~*~ 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 Twenty-Six

~*~ Fragile, Hollowed, and Alone ~*~

 

 

Because of his second CD release, Justin Timberlake is on fire globally. His name is on the tip of everyone's tongue worldwide, the Grammy nominations are pouring in, and his status as a sex symbol is skyrocketing faster than the amount of money he is making. Both radio and concert tours are in the works for this album and collaborations with legendary artists are commonplace. There is nothing the R&B superstar should not be proud of that is only on the outside. When he is away from his image, Justin feels insecure only about kissing Chad Michael Murray and lying to Kobe about it every time they have spoken since then. The hunky actor has called him but the phone calls that he does pick up, he claims to be busy. And while it is true on most accounts, it is classic Justin Timberlake avoidance. A pattern that can neither be explained nor broken as it has been this way for years.

Timberlake believes if he ignores it long enough, it will go away and be erased from his mind like it never happened. He is ignorant to the fact. Something else is bothering him. It seems as if his mother knows him far too well. She knows something is going on but he keeps lying to save his neck but it cannot go on much longer being this way. These are the things the former N*SYNCer formulates in his mind before he lies down to sleep at night. Something is going to give and he will fail. With his career being so demanding and being away from Kobe for such long periods, Justin is starting to feel the stress as well as the timeless saying of being lonely while at the top. Most of his mind is dedicated to his basketballer boyfriend. A small piece still houses the One Tree Hill actor Chad Michael Murray and, strangely, he has been thinking a great deal more about his former girlfriend Britney Spears.

Timberlake leaves yet another charitable event and he cannot even attempt to get away for at least another week. This is the only time he has to hope for with the Los Angeles Laker. Everything else will have to wait because he wants to take the time to invest to make this relationship work. It is one thing he will not see fail. He is in the nation's capital driving back to his hotel suite and can see the Sun dipping low on his rearview mirror. A rental Audi TT Turbo much like his own copy of the roadster surrounds him. The stellar navigational system accurately directs him into and out of every twist and turn of yet another city Justin does not call home. The traffic is horrendously typical though but he is patient as he blasts the radio to see what new songs are out and good. He so rarely gets to drive himself anywhere that whenever he does, it is a treat and a time for him to simply unwind. To not be famous.

The slick roadster pulls into the full parking lot of the hotel as the Sun has completely gone into hiding now and artificial lights have taken over. Only regular guest are out and about on the hotel grounds. No paparazzi. The R&B crooner jumps out of the trendy sports car and makes his way into the hotel before summoning a metal box to take him up to the top floor; the penthouse suite takes up the entire top floor and offers the best view of the city. He is busily sending a message to JC because they finally have time to meet up and hang out later tonight as the elevator dings. Doors close behind Timberlake as he expertly texts and scours his pocket for his wallet and ultimately, keycard. The door does not even close when his phone starts vibrating and shortly goes off. Justin grimace slightly at the name the device displays to him. Avoidance of course but he goes against himself this time.

"Hello?" the songster asks into the handheld device.

"What's up Justin---" Murray's sexy voice fills the line as well.

"Nothing much---just got back from a charity event."

"Another one huh? Save some for the rest of us JT."

"---Like you'd ever do something charitable!" he snaps back.

"Hey hey! Ouch Justin---that hurt---again," Chad fires back. "What are you implying---that I'm not charitable and only self-serving?"

"It wasn't meant to be an implication," Justin smiles as he sits on the edge of the large bed and begins removing his shoes with the phone cradled to his ear with the aid of his shoulder.

"Okay JT. I see how it is."

"It is what it is man."

There is a long silence until, "If that's true why have you been avoiding me then?" he counters and Timberlake is trapped.

His question and emotions are fair of course but Justin is unsure of how to answer him or even if he should. He is unsure of how to deal with them. It was a mistake. He loves Chad as a friend; they have a great time together because they are almost like the same person but the kiss was just a step too far. A step that never should have happened and could potentially ruin an otherwise promising friendship if he allows it to. Justin wants to tell him that he did not mean for it to happen but he also does not want things to become awkward between them and he definitely does not want to lose Chad as a friend. They were getting to close before that kiss. Timberlake cannot continue to deal with every major situation in his life this way. He cannot continue to run and evade what obviously already happened and can mainly be sorted out by communicating. It is time to get his friend back and move on.

