Note:Thanks to my reviewers, feedback is what keeps me writing. Okay, that's not entirely true: Ben can be pretty persuasive, too...
Dedication: To Ben. At least if he promises to be a little more patient. And, for once, also to Dark_One Shadowphyre. Did you read her story I Loved You In Silence? You didn't? What are you waiting for? (It's on fanfiction.net)
Disclaimer: I'm lazy this time. Why? 'Cause it's late (past midnight), and I don't want to waste any time I could spend sleeping on writing a stupid disclaimer nobody reads anyway. So, just to ensure David's (and my own) safety: Don't know, don't own, don't imply. Thanks.
Just To Be With You...
...is giving me the best day of my life...
Dido, Thank You
When the daylight's gone
And you're on your own
And you need a friend
Just to be around
I'll comfort you
I will take your hand
And I'll pull you through
I will understand
The Corrs, At Your Side
"Wassup, Jace? Shouldn't you watch over Curly's sleep?" Looking up from the door to his hotel room he was currently trying to open with his key card, Chris eyed the younger man.
"Joey took over for an hour. Want me to open that for you?"
From the sudden gleam in Chris's eyes, JC knew that another one of the older man's jokes was about to grace this earth. He was right. "Oh my God, you're my knight in shining armor! JC from 'N Sync! Can I have your autograph? Did I ever tell you that you're my favorite?"
JC shook his head while taking the key card out of his friend's hand. "You know, if anyone had told me that your voice could get even squeakier, I'd have said that they're totally out of their mind. Seems as if I've been proven wrong, eh?"
Not in the slightest bit fazed by JC's retort, Chris just grinned and entered his hotel room after the brunette had opened it. "Wanna come in for a while?" he yelled over his shoulder, bag already dropped in the middle of the floor and heading for the bathroom to splash some cold water on his face.
"Sure." JC sat down on the couch and waited for Chris to reappear. "Actually, I wanted to talk to you about something."
Chris was back in no time, a cautious look on his face. "No matter what Joey told you, I'm not responsible for that..., for your boxers, I mean."
Narrowing his eyes suspiciously, JC gave the older man a death stare while making a mental note to examine his underwear before putting it on. "What did you do?" Then, holding up his hands, he shook his head. "No, wait. I don't think I want to know. Whatever it is, it is not related to what I wanted to talk to you about."
Chris visibly relaxed. "Okay then. What is it?"
"Um... Well, it's kinda hard to explain..." The brunette tensed. How was he supposed to tell Chris that he was gay? He had never done this before. So far, the only one who knew was Lance, and the bass singer had figured it out himself, so JC hadn't had to explain anything. This was different: Chris had no clue.
JC was having second thoughts about this. What if Chris didn't really mean what he had said in that interview? He wasn't likely to answer that the rumors bothered him because he was totally homophobic, was he? Of course not, they had a few gay fans, and Chris knew as well as the rest of the band that they weren't allowed to say anything that could possibly piss off any of their fans. But JC could hardly back down now, could he? Not now that he had made the decision to tell Chris. And JC was consequent in doing what he was determined to do. He couldn't back out or he would regret it later. Simple as that: He couldn't.
Sighing, the younger man got up and walked over to the window, not really enjoying the view, but having less difficulties in finding the courage to tell Chris when not having to face him. He spoke against the window, watching his breath steam up the glass, forming a small cloud which disappeared within a few seconds. "Have you ever noticed anything strange about me, Chris?"
"Well, yeah. Sometimes. I always wondered how you manage to survive without a brain when they say it's impossible to last more than three minutes without one."
"Chris!" JC turned around, glaring at the older man who was sitting on the couch, an ear-to-ear smirk covering his face. "I'm serious here."
A look at the almost pained expression of the brunette made Chris's smirk vanish immediately. Leaning forward slightly, he gave the younger one an encouraging smile. "Sorry 'bout that, Jace. Just trying to lighten the mood, make vanish some of that tension of yours, I guess. But I'm all ears now."
"I... Well." Taking a deep breath and closing his eyes for a second to regain his composure, JC mentally yelled at himself to finally get it out while wondering at the same time if there was even a point in telling Chris. He shook off the thought. "Okay, here it goes. Chris, I watched a part of the interview you were doing for MTV earlier. D'you remember what you said before the Janet Jackson video?"
