So finally we get to the good part! As usual thanks for all the e-mail, hoe to keep hearing form all of you.
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This story is not meant to imply anything about the sexuality of anyone in it (myself included). I have no knowledge of the private lives of the members of NSYNC or any other celebrities that show up in this story. After all it is just a story, and is a work of fiction. If you shouldn't read this then don't.
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A Model Romance- Chapter Four
"Hi Justin. I'm Zack."
He just stood there for a minute, as if he was unsure what to do. Part of him looked like he wanted to run, and he wouldn't make eye contact with me. This bothered me because whenever I meet someone I try to look directly into his or her eyes. They say the eyes are "the window to the soul" and I believe it. I can instantly tell what a person is like by looking in their eyes. Finally he spoke.
"Oh so you can talk. I was wondering about that. You seem awfully shy for somebody famous."
Justin flinched. I decided that maybe I was coming off too strong. I sometimes come off as a little overbearing.
"I'm sorry, that was rude. I was just trying to be funny. Looks like I failed again."
"No, I'm just not in a funny mood. It's not your fault."
"So, uh, do you want to tell me about it?"
"Come on man, I can tell somethin's wrong. Just because I'm a model doesn't mean I'm an airhead."
He smiled slightly at that.
"Ah ha! See I'm getting through to you! Now let's try this again. Hi I'm Zack."
I extended my hand. He gave me an odd look but then grasped it and shook it lightly. When he touched me it was almost like being shocked. We both looked up in surprise. For the first time I looked into his eyes. In the faint light they glistened with tears.
"I'm Justin. Nice to meet you," he said with a fake smile.
"Well now that we know each other, why don't you tell me why you're out here missing your party. Look I even brought you a drink. Jack and Coke to ease your troubles."
"Oh. No thanks. I'm not much of a drinker."
"Ok, well how about some water then," I asked as I pulled Britney's bottle of water out of my pocket. "I always come prepared."
This time he did smile.
"Thanks. Do you always carry drinks in your pockets."
"No. This was a special occasion. So now enough stalling, start talking."
"It's nothing really. I just didn't sleep very well last night."
"You know Justin, I've never met anyone that could lie to me before, but you are a worse liar than most. Look, if you don't want to talk to me thanks fine. I will totally understand, I mean we did just meet. But I can already tell I like you and I want you to know that if you need someone to talk to I'm here. People tell me I'm a good listener."
He looked at me with a mixture of hope and doubt. I think he wanted to tell me, but he couldn't. But there was something else in his face. Longing? Regret? Loneliness? Maybe all three.
"Thanks. I just…I've just had to deal with a lot of stuff lately. I'm fine though."
"Well I still say you're a bad liar, but I'll let you go, this time. Hey, why don't you come inside and join us. I seem to have met some of your associates. In fact they're probably wondering where they're drinks are."
"Yeah ok. You shouldn't keep Britney waiting anymore."
Justin cursed silently. Why did he say that? Now Zack would wonder how he knew that he was Britney's date!
"Oh. I didn't realize you'd recognized me. I guess that story is all over the tabloids. Actually we're just friends."
Justin breathed a sigh of relief. Zack hadn't picked up on it.
"Yeah…I caught that story on Entertainment Tonight. I saw you in GQ too."
"That's cool. So are you excited for this new tour? Your bandmates seem to get along with Backstreet pretty well. It sounds like fun."
"Yeah, I think it will be. Nick and I go back a ways. Actually Britney's a really good friend too. And speak of the devils there they are."
I had been so wrapped up in my conversation with Justin I hadn't noticed we'd made it back to the table. Joey, AJ, and Howie had joined Britney, Nick, JC, Lance and Christina and they were all laughing and joking. Nick looked up and saw us coming.
"Well there he is. Bout time, I've been getting thirsty! And look he brought the Nick Carter wannabe with him!"
"Screw you Nick," Justin said good-naturedly. "You wish you could be half as good as me."
"Whatever Curly, you're just jealous because I beat you in the last "Seventeen" popularity poll."
"Just wait Nick," I put it. "Pretty soon you'll both be second best to me."
