“Justin? Hey.” Lance moved aside so Justin could enter his hotel room. “What’s up?”
“So…um…wanna go out?” Justin asked him. Lance noticed for the first time that Justin was dressed for the clubs, his cologne lingering in the air.
“You wanna go clubbing with me? Where’s everyone else?” Lance removed his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose.
“Joey’s not feeling well. Chris is already out, and JC went to some gallery opening.” Justin rolled his eyes. “And we haven’t hung out in a long time, Lance, just you and me.”
“A long time? How about like three years or something?” Lance replied with a laugh. “If you can give me a second to get ready then…yeah, sure, I’ll go.”
“Cool.” Justin flopped onto the sofa and picked up the remote.
“We DID hang out a lot, didn’t we?” Justin asked as the taxi took them to the first bar. “I mean, the others would go out and it was you and me…JuJu and Poofu.”
“God, do you NEED to call me that?” Lance moaned as he paid the cab driver. They went to a side entrance and were immediately allowed inside. No one carded Justin.
“I LOVE calling ahead,” Justin said with a grin. They ordered their drinks at the bar and headed for a small table in the back. As soon as his butt hit the seat, Justin was already dancing where he sat.
“You can go out there, you know. I’ll be fine here,” Lance said, motioning to the dance floor.
“Nah…later. I came to hang with you, bro!” Justin said, grinning at Lance. “You work too hard, you know.”
“Well, FreeLance takes a lot of work…and I can’t let the little things slip by.”
“You always were good at catching the little things. I get so jealous of you sometimes,” Justin said. Lance spit out his drink.
“Jealous? Of me? Why?”
“Lance, for God’s sake…you’re so damn smart…and you know how to work people. You have contacts in every type of entertainment I can think of…for all I know you know people in porn!”
“Now that you mention it…” Lance let his voice trail off and laughed. “It’s not that big a deal, Justin.”
“Yeah, it is,” Justin insisted, waving over the waitress. “I’ll take two more. So will he.”
“Might as well do it right,” Justin shrugged. “Anyway…you know shit. You can handle the shit when it hits the fan. I know nothing about that. I have a foundation with my name slapped on it and that is the most involved I’ve gotten.”
“Damn,” Lance said. “I never knew you thought that way.”
“Well, now you know,” Justin said, downing his second drink in one gulp.
Four drinks later, Lance put a hand on Justin’s arm. “How about we go back to the hotel and drink in the bar there? Security can keep an eye on us…I don’t need to get shitfaced in a club.”
“See? You always know best,” Justin said, standing up. They carefully walked through the club and hailed a cab. They were silent in the taxi, and it was only after they were settled at a table in the hotel bar that Lance started the conversation again.
“Well, it goes without saying that I’m jealous as fuck of you.”
“Me?” Justin looked at him quizzically. “You’re drunk.”
“So are you,” Lance reminded him. They grinned and took another gulp of their drinks. “Yeah, you. You’re Justin Timberlake. Need I say more?”
“I’m not that great,” Justin mumbled into his drink, and Lance knew he wasn’t faking the modesty.
“Justin, look at you. Everyone knows you. Girls and women all over the world scream for you. You’re talented. You can dance like something sinful. You are currently dating the number one female pop star in the world. What more could you ask for?”
“People scream your name, too,” Justin pointed out.
“Yeah, only if you’re not the first one walking into the room,” Lance said with a sigh. He waved the waiter over and asked for another round. “All’s I’m saying is that you’re something, too. Everything you are is stuff I could never be.”
“You’re preaching to the choir here, brother,” Justin said. They clumsily clinked their glasses together and laughed.
“Dude, what I wouldn’t give to be inside your head sometime,” Justin said as they stumbled down the hallway to their suites. “I’d love to know what I was doing for once.”
“And I’d love to let go and be sexy Justin Timberlake,” Lance said, leaning against the wall beside his door. Justin gave him a hug.
“I love you, man…I love you as Lance Bass and no one else. Okay?”
“You, too, J.” Lance clapped him on the back. “I’ll call downstairs and make sure they have aspirin sent up to us tomorrow.”
“See? You’re doing it again.” Justin gave Lance a sunny grin before entering his own suite.
Lance smacked his lips together as he slowly opened his eyes. He hated cottonmouth. He groaned as a tiny ray of morning sunlight filtered between the blinds. He slowly sat up, running a hand through his hair. He gasped and froze, his hand on his bare head. His almost BALD head. He put both hands up, running his fingers over his head. “Chris,” he whispered. “Chris snuck in here and fucking SHAVED MY HEAD!”
Lance stumbled to his feet and started for the bathroom and a mirror. He looked down in horror. When had his feet grown that big? And why were his legs so long? The floor looked a mile away. “Fucking hangovers,” he griped, the headache making anything louder than a whisper sound like a scream. He made it to the bathroom and splashed cold water on his face before looking in the mirror.
Bloodshot blue eyes studied him curiously. Lance blinked and looked again. He shut his eyes, then opened them. “I’m color blind,” he said aloud. “My eyes are green, not blue.” He gasped again, closing his mouth. That wasn’t his voice. He never had a voice that high…even at puberty. He tried again. “That’s not my voice,” he said, and sure enough, it wasn’t. He looked more carefully at himself in the mirror.
Red chapped lips fell into an O as he stared at the bald head, the blue eyes, and the slender face of Justin Timberlake.
“What the FUCK do you want?” Justin snapped, pressing the phone to his ear.
“Justin, you need to get to my room now!”
“Who is this?”
“It’s Lance, Justin.”
“You don’t sound like you.”
“I’m not myself today. Just get over here, okay?”
“Lance, I’m hung over.”
“I am too, Justin…and I need you over here. NOW.”
“God, okay okay okay…” Justin slammed the phone down and groaned as he sat up, running a hand through his short hair. “Bossy asshole.”
He found a pair of his sandals and slipped them on, wondering why his feet swam in them. He scratched his stomach, wondering why the waistband of his sweatpants was suddenly a little tight. The fabric stretched across his ass tighter than usual, too. Justin shrugged and grabbed his keycard before stumbling out into the hallway. He shifted his weight as he knocked on Lance’s door. He had to pee.
“Finally.” Lance grabbed Justin by the arm and yanked him inside.
“Lance, don’t! The room’s swimming enough as it is and…” Justin stared at Lance, or more correctly, at himself. Lance/his eyes were swimming with tears.
“It IS true, then,” Lance/him said.
“What?” Justin whispered, struggling to the bathroom to stare at himself in the mirror. “Oh, my God…” He slowly put his hand up and ran his fingers through the spiky short hair that he hadn’t even thought twice about earlier. “Oh my God,” he repeated, just to hear the sound of his newly bass voice. He hadn’t thought twice about that, either. Crooked green eyes looked at his reflection in the mirror. Justin looked down, slowly running his hands down his body. “I’m you.”
“No shit, Sherlock,” Lance/him said sadly, sitting down on the bed.
“I gotta pee.” Justin slammed the bathroom door, wincing at the sound. He pulled out his cock to pee, and couldn’t help but grin. “Okay, maybe this won’t be all that bad,” he chuckled to himself. Lance always had been the most well-endowed of the men of NSYNC.
A knock at the door made Lance jump. He went over and looked out the peephole. “Excuse me, Mr. Bass?” The bellhop said politely. “Oh…sorry, Mr. Timberlake. Mr. Bass sent a call down last night for aspirin.”
“I’ll give it to him.” Lance gave what he hoped was Justin’s best disarming grin. “We were kinda drunk and slept in the wrong rooms last night.”
“I see. Have a good day, Mr. Timberlake.” The man handed Lance a bottle of aspirin and continued down the hall.
When Lance returned to the room, Justin was grinning at him. “Dude, you are like totally hung!”
“Is that ALL you can say?” Lance snapped. “Justin, look at me. LOOK at me.” Lance stood in front of Justin, cupping his face in his hands. “What the hell happened? HOW did it happen? What are we gonna do about it?”
“We just deal with it until the forces that be change us back, I guess,” Justin said, walking to the sofa. He tripped over his own feet and looked at Lance in fear. “No. NO way.” He attempted a few dance steps and tears sprang to his eyes. “I have your rhythm!”
“Fuck you!” Lance exclaimed, hurt. He did a few dance steps of his own and grinned. “No way. I have YOUR rhythm!”
“Fuck YOU,” Justin growled back.
Lance sat next to him on the sofa. “Okay…let’s think about this.” Lance rubbed a hand over his bald head. “We have a week off. Hopefully it will switch back by then…because otherwise we’ll have to sing…and I don’t know your parts all that well.”
“Tell me about it,” Justin griped.
“But I have FreeLance meetings on Wednesday and Thursday,” Lance realized. Justin smiled.
“No sweat. I can handle it.”
“Justin, I don’t know if you should,” Lance began. “Apparently we’ve inherited each other’s physical characteristics, but not the mental ones. Or the personality ones. Inside you’re still Justin and I’m still Lance.” Lance’s eyes widened. “Are you supposed to see Britney this week?”
“I was supposed to, yeah. We haven’t had time together for a while now.” Justin frowned. “Lance, if you lay one finger on my girl…”
“Trust me, Justin, I won’t,” Lance said hurriedly. “You can trust me.” He stood.
“Where are you going?” Justin said almost fearfully.
“Back to your room. I’m Justin now. That’s my room and this is yours. The guys will be bugging us to go to breakfast soon, remember? Our flight leaves in three hours.”
Justin groaned. “They’re gonna expect me to remember shit like that!”
“I think the wisest thing for you and I to do is to spend as much time together as possible, to help each other out.”
Justin stood and awkwardly hugged Lance. “To tell the truth, Lance…if this had to happen, I’m glad I had to go through it with you. You can work it all out.”
“I hope so,” Lance said with a sigh, leaving the room and heading for Justin’s suite.
“No way in hell,” Justin muttered, looking at Lance’s closet. “This has to be the world’s most BORING wardrobe.” He yanked a shirt off a hanger, grabbed a pair of jeans off a chair, and went into the bathroom to take a shower.
“I can’t wear this stuff,” Lance moaned, looking at the clothing that littered Justin’s floor. “First of all, I can’t even FIND anything.” He began to tidy up the floor, hoping he’d happen upon something to wear in the process.
“Lance? Lance…c’mon. I’m STARVING!” JC called, pounding on Lance’s hotel room door. Justin opened it, tugging on a sneaker.
“Hey, Jayce.” Justin moved aside. “I’m almost ready.”
JC walked into the suite, staring at the floor. “What the hell happened in here?” Clothing was draped over anything that would sit still. “Um, Lance, you know we need to leave in like two hours, right?”
“Oh…yeah.” Justin realized that there was no way in hell Lance would have let the room get that messy. “I…uh…couldn’t find something. Really pissed me off.” He quickly started to shove the clothing into suitcases, which made JC’s blue eyes open wider.
“Um…let me help you.” JC picked up a few shirts and haphazardly folded them before placing them in Lance’s duffel. Justin sighed. This was going to be harder than he had expected.
“Your girlfriend drives a Honda…playing workout tapes by Fonda…but Fonda ain’t gotta motor in the back of her Honda…my anaconda don’t want none unless she got buns hun…” Chris sang, rapping on Justin’s door in time with his singing. “JUSTIN! Get your anaconda out here, brother!”
“Okay!” Lance opened the door, exasperated. “God, Chris, don’t you ever shut up?”
Chris looked hurt, and Lance realized that Justin never would have snapped like that. He probably would have sung along. “God, get up on the wrong side of human this morning?” Chris asked, striding into Justin’s suite.
“Something like that,” Lance replied softly. “Sorry, man.”
“It’s okay. I am SO hungry. I…” Chris turned around slowly. “Something’s not right here.”
“What?” Lance asked quickly, looking at the suitcases and duffel bag on a neat pile by the door.
“It’s just too…clean.” Chris snapped his fingers. “Dude…you’re packed already!”
“Yeah?” Lance asked, then realized. “Oh. Well…I was up early. Lance called me and woke me up. Damn albino.”
“Yeah, albino,” Chris said with his crazy grin, and Lance knew he was in. “Let’s go find him and JC. They’re together…AGAIN.”
“Hmm?” Lance said absentmindedly, making sure to forget his keycard on the TV. Justin always forgot his keycard when it was time to leave…THAT much Lance remembered.
“Haven’t you noticed? JC and Lance are together like all the time lately. I mean, I never knew they were that close, you know? I thought you and Jayce were best friends.”
“We are,” Lance said defensively. “But, you know, I’m not his keeper or anything.” Lance frowned, wondering how much stuff Chris had actually noticed and not told him.
“So…Lance…we’re sitting together on the plane, right?” JC asked Justin almost shyly as they went down in the elevator.
“Hmm?” Justin looked at him curiously. JC blushed, to Justin’s surprise.
“I…uh…remember when we flew in…you said that I made a good pillow and you wanted to sit next to me again.” JC studied his shoes. “Of course, if you were just saying that, I can, um, just sit alone.”
“No, JC.” Justin put a hand on JC’s arm, wondering about the bashfulness in his best friend’s eyes. “I want to sit next to you.”