"Um, when I woke up Joey?" Chris asked, not sure what his band mate was trying to tell him, but having a growing suspicion.
"No. Before that."
The older one thought for a moment, then quoted himself. "'Good riff - are you gay?'"
Feeling his suspicions confirmed, Chris leaned back, ready to give JC the time he needed. But, being the impatient one of the group, he decided shortly afterwards that a minute was enough. Standing up, he approached JC, voice gentle. "Well, are you?"
"I..." Another deep breath. "I guess I am."
Sensing the hesitation to tell him and the effort it took the young man to admit this to him, Chris quickly pulled him in a hug, not letting go until he felt the other one relax, hugging him back and breathing turning normal again. When both man separated, JC tore his gaze away from the floor, encouraged by Chris reaction who was now smiling widely.
"Now, that wasn't so bad, was it?"
JC shook his head, then made himself comfortable on the couch. "No, I guess it wasn't. I wonder why you look so happy about my news, though. I mean, I'm glad you didn't freak, but you're practically bursting with joy."
Chris grinned. "Well, I have my reasons. One of them is that there will be more woman for me." This was half of the truth. The other was that he suddenly found himself thinking back to when he, Joey and Lance had found Justin and JC sleeping peacefully in each others' arms. Now, if that wasn't a step in the right direction... "How did you know that you are gay, anyway?"
"Uh..." JC fidgeted a little. "I guess I never really realized it until I started having feelings for this certain person. They were - are - cute, funny, adorable, smart, nice and all in all just about perfect - except for the fact that it is a guy."
"I know, I know!" Just like a candidate in a quiz show, Chris was jumping up and down excitedly, then proceeded to hit an imaginary buzzer in front of him and exclaimed in a gleeful voice: "Who is Justin Randall Timberlake?"
JC stared, there was no other way to describe it. Hadn't Lance told him just yesterday that he wasn't obvious? Well, it certainly looked as if he was practically screaming it at the top of his lungs, or Chris wouldn't have jumped to the conclusion so quickly. "Does everyone know?"
"Well, Lance found out, you knew before I told you that it's Justin,... Please tell me that neither Joe nor Just have any idea about how I feel!"
"Lance knew?" Chris inquired. "Okay, that explains why he wanted to know if Joey would be disgusted by you and Curly being an item."
JC swallowed, not believing he was hearing this. "Lance what?" he spluttered out.
"Hey, it didn't come out of the blue." Chris was quick to defend the Mississippian. "Joey was the one who started saying that you two looked like you were meant to be together - you know, when we found you curled in each other's arms this morning - and Lance just asked if it would bother him."
"Oh." Then, after a short pause, again. "Oh. What did he say?"
JC nodded his head in confirmation and Chris thought for a moment. "I don't remember very well, but I think he said no, it wouldn't. - Now that I think about it, he might be suspicious."
"He accused Lance of having that knowing smile, the one that always covers his face whenever he knows something one of us doesn't. So he might suspect that Lance didn't tell us anything he knew about the relationship between you and Curly."
The taller of the two groaned. "Great. Which means that I have to tell Joey, too."
"You don't want to? I'm pretty sure Joey wouldn't pressure you to tell him or anything."
"Nah, but I'd rather have him knowing than him watching me out of the corner of his eye. Because we both know that this is exactly what Joe would do."
Chris nodded. "He sure would. But don't worry about Joey, Jace. If he really has to, then he is able to keep his mouth shut. And I'm also sure that he'll accept you, gay or not. Joey never cared about stuff like that, and he seemed to actually find the idea of Just and you together cute."
"I just hope he won't try playing matchmaker..."
"He will. Doesn't matter if you tell him or not, trust me: If he sees even the slightest chance to bring you together, then he will take it. Oh, and I am going to help him, of course."
JC leaned back against the headrest, covering his eyes. "Why do I feel sick all of a sudden?"
Chris just shrugged, an innocent grin spreading over his face. "How would I know? Maybe you've been too close to J, and now he's given you his 'flu...."
"Remind me again why I told you."
"Because I'm such a nice guy?" Receiving no response, he went on. "Anyway. When are you going to tell Joey?"
"Not tonight. I think I had enough excitement for the day. Just think about it: I kept this secret for about three, no, almost four years now, and then, all of a sudden, not only know two of my closest friends that I am gay, no, they also know that I'm in love with my best friend! Such a long time, and then a few hours are enough to let almost everyone know it."
