Justin knew Nick Carter hated him. Hell, the entire world knew Nick Carter hated him. Lou Pearlman formed the Backstreet Boys and robbed them blind, all the while forming another group exactly like them behind their backs. A new group. A richer group. 'N Sync.
But Nick Carter's hatred for him was the stuff urban legends were made of. "Nick Carter called you a fag," Justin would hear from a mutual acquaintance. "We were sitting at a party and he said that you sucked cocks for a living before you joined 'N Sync."
Or "Nick Carter says you can't sing half as well as the weakest member of the Backstreet Boys." Or "Nick Carter says you sound like a teenage girl with a head cold." Or "Nick Carter says that you don't care what Lou Pearlman did to his band, and you're just raking in the cash that should have gone to them."
Nick Carter, Nick Carter, Nick Carter. The name made Justin's head throb. It was a like a migraine that wouldn't go away, like an itch in the middle of his back that he couldn't scratch no matter how hard he reached. He imagined his name gave Nick Carter the same reaction, although after everything he'd heard, he couldn't bring himself to care.
It was November in Toronto, Ontario, and two minutes after they stepped off the plane, Justin and his band pulled their scarves up to their eyeballs because of the cold. They were playing the largest venue in town, although Justin couldn't remember the name of it. More screaming girls. More dancing to do.
Nick Carter says you're stealing all his fans.
They arrived in Toronto a day early to do PR. An interview at a radio station. A photo shoot for a Canadian entertainment magazine. Q&A with a couple of newspapers. It would be the same questions they were always asked. How is the tour going? Aren't you pleased with the success of the album?
They stayed at the Royal York, a giant stone hotel in the middle of downtown that looked like an overgrown mansion from Wuthering Heights. It cost about $1,000 a night but if they were staying there, Justin assumed they had to have enough money for it. All he had to do was perform, smile a little and enjoy the mini bar.
The first thing he did was turn on the TV and flip to channel 3, the movie channel at hotels, to see if there was any porn. There was. Justin figured this hotel should have extra exclusive porn, like those nude scenes Gillian Anderson did before she was famous. But the movies were pretty token. Party Pack. Sorority Girls. Nikki's Big Chance. Justin had seen so many nude women in the past two years that the very sight of one made him want to gag.
Nick Carter says you date women for show because you don't want everyone to know you're gay.
Well, Nick Carter would know.
That night everyone but Lance went to a club down by the waterfront, an invite-only thing with DJ's imported from Europe. Lance stayed in his room to sleep, but Justin thought wryly that he might be watching the porn. Justin feigned a headache and stayed in his room until they left, mixing four ice cubes with half of the little bottle of vodka in the fridge using one of the wrapped plastic cups by the bathroom sink.
At 11 p.m. he checked himself in the mirror before he put on his padded winter jacket and thick gloves. He wrapped his plaid scarf around his neck and pulled it up so it was just below his eyes, topping off the ensemble with a wool toque he got one of the crew to pick up earlier that day. He smirked at himself in the mirror, confident that no one would know who he was until he wanted them to know.
Outside, the sidewalks were icy and the roads shiny and slick. Across the street from the hotel was a huge train station with taxis clogging the roadway. He crossed the street and stood in front of the train station, trying to look inconspicuous.
He slid into the taxi that stopped for him and recited the name of the club he'd found on the Internet earlier that day. "Boyztown."
"Got it," the driver said. Usually, they barely blinked, but this one was watching him in the rearview mirror. Justin shifted uncomfortably, wishing he were a bit drunker.
"Aren't you one of those Backstreet Boys?" the driver asked. Great. He spoke English.
"No," Justin said sharply. Maybe the driver meant 'N Sync. Maybe he didn't. Either way, he didn't want to talk about it.
He rode silently a couple more blocks and suddenly leaned forward. "Why? Are they in town?"
"The Backstreet Boys."
The driver waved his hand. "Down by the lake. They're shooting a video. There were girls everywhere. I couldn't go down there for the girls."
Justin flopped back in his seat. Usually he would have known that. He followed the Backstreet Boys' movements the way one angry dog circles another.
The ride cost him $15. He gave the driver $15 U.S. and told him to keep the change. Boyztown was in a large brick building with big wooden double doors packed with men going inside. Justin could see flashing lights from the second floor window. Obviously the dance floor. The fast, furious beats were audible as soon as he stepped out of the cab.
There was a short line outside the club. Justin grimaced. He didn't want to spend any more time outside than he needed to. He walked toward the door, past the line. The bouncer stopped him.
"You can't go in yet," the guy said. "You have to wait in line."
Justin used that opportunity to pull down the scarf, gambling on the guy recognizing him. "What's it gonna cost me?"
There was a flash in the guy's eyes. "Nothing. Sorry. Go on in."
Justin smiled as he walked in. It was nice to know 'N Sync still had a healthy dose of gay fans.
He paid the $10 cover charge at the entrance and pulled off his toque. Lean, beautiful men with shiny skin and muscle-flaunting shirts were packed tightly like they were crammed into a suitcase. He was definitely in the right place.
He found the coat check on instinct, sliding out of his jacket and laying it on the counter. The woman taking coats recognized him too, because she perked up and snapped her gum nervously. She also didn't charge him the dollar it cost to check a coat.
Stripped down to his normal clothes, Justin felt long and lean as he worked his way toward the bar. Eyes were on him from every direction. One guy on the platform above the dance floor stopped dead and stared. Justin used to worry about being hit on constantly at these places, but soon he realized that people were too scared of him to even make eye contact.
