~*~ Every last word of the pages to follow is from an author's vast imagination and is therefore not supported in true reality. Although the characters to be featured are prominently factual, the numerous scenarios, situations, and events they will encounter throughout the course of the tale are not! Its principal objective is that of enjoyment and entertainment to you, the reader.

~*~ Underage reading or any other illegalities is not condoned nor encouraged in any way by said author. He also will not tolerate any form of plagiarism towards any of the words to come as they are his and his alone. Neither the author nor the Nifty Organization makes a profit from this, or any story, posted on their site. He does it of his own freewill.

~*~ Address any type of question and/or feedback to jc71883@hotmail.com, making sure to add a relation to the story on the subject line of the e-mail as to guarantee its reception.



Chapter Eleven

~*~ The Otherside of a Kiss ~*~



Kobe Bryant has not called him since their kiss and he feels that he has ruined their friendship. He wants to call him so bad though and try to explain his actions because of the confidence he gained from getting everything out in the open with JC. Their talk together gave a little reassurance that everything will be okay when Justin felt his world was upside down. It really helped. Los Angeles feels slightly different this time; it is his town. His team plays here. His stadium sits in the middle of the bustling city. Timberlake feels out of place and it bothers him because he has been in LA a million times before and has never felt the way he feels now. Like an outsider or an outcast. The city has betrayed him because of his foolish actions with its star basketballer. He wonders where the tall man is and what he is doing. So many thought flow into and out of his head about him.

After an appearance at an early morning talk show, the singing star is rushed away to a photo shoot set up by Jive to get shots for album cover ideas. It has to always be like this because time is money and his management team hates to lose money. Timberlake does not feel up to being in front of the camera right now but it is his work so he forces himself to put on a good face to get it over with. His world could be turned upside down but he must always present a unified and unbothered front to the people that basically make him who he is. The surrounding entourage that prove invaluable but could also talk to the media if the price is right. Everyone has their price which is why trusting many people in this industry proves to be next to impossible. There is no escaping celebrity and Justin has learned to accept the good along with the bad when it comes to his career and status.

The day is long but fulfilling seeing as he manages to get everything done that he is supposed to. His body greets the sofa of the great room by falling on it and his eyes close in rest and regain essence. He uses this time to regain his composure and catch his breath after teetering around his absolute limit for most of the day. Bryant and their kiss are still lingers on his mind but he tries not to think about it because the former N*SYNCer has no plan as to how to fix his mistake. His childish behavior. Those lips. His soft lips. He is far too embarrassed to call him and explain himself. Justin cannot bring himself to make the first move after the text message because of his nerves. He imagines that Kobe feels hurt and possibly upset at how everything transpired between them that evening under the rain. The situation feels hopeless be he will have to do something to regain his seemingly lost friendship.

It is around ten the following day when Justin awakes to the alarm of his phone singing loudly. He has a charity luncheon to attend within the next few hours so he gets up and stretches out his limbs before trying to write some lyrics, something he has neglected to do over the past few days. His producer Timbaland will kill him if he ever knew this information but the inspiration seems to have been sucked out of him. Telling JC about himself was a great relief and was the right thing to do but Kobe's actions in that car is overshadowing everything. It was completely out of nowhere and Justin did not know how to react or what to think so he ran. No. He will not think about this right now. Things happened this way for a reason. A reason he cannot understand but will not question. He has to keep telling himself that and maybe it will become true after enough times. A shower calls to him.

Justin Timberlake walks into the gala being held at the Four Seasons Hotel in the heart of Los Angeles looking smooth in a pair of black slacks and a powdery white button down shirt that is tucked in. He is neat and trimmed as he smiles for photographers in the press line. None of them will ever know about the turmoil inside. His patent smile hides everything he wants it to without giving away anything. The singer strikes his signature pose; he places his hands in either of his pockets and slightly leans to the side and flashes his celebrity smile. The cameras eat him up. Knowing how to keep them at bay is the first aspect of celebrity he learned from his days back with the band. It is unnecessary that it has come to this but any person in the limelight of celebrity that wishes to keep their lives private knows that having a face, and smile, that give away nothing is a critical asset.

