nsync in black and white

Disclaimer: this is fiction. We made it up.


by Phaballa, for Lucy

When their lips met, finally, after so many years of watching and waiting and agonizing over right and wrong, Trevellyan finally understood that kissing Alisander, being with Alisander, was exactly what he was meant to do. For how could something that felt so right and natural and perfect ever be wrong? The gods would not allow him to feel this way if it were so.

"Prince Trevellyan!" Alisander gasped, pulling away suddenly, fingers touching the lips that had just moments before been pressed to Trevellyan's own. "What are we doing? I never-this isn't-proper! You're to marry Princess Destina in a matter of weeks, and me your squire… I never meant to act so impudently, sire. I feel great shame and will go straight to the temple to pray to the Mother Goddess to be forgiven. I don't know what came over me, perhaps a spell or trickery of some sort but-"

"Hush," Trevellyan said, cupping Alisander's jaw in his strong, knightly hand and stroking his thumb across his beloved's cheek. "You have been my most faithful friend and squire all these long years, through the wars with the Andalunes and after, when my mother fell ill of the Sickness and passed through the Veil. I do not love Princess Destina. I love you."

Alisander stared at Trevellyan with tears in his eyes. Trevellyan wished to kiss them away, to lay Alisander down right there on his great grandmother's hand-weaved Bedazir rug and make love to him, although he had never loved another man and was not sure how such an event could occur. It would require much preparation to be sure, and possibly a special lubricating oil of some kind, but Trevellyan knew it would be beautiful and wondrous regardless. But he resisted, taking Alisander's hands in his and saying softly, "How do you reply, my love?"


"Chai soy latte is back," Lance says, leaning on the counter and batting his eyes at Justin in an exaggerated way that Justin privately thinks makes Lance look slightly demented. "I just served him so I bet he'll be up here any minute to, ahem, 'conduct his research' or whatever fake reason he's always giving, when we all know he just comes to stare at your pretty face."

Justin rolls his eyes and puts his book down face up on the counter, ignoring Lance's derisive snort when he reads the title. The Song of Eros series isn't exactly high literature, but Justin likes it and the latest book just came out a few days ago. Alisander and Trevellyan have spent three books dancing around the fact that they're totally gay for each other, and Justin could give a shit less if Chai Soy Latte guy is back, even if he is hot and Lance thinks he likes Justin. Justin just wants to read his book. He figures if he can't find love in the real world, he can at least read about his favorite prince and squire getting it on.

"Aren't you even the tiniest bit excited?" Lance says, straightening up and snatching the book from the counter. "Oh, this is just classic," he says, flipping through the pages and losing Justin's place. "'Trevellyan stared longingly at the sloping curve of muscle revealed by Alisander's practice gear, trying to ignore the excitement he felt in his stomach and lower at the sight of the hard, glistening skin.'" Lance snorts. "Yeah, I bet it's hard!"

"Lance!" Justin whispers, grabbing the book back and setting it aside. "This is a book store, for fuck's sake! Some little kid is going to hear you and ask his mom about glistening hard skin and then-"

"Excuse me," a polite voice says, coughing a little in amusement. Justin jerks his head to the side and it's Chai Soy Latte guy, standing at the side counter by the graphic novels, looking as gorgeous as ever with his perfect hair and his perfect cheekbones and his ridiculous eyes. Even his hands look perfect to Justin, fluttering around nervously as he talks. "I'm sorry to interrupt your, um, fascinating discussion," he says, smiling a little, "but I was wondering if you have that new book in yet? Eros in the Mind's Eye?"

Lance grins and says, "Well, I see you're with a very important customer, Justin, I'll just leave you be," and heads for the stairs with a wave over his shoulder, leaving Justin alone with the gorgeous Chai Soy Latte guy, who's still staring at him expectantly. He should be able to like this guy, Justin thinks. They both love fantasy literature, and Justin would bet his right testicle that Chai Soy Latte plays Everquest with at least two different characters (because what's the point if you can't be a Paladin and a Dark Elf?) and has a weekly D&D game, just like Justin, although Justin's pretty sure his is way better because Chris is the Dungeon Master, and no one DMs better than Chris.

"The book?" Chai Soy Latte prompts, and Justin shakes his head a little to clear it.

"Right! Um, I'm pretty sure I saw it come in a few days ago. It should be in the non-fiction section. Do you want me to get it for you, or…?"

"Oh, no. No, no that's fine, I can find it." He takes a sip from his Chai Soy Latte and smiles at Justin. "Besides, that sounds like a pretty, um, intense book you're reading, and I don't want to keep you from it too long."

Justin watches the guy wander over to the non-fiction shelf and rubs his hand over his shaved head with a sigh. The guy probably isn't even gay, and he's definitely not into Justin. Fucking Lance. Justin just wishes Lance would stop putting these ideas in his head. He has a job doing something he actually likes where he gets to read all day and help people decide which books to buy; he has a decent place to live that would be better if it weren't with Joey, who's a slob and always leaves his cereal bowls on the counter to get crusty and disgusting, but is a cool guy otherwise; and he has The Song of Eros, his right hand, or any number of random hook-ups from Oil Can Harry's for when he gets lonely.

