Best of Friends?

Disclaimer: This story is in no way based on factual events and is merely fictional entirely (to the best of my knowledge). In no way do I claim to know the actual sexual orientation of any persons mentioned herein. If you are offended by male/male relationships then either leave and be happy or read and be disgusted (it's your call).

Oh and I don't own, or make any suggestion that I do own, any of th song lyrics mentioned here. See the very bottom for details. Please note that I intend for this to be the final chapter, the conclusion. As I don't want this to carry on going nowhere at all and degenerating into crap I've took the step to leave it here. Thanks a lot for reading.

Chapter 7:

"And up next we've got an exclusive interview with NSYNC in Europe on the last leg of their 2 month long Euro promotion. Stay tuned" the TV presenter announed in usual overly-happy mode

Steve quickly changed channels to MTV only to find their video there. Turning off the TV, he put the radio on instead, anything to avoid hearing or seeing JC

He was sat next to the window in his apartment, looking out on to the rainy NYC skyline. Then a song came on, one Steve remembered his mother playing constantly when he lived at home. Somehow the words now meant more;

"Came in from a rainy Thursday on the avenue,
I thought I heard you talking softly,
I turned on the lights, the TV and the radio,
Still I can't escape the ghost of you"

Steve half-laughed at how ironic the words were;

"But I won't cry for yesterday
There's an ordinary world somehow I have to find,
And as I try to make my way to the ordinary world
I will learn to survive"

Steve was reluctant to turn the song off, despite every verse seemingly reminding him of JC. He went to grab his coat and head to work,
"Left me in the vacuum of my heart,
What is happening to me?
Crazy some would say,
Where is my friend when I need you most?
Gone away"*

He stopped dead, the last line striking a chord. "Where is my friend when I need you most?" Steve muttered quietly. Even though he and JC had promised to remain friends if it didn't work out, it wasn't looking likely that they could, let alone would

Throughout the day, the song's lyrics plagued him constantly. Blocking all JC-related thoughts from his mind, he submerged himself into other pursuits, anything that could stop him having to face up to the situation...

The next morning, Steve picked up the mail from his box in the apartment-block lobby and trudged back upstairs. Quickly flicking through the larger-than-usual wad of crap and bills, he came across a strange letter. The address, stating 'United States', signifting to him that it was bound to be from JC. But instead of opening it, he discarded it straight to the bin along with bills.

The letter was another reminded of JC that he didn't want or need, another painful flaskback to the love and trust he once had for him, another dagger stuck in his back, another nail in the coffin of their relationship, another reminded that he may still love him.

That night as Steve returned from work he sat in the kitchen of his apartment, the only noise coming from the low-volume radio on the worktop, the only movement from the cigarette-smoke rising from Steve's hand. He was thinking. Thinking about JC and the pain that he was feeling. Staring blankly into nowhere, he noticed the trashcan out of the corner of his eye.

Should he open it or not? Should he open his heart to yet more potential pain or should he leave things be and move on?

Slowly walking over, he plucked the letter out and blew off the cigarette ash from all the times he'd emptied the ashtray that day. He sat back down at the small table and looked at the pale green envelope sat before him. In the bottom corner were JC'sintials - the way they had used to recognise letters from each other. Steve twirled the envelope between his fingers before slowly opening the top side with his finger.

He pulled out the pieces of folded red paper and smiled at the choice of colours, 'He never did have any taste'. This brought back more memories, of the occasions when they had hung out together-Steve dressing JC like a mother dressing a child for school.

Steve began reading JC's prolounged apology. The same excuses again, this time seeming more genuine than all the other times. He could feel himself coming round to the idea of taking JC back, which frightened him. He carried on to the last page, the last line catching his heartstrings, the same way the last line of that song had done days before. "I'm begging here Steve, notonly do I need you as a lover, but I need you are as a friend"

"Where is my friend when I need you most?" Steve recited the lyric for the tenth time that day to the empty kitchen. It came to him that his friend was there all along, he just wouldn't let him back in. By pretending that it was JC who wasn't the friend it made it easier to hate him easier to despise him for what he had done, and more importantly harder to fall back in love with him.

For the next few days he lazed around the apartment, having a week off from work for all the extra hours he'ddone. He still didn'tknow what he wanted to do about the JC situation despite it being over two weeks since he got the letter. He lay face down on the bed whilst the radio whiled away the hours on his behalf. Steve was down, and when he was down it was rock-bottom. He was content to lie there and let the world pass him by.

He could barely hear the knocking on his front door as he lay there choosing to ignore it. After it continued for a while longer and became more urgent he scraped himself off the bed.

