nsync in black and white

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

Croak (the Salientian and Sorry Remix)

here is the original, Croak, by Puszysty

Nick was sorry. Really sorry. Really, truly, totally and completely sorry.


Sorry... that he hadn't realized Brian would follow through. With his threat.

Actually, Nick had kinda thought maybe Brian liked the idea, even though Brian hadn't actually ever said, even though Brian was married and had a kid and everything, because Brian was always good for a bear hug, or a big sloppy kiss on the cheek, and Nick had hoped...

He should have listened. He should have remembered that Brian always said exactly what he meant. He should probably have tried AJ instead. Even if AJ had leaped out of bed shrieking and promising death and dismemberment that one time. AJ didn't have Brian's ability to follow through.

It was very dull in here. Nobody seemed to want him as a friend. He wasn't very attractive right now, Nick supposed, sadly. He wasn't cute. Not like a big fluffy retriever puppy, all paws and enthusiasm, or a floppy-haired sheepdog with blond bangs hanging in front of his eyes. Nobody noticed him any more. Okay, so he didn't exactly want anybody to notice him, because that would bring on a whole new set of problems, but still it was a bit harsh, after being a lust object for a million teenage girls (Am I sexual? Yeah!), to find that nobody was interested.

Nothing much happened for days, except the odd kid tapping on the glass to make him jump.

But wait! Wait just a moment! He recognized that voice! There was someone he knew!

JC Chasez, with sunglasses and giant bodyguard,was ambling through the store in his flip flops with his cellphone to his ear.

"I told you, Chris said I should get a pet. Look, I know that. Well, if he didn't want to hang with me, I couldn't just ask him, could I? I thought I was making it obvious. I know, but—" He nodded, pointlessly. Nick tracked JC's progress around the store with some interest.

"Yeah, but you know what he's like. Every so often he remembers he majored in Psychology and then what can you do? So he told me I should get a pet. And, you know, maybe that's not such a bad idea. Maybe I am a little bit selfish, I should have something small and helpless to love. Well, that's why I'm calling you."

JC was at the far end of the aisle, now.

There wasn't much likelihood that JC would notice Nick. He seemed pretty absorbed in his phone call. Who was he talking to? Not Chris, obviously. Chris was cool. Nick liked him. Chris always had good weed and plenty of party girls on tap, and he was funny, and behind the sharp edged exterior he was a genuine guy. They'd had some fun back in the day, in Germany, when Backstreet had been the big stars and Nsync were just getting started. Nick remembered being tied to the fire escape and held to ransom for pixy stix. Brian had ponied up from his secret stash. He'd been pretty mad. But Chris was cool, and had shared the ransom with Nick.

"Yeah, well, I called Lance," JC went on, "but you know he's busy all the time. I think he was talking to me in the bathroom, it was probably the only free time he had. You know what Lance is like. He said I should get a ferret, because Dirk was a lot of fun, but you know, I don't think I really want a pet that—yeah, exactly, he was an escape artist. Also I remember how the zoo bus used to smell. Okay, sorry! Sorry!"

JC was making his way slowly along the aisle.

"I dunno... puppies are a lot of work, and I can get kinda distracted. I'm writing! Well, yes, I do skip meals sometimes, you know how it is when you get the right vibe going. But puppies need, like, toilet training and stuff... yeah, maybe a cat would be better. Except, don't the hairs get everywhere?"

JC had a very appealing laugh, Nick thought.

"No, not Justin levels of clean, I'm never going to be quite that—no, I was not going to say insane, I was not! But I think there's a difference between carrying hand sanitizer everywhere and not wanting cat hair all over my clothes."

Nick was beginning to get a good feeling about this.

"Fish? I guess... but everybody has fish, and you know, they're pretty and stuff, but I don't think, I mean, Chris did say I needed something to love, and I don't think I could actually love a fish."

Nick sat up and did his best to look loveable.

"I guess snakes are pretty low maintenance..." JC didn't sound very convinced. Probably he was the kind of person who just didn't like snakes. Nick hoped. Because there was a very pretty corn snake two cages down. "Okay, well. Thanks, Joey. Yeah, talk to you soon."

