Note:Thank you, Mark, for editing this. I hope your plains for our wedding are going great so far. ;)
Dedication: To Ben. And to everyone who ever gave me feedback.
Disclaimer: I just came back from a long and deep conversation with Justin because now that they are on tour, it's more difficult to know everything he and JC are feeling and doing. Sure, there are those little chips we planted in their brains, but after JC began complaining about his constant headache, I got tired of his whining, and so we took them out. Which is why we're back to good old phone conversations now.
Oh, I forgot to mention that I don't know or own the 'NSyncers, nor do I wish to imply anything about them. Glad we cleared this up.
Just To Be With You...
...is giving me the best day of my life...
Dido, Thank You
There was a knock at the door. Stretching, Joey got up, using his index finger to keep the book open where he had stopped reading. Opening the door, he allowed JC in.
"So, you finished yelling at Chris for the state of your boxers?"
JC threw the Italian a cautious look. "Yeah. Is Just asleep?"
"Yup. Hasn't even stirred for the last thirty minutes."
"Jace, do you know what's going on with him?"
The older one sighed, brushing a hand through his wavy hair. "No. I wish I did, but I don't."
Joey's eyes met JC's blue ones with an expression of sympathy. "Try not to worry too much, C, Justin will come around. Just give him some time."
"I don't know. Somehow I have a feeling that this is different. That no matter what, he won't tell me what it is, not now, not ever."
The Italian squeezed his friend's shoulder, then opened the door once again. "Well, I'm outta here. And, although I know that I'm repeating myself: Try not to worry too much. Justin isn't the innocent little boy anymore, he knows how to deal with things on his own."
"I know, Joe. It's just... - Oh, forget it."
Joey was halfway out of the door when he felt a hand grab his wrist. Turning around, he gave JC a questioning look.
"Joe, d'you have an hour to spare sometime tomorrow? There's something I need to tell you, and it's important, so I don't want to do it in passing."
"Uh, I didn't help Chris, I swear."
"It's not about that."
"Okay, good. We have the day off tomorrow, right?" Seeing JC's nod, Joey made a satisfied face. "Well, in this case, just come over whenever you want to - or whenever Justin lets you."
"Will do. Night, Superman."
With a grin, the younger one held up his book, a collection of facts and figures about the mentioned character. "Good night to you, too."
I can't understand
Why it's so hard
To take each other by the hand and
And say that I love you
Marla Glen, Believer
Justin felt the bed shift under the added weight of JC's body, then a hand gently started caressing his shoulder. "You should sleep, you know."
The curly-haired man turned around. "How did you know that I wasn't?"
"When you lie motionless for over thirty minutes, then you aren't asleep, simple as that."
Justin grinned, a shy, a little tired grin. "You know me too well."
"Replace that 'too' with a 'very', and you've got it right. Or how could I know you too well?"
"Okay, so you know me very well."
"That's better. Now, why are you still awake?"
Because I wanted to watch you undress when you get back. "I haven't gotten my daily lullaby."
"Oh, I forgot." JC smiled, watching the pouting expression of the younger man which vanished as soon as the brunette's next words registered. "What do you want me to sing?"
"You know that song 'I'll Be There'? I don't know who performed it, but the text was something like: "I reach out my hand to you, I have faith in all you do, whenever you need me, I'll be there." Something like that."
"I know that one, just let me think for a minute to remember the notes."
While JC closed his eyes, humming softly under his breath, Justin watched him, taking in every single feature of the older man's face, his jaw line, his fluttering eyelashes, the way his lips curled upwards to a smile as soon as he had found the note he was searching for. When the brunette finally started to sing, Justin found himself once again mesmerized by the richness and emotion the voice transmitted to him, and he found it difficult to avert his gaze once JC was finished and opened his eyes again, silently asking his younger friend if that had been okay.
Instead of answering the unspoken question, Justin flashed him one of his smiles that JC had come to love over the years: Full of joy and life, eyes sparkling, showing a row of even white teeth. Justin didn't have to answer because that smile, getting even broader when returned by JC, said enough.
Yawning, JC patted the curly head before getting up and walking over to his suitcase while speaking over his shoulder. "So, now that you've heard your lullaby, are you going to get some sleep?"
After I watched you undress? "Yeah."
A curse coming from the older man caused Justin to sit up in bed, watching his friend. JC turned around, still sitting on the floor, to offer the younger one a sheepish smile. "Uh, J? You think I could borrow one of your boxers? Either Joey or Chris or both put some itching powder over my underwear."
If you promise not to wash it before giving it back, you can have every single one of my boxers. "Sure, my underwear's somewhere in that suitcase right next to yours."
While observing his friend shuffling through his clothes, Justin couldn't hold back the grin. Itching powder in JC's boxers! It was a shame that the brunette had noticed it before putting them on, or else Justin probably would have gotten a pretty good glimpse of JC's private parts. Well, at least JC would be wearing one of his own boxers and return them sooner or later. Smelling like JC... - Justin would have to remember to be especially nice to Joey and Chris tomorrow. Definitely.