His life rocks. He doesn't want a boyfriend who drinks anything as gross as chai soy latte, anyway, no matter how hot he is.


The book store closes at eleven, but Justin has to stay an extra hour for closing, sometimes longer in the summer if they're getting ready for a big event. The new Harry Potter book is coming out in a month so the entire store, but especially the fantasy and children's staff, has been frantically trying to get everything set up in time. The planning alone has been a nightmare, and if Justin has to listen to Kevin go on one more time about how important this event is and how their costumes need to be awesome and "for god's sake, make fucking sure you've read the books and can talk wizard to the kids," he might have to call in sick. It's not like he'll get to read the book that night anyway, and it would serve Kevin right if he had to deal with Lance filling Justin's shift.

By the time Justin gets off work that night, he's tired and hungry and he hates Harry Potter with a vengeance, so when Lance says, "Come on, Rain is still open and we can at least hump some drunk guys on the dance floor for an hour if we go now," Justin just shakes his head and climbs on his bike. Lance frowns. "Come on, Justin, don't be a loser. I need someone to come out with me. I can't go man hunting alone, I'll look pathetic."

"Hooking up with random drunk guys at Rain doesn't look pathetic," Justin says, "it totally is pathetic."

"I'm not like you, sworn to a life of celibacy until I find the perfect man who will sweep me off my feet and move me to Vermont where we'll get married and open a bed and breakfast and be soul mates forever and ever. I actually like sex. So come to Rain so I can get laid."

"Hey, I have sex. I had sex last month with that guy at karaoke night. You know, the one who sang 'Genie in A Bottle' to the tune of 'Wherever I May Roam.'"

"But that was only blowjobs, right?" Lance says, rolling his eyes. "Totally doesn't count. That's like, not even real sex. That's just a friendly hello."

"I'm going home," Justin says firmly. "I have a book to read and I am too tired to help someone else get laid. I am not the Mikey to your Brian Kinney, okay? Plus, I'm way hotter than you. You're like the Ted in this scenario."

"I'm the Ted who's gonna get fucked, and you're the sad loser going home to beat off to some cheesy gay romance novel, so I'm pretty sure I win," Lance says with a sharp smile before heading for his car.

Justin goes home. It's a ten minute bike ride to his apartment complex just south of the river, not the classiest of places and probably not anywhere his momma would want him living, but it's close to work and it's cheap, so Justin forces himself to ignore the peeling paint and cracked concrete. He locks his bike up against the balcony railing outside his door and double checks it to make sure it's secure before opening the front door and dropping his backpack on the floor.

"Honey, I'm home!" Justin calls out. "Hey, fuckface, remember what I said about locking the front door?"

"Um," Joey says, coming out of the bathroom rubbing a towel over his wet hair. "I'm supposed to do it, even when I'm home?" Justin narrows his eyes because-correction, Joey is rubbing one of Justin's towels over his wet hair. Fucker. Now Justin's going to have to do laundry, again. No matter how many times Justin yells, Joey doesn't seem to understand why Justin doesn't want him using his personal things, because seriously, Joey might be a good friend, but he's also a dirty, disgusting guy and who knows what germs he might be transferring to Justin's various worldly possessions every time he touches them. Joey's just lucky Justin doesn't boil their utensils and plates instead of trusting Joey's skills at hand-washing.

"I don't want to get robbed, is all," Justin says, collapsing onto the ancient, ratty couch with a low groan. He's so fucking tired, but really, all he wants to do is stay up for the next five hours to finish The Song of Eros. He has to know what happens between Alisander and Trevellyan. He heard a spoiler a few months ago that there would be actual sex in this book, and Justin's almost halfway through and hasn't gotten to it yet. He just wants them to fuck, and then he can die happy. He tries very hard not to think about the fact that he'd rather read about fictional characters getting it on then try to get some himself.

"We don't have anything anyone would want to take," Joey points out, tossing the towel back into the bathroom (probably onto the floor, Justin thinks dejectedly, and he'll definitely have to do laundry now) and sitting down on the other end of the couch, nudging at Justin's legs until he lifts them up and settles them over Joey's lap. "What's with the mood, kid? You haven't been your usual sunny self in a while."

"Well if you'd stop using my towels..." Justin closes his eyes and takes a deep breath in, out. He knows Joey's right. He has a pretty okay job that he likes, good friends (even Lance with his man-whoring ways), a place to live and all that. It's not like he's starving or living on the streets holding up a 'WILL WORK FOR BEER' sign on the side of the highway or something. He doesn't know what's wrong, except that he's tired and it seems like this summer will never end, and next Monday will be a year since Pharrell left. He's over it, he's so completely over that whole thing even if it does kind of hurt just to think about. So he's over it and nothing's wrong, except-"I think it's me," Justin says finally. "Like, something wrong with me. Maybe I'm depressed. Oh god, what if I am, and I'll have to start taking some horrible drugs that'll make me gain like a hundred pounds and I'll never get laid again and-"

"Is that what you're worried about?" Joey says, grinning and squeezing Justin's foot. "Getting laid? 'Cause I'll fuck you right now if it'll get that sad look off your face."