The event gala funds HIV/AIDS research and Timberlake relaxes back in his chair and tries his best to pay attention to the bevy of speakers that vie for the podium on the main stage directly in front of him. So much information is being thrown out at them though so it is a challenge in itself to keep up. But, regardless of wealth or status, helping others should always be a priority. Compassion is its own kind of reward. The singing star's eyes secretly look around to see the likes of Tyra Banks and Jessica Simpson, with the latter sitting only a table away from him. Food is served while their attention is drawn to a massive slideshow displaying the seriousness of the epidemic as well as the importance of funding to find a cure to halt the disease. Justin keeps glancing around while the food is being picked up or served. He recognizes no one from his immediate table.

He eats most of the salad and takes a few bites of the seared chicken breast in front of him as he pays attention to the slides in front of him. The room is dimly lit now and he starts thinking about all the helpless children he is seeing on the screen. He truly is blessed to be doing what he loves and to be in great health and not have to worry about tomorrow the way these people and their families certainly have to. When the lights return to their normal brightness, Justin looks around to see the reactions of his fellow peers but his eyes stop when he sees Kobe Bryant looking back at him. He is seated a few tables away and when their eyes connect, he holds his position but Timberlake breaks away and looks elsewhere. His heart skips a beat and he feels its rate increasing. He gulps the remaining champagne in his goblet and stares back to the stage, knowing his cheeks are flushed with redness.

He has to face him. He has to try and explain why he did what he did because this cannot go on. The famed NBA player deserves at least as much and, most importantly, he wants his friend back. I was scared. I am scared. A passing waiter sees the singer's empty glass and attempts to replace it immediately with more of the expensive bubbly liquid but he refuses it. An idea enters his mind and he retrieves his cell phone and begins typing a text message on it. It is to his publicist; Justin tells her to drop the rest of his plans for the afternoon because something else more urgent has come up. She replies back shortly, informing him that he only had an industry party to attend tonight but it was more for networking than anything else. Most of the Hollywood parties are for networking anyway. He feels relieve and guiltless by his selfish action but he can no longer hide behind his nerves.

Timberlake wants the presentation to be over. He wants the whole event to be over now so that he does not lose his nerve for what he is about to do. He grows impatient and uninterested as he once was and only wants it to be over so he can sign a check to further research and prevention of the disease. His insides want to fix things with his new friend right now and it is a selfish request due to their current venue but opportunities must be taken and he has to explain himself. The former boybander contains it in himself throughout the rest of the gala and signs a few autographs as well as leaves a generous donation to fund the research before going to search for the person he really wants to see. The person he had no idea was going to be here but is completely grateful that their paths choose to cross on this day. Nerves are high but he works well under intense pressure.

Weaving in and out of the massive crowd of celebrities and humanitarians alike, he tries to find Kobe. It should not be this hard, seeing as the man is taller than most present here. Justin does not spot him though and starts to worry that maybe he left. He wonders if he lost his opportunity but has to keep his mind open and his heart from bursting out of his chest. Waves of people threaten to take him away and disrupt him from his search which is still unsuccessful. The pop star exits the hotel onto its grounds to find another crowd of people leaving via limos and private cars. The scene is almost to the point of chaos. Timberlake looks around under the sprawling Sun but is still unable to locate the baller. He couldn't have left without saying hi to me. The thought consumes him as if he is about to go crazy and he has to do something to calm himself down before he allows anything to happen.

