nsync in black and white

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

A Tale of Dreams and Asses

my real Make The Yuletide Gay story

the old, familiar dance

It was easy with Joey, as Lance had known it would be.

"So, we're going with the big bed."

"Absolutely. And a bunk in back, for when my little girl visits."

"As long as you don't expect me to sleep in the bunk the rest of the time," Lance said at once. Bunks were okay, but only when there was nothing better available. "Or, I guess we could take turns."

Joey stared at him. "You don't want to sleep in the big bed?" he said, incredulously.

"Of course I do! I'm just sayin'."

"Okay, then. We share." Joey nodded. "But you keep your hands to yourself."

Lance laughed at him. "Yeah, 'cause your ass is irresistible. However did I manage to keep my hands off it all these years?"

"I know you, Bass. I how much you covet my ass, because hell," Joey slapped his backside resoundingly, "who wouldn't, that's prime Italian beefsteak right there. But there will be no inappropriate touching. I know what you gay guys are like, all fast and loose, and I'm a married man."

"I will keep my hands off you, although I am of course secretly tempted by your prime Italian butt," Lance agreed, "but not because I'm afraid of you, Fatone. I am afraid of your wife. Kelly would have my balls for breakfast."

"Yes. So. Just you, you know. Remember that," Joey told him sternly.

Lance nodded. "I will," he replied with great earnestness. "Only, if you happen to wake up in the night and find me humping your leg, try to remember I'm probably just dreaming."

"Only probably?"

"Almost certainly." Lance grinned.

"I understand," said Joey, with grave sympathy. "I am hard to resist."

"Besides, it'll make up for all the times I woke up with you humping my leg," Lance said, and leaped out of reach.

It was just like being twenty-one again, really.


Months of business, of organization, of negotiation, of rehearsal. At last, it was time for the fun part!

Lance liked being on tour, he always had, even back when it was crazy. The excitement, the adrenalin rush every performance, and the chance to kick back and relax with the guys in between. Sure, there was publicity, even for a sold-out tour they had to make a few appearances, but a lot of that had been done months ago, and this time, they had no album to promote. Really, it was all good now.

The first night was the best, just for the surprise element. Last night, what an atmosphere! He'd forgotten how frenzied it got, the screams, waiting for the lights to go up. The ecstatic welcome when they went on. I Want You Back, with the entire audience singing, so loud it probably didn't matter if the guys on stage remembered the words or not. He had, actually, blanked for a moment, overwhelmed by the waves of joy coming at them from the audience.

And he just loved the part where they reminded the audience where they'd been. When the first thumping bass beats of SexyBack started pulsating... then the vocal started and the audience confusion melted into shrieks of delight because it was Chris singing, with Lance gleefully putting in the "Yeah!" and they quieted down to listen. Then Lance belted out how all day long he dreamed about sex (which he'd nearly had a heart attack over when JC suggested it, but now, hell, he adored it), and the wolf-whistles from the crowd just made him grin so hard. Then Joey bounded onto the stage to sing The Nicest Kids in Town, with Chris and Lance camping it up behind him. JC's towering vocals for Luck be a Lady with the three of them filling in the chorus, thanks be for Joey's fabulous stint as Sky Masterson in LA and Sydney last year, and eventually, with an even higher volume of screams, Justin strolled onto the stage to sing Story of my Life.

It was good to know that their set list worked. Lance only regretted that the surprise element would soon be gone. As of today, he knew, details would be up on the internet, so increasingly, the fans would know what was coming.

Still, for better or worse, the tour was on the road. Time to sit back and enjoy the ride. Lance reached for the nearest dog, which settled happily against him to be petted. It was a pity his own dogs were way too big to bring on the tour bus. Lance totally did not approve of Joey's ridiculous miniatures. In his opinion, dogs should be large and boisterous, with honorable exceptions for Chris's pugs, which were too absurd not to love, and for his own dear departed Jackson, who'd been a real dog in attitude if not size. Still, this little boy was lolling blissfully as Lance scratched his head, and there were worse things in the world than small dogs.

got to figure it all out again

It was different now.

For one thing, there was no Justin on the bus with them to keep Chris occupied when he was in the mood for a games marathon. JC could play most of the PS3 games, of course he could, but he wasn't fanatical like Chris was and he always, always lost. And really, those games just weren't as much fun these days. When he was at home, JC played World of Warcraft. He had a dwarf priest and a night elf hunter and an adorable little gnomish warlock, but the internet connection on the bus just wasn't up to raiding, too much lag. Besides, Chris would bug him and demand that he play real games instead. JC didn't think Chris had the patience to play Warcraft.

He sighed. He was not sure how this arrangement had come to seem inevitable and right, at least to everyone else. But Justin had wanted his own bus, and Joey had wanted to bring Kelly and Briahna along for part of the time, and Chris had been adamant that he did not want a bus to himself, because, he'd said, if they didn't get to hang out, why were they even doing this?

A three-man-bus with Chris, Lance and JC had seemed to be in the offing, and JC was very much down with that, but it turned out that Lance was basically planning to ride with Joey while he could, and JC just wasn't sure how he and Chris were going to get along without a third person in the mix. Not that he and Chris didn't get along, but they hadn't lived together like this for years, and it had been different. Then.

And today, only two days into the tour, JC was trying to write. The publicity surrounding *Nsync's reunion/farewell concert tour had been terrific, and he would be damned if he let it go to waste. JC was going straight into the studio when they were done, and he was going to get his next album out while the media people still remembered his name. He had had it with the 'Chavez' crap. So he had to get some songs ready.

Except, he was sharing a bus with Chris.

"Look," he said, when Chris pestered him for attention, "why don't you see if Justin wants some company?"

"I'm leaving the Infant to wise up and figure out how boring he's being," Chris said. "It'll take him a while."

"Lance. Joey," said JC, helplessly.

"I called Joey, he says Lance is working on some figures, and if I go over there he'll probably kill me. You wouldn't want that to happen, would you? You'd have to redo all the choreography for four."