"Gross," Justin says, smiling a little. "I could get laid, I'm totally hot. I just, like. Don't want to?"

"You don't want to get laid? See, that's the real problem. That's just wrong, Justin. It's sick. It's against all laws of god and man and Justins the world wide."

"It's not like that. It's more like. Like I don't want to fuck just anyone. I was reading this book and—"

"Oh god, is this because of your gay knights of the round table thing?"

"Maybe," Justin mumbles. "I just want—that, you know? Something like that. Something more than sex with someone I'll probably never see again except as a guy I try to avoid at clubs because I've already fucked him."

"You want a boyfriend. That's sweet, J. I mean, demented, because you're only twenty-two and you already did the whole young love thing so really, you should be fucking your way through every gay dude in the city, but you do like vanilla scented candles, so I get it."

Justin turns on his side and stares at the posters on the far wall, just a bunch of free promo things Joey got from the last South by Southwest festival. Joey runs the poker tournaments Thursday nights at Headhunters and tends bars at some of the other smaller clubs on Sixth Street, so he's got some connections in the music industry. Or at least enough to get free shit sometimes.

"Maybe," Justin says, concentrating on the black and red lettering of the poster for the Red Elvises and three other Russian surf rock bands Justin's never heard of, "maybe I do want a boyfriend. Oh god, I'm Liz Phair now. I want a boyfriend, letters and sodas and shit."

"I'm pretty sure Liz Phair never wanted shit," Joey says, "but I might know a guy you'd like. He's not into shit, either, but he's cool guy. Hot. I think he even plays D&D, so you already have being giant dorks in common. I could set you up if you want."

Justin just shrugs. He's pretty sure that no matter how awesome Joey's guy is, it won't be like Alisander and Trevellyan. Justin's fucked up, wanting to be a fictional character in a second-rate gay romance that doesn't even have porn in it yet. Maybe Lance is right-he's a total loser.


Alisander awoke with a start, not sure what pulled him from his deep sleep wrapped in Trevellyan's strong arms, their bodies spooned close and warm on the bedroll by the fire, which was just embers now, glowing soft orange in the night. The forest clearing they were sleeping in was black as pitch outside the thin circle of light from the dying fire, but Alisander could just make out the shape of someone approaching from the other side. He held his breath and carefully inched his hand out, searching for the hilt of his sword by touch. His fingers curled around the cold crystal of the hilt just as the figure spoke, voice low and husky and terrible.

"Don't you recognize me, my child? But of course you would seek to protect your true love. Commendable, my child, but unnecessary."

Alisander got to his feet slowly, careful not to wake Trevellyan, who looked peaceful and even more beautiful in sleep, without the lines of worry that often marred his otherwise youthful face. "Mother Goddess," Alisander whispered, terrified and exalted by her mere presence. Now that she was closer, he could see her preternaturally lovely visage-the striking green emerald of her eyes and the bright ruby sheen of her hair. He had seen her only once before, during the war with the Andalunes when he'd taken an arrow meant for Trevellyan and nearly died but for the Mother's interference on his behalf. He couldn't imagine what business she might have with him now; seeing the Mother was never really a good sign, all things considered.

"I am honored, Mother," Alisander said finally, and kneeled before her, head bowed in respect.

"Stand up, child." Her eyes flickered to Trevellyan, still asleep on the bedroll, arms still locked in a circle like they were missing Alisander's presence. Though they had not yet consummated their love, Alisander knew it would come, and soon. He could barely stand to be apart from Trevellyan and now that he knew Trevellyan felt the same, it was like a physical pain, not touching him. Still, Alisander's fear remained greater than his desire for physical pleasure. What if they made love, and discovered they were not suited? Alisander had never experienced physical love before, neither with man nor woman, and above all, he was aware of Trevellyan's status as Prince, his duty to the crown. Alisander would never be sure where he fit into Trevellyan's life, once they became more than Knight and Squire. It was this thought that made Alisander hold back.

"I see that much has progressed between yourself and the Prince," the Goddess said, her lips barely moving but her voice loud and nearly painfully beautiful in his head. "And yet, still you hold back. Still you keep yourself from experiencing the full possibility of your love for him, and his for you. You must learn, my child, that there is more to being a knight than skill with sword and bow and staff. If you're to be my champion, Alisander of Eldoron, you cannot allow yourself to be trapped by these doubts and fears."

"But, Lady, how can I-how is it possible to, when I know that he must marry and produce an heir for the kingdom? When I know that our love would be looked down upon and could never be made public?"

