One Dark Night

by Rob

Standard Disclaimer: This story is a complete work of fiction. The author does not know the members of *Nsync or any other celebrities who may just happen to appear in the following fictitious account, and certainly does not have the slightest clue as to their sexual orientation. Quite frankly, the author does not care, although one does always love to speculate! Again, the scenes that follow are taken solely from the author's overactive imagination, are most definitely not true, and do not make any implications about the sexuality of the persons named. On another note, if reading such stories that depict relationships between men is illegal in your area, you are under the age of 18, or viewing such stories is against any beliefs you may have, stop reading and go do something else. Last, but certainly not least, if you are looking for a story with tons of steamy sex scenes, stop reading. You won't find a lot of that here either. Now with that said, enjoy the show!!

Last time...

"So now what do we do?" My momentary reverie was broken by Justin's question.

"Well, we really ought to call the police and get an ambulance up here for JC, and then I guess I ought to call AAA and have them come figure out what to do with the SUV. Also, I'm guessing that you guys probably have someone you need to call so that the search parties aren't sent out."

The guys remained silent for a moment. I looked at JC, who looked quite pale. "Ummm Will...first of all, please, all my friends call me Josh, and I would ask that you do the same." He smiled that dazzling smile of his at me, and then continued. "Secondly, I don't need an ambulance. I'll be okay. Really." He looked at me imploringly, and I sensed that there was something more to this.

"JC...errrr...Josh, you're hurt. You need to have that leg looked at!"

"I'll be okay. Don't worry about it." He shifted in his chair and his face suddenly contorted with a look of obvious pain. "Ow."

"You're okay huh? I don't even think so. Sorry mister, you're going and that's final," I said in my most authoritative tone. JC hung his head and muttered something under his breath. The other guys just looked at me. Truth be told, I kind of surprised myself.

Chapter Two: Nice Guys Finish Last

It took some time, but eventually the tow truck showed up. The police soon followed, along with an ambulance to take Josh to the hospital. His ankle was now even more swollen and was starting to turn a nasty bluish-black color. Poor guy. He certainly isn't going to be dancing anytime in the near future. After barking at Josh, I decided that the best idea was to put a little bit of distance between them and myself. I doubted very highly that they were upset with me. At least I hoped they weren't. I just couldn't allow Josh to "walk around" injured without being checked out. I had wandered to the other end of my car and was surveying the scene. The tow truck driver and his co-worker had managed to get the SUV in an upright position and were about ready to load it onto the flatbed of the truck.

I turned my attention to the guys, who were all hovering around Josh as he was being checked out by the EMTs. I smiled briefly, thinking how wonderful it was that he had such caring friends as these four guys. Yeah, and who do you have Will? No one. Nobody. Probably never will either. I shook my head trying to clear the negative thoughts from my mind. I hadn't even realized my eyes had started to tear. Great. Just great. Get a grip on yourself Will. Now is not the time to start wallowing in self-pity. I walked back over to the guys and tapped the nearest shoulder I could reach, which happened to be Lance's.

"Hey, Lance? They're getting ready to load the SUV on to the back of the tow truck. Is there anything in there you guys are going to need?" I asked.

Lance thought for a moment. "Yeah. There are a couple of duffel bags in the back that have some important things in them, and I think Justin's wallet is in the glove compartment. We probably ought to get those out before they take the car away."

"I'll go get them," I said. "You stay here with Josh. He needs his friends right now."

Lance gave me the biggest smile I had seen from anyone that night. "Thanks Will. I appreciate that." I had picked up on his slight southern drawl and thought it was kind of cute. Having grown up in Michigan, I always thought the horribly flat Midwestern accent was quite boring and lacked a lot of the musical inflection other regions give to their speech. Just another one of the many things that makes you ordinary and boring. I sighed. My self-destructive side was in rare form tonight.