JC’s face lit up and he squeezed Justin’s hand quickly. “Great.”
“You hooking up with Brit while we’re on break?” Joey asked Lance, his mouth full of hash browns. Lance looked at Justin, who nodded imperceptibly.
“Hell, yeah,” Lance said as cockily as he could. “I mean, why not. I have all those days to convince her NOT to be a virgin, right?” He wondered if he had crossed the line when Justin glared at him, but Joey laughed.
“Right. When’s she coming in?”
Justin discreetly held up three fingers. “In three days or so,” Lance said vaguely. “I never can keep her schedule straight.”
“What are you doing?” Chris asked Justin. “FreeLance?”
“Yes. I have a meeting on Wednesday, and some other things throughout the week,” Justin said vaguely, making an effort to speak with proper grammar. Somehow Lance saying “yo” or “word” just didn’t seem right.
“We gonna get together sometime?” JC asked him softly, and Justin caught himself staring at Lance, who quickly looked away.
“If you want to,” Justin said, smiling at him kindly. “I’ll miss you. All of you guys,” he said louder.
“Yeah…we gotta be back on a plane on Sunday, so maybe we could get together Friday…go clubbing,” Joey suggested.
“Cool. Call me,” Lance said, knowing full well that Justin would not organize anything. He waited for others to organize it for him.
“Yeah, we’ll come up with something,” JC said, glancing at Justin. “Right?”
“Right,” Justin said with a sigh, knowing that JC and Lance always put the get-togethers together. “Well…I need to go up and…” He froze. He had started to say “pack,” but if the others knew that the room was a disaster, they’d pick on him more than JC had. “Get some things together,” he finished.
“I’ll come with you.” Lance jumped to his feet. “I should double-check my room to see if I forgot anything.” He slapped himself in the forehead. “Shit. My key’s up there. Who has the extra?”
“Lance,” Joey, Chris and JC said together. Lance looked at Justin fearfully. Justin grinned and dug into his pocket.
“Of course I do.” He waved the keycard in the air. “See you guys in the van.”
“God…this is harder than I thought,” Lance said, glaring at Justin. “Why the HELL can’t you be more organized?”
“And why the hell do you need to be so anal? JC about had a kitten when he saw the state of your suite.”
“What did you do to my stuff?” Lance almost screamed.
“Nothing. It’s just not clean, that’s all. God…this is gonna be a hellish week, if it stays this way.” Justin closed his eyes and rubbed his temples. “I have a headache.”
“Did you wear your glasses at all this morning?” Lance said gently.
“I don’t…” Justin stared at Lance. “Oh, shit. That’s right. YOU do.”
“They’re on the nightstand. DON’T forget them,” Lance warned as they headed down the hall to their suites.
“Just…sit here, dude.” Chris patted the seat next to him. Lance frowned. They had their own private plane for this short ride home, and he was hoping to take up an entire aisle and sleep.
“Look, Chris…I’m tired and hung over, okay? I’m gonna…”
“Sit, Junior.” Chris yanked Lance into a seat. Lance sighed and made himself comfortable.
“Wanna sit back here?” JC said, pointing to one of the back rows.
“Whatever,” Justin said, shrugging. JC looked at him oddly, but tossed his bag on the floor in front of a seat by the window. “Hey, I wanted window!”
“You hate window, Lance. You hate flying so you hate window,” JC said slowly. Justin rolled his eyes.
“You’re right. I’m hung over. I’m sorry. Sit down, Jayce.”
“That doesn’t sound right,” JC said suddenly, and Justin stared at him.
“Calling me Jayce. Justin calls me Jayce, not you.”
“What should I call you then…Chasez?” Justin tried to tease.
“How about…Josh? Not many people call me that…and I’d like it if you would,” JC said softly.
“Okay…Josh. Just don’t go thinking you can call me James,” Justin said, laughing.
“Don’t worry. We’ve already had that conversation.” JC grinned as he sat down. “So, get yourself comfy…Josh Chasez…human pillow, at your service.” JC stuffed a pillow behind his own head and got comfortable. Justin paused, then flipped up the armrest. He buckled his seatbelt, then slowly laid his head down on JC’s thin legs. To his surprise, JC’s lap really WAS comfortable. “Takeoff will be over before you know it,” JC said soothingly, running a hand through Justin/Lance’s short hair.
“So, okay…I’ll start,” Chris said, looking at Lance expectantly. Lance stared at him blankly. “C’mon, Justin. We ALWAYS beatbox and stuff during takeoff.”
“Yeah, and some of us wish you wouldn’t!” Joey announced from a few rows back. “Some of us would like to sleep.”
“I guess we do,” Lance said weakly, realizing he had never noticed it. “Okay…uh…you start this time.” Lance swallowed deeply fearing the worst. Chris started a silly lyric about the color of Lance’s/Justin’s shirt (pine green), and Lance closed his eyes and started a random beat. His eyes flew open as he saw Chris nodding approvingly. He couldn’t believe the sounds that were coming out of his mouth.
Justin sat up suddenly. “You okay?” JC’s blue eyes were full of concern. “We’re not off the ground yet.”
“I know, I…is Lan…I mean, is Justin beatboxing?” Justin craned his head to see over the seats in front of them.
“Yeah…he and Chris always do that, you know,” JC said. “Why?”
“I just…he sounds good, that’s all,” Justin said sadly, watching Lance as himself laughing with Chris. “Not fair,” he mumbled, laying his head back down. “Why does he get to be the fun person?”
“Are you jealous of Justin?” JC asked, his long fingers once more stroking Justin’s head. Justin found the movement comforting.
“Sometimes. He has everything…beautiful girlfriend…adoring fans…”
“You have adoring fans…and do you really want the beautiful girlfriend?”
“Well, yeah,” Justin answered immediately, looking up at JC. He was shocked by the pain that raced through JC’s blue eyes. “I mean, doesn’t everyone want someone to be with, someone that cares about them the way Brit and Justin care about each other?” He could almost feel the relief washing off of JC.
“Absolutely. It’s what I want.” JC’s hand slowly slid down to hold the hand that Justin had resting on his stomach. Justin froze, then relaxed, knowing that it was what Lance would have done.
“Okay…I’ll call you tonight,” Lance said to Justin as they dropped him in front of Lance’s house. “I think we’ll both need it.”
“You two okay?” Joey asked, staring at them. Lance’s house was the first stop for the limo.
“Yeah…we were just…” Justin grabbed for words.
“Working on something…back at the hotel…and we wanna work some more on it,” Lance answered quickly.
“Really, Lance?” JC asked, smiling at Justin. “That’s great!”
“Yeah…you know,” Justin said, hanging his head in perfect Lance modesty.
JC got out of the limo with Justin. “So…um…Wednesday…we could have dinner, after your FreeLance meeting. To help you unwind…if you want…”
“I’d like that, Josh,” Justin said, smiling. “I’ll call you Tuesday.”
“Okay. Have a good week.” JC quickly pulled Justin into a hug then got back into the limo.
Justin unlocked Lance’s door and stood in the foyer, looking around. He had been in Lance’s house a million times, but this felt like he had never been in the place before in his life. He dropped his bags to the floor and slowly started to inspect his temporary new home. He had to smile as he looked at the immaculate rooms. “Looks like I definitely got the better end of THIS part of the deal.”
“Jesus,” Lance gasped as he walked into Justin’s house and almost tripped over a pair of Justin’s sneakers. “You haven’t been here for two weeks and the place is a pigsty, Justin!” Lance groaned and kicked a pair of sandals out of the way as he made his way up the steps. He dropped his suitcase in the upstairs hallway and slowly walked into the bedroom. He stepped over a pile of dirty laundry and went to the answering machine on the nightstand.
“Hi, sexy...” Lance groaned out loud as he heard Britney’s sugar sweet voice. “I’ll be flying in at eight in the morning...you’ll be there to pick me up, right?” She listed the flight number and airline. “I love you...and I can’t wait to see your sexy self. Bye.” Lance sighed, took off his shoes, then began to scoop up the dirty laundry on the floor.
“What are you doing? Are you touching anything?”
“Lance, I’m eating a damn pizza...chill out!” Justin said cheerfully.
“Are you eating one of my frozen pizzas?” Lance asked.
“Yeah...it’s damn good, too.” Justin munched loudly in Lance’s ear.
“You’re an ass...where’s your laundry detergent?”
“Lau-ndry-de-ter-gent...” Lance slowly enunciated. “You know...to wash clothes?”
“Um...uh...the laundry room?”
“Justin, who washes your clothes when you’re here?”
“Well...I usually take them over to my mom’s,” Justin said bashfully.
“Fuck,” Lance snapped. “Your place is a nightmare, Justin. I need to do laundry. Is there detergent here or not?”
“Like I said, over in the laundry room, I think. I’m sorry, Lance,” Justin snapped. “And if you’re gonna be a bitch, don’t call me.”
“Why don’t you call JC, Lance?” Justin asked.
“Fuck you.” Lance hung up, glaring at the phone. Justin hung up as well, grinning. So there WAS something going on between Lance and JC. Justin’s grin soon turned into a frown. For all intents and purposes, HE was Lance...therefore there was something going on between HE and JC.
The phone rang at ten the next morning, and Lance leaned across the kitchen counter to answer it. “Hello?”
“What the hell are you doing up?”
“I’m not Jayce, Chris. It’s morning.”
“But...never mind. What are you doing?”
“Washing dishes,” Lance answered before he thought.
“Washing...Justin, are you okay?”
“I’m fine. I just...never mind.”
“Okay...you’re scaring me dude...first a clean room, then washing dishes...next you’re gonna tell me that you did laundry or something!”
“You’re so funny, Chris...you know my mom does my laundry,” Lance said with a laugh. “What’s up?”
“I wanted to know if you wanted to shoot some hoops. I’m already bored.”
“Chris, I have to...” Lance began, then realized he didn’t HAVE to do anything. Number one, he was on vacation. Number two, he was Justin. Justin didn’t do anything for himself. He grinned. “I have to get dressed quick. What time are you gonna pick me up?”
“Mmph?” Justin pressed the phone to his ear but didn’t pick his head up off the pillow.
“Justin,” Justin corrected.
“Oh...uh...” Justin’s eyes flew open at the confusion in JC’s voice. “Is this Justin?”
“No, it’s Josh. God, Lance...you’d think you never heard my voice on the phone or something!” JC said with a laugh. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah...not awake yet.” Justin rubbed his eyes and scratched his head, still getting used to the fact that he had hair.
“Not awake? Lance, it’s almost noon. Are you SURE you’re okay? I mean, hell, I just got up, but that’s to be expected.”
“I’m fine, Josh,” Justin almost snapped. This was getting old really quick. “What did you want?”
“I wanted to know if you wanted to do lunch today,” JC said softly. “But, um, if you’re not interested...”
Justin sighed. For Lance’s sake, he had to be nice to JC. “I want to, Josh. What time are you coming to get me?”
“So...Justin...how’s Britney?” Chris grunted as he shot a free throw. “YES! Nothing but net, Curly.”
“Good...she called last night...there was a message on the machine,” Lance answered, tossing his own ball at the net. To his amazement, it sank with a gratifying swoosh. “Wow...I can shoot baskets,” he said. Chris looked at him strangely.
“Um, yeah. You can. Better than all of us,” Chris reminded him. “Anyway...what’s going on there? You gonna propose or something?”
Lance stopped and dribbled the ball. “I dunno,” he said vaguely, switching back and forth between his left and right hands, just because he could. “I mean, we’re kinda young.”
“Yeah, but you two are so tight...and the press would love it.”
“We don’t do what the press wants, we do what we want,” Lance snapped, having heard Justin say that exact thing in conversation before.
“Okay...okay...just asking,” Chris said. “Let’s play one on one.”
“What, Josh?” Justin said, tugging on a pair of Lance’s sneakers as he answered the phone. He didn’t get it. How the hell did someone as hung as Lance have such small feet? He stuck the phone between his ear and his shoulder.
“It’s Joey, dude.”
“Joey, hey!” Justin said. “How are you?” He couldn’t believe this. The only person he really felt like hanging with was Lance, yet every other band member seemed to want to talk to him.
“Great...I was wondering what you were up to today.”
“Well...JC is coming over to grab me for lunch.” Justin frowned, knowing what he had to do. “Wanna come? I’m sure JC won’t mind.”
“Really? That’d be cool. I’ll call his cell just to make sure. See ya later.” Joey hung up and Justin frowned. Joey was Lance’s best friend. He’d notice when Justin did something wrong. JC was obviously becoming closer to Lance. Whatever Joey didn’t notice, JC would. “Fuck,” Justin said. He liked the way it sounded in his new low voice, so he said it again.
Justin still hadn’t put on a shirt or shoes when he answered the door. “Hi, Josh. Hi, Joe. C’mon in.” He moved aside and let his two friends into the house. Joey did a double take.
“Dude! You’re not ready?”
Justin looked down at himself and shrugged. “I got distracted. Gimme one sec to grab a shirt.” He trotted up the steps to the bedroom. Joey went into the kitchen to use the phone, and JC followed Justin.
