~*~ 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 Nineteen

~*~ Selfishness Without Apology ~*~



Bryant sleeps well into the morning even though he has training to attend. Last night took a lot out of him and his body has to recover properly. When his body finally wakes him up shortly after ten, he realizes that his night with Justin did not just happen in his dream because the young singer is softly sleeping next to him. He is so cute. The look on his mouth is one Kobe does not think he has seen before and he cannot place his finger on it or even begin to try and figure it out. There is no time to. Regardless, having his man sleeping next to him and looking so cute is making him feel different; special. Justin looks so peaceful but he wants to kiss him. The baller instead strides his naked form to the bathroom to brush his teeth and get some clothes on his body after that. While he brushes his teeth, he thinks about how painful last night must have been for his boyfriend. Guilt wraps his mind.

He returns to the room and sets himself softly by Timberlake's body and simply takes in the site before him. He can only imagine how many people in the world have fantasies about this pop god whom is currently sleeping naked on his bed. And all of them will never get the chance to see what he is seeing right now. Kobe's index finger teases the soft skin of his boyfriend's face but he is not bothered by this in the least. The former N*SYNCer had trouble falling asleep last night, finally managing to do so only a few hours before the Sun was due to rise again. His mind weighed down with every possibility as to what it all could mean. Bryant sees his phone begin to glow on the empty side of the bed and knows he can put off conditioning no longer. Lateness is not a habit. He kisses Justin's sexily pink lips a few times before finally detaching himself enough to leave for the day.

His phone goes off numerous times but it is unnoticed as he is still catching up on sleep he needs. Even as the Sun grows higher in the sky. It is nearly noon when the R&B singer finally flicks his eyes open to see the new day. They immediately scan the empty portion of the bed to see nothing, or rather, no one present. He is alone in a suite that is not his. When his brain fully wakes him up, the blurriness that was once last night in his thoughts become as sharp and focused as ever and his skin quivers. And the pain of his lower torso is still there but has subsided since then. Instinctively, Justin gets out of bed and makes his way to the same medicine cabinet he opened last night; they are not there. He took them to practice today. Timberlake is confused and scared and does not know whether he should stay or go. He never expected this when he decided to come to Detroit. His phone rings.

"Hello?" he asks, already knowing who it is and not wanting to talk to him, or anyone else.

"J-Man---where've you been?"

"Promoting and stuff---busy," Justin easily lets the lies slip off his tongue.

"When are we going to get together again?" JC Chasez asks him.

"---I don't know."

"Justin---what's wrong?"

"Nothing. Can I talk to you later?" the singer shortly says.

"Where are you?"

"I'll talk to you later JC---" Justin says shortly before hanging up the phone.

The day passes by slowly for him as he stays inside and thinks about what he is going to say and what is going to happen. The subject is delicate but he deserves the right to know what is going on. Do I? There are so many things he does not know about this man. Timberlake feels his stomach in knots and is unable to eat anything throughout the day because of his emotional state. Or more his stubbornness. He is not sure he can deal with this but he has to try because Kobe has come to mean so much to him and he cannot give that up without a fight. The steroids are what is scaring him though. His boyfriend is a world-renowned athlete who is at the top of his game. Why steroids? He's too good for this. Is it even steroids? Justin is quiet all day and when evening falls upon him, his nerves increase and the deprivation of food is finally catching up with him. His head is spinning under the ceiling.

The Los Angeles Laker walks through the lobby and to the nearest elevator to be whisked away to his suite high in the sky. They work them so hard on the court and drill so many different plays and techniques into their heads. Practice was hard today and he really wants one of Justin's massages right now. It felt so good and led into something he wanted to happen for a long while. Something he hopes they both wanted. And Bryant was completely unable to stay up and take care of his boyfriend last night because his body just would not let him. A few minutes after his final ragged thrusts, he was lying on the bed and fell asleep. His skin is sweaty and hot now and he is hungry; his stomach growls when he is in the elevator. The only thing on Kobe's mind today was how Justin made him feel last night. Even though he himself was distant. Just then, his cell phone rings and he reaches to answer it.

"Hey baby," he addresses his girlfriend.