"Perhaps people are not so judgmental as you may think," the Goddess said, her eyes almost too bright to look at. "Would you deny the will of the gods, my child?"

Alisander bowed his head. "No, my lady. I am as ever your humble servant."

"Then you must go to him, and let your love run free," she said with a small smile. When Alisander looked up again to respond, she was gone.


At work the next day, reading his book with the spine pressed carefully against the desk so no one can see the title or the half-naked guys on the cover, Justin jumps a little in surprise when someone clears their throat pointedly from behind him. He shoves the book under his desk and turns with his best 'can I help you?' smile, but it's just Chai Soy Latte, looking gorgeous and aloof as always, wearing wire-frame glasses today that somehow make him look even prettier instead of nerdy, the way glasses make Justin look. He sighs and raises an eyebrow in question.

"What can I do for you today, sir?"

"It's, um, JC, actually? You can call me JC. If you want, I mean. You don't have to. Actually, if you want to keep calling me 'sir,' I could be okay with that." He grins. "I was hoping you could order something for me? I can't find it anywhere, so."

Justin shrugs and turns to his computer, pulling up the search menu. He's so close to the sex parts in the book, he can feel it, and every minute he wastes doing his job is another minute until Alisander and Trevellyan can actualize their love. "What's the title?" he asks, tapping his fingers impatiently against the keyboard.

"Best Gay Erotica of 2001." Chai Soy Latte-JC, whatever, and what kind of grown man goes by initials anyway?-blushes a little but doesn't look away. "It's, um. For research."

"I bet it is," Justin says, typing in the title and waiting for the computer to churn out some information for him. So, JC is gay after all. Lance had to get something right eventually, Justin thinks, and types in the necessary codes to get the book shipped from their erotica vendor. "Do you teach at the University or something? Or is this like, private research?" Justin grins a little. "Because I know some people who'd be more than happy to help you out with that."

JC coughs and turns even redder, dropping his eyes to the countertop. It's sad, really, Justin thinks, that he can't just fall for a guy like JC. Good-looking, easy to flirt with, likes gay erotica, might be a little kinky in bed or at least likes to read about kinky shit. Except that he can't, because Justin knows what love is, and this isn't it. This is more of a mild like, and Justin's pretty sure a 'get married in Vermont, adopt babies from third world countries and be soul mates forever and ever' relationship does not start off as a mild like. There are sparks and fireworks and starry eyes and possibly rainbows, Justin's pretty sure.

Alisander and Trevellyan have never been mildly anything about each other.

"I'm, actually. I'm a writer," JC says finally. "And I feel like, at the end of the day, it's really important to, um, expand your horizons and always be stretching yourself as an artist, you know?"

"Not really," Justin says, smiling a little. "I work at a book store, so. Not much opportunity to, um, expand my horizons." He prints out the barcode and hands it over to JC, saying, "Just take this to the checkout and give them your contact information. You have to pay now, and we'll call you when the book is in. It's usually like three business days, so it should be here soon, and then you can, um, grow as an artist as much as you want."

Justin grabs his book from beneath the counter, trying to find his spot again , and when he looks up a few minutes later, JC is gone.


"The Song of Eros by Joshua Scott," Britney says, holding up the book and staring at the half-naked guys on the front cover. "Oooh, sexy. Can I borrow this when you're done?"

"No," Justin snaps, grabbing the book back from her and sets it carefully on the far side of the table from her before collapsing onto the chair across from Britney. Ruta Maya is busy as fuck today and it took Justin almost fifteen minutes just to get through the cashier line to order. He can't even think about how long it'll take them to make his caramel macchiato, but he needs caffeine like yesterday. That's what happens when he stays up an extra hour trying to read until his eyes cross from exhaustion. "That book only leaves the apartment in my presence, and I'm not loaning it to you. You're not a borrower, Britney. You're a stealer. I know your ways."

"Are you still stuck on that shoe thing? I told you I'd give them back. Christ, Justin, it was two years ago. Learn how to take a fucking joke."

"Okay, no. See, a joke is like-like if someone sprays whipped cream on your hand while you're asleep and then you get it in your hair or something. That's a joke. Cheating on me and breaking up with me and taking my entire shoe collection when you left? So not a joke. Shoes are serious business, Brit." Justin cried for an hour when he came back to their apartment to find a break-up note from Britney and all his shoes missing. The break up part was sort of inevitable, Justin guesses, but some of those shoes were collectors items.

"Well, you were gay," Britney says, sipping her coffee with a look of complete unconcern on her face, "so I'm pretty sure that I was at least semi-justified."

"Maybe on the cheating thing, but you don't fuck with a man's shoes." Justin glares at her, eyeing her coffee and wishing they'd just gone to Starbucks instead, where coffee confections get turned out like factory toys, but Britney hates chains. "Live, buy, and think local," she's always saying, like she even knows what that means. Justin doesn't either, but he's not the one who cares.

