My New Life
by James

Wow, I just realized that I missed the anniversary of this story.  I posted the first chapter of My New Life on January 23, 2000.  Little did I realize that this story was going to become such a story of epic proportions.  I started with a time line with clear plot elements planned out and I have pretty much kept to that time line.  Along the way I have taken some time out to write the short story Route 66 Rocks, a story of one fan's first *Nsync concert, which some how got expanded to a multi chapter Joey story.  Then A Step out of Time came out; my first Back Street Boys story with a time travel sub plot.  And this last fall I posted Ageless Love a story of cross-generational love.  But I fear the size of the file my have kept some readers from taking a look.

I know.  Those stories have taken time away from MNL but every once in a while I need to step back from the story do something different.  When I return, I'm recharged and ready to continue the story.  Of course there are a few other things that tend to distract me from my writing.  And that is the fault of some of the other authors found here on Nifty.

Here are some of the reasons I don't post as often as my readers would like:

  • JC's Hitchhiker  - JC of *Nsync.  This story is addictive.
  • Reformation - Brian of BSB
  • Never Guess Who Ran Into Me  - Lance of *Nsync.  A new story that shows promise.
  • Millennium Love  - Brian of BSB.  Unique story written from two points of view.
  • Mom Knows Best  - Justin of *Nsync & Nick of BSB.
  • Studio in the Country  - Brian of BSB.  Hey!! When are we going to see a new chapter?
  • Lances Search - Lance of *Nsync
  • JC's Dreams  - JC of *Nsync
  • Twist of Fate  - Lance of *Nsync.  I am still waiting for a new chapter!!!!
  • Nick and the Altos  - Nick of the BSB. This author seams to have fallen off the face of the earth. Mike if you are still out there please finish your story.
  • And all the works of author Billy Burrew.  An awesome author.

I'd like to thank Dave, from Nifty for providing the best site on the net for fan fiction.  Also Clive for hosting my stories on his site, clear across the big pond.  Clive has provided a door to part of the world I never thought possible.  Special thanks go to Cam and Billy for providing two more sites for my stories.  And the most important member of my writing team, David; my editor.  We have come a long way my friends, and with your continued support we will see this story to the end.

Now here we are, year three.  I do have some plans.  Some of the big questions of MNL will be answered this coming year.  Who is Not an Angel?  Will Marc ever find out who he is?  What will happen after the tour ends?  Well the first two questions will be answered this year.  The last one will you will just have to wait and see were we go from here.  And a new short story is in the works and you may see it late this summer.

A big thanks to all of my readers.  Your support is appreciated.  I love hearing from you.  Your feedback is the fuel that makes me write.  The more feedback I get, the quicker I want to get the next chapter out.

Enough of this!  You came here to read a new chapter.  As they say, now on with the story.


This story is the sole property of its author and may not be copied in whole or in part without 
 the  permission of the author.  The posting of this story on any web site must be with the author's prior knowledge and permission. 

 This story deals with the fictional relationship between the members of the musical group *Nsync and a male fan.  The sexual orientation of the members of *Nsync is not known by the author and what is depicted in the story came from the imagination of the author.

If you are not 18 years old or it is illegal in your area to view such material please read something else.

Last time:

It was almost one when the caravan pulled into Kansas City.  "What are we going to do the rest of the day?"  Justin asked.

"I want to take a nap in a real bed," JC said.

"Me too," Joey said.

"Why don't we all get some rest," Marc said.  "And we can meet in our room say around six and go out to dinner then dancing."

"That sounds like a plan," Justin said grinning.

"Hotel ten minutes," Pete called back.

Everyone started moving off the bed; retrieving their shoes they made their way forward.  As Marc was pulling on his shoes he felt his cell vibrate.  Pulling it out he saw he had a voice mail. Lance had moved up forward as Marc retrieved his messages.

The bus was pulling to a stop at the hotel when Marc joined the others.  Lance glanced at Marc and knew something was up. 

"What's wrong?"  Lance softly asked as everyone got up to disembark.

Marc sighed, "Voice mail from Lynn.  I may have a visitor."

Lance raised a questioning eyebrow.  Marc indicated Pete was about to speak.

"Ok, people.  You know the drill let's head straight for the elevators."

The whole group moved quickly into the hotel and headed for the elevators.  Chris abruptly stopped.  "What the hell is he doing here?"