JC glared. "If Lance doesn't kill you, I might do it myself. I'm busy here. I'm trying to write."

"Well, duh," said Chris, reasonably. "Lemme see, you're sitting there with the keyboard and headphones, and you've been playing the same phrase over and over for the last half hour. You're either stuck on a lyric or you're trying to hypnotize yourself."

"Uh. So—" why are you bothering me, then? JC wanted to say, but he didn't get the chance.

"So put it through the speakers and let's see if I can help," said Chris.

JC stared.

"Oh, come on! It's not like I never wrote a song in my life!" Chris sounded almost hurt.

"But—you don't like to write with people." Chris's preferred method had always been to write on his own, and hand over the results for other people to work on when he was done.

"I didn't," Chris corrected him. "But I learned. With Sureshot, right at the beginning, we had, like, hours to come up with something. We had to work together. So I learned." JC stared. "Unless you don't wanna, if this is for solo stuff, if you don't want to work with any of us on it, I mean, that's okay."

"No, no, I mean, yes, I wasn't, I was just." JC gave up and switched the keyboard sound through the speakers. "So, this is what I have so far."


He was going to ask Chris to sing on the number, when he recorded it. Really, Chris's voice was just amazing. He'd forgotten how much he loved that incredible tone. There really was no reason not to record with one or two of the guys now, JC thought. Not after this farewell tour, when *Nsync would be officially done. It was different, now, the idea of bringing his best friends into his solo music.

And writing a song with Chris was new. In fact, while they were on the bus together, it'd be a shame not to do more. Chris was a lot more mellow these days. He still had that restless energy that wouldn't let his body stop moving, not even while he slept—JC only knew this because sometimes, he was later getting to bed than Chris; once JC was asleep on the bus, even Chris's nocturnal thrashing did not disturb him—but he was more willing to sit and talk, or work on a song, instead of always having to be doing something manic. It was nice.

At times, Chris even settled down with his laptop to catch up on business. Chris would never let you tell him he was a good person, JC thought fondly, but he had a truly generous spirit. Smart, too. The bands he'd picked to open for them on this leg of the tour were both going to make it, in JC's opinion—though what did he know, he had no clue what made a band successful, he just liked the music. It seemed to be working for their audiences, anyway, apparently the CDs had been selling quite well at the venues. That, JC supposed, was the way it went when your audience wasn't mostly thirteen years old any more.

Right now, though, Chris wasn't working. He was stretched out reading a comic book, with his feet inevitably tapping out a rhythm on the arm of the couch.

"Do you want some tea?" JC liked to drink iced tea, during the afternoon before a show.

"Do I look like a man who wants an iced tea?" said Chris, offended. "Gimme a Coke. And none of that caffeine-free crap, I saw you sneak that stuff on board, Chasez, and no way! I'm an old man now, I need the stimulus."

"Right." JC tossed a can over to where Chris was lounging. "You're so decrepit, it's a wonder you can manage the Bye Bye Bye dance any more."

"Only because it's the final number. I can stagger off stage after and collapse."

"So it was some other Chris Kirkpatrick who was practicing Kung Fu moves in the hotel in Atlanta, then."

"That's right. Ow, fuck, did you shake this thing up, Chasez, you evil T-shirt killer?"

JC threw a cloth, and Chris dabbed at his chest, muttering.

"If you were sitting up like a normal human being," JC said, severely.

"Yeah, Mom."

JC snickered. Things weren't that different, after all. He flopped into the comfy chair and swung his legs over the arm. "It's good, isn't it," he said happily. "Touring again, together, I mean."

"Good, because I thought I was going to have to figure out what you were talking about." Chris paused. "Actually, yeah. It is."

"I thought things might be difficult, with Lance being out, but it's pretty much like it always was. The audiences are the same. Well, older, but."

"And with more guys," Chris observed. "And the girls seem even more excited about Lance now he's gay than they ever used to be. Huh. Maybe I should come out, too. D'you think I'd get more action if I said I was gay? Do they wanna see if they can convert him, or do they just wanna be his best friend and have pajama parties and talk about boys?"

"Are you?" JC was astonished. He had never imagined Chris might be interested in guys. "I mean, I thought, I didn't think, have you ever..."

"No!" Chris guffawed at the thought, and threw the cloth at JC, who caught it neatly. Hah. "Are you crazy? If I was gonna be gay, I'd have to like dick. And I really don't like dick, except for my own. So, no coming out for me. Hell, if the sight of Lance's ass hasn't converted me by now... Boy has one hell of a fine ass."

"He does," said JC, absently. He realized, a few minutes later, that Chris was looking at him with an expression of great interest, and that he should probably have said something, anything, about anything, instead of falling into a reverie at the mention of Lance's ass.


shiny new man-crush

There was some problem with Lance's mike, apparently. He and two of the sound techs were in solemn conference in the middle of the stage. Chris and Joey were talking to Troy and Kevin. JC was collecting a fresh bottle of water from the cooler.

Justin wandered to the front of the stage and looked meditatively out across the array of seating. Tonight, it would be a hot, heaving mass of people.

"Do you ever wonder what it's like from their point of view?" JC said, behind him, and handed him a water bottle.

"Thanks. Also, huh?"

"You know." JC waved at the arena. "What it feels like to be lost in the crowd."

"Nah," said Justin, and grinned. "I like the view just fine from up here."

JC got that polite look on his face he got when he wanted to say something and didn't have the words yet. "Well, sure," he said, "but. All those fans out there, they each have their own stories, like, how they got there and where they come from, but they all become part of the crowd."

"I don't really think about them much," Justin said. "I mean, not as individuals. It's not like you can get to know them all. They're just fans."

"I guess so. I just wonder, you know, what it's like."

Justin had no clue what to say to that. Why would JC want to be just one of the crowd? Why would anyone, when they could be up here? He drank some water and hoped JC would change the subject. Which he did.

"So, J, you happy with how the tour's going?"