"Can we talk?" he requests after his feet are at last free.

"I've been waiting for you Justin. That's all I want to do," Murray's voice also becomes serious too.

"Look---it came at me unexpected."

"The urge took over me unexpectedly."

"I didn't mean to avoid you Chad. I really like hanging out with you."

"I like that we're friends too Justin."

"So are we okay then?"

"We were always okay---"

Chad's voice seems to be off a million miles away so that is why Justin cannot buy his words. Something is troubling the handsome actor but maybe it is something in his personal life that he does not want to share with anyone. And that is absolutely his right to do so. The singer knows the feeling all too well and how irritated he becomes when anyone tries to push and pump him for information on what has his mind occupied. He suspects Kobe felt the same way when he sprained his wrist because everyone was asking him the same questions over and over and all he wanted to do was to be left alone to take care of it. Timberlake realizes that this is why his boyfriend snapped at him when they spoke. A question forms in his mind that he wants to ask the former model. It might be inappropriate but there is no awkwardness between them. At least, there should not be and he has to know.

"Did you feel anything?" the former N*SYNCer questions almost cautiously.

A long pause later, "---No---"Murray's lie is cleverly concealed.

"Good---because I didn't feel anything either. I mean---it was good and all but---"

"---No sparks?" he muses but the joke is lost to them both.

"For lack of a better term---yeah."

They talk for a short while longer before Timberlake remembers he has to go take a shower and get ready for JC Chasez later on. An unbridled relief coats him after he hangs up with the former model and knowing that their friendship is intact is exactly what he hoped for. There can be nothing more because his only focus is his basketballer boyfriend. Honestly, he has not met anyone as extraordinary as Chad in a long time and that is probably what attracted him to the kiss but he has Kobe. Justin will do nothing to jeopardize their relationship so it is best to keep his kiss with the beautiful actor to himself. For now at least. It is not long before the superstar is stripped naked and in the shower relaxing his tense muscles and relieving his slight migraine. He wants Bryant right next to him so they can shower together. And do more of course but he is so far away. It will always be like this for them.

In the mirror, his face is scruffy and so are his chest and abs. He needs to shave everywhere but the R&B singer has been either too busy or too lazy to take care and groom himself properly. His blue eyes look like two swimming pools as he stares into them and wonders what his future will hold for him. When he will end up with the basketballer Kobe Bryant or what his recent thoughts of Britney Spears mean. From what he hears, which is not much because he tends not to listen to gossip or read tabloids; she has fallen from grace and is no longer on the top of her game. Despite everything, they were friends and Justin feels like he should maybe help the rapidly falling pop princess in some way. Things are confusing in his mind but he keeps his head up and looking forward because looking back only causes trouble. And pain. As he exits the large bathroom, his phone rings as if on cue.

"Yo JC!" Timberlake answers with.

"Come on Justin---I called you twice already. Where are you?"

"Just got out of the shower---"

"Man I'm in front of your door right now," his best friend informs him.

"What---I'm not even ready yet."

"Come let me in. I'll wait for you."

"Coming."

Justin makes sure the towel is securely wrapped around his slender waist before he walks out of the master bedroom and through the lavish suite to the large double doors that serve as an entrance as well as an exit. He opens the door and Chasez smiles back at him but is slightly annoyed before pulling him into a friendly bear hug. Timberlake hugs him back tightly; he has lost some weight for his waist is slimmer that he remembers. JC closes the door behind them and watches his best friend walk back to the room to get dressed. He looks good. He sits on a nearby chair and fetches the remote to the large plasma TV in front of him. It warms up before he flicks it to the earliest sports channel he can find. The sports world is lost to the former boybander because of the amount of travel he has been doing as of late. So whenever he gets a small opportunity to catch up on it, he takes full advantage.

"Come on Justin---we're just going out to dinner," he yells while paying close attention to SportsCenter.

"I'm putting on my shoes. I just have to put some gel in my hair and we're good I think."

"I'm hungry man."

"Me too---hold on."

"You want me to drive?" Chasez asks his best friend.

"It's up to you. I don't care," the R&B crooner yells from the bathroom, where he is swiping his hair with gel.

"Okay then. Where are we going?"

"I don't know---I'm following you."

"Like always. Some things never change."

"Shut up!" Justin snaps at the comeback.

