~~ Well, here it is, are you excited? This part is just a bit more background. There's no sex and hardly any N'sync either. But still, its fun.
    ~~ Usual legal stuff applies. If you're not supposed to read this, don't. If you don't like it, don't read it. But e-mail me if you do like it. It's Fricklor@aol.com. Thanks, and enjoy!
    ~~ P.S. Thanks Sean, <wink>
    ~~ Oh, and just a reminder, the "Josh" that the story talks about is not JC from N'sync. I'm not orignial when it comes to names.

     "Hi Mom!" Joshua said animatedly into the phone. His mother, Trisha, was one of the few people in his family he got along with. He called her every weekend to find out what was going on in the lives of his kin, and to get the latest on who his sisters were dating. He relied on his mother for advice, but when it came to telling her everything, he knew how big a mouth she had. He knew what he shouldn't tell her, cause she could never keep a secret.
     "Hey sweetie, hold on a sec will ya?" The sounds of crashing and gurgling in the background suggested that Bailey was awake and trashing Trisha's house.
     "Hi hun. Sorry bout that. This little devil is getting to be quite a pain in my ass. How are you doing?"
     "I'm doing ok. I can't talk long; I got a job interview for later today. Finally..."
     "That's great! Where?"
     "Eh, just this little restaurant on the strip. Nothing fancy, but I gotta get some bills paid. How are you doing?"
     "I'm ok. About how much money do you need for the bills?"
     "No, I'm fine mom, don't worry about it." If there was one thing Josh's mother was good for, it was giving her entire savings away if there was someone in need.
     "Well, I'm still gonna send you something," Josh could hear the smirk in her voice, "How's the lovely Leslie doing? Have you two tied the knot yet?"
     "Eww! Please mom, don't mention that. She's fine. Everything is fine. I think."
     "What about the other thing..."
     "What other thing?"
     "You know what other thing!"
     "No I don't." Josh didn't want to give in, he knew his mother needed to say it, just once. "After all these years, you still can't say it? Didn't your psychologist say you needed to learn to externalize you feelings...? Or some such bull shit?"
     "Something like that. And you know I can't say it. But is it better?"
     "Yeah, mom, I haven't cut in over two months. I think I'm doing very well. Dr. Hunt would be pleased. But then, probably not, I wouldn't have to come as often. He wouldn't be making as much money," he smiled inwardly.
     "Good! Honey, I'm really proud of you. Keep it up, and eventually you can stop. Hopefully. Nothing at all is new here, just the usual. Your father is trying to get rich... Again." Josh heard a crash in the background, "Shit! Honey, I gotta go. I'll give you a call next weekend. Take it easy."
     "Bye mom. Good luck with Bailey!"
     Josh's mother had never been able to say what Josh did to himself. One day, after coming home from work, she found Josh asleep on the couch. His pants leg was high on his leg, and she noticed red scratches. Large, long red scratches. As she looked closer, she noticed that both of his legs were very cut up. She immediately phoned a friend of hers, who knew of the best psychologists in the state. Even after all the sessions, she couldn't deal with the fact that her son cut himself to relieve the pain in his life. And she thought he was perfect.
     And on the outside, it appeared as if he was. He had a nice apartment, lots of friends, a comfortable life, and a supportive family. But if you look just a little deeper, you see exactly what's there. Nothing but shit. His entire life was a lie. No one knew the truth within him, except maybe Leslie, his best friend. And after what happened the night before, he wasn't sure that he knew himself very well either.
     He had gone out with Leslie to an N'sync concert, and afterwards gone clubbing with them. He's not even sure how that happened. Leslie must have offered to sleep with one of them, it was just too odd. The biggest pop band in... Well anywhere... Asked Leslie and I if we wanted to go clubbing. And I was half asleep anyway. It was probably just a strange dream. But then, something odd happened. He found himself being hit on by another man. And liking it. And he was fully ready to leave when Leslie had stopped him.
     For some reason, her argument worked. All he needed was validation. He had always thought that being attracted to men was wrong. And he wasn't really attracted to Lance anyway, but he figured it couldn't hurt to be with someone. If you can't be with the one you love, love the one your with, you know?
     None of his previous relationships had worked out. They had either lasted all of two weeks, or were based on a foundation that had no way of staying together. He knew what he was getting himself into, and thus he didn't allow himself to become emotionally attached. He knew that some people were meant to be together. He truly believed he wasn't meant to be with anyone. He thought of himself as lucky, because he didn't have to let anyone in. If he didn't let anyone in, no one could walk out on him. There was safety in keeping people at arm's length. And if they dared to cross a line, and try to become closer, they were bound to be dumped.
     And this is why he cut. Nothing else in his life was real, nothing else was tangible. The pain he experienced when he cut himself was real. He could say that he was sure of what he was feeling. The pain wasn't even bad; it helped to release all of his demons and anxieties. And he loved it.
     The only reason he hadn't cut in over a month was that he was too busy. He needed money for college, so he kept trying to get a job. Not that it ever worked. He finally got a solid interview, but he was sure he wouldn't be able to get it. He had hardly any money in the bank, and was living off bread and water... Almost literally. `What the hell,' he thought. `It's not like I have anything else to do, its just another interview.'
     As he drove to the restaurant, he began to wonder if he would ever be happy. Life never seemed to give him a break. He wasn't really feeling sorry for himself, but he was just tired of trying and getting no results. He walked into the restaurant with his head bent low, a sense of defeat lingering over him. Stopping at the cashier to ask where the manager's office was, he had a feeling someone's eyes were on him. Ignoring it, he headed in the direction of where the office was.