All heads turned to the spot that Chris was glaring at.  The spot occupied by Howie Dorough. 

Chapter 38
A Friend in Need.

Marc glared at Chris as he walked over to Howie.

Howie looked up from behind dark glasses.  "Ah, . . . Hi. . . . . . Can we talk?"

Marc studied Howie.  He was slouched against a wall, his hands in his pockets, and he shuffled his feet as he spoke to Marc.  Howie would not look Marc in the eye but Marc noticed a slight discoloration just under the dark glasses at his left eye.

"Do you have a room?" Marc asked.

"Ah, no.  I just got here half an hour ago."

"Come on, we can talk in my room," Marc said as he placed his hand on Howie's back moving him toward the elevators.

As they approached the elevator the others stepped back.  The doors opened and Howie stepped aboard going to a back corner.  Lance entered with Marc and they went over to where Howie stood and turned their backs to him providing a wall between Howie and the others. 

The others entered and the door closed.  No one wanted to say anything for fear of pissing off Marc.  Britney and Lynne found the tension interesting.  Marc didn't have to say anything but the message was loud and clear. `Don't push me about Howie.'

The doors opened and everyone got off.  Howie stayed behind Marc not wanting to face the others.  Howie felt a hand on his shoulder, looking up he was met with the smiling face of Lance.  Glancing down the hall he noticed Chris, Joey and JC heading for the same door.  And as Britney and her mom turned to enter their room, Britney smiled at Howie.

Justin open the door to the suite and Lance, Marc and Howie followed  Justin looked around the living room nervously.  "Ah, I'll give you some privacy," Justin said as he headed for one of the bedrooms.

"Thanks," Marc said.

Justin closed his door and Lance started to go to one of the other bedrooms.

Marc gave Howie a questioning look then glanced toward Lance.

"Ah, Lance.  You don't have to go," Howie said softly.  Lance stopped, went to a chair and sat down.

Marc stood before Howie, placing a finger under his chin he raised it until Howie was looking him in the eye.  Marc reached up and removed the dark glasses from Howie.  Marc winced when he saw Howie's shiner.  Both eyes were red and puffy as though Howie had been crying.

"What happened?"  Marc softly asked.

"He, he, doesn't want me any more," Howie gushed flinging himself at Marc.  Burying his face in Marc's chest as the tears flooded forth.  Heavy sobs followed as the pain poured out.

Marc wrapped his arms around his heartbroken friend, holding him tight.  Lance came up to the pair not sure what to do when Marc reached out to bring him into the hug.   Lance instinctively started to lightly rub Howie's back. 

Slowly Howie's sobs subsided.  Pulling himself back from Marc's chest he noticed for the first time that the arms comforting him were not just Marc's.  "I, . . .I'm sorry Lance.  I didn't mean to grab your boyfriend."

"Don't worry about that," Lance softly said.  "Can you tell us what happened?"

Howie nodded as the three of them sat down.  Lance handed Howie a box of Kleenex.  "Thanks."

Howie blew his nose and dried his eyes then looked at the concerned faces of his friends.  Taking a deep breath Howie started.  "I should have known something was up.  For the last month I felt that Brian was hiding something.  He was spending more time with Nick and Kevin.  Our time together has been getting less and less.  I kept asking Brian if there was something wrong, but he kept saying there wasn't."

"Did you have this feeling when we were in Buffalo?"  Marc asked.

Howie nodded, "That was why I was with Brian.  He's the one that had to appear at the luncheon.  I invited myself to go along.  I was hoping that he would open up and tell me what was going on."

"I take it he didn't open up." Marc said.

"No. . . .  When we got home Brian started to pull away more.  Every time I asked him if there was something wrong he would say, `No'."

"Ok," Marc said.  "Was there anything else going on with Brian at this time?"

"Yeah.  Whenever we would get any free time he would head home to visit his family."

"You didn't go with him?"  Lance asked.

"Ah. . .  I don't go with Brian when he visits."

"Have you ever been to Brian's folks' home?"  Marc asked.

"Yes.  Several times when the whole group would go."

"But not just Brian and you," Marc said understanding.

Howie shook his head while looking at the floor.

"Has Brian come out to his family?"  Marc asked.

"Yes.  Two years ago. . . . .  But it didn't go well."

