At last! Ladies and gentlemen, In Synchronicity, Part 10. The final chapter and the end of the road for Joel & Co. This has been one of the most enjoyable personal projects in my life. It's not only my first time writing for public view, it's also the first time I've finished writing anything at all! Along the way, I've come to realise that it's become a very personal part of me, this is my baby! It still amazes me everyday that something I've produced actually entertains people from all over the world. Something this small going such a long way--it's a beautiful feeling. I can only imagine how much more powerful the rush must be for 'N Sync and BSB and all of the rest of them.
Since it's gonna be my last header for quite a while, I don't care if it runs extra-long. This chapter breaks all records in length anyway--it's more than twice as long as the first chapter. I wanna thank all who have taken the time to write in and support me. Your letters have really made my whole year! And every single one had only praises for the story. But I guess if it sucked you wouldn't even waste time writing to tell me about it either, huh? Anyway, a great big thanks to (in no particular order) *deep breath* Scott, Drea, David, Josh, Byron, Dave, Adrian from Netherlands, Snow C, Rdr, Peter, Jim, Grayson, Casey, Rolando, Phillip, Greg, and, uh...miserable lie? Special thanks to Josh New York, Red, Patti, YH and Dara, of course--you guys all rock and I'm super-proud to call you my friends! Sorry if I've missed anyone, and I hope that all of you I've mentioned are still here to read this chapter! And of course, thanks to David at Nifty for putting this awesome site up!
And to my dear friends Kenny, Colin, Lionel, Sam and hopefully Benji--love ya guys! And Kenny I wanna see the print-outs!
Disclaimer: I hereby cast no aspersions upon the personal lives of the members of the internationally-acclaimed boy band 'N Sync (henceforth refered to as 'The Guys'), up to and including sexual preferences of any member of The Guys, especially one Justin Timberlake.
As usual, I can be reached at email@example.com I do hope y'all will write back at least one last time?!
"Someone named Nicky is here to see you," said Chris urgently.
Joel's eyes widened in shock and surprise. He could hardly believe the words he'd just heard. Nicky? Here? Now?!
If Joel was paralysed by Chris' statement, Justin was instead spurred into action. He leapt away from Joel instantly. Without a word, he retrieved his shirt and slipped past Chris out of the door, feeling the latter's eyes follow him all the way. Chris did not give chase, however. He turned back to Joel, an enquiring look on his face.
"Nothing happened!" Joel almost snapped, as he struggled to fit into his pants and look for his discarded shirt. "Tell Nicky--tell him I'll be down as soon as possible. And please, give him a drink."
Chris watched as Joel hopped around the room, trying to buckle his belt and wear his shirt at the same time. "Okay. But you owe me one heck of an explanation."
"If I survive the night," muttered Joel under his breath as Chris closed the door and went back downstairs. He went into the adjoining bathroom and scrubbed his hands and face, desperately trying not to think where Justin's hands and lips had been just a few moments ago. He grabbed the edge of the sink and looked into the mirror. As his eyes searched his reflection, he hated himself deeply for being so weak in the first place. It took him several long minutes before he drew a shuddering breath and regained his composure.
Checking his appearance once again, he pondered briefly on what he'd say to Nicky. The truth? Or concoct some story? Or not mention anything at all? He couldn't decide, so he decided to hang it all.
Descending the stairs, Joel couldn't make out Nicky at first, there were so many people down in the living room. Then he saw the familiar mop of sandy brown hair, sitting disconsolately near the door, drink at his side left untouched.
Nicky raised his head and met Joel's gaze. The latter gasped in shock at Nicky's haggard appearance. The lawyer was paler than usual, and loose stubble covered his chin. Dark circles could clearly be seen under his glasses, but most striking of all was his eyes. His boyfriend's eyes were clouded with fatigue and sadness. He stood as Joel stumbled across the room to him.
"Nicky! Oh my gosh--look at you!" he exclaimed, gripping his hands, concern evident in his face.
