nsync in black and white

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

JC's Unsatisfactory Vacation

thanks to KC and Donna for the betas

Fucking ski instructor.

JC stumbled through the door of the neat, comfortable hotel room, and fought his way out of the wretched ski boots. He cursed fluently as his half-numbed fingers fumbled open the clips and zips of his many layers. He cursed as he staggered into the bathroom in only his socks, thick, woollen, rather wet socks, and flicked the faucets on. There was a jar of bath salts, and he flung a couple of generous handfuls into the tub, then defiantly upended the whole jar so that the bathroom filled with pine-scented steam.

As he lay there, letting the hot water ease his abused muscles, fuming at the way his plans for this vacation had been so completely derailed, JC made a vow to himself. This was not going to happen. He was not going to lose this chance, lose Lance, not now. Not to some fucking ski instructor.

It had all seemed to be going so well. JC had been trying to figure out how to get together with Lance ever since Lance moved in to the apartment next-door, and JC had caught his first glimpse of that oddly beautiful face. Okay, to be fair, probably from just before that, from the moment he'd seen that perfect ass going up the stairs ahead of him, but that was lust, and the second Lance turned around and smiled at him, it was something more.

Going on vacation together was the opportunity he'd been waiting for. No, not waiting, exactly, he'd been trying to make Lance notice him for the past three months, but somehow, never quite managed to get it right, except by accident. Because JC had not actually been trying to ask Lance to go on vacation with him. He'd simply been grumbling in a general way, because it was unjust, having to pay so much extra when you were traveling alone. But when Lance suggested that they pair up and take a trip together, JC had had the sense to say yes at once.

Considering how flustered he got when Lance so much as smiled at him, JC thought he had done well.

He hadn't actually been expecting skiing—JC was more of a lazing-under-the-hot-sun kind of guy, he'd been thinking of exotic islands with sultry natives and swaying palm trees—but Lance's eyes had sparkled so beautifully when he turned up on JC's doorstep with a handful of brochures. And when JC thought about it, there would be hot toddies and apres ski parties and fresh mountain air, and really, how hard could it be to learn to ski? So he'd said sure, and they'd picked out a resort with pretty, pretty, gingerbread chalets, and here they were in Austria, and by the end of the first day JC knew it had been the worst idea ever.

No. It hadn't taken the whole day. He'd known it was the worst idea ever at ten o'clock this morning, when their instructor had skimmed down across the dazzling snow to where the Adult Beginners group clustered nervously, and taken off his ski goggles to reveal an unreasonably handsome, tanned face and a friendly, in fact a charming smile, and Lance had murmured "Oh, yeah, baby, instruct me."

What made it so much worse even than that, was that JC had expected to be good at this. Gliding around on skis couldn't be much different than skateboarding, and he'd spent a lot of time on his board when he was a teenager. But on the snow, somehow, he kept getting his skis crossed and ending up flat on his back. Lance, though, took to it like a native. Maybe he'd been Austrian in a previous life, or something. JC hadn't been Austrian. He'd probably been Tahitian. He was much, much better with palm trees.

Lance had stayed behind at the end of the class to talk to Reichen the fucking ski instructor. And JC was stuck with the tour company rep, okay, one of the reps, the slightly irritating brunette who had insisted on talking to JC all evening yesterday, cajoled him into several glasses of 'glühwein', which turned out to be hot spiced wine and made his head spin, and then walked him all the way back to his room after the party. This time she patted his arm and advised him to have a hot bath as quickly as possible, to soothe his aching muscles. So JC had come back to the hotel to soak his bruised butt.

And, he promised himself, to make plans. He had been too tired after the long flight to do anything last night. But if he seduced Lance tonight, everything would be just fine.

Lance had not yet returned to their room by the time JC crawled, still aching, into his bed. It was probably just as well. JC was not actually very good at seducing people, or at any rate, at seducing Lance, even on days when he hadn't come down hard on his tail-bone about forty times.