“So, Lance...we still on for dinner after your meetings on Wednesday?” JC asked. He flopped onto Lance’s bed and watched Justin paw through some drawers looking for a shirt. He stared open mouthed as Justin threw clothing over his shoulder onto the floor.
“Um, yeah, Josh, sure. Anyplace special you want to go?”
“Someplace we can be alone?” JC said shyly, and Justin froze.
“Yeah...that sounds great,” he said quietly, pulling out a baby blue tshirt. Suddenly old favorites like baby blue seemed very comforting, thought he had never actually seen LANCE wear a baby blue shirt.
“What time are your meetings?” JC asked, and Justin froze again. It was an innocent question, but he had NO clue when he was even supposed to be in the offices of FreeLance. He wasn’t even sure if he could remember how to get to the office building itself.
“Well...I’m not quite sure,” Justin answered vaguely. JC’s mouth fell open. “I mean, things have changed. I got a few calls last night and they haven’t gotten back to me yet,” he lied. He tugged on sneakers without socks. “Let’s go.”
“Hello?” Lance panted into the cellphone.
“Lance? It’s Justin.”
“Oh, hey, Just...I mean, Lance,” Lance said quickly, glancing at Chris. Chris was staring out the window of the car and didn’t notice the slip. “What’s up, bro?”
“When are your FreeLance meetings on Wednesday?” Justin asked in a quieter voice.
“Where are you?”
“I’m on my way out to lunch with JC and Joey,” he said in a louder voice.
“JC?” Lance asked almost weakly.
“HI JC! HI LANCE!” Chris screamed. Lance hit him.
“Yeah...and JC just asked what time my FreeLance meetings were,” Justin said softly. “He’s driving. Joey’s up front with him.”
“You are a glutton for punishment, aren’t you?” Lance said with a grin, thinking of Justin trying to be Lance with Lance’s best friend and the guy he was interested in.
“Shut up. So...when are the meetings?”
Lance glanced at Chris. “Yo, Chris...how about meeting up with Lance, Joey and JC for lunch?”
“I AM starving,” Chris admitted as he swung his car into Justin’s driveway. “I can be ready in like fifteen minutes.”
“Where are you guys going? We’ll meet you there in twenty-five minutes,” Lance told Justin as they got out of the car and went back into Justin’s house.
“This is pure hell,” Justin muttered as he watched the doorway of the restaurant eagerly.
“You okay?” JC looked at him, concerned. Justin plastered on a smile.
“Yeah...just hungry. Where are those guys, anyway?” He stood. “I’m gonna go the bathroom.” He got up from the table and went to the restroom.
“Hey guys...I haven’t seen you in forever!” Chris pretended to sob, hugging JC and Joey. JC rolled his eyes.
“Where’s Lance?” Lance asked.
“Bathroom,” Joey answered.
“I’ll be back.” Lance hurried off to the restroom, not even caring about how it looked.
Justin ran into himself as he started to come out of the bathroom. “God, Lance, that is just FREAKY,” he exclaimed. Lance pushed him back into the bathroom.
“I played basketball!” Lance said excitedly. “I played basketball with Chris and I won! I WON!”
“That’s great, Lance,” Justin said sarcastically. “Meanwhile I’ve been dealing with JC giving me goo-goo eyes and everyone freaking because I’m not anal enough. What the hell is going on between you two?”
Lance swallowed deeply, looking at his feet. “Nothing, Justin.”
“Liar. How long have you been gay? How long has HE been gay?”
“That I can’t answer for you,” Lance said. “Me...I’ve known for like ten years now.”
“Have you had a boyfriend?” Justin asked nosily.
“No,” Lance said, rubbing a hand over his shorn head self-consciously.. “Had some flings here and there, but nothing serious.”
“Shit...and I didn’t even notice,” Justin said.
“Not to be rude, Justin, but there’s a lot you don’t notice when it doesn’t directly affect you,” Lance said softly.
“Fuck you!” Justin said, hurt. “Anyway...you and JC. I take it it hasn’t gone anywhere yet?”
“No.” Lance shook his head. “We’re still kinda feeling things out.”
“That much I figured out all by myself,” Justin said with a grin. “Dude...do I have to kiss him?”
“Don’t you dare!” Lance almost screamed. “I mean...no...we haven’t done that.” Lance looked crestfallen and Justin took pity on him.
“I promise, Lance...I won’t give JC the first kiss between the two of you. That’s all yours. So, tell me about this FreeLance meeting.”
“I’ll call you tonight, okay?” Lance promised. “We need to get back out there before they wonder what the hell we’re doing in here.”
“Justin, I told you I’d call!” Lance exclaimed as he closed Justin’s front door behind him. “I’m barely in the house! Chris isn’t even out of the driveway yet!”
“Yeah, well, you need to get back OUT of the house and haul your sexy Timberlake ass over here!” Justin told him. “There was a message on the machine from FreeLance.”
“On the machine? Why didn’t they just call you on my cell?”
“I had it turned off.”
“WHAT?” Lance’s voice echoed through the large house. “Justin, I NEVER turn my cell off.”
“Well, you just tell everyone your battery was dead,” Justin snapped. “I’m not about to deal with your company on my own, Lance. You need to get over here and call them back!”
“YOU will call them back, Justin. I’ll just coach you.” Lance sighed. “I’ll be right over.” He hung up Justin’s cellphone and went to the hall table to pick up Justin’s spare car keys. He had forgotten to get Justin’s keys from him, and had forgotten to hand over his own keys as well. Lance opened the door from the kitchen to the garage and grinned. “Oh, YES,” he said, running a hand over Justin’s new black Porsche.
“Thank God…they paged you AND tried the cell. I just didn’t answer it…saw the number on the Caller ID,” Justin said frantically. Lance laughed and walked into his house.
“Calm down, Justin. It will…” Lance turned in small circles, frowning. “What have you done?”
“Nothing. Why?” Justin looked around the living room. He took in the empty Doritos bag, the empty soda cans, the magazines tossed on the floor. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” Lance rubbed his temples. “Let’s go into the study. You can talk to my assistant on the speakerphone, and I’ll write down whatever you need to say.”
“I won’t be able to pull this off, Lance,” Justin said woefully as he hung up the phone. “There’s no way they won’t think you’ve become a total retard.”
“I act like a retard on a regular basis, Justin,” Lance said consolingly. “I feel the same way about hanging out with Britney this week. I really don’t know her the way you do. How am I gonna keep her from thinking you’ve turned into a fruitloop?”
“Speaking of fruit,” Justin said, leaning back in Lance’s chair and putting his hands behind his head. “Tell me more about what’s going on between you and JC.”
Lance blushed furiously and left the study, heading upstairs to his bedroom. There were a few things he really wanted with him at Justin’s house. Justin jumped up and followed him. “If you’re going to make fun of me, Justin, then we won’t talk about it,” Lance said. Justin put a hand on his arm.
“I was just teasing, Lance. Seriously. When did this all happen?”
“I don’t know.” Justin never knew he was capable of blushing the way Lance was blushing inside his body. “We just…started talking and stuff…and he made sure I knew one day that he was bi…and I made sure he knew that I was gay…and we just started to draw closer.”
“And knowing the two of you, you’ll both be in your seventies before you finally get around to hooking up,” Justin said with a moan, falling back onto the bed. “That’s one plus in my favor.”
“Shut up,” Lance said, pulling out a small duffel and throwing some things into it. “We just don’t wanna ruin our friendship.”
“I understand that,” Justin said, nodding.
“So…are you and Brit like REALLY serious, J?” Lance asked, zipping the bag shut. Justin sighed happily.
“Yeah. She sees past Justin Timberlake, you know? She’s happy just being with me because I’m me. It’s hard for me to find that.”
“I just hope I can pull this off.”
“Maybe we’ll change back before Wednesday,” Justin said hopefully.
“Maybe…but I have a weird feeling we won’t.” Lance dug into the pocket of Justin’s jeans. “Here’s the keys to my car. I forgot to give them to you. I found your spare set and used them.”
“Oh, yeah…” Justin patted his pockets, then sat up. “Where did I…” He looked around the bedroom. “Oh, right. They’re back at the house. In the leather jacket I was gonna wear home before I turned into you.” He glared at Lance. “You’re driving my new car?” Lance smiled and grinned. “You be careful, Lance. That’s my baby.”
“I will treat her like she’s my own,” Lance promised, grinning even bigger.
Justin tried to make heads or tails of the FreeLance information Lance had given him in the days before the meeting. From what he could gather, Lance was looking to talk the others into buying a script for a new movie…not for himself but for Joey. On Tuesday night, Justin dug out the script before bed, crawling under the covers with it. He tucked himself in, briefly missing his own jersey knit sheets that felt like a warm tshirt every time you crawled between them. He reached into the nightstand drawer and put on Lance’s glasses.
He was about halfway through the script when the phone rang. “Hello.” The sound of Lance’s bass voice always shocked him slightly when he hadn’t used it for a while.
“Hi, Lance…are you busy?”
“No, JC, of course not.” Justin put a corner of the sheet in between the pages of the script. “What are you up to?”
“Flipping channels, nothing much. How about you?”
“Just…uh…reading,” Justin said vaguely. He wasn’t sure if anyone, even Joey, knew that Lance was working on getting this script. “Stuff for the meeting tomorrow.”
“So…I was wondering if you wanted to just meet somewhere after the meeting…or if you wanted to come here…” JC sounded nervous, and Justin thought it was so cute.
“Well, since I’m not sure what time I’ll be done…why don’t I just come to your place?”
“Okay.” JC was quiet for a moment. “It’s weird, isn’t it, how we get so sick of each other, yet when we get ten minutes off, we’re always calling each other or hanging out?”
“I know. I’ve talked to Lan…I mean Justin twice and Joey three times,” Justin said with a laugh. “But I’m glad you called.” Justin knew it was something Lance would have said, and he really was glad to hear from JC. He might have been Lance’s almost-main-squeeze, but he was first and foremost Justin Timberlake’s good friend.
“I know you had said you would call me…” Justin made a face and smacked himself in the head. He had forgotten. “…but I felt like calling you.”
“You can always call me, Josh,” Justin said gently.
“Are you okay, Lance? I mean, really? You’ve been…sorta out of it lately.”
“I just haven’t really felt like myself,” Justin said honestly. “Probably just stressed from the road. It will work itself out soon.” I hope, Justin added mentally.
“Okay…I can do this.” Justin turned his head this way and that, smearing some gel onto his hands before running his fingers through Lance’s short hair. It had taken him three tries to get it exactly the way he thought Lance wore it. “I will just go in there, tell them that the script is exactly what we need for Joey, answer some questions, sign some papers, then haul my ass over to Josh’s.” Justin froze. “Josh…” he said softly, liking the way the name sounded in Lance’s voice. He giggled. “He and Lance are gonna be SO damn cute together.”
Lance shoved Justin’s socks and underwear into one drawer, clearing space for Britney to put her things. He didn’t know if Justin did that, but he thought it was the nice thing to do. He planned on being very nice to Britney. She was Justin’s girlfriend, and she deserved to be treated well. He just prayed that she was WAY too tired to get intimate. He didn’t want to do it as Justin, number one, and number two…he wasn’t interested in the slightest. But, if worst came to worst, maybe Justin’s body would take over and Lance could do what Britney might want him to do.
“Okay…there we go. Two drawers for Britney,” Lance said out loud. He started to shut the drawer when something caught his eye. He slowly picked up the small book. “A journal,” he whispered. Justin’s journal. He knew he shouldn’t read it, but it might give him some insight into how he was supposed to act with Britney. Lance sat on the edge of the bed, crossing his long Justin legs underneath him.
So…Joey’s a dad. A little girl named Brianna. It’s amazing…I never thought he’d be a father…but he’ll be a great dad. He is so excited, and it’s just so humbling. Joey made another little person. Amazing. I don’t think I could ever do that. Not that I couldn’t make a baby, but I honestly don’t think I could be a dad. Not now, anyway. I’m too self-centered right now. Maybe in a few years.
I got voted sexiest something or other again today. Man…I wish I could see what these girls see. I’m just dorky me. I have a bald head and my nose is too big and my arms are too hairy. What the hell do they see in me that’s sexy? I sing. I sing and dance and write. That’s what is sexy about me…but they sure as hell don’t see it.
Lance looked up into space. Justin didn’t know what people saw in him? Hell, Justin was beautiful. Lance had stood in front of the mirror for an hour earlier that day, studying the gorgeous face and running his hands over Justin’s well-defined chest, stomach and arms. Justin was insecure. That was something Lance never would have guessed. “Oh, shit!” Lance said out loud, shoving the book into another drawer and grabbing some shoes. He was going to be late for Britney’s flight.
“Lance…welcome back!” A young blond woman gave Lance a hug.
“Hi, Erika,” Justin said to his newest assistant. “I’m glad to be back. I actually missed all this stuff!”
“Like you could get away from it,” she said, giggling. “I feel like I emailed you every day you were gone!”
