nsync in black and white

Disclaimer: this is fiction. We made it up.

You Give Sweet

by kira, written for Topaz119

Britney was wearing the necklace with the unicorn, the one that was so long the pendant rested just above her belly button. It made a rattley noise when it was put on the bedside table.

It reminded him of a tinkery sound, like someone stirring a drum stick in an empty can, like the sound he heard when sleeping in the middle of the afternoon and JC walked through his room in bracelets and a toe ring.


Unknowingly, Justin was giving away lyrics, one kiss at a time.

Justin didn't really fit in anywhere. He was too different. He wore the same jeans as anyone else and bought t-shirts from the same stores but he always looked exotic to JC.

He wrote him in to his songs and forced himself to try to capture what it was about Justin that made him so desperate to try to get it down on paper or in a song or in the smile he gave when people asked him what's your most favorite thing in the world?

One day, JC would know all the words and it would be one of the only three times he found them before he found the melody.


JC started to collect the circles of paper left hole punchers, starting the time he found one on Johnny's desk. Johnny had looked at it in JC's hand like he couldn't figure out how it got there and that was understandable since he was a bit too rich and successful to be punching his own holes.

The collection didn't get a chance to accumulate. They avoided offices and even when they were forced in to one, JC would stand half behind someone like a kid behind his mom when she met friends in town. He didn't think it really involved him but he wasn't fooling anyone if he thought he was just there to sing. Music didn't mean anything if it wasn't about something, at least, that was what JC had led Justin to believe.


Justin moved like a song. JC went through favorite songs every now and again and fell all in love but eventually he loved them for another reason. There was that ecstatic feeling of falling for the first time and then the gradual realization that it wasn't because it made him happy that he loved it so much but because it reminded him of a memory he didn't even have, like a conversation that only made sense when someone said something years later.


The DJ was trying his best to rephrase the question from how many times do you think Justin is going to rewrite cry me a river? to weren't you the one in the MTV poll with 43% of people's votes for everyone's favorite Nsync member?

It wasn't that he couldn't stand to lose. Justin didn't like to see anyone lose. "He's competitive," JC said. "But he'd rather see everyone win."


JC hated it when Justin said, "You really know me." A wide-eyed look and a silent question followed the comment even though it was a statement. JC had to try really hard not to say no-one knows me. It took lifetimes to get to know people. There were some he got to know just looking at them, but they were anomalies.

He met Joey outside somewhere, maybe on a street, there was sunshine everywhere. It was sunny, JC kept squinting and turning away and Joey kept asking him if he was okay. Five minutes into a conversation and he knew everything Joey didn't want him to know about Joey.

Joey wanted to be famous. He wanted to make his dad proud. Joey wanted to fall in love. These were probably the reasons Chris didn't believe he wanted it enough.

Chris was never unsure of JC, JC knew, because he laid it all out on the table early on, repeated it before NSA. He was in it for the music and if he had to do it broke, he'd do it broke.


JC made sure in the beginning that he kept some things to himself. Justin suspected he was holding back, in the way that he knew that he had to give things away so it could be even. It made people feel closer to him. It made people feel more comfortable if he told them something about himself that they thought only they were privy to. That didn't sit well with JC and not just because it was dishonest.

Justin would never admit to lying like that. He believed in truth, in its healing powers. That was what he said to JC anyway who didn't see how that worked out considering Justin never ever said no to Chris. JC didn't know that for certain but he was pretty sure. At first he thought it was because Justin was eager to please but really it was probably because he was afraid of losing the one person who believed him when he said stuff like, "You really know me." Chris probably had two reasons for believing it, he just did or it made things easier. Chris could be difficult and take the long way round but Justin made him less cynical and that was probably why JC hated it when they were together.

Chris was more like JC, people had to earn their respect and trust. Justin gave it willingly enough, with the only exception that the person he gave it to, maintained it. JC thought that was cheap.


They slept in buses and woke up in parking lots. Chris made sure Justin hid his love away, which was easier than people thought because given the world as a forum, Justin wasn't so sure he would have managed it so well. Turned out that a tiny bunk in a little bus could be the best hiding place for all sorts of things; conversations spent staring at table tops and cupboard doors, laps, hands, TVs, chins, shoulders.

