~*~ 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.
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~*~ Under Skies of Ethereal Dust ~*~
Last night had to be the most perfect and emotionally raw night of his life all encompassed into one. Money does not matter. Grammys does not matter. Number one albums and record sales do not matter at this point. Someone loves him. A bitter morning is vastly approaching the horizon but the snow is at a standstill with the environment. The wind chill however, is dropping the temperature further into freezing than it needs to be. Inside the beautiful and private mansion the pair of lovers slumber so close to each other on the furry black bear rug that it caresses their skin in every right way. Justin's head is perched on his boyfriend's shoulder and his hand is resting across his flat stomach. The fire has since burned out but a powerful furnace still keeps the house a comfortably warm temperature. Clothes and empty champagne glasses litter the floor around them as a reminder of last night.
Justin is the first to wake but it is almost as if he forces himself to do so because sleep here up here in this secluded region is completely different. It is completely different from a tour bus or numerous hotel rooms. Even sleeping in one of his few homes is not as satisfying as it is here. Maybe the experiment is convoluted because of Kobe Bryant. That has to be it. He takes in his surroundings for a moment before he is fully awake to realize where and who he is with. Their first night here was paradise and now the R&B songster is sure that he wants to leave later rather than sooner. He knows he wants to stay here more and connect to his man. The choice was always up to him anyway. Timberlake props his head on his elbow, which digs into the black bear for its support and looks at his sleeping boyfriend. No one is going to take this away or ruin it for him. He only continues to look at him.
"Baby?" he calls out in the semi darkness. "I really needed this. I can't explain the feeling of relief I have right now. It's like my life was stuck in one position for so long and now I'm finally able to move forward. And it's all because of you. Baby---" Justin uses more than a whisper now. "I---wanted to tell you I love you last night. I feel like---you're my other half. I love you so much and nothing is going to happen to us."
There is a rustling and then, "I heard that---"
"Huh? How much?"
Bryant opens his eyes for the first time of the day and answers softly, "You wanted to tell me first and I'm your other half."
"It's alright J. I know that feeling because I feel it too. I couldn't have put it better myself. I'm yours and you're mine. I love you Mr. Timberlake."
"I don't like being called that."
With a sexy smirk and a low voice, "Come and do something about it then."
There is no need for convincing because the young singer crawls closer to him on the black rug and they kiss each other good morning. It is still early yet but that goes unnoticed along with everything else surrounding the couple. Their kiss is innocent at first but nothing can stop it from changing into a sexy one. It is what both men want anyway. Justin still feels a little tenderness from last night but it is not a major source of discomfort for him as it was the first time they did it. He is now on top of his taller boyfriend and is straddling his hips to create passion. Hands mend together and tongues wag back and forth to create blissful sensations that every human should experience. Kobe touches his perfect alabaster skin in the waning sunlight; heavy clouds overhead threaten the rays' appearance today. His sensual shoulders. His strong back. His sexy butt. Hands go everywhere and explore every last inch.
"You're going to kill me. I---need some rest," Kobe relays in a rugged voice and looks up at the ceiling to try and pull more energy together to begin the day.
"I'm exhausted after last night," he remembers everything they did as more than a vivid dream.
"You got a lot of rest---and we only did it three times---" Timberlake smirks as innocent as a little boy who just got his hand caught in a cookie jar.
"And good morning to you too Justin---" he is sly with his words now.
"I don't like eavesdroppers."
"It's for a good cause I promise."
Timberlake studies him for a brief second, "And what is this cause of yours?"
The basketballer takes his hand and kisses the back of it before he rests it on his own heart and responds, "I needed to make sure this was working. That coming here was the right thing for you."
"I know it's right---"
"I know baby but I thought it was going to take longer than it did to get Justin Timberlake out of you."
Justin smiles at this and replies, "I tried my hardest to leave all of him in California. He can't be here for this."
"It's only you and me. Coming here is about us spending time of course Justin but I also brought you here so you can catch your breath and recover. Now that I know it's working and you're being yourself then I'm happy. And relieved."