"Did Brian tell his family about your relationship?"  Marc probed.

"No.  After their initial reaction he was afraid to tell them.  They laid a whole guilt trip on him.  Even called in a minister to talk to him.  I think if it weren't for us starting a tour they may have had him committed to a hospital."

"The pressure of your upbringing is hard to fight," Lance said softly.  "Years of being told it is unnatural, and a sin to be gay.  That gay people are dirty, immoral, and unfit to be around normal people."

Marc looked at Lance, surprised at the bitterness in his voice.

"And you know the irony is, that all this teaching is coming from people who call themselves Christians.  Small minds that embrace a teaching and are ready to defend it at all cost, but ignore all the other teachings in the Bible," Lance said as a tear fell down his cheek.

Marc gave Lance's hand a tight squeeze, not letting up on the pressure until Lance looked at him.

Lance looked into the concern eyes of his lover, and realizing what he had just said.  Blushing Lance said.  "Sorry about that."

"Don't be," Howie said.  "That's exactly how Brian felt.  But I also know there was something else that was working on Brian."

"What was that?"  Marc asked.

"Brian wanted a family," Howie stated.   "More than anything he wanted to be a dad.  To be able to carry on the family name."

"I take it he found someone that could give him all of that?"

Howie sadly nodded.  "He said he had fallen in love with a girl, Leighanne.  He met her on one of our music videos.  When he needed a date for some function he would call her.  He told me he was dating her for appearance's sake.  But I know now that was not the truth."

Brian wasn't really gay but it looks like he is bi, Marc observed.  "Brian had been seeing Leighanne on the side while still keeping you wondering what was going on."

Howie nodded.  "Until yesterday.  Brian was in the bathroom taking a shower when his cell rang.  I answered it with just a simple, "Hello".  Leighanne was on the other end and she thought I was Brian."

"I can imagine what you heard," Marc said.

"I heard too much.  When Brian walked out of the bathroom he looked at my face and knew something was wrong.  I handed him the phone and walked into the other room.  Once he found out the Leighanne thought she was talking to him and what she had said he came looking for me.
We got into a big fight."

"And your eye?"  Marc inquired.  "Did Brian do that?"

"No.  Brian didn't hit me.  Our fight became quite loud.  A.J. and Kevin rushed over to see what was going on.  I was out of my mind with anger and I said some very mean things to Brian.  I guess A.J. had enough, he just hauled off and slugged me."

"What did Brian do?"  Marc asked.

"I don't know.  I ran out of the hotel and went right to the airport.  I just wanted to get away from all of them so bad."

"You didn't have a show did you?"  Lance asked.

"No.  We are on a five-day break.  When I got to the airport I realized I had no idea where I was going.  I knew I had to get away and think but I also knew I needed to talk to someone.  I called Lynn to find out where you were going to be and hopped on a plane."

Marc sat  thinking for a long time.  "You need to call Brian and let him know you are all right."

"I don't think I'm ready to do that right now."

"I understand.  We don't have a show until tomorrow night.  Spend some time here and get your head on straight," Marc suggested.

"Thanks," Howie said with a yawn.

Pointing at one of the bedroom doors Marc suggested, "Why don't you grab a shower and take a nap.  I'll get you up around five so we can go out and get something to eat."

"That sounds like a plan," Howie said as he made his way to the bedroom.

"Howie, I'm going to talk to the others.  How much can I tell them?"

Howie thought for a long while.  "You can tell them everything.  I really don't care if anyone finds out about this.  I'm so tired hiding who I am."

Howie's door closed and Marc's attention shifted to Lance.  "Are you ok?" 

Lance nodded, "As long as I have you, I'm fine."

"You want to go with me to brief the others?"  Marc asked.

"No.  I'm going to just go and lay down for a while."

"Ok, I'll try not to be too long," Marc said as he walked to Justin's door and lightly knocked.

Justin's voice could be heard on the other side of the door.  When the door opened he was on his cell.

"Sorry to interrupt," Marc said.  "Just wanted to let you know there is going to be a meeting in the other suite."

"Oh, ok."

"Ah, Just, why don't you ask Britney to join us.  I might as well do this only once."

"K, I'll be right with you," Justin said as he turned back to his call.  "Babe, Marc is calling a meeting in JC's room.  He wants you to be there also. . . . . .K, meet you there."

