Pairing: Lance & JC, Joey & Justin!!!!
Disclaimer: This isn't real, and sometimes, neither am I! :-)
Message from Me: Can you believe how long I've been writing this? I can't! I didn't realize until it was pointed out to me. I know, it takes forever, but sometimes life can get in the way of alternative-reality fiction, you know what I mean? lol. :) Thanks to everybody, especially Chet (my boyfriend when I started this chapter and my ex by the end, no wonder it took so long, I blame him!) and Chris (feel better sweetie, flu is so fun). I still love email, and all comments are welcome! :-) Thanks for reading.
Mistaken Dreams: Lance n' JC.....
JC settled Lance into the king-size bed, covering him with the down-comforter that Lance insisted on carting around from city to city. JC couldn't even remember now where they had bought it. Arlington maybe? Or perhaps somewhere in New Mexico, he wasn't quite sure. He settled on the couch that was facing the bed and picked up the packet of information they has been given that morning and a pencil, intending to go over it with a fine tooth comb. But even as he sat down he felt compelled to look at Lance, just to check on him, to be sure he hadn't moved or awoken in the few seconds that had passed since JC set him down. Lance had not moved even a millimeter of course, and looked exactly the same as always, but JC was struck by the play of light on his boyfriend's features, sparkling on Lance's eyelashes, playing with the slight dimple in his left cheek, leaving his plump bottom lip in shadow while it seemed to shimmer on the top. JC had never considered himself much of an artist, but this was a picture that he felt could not go unrecorded, and so, without a camera handy, he grabbed a pencil and began to sketch on the thick white envelope that management had given him.
The bell attached to the flower-shop's door jingled cheerfully as three unassuming young men entered the shop.
"Hi there, welcome to Mama's Garden, I'll be with you in just a moment!" A perky voice called out from the rear portion of the store, and one of the young men voiced his thanks before all three wandered off to look around the shop.
"Sorry about that, I was just washing up." The girl, who was brightly red-haired, said, smiling at the young man who was closest to her.
"Don't worry about it." The man said quickly. "My name's Justin." He added, sticking out his hand. Not wanting to be impolite, she took his hand and gave it a firm shake, though she thought it was a little odd, since customers didn't usually introduce themselves.
"I'm Tosh." She replied.
"I know." Justin smiled a bit at the startled look on Tosh's face. "You met my boyfriend Joey yesterday." He explained.
"Oh!" The light bulb went off in Tosh's mind. "So you're Joey's `something like that'! But wait, you're part of the band too, the curly one, Justin, Justin..."
"Timberlake." Justin supplied, smiling.
"Yeah that's it! Sorry, I'm really bad with names." She flashed him a goofy grin. "Wow, so you and Joey huh? Definitely didn't see that one coming! So how long have you two been going out?"
"About a month." Justin said happily.
"That's awesome! So did you like the flowers he got you?"
"So much! It was a beautiful arrangement! I suppose that was mostly your doing?" Justin asked knowingly; he didn't imagine Joey would be able to match flowers very well.
"Yes well, I might have had a little something to with it, what else are we florists for? Oh hey, I remember JC saying that you and his boyfriend know each other, is he someone close to the band too?"
"Yeah I'd say he's a pretty integral part of the entire picture." Justin chuckled as Tosh absently rearranged one of the window-front displays. "It's Lance." He confessed.
"Lance! The other blonde boy that's in the band?!?!" She exclaimed, startled. Justin nodded his assent.
"Jeez, what is it with you boy-bands, are all of you gay!?!" Tosh smirked, eyes sparkling.
"Well, Lance and I are. I think JC is just bi though. And Joey, well, I think he just has a thing for blondes." Justin smirked now, and Tosh smiled knowingly.
"But what about the cute one, Chris? What's his story?" She asked. Justin rolled his eyes, he couldn't believe that anyone would peg Chris as the cute one.
"Chris is straight for sure. He doesn't even like it when Lance and I get in bed with him." Justin ignored the quirky look Tosh gave him. "Actually, that's why we came, so he could meet you. Where the hell did they go?" Justin asked, perplexed, as he looked around the small shop and couldn't find either his band mate or his boyfriend.
"Oh they probably just wandered out back to look at the potted plants. The door is over there, wanna go?"
He nodded, and the two walked in that direction, Justin pulling open the door.
