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Now to the story!!!

A Performer's Life

I opened my eyes to take in the early morning sun, but the curtains were not on the right side of the room. I smiled to myself, remembering that I hadn't gone to bed in my own room. Rich still had his arms wrapped around my body. The feeling of his strong, warm arms set my heart beating quickly. I still couldn't believe my good fortune.

The clock on the table besides the bed shone with a red brilliance, proclaiming that it was only 6:30 in the morning. I moaned, quietly so as not the wake Rich. I prayed that he was a deep sleeper, and pulled his arms off of my chest before sitting up.

I stood then turned to watch him momentarily. He moaned softly then rolled towards the place where my body would have been. My heart fluttered, pumping extra blood into my face, making me light-headed. I turned and walked to the window, bathing in the warm light of the rising sun. I didn't realize just how chilled I was from the cold hotel air, until I stepped into the rose colored sunlight. Shower. The thought popped into my mind with such suddenness that it threatened to knock me over.

I've always been a clean and tidy person. I like to keep everything in my life organized. I'm not anal mind you, but I like everything in some semblance of order. Most of all, I like myself clean. I can't stand feeling sweaty, or dirty. When I was a kid, out playing with my friends, I did everything to avoid getting dirty. I always suggested activites that wouldn't involve alot of mud, or dirty, or crushed berries. But I won't get into the crushed berries, that is a totally different story.

I walked to the door to the hall and slipped out, leaving it slightly ajar, so I could return without having to wake Rich to let me back in. Returning to my room, I grabbed today's set of clothes and my bath and personal hygiene things then returned to his Rich's room. Why I didn't just shower in my room, I really don't know, it certainely would have been easier. I just wanted to be as close to Rich as possible. Slipping into the bathroom I quickly arranged my things in some semblance of order -- I'm just a bit of a neat freak -- before stripping and getting into the shower.

The moaned with relaxation as the warm water flowed over my skin. My body slipped into automatic as my mind began to drift into that space between reality and imagination. It had been so long since my last -- and first -- boyfriend. Of course there had been Danny, at Busch Gardens, but he was just a part-time lay. Both of us didn't want a relationship at the time, and we respected that. But there had been Justin. Justin, my first, and until Rich, only. He had been so sweet at times, and at others he was a total ass. Of course he was never mean to me, just people around us. I didn't like it, and I tried to get him to lighten up, but that had backfired. At first he really did try to change, but after a few months he just got tired of it, and me, and decided to call it quits. That wasn't a very nice break-up, but it wasn't too sloppy.

With Rich, I wasn't really worried about a bad break-up. He could afford to go around talking about me, and I would only be on tour with them for the remainder of this tour. After that LFO and Britney were parting ways -- which brought up another problem: What would I do when they left for their own tour. There were too many variables. "You're overanalyzing!" I told myself. Deep down I knew it was true, but I still couldn't stop myself. For me, it was natural. "Stop thinking and just let your heart lead you," the voice seemed to say. "Letting my heart lead is the best way to get it removed and thrown to the wolves!" another voice replied vehmenently. "But you'll never know if you don't try," the first voice replied, the second had no response.

Returning to bittersweet reality, I finished washing myself, paying special attention to those areas which are oh so important. I didn't want Rich to get digusted with anything. I shut off the water and dried off, before heading over to the mirror to start preening. Finally, clean shaven, and with my hair in some semblance of style, I put my clothes on, checked my hair one last time, then walked to the door. On the other side I could hear voices, slightly muffled. I recognized one as Rich's. The second sounded kind of like Brad, but I could be sure.

"Hey, we agreed that we wouldn't get upset for at each other over him. Besides, you only wanted to get into bed with him. I actually want to try a relationship with him. When was the last time that you were in a relationship?" I heard Rich said. The words warmed my heart, drawing some of the fear out of me.

"Yeah. I am happy for you man, I'm just jealous. You always seem to get the chics, or studs, as the case may be. You and Devin." Ahhh, so it was Brad. "I really get jealous of the two of you sometimes. You're probably right though. I don't think I could take a relationship now anyway. Single is waaaaay to much fun." The last was tinged with lighthearted laughter. "Well, he's all yours!"

"You know it!" Rich replied. It almost made we want to burst into histerics, or run out and kiss him. "Why the hell can't I!?!" I thought.

