Disclaimer: This story is entire fiction plucked from little brain for your (hopeful) enjoyment. All the usual stuff applies, not implying anything, not real, blah blah blah you get the idea, right?
NB: You may think that it's going kinda slow but if you want to read a faster story then either go read someone elses or check back in a while when there'll be more chapters. Wait, don't go and read someone elses story (at least until you've give this one a chance). Bye!
'N Sync had just finished their last show of the block they were doing before their two week break. They were backstage cooling off and chilling out. They were talking to some of the crew,
"Great show guys, sorry about screwing the lighting up though" the new lighting technician apologised
"No worries, it's your first show. We forgive you, just dont do it again" Chris said sternly with a smile
"Oh. My. GOD, it can't be" JC said stunned
"What? What's wrong?"
"That guy, I went to school with him, I think. It cant be him, can it?"
"Well go ask him stupid ass"
JC slowly wondered over to the guy standing with what looked like a little sister.
"Excuse me but do I know you?" he asked tentatively
"You should do. We went to school for all them years" the young man replied with a smile
"Steve? Is it really you?"
"In the flesh. Hows life treating you?"
"My word! What are you doing here?"
"I brought Steph, by the way this is Steph" he introduced her briefly, forgotten in his own reunion, "She only half-believed me when I said I went to school with you"
"It's true" JC told the little 12 y/o at his feet, "Hey listen you wanna meet up afterwards? We don't have official afterpartys but we can hang out if you want"
"Sure. You can fill me in with what its like to be a popstar"
"Be right back"
JC returned to the other guys and informed them where he would be going before grabbing a towel and a bodyguard. He walked them back to Steve's car where his mom was waiting.
"Mom, look who it is!"
"Hi Josh honey, you've grown haven't you? You were in shortpants the last time I saw you" she said, both Steve and JC cringing at the embarressment his mom was causing.
"We're gonna go hang out mom. Don't wait up! Come on"
Steve dragged JC away before his mom showed him up even more. They went to a late-night coffee shop and sat at one of the booths.
"So what have you been doing with yourself all these years?" JC asked
"Working my ass off in dead end jobs mostly. You?"
"Can't complain. You live in New York?"
"yeah unfortunately, I got transfered to another store a couple of years ago. I needed to get away from mom and dad after I... never mind. I got sacked and then I got a job at Macy's."
"Yeah? Must be good having a steady job"
"You must be joking! How can you of all people complain about jobs. All that money, attention, girls... I'd kill for that!"
"It's not as good as it seems"
"So how come we never stayed in touch like we said? We were like real good friends"
"Good friends? We were like total bestfriends. Did we do anything apart?"
"There was that time I got arressted and you didn't. Despite the fact that the officer saw YOU doing it, not me!"
"Yeah but that was cuz of your mouth. You should have kept it shut"
A little minute of silence fell, both inwardly laughing at the stupidity of that little childhood prank.
"So are you married or anything?" JC asked bluntly
"Err... no not really. You?"
"I think you'd have read about it by now. So how come you ain't seeing anyone? You always had the girls"
"i didnt say I wasn;t seeing anyone - just not married."
"Can we meet up again tomorrow? It's kinda late and I need to sleep"
"Sure. I'll get the day off possibly. You still sleep like you used to?"
"Like I used to?"
"Like a lump of lead?"
"Yes" JC admitted with a slight hint of embarressment
"Here's my number. Call me tomorrow and we'll sort something out." Steve said handing JC the napkin with his number scrawled on it.
"See you then."
The next morning Steve begged his superviser for the day off but she wouldn't have it. "Do you want to work here or not?". He moped around the store until his phone rang,
"Hi is that Steve?"
"Yeah hi JC. Bad news I cant get the day off, I'm at work now. Although if... hey come down to the store I've got an idea. I'm on menswear"
"Okay give me 15 minutes" JC said, confused
As JC arrived at the menswear department, he saw Steve dealing with a customer.
"I'm sorry madam, but we can't reduce something because its creased." Steve told her for the hundredth time, getting annoyed
"I'm sorry madam, I;ve told you the store policy. No reductions unless its damaged"
The old lady stormed off
"Bad day?" JC asked with a laugh
"Stupid old fucking bitch, I'm gonna wrap that tie round her neck. Sorry, how are you?"
"Obviously a lot calmer than you. So what's this idea?"
"Oh yeah I forgot, come here."
