nsync in black and white

Disclaimer: this is fiction. We made it up.

a time worth waiting for

by sariah, written for mary

Justin was off. He couldn't find his key, even with the monitors in. Everyone knew something was wrong, but no one really could grasp the severity of the situation and how it plagued him. He wasn't the same and everyone could see it.

"Okay, stop. This is shit," Lance cried with heavy waves of his arms. "Just fucking stop already."

The music cut out and everyone looked at him in interest.

"Let's get real here," Lance pulled his monitors out while he headed off stage. "Justin, you're shit right now. Get your head together and maybe it won't sound like a half-assed attempt." He walked off and Chris followed after him.

Justin felt worse. He knew it was bad, didn't think it was bad enough for Lance to notice. JC's eyes burned his back, but he couldn't bring himself to look at them. Instead, Justin took off for a run. Maybe the exercise would help him.

After the second lap, Justin felt better, but just a little. Why did it always seem like life handed him shit on a silver platter? Why did his heart have to break every time something got serious? Why was it always him?

"Hey, what's up?"

Justin saw JC rounding the corner; his hair was curly and very playful. Justin thought he looked nice.

"It's nothing," Justin brushed past because he smelled and JC didn't deserve that. JC deserved something better, always something better than what Justin could offer. It made life suck worse.

"If you think I'm going to accept that kind of shit response, you're wrong," JC grabbed Justin's arm and heaved him back, just so he could look into the warmth of Justin's blue eyes. They were slightly lifeless, a sadness that'd been building up for as long as JC could remember. It was heartbreaking to experience. "Tell me."

Everything wanted to spill, to come out in the open. It wasn't about the guys because they were great; it wasn't the tour because it couldn't be better. It wasn't life, it was love. Love fucking hurt and it was hurting worse than ever right now. Love was something to live without sometimes.

"I can't talk about it right now," Justin said softly so the pain in his throat could not be heard, so the ache in his heart could not be felt.

"Just say it, J and I will." JC whispered his words of promise. A promise Justin knew lay dormant always.

The heat of JC's body burned through his clothes; snaked a heat so comforting Justin forgot what it could feel like sometimes.

"I'll make it all go away," he whispered, his hand soft against his arm, his breath sweet in his ear. "I promise."

Promises could always be broken. It was something he found out early in life. Promises meant nothing to him, even if they came from JC.

And that realization hurt more than she ever could.

"I need to shower," Justin said and took the hardest step in his life. A step away from the only man he could and would ever love passionately. "We need to get ready for another try on the stage. I'm sorry." The words felt like weighted pain but he kept walking, walking until he couldn't feel JC watching him; until he couldn't feel his body, until he couldn't take it anymore.

Rehearsal was so much better the second time, not perfect but not terrible. It was a good rehearsal for the situation. Lance even promised to take him out that night to celebrate his improvement. Lance was always good for that, a distraction. Sometimes a distraction was the best thing anyone could ask for.

They only needed to rehearse the I Want You Back performance one last time, just to make sure everyone had it down.

It all went down hill from there.

"Justin, be careful, you're pitchy right in the beginning," Justin heard in his monitors and found JC looking at him. "No, I'm not," he replied quickly with maybe a hint of unnecessary sharpness.

The other guys took a step back while JC looked patient. "Yes, you are," he smiled.

"Well, you're over singing," Justin shot back unfairly. JC sometimes liked to over sing and Justin loved it, as did the crowd; it was a great way to showcase his unbelievable talent, just not today, not while he felt like shit. "So, I'll stop being pitchy when you decided to stop over singing."

"Justin, what are you doing?" JC walked across the stage, his shirt tight against his chest, his jeans loose on his hips.

Justin couldn't stop staring.

"I need you to behave right now," JC reached him quickly and placed his hand on his back in a comforting way, the kind of way Justin wanted it to be. The way it felt most comfortable.

His touch was so personal, so loved and protective. JC's promise always resonated through Justin's brain whenever they touched, even at the most simple. It made the confusion and despair worse. "I need you to not touch me," he said with the hope of sparing JC's feelings, which, by the look on his handsome face, were not.

"Well I need you both to knock it off and finish this song," Chris shouted from far away, impatient and annoyed. Lance and Joey tried to look nonchalant. "Whatever is going on, please stop. Let's just finish, I want to go and relax."

Justin felt awful and stupid. He felt twelve again and that was embarrassing. He was an adult and whatever was messing with his mind needed to be put aside. "I'm sorry guys, let's go," he said and moved elegantly away from JC's warm touch. "Let's wrap this up." He was an adult again with adult responsibilities which needed to be taken care of, his teenage angst thoughts needed to disappear, even if it meant for a mere moment. Work was more important sometimes than the ways of the heart.