"Joey, where are you?" He yelled, being unable to see over the high stacks of pots and through the low-hanging plants.
"Over here babe!" Joey waved from the corner, jumping high so Justin could see him. Justin chuckled, Joey could be a real goofball sometimes. He and Tosh made their way over to the two of them.
"I don't know why you guys came out here." Justin said, glancing around at the different plants.
"Well, I thought Tosh might feel less like we were converging upon her to attack if it was just you in there." Joey replied, tossing a wink in Tosh's direction, which Justin thankfully missed, despite Tosh's small chuckle.
"Anyway, Chris, this is Tosh, Tosh, this is my band-mate, Chris." Justin announced, acting as if he hadn't met Tosh only minutes before.
"Hi, it's uhh, nice to meet you." Chris said haltingly, and held out his hand, acting like something close to an embarrassed teenage boy.
"A pleasure." Tosh replied, smiling and giving Chris's hand a half-shake.
"Well, this is great." Justin said brightly. "You two have probably lots in common, I can feel it. So we'll leave you to it. Bye Chris, see you back at the hotel, and it was nice meeting you Tosh!" Justin gave her a small hug. "Come on Joey, let's go." He took his boyfriend's arm and began to tug him away.
"Wait, Justin!" Chris grabbed his arm, guiding him to a spot a few yards from Tosh.
"Don't leave me here all alone, what am I supposed to talk with her about!?"
"Chris, she's a flower-girl, not a Venus fly-trap, just talk to her."
"About??" Chris questioned.
"Oh, I don't know, things you have in common: likes, dislikes, your work!"
"Well, I suppose our works do have something in common. After all, we both work with Pansies, we could probably talk about that." Chris smirked, and Joey stifled his laugh.
Justin, however, looked highly offended.
"Well! See if I ever try to set you up again!" He stamped his foot and twirled around to leave, but not before his band-mate caught his slight smile.
"Bye, good luck." Joey waved a hand before Justin and he disappeared behind the trellis.
"So, do you enjoy working with pansies?" Tosh asked slyly, sidling up behind Chris.
"My hearing is excellent." She added, and they shared a smile.
Chris slipped an arm around her waist, sensing it wouldn't be taken as overly familiar.
"Well, yes, I do," he replied. "Though at times they can be a rather exhausting flower to nurture."
Tosh started to laugh.
"Take me to lunch?" Justin requested as they walked down the bustling city street on which the florist shop was located.
"Of course." Joey replied. "Where would you like to go?"
"Mmm, no preference, just wherever." Justin smiled shyly, and their shoulders rubbed together.
"Well, in that case, I know of this great little bakery place just a few blocks down."
"You do? How?" Justin asked, rather surprised. After all, they were in a strange city with nothing even remotely resembling a tour guide.
"I have my sources." Joey smiled mysteriously, giving Justin's upper arm a small squeeze.
Justin pondered this for a moment, then looked up at Joey, smiling. "You called your mom?"
Joey chuckled. "Well, aren't you just the little detective!"
"What can I say, Private Eye Timberlake strikes again!" Both laughed; it was a fact well-known by all five band members that Mrs. Fatone knew of excellent eateries, bakeries, and assorted other dining establishments with-in every major East Coast metropolis. All five frequently called on her for advice of this sort.
The two men walked leisurely through the pedestrian traffic, not quite holding hands, but standing so close that it was obvious they could be nothing other than a couple.
"Ahh, here we are!" Joey said, stopping in front of a rather non-descript door several blocks later. "Clara's" the sign read, and Joey opened the door, leading the way into the brightly lit interior. The small store-front had been misleading, as it opened up into a, if not spacious, then comfortably-sized room, with tables scattered here and there amidst faded, buttercup-yellow walls and mismatched rugs settled over the worn carpet.
"Wow, everything smells really good in here!" Justin exclaimed, inhaling the rich scents of butter crème and chocolate.
"And it'll taste even better." Joey promised, leading him to the front counter, where on display were dozens of different cookies, pastries, and other home-baked goodies.
"Mmm, I definitely want one of those!" Justin declared, pointing to an enormous cookie with bright pink frosting and sprinkles.
"I might have guessed." Joey teased.
"Whatever." A smile flickered across Justin's lips. "I want one of those crumbly blueberry looking things too! And oooh, yum, maybe a slice of that cake! Joey, why did you bring me here, you're gonna make me fat!"
