Note:As if you'd read this even if I'd write something important here!
Dedication: I'm getting tired of these. Ben, this one's yours, just as the whole story belongs to you. But you already knew that, so what's the point in me saying it over and over again?
Disclaimer: Everything you're going to read is 100% true. I own and therefore know 'N Sync, and of course I mean to imply that Justin and JC are gay and completely in love in love with each other. Did I already mention that I am Britney Spears?
Just To Be With You...
...is giving me the best day of my life...
Dido, Thank You
The brunette man in the hallway knew it was irrational to dread his upcoming conversation with one of his best friends as much as he did. But that didn't stop him from wishing himself being somewhere else. Preferably far, far away.
The room he entered was empty. No, empty was the wrong term as clothes were spread all over the floor, a book was lying on the bed, face down, and the stereo was playing one of the occupant's CDs. But it was deserted of any other human despite JC himself.
"I'm in the bathroom. Give me a sec."
A few minutes later, Joey came out of the bathroom, drying his still damp hair with a towel. Before taking the chair opposite the one JC had chosen, he grabbed a can of soda and turned the volume low.
"Didn't expect to see you this early."
JC shrugged. "I didn't expect to wake up this early, but I figured you were already up, so I decided I'd come over now."
"How's Justin doing?"
"Better. Had a good night of sleep and his temperature returned to normal. Still sleeping."
"Which brings me to the question why you aren't."
A deep breath. "Well, since Lance already knew and I blabbed about four hours until I finally told Chris, I'm trying a new one with you: The direct approach. Joey, I'm gay."
The Italian didn't show any outward reaction, the half smile he had worn before hadn't left his face as he eyed JC curiously. "Does that mean that I can be 'the talented, sexy one' from now on?"
"Ya know, I'm getting tired of being 'the flirty, brainless one'. And as it seems you don't need your image to charm the ladies, it would be an act of real friendship if you'd let me take it over. So, how 'bout it?"
"You and being 'the talented, sexy one'? Hell no!"
One look at his face and JC burst out laughing. "Sorry, Joe. But you just aren't 'the cute one'. That pout doesn't quite work for you as it does for Justin."
"Speaking of which..." An evil grin spread over Joey's face, and JC wished he hadn't said anything. Although being able to vanish into thin air wouldn't be bad, either.
"So... You have the hots for our group baby, eh?"
JC cringed uncomfortably. "Don't call him group baby. Makes it seem as if I'm a cradle robber."
"Ha, I knew it! I knew the moment I saw that knowing smile on Lance's face that there was something more to his oh-so-innocent question. - Oh, and Jace, Just's twenty, he's an adult, so there's no need to feel like a cradle robber. It's only about four years."
"Four and a half."
"So what? There are a lot of men who marry women who are barely old enough to be their granddaughters. Now, that's what I call sick. But you being in love with Justin? Naw, that's just plain cute."
"The fact that I'm gay doesn't bother you at all?"
"Welcome to the 21st century, Joshua Scott Chasez, a century where homosexuality is about as unusual as you changing your underwear or your neighbor watching TV. - No, Daddy, it doesn't bother me."
"Hey, just wanted to make sure!"
"Come 'ere, Josh."
"Why? So you can put some more itching powder in my boxers?"
"Hey, I told you: It wasn't me."
"Quoting Shaggy, aren't we?"
"But she caught me on the counter. It wasn't me! Saw me kissing on the sofa. It wasn't me! I even..."
JC raised both his hands in surrender. "Okay, okay. We all know that you're able to sing the song by heart, no need to prove it."
"...had her in the shower. It wasn't me! She even caught me on camera. It wasn't..."
"...me! She saw the marks on my shoulder..."
"One more 'It wasn't me', and you're dead."
"No. I just hold on to what is left of my sanity."
"What boxers do you wear right now, by the way? You don't seem like an itching powder victim to me."
