Hey, kids. Heres part two. Thanks again to Drew and everyone back at Nifty Chat HQ. And to my one fan for writing me. The rest of you better write me, or I might just decide to stop posting. Im Schuydncer@aol.com . I want to hear what you think. This chapter, I think Ill recommend Strange Interlude. Thats kinda trippy, makes you wonder.
Corbett Keating walked out of the San Francisco fog and into her favorite little coffee shop just off campus to see a young man in a baseball cap and sunglasses crying over a mochaccino. She hovered a little, then walked right over, pulled out a chair, and sat down. Sorry to intrude, but you look like you need a friend. He looked up, tear streaked and ready to run. If you want me to go, Ill go, but Id rather that you talk to me.
He swallowed while he thought, She doesnt know me. She cant do me any harm. Corbett was a plain girl, but looked strong and kind. Its nothing big.
Youre crying into an untouched mochaccino. Thats comfort food. Its big.
Im finally going to come out to my friends and my boyfriend isnt. Im ready, and Im sure, but they could blow up. And us spending a lot of time together, people could start making assumptions about him. Hed probably never see her again. And this was San Francisco, people werent supposed to care about being gay out here.
She gently laid her hand over his and spoke softly. This is something that everyone has to do eventually, they have to tell the people closest to them who they really are. This is your time. His time will come soon enough. I know that he will stand by you, and you should stand by him when it is his time. Love is more important than what people think.
He was going to respond to her with a But you dont understand... when she cut him off. It doesnt matter who you are. Being yourself is the most important thing in the world. He went silent and stared at the table.
Bells clanged against glass as Corbetts sister walked into the shop. Corbett!
Colby! she called back. She leaned over and whispered to the man next to her. Do you want my sister to join us, or do you want to be alone?
You can go, but thank you so much for everything. Youve said a lot. He gave her an encouraging smile, and slipped his hand away from hers. Corbett stood and went to join her sister at another table.
Colby turned back to the door as Lance and Joey entered. They ran to give her hugs and be introduced to her little sister. Lance scanned the little place and turned to Corbetts teary new friend. Hey, JC, what are you doing here? Come on over. Corbetts eyes widened in shock.
But I heard that this was the best part, Corbett tried not to whine as her friends fast forwarded through 'NSyncs Video Music Awards performance.
Corbett, they suck. Nuff said, her roommate Amelia responded. She swallowed and protectively moved her hand in front of the drawer where her NSync CDs were hidden.
If thats the best part, Brett complained, then I give up. He shut the tape player off. And its still early enough for us to hit the Delta party. Within minutes, Corbett was left alone in her room. And thankfully so, she still needed to come up with an excuse to give her friends when she went to the NSync concert with her sister the next night.
There was a soft knock on her door. Corbett stashed her Discman under her pillow and ran to the door. She gasped a little to see JC Chasez behind the door. Hi Corbett, do you have a minute?
She recovered herself and smiled. Sure, come on in. He sat on her bed. She closed the door and sat at her desk. Whats up? Are you feeling better?
Yeah, thanks. I need to talk to you. He looked nervous, shy.
Let me guess, you opened up to me today cause you thought that youd never see me again. Before I meet everyone at the concert tomorrow, I need to know that you havent told them yet, and your boyfriend has no intention of telling them anytime soon.
He smiled. She was smarter than she looked. Yeah. Thats pretty much all.
Now that the formalities are taken care of, do you still need someone to talk to, cause Im here.
No, I think Ill be okay, I told my boyfriend what you said earlier, and he agrees. Youve been a big help.
Can I ask a personal question? Corbett asked.
You want to know who my boyfriend is, he smirked.
Corbett smiled. Were mind readers.
I can trust you, right? Its Chris.
How long have you been together?
Two years. Can you believe that, Corbett? Two years and not a soul on the planet knows. Thats a lot to keep inside. He looked upset, almost ready to break under the strain.
Corbett moved next to him, wrapping her arms around him. Not too much longer, this is the first step. Theyre your friends, theyll still love you.
