Time For Christmas
By Billy Burrew

Disclaimer: This story is a work of fiction and is not intended to imply anything about the true sexuality of any celebrity mentioned.
Please read it and let it suspend your disbelief.


Justin Timberlake looked up from his schedule and groaned loudly, shaking his head in what any passer-by would view as nothing short of disgust.

"ONE DAY?!? Justin said, his voice reflecting his anger and disgust. "We've been working almost non-stop since the release of our album and we only get ONE DAY off for Christmas?!?"

Lance sighed and shrugged his shoulders, "Yeah. Looks like we have to fly back to New York the morning of the 26th, do "Good Morning Live" with Regis and then take off from La Guardia to LA and then--"

Justin slammed his hands down on the table angrily. "This is ridiculous! We've been going almost non-stop for years now!"

JC reached over and patted Justin on the back. "C'mon Jus….it'll be cool. We can fly our relatives in for New Year's Eve and--"

Justin snorted as he looked back down at his schedule. "And what, JC? Spend like twenty minutes with them before we host MTV's New Year's Show? It looks like New Year's Day is out as well, as we'll be flying back home that afternoon to head back into the studio and begin recording on our next album. When does it stop? We've been burning the candle from both ends now for like 5 years. When do we get some time to catch our breath and just relax so we don't burn out on all of it?"

Justin stood up and looked around at the others, shaking his head at their silence.

"Guys…It wasn't a rhetorical question!"

Joey looked up and smiled, "Oh shit…he's serious…he just used a BIG word."

Justin threw his papers down and left the room, slamming the door behind him as he left.

'It's non-stop! One thing after another….everyone pulling at me, at us, in every different direction all at once. DO this, DO that, SIGN this, HOLD that pose, SMILE now…when can I, when can we…have some time to ourselves….to just be normal.'

Justin's bitter thoughts carried him to the far end of the Jive offices, where he walked into the bathroom and stood in front of the mirror. He wet some paper towels with cold water and patted his face, hoping that the cooling effect would also help to cool off his temper and soothe his frustrations.

A moment later, JC walked into the bathroom and stood beside him, a concerned look on his face.

"Hey! You OK?"

Justin nodded, "I…I just lost my temper…I'm guess I'm feeling kinda frustrated…I wanted to just hang out at home and spend some time with my folks."

JC smiled, "We all understand that, Justin. Believe me, we all see where you're coming from, but we're just gonna have to take our holiday in February after we finish recording the album. We don't want to go much longer without giving the fans some new material."

Justin nodded again and sighed. "Yeah. Gotta stay on top while we can."

JC patted Justin on the back. "We're all done with the meeting; the schedule was the last bit of business. Are you heading back to your place to start packing to go to Tennessee for Christmas?"

Justin nodded. "Yeah. We have our interviews and television taping tomorrow morning and then I'm flying out on a five o'clock flight."

JC smiled and nodded. "I fly out to DC around 2 tomorrow. Let's hang out tonight, OK?"

Justin grinned. "I have to go shopping tonight. I have a few more gifts to pick up. Wanna tag along?"

JC nodded. "Sure! Oh…By the way, I was chatting with Melinda and she said that Katrina was looking for you and had asked her to ask you to stop by her office."

Justin smiled, "OK. I'll call you after I get done with Katrina."

JC grinned. "Cool. I'll head back to the house and start packing.

Justin and JC parted at the elevator and Justin walked around the corner and down the hall, stopping about three quarters the way down, before knocking on a door. Justin grinned as he heard a shuffling of papers and a pleasant voice ringing out with a crisp, "Come in!"

Justin walked in and was greeted by a pretty, late-twenties woman with frosted blond hair brushed into what Lance had appropriately called a "power helmet" hair-do. Katrina Marino had joined the Jive staff as a somewhat knowledgable expert in the field of public image and public relations. Her experience in the public relations arena along with her kindness and positive outlook had done wonders to fend off and destroy a good deal of the negative press and rumormongering that had done disservices to other popular bands.

"Hey Kat. I heard you wanted to see me?!"

Katrina smiled and gestured for Justin to sit down in the seat across from her own.

"I need a favor from you, Justin. I saw that, of all the guys, you had the latest flight out tomorrow and….well…lemme get right to the point….Justin…my neighbor Marjorie is a nurse in the terminally ill ward of Orlando's Children's Hospital and there's a young boy named John who is one of her patients…"

John sat in bed, listening to his music and feeling more tired today than he'd ever been before. The doctors, for all their education, were naive enough to let his chart hang on to the end of the bed. They'd made the erroneous assumption that he wasn't old enough to understand their medical jargon and John wasn't going to inform them that he was able to read, and to a point, understand what they'd written about him.