“I feel that way, too,” Justin said, and she giggled again. She gave him the once over, taking in the carefully chosen khaki pants and black button-down shirt.
“You look good,” she said, and Justin wondered if Lance’s new assistant didn’t have a crush on him. “The others are waiting in the conference room.”
“Am I late?” Justin asked, horrified. Lance was never late.
“No…they’re just early. Their other meeting finished quicker than they expected. Can I get you anything?”
“Get me a bottle of water, will you?”
“Sure thing,” she said cheerfully. Justin put a hand on her arm.
“You’re a doll.” He headed for what he hoped was the conference room. He winced as he realized that Justin might call a girl a doll, but Lance wouldn’t have. Hopefully she hadn’t noticed.
“Lance! Great to see you!” Strange men shook his hand and clapped him on the back as he entered the conference room. Justin smiled at them and prayed for strength, or at least enough intelligence to save Lance’s ass.
“Hey, there, sexy!” Britney chirped as she walked into the private waiting room. Lance smiled Justin’s best smile and gave her a hug. She pressed her lips to his, and he could taste the sweetness of her bubble gum. “I missed you.”
“I missed you, too,” Lance said politely, kissing her nose. “You look good.”
“So do you…good enough to eat!” She laughed as she kissed him again, checking out his tight black tshirt and brown cargo shorts. “You’ve been working out again. I like it.”
“Oh, yeah.” Lance waved his hand in the air. “Any chance I can get.”
“So…I’m here until Friday,” she said, linking arms with his. Lance pulled Justin’s sunglasses from his pocket and put them on. “Any plans for us?”
“Whatever you want, Brit,” he said, smiling at her. “I’m all yours.”
“I hoped you would say that,” she said, snuggling closer.
“Oh my God, it’s Justin Timberlake!” A girl screamed as they tried to slip out a back door of the airport. Britney’s bodyguard stepped in front of them, but the girl’s nails still accidentally caught the side of Lance’s arm.
“Go ahead…I have this,” the bodyguard said.
“No…it’s okay,” Lance said. Britney stared at him.
“Justin…not here,” she whispered. “You know what it will turn into.”
“What’s your name, sweetheart?” Lance said, ignoring her.
“Margaret,” the girl said nervously. “Can I please have a hug?”
“Sure thing, Margaret.” Lance walked around the bodyguard and hugged the teenage girl. “We kinda are in a hurry, so I have to go, okay?”
“Thank you, Justin!” The girl released him and he took Britney’s hand. He led her out to the waiting car.
“What the hell was all that about?” Britney snapped.
“What? Don’t I ever greet my fans when we’re together?” Lance asked lightly, though he was dying to know if he had made the wrong decision.
“Yes, but not in a crowded airport. We could have had a mob on our hands, Sweetie!”
“A mob? That’s crazy. I…” Lance realized it wasn’t all that crazy. He wasn’t Lance. He was Justin, and Justin created mobs. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I just…she looked nice.”
“She was nice,” Britney agreed. She smiled at him. “Let’s not fight, okay? I want us to have a nice few days together.”
“Me too,” Lance said, lacing his fingers through hers. He could do this. “Wanna stop and grab some coffee and breakfast to take back with us?”
Justin snapped out of his reverie. “I’m sorry. What?”
“You were a million miles away,” one of the men said in an almost angry tone. “Mind telling us what you were thinking about?”
A rude retort came to Justin’s lips, but he bit them back. Lance was all about polite patience when he was mad. “Okay…I was just thinking about this script. Mainly, it’s all I really want to talk about.”
“We have other issues on the agenda,” the man reminded him.
“Well, I pay y’all enough, you can deal with them,” Justin said in the same polite tone. “I want a decision on this script. It’s perfect for Joey, and I think we need to buy it. Give the author whatever he wants.”
“Lance, I understand that Joey Fatone’s your friend, but…”
Justin slapped the table. “That has absolutely nothing to do with this. Joey is my friend, yes, but he’s also developing into an incredible actor. We have some down time coming up soon, and he’s already talking about taking more acting lessons. He STOLE “On the Line” right out from under me…he can do this. This part was made for him.” He took a deep breath. “I will make an executive decision about this if I have to…I will put the backing of both FreeLance and A Happy Place behind this…but I’d rather us be in agreement.”
“How about you get us a copy of the script and we’ll read it?” One of the men suggested. Justin grinned.
“I have a copy right here. I have plans, so if you’ll excuse me, I’m bringing this meeting to an end.” Justin handed over the script, snapped his briefcase closed, and headed out of the conference room.
Justin whooped as he cruised along to JC’s house. He had done it. Not only had he survived the meeting, but he had gotten what he KNEW Lance would have wanted. He turned up the radio and sang along, wincing as he attempted to hit the notes that he could have normally hit.
He knocked on JC’s door but no one answered. He dug into Lance’s wallet, pulling out the spare marked “JC.” They all had extra keys to each other’s homes, but only Lance would have actually labeled them. Justin would have had to try each one before he found the one that fit.
He opened the door and walked inside. He heard music coming from the second floor and he trotted up the steps. “Jayce?” Justin yelled, then winced. “I mean, Josh?” No one answered and he followed the sound of the music.
Justin peeked in the doorway of the small dance studio JC had set up on the second floor. A grooving Michael Jackson song flowed from the stereo, and JC was dancing in front of a mirror. He wove his body in an intricate set of dance steps, and Justin stared at him jealously. He knew there was no way in hell he could dance like that as Lance, and for the first time in his life he realized how much he had taken his own talents for granted.
The song ended and JC turned off the stereo, grabbing a towel to wipe his sweaty face. He wore a baseball cap to hold his hair back, and a grey wifebeater and khaki shorts. He jumped when he saw Justin in the doorway. “Lance! Hi! I didn’t expect you!” JC blushed furiously. “I look like hell…I’m not even ready.”
Justin chuckled. “Relax, Josh. I’m way early. The meeting went so well I called it early. You have tons of time.”
“Our reservation isn’t until seven,” JC said.
“Then you have like two hours to stop freaking out and get yourself cleaned up,” Justin said with a grin. JC headed down the hall to the master bedroom with Justin on his heels. “What was that, anyway? That was incredible.”
JC blushed again. “Just some stuff I was working on. I’d like to show it to Justin…maybe we can use it for something next tour.”
“You know…so he can let me choreograph something instead of Wade.” JC peeled off the tank top and tossed it into a hamper. “I love Wade, and he rocks, but I wanted to try something. I’ve sung on an album, written for an album, produced on an album, but never choreographed.” JC sat on the edge of the bed to pull off his sneakers. “Now if I can only get Justin to listen to me about it.”
Justin stared at him. “You don’t think he’d listen?”
“He’d listen but he wouldn’t hear me. I love Justin, he’s one of my oldest friends, but he’s a little Justin-centered, you know?” JC stood. “I’ll be out of the shower in a second.”
Justin laid back on the bed as JC went into the bathroom to shower. He stared at the ceiling, wondering just what else JC thought of him.
“Justin, honey, you don’t have to cook for me!” Britney protested. “I think it’s sweet and all…”
“I know my last attempt was disastrous,” Lance told her, expertly tossing spices into the flour mixture. “But give me another chance.” He dipped the chicken in egg, flipped it around in the flour, then placed it in the pan. “Trust me.”
“Okay,” she said doubtfully. “But I still think we should make reservations.”
“Brit,” Lance growled, and she giggled.
“Okay. I’m gonna go up and change clothes.” She bounced out of the room and Lance sighed with relief as he slid the pan into the oven. Britney was pretty and fun, but she was also a chatterbox and a bit of a ditz. He never could have put up with her, and he was grateful she was only staying a few days.
“So…um…I need to get dressed,” JC said, coming out of the bathroom with a towel around his slender hips. He looked at Justin uncertainly.
“So? Oh.” Justin had seen JC naked a million times, but Lance probably hadn’t. And if Lance had, he probably wouldn’t have looked at him. Justin was grateful to find a blush crossing his cheeks. That was DEFINITELY Lance. “I’ll…um…wait downstairs.”
“Thanks,” JC said, smiling. Justin left the bedroom and went down to the living room. He turned on the TV and flipped channels until JC came down twenty minutes later.
“Hey…you look great,” Justin said. “But that was record time for you. Our reservation isn’t for like another hour or something.”
“I thought we could just drive around…talk a little bit,” JC suggested.
“Okay, yeah. That sounds good,” Justin said, eager to hear what JC thought of him.
“Justin, that was incredible!” Britney pushed her plate away and sighed. “I’ll need to do a million sit ups a day for the next month to work that off!” She stared at him. “WHERE did you learn to cook like that?”
“Lance taught me some stuff,” Lance said vaguely, picking up their plates and carrying them to the kitchen. Britney carried the other things in and Lance quickly rinsed them off before loading the dishwasher. “I wanted your first night here to be special.”
“It was special,” she told him. She put her arms around him and gave him a deep kiss. “And it’s only gonna get more special.”
“Really?” Lance’s voice ended in a squeak and she laughed.
“Come on. I want some snuggle time with my boyfriend.” Britney took his hand and led him up the stairs. With all his heart Lance wanted to pull back and refuse, but he couldn’t do that and not have a good reason for it. She tugged him into the bedroom and flopped down onto the bed, pulling Lance down with her.
Lance sighed and did his best to do what he thought Justin would do. The only problem was, he had NO clue what was going on between Britney and Justin. The rumors flew that she was still a virgin, and Justin said nothing to agree or disagree. So Lance let his hands wander up and down her back as he kissed her. He knew that Justin would probably be turned on by this, and he was grateful when Justin’s body slightly started to take over for itself. Lance then did the only thing he could do to ensure he’d get hard: he thought about JC.
“It’s not that I think he’s like a prick or anything…and he’s really not that egotistical,” JC insisted. “But he’s just…he really only sees what directly affects him.”
“I see,” Justin said thoughtfully, playing with his glass of wine. He hated the stuff, but apparently Lance didn’t. He forced it down, eating three bites of bread for every sip.
“Why do you care so much about what I think of Justin?” JC asked, tilting his head to the side.
“I…uh…well…your comment threw me, that’s all,” Justin said quickly. He smiled. “Justin’s not really what I wanted to talk about.” He was rewarded by JC’s pleased grin.
“So…coming in?” JC asked as they got out of Lance’s car in JC’s driveway. Justin leaned back against the car.
“Um, I don’t think so. Not tonight. I have to call Justin early tomorrow and…”
“Justin?” JC looked at Justin. “What’s up with you and him, Lance?”
“Like we said…we’re working on something together and…”
“Britney’s here. When she’s here, she’s all that matters to him.” JC sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “I’ll talk to you later.”
“Josh, wait. I’m sorry.” Justin put a hand on JC’s arm. “I’m sorry. I had a great time tonight…I just…I guess I’m nervous.” Justin bit his bottom lip, a trait of Lance’s that drove him crazy.
“Yeah. This is all new to me,” Justin said honestly. JC finally smiled.
“Me too.” He pulled Justin into a hug. “I’ll talk to you later, okay?”
“Yeah,” Justin said softly, mentally begging JC NOT to try to kiss him. JC started to say something, then changed his mind.
“I’ll see you.” JC turned and slowly went into the house.
Lance slipped out of bed, making sure the covers were pulled up over Britney’s sleeping form. Nothing had happened; they had made out for a while and then she had gotten up to change into pajamas. Lance had been confused; things were hot and heavy, and then they weren’t. He had held her until she had fallen asleep, and then he crept out of bed to change his own clothes. He grabbed Justin’s journal and snuck out of the room.
I cannot believe how things are going. It’s crazy. We can’t even walk down a street anymore. People throw things at Britney just because she’s my girlfriend. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t the “star.” I never asked to be the one in the front, never asked to get the most magazine covers. All I wanted was to sing, to dance, and to find someone to love me. I’ve achieved all that…but at times it royally sucks.
“So, did you touch my girlfriend?” Justin demanded.
“Did you touch my boyfriend?” Lance retorted as he carefully poured two glasses of orange juice and set them on the tray.
“He’s not your boyfriend yet,” Justin reminded him. Lance sighed.
“Yeah, I know, and no, I didn’t touch her. Not really.” He skillfully whipped the fork through the eggs, scrambling them into a fluffy pile. “We kissed and stuff…uh…how far was I supposed to go?”
“She never lets it go far, but I always try,” Justin said with a laugh.
“Well, I must be sending out a weird vibe, because she sure wasn’t interested last night.” The toast popped up and Lance dug through the fridge for the butter. “How’s JC?”
“Good,” Justin said with a satisfied sigh, and Lance could hear him stretching. “Want me to wake him so you can say hi?”
“WHAT?” Lance screamed, then remembered Britney was still in bed.
“I’m kidding, Lance,” Justin said, laughing. “He was fine. Everything went well, I swear,” he promised.
“Okay,” Lance said, frowning as he turned off the stove and prepared two plates.
“What are you doing?”
“Taking Britney breakfast in bed,” he said, placing a flower he had picked on the tray.
“What? Lance, I don’t do that.”
“You do now,” Lance said, looking at his work and smiling a pleased smile. “I have to go. I’ll talk to you later.”