Meanwhile, JC had been happily going through Justin's underwear, trying to find one which he had seen Justin wearing just recently. If it hadn't been washed long ago, then there was the chance that Justin's typical smell, that mixture between his cologne and his natural scent, was still lingering in the cloth. And boy would he have a wonderful night of sleep in that case! The thought of thanking Joey and Chris crossed his mind, and although he knew that thanking them for a prank was out of question, he was still determined to let them get away with a lot more than he usually would. At least tomorrow.
"Heyhey, this is Britney speaking, who's there?"
"Has anyone ever told you that you should work on your telephone manners?"
"Well, if I should work on my telephone manners, then you should, too. It's highly impolite to call people without saying one's name. Anyway. What's up? How's the tour going?"
"Same as ever. Screaming fans, rehearsals, Wade's trying to seduce Justin, great con.."
"What? What did you just say?"
"Which part do you mean?"
"The part about Wade."
"That he's after Justin?"
"Well, he is."
"You're kidding me, right? Since when? How do you know? And does Justin know?"
"Whoa, slow down, girl! Wade's been trying to get in Justin's pants for at least three months now. I know because I watch the way he acts around Just, how he's ogling Just whenever he thinks no one notices. And what was the last question again?"
"Does Justin know?"
"No. He's the only one, though. Everyone else knows, but Justin's always been blind to the love people have for him." A sigh, barely audible. Britney decided to pretend that she hadn't heard it.
"You sound as if it's bothering you."
"Well, it is."
"Because..." Because I'm jealous. "I only want Just's best. And... Well, Wade's a nice guy, but he's not in love with him, he's only interested in his body." Okay, I am interested in his body, too, but it's only an added bonus.
"So it's not because Wade's a guy?" Britney didn't know whether it was a good decision to pry for further information, but something in JC's voice had caught her attention. It sounded like... jealousy?
JC almost laughed out loud. He and having troubles with homosexuality? Yeah, right. "No, that's not the reason I don't like this, Brit. I swear."
"Good." She breathed a sigh of relief, making a mental note to force Justin to finally tell his best friend about his feelings the next time she would talk to him. By the sound of it, JC wasn't homophobic. The trace of jealousy she had thought she could hear in his voice was gone now, though. Maybe she had only imagined it.
Thousands of miles away from her, JC opened out one of the deckchairs on the balcony and sat down, cradling his cell phone between ear and shoulder. "Justin's sick."
"He's sick? Why? What is it?"
"Well, he's been missing a lot of sleep recently, and I guess his body finally collapsed."
"He's been missing sleep? He promised me he slept enough the last time he called. JC, I wanna talk to Justin. Now. I gotta rip his head off for lying to me."
"Save that for later, Brit. Right now, he's catching up on his sleep."
"Oh. Okay, then tell him to call me the moment he wakes up."
JC laughed. "Will do." There was a noticeable pause in the conversation, then JC went on, voice hesitant. "Brit, I know that you won't tell me what it is, but something's bothering Just, and I just wanted to know if he talked to you about it."
"Yes, I know what it is, but it's not my place to tell you."
"That's okay. Just... Can you answer me one question, Brit?"
"Depends on what it is."
"Sounds fair enough. Okay, here it is: Did I do something wrong? Did I make him feel uncomfortable somehow?"
"No. No, JC, you didn't do anything. Don't think like that. It's just something Justin's not ready to tell you yet."
"But it's not because I did something wrong?"
"No, it isn't. Believe me on that one. It's more like the contrary." A moment later, Britney bit down on her lip, cursing her big mouth.
"I did something right? Then why doesn't he talk to me? I don't get it, Brit. Please, just tell me one thing: What can I do to help him?"
"Be there. Listen to him. Show him that you care."
"How can he doubt that?"
"He doesn't. But he really needs you right now."
"Fine. If that's all I can do..."
"For the moment, it is. It's Justin's decision when he wants to tell you, and before he does, there's nothing you can do."
This night, JC was the one who wasn't able to fall asleep. Anyone who knew him and would have heard about it would either think that the real JC had been kidnapped by aliens or that he was sick. And in some sort, he was. Not physically, but the thought that Justin didn't trust him enough to tell him about something that seemed to bother him enough to keep him up at night... It was gnawing at him, only overshadowed by the knowledge that there was nothing he could do to make it better for the young man.
For over two hours, the brunette tossed and turned, occasionally glancing at the blonde who was sleeping peacefully only a few feet away. Well, if that wasn't ironic: Now that Justin could finally go to sleep, JC was awake because of the younger man's lack of sleep. Talk about best friends sharing everything...
When JC finally closed his eyes, the sun was already rising.
That's the shortest part so far, isn't it? Sorry 'bout that. And for all of you who are starting to get impatient: It won't take long anymore. Only three more parts to go!