Chris, JC and Joey were in their sitting room wondering what was going on across the hall.

"How long is it going to be before we find out what's going on?"  Chris asked.

"I'm sure when Marc finds out what's going on he'll let us know," JC said.

There was a knock at the door, Joey got up to answer it finding Marc, Britney, and Justin on the other side.  Joey steeped aside to let the others in.

Everyone took seats and all eyes turned to Marc. 

Marc sat there for a long time studying his hands.  Looking up Marc started, "Guys, I need a couple things from you. . . . .  The first thing is I need your promise that what I'm going to tell you will remain between us and you will not use the knowledge in any way."

Confused looks were exchanged all around.  "Sure," Chris said.

"Howie is here because his boyfriend broke up with him."

There were surprised looks all around.  "Ah, we didn't know Howie was gay," Chris said.  "Who was his boyfriend?"


"What!"  Joey exclaimed, truly surprised.

"They have been a relationship for several years," Marc said.  "And yesterday Brian told him that he had found someone else.  He has fallen in love with a girl named Leighanne."

"I think I know her," Chris said.   "She's a dancer in one of their videos."

"Yeah," Joey said.  "She was the one with Brian at the last awards show."

"Poor Howie," Britney said.  "How is he taking this?"

"Not too well.  That's why he's here. . . . .  He needed to get away from the others so he could think."

"Couldn't he just talk to Kevin or one of the others about this?"  JC asked.

"I'm afraid not, something else happened. . . .   He and Brian got into a loud argument, and Kevin and A.J. came over to see what's happening.  Howie was mad and he said some stupid, mean things to Brian.  A.J. didn't like what was said and he hauled off and hit Howie."

"Is he all right?"  Britney asked.

"Just a black eye."

"I can see why he ran out," Justin said.  "Everyone saw him as the bad guy."

"What is this going to do to their group?"  Justin asked. 

 "Maybe it will break them up," Chris said hopefully.

"You had better hope that doesn't happen," Marc said.  "Chris what is it with you and the Back Street Boys?"

"They don't like us and we don't like them," Chris said firmly.

"What have they done to you?"  Marc demanded.

"It's this battle of the Boy Bands thing," Joey said.  "After they left Lou and went with Jive it got worst.  They kept saying we weren't doing anything original, and we were copying all their moves and gags."

"Before they broke with Lou, what was your relationship with them?"  Marc asked.

"We got along all right," Joey said.  "We even did several concerts together."

"Then all this bad feeling started after they split with Lou.  Did any of you actually hear them say anything about you guys?"

"No.  We read it in some of their interviews," Chris said.

"So in these interviews they said you were copying their dance moves and parts of their show,"  Marc said.

"Yeah," Chris said.

"Well, they have a point.  You are."

"What!"  Chris shouted.  "We do not!"

"Chris, both groups were groomed by Lou.  Both used the same dance instructors, vocal coaches, you use the same writers and producers and your shows were designed and produced by Johnny Wright.  What worked for them, also works for you guys."

"So we are copying them," Chris softly said.

"Chris both groups were given the same tools.  But it is what you do with these tools that make the difference; the only thing that is the same it that each group has five members.  And you may not realize it but you guys need the Back Street Boys."

"Why do you say that?"  JC asked.

"If it wasn't for them I don't think you would be where you are now," Marc said.

"Like hell!" Chris said angrily.

"Chris, think about it.  The Back Street Boys would not be where they are now if it wasn't for the backing of Lou Pearlman.  He took them and molded them into what they are today.  He was also did the same for you guys.  He took what he learnt with them and applied it to you."

There was silence in the room as everyone thought about what Marc was saying.

"But I don't think Lou realized just how well he did his job until Back Street dropped him.  Now he has his promotional people working overtime trying to break them.  But it's not going to work."

"Why?"  Chris asked wondering where Marc was taking this.

"Because if he destroys them he would also be taking away a very important part of you also.  They are the dark and to your light, their Ying to your Yang.  You guys play off each other, you all need each other."

There was a long silence as the guys thought over what Marc had said.  "Marc has a point," J.C. said.  "The best thing we could do is not fall for the media hype."

The others nodded their agreement.  "What can we do to help Howie?"  Justin asked.