"Joel--I was hoping you'd be here. And yet, not here as well...," Nicky looked away, but his hands never left Joel's.
"I...promised Josh that I'd come," Joel said softly. "But what about you? Your work...," his voice trailed off, not wanting to be reminded of what exactly drove them apart in the first place. Although I know now that it's not his fault, he thought silently.
"I had to rush to complete it," Nicky shrugged. "It's all done now, so I could come after you."
"Rushed to--? Nicky, how much sleep have you had? How many hours at the office?" Joel demanded, finally knowing the reason why Nicky looked as bad as he did.
Nicky shook his head. "It's not important. I got it done--I had to get it done, so I could catch up with you before it was too late." He looked at Joel sadly. "Is it too late?"
Joel could feel himself being torn apart with guilt. He cares after all. He really does!
"Of course it's not too late, Nicky. But we need to talk," he said softly.
At that, Nicky visibly relaxed and the worry lines on his forehead eased somewhat. He pulled Joel into a tight hug, and kissed him softly on the cheek. Joel hugged him back, uncaring if anyone was watching them.
So he missed the look of indescribable sadness in Justin's face as he watched them embrace.
Justin looked on as his one-time lover held Nicky close and murmured something in his ears. Then he nodded, and the both of them made their way up the stairs, no doubt to Joel's room.
Justin sank onto a chair and buried his head in his hands. He felt so helpless and useless, for throwing away his love like that. All his life, he'd almost always gotten his way with things and people. It was a very new and awkward feeling, to actually give way to other's wants and needs. He couldn't decide if it was a good feeling or not, but he knew that it was right.
Then why does it hurt so much?
He felt a light touch at his elbow, and looked up at Chris' sympathetic face.
"I just saw them go into his room," he said. Justin hung his head again and nodded wordlessly.
"I've lost him, Chris. And the worst thing is...I never knew I had him in the first place."
"Maybe it's not what you think. Maybe he'll still come back to you," even as Chris said the words, they sounded hollow to his ears.
Justin knew this and snorted derisively. "Yeah, sure he'll come back to me. Because he likes being manipulated and being taken for granted! There's no denying it, Chris. I've been a first-class asshole. And his Nicky's a fucking Boy Scout. They--they deserve each other," he lapsed into silence.
Chris couldn't find any words to comfort Justin in this state, He'd really hoped that Joel would end up with Justin, although he really didn't know the extent of Justin's string-pulling. But Justin was his best friend, and it hurt to see the normally brash, confident teenager so distraught.
"I'm going for a drive," Justin said abruptly. "If anyone asks just say I went to get more drinks or something."
Chris nodded, understanding that he needed time to think things through alone, for now. "Be careful, Just," was all he said.
Justin nodded, and grabbed the car keys on his way out. He drove aimlessly through the quiet streets, his mind awash with guilt and regret. He'd done everything he could to get Joel literally on his knees, begging. And when he'd gotten it at the end...the fruit he'd waited so long to ripen was sour to his taste.
Now...I've lost him forever, he thought sadly. Not only as a lover, but as a friend as well. God knows I have few enough of those that I can afford to lose!
He hit his steering wheel in a sudden rage, his eyes blurring with unshed tears. Now, more than ever, he was acutely aware of his feelings for Joel. From the moment he'd met him at Towers so long ago, he knew that Joel would be no ordinary friend--and later, no ordinary fuck.
So this is the part about love no one likes to dwell on. The anguish and the pain and the angst and the loss. It's no wonder the movies only show the hugs and the kisses and the happy endings.
He drove back to his home slowly, tired and despondent. He felt as if he had nothing to return to. His Joel was probably right now in the arms of his rightful lover, where he deserved to be.
And where do I deserve to be? Justin wondered.
The party was winding down. Nobody took notice of his return, and the rest of the guys were nowhere to be seen. Justin made his way up to his own room, resisting the urge to break down Joel's door as he passed it.
