Like anyone who writes feed back,
good or bad is needed. 
The good feed back, strokes our ego.  The bad feed back, strokes 
the delete key.  <grin>

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Legal Disclaimer: 
This story is totally fictional and is not meant  to imply anything about the personalities or the sexual orientation of the groups *Nsync and  Backstreet Boys.  If you are under the age of 18, offended by male/male material, or it is illegal to view such materials in your area, you should be leaving now. 
My New Life
by James

Last time:
Marc and the guys returned to the dressing room after supper and chilled out until it was time to get ready.  Pete stuck his head into the room,  "Justin, Lance and Chris you're needed in makeup." 

"Thanks, Pete," Chris said.

"You going to be here when we get back?" Lance asked.

Shaking his head, Marc said, "No. I need to get ready too.  I'll see you all on stage."

"Ok, see you then,"  Lance said with a smile and leaned in and gave Marc a quick kiss. 

As everyone was leaving, Marc caught Joey by the arm.  "Got a moment?"

"Sure," Joey said as the others left the room.  "Are you all right?  Do you need something." 

"I'm fine.  But I do need something,"  Marc said a little hesitantly.

"What?" Joey asked.

"I. . . Ah. . . Need a hug,"  Marc said.

Joey smiled and pulled Marc into a gentle hug.  Marc wrapped his arms around Joey and pulled him in tight.  "Joe, I won't break."

"I don't want to hurt you,"  Joey said softly.

"Hugs never hurt," Marc said.

Joey pulled Marc in tighter. "You really alright?"

"Yeah, other than my nose feeling as big as yours, I'm great."

Laughing, Joey said, "I think I've just been insulted."

Breaking the hug Marc had a mischievous grin on his face.

"Don't you need to get ready too," Joey laughed.

"Yeah,  see you on stage,"  Marc said as he quickly leaned in and gave Joey a quick kiss on the lips, then dashed out.

Chapter 28
Boston Pops on the Fourth

Marc went to  change then went to check the stage setup.  Everything looked in order.  The opening act, a local rock group was set up on a mobile platform.  Their whole setup could be rolled out onto the front half of the stage in front of a large backdrop  curtain with the  band's name on it.  That left NSYNC's staging intact ready to go in less  than three minutes.

Walking over to sound control, Marc asked, "Bobby, you ready for me?" 
"Almost, just have to reset the channel,"  Bobby  replied as he worked with a tiny screwdriver.  "There."

Bobby handed the headset to Marc. 

"What's this?"  Marc  asked as he looked at the new piece of equipment.

"Your regular headset has a short in it.  You're going to use Joey's  spare headset until I can get the other one fixed,"  Bobby informed Marc.

Placing the headset on, Marc adjusted the microphone in front of his mouth.  "What do I do with these?"  Marc asked indicating the ear inserts.

"Let me see,"  Bobby said as he checked to see how the earpiece fit into Marc's ear.  "Too large,"  Bobby said as he removed the earpiece.  Returning with two smaller earpieces, he tried each one on Marc.  The second one fit Marc the best.  "Turn around, let me finish the hookup." 

Bobby clipped the transmitter to the back of Marc's belt.  Making all the connections Bobby gave Marc a pat on the back.  "Test,"  was all the Bobby said.

Smiling, Marc began the test,  "Hey, Ron, this is Marc. How do you read me?"

"Loud and clear," Ron replied.  "Brian needs to talk to you about a few changes in tonight's show."

"Okay, do you know where he is?"

"Back stage behind the band,"  Ron said.


The show that night was  much better than the sound check.  Marc found Joey kept looking his way when he had the chance.  Marc would smile at Joey and give him a wink.  And Joey would beam a smile back.

Ron and Bobby were working the soundboards during the concert.  As always, the concert was recorded on video and audio tape.  Bobby was working the communications board for the stage crew and the band.    Ron heard laughter coming from Bobby. "What's up?" he asked.

"Marc's at it again," Bobby chuckled.

"Is he being a motor mouth again?" Ron asked.

"He hasn't figured out that his microphone is live all the time."

"Have you been recording all of his feed?"  Ron asked.

"Yeah, why?"

"He's wearing Joey's headset.  It's going to be interesting to see what he sounds like with a good microphone. God Must Have Spent, is up next.  Let's see if he sings the lead again,"  Ron said.

`Something tells me we're going to be spending our day off playing with the mixer board,'  Bobby thought having some idea what Ron had in mind.

Marc had supervised the breakdown and loading of the band instruments  onto the truck.  Ron walked up to Marc, "Hey, man, why aren't you answering?"