The door flew open and I ran across the room and jumped onto Rich, kissing him quickly on the lips. A simple pec, but it was enough. "What you two talking about?" I asked, feigning ignorance. I could feel Brad's eyes on my back. He might say that I was all Rich's, but something told me that he still wanted a piece of me. Why, I don't know. These are extremely popular guys, they could have anyone they wanted. Why in the world did they want some no one like me. Of course, I suppose that the no one has to be someone, so why not me.

The intricacies of the thoughts were too complicated for an early morning thinking session. I am a morning person, but trying to make my brain really think that early in the morning can have dangerous side-effects. Besides, I had better things to concentrate on at the moment. Things like the deep suppleness of Rich's lips. The simple pec turned into a deeper, passionate kiss that drowned out the rest of the world. I vaguely recognized the sounds of Brad's quick retreat, but when they vanished, so did any thoughts of the real world.

Fifteen minutes later, Rich and I surfaced from our lip-locked bliss. "You know," I said, "you have horrible morning breath."

Rich smiled, "Is that a problem?"

"I dunno, I'll have to think about it," I joked. Quickly standing up, I pulled Rich up with me, and pushed him towards the bathroom. "Go get clean. I don't like dirty men. Well, not all the time anyway." We both laughed, while Rich grabbed some clothes and headed into the bathroom to get ready.

When I heard the shower start I walked to the table besides the bed, and dialed Britney's room. "Hey Brit," I said into the reciever. "Guess where I slept last night!"

"Certianely not in someone else's bed!" she replied sarcastically.

"That's where you're wrong," I replied, calling her bluff. "I slept with Rich last night." I could hear her brain shift into full awake-mode. Let me tell you, that sound can be quite painful. The scream that accompanied it -- or maybe it was just the scream that hurt -- sent my eardrums into overload, taking me several minutes to get rid of the awful ringing. "Well, now that the entire hotel knows, you wanna go live on television and tell everyone?"

"If you think Rich wouldn't mind!" she retorted.

She quickly told me about today's schedule. It seemed that once again we were free until two o'clock then there would be rehearsals and sound checks. The show itself started at 8:00 but we didn't go on until approximately 9:00. It promised to be a long day. When I heard the shower flick off, I excused myself from the conversation and hung up the phone. I waited on the bed for Rich to come out of the bathroom. I should have figured that it woudl take him awhile in front of the mirror. I was left waiting for ten minutes before he finally decided to grace me with his presence. "So, it takes you awhile to get all primped and preened? Are you doing that all for little old me?"

He smiled one of those heart-throb smiles. "What would you say if I told you yes, it is just for you?"

"I'd call you a lying flatter, but I'd like it anyway," I replied, giving him my best smile in return.

My feeble amount of charm must have worked because he walked over to me and kissed my lightly on the lips. "It was just for you," he said, before returning his ever-so-gentle lips to mine.

Rehearsal was going smoothly, if a little slow. There were a few things to work out between the other dancers and myself. A few parts had been changed to fit the new dancers, and as usual when things were changed other things didn't work and had to be changed as well. Those are the breaks of life, especially for a dancer. Flexibility is the name of the game. In showbusiness if you aren't flexible then you don't have a hope of making it.

The choreographer gave us a few minutes to break. Britney and I plopped down on the edge of the stage and grabbed out waiting water bottles, quickly draining them. "Ya'll look a little warm," Devin said.

"You think?" Britney said, her voice conveying her irratation. She knew what she had to do onstage, but because the other dancers were screwing up, she too had to repeat the steps over and over again. I can assure you that this can become quite annoying.

"Hey, he was just joking," I said to her. "Don't rip his head off!" I moved behind her and began to massage her shoulders. One thing that I am very good at it is massage. I guess it comes in handy when you've been dancing for the greater majority of your life, and people are constantly pulling muscles, or getting extremely tight from long rehearsals. "Just relax into it," I told her. She forced herself to release the tension that had been building throughout the day.

As I massaged Britney's back and shoulders I looked at Rich. He was sitting between Devin and Brad, in the second row of the audience, staring at my hands on Britney's back. "Hmmmm," I thought. "Definetely going to have to do something about that. I guess I'd better tell him that I am just gay and that my feelings for Britney are strictly platonic." Probably a harder task than it seemed, but it would have to be done. "You know, girl, you have an awfully well defined back for a woman." Yes, I chose my words carefully.

"Probably from dancing all these years. It has a tendency to build muscle, as I'm sure you know." She laughed and squeezed my thigh. I jerked at the sudden touch, sending both of us, and eventually LFO, into bursts of laughter. Soon we had most of the people in the room staring at us. Probably wondering if we were going to pass out or something.

