Part thirteen.  What an unlucky number!  What can I say?  Thanks for the e-mail and keep it up!  I love hearing from all of you.

Disclaimer- This story is fictional and is not meant to imply anything about anyone.  If you shouldn't read this then read and and then report yourself to the proper authorities.

Model Romance- Part Thirteen

    Zack found himself walking down a long, dimly lit hallway.  It had the kind of fuzziness that he recognized as a dream, but as his dreams usually were, it was very real.  Kind of like being in a movie instead of just watching it.  He moved slowly down the corridor.  Every so often he came to a door and he could see things inside.  The first was him swimming an winning a big race.  Maybe the Olympics.  As he approached the door it slammed shut.  The next was him accepting an award in front of a huge audience.  The statue looked like an Oscar.  The door slammed shut.  Then there was a scene with him in a large office, on the phone.  He looked very busy.  The door slammed shut.
    In each scene he was older than the nineteen years he had lived so far.  Probably in his mid twenties or early thirties.  At the next doorway he was wearing a suit and speaking to a group of journalists.  The door slammed shut.  He began to walk more quickly, and the doors slammed faster.  He started running as more doors closed.  He could see the end of the hallway now.  And he could see what was beyond that doorway.  Or who was beyond that doorway.  Justin stood there watching him.  Begging him with his eyes to hurry.  And he ran faster.  He didn't even notice the doors closing as he ran.  All his thoughts were on reaching that last door.  He knew if it closed his life would be empty and miserable.  He was almost there.  And the door was swinging shut.  Justin saw this and looked at him angrily.
    "Fight for me," he yelled.  "You've given up on everything in your life that didn't come easily to you.  Will you give up on me too?"
    "I wont give up on you!"
    "You are.  It's almost too late."
    The door was closing.  He wasn't going to make it.
    "Fight for me!  Don't give up!"
    "I wont give up! Justin..."

    "...I wont give up," he cried, waking himself.
    He was back in his bed, drenched in sweat.  His heart was racing and his breathing was heavy, as if he had really been running that race.  He looked at the clock and saw that it was almost time to get up anyway.  He could see rays of sunlight peeking in from behind the heavy drapes.  Slowly he got out of bed and walked into the bathroom to take a shower.
    "I wont give up," he whispered to himself.  "I wont."

    After he showered and got dressed, Zack walked across the hall to Britney and JC's suite and knocked on the door.  Britney opened it almost immediately.  She was already dressed and ready to go.
    "Hey I was just coming to check and see if you wanted to have breakfast with us.  Josh is still in the shower so I thought room service would be the easiest thing."
    "Sounds good to me.  Mind if I call Lance, Chris and Joey and ask them to join us?  I have something I want you guys to help me with."
    "Um, sure.  No problem.  Might was well call Christina too.  Is something wrong."
    "No," Zack said with a tight smile "I just remembered something that I'd forgotten lately."
    "What's that?"
    "That the best things in life are worth fighting for."