He is unable to even say thank you because the words will not come to his mouth. Everything is caught in his throat but he can breathe just fine. This is the furthest anyone has ever ventured out for him, even within his own two parents and the songster cannot finds the proper words of compliment to deal with this situation. It just happens. A single tear slides away from the corner of his eye and then a few more follow in a set path down his handsome face. Kobe gazes deep into his blue crystals and instinctively holds his boyfriend's face within one of his palms. A long thumb brushes away most of the tears; some manage to slip through and reach their destination. There are mixed emotions he is dealing with. The basketballer smoothly brings their lips together to form a strong bond that will hopefully give Justin what he needs to stop crying. Seeing him cry makes him feel so powerless and helpless.
"You're so good to me," Timberlake sniffles and manages to get out once he composes himself.
"We're good to each other. It's alright babe. Let it all out. This is your safe place. I'm your safe place."
"No---no. I'm not weak."
"Justin---crying is not weak," his boyfriend tries to convey constructively. "Your body has nowhere else to turn so let this happen. I love you."
"I love you so much."
It is confusing because he is sure that the first few tears escaped because of how special his boyfriend is making him feel and taking care of him but then his father's disapproval of this lifestyle and their fight still lingers over his consciousness. He suspects it will always be there and serve as a painful reminder. A few more tears flow through and then Timberlake gets better about it and makes all of his insecurities flee. There will be time to deal with everything. Today is their first official day here together so they have to enjoy it for what it is worth. Maybe tonight the pair will sleep on a bed. Kobe is stroking his lover's ear and running his other hand up and down the length of his back. He has to be strong; he is a grown man and crying will not solve anything. Justin kisses him one more time and they stay in that cuddled up position for a little while longer. It is far too warm and cozy to refuse.
The issues between them are over; there was never any doubt that they would be able to work through it and make it back to each other. They can work through anything and being here right now proves this. Randall Timberlake and their issues are deep-seeded and that is why most of the tears came. It is affecting him more than he is willing to admit because he does not want to give his father the satisfaction. The songster is being stubborn and just wants to bottle it up. But it seems as if he is the one holding all of the cards and Justin is a simple puppet on vengeful strings. It is horrible. This powerless state is agonizing torture. Kobe's hand in on his and they really should get cleaned up and look for something to eat for breakfast. Outside is monotonously gray with clouds overwhelming the Sun and snow lightly dusting everywhere. That will not ruin their day or even their time here.
He feels better after their talk and it will take time before he can begin to deal with his father and the jagged emotions there. That is okay. There is no pressure here and this does feel like his safe place. His boyfriend is his safe place. They kiss every now and again and keep each other close until later in the morning. The wind picks up outside because it howls past windows and doors and sounds urgent. Bryant looks at the cold burned out fireplace and wants to restart it again to tie their moods together. But the fire is not needed to bond them together. Justin feels so safe and comfortable in his arms but they will have to break their moment to begin their day. They cannot remain on this rug forever. Plus his stomach is silently purring due to hunger. Kobe interlaces their fingers together and looks up at the ceiling as if he is thinking about something. It goes unnoticed; for now anyway. Words come alive.
"Let's go take a shower---" the baller suggests of them.
"I just realized that I don't have anything here."
"You don't really think that do you?"
"What do you mean?" Timberlake is confused.
A smile and, "Maybe we should go take a shower---"
Kobe's elusive attitude lets him know that something is going on inside his mind. He is up to something; there is a twinkle in his eye. But Justin will not ruin his surprise so he just goes along with it all. The pair finally leaves the comfort and sensuality of the big black rug and each either picks up clothing or glasses after themselves. The glasses go in the sink and an empty champagne bottle is disposed of before they head off upstairs. The shooting guard walks up behind him and secures him in place while their naked forms walk up wooden steps to the above level. Something is definitely going on. Timberlake rests his head against his and they are guided to the master bedroom. Everything is in place in the hallways and there are many doors to choose from. The double doors at the end of the long hallway must be where they will end up. Bryant is kissing his cheek and nibbling on his ear.
