Hey, kids. Here we go, one more time (I couldn’t help myself). Thanks as always to Dru and Karen, the world’s greatest editorial committee. Super big hug to everyone in chat for being so damn supportive. And since you’re already in the archive, check out No Strings Attached or Open Your Eyes. As always, write me!! Schuydncer@aol.com

Disclaimer: Dude, if I knew NSync, I so wouldn’t be doing this right now. And if I knew about their sexualities, I wouldn’t be sharing them with you.

Retreat 11
by Schuyler

The days had been a little strained, and the nights a bit chilly, but it was Thursday and they’d been at Chris’ beachfront condo for five days now and JC really felt like things were getting better. He sat on the deck railing and watched Chris through the doors. He was just cleaning, moving about the apartment, and JC felt love. Not a burning, uncontrollable fire in his stomach, but a glowing warmth throughout his whole body. And he’d come to realize that only one thing was missing, a ring. He wanted to be joined to Chris, mind, body, and soul, forever.
He hopped down and went inside, sliding behind Chris at the sink and wrapping his arms around his older boyfriend. Chris leaned his head back against JC’s shoulder and closed his eyes, the plate in his hand slipping back into the sink. “Hi, Chris,” JC whispered into his ear.
Chris felt his knees wobble. Despite everything, JC still had this incredible power over Chris. No matter how much Chris thought about their time in New York, his heart and his body still responded to every little thing JC did. “Hi,” he breathed.
JC withdrew and hopped up on the white tile counter. “Anything planned for tonight?” He took an apple from the fruit basket beside him.
“Well,” Chris went back to his dishes. “I was planning on Chinese, but you seem bent on ruining your appetite.” JC blushed and put the apple down. “Then, I don’t know.”
“Maybe another quiet evening at home with my favorite man?” He leaned over to plant a kiss on Chris’ cheek. JC had no grand hopes for that night. They hadn't been outside the apartment much, they were working on finding the problem between them and fixing it, or at least JC was. They hadn’t had sex since before New York, but JC honestly just wanted to hold Chris tonight.
Four hours later, JC was getting his wish. The TV was on, but JC was watching Chris, who had squirmed uncomfortably for a bit in his arms, then fallen asleep. He looked down at Chris, angelic in his sleep and wrapped around JC’s left arm, and knew he wanted to marry this man.
And JC had never been one to dawdle. He had run to the jewelry store while grocery shopping the next day and spent all day deciding how to do it. After dinner, he would lay beside Chris on the rug next to the floor to ceiling window, tell Chris how much he loved him, then pop the question with his gold-and-diamond band.
The dinner dishes had been cleared away and Chris stood in the kitchen with nothing to do. JC took his hand and led him to the spot. The moonlight bathed the room in beauty. JC sat down on the soft white rug and held his hand out to Chris, a little smile on his face.
Chris’ response was quick and resounding. “No.”
JC blinked a few times. “What?”
“No. I’m not going to have sex with you.” He sounded almost angry, but a little timid too.
JC was stunned. HE hadn’t been asking for sex, but why was Chris so against it? “Chris, I...” JC realized that he didn’t know what to say. He got back to his feet. “Honey.” He reached out to take Chris’ hands in his own.
Chris pulled back, shaking now. “I can’t, JC, I can’t.” Tears started to fall from Chris’ gorgeous dark eyes. “I can’t sleep with you after you’ve been with God knows who else.”
The words tore JC apart. He thought he’d collapse, he’d vomit, he’d die. In that moment, when his boyfriend of two years accused him of infidelity, the whole world fell away and he was left only with the rushing sound of nothing and the feeling of his throat closing. His mouth formed the word. “Chris.” But no sound escaped his lips. He swallowed hard and let the tears fall and just started talking. “Chris, oh Lord,” his strength left him and he fell into a wing chair. “I realize that I never said right out that I never touched another man, but I didn’t. There were so many men there, but none of them were you. I’ve never loved anyone as much as I love you. I didn’t go with those men because I am yours, Christopher, heart, body, and soul.” JC’s eyes and cheeks were red, his face wet and held in his hands.
Chris looked at JC and hated himself. He had doubted a man who loved him totally. A man whom he loved without question. The most beautiful man in his world sat covered in tears and all he could think was that he wanted to make JC’s pain go away. Forever.
He went to JC and knelt before him, crying with him, and took his hands and kissed his fingers and his palms. “I’m so sorry, C. I love you, I love you.”
JC tried to smile, using one hand to cradle Chris’ dark head. “I love you too.”
“C?’ He looked up into JC’s clear blue eyes and was sure. “Will you marry me?”
JC broke into a wide smile. “Chris, my angel, no.” Chris jerked. “I’m supposed to ask you that.” Chris’ head tilted in cute confusion. JC pushed his chair back and fell on his knees facing Chris. He finally took the box from his pocket and opened it slowly. “Mr. Kirkpatrick, will you marry me?” Chris’ voice caught in his throat. He could only nod and smile. JC took the ring with its channel set diamonds from its cushion and slipped it on his fiance's finger, then held him tightly.
“C?” Chris whispered into JC’s ear, “take me to bed.”
JC looked at him, both of their faces covered in cold wet, and smiled, melting Chris’ insides again. He stood, scooped Chris into his arms and headed off to the bathroom.

They both knew it was inevitable. This would all come as a shock to the Kirkpatricks, who didn’t even know about JC. Besides, the guys would have to know before either family and they would all need to be told at once. So, though they felt like they’d burst with the news, they knew there was only one person they could tell. JC laid in Chris’ bed with the Florida sunlight streaming in and Chris cuddled up on his chest and dialed Corbett’s number. Corbett had known that JC was thinking marriage. JC had confided in her most everything lately. She answered on the third ring. “Hello?”
“Little C! We’re engaged!”
She shrieked in joy. Chris heard her and wrinkled his nose with a smile before he went back to admiring the way his ring looked with his hand laid across JC’s bare chest. “Who popped the question?” Back in Philadelphia, Corbett fell onto her bed in her bathrobe, still dripping wet from her bath.
“Chris beat me by a minute, but he’s the one wearing the ring. I think we’ll tell the guys on Saturday as soon as we’re back.”
Corbett knew what he meant, set up a gathering of just the six of them and keep anyone from finding out until then. “Okay, honey, I’ll see you on Saturday night. And say hi and congrats to Chris for me.”
“Goodbye, Corbett.” He hung up and brought his arms to rest around Chris, holding him there.
Chris made a happy little sound. “We are not getting out of this bed until Saturday.” JC chuckled and kissed the top of Chris’ head.