Justin believed things found their way so he hid it pretty well but then JC would stop coming to his room when he knew they were free for a few hours.

He found himself holding the bunk curtain to stay upright in the aisle saying something like, "you didn't." And JC would say, "I didn't promise to." Justin believed in leading by example so when he meant something, he said it and when he wanted something he asked for it but guilt-tripping JC didn't work as well as it did on Chris. It meant Justin was the one with the swirly feelings in his stomach just before sleep.


For Joey, the law suit was a crash course in growing up. JC knew Joey was the most secretive out of all of them. He always added his opinions last to the pile and he pretended not to notice things so people didn't ask his opinion about them.

Justin did the growing-up thing and Chris looked surprised and grateful but that was because he was expecting there to be changes. Changes that didn't include one of them going to do an album all by themselves.

JC slept over at his house the day he announced it, brought a toothbrush and a little comb rolled up in his pajamas in a Wal-Mart bag as well as two baguettes and two cartons of soft cheese.

"You woke up one day and wanted to go it alone."

Justin's response was a kiss. He woke up in JC's arms the next morning and JC said, "Are you gonna wake up day after tomorrow and wanna be alone?"

"What about tomorrow?" Justin asked.

Guilt-tripping attempt number three hundred thousand something and still the same result. JC got out of bed and picked up his clothes and dressed in the bathroom. He came back out and stepped in to his sneakers that were at the foot of the bed, staring Justin down the whole time as he did.

Justin looked at the pink heels of JC's feet as they poked out from the back his sneakers. "Don't be such a baby", he meant to shout it but it ended up coming out at normal volume. JC was already downstairs, away from him. He always ended up saying the most important things to himself.


Bobbie hated wearing make-up, she wore it all the time but she hated it and when JC told her not to wear it she looked at him, angry, so he didn't say anything else. They would go out to dinner and JC would pretend the people two tables over weren't trying to get a picture. Bobbie kept going to the bathroom and coming back each time with thicker and sootier lashes.

It turned JC's stomach the way she used the nail on her pinky finger to separate the lashes, blinking like a fish, and using the same napkin she used to wipe her mouth to dab at the water in the corner of her eyes.

JC wanted to tell her it would be better to tip her head back so the water could drain back in to the tear ducts but that sounded biological, and sad.


The washing machine broke and wouldn't drain water. Lynn set it for the longest cycle with the order that that if she wasn't back in time that JC and Chris were responsible for taking the clothes out, wringing them and putting them up on a line in the back yard.

JC had called Justin to get Chris when it finished. Justin stood in the doorway to Chris's room and Chris was sitting up on top of the bed covers holding a baseball. In his twenties and he was still playing the McQueen-schtick.

"JC sai…"

"Fuck off Justin."

Justin stood in the doorway of the washing machine room. "Chris won't come."

JC humphed. "He's so lazy."

"I can help," Justin said.

It was hot and bright outside so the white sheets looked luminous. Justin felt bad touching the clean white cotton with his sweaty hands but it was a hot day and it was just the way it was. JC was hanging the pegs up in some random color code, pink then white then yellow. Justin stuck to blue white, blue white, because blue and white were clean colors. They looked fresh.

Justin was in jeans and a white undershirt. Earlier, he lay on the sofa watching TV, running his hands guiltily up between his legs; so sweaty, even his jeans were damp.

JC didn't seem to mind when he locked them in his bedroom and squeezed the backs of Justin's thighs, gentle and sweet then dipped his bed between his legs. Justin felt like a tall cold glass of water the way JC held him and drank from him like a cup.

Autumn came and the machine didn't get fixed even though Lou said he kept ringing the company to come fix it. In the lawn of the neighbor who lived to the left, there were two trees. It got windy and papery white fuzz floated around. It didn't matter too much to the basketball jerseys and faux silk shirts but the turtleneck sweaters weren't so lucky. So in the back of the van on their way to sing hard enough so someone would believe them, they picked the bits out from each other's sweaters.


Justin bought JC a CD. He gave it to him when they were sharing a piano stool in the music room in Justin and Britney's house. JC said, "That's a weird gift."

Justin said, "You love music..." He had thought a CD was a good gift idea for someone who loved music.