"Sure. It's good. I mean, we sold out the first dates in, like, milliseconds. Can't complain about that! And the set is really good. I mean, the audiences seem to love it." The set list was working, true enough, but Justin still thought it would have been better if they'd included a couple more of his latest numbers. And of JC's, of course. Just to make it clear they weren't a boyband any longer. But whatever, those arguments were over and done.

"You're okay on your own, on your own bus, I mean? You know you're always welcome to ride with me and Chris anytime."

"Oh, man. You know, I was surprised you didn't want your own tour bus. Didn't you get used to having somewhere private to wind down? I mean, I need my own space now. It's not like I don't see you guys plenty, but if I had to live with Chris all the time, please. I'd probably kill him. Just kidding." Justin was so glad he'd insisted on his own bus. It wasn't just having his own place, though he'd been touring solo for so long now, it would have been really hard to adapt to sharing with the other guys again.

"No, I just meant. If you wanted company," said JC.

Yeah, right, 'cause being around Chris was so much fun these days. There was an edge, something, he couldn't define it but it was there, when Chris spoke to him. It was uncomfortable, and Justin had no clue what to do about it. "Trace was here just last week, so it's not like I'm all alone," he pointed out. "'Sides, I got plenty to do. I got this new script to read, did I tell you? The studio liked what I did in Thunderbolt Circle, and they think it's going to be big." He was getting really good offers now, and he was ready for the next step.

JC still looked dubious. Justin sighed inwardly. Why was it apparently so hard to understand that he'd grown up, expanded his horizons? "I really think I'm ready to do more as an actor now. I learned so much from Matt, you know? I mean, all kinds of stuff about timing, and how to really think yourself into a role, and so much technique. He's a really generous actor, you know? And I honestly have grown so much, you'll see, when it comes out. They're talking about a sequel, if Thunderbolt Circle does the business they think it's gonna do. If Matt wants to do another one, of course. But I'd totally be up for that, and the timing works out just right. Y'all are coming to the premiere, right?"

"Looking forward to it," JC said. "Uh, I think they're done with Lance." He waved. From the other side of the stage, Lance beckoned.

we're like brothers

Lance ambled towards the front of the bus, lured by the aroma of frying onions. As he got there, Joey was adding ground beef to the pan. There was a packet of spaghetti on the counter, along with tomatoes, bell peppers and Joey's spice rack. Lance sighed happily. Who cared about missing breakfast when there was spaghetti with meat sauce for lunch!

He settled at the end of the tiny counter to watch Joey cook. There really wasn't room for two in the kitchen area.

"You could help, you know," Joey said, not raising his eyes from the pan.

"I could," said Lance, "if there was room."

"You could chop stuff." He nodded towards the vegetables.

Lance conceded that he could do that, and went around the counter, and the two of them danced the old, familiar dance around each other in the tiny space. Unfortunately they'd spent too long in real kitchens, and had forgotten most of the steps. After the third collision, Lance retreated, saying Joey could see to the food, he would see to fresh coffee.

"I swear there used to be more room in the bus kitchen. I told you this new design wasn't as good," Joey said as he stirred his miraculous sauce. It smelled fantastic.

"Maybe you grew," Lance said, slyly.

"You saying I'm fat, Bass?"

"No, no, no, no. Not for a minute. You're just—out of shape."

"I am not!" said Joey, with exaggerated indignation. "Okay, I am, but I'm working on it. We should have had more dancing in this tour. Dancing keeps me fit."

"True, Fatone. You were in great shape back when you did that Dancing With the Stars thing. Shame you let the easy living get to you after."

"I didn't do so bad," Joey protested. "I didn't put all the weight back on!"

"Just most of it, right?" Lance shook his head, sadly. "You know the answer. You need to exercise more."

"Exercise is boring, "Joey grumbled.

"Yeah, but think of the benefits. Weren't you the one who was on national television telling the world you were better in bed since you got into shape? Of course," Lance went on, "sex is pretty good exercise, too. If you got the stamina to make it last. Thirty seconds of sweaty action isn't gonna cut it." He fielded the wooden spoon without difficulty, and grinned at his scowling best friend as he handed it back.

"Thirty seconds my ass," said Joey, loftily. "I can still do—hey, is that how you and Chasez stay so damn skinny? I mean, Justin has his weights, but you never stuck to an exercise plan in your life, and I know how quickly C gets bored, so it must be all that sex you're having. Hah!"

"I am not having sex with JC!"

"Oh, God, no, I didn't mean the two of you together, I was just thinking you must have had a hell of a sex life lately, being young and single and top of everybody's Most Desirable Gay Men list, but on second thoughts, don't tell me, I don't wanna know."

Lance was relieved to hear it, although he had a feeling Joey might be a bit disappointed. He hadn't taken nearly as much advantage of being the hottest gay man in New York as he could have done—or in Orlando, while they were working on the tour. At least, he'd turned down a lot more offers than he'd taken up. Joey would probably think it was unpatriotic behavior, or something. "What worries me is the thought of you checking out the Chasez," he said, as a diversion.

"Man, I wish I had his metabolism," Joey said, ruefully. "JC wouldn't have needed anyone to tell him to stop sticking his butt out. Doesn't even have a butt. Do you think it's painful when he sits down? Maybe that's why he lies down all the time."

Lance rolled his eyes. "Nah, that's just his narcoleptic tendencies. Besides, JC does have a butt. It's cute. Tiny little cowboy butt, just enough to grab ahold of. What, I can't look?"

"Haven't noticed you going around with a magnifying glass lately."

"That's 'cause I'm stuck on this bus with you! Don't need a magnifying glass to see your fat ass, in fact, I'm scared to think what it'd look like."

Joey turned and wiggled his backside in Lance's direction. "Aw, come on! Can't tell me this isn't a fine, fine specimen! I know you just wanna get your hands on here and sque-e-e-ze."