    Zack made his phone calls while Britney ordered room service.  A short time later four out of five NSYNC'ers along with Britney and Christina were sitting down to a large breakfast watching him as he paced around the room, deep in thought.
    "Do you know what's going on," Chris whispered to Britney.  She only shrugged.
    Zack stopped pacing and looked at the group he had assembled.  This was his family now.  He needed there help and they were here for him.  Only one person was missing, but he was going to fix that.
    "I think we'll all agree that no one here likes Sebastian," he began.  There were nods and murmurs of ascent, but nothing more.  "I also think that Justin knows this, and that's part of what keeps him from throwing Sebastian out on his ass.  But what I need to know before we go any further is what you guys think of them.  I've made no secret of how I feel, but I need your opinions, because I am biased."
    "Well," Joey said after a moment.  "I think he's a punk who's messing with Curly's head.  I never liked him from the moment I laid eyes on him.  And that was before they told me he was Justin's new boyfriend."
    "I think he's a shithead," Chris said blandly.
    "Second that," Christina jumped in.
    Britney looked to JC, who nodded, and then she spoke.
    "Josh and I both agree that Sebastian is bad news.  But we don't want to do anything to hurt Justin either.  I think we all want Sebastian gone.  But can we do that without hurting Justin?"
    "Aren't we hurting him by letting him stay with someone who's so wrong for him," Chris asked.
    "Maybe, but until we see some proof of that..."
    "Screw proof," Joey interrupted.  "I say we just go to Justin and tell him how we all feel.  I mean we're his friends.  Our opinions should hold some weight."
    "Are we his friends," JC asked.  "Let's not forget what caused this in the first place.  People saying things they shouldn't."
    "You can't blame the problem with Sebastian on a bad joke," Lance said quietly.  "Nick and I managed to get over that."
    "Lance is right," Zack said.  "I'm the one who's most directly responsible for this..."
    "Wait a minute!  If anyone is at fault here it's me!  I'm the one to blame for you and Justin..."
    "Lance, you can't blame yourself for trying to protect someone you cared about.  I shouldn't have run away..."
    "That's enough of the blame game," JC said firmly.
    "You're right JC, but what I was saying is important.  I shouldn't have run away, but I did.  Because I always run away when things get tough.  And I'm still running away.  Even in coming out here I still ran from my problems.  Well now I'm done running away.  I am going to do what I should have done as soon as I laid eyes on Sebastian.  I'm going to fight for Justin.  And I'm going to win."
    Chris and Joey broke out into applause, but Zack quieted them.
    "I'm not finished.  Yes, I'm going to fight and I'll need your help to do it.  But I can't ask you guys to do anything you don't want to do.  So that's why I asked you all here.  I need to know if you'll help me get my... boyfriend back."
    As usual Joey was the first to get the words out.  "Hey I'd do anything to help Justin, and I can't think of anything that would help him more than getting back with you dude."
    Chris was not far behind.  "I'm in.  Even if I wasn't helping you and Justin out, I'd just be happy to get rid of Sebastian."
    Britney smiled warmly at Zack.  "I knew you two were meant for each other before either one of you did.  Of course I'll help you."
    "I guess that means I don't have a choice," JC said smiling.  "But I would have said yes anyway."
    "All I can say is it's about time," Christina said.
    Lance was a little slower, but he smiled just as warmly as anyone.  "I'm not the sneaky or underhanded one in the group, but I'll help you how ever I can.  I still feel responsible.  And I'll talk to Nick.  I'm sure he'll help too."
    "Thank you.  All of you.  Now I haven't thought this through all the way to the end, but here's what I've got so far.
    As he talked, the smiles around the room got even bigger.  Everyone was more than willing to do their part.  JC suggested bringing Johnny Wright, NSYNC's manager, into the conspiracy.  He was flying in that morning to meet the guys at rehearsal.  Zack was a little hesitant because he'd never met the man but JC, Chris, Lance, and Joey assured him that "Bling Bling" would be more than willing to help his boys out.
    Soon it was time to get to the arena for rehearsals.  Zack spent all morning working with vocal coaches and choreographers.  Britney and Christina were very helpful.  In the afternoon he got his lines for the show and started reading over what he had to say.  He didn't tell anyone, but he was really nervous about performing in front of so many people.  Of course he was so busy that there wasn't much time to worry.  Justin had been avoiding him all day, but he finally cornered the object of his affections just before dinner.
    "Justin, can I talk to you about yesterday?"
    "I'm not really interested in hearing any more about it Zack."
    "Please, I just want to apologize.  I had no right to say the things I did without proof.  I guess I just jumped to conclusions, but anyway that doesn't matter.  I just want you to know that I still care about you and if you need anything you can come to me."
    And then he walked away leaving a flabbergasted Justin behind.  He met his little war party for dinner and afterwards he worked with the guys on a little suprise for the next day.  Tomorrow he was officially declaring war on Sebastian.