"Answer what?"  Marc asked.

"We need the equipment," Ron said as he reached behind Marc and removed the transmitter.  "This thing is  too expensive to be worn while loading a truck."

"Sorry, I forgot all about it," Marc said sheepishly.  "Is it all right?"

"Yeah, your earplug just got unplugged while you were working."

Marc gave a rap on the dressing room door before he entered.  Walking in to the dressing room, he was met by Joey who immediately grabbed Marc into a headlock.  "I've got him,"  Joey shouted.

Marc was immediately surrounded by the guys.  "Ah, hi guys, what's up?" 

"We want to talk to you about that last number,"  Chris said firmly.

"It sounded great,"  Marc said.

"It's not how it sounded," Lance said.  "It's the tempo you set."

"Yeah, the tempo,"  Justin echoed.

Squirming free of Joey's head hold Marc tried to defend his actions.  "Ah, you guys seemed to be dragging a little near the end.  So I figured I'd pep up the last number a bit."

"A bit!"  Josh exclaimed.  "Trying to dance to that tempo about killed me."

"Sorry,"  Marc said meekly.

"Sorry is not going to do it,"  Joey said as the group began to move in on Marc.

"What are you going to do?"  Marc asked nervously.

"You need to be taught a lesson," Chris said with a stern expression as he moved closer.

Looking over at Lance, Marc asked,  "Aren't you going to help me?"

Shaking his head, Lance said, "You're on your own with this.  When you screw with our music you pay the consequences,"  Lance said keeping a straight face.

"Shit!" was all Marc got out before he was wrestled to the ground as the tickle attack began. Chris and JC each took one of Marc's arms while Lance and Joey each held down a leg.  Justin got the honors of the actual torture.  Straddling Marc, Justin found his tickle spot and went to work on it, sending Marc into a fit of laughter.  Marc struggled to break free, bouncing Justin around as if he was on a bucking bronco.  Chris and JC had to put their full weight on Marc's arms in order to hold him down.  Leaning in with his full weight, Chris came face to face with Marc. 

Knowing that this opportunity to get Chris may not happen again Marc moved swiftly and kissed Chris full on the mouth.   Moreover, knowing that the kiss would gross Chris out he stuck his tongue into Chris' mouth.

Chris reacted by flying off Marc, trying to get as far away as possible.  "Shit man!" Chris shouted. "He French kissed me."

Marc next bucked Justin completely off him, sending Justin flying over Joey.  Josh, who is the lightest of the group, went flying next.  Marc just lifted his arm up and tossed him off.  Reaching down, Marc grabbed Lance by the seat of his pants, picked him up, and tossed him atop Chris. 

Now that left Joey, the only member of the group that had a chance of beating Marc in a fair fight.   Marc turned the tables on Joey and became the attacker.  The wrestling match was on as each boy tried to gain the advantage and pin the other.  Over and over they rolled both laughing as they sparred for the top position.

"Get him, Joe," Justin shouted.

Joey managed to roll Marc over on his back pinning his arms above his head.  Joe was breathing hard from the effort and laughing as hard as  Marc was.  Joe's eye locked on Marc's, their faces just inches apart.  Joey could feel Marc's hot breath on his face.  Time seemed to have stopped for an instant; the world around them vanished and only the two of them existed.  Joey leaned in closer to Marc.

"Make him say uncle, Joey,"  Chris prodded.

Chris's statement brought Joey back to the present.  "Give up?" Joey asked.

Grinning broadly Marc said,  "Nope."   as he raised his arms up, forcing Joey to shift his balance and throwing Joey off.  Marc rolled with Joe, ending up on top of Joe and pinning him to the floor.  "Ready to give up?"  Marc asked.

"Never!" Joey replied.

Justin went to Joey's aid and jumped on Marc's back as he tired to put a headlock on Marc.

"You know, Curly, you are becoming a pest,"  Marc said as he reached behind him and grabbed Justin behind the head and flipped him off.  Leaving Joey, whose fight had seemed to vanish, Marc attacked Justin.  Knowing where his tickle spot was, Marc attacked without mercy.

"Hahaha stop.  Please stop!  I'm going to pee my pants,"  Justin pleaded.

"Is anyone going to help Curly?"  Chris asked.

"No way," JC said.  "This was Justin's idea.  There is no way I'm going to get within Marc's reach."

"I'll save you Justin," Lance shouted as he flung himself at Marc, using all his body weight to knock Marc off Justin.  Rolling on top, Lance grabbed Marc's arms at the wrist and tried to force them down.