I walked over to the SUV and asked the tow truck driver if I could grab some things out of the car before they loaded it up on the truck. He nodded, so I went and grabbed the duffel bags and Justin's wallet out of the car. The SUV was then raised onto the back of the truck and tied down. The driver had me sign the slip so they could send the bill to AAA, and then he jumped into the cab and headed down the road. By this point, the police officer had finished taking a report and was in the process of leaving. The EMTs had checked out all five guys, and Josh was the only one with any injuries more serious than a few bumps and bruises. I had walked back over to him and the guys as the EMTs were getting ready to load Josh into the back of the ambulance. He looked over at me and rolled his eyes. "Just my luck that I wind up with the busted leg while these guys," he said, pointing at the other four, "come off scot-free." He stared at me for a second, and then surprised me by saying, "and by the way Will, thank you."

"Thank you for what?" I asked in surprise.

"For being you, and for helping us." He turned and looked at me with a smile, which then immediately darkened. He grabbed my hand and squeezed it hard. His whole body seemed to tense up.

"Ummm Josh? What's wrong? Are you okay?" I asked, worry evident in my voice. He didn't answer, but I followed his eyes to the EMT who was preparing a syringe. I paled. I hate needles. I absolutely hate them. Every time I have to go get a shot, I usually start crying before the nurse or doctor even touch me. He must be afraid of needles too, I thought.

I looked down at Josh and smiled. I leaned over and whispered into his ear. "I'm afraid of needles too. I remember back in high school our Honor Society held a Blood Drive. Since I was a member and obviously qualified to donate, I couldn't back out without looking bad. So when it was my turn, I got on to the cot and laid down. I saw the woman come over with the needle to draw the blood and I passed out. Next thing I knew, my best friend Jerrica was smacking my face trying to wake me up and they had already been done with me for 10 minutes!" I started laughing and Josh soon joined in. It was enough of a distraction that he didn't notice the EMT giving him a slight sedative and painkiller. Josh squeezed my hand again and mouthed "Thank you" at me as the EMTs loaded him into the back of the ambulance.

I turned to the EMT closest to me and cleared my throat a little. She spun around and looked a little startled by the fact that I was standing right behind her, but the look only lasted for a second. She smiled at me and said, "Don't worry about your friend. He'll be all right. The ankle doesn't look broken, but the doctors will have to take some x-rays to make sure."

"Thanks for telling me," I replied, hoping she was right. "Where are you taking him to?"

"Northwestern. It's the closest."

"Okay. Have you told the others this yet?

"No. Do you want me to tell them?" she asked, looking at her watch. I was guessing that she was probably nearing the end of her shift, and I decided there was no need to delay her or Josh any more than was absolutely necessary.

"No worries, I'll fill them in. Just take care of their friend. By the way, what was your name? I always like to thank people by name, especially really nice, kind, helpful people. I'm Will."

"Nice to meet you Will, although I wish it was under better circumstances." She flipped her blonde hair away from her eyes. "My name is Tricia, and my partner over there is Eddie."

"Well Tricia, please thank Eddie for me and the guys, and thank you too for helping him."

"You're quite welcome. I'd love to stay and chat, but we have a slightly sedated customer back there who has a date with a doctor as soon as possible. See ya." She turned and double-checked that the back door was securely closed and latched. She then proceeded to jump in the front of the ambulance and shut the door. Within a minute they were gone.

I looked up at the sky and then at the guys huddled behind my car. Oh yeah, I almost forgot about them. Lance was sitting in a folding chair hunched over with his face buried in his hands. Justin was sitting next to him with his arm around Lance's shoulders but didn't appear to be saying anything. Joey was leaning against the trunk of my car staring off into space. Except for the occasional choked sob coming from Lance, it was completely quiet.

I walked over to Lance and knelt down beside him. I watched him for a moment as I gathered my thoughts. He must be going through hell. He's probably blaming himself for what happened to Josh. I knew words weren't going to make him feel better, no matter what I said. At the same time, it just tore at me that he was hurting so badly. I placed my hand on his arm, which caused him to jump slightly. He looked at me with vacant eyes. I could tell that the emotional overload from his guilt combined with the need for sleep was eating at him.

"Lance," I said lightly. "Lance, you have to stop blaming yourself. You couldn't have known that curve was there. The sign has been missing for a long time now. Besides, beating yourself up is not going to make things any better, nor is going to make Josh's leg heal any quicker. He's going to be fine. The EMT said she thinks his leg is just sprained, so he'll be as good as new in a couple weeks."