    The next day was an unusually cold one in LA, even for November.  The sky was a sort of brownish gray that came from a mixture of foreboding clouds and the ever-present smog that hung over the city.  Despite the dreary weather rehearsals were going much better than in previous days.  It appeared that, as usual, everything was going to come together at the last minute.
    During their lunch break Zack snuck off with the NSYNC boys minus Justin to put the finishing touches on their suprise.  Johnny Wright was with them.  In Zack's eyes Johnny had more than lived up to the guys' glowing descriptions of him.  It was obvious he was like a second father to them all and he extended that feeling to Zack almost immediately.
    After lunch NSYNC was scheduled to run through their set with the new choreography.  Zack and Johnny watched from backstage as the guys moved smoothly across the stage.  Towards the end of "Tearin Up My Heart," Johnny turned to Zack.
    "Hmm?  About what?  This?"
    "Yes.  And about the concert.  It's only three days away."
    "I know.  I guess I am a little nervous.  Not about this.  I mean this is something I want...that I need to do."
    "And you don't want to do the concert?"
    "No I do.  But it's a different kind of wanting.  Know what I mean."
    "Yeah I know what you mean.  Just remember that what ever happens we've got your back."
    "Thanks Johnny I appreciate that."
    "Hey it's my job."
    NSYNC was wrapping up now and Johnny walked out onto the stage.  He played his part perfectly.
    "Excellent job guys.  I know we haven't quite finished, but I want to try something new here and I think you're all comfortable enough with your stuff that we can do it.  Justin would you come with me?"
    Justin followed Johnny off the stage and into the second row of seats with a confused expression on his face.  He looked at the other guys questioningly, but their faces were practiced masks, revealing nothing..
    "OK Justin.  I've brought you out here to give you a different perspective on NSYNC's performance.  I'm gonna have the guys run through another song and I want you to watch and see what you think.  Pay attention to everything about the performance.  I think it will help us all understand...everything a little more clearly."
    "Um...alright.  But how are they going to perform without me Johnny?"
    "Easy.  I've hired a...ah...stunt double of sorts.  Just watch.  OK kill the lights.  Places boys."
    The lights went down and everyone took their places on the stage.  The backlights came up showing the silohuettes of five guys on the stage in different poses.  Without warning they began.

    A voice echoed across the nearly empty arena.  It was supposed to be Justin's voice, but of course it wasn't because he was sitting in the audience.  And anyone who knew Justin's voice well (which was everyone there) could tell that it was not him.  This voice was not as light and pure.  It was beautiful though for it had something of Justin in it, but with some of JC's soulfulness mixed in.  In the back of the arena the Backstreet Boys heard it and stopped working.  Nick knew what was going on, but he said nothing.  Christina and Britney sat side by side behind Justin like two proud parents, with big grins on their faces.  Johnny kept his expression carefully neutral, although it was a useless gesture.  Justin knew immediately who belonged to that voice.  He'd heard it before, and he wouldn't have forgotten it if a thousand years had passed.
    It was of course Zack's voice.  And he stood at the center of the stage with his eyes, locked on Justin.  But nobody could tell that yet because of the backlighting.  Of course anyone with have a brain who listened to the lyrics could tell what he was thinking.

I was haning with the fellas
Saw you with your new boyfriend, it made me jealous
I was hoping that I'd never see you with him
But it's all good, 'cause I'm glad that I met him
'Cause now I know the competition's very slim to none
And I can tell by looking that he's not the one
He's not the type you said you liked
His style is wack, clothes are bad
Come on boy, let him go
I want you back

    Then JC's voice joined in and spotlights hit both him and Zack, illuminating them and revealing the mysterious singer for anyone who hadn't already figured it out.

Call me a hater, if you want to,
But I only hate on him 'cause I want you
Say I'm trippin' if you feel like
But you without me ain't right
You can say Im crazy, if you want to
That's true, I'm crazy 'bout you
You could say I'm breakin' down inside
'Cause I can't see you with another guy

    Then the rest of the guys joined in and the stage was illuminated fully.  They started dancing too, except for Zack who came to the front of the stage to be as close to Justin as possible.  Their eyes met, blue against blue, emotion flying back and forth:  Regret, anger, shock, love, hate, passion and a hundred more.

It makes me ill
To see you give
Love and attention at his will
And you can't imagine how it makes me feel
To see you with him
Oh, it makes me ill
To see you give
Love and attention at his will
And you can't imagine how it makes me feel
To see you with him

    The next verse would have normally been JC's, but everyone had agreed that it made more sense to let Zack continue, so he kept singing.