Four days later, JC was just about getting the hang of skiing. He still hated Reichen the fucking ski instructor with the passion of a thousand burning suns, but Reichen was actually a very good teacher, and remained patient and calm even in the face of JC's catastrophic ineptness. Not even the ski pole incident had rattled that Germanic imperturbability. JC was secretly pleased about the ski pole, and wished he had done it on purpose, but he hadn't been precisely in control at the time. Still. Anything that caused Reichen to shriek at that pitch was fine with him.

Lance was no longer in the Beginners group. The fucking ski instructor took him aside at the end of morning class on their third day, and when Lance caught up with JC as they went in for lunch, the expression on his glowing face filled JC with foreboding.

"So," Lance explained as they ate their Wienerschnitzel, "Reichen says I should go into Intermediates One, get a chance to try out the slopes."

"That's great," JC said with what sincerity he could manage. "You're really good. Way better than me."

"You did so much better today, though," Lance said. "I think you've almost got it. Look, um, I know me swapping to a different class means we don't get to spend so much time together, but we can still meet up to eat, right?"

"Yeah, sure," JC managed, through a mouthful of French beans. Actually, it might be better for his own self-esteem if Lance weren't around to witness every time JC completely failed to achieve a snowplough or slithered helplessly backwards down the nursery slopes.

"And at the parties," Lance went on, with his eyes on his plate. "Or at least, I can watch you dance. Anyway, I didn't want you to feel I was, uh, deserting you."

"No, no, it's no problem," JC assured him. It wasn't like they got much of a chance to talk in ski class, not when Lance was up ahead skiing like a pro and JC was flat on his back. In fact, the move might actually be a good thing, because Reichen was still instructing Beginners.

But it didn't seem to have made any difference. Lance still hadn't spent another night in the hotel room they were supposed to be sharing. He just showed up at breakfast looking sleek and satisfied—and wow, did JC want to be the one to put that look on Lance's face—and enchantingly enthusiastic about skiing, which according to Lance was the best sport ever.

JC had given up on the idea of incapacitating Reichen the fucking ski instructor with a ski pole. Reichen was on his guard, now, and treated JC's flailing poles with respectful wariness. Besides, JC might be capable of getting down the nursery slopes without falling over now, but he was never going to be entirely at ease on skis. Any scheme he hatched would have to be carried out off the slopes.

He wasn't sure whether to be proud of his plan to carry out a sneak attack, or ashamed of himself, but, JC told himself firmly, all is fair in love and war, and really, this sort of thing must be against the rules. So he made sure to get out early next morning, and lurked by the ski lifts until the person he wanted to see showed up, cheerful and businesslike in bright blue snow gear.

"Um, 'scuse me," he muttered to the tour rep—not the dippy Scottish brunette, he'd checked the reps' duty roster and she was off greeting a new group. This was the English one, blonde and businesslike, clipping on her skis by the time he reached her. She looked up impatiently through a tangle of pale hair, but straightened and smiled at the sight of JC.

"How can I help?"

"The thing is," he wasn't quite sure how to say this, "um, it's the instructor. I think he, um, I think he's having a, you know, a thing, with one of my group." No need to mention that Lance wasn't part of the group any longer, he thought.

The rep looked at him expectantly.

"I mean, is that allowed?" JC said, feeling the blush creep across his cheeks.

"It's all part of the Alpenluft Ski Experience, sir," she said, with a bright smile.

"But I was thinking, I mean, what about the rest of us?"

"Oh, there are plenty of instructors to go round," she assured him kindly.

"Uh. So you don't—I mean, it isn't—It doesn't seem very professional." You're not going to have him fired, JC wanted to protest. Drummed out of ski instructorship with both poles broken and his lift pass shredded.

"Just so long as they aren't doing it during the lesson," she murmured. "Is there anything else I can do for you?" She looked him straight in the eye and smiled deliberately. JC blushed even harder, stammered out a no thank you, and mumbled something about getting back to his class.

