OK OK!  I know it's late, but if you knew how messed up my life was right now you'd understand.  Thanks to everybody who e-mailed me last time and I hope you'll continue to do so.  The address is zack02cool@hotmail.com in case anyone forgot.  I know there's been some confusion over how Justin can be such a dumbass.  Originally I wasn't going to address that till later, but I'll try to explain some of it now in light of your e-mails.  So here goes.

Disclaimer: This story is a work of fiction.  It is not meant to imply anything about anyone.  If you shouldn't read this then read it anyway and then report yourself to the proper authorities.

Model Romance: Part Twelve

    Justin was awakened by Sebastian gently picking him up and tucking him in bed.  It was very very early in the morning and was stiff from sleep on the floor.  And his ribs hurt.  So did his head.  When he realized it was Sebastian he tried to get away, but his boyfriend simply held him firmly.  Shouldn't he be your ex-boyfriend after last night?
    "Shhh.  It's ok baby.  I'm sorry.  I don't know what came over me but I'll never do it again.  I promise.  Now don't you say anything, just lie back and go to sleep."
    Sebastian slipped into the bed and wrapped his arms around Justin protectively.  It felt really good to be all warm and secure.  Slowly his drifted back to sleep and forgot the events of the night before.  It had been his fault anyway.

    Zack woke up in the middle of the night with the distinct impression that something was wrong.  He tossed and turned in his bed, but his mind wouldn't rest.  He kept thinking about Justin.  He had this uncontrollable urge to go to him now.  Eventually, not being able to sleep, he got up and put a robe on.  He walked out onto the balcony of the hotel suite and into the chilly night.  Tendrils of cold airs swirled around his bare legs and tried to find their way inside his robe.  He shivered, but it was not from the cold.  Gazing out at the stars, he let out a long sigh.  He searched the night sky for answers, but found none.  After a while he grew cold and went back to bed.  What little sleep he found was haunted by dark dreams.

    Britney and JC stayed up watching a movie after Zack left and fell asleep in each others arms towards the end.  They woke up later and retired to the bedroom.  Lying in JC's strong arms Britney felt strange.  Something was bothering her, but it wasn't anything she could put her finger on.  Inside she felt safe and content and happy to be with JC.  But outside it was as if some external pressure was focused at her.  Like someone had put a finger ever so lightly on her shoulder.
    "Somethin wrong Brit," her boyfriend asked as she shifted restlessly.
    "I don't know.  I hope not."
    "Anything I can do?"
    "Just hold me Josh.  Just hold me."
    They fell asleep at almost the same time and slept peacefully all through the night.

    Nick pumped faster, feeling himself going over the edge.  He grabbed Lance's hard cock and stroked it frantically in rhythm with his thrusting hips.
    "Oh god, baby, that feels so good," Lance groaned.  "I think I'm gonna..."
    The rest of his words were lost in a sigh of ecstasy.  His entire body shook with the force of his orgasm, bringing Nick over the edge.  He collapsed on Lance's bare chest, breathing heavily from their lovemaking.  He could feel the powerful rise and fall of his Lance's chest too as his softening cock slipped out of his lover.  They lay quietly for some time simply contented in being together.  Eventually Nick moved himself up to kiss Lance gently.
    "I love you so much Lance."
    "I love you too."
    "I don't ever want this to end.  Can we just stay in bed forever?"
    "Nah.  Somebody might miss us eventually."
    "Yeah.  Guess we'll just have to enjoy this while we can then."
    "Yup," Lance said, snuggling closer to Nick and nuzzling his neck.  "Guess we should go clean up, huh?"
    "Why I like you dirty."
    "Well I like you clean.  Come on."
    Nick allowed himself to be dragged out of their bed and into the bathroom.  Lance turned the water on and pulled him into the shower.  He stood there letting the water run down his smooth, hard body.
    "What?  Am I gonna have to wash you to?"
    "If you're offering..."
    "Only if you return the favor."
    "Oh all right.  But only because you're suck a piece of ass."
    "Baby you know it."
    They lathered each other up and rinsed off quickly.  Soon they were back in bed snuggled together.
    "Hey sweetie, we need to talk," Nick said carefully.
    "Uh oh."
    "If we're gonna have sex..."
    "Yeah," Lance said slowly.
    "...we can't make out for three hours first," Nick finished, giggling.
    "Don't scare me like that!  I thought it was something serious."
    "It is serious!  It's 4 AM and I'm not asleep yet!  Do you realized we have to be up in 5 hours for rehearsal?  That is so not enough sleep for me."
    "Don't complain to me.  I did my part to wear you out.  Let's just get some sleep."
    "Ok.  Love you."
    "Love you too."
    Lance placed his lips gently on Nick's, enjoying the feel of his soft skin.  Nick started kissing back just a little, and Lance a pushed back a little more.  Their kissing grew more and more passionate, and some time later they finally fell asleep from pure exhaustion.