He hates it when he is rushed to get dressed because he always forgets to do something; in this case he catches that he needs a belt before he steps out the door. And a splash of cologne. Timberlake makes his way back to the bathroom and mirror to finish styling his hair and as he looks at himself, he wonders if he should tell JC about Kobe. Or at least that he is in a relationship with someone. He would not want to out his boyfriend to anyone without his permission; even if it is someone as close as JC because that would be inappropriate and could cause problems. This will have to wait until at least after the songster gets something in his stomach because it is howling for food. Justin gives up on his hair; it is being bad tonight, and he simply sprays a strong cologne on his neck and forearms before he collects the essentials to leave. It will have to be like this for the rest of the night; it is alright.

"Justin!" his name is hollered from another room.

"What?" Justin surprises him from behind.

"It's about time---"

"What are you watching?" he takes an interest in the TV.

"SportsCenter. Look---there's showing it again. I can't believe it."

"Believe what?"

"Kobe got hurt at his last game. They're saying he might be out for the rest of the season," JC sounds depressed and upset. "It's a set up. They know he's the best---"

Timberlake is quiet as he takes a seat next to his friend and gives the TV his undivided attention. He has seen it before of course but every time he witnesses it again, something happens. He feels helpless and his insides get hot because he wants to be there to protect him. His face might be flushed red and this happens when he feels there is nothing he can do. They show it over and over again from every angle imaginable angle and Justin wants to stop it but then it will give him away. Both he and JC are glued in front of the TV and he suddenly feels sick and not hungry anymore. It will pass though; it always does. He has to stop watching it; especially how everyone is hovering over him and making him feel like a kid. Kobe looks like he is in so much pain. The singer gets up and grabs a bottle of water from the refrigerator in the kitchen and then takes one over to Chasez. His eyes are still on the TV.

"Come on---let's go," Timberlake says as he clears his throat and drinks water.

"Yeah---I can't believe it."

"---Me either," he says under his breath.

He is not as excited as before about going out but he will be because he has not seen JC in so long and they need each other's company to loosen up and relax. It takes him a few moments but Justin shakes his feelings off and is back to his normal self because he does not want any questions from his best friend. This fašade will keep his true emotions concealed and also allow him to enjoy the night. Kobe will not be out the rest of the season. It is pure speculation and rumors because they have nothing else to go on. It is the nature of their jobs; being celebrities. Whatever someone does not know, they make up to sell magazines and television shows. Timberlake grabs a draping jacket on his way out and JC closes the door behind them as the duo walk the short hallway to the elevator. It is so good to see his best friend. Chasez knows he is gay but he does not know anything about Bryant.

"I'm glad we're doing this," Justin smiles when they are in the elevator.

"Of course. You know I love you man---" Chasez remarks as he pulls him into a hug. "---Well, not like that. You know---" he backs off and laughs.

Justin simply has to laugh at his friend's insinuation and brushes it off as harmless because it is. When JC sees this, he also laughs again because he knows he just put his foot in his mouth. They always manage to get each other, no matter how weird or out of place the emotion is. Suddenly, all the bad things of the past between them do not seem as significant as they once did. And there is no need to bring up past arguments or rehash what was said to ruin this moment or night for them both. There is only the future and that is how it should always be. Living and stirring up trouble in the past on creates more problems for the future. The pair exits the luxurious hotel and jump into a Yukon Denali with black rims and a stinging stereo system. It has to be his. Chasez starts the engine and the SUV grumbles its raw power and they click their seatbelts shut. He looks over to his passenger to hear his plan.

"So where are we going?" the driver wants to know.

"I don't care---anything sounds good right now. I'm hungry."

"Okay---do you want McDonalds?" JC slyly asks.

"Shut up!" Justin reaches over and punches his best friend hard on the arm. "You know what I mean---"

"Okay damn! I tell you---a man sells over a million records and he automatically becomes violent."

"Yeah---you sell a million and then come at me again."

"Shit Justin---" his slightly older former bandmate states. "That was below the belt."

"You stopped messing with me didn't you?" he smirks irresistibly.