Just then, Pete entered the room and saw everyone on the floor laughing while Marc and Lance wrestled.   Pete opened his mouth to say something but just couldn't quite get anything out.  He shook his head and left, not really wanting to know what was going on.

Everyone noticed Pete's arrival and his reaction to the noisy group brought on a new wave of laughter.

"Oh, my man thinks he can pin me,"  Marc said with a sly smile.

"I don't just think I can pin you, I know I can pin you,"  Lance said as he struggled to push Marc's arms down. 

"Maybe if you were twins," Marc chuckled as he easily moved his arms up and down as Lance strained to pin them down.

"I don't have to be twins.  I have a secret weapon," Lance said with confidence.

"What secret weapon?" Marc asked intrigued.

"This," Lance said as he leaned in and started to kiss Marc.

Marc's feeble protest was muffled by Lance's mouth.  With a deep sigh, Marc surrendered to Lance.

"Oh!  That's playing dirty,"  Joey protested.

Feeling Marc go completely limp below him, Lance sat up on Marc's chest raising his arms in triumph.  "I won!"  Lance yelled.

Marc was a little dazed at the turn of events.  "The winner now needs to collect his prize,"  Marc said as he reached up and grabbed the front of Lance's shirt and pulled him back down for another deep kiss.

Pete was sitting at the table going over reports when the guys finally made  into the bus.  "It's nice of you guys to finally join us,"   Pete's said rather curtly.

"Sorry, Pete, we lost track of the time,"  JC said.

"Oh, sure,"  Pete said.  Looking to Marc he asked, "Do I need to say anything about the last number?"

"Ah, no.  It has been pointed out quite clearly that my actions were not appreciated.  I won't do it again without letting them know first,"  Marc said a little embarrassed. 

Shaking his head, Pete said, "You guys get back there and get some rest. . . . . Ok, George, let's head out."

Everyone just seemed to collapse in the lounge, chilling out and unwinding.  Lance was holding Marc in his arms as Marc rested his head against Lance's chest.  One by one, each of the guys called it a night and headed for his bunk. 

"I'm thirsty. I'm going to get some juice.  You want any?"  Marc asked Lance.

"I'll share yours." 

"I'll bring you one.  I know how you share,"  Marc said with a smile.

In the bunk area, Marc found Chris getting ready to climb into his bunk.  Chris gave Marc a wary eye.


"Yeah, Marc."

"I'm sorry for what happened tonight.  I know I shouldn't have kissed you."

"You didn't just kiss me.  You French kissed me."

"I know.  It was a dirty trick.  I'm sorry,"  Marc said softly.

"It's just.  It's just, I wasn't expecting it.  It caught me off guard,"  Chris said.

"If I promise  not to kiss you on the mouth again can we still be friends?"  Marc asked sheepishly.

"Of course we're still friends,"  Chris said seeing that Marc was really worried about losing his friendship.  Pulling Marc into a hug, Chris said,  "I'll see you in the morning.  Good night."

"Good night,"  Marc said as he gave Chris a squeeze,  giving Chris a kiss on the cheek.  "Love ya, see you in the morning."

Pulling back from the hug Chris just grinned and shook his head, and wagged a finger at Marc.

Marc put on this innocent `what did I do face.' 

Chris chuckled, "Good night," and climbed into his bunk.

Justin had come out of the bathroom just as Chris and Marc hugged.  Justin was grinning as Marc came up to him.

"Hey, kid, what's up?"  Marc asked.

"Just heading to bed.  Hey, big bro, do I get a good night hug too?" 

"I don't know.  You were a pest tonight," Marc teased.

"Isn't that what kid brothers are supposed to do?"

Marc thought about it for a moment.  "Yeah, you're right."  Marc pulled Justin into a tight hug. 

"What no kiss?"  Justin asked.

Pulling back a little, Marc looked at Justin.  Leaning in, Marc gave Justin a soft kiss on the lips.  Looking again to see what Justin's reaction was he was relieved to see him break out in a big smile.

"Good night, Just.  Sleep tight,"  Marc said as he released Justin from the hug.

"Good night, Marc.  Love you, bro,"  Justin said as he gave Marc a quick kiss on the cheek and headed to his bunk.

Joey was downing the last of his carton of milk when Marc stepped through the curtains.

"Still up?"  Marc asked.

"Yeah, can't sleep."

Marc gazed into Joey's eyes, seeing the pain he felt.  "Joe, I know there is something bothering you,"  Marc said softly.

"Marc, I can't talk about it."

