~*~ 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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~*~ Envious Moon ~*~
Both of them have been back to the lake at least three times within the past few days and it always feel like the first time all over again. He is so preoccupied that he does not know. It is early in the night and both men are on the black bear rug sitting in front of the hearth talking about anything that comes to them. Justin feels so far away from where he once was within himself and it is all because of his boyfriend. Kobe strokes his short hair as his head rests on one of his shoulders. The yellow and orange flame glistens with life and promise and it is entrancing. He is in a pair of boxers and a tank top and they are now relaxing after dinner. His new car is in the garage now to get out of the barrage of snow. It becomes heavier with each day and the temperature of outside dips lower and lower against mercury. The basketball superstar looks at him but then looks away because his mind forces him to.
"I've been thinking---" Timberlake says into the silence.
"My father. I don't want anything to do with him."
Kobe thinks carefully because this is something he has been waiting for, "Is that what you really want?"
"Justin you don't believe that do you? I know you don't---"
"Why not?" he looks on and asks.
"Because I don't. I've never met your parents but I know that you're close to them. You're driven by your family baby so I know this is not what you really want to do."
"What makes you so sure?"
"I sense it. I pick up on how much family means to you when we're together. And every time you talk about your dad now, your voice changes."
The singer is not aware of this change in his voice; it is new to him. It is scary that someone else knows him even better than he knows himself sometimes. Bryant is right; he does not want to cut his father out of his life completely but he feels backed into a corner and trapped. And he hates feeling trapped or forced into doing things he does not want to do. His parents are everything to him and he is their only child. Justin remembers how hard it was when they told him that they were getting a divorce because of his father's extramarital affair. And that affair failed to last. He had lost so much faith in his father as his hero and a man that it took almost everything he had to forgive him and move past the infidelity. That part of his young life was complete chaos; he was only eight at the time. He thought that the man could not possibly hurt him more but this banishment is far worse. Timberlake will not cry.
"My parents divorced when I was eight. I've never been able to fully trust my father again---" he opens up.
"You've never told me that before."
"He cheated on my mother and it almost destroyed our relationship. He fucking ditched my mother for someone else and didn't even bother to think of his family!" Justin screams out in anger and frustration. "He didn't care about us. Me. I hate him!"
"Relax baby. Take a breath."
"I'm not forgiving him," he spits out coldly. "He's never thought about anyone but himself. He doesn't care about me. Why should I even try?"
"You don't know that Justin. I know you're upset at him but he is your father. He loves you," Kobe tries to say even though he is upset that his father actually hit him. "He's just confused and caught off guard."
"I don't care---I'm his son."
"It must've been hard for him to hear---"
"---Why are you making excuses for him?"
"---I'm not. I just---"
"You don't have a good relationship with your father and you're fine with it. I'm not going to forgive him for this. I don't need him."
Kobe listens to him but cannot believe what was just said. Emotions are definitely starting to run high now and he has to be extra cautious in what he says here. While it is true that he and his father have a very estranged and apprehensive relationship, it does bother him. A lot more than he lets on. He will not have his boyfriend go down that same path and cut his father out of his life. As much as he loves Justin he knows that he is not strong enough for that. The way he says it though, almost as if using it as an excuse, a crutch of sorts, gets Bryant slightly upset and hurt. The baller keeps his emotions in check but he has to be firm to make his point. He will not let the young singer become bitter and angry and create a seriously toxic relationship with his own father. They will get through this together and he feels it is the right time now to tell him everything. He hesitates at first but this has to be done now.
"I need to tell you something---" the shooting guard starts out.
"I don't want anything to do with him---" he assumes and replies.
"What you just said isn't true. About me and my father."
"What do you mean?"
"Justin---you just don't know," Kobe clears his throat and says.
There is a strong struggle inside before, "I would give up my basketball career to be my father's son. To have the kind of relationship a father and his son is supposed to have."
"What?" this takes the former N*SYNCer by complete shock. "Where is this coming from?"
"You. I don't want you to make the same mistakes I made when it comes to your dad. I know you're upset and hurt baby. I know that and you have every right to be. But give it time. Give him time."
"How do you know?"
"---I don't," he is truthful. "But it's worth trying. I don't want you to lose him. You'll end up---" Kobe cannot finish.
This is critical and emotionally draining. He has never delved this far into himself with someone being present to witness and listen to it before. Vanessa knows only the beginning of it, the tip of the iceberg, just like Justin used to as well but now he is learning more and is rapidly surpassing her. Kobe starts to feel vulnerable and as if he wants to scream or punch something or even cry to vent his pent up hurt that has malformed into this toxic rage. That frightens him. He is scared to cry and release the proper emotion. It is masked either by frustration or anger or unwillingness. But his boyfriend being here with him and being so angry is drastic. This has to stop; the cycle has to stop. Timberlake's eyes are on him and wondering about his last statement. It lingers in the air and the mood has changed dramatically from just earlier. The fire is not comforting anymore. Its heat and appeal feels gone.
"---I'll end up?" the R&B songster asks into the silence again.
"Like me. You'll end up fucked up like me," the basketballer scorns himself.
"Baby---I don't understand. What's going on?"