Beyond the grand doors is a luxurious room with immaculately clean and placed furniture. Ancient rugs adorn the floor and oil-on-canvas paintings hang on the wall above the bed as well as on an open wall on the right side of the room. It is a beautiful space and Justin can already read the place and get a feel for it. But again, his results may be convoluted because of who is here beside him. There are two large doors he notices with a large red ribbon tied into a small bow on the handles. When Kobe sees this, he explains that it must have been left here by the cleaning agency and not to think anything of it. The two naked men leave it alone and walk into the large bathroom to clean themselves up. There is a hot tub as well as a small-tiled shower with an enormous overhanging nozzle high at the top. Timberlake stares at his man's naked butt as he walks over to the mirror and checks out his reflection.
"Wow---this is nice," Justin takes it all in.
"I designed it myself. Which do you want?" he asks, referring to either the hot tub or the shower.
"The shower---I'm hungry."
"Okay then---a quick shower. I'll get you in this hot tub one way or another,' the Los Angeles Laker makes his point known.
"I'm sure you will."
He lets the water run in the shower so it can get warm and comfortable enough for them to enjoy it. The frigid air from outside must be seeping in through small cracks in the windows and doors because the temperature inside the house is dropping. Another fire needs to be started downstairs. A moment passes and the room becomes warmer because of water vapor in the air. The young star wastes no time and enters, hot water greeting both his feet. Justin almost instantly starts to relax into the shower as the water creeps further up his skin. Hands caress his butt and he turns around to meet a pair of lips on his. It is an intrusion to say the least but neither cares. Hot water cascades on their heads and bursts out in all directions while their morning is being validated. Kobe rests him on the wall and water is only falling on him now but the steam is more than enough to keep them both warm and going.
"Uhuh---" the R&B star trails off.
Bryant roams down his body, still plastered against the wall. His tongue rolls over every sensitive nerve end and he ends up on his knees in front of his man. He feels Justin's dick growing in his mouth and he sucks harder while his hand finds his own blood-filled member. A pair of hands is on his head and implores him to go further and deeper. Another type of hunger is being satisfied now so the initial one is quieted. The basketball star's head bobs back and forth while he tries his best to pleasure his boyfriend. Grunts and moans encourage more. The hot water is falling on his back and even more steam is turning the overly large bathroom into a makeshift sauna. Kobe uses his free hand to massage his lover's balls while his lips make explicit and precise movements. In many ways, he tries to mimic Timberlake's pace and motions in this act because he knows how good it feels when he does it to him.
It is even better than how Vanessa does it. More passion maybe. His tongue laps against the hypersensitive pink head and then he uses it to run down the underside until he reaches a pair of walnut-shaped balls but his tongue does not stop there. That tickles. Justin peaks his head under the fountain of water so he can get wet while he remains his composure. It will not last long however because his knees are buckling under him. His boyfriend is definitely getting better and better at this, or maybe he is just becoming more susceptible to him. They do love each other after all. That was not a dream last night; it really happened and they both really said it to each other. Kobe made him forget everything last night and it felt overwhelming safe and positive for him to finally let everything go and talk freely without fear of being judged or blackmailed. His status is a blessing but also a hindrance at times.
"Aww! I'm close---" the former N*SYNCer is almost panting.
The basketballer also feels this sensation within himself as well due to self pleasure. That does not matter though. He licks and sucks on every inch of his boyfriend's aching rod and sucks on his balls once more before his strong hand encircles Justin's dick and starts jacking him off. His lips vary in places from above his bellybutton to his lower abs to his pelvic bones. Their poles are being tugged at simultaneously both by him. Kobe tries to look up as best he could with water raining down on him and can barely see anything but pure bliss in on his face. There is no denying it. He does something sinister during their altercation but leaves it alone. Almost in an instant, white liquid oozes out of Timberlake's dick and is drowned away down the drain. Bryant releases himself soon after and they are now in afterglow. He rests his forehead against his lover's flat and wet stomach to regain himself after this.
"Oh---my God," Timberlake murmurs out while he is sure that he is using the tiled shower wall as a means of support.
"Didn't anyone ever tell you that using God's name in vain is bad?" he is right on his boyfriend's lips now.
"I guess I've been bad since I got here."
"It's not fair to blame a place for one's behavior---" Kobe is analytical.