Steve lead JC to the area behind the tills where all the baskets and crap were kept
"You heard, hit me."
"Its the only way I'll get out of working."
"I can't! We're friends"
"I'll say a customer did it. Just hit me!"
"Are you really sure about this?" JC asked, Steve nodding whilst bracing himself for the blow
JC lifted his fist, not really wanting to do this. He punched Steve in the face, harder than he really wanted or meant to.
"Fuck me! I said hit not kill! Where did you learn to punch like that? You were always such a wuss at fighting"
"You want another?"
"No! That;s enough, now go wait outside whilst I lie my little ass off"
JC went down to the entrance and waited for Steve to join him. Ten minutes later, Steve came down the stairs,
"It worked. Come on lets go"
"I can't believe you made me hit you. Couldn't you just say you were ill?"
"No that bitch never believes me. It's done with now anyway. Besides this doesn't go down as an official holiday so I don't lose any money"
"So how come your still here? I read you lived in Orlando now"
"We do. We got an radio thing this evening for some reason, then we go back home thursday for two weeks off. Thank god"
"So what do you wanna do?"
"I know its really girlie but do you wanna shop? I need some new clothes and stuff I haven't bought any for ages"
"What's girlie about shopping? I do it all the time, maybe thats why I'm broke all the time"
They wondered round a few of the shops whilst reminicing about 'old times' (corny I know but what other expression is there?). Steve knew most of the shop assistants and got some good discounts for him and JC.
"You can;t keep doing this, I feel like I owe you something"
"It's not like I can't afford it"
"Don't rub it in, just cause you earn so much more money than me for prancing around a stage for 2 hours."
"I didn't mean it to sound nasty"
"Its Ok I'm just joking, don't tell me all them Orlando blondes are making you as dumb as them"
"You wanna get a coffee or something to eat? Then we can conquer the top floor"
They sat in the Starbucks for about an hour,
"So are you gonna tell me about this girl your seeing?"
"Ah. Always knew when to put me on the spot didn't you, Chasez?"
"In a way. Theres a whole sack of shit stuck on the end of that question. You wanna hear it?"
"Right for a start, and I know you gonna be pissed off with this but what the hell, it's not a girl"
"You mean your gay? That's the sack of shit?" JC said, leaning closer with a serious yet friendly tone
"Yeah that's the sack of shit, but thats just the tip of the crapberg."
"How long have you been gay? Weren't you dating Lou?"
"Yeah but that was like ten years ago. Everyone has a girlfriend when they're 10 years old. It's the done thing, besides I only found out a couple of years ago"
"Ten years? Is that how long it's been?"
"'Fraid so. You haven't really changed. 'Cept your hairs got some style about it now"
"You going all queeny on me?" JC laughed
"Don't know, don't care. I stopped thinking about what I was saying years ago. I got sick of analysing everything"
"Do any of the others know?"
"Not really, I told Simon about four years ago when I bumped into him with an old boyfriend I was seeing. He might have told som people. I don't really care, it's not like I'm gonna see any of them again is it?"
"That 5 year reunions coming up soon"
"I won't be going, it's not me scene"
"You have to, meet all the old gang again"
"The old gang? Simon's already married and a dad, John's a smackhead, Paul's gone to Europe, and Eddie's dead. Not gonna be much fun is it?"
"Yeah but you wouldn't know would you? Sorry but he got shot in a club last year. No one told you?"
"No. Shit, did anyone go to his funeral?"
"Just me and Paul. He came back from Germany for it. I've not heard anything of the others for years."
"Anyway enough of this gloomy shit, lets hit that top floor"
They wondered around the top floor for another couple of hours, JC slowly processing all that Steve had just told him about how much things had changed since he left.
"Sorry sir but your cards maxed out."
"What? Already? I can't have spent a thousand dollars this month!" Steve said in disbelief, the store assistant showing him the display DEBIT MAXIMUM, "I guess I can't argue with a computer"
"Let me get them for you" JC offered
"No way, I can't have you thinking I'm some little peasant on the breadline. I can't ask you to come down from upon high and rescue me now can I?"
"Shut up" JC told him, handing the assistant his card
"No! I won't let you" Steve demanded, taking the card off him.
"Steve I WILL pay for this and I AM" JC bossed, knudging the back of Steves knee so he went straight to the floor. He grabbed the card and handed it to the assistant.
"You bastard, I thought you would have forgot about my weak spots by now"
"You never forget things like that, you never know when they come in handy"
"Now what was your weakspot?... Oh yeah, your face!"