Break it down and stab Nicky through the heart! Smiling wryly at his own murderous thoughts, he entered his room. The humour faded from his face at once when he saw Joel standing in wait for him.
"I heard you come back," he said simply. He looked completely exhausted. He was still in his button-down shirt and slacks, but they were wrinkled and in disarray. Justin tried to quell a sudden, wild hope that sprang from his chest.
"Where's Nicky?" he asked, keeping his face neutral.
"Sleeping in my room. He's had a rough week. Because of me. No," his voice rose a little. "Because of you. He's had to work himself to the brink of exhaustion just to be able to make it here tonight. I--" Joel cut himself off, looking away.
Justin hung his head in shame. He was only now beginning to fully grasp the extent of the damage he'd done.
"I--I'm sorry," he whispered.
Joel took a deep breath. "I just came to tell you that--after all's said and done...I don't hate you, Just. It might take me some time to forgive you, but...I don't hate you."
Justin felt as if a considerable weight had been lifted off his chest. Unknowingly, it had been his greatest fear to be loathed by the one person he loved. He crossed the space between them.
"I want you to know--that I did it all for you, Joel. I--I love you."
Joel raised his eyes to Justin's, his face soft and understanding. "I know, Just," he said gently. "And that's why I don't hate you."
Justin grabbed at Joel's hand, his eyes pleading and his voice raw with emotion.
"If you don't hate me...then can't you love me too?"
Joel looked into Justin's desperate face. His heart reached out to the man he'd always loved, his very first love. The tables were completely turned--it was Justin begging for his heart now.
Joel gently withdrew his hand from Justin's grasp, and turned to walk towards the door.
"I'm sorry, Justin. Whatever feelings I've had--well, they've changed along the way. I've changed," he said over his shoulder. "We're leaving for New York first thing in the morning. So...goodbye, Just. And take care." With that, he slipped out of the door.
Justin stared at the closing door, then at the cross Joel had left in his hands. He gripped it tightly, feeling the hard gems cut into his palm cruelly. He cursed himself. This, more than anything else, was a gesture so final it broke his heart.
He had a hard night sleeping. Over and over his thoughts returned to Joel. He was still awake as he heard the sounds of a taxi pulling up in front of the house, and Joel's quiet voice. He couldn't bring himself to look at Joel for possibly the one last time.
He finally roused himself to open the door for a worried-looking Chris later that morning. He immediately returned to his bed and lay face down on it. He felt the bed depress as Chris sat on its edge, and a comforting hand started stroking his curls.
"He's really gone, Chris," came the muffled words. Chris didn't say anything. He didn't have to.
Justin whirled onto his back and stared up at his best friend. His eyes were red but dry, and he smiled uncertainly.
"I've really fucked it up this time, haven't I?" he whispered.
"Everyone fucks up at one point or another, Just. It's called life," said Chris gently.
Justin shook his head stubbornly. "Not me, Chris. Never to me. I've never felt like this before--this feeling of helplessness, of guilt, of knowing that I did something wrong and nothing I say or do will ever make it right."
"Justin, listen! You're not perfect! Are you starting to believe all those reports about you being the all-American golden boy? You're entitled to make mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them, to be stronger and move on," said Chris firmly.
The blond boy nodded, hearing Chris' words. He sat up straighter and gave a little sigh. "Why didn't I listen to you from the very beginning, Chris?"
"Because you needed to make your own way into maturity, Just. There's only so much best friends can do."
Justin reached out and squeezed Chris' hand. "Thanks. For everything. I know I might not show my appreciation for you guys much, but--"
Chris waved away his apology. Smiling, he said, "Enough with the mush. I'm just happy that you're finally growing up."
Justin's eyebrow shot up at that. "Are you saying I've been a kiddo all this while?"
"Kids have nothing on you, you spoiled brat!" Chris fired back with a grin. As he saw Justin's answering smile, he felt relief warm his heart. If Justin could banter, then he would be fine.