"---And here I thought you were just a multimillion dollar Los Angeles Lakers basketball player," the game of words continues.
"---I am so much more than a basketball player---"
"That's true," the singer states. "You're my chocolate basketball player. And everyone knows how much I love chocolate---" he tempts and they kiss again.
"I thought this shower was supposed to be quick because you're hungry---"
At the back of his mind, he sees what he did. The baller is smiling cynically inside and cannot wait for his secret to be revealed and dealt with. Water stills runs hot and keeps them warm but bodies also do a good job at that as well. A big part of him is satisfied; both physically and mentally. But sustenance is calling out to him and it cannot be ignored now. Justin shampoos his hair and watches as his lover soaps his own skin and face before getting under the spouting water to rinse it all off. Then he follows him under the shower and they get clean together, like they were supposed to be doing since they got in the shower. Kobe is the first to step out and grab a large towel to dry him off and eventually cover up. He tosses his boyfriend another towel makes a play for the mirror. Bryant has never really thought of himself as a handsome man but he can see why people might say he is. And they really do.
"And you talk about me living in the mirror," the R&B crooner teases as he stands next to him.
"Look at me Justin---can you blame me?"
"Right---" he rubs his abs and his hand brushes against the towel around his waist and it reveals something. "What the---"
"You bit me here---"
Kobe looks at him, "What? No I didn't."
"So where did this mark come from? It's red and---"
"I said I didn't bite you---but that doesn't mean I didn't do something else," he smiles and simply looks on.
"You gave me a hickey there?"
"I couldn't resist," the baller does not even try to deny it anymore.
"You know what---"
Timberlake thinks carefully and comes up with, "You're crazy! But I love you."
Justin has no one to blame but himself for not even feeling it or realizing what was going on. The pleasure was too intoxicating for him to realize much of anything else. The tattoo is temporary of course and it is just weird that he has a hickey when he is usually the one giving them. He is not upset; it just takes him by surprise. The Los Angeles Laker kisses his cheek and smiles at him so he cannot help but to smile back too. There is a hold there. The couple spends longer in the bathroom than they should but his stomach growling can no longer be ignored. Kobe laughs at him and receives a small punch on his arm as a reward. When they step outside the air is cooler but it is still comfortable. There is a moment of silent and Timberlake suddenly remembers the fact that he has no clothing here as well as his boyfriend's elusive behavior over earlier. Something is going on and he puts all his attention to it.
"So---" the songster casually begins. "What am I going to wear?"
"Nothing. You don't need clothes."
"I'm not walking around here naked---"
"Why? I've already seen it all," Kobe stares and smacks him on the butt.
"Fine. Come here. You're being spoiled---"
Justin holds on to his hand and follows him to the closet with the red ribbon binding the doors together and asks, "What's this?"
"Your closet---all yours."
The former N*SYNCer does not believe him and remains there looking at the ribbon as if he is stuck. It is only when his boyfriend guides his hand to the red bow and ribbon that he touches and ultimately unravels it. The two doors slide off to either side to reveal a room similar in size to the master bathroom. Clothes neatly line every wall and shoes are in boxes or neatly placed on the floor. Every style of clothing imaginable. All the shoes the world seems to offer. Justin is a lost child in a candy store. Belts and hats are a staple on a small portion of the back wall. Everything is here. Timberlake walks in further and runs his hand over some of the pieces though everything is catching his eye. Everything is brand new and the entire closet smells so fresh and clean. This could not have been cheap because of all the labels he sees. Kobe simply stands in the doorway with his arms folded and looks at him.
"I'm pretty sure you could find something to wear in here---" Bryant says. "Though I am disappointed that you won't be naked---"
"I'm sure. Why'd you do this?"
"Because I wanted to. Do you like it?"
Justin does not respond but then, "I can't believe you. You have to be too good to be true."
"It's my job to make you happy Justin. And doing things to make you smile makes me happy."
The R&B songster walks back and they kiss and he gratefully adds, "Thank you. I don't know what to say---"
"Speechless works for me too," he smiles that slick smile of his as he holds on to his man by the waist.
"You've given me everything but this house---" Timberlake looks deep into his eyes and says this.
"Do you want this house?"