“Lance, quit romancing my girlfriend!” Justin screamed, but Lance hung up the phone.
“Aw, Justin, this is so sweet.” Britney rubbed the sleep from her eyes and sat up. “You made all this?”
“Sure did,” Lance said, giving her Justin’s cockiest grin. “Baby, I got skills you don’t even know about.”
“Apparently,” Britney said, smiling at him. Her eyes were soft. “You’re such a babydoll.” She leaned over to kiss his cheek before taking a bite of her toast.
“Okay, Lance, you’re gonna get beefed up if you like it or not,” Justin said, pushing play on Lance’s CD player. He had shoved a coffee table out of the way to give himself room. He got down on the floor and began to do pushups. He was up to twenty-five when he realized he was breathing heavy. “Dammit, Lance, you big girl,” he snapped. He hated feeling so out of shape. Justin pouted and reached for the phone.
“Lance!” Justin could see JC sitting up and rubbing a hand through his crazy hair. “Hey.”
“I woke you.”
“Of course you did,” JC said, laughing. “What’s going on?”
“I feel bad about last night…could we get together today? Maybe hit the art museum…isn’t there a new exhibit opening?”
“You remembered,” JC said, and Justin could hear the pleasure in his voice. Justin sighed with relief, grateful for the large article in that morning’s newspaper. “I’d love it…I could be over in an hour or so.”
“That sounds good. I want to finish working out…I mean, working out some FreeLance stuff, so that’s good.” Justin hung up after saying goodbye, and went back to his pushups.
Britney came downstairs in a pair of drawstring pants and a pink halter top. “Hey, baby.” She kissed the back of Lance’s neck and pressed herself against his back as he did dishes. “You’re so cute.”
“I know,” he said with a Justin-humble sigh, and she giggled.
“My cell is totally dead. Can I use your phone?”
“Like you even need to ask,” Lance said, turning around to kiss her forehead. She took the dish from him and slid it back into the water, wrapping her arms around him.
“You are so damn sexy, Justin,” she whispered, pressing her breasts against his chest as she kissed him. Once again, Lance put all his acting skills into kissing her. “I’ll be down in a little bit.” She bopped out of the kitchen. Lance frowned and went back to his dishes.
“PLEASE let this be over soon,” he muttered.
“That is just amazing,” JC whispered, staring up at the painting in awe.
“Yeah, it’s pretty,” Justin said, glancing at his watch. Lance was supposed to call him later in the day so they could consult about any questions they might have about each other’s lives. Justin realized he had talked more to Lance in the past few days then he had in years. Sad, really.
“Pretty?” JC turned on him. “Lance, you’ve been weird all day. I thought you wanted to come here.”
“I did. Anything to spend time with you,” Justin said, smiling. But JC didn’t smile back.
“You’re only here because I want to be here?”
“No, Josh, I…”
“Maybe you’d rather be with Justin.”
“JUSTIN? What does he have to do with this?”
“You’re checking your watch. You’ve checked your cellphone twice in the last five minutes. What’s going on? He’s straight, you know.”
“Yes, I definitely know that,” Justin said with a sigh. “Nothing’s going on, Josh. I want to be here with you.”
“Whatever.” JC sighed and started to walk away. “I’m ready to leave.”
Lance started up the steps, wondering if Britney was off the phone. He wanted to call his cellphone and check his messages, but Justin’s cellphone battery needed recharged. He stopped outside the bedroom door, ready to knock.
“I swear…nothing happened,” he heard Britney say. Then she laughed. “I make sure and keep it that way.” Lance smiled, figuring she was talking to her assistant, Fee. “No, honey…I’m saving that all for you.” He froze, the smile leaving his face. “You’re all I want…and don’t I give it to you whenever we’re together?” Britney said in a sultry tone. Lance leaned against the wall, unable to walk away. “I love him…he’s Justin. My buddy. But YOU’RE the one I wanna make love to, baby…” Lance swallowed deeply, wanting to cry for Justin. “Look…I’ll be coming home tomorrow. I’ll call you then, okay? Bye, baby.” She hung up the phone and Lance quietly snuck away to the extra bathroom, closing the door behind him. He leaned his head against the door and moaned.
“You take it easy, baby,” Britney said, hugging Lance tight. “I’ll call you when I get to London. I love you.”
“You too,” Lance said dutifully, kissing her cheek. “Be careful.”
“I will.” She looked at him curiously. “You okay?”
“Sure am. Missing you already,” Lance said with a sweet grin. She sighed and hugged him.
“I don’t deserve you, Justin Timberlake.”
“You sure don’t,” Lance said softly.
“Okay, Josh, it’s ten-fifteen…you should be up by now because I know you had like a dentist’s appointment or something at eleven-thirty.” Justin waited. “Josh, pick up the phone, please? I’m sorry, okay? I’m sorry I didn’t enjoy the museum as much as you wanted me to. I’m sorry I haven’t been myself lately…it’s just…” Justin sighed. “I wish I could tell you, JC, but I can’t. Call me, okay?” He hung up, frowning. He called his own cellphone.
“What?” Lance snapped.
“Lance, it’s me.” Justin flopped onto the bed, staring at the ceiling.
“Oh, God, Justin…we need to talk.”
“Tell me about it. Something has happened and…”
“Don’t say anything else. I just dropped Britney at the airport. Why don’t you meet me at my house…I mean YOUR house.”
“Because the stuff I have is too valuable for you to be throwing at me,” Lance said.
“WHAT?” Justin screamed, but Lance had already hung up.
Lance was pacing in the living room as he waited for Justin to show up. He had no clue how he was going to tell him about Britney. Should he tell him, or should he let Justin figure it out after he was Justin again and Lance was Lance? Justin deserved to know, but he knew it would break Justin’s heart.
“Josh, it’s Lance. Josh…pick up the damn phone…” Justin pushed end and redialed JC’s cellphone as he drove over to his own house. “JC…dammit…you need to talk to me, okay? I’m sorry.” Justin hung up, wanting to scream with frustration. Lance was going to kill him.
“Yo, Justin, how about some basketball?”
“Chris, not today…I’m not in the mood,” Lance said with a sigh. “Don’t you have a life of your own outside the group?”
“Um…no,” Chris said cheerfully. “And since when are you not in the mood for basketball?”
“Since today, okay? I’ll call you later.” Lance hung up before Chris could reply, frowning as he saw Justin whip into the driveway.
“Okay, Lance, I’m sorry,” Justin began.
“Justin, I don’t know how to tell you…” Lance said at the same time. They stopped. Justin took a deep breath.
“JC is…uh…well, he’s pissed. At me. I mean, at you. I mean, he’s not talking to us.”
“What?” Lance stared at him. “What the hell did you do?”
“I didn’t do anything, Lance! We went to this museum, and I guess I didn’t seem excited enough because he got all mad and accused me of wanting you…I mean, you of wanting me…I mean…”
“Hold on.” Lance held up a hand. “He thinks I want YOU?”
“Something like that,” Justin said nervously. “And now he won’t answer his phone or talk to me…I mean, you.”
“Dammit, Justin, can you do NOTHING right? I leave you alone with him for a few days and you alienate him?” Lance yelled.
“It’s not my fault! I don’t know anything about romancing a man…how the hell did I know he was gonna freak?”
“Because this is JC and you know that if he feels you’re lying to him, he will never forgive you!” Lance snapped. “God, I can’t believe you’ve had a relationship with Britney for so long if you’re that clueless about reading people.”
“Don’t bring Britney into this, Lance.”
“I need to, Justin,” Lance said, all anger fading. “I need to tell you something about her.”
“Lance, if you slept with her, I swear to fucking God…” Justin began.
“No, I definitely didn’t sleep with her. Not like that. But someone else has,” Lance said gently. Justin froze.
“I’m sorry, Justin,” Lance said. “I overheard her talking to someone on the phone.”
“I’m not, Justin,” Lance insisted. “I heard her say that she loves you, but she’s basically been saving herself for someone else…and giving herself to that person on a regular basis.”
“No.” Justin gripped the back of the sofa, his knuckles white. “You’re lying. She wouldn’t do that to me. She loves me.”
“She does, Justin, but she’s not interested in you as more than a friend. I think this is a relationship of convenience for her,” Lance said softly. Justin’s hand whipped out and slapped Lance across the face. He had pulled his hand out of a fist just in time.
“Fuck you. Don’t think that just because you spent a few days with her that you know all about her.” Lance had never seen his own face so angry, or his own eyes so filled with pain. “You just misunderstood. You shouldn’t have listened in on her conversation.”
“I should kick your ass,” Justin said, taking a step towards Lance.
“Go ahead, Justin,” Lance shot back. “You forgot you’re me. I’m the stronger of the two of us…”
“I’ll take the chance,” Justin growled, grabbing Lance by the shirt.
“Hey!” Chris yelled, walking through the front door. He yelped and quickly jumped between them. “What’s going on?”
“I’m gonna beat the shit out of you!” Justin screamed.
“Lance, whoa…” Chris said, trying to push Justin away.
“Don’t forget…you’ll be beating up yourself,” Lance said with a mean grin. “And you’re ego is too damn big to mess up your gorgeous face.”
“Huh?” Chris turned around to look at Lance.
“Yeah, well, at least I’m not a fucking queer,” Justin said, and immediately regretted the words. He dropped his hands and stared at Lance. “Oh, shit…I’m sorry…”
“At least I’m alone by choice instead of being fucked over by my girlfriend,” Lance shot back. Justin winced.
“Okay, you guys are really confusing me here,” Chris said as Lance stepped away from Justin. Justin and Lance looked at each other and realized for the first time what they had been saying. He looked at Justin, who was really Lance. “Since when are you gay?” He looked at Lance, who was really Justin. “And you have a girlfriend?”
Lance glanced at Justin, who nodded. “Chris, sit down.” He tugged Chris towards the sofa. Chris touched Lance’s cheek.
“Lance hit you?”
“I’m fine,” Lance told him. “Chris, I’m not Justin.”
“Okay, I’ll bite. Who are you?”
“I’m Lance,” Lance said. “I know, it sounds crazy…”
“No, it makes perfect sense,” Chris said seriously. He looked at Justin. “And you’re Justin?”
“Yes,” Justin said, nodding.
“So, who am I? Am I Joey, or am I JC? PLEASE tell me I’m Joey. I could get some serious booty if I’m Joey,” Chris begged.
“Chris, we’re serious!” Justin said, sitting on Chris’ other side.
“Sure…you guys, this is funny and all…” Chris began.
“Chris, remember that night we went out and picked up those twins, and we told them that you were the nineteen year old and I was the twenty-nine year old? We took them back to the hotel with us, and we kept getting them confused?” Justin said. Chris stared at him. “You felt guilty then, because you felt like you screwed them both and never really knew their names? You were all embarrassed.”
Chris looked at Lance. “You weren’t supposed to tell anyone about that.”
“I’m not Justin, Chris. HE is.” Lance pointed to his own body. “And remember that night I was all depressed about something so you and I went out and got tipsy? You helped me back home, and you kissed me in the doorway and told me I was beautiful and I shouldn’t let it get me down. And then you blamed it on the alcohol and told me never to talk about it again.”
Chris stared at Lance. “Holy shit,” he whispered. He looked back and forth between them. “How…when…”
“We don’t know how, Chris.” Lance squeezed his knee. “And we don’t know for how long…but it’s been hell.”
“So…you’re gay?” Chris looked at Lance but saw Justin’s face. He had to giggle. “It’s weird asking Justin that.”
“I’m not gay,” Justin said quickly. “But unfortunately I’ve had to try to hook up with another guy this week.”
“And failed miserably,” Lance pointed out. Justin glared at him.
“I’ll get JC back for you…don’t you worry.”
“JC is gay too?” Chris exclaimed. Lance groaned and rolled his eyes. “Man…is there anything else I should know?”
“Hey,” Justin said to JC as soon as JC got out of the cab. “Wanna sit together on the plane?” It was the end of their week off, and JC never did return any of his many calls.
“Why don’t you sit with Justin, Lance? I’m sure he’s a lot more comfortable to sleep on,” JC snapped, pushing past Justin to enter the airport. Justin watched him with sad eyes.
“Dammit,” he muttered, kicking his duffel.
“Yeah, we’re about to get on the plane,” Lance was saying into Justin’s cellphone. “Brit, it has to be the ugly side of early where you are…why the hell are you even up?”
“I knew this was the last chance I’d get to talk to you for a while…I just wanted to say have a save flight and a great little tour. Only five shows, right?”
“Yeah…hopefully,” Lance said, watching JC walk away from Justin.
“Is it a crime for a girl to call her boyfriend, Justin?”
“No, of course not,” Lance said, thinking of just how many real crimes he’d like to commit against Britney. “Thanks for calling, Brit. I’ll call you later.” He snapped the phone shut and walked into the airport.
“Hey.” Lance fell into a seat next to Justin. He watched his own green eyes glare back at him. “What?”
“JC already thinks I want you…I mean, Lance wants Justin. It’s not a good idea for you to sit here.”
