nsync in black and white

Disclaimer: this is fiction. We made it up.

a lucky master of the universe

by juli, written for silveryscrape

Justin didn’t need this shit.

He was driving through the woods of Maine, probably lost, most likely somewhere in Canada, because he had a fucking bad sense of direction and the GPS in his car was broken. The ‘n’ and ‘m’ keys on his laptop had randomly stopped working during his flight, making him unable to get the work done that he needed to accomplish on this unscheduled side trip, and he had a headache that was working its way close to the jackhammer stage.

He almost missed the turn, which was hidden behind a giant pine tree. His teeth rattled as he bumped along the dirt road, pulling up to a cabin in the woods just as the low gas light illuminated on the car.

“Fuck.” It was a lot more than 15 miles back to the nearest gas station.

JC was so going to pay for this.


“Open up you fucker!” Justin banged on the door. It was dark and way too cold for summer. “I swear to God, if I have to kick this door in---“

A light turned on in the front hall and a sleepy JC opened the door. “J? What’re you doing here?” His voice was slurred, his eyes half open, squinting out through the door.

“I’m here to drag your ass back down to the Cape, because Lance is getting married tomorrow and he refused to walk down the big gay aisle if you’re not there.” And somehow, everyone had decided that Justin was on the only person out of the six plus billion inhabitants of Planet Earth who could convince JC to leave his cabin of seclusion and attend the wedding.

JC stared blankly at him. In the two years since they’d last seen each other, his hair had grown longer, and was curling at the collar of his T-Shirt. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes.

“Look, J. I appreciate you coming all this way, but I’m not going to the wedding. I already told Lance that. I’m sorry you wasted your time.”

“C. What the hell, man? I mean, I know you’re not really into Antonio, but I mean. Lance is happy with him, and he really wants you to be there. You know it’s been a rough couple of years for him. So come on, get dressed, throw some gel in your hair, and get in your car. Come on.”

“No, Justin. I’m not going. Have a safe trip back.” Then he closed the door in Justin’s face and clicked the lock.

“JC. JC! Open the door, damn it!” He banged until his fist hurt, but the light clicked off and Justin was left in the dark on the step.


Lance had met Antonio at the Latin Grammies, which he attended only because Joey was doing the commentary and one of his cast mates was dating a nominee. Antonio was a dancer, long and lean and as gay they come. It was love at first sight. They went to movies and marched in parades together, and while Justin still thought he was just a little too dumb, he could admit that Antonio genuinely made Lance happy.

He knew it was elitist and mean, but he couldn’t help it. The guy smiled pretty but talking to him was right up there with talking to a rock.

Justin figured he must fuck like a dream, which actually made him a little jealous of Lance.

JC, however, refused to even acknowledge the wedding. He’d moved himself up to this cabin in the woods and shut himself off from everyone for the past two years. At first no one really worried—he’d had a rough go of it and needed to clear his head.

But enough was enough, and Justin wasn’t going to let him get away with this any longer.


He slept in the car and woke with a crick in his neck and JC staring at him. With a grumble, he sat up and rolled down the window.

“You’re still here.” JC had a cup of coffee and bare feet. There was a little bit of fog in the forest, low swarming clouds at JC’s back.

“Not enough gas to get back to town.” Justin opened the door and stretched.

“You’ve got to fill up at that last station.” JC paused and took a sip from his coffee cup. “Do you want a shower?”

Justin grabbed his bag and followed JC back into the house.

An hour later, he was eating some sort of granola cereal at JC’s table while JC puttered around in the kitchen.

“I gotta tell you, this whole Kermit the Hermit thing is freaking me out a bit.”

JC just shrugged and started washing out his breakfast dishes. “I needed to get away for a while.”

“You do realize that ‘a while’ has been going on two years now, right?” Justin knew that JC had been hurt when Jive has refused to put out the album, but he was starting to think that the degree of insult went much deeper than he’d expected. This JC wasn’t his old friend- it was a shadow of his old self.

“You can take my car back to the station to get some gas. A couple of gallons will give you enough to drive yours back there.”