He returns to the lobby of the hotel to get away from the mass of people; it is still packed but not overly so as it once was because most have migrated outside to retrieve their rides, and walks back to his table to see if he is forgetting anything. The songster jumped up so suddenly at the conclusion of the luncheon to find Kobe that he does not know if he left anything behind in the wake of his impulsiveness. When he returns to his chair in the ballroom, he sees nothing and is a bit relieved. The grand room is almost completely empty expect for a few speakers and the hotel staff picking up and he sits down to stop his mind from reeling. Justin remains here for a moment because he does not want to deal with the mob of people again. After a short while, he begins to walk back out to the lobby to leave and is about to call the driver when he feels a presence suddenly appear behind him and tap his shoulder.

"Hey," his familiar voice greets him.

The pop star turns around to see Kobe Bryant looking at him and smiling that sweet, boyish smile of his. The same smile he has seen before. It is so cute. He loses all his thoughts but is quick to recover in the form of a smile too because here is not the place to show vulnerability. Not in this public environment where cameras and people are around. The banquet hall is empty, for the most part now, and the rest who are there are too busy finishing up the event to bother with them. His heart is steadily beating faster and his mind is running circles around his body. When Justin looks at the taller man, all he can picture is that rainy night in the car and their kiss. Their quick kiss that could have been so much more if his nerves did not get the better of him. It will not happen this time however. Timberlake breathes deeply before the word rolls up his throat and echoes into sound.

"Hey. I was looking for you."

"Sorry---I went to the bathroom."

"Oh," the singing star awkwardly says. "What are you doing here?"

"Supporting AIDS research apparently---" he trails off while their eyes never waver from one another's. "Justin---are you okay?"

"Can we talk?" Timberlake gets out.


"No. We can go back to the hotel if you want."

"Did you drive?" Kobe asks him lowly as hotel staff members pass them by.


"I did. Come on---let's go."

Justin nods silently and then follows the taller man out of the banquet hall of the Four Seasons and into a smaller mass of people. He thought the area would have been cleared by now but it seems that people are having trouble getting to their cars like is always is with these type of events. He feels Kobe reach back and secretly grab onto his hand while everyone else goes unaware. It is a secretly thrilling experience to know something is going on between them while everyone else is so close to them and is completely oblivious to it. He grips it back tightly until they are out of the swarm before letting go but Timberlake isn't completely sure it is what he wants. Bryant looks back to make sure they are still together and smiles at him before they start walking again in a completely different direction. Neither talks to the other and both try to remain as inconspicuous as possible.

The former N*SYNCer types another quick text message to his publicist to inform the driver that his services for the rest of the day will not be needed and clicks his phone shut before sliding it back in his pocket. The walk is aggressive and he is still unsure if Bryant knows where they are going. Nerves are in his blood vessels but he keeps pressing forward because it is what he wants. The only thought that should be in his head is not being seen or drawing attention to themselves. Once outside the hotel and away from eyes, the Sun is not as hot as it once was as it is being shielded by heavy clouds, the Los Angeles Laker directs him to where he parked. Justin is expecting to see another impressive Lamborghini; Kobe's obsession, but instead, the lights of a shiny gray Cadillac Escalade light up when he presses the button on the pad to unarm and unlock the SUV.

"Where's the Lambo?" Timberlake asks with some nerves still.

"I didn't feel like it today," he responds simply before getting into the driver's seat.

The singer opens the door to the passenger side and hops into the large vehicle before shutting it behind him and fetching his seatbelt. A nest of butterflies resides inside his stomach but this is really going to happen. There is no more running or acting like a child. The engine roars in front of them and Kobe buckles his seatbelt too and looks over at his passenger to smile before shifting gears into reverse and backing out of the parking space. He navigates through carefully and utilizes another exit from the hotel, seeing as the main one is still packed solid for the most part, and they are on the road within seconds with Timberlake giving him instructions to his hotel. Wow Justin. Calm down! Relax. He has to mentally tell himself to keep cool because the silence is grinding into his body. Nobody should have recognized them leaving the benefit together. No one can.