They laughed and we continued to kid around. I gave Nick his drink, which he wound up passing to Christina. "Ladies first" he said. Then he and I went back to the bar since I had to get Britney a new bottle of water and I needed a refill myself. After we left Britney gave Justin a questioning look. He mouthed the word "later" and turned back to finish talking to JC.
The party went pretty well after that. By the end of the night I had been formally introduced to all the members of both bands. I got a couple of weird looks from Brian whenever I was messing around with Nick, but other than that things went smoothly. Maybe a little too smoothly. Nick had proved to share my affinity for drinking as did JC, Lance, and AJ. We were all feeling quite jovial by the time David came over to me.
"Well I'm glad to see you haven't had any trouble making friends. Hello boys."
There was a chorus of "Hi David's." I was a little confused; they all seemed to know him.
He saw the look on my face and chuckled.
"What? Do you think you're the only cute little brat that I've had in my studio? How do you think I know they people at Jive so well? They're always sending these bums up to New York to bother me."
There were shouts of feigned shock and outrage but David ignored them and went on.
"So anyway, the wife and I are gonna get out of here. Us old folks have to get to bed at a reasonable time. Should I have a car pick you up and bring you to the hotel?"
Britney spoke up before I could reply.
"Actually he's staying at Justin's house David."
"I see. Can I assume that he won't be driving?"
"I'll make sure he gets there safe," Justin said. "I haven't had anything to drink. He can ride with me."
"Ok. That's great Justin. Tell Lynn to throw him out if he gets to be too much of a pain in the ass." He turned to the rest of the crowd. "Now you kids be good. I'll see you all later."
"Bye David," I yelled as he turned away.
Suddenly Justin jumped up.
"Well I don't know about y'all but, I'm ready to get out of here. You guys can come whenever you're ready."
I got up and drained my drink.
"Ok I guess that's my cue. I'll see everybody later."
Nick was getting up and looked like he was going to come with us when Britney grabbed him.
"Nicky, my date has abandoned me. Would you dance with a poor little country girl who's all alone," she asked in a seductive voice.
Nick looked annoyed for a minute, but Britney dragged him out onto the dance floor anyway. Justin and I walked out into the night and I followed him to his Mercedes ML 320 sport-ute.
"Oh thanks. I like it. It's got lots of room."
"Yeah, I love those German cars. I prefer my bimmer convertible though. I need something a little sportier than one of those big gas-sucking monsters."
"Me too that's why I have a bimmer at home. I just felt like driving this one tonight."
"Oh it must be terrible to have to chose what car to drive! But at least I know we're going to get along great now. You have good taste in cars."
He flashed me a big smile as he climbed into the driver's seat. I went around and hopped in the passenger's side. We pulled out of the parking lot and were soon cruising down the freeway at high speed. Justin flipped on the radio. The song was "Bye Bye Bye" ironically enough. He quickly switched to a different station.
"Get tired of hearing yourself?"
"Yeah I guess you could say that. I know I shouldn't complain, it's good that they play our music a lot, but I can't believe they play it as much as they do."
"Again my heart really goes out to you. You have it really tough Timberlake."
He stuck his tongue out at me and we both started cracking up. We got to Justin's house in remarkable time. The house was a typical Floridian mansion. High ceilings decorated in light colors. There was a pool out back and a basketball court. We went in and headed straight for the basement. It was decorated for a party. There was a big stereo system and a karioke machine. There was also a well-appointed bar and a pool table. The basement had french doors on one side that opened out onto a patio in the backyard. Beyond that was the pool.
"So," Justin said. "Watcha wanna do now?"
"Um, I don't know. It's your house."
"Well, we could go for a swim."
"I don't have a suit. How about a game of pool?""
Justin looked a little disappointed but we headed to the pool table and started playing. I did pretty well and beat him the first time. By the end though my skills hand gone down to nearly nothing, as usual. He beat me in the second game and was kicking my ass the third time around when Nick and JC bounded down the stairs.
"Put your clothes back on girls. It's time to start the party," Nick yelled.
Something passed over Justin's face quickly, but it was gone before anyone noticed.