Lance sighed. His eyes were beet red from crying and fatigue. His lip was continually trembling, as if he were about to burst into tears at any second. After a minute or so, he spoke. "He told me to slow down, and I didn't listen. He tried to help me, but I just shrugged him off. Then, we have an accident and who gets hurt?!?!" He was practically screaming by this point. "He does!! I just get a small bump on the head, and he gets hauled off to the hospital. It should have been me, not him!" He slumped back in the chair and slowly began to cry again.

Survivor's guilt, I thought. It only heals with time. I stood up and shivered a little. It wasn't particularly cold outside, but a breeze had picked up. Justin was almost asleep on Lance's shoulder and Joey appeared to be nodding off. I nudged Justin, gently at first, then harder until he finally acknowledged my presence. He looked up at me and yawned. "What's up?"

"Where's Chris at?" I asked, noting for the first time I hadn't seen him in a while.

"He went with Josh to the hospital. He was rather insistent about it."

"Okay, sure. Just wanted to be positive that we weren't missing anyone."

"Like JC?" he remarked, grinning at me. Why did he have to remind me of the biggest faux pas of my life?

I should have whacked him for that, but a wave of fatigue came over me. I knew he was waiting for a response, so I just shrugged my shoulders and said, "Remind me to whack you for that in the morning."

"Ummmm Will? It is morning." I looked down at my watch. 4:53am. Yeah, it was morning, by most people's clocks anyway. As for me, it was just about bedtime.

"So Justin, is there anyone else you need to call or let know where you guys are?" I asked, knowing that they were supposed to be back at their hotel hours ago.

"No. I already called Eric, our tour manager. He cancelled everything on the schedule for today, and probably tomorrow. Of course, the concert on Wednesday is going to be cancelled, and I don't know about anything after that. I told him we'd catch up with them later on today." He tried to stifle a yawn, but didn't have much success.

"Well, you guys are all exhausted. You need to get back to your hotel and get some sleep." I thought for a second, remembering I hadn't filled the gas tank, as usual. My cell phone was also beeping at me, indicating it was low on battery charge. "How about this? I haven't had a chance to fill the gas tank and the gas stations aren't open this early. Instead of sitting out here in the middle of the woods, why don't we run over to my house, which is a couple of miles away, and call a taxi from there? I figure it's better than staying here."

Justin thought for a second and shrugged. "Sounds like a plan to me, I guess." He looked at Lance, who just nodded but didn't say anything. We all looked at Joey, who had fallen fast asleep against the side of the car. "Why don't Lance and I jump in the backseat and Joey can ride up front with you?" he suggested. He glanced back over at Joey, smiled at me and said, "Good luck waking him up!"

Somehow, I got the feeling I was set up.

The last three hours had been some of the longest in Chris Kirkpatrick's life. The accident, JC's injuries... if it wasn't one thing these days it was something else. It was just after 6am and he was in desperate need of some sleep. JC had been taken into the emergency room over an hour ago and no one would tell him anything. The more time that passed, the more frantic he became. After all, if it was just a sprained ankle, it shouldn't be taking this long. They'd take the x-rays, make the diagnosis, wrap his ankle, and that would be it. Fear started to plague his mind as he envisioned a multitude of horrible things that could be wrong with his friend. Internal bleeding, ruptured organs, or who knows what? He had been pacing the floor for the last 20 minutes, but finally collapsed into a chair due to exhaustion. He stared at the door to the ER and prayed someone would come out with some answers.

Chris awoke to someone shaking his shoulder. As his eyes came into focus, he saw JC smiling at him. Taking a moment to ensure he wasn't imagining things, he stood up and gave his friend a huge hug.

"Whoa man! Take it easy!" JC exclaimed as Chris nearly knocked him over while enveloping him in a bear hug.

Chris sprang away from him like a frightened deer; his eyes wide open in shock. JC took notice of his friend's reaction and laughed.

"Don't worry Chris, I'm not going to break. Just try not to knock me over. I don't get back up so easily."

Chris hesitated for a moment and then smiled. "Okay, okay. So are you all right? What did the doctor say?"