"---What---" is the shocked and surprised response.
"Do you want this house?"
"Of course baby. I've already learned my lesson when I'm not serious about you."
"---I---" Justin stutters and only continues to look at him.
Kobe Bryant is in his heart and mind. No one has ever made him feel this way or even manage to treat him the way his boyfriend does. This has to be a dream. An elaborate dream full of endorphins and wishes that can never even begin to be supported in the reality of the world. All of this cannot be real. He is too good to be true. The young singer does not give an answer to the question that just pushed him aback so far. This house. Today is their first official day here and he has already forgotten about his father and the rest of his stressors. That is not the cause or purpose of this trip though. Justin knows he will have to eventually figure out solutions to these issues but time is on his side here and his man applies no pressure. He loves him so much. There was a period when doubt plagued that very emotion but it is no longer the case. Being able to feel it again is more rewarding than the first time.
It is late in the afternoon and they are wrestling on a bed in one of the guest rooms. A simple tour of the house escalated with challenging words and this is where it all is right now. Clearly Kobe has the advantage of height and size on his side but his boyfriend is agile and flexible and should not be underestimated. He is hard to catch and hold down to pin, which is what is needed for a winner to be proclaimed. Pillows are scattered on the floor and the blanket is still clinging to the bed for dear life. His small body slips through the baller's clutches one again and tries to regain the offense by holding hands in place to pin him to the bed. Justin climbs his way on top of him to finally pin him but it is a trick. Bryant waits and in a moment strikes like a snake. Before anything else can happen, the R&B star feels his back pressing against a soft pillowtop surface and his hands held above his head. Pinned.
"Give up---I got you!" the shooting guard's breathless voice orders him.
"---No! I---don't give up!"
"Well---you can't go anywhere so your options are limited."
Justin looks at him and, "You'll have to torture me because I'm never giving in to you---"
"Torture you? That's some idea."
"What---no!" he loudly exclaims.
"Oh yeah. This is going to hurt me a lot more than it's going to hurt you."
A sinister smile adorns his boyish face and the singer feels it when he grips his body with his powerful legs so he cannot move anywhere. It feels like he is paralyzed under all this weight and trapped like an animal. Kobe feels eyes on him always and he waits and plots for this to keep his man in suspense. He remains gripping his lover's hands tightly over his head and gazes deeply into those brilliantly blue eyes that are like the ocean itself. They will not save him this time. It is a swift motion when he lowers his head and attacks Justin's neck. He uses his teeth, lips, and tongue to tickle him senseless. Almost as quickly, the body under him comes alive and jerks back and forth and up and down because he is tickling one of his most susceptible spots. Bryant will not relent and the laughs and screams encourage him even more. He desperately tries to free himself but it is to no avail but he will not give up.
"Baby---God---let me---" Timberlake is trying to say but all the laughter is drowning everything else out.
"You're in some predicament---" comes a quick response before he continues his work of devouring his innocent neck.
Tears are forming in his eyes and his stomach is in tight knots because he is laughing so much. This is torture because he cannot move and cannot stop laughing so he is stuck without any solid options but to give up. He is unable to dig into his boyfriend or protect himself in any way but his stomach is really starting to hurt. All the laughter is getting to him and his insides want to burst. Kobe is marking him once again but this one will be far more noticeable than its predecessor. It seems as if all the blood in his body is drawn to that one specific region of his neck. The former N*SYNCer tries to talk but nothing comes out but roaring laughter. He has lost. Teeth scrape his sensitive skin and tears are a steady stream down his face and land onto the sheets under him. The basketballer is starting to doubt that his plan is working. Justin has a stronger will than he initially anticipated but so does he.
"Okay---okay! I give in---" he screams out almost in pain now.
The Los Angeles Laker removes his lips and, "That really hurt me more than it hurt you---"
"I'm sure," Justin is finally able to move his hands.
"Are you okay?"
"You haven't given me an answer," he lies down next to his love on the bed and props his head up with the palm of his hand.
"Why though?" Justin turns to look at him.
"Because I want to. I want you to have it. That's the only reason I have."
"It's not you can't. You're not willing to. I know you."