     Sitting down on the bench outside the restaurant, he knew he didn't get the job. And this being his last chance, he had to admit defeat. "What the fuck is wrong with me?" he said, to no one in particular. After what seemed like an eternity of introspection, he stood up, and walked to his car. When he put the key in the door, someone tapped him on the shoulder. He jumped and turned around, and was almost nose to nose with one of the waiters in the restaurant.
     "Your attitude." the waiter said, sounding smug.
     "Excuse me?" Josh was confused.
     "You asked what was wrong with you. It's your attitude. If you walk into a place not believing you're gonna accomplish anything, you won't. Whatever you put into something, you get out of it. Before you say anything about how corny and cliché that sounded, think about it. But not too long, I'm on my break."
     "Uh... Yeah, thanks for the advice. I gotta go now." All Josh needed right now was someone spouting half hearted philosophical dribble. He almost appreciated it.
     "Don't go, you look hungry. I'm on a break, wanna grab a bite?"
     "What do you mean, I look hungry?"
     "Well look at you. You're too thin. You need to eat." A compliment. Josh was hooked.
     "That wasn't a..."
     "So, you're gonna take me to lunch then. What's your name again?" Josh cut him off. Food he could deal with. A discussion about how thin he was, that's another thing.
     "It's Bryce... Lunch it is I guess."