As the laughter died down, the choreographer had the nerve to interrupt us, and called us back onto the dance floor. Once again we went through all the steps. Unfortunately, once again, something went wrong. Somehow Brian managed to trip over one of the other dancer's legs and come sprawling into me. He landed on top of me as I made a nice sounding thud on the hard floor. The music was quickly cut off as we pulled ourselves off of the floor. He did take a little more time than was strictly required to peel away from me. "Are you ok?" he asked, laying a hand on my knee. Normally I would think of the gesture as simple worry, but given the little talk from the day before, I guessed that it was something else. If the whole episode wasn't planned that it. It did seem just a little bit too set-up for my tastes.

"Yeah, I'm fine." I replied, loud enough that my voice would carry to Rich, standing up in the seats, a worried expression marring his gorgeous face. It was not an expression that I wanted to see often, although even it appeared cute on him. "Let's just try not to let it happen again." I might have put too much emphasis on that last sentence, because Brian pulled back with a quick jerk. It looked like he might actually break his neck. I sighed then turned back to the choreographer. "Where were we?" I asked, breaking the silence.

"I don't really like that Brian guy," Rich was saying. "Oh great," was all I could think, "not another jealous boyfriend." My boyfriend Justin had been the jealous type. He would get jealous of everyone and everything. Of course, at first it was endearing, but after awhile it just became annoying. And the jealousy got worse and worse. Eventually he becamse possesive and that was when I had to get out. I liked being tied to someone, I truly did, but I didn't like not being able to think for myself, or have friends that weren't pre-approved.

"Look Rich," I said, interrupting him. "I'm not doing anything with Brian, and I don't want to do anything with Brian. He isn't my type. Besides, he isn't half as drop dead sexy as you are," now was the time to throw on the charm. "You have absolutely nothing to fear. And before you say anything, I am gay. Not bi. My feelings toward Britney are strictly friend to friend. You are going to have to realize and except the fact that I will be around other guys, and that I just might have to touch them. It doesn't mean that I am going to jump into bed with them the next moment. It means that life is proceeding as normal and that you shouldn't be upset with it."

He looked a little upset by my words, as if he thought that it was rude that I would think such things of him, but at the same time I could see that those had been the exact things that he had been thinking about. I was glad to find that my people-reading skills were still in good working order. "Now, I have to go to my dressing room and get ready for the performance, I'm on in a hour, but those make-up people take forever to get anything done. Besides I will have to warm up again after being forced to sit in that chair forever. You'd think that they'd give up when they see the make-up running down our faces along with the sweat, but noooooo. . ." the words degenerated into a low grumble as I walked out of the room and down the hall to the male dancer's dressing room.

The dressing room that I shared with the other male dancers was just a few feet down the hall from the LFO dressing room. I quickly walked into the room and was motioned towards a chair. I took off my shirt -- so no make-up would be spilled on it -- and sat down in the chair. A moment later one of the make-up "artists" walked over and began applying various make-ups. It was, for me, quite boring. I refrained from talking so that I didn't break the man's concentration, and so that my moving jaw didn't mess up anything he was doing. The last thing I wanted was for him to have to remove it all and start over.

When he was done I felt like five pounds of gook had been added to my face. It was not comfortable. Stage make-up looks quite horrendous from up-close, but in the bright lights of the stage it makes you look normal instead of a bleached-out ghost. The make-up done, I walked over to the wardrobe and pulled out all my constumes, laying them, in order, on the back of my chair. We wouldn't have much time to change so they would all have to be lined up and ready for use. I put on some warm-ups to help warm, and keep warm, my muscles, than began doing some simple, quick excercises to get the blood ciculating.

About halfway through my excercises the door opened and closed. I had my back in the facing the door, so I couldn't see who entered. "Hey!" came a voice from across the room.

"Just Great!" I thought. "This is exactly what I don't need right before a performance." "Hi." I replied, unenthusiatically in answer to Brian.

"How you feeling?" he asked. "You ready from this show?"

"I'm always ready for a show," I replied quickly, hoping that he would get the point and leave me alone.

"Yeah, I always find that a show fills me with energy. What about you?"

"I suppose."

"Cool. So. . .uh. Do you want to go out after the show and grab a bite to eat, or go see a movie, or something?"

I stood up to face him. "Actually, I was planning on doing something with Rich tonight." I felt sorry for him, he had tried, it wasn't really my fault. I let my feelings show on my face.

