Phantom again, here with chapter 3.  I know that most of you might not have liked the end of the last chapter ... well you may like this chapter even less.  Work your way through though ... it's worth it.  Also keep this next part in mind as you read....
A reminder for those of you joining us for the first time or for those of you that might have forgotten ... the characters in this story are just that ... characters ... and even though they may bear a striking resemblance to the members of *NSYNC ... they're not them, this is just a story! This work also doesn't pretend to imply ... ok it does pretend ... but it's not meant to be truly indicative of the actual personalities or sexual orientations of any of the group's members or any real person. Okay, enough of that ... cause we all want to know what happened.

Nightmare Before Dawn

Chapter 3

It had been almost an hour since Lew had left to check on JC, he still hadn't returned. After JC had left, the guys immediately stopped the tape and started watching the local satellite feed. Eventually, Joey decided to go up front and check on them. As he reached the eating area, he found Lew holding JC, rocking him back and forth, saying, "It'll be okay, Josh, I'm here and I'm not going anywhere."

"Is everything okay up here?" Joey asked, as he examined the two of them.  They had obviously been crying, probably the whole time they had been sitting there from the look of them. Joey shuddered as an uneasy feeling overwhelmed him. Lew looked up at him and gave him a half hearted smile trying to reassure him. It wasn't working.

JC still was not looking at him. "JC, it's cool man," Joey said smiling.  "We've all done dumb shit, don't sweat it. I'll erase the tape for ya and no one else has to know.  Bro, like I said, don't sweat it ... Melissa doesn't have to know."  Lew felt JC tense up at the mention of her name.  "So..." Joey trailed off. Suddenly, his mind was screaming all sorts of warnings at him. Things just didn't add up, and it mainly revolved around Melissa. Joey had never known JC to take anyone back to his room, even before he had met Melissa. In fact, he was pretty sure that JC was a virgin until the first time he and Melissa had made love. He also knew JC, and there was no way in the world he would have cheated on Melissa ... willingly. Joey swallowed hard and drew in a ragged breath. "Josh?" JC turned to look out the window. "Josh," Joey said breathing heavily, "pl .. please tell me you were okay with what we saw." JC still stared out the window. Joey turned to look at Lew, who promptly turned his gaze from him. "Oh God," Joey said as tears formed in his eyes. "I should have know that ... that you'd never ... oh God."

Joey turned and headed back to the playroom. He walked in without a word and sat down in his seat. The others noticed the tears on his face, but before they could ask Joey noticed the camera sitting beside him. He grabbed it, tearing it loose from its connections to the television. As the others looked on with shock, Joey hurled the camera across the room shattering it against the wall. "Joey, what the hell was that for?" Steve yelled.

Joey slid to the floor and brought his knees to his chest, sobbing. "Joe?" Steve said, moving over to place his hands on his brother's shoulders. "Joe, talk to me bro, you're scarin' me."

"He was tryin' to say no," Joey whispered, barely audibly.


"He ... *sniff* ... he was trying to ... say no."

The other four men sat back in shock, tears coming to their eyes as they registered the meaning of his words. There wasn't another sound, save the hum of the roadway as they continued toward their destination.

Through the windows they could see that they were entering San Diego, James called back and said that they would be arriving at their hotel shortly.

Lew didn't know what to do, Oh God, how is Josh going to be able to face all those kids out there? Hugging him closer, Lew asked, "Josh, you gonna be able to go in?"

JC leaned back, wiping at the tears, "I'll make it. I've had a lot of practice at pretending." Lew knew he was trying to make a joke, but it fell flat.

"Will you be okay here for a minute?" Lew asked. "I'm going to see if there is anything we can do."

JC nodded his head and moved back over to the corner, trying to collect himself.

Lew stood and looked back at JC. He's stronger than he looks. I've got to believe that, I've just got to.  Lew turned toward the back of the bus, taking a deep breath, then began walking. He'd never known the guys to be so quiet. It was almost like there wasn't anyone on board at all. When he reached the doorway, he stopped and took a look around trying to gauge how the guys were taking the news. Justin sobbed quietly as he was being held by Lance. Lance didn't look much better himself, but he was holding his own. Joey and Steve were holding each other, both trying to control their raging emotions. Chris was sitting alone. I don't like the looks of that, Lew thought to himself. Chris looked angry, not just upset, but killing mad. There were tear stains on his cheeks, but now his eyes burned.