He thought, very seriously, about putting sedative into Reichen's evening glühwein, and even sneaked down to the nearest village, pretending he had to look for gifts for his family, to try to find a pharmacy. But everything was in German, and the dour-faced woman behind the counter looked at him blankly when he tried to enquire about sleeping pills. JC was irritated by this unhelpfulness. Surely she must have had American customers before. All his pleading got him nowhere, and he trudged back to the hotel bus with nothing to show for his efforts but a couple of overpriced dolls in Austrian national dress.

But the next night, JC was standing outside, smirking to himself as he peered around in the darkness, trying to distinguish Lance (and Reichen) in the milling throng of confused hotel guests in nightwear and parkas. A shiny fire engine wailed its arrival, then firemen dashed into the hotel looking purposeful and manly, but of course there were no actual flames, he wouldn't do that, he'd just set off the alarm. He hoped nobody had seen him. He didn't think anybody had seen him.

He couldn't see Lance. Or Reichen the fucking ski instructor. Ten minutes later, the crowding guests had become distinctly more annoyed, and still JC couldn't see Lance. He fought his way to the front section, where a harassed night manager was fending off questions.

"My friend is missing. I think he must still be inside," he said.

"Room number?" the night manager snapped.

"Uh, oh, um, three four one," JC replied.

The night manager consulted his clipboard. "That room is empty," he announced. "Has been checked." He made to turn away.

"No, no, he wasn't in our room. He's, um, I think he was with, um, one of the instructors."

"Then, is no problem. Instructors are living in another chalet," said the night manager. "Over there." On the far side of the nursery slopes, a few twinkling lights indicated the presence of the other chalet, the one where the ski instructors lived.

Shivering inside his puffy jacket, JC waited miserably for the firemen to declare the building safe.

On the following evening, JC had another inspiration. He'd seen the two of them sneak away from the apres ski partying, and thought of the perfect scheme to get Lance back to his hotel room, at least for the evening. An emergency phone call... although, wait, that wasn't as easy as he'd thought. What kind of emergency would it be, that someone would call JC and not Lance? It wouldn't be cool to alarm Lance with some fake bad news about his family.

It took him a while to get away from the party, but at last he got back to the room he was supposed to be sharing with Lance. He sat on the bed, staring at his cellphone. (JC was still confused by his phone, which had an instruction manual like a small paperback, and in seven languages, but he knew one thing for sure: Lance had programmed his number into it weeks ago.) And at last he hit on the perfect idea. A break-in at their apartment building. Scary enough that it'd be reasonable for him to call Lance. Plausible that he'd agree to contact Lance once someone had called him, and when they got back home, it wouldn't be impossible to pretend someone had played a practical joke on him... Perfect.

He pressed the button to call Lance, and his phone didn't work.

Fucking European networks. Fucking phone.

Fucking ski instructor, fucking Lance.

He should probably just give up.

JC could imagine a thousand exciting ways to get rid of Reichen. He fantasized about fatal accidents with out-of-control cars, about sudden and mysterious illnesses, about fucking ski instructors plummeting to their deaths from unexpectedly defective ski lifts. Rat poison, he decided, was probably going a bit far. He couldn't figure out how to hire a hitman, organize a lightning strike, or start an avalanche. If he hadn't been so exhausted after the day's activities—skiing during the day, and trying to escape from two unnervingly persistent tour reps every evening—he'd never have slept at all.

But there was nothing he could do. He'd just have to accept it.

He was all packed. Lance's suitcase was awaiting the return of its owner, who probably wouldn't be along until after breakfast. JC contemplated the unused bed with Lance's sage green pajamas on the pillow, and sighed.

If only, JC thought, catching sight of himself in the dressing table mirror, if only he had smooth, even features, tidy blond hair, and a sturdy, well-muscled physique. Reichen the fucking ski instructor had magnificent thighs. JC's thighs, though perfectly adequate, were not in the 'magnificent' category. His brown hair insisted on curling. He should get a haircut, he thought. His nose—he peered closer—his nose was huge. Why had he not noticed that before? Dammit, he was practically a mutant! No wonder Lance hadn't been interested. "Maybe plastic surgery?" he asked his reflection.