"Anyway," Britney says, rolling her eyes, "since you won't let me read your gay romance novel-"

"There are knights and wars and battles," Justin interrupts, "so technically I think it's classified as 'action adventure fantasy' and there's not even any sex yet so-"

"-what's going on with you?" Britney says, ignoring him. "I talked to Nick who heard from Chris who heard from Lance that you're, like, depressed or something?"

"What? Why would Lance say that?"

"Something about not wanting to have sex. Which, Justin, you have to admit-that's pretty fucked up. Have you even gone out with anyone since Pharrell left town?"

Justin shrugs. "Look, maybe I just don't feel like it, okay? And yeah, I've gotten laid in the past year, thanks, I just. Don't want to just get laid anymore. It's boring, or something."

"So you just reading gay romance novels instead?" Britney raises one eyebrow. "That's sort of pathetic, Justin. Are you looking for your—" Britney snatches the book back, eyes scanning the blurb on the back cover, "Alisander?"

"No," Justin says, glaring. "I'm totally the Alisander, anyway."

Britney snorts loudly. "So, Trevellyan, then. Nice names. I wonder if Joshua Scott is single? Just think of the great names he'd come up with for your kids!"

"I think my coffee is ready," Justin says loudly, grabbing the book back and standing up to head for the bar. Fucking Britney, Justin thinks, staring at the half-naked guys on the cover who really don't look anything like what Justin imagines Alisander and Trevellyan to be. Britney seems to think that just because she's the only girl he ever tried to date, she has some sort of special place in his life and he has to be friends with her and listen to her and shit. But Britney also thinks stealing his entire shoe collection is a funny joke, so clearly she's demented and cruel.

Although she kind of has a point about Joshua Scott. Their kids would have awesome names.


The kiss was long and slow like waves crashing upon the shore, and Trevellyan knew at that moment with his love in his arms that he never wanted to be anywhere else. Alisander's kisses were passionate and warm, sending shocks of sensation like fireworks exploding throughout his body. Trevellyan had been with others before-young ladies at court were not shy about offering their affections to the Prince and it was expected, after all, that he learn the ways of love for the production of an eventual heir-but he had never been with another man, and it had never felt like this.

It had never been love.

This glorious, all encompassing feeling, like he would rather die than be apart from Alisander, like his world revolved around his squire and without him, Trevellyan should surely perish of a broken heart-never had Trevellyan felt its like. "This is how it must always be, my love," Trevellyan said, staring deeply into the crystal blue orbs of Alisander's eyes.

"Yes," Alisander replied simply.


Justin should never have agreed to come out with Lance. He didn't want to in the first place, because he's just getting to the really good parts of his book and all he wants to do is take a bubble bath with his favorite vanilla-scented candles burning while he reads, but no. Lance had to come over and he and Joey had to guilt Justin into coming out tonight, all, "You never do anything with us anymore! We're supposed to be friends. I promised to introduce you to my hot friend who plays D&D!" Which is total bullshit because Justin sees both of them every day, but somehow here he is at Oil Can Harry's, taking shots with Joey while Lance scans the dance floor for possible hookups.

"You need to fucking relax, kid!" Joey shouts above the music, handing Justin another shot.

"He needs to get laid," Lance corrects, still staring out at the crowd. "How about that one, in the red shirt? He looks like a feisty top, and you are so in need of a good, hard fuck."

"I'm not just gonna hook up with some guy because you want me to be less bitchy," Justin says, downing his shot with a shudder of revulsion. Vodka really only gets good after three, because before that point, Justin can still feel his mouth.

"No, you're gonna hook up with some guy because you need it. You're wasting your youth, Justin. You will never be this hot again in your entire life, and you're wasting it pining after some fictional Fabio."

"Okay firstly, he doesn't look like Fabio." Lance gives him a look at that, one Justin knows means that Lance thinks he's completely out of his mind, but Justin just glares and sticks to his point, because seriously, Trevellyan does not look like Fabio. He has dark hair and blue eyes and pale skin and that is pretty much the opposite of Fabio, who is gross and old anyway."

"I'm glad that was the part of my statement you actually heard, Justin. I think that proves my point." Lance lifts his glass of fruity gay Lance booze in a toast.

"Secondly," Justin continues, "I will continue to be this hot for many years to come. So I'm not wasting anything, thanks."

Lance just shrugs and downs the rest of his drink before heading for the dance floor, saying, "Well, if you're not going to, someone should get fucked tonight, and I am happy to volunteer."

"As always," Justin mutters.

"He really is trying to help," Joey says, pushing another shot glass towards Justin along the sticky surface of the bar. "You know he means well. He thinks the stuff that makes him happy will make you happy, too."

"I know," Justin says, picking up his shot and tossing it back quickly before he can really think about it. "I just, I wish he weren't so pushy about how great his life is and how everyone should try it. I'm just not like that."