"---So you think---"

They playfully glare at each other before he pulls out of the parking lot and enters traffic not exactly knowing where they are going but knowing they want something good. The playful demeanor continues throughout the entire journey to wherever it is they will end up relaxing for the night. The truth is he wants Timberlake to pick a place because he has no idea what he wants to eat. But with them both being obscure, it really could take a while before they decide on anything. McDonalds is looking pretty promising right now. Cheap entertainment. That will not be happening though. After driving around the city, something catches Justin's eye and he falls right into JC's plan. They settle on a Greek restaurant that is not modestly huge but looks good. Chasez swings his big SUV behind the restaurant to the parking lot before the find a spot. The spot looks to be tied in to a bar as well.

"I hope this place is quiet---" the crooner utters while he puts his jacket on.

"If not---what can we do? I'm not going anywhere else---I'm hungry," his former fellow Mickey Mouser comments as they get out.

Everything goes as smoothly as possible considering who they are but both entertainers are grateful they were able to get a cozy table in the corner and pretty much away from everyone else. Eyes still stare and gestures are made but it comes with the territory so neither pays much attention to any of it. Hopefully the novelty will wear off on the other patrons and they can simply enjoy themselves. The sexy R&B star holds up his menu to the light to find something that will more than satisfy his aching stomach. Chasez does the same thing and they each study it silently for a while. Timberlake wishes he did not see the replay on SportsCenter earlier. Now is mind is on his hurting boyfriend. He has to call him. When the waitress, who remains entirely professional much to Justin's satisfaction, comes by, he orders a spiked cranberry juice and JC orders a bottle of vodka for the table. It is just them two though.

"A whole bottle JC?" Justin muses.

"Well it's not all for me---it's for the table."

"I wasn't planning on getting drunk tonight."

His best friend looks up from his menu and adds, "Just relax---drink how much you want buddy. No one's forcing you."

"Okay."

"What looks good to you?"

"Almost everything."

"Go ahead---it's on me," Chasez smiles and gets back to his menu.

The table falls silent again until the first round of drinks arrive, well in the younger star's case anyway. He uncorks the bottle of Charbay vodka and pours himself a glass before summoning the waitress. He has a change of mind and does not want shots anymore so he orders cranberry juice to make his own cocktails instead. People's eyes are on their table but most of the patrons are at the bar which is a good distance from where they are in a shaded corner booth. Justin looks on and laughs because it is funny. It is always an experience when these two get together and this time will be no different. Timberlake, of course, tries his makeshift cocktail and agrees on the grand taste. His taste buds are tickled with alcohol and a sense of fiery urgency. They go ahead and order appetizers for the table as well as the main course and continue to drink waiting to be served. His stomach is in a hungry knot.

"So---when can we get another game of golf in?" Timberlake questions after a hefty sip of his cocktail.

"You want to---even after the last time? What---you blamed the rain on your poor game didn't you?"

"Shut up! It's hard to concentrate when you have hail-sized drops of water crashing onto your head," he exaggerates.

"Damn J---hail-sized. If you say so."

"You didn't answer the challenge JC."

"Huh---I dunno. I'll have to see."

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah," the short reply is as Chasez reaches for the bottle once more.

"Hey---ease up Josh."

"Man Justin---you need to calm down. I'm not even buzzed yet---"

"When did you start drinking this much?" Justin continues to chart into unfamiliar and dangerous territory.

"It's not a lot," his tone is almost annoyed.

The friendly waitress returns with their appetizers in almost a moment's notice and when their eyes meet, JC smiles and he does the same. He is changing and the R&B songster does not understand why. Things are definitely unspoken between them. His smile is meant to avoid conflict or further probing. Justin knows him all too well and something is going on. He remembers the last time his best friend was drunk and the things he said to him that night. It still gnaws at him from time to time but that is gone. This is now. The drunken JC Chasez is someone he does not want to meet right now but at the rate of his drinking, Timberlake is not sure. It never used to be like this back when they were all together. Sure they all drank when they went out, but JC was always the conservative one looking out for the rest of his group mates. He never drank to get drunk; it seems that is what he is doing now.

Justin thinks about him and then about Kobe and how they were watching how he injured himself earlier on the court. They need to see each other but impossible schedules forbid it from ever happening. They both chow down on the appetizers before Justin serves himself a glass of the vodka and cranberry juice. JC's smile tells him that his action is approved. Each sits in silence and listens to the distant conversation around them. The weather is frosty outside as the small restaurant is full of voices and clanking dishes and TVs playing in the near background. The appetizers finish as fast as they once came and it seems as if the mood is lightened somewhat because their stomachs are moderately satisfied for right now. Timberlake is careful of his questions; it never used to be this way before. Something is driving them apart and he is unsure of whether Chasez is aware of it. But he remains light.