"Won't be much of a party if you're hear Carter. Why don't you just start drinking? The quicker you pass out the quicker we can have some real fun."
"Boys, boys, boys," I said in a fatherly tone. "This constant fighting isn't healthy. Now why don't you both come over hear and we'll settle this dispute the way real men do: get shitfaced. It just so happens that I have a talent for bartending."
"Yeah I'm sure you're a great bartender," Nick said. "I'll bet you drink half the drinks you make."
"Probably more than that. But anyway, let's get started."
I do have a natural gift for bartending as everyone soon found out. It's how I always make friends at parties. Everyone loves a drink maker. We were all having a great time. The music was loud, and I played a few more games of pool. I beat Nick only to lose horribly to JC. I was just explaining the fine art of making a margarita to Chris when Howie and AJ decided it was karioke time.
Alcohol is a very interesting thing. One of its effects is that it reduces our inhibitions. This has been the cause of many people's embarrassment, and has even more people's entertainment. Now being at a party with a bunch of pop music's biggest stars should be enough to make anyone self-conscious about their singing voice. No person in their right mind would want to humiliate themselves by trying karioke, which is enough of an embarrassment itself. Of course on some level I knew all this even in my inebriated state. So when Chris tried to get me to go sing something I turned him down. I refused three times, but eventually everyone was badgering me so I gave in. I knew I was going to make an ass out of myself, but I just didn't care. I did decide that I wasn't going down alone though.
"Ok, fine! I'll sing. But I'm not doing this by myself. Justin get up here and help me."
Justin was one of the few people who was still sober. He had been over in the corner talking to Britney.
"Oh, no that's ok Zack. I'm sure you'll be fine."
"Damn it Timberlake. I'm not doing this without you! Get up here."
Justin looked like he was going to refuse again, but Britney pushed him forward. That settled I flipped through the CDs looking for something I would know. Finally I came across something that I figured no one would know if I screwed up. I couldn't believe that Justin had it.
"Rod Stewart? You have Rod Stewart!"
"Oh…uh, I think it's my moms or something. I mean I don't listen to that…"
"Justin sweetheart you're trying to lie to me again. I love Rod Stewart so don't sweat it. I used to listen to this with my parents. Let's see, we'll sing…"You're in My Heart." You know it?"
"Yeah, that's one of my…mom's favorites. But isn't it a little slow?"
"No way! We'll give it some flava!"
"Ok fine. But please stop talking like that! You are way too white."
So I set it up and the song started to play. Through some miracle I found my voice despite all the alcohol. I have been told that I have a beautiful voice, but don't believe it. That night I sang better than I ever had before and I don't think I'll ever sing that well again. It was almost like magic. I took the first verse.
I didn't know what day it was When you walked into the room. I said 'hello' unnoticed; You said `goodbye' too soon. Breezin' through the clientele, Spinnin yarns that were so lyrical. I really must confess right here, That the attraction was purely physical. And then Justin sang, his voice was like an angel. I took all those habits of yours, Which in the beginning were hard to accept. Your fashion sense for Beardsley prints, I chalked up to experience. The redheaded lady with a dutch accent Who tried to change my point of view. Her ad lib lines were well rehearsed, But my heart cried out for you.Then we sang the chorus together. Our voices joined in perfect harmony. His soft and sweet, like a feather's touch. Mine rich and clean like a forest after spring rain.
You're in my heart, you're in my soul. You'll be my breath should I grow old. You are my lover, you're my best friend. You're in my soul. We sang third verse together. You're an essay in glamour. (Please pardon the grammar.) But you're every schoolboy's dream. You're Celtic united, but baby I've decided You're the best team I've ever seen. You're a rhapsody, a comedy, You're a symphony and a play. You're every love song ever written, But honey what do you see in me?And we sang the rest of the song together. By this point everyone's attention was riveted on us. But we didn't notice. I turned to Justin and looked into his piercingly blue eyes and he looked back into mine. Something passed between us then and the meaning behind the song rang true in our hearts. At that moment he was in my heart.