Joey laughed. "Hun, you weigh, like, 12 ounces. That slice of coffee cake is heavier than you are!" Before Justin could offer a smart rebuttal (and a kiss for the wayward compliment) a heavyset woman in her mid-fifty's emerged from behind the kitchen door.
"Hello, how are ya, can I help ya?!" She shouted good-naturedly in thickly accented English.
"Yes, I just can't decide what I want yet!" Justin replied brightly, smiling.
"It's a slow day and you two are the only customers I've got, so take all the time you want!" She retreated back behind the door, only to return seconds later with a tray of newly-baked pastries.
"Oh, I definitely want one of those!"
"I thought you might!" She smiled, and set aside the sweetest looking for Justin.
"Gosh, it all just looks so good, I want it all!" Justin exclaimed.
"Well then you can have it all!"
"I just don't need the calories that come along with it." He smiled, holding up his hands in a gesture of mock despair.
"Oh pish! You have many many pounds to go before you start worrying about that! And I'd say you have another thirty years of freedom, too, only then will you have to start watching what you eat. If not, you end up looking like me, eh?" She gestured to her ample figure. "But ahh, it is all for the best. Other ways, you become one of those skinny old people, and no one likes that, oh no! I get the shivers just thinking about being an old bag of bones!"
Justin laughed, and decided that her analysis was accurate enough that he could splurge just a little. "Well, in that case," he said, pondering the contents of the dessert case. "I'll have one of those pecan cookies, a lemon tart thinger, just a teeny slice of that blueberry crumble, a chocolate eclair, the strawberry swan, and...oh, throw in one of those napoleons for good measure!" Of course, he amended, splurging a lot had its benefits too.
"Now that is the way to eat my dear!" The woman exclaimed, smiling as she placed each item into a white paper sack, surrounded by sheets of non-stick wax tissue.
"Now, your turn." She said, turning to Joey.
"Well, I think I'd like just a piece of the dark chocolate fudge...oh, and one of those big pink cookies too."
"Oh, good, I had forgotten that!" Justin exclaimed, while Joey just smiled.
"Good good good, excellent choices all around. This should get you two through several hours at least, eh?" She smiled and handed the bag across the counter, accepting the bills Joey gave her as he murmured for her to keep the change. "Why thank you!"
"You boys have a nice day now you hear!" She hollered, retreating into the back again as they moved to take a seat.
"All right, what shall we eat first!?!" Justin asked animatedly, gently tipping the contents of their bag onto the table.
"Well, really, I think we should just start at the beginning." Joey picked up the big pink cookie and split it in half, feeding Justin a bite before taking one himself.
"Mmm, yum!" Justin took another bite, then put the cookie down. "Ok, now the swan!"
When Lance woke up, it was to a partially-lit, mostly empty room.
"JC?" He called out, shifting off of his stomach to look around the room. He spotted light, peeking out from under the bathroom door. "Oh, good." Lance smiled and snuggled back in, before realizing that he wasn't really that tired anymore. "Damn." He sighed, and sat up, tugging a blanket around his shoulders. After a few moments, he stood up all the way, and trudged the ten feet to the couch to find the remote before sitting down again.
That's when he spotted the packet.
"What's this?" He wondered aloud, spotting the sketch JC had made of him. He saw his features delicately transcribed onto the back of the envelope; JC was a wonderful artist.
Lance smiled, and traced the drawing with his fingers before turning the envelope over to see what it might be.
"Oh lord." He muttered, realizing it was from management. He sifted through the various papers, looking at tour schedules, song sets, proposed dance choreography, and...something about another band.
"Come on just tell me straight out!" Lance scanned all the pages once again, looking for a name. Finally, he found one, and what he saw stopped him cold:
The Backstreet Boys.
"No, no, nono it can't, it can't be!" But it was.
"How, how did, how did he....." Lance trailed off.
"He knew....." The paper slipped out of his hands, fluttering to the ground.
It was September, the tour was coming to a close, and Lance couldn't have been happier.
Well, not exactly happy, more like, so incredibly relieved that he wanted to cry.
With the tour ending, so would his much twisted, at times almost abusive, not-quite-a-relationship with Brian. Sitting on the counter in the dressing room he shared with Justin, he couldn't imagine how he had let it get so far. He wasn't like that, he wasn't a victim, that wasn't the way he had been raised. If a relationship (or whatever it happened to be) was bad, for any reason, emotionally, physically, psychologically, whatever, you got out. You left. You up and left. That was what he had been taught, and that was what he knew was right. He'd told his best girl friend to do that when she had been dating that horrible Blake-man who smacked her around. She hadn't listened to him, and he hadn't understood why. He did now.