"Well, I have a pretty bad sprain from the accident. Apparently I jammed my leg under the seat when the car flipped onto its side and then twisted, but the doctor said I'm very lucky that nothing broke. I should be back to normal in 3 to 4 weeks, depending on how fast I can heal. They said I don't seem to have any other problems, aside from having a basket case for a friend out here in the waiting room."

"So now what?"

"Well, the doctors wrapped my leg and gave me some crutches, as you can see. I have some medicine in this bag," he said as he raised the prescription bag to Chris' eye level, "to help with the pain and swelling, and then they discharged me soon after. So now, I'm ready to go."

"Good! Glad to hear it!" a voice said behind them. "Everyone is worried sick about you."

Justin and Lance had already piled into the back seat of my car while I was trying to maneuver Joey toward the front seat. I had definitely been set up. Apparently, once Joey falls asleep, he's dead to the world for hours. I had first tried tapping his shoulder, but that didn't work. I had tried shaking him, first gently, then progressively harder, but that didn't work either. I debated dragging him to the front of the car, but I wasn't sure if I was strong enough for that. As I stood there trying to decide what to do, I wondered how it was possible that these five gorgeous guys had suddenly just wandered into my life. I chuckled, thinking how many teenage girls there were out there who would kill to be in my position.

Kill. My God, these guys could have been killed tonight. I really needed to stop thinking about that. They weren't dead. In fact, the worst that came of this was a sprained ankle. I smiled a little as I watched Joey's chest rise and fall as he continued to sleep. I took in the sight of this gorgeous guy and shook my head. "Damn, he's even cuter asleep than awake," I said under my breath. At that moment Joey stirred slightly, but appeared to still be asleep. Oh shit, did he hear me? I thought in a panic. After a tense moment, with Joey's breathing still steady, I decided he probably hadn't. I nudged Joey rather hard this time, which caused him to awake with a start.

"What's up Will?" he asked.

"We gotta go. Justin and Lance are in the car. We're going to run over to my house and call you guys a taxi to take you back to the hotel, okay?"

"Oh, yeah, sure. Okay. Sorry, I must have dozed off for a bit."

"No problem man," I said as I started to steer him in the direction of the front passenger seat. "You and the other guys must be absolutely exhausted after everything today. Come on, let's go." I opened the passenger door and Joey sat down. Once he was inside and clear of the door, I shut the door and ran around to get in the driver's seat. As I sat down, I looked in the rearview mirror. Lance was passed out cold and Justin was staring at me with that stupid grin of his.

"Ummmm Will? Do you always bounce like that when you run?"

Justin's comment threw me for a second. I turned to look at him with raised eyebrows. "Me? Bounce?" I rolled my eyes. "I guess I still have a little too much energy to burn off yet."

Justin didn't reply, but there was really no need. I started the car and flipped the radio dial to 1090AM. At that time of the morning, WBAL does mostly news, traffic and weather. I was wondering if there would be any news about the accident. There had been a slight blip, but all it said was that there was a one-car accident in Northern Baltimore County and that one person was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. I had been a little worried that names would be released. The guys just didn't need that right now.

As we began the drive to my house, I didn't notice that the person sitting next to me was watching me the entire time. Joey's mind was swimming. He was almost certain he had heard Will say he thought Joey was cute. That couldn't be possible though. I must have been hearing things, Joey thought. Such a nice guy like this must have a girlfriend. He sighed. Unbeknownst to him, he and Will had at least one major thing in common. They were both gay, and no one else knew, not even their closest friends and family. For Joey, it had been eating at him for years. After many failed attempts at dating women, he soon realized that the problem wasn't them; it was him. Girls just didn't turn him on the way guys did. And here I go again, wishing for something I can't have, he thought. Damn! Why does he have to be so cute? With that red hair, those gorgeous blue eyes, and that melodic voice... Joey's thoughts were interrupted by a large yawn. Even if I can't have him, I can still see him in my dreams.

We drove for about 15 minutes on lots of back roads to my house. It was over 150 years old and sat on about 8 acres of property in Belfast, Maryland. It was way out in the country in the middle of nowhere. I had gotten a really good deal on it; apparently the previous owners seemed to believe it was haunted and were quick to sell it at any price. I had lived there for three years now, and as of yet, I haven't had any close encounters of the ghostly kind. I'm still hopeful!