“Wait, C, can we at least just talk about this for a second?” The anger he’d felt the night before was coming back, in droves. “I mean, I drove all the way out here.”

“You could have called,” JC answered.

“You don’t have a phone.” Justin stared at him, trying to see if there was a hint of humor left in JC.

There it was. A ghost of a smile. “You could have sent a carrier pigeon.”

Justin laughed at that, relief bubbling out of him. “I’ll keep that in mind for next time.”


He drove JC’s car into town and got the gas, along with some junk food and a giant diet Pepsi at the convenience store attached to the station. He drank it on the way back, trying to figure out how he was going to convince JC to get in the car with him and drive down to Massachusetts. He figured that with the wedding tomorrow at seven, and it being an eight hour drive to get there, he had just under 24 hours to figure out what was up with JC and get him in the car.

Justin didn’t rule out knocking JC unconscious in order to transport him.

The last thing he’d thought would happen would be JC deciding on his own that he should attend, so when he saw JC sitting on the front porch with a suitcase, Justin a lot shocked.

And rather perturbed that he didn’t get to use all of the speeches he’d just written in his head, but this was more important and much easier in the long run.

“Hey. I, um. Grabbed your bag, and I think I got all of your stuff out of the shower. Are you ready? You should probably use the bathroom before we leave.” JC stood and brushed off the back of his jeans.

“Whoa, mom. Wait a sec.” He scratched his head, trying to figure out what to say that wouldn’t tip the delicately balanced scale here. The last thing he wanted was to send JC scampering back into the house. “Should I be questioning this?”

JC seemed to think about it for a second before answering, “Probably not.”

“Okay then.” He tossed JC the keys to the rental car. “Load up the trunk and I’ll be right back.”

He smiled as he ran into the bathroom and thought about how astounded everyone was going to be that he needed less than a day to get JC out of two years of seclusion.

Justin Timberlake, Master of the Universe. It has a nice ring to it.


JC didn’t say anything in the car for a long time. Justin had the XM tuned to an old jazzy blues station and he crooned along for a while, commenting on the lack of any signs of humanity along the long windy roads.

“Seriously, why do people make such a big deal about the scenery in Maine? All I see is tree, tree, tree, tree…”

“Some people like trees,” was all JC said in return.

Justin just shook his head. JC closed his eyes and went to sleep.


It started to rain after a couple of hours and got steadily heavier as they approached Portland. The rapid swish of wipers woke JC, who stirred and shifted for a few seconds before yawning and stretching. Justin caught a glimpse of his stomach and marveled that even off in the woods without a trainer or high tech gym equipment, JC had managed to stay slim and sculpted.

“Where are we?” he asked, reaching for a water bottle from the bag at his feet.

“Near Portland. There’s a plane waiting for us.” Justin had to rent a plane for this trip too, and he didn’t even want to think about what that was costing him. He had plenty of money, but he still didn’t like to blow it on things like renting planes to chase down stubborn friends.

“Cool.” JC propped his feet up on the dashboard, making Justin wince. He hated when people did that. It wasn’t his car, but it was still annoying.

A burst of thunder cracked overhead, making them both jump. Lightening struck in the distance, lighting up the sky, and then everything went dark. Very dark.

“I think the streetlights just went out,” JC said. Justin was concentrating too much on the road to notice the streetlights. He could barely read the signs directing him to the private airstrip just outside the main airport.

Great. They were probably going to be delayed, which meant more time sitting around not asking JC all of the questions that he really wanted to ask. He didn’t know how to talk to JC anymore. They couldn’t exactly talk about music or movies or any of those other small talk things Justin usually fell back on, not with JC’s self-imposed hermitage.

He was curious, though. This was a guy that he’d known inside and out a decade ago. It was very, very strange to sit next to him in silence like this. There were things that even two years ago he would have said- things that he’d been trying to say to JC that he’d never gotten the chance to say. Now, he figured that he’d never have the opportunity, and that added to the bitterness of this trip.