"IT WAS NOT!"
"It was. That's why you never got into fights, you were too scared of getting your pretty boy face messed up"
"Okay I'll conceed, but I was on the TV you know. A twelve year old with a black eye wouldn't go down that well would it? Here" JC said, passing Steve the bags.
"What time do you have to be back? It's 5 o'clock now"
"We're due on at 6:30. I guess we should call it a day"
They made their way out of the mall and Steve hailed a cab.
"I had fun today, it's been good catching up on everything" JC told him as the cab pulled up outside his hotel, "I guess I kinda got lost in the whole fame game"
"I'll say. Haven't you ever spoke to any of us?"
"No but I promise I will in future. It's not cool forgetting your roots is it?"
"Nope and I guess you need bringing down a peg or two don't you?"
"I'll agree to one but not two. I resent that. And by the way, don't worry about paying me back for those things, consider it my treat"
"Maybe we can hang out again next time you're here?"
"We could hang out tomorrow?"
"Can't, gotta work. Still gotta earn a crust you know"
"Maybe I'l drop by the store. I might even bring one of the other guys. Any special request?"
"Oh please let it be Chris, he's so manly and gorgeous" Steve laughed, knowing that he adored Chris underneath his lie
"I'll see what I can do. See you later" JC said, getting out of the cab
"Oh here, buy yourself something nice. Like a paper bag" JC bitched, tossing a fifty dollar bill through the window as the cab pulled away
As much as Steve resented JC's charity, he knew he was short of money. He arrived home and dropped the bags on the floor and threw himself in the only armchair he had. He glanced around the place that he called home. The dull bare walls, the faded carpet, the smelly furniture, the old TV in the corner. How could two best friends end up living such different lives. He was here in a dive of a flat and JC was there in the lap of luxury. Although he was jealous of JC he had to admit that he hadn't worked as hard as JC for the things he wanted. He was happy in a dead end job whereas JC always dreamed of the celebrity ideal. 'It's no wonder I'm single, how can I bring anyone back to this shithole?' he thought to himself
He dragged himself out of bed at seven the next morning to get ready for work. He literally dragged the uniform on and slowly plodded his way to the store. The weather was crappy with a downpour making it nigh on impossible to find a vacant so he made his way on foot.
It took Steve most of the morning to get dry again, having to deal with hordes of customers whilst feeling like his clothes weighed about a tonne. He almost cried with pleasure when he was told he could go on his break. As always, the 20 minutes went faster than he would have liked and he made his way back to the shopfloor.
Another two hours stood at the cashdesk, processing endless bills and cards without looking at the customers. He managed to get rid of the huge queue that was building up pretty quickly and sat down on the stool next to the desk.
"Can we get some service please?" a familiar voice enquired
"Oh hey, JC. How's things?" Steve replied with a smile and depression that shone through
"The worst, nothing's gone. The credit card machine's gone apeshit and I keep giving people wrong change. Oh sorry, hi Chris" Steve paused. Chris? That bastard brought him! How could he? Quick sort yourself out, you're 22 for god's sake stop acting like Steph.
"JC told us all about you."
"Only the good stuff I hope"
"Depends how bad the stuff he hasn't told us is."
"Yeah well I've got my little stories about him too. How are you paying for this?"
"Card, if that's okay?"
"Yeah, just don't come running after me if you get charged 3 times"
"Steve? You okay?"
"Just going through a rough period I guess. Don't worry I'm not gonna hang myself or anything" he said with a laugh
"Always were too caring for your own good weren't you Chasez?"
"He's like that with us" Chris butted in
"So I hear, always knew he'd make someone a good wife with all that nagging"
"Come on, we've gotta meet the others" Chris hurried up
"There you go gentlement, your bags. And sir, your card and receipt" Steve said in a patronising voice
"See you around Steve, nice meeting up after all these years"
"Yeah see y'around, Josh. Take care. And thanks for bringing Chris, it was nice meeting you"
"Please to meet you too Steve. Take care."
JC & Chris walked out of the store, leaving Steve back at the tills. Although he was depressed a bit, he still smiled to himself. 'How could he just bring Chris in here like that. He's such a bastard!' knowing he'd enjoyed it really.