We reached my house, and turned down the drive. It's about a quarter mile back to the house, set way off the main road. At last we pulled into the garage and I turned off the car. All three were fast asleep. I looked at them and shook my head. Guess they weren't going to be going anywhere any time soon. I woke them up long enough to put them each in one of the three bedrooms. I figured I'd just crash on the couch. I laid out some fresh towels and left some instructions for them when they woke up in case they wanted some breakfast and I hadn't returned yet.

Before I left, I went and checked on the guys one more time. Before leaving Justin's room, I heard him say quietly, "If you hear from JC, tell him we're thinking about him and miss him already." I was about to reply, but heard some light snoring coming from his direction. I chuckled softly to myself, and closed his door. I then went outside and hopped back in the car to go to the hospital.

Fortunately traffic was still light, even at 5:45am, as this was about the time the commuter traffic started to pick up. I stopped at McDonald's on the way in and grabbed a couple sausage and egg McMuffin's and some coffee and orange juice. I figured Chris and Josh were probably hungry by now. I reached the hospital a few minutes later and went inside. After misdirecting myself a couple of times in the large hospital complex, I found the emergency room. I walked into the lobby and saw Chris and Josh talking to each other. I set the food down on a nearby chair and walked over to them.

"...Well, the doctors wrapped my leg and gave me some crutches, as you can see. I have some medicine in this bag," Josh was saying, "to help with the pain and swelling, and then they discharged me soon after. So now, I'm ready to go."

"Good! Glad to hear it!" I said behind them. "Everyone is worried sick about you."

Josh and Chris turned to look at me and seemed to be a bit surprised I was there. "What are you doing here?" Chris asked.

"Well good morning to you too Chris," I said sweetly. "I figured I'd come down and see how the two of you were coming along."

Josh smiled at me. "I'm going to live," he said, "but I'm not going to be dancing for a while with this leg." He looked around as if he were expecting to see something or someone else there. "Where are the other guys at?"

"Oh, they're back at my house. They were so tired they passed out the minute we arrived. As it were, they were already asleep when we got there and I had to practically drag them inside. Is it always that difficult to get Joey moving in the morning?" I asked with a slight smirk. Josh laughed, but Chris stared at me with a serious look on his face. I didn't think anything of it at first, but now he was making me nervous. "Is something wrong Chris?"

"Yeah. I was wondering what the hell they were thinking going to your house. We don't know you. We don't know anything about you. They should have more common sense than to go off with someone they don't know. For all we know you could be an axe murderer or something." His cold tone shocked me, but I suppose I should have expected it. He was right, to a certain extent anyway. They didn't know me, but the logic behind his words didn't make me any less annoyed.

I thought for a second and chose my words carefully. In a low voice, so only he and Josh could hear, I replied, "I am not going to have a dispute with you here. For one, it would be disrespectful to everyone else as well as tasteless. Second, we are in a public place, and while the rest of the world could care nothing about me, you are always in the public eye and you don't need any bad press, no matter how small."

I paused for a moment, debating if I really wanted to say what was on my mind, but before I could control my mouth, it all tumbled out. "And most of all, you should be thankful I ignored my 'common sense' as you so put it because it's highly unlikely anyone else would have found you for another couple hours. Now, I was going to offer you a ride either back to my house so you could meet up with the guys or to your hotel, but you know what? Forget it. Just call a cab." I started to turn and walk away when one last thought hit me. I looked back at them both and said, "Oh by the way, if you guys are hungry I brought you some breakfast. I just lost my appetite." With that I stormed out of the emergency room and ran down to the parking lot.

It takes a lot to make me angry, and that was actually quite controlled, but I was still seeing red. All I had tried to do was be nice to them, and what thanks do I get? I exited the hospital and sat down on the curb. I'm not going to cry. I am not going to cry. God damn it why am I crying? I was thunderstruck at how much Chris' words had hurt me. Why did I even care? I was so confused. At least in another few hours Lance, Justin and Joey would wake up, leave my house, and exit my life forever. At that point, it couldn't happen fast enough.