Boy I know that we broke up
But that doesn't mean you should give the cold shoulder
'Cause you know I truly do adore ya
And that other guy can't do nothing' for ya
I can tell that you don't really love that guy
But there's no need for you to go and waste your time
I think you know I love ya more
Boy you gotta let him go
I want you so just give him the door

Call me a hater, if you want to
But I only hate on him 'cause I want you
You can say I'm trippin' if you fell like
But you without me ain't right
You can say I'm crazy, if you want to
That's true, I'm crazy 'bout you
You could say I'm breakin' down inside
'Cause I can't see you with another guy

    There was one other person listening to this performance.  He was standing in the back where no one could see him.  And as he listened, his hands clenched into fists and his jaw tightened.  Sebastian was not a happy man at that moment.

It makes me ill
To see you give
Love and attention at his will
And you can't imagine how it makes me feel
To see you, with him
Oh, it makes me ill
To see you give
Love and attention at his will
And you can't imagine how it makes me feel
To see you with him


It makes me ill cause you used to me my guy
Used to be (my guy)
Used to be my guy yeahh
It makes me ill cause you used to be my guy
My guy
So baby come back to me

It makes me ill
To see you give
Love and attention at his will
And you can't imagine how it makes me feel
To see you with him
Oh, it makes me ill
To see you give
Love and attention at his will
And you can't imagine how it makes me feel
To see you with him

Oh it makes me ill
To see you give
Love and attention at his will
And you can't imagine how it makes me feel
To see you with him

Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh..

-"It Makes Me I'll," by NSYNC (with slight modification)

    The song trailed off and the music faded.  The guys stood on the stage breathing heavily.  Applause came from the Backstreet Boys, but Johnny, Britney and Christina sat still because they were close enough to Justin to feel the tension radiating from him.  He stood up slowly and walked to the aisle.  He turned back to Johnny and said softly:
    "He's good.  Maybe you should replace me on a more permanent basis."
    His tone was so completely neutral that no one knew if he was kidding or not.  Finally Christina gave a nervous laugh.  He ignored it and walked back up onto the stage.  He passed Joey, Lance, Chris and finally JC.  He stopped and looked at JC for a minute.  Actually he stared at him.  Hard.  Then he came to Zack.  Neither one said anything they just looked at each other.  While this was happening Sebastian slipped out quietly, his features fixed in grimace of rage.  Justin didn't see because his back was to the audience.
    "So," Justin said at last.  "I trust you've all enjoyed a good laugh at my expense.  Again," he added, with a look to JC and Chris.
    "It's not a joke," Zack said quietly.
    "No?  Maybe not for you.  Then what did you hope to accomplish by acting like a spoiled child?  And dragging all of my quote unquote friends into it with you?  That was very unprofessional of you.  Of all of you," he amended looking not only to the guys, but at Johnny, Britney and Christina.  "Did you really think you could get me back by prancing around and singing one of our campy songs?"
    "I meant every word," Zack growled fiercely.  "It's not campy if it's true."
    "Fine.  Have it your way then.  What do you think this is?  Some kind of fairy tale where you can just sing a song and do a little dance and magically everything is better?  Life is not a Disney movie, Zack.  If I were you I'd figure that out real soon.  Now I'm going to leave and go work on my music somewhere else.  Because I am a professional musician.  I'll see you all tomorrow and I hope to see some of that professionalism that I thought you all had."
    And then he was gone.  Leaving behind a very speechless group of people.  Johnny sighed heavily.  Britney had tears in her eyes and Christina was massaging her temples as if she had a migraine.  Zack sat down on the stage right where he was.
    "Wow," Joey said.  "That couldn't have gone much worse."
    "Ya think," Zack asked bitterly.