It took several moments for the implications to finally register. When they did, his face quickly changed from a nervous expression to a disappointed, hurt expression. "Oh," was all he said.

"Sorry." I really did feel sorry for him. He didn't reply. I went back to my excercises and he started walking around the room getting the things he would need for the performance together, cutting a wide berth around me whenever possible. I don't know if he thought I was upset, or if maybe he was just uncomfortable, but it started to make me uncomfortable, so I quickly finished up my excercises than went out to find Britney.

Britney wasn't hard to find. She was in her dressing room, making quite a ruckus. Her make-up was done. The copious amount of eyeshadow made her look as though she had to really nasty black eyes. That coupled with her ruby red lips made her appear to either have a very abusive boyfriend, or that she was a "working girl" finally getting home after a long night's work. I nearly burst out laughing.

Constumes were splayed all across the room and she was quickly going back and forth between them trying to get them into some sort of organization which I was unable to fathom. "Having fun?" I asked.

"Yeah, I having a ball," she replied, her voice laced with heavy sarcasm. "I can't seem to find the right shoes for this damn costume!"

"Hey, you'd better watch that mouth tonight when your young fans come backstage for the meet-n-greet."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's not the first time I've heard that, you can spare me the lecture. Now help me find the match for this stupid shoe!" She held up a white tennis shoe that went with her constume for "Sometimes."

We searched around the room, through a maze of boxes until I finally spotted it underneath one of the first constumes that Britney had layed out. "That shoe!?!" I pointed.

"GOD! Finally!" she yelled, running across the room to snatch it up, as if it would run away if she didn't catch it as fast as she could.

We exchanged a few quick words about the nights performance before there was a knock on the door, and one of the backstage crew gave us a fifteen minute warning to showtime. Wishing Britney good luck, I returned to the men's dressing room and began to change into the first costume, painfully aware of Brian avoiding looking at me unless forced to. "I don't know if that is better or worse," I thought. I'd just have to deal with it later, and hope that he would get over the awkwardness and just become a normal guy again.

The show went extremely well. Judging by the volume of crazed screams coming from the audience they had enjoyed it very much. I decided that I would probably never get used to the screaming itself, but I certainely loved the applause that we were getting. After the final bow we left the stage, doing flips, switch-leaps, cartwheels, etc. Finally backstage, we made a mad dash to the showers; a layer of dripping sweat is not a pleasing feeling, or a good smelling one.

I showered as quickly as possible so I could get backstage and watch LFO. They too did a wonderful job, and were appluaded and screamed at. Their show was high-energy, but is was nothing like the dancing that we did in Britney's show. They too were sweating, but it wasn't nearly as bad as the other dancers and I had been when we finished. Rich gave me a quick peck on the cheek then excused himself to get to the showers, saying that he would see me at the meet and greet, then we could go grab a bite to eat or something. We hadn't had anything to eat except for the few snacks that the company provided during the break prior to the show.

With nothing better to do -- but don't tell her that -- I went to find Britney. She was in the green room with a few of the other dancers, waiting for the meet-n-greet. No one would be admitted into the room until LFO joined us, but everyone was gathering ahead of time, and talking about the show, and how they thought they had done. The techies were running around, taking down the set, and getting it into the moving vehicles. I certainely didn't envy them their jobs. All work with little recognition. If it were my show I would certainely have given them something, I'd been in their place often enough to know. Of course, it wasn't my show, or my place, so I couldn't do anything.

LFO finally arrived. Rich walked over and gave me a quick peck on the cheek before moving to a couch on the far side of the room from Britney, myself, and the other dancers. "Appearances!" I thought. Several minutes later the crew let the crazed fans into the room. I braced myself for the screams, but surprisingly, there weren't that many. Granted there were some screams, and there was alot of yelling questions, which we all laughed at. As the last of the group entered I heard two young, piercing voices yelling, "Uncle Gabe!!!" Before I could react two small bodies leaped at me, and I had no choice but the catch them both. "Uncle Gabe, Uncle Gabe, Uncle Gabe!" they shouted over and over again.

"Hey kids!" I shouted back, silencing.

"You're too loud," the little girl said. I couldn't help but laugh, eliciting a scrunched up face from her.