"Very smooth Chris. Very smooth." JC said, glaring at his friend. Granted, Chris had a point, but JC believed that Will really was just trying to be friendly and helpful.

"What the hell is your deal Jayce? You know he's after something. I don't trust fast friends."

"Chris, did it ever occur to you that there might be some people out in this world who are just plain nice and don't want something from you?'

"JC, how naïve can you be? Everyone wants something, whether they are willing to admit it or not."

"I don't know why I bother talking to you sometimes. You are too stubborn to listen. I'm telling you, Will doesn't seem like the type to try and take advantage of us. I honestly think he is just trying to be nice." JC gathered himself together and turned to head out the door. "Maybe one of these days you'll learn that real friends, the ones who like you for who you really are, don't come around very often, and when they do, you need to hold on to them. Otherwise, life gets very" With that, JC made his slow progression out the door.

Chris just stood there in shock. JC is just too trusting, he thought to himself. Next thing you know, there's either going to be a story in the National Enquirer or he's going to ask us to pass a demo tape to try and get a record deal. Chris was certain. He was absolutely certain this guy was going to be trouble.

JC wandered out of the hospital into the early morning light. The sun was starting to rise, but it was still kind of dark out. He was contemplating about what to do next when he heard something that sounded like sobs coming from nearby. He ambled over to the figure perched on the curb and tapped them on the shoulder. He was surprised to see it was Will, whose face was bright red from crying.

"I suppose you're here to tell me to get lost too, huh?" I said bitterly.

"No, not at all. As a matter of fact, I was kind of glad I caught up with you. I wanted to apologize for what Chris said..."

I cut him off. "Why does he hate me JC? What have I done wrong? I can't figure it out. Every time I think I'm doing something right, it turns out I've just fucked it all up without even realizing it. I just don't get it!" With that, I buried my face back into my knees while attempting to regain what little dignity I had left, which, truth be told, wasn't much.

Without looking, I could tell that JC was sitting down next to me. Now I felt even worse because I could hear him groan as he sat down. I had made him feel like he had to console me and in the process was causing himself more pain. Sigh.

"First of all, like I told you before, call me Josh...and he doesn't hate you Will. The thing you have to understand is that he, like the rest of us, has been burned before by people we thought we could trust, but turned around and stabbed us in the back in one way or another. I probably shouldn't be telling you this, but the last time, it was a girl he had really fallen for. She was just starting out in the music industry and was trying to influence him to help her. He had arranged for her to have a meeting with one of the top people at Jive, our record company, to hear some of her stuff. The night before, he overheard her telling someone how she was just using him to catch a break. It totally shattered him. He dumped her and had the meeting cancelled. Ever since he's been rather aloof when meeting anyone new. He's scared, Will. He's scared of being hurt like that again."

So now it all made sense. I understood, I guess, as best as I could understand, but Chris' words still burned me. To think that he thought I was so incredibly shallow... Then the anger turned to guilt. Major guilt. Stomach-churning guilt.

"What have I done?" I moaned. "If he didn't hate me before, he definitely hates me now. I shouldn't have said what I did. I didn't really mean that part about leaving you all there. I never would have done that. Never." I sighed heavily and stared into the sky. "I wouldn't blame him for hating me after that little episode. I'd probably hate me too."

"But I don't hate you," a familiar voice said. "I'm sorry if my suspicious nature hurt your feelings, but we have been burned too often by people who appeared to be friends but had an ulterior motive. Most people can't seem to disconnect the real Chris, Lance, Joey, JC, and Justin from *Nsync. Who we are onstage and who we are off stage are completely different. I didn't mean to come out and accuse you like that. Just understand that it will take me some time to learn to trust you. However, know that if you break my trust, I may have to kill you." I laughed as Chris held out his hand for me to shake. I shook his hand and smiled and prayed he was only kidding about that last part.

"Well, now that we have all made up," Josh said, "how about we go catch up with the rest of the guys?"

"Sounds like a plan to me," I replied as I fished my keys out of my pocket. "Wait here while I grab the car." I went and retrieved my Saturn from its parking place and pulled up to let Chris and Josh get in. I threw the car in park and jumped out to give Josh a hand getting into the front seat. I took his crutches and tossed them into the trunk. Once all were belted in, we left and headed for home.