“Fuck what JC thinks,” Lance muttered, rubbing his temples wearily. “We need to talk.”
“Okay.” Justin stared at Lance. “What’s up?”
“Britney called to wish you a safe flight. We need to decide what to do about her…I’ll just have to worry about JC later.”
This statement alone proved to Justin that they were still not themselves. He would never have been as unselfish as Lance was being. “Were you as upset as I was to wake up this morning and still not be yourself?” Justin asked softly, fastening his seatbelt. Lance nodded.
“Yeah. I had this strange idea that this would miraculously only last the week we were off…that we’d wake up today and I’d have hair and be out of shape and have no rhythm whatsoever.”
Justin gave him a small smile. “You have SOME rhythm,” he offered. Lance finally smiled back, trying not to look over his shoulder at JC, who was sitting alone.
“Hey there, Creepy Body Snatcher Boys,” Chris said cheerfully, sitting next to Lance as soon as they were able to move around the plane.
“Chris, shut up,” Lance snapped. Chris rubbed the shorn head and grinned.
“Why, Justin, I never knew you had it in you to be so rude. You should take deportment lessons from Lance.”
“Chris, shut up,” Justin replied. Chris sighed.
“So…I take it you guys are still not right?”
“Well, we could ALWAYS not be right, like you,” Justin said. Chris grinned.
“Now I KNOW you’re not. Lance wouldn’t have come up with something like that.” He smiled at Lance. “How does it feel to be buff and hot and have a sexy girlfriend?”
“I hate it. I hate being tall. I thought I’d like it but it feels weird. I hate being the one that everyone screams at. I hate having a girlfriend in general, especially a two-timing slut like Britney,” Lance mumbled. “I hate looking at him and seeing me.”
“Well, being you isn’t peaches and cream either,” Justin snapped back, hurt. “I hate not being able to do more than twenty pushups before getting winded. I hate having to be anal and perfect and organized. I hate not being able to sing the way I want. I hate that I have to act all hot over one of my best friends that I am TOTALLY not interested in.”
“And I hate you for pushing him away,” Lance interrupted.
“Whoa…guys…” Chris held a hand up. “Relax, okay? I can’t even begin to imagine how awful it is for you…but is it all bad?”
“I can play basketball,” Lance said quietly. “And I can beatbox. And people look at me first, you know? I’m not used to that.”
Justin looked at Lance for a long moment. “People respect me. They respect me because I’m Lance…and Lance deserves all the respect they give him.” Justin watched his own blue eyes soften as they looked at him.
“You’re not that bad,” Lance said finally. Justin smiled.
“Of course I’m not.”
Chris rolled his eyes. “Oh God. THAT is Timberlake Ego if I ever heard it.”
Lance turned to him. “Chris, you need to be in charge of the keys…make sure that Justin and I get adjoining rooms. It’s just easier that way.”
“In all five cities?”
“Yes. And we need to find a way to be on the same bus,” Justin added.
“No,” Lance said.
“That’s just TOO weird. And…I want to be on JC’s bus. Maybe I can try to smooth things over with him,” Lance said softly.
“Lance, neither you OR Justin are his favorite people right now,” Chris pointed out. “It might be…”
“I’ll take the chance,” Lance said quickly.
The van ride from the airport to the hotel was strangely quiet. JC sat in the backseat with Chris, while Joey and Justin as Lance sat in the middle. Lance as Justin chose to sit up with the driver, which was odd in itself. “So…Lance…anything new and exciting happening with the business?” Joey asked him. Lance turned around in the front seat and barely nodded at Justin.
“Well…I’m getting the people that matter to look at a new script,” Justin said lightly. “It’s good…comedy-drama about this guy who works in a deli…he creates this like fantabulous sauce for one of his sandwich and people go crazy about it. Overnight he becomes this celebrity, and it’s like he’s a different person and he doesn’t know how to deal.”
“Sounds good,” Joey said.
“I thought so. I also think you need to read for it when we get it,” Justin told him. Joey’s mouth fell open, and Lance smiled from the front seat. If he couldn’t be the one to actually tell Joey, just watching his shock was good enough.
“Me? But I’m no actor!”
“Joey, you stole my own movie right out from under me! You’d be great as this guy…I want you to read the script. I’ll have FreeLance email a copy to me and we’ll print it out at the hotel, okay?” Justin said. “Seriously, Joe…this is made for you.”
“Okay…if you think so.” Joey’s bright smile filled his face as he looked out the window of the van. Lance’s eyes met Justin’s and they grinned.
“Two-twelve…JC. Two-fourteen…Joey.” Chris handed out keycards. “Justin…two-fifteen. Lance…two-thirteen. I’m in two-eleven…and we’ll give Lance the spare.” He handed Justin the spare card.
“How about I take that?” Lance swiped it from Justin’s fingers. Everyone stared at him. “Why not? It’s about time I learn responsibility.” He headed for his room with Justin close behind him.
JC frowned as he watched them. “They’re next to each other?”
“Yeah…I just reached into the envelope and randomly pulled keys out,” Chris lied. “Why?”
“No reason,” JC said with a sigh, sadly letting himself into his own room.
“I’m gonna go talk to Josh,” Lance said as soon as he and Justin were alone in the little doorway between their rooms.
“I want to, okay? Maybe I can find something out.” Lance took a deep breath and went out into the hallway. He knocked on JC’s door. “Jayce? Man, it’s Justin.”
“You are not, dumbass. We have to be downstairs for lunch in like fifteen minutes and even you won’t take that kinda catnap.”
The door swung open. “What?”
Lance pushed by him. “We need to talk.”
“About what?” JC closed the door.
JC blushed slightly. “And?”
“Lance is gay or bi or something. Am I right?” Lance crossed his arms across his chest and prayed for a serious case of Justin-itis to take over his mind and body.
“Well, maybe. I mean, I don’t know.”
“You know. You two are so obvious. Are you guys fucking?” Lance asked eagerly, even as he was internally wincing at his crassness.
“No, we’re not,” JC snapped. “And if we were it wouldn’t be any of your business.”
“Apparently YOU think it’s my business. You’ve been avoiding me and avoiding Lance for days now. What’s your problem, JC? I’m straight. I have a girlfriend.” Lance made himself keep from rolling his eyes.
“Yeah, well, I bet Lance could seduce you. He’s good like that,” JC mumbled, and Lance couldn’t help but feel joy at the statement.
“Well, guess what. He’s not seducing me. We’re friends, okay, friends who are working on some things together. You’re the one Lance is into, Jayce. Not me.”
“Well, he needs to start acting like it, okay? I’m getting this weirdass vibe from him…and I’m not putting my heart out on the line so he can fuck me over.” JC took a step back, realizing he had said more than he wanted to. “Was that all?”
“Jayce, we’ve been friends for a while.” Lance put an arm around JC and pulled him into a hug, his heart breaking. “Trust me when I say Lance cares about you…not me. Cares a lot.”
Justin woke up, his throat hoarse. He realized he had been yelling. He wiped the sweat from his brow and tried to regulate his breathing. He looked at his hands, amazed at how they were shaking. He closed his eyes and tried to remember what the nightmare had been about.
His eyes flew open as the dream came back to him. He stood up, stumbling as he yanked on his pajama pants. “Lance. LANCE!” He screamed, pounding on the door that connected their rooms. He realized that someone might hear him. “I mean, JUSTIN!”
“What?” Lance snapped, opening the door so quickly Justin almost fell through it. “Do you realize it is four in the morning? Because I’m you, I just got to sleep about an hour ago.”
“Like that was so difficult, going out and partying,” Justin growled. “I had a nightmare.”
“Call your mother, Justin. I’m going to sleep.” Lance started to close the door.
“I couldn’t call her if I wanted to,” Justin said sadly, and Lance froze. Justin bit his bottom lip.
“What was it?” Lance grabbed Justin by the waistband and tugged him into his room, noticing that Justin was wearing his favorite Dr. Seuss pajama pants. He missed those pajama pants…but he couldn’t fit into them at the moment.
“I had this nightmare…about performing…” Justin’s voice shook. “I got onstage and couldn’t sing. Not a word. Everyone in the audience laughed and booed…you guys hated me…and I was like fired on the spot.”
Lance sat down on the bed, pulling Justin down next to him. He rubbed Justin’s shoulders, noticing for the thousandth time how weird it was to be touching his own body from a third person’s point of view. “We’d never hate you, Justin…and that would never happen. You have a voice like an angel.”
“No,” Justin said, pulling away. “Right now YOU have the angel voice, Lance. No offense to you, because bass is sexy and cool and all…but I really want my voice back.” Justin’s voice quivered again. “I don’t know your part, Lance. JC, I mean, damn, that boy knows all FIVE of our parts. He can’t always hit Chris’ part, or your part, but he can pick them up just like that. I know HIS part, but I never figured I’d have to learn anyone else’s.”
“It’s okay, Justin. Neither of us figured on any of this,” Lance said soothingly, a bit disturbed by Justin’s lack of confidence. Justin was the one that HE always counted on to pull them through performances.
“Lance, you don’t get it, do you?” Justin pulled away again. “We have to sing. Tomorrow. We have to dance. Tomorrow. I can maybe fake my way through the dancing, I mean, you’re the one who will have to be in front…but the singing? Shit…I don’t know your part.” Justin’s eyes widened. “And they won’t take it out on me…they’ll take it out on LANCE. Dude…I’m so sorry!”
“Justin, calm down. You’re getting hysterical,” Lance said as Justin’s voice rose. “It’s a concert. It’s not the end of the world.”
“You really believe that, don’t you?” Justin asked amazed.
“Justin, I used to freak. I used to have anxiety attacks…you guys don’t know the half of it. But then I got into other things, like acting and producing and managing…and I realized that if something happens and tomorrow I can’t sing…I can do other things.”
“I can’t,” Justin said sadly.
“Yes, you can. You can write songs. I could never do that. Justin, God…I never knew you were so worried about this stuff.” Lance didn’t mention what he had read in Justin’s journal. “C’mere. I know what will help.”
“If you put a move on me in your body, you’re sick, man,” Justin said, trying to smile. Lance smiled back.
“Hey, that’s a pretty hot body you’re sporting there…but no. Not what I’m doing.” He pulled Justin into the living room and sat him down by the phone. He quickly dialed a number and flipped the phone to speakerphone.
“Hello?” A sleepy female voice said. Justin gasped and looked at Lance.
“Mom, it’s me,” Lance said softly.
“Justin?” They could hear Lynn struggle to wake up. “Is something wrong? Are you okay?”
Lance hid a smile as Justin actually sniffled at the sound of his mother’s voice. Lance poked him and told him to talk. “No…I’m fine.”
“What’s wrong with your voice?”
“Uh…well…the phone is a piece of crap…plus I’m sick,” Justin said, sniffling again and coughing. “Sore throat.”
“God, baby…take something for that. Drink tea and honey.”
“I will, I promise. I just…I’m sick…and things are screwed up with Britney…and I just feel like crap, Mom…and I needed to hear your voice,” Justin said quietly. Lance got up and went into Justin’s suite, closing the door behind him.
“We have a problem,” Lance said at breakfast the next morning. JC looked at him sleepily. Joey ignored him and kept eating. Chris looked at him.
“What kind of problem?”
“Lance is sick,” Lance said, still not used to talking about himself. “He has a hellish sore throat.”
“He’s sick?” JC asked, eyes widening. “How sick?”
“Well, he can like dance and everything…but I’m worried about his voice. I don’t think he’ll be able to sing much.”
“Damn,” Joey said. “Maybe we should cancel these last shows.”
“No way. We can’t disappoint the fans like that,” Lance said quickly. “I guess our sound will just be a little less well-rounded or something. He’s really messed up about it.”
“You’ve talked to him already?” JC asked sharply.
“Yeah…I heard him hacking and coughing at like four this morning, and I woke up. We talked for a bit,” Lance said truthfully. “I think I heard him call his mom after that.”
“Here he comes,” Chris said, pointing to the doorway.
“I’ll get him some tea and toast.” JC jumped up and headed for the buffet. Lance hid a smile.
“Hey,” Justin said, falling into a chair.
“Justin tells us you’re sick, Lance,” Chris said quickly, watching Justin carefully. “He said you have a sore throat?”
“Yeah,” Justin said hurriedly. “God…it hurts to freaking talk.”
“So you could dance but not sing?” Joey asked, and Justin nodded, giving Lance a grateful look.
“Justin says you’re sick,” JC said sharply. Justin frowned.
“Yes…I guess I am.”
“Here.” JC thrust a plate and cup at Justin. “Um…toast…and tea. Tea’s good for your voice when you’re sick.”
“Thanks, Josh,” Justin said softly, and Lance wanted to whimper at the way JC looked down at him.
“I want you to get better,” JC said softly, briefly placing a hand on Justin as Lance’s shoulder. “But I also don’t want to get what you have, so I’m gonna hide in my room until we leave. Call me if you need anything.” JC left the table.
“Me too.” Joey got up. “No germs for me to take to Brianna, please.” He left the table.
“Did you see that? He brought you tea! He brought you toast!” Justin said excitedly to Lance. “What did I say to him?”
