nsync in black and white

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


Out-take from an unwritten story.

Another hospitality suite, and Lance was adept, now, at judging his status on the celebrity ladder by the way he was treated before he went out in front of the camera. Here he was, ready to smile and talk up the new film, and probably tell a few lies about *Nsync while he was at it, but he wasn't the star of the show, nowhere near.

Sure, publicity, had to be done, but he hated these late-night talk shows. Not so much 'talk', as 'allow the host to show off'. Really, if you were a viewer wanting to know a bit about whichever celebrity interviewee was on this week, you were better off watching Sharon—at least she talked to her guests, didn't just use them as an excuse for wittiness. What passed for wittiness on TV, at any rate.

Here he was now, with his gratingly insincere smile. "Hey, Lance Bass! Good to see you again!" An arm round his shoulders. Lance smiled back, rather better at faking sincerity. "Have you met my other guests tonight? Come and say hi."

He actually had met the diet woman before, she obviously had a new book out. But the other guest was a real star.

"Sir Ian!" Was there a hint of the deferential in their host's tone? Nah, probably not. Too much ego to notice there was real talent in the room. "Have you met Lance Bass?"

"Hello," said the actor, and smiled sweetly. Lance was, well, actually, rather awed. After all—Gandalf! He shook the proffered hand and said what a pleasure it was.

"Lance is in your line of work, you know," said the talk show host.

"Oh, no," Lance hurried to disclaim. "I'm really not an actor."

"Ask anyone who saw On the Line, right?" Chortles. Great. Lance smiled weakly. "That is, if you can find anyone, heh, heh." It was getting an awful lot harder to smile, but Lance did it anyway. He was definitely a better actor than this creep realized.

"Oh, I've seen it," said Sir Ian McKellen. "I thought it was rather a sweet film. And you produced it, too, didn't you?"

"Uh, yes, I did." Lance was astonished, but not too astonished to enjoy the flabbergasted expression on their ego-heavy host's face.

"O-kay, so, I think they want me in makeup. I'll, er, just leave you two thespians together. Talk to you later!"

"Prick," muttered Lance under his breath as the tiresome creature retreated.

"Oh, quite," said Sir Ian. "One of the hazards of the entertainment business, I'm afraid."

Lance grinned. "Have you really seen On the Line?"

"Actually, yes. My god-daughter made me watch it. She's a big fan of yours."


"Oh, yes. I'm afraid I refused to sit through the DVDs of your group in concert, though. Not my style at all."

"And On the Line was?" Lance made no attempt to hide his skepticism.

Sir Ian giggled. He really did. "It had its moments. I'm afraid if you want to make a good film, though, you do need a good script."

Lance winced. "Yeah."

The actor—Gandalf!—was smiling at him thoughtfully. "If you want to buy me dinner tomorrow night, I'll tell you exactly what was wrong with it. Might be useful, next time you're looking at a script."

Dinner? With Sir Ian McKellen? Lance couldn't agree fast enough.

* * *

It had been a mistake to go to such a celeb-heavy restaurant. Their dinner had been interrupted by a stream of pretty faces saying hi, and while Lance was all about that normally, he really just wanted to talk to one person tonight. Sir Ian McKellen! A lot of extremely sage advice about story construction and how to read a script, which he very much wanted to take in. And, possibly, something else, which was maybe just his imagination.

"I'm sorry about," Lance shook his head, after the latest interruption. "I guess everybody wants to meet you."

"Everybody already seems to know you."

Lance sighed. "Yeah." Sometimes, he felt nostalgic for the days when the people he called friends really were his friends.

"Perhaps we could go somewhere else? Have our coffee without the interruptions? That is, if we haven't finished."

"No, uh, yeah, I'd like that. Did you have somewhere in mind?"

"You live in LA, don't you? So let's go to your place."

Maybe not just his imagination, then. Lance signaled for the check.

* * *

"That's incredible. It's like, I just had a masterclass. Thank you so much."

His guest smiled, that enigmatic, gentle softening of features. "I have quite a lot of experience in reading scripts."

"I'm more about the business side, really," Lance admitted. "Pulling things together, getting it to happen. You know."

"A very necessary skill," Sir Ian agreed. "We actors get most of the credit, but if it weren't for the producers, nothing would get made at all. I imagine you learnt a great deal."

"I did, and had a lot of fun too. I mean, the producing was so satisfying, except for the parts where it was really frustrating, and making the film was a blast, mostly. Scary, some days, especially at the beginning, what with me not really knowing what I was doing."

"A few acting lessons wouldn't hurt," said Sir Ian, kindly. "Working with the right director can make a lot of difference, too." He reeled off a list of names. "If you get the chance."

Lance didn't think that was very likely, what with him not being Justin Timberlake, and all. "Let me get you another drink," he offered. His guest accepted more whisky with a graceful hand.

"So," said Sir Ian, "are we going to talk about On the Line all night, or can we think of something more interesting to do?"

Lance's insides began to tingle, double-time. "What did you have in mind?"

"We could go to bed."

Those eyes. All kinds of wicked promise. "You're not really my type," said Lance, lazily.

"And what is your type?"

Lance grinned. "Pretty." A challenge.

"Ah," said Sir Ian, lightly. "Pretty. Pretty... can be over-rated."

"Oh?" On the black leather couch, Lance stretched a little, ever so casually.

"There used to be advertising for a car rental company, Avis it was, but you're probably too young to remember. They had the second-biggest market share, behind Hertz, and they made a virtue of it. 'We try harder', they said." The actor, with infinite assurance, paused to sip at his whisky. "Those of us who aren't pretty find we can compensate with... technique."

"Is that right?"

Sir Ian smiled. "Oh, I should mention, one condition. Just a little one. I like to stay for breakfast. At my age, getting out of bed in the middle of the night to go home is just too much like hard work."

"Besides which," suggested Lance, blandly, "you won't have the strength to move."

"Oh, I think I can pace myself. I have had quite a bit of practice, you know."

Like two self-satisfied cats, they looked at each other.

"Then," said Lance, "I think I'm up for another masterclass. Shall we?"



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