Lew cleared his throat and they all turned to face him. He knew in that instant that they were going to look to him. They were going to need him, but he wasn't sure he was up to the challenge. "Guys," Lew told them, "this isn't going to be easy by any means, but we're going to have to get all of you inside and safely to your rooms without anyone being the wiser. Is there a place where the busses can drop you off inconspicuously?"

Lance thought for a minute, then said, "Uh ... yeah ... I think there's a back entrance."

"Do you guys have any kind of medical staff, someone traveling with the tour?" Lew asked.

"Um ... Dave," Lance said, "he's a licensed paramedic ... I think he was a nurse, too, why?"

"We're gonna need someone to have a look at Josh, and it would probably be best to keep it in the family." Might be a good idea for someone to take a look at these guys, too.

"Okay ... uhm ... I'll call Johnny and have him get Dave and meet us upstairs.  I'll get him to tell security we're going in around back, too."

"Good, I'm gonna head up front and tell James the plan," Lew told them. "Are you guys gonna be alright?"

There were a few mumbled "yeah's," but none of them actually looked up at him. They were going to need some help, but Lew knew that it couldn't come from him, not right now. At the moment Josh was his priority, he needed to get him someplace private. Lew quickly went up front and asked James to use the back entrance. James gave him a quick nod, and told him that he figured that's where they'd want to go. Lew looked at him strangely. "They were too quiet," James told him, "I figured something was wrong." Lew gave him a half smile and a nod as he patted him on the shoulder and turned back to JC.

They somehow managed to get into the hotel without any major incidents. The fans seemed to be getting smarter, they had staked out the back entrance as well.  Thankfully, the door was close enough to the street that security was able to form a tight corridor for them to slip through. They quickly hurried up to their rooms, agreeing to meet in Lance's room to tell Johnny what was going on.

Once inside JC's room, Lew led him to the bed. "Josh, I need to go over and see the guys. They wanna tell Johnny what's happened. Are you okay with that?"

JC thought for a moment, then nodded, "He probably needs to know so he can run interference if he has to."

"Are you gonna be okay here by yourself?"

"Yeah, go ahead, I'm fine," JC said, trying to reassure him. Lew knew better, however.

"Josh, we need to get someone to have a look at you, make sure you're okay physically. Do you think you're gonna be up to it?" JC just nodded and rolled over in the bed to face the far wall. "I'll be back as soon as I can ... okay?" JC simply nodded again.

Lew quietly slipped out of the room and headed down the hall to Lance's. Along the way, he met Johnny and another gentleman, who he assumed was Dave. Together, they stopped at Lance's door and knocked. Lance came to the door and showed them in. They found the guys scattered all around the room.

Johnny tensed up when he saw the looks on their faces. "Okay guys, what's wrong?  Where's JC?"

They sat there for a moment, no one knowing quite where to start. Why me? Lew asked himself as he told Johnny and Dave to have a seat.

"Johnny," Lew began, "something happened last night in LA."

Johnny was visibly becoming uncomfortable. "Something like what? And where is JC?"

Lew took a deep breath, "Guys ... you all need to hear this ... and I don't think I can go through it again, so please just listen and let me get it out. We can talk afterwards, if you need to." They all nodded and Lew continued, "Last night in LA, after we got back from the club ... when we went to the lounge for something to eat ... Josh went back to his room for a shower...." Lew paused for a moment, trying to muster the courage to go on. "While we were downstairs, Josh got back to his room and jumped in the shower ... when he came out there was someone in his room."

"What!" Johnny stood and yelled. Dave grabbed his arm and pulled him back toward his seat, motioning for him to let Lew finish.

"There was a woman in his room. He came out in a towel and ... at first he thought it might be a joke, since he knew no one was supposed to be on the floor. He just asked her to leave ... but she didn't." The guys shifted around uncomfortably in their seats as they listened to Lew continue. "She..." Lew paused again, fighting the tears forming in his eyes. "She managed to surprise him and get some kind of restraints onto his hands, and ... and she ... forced herself on him." The others all sat speechless, but Lew noticed Chris. He was sitting with a pillow in his hands, slowly twisting it as if he were trying to strangle it.

"We need to call the authorities right away!" Johnny said.

"We need to find the bitch and kill her!" Chris said, barely audibly.