Lance awoke with a start. It was obviously daylight outside, judging by the amount of sunlight entering the room he was in, but the room was completely unfamiliar. What time is it anyway? He checked his watch. 11:30am??? How on earth had he managed to sleep this late? Then it all hit him. The accident. They were at Will's house. Lance sighed and flopped back down on to the bed. I don't want to face anyone today, least of all JC. He's going to kill me for this. He rolled over and closed his eyes and tried to go back to sleep, as if it would help block the mental images from the night before.

Lance wasn't the only one having a difficult time. Justin wasn't sleeping too well either. Ever since the accident the night before, every time he closed his eyes the earlier events replayed through his head, invading his dreams. The sound of scraping metal. The screams of his friends. His own screams. Each time the scene reeled through his mind the outcome became worse. Consciously, he knew that everyone was okay. In his dreams, however, he was at the mercy of his subconscious mind. The first time, it was exactly as it happened. Later on, it ended with three people hurt. Then five. Then one dead. Then three dead. Then all five dead, except him. He was alone, completely alone. He couldn't take it. "No! No! Don't leave me! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!"

"What the hell?" I exclaimed as I heard screaming coming from upstairs. "Damn!" I had been drinking orange juice and reading the morning paper when I was startled by the yelling. I shot out of my seat to investigate, which in turn caused me to knock my glass of OJ over all over the paper. I am such a klutz.

I ascended the stairs three at a time and flew down the hall. I cracked open the first door to see Justin sitting up in bed in absolute hysterics. "Justin?" I said softly, trying not to alarm him. No response. I opened the door a little further and tried again. "Justin, are you all right?" Of course Will, he's perfectly fine. That's why he's a blubbering mess at the moment. Oy. Gotta love my cynical side, that's for sure. Still getting no response from Justin, I let myself all the way into the room and wandered over to him. I placed my arm on his shoulder, which caused him to jump. He stared at me for a second, and the next thing I knew he had pulled me into a huge bear hug.

"Don't leave me Will. Don't leave me alone," he whimpered. At first, I had been a little tense when he hugged me. Now, I had started to relax a little. He was just a guy who needed someone to comfort him. I wrapped my arms around him and held him close to me. He buried his head in my chest and continued to cry. He was mumbling something, but I couldn't quite make it out. All I could hear was " fault...not fault..." What on earth was he talking about?

Then it was like someone came and hit me upside the head with a baseball bat. He must be confusing some pretty nasty nightmares with reality. "Justin? Justin?! Look at me!" I pushed him off of me and lifted his chin so his eyes met mine. Wow. Looking into those eyes was almost like looking into a mirror, except his were puffy from crying so much. "Justin, no one is dead. Josh is all right. Lance is in the next bedroom. Joey is across the hall. Chris and Josh are downstairs on the couch and futon. Everyone is okay. This is not your fault. Accidents happen."

"But Will," Justin blubbered, "if I hadn't read that map wrong and gotten us lost this never would have happened."

"Justin, you're being irrational."

"I am not. JC is never going to forgive me for this. If it wasn't for me, he wouldn't have gotten hurt." Great, I thought. Now I have two people with survivor's guilt.

"When you put it that way, it's really my fault," I said.

"What are you talking about?" Justin asked, looking at me as if I had told him the sky was purple.

"Well, if I had been there five minutes earlier, I could have set up some flares to warn you guys that the curve was there so you wouldn't have hit it so fast," I said with my most serious face.

Justin smiled sheepishly and said, "Okay, now who's being irrational?"

I laughed. "Justin, what I'm trying to tell you is that accidents are almost never created from one individual act alone. More often than not, it takes a series of events to cause an accident to happen. Look at it this way: whose idea was it to play in Baltimore in the first place?"

"Management's," replied Justin.

"And whose idea was it to go to Hershey Park?"


"And whose idea was it to rent that top-heavy SUV?"


"And speaking of Lance, whose idea was it to let him drive?"

"Chris'. He was the only one who hadn't had anything to drink while we were at the park, and I was too tired to drive."