JC narrowed his eyes. "Well, that's because I discovered it before I even put on my underwear and asked Justin to lend me some." A moment later, he clapped a hand over his mouth. "Shit, someone shoot me right now, please."
Joey, sitting in front of him, suddenly resembled a Chesire Cat. "Ooooh... Justin Timberlake lent me his boxers, my friends are gonna be soooooooo jealous!"
"Joey, please! You spend way too much time with Chris."
"Just teasing you, Jace. Anyway. Do you plan on giving them back?"
"What kind of question is that, Joe? Of course I'll give them back. D'you think I am some sick pervert who likes to get freaky with his best friend's boxers?"
"Why? It's okay to have fantasies about Justin. Can you look me in the eyes and honestly tell me that the thought never crossed your mind?"
"Justin and sex?"
"I certainly won't tell you what - or who, for that matter - I think of while jerking off. Why is it that no matter what the conversation starts with, you always manage to somehow bring up sex?"
The Italian laughed. "Guess I'm just talented like that."
"You are." JC agreed, a smirk spreading over his face.
"So, when are you going to tell Just that you want to have hot and sweaty sex with him?"
"Did I ever tell you that you have a way to make everything, even the ordering of a pizza, seem totally obscene?"
"No, but thank you. Are you going to answer my question?"
"First of all, I don't want to have hot and sweaty sex with him, at least not only. That's Wade's department, not mine. And then: I'm not sure when or how I am going to tell him. Maybe I'll only tell him that I'm gay, and then see how he reacts."
"Come on, Josh! Don't be such a coward! Doesn't fit you at all. And judging by the way you guys are always touching and hugging, I'd say it's not impossible that he returns your feelings. I'd really love to see you two hook up."
"Joe, if I told you to stay out of this and not try to play matchmaker, would you listen to me?"
"Thought so." JC sighed dejectedly. "At least try to be subtle, okay? I don't want Justin to feel uncomfortable."
"We'll try, Josh."
"As Chris already knows, I'm sure he's ready to help me. Lance... I'm not so sure, but if you're lucky, then he'll join just to stop us from doing anything you might regret later."
"Then I really hope he'll join you."
It was the sunlight falling through the curtains and tickling his nose that woke Justin up. As always, his first conscious thought concerned the man in the bed next to his - only that there wasn't a man in there. Which was odd, as the last time JC had gotten up before ten in the morning - without having to - had been about three years ago. On Justin's nightstand, JC had left a bowl, milk and the curly-haired blonde's favorite cereal, ready to be mixed and eaten. Justin smiled. God, how he loved that man.
Reaching for his breakfast, a note which had been placed inside the bowl caught his attention.
How ya doing? You sure look better than you did yesterday, so I hope you're doing fine.
If there's something you need: I'm in Joey's room, so just come over. Otherwise:
List of things you have to do today:
1. Call Britney. She's about to kill you because you didn't tell her about your lack of sleep, so better hold the phone a few feet away from your ear.
2. Eat. You ate almost nothing yesterday, so I want you to make up for it today.
3. Sleep. I know you just woke up, but I want you to be absolutely healthy when we're back on the road tomorrow.
4. Tell me what's bothering you. Okay, you probably won't do that, but it was worth a try, wasn't it? Whatever it is, I'm there for you.
Britney was furious? That wasn't good. A furious Britney was an irrational Britney. And an irrational Britney could be pretty scary sometimes.
Justin sighed. The sooner he called her, the sooner it would be over with and she would be speaking to him again. So first Britney, then eating. He reached for his cell phone, blindly dialing the number while smiling at JC's concern.
"Justin! Don't you ever dare lie to me again or I'm going to rip your pretty little head off. You said you had enough sleep!"
"Why, hello to you too."
"I won't say hello until you apologize for lying to me. And promise to not do it again, of course."
"Okay, Brit, I won't. I'm sorry I lied, and I won't do it again."
"Good. Then let's start all over again. Hi Justin, nice talking to you."
"Did you know that JC called yesterday?"