Placing a hand on Joey's shoulder, Marc said with sincerity, "I'm not going to pressure you into talking about it.  Joe you are my best friend, and I love you.  I can see you are fighting  an inner battle and you are hurting.  And I also know you are not ready to talk about what's bothering you right now.  When you want to talk, I'll be there for you. . . . .  I know it is hard to get some private time together.  If you need to talk just ask me to go for a walk and I'll be there."

Joe nodded that he understood.

Marc pulled his friend into a tight hug.  "Get some rest.  . . . I love you, Joe,"  Marc said into Joey's ear.  Then he gave Joey a good night kiss on the cheek.

In a cracking voice, Joey said,  "Good night. . . Love you too."

Marc returned to the lounge to find Lance had made up their little nest.  "I see  where we are sleeping,"  Marc said as he kicked off his shoes.  Handing Lance a bottle of apple juice, he asked, "Is this going to be  where we sleep every night?"

"Probably, we seemed to have developed this habit of talking before we go to sleep each night.  This way we won't disturb the others."

"Good idea," Marc agreed as he climbed in next to Lance.

Sitting with their backs against the seat, they each took a large drink of their juice then sat in silence.  "Marc, I need to talk to you about what happened this afternoon,"  Lance started. 

"What about it?"  Marc asked.

"You scared the shit out of me today when you got hurt."

"Sorry. . . .  I didn't mean for it to happen."

"I know you didn't mean for it to happen.  But when I saw you lying there with the blood running out your mouth and nose I about died.  I didn't know what to do to help you," Lance said

Marc took Lance's hand and felt him tremble.  "James, you did everything right.  You checked my pulse."

"How did you know I checked your pulse?"

"I wasn't out of it, I was just stunned.  I heard everything that was going on around me.  James, you have good instincts, I know you would have done the right thing if I was really hurt bad."

"I just hope I never have to use those instincts,"  Lance said softly.  "You know what surprised me about that incident?"

"No, what?"

"Joey's reaction. . . . He seemed really upset you were hurt. . . . .He has me worried."


"He seems to be on a emotional roller coaster lately.  I wish I knew what's bothering him."

Marc sighed,  "I have a good idea what's bothering him."

"You do?"

"Yeah, Joey is fighting an inner battle.  One that we both have fought in our lives." 

Lance frowned, trying to figure out what Marc meant.  Then it dawned on him what Joey was fighting.  "Joey has feelings for another guy?"

Marc nodded.

"Someone in the group?"

"No, no one in the group."

Lance looked into Marc's dark eyes and saw something.  "Is it you?"

Marc nodded.

"Has he said something to you?"

"Not directly. . . . . The other morning when I went to get Joey up to run with us,  he wouldn't answer his door so I went in to wake him.  He was asleep and he was dreaming.   And he talks in his sleep."

"What did he say?"

"He said, `Marc, what can't you love me.'  He sounded so sad when he said it,"  Marc pointed out.  "Then the dream must have changed, he kept saying `No, I'm not that way,' over and over again."

"Wow!"  Lance said.  "He must be going through hell."

"Yes, the inner conflict must be tearing him apart." 

"Tonight when the two of you were wrestling I got the impression there for a moment that he was about to kiss you."

"I know what you're talking about.  If we were alone he might have done it."

"How would you have felt about that?"  Lance asked.

"I would have been happy for Joey, to be able to kiss me would have meant that he has come to grip with his feelings.  But he was not ready for that yet."

"Marc, . . . . Have you ever kissed any of the others,  other than Chris.  I know you did that to get him off you."

Marc sighed, "I kissed Joey earlier tonight.  Just before you guys went to get ready for the show.  I asked Joey to stay for a moment.  James, he seemed so down.  He was so upset about what had happened."

"So was I."

"Yes, I know you were.  And I did my best to assure you that I was okay.  I was able to hold you and kiss you to make you feel better.  I couldn't do that with Joey."

"So you got him alone,"  Lance said rather curtly.

"I wanted to assure him that I was all right.  I asked him for a hug.  As we broke the hug I leaned in and kissed him lightly on the lips."

"What did he say?"

"Nothing, he was surprised I think, and I really didn't give him a chance to say anything I left to get ready for the show."

"Is there anyone else I should know about?"

"Well you know about me slipping Chris the tongue.  Just a little while ago I apologized to Chris for pulling that dirty trick on him."

"Did he accept your apology?"

"Yeah, we're still friends.  But I think he will be a little gun shy around me."


"Well when we hugged I gave him a good night kiss on the cheek." 

Smiling while shaking his head, Lance asked, "Is there anyone else?"

"Yeah, . . . . Justin saw me give Chris the good night kiss.  He asked if he could get a good night hug too."