"How was practice today honey?"

"Crazy---I'm sore all over."

"I wish I were there---I could give you a massage," she entices him.

"Me too."

"Where were you last night? I called you a few times."

"Oh I came home and took a shower and crashed in bed. I was worn out," Bryant continues lying.

"Why don't you let me come out there and take care of you---"

"Babe---let me call you back later tonight. I'm just getting in."

Vanessa remains silent momentarily before saying, "Okay---I love you."

"I love you too."

Kobe clicks his phone shut and slides it back into the front pocket of his basketball shorts before swiping his keycard and letting himself into his home for the next couple of weeks. Everything is silent and he drops his large duffel bag right at the entryway and leaves it alone until he has to see it next. Justin does not seem to be here and it is already so dark outside. The baller walks into the kitchen to grab a bottle of water before he goes to explore the rest of the hotel room to see if he is truly alone. Where could he have gone? No one is supposed to know that he is here in Detroit. In the bedroom, he finds who he is looking for; Timberlake is on the balcony looking out at something and under no light because the Moon is not in the sky tonight. It looks like he is thinking or worried but Bryant is unable to tell. He sneaks up slowly behind and sweetly kisses the back of his neck before grabbing him.

"I got you!" he boasts as he pulls Justin's small body even closer to press into his.

"Oh---hi," Timberlake replies in an almost apprehensive tone.

"Hey yourself."

Justin turns around and his lips are immediately met by another pair awaiting the ambush. He looks the same and even smells the same as yesterday. But he is not. Something inside is not right. The kiss happens but it is empty and lifeless. He is unable to produce anything otherwise to mask his fear and confusion over the needles and as much as he does not want to believe the worst, he fears that it will all come crashing down around them. Last night is still on the young singer's mind and he cannot escape it. He wants to hit Kobe and yell at him and find some way to vent his anger and frustration and hurt but he is not sure he deserves to act that way. Their relationship only took the next step last night but his heart is hurting; Timberlake cannot deny that. He is wounded. Justin realizes this and eventually pulls himself away from the kiss and tries to pull himself away from his boyfriend as well.

"---How was---practice?" he asks as he tries to clear his throat and get out of the grip.

"Justin---what's wrong?" Kobe questions when realizing that something is off.

"Nothing's wrong---why?"

"You're not looking at me. You broke away from me just now. I know I need a shower baby but come on---" the star baller playfully teases to try and lighten the mood. "I just missed you so much."

"Go take one. I'll be out here," Justin replies while he turns his face away even more now than before because he feels it.

Bryant gently grabs his chin and tries to guide it back to his own before, "Justin---are you crying?"

"---No," the singer lies and removes his face from his boyfriend's grasp. "Go take a shower."

"What's going on here? Why are you so upset baby? Talk to me---"

He does not think he can go through with this because tears are not supposed to be falling. It is like his body has nowhere else to turn though so they are present for a short while but his willpower stops them. The former boybander moves out of the other man's grip indefinitely and turns his back to him. When Kobe comes behind him and tries to hold him, he just moves away again to avoid touch. It is not supposed to be affecting him like this. Their relationship is not supposed to be like this. He has never been this weak in front of someone else before and he feels like he is being stripped raw. Justin does not understand why any of this is happening. Like yesterday, the wind also blows cold and his skin becomes instantly chilled. Freezing goosebumps into place. When the basketballer hugs him again and when their skin touch one another's he becomes fragile and feels like he is about to crack and flow out.

"How was practice?" the songster sniffles his tears away and asks once again.

"Justin I don't care about that---what's wrong? What happened?" Kobe tries again as he forces his man to face him.

"Let go---let go."

"Did I do something wrong?" he asks as he lets go of Justin and backs off. "Tell me what's going on!"

"Why are you doing that to yourself?"

"Doing what?"