You're in my heart, you're in my soul. You'll be my breath should I grow old. You are my lover, you're my best friend. You're in my soul. My love for you is immeasurable' My respect for you: immense. You're ageless, timeless, lace and fineness, You're beauty and elegance. And there have been many a day, Many times I thought to leave. But I bite my lip and turn around, Cause you're the warmest thing I ever found. You're in my heart, you're in my soul. You'll be my breath should I grow old. You are my lover, you're my best friend. You're in my soul. You're in my heart, you're in my soul. You'll be my breath should I grow old. You are my lover, you're my best friend. You're in my soul. -"You're In My Heart" by Rod StewartThe last note trailed off and the applause started. I held Justin's gaze for a moment longer. Things might have gone very differently that night if I had given in to my first impulse and kissed him right there. But fear held me back. I didn't recognize it as fear at the time, but fear was the root cause anyway. Fear of others, fear of society, and fear of rejection, but most importantly fear of myself. And so I broke his gaze as the next song began to play. I figured that since the last song was so well received that I would do another. I didn't sing nearly as well this time, but it didn't matter. The moment had passed. When Justin saw that I was going "on with the show" he started to walk away. When he realized what song it was he stopped and then ran out the door into the night as if it was too much to bear. Part of me wanted to go after him, but the performer in me, fueled by a good crowd and a lot of alcohol held me on my course. I began to sing the next song. Something a little quicker, and it had a bit of a disco beat. No one recognized it at first, but by the time I got to the chorus they were all smiling.
If ya want my body, And ya think I'm sexy, Come one suga let me know. If ya really need me, Just reach out and touch me, Come on baby tell me so.I am well aware that disco was way before my time. Nevertheless I am quite good at it. So I started my drunken disco dancing. What did I say earlier about alcohol being the cause of many party-related embarrassments? Yeah. Everyone found it immensely amusing. By the time the chorus came around again JC, Brian, Lance, Nick, and Chris had joined me. We were all singing and doing a little disco. It was a big hit.
If ya want my body, And ya think I'm sexy, Come on suga let me know. If ya really need me, Just reach out and touch me, Come on baby tell me so. From "If ya want my body" by Rod Stewart When the song was over we all busted out laughing. Nick gave me a big hug and then kissed me quickly, right on the lips. I didn't think anyone had seen it, but Brian did. For my part I was so shocked I didn't know what to do. So I did then only thing that seemed plausible, made myself another drink. * * * * * Justin sat by the edge of the pool looking up at the sky. The clouds had moved on and the stars were out. He reviewed the events of the night. Things had been going pretty well. He and Zack got along really well, and that then there was that song. He knew what he had felt when they were singing. He had felt a connection between them and he thought Zack had felt it to. He had looked into those deep green-blue eyes and seen something that no one else had. He had seen the loneliness, the longing, and the desire for love that Justin had felt himself. But then it was all over and the next song came on. That had been the final blow. "If you want my body, and you think I'm sexy, come on sugar let me know?" God damn it; that had been too much. It was like fate was mocking him. "Justin? Are you ok?" He looked and saw Britney standing in behind him, the curves of her body outlined by the light from the house. "Fine. Just needed some air." "Sure you did. That last song hit a little too close to home?" "Oh fuck it," he said as he started to cry. "It's not fair! We sang the song, and I could feel something between us. I know he felt it too. What the hell did I do wrong? Everything was going so well." "Justin, baby, I'm so sorry. This is why I didn't want to do this. I was afraid you'd get hurt. Look, maybe he doesn't have the same feelings for you that you do for him, but that doesn't mean you can't still be his friend. He's a great guy and he really likes you, that much is obvious." "I don't know if I can do that," Justin sobbed. "You just expect me to pretend like I don't have these feelings? Oh, sorry you're not gay Zack, let's still be friends! Is that what you want me to do?" "Justin, calm down. All I'm saying is that you shouldn't throw away a good friendship just because that's all it is." "Alright. I get the point. Now I need some time to