"He is going to be with us for several days.  Back Street is off for five days so Howie doesn't have to get back right away.  I've invited him to come out with us tonight but there is a problem.  After finding out where I was he went right to the airport.  He didn't pack anything; he only has what he was wearing.  Do you think you can come up with something for him to wear?"

"Shirts shouldn't be a problem Curley and mine should fit," J.C. said.

"Pants could be a problem," Joey pointed out.  "He is a little short in the legs."

"I may have something that might work," Chris said.  "I have a pair of jeans that shrunk in the wash.  They may be short enough."

"I have some new underwear in my small bag he can have," Justin offered.

"Ok, that should work," Marc said.  "Thanks."

"Where are we going tonight?"  Britney asked.

"We have a choice of restaurants.  We can decide where when we meet later.  But there is only one club that will allow you two in," Marc said to Britney and Justin.

"What kind of club," Justin asked.

Smiling Marc said, "The club has two levels.  The top floor has rock music and the bottom floor has country."

"So we can all be in jeans.  That way Howie won't feel out of place," Britney said.

"I know where Marc and Lance are going to be dancing," Joey said with a big grin.

Entering his suite Marc saw the bags had been delivered and he could hear the shower running in Howie's room.  Sitting down in a chair he picked up the phone and dialed the front desk.

"Front desk," came the perky voice.

"This is Marc Newman in suite 1215.  I need to make a billing change for this suite."

"Of course Mr. Newman, under what name shall we bill?"

"It will be under Phoenix Publishing.  I'll be down later with my charge card."

"No problem Mr. Newman."

Marc put his finger on the button breaking the connection then dialed another number.

"Hello, Brian's phone," came a deep voice.

"Ah, can I speak to Brian please?"  Marc said.

"He's not available right now.  Can you tell me who is calling and what you want to talk to Brian about?"

Marc sighed, "Will you tell Brian that it's Marc Newman calling and I'd like to talk to him about Howie."

"Has Howie called you?  Do you know where he is?"

"I think that should be between me and Brian.  Not a member of his staff."

"Oh, damn, I'm sorry.  I'm Kevin, Brian's cousin.  Is Howie all right, do you know where he is?" 

"You sound like you care," Marc said.  "I wasn't sure what to expect."

"Marc, Howie didn't come back to his room last night.  We've been out looking for him all day.  I just need to know if he's safe."

Marc looked up and saw Howie standing at his bedroom door dressed only in a towel. 

"Kevin, Howie is safe.  He came to talk to me."

"Where are you?  Are you still on tour with *Nsync?"

"Yes I am," Marc said while looking at Howie.  "Can you put Brian on please?"

"Sure, I'll get him," Kevin said.  Marc could hear Kevin's muffled voice calling Brian to the phone.

"Marc," a out of breath Brian said.  "Have you talked to Howie?"

"Brian calm down. . . .  I just called to let you know that Howie is safe.  He's here with me now."

"Did he tell you what happened?"

"Yes, he has."  Marc said softly.

"You must hate me also," Brian dejectedly said.

"Brian, I don't hate you for what you did to Howie.  I'm just disappointed in you for not telling him what was going on."

"Can I talk to him?"  Brian asked.

"Brian, he's not ready to talk to you yet," Marc said looking at Howie as he shook his head.  "I just called to let you know Howie is safe and that he will be spending a couple days with us while he figures out what he is going to do."

"Marc, will you tell him. . . . I'm sorry and I'll be waiting for his call."  Brian said with a cracking voice.

"Marc, this is Kevin.  How is Howie's eye?  He took a good shot from A.J."

"Right now it is very colorful.  But he will heal."

"It's about the same as A.J.'s."


"After Howie ran out Brian decked A.J.  I just hope their shiners will fade by our next concert."

"Kevin, I think everyone needs some time to think.  I'll look after Howie, you take care of your cousin."

"Will do.  And, Marc, thanks for calling.  I hope we get to meet some day."

"Kevin, I'd like that.  Bye."

Marc hung up the phone and looked at Howie. 

"Why did you call Brian?"  Howie asked with a hint of irritation.  "I thought you were my friend."

"I am your friend," Marc said with a sigh.  "I also consider Brian a friend.  I called to let them know you were safe."

"Like they would care."

"Actually they do care.  When you did not go back to your room they started looking for you."