He puts even more space between them and finally willingly looks up into that man's eyes that he has fallen for so hard. And now a test of their relationship is about to begin and he wants to pass so much. Justin wants to go back like he never found those needles in the medicine cabinet. His relationship with this man in front of him developed so much faster and has come to mean so much more to him than any of his failed past relationships. And in such a short time. It is something that is worth it. There has to be a way they can work through this together but Justin's insides feel so hurt and the easiest way for him to take out that hurt is through anger. He wants to punch Kobe for doing something so dangerous to his life. It could kill him or ruin his career. He wants to hit him and kiss him and hold him. Conflicting emotions boil over to the point of no return and Timberlake starts talking.

"I couldn't sleep last night after---" he begins but is unable to finish.

"---We had---"

"Yeah---that. I was in a lot of pain."

Kobe sighs before saying, "I'm so sorry about that baby. I couldn't keep my eyes open even if I tried---I was so tired---"

"---I went in the medicine cabinet to get some painkillers and I saw two needles. Fucking needles Kobe! What the hell are you doing?" he lashes out in anger now.

The superstar basketballer's face becomes grim and just stares at his boyfriend as if he is trying to figure out what to say next. Or maybe the world has stopped and the look on his face says nothing. He does not know what to do and the silence between them on the large balcony of his hotel suite is deafening. Having his boyfriend staring at him with those brilliant blue eyes, which are still somewhat drowned out by tears, is the only piece of sanity he has left. But he has to produce answers because they are demanding them. He is demanding them. The situation runs far deeper than blood but no one will ever understand that. Justin remains there and standing still until the words of an explanation are heard to reanimate him again. Kobe wants to hit something or yell and scream because his privacy was invaded. Timberlake has no right to look through his things. He has no right to jump so far ahead.

"It's not what you think---" Bryant tries to remain calm because this relationship means too much for him to lose his cool but it is drowning away.

"Tell me what the fuck I'm thinking Kobe! Tell me I'm fucking wrong!"

"You had no right to go through my shit! You don't know what the hell you're talking about!"

Timberlake barely thinks before screaming, "---Another fucking lie!"

"Fuck you! You don't know me like that! Who do you think you are?"

"Your boyfriend---"

Kobe cuts him off quickly and yells back, "---You're not my fucking boyfriend!"

Timberlake's icy blue eyes pierce through his and he immediately regrets saying the words because they were done so in the heat of an argument and are in no way true. They stare at each other momentarily before he feels himself so close to crying that he cannot help it. He cannot give all of his power away but he now feels worse than he did when he first found the needles last night. It is horrible to be placed in this situation he has yet to find a way out of and remaining unscathed at the same time. The young star never thought it was possible but hearing the baller yell those words to him breaks his insides. He can no longer be here anymore. Bryant remains staring, contemplating why he just said those words. He does not feel that way at all. In a whirlwind vortex of an argument, he wanted to gain the upper hand so his temper took control of him to say something he wants to take back more than anything.

"---Okay---" Justin replies in a voice that is neither angry nor vicious and begins walking off the balcony.

"Justin---please---" he tries to stop his man by grabbing on to his hand and looking at him. "I---didn't mean that. I was---stupid and didn't mean that."

"Let go. Get off me."

"I never meant to hurt you baby," he recites as he notices a tear rolling down his boyfriend's cheek.

Timberlake nudges his arm away and tries to be rational with, "Let me go Kobe. Please---"

The young singer walks into the large master bedroom but feels two arms surround his waist and pin him against the wall. His back and butt press into the hard surface and his heart is beating faster with the passing seconds. Bryant forces their lips together and keeps his strong forearms adhered to his man's slender waist. Justin uses his free hands to try and push himself free and out of the tight grasp but it is to no avail. Kobe's lips feel so good on his but now is not the time for this. They are in the middle of a fight. He still wants him; he still remembers last night and how it made him feel when they were in bed together. Timberlake's body tries to struggle but all his energy is quickly being sapped away and he can no longer fight. The kiss tears away his mind. When he looks up at the taller man after their forceful kiss ends, he sees that the baller lets a tear slip away from his dark brown eyes.

"Get off---" Justin calmly states.

"I'm sorry---"

"Is it steroids?"

"---Yes---" Kobe confirms the suspicion.

"You lied to me---"

"I know. But you shouldn't have been going through my stuff Justin---"

"I can't believe you---"

"Don't lecture me. I don't need to hear it."