think. Please leave." She looked like she was about to say something else, but then she changed her mind and walked back to the house. Justin wiped the tears from his eyes and searched the sky for answers. It didn't have any. * * * * * I was trashed. No doubt about it. I couldn't even see straight and it took me three tries to get up off the floor when Nick said he wanted to talk to me. In a daze I allowed him to drag me into one of the guest bedrooms. By the look of him he had had quite a bit to drink himself, though not nearly as much as me. I was trying to calculate exactly how much Jack Daniel's I had consumed when my train of thought was interrupted by his talking. "Zack? Are you ok?" "Mmmmmm. Fine." "Listen, I just….ah…about what I did earlier. I didn't mean to kiss you, it just sort of happened, and anyway, I'm sorry." "Yeah, ok. Good." "I…I want you to know that I think you're really cool. I like you a lot. And you have a beautiful voice." "Uh huhhh." "So, anyway. I really like you. Y'know? And, I just was wondering, if…maybe there's a chance that you…like me too." "Mmmmmmmm." Nick had been staring at me the whole time. I think he was making an attempt at romance or something. I guess he mistook my noncommittal drunken slur as an invitation because the next thing I knew he was on top of me with his tongue in my mouth. I'm not sure how long he was kissing me, but I managed to get out from under him eventually. "What are you doing," I asked in a slow and highly intoxicated voice. "Huh? But I thought you…wait. You mean you don't… Oh god I'm so sorry!" He bolted out the door tears already forming in his eyes. I laid back on the bed and tried to contemplate the irony of the situation. I'd only just met these guys and I'd already sent two of them out the door in tears. I only had a moment's peace before Brian and Lance busted in with Britney close on their heels. "There he is. I almost hope he's passed out." "No such luck Brit," I mumbled without getting up. "This is just too good. What the hell did you do to Nick," Lance practically yelled. "Lance calm down you're not helping." Britney came over and sat down on the bed and looked at me carefully. "He's pretty out of it now, but go get him another drink just in case." "It'll serve him right if he pukes." "Brian shut up! You're no better than Lance. Besides, I'm not really going to let him drink anymore, I just wanted to get rid of Lance. Now come over here and help me to sit him up." They propped me up on the bed and I looked at them blearily. "Zack? Can you tell me what happened? Why did Nick run out of here?" "Uhhh. He said he wanted to talk to me, and he brought me in here. Then he started talking and then he kissed me. I got him off, and said `what are you doin?' and he ran out." That little speech took the better part of two minutes for me to complete, with many a grunt and groan between words. Brian was the first to speak. "I can't believe we're listening to this. Nick would never take advantage of somebody like that. He must have been leading him on. You saw how he's been flirting with Nick all night…" "Brian. For the last time SHUT UP. Look there's probably a perfectly good explanation for this. I'm sure Nick didn't take advantage of Zack on purpose. You know how Nick is. He falls for these guys in an instant. And they've both had a lot to drink to night. Nick probably just got the wrong idea and when he realized what had happened he ran out of hear crying." "Ohhh man. Poor Nick. I feel like a jerk. Biran (not a typo) help me up. I gotta go talk to him." I actually stumbled to my feet before anyone could assist me and was almost out the door when I ran into Lance. We both managed to stay upright but the drink in his hand spilled all over both of us. "Whoops sorry Lance! Gotta go find Nick." Lance just stood there an expression of utter amazement on his face. Britney and Brian took one look and him and bust out laughing. "I really don't see what's so funny." "Oh man Lance. You should just see the look on your face," Brian said between giggles. "I'm sure it's hysterical but shouldn't we go after our drunken friend." "Oh I doubt he'll get too far," Britney said. He's had enough to make an elephant tipsy. The important thing is to find Nick before he does anyth….OH SHIT! WE HAVE TO FIND HIM BEFORE HE TALKS TO JUSTIN!" Britney was gone before either of the guys could ask her what she meant. They followed her out to the main room of the basement where I had passed out on the floor. (Originally I had sat down on the couch to take a rest, but sitting up was too hard and the floor was mighty comfortable). They saw Britney in the doorway not moving. Justin was standing in front of her. * * * * * After Britney left Justin sat by the pool with his feet in