nsync in black and white

Fiction by Pen . . . . . not real, made up, purely intended for entertainment



"Look what I found," said Joey, proudly.

Chris stepped back to let them in. The 'find' stumbled slightly as he crossed the threshold, most likely because Joey had prodded him between the shoulder blades. AJ looked small, almost fragile next to Joey's healthy, happy bulk, but he stood in the hallway with his chin up and the wall lights reflecting off his sunglasses. Chris thought about tell him him not to be a jackass and to take his sunglasses off, the sun wasn't even shining outside, let alone in here. But, what the hell.

"Lance is making popcorn," Chris said instead, and led them through to the kitchen. Chris was not allowed to make popcorn, since the Incident, but he figured that now there was company—and Joey, of course—he would at least be allowed in the kitchen. His own kitchen, but Lance was such a bossy bitch.

There was a heavenly aroma, and an enormous bowl, domed with gleaming golden popcorn, and Lance bending down to get beers out of the refrigerator didn't hurt, either.

"Brought you something," Joey announced, and Lance turned.



Lance sounded surprised, but not actually pissed or anything. There was never going to be a problem with Joey, who was as enthusiastic and forgiving as a very large puppy, and Chris looked like he was too mellow to make with the I-can-be-a-tough-sell attitude today, but Lance could up and start with the interrogation, which AJ was more or less willing to admit he deserved but really, really not in the mood. "Hey," he said, cautiously.

There was a perceptible pause. Lance's eyebrow twitched. "Can I get you a drink?" he offered.

Uh. RIght. "No, thanks, I'll just—"

"Coke, rootbeer or water," Lance continued in a steely tone. Southern boy, well brought up, do not go into his house and refuse the beverage. "Or coffee?"

"Yeah, um. Coke. Thanks."

"We are not completely insensitive morons," Lance remarked to the chilly shelves as he fished out a can. "You, however." He marched across the room, set the Coke down on the counter top beside AJ, and removed AJ's sunglasses. AJ blinked, not that it was that bright in here, but Lance's eyes were like searchlights.

"You don't call, you don't write," said Chris, reproachful, from his right.

"You come to Orlando and don't even let us know," said Joey, from his left. "Is that fair? Is that kind?"

"We were pining, you know," said Chris.

"We missed you." Joey again.

"Wasting away," said Chris. "Joey's a shadow of his old self."

"What these two dorks are trying to say," said Lance, "is that we've been concerned. It's been, what, five weeks?"

AJ bit his lip, and hung his head like a guilty child. Lance reached a hand to his jaw, and turned AJ's face up. "We didn't intend for you to be hurt," he went on. "That's the last thing we wanted."

"No, I wasn't—I wasn't hurt. Hell, no. I just, it was..."

"Too much?" Joey, softly.

"I needed a little time," AJ admitted. "Just to process. I didn't mean to—to ignore you all. Then there was stuff, and after that, it seemed like, I hadn't called, and it felt like I couldn't."

Chris poked him ungently in the ribs. "That was dumb," he stated.

"Yeah. So. Um."

"So you, what? Came to visit us without, you know, calling to let us know, or actually coming to the house?" said Lance. He'd make a good interrogator, AJ thought, unsure whether it was the calm, gentle rumble of the voice or the inescapable gaze, or something else, that made him confess.

"I came to see Howie. But he has this big DLF thing tonight," he explained.

"I knew about that, and Chris knew, and Joey knew. So how come you didn't know?" Lance smiled at him. "Are you sure you came to Orlando to see Howie?" AJ's face felt hot. "Alex, Alex. What are we going to do with you?"

"I have some ideas!" said Chris.

"Down, boy!" Lance told him, but his eyes were bright and there was a smile hovering.

Of course this was why he was there, in Orlando, when Howie was otherwise occupied. Of course this was why he'd come, lying to himself on the plane, telling himself he wanted to see Howie, hadn't seen Howie in months, had to make time to see Howie. Carefully not thinking about that last time, the four of them, high on nothing more than fireworks and laughter, stumbling upstairs together, kisses and eager hands all over him and hot, sweaty, incendiary and somehow entirely comfortable sex until they were too exhausted to move and slept in a tangled mess on the huge, custom-made bed. Joey's thigh made a good pillow.

"I should have called," he said, humbly, and looked straight into Lance's eyes. "I should have called to say, let's do it again."

"Sexy men with big brown eyes," Lance muttered. "Gets me every time." And came in for the kiss.



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