When they got to the airport, it was worse than Justin had imagined. The flight wasn’t delayed- the airfield had lost power and no one was able to fly out until it was restored- probably in the morning. The nice gentleman who had arranged the rental car drove them to the Hilton at the airport for the night and got a room in his own name. JC didn’t say much during the whole ordeal, just sat in the back seat of the car on the way, watching the rain.

“Do you mind if I make some calls?” Justin asked as JC stretched out on his bed. Thank God there was a room left with two beds. It was a nicer hotel too, though Justin probably would have had no problem with a Red Roof Inn if it meant not having to sleep in the car again. His neck was still sore.

“No, go ahead. I’m gonna see what’s on TV.” JC sat up and started flipping through the channels. He looked way too excited about the prospect of TV.

Justin sat by the window and watched the rain as he called people to rearrange plans and okay new events that were being booked. He wasn’t touring but that meant a constant stream of requests for appearances on shows and at awards shows. He watched as JC pulled up the last James Bond movie on pay-per-view and settled back against the pillows to watch.

“I can’t get used to this guy as Bond,” JC said.

Justin snorted. “He’s done, like, three movies now.”

“I know, but I’ve only seen that first one.” JC grabbed the room service menu from the night table. “Mind if I order?”

Justin waved that he could go ahead, and soon tray upon tray of food arrived at the room. Justin grabbed a chicken something while JC dug into a burger like he hadn’t eaten in a year.

“Okay, I’m just. I’m a little confused and I know you said I shouldn’t ask, but. You’re back here, watching TV, eating burgers, acting like you haven’t been in some sort of freaky monk life of nothing in the middle of nowhere for the past two years. What gives?”

JC chewed and swallowed before answering. “It was never about giving up stuff, for like, religious reasons. I mean, I never, NEVER had anything against cheeseburgers. I just needed to get away from everything and think for a while. Do you remember when I called you before moving up there?”


Justin had been on tour, and missed four calls from JC before finally getting a chance to call him back. He’d been on the bus heading from the hotel to the venue, and in the middle of a week from hell. A cameraman had caught him out with Jessica so the media hounds were on his tail again, and Lance was talking about writing a tell all book. Hell didn’t even begin to cover things.

When he’d finally gotten JC on the phone, his first question had been “Do you think Lance is gonna write that the three of us used to blow each other? Cause I might have to kill him if he tells anyone that. He pinky swore!” The memories were still some of Justin’s fondest from long road trips, and one of his deepest secrets. The other also had to do with JC, but Lance didn’t know that one so it was safe for now.

JC had laughed a little, but it was a sad sound. “Lance isn’t gonna write anything about you, don’t worry. Listen, I just wanted to tell you that I’m gonna be out of touch for a while.”

“Yeah? In the studio or out of town?”

“Out of town. Jive’s… they’re not going to put the album out, so. I don’t know. I just need to go away and think for a while.”

“What?” Justin had heard rumors about Jive not being happy with all of the material JC had recorded, but he’d never thought it was a ‘not going to release’ level of unhappy. “Let me make some calls, and we can figure this out,” he offered. They both read the ‘pull rank’ threat that didn’t have to be spoken.

“No, J, it’s okay. I’ll give you a call sometime, but I’m just gonna run away for a little bit.”

He’d hung up, and it had been the last time that Justin had talked to him until now.


Now, sitting in a hotel room with a Nor’Easter blaring outside, Justin shook his head. “You said you needed time to think. I figured a few weeks, maybe a month or something. But you left. For a really long time. After a while, it just seemed like you were gone forever.”

“If I was gone forever, why did you come get me?”

Justin couldn’t really answer that. ‘Because they told me to,’ wasn’t exactly right, and JC had seen how angry he was the previous night. How could he explain that he missed JC, a lot, and couldn’t imagine being with the other guys without JC being there too? It sounded to sappy, so he just shrugged and grabbed the remote, turning up the volume of the movie.


In the morning, the rain was gone. Justin showered and packed up his bag, hoping that this was the last day on the road- he was out of clean underwear. JC was up and moving quietly, but perked up as the room service tray arrived with hot coffee.

