Disclaimer: I do not know 'N Sync, and this story is in no way implying anything about their sexual orientation. I don't know them and I don't know anything at all about their private lives. Okay? Okay.
Lance sat on the front porch of his deserted, desolate house. It was a miserable November day outside, misting just hard enough to be considered rain. He was under the shelter or his roof's overhang, of course, and he could only watch with hooded eyes as the rain devoured everything in his sight.
His ears were very aware of the sound the rain made as it dripped off of the overhang onto the ground; that little mushy dripping noise that seemed to grate into his eardrums. It wasn't that it was loud or annoying, it was just there and he didn't want to hear it. He rested his arms on his knees and leaned forward slightly, taking in the area around him. Everything seemed to droop; the leave-less trees' branches were hanging downwards and rain dripped from their tips, and the sky was heavy with gray clouds. He felt as if he were living in some ancient black and white photo, taken while the photographer was in some deep depression. Everything was so dreary that he couldn't stand it; he just wanted to hear a bird sing, or see some color. Even he seemed to have adapted to the gray lifestyle. His clothes seemed dulled in their appearance, and even his normally bright green eyes seemed to fade into the background.
He leaned back, the step behind him cutting slightly into his back and he sighed, then stood up and walked inside his large house, the one that was silent except for the sound of the rain hitting the roof and windows.
November was, by far, his least favorite month. It was so stoic in its presence; not joyful with birds and leaves and green grass, not jeering with its playful piles of snow; it was only dreary with its dying grass and drooping trees, and the always-present gray skies.
Lance pulled off his coat, rubbing his slightly numbed hands together and made his way into the kitchen. He was more than grateful for the heat inside the house, and he pulled a pan out of a little cupboard in his kitchen and filled it with water, then put it on one of the burners on his stove. After turning the heat up, he grabbed a tea bag and sat down at the island in his kitchen, waiting for the water to begin boiling.
He was so sick of being on this damn break. `N Sync had decided to take a couple of weeks off, and it really was a necessary vacation, but two weeks seemed so long...fourteen days were about twelve too many. He could deal with a weekend off; a weekend away from his hectic lifestyle, but two weeks seemed like too much time to sit alone and drag himself around in the cold and wet November weather.
Not to mention that he missed his bandmates. When he turned around, he always expected one of them to be there. Maybe JC would be eager to show him that new song he wrote, or Chris would be bouncing off the walls to tell his new joke, or Joey would just be grinning in that infectious way of his.
As he stood up to pour the boiling water into a mug and put in his tea bag, he realized that it was definitely Justin he missed the most. Of all the members of `N Sync, he'd always seemed to be most comfortable with Justin. Perhaps it was because Justin was always so happy and so ready to talk to Lance, or maybe because Justin, too, was from the south, or maybe it was just because. Either way, as Lance watched his water mix in with the yellowish-brown hues of his tea bag, he wished that maybe these two weeks could be spent with Justin.
If Justin were there, Lance wouldn't be caught up in this dreary state of mind he was in. Justin wouldn't let him be. Justin loved November. Actually, Justin seemed to love everything. He was always scolding Lance in that lightly admonishing tone of his about how Lance needed to see the brighter side of things more, and how he needed to be more confident, or just a little more happy. Justin always seemed to be happy. Maybe it was the remainders of his teenage years; maybe he was still feeling that teenage invincibility that so many teenagers took for granted.
Lance knew, though, that Justin was just a generally bright person, one who was always willing to smile at him, or laugh with him, or just make him feel better.
Lance sighed and dipped his tea bag in a few more times before spooning in some sugar and adding some milk, then he sat at the island once more. His eyes found the window across from him, the one leading out to the back yard, and he rested his chin on his hand and stared for a moment while he allowed his tea to cool down a little bit. The rain had picked up, and it was now pouring down the windows, and he could barely make out the features of his familiar back yard.
