nsync in black and white

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

Something in the air

this was written for the sky_pie challenge community, prompt: sense of smell

Lance settled back into his pillow—mmm, clean sheets, just a hint of something like vanilla that reminded him sharply of nights spent at Mimi's house, maybe the tour laundry used the same detergent—and encouraged Dirk's whiskery investigations of his face and neck, until the little wriggler got bored and began to burrow inside his sweatshirt. A tickly trail of tiny claws. Lance grinned to himself and was careful not to flinch.

Up towards the front, Joey was vocalizing, I Want You Back as camp opera. Lance repressed the faint impulse to add a basso profundo line. His ferret was not a music lover. Besides, if Lance began to sing, it might just distract Joey from the important business of heating up the shipment of Joe & Phyllis Fatone's Incredible Meatball Sauce, and there was no question in Lance's mind where the priorities lay.

The hum of the bus began to change as it slowed to a stop. Moving cautiously, because Dirk had now emerged from his sweatshirt and was investigating the bunk, Lance began to grope for his watch. But Joey's warbling stopped, and there was a yell: "Shift change!" A moment later, "Take cover! Kirkpatrick alert!"

Chris, Lance decided, had a psychic nose. He had an uncanny ability to switch buses when there was something spectacularly good to eat in the offing, and the driver changeover was just playing right into his hands today. Not that it was an actual hardship to share, since the Fatone idea of what constituted food for two people would keep most of a football team happy.

A brief whiff of exhaust fumes as the roadside air from the open door wafted through, and then, "Man, this bus smells like ferret shit!"

Lance ignored this. Chris always complained of ferret stink, and it was true that Dirk's deposits were acridly pungent, but Lance was always careful to keep the litter box fresh. "You don't smell bad, do you, baby?" he crooned, as a small sandy nose emerged from under the blankets. "You're a good little ferret, yes, you are."

Not that the bus didn't have its own... atmosphere, particularly if Joey had let loose one of his puissant farts. There were always socks lying about, because Dirk could not resist them and seemed to prefer them sweaty, and trainers airing—although in that respect Lance was perfectly certain that the other bus, which housed Timberlake's outsize feet, must be at least 50% more offensive than this one. And the sour-and-sweet residues of late night beer and popcorn, the clashing steam-borne sandalwood and citrus of their different soaps and shampoos, and the faint, sharp alkaline of the toilet bleach.

Lance sat up, wound Dirk's sinuous little body carefully around his neck, and sauntered through to where Chris and Joey were breathing in the fragrant air rising from the vat of meatball sauce. Joey was hacking at a loaf. He obviously hadn't wanted to bother cooking pasta today. Chris, as familiar with their kitchen as he was with his own, was setting out bowls and spoons.

A trace of envy passed across Chris's face as Lance arrived. Chris had not thought of acquiring a ferret, and of course, once Lance had done so, it was impossible for Chris to follow suit, particularly when he had spent so much time and energy on mocking Lance's choice of pets. Well, Dirk was cool, and the little furballs in the magnificent chinchilla cage (Tribble and Trouble, JC had unfortunately named them before Lance could stop him, though JC always forgot which was which) were soft and pettable and adorable and did not smell, psychic nose or no psychic nose. Besides, Chris was hardly in a position to complain about the uncoolness of Lance's pets when he himself owned not an honest to goodness dog but a pug—a pug, moreover, whose noxious emittances could rival Joey's for offensiveness, if not, perhaps, for volume. Lance was not going to admit aloud that Busta was in fact ridiculously cute, and that Chris cuddling his tiny, scrunchy-faced puppy had been possibly the most adorable thing he had ever seen in his life. He merely stated that when it came to stinky pets, his ferret was the least of their problems.

Still, Joey had rules about mealtime, so Dirk had to be restored to his cage. Lance sniffed surreptitiously as he unlatched it, but there was just normal ferretiness and the vaguely stale odour of the old sweatpants that Dirk called home, and into which the little animal dived straight away. No ferret shit.

Just the glorious, rich, meaty aroma luring Lance straight back to the kitchen.



Back to Popslash Index
Back to Alternative Popslash Index