    Morning came much too soon for some, and not soon enough for others.  By ten everyone was at rehearsal.  The concert was five days away and there was a lot to be done.  They were completely redoing the order of the show and changing the numbers too.  The biggest changed was that they were going to be singing some Christmas songs, but there wasn't a lot of choreography for those so it wasn't a big deal.  Fitting everyone's voices together and accommodating everyone's wishes (demands) was tougher.
    One near disaster was over who got to sing the first verse of "Silent Night."  The choices were Justin, Brian, Nick, and Britney.  None of them really cared, but everyone else had an opinion and made sure to express it.  That was finally settled when someone decided Zack was going to sing it.  Then there was an issue over when to do Christina and Britney's joint number with Zack.  First it was going to be at the end of Britney's set, but she was opening the show and leading into NSYNC.  Then it was going to be after Christina's set, but that wouldn't give them enough time to get ready for the end of the show with the Christmas carols.  Eventually they figured that since Zack was emceeing the show anyway, he could introduce himself and the girls.
    It took most of the day to get all these little problems worked out and nobody got to do much rehearsing.  Justin was thankful for that because his ribs were killing him and he didn't want anyone to know.  Nick and Lance were thankful because they had only gotten two hours of sleep last night.  Zack was thankful because he wasn't ready to perform and was working on a nasty case of stage fright.  When 7:00 rolled around and nobody had eaten since lunch, they called it a day.  Everyone vowed to be more prepared to work tomorrow, now that all the details were settled.
    Zack silently promised himself to get all his music straight before he went to bed tonight, even if it meant no sleep.  He went into one of the backstage lounges where Justin was talking to JC.  That was a welcome sight.  As he walked towards them he caught JC's eye, and mouthed the words "thank you."
    "Guess we lucked out today guys.  No singing and no dancing."
    "Personally I'd rather do the singing and dancing than sit through all of the crap we did today," JC said.
    "Hey, anybody hungry?  Let's go get some food."
    "Sounds good!  I'll go find Britney and see if she wants to come.  You in J?"
    "Huh?  No...I think Sebastian and me are going out."
    "Oh come on," Zack said cheerfully, "he's been hogging you long enough."  He poked Justin in the side playfully, but quickly stopped when he winced in pain.
    "Just?  What's wrong?  Are you ok?"
    "Yeah, I'm fine.  I just...tripped in the dark last night."
    "How'd you trip and hurt your ribs," JC chuckled.
    "There was a...chair in my way.  When I got up...to go to the bathroom.  And I tripped..."
    "And hurt your ribs," Zack asked not believing a word.
    "Yes," Justin responded defensively.  "I feel on the chair, and it hit me in the wrong spot."
    "That's a crock of shit and you know it.  Let me see it."
    "It is not.  And no you're not a doctor.  Why should I show you?  You're not my boyfriend anymore either."
    "He hit you didn't he?  That fucking bastard I'll kill him," Zack growled.
    "He did not!  How dare you accuse Sebastian of something like that."
    "You know damn well that I'm right..."
    "Guys," JC began.  Justin quickly cut him off though.
    "No you're not.  Why don't you mind your own business."
    "When someone is hurting you it's my business."
    "No it's not.  I told you you're not my boyfriend anymore Zack.  Can't you get that through your head.  I know what's going on... your just jealous."
    "You want me back so bad, you'd say anything to make Sebastian look bad!"
    "You know that's not true!"
    "Yes it is!  So piss off, because you can't have me and you wont come between me and Sebastian, my BOYFRIEND."
    Justin stormed away angrily.  Zack started after him, but JC held him back.