Joey rubs his shoulder comfortingly and offers Justin another drink, an actual something in a glass that tastes like chocolate and apples. "I gotta piss like a race horse," Joey says, making a face and jerking his head towards the bathrooms on the far side of the room. "I'll be back."

But fifteen minutes later, Joey's still not back and Justin's three quarters of the way to being completely smashed, now on his second chocolate appletini, before he realizes that Joey probably hooked up and isn't going to come back at all. "Nobody loves me," Justin tells his half-empty glass.

"Everybody hates you," the guy standing next to Justin trying to get the bartender's attention agrees. "Probably," he says, smiling a little, "you should go eat worms."

"Hey," Justin says slowly, making it sound like two or maybe three words, all, "Heeeeeyaaaaah," because wow, he is very much more drunker than he originally assumed. "Hey," he says again, blinking at the guy, "I totally, like, know you and stuff. You're the porn guy. The guy who buys porn. For research."

"That's me," the guy agrees, giving up on the bartender to face Justin. "The porn guy. But you can call me JC for short. Since that's my name."

JC, Justin thinks, staring a little, looks very good tonight. Not just good, but possibly fabulous, even though he seems to be wearing a pink sleeveless t-shirt and his hair is hanging in his face in loose sweaty curls. There's glitter on his cheeks and a line of it along his collarbone. Justin kind of wants to lick it, although probably the glitter would not taste good or like sugar, but the skin would taste good, he thinks, and it really has been a long time. He's slept with guys since Pharrell, he had a whole month-long slut spiral right after Pharrell left town, but since then, not really. Sporadic hookups and even though he hates to admit it, Lance is sort of right about the blowjob thing. It's just not the same. And this guy-JC-likes porn. JC, Justin thinks, will do just fine, and then maybe Lance will stop bugging him and Joey will stop trying to set him up with druid mages and he can finally read his gay romance novels in peace.

"Hey, JC," Justin says, licking his lips and tasting chocolate appletini. "That's a nice name. Wanna fuck?"


JC, it turns out, definitely wants to fuck, and clubs like this are totally made for fucking, which is what Justin discovers when JC pulls him into a back room Justin knows well from many random blowjob encounters of yore, pushes him up against the wall, and shoves his hand down Justin's pants to wrap his fingers around Justin's dick.

"I don't usually do this," JC says, breath unsteady and loud against the backdrop of moans coming from elsewhere in the room. He fumbles with Justin's fly with his free hand, squeezing Justin's dick in a tight slide, scraping his teeth down Justin's neck. And then his pants are open and JC's sliding to his knees, pulling Justin's boxers down around his knees and licking at Justin's dick before letting it slide into his mouth.

"Fuck," Justin says, because this is good, he forgot how good just getting his dick sucked could be. The heat and the wet and JC's tongue sliding against his skin and his hands warm and rough against Justin's hips, pinning him to the wall. "It's-yeah. Just think of it as, fuck, research, right?"

JC pulls off with a grin and stands up, spinning Justin around to face the wall. Justin hears the rip of a condom wrapper being torn open and then JC's fingers are pressing against him, pressing into him, slick and twisting to get that much deeper, and god, it's been a long time since he actually got fucked, but Justin's body knows this, remembers how this goes and how fucking good it feels.

"That's, yeah. I'm good," Justin says, panting a little against the wall and pressing his cheek against the cool surface. "Just go. Do it."

And then JC is pressing into him, opening him up in a slow, relentless slide that burns just this side of good, until he's all the way in, fucking his way deeper in short slides. Justin shudders and breathes and okay, this isn't the most magical sex he's ever had, or even in the top twenty, and the room is a bit spinny even with the wall solid against his hands, but it feels pretty fucking good. Top fifty at least, and Justin might be willing to give JC extra points for being able to take his fucking seriously while wearing that shirt. But that might be the vodka talking. And making him fashion blind.

"I'm totally putting this in my next novel," JC says, and twists his hips, and fuck, how could Justin completely forget how awesome sex is? And JC is pretty good at it, too, for someone who needed to do research and feels the need to order erotica at the book store. He pushes in over and over again, until Justin can't remember his own name and the guy getting blown a few feet away says, "Shut the fuck up, kid, some of us are trying to get off, here."

Justin thinks Trevellyan would approve.


Justin's not sure how he got home the night before or why he wakes up on the couch with Chris standing over him, dribbling water from a glass on his forehead, but he suspects it has something to do with the pounding in his head and, wow, in his ass. Justin groans and rolls over, burying his face in the couch cushion and trying to pretend like his life isn't happening right now. And if it weren't for Chris and his fucking water, Justin might actually be able to do it.

"Fuck off," Justin mumbles into the cushion. "It's my day off and I wanna sleep. Go away."

"Someone got laaaaiiiiid," Chris says in a sing-song voice that is entirely too loud for this time of morning, especially when accompanied by splashes of cold water on the back of Justin's head. Chris pokes at him and Justin squirms away, rolling back over to glare at Chris. "Come on, kid. We're going to breakfast and you're gonna tell Chris all about it."

