LOVE IS BLIND
Part 1 of 5
Mike Ellis strikes again!
DISCLAIMER: The story that follows is a work of fiction. Some characters may be based on real people, but this story should not be considered accurate or truthful representations of any actual person connected with the members of *NSYNC or any other person.
WARNING: This story deals with sexual themes. If this offends you, read no further. If accessing this story causes you break any laws applicable in your area, read no further. If you are under 18 years of age, read no further.
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I dedicate Part 1 to Charlatan and all the others who appreciate Chris Kirkpatrick.
JUNE 14, VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLOMBIA
"So is that the new guy?" Joey asked, nodding toward the young man standing next to their road manager, Dave, and a couple of bus drivers.
"Yeah," Lance told him. "His name's Marc."
"Why do we need a new babysitter anyway?" Justin whined as he picked at his now-cold fries. "Dave's cool. He keeps us organized, but he doesn't hastle us when he doesn't need to."
"Dave is good at his job," Lance explained, "but he has too much to do now. Marc's just here to help him. We probably won't see much of him."
"Hey, here they come." Joey interrupted.
As the bus drivers left the restaurant, Dave Lord crossed the room with his new assistant following him. The young men of *NSYNC had worked with Dave since last October, but Marc had just arrived that morning from Florida. He and Dave had reviewed the travel arrangements that would get the group to Portland, Oregon in time for tomorrow night's show.
"Guys," Dave began, "the bus is ready to take us on to the venue. But now's as good a time as any to introduce you to Marc Torrance. He's gonna be helping me out for the duration of the tour." Marc exchanged greeting and handshakes with Joey and Lance. Justin, on the far side of the table, said "hello" but didn't try the awkward reach across.
"Aren't there supposed to be two more of you?" Marc asked with a grin.
"Oh, my God, he's right!" Joey pretended to get excited. "We lost JC and Chris. We must have left them in Tacoma."
"Naaa," Justin played along. "We left JC in Tacoma. Chris was eaten by Busta last week. Remember?"
"I blame myself," Joey said, feigning anguish and biting at his knuckle. "If only I'd bought some more kibble..."
"Actually," Lance said, his voice deep and quiet, "JC's making a phone call, and Chris is in the restroom."
"No," Chris said as he approached the table, "Chris was in the restroom. But he's back now."
"That was quick," Justin said.
Chris glanced at him. "Yeah, I wasn't doing anything new." Then he turned to look at Dave and Marc. "'this the new guy?"
"Chris Kirkpatrick, Marc Torrance," Dave introduced them.
Chris extended his right hand, but Marc looked at it. "'You wash that hand?" he grinned again.
Chris grinned back. "In life, you have to take a chance now and then." Marc's grin became a smile as he took Chris' hand and shook it.
"Guys, we really need to get going," Dave reminded them. "We still have to hit that radio station before the soundcheck."
"Well, we're ready," Justin said, "we just need to get lover boy off the phone."
"I'll get him," Marc volunteered. As he headed into the hallway from which Chris had appeared, he added, "It'll give me a chance to introduce myself." Behind him, Lance stood up, intending to stop him, but he was too late.
Marc took the four or five steps down the hallway before it made a turn to the left. The hallway came to a deadend at doors into the restrooms. On the wall between the doors was the pay telephone. A tall, slender young man was talking on the phone. "Of course, I miss youI love you. It'll only be four more days. Yeah, all day Tuesday and Wednesday. No, I won't let 'em." When he turned to lean against the wall, he saw Marc and Marc recognized him as Josh Chasez.
After saying "hold on a second," Josh cupped his hand over the receiver and said to Marc, "I'll be off in a second."
"Actually," Marc said, "Dave sent me to get you. It's time to go."
Josh looked at him for a moment before he said into the phone. "Look, I have to go. I'll call you tonight after the show." There was a pause before he added, "And I love you. Bye."
Dropping the phone back into its cradle, he looked at Marc again. "You're Marc, right?"