He pushed through the crowd and pressed against the bar, leaning over so the bartender could see him. True to Justin's prediction, the bartender ignored the other customers who were waving their money in the air and came straight to him.
"Vodka and lime," Justin said.
The bartender turned quickly to get the drink, bumping into the Chippendales type bartender who was also scrambling over to get Justin's order. "I like your music," he said, his voice strong and solid.
"Thanks," Justin said.
"It must be boy band night here," he said, smiling slyly.
Justin's eyes narrowed and his heart did a jumping jack. "Why?"
"Because one of the Backstreet Boys is here too."
Justin turned slowly, looking back at the throng of unfamiliar people. "Where?"
The bartender shrugged. "Upstairs." Then he moved on to serve the other customers.
The first bartender returned with Justin's drink. Justin paid him in American money and told him to keep the change.
Nick Carter said he saw you at Rage making out with some guy.
Justin walked to the dance floor, standing on the outskirts. All day he'd wanted nothing more than to dance and get lost in the music, moving amongst a throng of sweaty, beautiful bodies. Now his legs didn't seem to work properly. His hands shook a little, his heart thumping in his chest to the beat of the music. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he wondered if he should leave.
"Well." The voice came from behind him, familiar even though Justin hadn't heard it face to face in months.
Justin turned slowly. There was Nick Carter, smirking, his blond hair hanging in his eyes.
"Well," Justin replied.
He could see it in Nick's eyes. Nick couldn't even walk into a meat market in Canada without Justin stealing his thunder. Until about 15 minutes ago, Nick had been the only famous person there. Now he had competition. Just like Justin was always his competition. The cutest Backstreet Boy vs. the cutest 'N Sync member. Together at last.
Nick Carter says you look like a girl.
"This gay pick up bar ain't big enough for the both of us," Justin wanted to say in a gunslinging voice, but he just stood there, waiting for Nick to make the next move.
"Can I buy you a drink?" Nick asked.
Justin raised his vodka. "Got one."
"Well, I need one. I'll be back."
Justin watched Nick disappear through the crowd, pushing his way towards the bar just like Nick pushed his way towards everything. He was like a typical kindergartener who hadn't learned to share.
Justin thought about walking away, but he stayed rooted firmly in place. The stares were less obvious now, and the music was getting better. Maybe he should invite Nick to a dance-off in the middle of the club.
Nick returned a moment later with a drink, passing a speechless guy on the way. "It doesn't take much to impress these people," Nick said. "If you've been in a magazine, you're a big deal."
Justin focused on the dance floor. "You are so jaded."
"And you're not?"
"No," Justin replied, taking a big swig of his drink.
Justin knew it would be incredibly two faced and Hollywood of him to hate Nick Carter and yet stand there and talk to him. So he mustered up some courage and said "So I hear you know a lot about me."
Nick leaned closer. "What?"
Justin raised his voice a notch, enunciating his words carefully. "I hear you've been saying shit about me."
Instead of acting cornered, Nick smiled. "And you haven't been saying shit about me?"
Justin shrugged. He had a point.
"Follow me," Nick said, tugging on Justin's shirt sleeve. Justin followed him up the stairs to another dance floor, where a different song was playing but the people looked the same. Justin followed him to the back of the room, down the little hall where the washrooms were and through another door.
Inside was a make-out room of some kind, bathed in blue light and filled with chin-high dividers like a change room. Justin heard some sighing men from the corners, the odd rustle of a belt buckle.
Nick pulled Justin to the back corner, behind one of the dividers. He pushed Justin against the wall and kissed him hard, frantically.
Justin couldn't bring himself to be surprised. He kissed him back even harder, their lips pressed together and their tongues doing battle inside each other's mouths. Nick's hands moved roughly under Justin's shirt, up his sides until his fingers reached his nipples and squeezed. Justin felt his dick harden immediately, straining in his jeans and aching to be touched.
"Here we go again," Justin said, so quietly he doubted Nick heard him. Their mouths opened wide, their jaws moving constantly, their teeth scraping together occasionally from the force of the kisses. Nick pressed his body hard against Justin's and Justin felt their cocks rub together, both so turned on that just rubbing against each other might bring them off.
Justin gripped Nick's hair. "Suck my dick."
All the hardness was gone from Nick's eyes, replaced with a wide-eyed expression and an eagerness to please. Justin knew that if the lighting were better, he would see that Nick's eyes were lusty and electric blue.
Nick dropped to his knees, fumbling with Justin's zipper until it gave and he undid his pants. He took out Justin's cock and immediately went to work, swirling his tongue around the head of it and making a wet trail along the underside. Justin clenched his teeth, gripping Nick's hair harder almost accidentally.
Finally Nick took the whole thing in his mouth, sucking with a steady rhythm that made Justin whimper a little. Justin started thrusting his hips in time with Nick's movements, pushing his cock deeper into Nick's mouth, getting off on the pounding music outside, and their muffled breaths, and the fact that there were at least six other people fucking in the same room on the other side of the flimsy barrier.
And that the guy who had been talking shit about him for two years was on his knees in front of him.
The final thought took him over the edge. He tightened his grip and came in Nick's mouth, a week's worth of frustration leaving his body in a rush. His legs shook, his head fell back against the wall and he fought to stay standing as his orgasm took hold. Nick patiently stayed in place until Justin was finished. Then he stood up and leaned in to kiss him.
"Gotta go, Nick," Justin said, doing up his pants. "See ya around."
"Asshole," Nick snapped.
"Prick," Justin returned easily.
Justin smirked. "Takes one to know one."
He left the room and headed toward the dance floor, knowing the Nick Carter stories wouldn't bother him for awhile. When he danced, he was the best dancer in the room.