"We need to make sure that Josh is alright!" Lew said firmly. "Dave, Lance said that you were a paramedic and a nurse?" Dave nodded. "Can you check Josh out and make sure he's okay? We'll try our best to keep it in the family.  That way, hopefully, it'll stay out of the press. Josh doesn't need that right now, especially since there's no evidence."

"There's the tape!" Justin said.

"There's a tape!" Johnny yelled.

"Our camera was in JC's room and somewhere along the lines she must have turned it on," Steve said.

"Then we can take it to the authorities and try and find her!" Johnny said.

"We wouldn't have even been able to tell that it was JC if we hadn't have known that it was in his room last night," Steve told him with a sorrowful look. "There's no way to tell who she was from the angle of the tape."

"Any other evidence is probably long gone by now anyway," Lew said, sinking onto the bed by Justin and Lance. "The sheets have surely been laundered, and Josh has had a shower already." Lew rubbed his eyes then ran his fingers through his hair. Lance squeezed his shoulder in a show of support. "Look, do whatever you all think is best, just try and clear it with Josh first. After all it's him that'll be most effected by it," Lew said, standing up and looking at Dave.  "Can you come with me and check Josh out now?"

"Yeah, sure," Dave said as he got up. "We'll swing by my room and get the stuff we need."

After Lew and Dave left the room, no one could get the energy up to do or say anything for a bit. Each was lost in his own thoughts.

"How could she do that to him?" Justin asked of the room at large.

Lance wrapped his arm him, "I don't know what to tell you, Jus. She's probably mentally disturbed."

"Disturbed my ASS!" Chris shouted as he jumped up from the couch, throwing the pillow he had been mauling across the room. "The bitch deserves to die. Why aren't we doing something? We have the money ... we could get some people together and hunt the bitch down and kill her!"

"Chris, calm down," Johnny told him. "We can't do anything like that!"

"You may not be able to," Chris shouted back, "but I sure as hell can!"

Justin jumped up from the bed and threw his arms around Chris. "Come on, Chris. Please stop. I ... I can't take it. Please!"

Chris seemed almost to deflate as he looked into his young friend's eyes. "I'm sorry, Jus. I just have to do something. She hurt him. That whore hurt my friend. She ...." Chris' words trailed off and he wrapped Justin in his arms finally giving way to his need to be close to the others. "Oh God, why him? Why? Damn it!"

Joey's voice floated across the room as if on the wind, "It was my fault."

"How could it have been your fault, Joe?" Johnny asked. "How could you have known that she was there? If it's anyone's fault, it's mine. I'm the man who's supposed to make sure all of you have the best security. I'm the man who's supposed to make sure all of you are safe." Johnny rose from the chair and walked over to the window looking out at the city.

The guys looked at each other, unsure of what to say to him.

Lance walked over to him, putting his hand on Johnny's shoulder, "You've done everything possible to keep us safe and protected. I don't think any of us could have prevented this. We just need to keep in mind that Josh is safe now and we're all gonna make sure that he stays that way."

Johnny turned to him and gave him a weak smile, "Thanks, Lance."

"Johnny, what Lance said goes for all of us. We all know the risks of being famous, but we never really thought something would happen to any of us," Chris said, still holding onto Justin. "We're gonna..."

Joey jumped up from the other bed screaming at them, "YOU DON'T GET IT! If I hadn't been worried about that damn camera then ... then she wouldn't have ... oh my God." Joey slumped to his knees on the floor crying.

Steve dashed to Joey's side and put his arm around him, pulling him close, "Joey ... no! You weren't the only one messing around with the camera. I was in it, too." His last words getting lost in the tears that began falling from his eyes.

Justin pulled away from Chris and knelt down in front of the two of them. "There's only one thing that would've changed if you two hadn't been messing with that camera.  We probably wouldn't have known what happened to Josh. I hate that Josh had to see that tape, but I can't say that I'm sorry we did. If we hadn't seen it, then we might never have known, and then we wouldn't be here to help him now."

Joey raised his head to look at Justin, "I can't help feeling responsible."

"Joe, there was nothing we could have done," Justin said, gripping his shoulder.

"But there is something we can do now," Lance said from across the room, pushing away from the window. "We're gonna have to be Josh's support through this. We'll have to be there for him whenever he needs us, and I don't think it's going to be easy for any of us."

As Lance approached the group on the floor, Chris joined them too, "You're right about that, Lance, but we're gonna have to be strong for him ... take up the slack for him ... give him time to heal." Chris broke off as tears threatened his eyes again. "We can do this ... together we can."