"The vodka's good right? Especially with cranberry juice," his former bandmate says to him.

"This stuff is strong!" Justin clears his throat because it burns.

"Ever since I've known you---" Chasez laughs.

"What?"

"You were never able to drink a lot of alcohol."

"I guess some things never change---" the R&B star trails off.

"---While so much others do---"

"Like what?"

"Huh---nothing," JC fumbles but recovers himself.

Their waitress interrupts just in time to bring their main courses to the table. A plate of lamb and wild rice sits in front of Justin while chicken gyros are JC's choice of dish for their outing. As the night progresses, it is becoming more and more evident that it will happen. Chasez will not be able to drive them home because he will be far too intoxicated to do so; Justin takes it upon himself to stop drinking because he has had enough and he will be the one to drive them home tonight. It is more than obvious now so he acts responsibly for once in his life. They eat in complete silence as their eyes roam at passersby in hopes that neither will become recognized. The place is far too low-key though so Timberlake does not worry too much about it. What is plastered on his mind though is his best friend and his more than erratic behavior over the course of the night and extending as far back as months now.

JC has been disappearing on him and not showing up for scheduled events together and he is almost always overseas now. It is strange to say the least. There is a rift in their friendship but the true reason or reasons remain unknown to him. On top of everything else the R&B singer has to worry about or conceal, he never wanted the man sitting across from him eating a gyro to be one of them. He has to worry when his best friend's behavior is this off and unstable. The subject is far too sensitive to bring up and Timberlake feels like he does not know him anymore. Like he is slipping away and does not care to fight back. They are slowly losing the connection they once shared. The waitress interrupts to see is everything is okay and he watches on as Chasez nods back to her and smiles. When their eyes meet finally, all silence among the table is broken. The mood has to be lightened somehow.

"What?" the former boybander easily asks.

"Nothing---" Justin smiles.

"I wasn't checking her out---"

"I didn't say you were."

"Yeah---but you have that grin on your face that tells me you're thinking something."

"No---no. No grin this time. Do you like your food?"

"Yeah---what about you?" Chasez counters with.

"It's good."

"Do you want to go somewhere after this?"

"Uh---not really. I want to catch up on some sleep," Timberlake is honest.

"Okay cool."

Dinner and dessert lasts about a half an hour later and JC excuses himself to the bathroom before they head back for the night. This gives Justin time to think and also send a short text message to the Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant to see if he is alright and would respond back. His wrist is in pretty bad shape after the fall. He is fiddling with the mobile device in his hand when the table is repopulated and he immediately puts the phone away and straightens himself up. Now is not the right time plus he has to talk to Kobe first to see if anything can ever become of his inclination. Just as easily as they slipped in, the duo of music stars slip out of the quaint restaurant with their stomachs extremely satisfied and their bodies tired. It is cold outside as they make their way to the car. Winter will soon be in full effect for the state and it will seemingly be a cold one. Timberlake has always liked the snow.

"Let me drive JC---" Justin opens up and states.

"Why? I'm fine J---"

"You had a lot---"

"I'm fine!" he snaps. "Let's go."

"Josh---let me drive. You're not okay to," the singer elevates his voice slightly to show his seriousness.

"Whatever Justin---"

Clearly annoyed, Chasez tosses over the keys to his best friend as they switch spots and enter the car. It is the right thing to do because the whole bottle from the table was gone and Timberlake only had one shot and a mixed cocktail from it. He is looking out the window and pouting as Justin starts the car and buckles his seatbelt to get ready to leave. He himself is feeling a little buzzed so in a quick decision, the singer decides to take them both back to his hotel and they can sleep off the alcohol there. Neither should be legally driving at this point. JC is not looking at him or does not even seem to care about anything as they pull out and are on their way. Things are so different now from how they once were and former N*SYNCer has no idea what the strain on their friendship is. The roads are busy as usual and a slight rain dusts the car so he is extra careful while driving to get them back.