    Justin managed to keep himself composed until he reached the safety of his suite.  Once there he just lost it.  He threw himself on the bed and cried as his emotions tortured him.  How could Zack play games like this?  He had worked hard to get over him and move on with Sebastian.  And now Zack was assaulting the little happiness he had made for himself.  It was so unfair.  It was true what he said.  Life wasn't like a fairy tale, but he wished it could be.  Part of him had wanted to simply kiss Zack and let everything be ok.  Not that it would be.  Life's problems couldn't be solved with love songs and kisses.
    The real problem was deeper than that though and he knew it.  The truth was he hadn't gotten over Zack and Sebastian was simply the next best thing.  A poor substitute.  He would never admit that consciously, even to himself, but he knew it deep down inside in a little part of his heart where he kept pieces of information that were too dangerous to store in his head.
    And now what was he supposed to do?  Zack had made it abundantly clear that he wanted Sebastian gone.  Justin was just thankful that Sebastian hadn't witnessed that display.  The results could have been disastrous.  He couldn't simply get rid of Sebastian because he did care for him.  He felt a bond to him and he was grateful that Sebastian had been there for him.  That aside, it pissed him off that no one was even willing to give Sebastian a chance.  Zack might have been to blame for that little stunt but he'd bet that Britney and JC had been a big part of it.  Hell, everyone was so eager to get rid of Sebastian the whole tour had probably been in on it.  Johnny hadn't even met Sebastian yet and he was already on Zack's side.  Well he would show them all and stick with what he had.  He had committed to Sebastian and he wanted to be with Sebastian.  Zack couldn't change that no matter how many songs he sang.
    Right on cue Sebastian walked in.  His face was devoid of any expression and when Justin ran to hug him he did not return it.
    "Baby, what's wrong?"
    "Don't call me that."
    "Huh?  Ok how bout I call you sweetie then?"
    "Shut up.  Don't play games with me."
    "Sebastian what are you talking about?"
    "You know exactly what I'm talking about," he screamed.  His eyes were wet with tears and his voiced quivered as he went on more softly.  "I trusted you!  You said it was over with him.  And when I came to suprise you at rehearsal what did I find?  Him up on the stage singing to you, batting his eyes and telling you to dump me.  And you sat there and watched the whole thing"
    "Oh Sebastian I'm sorry you saw that.  It was just a bad joke that they played on me.  Come here.  It's ok."
    Justin moved to hug him again, but he was shoved roughly away.
    "Don't touch me.  I don't want to hear any more of your filthy lies.  Is this what you spend all your time doing when I'm not around?  Making fun of me?  Of us?  Our entire relationship is just a joke isn't it?"
    "No that's not true!  Please believe me."  Justin was crying again too.  This was all going so wrong.
    "Believe you?  I'll never believe you again."
    SLAP.  Justin recoiled, anger and frustration leaking into his sorrow.
    "Sebastian you promised never to do that again," he said quietly.
    "Obviously promises mean nothing to you Justin.  You promised that things were over with you and him."
    "I'm not going to talk to you when you're like this."
    "If you leave now don't bother coming back."
    "Sebastian be reasonable!"
    "You don't deserve reasonable."
    "You can't hit me anymore!  Sebastian please !  I told you I want to be with you.  Why wont you believe me?"
    "Because you're a stupid lying bitch!"
    Sebastian advanced towards Justin and he retreated back into the bedroom.
    "Sebastian...don't come near me again."
    But Sebastian kept coming, and Justin found himself backed to the wall.  Sebastian shut the bedroom door behind him.  There were now two very thick very locked doors between him and any sort of help.  Justin braced himself for what he now had to do.  Sebastian came closer.
    He kept coming.
    "I'm going to fight back this time."
    He kept coming.
    "It doesn't have to be this way."
    Sebsatian's right hand came at him with a savage blow, but Justin blocked it with his left and hit Sebastian as hard as he could with his right fist, squarely in the jaw.  It was Sebastian's turn to step back.  The expressions on his face went from shock to rage to cold amusement.
    "So you've got some spirit after all.  Fine.  You're just gonna make things harder for yourself."
    Justin was neither small nor helpless.  He had had self defense training and he was in good shape.  But Sebastian was every bit as tall as Justin and a good bit more muscular.  And he had a lot more experience in beating people up.  He came at Justin feinting left then right.  When Justin lashed out with his right hand again Sebastian backstepped and grabbed his wrist, twisting his arm behind his back.  He slammed Justin up against the wall.  Justin struggled, but to no avail.
    "If I put much more pressure on this arm, it's going to break sweetie.  Now wouldn't that be a shame?  Then you couldn't put on your pretty little concert with all your friends."
    "And you would be in jail," Justin spat back.
    In answer Sebastian grabbed Justin by his hair and smashed his head against the wall.
    "If I were you, I'd be quiet.  Otherwise I might get angry."  He chuckled and added, "And you wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