He took a slow sip of his tea, allowing it to travel down his throat in that soothing way that he loved. Even his tea, though, seemed to be lacking something; even his tea seemed to be just a little bit more dull than usual.
As he listened to the stillness around him, interrupted only by the sounds of his spoon stirring his tea and occasionally tapping the inside of the mug and the rain hitting the roof and windows, another long sigh escaped his mouth.
Two weeks suddenly seemed like an eternity.
Lance jumped slightly when he was jolted awake by a ringing phone, and he glanced at the clock with bleary eyes to see that it was 6:15 PM. It was already dark outside, and the rain continued to fall uneventfully from the sky.
He quickly stood up and grabbed his phone from the charger it sat on near the coffeepot, and he cleared his throat before saying hello, his voice scratchy and weak nonetheless.
"Hey Lance! Did you just wake up, man? Out partying all night last night?"
Lance smiled slightly at the sound of Justin's voice. "Yeah, I just woke up. I guess I fell asleep. And no, I wasn't out partying. There aren't too many great parties out here in the middle of nowhere," he said, his voice gradually clearing up. He brought the phone with him back to his seat at the island, sticking his finger in his tea to check the temperature and grimacing slightly when he noticed that the half-empty mug was ice cold.
"Yeah, I haven't partied either. I slept until 1:00 today. It was great!" Justin said, his statement filled with excitement. Lance smiled, balancing the phone between his ear and his shoulder as he brought his mug to the sink and poured the cold tea down the drain.
"I woke up at nine," Lance said with a smile, knowing full well what Justin would respond with. He rinsed out his mug in an attempt to get rid of that brown line around the inside of the mug where the surface of his tea had been, and when it didn't clean out, he shrugged and pulled open the dishwasher, tossing the mug in.
"Lance," Justin said, "We're on vacation. Why on earth are you getting up at nine in the morning?" he asked incredulously.
Lance grinned; Justin's reaction was exactly what he'd expected. "Well I woke up and I wasn't going to just go back to sleep," he said, although he wished that he, too, could just spend the day in bed. Maybe then he wouldn't be quite so bored because he wouldn't have so much time to waste doing nothing.
Justin's laugh traveled through the phone lines and Lance couldn't help but smile when the tinny sound reached his ear. "Lance, you need to stay in bed. Force yourself to close your eyes until you're sleeping again. It works, man. Trust me," Justin said.
Lance shrugged, making his way to the family room. He pulled a blanket that his grandmother had knitted him when he was younger out of a closet, then settled into an armchair and reclining.
"So what did you do today?" Lance asked Justin as he pulled the blanket around him and snuggled into the chair, content with hearing Justin's voice and feeling the warmth of his grandmother's blanket.
On his end of the phone, Justin shrugged. "Not much. I just kind of watched TV and all that. You know, the good stuff," he said.
Lance smiled softly, knowing that Justin had been just as bored as he was. "I did nothing," Lance replied. "You know, whenever we're on tour, I always complain that it's too busy but now that there's nothing to do I'm bored as hell. I don't even want to watch TV...that's even more boring than sitting here doing nothing and watching the rain," he said with a slight roll of his eyes.
Justin smiled. "I know what you mean. It's boring here too. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love breaks, but I just don't feel like sitting here doing nothing." Justin paused for a moment, then grinned. "I wish it was raining here, in Orlando," he said.
The statement caught Lance off guard, and after being sure he'd heard Justin right, he raised an eyebrow. "Why do you actually want it to rain?" Lance asked him.
Justin smiled. "Come on, Lance, rain is awesome! It's so cold and wet, and it just kind of drips...haven't you ever taken a walk in the rain?"
Lance chuckled slightly, the sound more of a low snort. "Nope. Haven't had the pleasure," he replied, his voice light with sarcasm.
"Lance," Justin said in slight exasperation. "Don't make me come up there and kick your ass until you stop being so damn pessimistic."