 

Once inside the warm suite both men take off their coats and allow the cozy air to take them over. JC still believes that he should be going and that it is okay to drive in his condition but his best friend will not hear any of it and is firmly sticking to his beliefs and his ideas. This is for his own safety as well as the safety of other drivers on the road. He plops down on the sofa and flicks the TV on while Justin heads to his room for a quick shower and to change out of his clothes. The hot water against his skin makes up for the harshness of outside but he is quick because they need to talk. Things will become solved tonight with his will. Issues will be addressed head on and answers will be given. There is no more time to deny. Timberlake quickly slips on a pair of Calvin Klein boxers and pajama pants, leaving the string around his waist loose before grabbing a white tank top to adorn his upper body.

"You want to take a shower---you can take my clothes."

"No---I'm good."

"Are you okay?" Justin carefully states from the kitchen.

"Yeah. Why wouldn't I be?" the former N*SYNCer looks back to him.

"Because---" he elaborates while walking back into the living room and sitting on the sofa next to his best friend. "---I know you Josh. I've known you almost all my life. You're my best friend."

"Yeah---so? What does that have to do with anything?"

"I'm worried about you," Timberlake responds and they look at each other.

"Why? There's nothing to be worried about Justin---"

He is annoyed again. JC is an admittedly hard person to read but not to the man sitting right next to him because it seems like they have been through everything together. They both know each other inside out and this is why Justin felt so secure and safe after he told him that he is gay and he accepted him. The deep need and want of friendship is there between them so whatever it is will come out and be dealt with. It can be no other way. But that moment of security is long gone and feels so far away now because of all the secrets and disappearances. Something is going on but the world does not know about it. The young R&B star remains quiet as if he is thinking but he is also studying his friend. Something will give and he just has to be there whenever Chasez is ready to talk. Their friendship depends on it so he stops talking for a while. They both do and the silence becomes too much to bear.

"What do you think is wrong with me Justin?" JC's serious tone rattles his nerves.

"I don't know---you said that nothing is wrong."

"If you were my best friend then you wouldn't believe that," his head rests back on the sofa and his eyes close.

Justin just looks at him and replies, "I don't believe it. But---I'm not going to push either."

"Maybe you should."

"I'm not sure."

Chasez's drunken state is making him sleepy and his head is already throbbing. He swears to himself that he will never again drink as much as he did tonight but it is a false promise with no deliverance. As secure as Justin would like to feel right now, the doubts lingering in his mind are far too many to put as ease normally. He does not know the man sitting right next to him. Nothing is said between the two celebrities as they both appear to be thinking of what to say or do next. Things have never been this awkward between them so there is definitely something wrong. Timberlake watches his best friend as he looks like he is sleeping and as much as he wants to push through for answers, he knows his place. When Justin is in his own mindset all he wants to do is be left alone and not have to answer any questions. They are annoying and rude. So he will not push and wait for answers.

After an excruciating timeflow passes by, JC keeps his eyes closed and announces, "I'm going to be a dad Justin."

Timberlake, stunned, chokes out, "Congrat---"

"No!" he immediately opens his eyes and hops up from the sofa to go look out the window.

The former Mickey Mouser's eyes are bloodshot red as he stares out to the open city where the lights never dim or waver from their true nature. Where no one sleeps and businesses are constantly making money no matter what time of day or night it is. The large glass doors leading out to the balcony that he is standing in front of are completely frostbitten; another sign that winter is upon them. Timberlake is confused and a little take aback by the outburst but remains completely silent on the sofa for him to continue with the story. When he is ready. JC rests his head against the wet glass and closes his eyes again because he is tired of fighting it. It is a losing battle. And he knows it is true. Eyes are on him but he does not care that he is acting out of character or that Justin is judging him. He knows his best friend is. Nothing should matter but it all does and it comes crashing down to break his world.

"Who is she?" the R&B superstar paces his question when it becomes clear that he is unwilling to talk.

He sighs, "You don't know her---she isn't famous. She lives in Paris."

"---That's---"

"---Why I've been overseas so much."

"JC how long have you known?"

"She's a month. I used a condom---how the fuck did this happen?" his angry voice overtakes him.

Justin gets up and moves closer to his friend and the large window, "It's okay Josh. Everything's going to be alright."

"No it's not Justin!"

"Do you love her?'

Chasez still has his wet forehead pressed against the glass and replies, "No. It was only supposed to be a onetime thing."