“Justin said that Lance didn’t want him, he wanted JC…and JC said that Lance needed to show him a bit more because he’s been acting weird lately,” Lance told him, unable to keep from smiling himself.
“Aww…you three are so cute. It’s like some distorted weird love triangle,” Chris said, giving them each a fond smile.
“Shut up, Chris,” Justin said, shoving him. Justin’s cellphone rang, and Lance checked the number on the screen.
“Oh, shit. Britney.” He handed the phone to Justin. “Go for it. You’re sick…remember?”
“Oh, yeah.” Justin answered the phone. “Hey, baby.”
“Lance? I called Justin’s phone,” Britney said, confused.
“It’s me, baby. Don’t you know your own man?” Justin asked as Lance got up to get some breakfast.
“You sound like Lance.”
“I sound like Lance because I’m sick. He and I are both sick. We have the same problem,” Justin said, and Chris choked on his bacon. “What’s up, babygirl?”
“I just missed you…wanted to say hi…”
“I wanna know when that sexy booty of yours is gonna work itself back here,” Justin said, and Chris choked again. Hearing those words coming out of Lance’s mouth, even though he knew it was Justin saying them, was too much while eating.
“Well, I’m working on it, but…”
“Phone sex is getting old, babydoll,” Justin said, grinning as Lance came back to the table. “I want more.”
“Justin, you know I told you that I don’t want to do all that. Not yet. I’m not ready.”
“Well, Britney, maybe I’m worried that you’ll NEVER want it with me. I mean, after all, I AM Justin Timberlake,” Justin said in the best cocky tone he could muster while being Lance Bass. “I could get it anywhere, you know.”
“Justin, I thought you said it didn’t matter!” Britney whined.
“It didn’t…but now I’m rethinking things. If you love me…I thought you said we’d be together forever…that someday you wanted to marry me.”
“Then why won’t you have sex with me, Britney?”
She started to sniffle. “Justin…I never thought you’d pull that line with me. I told you…”
“I know what I told you. You think about it. We’ll be gone for the next week or so. Can you be back in Orlando when we’re back?”
“I guess so.”
“I hope so…because you and I have to have a talk.”
“Just because I won’t have sex with you?”
“No…but I’m sure that will come up,” Justin said, and hung up the phone. He handed the phone to Lance, who was staring at him. Chris was also staring, forgotten piece of toast in hand.
“Justin, what if we’re not switched back by then?” Lance hissed angrily.
“Then you’re gonna break up with her,” Justin said simply. “I’m not gonna let her dick me around anymore…we’re gonna solve all these stupid problems so we can concentrate on more important things…like getting you with JC.”
“But I can’t be with JC,” Lance said quietly. “Only YOU can.”
“For now,” Justin said simply, standing up. “For now.”
Fifteen minutes before they were scheduled to go on, Justin was warming up with Chris in a corner. “I can’t do it, man,” Justin said finally, shaking his head. “I’ll just have to mouth the words…I don’t know Lance’s part.”
“It’s okay. You’ll be fine.” Chris’ eyes darted around the room. “Speaking of which, where is he?”
“Where’s who?” Joey asked from the floor where he was stretching.
“Uh, Justin,” Chris said.
“In the bathroom.”
Chris and Justin entered the bathroom and froze. They looked towards a stall, where they could hear the distinct sounds of someone throwing up. “Lance?” Chris pounded on the door of the stall.
“Go away…let me die!” Lance answered weakly.
“You’re not gonna die.” Justin reached under the door of the stall and grabbed Lance’s shoe. “Get your ass out here.”
“You’re not sick, you’re having stage fright. Get out here, you girl,” Justin said angrily. Lance slowly stood up, flushed the toilet, then wobbled his way to the sink. He splashed his face with cold water.
“I can’t do this. I can’t. I can’t be Justin Timberlake. I can’t shake and thrust and do all that shit. I can’t,” Lance babbled.
“What’s going on?” JC burst into the room and looked at Lance. “What’s wrong with Justin?”
“He’s having a little attack of stage fright,” Justin replied.
“Fuck you,” Lance snapped, and Justin grinned pleasantly.
“You wish,” he said, then left the bathroom. JC put a hand on Justin’s shoulder, his earlier anger forgotten.
“Justin, you can do this. What’s the big deal?” His hand soothingly rubbed Justin’s back.
“I…I just can’t, JC,” Lance said miserably. “I can’t pull this off. Not tonight.”
JC pressed his forehead to Lance’s, and Lance’s heart leapt. “Justin, you are awesome. You’re Justin Fucking Timberlake and you can do anything. Isn’t that what you always say? I remember back at the MMC, you were always getting sick like this…but you can do it!”
“It’s not the same, Jayce,” Lance said, but he drew a deep breath. “What if I pass out?”
“We’ll dance around you,” JC said with a grin, slapping Lance on the back. “I’m not sure why you’re acting like this, but I assure you, we’ll back you up out there, okay? Let’s go do the hackey.” JC put an arm around Lance’s shoulders and led him into the hallway. Lance sighed and enjoyed the brief moment of contact with JC.
Justin couldn’t help but stand and grin as he watched Lance bounce around the stage. It was odd watching himself, but if he put on half the show Lance was putting on, he was now assured that the fans got their money’s worth. Lance was going crazy, adding dance moves and thrusting to the delight of every shrieking fan.
“You’re gonna stare a hole through his back,” JC snapped as he passed Justin at one point. Justin frowned and said nothing.
When they were in the van on the way back to the hotel, Lance couldn’t stop talking. “It just hit me and I could like dance, you know? What an incredible show!”
“No different than usual,” JC said tiredly, his earlier rotten mood restored. “You were the same as always and I don’t know what the big deal was.” He looked at Lance and frowned. “God, you and Lance…what the hell is up with you two lately? You’re acting weird as fuck.”
“Hey, who wants to go out tonight?” Chris asked, quickly interrupting.
“I will!” Lance answered quickly, and Justin stared at him.
“Sure…I wanna get my groove on!” Lance bounced up and down on the seat. Justin sighed.
“I’m tired. I’m staying in.”
“Me too,” JC said, though Joey also agreed to go out.
Justin was laying on his bed flipping channels when he heard the others going down the hall. He knew that as Lance he could easily go out; Lance went out all the time. He just hoped that Lance as Justin didn’t drink too much and say things he shouldn’t. Justin rolled over onto his back and growled at the ceiling. JC needed to be set straight…but was there any way to do it without telling him the truth?
Justin jumped off the bed, slipped on some sneakers, and went down the hall to JC’s room wearing just a pair of sweatpants. “Josh? Open the damn door!” He yelled, banging on JC’s hotel room door.
JC threw the door open. “I’m sleeping, Lance.”
“Too bad.” Justin shoved JC aside and went into the suite.
“Listen to me, Chasez.” Justin put his face in JC’s face. “You are something pretty fucking special, okay? Where did you miss that I feel that way about you? Where did you get this THING about me and Justin? No way, no how. Justin is straight. I am not. YOU are not. Therefore, it is YOU and ME that are hooking up. Not ME and JUSTIN. Okay?” JC opened his mouth and closed it, not used to this aggressive Lance. “And if I’m acting weird…I’m sick right now, okay? On some weird drugs. But rest assured that YOU’RE the one I want…and one of these days things will just click together, okay? But for now…let’s just go slow.” Justin calmed down slightly and reached up to touch JC’s cheek, a move Lance would have been proud of. “Okay?”
JC swallowed deeply. “Okay,” he said softly. He turned his head to kiss Justin’s palm, and Justin quickly snatched the hand back. Not because he was disgusted, but because he wanted to save all the special moments for Lance. “Sorry,” he said sullenly.
“Don’t be,” Justin said gently. “I might have germs on my hands.” JC rolled his eyes but he smiled.
“Stay for a while?” JC asked. Justin shook his head.
“I’m tired. I wanna try to sleep this shit off.”
“Okay.” JC walked Justin to the door. “Thanks. I’m sorry, Lance.”
“It’s okay.” Justin gave JC a brief hug, then went down the hall, his shoulders sagging with relief. “One down…one to go,” he said softly, thinking grimly of Britney.
“Morning, Glory!” Chris said cheerfully as JC flopped onto a chair next to Justin.
“Hi,” he grumbled.
“Want tea?” Justin asked him. JC simply nodded, putting his head in his arms on the table.
“Too early for you?” Lance asked sympathetically as Justin got up to get JC some tea and breakfast.
“It’s always too early,” JC mumbled, then opened one eye. “I’m sorry…you know…for being a dickhead. I know that…um…you’re…”
“You’re right, I’m not,” Lance finished for him, grinning. Justin had fixed it. He couldn’t believe it.
“Here you go.” Justin set the cup and plate in front of JC. “Breakfast. Eat.”
“Thanks,” JC said, smiling up at Justin. Lance’s heart wilted inside Justin’s gorgeous body.
They did their radio interview, posed for pictures, and Lance pouted. Pouted good and hard and the camera loved it. Lance pouted as Justin and JC sat next to each other in the car. Pouted as they goofed off for the camera. Pouted as JC napped with his head on Justin’s shoulder. Lance finally had to excuse himself from the interview to get some fresh air.
“Justin.” He heard Joey behind him and turned around. With all his heart he ached to tell his best friend what was happening, but he knew that Joey would never believe it the way Chris had. “You okay? Dude, that lower lip has been out all day.”
“Yeah, I’m fine.” Lance stared out at the parking lot. “You know Lance and JC are gay?”
“Kinda suspected that, yeah.” Joey looked at Lance carefully. “Are you, Justin?”
“Hell, no!” Lance said quickly. “Not me. I’m all about girls.”
“I think they’re working on it…as fast as Lance and JC CAN work on something.”
“God…they’ll be ancient by the time they get it on,” Joey said, and Lance finally smiled. “You sure you’re okay.”
“Yeah…having Britney problems…and I needed out for a bit.”
“Okay. I’ll let you know when we need you again.” Joey clapped Lance on the back and went back inside. Lance sighed and stared at the railing he was leaning on, watching the tears plop down onto the metal bar.
Three days later Britney called. They were on the last part of their mini tour, and they had just finished a show. Everyone was in high spirits. Joey and Chris were going out, and Justin and JC were going to have dinner. Only Lance was alone. Well, Justin, really, but no one knew that. So Lance continued to pout and give Justin evil glares. Justin had tried to explain, tried to tell Lance that nothing was really happening, but Lance didn’t care. They might never switch back, and he’d be stuck dating girls the rest of his life.
“Hello?” He said angrily, jamming the cellphone up against his ear as they clamored into the back of a van.
“Britney!” Lance exclaimed, and Justin looked at him. “What do you want?”
“I wanted to tell you that I’m flying into Orlando tomorrow. I’ll be there when you get into town in a few days,” Britney said hesitantly. “Okay?”
“Fine.” Lance drummed his fingers on his knees and stared out the window. The rest of the van was silent. “Anything else?”
“Baby, what did I do? I don’t understand,” Britney said tearfully.
“Maybe you fucked over the wrong guy, okay? Maybe I’m sick of people who SAY they care about me running around behind my back,” Lance said angrily. His voice was directed at Britney, but his eyes never left his own face. “I’ll call you when I’m home. Don’t stay at my house.” He hung up before she could reply.
“What’s going on, J?” JC asked.
“Britney’s fucking around behind my back. Seems there’s a lot of that going on lately.” Lance gave Justin such a wicked look that Justin looked away. JC put a hand on Justin’s knee protectively.
“No need to take it out on us, man. You’ve been miserable all week,” JC said.
Lance buried the hurt deep inside and rolled his eyes. “Some of us don’t have people around to cry on, JC. Please leave me alone.” He looked out the window and swallowed the sobs. Justin didn’t cry in public, and as much as Lance would have loved to embarrass him at that moment, he couldn’t bring himself to do it.
Lance hated the fact that he cried so easily. And he was easily crying. He was in his wifebeater and pajama pants, crying into a pillow. It wasn’t fucking FAIR. He was totally sick of being Justin Timberlake. He hated it. He hated the screaming and the fans and the groping hands. He hated being in the front. You couldn’t make mistakes in the front. He hated getting used to this unfamiliar body. Even after a few weeks it wasn’t his own. And he hated Justin fucking Timberlake for stealing his JC. Someone knocked at the door.
“Go away!” He croaked, wiping his eyes with the pillowcase. He was shocked when the lock beeped and the door opened.
“I can talk anyone out of ANYTHING, man,” Chris said triumphantly. “It only took five minutes for me to get an extra key for your room out of the desk clerk.”
“Go away, Chris.” Lance drew back into the shadow of the dark room, not wanting Chris to see his tears. He wasn’t as close to Chris as he was to Joey or JC, and he felt odd crying in front of him.
Chris sat next to Lance on the bed. “Justin is straight.”
“He’s just doing what he has to to keep JC around for you.”
“They’re not doing anything,” Chris said gently.
“Yeah…so?” Lance hated the sob that caught in his throat. He fought Chris’ embrace but soon relaxed against his chest. “I just…I’m sick of this. I want to be me. I want JC to look at ME like that…I want to be back in the background. I hate being Justin!”