Weeks passed, and life went on as it must for both Justin Timberlake and 'N Sync. He seemed to be back to his old playful self, although he occasionally lapsed into thoughtful moods. And Chris was mighty pleased to note that the sleeping around had completely stopped.
It was in New York, where they were scheduled to appear on MTV's Total Request Live, that Justin seemed even more agitated. He couldn't keep still, whether in an interview or in the hotel room. It wasn't hard to pinpoint the source.
They had found a basketball court next to their hotel, and currently Chris and J.C. were both sprawled on its floor. They watched, panting, as Justin continued to shoot hoops by himself, seemingly full of energy, blue eyes narrowed in concentration.
"Take it easy, man!" J.C. panted. "We've been at this for almost three hours!"
"What, you pussy?" Justin bounced the ball. "How about it, old man," he addressed Chris. "You and me, mano-a-mano."
Chris squinted up at Justin. "I think you should go see him."
Justin almost lost control of the ball. "What? What are you talking about?"
"Joel Casey, duh! He's so obviously still on your mind. So go see him already."
Justin turned away and took a shot at the hoop. He missed. "What's the point," he muttered, grabbing the ball.
"I think you'd feel better. I gather things didn't really go well the last time you guys parted."
"Yeah, think of it as exorcising him from your soul," J.C. nodded sagely. Justin bounced the ball off his head with a disgusted look, and sat down next to them.
"I don't know, guys," he said softly, hugging his knees. "Even after all that's happened...all he's said...I still want him as bad as ever. It'd kill me to see him with that Nicky fella again."
"Just, all you need is closure. Go see him with an open mind. Be a friend, first and foremost," counseled Chris.
"Yeah," J.C. nodded again, wanting to at least say something. The other two ignored him.
"I guess I'm also scared...that he won't want to see me at all--even as a friend," mused Justin.
"Hey...think of it this way. It's either you go ahead and find out...or wonder about it till the day you die," Chris pointed out.
"Ohhh I think I'd rather die. It's so much easier than facing everyday without him," Justin burst out, flinging his arms apart.
There was a stunned silence as his two band mates stared at him incredulously.
"What? Just kidding, guys. I guess I will go see him," he sighed, and stood to go.
J.C. leaned over to Chris. "You think we should hide the razors, just in case?" he whispered conspiratorially.
Thus Justin found himself outside Nicky's apartment once again--flowerless and without so much as an ounce of the confidence he'd possessed the last time he was here. Twice he'd raised his hand to knock, and twice he'd let it fall.
This is crazy. What am I gonna say? "Hi Jojo! I was in town and I thought I'd pay my favourite couple a visit!" This is insane.
Justin finally knocked, before his courage faded completely. The ensuing silence was interminable, and he was about to turn and flee before he heard footsteps, and the door opened.
As before, a now-familiar sandy haired guy with glasses greeted him. But Justin expected this.
"Hi, Nicky!" he smiled broadly with what he hoped was a passably-friendly smile.
"Oh. It's you."
Justin flinched at that and his million-megawatt smile wavered somewhat. But he went straight to the point.
"Is Joel around? I was in the neighbourhood, you see, and I thought I'd just drop by and see how you two were getting along," Justin forced his smile to grow wider. He felt like he was baring his fangs more than grinning, though.
Nicky's reaction was totally unexpected. "Is this a cruel joke?" he lashed out, face contorted in fury. "Haven't I been played about enough by you?"
Justin stepped back from Nicky's anger. "Whoa. I have no idea what you're talking about. If Joel's here I think I--"
"He's not here. He--he left me soon after coming back from Orlando," Nicky saw the confusion in Justin's face and sighed. "You really don't know anything about that, do you?"
Justin shook his head slowly.
"We broke up the night I went to see him at Orlando. He came back with me to get his things, then he flew back down. I assumed--I though for sure that--he'd gone back to you."
"He didn't," Justin said dazedly. "We didn't exactly...part on good terms that night. How much has he told you about...his stay there?"