It was too hard to leave. He had tried, really! Tried everything he knew of to try. But when you couldn't separate yourself geographically, it was extra hard to separate yourself emotionally.
The worst part was that he couldn't tell anyone. Well, no, he reconsidered, that was wrong. The worst part was that Brian couldn't care less about him.
In the beginning, it had been good. They had met a few times before, and Lance had always thought Brian seemed nice enough, if a little distant. And once they had begun to tour together, he had been very friendly, asking Lance to lunch and paying him little compliments here and there. Lance had started to think that maybe he'd found love.
Slowly though, the friendship that had been a flirty, semi-dating summer fling had deteriorated into a degrading arrangement in which Lance was the only one who didn't have a say. Brian would show up (before a performance, after, once during a break) often drunk, angry, or otherwise incapacitated, take what he wanted, and leave. And that was that.
But that wasn't going to be that now, not this time. This time, Lance was going to stand up, and say no. It was the last time, ever. No more late night visits. No more strange explanations and asking for a separate room. No More.
The door opened, and Lance's heart skipped a beat, but it was only Justin.
"Is he here?" Justin asked tersely, looking around.
"No, not yet." Lance sighed quietly, and slid off the counter.
"Maybe he won't come at all." Justin said hopefully.
"He will. You know he will. He always does."
Justin had found out several weeks earlier, when he had heard Brian and Lance talking in the hall after another forced, late night blowjob had just ended. That was back when Lance had still taken the time each night to beg Brian to stay.
He'd stopped that now, it never worked anyway.
"Lance, tonight you have to-"
"I know, I will." Words Lance had said before at least a dozen times. Justin was right to look at him pessimistically.
"Seriously, I will! The joint tour is over, from now on all shows will be just us, right?" Justin nodded his agreement. "Ok, tonight, I'm going to do it. Because I'm never going to have to see him again, right?" Lance looked to Justin for assurance once more. He nodded. "So it'll be easy, I'll just do it. No pain, no feelings, just over." Lance offered a silent prayer.
Justin nodded. "It's for the best. What he does, it's crap, Lance, it's....just crap. That's all I can say." He said, sagely hugging his friend. "That offer to beat the shit out of him still stands." Justin added, smirking.
"I would crush you like a twig." Brian slurred from the doorway, stumbling as he crossed the threshold, his sudden appearance startling both boys. "Get out of here." He jammed his finger at Justin, and pointed towards the door. Justin stood solid, unmoving, until Lance gave him a push in the direction of the door.
"It's ok." Lance whispered, offering a weak smile. Justin wasn't happy, but he left all the same.
The door shut, and Brian took another sloppy step towards Lance. "So you think you're gonna break it off tonight, huh?" He laughed gutturally. "Well, who knows, maybe you'll get the chance, but after tonight, not before." And then they were standing in front of each other, and Lance was being pushed down to his knees, and there wasn't anything he could do to stop it.
Twenty minutes later, Lance lay on couch, curled tight as a ball, crying softly, the taste still foul in his mouth. Brian was fixing himself up, preparing to leave.
"Well, I guess this is it for now." Brian said, leaning down, speaking into Lance's ear. "See you next summer Lance." He said, grasping the younger boy cruelly tight.
"What? The tour's over." Lance whispered, confused and scared.
"Yeah, until next summer." Brian replied cockily.
"That won't happen." Lance said, half predicting, half praying to god.
"I'll make it happen." He kissed Lance harshly on the mouth then, laughing menacingly as he exited the room.
Lance sank deeper into the couch, sobs wracking his body.
Suddenly, Lance was back in himself, sitting on another couch, tears of a similar kind streaking his cheeks.
Lance heard footsteps, and the un-oiled hinges of the hotel room door began to creak, swinging slowly, inexorably inward.
A figure came into view, silhouetted against the harsh back lighting of the hallway's overflow fixtures.
Lance's breath caught in his throat.
What do you think, do I still have it??? I know, this one was a little sad, but I feel like Lance needs to come to some sort of reckoning, and this is the first step. It'll get cute again, never fear! E-mail me with your thoughts!