"Is that what Brian told you?"

"No.  It's what Kevin told me.  They seemed really worried that they could not find you. 

"Like he would care what happens to me."

"I think he does care.  And I think that Brian still cares what happens to you."

"Why do you say that?"  Howie asked.

"After you ran out.  Brian slugged A.J."

A slight smile formed on Howie's face. "He did?" 

"Now it seems you both will need makeup to cover you shiners," Marc said.  "Brian said to tell you he was sorry and when you are ready to talk, call him."

"Marc, what am I going to do?"  Howie said with a sigh as he sat down.

Marc stared as Howie, `Damn, he is so hot sitting there with only a towel.  How could anyone not want to be with him. . . .  Shit! What am I doing!'

"Marc.  What should I do?"  Howie asked again.

"Howie, I can't tell you what to do.  I can only suggest that when you are ready to talk, the three of you need to set down and talk."

"The three of us?" 

"You, Brian and Leighanne.  If you are going to stay friends the three of you must come to an understanding."

Closing the door quietly Marc found Lance lying on the bed with his eyes closed.  Kicking his shoes off Marc joined him.  Lance rolled away from him turning on his side.  Marc spooned up to Lance wrapping his arms around him.  Marc could feel Lance tense up.  "James, what's wrong?"


"James, look at me please," Marc softly said.

Lance didn't move.  With a sigh Marc rolled away from Lance.

"Did I do something wrong?  Is this about Howie being here?"

"No," Lance said almost in a whisper.

"James, would you rather be alone?"


Marc lay in thought trying to figure out what was wrong.  Then something Lance had said earlier clicked.

"James, why haven't you ever told me about your life before *Nsync?"

Lance looked at Marc, "What do you mean?  I've told you about my family."

"You really haven't.  I know more about your life since you joined *Nsync then before.  And what little I do know about that time before I've picked up like most of your fans from interviews and your bio.  Except the little tidbits I've learned from your mom."

"My mom!"  Lance exclaimed as he rolled over, half onto Marc.  "What has she told you?"

"Oh, things."

"What kind of things?"  Lance asked his interest peaked.

"Now what kind of gentleman would I be if I repeated something told me in confidence."

"But `if you loved me' you would tell me," Lance said giving Marc a poke in the side.

"Now you're using the `if you love me' card."

"Yes I am.  Now what did she tell you?"

"Oh just little things.  Like when you were four you wanted to be a cowboy.  You got a cowboy hat and boots for Christmas and for the next year you played cowboy from morning to night."

"It was just a phase," Lance said with a slight grin.

"Is that what it was? . . . .  Was Paint a phase?"

Lance's eye got real big.  "She didn't tell you about Paint, did she?"

"Now what cowboy would be caught without his trusty horse," Marc chuckled.

Lance closed his eyes as he blushed.

"What ever happened to Old Paint?"  Marc asked.

"Oh, . . . .  He had a accident.  I had to put him down."

"What kind of accident?"

"We were climbing up the back steeps to the house and we fell. . . .   I broke Paint in two."

"Poor Paint, reduced from a mighty steed to a whiskbroom," Marc laughed.  "You must have been crushed."

"I was, I couldn't go near the broom closet for weeks," Lance said with a sly grin.

Marc smiled at Lance, "Now if you love me, talk to me about your life before *Nsync."

"What part do you what to hear about?" realizing Marc had turned the tables on him.

"The part that made you feel dirty and immoral."

"Oh. . . .  You have to understand the southern mindset.  For as long as I can remember we would go to church every Sunday.  And after service I would join the other kids in Sunday school.  There we had the teaching of the church drilled into our heads.  What was right and what was wrong, good and evil.  What was a sin in the eyes of God."

"And being gay is considered to be wrong?"  Marc asked.

"Yes, that is what I was taught.  Just thinking about another man in that way was a sin.  Having feelings about another man, made you dirty.  And acting on those feeling, would damn you to hell."

"Wow!  That's heavy," Marc said.  "I can see why anyone would have major problems with accepting they were gay."

"It tends to put you into denial.  You hide your feeling from everyone.  You talk yourself into believing you can be someone your not.  You may even marry and have children all the time lying to yourself.  Never really being happy." 

"Were you unhappy?"