"Not 'almost everyone', Jace. So far, it's only Lance and me. And Joey, possibly. But not Justin."
"And I'm not sure yet if that's good or bad."
"I guess you'll have to find out eventually."
"Have you ever thought about that certain moment when you suddenly realize you're in love with someone?"
For the last twenty minutes or so, Justin had been staring up at the ceiling, unblinking and obviously lost in memories, so Joey had been slightly startled when the curly-haired man on the bed had started speaking.
"Uh, not really." This was a strange question, especially for Justin. The curly-haired blonde didn't discuss his love life with them. Well, maybe he discussed his love life, but if he did, then Joey hadn't known about it. "Why? Have you?"
Turning around so that he was lying on his side, facing the Italian, Justin hesitated for a moment. "Dunno. Maybe."
"Well, if you do, go ahead."
"I..." Justin's eyes were focused on the window. "Nah, it's okay. It's not that interesting anyway."
Joey shrugged, directing his attention back at the book he was reading. Then, a sudden thought entered his mind, and once again, he looked at the younger man, his tone changing from the normal Joey-voice to the one of a worried father who was used to his children following his orders. "Go to sleep, Just. If you're awake by the time Big Daddy's back, he'll rip my head off."
"Where is he?"
"He had to talk to Chris 'bout something. And now go to sleep."
"Kay. Night, Joe."
Shifting once again, this time ending up facing the wall in order not to let Joey see that he wasn't even thinking of going to sleep until JC was back, Justin closed his eyes, picking up his train of thoughts where he had left it off earlier.
Not interesting my ass. - Sorry I had to lie to you, Joe, I know that you'd find my little story very interesting, but you have to admit that I have pretty good reasons not to share it with you. But back to the topic at hand:
Have you ever thought about that certain moment when you suddenly realize that you're in love with someone, Joey? Well, I have. A lot, actually. It's strange, but I really can't tell you when I fell in love with Josh. All I know is that I suddenly started to notice things about him, things you just don't notice about your best friend, like, the way he moved his hips during I Want You Back, or the way his shirt clung to his body, heck, I even noticed the way he tied his shoelaces. But I didn't realize I was in love. The kind of admiration you have for your big brother, that's what it was. Yeah, right. I just didn't know I was head over heels, so, as sad as it is, I just can't tell you when I fell in love with Josh. But I am perfectly able to recall the moment I realized it.
Just in case you were wondering, Joe: No, it wasn't one of those occurrences when he came out of the shower, dripping wet and only a towel wrapped around his waist. Could've been, but it wasn't. No, oddly enough, Mr. Horny had nothing, absolutely nothing to do with my realization. That bastard is just about always there to get me into trouble - blame him for making me stare at Josh's butt in rehearsals and trip over Lance's foot -, but I think that when I first realized that I was in love with my male best friend, Mr. Horny was only about to come into being. Anyway, I didn't want to give you a speech - okay, let's call it a silent speech - about Mr. Horny, so let's move on to me telling you of my personal "It's like I've seen you for the first time through a lovers' eyes."-moment. Here we go...
It was one of our concerts. Just another concert in just another nameless city on just another regular day, right? Far from it. Almost at the end, during Tearing Up My Heart, I think, Josh caught sight of a girl, I'd say she was about twelve, and just like always, the fans were shoving from behind and she was standing right in front of the stage, squashed against the lattice. D'you still remember how Josh stopped all of a sudden, in the middle of our choreography? Caught me off guard, so I stopped too and watched him talking to one of the securities who immediately went and got the girl out of there, Josh watching the whole time to make sure she was okay. And that was it. That's when I knew that I was head over heels for this guy, no doubt about it. Luckily, it was one of the last songs we had to perform, otherwise I'd have ruined the whole concert 'cause I hardly could contain myself from staring at him..
I wonder how you would have reacted if I had really told you all this, Joey. Pretty cool, probably, I guess you'd tell me something along the lines of "As long as you're happy, so am I, Man." And even though it may be hard to believe: Mostly, I am happy, Joe. Sometimes even a little proud of the love I have for Josh. Because it's the least selfish thing I've ever done: Falling in love with him.
Okay, that was just plain sappy. It's because... Excuse me for a minute, I have to go and search a good reason for the whole sappiness of this part, I'll be back as soon as I've found one...