    After Justin left rehearsals resumed for about five minutes.  At that point Johnny told everybody to take the rest of the day off because it was obvious that no one was focusing on the concert.  Zack shared a limo with Britney, JC, Lance, Nick and Christina.  Chris and Joey said they were going to a bar for a drink and Brian and the rest of the Backstreet Boys joined them.
    The ride back to the hotel was a quiet one.  Lance and Nick were cuddling, Britney was resting her head against JC's shoulder, Christina was napping and Zack was staring off into space.  When the limo got to the hotel everyone walked to the elevator without a word.  It seemed to have been predetermined that they would all retire to their respective rooms.  As the doors opened onto the floor reserved for them they began to disperse.  But Zack stopped them.
    "Wait.  I need to apologize for dragging you into this.  I'm sorry and I hope that I haven't done any permanent damage."
    "We did it because we wanted to and because it was the right thing to do," Britney said.  "Maybe we went about it in the wrong way, but that doesn't mean we were wrong."
    "No Brit, we were.  It's time to let this go.  Justin is happy with Sebastian and we all need to except that.  I am going to talk to Johnny and the rest of management tomorrow and discuss my resigning from the tour.  I think it might be best."
    Everyone started to speak at once.  When they quieted JC said, "You can't do that Zack.  It would be a disaster for your career.  We can work this out."
    "No, I need to stop thinking about myself and start thinking about everyone else.  If I stay it could tear NSYNC apart and I wont have that on my conscience.  I haven't decided anything for sure.  I'm going to go lie down for a while and try to think things through.  I'll see you all later."

    "See Justin, my dear, it's amazing how much pain you can inflict on the human body without leaving any evidence," Sebastian said cheerfully as he dug his thumb into Justin's neck and a very specific point.
    Justin was lying on his bed, trembling with fear and pain.  His nose was bleeding and his jaw hurt from the gag that had been stuffed into his mouth.  He had lost track of how long this had been going on.  First with Sebastian beating him and then when he had no fight left in him, he had been gagged and tossed on the bed.  The Sebastian had settled into jabbing at different pressure points, each one more painful that the last.  Apparently after his parents had died he had made an extensive study of causing pain to others to help him deal with his own pain.
    "Alright I'm going to take your gag out now.  I assume you're going to behave?"
    Justin simply nodded.  And Sebastian pulled the wadded strip of cloth out of his mouth and used it to wipe the blood coming from Justin's nose.
    "Good boy.  Now you get to thank me for teaching you some manners.  Get over here on the floor."
    Justin allowed himself to be dragged of the bed and collapsed at Sebastian's feet.
    "Good.  Now get on your knees."
    Justin did as he was told.  He knew what was coming and his heart cried out for it to stop.  He wanted it to stop, but he was afraid.  Afraid of what Sebastian would do to him and afraid of more pain.  He couldn't stand any more pain.
    "Now, take off my pants."
    Justin obeyed.  He unzipped Sebastian's jeans and pulled them down.  Sebastian was already rock hard and the bulge of his cock was obvious through his boxers.
    "And my underwear," Sebastian said thickly.
    Justin pulled down Sebastian's boxers, exposing his hard shaft.
    "Open wide sweetie.  Prove all that bullshit you said earlier about wanting me.  Now I'll know it's true."
    Justin parted his lips and Sebastian slipped his cock into his mouth.  At once he grabbed a handful of Justin's hair in each hand and began sliding in and out of Justin's mouth.  Justin didn't move, he began to cry and gagged when Sebastian thrust too deeply, but he didn't resist.  He had been stripped bare of all his courage.  His righteous anger was gone.  Love and hate were gone.  And that little light in his eyes died as Sebastian slid in and out.
    Eventually it was over.  With one last thrust Sebastian forced himself down Justin's throat and held him there while he came.  And Justin coughed and gagged some more and when Sebastian let him go Justin wilted to the floor and lay there.
    "That's a good boy.  Now I'm going out to get a few things.  You just lay here and rest.  When I get back you can thank me even more."
    Justin barely heard.  He retreated deep inside himself and while outside body ached and throbbed with pain and his tears fell, inside he floated in nothingness.