When his feet hit his mark on the other side of the stage JC looked alone and sad and it broke his heart.

Justin felt the warmth of the sun on his face; sweat tickled his brow behind his glasses. His mouth was dry and his body stung nicely, the way a good work out felt. Britney felt soft and warm beside him, her skin moist with nature's heat, her hair lazy against his shoulder.


"You awake?" she asked softly.

"Getting there," he muttered content, happy and whole that she fit nicely beside him.

But her heat remained a few more seconds before Justin felt her body shift and move away. Her bathing suit top fit loose on her body and she tried to adjust it. "I need to go," she said and stood up with a towel wrapped around her waist. "I've got some place to be."

Justin tried to sit up but he suddenly felt heavy. "Where?" he asked tired.

"We've got a date."

It was his voice.

He hated that voice.

He wanted to kill that voice.

Justin struggled again but nothing let him move, he felt drugged. "Britney, don't."

Her hips swayed, her laugh rang in the background to one of his jokes. "Justin, go to sleep," she laughed.

He couldn't do anything, the world colored him black, his eyes closed and he slept.


The next time Justin opened his eyes, JC was there. He looked worried, concerned. His warm hands were on his shoulders, seeping through his clothes, sizzling under the skin.

"J," he whispered, his hair soft when Justin touched it. His face warm when Justin caressed it. His mouth wet when he kissed it.

Justin wanted too much to stay like this, JC's mouth on his, his hands gentle of his face, his body close to him. But it was wrong and JC knew it, he felt desperate, his kiss was unnatural.

"You were struggling as you slept," JC breathed in a labored sigh, his hands still on Justin, his fingertips tender, his thumb soothing along his bottom lip. "You looked in pain," he moved away, Justin wished he wouldn't. He didn't hurt when JC was this close. He made it disappear. He made it better. Like he promised. "I was worried," he finally pulled back so far his hands were off. Justin immediately felt the loss, immediately grew dark in sadness.

They were in the quiet room. The two of them, alone. Always alone. A part of Justin always thought the others did that on purpose, left them alone. JC already had his concert clothes on. He looked good. He always looked good, even when he looked concerned, even when the corners of his eyes crinkled in worry and his mouth pulled down in a frown. He always looked good.

"His voice." Justin couldn't forget his voice. It burned in the back of his mind. It seared his brain. It broke his trust. It broke them.

JC didn't have to ask who he meant, he already knew, all of them already knew and JC was worried the world knew more than they should. Justin just wanted to make it go away.

And JC always promised he could.

"Why do you put up with me?" Justin asked softly, his throat sore and tense with emotion. "Why don't you give up?" he felt a tear slide down his cheek without hesitation and he let it. He wanted to show the mess he was in.

JC caught it before it could fall with a touch. "Because you're worth it," he whispered intimately and he was close again, so close Justin could smell his skin, faint with his expensive cologne.

"I'm so fucked up," he whispered back and his heart hurt in such away he knew JC could feel it. More tears came when JC's hand touched the place it hurt the most.

"You're not fucked up, Justin," JC held his hand firm over his chest. "Your heart is breaking."

Just like that, everything swam behind his blue eyes and the candle light looked like it was playing tricks. He was broken.

She broke him.

She would never stop breaking him and maybe it took that voice to make him see that for the first time.

JC's promise always came back to him; he would never forget.


"Let me take you away from all of it, J," JC mouthed softly into his ear, his hand warm against his hip.

Justin's body burned in want, JC always did that, made him want; made the need singe his skin. "I don't think you can," he looked into his eyes, watched them burn in the shadow of light.

"I can give you everything you want," he breathed heavily and hot, "I could make it all go away. I could make her disappear," his hand moved from his hip, smoothed along his jeans and touched him privately. "I promise," and he kissed him hard.


Now JC looked at him with all the love in the world, with all the desire in him, with all the protection he could offer and Justin couldn't refuse.

"I want you," Justin finally spoke, his hands shaking, his heart pounding. "I want your promise."

Everything suddenly spilled around him, all the hurt, all the pain and devastation, all of her spilled from him as he saw the look on JC's face. As he witnessed the emotion and devotion of the man he would ever love more than himself.

For the first time in a long time Justin felt happy.

JC always made him happy.

JC would always make him happy and it may have taken Justin a lot to figure that out, but he did and she didn't matter anymore. That voice didn't matter because he had him, and he promised to make it all go away. He was almost there.


The show that night turned out to be the best one of the tour and Justin personally stood back and smiled in loving satisfaction as JC over-sang for him.

He was still broken.

His heart still hurt.

He would never forget her.

But JC would try everything to make it all better because he promised.

And Justin finally believed him.


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