"How about I tell Chris that talking about himself in the third person is lame and he sounds like a fucking tool and also go away, I want to sleep."

Chris cocks his head to the side like he's considering Justin's statement. "No, I don't think Chris would like that very much. What Chris would like, though, are some gingerbread pancakes. And bacon. Come on, J. It's our traditional day off breakfast. You can't just go around fucking with tradition."

Half an hour later, teeth brushed and face washed and feeling nominally more human again, Justin wraps his hands around his coffee cup and pretends to be fascinated by the way the Sweet 'N Low is making his coffee foam a little bit. "That can't be a good sign," Justin says. "I mean, it gives mice cancer, right? I have like three of these a day. I'm probably going to get cancer and die before I ever find a boyfriend."

Chris just rolls his eyes. "Someone's feeling awfully sorry for himself considering he got laid last night."

"Maybe someone doesn't want to 'get laid.' Maybe someone wants, like, an actual relationship that's meaningful and shit."

"But he was hot, right?"

Justin shrugs. "If you like skinny guys who wear sparkles on their face."

"Who doesn't like skinny guys with sparkles on?"

The waitress comes with food in hand and Justin doesn't say anything for a few minutes, pushing his eggs around on his plate and just thinking. Chai Soy Latte seems like a nice guy, but Justin knows that's all he is, really. Well, a nice guy who really knows how to work his hips, but good sex doesn't mean shit if it's in a club with a leather daddy getting blown three feet away. There should be dates and dinners and possibly candles. Fireworks and that sort of desperate, unpleasant feeling in his stomach like he never wants to let go.

"It's not that I don't like the guy. And there's nothing wrong with him. I just." Justin shrugs. "I want more."

"Hey, no, that's good," Chris says. "You shouldn't settle, kid. You need a hero. He's gotta be strong and he's gotta be fast. And he should definitely be fresh from the fight."

"Fuck you, Chris. Bonnie Tyler is awesome and all, but don't fucking quote song lyrics at me just because you don't want to say I'm doomed to a life of celibate misery. Just. Fuck you."

Chris grins. "I will be your hero, baby."

"I hate you."

"But when a hero comes along, with the strength to carry on—"

"Shut UP, oh my god."

Chris frowns. "Okay look. Let's just be straight here. This is a Pharrell thing, right?"

"It's—no. No. Why would me hooking up with Chai Soy Latte have anything to do with Pharrell?"

"Chai Soy—no, I'm not gonna ask. All I'm saying is, you've been messed up ever since he left, and now you're going on about finding a boyfriend, one true love kind of shit, and I just have to wonder-is this a Pharrell thing?"

Justin shrugs. "I try not to think about him too much. It, you know. Still hurts that he left? I thought we'd be together, I thought things were going great. And then he just left."

"Okay one, things were not going great, or are you forgetting the weekly screaming matches? You slept at my place as much as you did at yours."

"That's just the way it is sometimes, though, right? I mean, emotions running high and shit? Everyone's like that."

"I'm going to pretend you didn't just say that highly fucked up shit. And secondly, Pharrell left for a job. A kick ass job that he's not gonna leave anytime soon to come back here and grind code at IBM like a good little tool. So if you're thinking-"

"I'm not. Seriously, I'm not. It's not like I want a-a replacement, or whatever. But I want to feel how he made feel again."

"Justin, mostly he made you feel like shit. Why the fuck would you want that again?"

"Oh," Justin says, staring down at his now-congealed eggs. His heart is pounding in his chest and he suddenly can't tell if he's angry or sad or what, but he does know that Chris is totally wrong. Justin knows what love is like. He was in love with Pharrell and it was the best six months of his life, so Chris can just go fuck himself.


They stopped at an out-of-the-way inn that night, Trevellyan's shield carefully covered and the road dirt doing much to aid in disguising him from the innkeeper and the other patrons. It was dangerous for the Prince to go about with more protection than his sword and his squire and the idea made Alisander nervous, but he voiced his fears to no avail.

"I want to sleep in a bed tonight," Trevellyan had told him firmly, with a soft smile lighting up his face.

It was not long before they were settled in their rooms and had proper baths before having dinner brought up to them. "Alisander," Trevellyan said in a low, serious voice. "I love you, and I want to make love to you. I am hoping with all my heart that your desire is the same."

Alisander looked at his lover, at his softly curling mahogany locks, at his blue eyes, so deep and yet vibrant, at his strong nose and sharp jaw and full lips and knew then that he never wanted to miss seeing this face every day for the rest of his life. His heart and soul, it seemed, belonged to Trevellyan, and it was time for his body to make the journey as well. He knew there would be some pain, but there would be pleasure, too, if only because he would be connected with his prince in every way possible, at last.

"Yes," Alisander said simply. "My answer is yes."


"Enjoying your book?"

