth.” Justin’s head shot up from staring blankly at the computer screen in his home office. JC was standing in the open doorway, his face tired, his eyes glazed. “Why are you marrying her when you love me? Or don’t you, anymore?”

“I,” he paused and looked down. JC stepped inside and shut the door behind him, locking it like he had so many times before, but never for this particular reason. “I do love you.”

“Then why?”

“Alana needs a mother,” was the automatic answer. Shaking his head with a look of disgust at the practiced reply, JC’s hand touched the doorknob and Justin stood up from his chair and went to JC in long strides. “Don’t,” he whispered, covering JC’s hand with his own. The touch reached into JC’s very core and he let out a shaky breath at the closeness of Justin.

“You’re engaged, Justin.”

“That doesn’t mean that you,” Justin struggled for the right words to say.

Taking his hand away from Justin’s and the doorknob, JC turned to face Justin, his eyes showing no expression despite the fact that they were leaning into each other’s space. “It doesn’t mean what, exactly?” there was a challenge in his voice that Justin had never heard before.

Unable to come up with an answer, Justin took JC’s face in his hands and brought JC to him, molding their lips together, desperation in the kiss, but JC pulled away roughly, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. Justin brought a hand up to his own lips, not tasting JC anymore, not feeling his energy coursing through his body.

“I’m leaving.” Justin stared at him. “Tomorrow night.”

“But you can’t,” Justin said quickly. JC raised an eyebrow. “Alana?” but it sounded weak even to his own ears.

“She’ll be fine without me as a tutor.”

“She’ll miss you,” Justin said quietly. “I’ll miss you.”

“And I’ll miss her. But she has a mother now.” JC looked away blankly and turned again, unlocking the door and pulling it open.

“And what about me?”

JC turned to look at him over his shoulder and smiled sadly. “You’ll be okay, Justin.” He sighed and walked back to Justin when he saw the look on his face. Leaning forward, JC kissed the corner of Justin’s mouth. “I love you, Justin.”

Justin repeated the words to JC, despite the open door.

“Don’t forget me.”

"You'll get help," she told him. "You have friends that will help." Seeing the distressed look on his face, she walked back towards him and brought her hand to his face once again. "I love you, Justin. Don't forget me."

Justin felt his heart break again.


Christina watched from the bedroom Justin had given her as JC slipped into a waiting car in the fading light of day. Her mind blazed in anger at the conversation she had overheard earlier in the day and she cursed JC as the car drove him away from the Timberlake Estate.

“Mr. Chasez.” Christina stopped suddenly in the hall when she overheard her brother’s voice call out to the man she had been weary of since first setting foot in Justin’s house. “A word?”

“Mr. Bass,” JC’s voice was calm, as he stopped in his tracks from the dining room. “How can I help you?”

Lance was breathing heavily and when Christina managed to peek into the room, she saw his fists clench in anger. “I want you to remember why you were brought here in the first place,” he said in a cold, hard tone. Christina’s eyebrows drew in, her lips pursing as she heard JC’s voice,

“And what do you believe was that reason?”

“You,” Lance said in a deliberate fashion, “are a tutor.”

“As opposed to?”

“As opposed to being Justin’s lover,” Lance hissed out. Feeling shock suddenly hit her, Christina pressed herself back against the wall, as though the two men would know she was listening.

JC’s face hardened at the words, “You know nothing about me. How dare you insinuate such a thing.”

“Oh, but I do more than insinuate, Mr. Chasez. In fact, I’ve seen the two of you, so it’s time for you to listen.” Lance pressed a palm harshly against JC’s shoulder and walked him backwards until the older man was pressed against a wall. “You will leave the Timberlake Estate and leave Justin’s life. My sister will marry Justin and we will not have to deal with you ever again.”

Shivering at the coldness in the voice, JC swallowed. “And if I don’t?”

“Justin’s secret will be no more. I think the town would be interested in the affairs of the great Timberlake’s misfortune of love.” JC’s eyebrows drew together and at the look of confusion, Lance barked out a laugh. “What? He beds you and whispers his love when he thinks no one is listening and he hasn’t told you about the woman who was his life, the woman he once loved?”

“Cameron,” JC said automatically. “I know about her.” He breathed a sigh of relief, a sentence too soon.

“Let me guess – he told you she died in childbirth?” JC nodded and felt uncertainty run through his body. “But she didn’t,” Lance grinned at him. “Oh no. She left him for another man on the same day she told him about little Alana and left her in his care. In fact, I know where she resides now and I think it would be a shame for her to learn that her old lover was interested in men.”

“Why would she even care?”