He lifts his head away from the moist glass and tries his best to walk a straight line back to the sofa. It does not happen that way but he does make it back to the spot he was in before and looks up at the ceiling. There is resentment in his voice and Justin is worried about what it all could potentially mean for everyone involved. This is why he has been disappearing all the time. And why his character has been nothing like his own. And why he has been so secretive and to himself. The excessive drinking and avoidance all makes sense now because he feels he has nowhere left to turn. It is not him at all. The young singer continues to look outside to wonder how everything will be okay if he does not love her and they are bringing a child into the world. JC rests his head back on the cushion and his eyes are closed once again when he is tired of looking up. He wants sleep and for this all to be a nightmare.

"I've been thinking a lot---and I really need your support J. You're the only person I've told," he almost sounds broken.

"Yeah Josh---you got it. I'm here for you bro," Justin does not hesitate to reassure his best friend.

"I'm going to ask her to get an abortion---that's what I've been thinking about."

"What?" he is shocked.

"I can't be a father. I don't love her---I don't even know her. I'm not ready for a kid Justin."

"JC I---can't support that decision."

His friend looks directly at him, "You just said you would support me."

"I am but not on this decision. I can't Josh. It's not right."

"And you think bringing a child into this world when both parents aren't together is right? You know I wouldn't be able to live knowing I have a child out there and I was everywhere else but where they were."

"You can't ask her that. Abortion is wrong."

"You're supposed to be my best friend---" Chasez scornfully spits out.

He glares at Timberlake from across the room and his eyes also show resentment and anger towards him. They are piercing and stewing with hatred and hurt over what just happened. Not even his supposed best friend can support the decision he wants to make for his life. It is wrong on so many levels that he just wants to vent his anger and frustration on its new source. In JC's mind, Justin is supposed to give him strength for the decision he has already made to abort the child and also make him feel god about it. That what brother do for one another. It is catering to his own selfish needs yes but this is how it has to be in order for everything to be okay again. The singing megastar being judgmental and his normal self just makes him more upset and disgruntled than before. The heavy tension sets in the air and Chasez looks around the room, looking for something. He has to get away from this place.

"I'm sorry Josh---"

"Where are my keys?" he gets out.

"---What?"

"I'm out of here."

"No---You can't drive---" the young star tries to protect her best friend.

"Fuck off Justin! I'm a grown man!"

"JC---don't go."

The irate former member of N*SYNC scans the room for his car keys before locating them on the counter by the kitchen. He heads over to the bar to retrieve them with his best friend confused and frustrated and scared as to what is going on or what could happen. And he has never see Chasez so angry or belligerent before. This pregnancy must be eating him alive inside; that has to be it. Their relationship is falling apart right before his very eyes and he is helpless to stop the deterioration. JC snatches the bunch of keys up from the countertop and does not even bother looking back as he heads for the door to leave. He is so sick of Justin always judging him and never being there for him or supporting him. This has gone on long enough and it will all be over soon. Timberlake follows him and grabs on to his shoulder as they are both at the door. It is a mistake but he is not sure of himself or what to do here.

"JC---no. You're too drunk to drive man---" Justin tries and tries.

"Let me go Timberlake---"

"Listen to me---"

"Let---me go---" Chasez angrily pulls his shoulder away from his friend's hand.

The R&B star maneuvers in front of the door and stays there before he says, "JC please---let me help you."

"I'm so fucking sick of you always judging me Justin! I told you because I knew you were the only one that would understand and help me."

"I'm not judging you---I do want to help you."

He laughs, "Justin---move. I don't want to do something I'll regret."

"Like what?" he pushes back. "Hit me?"

"Oh yeah---I want to. Move Timberlake!"

Justin ignores his instincts and stays firmly in place because he knows that if JC walks away from him now their relationship will be that much harder to repair. His best friend's eyes are even redder than he initially saw them and self-doubt is setting in now. Chasez stares through him and clenches his fist hard with his teeth clenched too. He is too tempted to hit the man in front of him and release some of his pent up anger but a small beacon shines through. Despite his lack of support in his eyes, Justin does not deserve to be hit or yelled at or treated this way but he cannot control himself because of the situation he is in. And it would be easy to take it out on him. Timberlake stays still in front of the door until the other man almost violently pushes him to the side and opens the door to the suite. No eye contact is made as he watches his best friend walk out of the room and what feels like out of his life.