    "You'll only make things worse than they are."
    "How can you say that!  You saw what he did!"
    "I didn't see anything.  And neither did you."
    "JC, you can't believe that he really brused his ribs tripping and falling on a chair."
    "Look, I know it doesn't seem likely, but it's not impossible.  Justin is kind of accident prone."
    "You're making excuses..."
    "No I'm not.  I'm looking at this objectively.  Maybe you're the one making excuses."
    "I'm not saying I agree with Justin here.  He had no right to say that stuff to you, but maybe you are a little jealous."
    "I can't believe I'm hearing this!"
    "Zack, just calm down.  I said maybe.  Think about it."
    "I don't need to think about it!"
    "Fine.  Well then think about this.  You know Justin pretty well and I know him even better.  Do you really believe he'd get involved with or stay with someone who hit him?  I mean give him a little credit.  He's stronger than that."
    "That's what I though too but I know there's something wrong!  I told you last night."
    "I'm not denying that.  But flinging wild accusations around wont help anyone, especially Justin.  If anything it'll make him more determined to stay with Sebastian."
    "But..."  He stopped mouth open and thought about what JC was saying.  Slowly he closed his mouth and let out a long sigh.  "Maybe you're right.  Maybe I am jumping to conclusions.  I guess he could have fallen over a chair.  I made a really mess out of things didn't I?"
    "Yeah, but your heart was in the right place.  I know you don't like Sebastian.  I can't blame you.  I don't like him much either.  But you can't accuse him of being abusive every time Justin trips and falls."
    "I know.  But I also know that something's not right with them."
    "Did you ever think..." he cut himself off and shook his head.
    "No what were you going to say.  It drives me nuts when people do that."
    "No, just forget it."
    "You know that's not going to happen.  Now tell me.  It can't make me feel any worse."
    "Ok...Did you ever think that...well...maybe you are what's wrong with Justin and Sebastian.  I mean there's obviously some tension here."
    Zack sat down heavily.  "Remember when I said you couldn't make me feel any worse?"
    "You did."
    "Sorry.  Just forget it.  It was a dumb thought.  Not really true."
    "No.  I think you might be right.  But what am I supposed to do?  I can't exactly avoid them completely, and I'm obligated to stay on the tour now."
    "I don't know.  This is a bad situation all around."
    There was a knock at the door, followed by Britney's head.
    "Everything ok in here guys?  I saw Justin storm out of here a minute ago and I figured he'd been fighting with Sebastian, but then I couldn't find either of you and..."
    Zack raised his hand with a grimace.  "I would be the one he was fighting with."
    "Oh no.  What'd he do now?"
    "No this one was all my fault."
    "Uh oh.  That doesn't sound good."
    "We'll tell you about it over dinner," JC put in.  "Let's get out of here.  Bad karma in this room."
    "No you guys go ahead.  I'm not hungry anymore."
    "No way slim.  You're coming with.  I don't want to have to catch you again when you pass out from not eating."
    "I wont.  I'll order room service."
    "No, you're coming out," Britney stated.  There was no hint of a question in her voice.  "I already made reservations.  It was going to be a suprise.  I thought we'd go out with Sebastian and Justin to clear the air and all, but I guess that's not happening now.  Oh well, it'll just be the four of us."
    "Four?  I only see three."
    "Oh, didn't I mention that.  You get to be Christina's date for the evening."
    "Wonderful.  You do know I'm gay, right?"
    "Of course, don't be silly.  But that doesn't mean you can't still go out with girls."
    "Ummm, ok."
    "Better not to argue," JC whispered as they followed Britney out of the room.  "They always get what they want in the end anyway."