Rhabdomyosarcoma. John had heard this term banted around by all of his doctors for the last few years, since that day it had appeared on tests that had been run on his kidneys. The doctors had removed them, one after the other, in an effort to stop the spread, but it was just too aggressive to be stopped. John had read where each physician and specialist had been called in to look at him and had signed off on his condition, stating that there was no feasible treatment that could reverse or eliminate the problem. Even with the treatments that John was being given, his organs were just beginning to be overcome and it was just a matter of time before his body would fail to support him.

John had looked over their prognoses and was saddened to see that they had almost all come to agree that, having already lost function in several of his more vital organs, he would be dead by years' end. John looked over at the battery of machines to his side, all beeping and blipping and frowned as he saw definite visual changes from the previous day.

John looked up and pulled off his headphones as a nurse named Marjorie came in and sat down next to him on the bed.

"Hey fella! How are you feelin' today?"

John shook his head. "My EKG is off, I feel almost too exhausted to move, and your poker face really sucks lady…it's not looking to be a real fun Christmas for me, huh?"

Marjorie sighed. "I was never good at poker, Sugar, and you are one seriously smart kid. I represent a foundation called "A Christmas Wish". What we do is ask terminally ill patients what they want for Christmas, and then we try to fulfill it. We were wondering what it is that you would like this Christmas? Don't limit yourself….make it good, and we'll try our best to get it done for you."

John sighed and shook his head. He doubted that they would ever be able to get him what he truly wanted for Christmas.

"It's probably impossible, but I'd really love to see NSYNC in person. I'm a big fan of their music."

Marjorie's eyes bugged out for a moment, then she nodded. "Well…that's a tall order, but let me get to work on that for you."

John watched Marjorie leave and shook his head again as he put his headphones back on and turned up the volume of his music. He seriously doubted that he would get his wish, but it was nice of the hospital to try for him.

Justin looked at Katrina and sighed, he really didn't wanna spend the free time he had the afternoon of Christmas Eve in a hospital.

"Please Justin." Katrina begged. "It would really mean the world for this kid, and to me too."

Justin sighed and then looked over at Katrina and nodded, "Yeah. OK. If it's that important to you, I guess can do that."

Katrina smiled, "You're the best! Here…here's some CDs and stuff I've already wrapped for you to give to him."

Justin smiled. "You were banking on me doing this, huh?"

Katrina nodded. "I was hoping you would."

Justin headed home and packed up his gear, then gathered all his stashed presents from throughout the house and placed them carefully in the large box that he was going to have checked at the airport the next day.

Justin's shopping trip with JC was surprisingly uneventful and he picked up the last few items that he had been wanting to get and got them wrapped before the two guys headed back to their place.

The next morning the taping went off, amazingly enough, without a hitch, and the guys found themselves finished several hours before they had planned. Katrina caught up with Justin and subtly reminded him of his visit by giving him a copy of the visiting hours of the hospital. Justin looked at the time and headed out to the hospital.

John's dialysis had been almost disastrous that morning. A new and inexperienced nurse and an unfamiliar doctor had been working the rounds, and John was never so happy to relax in the quiet of his room as he was after they left and pulled the curtain shut.

John felt worse than he did the day before and he was looking forward to a long bout of not having to move or be poked, prodded, or otherwise manhandled. John put his headphones on and was about to turn the music on when he heard a nurse at the nurse's station say his name and give out his room number. John slowly pulled off his headphones and gawked as he looked up and saw a familiar looking young man with blond curly hair enter his room.

"Hi…John? I'm--"

"You're Justin….Justin Timberlake."

Justin smiled. "Yep. I heard you wanted to see NSYNC, but the others are all heading home for the holidays and couldn't make it. I hope that I'll do by myself, tho?"

John nodded. "Yeah. Wow….I didn't think Marjorie could pull it off. You're actually here."

Justin nodded, smiling as he noticed how similar John looked to his own kid brother Jonathan.

"Well…I brought you some Christmas gifts. Why don't you open them early?"

John's eyes lit up as Justin handed over the large package of gift wrapped CDs.

"That's really cool! Thank you so much!"

Justin watched with a smile as John opened the CDs carefully one by one, exclaiming excitedly after he saw each one. Justin looked around and saw that John had very little other possessions in sight, and was happy that his gift could bring about such happiness in the little boy.

"…what do you think, Justin?"

Justin's head snapped up and he smiled, "I'm sorry…I was caught up in my thoughts there. What did you say?"