They were okay with Joey, but hes just bi, you know? This is more. Im just gay. And Im with Chris. The impact that could have on the group is incredible.
They trust you more than that. I trust you more than that. Corbett sat still for a minute and just held him.
He sniffled and shifted a little, feeling something hard under her pillow. Whats this? He pulled her Discman from under the pillow.
Nothing. Give me that. She tried to grab it from him.
I wanna see. He held it away from her as she tried to scramble over him. Corbett pinned him to the bed, but he still got the case open. He recognized the purple and yellow swirls of No Strings Attached. Oh Corbett, youre a fan, thats so cute, he said in a patronizing tone.
Shut up, do you know the kind of treatment Id get around here if anyone found out that I even own that CD?
Well I think its perfectly adorable, a twenty year old listening to a boy band. Corbett growled playfully and started tickling him half to death.
JC wandered into his hilltop hotel room at a little after three. Chris was in bed reading a book. Chris, you didnt have to wait up for me.
Well, I just wanted to make sure that everything went okay with Corbett.
JCs back was turned as he took off his jacket. Chris waited a hesitant moment until JC turned around and bounded towards the bed, jumping up onto it and landing on his knees. Shes incredible. Did you ever meet someone and say This is my best friend? This is more than that. Shes a friend and a sister and everything.
Chris smiled to see JC so happy and leaned up to kiss him briefly. Dont you think you could be going over the edge on this? JC shook his head like a small child. Then I give up. Ill meet her tomorrow. In the meantime, come to bed. JC stripped off his clothes as Chris marked the page in his book and slid into his spot in bed. Out of habit, JC reached over to unmake the sheets on the other bed before crawling in next to Chris comforting warmth. Chris wrapped his arms around JCs waist, his front to his young lovers back, and fell asleep content.
The rush of excitement from being not twenty feet from NSync performing had flushed Corbetts cheeks. She was at once terribly happy and horribly embarrassed. She kept looking around to make sure that no one she knew was around, that no one would find out where she was tonight. But as she opened the dressing room door and saw JC and Lance smiling back at her, all her fears faded and she was her calm, collected self again. Corbett! JC ran to her and hugged her hard. Lance just smiled and waved, unwilling to interrupt her moment with JC. Tell me you enjoyed the show.
It was incredible, JC. She leaned over to whisper in his ear. And how are things with you?
Same as they ever were. Wheres Colby?
She had to get back up to Truckee, but she sends her love to Joey and Lance.
Come with me. JC took her hand and led her back past the bathrooms and the hair and makeup studio to a tiny green lounge. There, at the far end of a couch, sat Chris Kirkpatrick, talking on a telephone. Chris was normally overshadowed by much more arresting looks of Justin and Lance and JC, but Corbett saw something handsome in him, the look of a good man. He smiled up at her and motioned that hed be only another moment. Corbett turned to JC and saw the way he simply glowed looking at Chris. It was only love between them, and Corbett smiled too.
Chris hung up the phone, stood, and walked to the doorway. Hi, Im Chris, you must be Corbett.
She impulsively hugged him. Its so nice to finally meet you.
He beamed over her shoulder at JC and hugged her back. He liked Corbett. It was hard not to like someone as sweet and honest as she was. JC, did you tell Corbett whats going on tonight?
Not yet. Corbett turned to him, slight curiosity in her eyes. If you dont have to be back to campus right away, I thought you might come back to the hotel with us. Weve been touring pretty hard lately, so the five of us were just going to crash back there. He sounded nervous, apprehensive. If thats okay with you.
She shrugged in a pleasing way. Sure, sounds like fun. Lead the way. She hooked her arms through JCs and Chris and started down the hall.
Corbett was on display, but she didnt seem to notice. She sat in an armchair in Justin and Lances room watching a movie, but the other guys were watching her. And JC was watching them, waiting for some sign of approval. He knew that Chris liked her, and Lance had at least met her before, so it was just Joey and Justin. Joey liked everyone, but Justin would be the trick. Justin sat on his bed, leaning back on his elbows. Corbett? Justin asked.
