nsync in black and white

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

A Quarter After Eleven

written for Trickyfish Day 2010

It wasn't late. By no stretch of the imagination could quarter after eleven be called late. Eleven o'clock was, like, the night is just getting going. Or it was when there was something happening, when he had people over and the house was full of loud music and laughter and the sticky scent of illegal substances. It felt late, though, when there was nobody here but him, and he'd gone through a couple of DVD's he'd forgotten he meant to watch sometime when he had nothing better to do. He was getting bored with the taste of beer. Beer always tasted better with company. There was a rule, probably.

Chris toyed with the idea of going to bed, but he knew what he'd do if he went to bed and he wasn't ready to do that right now, he needed distraction, so he stared glumly at his DVD collection for inspiration, then decided to take himself into the studio and see if he could noodle out a song of some kind. Maybe a song about it not really being late, or beer tasting better with company. Or the empty feeling.

He'd always known it would happen. Every year as the date loomed closer, he wondered if this would be it, this would be the time he didn't show. Looked like this year it was over. No Lance, and not even a phone call.

He went down to the studio and picked up his guitar, strummed a few chords and tried to think up something like an angry song, or a funny song, something wry and pithy. He was not going to write a woeful ballad, really, really not. Chris Kirkpatrick did not get all weepy over something that was only one day a year, however many years it might have been going on. Chris Kirkpatrick had an actual life, an awesome life, damn it, and if he survived the other three-sixty four days in the year, which he did, then adding one more would be just fine. He managed it in leap years, didn't he?

That was an okay chord progression. He could do something with that, maybe.

Then the door chime sounded, and he nearly dropped the guitar.


"You're late," Chris said.

"I'm sorry. The flight from St Maarten was delayed in San Juan, and then there were no taxis, I swear, not one, at the airport."

"So..." Chris said, "here you are."

"Of course I'm here. You were expecting me."

Chris didn't dignify that with a reply. Lance didn't deserve one. He could have come back from St Maarten yesterday instead of frolicking on the beach with Joey. Hell, there was beach in Florida. He could have driven to the beach. He could have frolicked in Chris's pool.

"Do I get to come in?"

Chris stepped back, and Lance followed. "I should get back to the studio. I was working on a song," Chris said. "You can, you know. Make yourself comfortable."

"Chris." Lance smiled sunnily. Innocent as a baby lamb, you'd think. Of course, Chris knew better.


Lance's smile grew sunnier and yet more innocent.

Unfortunately, Chris had not developed an immunity. Twelve, no, thirteen years, shit, no, it was more than that—and he still fell for Lance's smile. "I suppose you want sex," he said, grumpily.

Lance beamed at him.

It hadn't been a very good song, anyway.


Quarter after eleven wasn't early, not really. It would not be unreasonable to get out of bed. Back home in LA, often as not he'd actually be at his desk by now, maybe even thinking about leaving for lunch. Up, showered and dressed at any rate, with the dogs eager for their exercise. He wasn't going to call it late, not even after maybe five hours sleep, but it wasn't early. Except, it was too early to get out of bed and go back to that life in LA. He wanted to snuggle up to the warm, sturdy body snuffling in the bed beside him. Maybe, maybe he could even coax him into another round, if the light sneaking around the drapes didn't persuade Chris that today was another day and it was time to go back to normal life.

Every year Lance wondered if this would be the year. He dreaded the date almost as much as he looked forward to it, because this year might be the year Chris would say, enough's enough, I've had my big gay playtime adventure, let's not do this again. Every year he pulled out every trick he knew, everything he'd learned in a lifetime of bedding the wrong guys, and used them all to persuade Chris to stay, and every year it was fantastic, it was perfect whether it was his stupid tricks or just Chris, just Chris, but it was never quite enough.

Lance slid his hand carefully along Chris's back. Strange how those few stray hairs fascinated him, black against the pale skin. There wasn't a gay man in Los Angeles who had a hairy back. At least, he'd never met one, in all the constant parade of fresh meat in his life. So much perfection and none of it thrilled him like this, not like Chris. Who was making little noises now, asleep noises but like there was a good dream going on inside that crazy head. Encouraged, Lance kept stroking, long sweeps right the way down over ass and thigh. He buried his nose in Chris's long, silky hair, and felt the usual pang of envy.

There was a long, interrogative "Mmmm?", and Lance pressed his sudden grin into Chris's shoulder and let his hand slip down the front of Chris's hairy thigh. A few minutes of teasing and Chris's hand grabbed his and put it firmly around his cock. Really, if Chris ever tried to be subtle Lance would know he'd been taken over by the pod people.

Besides, subtle was overrated.


Breakfast—brunch—was a cholesterol feast as always, and as always Chris mocked Lance's fastidiousness and insisted he cleaned his plate. They talked about Joey and his new daughter, and they talked about JC's unexpected declaration that he might be making music again, and speculated about what the result might be, and they talked about Justin's recent showcase and agreed it to be the best thing he'd done in a long time. And it was friendly and casual and comfortable again and it left Lance feeling strangely hollow.

Because every year, he wondered if this would be the year he had the courage to say, let me stay another day, come see me in LA, let's make this more than a once-a-year thing, let's try... and when it came to it, when Chris ushered him to the front door and looked at him with those bright, cynical eyes and told him to have a good flight, he couldn't say it.

All he could do was leave, and wait for the year to roll around again.



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