*A few drinks later*

     "Well, I've always believed in love. I just know that I'm not one of the people who'll experience it. And I don't think it's a bad thing. I'll be a fifty-year-old, in a nice car, cruising the strip. It's not that bad. I mean, who needs love? Not me! I can get by just fine without it."
     "Always the optimistic one, eh Josh? Life isn't worth living without the possibility of love. Wouldn't you like to be curled up in someone's arms, feeling safe and secure, and knowing how much that person loves you? That's what I want in life."
     "I want a big house, a nice job, a few close friends, and lots and lots of money. If I fall in love, it'll just screw everything up. I don't need love. I've gotten this far without it."
     "Someone will come along one day and change your mind about that. I hope maybe that person could be me." Bryce mumbled the last part, almost inaudibly.
     "You think you could? I highly doubt it. No offense. But if you want a challenge, I'm up for it." Josh was drunk. Obviously. Somewhere in his mind, he knew how stupid he sounded. And how much he didn't need someone in his life. But he was too drunk to care. "When is lunch getting here anyways? It's been over an hour!"
     "It's been ten minutes," Bryce giggled. He hadn't seen anyone who could hold their liquor as poorly as Josh could before. Just about as he said that, the waitress brought their food out.
     "Finally," Josh slurred, and the waitress cast a worried glance towards him.
 "You're not driving home, are ya?" she asked, a hint of a Southern drawl to her voice. Josh looked up at her and shook his head. He knew better than to drink and drive. He'd just get a cab... Or walk home. It wasn't far. Just twenty miles or so...
     Josh and Bryce ate their lunch in quiet contemplation of one another, neither knowing just how to proceed. Bryce was convinced that Josh was drunk, and that nothing he said could be taken completely seriously. And Josh was convinced that Bryce was simply humoring him, and trying to make him feel better since he obviously didn't get the job. At the end of the meal, Josh excused himself to use the bathroom, and Bryce wondered if he should try to pursue anything with Josh.
     `He is kinda cute,' Bryce thought, `His eyes are intoxicating, and his hair is perfect. Too perfect. He's definitely gay. Or at least bi. And he seems interested. Somewhat. Well, maybe I'll just give him my phone number. As a friendly jester. Sure, he'll buy that. I've just completely thrown myself at his feet. I'm practically screaming TAKE ME HOME!' Even his inner voice was sarcastic.
     "Hi," Josh said, standing over the table. "Look, I'm sobering up kinda quick, I really didn't drink that much. I should be heading home. Thanks for lunch, I appreciate it." Josh wanted to leave. He figured it was better than staying. He couldn't get attached to anyone. Not now. He could barely support himself financially, and he needed that squared away before he could continue with someone else.
     "Ok. Are you sure you can make it home?" Bryce asked as Josh nodded. "Ok, well... Here." Bryce grabbed a pen from his pocket and scribbled his number on the back of a napkin. "Call me sometime. We could go out."
     "Sure," Josh tried not to sound exasperated. "It was nice meeting you." And with that, and a pat on the shoulder, he was gone. Quickly getting into his car, he drove home. `A new record,' he thought, `Two people hitting on you in under 48 hours. And both male. Am I gay? I can't be. My parents didn't raise me this way. Jesus, I sound like a fucking bigot. And a hypocrite for that matter. Maybe I should call Bryce. What could it hurt? Maybe he could talk the manager into giving me a waiter's job. I mean, how could I fuck up an interview for waiting tables? I must be some kind of pathetic freak.'
     Putting his key in the lock, he noticed lights on in the kitchen. `Odd, I don't remember leaving those on.' Then, he heard crashing, followed by someone muttering some rather creative expletives. "Hello?" he yelled into the house.
     "Oh shit! You're home already! I was gonna cook," Leslie. Trying to cook again... This could be painful.
 Deciding against walking into the kitchen, he instead walked into his bedroom and hit the light. A familiar red light blinked on his answering machine, and he absentmindedly clicked the button to listen to the messages.
     "Hello Mr. Hoff! Congratulations, you've won..."

     `Obviously not important.' thought Josh.
     "Hi. Josh? I'm not sure if I have the right number or not..." Josh's heart jumped into his chest. "This is Lance. From the concert. And the bar. I just wanted to say hi. Leslie gave me your phone number. I'm sorry, I probably shouldn't be calling. I just wondered if you'd like to go... Out? Sometime? I don't know, if you're not interested, ignore this message. If you are, come to our concert tomorrow night. It's at the same place, at seven o'clock. Tell the bouncer backstage who you are, we'll leave passes for you and Leslie. God, I sound stupid. I better go before I embarrass myself. Too late, huh?"
     "Well, this should prove interesting," Josh said to no one in particular. "Hey Leslie," he shouted out, "What are your plans for tomorrow night?" At her mumbled response, followed by the sound of crashing flatware, he turned his radio on. A familar song filled the air as he smiled to himself. "What will the next few days bring?"

    These are the days
    You'll remember
    Never before and never since
    I promise
    The whole world will be as warm as this

    And as you feel it
    You'll know it's true
    That you
    Are blessed and lucky
    It's true
    That you
    Are touched by something
    That'll grow and bloom
    In you

    These are the days
    That you'll remember

So, how was it? Should I continue? Let me know, my E-Mail adress is Fricklor@aol.com. Thanks!