the water and thought about what she had said. Maybe he and Zack could still be friends. He seemed to be a pretty fun guy. He was certainly good at parties. Maybe he had been wrong; maybe he and Zack didn't share some lofty connection. Even if he couldn't get over his feelings for Zack, wasn't it better to have him as a friend than not at all? He was still thinking this over when Nick came bursting out, tears streaming down his face. "Nick? What's wrong man?" "Whaa? Justin. Oh god Justin, I think I really fucked up this time." "What happened?" "Well it's like this. Zack and I were hitting it off pretty good and…" Justin stiffened already not wanting to hear the rest of this. "…well I wanted to talk to him. Y'know tell him how I felt. So we went back to the guest bedroom." "Hold up Nick. I'm really not in the mood for one of your one night stand-broken heart stories," Justin said angrily. "I really can't deal with that bullshit right now." Nick started crying harder and Justin felt a pang of regret. Nick had been his friend through some hard times, and that last hit had been below the belt. "J-J-Justin. I-it's not like t-that." Nick was really sobbing now. "I did kiss him, b-but then h-he s-s-stopped me. And he was like `what are you doing' and I j-just r-realized that he didn't want w-what I w-wanted. And, oh god, what if he tells the press or sues me. I-I really like him Justin. And I can't believe I screwed things up this bad." All of Justin's anger left. He was reminded of a scene two years ago, the last time he had seen Nick this upset was when he had come out to Justin. That hadn't gone very well. But now he could make up for it. He took Nick in his arms and held him. "It's ok Nick. Everything will be fine. Zack will understand." And then he realized something. Zack had had his chance to get Nick and him. And he had turned them both down. Which meant he really must be straight. Well screw him. Nick was his friend first, and he didn't need some bitchy little model to ruin everything. Justin felt his own tears building up again. They flowed down his face and spoke. "Nick I know exactly how you feel. And I'm so sorry." "Justin, I really don't think you could know. I mean you've never dealt with something like this." "You're wrong Nick. When I said I knew exactly how you felt, that's what I meant. See bringing Zack down here wasn't really Britney's idea." He told Nick the whole story. About his being gay and coming out to the guys. About his feelings for Zack and how he and Britney had come up with this idea. When he was finished Nick had stopped crying. But in his eyes was something much worse. Anger. "You…you're gay? That's just perfect Justin. How long have you known? Where were you with this two years ago when I needed to hear it?!" "Nick, take it easy! I didn't really come to terms with this until a few weeks ago. And I've been miserable ever since." "Miserable! You have no idea what that is. Do remember when I came to you two years ago?" * * * * * Two years earlier Justin lay basking in the warmth of the sun. He had always loved Florida. Europe was cool, he had been spent a lot of time over there lately, but it was good to be back in the states. He wondered where Nick was. He had called over an hour ago asking if he could come over. Justin then he heard a car door shut. He got up and went through the house to open the door. He was wearing nothing but a pair of blue UNC mesh shorts. His bare chest glistened with sweat and his bleached platinum blonde hair was still damp from the pool. It was just Nick, so who cared? He opened the door and the person he saw standing there looked nothing like Nick Carter. He was pale and his face was gaunt. He looked like he had lost 20 pounds since the last time Justin saw him. There were dark circles under his eyes and his hair was matted probably hadn't felt a comb for a week. "Nick! Oh god what's wrong with you!" "Justin, I need to tell you something. Can I come in?" "Of course. Do you want anything to eat or drink?" "No. I haven't been very hungry lately." "Nick what's wrong with you. You look like you haven't slept for days." "Well I haven't really. I've just been thinking a lot." They sat down on Justin's couch and Nick went on. There were no tears. Just a dull monotone. It was as if all the emotion had been drained from him. "Justin, I've been going through some changes lately. I've been having a really rough time dealing with this and I don't know who else to turn to." "Nick you know you can tell me anything. I'll be here for you." "There's no easy way to say this, so I'll just get it over with. Justin I'm gay." It took a minute for that to sink in. Justin just sat there staring at his friend, not really comprehending. "Oh. Wow Nick, I'm so…sorry." "Sorry. I