Lance nodded, "Very unhappy.  The only thing that made it bearable was my music.  Momma saw how unhappy I was.  She didn't know what to do.  One day when I was in junior high I came home all excited.  I had tried out for the school choirs and was accepted.  Soon after I joined the church choir."

Marc could see the light dance in Lance's eyes.  "So music became a means of coping."

"Yes in a way. . . .  It also gave me some new friends.  Friends that were not that much different from me."

"Gay friends?"  Marc asked.

"No, just friends that loved music as much as I did.  Most guys that were in choir were considered outcasts by the rest of the school.  We were the geeks, the music nerds.  So we stuck together, formed our own clique.  And I made a good friend, Bobby Joe Steward."

"Did you have feelings for him?"

"No, just friends.  We were in both the school and church choirs.  And when we moved up into high school Bobby Joe talked me into trying out for the Show Choir."

"You made it, didn't you?"

"We both made it.  That year was great.  And I made new friends and started to come out of my shell.  At the end of my first year of high school our music teacher told us about the upcoming auditions for The Mississippi Show Stoppers. 

"I know you made it, did your friend?"

"No.  Bobby Joe didn't make it."

"Did anyone know about you yet?"  Marc asked.

"No.  No one knew about me.  But I did make friends with a gay couple in the Show Stoppers.  They were two years older then me and we became friends.  They were so much in love and I saw that their kind of relationship was strong and good," Lance said.  "I started to question what I was taught as a child.  I could see that a gay relationship could be just as loving as a relationship with a girl."

"That must have been hard on you, questioning everything you believe in at that age."

"It was.  I was only happy when I was performing.  Then the chance came to join a new group.  Mom and I came down to Orlando and I tried out and was asked to join."

"Let me guess," Marc said.  "That group became *Nsync."


"What made you come out to them?"  Marc asked.

"We had been over in Europe touring for over a year.   That last month was really hard on me, I wasn't sleeping, and I was losing weight.  At that time Justin's mom and my mom was touring with us.  They were our support staff.  And I think they were the reason we got the time off, I think they went to Lou and threaten to pull Justin and me out of the group is we didn't get some time off."

"How did your dad handle it with you and your mom gone for so long?"  Marc asked.

"He missed us a lot.  But he had just started a new project at work and he was putting in like eighty hours a week.  It worked out, he was able to put in the necessary hours he needed and he got the project up and running ahead of schedule.  He was able to take some time off and he joined mom and me while we were in Germany."

"That must have been nice, having him on tour with you."

"It was.  That was were he saw me preform with *Nsync for the first time."

"Was that just before you guys headed back to the states?"

"No.  We toured for another three months.  It was during that time I became involved with our sound engineer Lone."

"How involved?"  Marc asked.

"It started out as just friends.  And as we got to know each other we would just go off to find some place to talk away from the others.  Well one day he told me he liked me a lot and that he wanted to be more than just friends.  He kissed me for the first time in a restroom."

"How did my first kiss compare to Lone's?" 

"Well . . . . . . you know a first kiss, is always something special," Lance said with a slight grin. 

Marc raised a questioning eyebrow.

"And the first kiss from someone you have fallen deeply in love with is even more special."

"I know all that," Marc said.  "But how did my kiss compare?"

Poking Marc in the ribs Lance said,   "I was talking about our first kiss."

"I knew that," Marc laughed.  "What happened with Lone?"

"We kept everything under wraps for several weeks.  It seemed the he was just using me to get his own musical career moving.  Joey heard him bragging to one of the stagehands how he was using me.  And how I was to dumb to realize I was being used."

"So Joey suspected something was going on," Marc said. 

"Yeah.  The next day he followed me when Lone and I got together.  He waited outside the restroom eavesdropping on what we said.  When I left, to go to wardrobe, Joey grabbed me and pulled me into a room.  He put his hand over my mouth and told me to be quiet."

"Damn!  That must have scared the shit out of you."

"If I hadn't just peed while I was in the rest room, I would have in my pants.  Joey told me to shut up and follow him.  He took me backstage, keeping out of sight.  We came up behind Lone and we heard him talking, no bragging, to one of the stage hands that he had me wrapped around his little finger and that he was on his way.  I was instantly pissed."

"Who you?  I can't believe that even tempered you could get pissed at anyone," Marc said with a straight face.