    What the hell is going on?  What the hell is going on!  Justin stormed out of the arena and hailed a cab to take him back to the hotel.  He didn't feel like waiting for a limo.  Ignoring security's protests for him to wait he ordered the cab off.
    "Everything ok," the cabbie asked in nearly understandable english.
    "Just fine," Justin growled.
    The worst part was the Zack was absolutely right.  He knew exactly what was going on and he reacted exactly the way he should.  And Justin had not only lied to him, he had thrown every low blow he could think of to get his ex off his case.  He had no right to be angry at anyone except himself.  Well...and maybe Sebastian.
    Sebastian.  What was he going to do?  They had met only a short time ago, but it seemed like years.  So much had happened in the last few days.  When he ran away from everyone that day he had been on the edge of losing it.  The pain of losing his first and probably truest love had been eating at him.  He had locked it away deep inside of him, but it was like a corrosive acid eating away at the prison he had made for it.  Every day he held his emotions at bay was a day he got closer to a breakdown.  Not that he'd realized it at the time.
    And then out of the blue Sebastian was there.  He was dashing and handsome and funny, all the things that Zack was, but different too.  He could remember how it happened almost word for word.

    When Justin finished his sandwich he paid the bill and stood up.  Sebastian had made small talk while he ate.  He was easy to talk to and fun to be with.  He radiated an air of confidence, much like Zack did.  Actually they were very similar.  But Sebastian was more mysterious, and intriguing.  He was like a puzzle to be solved where Zack had been an open book.
    "So where you headed now?"
    "Back to rehearsal I guess."
    "You can't be serious."
    "I am.  Why not?"
    "I'm no expert, but it seems like I found you out here cause you're running away from something.  Are you really ready to go back?"
    "I have to.  I've always been taught that you can't run from your problems."
    "Sure you can," he said with a mischievous grin.  "But don't think of it was running, think of it as making your problems come to you."
    "I have an obligation..."
    "You have an obligation to yourself.  To work things out and take the time you need to get through whatever it is."
    "No buts," he said firmly, taking Justin's hand.  "Come with me."
    "What.  No, I need to get back."
    "Justin, I'm sure you already know all your stuff for tomorrow right?"
    "And it's not like you've never done this before, right?"
    "So what's a few more hours?  Especially if you can use that time to sort out your emotions.  If you don't want to hang out with me that's fine, but I think you need to take this time regardless.  For you."
    "Maybe I could stay out for a little while."
    "Good.  I know this great ice cream shop down the street.  Interested?"
    "I do like ice cream."
    "Perfect.  Let's go."

    He'd allowed himself to bed lead by the hand all afternoon.  First it was ice cream, then there was this thing he had to see.  Then it was something else.  Then he had to see the great view from Sebastian's apartment.  By the time he found himself looking out at the Golden Gate Bridge, the sun was setting over the water.  Sebastian had been so good to him all day.  He never pressured him to talk.  He was just there.  Showing him this or that.  Making jokes.  He made Justin feel good.  Better than he had since his that disastrous night in New York.  And Justin recognized that he was falling for Sebastian.  He knew it was a bad thing, but he couldn't help it.  He needed something to fill the void that Zack had left.

    He gazed out the window at the beautiful golden bridge.  It was an amazing alright.  Sebastian's apartment was really nice.  Tastefully furnished and spacious.  Obviously Sebastian did very well for himself.  He said that his parents had died when he was young and had left him a great deal of money in a trust fund that he had recently gained access to.  Justin could only imagine the pain of losing his parents, especially at the age of 15.  His heart really went out to the man standing next to him.  They stood quietly, watching the sun set for some time.  It was Sebastian who finally broke the silence.
    "Alright.  Out with it."
    "Tell me what's bothering you.  You can talk all you want about nothing being wrong, but you're not fooling anyone but yourself.  I know you need someone to open up to.  Can't it be me?  I want you to feel like you can trust me Justin.  I know we just met, but I feel like there's a connection between us.  Please don't shut me out.  You don't have to deal with this alone."