"Oh. It's you" Steve opened the door to Lance and JC
"Can we speak?" Lance asked
"About your relationship?"
"What's it got to do with you? And what's wrong with you, can't you speak for yourself anymore?"
"I agree, it's got nothing to do with me but you both need to either patch it up or end this completely. I'll wait downstairs, JC" Lance walked off leaving Steve and JC stood in the doorway. They were in silence, JC not looking up from the floor. The silence was deafening, Steve waiting for JC to say something.
"So do you want to come in?"
"Please" JC looked up from the floor testingly
Steve moved aside and let JC skulk past in silence
"Sit down if you want" Steve tried to be nice, feling the anger rising inside of him again.
"Thanks. Are we over or not?"
"Possibly, you can'ti magine what you've done to me"
"I can and I'm eternally sorry for it but I can't changed what's happened, can I?"
"Fortunately so. At least now I know what you're really like when we weren't hanging out"
"You thinkI've done this before? Look at me, I'm a mess because of this, do you think I could cope with this all the time?"
"You do look pretty rough"
"I didn't come to talk appearances. Can I have an answer?"
"I don't know. I still love you, not at much or anything like I used to, but that can't change how disgusted I am"
"Are you or not" JC asked again, looking at his watch
"Josh, I'venever had to deal with this before, especially not when you did it with a woman. You broke my heart"
"Steve, I need an answer, I can't handle your indecision. You have to tell me"
"I don't know"
"Well do you still love me?"
"Well why is this such a big issue? Why can't we just move on?"
"Why is this such a big issue? Josh you cheated on me with a woman! AFter you told me that you were gay, or were you lieing about that too?"
"No and I still love you but if you still loed me then you wouldn't be making such a fuss---"
"Is that what you think love is? Something that can cover up all your cheating and lieing?"
"Now when you say it like that" Jc looked at his watch again
"Sorry am I holding you up? Cuz heaven forbid that little insignificant me should hold up the mighty NSYNC"
"Why are you such an asshole today?"
"I think you'd better leave. Now"
"Wh-" JC started before Steve picked him up by the arm and threw him towards the door
"Get out. I'll call you when I've made up my mind" He slammed the door shut, surprising himself at how forceful he'd been. Recently he'd let JC sit there and sweet-talk him round to something.

"So how did it go?" Lance asked as Jc sat back in the car
"He threw me out"
"So where does that leave you two?"
"Pretty much over I guess"
"You don't seem bothered?"
"That's because I'm not, not anymore. If he can throwme out then it's obvious that he doesn't want to talk anymore"
"If you sure about this..."
"That's what I think he wants"
"Shall we go?"
"Yeah I don't wanna stay around here no longer

Steve watched them pull away from his window, half of him wanted to stop them and the other half glad to see him go. His phone rang, providing a distraction from his brooding by the window.
"Hello, is this Steve?"
"Steven McVitty?"
"Yes, why? Who are you?"
"I'm Rhonda, Rhonda Newall, your father's neighbour"
"How can I help you?"
"It's about your father"
"What's happened? Has he had an accident?"
"Unfortunately no, he died at seven o'clock this morning"
Steve froze, the sudden wave of confusion and emotion overwhelming him
"Wha-What? Died? what of?"
"The doctor doesn't know yet, he can't find a cause. I found him in the chair this morning"
"Thank you for ringing, Rhonda was it?"
"Yes and it wasn't a problem. I thought you should know seeing as he never stopped talk about you"
"I'll be there as soon as I can fly out. Thanks for ringing, bye now"

Steve sat back down on the sofa. 'Dead? he was 51, how can he die? He never stopped talking about me?' He remembered how they had stopped talking once he cameout to them and how little he saw of him once his mom threw his Dad out over an affair.

He took a step back and looked at his life. The JC thing was an on-going tragedy without a final scene, the dead-end job, the way he never spoke to his parents anymore. In summary, his life was shit. Deciding that wallowing in his own self-pity wasn't going to achieve anything, he started to pack a bad and try and get a flight that evening.

Once he'd packed the bag, he sat on the edge of his bed listening to Brandy's album whilst figuring out that htis would mark the end of his shit-filled life. He was going to change everything that was wrong.