John nodded and repeated his question and Justin smiled and answered the question with ease. A while later, John put aside all his CDs and looked up at Justin who'd pulled up a chair and was sitting beside the bed.

"What's the matter?"

Justin smiled. "Huh? Nothing…I'm cool."

John shook his head and smiled. "You can't kid a kid, Justin. What's up? I've been noticing that every once in a while your "public happy face" kinda falls away and you look really upset."

'Wow…this kid is perceptive,' Justin thought and then replied, "It's just…this time of year….and work and all…we only get one day to spend with our families."

John nodded, "Well….I know it's hard to do, but you should make the best out of the time you have with them and not let the fact that your time was limited mess up the time that you do get to spend with them. I guess if you just pack in all the memories you can in the time you've got, you won't dwell on time that was cut short."

Justin looked down at John in disbelief. 'I'm getting advice from a dying kid I just met in the hospital. This is surreal."

Justin and John chatted for a while longer and it soon became apparent to Justin that he was seeing John's condition worsen; he was actually beginning to deteriorate in front of his eyes. In just the time that he had spent chatting with the young man, John's skin had begun to turn an unhealthy hue and he seemed to become a lot less cognizant of the conversation and his surroundings.

"John?" Justin asked quietly, "Where are your folks? Shouldn't they be here now?"

John shrugged his shoulders and replied nonchalantly, "Dunno…I haven't seen them....They musta got stuck."

Justin looked up at the clock and saw that his flight was due to leave in under an hour and that he would have to leave very soon if he was going to catch it. As he got up to say goodbye, he looked down and saw a single tear fall out of the side of John's eye and onto his pillow.

"I think I'm gonna call my mom and tell her I'm gonna stay here tonight and take an early flight out tomorrow."

John nodded and Justin called his mother and left a message on her machine, telling her not to worry and that he'd catch an early flight and see her tomorrow morning.

Justin sat back down next to John's bed and smiled..

John looked over at Justin and motioned for him to come closer.

"I never ever expected to see you in person." John smiled weakly. "I am happy that I got to see a bit of the real you that you hide beneath your public face. You talked with me and let me see that you're a real person too…with real problems…just like me. I always thought your world was all perfect and that you had it easy cause you're a star."

Justin cocked his head and nodded.

"But beyond that, you gave me the best Christmas present in the world today, Justin."

Justin's eyebrows raised in curiosity. "I did?"

Justin looked at the CDs on the stand and then back to John who smiled and shook his head lightly.

"No…not the CDs. You gave me something you don't have a lot of, which made it even more special."

"You gave me your time…time to sit and talk with you…time to get to know you…time to make a last few great memories. You took away my fear. I was afraid that I'd not have anything memorable happen to me before I died…but now, I'm not afraid anymore. Cause I got to meet you."

Justin had valiantly tried to keep his emotions intact, but at that moment, his resolve completely eroded and his eyes began to overflow with tears.

"Well John…I'm here for you, buddy."

John snuggled down in his pillows and closed his eyes. Justin grabbed hold of his hand and bowed his head in a silent prayer.

A noise from the corner of the room alerted Justin that someone had entered the room. Justin looked up and saw the nurse looking sadly down at the two of them.

"He's gone, Justin."

Justin looked over at the little boy in the bed and saw that he had stopped breathing, and he began to weep.

"No. No he's not gone…he's still here with me…in the memories I have and that I'll keep…of the time I got to spent with him today."

The nurse came over and put her arms around him and hugged him close.

Justin slowly got up and reached out to the young boy's face, brushing away the strands of hair from his eyes, and then letting his arm fall limp to his side. Justin turned to the nurse and sniffed.

"Where are his folks? I can't believe they weren't here--"

The nurse looked at Justin and shook her head. "His folks abandoned him when he was little and he started having kidney problems….he hadn't seen them in years."

Justin's face fell and he shook his head. "But he said--"

"He said that they just got stuck…or delayed? Yeah…He said that so that no one would feel sorry for him, cause he'd been abandoned."

Justin used the back of his hand to wipe off his face. "Well who's paying for all his medical expenses then?"

The nurse shrugged, "He's a ward of the state. They pay for it…well...to a point. I don't know what they'll do now that he's gone."

Justin determinedly shook his head. "I'll take care of his funeral expenses…and whatever hospital expenses are outstanding. Just give me the paperwork and I'll fill it all out."

The nurse looked at Justin and shook her head in wonder. "Why?"

Justin shrugged as if the answer was blindingly obvious. "He gave me a gift."