Lance sighed slightly. "I'm not being pessimistic, Justin. I just don't want to go outside in the rain."
"Lance, you're not happy."
"No, wait, let me finish. I don't mean you're, like, bipolar or something, I just think that you should cheer up a little."
Lance sighed. He was used to hearing this from Justin. "Justin, I just don't like rain, okay?"
Justin smiled, knowing that he could win this one. "What color is the sky?"
"Gray," Lance replied automatically, bewildered by the odd question.
"What about the grass, Lance? What color is the grass?"
Lance thought for a moment, then shrugged. "Brownish."
"What about the tea you had before?"
Lance's head shot up slightly. "How did you know I had tea?"
Justin laughed. "Lance, you always have tea when it rains. It's just a fact."
Lance smiled slightly, the action more of a lip curvature than a smile. "Well what about the tea?"
"What color was it?"
Lance shrugged. "Yellowish brown."
"Half empty or half full?"
"Half emp-Hey!" Lance said, realizing the trap Justin had set for him. "Justin-"
"No, wait Lance. You're seeing everything as dull and empty instead of bright and full. You're being pessimistic again, Lance."
Lance sighed. "I am not being pessimistic," he said, his voice full of a slight defeat.
Justin smiled. "I think I might have to make a trip up to Lance's little shack of pessimism in Mississippi," he said with a grin.
"Justin, you don't need to come to my house," Lance said, shaking his head. The boy never gave up...ever.
"Come on, Lance, you know you want me to," he said with a laugh.
"Lance..." Justin mimicked, his tone full of the same exasperation as Lance's.
Lance sighed. "Fine."
"I can come?" Justin asked in excitement, and Lance just knew that he had just jumped up from whatever piece of furniture he'd been sitting on.
Lance laughed, smiling once more at Justin's excitement. "Yes, Justin, you can come," he said. "Just get your flight tickets and let me know when to pick you up at the airport."
With a shake of his head, Lance couldn't help but smile, even though he was acting annoyed for Justin's sake. Even though he certainly didn't show it, he was excited too. He was damn excited.
Lance pulled his hat slightly, tugging at the rim. His fingers jiggled against his keys, creating a jingling sound as they hit his leg. After hanging up with Lance, Justin had gone online and found some tickets to Mississippi for the next day. Lance didn't even want to know how much Justin had spent on them, being that it was such short notice, but he knew Justin could afford it, and that he could as well, for that matter.
Lance smiled when he heard a voice come over the loudspeaker, and it sounded more like a scratchy cat hissing into a microphone than a human speaking, but he managed to make out "Orlando" and "Mississippi" from whatever message the loudspeaker had transmitted. With a shrug, he made his way over to the area where everyone entered the terminal, and looked around impatiently when no one was exiting. He grinned, though, when he finally saw Justin walking towards him, his hands resting low on his backpack straps.
Justin grinned at Lance, pulling one hand away from his backpack to wave. He walked over, then smiled and hugged Lance. Lance returned the hug easily, laughing when Justin pulled him tighter and smiling at the warmth the boy provided.
Finally, Justin separated himself from Lance and held him at arm's length, his hands on Lance's shoulders.
"Do I pass inspection?" Lance finally asked, growing slightly uncomfortable under Justin's scrutinizing gaze and wild grin.
Justin smiled. "You'll do," he teased. "Now come on," he added. "I gotta get my luggage then we'll blow this joint."
Lance followed Justin's hurried walk over to the luggage area, and offered to carry his suitcase, only to be turned down when Justin just smiled and said he could handle it. Once outside, Justin smiled and breathed deeply.
"Dude, this break is gonna rock!" Justin said clapping Lance on the back.
Lance smiled, holding back his grin. "If you say so," he said, his voice slightly strained as he attempted to constrain his own excitement.
"You know you're more excited than I am, Lance. It's okay...I can keep your secret," he said with a laugh.