Yeah, she turned to him with a look that warned that she was completely uninterested in his stardom.
Do you like video games?
God, Playstation is half my life, she replied.
Justin smiled a little, she wasnt like the vapid girls that they usually met on tour. Isnt NBA Jam the greatest game ever?
Its nice, but Id take Tony Hawk Pro Skater over it any day.
He sat up and tilted his head at her. Are you saying that skateboard boy is better than the NBA?
Joey half covered his face. Uh oh.
Yep, Corbett smiled.
Come over here and say that to me, Mountain Girl.
Corbett stood and half sauntered over to the edge of the bed. She leaned down to him. Hawk rocks.
Thats it! Justin grabbed a pillow and swung at her. Corbett threw herself across the bed and grabbed one to defend herself with. In seconds, they were standing on the bed, attacking each other. JC looked over at Chris and smiled.
This stuff is the bomb, Corbett. Justin laid half on Corbetts chest, scooping out the last of a half-pint of Dreyers Cookies and Cream.
Gotta trust me. Her spoon hung out of her mouth while she dealt with the inner battle between exhaustion and an impending sugar rush. By this point, all of the guys loved her. Joey had talked to her about dancing and clubs, Lance had seen that she was a good and trustworthy person, and Chris saw how much she had done for JC.
Joey saw that her eyelids were drooping. Youve worn her out, Justin. Come on, Corby, you can sleep in my room. Corbett tried to smile as Joey helped her to her feet. It was almost four in the morning. She felt a little guilty about keeping them up so late. Joey saw that in her eyes. Its okay, he whispered to her, we needed the fun. His smile was so encouraging. Joey waved back to the guys and lifted Corbett into his arms to carry her to bed.
Justin pulled his sheets over himself and tossed the empty carton off the side of the bed. Night.
JC and Chris said their goodbyes and headed back to their room. Once inside, Chris felt JCs arms wrap around him from behind. Chris closed his eyes. Are you still going to tell them?
Joey dropped Corbett on a bed and headed into the bathroom to brush his teeth. She saw the red light on the phone flashing. Joey, you have a message.
Pick it up, he called back.
Corbett dialed the voice mail system and was treated to an innocuous little message. Hey, Joey, its Kevin. Just thought Id see how the concert went. Ill be home tomorrow, if you get a chance. Talk to you later. Bye.
It was Kevin, she told Joey, hell be home tomorrow. Call him. Joey wandered back into the bedroom and sat on his bed. Corbett was watching him. Youre lucky.
Cause Kevin really loves you.
His eyes went wide in shock. Did Colby tell you that?
No, I dont think Colby knows. I could hear it in his voice, though. She smiled. And I can see in your eyes that you love him too. Is it hard being so separated? Joey settled back in bed to talk to her.
Corbett munched quietly on a piece of toast. She wasnt really a morning person. She should have been back to her dorm hours ago, but she didnt want to leave the guys just yet. And she could feel something coming.
Chris squeezed JCs hand once under the table, and then JC cleared his throat. Guys, I need to talk to you all for a minute. They all looked up at him, but JC only noticed the curious little look in Justins eyes. He swallowed hard and took a deep breath. Like a Band-Aid, this had to be done quickly. Im gay. There was only silence around the table. Corbett smiled strongly at him. Chris looked first at Lance, who was confused. Guys? Lance?
JC, you know I love you no matter what. I never thought that this would happen. But Im still here for you.
You know I aint got a problem, Joey threw up his hands.
His voice grew weak and hesitant. Justin?
Youre my best friend no matter what, Josh. Youre the same guy you were ten minutes ago and I still love you. Justin got up from the couch and hugged JC. Lance joined in, then Chris and Joey.
Someones missing, JC said. Corbett! he yelled from under his pile of friends, get your ass over here! Corbett went over and let Joey scoop her into the group. She was just happy for JC. But she still worried about Chris. And the next step, management.