Chris and Lance helped the others up from the floor. Hugging each of them as they stood. The guys stood with their arms around each other's shoulders forming a circle, drawing strength from each other. Lance looked over his shoulder at Johnny who was still standing at the window watching them with a look of pride. Lance broke the circle and motioned to him to join them.

Johnny pushed away from the window and walked over to the group, saying, "I hate this situation, but I can't tell you a time I've been more proud of all of you." With Lance on one side and Joey on the other, Johnny joined the circle of men as they wrapped their arms around each other's shoulders.

Lew followed Dave back to his room. Once inside, Dave asked him to have a seat. "I've got the stuff to take blood samples, and a friend who can send them through to be tested anonymously. I'll have them screen for STD's and I'll check him over physically," Dave said, offering Lew a drink from the mini-bar. "Two questions for ya."

Lew looked up at him and nodded for him to go ahead. "First, are you alright? I mean you seem to be handling it okay, but I know it's a lot for any one to handle." Lew half-heartedly smiled at him. "Second, there's more to it than what you told them, isn't there?"

Lew rubbed his eyes again. Dave was right, it was getting to him. Lew liked being in control and he felt that he was as far from that as he could possibly get at the moment. "I had a friend ... she was a wonderful person ... well she still is," Lew half laughed. "She had something similar happen to her," Lew started to trail off as tears dripped down his cheeks. "I'm one of only four people in the world who knows what happened to her. Now, I'm one of only three who knows what happened to Josh ... this is a club that I don't want to be a member of!" Lew leaned his head back for a moment, trying to collect himself. "You're right ... I didn't tell them half of it. When I figured it out on the bus, we just sat there for the longest time and cried. After a little while though, he started telling me what had happened. I so did not want to hear it, but I knew that he needed to get it out.

"It was like a dam burst, it all came flooding out. I knew from what happened with my other friend that he needed to get it out.  She'd buried it away deep inside and never told a soul for years after it happened. I knew that if he could get it out that I needed to let him, no matter how badly it hurt to hear it."

Lew went on to tell Dave some of the more graphic details. Things that would give him an idea of what he should check for. He ended, saying, "As we sat there on the bus, I looked as his arms and his neck ... they were bright red ... like he'd gotten the water in the shower as hot as he could and tried to wash it all away."

Dave leaned down and hugged him. "I know ... we'll take care of him."

"Ever since I met him, he's been like a kid brother ... oh God, he's such a sweet kid ... why him?"

"Why anybody? This woman was obviously disturbed," Dave said. "I mean she came into his room like that ... that was one thing, but then to turn on a camera and record what she did. She was twisted, and there's nothing you can do with a person like that, just pray that somehow someone catches up with her. Maybe when JC's feeling more up to it, we can get a description from him and find her. Then we can see that she's put away so that she doesn't hurt anyone else, ever again. For now though, let's just go and check him out and make sure that he's okay."

Lew nodded, then stood and followed him out to JC's room. When they got to the door, Lew paused for a moment and took a deep breath, obviously steeling himself to face JC once more. He rubbed his face, trying to put back on the neutral expression he'd worn while telling Johnny and the others what had happened. Lew knocked lightly on the door, then slowly opened it. "Josh, it's me," Lew said as he approached the bed.

JC was laying in much the same position that he'd been in when Lew had left. "Josh, I brought Dave with me. He gonna have a look at you to make sure that you're okay," Lew said as he sat down on the edge of the bed, placing a hand on JC's arm. "Do you think you feel up to it?"

JC rolled over onto his back. His face was tear stained again, but dry. It was as if he'd exhausted his supply of tears. JC nodded, "Yeah, let's just get it over with."

Lew nodded, then stood to let Dave move closer. "I'll leave you two alone for a while and let you get done," Lew moved quickly toward the door.  He was just reaching it when he heard JC call him.

"Lew, don't go," came out as a half whisper, like the plea of a frightened child.

Lew froze. The tears were on the brink once more as he leaned against the door. I don't want to do this! .... But you have to. He took a deep breath and roughly rubbed his eyes, then went over to the opposite side of the bed. Lew sat and held JC's hand as Dave took blood samples to be sent for testing. He stayed, never letting go of JC's hand, as Dave performed the rest of the exam, silently reassuring himself that things would be okay. He had to hold onto that fact himself, or he'd never be able to convince JC or the others.

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