Steve never heard anything from JC for a couple of days. 'Bastards gone and forgot about his friends already. Mind you he's JC now with a whole new circle of friends. Why would he want to know me. Little poor old me with my maxed out credit cards and shitty apartment. He probably thinks I'm an embarressment or something. Not that he's wrong' Steve pittied himself, sitting in the cold smelly apartment he hated so much but couldn't afford to change. 'Stop pitying yourself you sad bastard! Get on with your life, you was okay with it till he turned back to rub it all in your face.'
It was two months later when Steve spoke to JC again on the phone.
"Oh look who it is. What happened to keeping in touch."
"Aw come on, cut me some slack. It's been two months. At least it's not been ten years like last time has it?"
"Steve? Can you get any time off of work?"
"Doubt it. Why?"
"We're coming to New York next week and I wondered whether you wanted to hang out?"
"But why do I need time off work?"
"Cause we're gonna get so plastered it'll be fun"
"You drink? You actually touch alcohol? Why do I doubt it?"
"Course we drink, we just don't let people get wind of it. I still know how to party"
"I don't know about time off. I could check and beg. Or just walk out I guess. What day?"
"We're there on the 26th which I think is a Tuesday, then we're off somewhere else. Come on you have to come, it won't be the same without you"
"K I guess I could convince them I'm ill"
"You have to" JC insisted.
"Call me a bit closer to the date, what is it three weeks?, and I'll fill you in"
Steve had tried to sound passť on the phone but he was really excited in all honesty. He didn't really know many people around where he lived and he never went out with the people from work - they were all so full of theirself and their money. Plus he hadn't really missed JC that much but now he was back in his life (in a way) he wanted to make up for all them lost years.
Before he knew it, it was the 25th already. 'Time to kiss some ass' Steve thought to himself as he knocked on his supervisors door.
"Ah Steve, I wanted to speak to you anyways. What can I do for you?"
"I need tomorrow off."
"You need tomorrow off? You've been needing a lot of time off lately."
"Come on, my ass has been in this store everyday for the last three months. Aren't I entitled to one day off?"
"You've already had all your contracted holidays, this time is the last time, follow me? You want any more time off and I'm afraid we're gonna have to give you your cards."
"It's all I need. It's just to sort myself out. I'm still half back in DC, you know? Not to mention most of my stuff too"
"One day only"
"Thank you Mrs Urador." Steve said begrudgingly, hating having to speak to her let alone grovel.
JC rung that night, informing him of where they were meeting up.
"Hi Steve, JC went to the toilet. Good job he introduced us the other day, eh?"
"Yeah, good old JC."
"You two had a little fight or something?"
"No not really. Just he never kept his word like he said he would"
"There's probably a hundred reasons, it's true that we never have any time you know"
"Hey Steve, see you remembered Chris here" he said with a smile
"How could I forget?"
"You wanna get a table?"
They grabbed a table and talked casually for a couple of hours, plying each other with drinks.
"I'll be back in a while." Steve said standing up
"Why where you going?" JC asked
"I need some money, I gotta find a cashpoint. Be right back"
"No worries, I'll lend it you."
"No you're alright. There's one around the corner I think"
"Don't be daft, it'll save you walking."
"You're doing it again aren't you?" Steve said with a touch of anger in his voice
"Rubbing it in my face again. Okay, you've got more money than me and everything else that goes with it. Welcome to the real world Josh, or should that be JC, not everyone gets paid $2 million for singing a few songs here and there. Some of us have to work our asses off to make ends meet and I don't want your fucking charity!"
"Yeah and so are we"
"Steve wait" JC pleaded grabbing Steve's arm
"Let go of me"
"Okay I apologize, I'm sorry"
"I said let go of me Josh, 'fore I kick seven kinds of shit out of you like I should have done all them years ago."
"What? What are you talkin-" JC was interupted by Steve's fist
"I warned you and didn't listen. Like you never did"
Steve stormed out, leaving the bewilded Chris to sort JC out. Chris got a towel from behind the bar to soke up the blood running from JC's nose, kinda laughing to himself at how ridiculous the situation was.
The next morning Steve woke up early, not used to having a day off lately. It slowly returned to him the incidents of last night and he felt guilty all of a sudden. He picked up the phone and was asked to hold whilst he was transfered to JC's room.
Whilst on hold, Steve's hard-headedness got the better of him. 'Why am I apologising? He's the one in the wrong' and he slammed the phone down quickly
There you go! Hope you like it, if you don't then tell me about it you fussy turds. the good, the bad and maybe the ugly to email@example.com. Thank you!