"If you would only treat me right
I'd stay here by your side
But I'm down to my last cry
So I'm leaving you, good bye
You turned away from opportunities
To sit and talk things through
But now when I say I'm leaving you
You have so much to prove

So long to all my pain
Good night to my heartache
Goodbye sorrow
I won't cry no more
I'm leaving tomorrow

Stop writing me sweet letters
And calling me on the phone
We argued constantly when I say you
Always left me in the cold
I've made the choice to finally go
Cause I can't stand this pain
Its time for my last tear to fall
And me to smile again

Sorrows and heartache gooydbye
I'm leaving you
Don't wanna meet again
has got to be the end
The end
Now I just can't wait
Tomorrow's too late
I'm leaving you today"**

What was it with Steve and his choice of songs, they always seemed to come on at the most ironic of times. He called a cab to the airport. Pulling out a piece of paper and pen and writing JC a letter, stopping on the way to drop it off at their hotel.

JC got a call from reception saying somone had left mail stating that it was from a SMcV (Steve knew that he would definately read it there and then if they told him that). JC opened the unsealed envelope and read the letter;

"Dear Josh,
I hope you're reading this tonight, otherwise it's too late. I'm calling an end to the drama that we've become, this is the final scene Josh, and there won't be an encore this time. I've decided to start from scratch, dad died and I've got to sort things outback home with mom. Despite what the doctors say, I know he died of a broken heart and I don't want to either. And that's what'd happen if we carried on.
I can find the right words but listen to Brandy's "Learn the Hard Way" and I think you'll agree it sums everything up.
Sorry things had to end like this,

"Chirs? You've got that Brandy album right?"
"Well find it now. I need it Now!"
Chris searched for the cd, finally handing it to JC who then bolted for a cab.

"Steve! Steve! Wait!" JC shouted across the airport waiting area, jumping and diving over bags and cases
"Shit" Steve muttered to himself as he was about to go through the boarding gate, "Almost..."
"Steve, you can't leave without saying goodbye"
"That was my intenion, I need a fresh start"
"I've heard about your dad, sorry about that. Please let me come with you"
"No! Besides we're over and you're still in the group"
"Fuck the group!"
"No Josh, it was the group that kept us apart, remember? It's too late to say 'fuck the group' now"
"So this is it?"
"Fraid so. Sorry we can't stay friends the way we promised, but things change. And so did you..."
"Steve, I never stopped loving you" JC confessed, "Even after you threw me out. Please Steve don't abandon me like this" a small tear rolling down his cheek
"Sorry Josh, I love you to but it's not good for either of us. We need to do this"
"Because...." Steve joined JC in a small tear, "Gee there was less water on the titanic" he laughed
"Please don't leave me, Steve" JC begged
"They've just called my flight for the last time - I have to go now"
"One last thing, you go through that gate without me and you'll break my heart forever"
"Josh, I don't want to but I'm going to. I have to leave" Steve picked up his bags again and headed towards the gate, leaving JC behind

JC watched as Steve walked down the tunnel not looking back. A brief moment ofhope arriving when Steve stopped and looked back, but he only gave JC a wave and carried on around the corner.

JC had an overwhelming sense of loss and self-loathing for letting things get like this. On his way out of the airport, he bought a personal cd player so he could listen to the album like Steve had told him to. Sitting in a park nearby the airport watching the plains land and take off, he put the cd in.

"It's a shame you have to learn the hard way
Now I have to take my love away
You see I could've made it easy
For you to become a part of me

You couldn't even say I'm sorry
For all the pain and hurt you caused me
Now I'm supposed to give my deepest sympathy
You see I had enough of crying
And I'm tired of all your lieing
You see I refuse to let you take advantage of me baby

Never took the time to think of
All the love that we have shared
I realized that most of the time
You were just not there
It was hard for me to see
When your love was blinding me
But now I have to let you go your seperate way

Things will never be the same again
Cause baby, baby you did me wrong
Hurt so bad I can't move on
Was it worth all your pain?
Cause baby, baby you've got to pay
Got to learn the hard way"***

Jc let out a long sigh, his breath visible in the cold night air. He was sat on the grass, his knees pulled up under his chin. He looked at his watch - 10:37PM. He looked up at the sky to see a plane whih he calculated to be Steve's. he let out another long pitying sigh before making his way back to the hotel. Stopping to take noe last look at the now tiny spot of lights in the night sky,

"Where is my friend when I need you most? Gone away"

There you go, that's it! Finish for ever. I've got some ideas for an epilogue but I don't know wheter I want to committ it to the archive or not. I suppose if you want to read it then mail me and I'll send it you but if you don't then I hope this serves as a fitting end. Once again, thanks a lot for reading this even if you didn't tell me so (I'm not bitter) and I hope to start something else eventually. Mail me:

*Duran Duran - Ordinary World (c) 1988, whoever owns it (sorry but I can't find out who they are - but it's not ME!)
** Brandy - Tomorrow (c) EMI-Blackwood Music, 1998
***Brandy - Learn the Hard Way (c) EMI-Blackwood Music, 1998.