They say nothing as the singing star looks around the suite for the rest of his things. After everything, he can no longer be here anymore. He cannot think straight and those words still kill him inside especially after everything they just shared the past night. There is no more yelling and only promises of working it out but Justin cannot take any more of it or be here right now. He has to get away to clear his head and think about what he wants to do. What he wants to happen. Kobe is telling him to stay over and over and he just remains silent because it feels like nothing is truly being said. With so much going on around them and such a heavy strain now on their relationship, the LA Laker is unsure of what he will decide to do. Timberlake leaves the room with his eyes watering and his heart broken. He is unsure of what to do or where to go because he is lost is so many ways. Don't stay.


He does what he always does when something or someone comes dangerously close to threatening his sanity; he buries himself in his work so that he does not have to think about his looming problems. But it has never been this bad before and he is unsure if this method will work. Justin is in Orlando trying to deal with everything he has learned as he forces his publicist to make more record signing parties for him as well as appearances and even possible collaborations with his peers. Work will get done and all his memories of that night will be sacrificed for it. This is the only thing that manages to work for him when it is hurting. Nevertheless, Jive is extremely happy with his sudden burst of energy and willingness to do every event he possibly can because more revenue and hype will be drummed up for the album. Timberlake barely sleeps or has time for himself. It is much better this way.

The singing star attempts to relax at an industry party he really does not want to be at but forces himself to stay as his body is agitated and pleading with him for sleep. The time spent in bed right before going to sleep will have him revisit those thoughts so it cannot be done. It has to be this way until he can figure out what to do. He looks out in the VIP section to see Kanye West talking to his mentor Jay-Z and his so-called competition Usher smiling and talking to someone he does not recognize. They may have a slight competitive relationship with one another but there is also respect there; on both sides. Justin feels out of place because Kobe is messing with his mind. He has not been able to stop thinking about the basketballer and what happened. Bryant is slowly killing himself and he cannot even see it. He sneaks away from the party and leaves as soon as he is clear of the paparazzi.

It is nearly two in the morning when he makes his way back to his room and feels a little tipsy. The party could not have gone on for that long. Timberlake does not realize how much he drank at the party but he is sure that he is not drunk. There is no way he can be in this dangerous mental state he is in. A bottle of water from the fully stocked refrigerator in the kitchen meets his hand and he swallows it almost instantly before dropping down on the sofa in the living room to see if it will help. Maybe he should have stayed at the party and not even bother to come back. Or maybe he should have stayed and try to figure out where things stand with Kobe Bryant instead of leaving. The entire suite is darkened and the R&B superstar closes his eyes to rest momentarily before he feels something buzz in his pocket against his leg. Sleep will not happen for him now even though he wants it so desperately.

"---Hello?" his voice tiredly asks.

"Justin---it's JC. What's going on?" his best friend asks.

"Nothing much. Just got back---"

"Why didn't you call me back?"


"---The day you hung up on me J. What happened?" Chasez attempts to probe.

His memories unwillingly take him back to one of a string he does not want to revisit but also cannot help but contemplate over and over again. A cycle that begins at the end and ends at the beginning. Justin knows perfectly well what JC is talking about but bringing it up is not an option. He will not think about Kobe Bryant. The needles are one thing but the way his boyfriend spoke to him and the things he said are too much to handle now. It stings him and hurts badly but he remains calm and stays silent. Kobe has not called him since it happened and he is starting to worry that he never may. The former N*SYNCer is trying to put himself in the other man's shoes but he is unable to do so or see the purpose of the drugs. The steroids are tripping him up and he is having a hard time dealing with it. He is not sure of what he should do. He wants to call first but he wants Bryant to call first too.

"---I---don't remember," the singer lies uneasily.

"What's going on Justin---why are you lying to me?"

"I'm not lying."

JC sighs before, "Tell me what's wrong. We're best friends. We tell each other everything."

"Nothing's wrong JC---"

"Justin---you're starting to frustrate me."

"---What do you want me to tell you JC!" Timberlake inadvertently snaps.

"The truth Justin!" Chasez yells back.