He sighs and then, "You're right. I just don't know---"
"---That's okay. I want to kiss you now."
"What's stopping you?"
The adrenaline is slowing to drips because all the physical activity has ceased but their lips find one another's for a pleasurable kiss on the messy bed and scattered floor around them. This is his man; no one or nothing is going to stop or change that. The house which was once full of laughter and screams is dead silent now. Afternoon is disappearing into night and the howling wind outside says it is going to be another cold one. Bryant rolls him over and is now on top of him but uses his knees pressed on the bed for support while they taste each other. Justin meets their bodies together in his new tank top. He chose a tank top and a pair of silk slacks to put on from his new closet. Someone caring so much for him has his insides in knots but also an overwhelming sense of serenity. There is no one like him. There truly is not and whatever happens, this has to work out always. There is no one else.
"You only won because of your height you know---" Justin sneers playfully.
"Baby---I deal with people my height and taller every day. You didn't think you were going to win did you shorty---" he smiles.
"You could've let me---"
"But then what fun would that have been? Plus, it would've given you a false sense of security."
"Oh. That's one thing I don't have," the R&B megastar truthfully states.
"I promise that you'll never have that."
His promise comes out of nowhere and he himself is taken back by it. Getting lost in the moment is causing Kobe to rethink his thoughts and his mind runs on his girlfriend Vanessa. He makes a promise knowing full well that he is unable to keep it and that it was broken far before ever being said. A hollow promise is what it is. Justin's eyes glisten to him and that makes him feel it. Although the promise is completely the right thing to say at this stage of their relationship, the baller is a complete fraud for doing so because it is dishonest. But that cannot be bothered with now. In some way he is naively hoping that everything in his life will work itself out where he gets what he wants and no one be hurt by it but that cannot be possible. Timberlake kisses him for the sense of security and they spend a few more intimate moments together in the messy room to fully regain themselves before his stomach grumbles.
"I'm hungry," he pouts like a cute little boy.
"Apparently. Let's go see what we can find."
They leave the bed in shambles and walk out together and down the stairs towards the kitchen to find food or at least a snack for the time being. The wooden floor is wickedly cold against their bare feet and it sends shivers up his spine. The young celebrity feels his stomach growl more but it is not as loud as the first time; it must know that they are on their way to get something to eat. Outside is just a past memory of day now and snow falls lightly to collect on windowsills and clothed and bare branches of all surrounding trees. They will sleep in the master bedroom tonight. On the first floor Kobe holds him around his waist when they find themselves in the kitchen to get some food into their awaiting systems. There is freshly sliced honey ham in the refrigerator so they both look at each other and decide on quick finger sandwiches. There is no need to have a formal dinner every night. This will be just fine.
Timberlake is in charge of slicing the bread and cheese while the other man prepares the meat and condiments to be layered in between. This is the most comfortable he has felt in a very long time and they are not going anywhere soon. Even though he wants to stay here for a long time that is only a selfish fantasy of his as life is still moving forward. Regardless of everything, he has to get back to his life and cannot keep his boyfriend away from his career for too long. It is just too warm and safe here. The songster prepares bread and cheese for four sandwiches and then passes them over to get condiments slathered on them. He rummages through the icebox to find something to drink and decides on orange juice. Bryant finishes setting up the all the sandwiches and walks them over to the breakfast nook. There is a large window by the nook that offers a grand view of the snowy landscape.
"It's starting to come down out there," his sultry deep voice fills the room.
"If you don't behave then I'll put you out there as your punishment---" Timberlake teases.
"Oh---like you tried to take care of me upstairs but couldn't?" comes the fiery response.
"I hate to say this but I let you have that one upstairs---"
"Of course," the songster states while sitting down in the nook.
"We'll have a rematch then---to prove if what you're saying is true."
"I am always truthful!"
The comment is unsettling and a slight sensation in his stomach grows. He sits next to him by the table and they begin to eat together. With every passing day something becomes stronger inside him; an urge the shooting guard has to tell him the truth. To tell him everything and hope they can survive it. It is na´ve and selfish to wish that though. This relationship is not conventional but he does not care about that. It does not matter that the world knows nothing about them being together. The world does not need to validate him or their special relationship with one another. Suppressing the urge is becoming increasingly difficult the further the love progresses on. Kobe swallows a bite of sandwich and washes it down with a gulp of orange juice while he just looks at Justin. His beautiful face and perfect skin. His great body that is neither too thin nor too muscled. And those gorgeous baby blue eyes of his.