“Ready for a wedding?” Justin asked as they boarded the plane. They would get there just in time. One of Lance’s friends was supposed to be picking them up at the Provincetown Municipal Airport with their suits.

JC actually looked happy, the closest Justin had seen to his old friend since arriving in Maine. “Ready. Hey, do you think that Lance will be able to tell that I didn’t read his book?”

Justin laughed at that. “I don’t think he’ll remember to ask you about it today, but maybe you should read it before he gets back from his honeymoon. That is, if you’re going to be sticking around.”

Silence. “Hey did he put in the part about how we used to blow each other when we got bored?”

Accepting the change of subject, Justin laughed again. “No, thank God. I mean, not that it wasn’t great, and all, but I’m not ready to be the gay poster boy. I think one of those per boyband is enough.”

The book was a bit of a sore subject with Justin, since he came across looking pretty shitty in it. He was almost over that. Really.

“True.” JC answered. “Still, though, it probably would have sold a lot more if he’d included it.”

Justin couldn’t help but agree.


The wedding was beautiful and private, thanks to some fancy decoy work that Lance and Antonio had arranged in Vegas. Justin sat at a table during the reception and watched his former bandmate dance with his new husband and couldn’t help but smile.

Beside him, JC stirred his drink. “Do you think that’ll ever be you? I mean, marriage?”

“I think it about every two years, and then things go to shit and I stop.” Justin was in one of his off periods between long-term relationships, which was why he was stag at the wedding. It didn’t really bother him- something else always came along. Still, though, it would be nice to have that guarantee of forever. “I think I was seriously fucked up by spending my formative years on a bus with four other guys. I mean, no one ever seems to get as close to you as the people you share a tin can with.”

“True. Every time I try to make microwave cheese sandwiches for a girl she gets all grossed out.”

The mention sent Justin back to the road, with JC singing as he pulled bread from the toaster, coated the slices with cheese and stuck them in the microwave to melt. It had been Justin’s favorite bus treat during the NSA tour. “Dude, your cheese sandwiches were fantastic.”

“Thanks.” JC grinned at him and finished his drink. “Want more?”

“Nah. I think I’m gonna dance.” The singer announced that the floor was now open to all of the guests, and Justin slid out into the crowd ready to shake loose muscles that had been cramped in cars and planes for two days straight. Joey was already there, and together, he and Justin slid into some old moves that neither would have known they remembered.

Later, Chris commandeered the microphone from the band’s lead singer and they all took turns serenading the happy couple. JC shone when he nervously stepped onto stage, but his voice was as beautiful as Justin remembered. He grabbed another glass of champagne from a circulating waiter and smiled.


Pleasantly buzzed, Justin leaned against the wall of the hotel room as JC tried to work the keycard.

“You’ve got it backward,” he insisted, trying to take it from JC’s hands. “Try it the other way.”

“It’s not backward, and it’s not working. Here, just come to my room and we can call down to the desk.” JC helped Justin upright and down the hall. “How much did you fucking drink, anyway?”

“It’s the champagne. It makes me all… bubbly.” He laughed at his own joke. He really did like champagne. It was fun. It made things like gay weddings even more fun.

“Okay, then, Bubble Boy, just sit here.”

Justin sat on the bed and watched as JC stripped off his jacket and crisp white shirt. The tie had long ago been lost. He licked his lips watching as JC picked up the phone and dialed the front desk.

Suddenly, all the blood pooled in his lap and his mouth began to water. No way. He was not getting all hot because JC was stripping. He hadn’t even seen JC in two years, and okay, yes, he had missed him, and yes, he had worried about him a lot, and he might have even spent hours searching the net using every old screen name of JC’s that he could think of trying to find some evidence of what JC was doing in the woods, but. No.

Then JC turned and hung up the phone and Justin knew that everything was lost. That other deep dark secret, the one Lance didn’t know? He was totally in love with JC Chasez.

“They said that they’ll reprogram the lock and it should work in a minute.”