"I don't know---"

"---I'm worried about you J---" his best friend says in a more calmed tone.

"Don't be okay. I'm good."

Justin continues to reassure his friend and former bandmate that everything is fine with him even though things are not. But he feels like he can talk to no one about what really is going on inside and it makes him feel so alone. He is not sure he is convincing to JC but he cannot tell him or anyone else anything. No one deserves to know. Everything is too raw and he does not feel like getting into details with anyone about how he is the cause of his life going haywire. And the only person he truly wants to talk to, he pushed away and ran off without looking back. Timberlake wants to just forget the whole situation but something is stopping him from doing so. He cannot let go and that scares him. Chasez finally leaves him alone as he stretches out on the sofa and kicks his shoes off. He is too lazy to change or strip out of his clothes. Things are not supposed to get this complicated.

He remembered the first time they kissed. The first time ever that another man's lips touched his own. It was something so special and worth it. Worth exploring to see where the possibilities led. It was raining and they were holding hands in the Lamborghini and he felt so different .It was so different back then. So much easier to be happy with the unknown. The dream had him in the rain looking into the sleek Italian sports car as they kissed. Kobe's lips were on his but he was also outside getting soaking wet in the rain. The same feeling he knew his body was experiencing inside the car shot through his body in the rain and he continued to stare and wonder what was going on. And why he was having this out of body experience. Bryant had the uncertainty in his eyes and on his hands. When Timberlake did look around, nothing but blackness loomed; it almost seemed to be mocking him.

His body was not going to let him get away from what was going on in the car right in front of him. What already happened between them. The first time a stolen kiss became a real one. The Justin inside the car only wanted more for what seemed like a brief second but he already knew how this memory was to play out. Very soon, both forms of himself were going to be wet and the basketballer was going to be left alone. His clothes were soaked and his hair was wet but Bryant's lips agelessly stuck onto his and he loved it. Timberlake remembered how they held hands on the gearshift and how Kobe's hand was so smooth considering the sport he played. The singer watched himself kiss the much taller man and goosebumps were on his damp skin. He is not sure if it is from the rain or from watching himself in such an inflamed state of passion. His heart suddenly felt like it did not belong inside.

The kiss lasted longer than he remembered it being. But this was an alternate perspective so maybe it was meant to be that way. His mind was playing illusions on him because he was hurt and struggling with it. Struggling with the fact that their bond was too strong for him to diminish or simply forget about. They had something special that no one else would even begin to understand. It was almost a mocking undertone and it made him sick. Justin's creamy alabaster skin was as wet as it was ever going to be and his clothing felt like they weighed more than they were supposed to because of all the absorbed rainwater. Timberlake wanted it to stop already. He wanted himself to run out of the car like he knew was going to happen. From the outside, Kobe looked so cute with his smooth chocolate skin and sexy face and lips and his short and wavy black hair. This dream had to stop.

When Justin finally ran out of there, his heart burned even more and even though the other him in the rain wanted to stay by the car to get Kobe Bryant's reaction, the dream was forcing him to follow himself and leave everything else in blackness. He watched from the rain as no one noticed him as he ran to get out of the water but also to get away from a situation that became all too real way too fast. It was intimidating and daunting to believe that someone made all these conflicting emotions flow out of him with a simple kiss. The songster disappeared into the protection of the building and the dream changed very soon after that without warning or incident. The baller and his car were gone. The rain never existed. His skin was no longer wet anymore but his body was hurt, specifically his lower torso. The air was cool and he was inside somewhere looking at a shadowy figure.

The singer was watching himself cry. He was in a bathroom he instantly recognized with himself only mere feet away crying. But there was no noise as silent tears rolled down his own face and crashed onto his knees as well as the floor below them. It needed to end because it was becoming too much to take in. Justin felt the pain in his heart again and he wanted the dream to end because it was drawing him away from his sanity. He wanted to wake up and bring himself back to reality in some way because he could not deal with seeing himself cry that way. Timberlake was not a weak person but he could not help it and it was starting to negatively affect him. Going against every belief only to end up there took too much of a toll on him. And that coupled with finding the needles only made everything worse. It had to stop. It was becoming out of control and threatened to tear apart the memory.