Nicky looked into his eyes. "Pretty much everything. Including your hand in my 'promotion'." Justin's face fell at that.
"But it's okay, really," Justin's head came up in surprise, and he saw Nicky's smile. "It broadened my horizons, gave me new challenges to face. And I realised my limits were much higher than I thought they were. So...thank you," he extended his hand.
Still in shock, Justin shook it. "But...you know, I did it because..."
"Yeah, he told me your reasons. And I guess...it did play a part in my losing Joel, but...it wouldn't have changed a thing. I'd have gotten that promotion later if not sooner, but the hours would have been the same, and I think his reaction would have been totally identical. Don't get me wrong, Justin. I really loved him. I still do," Justin caught a flash of deep sadness behind the spectacles, then it was gone.
"It hurts inside to wake up in the morning and not see him taking over your half of the bed and usurping your blankets," Nicky gave a short laugh, and Joel followed suit, remembering Joel's bed habits well.
"I know what you mean--" he began to say before shutting himself up. There was an uncomfortable silence and some uneasy shifting of feet before Nicky continued as if nothing had happened.
"But I guess deep down, we just weren't compatible. Besides...he never quite said it, but I think he disliked New York," he said.
"And now he's back in Orlando," Justin remarked. In Orlando. All this time! Right under my nose!
"Yeah, I guess. I though he was with you, which was why I snapped at you earlier."
"No. Not with me. I've hurt him too much," Justin said sadly. "I don't know if I can ever face him again."
"Then why did you come here?" Nicky asked, an amused half-smile on his face.
"I came here 'coz he's my--" Justin stopped himself. Why indeed had he come? A phone call would have been sufficient if all Justin had wanted from Joel was to 'keep in touch'.
I wanted to see with my own eyes, whether he'd really be happy with another man. And if he wasn't, I wanted to be the one who could. I want...I want a second chance.
"I have to go now," Justin said abruptly, turning towards the door.
Nicky nodded, and opened the door for him. As the young singer hurried out, he called after him.
"Hey Justin! Good luck. And make him the happiest man on earth," he smiled, reading Justin's mind.
Justin paused, then ran back to Nicky. Impulsively, he pulled the older man into a tight embrace. "Thanks for everything, Nicky," he whispered. "And if you ever need a favour--or another raise--just call me."
With that he was gone, leaving a bemused lawyer behind him.
"Yes Josh, I know about TRL tomorrow. Yes, I'm really in Orlando now. Yes, so I'm in a big brick shithouse--Josh! Unclench your ass for like, one minute!"
Justin had just touched down in Orlando International, when he'd decided to call one of the guys to at least let them know where he was. Two seconds into calling J.C. and he'd realised it was a mistake.
"I don't know what I'm doing, I admit. But Josh--I know I have to do it," he spoke into his phone as he hurried to the taxi stand. "I've gotta go now. I'll see you later. Maybe. Bye!" he yelled over his band mate's protests, and ended the call. Hopping into a cab, he gave the directions to Joel's old place, his condo.
The only place in Orlando he could possibly be. If it meant braving the hyperventilating Kitty again, he'd do it a million times over.
Just as he'd told J.C. over the phone, Justin didn't know what he was doing. This was pretty wild, even for his standards. Because of his actions, 'N Sync had to hold two appearances and a radio interview without him today. There would be hell to pay later for sure, but he hoped the other guys would understand.
If only they could feel his urgency now. Joe's words had awakened something in him that he thought was long gone--hope. He didn't know if Joel still loved him or not. Hell, he didn't even know if Joel still considered him a friend. But he did know that he wasn't about to give up on his dream.
I never gave up during the band's early days. through all those humiliating German photo shoots and inane interviews, the hours of singing to jeering crowds at roller rinks. I won't quit now!
But when he faced Joel's condo, his insecurities seemed to return tenfold.
I'm doing this way too much, he thought as he rang the doorbell. Standing outside doors, hoping that Joel would be inside them. Please, please god, let this be the last door ever!