Lance just laughed and shook his head, ducking his head as he popped the trunk so that Justin didn't see his grin.
Justin tossed his suitcase into Lance's trunk, then made his way to the passenger seat while Lance got into the driver's side and turned on the car.
Immediately, Justin laughed.
"Country, Lance? You little Mississippi boy. Who is this, Garth Brooks?" Justin teased, his blue eyes glittering with laughter.
Lance laughed, the sound a deep rumble in his throat. "You know, not every male country singer is Garth Brooks."
"Answer the question, Lance," Justin said, still grinning.
Lance just rolled his eyes. "Yes, Justin, it's Garth."
"I knew it!" Justin said, laughing. "Now let's put the radio on."
Lance shook his head, knowing that Justin would find mostly country on the radio.
Justin seeked through the stations, his brow furrowed as he looked for anything suitable. He smiled triumphantly when he found a top forty station, and he turned it down slightly to transform it into more of a background noise than a main focus.
"So, Lance, what is there for us to do in good ol' Mississippi?" Justin asked, trying to make his southern accent more of a backwoods Mississippi one.
Lance laughed. "Nothing," he said, his voice full of certainty. "There is nothing fun in Mississippi. No parties, no clubs, no nothing. The only thing here is rain puddles and mud."
"We'll find something to do," Justin said confidently.
Lance shrugged slightly. "I'm sure," he replied, his voice skeptical.
Justin shook his head. "Stop being pessimistic."
"I'm not, Justin."
Finally, after their bantering went back and forth a few more times, both just laughed.
"I still say you are."
Lance pulled the door of his house open, suddenly self-conscious of his home as Justin took everything in with wide eyes, craning his neck to see everything and more. This was Justin's first time at Lance's house, and Lance couldn't help but feel nervous as he led Justin into the house.
"So, umm, your room is upstairs and-"
Lance ignored him, continuing in his nervous ramble. "Your room is upstairs, and I'll show it to you now if you want, or you can-"
"You can just get something to eat or something now if you want...did they feed you on the plane?"
"Lance!" Justin finally said, laughter sliding into his voice slightly.
Lance glanced at him momentarily. "What?"
Justin just laughed. "Calm down, Lance. It's just me," he said.
Lance's cheeks colored slightly and he ran a hand through his hair, looking anywhere but at Justin.
Justin shook his head, dropped his backpack and suitcase, and threw his arm around Lance's shoulders. "Lance."
Lance ignored him, feeling the other boy's arm like a weight on his shoulders.
"Lance, look at me, man."
Lance glanced up at Justin, his eyes uncertain.
Justin's face suddenly held a slight sense of. fear, or maybe confusion, Lance couldn't be sure. Nevertheless, he followed dutifully as he was led to his living room, and sat next to Justin when he was sort of thrown there by the other man.
"Lance, why are you...why are you afraid of me?" Justin asked, his voice softer, more true to his age.
Lance shook his head defiantly. "Justin, I'm not afraid of you."
"You were...you looked at me like I was going to destroy you. If you want, I could just get a flight back to Orlando...I pushed this onto you, you didn't even want me to-"
"No," Lance interrupted softly. "Justin, I don't want you to leave. I was just..." he paused slightly, looking away. "I was nervous," he admitted.
"Why?" Justin asked, wishing Lance would look at him and not down.
Lance shrugged. "I don't know," he admitted. "I was just...This was your first time coming here, and I didn't think you'd like it, and I just...I don't know!" he said, throwing his arms up in defeat.
Justin laughed softly, the sound a mix between a chuckle and a girlish giggle.
Lance's head snapped towards Justin. "What?"
"Do you realize how stupid we're being?"
Justin laughed. "I'm scared to death that you don't want me here and that you're scared of me, then you're nervous that I'm, like, not going to like you, which is so far from the truth, and...and this was just..."
Lance laughed. "So stupid," he admitted, his voice slightly defeated.