“We all hate Justin,” Chris said soothingly, and Lance giggled like a girl. “Oops, did I say that out loud? I mean, we all hate BEING Justin.” Chris rubbed Lance’s bald head fondly. “Getting used to this?”
“I hate it. I thought I hated my own hair, but this bites,” Lance admitted. “Hey…I thought you were going out with Joey!”
“I felt the need to stay behind and take care of one of my little brothers,” Chris said, and Lance suddenly felt better. Some things didn’t change.
“Okay, I’ll see you tomorrow,” Justin said, stopping in front of his hotel room. “Thanks for dinner, Josh. It was great.”
“Lance, when are you gonna let me kiss you?” JC asked, leaning against the wall. Justin looked around the hallway.
“Well, JC, I think…”
“I know you’ve never really been with a guy, and I’ve been with a few. But I would never rush you.”
Don’t need to know this…don’t need to picture this… Justin moaned internally, not even wanting to THINK about JC and his experience. “I know, JC…I just…I’m not ready for that. It’s not you, I swear.”
“I’m beginning to wonder,” JC said with a sigh. “But okay. Sweet dreams.” He pressed his lips to Justin’s cheek before heading down to his own room.
Justin let himself into Lance’s suite, closing the door behind him. He couldn’t believe how neat he had been forced into keeping things. It was like an alternate universe. He could hear Lance talking to someone in the room next to him and he growled at he wall. Fucking Lance Bass. How much more perfect could a man be? JC hung on his every word. What did Lance think about this? What did Lance think about that? And Lance kept a perfect schedule, so Justin was forced to do it, too. Lance was anal retentive perfect, and Justin was sick of it. Why he had ever wanted to be like Lance was way beyond him now.
He pulled his shirt over his head and heard the door to Lance’s suite close. He knocked on the door between their rooms. Lance slowly opened it, and Justin saw that his own blue eyes were red-rimmed. “You okay?” Justin asked him.
“Fine. What do you want? Have a nice date?”
“Lance, don’t,” Justin began. “I don’t need it. I’m sick of this shit.”
“YOU’RE sick of it? Try being alone and watching the man you love fuck around with a guy who’s not even INTERESTED!” Lance snapped.
“Fuck you!” Justin shot back. “Try being the one that everyone depends on when you have NO clue what’s going on? Try being the sensible one.”
“I LIKE being the sensible one,” Lance said.
“You would. You’re the most boring person on the planet and I hate being you!” Justin yelled.
“Oh, really? That’s better then being the world’s biggest egotistical asshole!” Lance shouted back, slamming the door.
Lance woke up to someone pounding on his door. He opened one eye. “Ten-thirty? I can’t believe I slept this late!” He pulled himself out of bed, wrapping his blanket around himself even though he wore his Dr. Seuss pajama bottoms. He looked out the peephole. “JC?” He unlocked the door and opened it, blinking at the light in the hallway. “Yeah?”
“Lance, listen. I couldn’t sleep and…”
“Dude, Lance is next door. I’m sleeping.” He was not in the mood to face JC first thing in the morning, no matter how beautiful he looked in a cornflower blue shirt and black jeans. JC’s blue eyes were confused.
“Lance…are you even awake?”
“I AM awake and I’m not…” Lance scratched his head, freezing as his fingers wove through his short hair. “What did you call me?”
“Um, Lance?” JC asked. “Look, Lance, if you’re gonna play games again…”
Lance looked down at his body and grinned. He wove his fingers through his hair and pulled it tight. “OhmyGOD. I’m back. I’m me. I’m me!” He jumped up and down in the doorway, the blanket falling to the floor. He looked down at his Dr. Seuss pants and let out a yelp of delight, wishing it wouldn’t make him certifiable to hug a piece of clothing.
“I’ll talk to you later, Lance…” JC took a step back. Lance pulled him into a hug.
“God, Josh, you are just…you are just wonderful. Give me an hour…I’ll come to your room and we can talk.” He looked JC in the eye. “And I swear to you…no more weird vibes. You’ll get all of me…I promise.” He closed the door and went to bang on the door to Justin’s room. “JUSTIN!”
“Keep it down, Lance,” he heard through the door. “And go away. I’m sleeping and I hate you.”
“Justin, open the door!” Lance yelled, banging with both fists.
“Dammit, hold on…” Lance heard the door unlock and he quickly opened it. “I’ve gotta pee,” Justin said without even looking behind him. Lance sat on the bed and waited, knowing full well when Justin would realize he was Justin again. “What the…aww, man! That was the one part I liked!”
Lance practically skipped down the hallway to JC’s room, running into Chris on the way. “Chris!” He said happily, kissing Chris’ cheek.
“Whoa, Junior…what’s going on?” Chris rubbed the cheek and glared at Lance.
“Not Junior…it’s me, Lance. I’m back I’m back I’m back!” Lance did a happy dance around Chris. Chris stared at him.
“Are you sure you’re Lance?”
“You were wearing Polo cologne the night you kissed me,” Lance whispered. “You told me after that you could never wear it again because you thought of me too much when you smelled it.”
“Okay, yeah, you’re Lance,” Chris said, blushing as he went down to Joey’s room.
“Josh, it’s me!” Lance called as he knocked on JC’s door. JC opened it and looked at him worriedly.
“Oh, Josh, if you only knew how okay I am now,” Lance said with a sigh. “I’ve been going through so much shit…but it’s all over now…I promise.” Lance took JC’s hand in his as JC closed the door. “I’ve just…damn, Josh.” Emotion swept through Lance as he looked at JC, realizing how much he had missed just being close to him. “I’m sorry if I said anything or did anything to hurt you. You do know I don’t want Justin, right?”
“Yeah…you said that,” JC said calmly. Lance cupped JC’s face in his hands.
“I mean it. I don’t want Justin. I want you, Josh.” He kissed JC gently, then with more passion. JC moaned and pressed his long body against Lance. Lance sighed, his tongue flickering between JC’s soft lips as he slid his hands down to rest on JC’s backside.
“Damn,” JC said when Lance finally let him up for breath.
“Yeah,” Lance said, burying his face in JC’s shoulder.
“So, what do you think?” Justin asked Chris as he shoveled cereal into his mouth. “Should I play with her, or just go in for the kill?”
“I still can’t believe it…I can’t believe she’d cheat on you like that!” Chris said, shaking his head.
“Really. I mean, hello, I’m Justin freaking Timberlake, man. She had everything with me,” Justin said, then grinned to show he was kidding. “I think I might play with her first…it will be so much fun.” He looked around the deserted dining room. “You and Joey have a late night last night?”
“I didn’t go out…I was with Lance…he was really down,” Chris said. “Thank God you guys are back to normal.”
“Yeah,” Justin said, playing with the set of silverware at the chair next to him.
“Do you realize you just lined up the silverware so it is perfectly parallel to the edge of the table?” Chris whispered. Justin jumped, horrified. Chris laughed. “Guess there are some side effects…parts of Lance that will never leave.”
“I guess so,” Justin said, then shrugged, going back to his cereal.
“Hey,” Joey said sleepily, falling into a chair. “I need to stop going out so late.”
“We’re going home tomorrow, so you can sleep for days,” Chris reminded him. He looked towards the doorway and did a double take. “Um, yeah…they’re not together or anything.”
JC and Lance walked into the room, JC a few steps ahead of Lance. Lance couldn’t take his eyes from JC, and a dopey smile was on his face. “Oh GOD I’m getting cavities,” Joey said with a sigh. He got up and went to the buffet.
“Hey,” Lance said, falling into a chair next to Justin. Justin stared at him.
“Want anything?” JC let a hand rest lightly on Lance’s shoulder.
“Eggs…bacon…oh, and a bagel.”
“You got it.” JC wandered off to the buffet. Justin continued to stare.
“You’re wearing a wifebeater…under a shirt that isn’t buttoned.”
“I am?” Lance looked down at himself. “Oh, yeah, yes I am.”
“Wifebeaters…silverware…this is like an extended remix of the Twilight Zone.” Chris stood, shaking his head. “I need coffee.”
“How are you?” Lance asked Justin.
“Good…planning how to bring Brit in for the kill. I don’t have to ask how you are.”
“You didn’t kiss him, right?”
“Hell, no!” Justin snapped. “I told you I wouldn’t do that.”
“Because I did, and damn…” Lance sighed. “That boy can KISS.”
“I’m not hearing this!” Justin put his hands over his ears.
Lance leaned close to Justin’s head. “And I felt his dick…it’s huge, man…I bet it’s even bigger than mine.”
“Okay, breakfast is over.” Justin jumped up and practically ran out of the dining room. Lance laughed as he watched him leave, feeling redeemed for Justin’s “most boring person on the planet” remark from the night before.
“Here you go.” Justin breezed through Lance’s back door, handing him the carton of eggs.
“Bless your gorgeous heart.” Lance gave Justin a quick kiss on the cheek before turning back to the counter. Justin wiped at his cheek.
“God, you are such a GIRL.” He looked around the kitchen. “JC won’t be here for like eight hours…and it’s not like you guys will make it to dessert, anyway.”
“We will too,” Lance said, blushing slightly. “Dessert is part of the plan.”
“Oh really?” Justin raised an eyebrow. “Part of the Timberlake charm must’ve rubbed off on you.”
“Puhleeze,” Lance said, but he grinned. “Ready for Britney?”
“Yeah…she’ll be over in about an hour. Hauling her skank ass out of bed early just for me.” Justin sighed. “This isn’t gonna be easy.”
“You can do it, my man.” Lance put his hands on Justin’s shoulders and shook them slightly. “I have faith in you.”
“Euww.” Justin brushed the flour off of his tshirt. “I gotta run. Should I call later and fill you in?”
“Please. I’ll be done with this soon, and then I’ll have to sit around all day being nervous until I can cook, and then I’ll be nervous again.”
“You’ll be fine.” Justin smiled at Lance. “You and JC are made for each other.” He sighed again. “Yet another thing I have to be jealous about.”
“DON’T say that, Justin. Don’t jinx us!” Lance begged, and Justin laughed.
“Hi,” Britney said shyly. Justin noticed that she wore a pair of almost baggy jeans and a normal-sized tshirt.
“Hello.” He moved aside and let her in. “Want something to drink?”
“No, thank you.” Britney followed Justin into his living room. He nodded towards the sofa and she sat. He sat on a chair. “Look, Justin, I think you should know something. It’s not you, okay? I just am not ready for what you want to do.”
“Um, Britney? Shut up.” Justin held up a hand. “Just shut…the fuck…up. I don’t want to hear any of your bullshit because it will only piss me off more.” He began to pace. “I treated you good, right?”
“Bought you stuff, took you places, we had fun, right?”
“Right,” she said, confused.
“Then why the FUCK did you feel the need to play around on me?” Justin leaned over her, his hands on either side of her against the back of the sofa.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” She whispered.
“I heard you on the phone. I heard what you said about saving yourself for someone else,” Justin said, grateful that Lance had such a good memory and could practically recite the conversation for Justin word for word. “I know you’re sleeping around on me…and I’m glad I know. I’m glad that now I know that the slut you portray to the world is really the way you are.”
“Justin.” Tears streaked down Britney’s pretty face. “You didn’t hear what you thought you heard. You heard…”
“I heard the truth.” Justin handed her a shoebox. “In here are some things I don’t want anymore. Things you gave me. Wear them, burn them, sell them, I don’t care. Tomorrow I’m calling my publicist and your publicist, and I’m explaining that because of irreconcilable differences, you and I are through. You can play the grieving girlfriend…and I’m gonna play the joyful boyfriend who finally got rid of the ball and chain.” Justin smiled sweetly at her. “You can leave now.”
“Do I NEED to call the cops on your skank ass?” Justin asked in his best ghetto tone. She sobbed as she went out the door, and Justin winced as her car almost took out his mailbox when she went into reverse. He rubbed his hands together gleefully and went to call Lance.
“Holy shit, Lance,” JC whispered as he entered Lance’s dining room and saw the table. “You said you were cooking dinner…but I didn’t expect this!”
“You deserve the best…especially for putting up with me lately.” Lance held a chair out for JC to sit in, then poured him a glass of wine. “You deserve the best period, Josh.” He leaned over and kissed JC. “The best.”
“Something smells good,” JC called after him as he went into the kitchen.
“I hope so. My mom emailed me the recipe and I haven’t been able to try it until now,” Lance called back. “She also sent me this old recipe of hers for this jello thing…ends up you need to stir it in a freaking BATHTUB. A bathtub, can you believe it?” Lance carried a platter of chicken into the dining room and set it down. “I thought you could help me.” His green eyes were pure innocence. “Or we could just eat the cake I made.”
“Jello…bathtub?” JC said weakly.
“I know…it’s stupid…we can skip dessert,” Lance said, sitting down and tossing his napkin into his lap. JC stood, grabbed the napkin, and tossed it onto the table.
“No. We’re skipping dinner.” He took Lance by the hand and tugged him out of the chair. “Where’s the jello?”