"Nope. My hands just aren't that big." Lance yelped as a spoonful of sauce flew towards him, and fled to the back of the bus with Joey in hot pursuit. There was, ultimately, nowhere to run, so he had to submit to being thoroughly noogied, but the torment didn't go on for long as Joey was too good a cook to forget that the pasta was already simmering.

"Um, speaking of sex," Joey said, as they sat at their little table to eat, "you do remember my girls are coming out while Briahna's on school break, right?"

"Yeah, no problem. I'll move over to Chris and JC's bus in the morning." It'd be just as well to get away from Joey's cooking for a few days. He must have put on a couple of pounds already, Lance thought. "This is incredibly good."

"Thanks, man."

"You're gonna send B over to come play with us, right?"

"Oh, yeah."

Lance was a little disturbed to discover that he still recognized Joey's "gonna get laid" face.


more than happy to notice

"Mmm, Kelly." Joey snuggled closer and slid his leg over Kelly's thigh. The hand that was resting on her smooth, sweet midriff drifted gently upward beneath her nightshirt, as he nuzzled affectionately at her neck and nudged the fabric away from her shoulder. "Missed you so much, honey."

Something was wrong. Something was terribly, horribly wrong. Joey's hands could not find what they were seeking, though he patted desperately. He sat up. "Honey! What happened to your breasts?"

There was a loud thump. Joey woke abruptly, to find himself sitting bolt upright. Lance was on the floor, laughing so hard he could barely breathe.

He was never going to hear the end of this, Joey thought glumly.

doing the flips again

Lance hoisted his duffel onto the top bunk and toed off his sneakers. On the other bus, Joey was engaged in epic tidying, and Lance, being orderly in his habits, had thought it reasonable to transfer over early and leave him to it.

As he padded forward to join the others, there was a screech of warning and a magazine flew past his ear.

"Sorry," said Chris.

Lance retrieved the magazine from the floor. "Did Entertainment Weekly do something wrong? And why are you reading it anyway?" Then he noticed the front cover. "Ah." Matt Damon smiled glossily up at him.

"I have had more than enough of Justin's shiny new man-crush," Chris said. "Thank God he isn't sharing this bus. I'd probably kill him."

Lance glanced over at JC, who was stifling a grin. "But Chris," he whined, "Matt's so cool, he taught Justin everything he knows about acting. And he's Hollywood A-List, so he must be a really amazing person."

"Oh, shut up," said Chris. "Hey, you don't have a crush on him too, do you?"

"Not my type," said Lance, making himself comfortable in the armchair. "Anyway, I've had it with actors."

"I think it's sweet," said JC. He helped himself to an apple from the fruit bowl on the kitchen counter, and polished it carefully on his T-shirt. "I mean, Matt Damon! He probably did give Justin some help, and it's not like he'd be getting anything out of it."

"Except the credit, if J's good," Chris pointed out, rather churlishly.

"Oh, come on." JC crunched a mouthful. "As man-crushes go, this is way better than the last one."

"Timbaland, you mean? Yeah, that was nasty, how that went down." They all fell silent, contemplating the embarrassment that had been the very public break-up of Justin and Timbaland's working relationship. "I mean," Chris went on, "it wasn't exactly my kind of thing, the music they were making, and that second to last album of Timbaland's was a godawful mess, but they seemed to be good together."

"Tim knows what he's doing," JC said. "Very strong ideas. Although, um."

"My way or the highway, was it?" Lance guessed. "Can't say that surprises me."

"Did you ever work with him?" JC was surprised.

"I did some backing stuff. Not one of the best studio experiences of my life. But yeah, he knows what he wants and he knows how to achieve it."

"I thought he and J would stay tight for years," JC said, sounding faintly discontented.

"They did, C," said Chris. "And I guess it's good for us that they split, because I seriously doubt Timbaland would have thought it was cool for Justin to get back on the road for another *Nsync tour. In fact, I swear the reason we're here at all is that J wanted to prove just how much he didn't care about Tim's opinion any more. I mean... all this time, with the planning and tour prep and we've been on the road for a while already, and he's still sat over there on his goddam megastar bus."

"It's weird," said JC. "I asked him about it, and he says he got used to it, doing his own tours. I thought being on my own was the worst thing about, um, going solo." Chris barked out a laugh at that. "I mean, you can hang with the musicians—"

"And fuck the dancers," Chris interjected.

JC winced. "But ultimately, you know, you're the Star. It's not like now, with you guys. I think it's good having people around who don't work for you. But Justin doesn't seem to see it that way."

"That," said Lance, "is probably why he's the megastar."

"Selfish little shit," Chris muttered. Of all of them, Lance knew, Chris probably missed J's company the most.

"I brought a message from Joey. He says you know you're going to forgive him eventually, because he's Justin, so why not save yourself a lot of grief and forgive him now."

"Oh, fuck Joey!"

"No, he's not my type either," Lance said, calmly. "Although, you'll love this, I woke up this morning to find him groping me and trying to nibble my ear."


Later, when Chris's howls had been reduced to hiccups, and JC had managed to stop giggling, they sang him the new song. JC's eyes were closed, and intensity was coming off him in waves, and he looked so fucking gorgeous. Lance had thought, had honestly believed, at any rate had convinced himself, that he was over that.

He wasn't.

all kinds of stuff about timing

"Hey, J! I didn't realize you were in here."

"Oh, you know. Just getting myself centered."

Justin looked a bit tired, Joey thought. "You okay?"

"I'm fine."

"You don't want me to—" Joey made vague, shall-I-go-away gestures.

"God, man, of course not! Quiet Room's for everyone. I'm not that much of a diva, am I?"

Joey sat down beside him. "Are you sure you're okay?"

Justin sat back and closed his eyes. "It's fine. It's just. I thought it would be, I dunno. It's just strange, being on tour with you guys again. Hafta get used to it."

"It feels weird doing the flips again," Joey offered, not quite sure where this was going. "Like when we were kids."