It is the only words spoken in the silent car and it is more than awkward. The radio is off and the only thing disrupting the silence is the occasional revving of the engine or a stray car horn. The baskerballer's eyes stay focused on the highway in front of them while one hand guides the large steering wheel and the other remains resting on his lap. The pair turns onto a familiar road and Justin points out his hotel a short distance while the other man simply nods at the direction. His Escalade finds a desolate parking spot on the large hotel grounds and both stay still for a few moments before moving again. They enter the lobby easily and make their way to the elevator, where an elderly couple is stepping out. The two recognizes neither of them and they simply take their place in the metal box and close the doors immediately without anyone else present. Almost there.

"Come in," Timberlake invites when he opens the door and holds it open with his body waiting for Kobe Bryant to pass him.

Kobe nods and smiles coolly before walking into the suite and looking around the large place as if he is examining it. After a short while he decides to sit down on the sofa in the great room. His finger involuntarily finds the knot of the tie strangling his neck and begins fiddling with it in attempts of loosening it up. He twists his neck the opposite way he yanks his black and gray silk tie and it finally gives way under his fingers and he can properly breathe now. It freely drapes around his neck now. The former N*SYNCer just looks on at this not knowing what to think or say in the moment they are in. Everything is so messed up because he ran away that night. Maybe they cannot go back to being friends after that. After his childish behavior. This cannot be the case. Justin will make him understand why that night happened the way it did and how he regrets fleeing the way he did.

"---I hate wearing these things---"

"I do too," Timberlake agrees from a distance.

"So---what happened?" Bryant's eyes look up and pierce through his.

"I---" he stumbles back.

"Listen Justin---if it was too soon I'm sorry. I didn't mean to do that."

"No---no. It wasn't too soon---it, you, just caught my off guard."

"You weren't expecting it at all?" Kobe asks him.

"No. I'm sorry I acted so stupid that day. I was scared and confused---"

"---It's okay," he sincerely interrupts him.

"No---it's not. I didn't mean to do that. I didn't mean to run---"

He tries to find more words in his throat to say but nothing comes to him and Kobe's eyes on his is making him uncomfortable awkward. He cannot think and realizes that he is doing it again. The pop star is purposely sabotaging himself because the situation is not known to him so his body would rather him fail at it than try and figure it out. It must not continue to be like this. Timberlake is not going to let this scenario play out again. He already made a fool out of himself once and that is quite enough. Control has to be taken here and he has to stand up to his actions as well as take responsibility for his own sake. Bryant's friendship has come to me something special to him so quickly that self sabotage is no longer an option. Justin walks further into the grand room and opts to take a seat on the other end of the same sofa as his guest. There is no need to be nervous because it is between them.

"Look Justin---if you don't want anything to become of it then that's okay. You do understand that don't you?" the star baller's words find his eardrums.

"You're gay?"

Kobe smiles and looks down for a moment before looking back up at him and responding, "Yes. I like women too but I like men too," he tries to explain the complication of his life.

"Does anyone know?"

"No. No. I---have a hard time trusting people."

"You do?" Justin stupidly asks before he has time to think about his redundant question.

"Yeah. When I met you and we started talking and hanging out, I started trusting you. That's how I knew there was something else there."

"How long have you known?"

Again he smiles and looks at the singer before observing, "Coming with all the hard questions right off the bat huh?"

"I'm sorry---" Timberlake tries to retract his question. "You don't have to answer if you don't want to---"

"---No---it's okay. I guess I've always known something was different but I didn't accept it until like two years ago. I couldn't deny it anymore."

"That's how I feel---"

"You recently---"

"Yeah---I accepted it a few weeks ago. I felt like I was going crazy."

"It can get like that sometimes."


A silence befalls the grand room and Justin's eyes roam every inch of it with his head reeling from all the information that has just been pumped into it. One of the greatest players he has no doubt the NBA will ever see is gay. The irony in the business he is in. And he wonders why Kobe has trouble trusting people and why he trusts him even though they have not known each other on a personal level for that long. Being in the industry they are in, trust is very hard to gain but extremely easy to lose. He must need someone to talk to. Like me--- Something about it is appealing to Timberlake and he wants to pursue it. The superstar wants to get to know more about this complex and intriguing man in front of him. He wants their friendship back with the possibility of there being more. He wants the kiss to happen again and someone he can talk to without being judged or having it leaked to the press.