"Did he get one?" 

"Yeah, I gave him a hug."

"And a kiss on the cheek?" 

"Ah, not on the cheek."

Lance's left eyebrow raised in a question.

"I kissed him on the lips."

"Oh, how did he react?"  Lance inquired.

Marc said with a smile, "He had a big grin on his face.  He hugged me again and gave me a kiss on the cheek." 

"You have been a busy boy.  Should I ask if there is any more?"

Marc gave a sly nod of his head.

"The only one left is JC,"  Lance chuckled.  "Don't tell me you gave him a good night kiss too."

"No, not JC.  I found Joey up front.  He seemed to be hurting again."

"Did you say something?"

"I told him I knew he was hurting and when he was ready to talk I would be there for him.  I hugged and kissed him good night.  On the cheek,"  Marc added.

"I know what he's going through. I just hope he could talk to one of us about how he is feeling,"  Lance said with a sigh.

"All we can do is give him our support and love."

"And try to include him in things we do.  His mood really perks up after he spends time with you.  I've seen it happen, but I wasn't able to put my finger on why until now."

Smiling, Marc noted,  "Just like you acted the first weeks we were getting to know each other."

"Well why don't you put those lips of yours to work and give me a good night kiss,"  Lance said.

"Any time you want them James, they're yours,"  Marc said as he leaned in to Lance.

Marc was awakened by a light rap on the door.  The door opened and Justin stuck his head in.

"Justin, is there something wrong?" Marc asked softly.

Lance woke at the sound of Marc's voice.  "What's wrong?"

"Ah, sorry guys. . . . Go back to sleep,"  Justin whispered.

"Justin, come here,"  Marc said as he patted a spot beside him.  Justin closed the door and sat next to Marc.

"What's wrong?"  Marc asked.

"Ah, it's nothing really.  I'm just being silly,"  Justin said sadly.

Marc placed a hand on Justin's shoulder and felt him tremble.  "What's wrong?"

"I had a bad dream. . . . I know it's silly.  I just didn't want to be alone."

"You can stay with us," Lance said without hesitation.

"Thanks, I won't be a bother,"  Justin said as he laid down with his back to Marc.

Lance looked over Marc at Justin's tense form.  Cupping  a hand to Marc's ear Lance whispered,  "I think he needs his big brother to hold him."

"Thanks," Marc said softly.  Reaching out Marc put his arm around Justin's waist and pulled him in close.  "You can't get any rest way over there,"  Marc said into Justin's ear.

"Thanks, I just wasn't sure."

"Do you remember what the dream was about?"  Marc asked.

"No.  I only know that it scared me."

"Well your big brother is here to protect you from any more bad dreams,"  Marc whispered.  "Try to get some rest."

"Thanks, Marc.  Good night, Lance,"  Justin said with a yawn.

"Good night, Justin," Lance said as he dozed off.

Marc leaned in and kissed the side of Justin's neck.  "Night little brother."

The downshifting and slowing of the bus meant George had pulled off the expressway and was now on Boston's city streets.  Chris was the first to notice the change in rhythm of the ride and knew the hotel was not far away.  Stretching as he got out of his bunk, Chris went up to the front of the bus to see how much longer till they reached the hotel.  Glancing out the windows Chris saw that it was still dark out.

"Hey, Chris," Pete said.

"How much longer till the hotel?"

"About ten minutes.  You want to get everyone up?"  Pete asked.

"Sure," Chris said as he glanced at his watch.  It was quarter till five.  `Hmm, we made good time.'  Chris thought.

Going into the bunk area Chris pulled back the curtain to JC's bunk.  "Hey, Josh, wake up.  We're almost at the hotel."

"Oh, ok," Josh mumbled as he went back to sleep.

Chris grabbed hold of Josh's blanket and pulled it off him.  "Oh no you don't.  Get up."

"Ok, ok.  I'm up,"  Josh protested.

Pulling the curtain of the upper bunk back.  "Joey.  Come on man.  It's time to get up."

"K,  I'm up,"  Joey said as he climbed out of his bunk and headed for the bathroom.

Pulling back Justin's curtain Chris found  an empty bunk.  The curtains to Lance and Marc's bunks were open and the bunks were empty.  Smiling, knowing what was going on Chris went to the lounge door and opened it while saying,  "Don't tell me you three stayed up all night playing Nintendo?"  Chris instantly froze at the sight of his three friends sleeping wrapped in each other's arms.  "Holy Shit!"  Chris shouted.

The three sleepers awoke at Chris's shout.  The three looked at Chris's face then they all broke out in laughter.