"That's just it," said Justin, eagerly. "We aren't kids any more. It was easy back then, I mean, we grew up together, practically. But now, we're all adults. We've all been doing our own thing. I've been solo for so long, it's, it's weird."

"Not to be the center of attention?" Joey suggested, but gently.

"I... I guess." Justin looked at him. "But that's okay, you know. It's something I learned from acting, if you do your best to make sure everyone has the chance to shine, then everything's brighter. I mean, there was this one scene where it was just Matt and me, and when they shot my closeups, he was right there, and he was right in character, it made it so much easier for me to nail it."

"Uh, huh," said Joey, who understood perfectly. It would be nice if Justin remembered he wasn't the only one in the group who'd done any acting, though.

"But that's not what I meant. On stage, we're great, and you know, I kinda like the way we're doing this. I mean, I guess the fans would have loved it if we'd put out a new album, but..."

"You know how JC and Chris feel about Jive."

"Yeah. I'm, I'm, um. Not sure how they feel about me, though."

Ah, thought Joey.

"It's not like we aren't getting along, I don't mean that, because it's great, being back together, it's good we actually made it happen. It's just, there's this... distance. And I just, I mean. I can't be that kid again, who used to think Chris was the coolest person in the world, I'm not a kid now, but I don't exactly know how to relate, and it feels weird."

"Don't be too hard on yourself. We've only been on the road three weeks. It just takes some time to settle down into a new groove. You know what?" Joey was determined not to miss this opportunity, because he'd noticed it, too, and he didn't like it. "You should invite them over. Start with JC, have him ride with you for a while. Lance says he's on a composing kick right now, maybe you could write together. A little one-on-one time, you'll work it out."

"I guess you're right. C and I did some good stuff together for his album, and I haven't written much lately, with the film work. It's not like there isn't room on the bus. Yeah. You know what, we should all swap around, pair up every which way, it'd be good for everybody." He got to his feet. "Thanks, Joey."

"No problem, man." Joey stood, and opened his arms for a hug. "We all love you, you know? It's just been a long time."

"We gotta figure it all out again, how we fit together." Justin sounded more cheerful, and squeezed tight instead of settling for manly back-slapping. "Hey, watch the hands there, bro, I heard about you from Lance!"

Joey spluttered. "One little dream! Just see if I let him back on my bus! And you, Justin Timberlake, you are so not my type!"

"Man," said Justin, "I'm everybody's type."

When he grinned like that, Joey thought, it was very nearly true.

not my type either

"So, are you going back onto Fatone's bus when we head out?" Chris asked. They were here for a couple of nights, then off to Indianapolis.

"What, and leave you all on your ownsome? Nah." Lance sprawled backwards. "Besides, I'm scared to go back there. I might die. Laughing." Lance had obviously told Kelly about Joey's molesting thing, because the two of them kept exploding into fits of giggles around him. Luckily, Joey had a well-suppressed blush reflex and the patience of a saint.

"Most action you've had since the tour started," Chris said, to see what would happen. Gratifyingly, Lance sat up and gaped at him. He hadn't been sure.

"How—you—action? That's not—gah!" Lance did not have a well suppressed blush reflex.

"See, you should keep your eyes open. We get boy groupies now. Man groupies. Groupos?"

"Since when did I ever fuck the groupies, Chris?"

"Back then, of course not, you were too busy pretending not to have sex because you were such a good boy, and since it was girls, wasn't much of a trial for you," Chris said, ignoring the twin green lasers with blithe ease. "Now, everyone knows you're gay, and man, they're lining up out there! Hell, some of them are prettier than Justin."

"And yet, this is me, not caring."

"Hell of a waste," said Chris. "Here's you, biggest gay popstar in the business, not taking advantage. Mama would be proud."

The lasers were back. Oops. Don't mess with the boy's mama. Thank God Bev never attempted to interfere in Chris's own sex life, not that he'd let her. Still, it wouldn't really be like Lance to mess around with groupies. Chris was grateful for skanky women, but Lance didn't need to be.

"I prefer quality to quantity," Lance observed.

"Sure, if you can get it," Chris said. "Well, I guess you can. I got to compete with the wonder twins, and the pickings aren't so great."

"Bullshit, Chris," said Lance. "You could find exactly the kind of woman you deserve, smart and sexy and probably even a Steelers fan, if you stopped looking in dumpsters."

"Oh, fuck you," Chris said.

"Nope, still not my type."

"See? The quality ones don't go for me."

Lance looked at him. "Hmm," he said. "I always thought you were prettier than Justin, though I admit he has abs to die for, and for God's sake don't tell him I said that. I'd totally go for you if you were even a little bit queer, except, A, you're not, and B, it'd practically be incest. You guys are like my brothers."

Chris made up his mind to tell Justin at the first available moment that Lance wanted to lick his abs. For now, however, he had other means of torment at his disposal. "Brothers, you say? You feel that way about all of us, Bass?"

"Of course I do."

"That includes the Chasez, does it?"

"Of course," said Lance. His ears were pink.

Chris didn't believe him.

need my own space now

"This is nice," JC said, staring at Justin's bed. "You know, Lance and Joey share theirs," he added, slyly.

Shit, he hadn't thought about that! Sharing the bed, even with JC, was, was—

"It's all right, J, I'm not angling to share your bed. I got no problem sleeping in the bunk. 'Sides, I bet you're a blanket-stealer."

"You wouldn't say that if it was Lance," Justin muttered, embarrassed.

JC froze.

"Hey, man. I didn't realize. You still got that thing going on, then?"

"No! I mean, I haven't, I wouldn't ever. That was a long time ago." JC should remember that when you were around people who'd known you for ever, you just couldn't have any secrets.

Besides, Justin didn't really see what the problem was. "But you could, now, couldn't you? He's gay, you're interested."

"Doesn't mean he's interested in me."

"Come on, C, this ain't your style! Why wouldn't Lance be interested? You are one fine-looking man."