Marc smiled and extended his hand. "Marc Torrance. I work for Dave."
Josh took his hand a little shyly. "Yeah, I saw you having lunch with Dave. I'm Josh Chasez, but most people call me 'JC'."
"Dave's loading the other guys onto the bus, and I came to get you."
"Thanks," Josh said as the two began their way out to the parking lot. "I was just calling a friend."
"A good friend, from what I heard," Marc said with a smile. Seeing that Josh didn't smile, he added, "I didn't mean to eavesdrop, but I couldn't help it."
Josh looked at him guardedly. His voice was quiet when he said, "Oh, it's okay. You couldn't have heard much."
When they got out to the bus, Dave was standing just inside the door talking to the four other members of the group. Josh went past him to sit down next to Lance, but Marc just stood outside the door. "So the buses will drop us at GM Place, and then the limo will get us to the radio station and back again. No use trying to get this bus through the city streets."
"What time do we get done at the station?" JC said.
Dave started to answer but then stopped himself and looked down at Marc in the doorway to the bus. "You tell 'em, Marc."
Marc blinked. "I didn't hear the question."
"Come up here!" Joey yelled.
Marc came up two of the four steps, just enough for his head to show over the railing that separated the six seats from the bus door. "What was the question?"
Josh glanced at Marc, then at Lance. Lance repeated his question: "What
time do we get done at the station?"
"3:45," Marc said quickly. "It's a thirty minute drive back to the Place, and the sound check is at 4:30, so we have a 15-minute cushion in case of traffic."
Dave grinned at his assistant. "Lee and Joan bragged about your memory when they assigned you to this tour."
"Forget about his memory, Dave," Chris said. "Can he play hackeysack?"
Marc smiled at Chris. "Frat house champion, five semesters running."
Once both buses were underway, the musicians were at the back of the second bus relaxing before what was, for them, just another show. Dave and Marc sat up front. Dave was answering Marc's questions until he had one of his own for his new assistant.
"So, what do you think of the guys so far?"
"They seem pretty cool," Marc said. "I don't know what they're like to work for, but they seem pretty easy to get along with. Joey and Chris are funny. Lance seems a little serious though."
"Yeah, Lance is pretty serious with most people," Dave assented. "He kids around with the other guys, but he's a little stiff with me even after nine months. He's very into the business side of everything. Even has his own management company..." Dave looked at the thin smile on Marc's face. "...but, of course, you knew that."
"Joan told me about it," Marc nodded. "She also told me that Joey and Chris would be friendly, and that JC would be shy."
"Does he seem shy to you?" Dave asked.
"Oh, definitely," Marc said. "I heard him ask that question, even if I could make out what he'd asked. But when I came onto the bus, Lance is the one who asked me. And JC seemed a little bugged that I overheard part of his phone call."
Dave frowned. "What'd you hear?"
Marc shrugged. "Not much. Just him saying 'I love you too'."
"Ah, well," Dave said, leaning back in the seat. "There's something I should tell you." The older man looked straight at Marc and asked, "Do you remember that clause in your contract that said that you had to keep secret any confidential information that you learned as a result of this job?"
Marc nodded. "Or I can be sued for tons of money."
"Well," Dave began, "this is one of those secrets: Josh Chasez is gay."
Marc didn't blink. "Joan didn't tell me that part. Are any of the others..."
"No, just him," Dave said. "That phone call you overheard was probably to his boyfriend in Tennessee. We keep this very quiet, for obvious reasons, but I'm telling you because you'd hear it eventually anyway. Especially since the boyfriend is coming to visit next week when we're in Denver.
"Marc," Dave went on, "Joan wouldn't have recommended you for this job if she'd thought you couldn't handle this, but I have to ask: is this going to be any kind of problem as far as your working for these guys?"
"You mean, do I have a problem working for someone who's gay?" Marc paraphrased. "No, I don't. But I should tell you something Joan probably didn't: I'm gay too."