I took a long look at my cousins. They were twins -- fraternal, not identical -- they were growing up nicely. They were nine, if I remember correctly, it had been quite awhile since I'd seen them. With work and everything I hadn't gotten down to New Orleans in two years. They were growing up quite nicely. Both had the cutest brown curly hair. Madeline, the girl, had her hair down to her shoulders, while Adam, the boy, had his cut close to his head, however there was enough for a little body, and curl. Adam was wearing everything from Addidas and Nike, my aunt is such a yuppie, while Madeline was wearing a cute black skirt and orange shirt. They were both cute as a button.

Wrapping their arms around me, they gave me two strong hugs, while smiling up at me. "Where's your mom?" I asked.

"She's waiting outside, she didn't want to come in," Madeline said, she was always the more talkative of the two.

"Well I'll have to go talk to her in a little bit. How are you two?"

The question sent them into what would soon be an hour long discussion and debate if Britney hadn't walked over and interrupted. "Hey guys. You know this joker?"

They both smiled at Britney, looks of utter adoration on their faces. "They're my cousins," I told Britney. "I didn't mention them because I didn't think I'd have time to see them while we were here. I've only been here a couple of days, remember."

Britney nodded then started talking to the kids. I finally got them to climb down off of me and sit down on a couch. While they were still talking to Britney I walked out into the hall, looking for my aunt. "Aunt B!" 'B' was my nickname for her. Like Aunt B. from the television show. Her name was actually Betty.

"Hey Gabe," she said. "Why didn't you call?" She always did get right to the point.

"Well I just got in two days ago and I've been busy with rehearsals and everything. The truth is I didn't think about it." She gave me one of those appraising looks that Aunts, Uncles, and Parents are so good at.

"Well, I guess I'll forgive you." She gave me a quick hug. "How are you doing?"

We launched into a discussion of how we each were doing, and the latest goings on in each of our lives. She congradulated me on my job, and I congradulated her on a new computer systems analysis job that she had gotten. She told me to give them all a call next time I was in the area, saying that perhaps I could come stay with them for a few days and party on the town. I agreed, and told her that I would love to spend some time with them, and my half-brother, next time I was in town.

Our conversation was interrupted when Britney came out carrying Madeline, Adam following on her heels. They were all smiling and laughing. Britney was obviously good with kids, and the kids obviously loved her. I suspected that now it was an actual like of her instead of the fantastic notion that had had of Britney Spears before the concert. Whatever, those smiling faces were filled with a childish mirth that they were more than happy to bestow upon all of us present. My Aunt broke into a wide-toothed grin at her happy children. I too was swept up in the happiness and it felt wonderful. I needed to share it with someone special.

"Well everybody, we've got to pile onto the buses and get out of here," I said. We all quickly said our goodbyes and I practically ran into the conference room. Rich was sitting on a couch talking with Brad and Devin. I quickly scanned the room, looking for any fans, or non-company tech crew. There were none so I ran and jumped on Rich, stopping him in the middle of a sentence. I felt kind of like a crazed teen-age girl. Scary actually.

"Well hello," he said, beaming at me.

"Hi," I replied and gave him a quick pec on the lips. We got quite a few stares from people, but they weren't, for the most part, very surprised, or upset about it. I did catch a sideways glance from Brian, but I ignored it, he certainely wasn't as important as what I had my hands on at the moment. "Wanna go take a tour of the bus?"

He gave me a strange look than began trying to get up. I quickly got off of him so he could stand, then grabbed his hand and walked towards the exit. It took us several minutes to find our way out of the winding halls to the parking lot. When we opened the door I quickly dropped his hand and began walking towards LFO's bus. I guessed that it wouldn't be quite as crowded on their bus as it would be on Britney's.

Ascending the bus stairs, I grabbed his hand again, and pulled him towards a couch about halfway towards the back of the bus. Pushing him into the couch, I jumped on him again. This time the quick pec was a mere prelude to much more passionate kissing.

Several minutes later Devin and Brad came up the stairs and began to gag at our display. Both Rich and I, however, ignored them and they eventually got bored. We were still kissing when the bus finally began to move.

To be continued. . .

~I must apologize that it took so horribly long to get this episode out. I have been extremely busy the past few weeks. I had a major recital which I both performed in, and had some choreography in. That absorbed a good deal of my time. Then I had break so I was out of town and away from a computer. This also isn't very long, and apologize for that as well, but it was either something short, or nothing at all. I hope that you enjoyed it, and let me know what you think. I always like to hear about what people think of my work, and if I don't hear anything than it isn't worth my time to write.

Questions, Comments, Suggestions: e-mail GayNight@hotmail.com