JC glared at him. "Lance is not—didn't you see that interview he did? I guess it was back when he came out, or no, was it when his book came out? I'm not sure, but someone, I don't remember who it was, people are so rude in interviews these days, though I guess it was inevitable people would ask, and anyway he said no, he never had a thing for any of us guys. He was very definite about it. He said, "God, no!" and you should have seen his face, he was horrified. He said we're like brothers. Obviously he's not gonna, I mean. It'd be like, like incest."

"But—" Justin began, and thought better of it. "Sure. If you say so. Uh, you want a drink? Or are you gonna hit the sack?"

"I'll have a beer," said JC. "I'm still too wired to sleep."

"C," Justin began, after they'd figured out what Justin had in stock and what JC really wanted to drink, "you remember in the run-up to the lawsuit, how we always had Lance do the statements about what we were doing, you know, before it all went public?" He handed over a very large, very potent gin cocktail.

JC examined it interestedly, and took a sip. "Wow. Yeah. Sure, I remember, he had that sincere face. All innocent. You know, it was years before I figured out it was him, not Chris, who put that frog in my bunk."

"Yeah, Chris always looks guilty. Let's hope he never gets pulled into a police line-up," Justin said. "He'll be up shit creek for sure. But, C, what makes you think Lance tells the truth in interviews now?"

JC frowned at him.

Best let JC think about that in his own time, Justin decided. "Anyway, whatever," he said, "you want to play something? I haven't tried any of the PS2 games in a long while, you might stand a chance on those." The graphics were way better on the PS3, but he ought to at least give JC a chance.

"I doubt it," JC said, sounding resigned, and of course he was right, but Justin was perfectly gracious about winning, which JC said made a nice change. Chris still did victory dances.

"Hah. He won't when I get him over here," Justin said.

they each have their own stories

"Well, this sucks."

"Sucks worse for the folks who had tickets," Lance said, mildly. He was sorry about it, too, but there was no arguing with nature, and if there'd been a mighty storm that meant they couldn't set up here, well, that was that. Two shows to reschedule, a pain, but they had backup plans.

"Yeah, sure, but, here we are, all ready to go. Man, I was ready to bring sexy back tonight." Chris seized Lance in a grip of steel and attempted to dance him around the hotel room. There was, inevitably, a problem involving Lance's luggage, JC's foot and the corner of the bed. Equally inevitably, Chris landed on top.

Lance crawled to freedom, swearing vengeance.

"We can go out," Joey said, from the safe zone on the far side of the room.

"Of course we're going out," Chris said, "but we can't go out now. It's six o'clock. We'll look like complete losers."

"I've, um, got some DVDs," said JC.


JC smiled mysteriously. It was a good look on him, Lance thought.

There was a rap on the door. When Joey opened it, Justin breezed through. "So," he said, "what are we going to do tonight?"

"DVDs and pizza," said Chris. Justin looked a bit nonplussed at that, but recovered well and was soon arguing in a very familiar way about the toppings proper to pizza. Lance got up and poked his head round the door to ask for beer, and within a surprisingly short time, everything needed for an old-fashioned boys' night in had been delivered to the viewing room at the end of the corridor, assorted small dogs were distributed around feet and laps, JC was crouching in front of the machine, and four ominous organ-notes resounded through the surround speakers.

"Oh my God," said Justin.

"Chasez, my man," Chris said, grinning. "Way to bring back the memories."

They were all grinning, Lance noted, himself included. He settled in happily.

Joey lusted after all the girls equally, since Tara wouldn't be around for ages yet. Everyone else had a favorite: Justin yelled his support for Buffy every time she kicked some vampire's ass, Chris flopped forward onto his belly and panted happily when Cordelia graced the screen, Lance himself paid particular attention when Angel loomed into view.

"You had a crush on Xander, didn't you, C?" Joey asked, casually.

JC? Crush? Xander? thought Lance, confused.

The drinking game was a killer. They had to call a halt after the first five eps, and stagger off to change for clubbing.

for other people to work on

Lance was back on the bus with Joey again, and Joey was more than happy to notice that Chris had carried his kit aboard Justin's bus when they got back on the road after the enforced break.

"I guess JC's on his own," Lance commented.

"He'll be fine. He'll sleep until we get to Birmingham, and stay up till dawn communing with his keyboard," Joey said.

"I don't know. He said he didn't like it, being on his own, when he was touring solo." Lance had a little crease between his eyebrows. "Maybe we should invite him over here?"

As it turned out, JC was indeed asleep, or at any rate not answering his phone, but they asked him at soundcheck and he smiled vaguely and said sure, that'd be neat. After the show, with the screams still resounding from inside the venue, he leaped onto their bus and made a beeline for the shower, cackling merrily at Lance's cry of thwarted rage.

The three of them spent a while recapping the highlights of tonight's show. Lance had been a bit nervous, it being Alabama, but it turned out, an *Nsync concert was an *Nsync concert wherever they were, nobody had shown any signs of wanting to string him up, and there were just as many cheers and wolf-whistles here as anywhere else.

"It's not like we haven't done other concerts in the South," Joey reminded him.

"Sure, but those were in my home town," Lance said. Joey just shook his head and left it alone.

The a cappella set in the middle had gone spectacularly well, the crowd always listened to that, especially the new arrangement of God must have spent. They'd been a bit off with the shoot 'em up gag on Space Cowboy, JC thought, he'd show them what he meant when they watched the tapes tomorrow afternoon. Joey still felt it was a pity they couldn't have brought the giant space bulls out of retirement, but it hadn't been practical.

"So," said JC, after a pause. "Anyone wanna watch a DVD?"

"More Buffy?" said Lance. "I don't know, I don't think we should watch it without the others."

"No, I know that," said JC, "I thought, I have something else, it's the same kind of thing, only, um. You guys ever see Supernatural? Want to give it a try? I got the whole thing, all five seasons."