“Because she carries a name more profitable than Mr. Timberlake and she will make sure nothing taints that.” Lance finally backed away. “Simply put, she’ll have you killed. Maybe take away Alana and how that would kill Mr. Timberlake. Don’t you agree?” Satisfied with the look of anguish now on JC’s face, Lance turned away from JC. “So we have an agreement?” and left without hearing the answer.

The car was no longer in sight and the sun had given way to the midnight-colored sky. Turning her gaze back into the room, she realized she had been daydreaming for at least two hours. The memory of what she had heard earlier in the week had sent her into a rage once again.

A knock sounded on the door and she turned towards it in time to see Justin appear. “Christina.” He walked in and pressed a light kiss on her cheek. “I just wanted to say good night.”

“Sleeping? This early?” she asked blandly.

“It’s been a rough day,” Justin answered quietly and she knew he was thinking of JC and his departure. “I need to turn in early.”

“Of course.” When the door closed behind him, her eyes narrowed in anger and sadness. She sat on the bed, blinking until she managed to fall asleep. Four hours later, Christina gasped herself awake. The dream had made her body feel tight and without thinking, she felt she knew what she had to do.

The hallway was empty when she stepped into it and she grabbed the small silver case from her dresser before walking towards Justin’s room at the other end of the hall. She passed Alana’s room and glanced in the open door, seeing the child sleeping soundly, and wished she wouldn’t be harmed.

Justin’s door didn’t make a sound when she pushed it open and her feet were silent on the plush carpet. She walked past his bed, her eyes catching a picture of JC lying next to him and Christina clenched her jaw, her teeth nearly grinding together in madness.

The tiles of the bathroom were cold beneath her, but she ignored the sensation. Finding one of the nearly burnt out candles that Justin used, Christina opened the silver match case and lit the candle, setting it on a windowsill. She lit more candles, scattering them around the bathroom, making sure to drop tissues or towels near them. The matches in her hand burned still, but she dropped them into the garbage easily before leaving the room, shutting the door tightly behind her. On her way out, Justin stirred but continued sleeping and she shook her head at him.

The room that had been JC’s was obviously empty but Christina saw pieces of paper littered across the desk and found sketches of Justin, nearly naked with JC’s name scrawled in tiny letters at the bottom of the pages. Her fingers crumpled them into tiny balls that she threw effortlessly into a small trashcan. A flick of her wrist was all it took for the match to be lit and she dropped it in with the papers, the small flame easily gripping onto the paper. Christina’s eyes watched the flames grow slowly, but steadily until the fire seemed to dance in her own eyes. With a satisfied nod, she shut the door behind her on her way out, hoping the memory of JC burned with the room.


“Joey?” A tall, slightly stocky man looked up from his desk in a children’s orphanage, wondering who had made it into the office without his consent, but all thoughts faded as he looked upon an old friend.

“JC?” Joey stood up and embraced him. “What are you doing here? I haven’t seen you since,”

“Since I was taken away,” JC finished with a sad smile. Pulling away a bit, he searched Joey’s face. “I’m sorry I haven’t kept in touch.”

“I didn’t either,” Joey apologized in return. “You look a lot better than the last time I saw you.” His voice was quiet as he leaned against the front of his desk.

“The last time you saw me, I was a 12-year-old kid, all skin and bones. We all were in here.” He looked around the office. “I’m glad it’s changed.”

“So am I, but JC, you’re still all skin and bones!” There was a moment of quiet laughter and then silence reigned over them. Clearing his throat, Joey finally asked, “So what brings you back here? The last I heard, you were doing well with teaching.”

“I was, but things change. I came because I need help.”

“I’ll try. What do you need?”

With a sad smile, “Just a place to stay for a while until I get back on track again, until I can find another teaching job, or any job for that matter. IS it okay if I stay here? It’s the only place I’ve ever called home.”

Joey’s hand gripped JC’s shoulder comfortingly. “I don’t have an empty room at the moment, but if you don’t care about sharing, you can stay as long as you need to.” JC nodded his consent. “Alexander Stevens is in town for a bit, a missionary of sorts. He’s not here very much and should be leaving within a few weeks, but his room has an extra bed.”

“Thank you.”


Standing at the window of his room at Alexander Stevens’ small cottage house at the edge of the Spanish border, JC watched the droplets of rain fell steadily against the window, leaving tracks that he blankly stared at. After nearly six months away from Justin and Alana, there was still a constant pull at his heart whenever he thought of the two of them. Despite the ups and downs he faced throughout life, for the first time, he felt as though he had failed – failed in those he loved and failed himself.

“Joshua?” a voice called and JC turned to see Alexander standing in the doorway. Despite telling the older man to call him by his initials, Alexander refused, saying the name Joshua was too Biblical and precious to be shortened.