And JC put his phone in his pocket and now he was only five steps, four steps, three steps from Nick's tank... Nick sat upright, and stared the giant visitor straight in the eye. Straight-ish. It was difficult, when your eyes basically looked in different directions. He did his best, and let out a small, expectant ribbit when JC stared back at him.

"Huh," said JC. "You might just fit the bill."


It was dull in JC's house. This was disappointing. Nick had hoped for a little attention. He had thought—obviously it had been stupid, but it had seemed quite logical, given what JC was like—that maybe JC would kiss him, on the grounds that that was what you did with frogs. Okay, people mostly didn't go around kissing frogs, but JC was a princess, wasn't he? Or was that only Timberlake?

It wasn't that this was a bad place to be—his aquarium was top-notch, four times the size of the one in the pet store, and there was a pond and comfy moss and everything—and it was a lot better than being stuck somewhere where a random stranger might actually buy him, and then what would Brian do, huh? Huh? It would serve him right, except for the part where it was Nick who'd end up living in the suburbs with some snotty kid pulling the wings off his dinner.

Turned out, though, that JC really did get distracted from his pet-ownery duties. It was a good thing Nick was capable of getting his own food, given that JC had disappeared for three entire days once. It was fun catching his own flies, but still, Nick thought, that didn't excuse JC's neglect. He could at least let Nick outside to sit by the pool.

Things did perk up a bit when Chris came to visit. He stared into Nick's very fine, very fancy glass aquarium. Nick performed several impressive leaps—he might be small, but he could jump really high—and even did an impromptu version of the hat dance, which considering he didn't have a hat he thought was pretty damn good, but Chris just frowned. "A frog totally defeats the purpose of getting a pet! You can't train it, you can't stroke it, you can't play with it. It's kind of boring."

"It's a really cute frog," JC protested, but he didn't sound very convincing. Nick was insulted. There was nothing wrong with being green.

"How exactly is a frog supposed to keep you company, anyway?" Chris said. He sounded exasperated, but Nick could watch JC's face at the same time as he watched Chris's face, because frogs were awesome that way, and really, the two of them should just... well, he wasn't sure what they should just do, but they should definitely do something other than send longing looks when Chris wasn't looking (JC) or frown with frustration when JC wasn't looking (Chris).

After Chris left, JC looked down into the aquarium. "I wonder if Chris was right," he murmured. "Maybe I should have gotten a cat."

Nick decided he had better step up his game.


Singing wasn't easy, when you were a frog. Making a loud noise was not a problem, but his throat wasn't really made for melody, and lyrics were out of the question. At first, Nick could only manage a kind of warbling sound. He wasn't very happy with it, but it caught JC's attention, no question.

He got better, though. Being able to breathe through his skin was very handy. With practice, he could manage a few bars of "Help Me". He didn't expect JC to recognize it, but it seemed appropriate.

When JC applauded, Nick swelled with pride, and did an encore.

After that it got weird—weirder—for a while. JC carried the aquarium into his studio and recorded every froggy meep and quarp and murble. After a while, Nick sulked and refused to make any more noise. Those were his songs! He'd recorded them already! He didn't see why JC should steal them and use them for background on his own stuff.

But there wasn't much else to do, and at least JC was paying him some attention. When JC, shuddering a bit (and how flattering that wasn't), reached in and carefully picked Nick up and put him onto the desk next to a microphone and urged him to make more noises, Nick thought, what the hell, and obligingly went through his repertoire of too-dull-for-the-album Backstreet ballads. Nobody would ever recognize those.

Besides, if he was very good, JC might pick him up again, and... well. You never knew. So he kept up the singing. Even when JC protested—JC seemed to think Nick ought to sing Prince songs. Prince! Nick sang his own songs again, but louder.


Then came The Incident, which left Nick traumatized. Or pissed. He wasn't exactly sure, but traumatized sounded way better.