JC and Joey, hearing Chris's shout, stuck their head into the lounge and saw the other three laying on the floor all curled up together.

Joey grinned at the  sight and asked, "Are we comfortable, guys?"

"We were until Chris woke us,"  Lance said.

"Justin, what are you doing in there?"  JC asked.

"I had a bad dream.  And I didn't want to be alone."

"Why didn't you come to one of us instead of bothering Lance and Marc?"  JC asked.

"Because he was upset and needed to be held by Marc," Lance said hoping to put an end to the questions.

"Is everyone up?"  Pete shouted from the front of the bus.  "We're at the hotel."

Dragging their still weary tails, the guys made it to the sixteenth floor.  They were assigned a suite with three bedrooms.  It had become their normal routine for Lance and Marc to share a room, Justin and JC seemed to naturally pair off and Chris and Joey to share a room.  But if the truth really be known,  Joey was the only one who could sleep through Chris's snoring. 

Everyone kind of fell into the large couches and dozed waiting for the luggage to arrive.  A loud rap on the door brought everyone back to consciousness.  Joey, who was closest to the door, went to answer it.  Two large baggage carts were rolled into the room.  Everyone grabbed their stuff off the carts and the carts were pushed out into the hallway.

Marc grabbed his and Lance's small suitcases and headed for their room.

"What about the other bags?"  Lance asked.

"Leave them.  They're not going anywhere,"  Marc said with a yawn.

"What time do we have to be up for your rehearsal?"  Justin asked.

"Rehearsal starts at ten.  They will be sending a car for us at quarter to.  I take it you are coming along?"  Marc asked.

"Of course I'm coming.  You can't be expected to go without your entourage," Justin said with a grin.

"Oh, okay.  I'll be sure to get you up,"  Marc said.  "Anyone else want a wake up call?"

JC shook his head.  "Not me.  I'm going to sleep in,"  Josh said as he headed for bed.  "See you all sometime after noon."

"I intend to do the same.  A real bed is all I want for the next eight hours,"  Chris said as he headed to his room.

"I'll see you guys in a few hours,"  Justin said to Lance & Marc as he picked up his bag.

"You going to be all right?"  Marc asked.

"Sure, the bad dream won't be back.  You took care of that,"  Justin said as he leaned in and gave Marc a kiss on the cheek.  "Night, bro."

"Night, Just," Marc said with a smile at Justin's simple gesture.

Turning their attention to Joey, Marc asked,  "Do you want to come along?"

"If it would be ok with you guys, I'd like to come along," 

"Joe, you are always welcome to join us; you don't have to ask,"  Marc said.

"Unless you find the bedroom door locked,"  Lance added with a grin.  "Then take the hint and go find someone else to play with."

Joey started to blush at Lance's comment.

Chuckling, Lance pulled Joey into a hug and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Night, Joe, see you at breakfast."

Lance took his bag from Marc and headed to their room.

Joey watched Lance go to his room, a little stunned at Lance's show of affection.  As Lance closed the door, Joey found Marc standing next to him smiling. 

"He surprised you, didn't he?"  Marc asked referring to Lance's good night kiss.

"Ah, yeah he did.  And with you standing there."

"Joe, I don't keep  secrets from Lance.  I told him about kissing you."

"You did?"

Marc nodded.

"Can I ask what's with Justin kissing you good night?"

"We have developed a bond," Marc said.

"Is. . Is he. . . "  Joey hesitated.

"Gay?" Marc offered.

Joey nodded.

"No, he's not gay.  The relationship we have has nothing to do with sexual preference.  We have kind of adopted each other as brothers.  He knows that I love him and I will protect him.  That's why when he had his bad dream he knew he could come to me and that I would make him feel safe."

"What do you get out of this relationship?"  Joey asked.

"Someone that sees who I am and accepts me for me.  No judgments, no labeling.  Just his friendship and love," Marc said with a smile.  "And I get a kid brother who thinks I'm the greatest thing to come along."

Smiling, Joey said, "You are his hero."

"That's only a small part of our relationship.  Justin has filled a space in my heart.  A space that was meant for a little brother, from my other life maybe.  I may never know for sure."

"Are there other spaces to be filled?"  Joey asked.

Smiling as he picked up his bag, Marc said, "Yeah, Joe, there're a few empty spaces to be filled.   Get some rest, Joe."

"Night, Marc,"  Joey said as Marc walked toward his room.  "I love you," Joey added softly.

Stopping at the door Marc turned around grinning and said, "I love you too, Joe,  night."