It was okay, Joey supposed. He liked the girl in the nurse's uniform and socks. And Lance definitely perked up when the guy called Sam stuck his head around the door. But Joey didn't really care to see cute women incinerated on ceilings. He much preferred seeing them kick vampire butt, or shoot demons with rockets. And these two brothers seemed to spend a lot of time fighting in a way that totally didn't remind Joey of himself and Steve. Lance didn't seem to notice, and JC was squirming about and obviously thought it was all great stuff, but, really.

"Of course, they're not really brothers," JC said, out of the blue, and then turned scarlet. "Uh, wannawatchsomemore?" he mumbled.

"Sorry, C, not really my thing," Joey said.

"I liked it," said Lance. "Maybe next time I come over to your bus?"

JC, still colored up, agreed to this, and they headed for bed.


"Um. Joe," said Lance. "Did you think JC, I got the impression he was a bit, you know, interested in that Dean guy."

"Oh?" Joey said, encouragingly. They often had the important conversations in the dark, like this.

"And you said he had a crush on Xander, so, I was wondering." Lance stopped.

After what felt like ten minutes' silence, but probably wasn't, because if it had been, Joey would already be asleep by now, Joey decided to speak. "You seriously didn't know about JC's guys?"


"Man, you really didn't notice?" That wasn't entirely fair, Joey knew. Lance had been so wrapped up in his own big problem, so determined to hide all traces of his own gayness from the world and his friends, it would have been too much to ask that he notice JC's occasional discreet forays beyond heterosexuality. But it felt like Lance needed a big push here, so subtlety was out. "JC never cared if a person was male or female. Women are easier in public, of course, and you know he likes to keep his private life private, right?"

"Yes," said Lance, cautiously.

"He just goes for the most beautiful person around," said Joey, and left Lance to draw the obvious conclusion.

"I guess... I can see that."

Oh, good Lord. "So, who's the most beautiful person around, right now?"

"JC," said Lance, promptly.

Joey sighed.

too absurd not to love

"I'm just sayin', somebody should do something."

"Aw, J. Such a romantic."

"Shut up. I am not."

"What exactly do you think we should do? Lock them in a broom closet? Handcuff Lance to the bed naked, cover him in honey, tie a bow on his dick and tell JC he's got a birthday present?"

"Eeeeeeeewww!" Justin whapped Chris on the nose with the nearest cushion. Some visions he did not need inside his head. "I am seriously getting worried about you, man."

"I'm being open-minded and accepting," Chris said, loftily. "You should try it. I heard about you, not sharing that nice big bed with JC. What, you think he's gonna pull a Joey?"

Justin snickered. "Not unless he thinks I'm Lance."

Chris snickered, too. Joey was never going to hear the end of that one, never. "However," Chris said more somberly, "I am getting tired of the big sad eyes on my bus, and I bet Joey is, too."

"Then we stick them on the bus together," said Justin. "You get Joey to ride with you, tell JC he has to swap out. Then we have JC, Lance, and a nice big bed. They ought to be able to figure out what comes next. Or who."

"You know," said Chris, "you may not be as dumb as you look. Ow! Hey, I'm an old man! Come back here, Timberlake, you pervert!"

probably just dreaming

Lance was in the shower already when JC got on the bus, clutching his duffel in one hand and the DVD case in the other. There was no rapturous doggy greeting, so Joey must have taken his pets over to the other bus. JC tossed his sweatpants and toothbrush onto the bunk, then decided he'd better stay up front, and busied himself seeking out something to eat. This fridge had much better stuff in it than the other bus. There were leftovers, some of Joey's meatball sauce and a tub of grated Parmesan. He stirred these together and ate them absentmindedly as he picked out sandwich makings. He'd make Lance a sandwich too.

"Hey, Joe, shower's all your—JC!" Lance looked so cute with his hair all towel-mussed like that. JC waved tentatively.


"Hey. Sorry, I didn't realize you were coming over."

"No, it, um, Chris wanted Joey to go over. I think J was gonna ride with them, he said something about reading a script?" It sounded very flimsy, now he thought about it. "Um. I brought DVDs."

"Oh, okay. Cool. You want a vodka cocktail?"

"Mmm. Please. I should shower, though. I made you a chicken sandwich."

"It's okay, there's some leftovers—you ate them, didn't you." Lance sighed. "Chicken sandwich it is. Go shower."

Once JC had washed off the performance sweat (and dealt with the performance hard-on), Lance made him the most enormous pink drink, which he said was a Cosmopolitan. In JC's experience, Cosmopolitans generally had a lot more cranberry juice and a lot less vodka, and came in very much smaller glasses, but he wasn't complaining. They sat companionably, eating Doritos and watching the show. The demons weren't bad, but secretly, JC thought the best thing about the show was Jensen Ackles' ass. Which got quite a bit of screen time. Anyway, Lance seemed to be enjoying it, and it was a good way to wind down.

After four episodes, Lance yawned, and stretched. "Time for bed, I guess. Where'd you wanna—"

JC leaped from the couch. "Yeah, you're right. I'll, um, see you in the morning," he said, and bolted to the bunk. It wouldn't be right to turn Lance out of the big bed, and he was perfectly happy to sleep in the bunk.


Oh, yes. Yes, yes, yes. Lance, so beautiful, licking him, spreading him out on the wide bed, licking pale pink vodka flavored liquid off his lips, off his chest, off his balls, oh, yes. Lance's voice, warm and tender and filthy. Lance's hand, so hot and familiar, closing around his cock and jerking him off so perfectly, Lance's mouth, oh, oh, and JC arching up and coming with a groan.

JC woke up. He was alone in the bunk, and the sheets were disgusting.

He wiped most of the mess off his belly with the not-sticky part of the sheet. Yuck. Usually he kept a towel handy for the mess. But then, he didn't often have dreams like that. He should have masturbated before going to sleep, but he hadn't wanted Lance to hear him. JC tended to be quite noisy when he pleasured himself.

He should shower. Again.

He slithered out of the bunk and pulled on his sweatpants—never go around naked on the bus, a cardinal rule of bus etiquette, unless you were Chris, who thought it was funny, or Joey, who just didn't care.