Justin looks up from his page and only barely keeps himself from wincing at the sight of Chai Soy Latte standing next to the bench Justin's sitting on during his lunch break. It's hot and humid and pretty miserable like most summer days in Texas and normally Justin would've stayed inside and eaten lunch at the café, but he's been trying to avoid Lance's knowing smirks for the past four hours and he just knows if he stayed inside, he'd get some sort of "sex is for fun, love is for suckers" lecture that Justin's really not in the mood for right now.

Except that this is even worse, because now JC is standing there, looking at Justin like expects Justin to say something. But really, what's there to say? "Thanks for the seedy back room fuck, it really meant a lot?" Seriously.

JC sits down next to him and nudges Justin with his elbow. "After I showed you such a good time the other night, I think I can ask a casual question about your book," he says, grinning. "Is it any good?"

"Um." Justin is completely unprepared for this sort of casual attitude, but he tries to go with it. If JC isn't going to make a big deal out of their sexcapades, Justin doesn't need to either. "It's good, yeah. Well, there should be more sex."

JC nods. "Yeah, that's what all the research was for, though. I think in the next one, I'll definitely add more sex. I'm not even sure Trevellyan and Alisander will stay together, though. I mean, they're so young and there's so much more to-"

"Wait." Justin sets the books down and turns to stare at JC. "Wait—you're Joshua Scott? As in the guy who writes The Song of Eros Joshua Scott?"

JC looks surprised. "Oh, I thought you knew. I mean, Joey said that—"

"Joey? How do you know Joey and what does he have to do with you being Joshua fucking Scott? You're Chai Soy Latte guy! You're not special! The initials don't even match. You're just. JC! The sex wasn't even that amazing!"

"Hey now," JC says, looking mildly offended. Justin swallows. He doesn't want to offend Joshua Scott, who is pretty much Justin's idol, but JC is really totally extremely different from what Justin imagined his favorite author to be like that he's very confused right now. He totally fucked Joshua Scott and it wasn't even in his top twenty. Justin feels suddenly like his worlds are colliding, or possibly crashing down around him, or something else involving his brain exploding with this new knowledge.

"To be fair," JC says, "you were really drunk. So I think, you know, that maybe we should try it again. Because at the end of the day, once really isn't enough to, you know, determine someone's, um, abilities. And it would really help me with my next book. I can't, like, pay you or whatever because I'm pretty sure that's illegal, but I could take you out to dinner. Or something."

"Are you." Justin looks at him, blinking. He's not the hottest guy Justin's ever dated, and it's not the way it was with Pharrell—that instant, blinding moment when Justin just knew he was in love. He doesn't even really know anything about JC except that he carries lube in his pockets and reads fantasy novels for fun and erotica for research. "Are you asking me on a date?"

JC smiles, and it really is kind of a nice smile. "I think I am, yeah. Are you saying yes?"

Justin looks away, across the park and everything is so green here, always green. "I don't know, JC. I just. I'm looking for something special, you know? Not to sound cheesy—okay, there's no way this isn't gonna sound cheesy—but I'm kind of looking for, like, my soul mate? And I just don't think—"

"I'm not asking for your hand in marriage," JC says, and wraps his fingers in a loose circle around Justin's wrist, thumb brushing over the wrist bone gently. "I just want a date. I like you, I want to get to know you. Is that so hard?"

It's nothing like how Justin thought it would be. It's nothing like how it was with Pharrell. There's no sudden realizations or sparks flying or unicorns and rainbows and choir of angels singing. But JC is a good guy, Justin thinks, and pretty hot and pretty talented, too. Well, modestly talented at least. So maybe it isn't the whole love at first sight, souls meeting as one thing he was looking for, but maybe it doesn't need to be, either.

"Just a date?" Justin asks, smiling a little and turning his hand around to press his palm against JC's.

"Just a date," JC says. "I think maybe we should start over."

Justin thinks about Pharrell leaving, about how it's been a year and he's never even gotten a single phone call. He thinks about leaving messages on Pharrell's answering machine and wondering if Pharrell and his new boyfriend stand around the machine listening and saying what a loser Justin is. He told Chris he's not looking for a replacement for Pharrell, and Justin didn't really know that was true until now. Because he was in love, he had the fireworks and the big scary relationship thing, but it's over now and there's no going back to how things were. Justin's pretty sure he doesn't want to, anyway.

"Starting over." Justin leans in closer, sliding his hand up JC's arm to his shoulder. "I think we should just start with something we haven't done yet." And then they're kissing, JC's mouth hot and soft against Justin's, his tongue sliding so gently along Justin's bottom lip that Justin shivers and sides in even closer, as close as he can. He can feel the sun on his face and JC's fingers against the back of his neck, cool and firm, and he thinks, maybe they should've kissed the first time, because this is definitely top twenty. Maybe even top ten, and then JC's teeth scrape along Justin's lower lip and Justin stops thinking at all because:



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