"What gift did he give you?"

Justin looked at the nurse. "He showed me that it's not the amount of time you spend with people you love, it doesn't matter if it's one day, one week, or one year....it's what you do together in the time you are given to make it memorable. That's the best gift I've ever been given."

A tear fell down the nurse's face and she nodded. "I understand. I'll go get that paperwork all set up for you to fill out. I'll get you the number of a good funeral home as well."

Justin nodded and followed her out of the room to get everything straightened away.

Justin had called the airlines and luckily got a seat on the early morning flight out to Tennessee. As the plane landed in Tennessee, Justin smiled at the idea of seeing and spending time with his family.

Back in Orlando, Justin had checked in all his bags except for the small one that contained John's walkman and some papers and stuff he had wanted to read on the plane. The nurse from the hospital had insisted that Justin should take the CD walkman with him as it would only get appropriated from the hospital if he'd have left it there. After reading through the papers he had brought, Justin put on the headphones and hit play. Justin sighed sadly as he heard the CD cue up to his voice singing part of the melancholy refrain from "God Must Have Spent A Little More Time On You."

Justin had spoken with the stewardess and she readily agreed that she would have him off the plane before everyone else, so that he would stand less of a chance of being noticed and causing an incident. As the plane slowed to a stop, the stewardess tapped him lightly on the shoulder and he unbuckled his belt and followed her to the hatch of the plane. Justin thanked her and quickly made his way up the ramp.

Justin's mother, Lynn, and his kid brother, Jonathan, were waiting at the top of the concourse for him. Justin emerged and smiled as he walked over to them. Jonathan yelped as he saw Justin and ran up to him and jumped into his arms.

"Hey L'il' Lake…" Justin laughed and hugged his brother.

Justin smiled as his mother came up and hugged him. "Hi Mom…Merry Christmas. Sorry I missed my flight yesterday…I had…something really important to do."

Lynn smiled and nodded and then they headed over to the baggage claim area. After about 50 minutes of waiting around for his luggage, Justin walked over to the airport baggage claim office and inquired as to the whereabouts of his bags.

The clerk looked up with a guilt-ridden frown on her face.

"Um….Mr. Timberlake? I'm sorry, sir, but the luggage for that flight hadn't been loaded onto that plane. It was accidentally loaded onto a plane going to Mexico…at least that's what we think."

Justin let out a long and loud sigh. "Mexico?!?"

The young woman nodded timidly, "We believe so, sir. What I can do is have you fill out a claim form with your name and address, and if they show up, we can deliver them to you."

"But those were all my Christmas presents, lady!"

The young woman sighed, "I really am sorry. We have a skeleton crew of almost all new people working on Christmas day and they must have just misplaced them accidentally…I am really sorry that they messed up your holidays."

Justin was about to lose his temper when he realized that she truly was sorry and that getting angry and yelling at her was not going to help the situation. Justin nodded and turned around and made his way back to his family.

"They lost all my bags," Justin said as he flopped down on the bench and hung his head.

Lynn turned to face her son and put her hand on his shoulder. "Aww…Justin…I'm sorry. Good thing you still have a lot of clothes at the house. Let's just go home, honey."

Justin followed his mother and brother into the house, his head still hung in sadness as he plopped down on the sofa in the living room. Justin looked up as Jonathan ran over to him holding a gift.

"Here Justin…this is for you. This is MY present to you."

Justin looked up and tried to smile as he took the package from his little brother. Justin opened the package and smiled at the baby blue knit sweater that was contained within.

"Wow Jon…It's awesome!"

Jonathan looked over at Justin for a minute and Justin sighed and patted the empty space on the sofa beside him, coaxing Jonathan to get up and sit beside him.

"Jon…All the presents I brought for you and everyone else were in my bags that the airport lost. I'm sorry that I ruined your Christmas."

Jonathan looked up at Justin and shrugged. "No, you didn't. I got what I wanted."

Justin looked down at his little brother, puzzling over what gift he had gotten. "You did?!?"

Jonathan smiled brightly. "I'm getting to spend Christmas with you. That's what I asked Santa for this Christmas."

Justin's eyes began to well up with tears as he looked at his little brother's happy face and remembered the gift John that had given him the previous day. Justin nodded as he heard John's words in his mind once again.

"You gave me time…time to sit and talk…time to make memories… that's the best Christmas present in the world"

Justin grabbed his brother into a hug and the two spent the day together, laughing, talking and making memories that both would cherish for the rest of their lives.

The End


Questions, Comments? Email Me:


or click the link below and fill out this EZ response form