It took him a moment to realize, blearily, that the shower was already running, and then it was too late because Lance, oh sweet GOD Lance wet and naked was stepping out of the shower. Naked. And wet. Trickles of water dripping from his hair and sliding over his honeyed, sun-kissed skin. Beads of water shining in the springy brown fuzz of his pubic hair, droplets meandering down his perfect thighs.

Lance reached for a towel, and wrapped it carefully around his hips. Smiling faintly, he took two and a half steps and was there, right there, up against JC, close enough to touch.

"Uh," said JC, imploringly.

"Mmm," said Lance, and kissed him.

cover him in honey

There was no misinterpreting that glazed look in JC's wide-open eyes. Wasn't that just amazing. JC Chasez really, honestly, wanted him. Lance kissed him very carefully, savoring this moment, savoring the light sandpapering of overnight stubble against his chin, the yielding softness of JC's lips and the slippery touch of his tongue, even the slightly stale taste, it was JC, kissing back now with eager little noises, pressing his bare chest up against Lance, hands firm against his waist.

Lance stepped back. "Bed?"

"Oh! Yes." JC grinned at him, crinkling his eyes adorably. "But I need to, um." He gestured at the facilities.

"Don't be long," said Lance, and sauntered along the bus to his big bed, where he stuffed the lube back under the pillow, and—just in case—slid a couple of condoms under there too. He toweled himself ruthlessly and with great speed, then dropped the towel, and the other towel, the nasty one, into the laundry sack, and straightened the sheets.

JC was there before he could get into bed, and they kissed again, tingling with mint this time. Lance's hands slid down JC's back to his adorable little ass, sidled inside the sweatpants to squeeze those firm, tight curves and pull JC closer. He felt so good, all bones and muscle, he smelled of soap and salt, and his hands were clutching at Lance, pulling him closer, pulling them hard against one another. Lance hadn't thought he could get hard again, not this soon, but his cock was nudging insistently against JC's hip.

"Is this how you get your pants to stay up?" he murmured, slipping a hand between them to cup the heavy swelling between JC's legs. His other hand tugged, and the sweatpants slid to the floor. "God, you're so beautiful."

JC pushed him backwards, so Lance sat, then swung himself around to lie down on the bed. And JC was right there with him, kissing his neck, oh, Lance was helpless when someone kissed his neck. Hands, lips, teeth, and the incredible charge as their cocks brushed together. Lance's thigh captured JC's leg and twined them closer.

"I should prob'ly say," JC gasped out, "I never, I've never done, you know."

Lance reared up, his arms either side of JC's ribs. "Never done... what, exactly? Please don't tell me you've never been with a man before!" If Joey had been bullshitting...

"No, I mean, yes, of course I have," JC assured him. "Just, not, not everything. I haven't, um, g—"

"So help me, if the words 'Gone all the way' come out of your mouth I will sit on your head and tickle you for twenty minutes!"

"Well," said JC. "I never exactly trusted anyone else, you know? And I thought, if I did them, they'd want to do me, and it wouldn't have been polite not to, so. We just did other stuff."

"It's cool, C. Other stuff is fine by me."

"No, I mean, I want to, I just haven't, ever."

"There's no hurry," Lance assured him. "We'll wait till you're ready."

"But I am ready!" JC protested. "Because it's you. I trust you. Obviously. I just thought you should know I hadn't, before. I mean, my ass! You know?"

Lance gave up trying to control himself, and just laughed. "Your ass," he said, "is safe in my hands." Just to prove it, he flattened himself on JC and reached down to grasp it firmly. "Mind you," he said, "it's a very small ass. I'm not sure there's even room for my..." and he was on his back, now, and laughing like a hyena while JC poked him indignantly.

The wet velvet lick along his cock was enough to make Lance stop laughing and grope eagerly for JC, and in moments he was murmuring encouragement. It was increasingly obvious that JC knew just what he was doing. Lance wriggled and rolled until he could reach JC's erection, and did a little more adjusting so that his head rested on JC's thigh, and his own leg was a pillow for JC. And applied himself greedily to every inch of JC's cock and balls. He loved this. Loved it. Licking, sucking, his hands everywhere they could reach, and JC's mouth and hands on him. He could do this for hours. The rest of his life.

"Lance, Lance, wait," JC gasped. "I want to see you. Wanna watch you come."

Reluctantly, he pulled away from JC's delicious erection and sprawled backwards. JC kissed him, deep and dirty, and JC's firm, practiced hand on his cock brought Lance up to a breathless orgasm that left him shaking.

"Wow," JC said, softly, and Lance opened his eyes to that adorable smile. So he set to work at once to make sure JC was breathless and shaking, too, and really, JC's noises were the sexiest sounds ever.


"Tonight," Lance said as they dressed after yet another shower (it had run almost cold at the end), "I want you to fuck me. As soon as we get back on the bus. I always wanted to do that. You have all that energy left when you get off stage, I want you to bend me over the kitchen counter and fuck me hard before we even get undressed." Discreetly, he tucked a condom into his back pocket.

JC was staring at him, slack-mouthed. "I—I—how am I supposed to dance, now you put that in my head? I'll be all..."

"Never stopped you before." Lance chuckled and put the lube tube on the counter. Behind him, JC whimpered. "Come on, time to go see the venue."

you feel that way about all of us

The three of them watched as JC and Lance emerged from the bus, sleek and satisfied as canary-fed cats.

Chris put a hand on Joey's shoulder. "Welcome to my bus, man."

"Thanks, Chris."

Justin flung an arm around each of them. "We done good," he announced. "Don't we make a great team!"

Well, duh, thought Chris, but what he said was, "The Magnificent Traveling Yenta Guys. That's the name of my next group, right there."

"Uh," said Justin, "matter of fact, I've been thinking."

"Careful with that stuff, J," Joey said, absently.

"About us being a good team. This farewell tour thing, maybe..."

"Yeah, maybe," said Chris, and smiled.



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