Lance looked into Marc serious face wondering who was this person he was lying in bed with.  But Marc's eyes gave him away; they danced with laughter.  "I do have a temper, remember?"

"Yeah, believe me, I remember."

"Well the stagehand noticed us standing behind Lone.  When Lone turned around his face fell.   Joey walked up to him and told him he thought it was time for him to be on his way."

"Did he give you any problems?"  Marc asked.

"No.  He knew he had been caught.  The next day he put in for a transfer.  Johnny sent him to work with the Back Street Boys."

"And Joey?  What happened with him?"

"I was embarrassed.  Joey and I went for a walk and he talked.  He didn't question what was going on.  He just said that I needed to be careful now.  People are going to want things from me and they will do anything they think will work to get it."

"Did you tell Joey what was going on?"

"No.  I didn't know how to tell him I was gay.  But I realized that Joey must have overheard what was said in the restroom.  He knew my secret."

"And he didn't say anything?"

"No.  You know Joey.  Nothing seems to phase him, he treated me the same as he always did."

"What made you decide to come out to the guys?"

"Joey mostly.  He knew about me but he never judged me.  One night we were bunking together and I told him my secret.  He was great about it and he told me I should tell the others.  The next night after the concert while we were traveling to the next venue I told everyone that I was gay."

"And only Josh had a problem with you being gay?"

"He was upset about what it would mean if this got out.  We were just starting to make it here in the states.  He just knew something like this would screw it all up."

"Josh was more worried about the group then you?"

"Marc you have to understand in the beginning Josh was the driving force behind us.  He's a perfectionist; everything had to be perfect.  Good was never good enough.  We had to be the best."

"What made him come around?"

"Joey.  He had a heart to heart talk with him and pointed how big an ass he was being," Lance said as he laid his head on Marc's chest.

Marc caressed Lance's face.  Nothing more needed to be said.

Justin returned to the suite to get cleaned up for their night out.  Chris had given him a pair of jeans for Howie and was relieved to find his room door opened.  Howie was sitting on his bed in a hotel bathrobe watching TV.

Justin gave a soft knock.  Howie looked up.  "Hey, Justin, come in."

"How you doing?"  Justin asked.

"As good as could be expected.  What's up?"

"Marc said you need something to wear.  Chris sent over these jeans.  He thought they should fit you alright. . . . .  We need to get you a shirt.  I should have something that will work."

Howie got up and followed Justin into the living room where his bags were piled.  Justin grabbed them and took them to his room.  Opening one he pulled out socks and underwear.  "Now for a shirt," Justin said.

Howie reached in and pulled out a shiny blue shirt.  "I like this one," Howie said.

"That's one of my favorites," Justin said.  "But it won't work tonight."


"Didn't Marc tell you where we are headed tonight?"

"Only out to dinner then to a club."

"Ah!  The club we are going to has two levels.  One has rock and the other western."

"Are you guys into western music?"

"Only since Marc took us clubbing in his home town.  The club turned out to be the Elks Club and it was country western night.  That night we learned to line dance and we had a ball."

"So this shirt won't work.  What do you suggest?"

Justin pulled several rather plain pullovers.  "These should work."

Howie chose a blue shirt.  "Marc's not into a lot of style is he?"

Justin smiled, "He has pretty good taste.  But he has pointed out to us if we don't want to be mobbed by fans we need to dress down.  It seems to work."

"I'll go get changed," Howie said. 

"Have you heard any movement from Lance and Marc?"  Justin asked.

"Only someone taking a long shower."

Justin laughed, shaking his head.


"They are not taking a shower."

"What do you mean?"

"Lance and Marc tend to be very vocal when they are making love.  So they do a lot of it in the shower, using the sound of the water to hide their moans."

"You sure?"

Nodding Justin said, "One time they went to bed and the rest of us were watching a movie.  We could hear the shower running.  All of a sudden Lance called out Marc's name and several other things that left little to the imagination."

"They were getting it on in the shower?"

"It seems to be their favorite place."

Howie was grinning as he left Justin's room.  "I'll get changed, thanks for the loan of the clothes."


Howie and Justin were waiting in the living room when Lance and Marc came out of their room.  They both were grinning at them; Marc wondered what was up.

"How was your shower?"  Howie asked with bobbing eyebrows.

Lance and Marc looked at each other as the blush rose.


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