"I'm sorry about the kiss---really," the Los Angeles Laker states into the obviously heavy air.


"It's okay Justin. I moved too fast---I understand that now."

"No---it made me feel good. You make me feel good," Timberlake admits slowly. "I like talking to you."

"Really?" Kobe smiles, mainly at the revelation.


"That's good to know. Listen---I'm really starting to like you Justin---"

He takes in the words but does not believe them at first. They seem to not fit in this scenario but they sound so right coming from his lips. It is all so confusing but it should not be. He sees the sincerity in Kobe's body movements and hears it in his voice and his insides light up like never before. This is something special. He is happy. Things are still cloudy in his head but he shifts it all aside to accommodate the words that were just spoken into the air. This is what should have happened on the night they first kissed. Then maybe some of this confusion would have been gone by now. But the songster knows he is only going to take his friendship with Bryant one step at a time and only when he is sure he wants to take the step. If they media were to ever get a hold of everything that is being said in this room then it would definitely be career suicide for them both. It will stay only between them.

"So---now what?" the ex boybander straightens up and asks.

"How about this---"

Kobe says this as he moves his body closer to him on the sofa and lightly presses their lips together in a pure act. The pop star is taken aback at first but then grabs on to each of the other man's forearms while his fingers caress against his face. He holds on to him that way while falling into the kiss more and more. There is something more here and they have to explore it. A desire inside will not allow him to pull away or cease the exploration of this new sensation. The kiss is filled with innocence and discovery for each man. For Justin, it is only his second kiss with another man; the first one was good but the events that followed were uncontrolled. This time, he has all control over his body and this allows him to enjoy the baller's full lips in a way he now sees he was preventing himself from enjoying the first time they did this. Both fall completely for it this time around.

"Wow---how'd you get so good at that?" he makes an observation when they break apart.

"A lot of years of practice. And hey, you're not so bad yourself Mr. Timberlake---"


Miami's always warm climate brushes against his skin and he takes in a deep breath as he looks out to the blue ocean a distance away from his balcony. He is down in the sexy city at the invitation of his producer Timbaland so hopefully they will get some more recording for the forthcoming album done. Justin is looking forward to it. The view is serenely magnificent and he takes it in for a few more precious seconds before heading back inside. Breakfast satisfies him and he dresses in a tank top and jeans before putting a cap on and heading out the door to meet with his producer and friend. Timberlake is anxious to see what they will get done today. Although he feels a slight twinge of guilt for not telling JC about his kiss with Kobe, he will not let the thought suffocate his brain. Everything between him and the basketball superstar is still so new that he cannot put labels on it yet.

Justin opts to drive himself to the studio and once he acquires directions from the front desk, he is off into the city with the Sun's increasingly warm rays beating down on his arms and head. He turns on the radio and listens to all the new songs that are out right now, reminding himself that he will be there again one day very soon. It is the only time the pop star has to listen to the music of his peers and competition. After a while of idly driving around to find a parking spot, the former member of N*SYNC locks his rental car and walks with his head down to the entrance of the studio. When he finds out where he needs to be, Timberlake walks quickly to the elevator and disappears behind its huge metal doors a moment later. When he walks into the studio, Timbaland's back is to him while he chats away on his phone. A wicked idea forms in his mind and a devious grin covers his face.

"What the hell---" Timbaland almost screams out as he hops up from the seat when Justin uses his fingers to smoothly rub up and down his neck and muscular arms.

He is laughing his head off and cannot stop, "---I---I couldn't refuse---"

"Oh Justin kid! You are so lucky it's you!"

"What would you have done? You have intimacy issues Tim man---" the singer laughs again.