Every time he looks into them he feels as if he is floating on the surface of Justin's soul. A very rich, deep, and fulfilling soul. His blue eyes represent the bright sea of his perfect soul and Kobe loves to float on it and get lost. He loves him. This cannot be wrong. The way he feels cannot be wrong. They continue to eat and talk lightly while all the conflicting emotions swell inside him. He does his best to put it all away and after a while, he can get back to himself. The baller smiles at him and finishes up his meal and tries to keep his mind blank. The young star studies him but keeps his thoughts mainly to himself. Conversation is replaced by silence and quick glances. Even now, he does not feel uncomfortable with the silence because it is not worthy of it. Not worthy of awkwardness. Whenever he is around his man, the negativity is gone and bad emotions are silenced unless called upon. This is real love.
"Hey there's something I want to show you---" Kobe informs him after dinner. "But it's outside."
"What---I'm not going out there. It's freezing," he resists when they sit on the sofa in the living room.
"Come on. I promise you'll like it."
"Please," Bryant continues on. "I'll keep you warm. It's important," he adds as he kisses his boyfriend on the cheek.
"Okay---let me get dressed."
"Can I watch?"
"You're staying down here---" Justin laughs and orders him to do.
"Fine. Ruin my fun."
Timberlake leaves the living room and heads off upstairs to his new closet to prepare to go out into the frozen wilderness of Aspen. Curiosity is getting the better of him now and he wonders what is about to happen and what he has to show him. It cannot be another surprise; the basketballer is spoiling him too much. In the magnificent closet of the master bedroom he strips off his slacks but leaves his tank top on as he searches for the appropriate attire for outside. There is a heavy white cotton shirt and a pair of full jeans specifically designed for this type of weather. He really has thought of everything. The singing star slips on the articles of clothing and finds a sturdy pair of hiking boots that seem appropriate. A warm skullcap will keep his head warm and a fur windbreaker completes him. The clothes look good on him. Justin closes the closet behind him and heads back downstairs to leave.
"Wow---you look great," Kobe comments as soon as he is off the stairs.
"Someone has really good taste."
"Tell me something I don't already know."
They embrace and kiss and it is slightly harder because of all the thick articles of clothing they each have on but it still will work. The shooting guard has a thick jacket on and a hat representing his basketball team of course. Despite the frivolous gossip, Kobe Bryant loves the Los Angeles Lakers and respects all of his teammates as he hopes they respect him. Idle gossip about the team's mechanic is of no interest to him. Hats look so good on him. He slips on a pair of boots and they walk through the house to the sliding doors that lead outside into the freezing cold. As soon as the door opens a strong gust of cold breeze greets both their faces and bodies. It is harsh and brisk. Justin looks over to him to see if he still wants to do this and a smile gives him the answer. He holds on to his boyfriend's hand and they walk out into the cold patio and their bodies quickly try to adjust to the drastic change.
Despite the wicked weather, outside is absolutely and serenely beautiful. Everything is covered in white snow and it falls from the sky liberally and easily. It feels like they are on a whole other planet, as if a place this beautiful and peaceful cannot exist on this planet. The backyard is large and is sprinkled with trees both tall and short. The basketball court from yesterday is tucked away towards a corner and the trees seem to become heavier in the opposite direction. It is like a white forest. The former N*SYNCer holds on to his hand while they walk further away from the court and towards the dark woods. He is a little apprehensive at first but there is a glint in Kobe's eyes that keeps him moving forward. This must be important to him. They walk on what used to be grass to another edge of the property where the trees will overwhelm them. Snow is already on their protected shoulders and head.
"Where are we going?" Justin asks with the dense woods right in front of them now.
"Be patient or you'll ruin the surprise."