see." "Really Nick. You know I'm here for you. Anything you need, just ask." Nick laughed at this as if it were extremely funny. "Anything I need Justin? Yeah I'm sure you're real sorry. Well you can just save your pity, I don't need it. <end flashback> * * * * * "You stormed out of the house and didn't talk to me for three weeks after that. I never did figure out why." "No I'm sure you didn't. You were too wrapped up in your own little world to care anyway." Justin tried to interrupt but Nick kept on talking. "Did it ever occur to you why I told you? We were good friends yeah, but I had the guys and plenty of other friends too. Justin I told you because I was in love with you! I came to you hoping to find that you would return that love and what did I get instead? Pity. It would have been easier if you had just thrown me out and told me all fags should burn in hell. There is nothing worse than looking for love and finding only pity in return. And now you come to me after all this time and tell me that you really are gay! After all those nights I spent agonizing over you. Forgiving you was the hardest thing I've ever done, and I never regretted it until now." Nick was gone before Justin could recover his wits. What had he done? How could he have been so blind? But wait it wasn't his fault. He hadn't known how Nick felt, and he had done the best he could to be supportive. He hadn't even known he was gay back then! Then it dawned on him. He was mad at Zack for almost the same reason Nick was mad at him. He walked back to the house and practically ran in to Britney. "Justin! You're here. Don't talk to…I mean you haven't seen Nick have you?" "He told me. It's fine. This whole thing was my fault and I'm sorry for dragging you and everyone else into it." He looked up and saw Lance and Brian standing behind Britney with questioning looks on their faces. "Just don't even ask right now ok? I'll explain everything tomorrow. Where is everybody else?" "They're all asleep, passed out, or gone home," Brian said. "Where's Nick?" "I don't know he ran off. Somebody should go find him, but I don't think it should be me." "I'll go," Lance said. He was out the door before anyone could comment. Brian turned back to face the basement, which looked like a tornado had touched down in it. "Well, guess I'll start cleaning up. Don't want Lynn to freak out when she gets up tomorrow." "I'll help you," Britney said. "You guy's really don't need to worry about that. It'll still be here for us tomorrow." "Justin your mother has always been very good to me. She treated me like a daughter, and I will not repay years of kindness by letting her wake up to this mess. You should go to bed though. I know you haven't gotten a decent night's sleep in days." "Yeah, maybe you're right. It's been kind of a rough night." He started for the stairs when his eyes fell upon Zack's nearly comatose body. Something stirred in his heart when he saw him lying helpless on the floor. Wordlessly he picked up Zack's limp form and carried him up the stairs. Britney and Brian watched him go wordlessly. Justin struggled up two flights of stairs with Zack in his arms. Zack wasn't any bigger than Justin, but two days without sleep had left the curly-haired teen exhausted. He slipped and almost dropped him once, but Zack instinctively wrapped his arms around Justin's neck. `Guess he's starting to come around,' Justin thought. All the guestrooms were full so he took Zack up to his own room and put him in his bed. Justin looked at him; the dead weight of drunken unconsciousness had given way to peaceful slumber. Unfortunately his clothes were soaked. `Wonder how that happened,' Justin thought as he stripped off Zack's shirt and pants. He looked at the object of his desires lying on his bed in nothing but his boxers. Temptations started to enter Justin's head. Quickly he pulled back the sheets, put Zack under them, and covered him back up. As he pulled the sheets back up his face came close to Zack's. He looked down, their lips barely an inch apart. For one instant he gave in to his desires and touched his lips to Zack's. The contact was electrifying. Zack smiled in his sleep. `Probably dreaming about Britney,' Justin thought sourly. But he quickly pushed that image away. Just for tonight things would be perfect. He lay down on the bed and put his head on Zack's chest. He was asleep in moments. * * * * * Whew! That was a long one. I thought about ending it sooner and making it a cliffhanger, but exams are here and it's probably gonna be a while before I get the next chapter out. So I thought I'd end this one on a happy note. Hope you're all enjoying reading this as much as I'm enjoying writing it. As always comments and suggestions are welcome. Until next time!