    Zack sat in his room for a long time thinking about how his life had changed in the last five months.  He had fulfilled his hopes in dreams in that time and then managed to screw it all up.  Perhaps it was time to give up and go home.  He hadn't seen his family for a long time.  He could go home and go back to school and get a normal job.  Maybe even find a nice girl and get married.  Have a normal life.  And be miserable until the day he died.
    But what were the alternatives?  To stay and risk tearing apart the entire tour?  Or pretend none of this had happened and isolate himself from all of his friends and focus on the music?  He needed to talk to someone.  And there was really only one person he to talk to.  He had to fix things with Justin one way or another.  There had to be closure, for everyone's sake.
    He got up with a purpose.  He left his suite and walked down the hall to Justin's room.  As usual Lonnie, on of NSYNC's bodyguards was standing outside.
    "Hey Lonnie what's up?  Justin home?"
    "Yeah he's there."
    "He alone."
    "Yup.  That Sebastian guy left about half an hour ago.  Said he was going to the store and that Justin didn't want anyone to bother him."
    "Oh really?  Think I'd be bothering him if I went in to talk for a minute?"
    "Honestly, I'm not sure if Justin even knows he said that.  There's something kind of funny about Sebastian."
    "Yeah I know what you mean."
    Zack knocked on the door, but there was no answer.  He tried it and it was locked.
    "Correct me if I'm wrong, but does Justin ever lock his door?"
    "Not that I know of.  That's why I'm here."
    "You gotta key?"
    "Think you could let me in."
    "I'm not sure I could stop you from getting in there anyway, so I guess so.  'Sides, I'm a little worried about our boy."
    "Me too."
    Lonnie unlocked the door and opened it.  Zack went in and shut it behind him.
    "Justin," he called softly.
    There was no answer.  The lights were off, even though it was getting dark outside.  The door to the bedroom was ajar but Zack couldn't see inside because it was even darker.  The blinds must have been down.  He opened the door a little and peered inside.
    He entered the room quietly, not wanting to wake Justin if he was sleeping.  As his eyes adjusted to the dark he could see the bed was messed up but empty.  The bathroom door was open and the light was off, so he wouldn't be in there.  Zack was just beginning to think that Justin had snuck out when he heard a little whimper from the other side of the bed.
    He ran over and knelt beside Justin's prone form.  Quickly he switched on the light so he could see.  Justin's face was stained with tears and there was dried blood smeared beneath his nose.  His upper lip was swollen.
    "Oh my god no," Zack breathed.  "Justin!  Please speak to me."
    "What...Zack?  Is that you," Justin said softly.  "Is this a dream?"
    "No it's not," Zack said, tears burning hotly in his eyes.  "I'm here.  What happened?"
    Justin shuddered and whimpered again.  "Please hold me Zack.  I'm scared.  Don't let him hurt me anymore."
    Zack gathered Justin in his arms and lifted him into the bed.  He held him there tightly, rocking him gently.
    "I wont," he said fiercely.  "It was Sebastian wasn't it?"
    Justin nodded.
    Zack removed one arm from Justin and reached for the phone.  He dialed JC and Britney's room.  After a few rings JC's voice answered.
    "It's me.  Come down to Justin's room.  Now.  Bring Britney and on your way tell Lonnie not to let anyone else in hear until we say so."
    "Alright, but is everything ok?"
    "No.  Just hurry."
    Zack hung up the phone and went back to comforting Justin.  He smoothed his hair with one had and made soothing noises.  Justin snuggled up against him and stopped shaking.  Zack felt tears staining his cheeks.  Tears of sorrow and of rage.  That was how JC and Britney found them a minute later.
    "Oh god what happened," Britney cried.
    "Sebastian," Zack growled.
    "Just, are you alright," JC asked.
    He nodded and buried his face in Zack's chest.
    Britney started crying as she went to the bathroom and got a wet washcloth to clean Justin's face.
    "Did you call an ambulance," JC asked tightly.
    "No.  You're the only ones I called.  I think he's ok.  Nothing broken.  He should probably see a doctor though."
    JC nodded and picked up the phone.
    "I'll have the hospital send an ambulance over.  They can check him out here and see if he needs treatment."
    Zack nodded.  "Then call the police and tell them to arrest that bastard."
    "Are you sure you want me to do that?"
    "Are you crazy?  Of course!"
    "Wouldn't you rather wait for him to come back.  Then we could take care of him."
    Zack shook his head.  "I wont do that to Justin.  Call the cops and have them bring him in.  Don't worry," he added darkly.  "Sebastian will get what's coming to him."

    Well that was kind of exciting wasn't it?  Hold on kids cause it's not over yet.  E-mail me with your thoughts at  Until next time.