"So, if you add it all up, then the blame lies with Management, Joey, Lance, Chris, you, and all of your parents."

"Our parents?" Justin queried.

"Of course. If they hadn't decided to have you, you wouldn't have been born, *Nsync never would have been created, you never would have gone on tour, ended up here in Baltimore, decided to go have a day of fun and had an accident on the way home," I finished with a grand sweep of my arms. Such a drama queen I am.

Justin giggled and laid his head back on my chest. "Okay," he said, "we have now moved beyond irrational to just plain silly." I wrapped my arms back around him, sensing he still needed to be held. He had gone through a rather frightening experience, and I certainly wasn't going to hold that against him. We all need someone to hold us from time to time, and right now Justin didn't just need it. He was desperate.

Meanwhile, Joey wasn't sleeping too well either, although for an entirely different reason than Justin. He couldn't keep his mind of Will. Visions of the 5' 11" redhead with the gorgeous blue eyes danced in his head. Joey had never been sure about people falling in love at first sight, but now he was willing to consider it. Get a hold of yourself Joe, he thought to himself. For one, he's probably taken. Second, he's probably not even gay. Most importantly, even if he were, he probably would never like me like that. He tussled around in bed some more while his mind ran in circles. But what if he did like me back? What would I do? What would I say? How am I going to find out without scaring him away, or revealing my secret to everyone else before I'm ready? Yeah, Joey definitely had some problems all right, and the solutions weren't going to come quickly or simply.

He laid in bed for a while longer as his thoughts drifted back to the earlier events of yesterday and that morning. He had been lying fast asleep in the back seat of the SUV as they returned from a fun-filled day at Hershey Park. It was the best idea he'd had in quite a while. The guys had all been stressed from the rigorous tour schedule, and a day of unplanned fun was definitely in order. They had stayed right up until the park closed at 11, and then went and grabbed some dinner through a Burger King drive-thru. After eating, he immediately passed out until....

...the screaming started. This time it sounded louder than before. He awoke as he felt the SUV flip into the air and land on its side. He had been thrown back against the side of the car and whacked his head, causing his eyes to lose their focus for a moment. He remembered the sound of scraping metal, and then all was silent. Joey wasn't sure if he was alive or dead. He then remembered hearing screaming, but this time it sounded like Justin. He was certain it had been JC who had yelled because of his leg, and then...his angel arrived. He saw Will for the first time, and the light from the overhead lamp in the SUV gave him an angelic glow. His stomach had flip-flopped and Joey started falling for him right then and there. I have got to stop this, Joey thought. It's not going to happen. It's never going to happen. I'm going to be miserable and alone forever.

Joey sat up and got out of bed. A feeling in his groin told him that he was in dire need of using the bathroom, along with that typical hard-on that greets many men in the morning. He shuffled toward the door and tried to clear the sleep out of his eyes. He stepped into the hall and headed for the bathroom when he realized he had no clue where it was. He spied an open door and hoped that was the bathroom, as the call of nature was getting more intense by the moment. As he approached, he heard what sounded like sobs coming from the room. He peeked around the corner of the open door and his heart plummeted. Sitting on the bed was Justin and Will, and Will had his arms wrapped around Justin.

Joey pulled his head back out of the room and sat down on the floor. "Damn!" he muttered. "Why does Justin always get them? Every time I was interested in some girl, they would leave me for Justin. Now he's taken Will from me too. I can't believe this!" He laid his head back against the wall and sighed deeply.Then a thought occurred to him. Justin had never once given the indication he was gay, nor had Will. Maybe there was something less to this picture than what he had envisioned. He had to find out.

He stood back up and walked into Justin's room. Neither one had noticed him enter. He stood observant for a moment, watching as Will cradled Justin in his arms. Finally, Joey could take no more. He cleared his throat, causing the two men on the bed to jump. I looked up to see Joey standing there with his hands on his hips and an angry look on his face.

"All right, what the hell is going on here?"

To Be Continued...

So what did you think? Will Joey ever win Will's heart? What about Justin? Is there something more going on there than just a friendship? Or JC? He seems to be getting pretty friendly with Will as well! Drop me a line and let me know your thoughts.

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