"I love you."

"but the group-"

"I love you."


Justin turned his back for a half an hour and JC was dancing already before he even got drunk. He was moving fifty times faster than the music. Justin looked at Chris, exasperated, and Chris put his hands up, relinquishing responsibility.

Justin watched him all night to make sure no one took advantage of him but he was the one who took him home and tried to hear yes in the "knew you couldn't," JC shouted, sort of bitterly and humorously. He sounded so tragic sometimes; he'd fold his arms and drink from a tea-cup one handed and it made Justin think of a person who worked at a Laundromat down town. Somebody who stood outside with their checked apron and squinted in to the distance, smoking a cigarette, thinking about the money.


JC was sitting on Bobbie's bed waiting for her to get back. She swished in, throwing shopping bags on the floor and stepping out of her expensive heels, carrying what looked like a book but when she put it down on the bed by him, he noticed it was a rain-swollen copy of Reader's Digest.

She opened the doors to her mirror-fronted wardrobe, balancing on one leg she rubbed her instep. "What should I wear?"

"The leopard print dress," JC said because it had like a trillion buttons and it scooped low at the back. She would wear it with her hair up and he loved the nape of her neck. He liked waking up in the morning and smelling hairspray there.

Bobbie jutted her hip out and clutched a cuff of a leather jacket. "But which one?"


JC followed him in to the waiting limousine after and said, "Hey, wanna be a rockstar?" then fucked him so hard and fast he didn't get to come. JC kept his shades on too, because he never said anything he didn't mean and he took his own jokes too seriously.


"Oh lord I am so stressed out right now."

Justin tried to send soothing vibes through the telephone but Britney kept making rustling sounds trying on one dress after another.

"Wear the necklace with the unicorn on."

"Unicorn? I don't have a … wait. No. Nope nope. No unicorn necklace."

But she wore it the whole week they were on vacation. How could she forget something that had been there in front of her that long?


"Find the melody first," JC said and Justin crossed out the lyrics and went back to the dizzy straight lines of music paper.

JC saw him running and told him to go back and start again. A good song was a good story.

Most of the songs Justin wrote about JC in his head weren't sad, just unfinished.


If they did it with JC on his back then JC would hold him close one armed around the waist so he'd rock in, his hold getting tighter the closer they got and then he came and relaxed back as if in to cushions, and there was that sigh, that look again, like the moment JC closed his eyes and held a mug under his chin so the steam went over his chin, arms tucked in. Like when he leaned back from the coffee table after snorting a line.

Justin shook, trying to hold out and it didn't matter that they were somewhere cold or uncomfortable a wall or a windowsill, where they had to do it fast.


"I got a new scene now," JC said and Justin remembered when they weren't cool enough to know what one was.

Justin fell in and out of love, looked for synonyms for his feelings, tried to picture JC with his head tipped back, catching the music on his chest, getting ready to throw it back through his mouth. JC would turn around and smile at him when they hit the high note and the stage smelled like grass, like wet sheets and damp jeans.

"I hate you."

"I believe you."

Justin knew he should have given up that routine a long time ago. It never worked. "I don't really," he added, quietly, and JC put the phone down, gently.


He saw it on her dresser and he said, "yes you do. There's the unicorn necklace."

She stood and picked it up, held it out like jewelry salesman. "No it doesn't silly. It's a horse. A >i>pony."

In the palm of his hand it looked the same, not as glittery as the sunshine made it but precious.

"That's its ear!" She shrieked delighted and snort-laughed, pushed his shoulder. "That's it's ear Justin."

"It looks," he swallowed. "It looks like a horn."

"It's pointy," she admitted and then laughed some more. "It's a pointy ear." She put her head against his chest and her hands on his lower back, he could feel the pendant dangle on the back of his thighs. "You can have it if you want. I don't wear it anymore."

"No. It looks better on you baby."


All night, the truth happened. They talked during the film and broke in to privacy during the commercials. JC went to the kitchen to make tea. He came back, sat down and wrapped one arm around Justin's neck, kissed the temple beneath his cheek. "I'm sitting here. Looking."

"Just looking," he said again, squinting. The steam looked like smoke as it rose up over his face.


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