The wake up call came all too soon.  Rolling out of bed Lance and Marc slipped into shorts and went to wake the others.  Marc went to get Justin up and Lance went to wake Joey.

Marc was on the phone when everyone met up in the living room.

"What are we doing for breakfast?" Justin asked.

"The café  has set aside an area for us,"  Marc said.

Leaving their room, they were met by their security detail.

"Ah, our shadows," Lance said referring to the four bodyguards. 

For some reason unknown to Marc, their personal body guards, when they were out in the public, were always these three hundred pound ex football linemen.  Maybe they were meant more to intimidate the fans, which they did really well.

As they were walking down the hall Marc noticed, the foot steps and stopped short.  "Hold it. This is not going to work," Marc said.

"Our orders are to stick with you guys until you are all safely back to the hotel," Ron, Marc's bodyguard informed him. 

"I know that.  But we need to get some order into this,"  Marc said.  "Let's form two lines.  Body guards on the right, pain-in-the-ass white boys on the left."

The guards were grinning at Marc's statement as they lined up.  "All right pair up guard to pain.  That's right. Now we are going to march down the hall to the elevator,"  Marc ordered. 

"Now we are going to march in place to make sure everyone is in step.  On the count of four we will start with our left foot. . . . . One, two, three, four.  Left, right, left, right. Left, right, everyone get in step.. . . . OK, good.  Now we will step off on the left foot.  On four now.  One, two, three, four."  the group moved forward in step as they marched down the hall.  As they approached the elevator, the doors opened and Pete stepped out and quickly stepped aside as the group marched onto the elevator.

"Left, right, left, right, company halt,"  Marc call out.  The guards who were slow to react kind of walked into each other.  Shaking his head, Marc said to Joey, "Just my luck, we are being guarded by four black brothers with no sense of rhythm." 

As the doors were closing a low growl escaped from Bubba, the biggest of the group. "What do you mean no rhythm, white boy."

After the doors closed on the group Pete chuckled to himself as he walked down the hall.  "Damn, Marc, you sure are making this tour very interesting."

The group noisily exited the elevator and made their way to the café.  The hostess greeted them.  "We are all set up for you.  This way.  That's four for breakfast right?"

Marc looked around the group and said.  "No, there will be eight for breakfast."

"Marc, we are working.  We can't,"  Ron said softly.

"Have you had breakfast yet?"  Marc asked.

"No., but."

"There is no buts about it.  You have two choices.  You can stay out here, guard us and be hungry all morning.  Or come in and have breakfast with us." 

"Or we could come in with you and guard you," Ron said.

"No.  I don't enjoy breakfast with you guys hovering over us," Marc said.

The guards exchanged looks and nods.

"That will be eight for breakfast," Joey said to the hostess.

After breakfast, Marc found the limo waiting to take them to rehearsal.  Marc looked at the limo then at the eight people to be transported.  "This isn't going to work,"  Marc said to Ron.

"We have it covered," Ron said indicating the large van behind the limo.  "I will travel with you, the others will follow in the van."

It was a short drive to the band shell and upon arriving Marc and his group were shown to a dressing room to meet with Keith Lockhart, the conductor.  Because of time constraints, Marc would be allowed an hour and a half rehearsal time. 

Going out on stage Lance and the others were shown the area were they would be allowed to watch Marc's portion of the concert.  In the mean time they were allowed to take seats in the front row of the amphitheater.

The conductor introduced Marc to the orchestra and retired to his dressing room.  Marc lead the orchestra through all three marches twice.  Everything came together quickly leaving a whole half hour of rehearsal time free.  Marc leafed through the music on the podium and spotted something he wanted to try.

"I know I am only scheduled for the three marches but since we have time can we play the 1812 Overture?"  Marc asked.

Everyone pulled out their scores.   Marc raised his arms as everyone was poised to play. 

"What is he doing now?"  Joey asked Lance.

Hearing the opening movement to the 1812 Overture, Lance smiled,  "It's play time.  Look at Marc's face."

"He does look like he is having fun,"  Joey agreed.

Near the end of the last movement, Keith Lockhart casually strolled onto stage and stood behind Marc.

"Oh, oh," Justin said under his breath.  "This could be trouble."

At the end of the number, Marc was all smiles, but when he looked out over the orchestra Marc was met with blank stares.  The concertmaster slowly pointed behind Marc.   Slowly turning Marc was met with the unsmiling face of the conductor.  Stepping down Marc walked up to Maestro Lockhart who held out his hand.  Marc looked at the baton and placed it into the conductor's hand.  "Sorry, I was just having fun."

"How often have you conducted the 1812?"