It was. The door opened to reveal Joel, clad simply in a t-shirt and bermudas. It was the most welcome sight Justin ever witnessed, but he forced himself to suppress a surge of joy.
"Joel," he said. "I'd hoped...you'd be here."
If Joel seemed surprised to see Justin, he hid it well. Instead, he had an amused smile on his face. "Where else would you expect me to be?"
Justin was at a loss for words. What should he tell Joel? That he'd tried to find him in New York, but had instead been directed here by his ex-boyfriend?
Joel saw the handsome blond gaping, and smiled to himself. Opening the door further, he invited Justin in. "It's good to see you too, Just."
Justin relaxed visibly. So Joel really didn't hate him. He entered the familiar apartment. Nothing had essentially changed. It was still full of all things typically Joel. He wondered idly about Kitty's and Rose's fate. Did they still live here or had Joel kicked them out when he moved back?
"You want a drink?" Joel asked.
Justin blinked. "No I'm fine." Joel never used to ask that. He'd always insisted on Justin treating his apartment like his own home, even going so far as to give Justin a copy of the key. Of course, Justin had taken his occupancy to another level when he'd been caught bringing back a random guy. He glanced guiltily at the guest bedroom--the scene of the crime.
"So what are you doing in Orlando? I though you guys were supposed to be kicking off your fall tour?" Joel asked.
Excellent question, thought Justin unhappily. What am I doing here?
"I came to see you," he blurted out truthfully. "I--I met Nicky in New York, and he told me you'd be here."
Joel nodded. "I see. Then you know that he and I...":
"Yeah," Justin looked down, wishing that he'd taken up Joel's offer of a drink. At least he'd have something to fiddle with nervously.
Joel cocked his head to one side and regarded Justin. "Something tells me that this isn't your run-of-the-mill 'I'm in the neighbourhood' social call. When exactly did you speak to Nicky?"
"About four hours ago," said Justin in a small voice, still not looking up. He heard Joel's sharp intake of breath.
"You flew down directly after that? Why?"
The moment of truth at last. Why indeed? He raised his eyes to meet Joel's sea-green orbs.
"I told you already. I wanted to see you. I had to see you. I need you...to give me a second chance, Joel." That sentence took all the courage he could muster.
Joel gave a short laugh. "Now that Nicky's out of the way, so your conscience is clear? Forgive me if I sound cynical, Just, but I'm getting very tired of--"
"Joel!" Justin cried, on the verge of tears. "You have to believe me! If you were still with Nicky in New York, I'd have respected your decision--I'd have walked away, happy that you're happy with him."
"And what makes you think I need a guy to make me happy? Can't I be happy enough by myself?" Joel argued, crossing his arms.
Justin's shoulders slumped. "I don't know. All I know is that I'm unhappy without you. You're all I ever think about, Joel. I keep myself insanely busy during the day, so that my thoughts won't turn to you. But at night...," he raised his face. "I can't escape from you at night. I don't want to, even. And then I wake up, alone, and I have to repeat it all."
Joel swallowed a lump in his throat. Did Justin really feel that strongly? Or was it just another way of his to get Joel back so he could live his perfect life?
"What are you trying to say, Just?"
Justin got off his seat and knelt in front of Joel. He held Joel's hand in his.
"I'm so totally crazy about you, that even the word love isn't enough to describe the kind of feelings I have for you. And it's like a million needles plunging over and over into my heart, because I don't know if you have any feelings for me anymore.
"I know I've asked this question of you many times. But I've never ever gotten a straight answer. And this time I'm not leaving until I get it. Joel," he said softly. "Do you have any feelings for me?"
It would be the easiest thing in the world to lie. Just a simple no and Joel could return to being ordinary, and Justin could go back to being the international pop star. And there would be no more pain and suffering and lies and deceit. The easy way out.
"The answer is yes. I do have feelings for you, Justin," he said, watching carefully as Justin breathed a sigh of relief. "But--it doesn't matter. Because, as I've said it before--you're a god. And I am not."