After that he stopped singing. He didn't see why he should sing. JC was a tease, and maybe a pervert, and Nick wasn't going to do any more warbling.

It seemed to have JC worried, which served him right. Nick heard him call someone and explain how worried he was that maybe something was wrong with his frog. No, Nick thought, nothing wrong with this frog, buster. Just traumatized.

"You're serious? You licked it?" A familiar voice. Nick perked up a bit as Chris followed JC into the room.

"Well, I thought, they're supposed to be, like, hallucinogenic, and it seemed a pity not to at least try..."

"Toads, you doofus! Hallucinogenic toads! Man." Chris's face squinted through Nick's glass cage. Nick did his best to look like the innocent frog he was. It hadn't been his idea for JC to lick him. No, sir. JC had thought that one up all on his own. "I still don't get why you want a frog for a pet. You're not raising it for food, are you?"

Nick croaked in loud dismay and leaped half-way across his aquarium.

"Edible frogs are a special breed, Chris," JC said reproachfully, as if he hadn't mixed up his innocent little frog with fucking hallucinogenic toads!

"Whatever. I still don't get it. What do you get from a frog? Love, affection? Does he come greet you when you get home? Not that you ever go out, but I mean. My dogs make a fuss of me when I come out of the bathroom."

"He's a good frog. He, um. Sings."


"Okay, sings is maybe—he makes interesting noises."

Chris looked at Nick, unimpressed. "Right."

Nick considered that it was probably time to do something. So he did.

"See?" JC said, triumphantly. "Bud. Weis. Err. Just like in the commercials!"

Chris scoffed, but Nick could see he was shaken. Hah. His tongue shot out and flicked the glass, right in front of Chris's nose. Gotcha.


Chris seemed to visit more often, after that. He said he was worried about JC, because anyone who deliberately licked frogs should not be running around loose. Nick thought that was silly. JC had not licked him again. Once was enough! And nobody seemed to care that JC had practically dropped Nick, and he'd said Eeeuuuuuugh and spat on the kitchen counter, which was just rude. And gross. Nick was a perfectly nice frog and probably tasty, not that he wanted to encourage JC to think in that direction, but still.

As a matter of fact, Nick was getting worried. He'd never thought he'd be stuck like this for so long. He had expected better of JC, but it turned out the members of Nsync were way dumber than he'd ever realized, look at Chris and JC who were still giving each other longing looks behind one another's backs, and neither of them had so much as thought to try one little peck on a friendly froggy smile. Maybe he'd be better off back at the store, where some kid with a princess complex might want him.

But how could he persuade JC to take him back?


"You know, if that frog is going to keep making that noise, I think I'm gonna go," Chris said, after Nick had warbled his way through "Quit Playing Games With My Heart" for the eighteenth time.

Looking at JC's woeful expression as Chris left, Nick thought he might just have solved his problem.

"Okay, that's it," JC said, with unusual determination, as he reached for his cellphone. "Who do I know who'd take on a possessed singing frog?" He scrolled intently. "Ah, perfect. Nick Carter!"

Nick was extremely affronted. But it was going to go to voicemail.


"Hey, thanks for doing this, man," JC was saying as he opened the door. "I bought this little fella a while ago, but, um, you know how it is, real busy and stuff. I don't really have time to take care of him, but you like animals, right? So. Um. He's all yours."

Brian's bright blue eyes peered at Nick. Nick did his best to look innocent and... what was the other thing? Repentant. Yes. That.

"No problem," Brian said, picking up the aquarium. "Glad I could help."

"Thanks again," JC said as he helped Brian fasten the aquarium into his car. If he didn't go right back inside and call Chris Kirkpatrick, Nick thought, then there was no hope for him at all.

Brian sat in the driver's seat and looked down at the aquarium. Nick croaked hopefully.

Brian reached into the aquarium and picked him up. "I warned you," he said, sternly. "I told you I'd give you to a pet store if you hopped in my bed one more time." Nick was deposited back in the aquarium and gazed up at Brian and the steering wheel in great dismay. "You'll get your kiss when I feel like it."


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