“Alexander, hello. I didn’t realize you were back.” As if on autopilot, JC walked to him and took the wet jacket from Alexander’s tall frame.

“Joshua,” he said again. “There’s something I’d like to talk to you about.”

“What’s that?” Alexander motioned for the two of them to sit at the small table set up in JC’s room. As JC sat, he tilted his head to look closely at the man he had met months ago at the orphanage. Alexander Stevens was a man on a mission for God, or so he had told JC upon first meeting him. Growing up with a strict religious background, JC had found him beautiful, both in appearance and intellect.

“Joshua, these past six months of knowing you, four months of having you by my side, have been a blessing to me.” JC couldn’t help but smile at the words, though a knot started to form in the pit of his stomach. “I truly believe that God wanted us to meet,” Alexander said and he leaned across the table to take JC’s hand lightly. “I love you, Joshua Chasez, and I know that it’s hard for us to be apart while I go on my missions.” JC merely nodded as the knot tightened. “So, be with me, Joshua, be with me always. Together, we will turn the masses to the work of God.”

JC knew what Alexander was asking and he didn’t know what to say. He let a small but tense smile cover his lips, but closed his eyes, praying for some sort of sign to help him decide. Only seconds later, he heard the distinct sound of a running horse on the paths outside the cottage – horses were the only way to get from the cottage deep in the woods to the main part of town. The knot released its tight grip in his stomach, but it suddenly felt as though an iron fist had closed around his heart. Without a word, JC walked out of the room, out of the cottage, and into the pouring rain, noting blindly that Alexander was following him.

The horse halted in front of the house and the rider, face covered with a hood to keep the rain from doing too much damage, dropped to the ground and walked up the few steps to the porch. With the awning above him, the rider took off the hood, and JC took a step away from him instinctively. “Mr. Bass.”

“JC Chasez,” the deep voice was scratched and hoarse. “I can’t stay, but I needed to give this to you.” He held out a newspaper covered in plastic. “It was an accident, she just, she overheard and couldn’t handle it and, I’m so sorry.”

“What are you talking about?” With shaking fingers, JC took the newspaper from its plastic bag and unfolded it and almost dropped it when he saw the estate he had loved so much up in flames. “Oh my God.”

“Christina didn’t survive. But he did. So did Alana. Go to them,” Lance choked out, before pressing a piece of paper with the name of a hospital and its address into JC’s hand.


JC stared at the hospital building, tall and commanding in his presence. With his hands gripping the weeks-old newspaper, he walked slowly up the wet pavement and saw Chris’s familiar face. JC stopped in front of him, not knowing what to say.

"JC." As if to answer, JC held out the newspaper clippings, the picture of the flames causing Chris to wince at the memories. His eyes bore into JC's, trying to read the man's thoughts.

"Please," JC said. "Let me see him." Without another word, Chris turned, gesturing for JC to follow. Their shoes squeaked on the floors of the eerily quiet halls. When they stopped in front of a door no different from any of the others, Chris placed a hand on JC's arm.

"You should know," he began, but faltered for a bit. JC waited for him to continue. "He can't... He won't... He's blind."

"What?" JC said softly.

"The doctors don't know much about it yet. They think he'll get his sight back, but he's... He's still trying to deal with it." Not knowing if anything else should be said, Chris opened the door to Justin's room. As JC walked into the room, he breathed in sharply when he saw Justin for the first time in months. His back was turned towards the door so that his face was turned to the window, not seeing the dark clouds coming into view.

"Chris?" Justin's voice called out lowly. JC stayed quiet, unsure of what to do. The silence caused Justin to turn his body slightly and JC felt a tugging in his stomach at the sight of Justin's face as memories flooded his mind. "Chris?"

"No," JC finally answered, so low Justin almost didn't hear him. Seeing Justin's body tense, JC raised his voice, "No, not Chris." Justin didn't want to believe what he was hearing. He stood up, his hand reaching for the bed to steady himself and tried his best to face where he thought JC was. He couldn't speak, still not sure if his ears were playing tricks on him. Fingers traced over the side of his face and Justin almost fell back in surprise. "Justin," JC managed to whisper to him.

"JC." Justin felt familiar fingers run over his lips, up the bridge of his nose, and finally, over his eyelids and he turned his face away, stopping only when both of JC's hands held his face. "Don't."

"Don't what?"

Their voices were still hushed. "I don't want you to see me like this."

"Like what?" JC's hands smoothed over Justin's neck onto his shoulders. "Like what, Justin? You still look the same as always."

"And how's that?"

"Beautiful," JC said and for the first time since the accident, Justin smiled.


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