"I've played it several times as a member of the Madison Symphony.  This was the first time I've seen the whole score,"  Marc said.

"You are telling me that you were sight reading the score while you conducted?"


"Impressive, very impressive.  I can't wait to work with you later in the season," the Maestro said with a big smile as he shook Marc's hand.  From behind him Marc heard the applause of the members of the Boston Pops.

"Well, Marc pulled it off again,"  Joey said with a big sigh.

On the way back to the hotel, Marc had the driver pull into McDonald's drive thru for an order.  Upon entering their suite, they found JC and Chris watching TV. 

"How did rehearsal go?"  JC asked.

"Marc dazzled them,"  Justin answered.

"Hey, I smell Big Macs,"  Chris said sniffing the air.

"We picked up lunch on our way back," Lance said as he placed the bags of food on the table.

The bags of food were devoured in record time. 

"What do you guys want to do this afternoon?"  Chris asked.

"We don't have to be to the cookout until after four," JC pointed out.

"I'm going to take a nap," Marc said.  "I still have to work tonight." 

"I'll join you," Lance said. "That wake up call came way too early."

"Why does that not surprise me," Chris said with a grin.

"The hotel has a health club and a pool,"  Justin offered.

"That sounds like a plan," Chris said.  "Anyone else up for a workout?"

Josh and Joey raised their hands.  "We're in."

Lance had to use the bathroom before climbing into bed.  When he came out, he found Marc in bed asleep on his side.  Letting out a big sigh Lance slipped into behind Marc, knowing that any ideas of fooling around would have to wait.  Pulling himself close to Marc, Lance leaned in and kissed Marc on the shoulder, "Sleep tight, lover."

To: Not an Angel
From: Phoenix  Rising

Hey girl,
     Boy what a day!  We are in Boston for the Fourth and it was a free day.  Free for the guys at least.  I got to conduct the Boston Pops!  What a rush.  Well I only conducted a small part of the concert.  I got to conduct three Sousa Marches.  The El Capitan, Semper Fidelis, and the Stars and Stripes Forever. I don't suppose the concert will be broadcast in the UK.  You brits still seem to be a little touchy about our little tea party. ; ) 
     Well I am not staying around for tomorrows concert.  I am going with the advance security team to New York.  I have to meet with the producers of the talk shows the guys will be appearing on next week.  Hope I don't screw everything up.  But Pete the road manager thinks I can do the job.
     The only bad thing is I wont see the guys for almost two days.  Well the Colonel and I will have to tuff it out I guess.
     I will write you when I get to New York. 
Later Angel,

Marc awoke to the gentle kisses on his ear.   Stretching, Marc asked, "What time is it?"

"It's seven o'clock," Lance said softly. "And you have to get up and finish packing."

"Didn't I do that last night?" Marc said through a yawn.

"No.  We took one of our special showers last night.  I think we both died when our heads hit the pillows.  Don't you remember?"

"Oh yes, the shower I do remember," Marc said with a big grin.

Rolling Marc to the edge of the bed, Lance sternly said, "Come on Newman, move that ass of yours.  I'm not going to be blamed for you being late." 

Marc had all his bags packed and waiting by the door when security came for them.  Marc and Lance went down to the café for a quiet breakfast together.  As they were paying for breakfast Marc spotted Ron motioning  it was time to go.  Indicating he needed a minute, Marc walked Lance to the elevator.

"Well I guess this is good bye," Lance said sadly.  "I wish I could kiss you."

"I know," Marc said as the doors opened to an empty elevator.  Taking Lance's hand Marc stepped onto the elevator with him. 

"What are you doing?" Lance asked as the doors closed. 

Marc pushed the elevator stop button and pulled Lance into a deep kiss.  Breaking the kiss Marc said, "James, there is always a way to sneak a good bye kiss"

Pushing the open door button Marc stepped off and turned back to Lance.  He mouthed a silent, "I love you."

The drive to New York was long and boring.  It wasn't until about the half way point that it became interesting as they ran into a heavy rain storm.

An hour and a half later than planned the van pulled into the parking garage of the hotel.  Marc went with Ron to check in and was looking around the lobby when Ron came up to him with his key.

"Thanks, are these the rooms we will be in all week?"  Marc asked.

"Yeah, but your floor already has someone staying on it."  Ron said.

"Oh! Will there be a problem?" Marc asked.

"There shouldn't be.  I think you know one of them."

"I do?  Who?"  Marc asked intrigued.

"Howie and Brian of the Backstreet Boys, they're in the suite across the hall from yours."

Marc's face broke out in a big grin,  "Great!  Someone to play with."


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