"Don't change a thing," said a cheerful voice behind him. JC jumped, and blushed with confusion. "All packed?" Lance asked him. "Oops, forgot those," and he hauled his suitcase onto the bed, opened it, and stuffed the green pajamas inside. He'd only worn them once, JC thought morosely, on the first night of their vacation.

"Shame we have to go, really. I could easily stay another week." Lance looked up, momentarily anxious. "You, uh, you had a good time, right? I know it took you a while to get into the skiing..."

"Sure, it was great," JC hastened to reassure him. He had—eventually—found his balance and discovered that skiing was really cool. And the fact that the rest of the time he'd been moping over Lance or plotting to murder the fucking ski instructor... was his own fault. "I know you had a good vacation."

"Yeah," said Lance, with an unexpected expression on his face. "Didn't work out quite the way I—but, yeah, I had a great time. I have to do this again, maybe Switzerland, next year, and I'm gonna try to spend a weekend or two in Colorado, if I can swing it. Um, I don't suppose you'd be interested?"

"I don't think so. I mean, skiing's cool, but I'm more of a sand and sunshine person, " JC said. If things had gone the way he'd wanted them to with Lance, he'd have been happy to go skiing again, hell, he'd have been happy to do anything, but he had to face it, he wasn't Lance's type. He'd just have to get over this. Whatever it was he was feeling.

"But the other activities were worth coming for?" said Lance, slyly. "Right?"

JC smiled weakly.

"Lucky I found someone to keep me entertained," Lance continued. "I mean, you wouldn't have wanted me here every night, cramping your style. I know—Reichen said —the reps have to share a room, though it looked like they didn't mind sharing you too, so I guess that would have worked out. But. Anyway. None of my business. Sorry."

"Uh..." What? Cramping your style? Sharing? What?

"So," said Lance, "we should get ourselves to the foyer, I guess." He picked up his suitcase. Miserably, JC followed him out.

JC slept for most of the long flight back across the Atlantic, and was too befuzzled when he awoke to do more than trot obediently in Lance's wake, through baggage check and customs and out into the damp Florida evening to get a cab back to their apartment building. Even after staggering up the stairs (the elevator never seemed to be working) he was still not properly functional, and gaped blankly when Lance prodded him towards a door and reminded him he'd need the key.

"Oh, JC." Lance sighed, put down his suitcase, took the key from JC's fingers, and opened the front door for him. "Remember to set your alarm, okay? You have to work tomorrow."

JC meeped with surprise as Lance pulled him into a quick hug. JC had an instinctive response to being hugged, though, so his arms went around Lance without needing to involve his still-sluggish brain, and he pressed a hurried kiss against the corner of Lance's mouth. "Thanks," he muttered.

Lance pulled back, and stared at him. JC smiled weakly. He shouldn't have done that. Lance didn't want—

"Okay, then," said Lance, and kissed him. Cautiously. Carefully. Gently. Until JC wrapped around him and opened his mouth for more.

"Now why," said Lance into JC's mouth, "didn't we do this at the beginning of the trip?"

JC couldn't remember, but whatever the reason, it had been a big mistake. "Do it now," he muttered. "'s good."

They had to stop kissing eventually. Lance pushed JC into his apartment and followed him inside. JC watched in some bewilderment as Lance pulled JC's dark grey suit out of the closet and selected a shirt and tie, then checked the alarm clock on the bedside table. At last, Lance came back, and dropped a quick kiss on JC's lips.

"You're all set for work tomorrow. I'd better go."

"No—wait! I mean... go?"

Lance grinned. "You are in no fit state to—you're having dinner with me tomorrow, okay?"

"Uh. Okay." But he wanted Lance now!

"Drink some water before you go to bed. It'll help. Go on, sleep off the jet-lag, babe. I'll see you tomorrow."

The click of JC's front door told him Lance had gone. In truth, he was a bit sleepy. He gulped down some Evian, then discarded his clothes and climbed gratefully into bed. Even if he did have to go to work, tomorrow looked like being a good day. A very good day. A very good day indeed. He might even be able to make sense of things.

In any case, Lance had kissed him. And the fucking ski instructor was on the other side of the ocean. Hah, thought JC, and fell asleep.



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