"Justin I'm sorry okay---" a familiar voice echoed and startled him.

He turned around to see Kobe Bryant's tall frame right next to him with his brown eyes on him. It felt weird and awkward because this never happened. And he had to wonder why he was seeing all these things and if it were real or just fabrications of trickery. Oddly enough, the basketballer was in his Los Angeles Lakers uniform and looked as if he has just come from playing a game. There was sweat on his brow and arms and he seemed to be out of breath when he made his apology. But this was not real. It could not be. He had those same sultry eyes and chiseled good looks he was most likely known for. Here and together. Timberlake cannot escape his eyes no matter how hard he tried. Something kept him entranced and he felt as if his body was stiff. Justin was helpless and his other crying self had long since disappeared. Now it was only the both of them and he had to make a thought known.

"Is---is this real?" he asked, confused and a little sacred.

"I don't know. I want to be with you."

"This---can't be---"

"Justin I didn't mean to hurt you---" Kobe's voice still echoed to him.

"You're hurting yourself---" he said almost coldly.

"Please understand---"

"I don't want to understand," Timberlake was consistently stubborn.

"I need you---I want you."

"I have to wake up now."

Justin saw Kobe looking at him but he looked away before their eyes could contact again. He was not going to get lost in them or forgive him for this. For making him feel like this. Not when he was not ready to. When the baller touched him though, he could not help but look to try and find something to say or do. It was still there and he wondered for how long it would be. There was no relationship without trust. No secrets. The dream made no sense at all. The meaning was unclear but the touch felt like pure innocence. Timberlake wanted to get out of here or pinch himself to wake up but it felt like everything was frozen in place. Even his eyes. His insides were burning with hate and compassion and hurt. He wanted to wake up now; he had to. It was becoming too much to have Bryant touching him and looking at him. This was never real so getting caught up in it was not an option.

"I need you---" the taller man reiterated again.

"No don't. Let me---"

The R&B singer felt himself crying but he did not want to. This had to be over and he had to get away to think and be by himself. They were the only two people there and he was crying again because it all hurt. The basketballer's touch on his prickling skin was proving to be too much and when Kobe embraced him for the first time, he began to let it all out. Everything he felt since finding those needles in that medicine cabinet to when Kobe said that he was not his boyfriend. That part hurt the most. The things said during the fight hurt the most. His soul was ripped open and spilling all his essence away into the body that was so tightly holding on to his. Justin cried and cried for an eternity before he was finally able to calm down. Everything built up inside him and finally decided to release itself at a time he did not want it to. He never wanted anyone see him this weak.

Bryant separated their bodies apart and waited for the right moment to go in. This never happened. He kissed Justin as a way of asking his forgiveness and for everything to be alright. Maybe this Kobe Bryant did not say those scathing and dangerous words. Maybe he was genuine in his feelings. Timberlake wanted everything to be okay between them again and this dream only proved so. He fell into it and kissed back as if felt to be the right thing to do. The former N*SYNCer did not want to fight anymore. He did not want to be mad or hurt by this man anymore because the truth was still there. He cared deeply for this man. And they belonged together. It was not real and yet Kobe was leaving his skin tingling and his lips wanting more. They had to work through this because they meant too much to each other to have it be any other way. When it stopped, it was as if nothing was ever wrong between them.

"Don't leave me. Please don't ever leave me---" Kobe murmured to him.

The light of a new day slowly dawns over the horizon and the cycle begins again. The exhausted star is unaware of the change because he is sprawled out on the sofa sleeping. His short hair is messy and he looks like a cute little boy as he sleeps. One of his arms hangs partly off the sofa until he shifts positions because he is beginning to wake up. Timberlake stirs again and almost falls off the sofa before his bright blue eyes open up. The dream vividly stays with him and he is not sure of what to think about or even how to feel. So many things are confusing that he wants his mind to drop it already but everything is overwhelming him. Kobe makes him feel so special and safe and secure with himself. No one has ever managed to make him feel so good as well as so bad ever. Justin yawns and rubs his tense shoulder before getting up and getting started with his day. He will shake the dream.