Justin stood on shaky legs and walked over to JC, taking his hips in his hands. Courage, he thought. Don’t wuss out. Two years ago he’d waited too long to say anything.

“Justin, hey, what are you…” JC’s voice trailed off as Justin pulled their bodies close.

“Remember when we used to get bored and blow each other?” Justin whispered, licking his lips, looking right at JC. “Remember?”

“Yeah, J, I remember, but that was a long time ago.”

“It was. A long, long time. A long time because you went away and weren’t there when I wanted to do this.” Justin leaned forward and pressed a kiss to JC’s jaw, just under his ear. “Or this,” he whispered, kissing JC’s cheek, “or this,” and this time, his mouth connected with JC’s and lips parted, letting tongues come out and play.

Heat rushed through his body and he pulled at JC, trying to get him just a little bit closer. JC’s head angled and kissed back for a minute before pulling away. “Justin. What are you doing?”

“Something I’ve wanted to do for about two years,” he said, finally letting himself admit out loud his deepest darkest secret. “I was so angry with you for leaving because I was working my way up to this and you just ran away.”

“Justin,” JC replied, but he couldn’t say more because Justin kissed him again.

Justin never made it back to his room. Clothes came off quickly and they somehow found the bed, where they stretched out together, naked skin warm against naked skin. It was more than they’d had before- this wasn’t a quick search for release. It was soft kisses against bare skin, clever fingers twisting up and in, a sigh of sheer bliss when Justin spread his legs and JC came between them. When Justin opened his eyes, JC was looking down at him and smiling. Justin came just from that, and felt JC tense above him a moment later.

“Stay here,” JC asked as they lay beside one another later. Justin’s leg was thrown over JC’s, his head on JC’s shoulder.

“Sure.” He would stay. His anger at JC for disappearing had vanished during that first kiss, and all he could think about was finding a way to stay like this for a very long time.


In the morning they had breakfast and rode together to the airport. Justin’s plane was taking him to Boston, where he had a connection back to California.

“What will you do now?” he asked JC, who had been very quiet in the morning. “I’m sure you can get a flight to Portland and some way back to your cabin.”

JC shook his head. “I’ll have to go back to get my stuff, but I’m not staying there.”

Justin’s heart leaped when he heard that. “You’re not?”

“No. I mean, I think I’ve gotten everything out of it that I needed.” He shifted his bag from one shoulder to the other as they walked across the tarmac to the plane.

“You never said… I mean, what were you thinking about?”

JC didn’t answer until they were inside. “When they didn’t release the album, I convinced myself that I was never going to be able to make it as a singer. I had to find something else to do with my life.”

“Okay, that’s bullshit, but we’ll go with it. So you’ve decided now?”

“Well, that’s the irony of it. Being there last night, singing with you guys, it made me realize that I’m not going to find something else to be. That if I want to sing and write music, I can do it. I might have to work with different people, but if this is really the only thing I want to do- and two years is long enough to pretty much consider all other career options- then I guess I need to find a way to do this.”

“Wow.” There was a lot in there that Justin knew needed to be dissected much more, but for now, he was just happy that JC was happy. And not going back to the cabin.

“There’s something else, though, that I should probably admit before I’m too embarrassed to do so.”

Intrigued, Justin sat forward. “Yeah?”

“Yeah. See, two years, that’s a long time, right. And people came to visit and everything. I wasn’t the miser you seem to think that I was. But in two years, you’re the only one who ever tried to get me to leave. And I think that somewhere in the car the other day, I realized that I needed you. I mean, I needed you, specifically, to come and to drag me out of there. Because you weren’t doing it for Lance, or for yourself. You knew that I would have regretted not being at the wedding and that I probably wouldn’t take that step on my own, and you came.”

“I didn’t want to,” Justin admitted. “I have an entire dictionary of words and phrases that can never be repeated, and I went through most of them on the drive up there.”

“Yeah. But you came. And that’s something I want to hold on to.”

Justin reached for JC’s hand and squeezed. “So do I,” he promised, as the plane took off into the sky. “So do I.”


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