"He did? Why?"
"He's worried about you, Just. He thinks he's done something wrong because you won't talk to him."
"He what? He thinks he's done something wrong? Where did he get that idea from?"
"Just imagine being in his shoes: You know that Josh is hiding something from you, but he won't tell you what it is, although it is obviously important."
"You should tell him, Justin. We talked about Wade and you, and I am sure that he isn't homophobic."
"Wade and me?"
"Forget it, it's not important. But tell him, please. For your own sake as well as for his."
"I don't know, Brit..."
"You... Sorry, J, I gotta go. We'll continue this conversation, though, don't think I'd let you go that easily."
"I wouldn't dare."
"Bye Brit, have fun."
Justin sunk back on his bed, breakfast forgotten.
Josh, why do you think you did something wrong? It's not your fault I fell in love with you. Or how could I blame you for being who you are? I couldn't. And I don't want to. You didn't do anything wrong. In fact, you did everything right.
"With this, I officially declare this meeting opened. Gentlemen, take your seats please."
"We're going to discuss ways to ensure the happening of the marriage of the future Mr. and Mrs. Chasez."
"Why not Mr. and Mrs. Timberlake?"
"Objection granted, let me rephrase that. We're here to ensure the happening of the marriage of the future Mr. and Mrs. Timberlake-Chasez. Everyone who has a suggestion he likes to discuss kindly raises his hand. - Yes, Mr. Fatone, please?"
"How about we drop that whole business meeting nonsense? Kinda scares me to hear ya talking like that, Chris."
"What's wrong with me being all serious and business-like?"
"I'm not even going to answer that."
"Did I ask for your opinion, Lancey-Poo? No, I didn't."
"And I thought we were here to find a way to get Curly and Big Daddy together instead of discussing Chris's sugar-driven demeanor."
"We are. So who's got an idea?"
"Well, first of all, we have to force Jace to tell Justin, so I'd say we lock them in their room and destroy the phone, and the door stays locked until JC told him."
"We can't do that, Joe. Not only because they'd kill us, but also because it's JC's decision when - and if - he wants to tell Just. Besides, how can you be so sure that Justin would take it well?"
"I think he'd take it better than each one of you suspects. Don't ask me how I know, it's just a feeling I have, and those feelings of mine are rarely wrong. And I'm not absolutely sure, but I caught a few looks of Justin directed at Jace, and those looks seemed to be a bit more admiring that even a close friendship would justify. And yesterday, when Jace was talking to Chris, Justin all of a sudden asked me if I had ever thought about this 'certain moment when you realize you're in love with someone', but when I asked him if he wanted to share his thoughts with me, he blocked and said that it wasn't interesting although it sure made him think. - Question answered?"
"Not really, but thanks anyway."
"Steal their clothes."
"And how do you want to steal the ones they're wearing?"
"Good point. Um... Lance?"
"First of all, one of us has to find out what exactly Justin feels for JC, and as soon as we know that, we'll try to come up with something."
"And how do you want to get Justin to open up? - Hey, Just, you have the hots for C?"
"Basically yes, although I'd prefer a more subtle approach. Either that, or one of us pretends having a thing for JC. If Justin feel something for Josh, then he'll be jealous as hell, and maybe it will get him to do something."
"If anyone in this room is qualified to have the hots for C, then it's you."
"No way. Sorry, but I don't want Justin being pissed at me. No, thanks."
"Okay. Then Lance has to try the "Can we talk?"-approach."
"You're the sensible one. I'd probably crack some inadequate joke that would make Just feel uncomfortable, and Joey couldn't stop himself from making remarks 'bout JC's butt. So it has to be you."
"I'll try. But I can't promise anything."
I don't like this part. A lot of talking, blah blah blah, but it was necessary. Next one will be better, hopefully. Unless I decide to write some sort of epilogue containing smut (certain people - you know who you are - are bugging me to do it, but I'm not sure yet), part 9 will be the last but one part. Whoa, already!