"Please don't put me on that pedestal, Joel!" Justin pleaded. "I'm not any kind of god, and you above all people...look. You want pop-culture imagery, here's one for you. 'I'm also just a boy, standing in front of another boy, asking him to love me.'"
Joel's lips twisted into a smile. It was from one of his favourite shows, with a slight gender twist. How many times had he watched it, wishing for its fairy-tale ending to apply in his own life?
"Notting Hill," he whispered. Then he stood up and walked over to the balcony, needing the fresh air.
The warm late-evening breeze greeted him, and he sensed Justin lingering just behind. He spoke aloud, not turning around.
"You said that loving me is like a thousand needles piercing your heart because you don't know if I love you back. Do you know that you've just described the exact feeling I've lived with every single moment of my life for the past two and a half years?" Joel turned around to face the silent singer. "So how can you stand in front of me and still have the audacity to tell me that you can't take feeling like that anymore?
"I've loved you for so long that I'm not sure what it means to not be in love with you anymore. I've loved you so strongly that I don't know how to possibly love somebody else. So yes, I still love you. I don't want to, yet I do. I can't help it, but I do," Joel said those last words in a whisper, gripping the railing. "God help me, but I do."
Justin choked back a sob that threatened to burst from his chest. Once again, he was exposed to just how deep Joel's feelings ran for him. He took a step forward.
"I know...that anything I say...can't take back the pain and anguish I've knowingly or unknowingly put you through. But I do know, that if you just give me a chance, just one chance, I will try my best to make things right by you. I'll make it all worthwhile, Jojo. Please, let me make you happy," he begged.
One chance? One chance to make everything he'd gone through worthwhile, a hundred times over. One chance, to finally realise his dream. Did he want to give it?
With all my heart and soul, he thought fiercely. Because--I can't help but to love him. And it's useless to fight it. Even if I wanted to.
"One chance, then" he said softly.
A smile blossomed slowly on Justin's face as he took in Joel's words. He took a deep breath and looked up at the sky, blinking back tears of joy and thanking God at the same time. When he looked back at Joel, he saw the same happiness mirrored on his face.
"I will never let you down, Joel," he promised.
"Don't say that. I'd only expect that if you were on a pedestal, Justin. You will make mistakes. So will I. But...I forgive you for them all in advance," replied Joel. "It won't be easy for either of us, you know."
"I've come to realise that nothing worthwhile is ever easy. We'll make it work. Together."
Joel nodded. Then he smiled. "Let's start from the top, then. Hi," he stuck his hand out. "My name's Joel Casey. I'm 23, studying English Lit at the University of Orlando. And I'm crazy for you."
Justin raised an eyebrow at Joel's current choice of course, but he played along. He grasped Joel's hand and shook it firmly. "Hey. I'm Justin Timberlake, and I'm in a band that sings once in a while. A few people seem to like us, though. And may I say that I'm totally head over heels in love with you?"
They grinned at each other for a while. Justin drew closer to Joel, until their faces almost touched.
"Can I kiss you?" he asked, blue eyes twinkling.
"My, aren't we a little forward?" Joel smiled, before grabbing Justin's head and pulling him down for a passionate kiss.
It was momentous, to say the least--their first kiss as a couple at last. Their cares, their worries, the whole world receded from their own private reality. And the moment existed only for each other.
"Wow," Joel said dazedly when their lips finally parted so they could come up for air.
"Wow," echoed his boyfriend solemnly. Then they fell back to kissing.
Can you scream loose ends? I'm toying with the idea of an epilogue...I'll see how. But I gotta say, my priority is my NEW STORY which will be called...."Chasing Chasez". You can guess whom it'd be about, and there's Justin in it too. It won't be up anytime soon, but it WILL be up.
I guess it's really goodbye for now, then. I'll miss all your emails. So write now to Will at firstname.lastname@example.org to tide me over till my next story!
OH, AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!