    He recognized the feelings Sebastian described.  He had had similar feelings towards Zack.  And maybe it was that, and maybe it was because he felt so bad for Sebastian's difficult life, and maybe it was because he had to open up to someone and none of his friends were there.  Whatever it had been, Justin told him all about Zack and how they fell in love and then came to grief so quickly.  And he cried.  He cried like he hadn't let himself cry since the night he lost Zack.  And Sebastian held him and told him things would be ok.  And then he'd kissed him.  It was so soft and sweet and gentle.  And Justin had kissed him back, and they held each other and cried together for a long time.
    He remembered the one thing Sebastian had said that convinced him that this was right.  The one thing Zack could never promise because of their busy lives.  He said: "I'll always be there for you.  I'll never leave your side, so that you'll never have to hurt again."
    And unfortunately, it was that loving, caring Sebastian that Justin was remembering as he walked into their hotel room.  When he got inside he found the room was filled with flowers.  Their sweet perfume permeated the air.  And there was his boyfriend, sitting on the couch, a bottle of champagne chilling next to him.
    "Wha...how did you do this."
    "I made a few calls.  The how isn't important.  It's the why," Sebastian said, getting up and walking over to Justin.
    Justin reached out to hug him, but Sebastian dropped to his knees and grabbed Justin's hand.  He could feel the tears running down his cheeks.
    "Baby, I'm so sorry for what I did.  I don't know if you can ever forgive me, but I want to make it up to you.  Please."
    "Oh, don't cry," Justin said, drawing him up off the floor and hugging him tightly.  "It's ok, I forgive you."
    "It's not ok.  But I promise it'll never ever happen again."
    "I know it wont.  That's why I can forgive you."

    Britney and Christina listen quietly as Zack and JC related their earlier encounter with Justin.  When they finished no one said anything for a minute.  Finally Christina spoke up.
    "Could he really be hitting Justin?"
    Zack shifted uncomfortably in his seat but said nothing, so JC answered.
    "I don't think so.  Justin's not stupid enough to get involved with someone like that.  Don't you think so Brit?"
    Now it was Britney's turn to look uncomfortable.  "I don't think he would.  But...Josh how well do we know Sebastian?  How well does Justin know Sebastian?  They only met a few days ago.  We need to handle this very carefully."
    "You don't really think Zack's right do you?"
    "I don't want to.  And no, probably not.  But Justin hasn't exactly been himself this past week.  And we haven't been very good friends to him either," she added guiltily.  "All I'm saying is that we need to keep an eye on them."
    "Justin does seem to have the bad habit of falling in love quickly and blindly," Christina said absently.  Realizing what she was saying she turned bright red and quickly began to apologize.  "Zack, I'm sorry!  That's not what I meant..."
    Zack waved her off.  "You were just stating the obvious."
    Britney shook her head.  "I don't think she's right.  I don't think Justin is in love with Sebastian.  I think maybe he thinks he is, but he's not.  He's, well forgive me, but he's on the rebound, and we all know how that can mess up your emotions.  Especially after losing someone you really do care about."
    Their conversation pretty much died after that.  Britney and Christina agreed to work with Zack on the music and dance steps tomorrow, if he promised to go to sleep tonight.  But nobody had anything to say really.  They finished their meal quietly and walked back to the hotel in silence.  Britney and JC retired to their room, but Christina followed Zack into his suite.
    "So you gonna be ok?  I know this must be rough for you."
    "Yeah, I'm fine.  Just having a hard time believing this is happening is all."
    "Zack...I know first hand how difficult an... abusive relationship is.  Can you please promise me one thing?"
    "If we find out you're right....even if there's no proof...promise me you'll stop him.  I don't want Justin to go through it.  No one should ever have to go through it," she finished crying quietly.
    Zack drew her close to him, her head barely coming up to his chest.  "I promise.  Now it's my turn to ask.  Are you gonna be ok?"
    "Yeah.  This is old pain.  It comes and goes."
    "If you ever need anything Chris, you just tell me.  Anything."
    "Do you really have to be gay?"
    In answer Zack lifted her in his arms and bent down to kiss her gently on the lips.  She wrapped her legs around his waist and her arms around his neck.  He opened his mouth, letting her tongue explore his.  After a minute he broke the kiss and put her down gently.
    "My life would be so much easier this way."
    She smiled and ran her hand across his face.  "But you wouldn't be happy.  I wont deny that I'm attracted to you, but it would be fair to either of us."
    "I know.  Friends then?"
    "Friends.  And now that we're friends do you have any cute model friends you could fix me up with?"
    "Hmm, do I even know any straight models?  I'm not sure there is such a thing as a straight male model."
    "Story of my life.  Goodnight Zack."
    "Night Chris.  Sleep tight."

    Ha look it's not a cliffhanger!  Not that that really helps with all the crap that's going on.  I kind of feel like this chapter was boring and it wasn't really what I intended, but I hope that clears up some of the confusion.  If anybody is still lost let me know.  Next chapter will be more exciting, I promise.  Until then.