Justin grinned, pulling Lance into a hug. Once he pulled away, he grinned. "Ready to show me around?"
Lance rolled over, hiding his eyes from the sun. It glared into the windows brightly, tugging at his eyelids and pulling them upwards. He threw his arm to the side, rolling over onto his back, but freezing when his arm met something...someone?
Lance turned his head quizzically, wondering if there was a murderer in his bed, but then sighed in relief when he saw Justin looking at him with a grin.
"Jesus, Justin, you scared the crap outta me," he said, his voice deep and rumbly after just waking up.
Justin laughed. "I was gonna wake you up and make you make me breakfast but you looked so damn adorable clutching your pillow," he teased, laughing slightly. Lance laughed, flipping onto his side and resting his head on his bent arm. He tossed an arm over Justin's stomach, watching as Justin stared at the ceiling.
"So what are you doing in my room?" Lance asked lazily, yawning as he spoke.
"I already told you," he said, sighing dramatically.
Lance rolled his eyes. "Pardon me," he said. "I just woke up. I forgot."
Justin just laughed.
Lance absently traced the ribs on Justin's wifebeater, concentrating on his fingers moving over the fabric. He'd stayed up late the night before, talking with Justin, and both had learned a lot about each other that they didn't know, as well as little things that they never thought necessary to learn.
"Aren't you cold?" Lance finally asked, glancing up at Justin's face.
Justin smiled softly. "No," he replied, his voice soft, and full of...full of something that Lance couldn't quite put his finger on. Justin abruptly cleared his throat, though, and spoke again. "I would've gotten hot if I slept in anything heavier," he explained.
Lance nodded. "Do you want a sweatshirt of mine?" he asked, frowning in worry.
Justin smiled at the prospect of wearing something that had once been on Lance. "Sure," he replied, keeping his eagerness in check.
Lance stood up, stretching as he did so, and felt a sort of absence where his fingers had been playing with Justin's wifebeater. He wasn't quite sure why he'd traced the ribs of Justin's wifebeater so intently, but it just seemed okay in the scheme of things. It just seemed to fit in the moment.
With a smile, Lance opened one of the drawers on his bureau and pulled out a large gray sweatshirt, one with a big hood. He threw it at Justin. "It's the biggest one I have," he explained. "I wore it for a little bit the other day, so it might smell," he warned, laughing.
Justin smiled and pulled the sweatshirt to his noise, inhaling a scent that sparkled with Lance. "It smells fine," he said with a grin as he pulled it over his head.
"Okay, good. Let's go have breakfast."
Justin wasn't sure exactly how long he'd been so eager to be anywhere near Lance, but he couldn't remember any times when he didn't want to see him. Now he longed to be near anything that could just remind him of the boy, even the sweatshirt that he had thrown on over his shirt after he got out of the shower. He was sitting at Lance's kitchen table now, eating off of plates that Lance himself ate off of everyday, and he smiled despite himself, knowing he was turning into Lance's personal teenybopper.
"So," Lance said, placing his sandwich back down on his plate. "What do you want to do after lunch?"
Justin glanced outside, noticing with growing interest that the clouds were looming overhead once more. He grinned. "It looks like it might rain," he said.
Lance looked at him skeptically. "And if it does...?"
"We're going outside, man!"
Lance laughed. "I don't know..."
"Come on, Lance. You only live once. Live it up, man. It's only water. It won't do anything to you."
Lance sighed. Justin did have a point.
"Fine," he relented. "But only for a little while."
"Come on, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain-"
"Justin, chanting `rain' over and over again will not make it start raining," Lance admonished.
Justin sighed and pouted, crossing his arms over his chest. "Yeah, but it's almost dark out and it didn't rain," he said.
Lance laughed and plopped down in the bay window of his family room. It was a large window, big enough for Lance and maybe Justin, but only if they were squished together tightly, which Lance definitely wouldn't mind.