"Okay Timberkid---you're in a good mood today. All these jokes---"

"You could say that."

"Why? What happened?" the super producer asks when he reclaims his chair.

"I want to work on this album is why!"

"Good. That means you brought me material to work with then."

"I wouldn't do you like that. Shall we get started then," Justin easily says while he is pulling a stool across the room.

"Let's do that."

Timbaland starts off by sharing with Justin the foundation for a few new beats he has been experimenting with and both men submerge themselves in work within no time. They read and rewrite lyrics, edit beats to their liking, and continue to play small practical jokes on one another. It serves as a momentary diversion from the real task in their way but it cannot always be about work. Justin finalizes lyrics for another song but they do not start recording yet because they cannot come to an agreement on the proper beat to complement the words. When they do settle the minor dispute, Timberlake walks into the soundproof booth and holds one of the giant black earphones against his ear with his hand and sets his notebook on the stand on front of him. A deep breath fills his lungs to warm them up and he sits on another stool to prepare himself to start recording.

His sweet yet savory voice fills the room and the mega producer is busy pushing buttons, pulling levers, and spinning dials to capture it all under saved status. The voice he is protruding is too sweet and not edge enough so Timbaland stops him after the first verse to redirect him. Justin will have to leave his pop past behind him to truly reach the untapped potential of this song. It takes around two hours but another song becomes complete for his upcoming album. The overall feel is urban, of course, but he knows it will also be a hit in the dance clubs as well. Getting this out to the public cannot come fast enough because the songster wants to shatter his pop image and move forward with this more mature sound. The musical duo spends some more time tweaking the song to its final perfection before they both hi-five each other on a job well done.

The process is repeated again and again until time is lost in the cozy recording studio. When Timberlake finally has a chance to look outside, he sees the Sun almost to the point of touching the horizon on the west side of the world and decides to stop. Apart from that, he is out of lyrics and does not want to put too much more strain on his voice. He has some thoughts written down in the book but they are nowhere near fully developed songs. Justin will work on it tonight; he is free seeing as he only came down to Miami to record. He has no charity events or appearances to make here for the moment so the timing is more than perfect. Justin knows if his publicist found out where he is though, that could change in a matter of mere seconds. It is best to keep him in the dark for the time being. He is gulping a bottle of water in an attempt to soothe his dry throat.

"Some good stuff Timberkid. This album is sounding hot already," Timbaland says as he is playing back the song for the room to hear.

"It's you and me---it's definitely going to be hot."

"Are you gonna be out here tomorrow?"

"Are you?" he questions back quickly.

"I'm not sure. I'll call you and let you know what's up."

"Do that. Are you ready?"

"Let me save this and grab my stuff."

The duo talks on their way out of the studio into the elevator and well onto the lobby and beyond. Justin looks on as his friend leaves in an already awaiting limo and he tries to recall in his memory where he parked. He finds it with ease due to the scarcity of cars in the parking lot now and hops in to go back to the suite and relax. Recording today got them both away from time and now his stomach is grumbling for food as it is so late in the early evening. The pop star will write lyrics tonight and will definitely be talking to Kobe Bryant, though he is not sure if he should call or if the NBA star will call him. He feels the friendship slowly coming back to the comfortable place it was at before and this is a positive sign. More often than not though Timberlake finds himself sharing his innermost thoughts and goals and dreams with Kobe. Things he has never even told his best friend JC Chasez.

The rest of the night proves to be quite relaxing for him as his mind once led him to believe. He actually takes a bath. Relaxing in the tub with the water drowning his entire body makes the former N*SYNCer realizes why he used to love taking them as a little kid. The bubbles caress his skin and the warm water relieves all the knots that have formed on his shoulders and lower back during the course of the day. There is almost never time for him to relax like this unless he announces a formal vacation to the world so stealing away these moments make them all the more special. Justin steps out of the tub when he feels his skin becoming too waterlogged and dries off before slipping on a fresh pair of boxers and pants. Dinner manages to satisfy him in another way and he lies on his bed trying to figure out what he is getting himself into with Kobe Bryant. Am I really ready to do something like this?