"Babe it's getting colder out here---"
A strong gust of wind chills the air even more and Timberlake feels that one down to his bare bones. Kobe grips onto his hand tighter and they begin to walk through the narrow path into the icy woods. The lit house fades away in the background and the Moon is the only source of illumination now. Specs and shallow silvery rays light some parts of the ground before them but he knows the path all too well so it is not necessarily needed. Justin's body moves as close to his as humanly possible both because he is cold but also because he is a little scared. Naked branches look like spiny fingers all around them and the path before them becomes more obscure with each step taken. The Los Angeles Laker looks at him and smiles and then continues looking forward. Neither says anything while dead leaves and twigs crunch under their feet. Up ahead is a small opening of light among the thick forest.
"Look---" the basketballer stops them and points forward. "That's it---we're almost there."
"Are you sure this is safe?"
"We wouldn't be out here if I didn't think it was. I won't let anything happen to you. I promise you'll like it---" he repeats again.
"This place is beautiful."
"You haven't seen anything yet."
Beyond the clearing is the ice lake. The pair passes through a thin and frail set of branches into the full Moon's light and he sees it for the first time. Eye candy that stimulates his brain and all his senses at once. If that is even possible. Kobe simply looks at him and his eyes light up and sparkle when he first puts his eyes on the frozen body of water. The vast lake spreads out for as far as his eyes can see and every inch of the surface is frozen over in icy superiority. The light from above reflects off the ice and illuminates the entire area sliver. Frostbitten air hovers atop the surface to create a misty fog that blankets everywhere. It is absolutely beautiful. Justin looks in every which direction for what seems like at once to take it all in because it is easily one of the calmest and spectacular places he has ever been. The place glows with life even thought it does not seem like it at first glance. It truly is magnificent.
"Well---" the baller's voice brings him back to their reality. "What do you think?"
"I---don't know what to say---" Justin begins to try and unscramble his thoughts. "This place---it's---"
"That's why I wanted you to see it. I love it out here. It's one of my favorite places."
"And you knew I'd like it too."
"I had a feeling."
Timberlake walks into his man's body and they hug and kiss while firmly standing on the outskirts of the panoramic view. He closes his eyes and even though freezing temperatures surround them, his lips are so warm and inviting. More snow covers their heads and shoulders but that does not matter. This place is special and will now become theirs. Kobe smiles inside because this is the only other person who knows about this place besides him. Not even Vanessa; she's not too fond of snow and cold so this place does not seem appropriate. But he knew Justin would fully appreciate it as much as he does and he was right. It is his favorite place to be alone and think but also to get away from himself. There is a sense of irony that his boyfriend is now using the same place for the same thing. Even in this weather his body is so warm and cozy. Their kiss ends and they both look out at the icy plain together.
"This place is perfect," the singer states. "I love it."
"I do too. I try to come up here every winter just for this. It's not the same during the summer months," Kobe says about his history with the lake.
"I can imagine."
"I come here to be alone and think. I like to think of it as my place. You're the only person I've ever shown this place to---"
"Really? Why'd you decide to show me of all people?" Justin questions him.
"Because I---love you. And I knew you'd appreciate it as much as I do."
"So why do you want to give me the house? If this is your place---"
Kobe smiles serenely, "I want it to be your place too---I'm hoping this can become our place. And I want you to have the house because I love you."
"You're spoiling me---"
"You already are so there isn't much more damage I can do," he playfully teases him.
"Not funny," Timberlake replies back. "I thought we're supposed to be in a moment."
"When are we not in a moment Justin?"
"I love you."
The duo kiss under the dark night's sky and hold on to each other tightly both to keep warm but also to relish in the moment. Justin already knows that this is his place. Their place. He feels it. The frozen air just above the icy surface seems to continually rise up to create even cooler temperatures. It would not look or have the same feel during the summer. It is like an icy wasteland that almost gives the perception that the entire world has frozen over and his become a barren sphere of ice. It is why this place is so special; it is untouched by the outside world. There are so few places left like it. Kobe kisses him on the cheek and holds his waist close. Time is at a standstill while they stand there as one and take in their cold paradise to enjoy it. Timberlake's thoughts escape him when their lips bond together. It all feels like a dream. A beautifully surreal dream that he never wants to come out of.