Justin walked over to the window and rested his arms on Lance's knee, peering out the window and craning his neck to see upwards into the clouds.
"Maybe it'll rain tomorrow," he said hopefully.
Lance shrugged, biting his tongue when he remembered that the radar had looked like it should rain on and off for about the next two days.
"Can I sit there with you?" Justin asked, looking at Lance expectantly.
Lance shrugged. "Sure, I don't care," he said.
Justin grinned and pushed Lance's leg out of the way enough to climb over it, then plopped down in the space between Lance's knees. With a contented sigh, he leaned back onto Lance's chest, his curls ruffling against Lance's neck.
Lance could hardly breathe at first, his body tensing with Justin's sudden closeness. He didn't mind if Justin sat there, but he hadn't expected him to jump so eagerly...well, onto Lance. With a little smile when he saw Justin's contented closed eyes, he visibly relaxed and allowed his arms to encircle Justin's waist. The two weren't always very physical, or at least not any more physical than the other members of `N Sync. However, Lance was beginning to like this change of events, and the way Justin's warmth traveled through him like wildfire.
"So do you think it's gonna rain, Lance?" he asked, fluttering his eyes open to peer up at Lance.
Lance looked down at him, finding that eye contact was easy with Justin, not difficult like it was with everyone else he encountered. "The radar said it probably will tomorrow and the day after," he said, his voice vibrating onto Justin.
Justin smiled, enjoying the feeling of Lance's deep voice so up close. "Really?" he asked. "You're not just making that up?" he added.
Lance laughed. "Why would I make it up?" he asked.
Justin shrugged, blushing slightly. "I don't know...to make me stop whining or something?" he offered.
Lance laughed again, and Justin wished that he would laugh forever if it meant he would continue to feel that little tingle that went down his spine every time that deep voice reverberated into his body. "I don't mind when you whine," he admitted. "It's cute," he added, then regretted the words, deciding that he sounded like a schoolgirl with a crush. He probably just grossed Justin out with his luck.
Justin smiled. "Thanks Lance," he said, a wide grin spreading across his face.
Lance couldn't help but smile again, relieved that he didn't scare Justin away from him.
"I like your house," Justin commented, snuggling deeper into Lance's chest.
Lance smiled. "Thanks," he said, then chuckled lightly. "It's more fun when you're here, though," he added.
"Really?" Justin asked, glancing up at Lance again.
Lance smiled and nodded. "Really."
Justin attempted to burrow himself deeper into Lance's chest, but didn't go very far. Lance, though, tightened his grip around Justin's waist, understanding his need to be closer. They were so close, but for some reason, couldn't get close enough.
"I like this, too," Justin said with a smile.
"This?" Lance asked, not quite sure exactly what Justin meant, or actually, not wanting to get his hopes up.
"Me being here with you," Justin clarified, his voice soft again.
Lance smiled warmly, allowing his fingers to travel underneath Justin's shirt and run up and down his stomach. Justin sighed contentedly at the touch, eager to feel that little jolt that Lance's fingers left behind.
"Me too," Lance said, smiling. "It's nice."
There was a comfortable silence for a moment, both boys just kind of listening to the air that seemed to be filled with everything and nothing at the same time.
"So you think it'll rain tomorrow?" Justin finally asked, grinning, as he looked up at Lance.
Lance laughed, glancing down at Justin. "One more time and I'm not going outside with you."
Justin immediately closed his mouth, laughing softly through his closed lips as he leaned his head back against Lance's shoulder.
They sat in silence again, both getting that feeling that something was going on, that something was going to happen. Normally, Lance would be somewhat frightened at the ominous feeling, but he was completely at ease with it, knowing that this time, however pessimistic he may be, it was a good feeling. With a smile, he leaned just a little bit more into Justin and settled into the beautifully deafening silence.
Okay, everone, that was the first part. Did you like it? Hate it? Let me know if you can, okay?