Questions and thoughts of uncertainty plague his mind but he also cannot help but accept how the other man makes him feel. It is different. So special. Timberlake stares up at the ceiling to his suite and is confused and intrigued at the same time. Their talks are wonderful but the risks both of them are taking are present and very real. He has not felt these things before however. Not even with Britney. Justin knew he wanted to and most likely tried to make himself feel it on certain occasions but the fact that Kobe makes him feel it without so much as trying to scares him a little. Just when he seems the most caught up in his own world, he feels something vibrating the bed next to him. He sits up and retrieves the device to look at the number displayed for him; if it has anything to do with work then he will not pick it up. The leisurely time is far too enticing for him to give up. It is not work.

"Hello?" he asks into the sophisticated piece of machinery already knowing who it is.

"Hi Justin," Bryant answers back.

"Hey. How are you?"

"Great now that I'm talking to you. What about you?"

"I'm doing great too."

"That's good. What did you do today?"

Timberlake rests back on the bed below him before replying, "Relaxed. I went to the studio and got another song done."

"Are you still in NY?"

"Down in Miami actually. Timbaland had some free time so we met up to work on the album."

He continues to fill him in on their recording session earlier in the day and Kobe seems to be paying him genuine interest. He sings a few lines from the song, at the tall basketballer's request, and feels slightly embarrassed after doing so. He offers his sincere commentary and it translates to him liking it. Timberlake smiles at the compliment and it makes him feel better by easing his nerves some. He still is not sure why he has a few nerves when around or talking to this man. The pop singer looks past the balcony doors of his bedroom into the dark and recalls what he was thinking about earlier, before Bryant called. He is still puzzled by the way that this man makes him feel inside and wonders why he has never experienced it up until now. This alone tells him that there is something special there that is definitely worth investigating and nurturing. There has to be.

"What are you thinking about?" the Los Angeles Laker asks to kill the dead air between them.

"I'm not sure---"

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah," the superstar lies awkwardly.

"You don't sound okay."

"---I think this is wrong---" he admits into the phone.

"What is? We're just talking Justin," Bryant laughs.

"I've never done anything like this before---"

"Do you think I have? I know you're nervous---I am too. And again---we're just talking."

"Yeah I know but what if someone finds out?" Timberlake fears the worst.

"No---don't say that. It won't happen."

"---But what if it does?"

"---Justin---relax okay."

He sighs lowly before agreeing with, "Okay---"

"We'll take things slow---okay? I'm still trying to figure out everything too."

"So what makes you so sure that you want this?" he questions Kobe.

Again, the phone line falls silent, as if both men are thinking of what to say next or how to approach the topic of their impending relationship. If an impending relationship is something either of them want or even if it is a good idea seeing that they both will always be surrounded by people. Justin feels nervous and scared and his stomach is tied in too many knots to keep track of now but he tries his best to remain calm and listen to everything Kobe is telling him. No more running. Now the songster has to remain firm and explore the possibility of this leading somewhere and what that could me for him. For them both. He hears the basketball player's soft breathing over the phone. It sounds gentle and calm and this makes him feel a little bit better. He does not know why though. More question and less answers threatens to push him over the edge and into desperate insanity.

"I like talking to you Justin. I like hanging out with you. Even more than some of my best friends---and I've known most of them for years and years. It's different when I see you and when we talk---" he tries to explain their potential relationship.


"I don't know exactly. But I do know I like it---I like you."

"I---like you too."

"Do you mean it?" Kobe sincerely asks.

"Yes I do."

Justin feels a warming sensation touch him when he realizes that Kobe said that he likes him again and sports a small grin over his lips. When he says it the possibilities seem boundless. Like they could possibly have a chance at this away from the prying eyes of Hollywood or the paparazzo. It would only be fair given how driven the young star is in his professional life and how hopeless he once felt about his personal life. How a dream of what he was denying deep down tormented his every sleeping moment. Timberlake remembers the dream all too well as it is burned onto the fissures of his brain. The pair continues to talk for a while longer before the singer gets tired and starts nodding off; he needs sleep. They both do. After the phone call is severed, he stretches out his limbs and yawns before putting the device to charge and shutting his eyes away from the world. For one night.

He remains in Miami for the next few days because Timbaland has cleared his schedule so they can work in the studio more. This time together is critical and each time it happens, he craves it more. He has never felt this way, not even with his last album or any of the ones he was a part of while he was a member of N*SYNC. An innate drive is there to push himself to the extreme to have this album be perfect. His first solo studio album featured a more contemporary edge but it was not nearly as much as he wanted. This is why he and Jive have not seen eye to eye on creative control over albums. The last one was there but this one is all him. The producer leaves him wanting to do more and Justin has to physically tell himself to go back to the hotel and sleep. He is far too excited about the album to care about sleep or food though. He is in the zone and wants it completed and out already.

In his last night in the sexy town that never sleeps, the celebrity superstar winds up his last recording session with his producer before they depart from each other's company. Two additional songs are now completed and Timberlake could not be any happier. All his hard work is paying off and coming back to him tenfold. His hand smacks against Timbaland's before they leave and he jumps into his car, speeding back to his suite. His mind is blank slate until he can come up with more words to form into lyrics which should not be hard. The beats fit together with his voice to create an immersion of musical genius. Justin wonders what the rest of the world will think of his new sound and if they will like it as much as he does. A lot is riding on this album being successful and he also wants the satisfaction of letting his record company know that he knows the best moves for his career.

When he parks the rental in a secluded spot, an idea spontaneously pops into his head and he does not spend any time thinking it over before executing it. His hotel is so close to the beach so he carefully approaches the sand and looks out as far as his eyes would take him in both directions of the coastline. The former boybander is looking for other people. A smile adorns his face when he realizes that he is alone; it must be because of how late it is or that everyone else is in the clubs partying. Either way he does not question it but rather proceeds forward. Justin takes the first step onto the sand and walks along it closer to the waves. Sounds of the beach fill his ears as he gets closer and the salty air leaves a bitter taste in his mouth. Timberlake takes it all in because this particular scene could not happen in broad daylight. Mass chaos ensues whenever anyone spots or points him out.

The water looks black and choppy and the sand is cold against his fingers when he sits down and slips his fingers through its grainy texture. It is a serene existence and he tries to soak it all in. A cool ocean breeze blows against his face and his fingers are now stuck in the sand below him. Justin looks on either side of him as well as over his shoulders to make sure he is alone. Being accosted by a fan at this critical time will undoubtedly break his happiness. That cannot happen. Timberlake is unsure of how long he has been out there or even how long he plans on remaining so close to the waves. He will leave when he gets tired of it. All the elements fit together perfectly to create his world. The singer's mind wonders what being with Kobe would be like. How it would feel to hold him whenever he wanted to. What it would be like to make love to the basketball star. It is overwhelming.

"Will things even get that far?" he questions himself lowly. "What is he doing to me---"

Justin's head is heavy with thoughts and even though Bryant told him not to think about them being caught, that singular thought cannot leave his mind. It envelopes him and he slowly begins to realize that it is another form of self sabotage. He is scared of what his future is or possibly could be with Kobe. And he is even more scared that he actually sees himself having a future with the tall basketballer. He is starting to fall and is not sure how to feel about it. The gentle black waves lose their dreamy touch on him so Timberlake hops to his feet, dusting his butt free of sand after, before talking one last look at the water. He then turns his back to it and walks away back to his hotel and sleep because his eyelids are becoming heavier with passing seconds. They did not talk to each other tonight. He wants him to call. He wants to hear his voice before going to sleep. It makes him feel closer to him.