"I would do---give anything for my father's love. I crave it Justin. I want his approval and support so bad it hurts my body. I would give up everything to have a normal relationship with him," Bryant feels like he is breaking down.
"I had no idea you felt this way."
"No one does."
"Kobe---" Justin starts to say but the rest of the words become lost.
"---It's why I shoot. My fucking father is the reason I shoot poison into my body! It gives me the approval he never did. It stops the pain of never having a loving father. Never having any kind of father. I don't do it for my game. I never did it for the game. I want him to love me Justin."
"This is bad---"
"You see now? I don't want your relationship with your dad to be like that. Your father has been there for you all your life regardless of the mistakes he's made. This is just another mistake. He loves you. Please realize that. My father never cared about me. He never loved me. He only invested interest because of basketball. He pushed me into it and that's all he ever saw me as. A basketball player. He was my coach and I was his player."
The Los Angeles Laker presses his head into his knees and closes his eyes tightly to try and fight away his true insecurities. His arms encircle his legs and he controls his breathing and his anger as if they are one. Thinking about his father and the tumultuous lack of a relationship they share always gets him this way. A head rests on his shoulder and arms are around him. It is silent and Justin thinks of what to say but there is nothing. No words will come out. It makes sense in a twisted way. The steroids give him the support he has never received; the love. This is so hard. Nothing comes to him. Both sit there together and try to get through their lives with the help of each other. Timberlake sees the seriousness of this situation and he secretly wishes that Kobe did in fact take the drugs for his game. Taking it as a substitute for a good father essentially is a whole different aspect and he is terrified about it.
"If I score ten more baskets than everyone expects me to then maybe he'd be proud of me. That's the last reason. That's why I need the steroids---" he is saying.
"Baby this is dangerous. I'm scared for you---"
"Don't you think I know that?" Kobe almost snaps. "I've been scared my whole life. I don't know what to do."
"I'm with you. We'll get through all of this together. Yours and mine."
"Justin I need you to listen to me carefully."
"Okay," the former N*SYNCer agrees and they break apart to look at each other.
"You have to give yourself time to deal with this. I know this didn't happen yesterday but I also know that you put it out of your mind and never really gave yourself the time to think about it and what it means. This is why I brought you here. You took everything in that happened with him but never thought about it or tried to make things right."
"Why should I? He's the one who doesn't want a fag for a son---" Justin looks away and hatefully remarks.
"Look at me---" he tells him. "You are not a fag. I don't ever want to hear you call yourself that again."
"I'm in love with a man---that's what it's called."
"I don't care. I won't let you do that to yourself. This is different but it is not wrong. What I feel for you will never be wrong baby. Do you understand that?"
"I know---I know. I'm just so lost. I never thought someone could hurt me this way. Hurt us this way."
Their emotions are raw and stinging them in their blistered insides. It is a difficult time for both of them to navigate through because of the problems they each face with their father. But unlike his boyfriend, Justin actually has a chance to repair and mend his broken relationship with his father. Kobe will never have the luxury because no matter what he does, what goals and achievements he manages to surpass in the NBA, his father will never be proud of him. He cannot put himself in that toxic situation any longer because he has others to think about now. Justin. Vanessa. He loves both of them so very much. The pair holds on to each other and remains silent as they are lost in their thoughts and wondering how things can ever go back to being the same after everything that has just been said here. A dark cloud hangs over the house. There is a huge possibility that this may never change. For either of them.
"Promise me that you'll at least talk to him once---" the shooting guard requests and his voice is somber now.
"Justin---you have a chance to fix this. Don't be stubborn about it and mess up your relationship. I don't want you to be like me. Don't give up your chance."
"How can I face him after what happened? I'm scared I might do or say things I'll end up regretting," Timberlake contemplates and says in his own hurt voice.
"You need to do this for you J. You have to."
"I think I'll be fine."
"No. Look at me. Can't you see---"
Something happens. Kobe tries to look away but his boyfriend catches his face brings their eyes back together. His are watery and the first tear slips away and becomes known to the world. It is too much to handle and he cannot control himself. This is the first time he has cried in a very long time and there is someone present to witness it. And judge him for it. The emotions have been building up for years upon years inside him and now that the baller can be completely honest with another person, it is all released and wreaking havoc on his insides and his mind is numb with worry. Justin holds on to him tightly and kisses his neck peacefully as his boyfriend tries to let some of it go. He cannot. It has been so much a part of his life for what seems like the beginning of it so it is all he knows. The tears come one at a time and some crash on his man's shirt but he stops and pulls away. He is not weak.
"What's wrong?" the singing megastar asks him.
"Nothing---I'm fine," is the response and he quickly wipes his eyes against the back of his wrists.
"No you're not. You're hurting."
"I'll get over it. I always do."
"You're not weak. You are the strongest man I know. That's one of the things that make me love you. Crying is not weak."
"I can't keep doing this to myself. I need to think."
Timberlake rests his head on his boyfriend's strong shoulder and looks into the vibrant fire and says, "I'll talk to him. I---promise I'll try and talk to my father."
Their hands for and interlace together, "I don't want this for you. Doing this means a lot to me."
His voice is so weak and broken. Justin cannot help but to be worried because he has had all these secrets locked away inside him ever since he was a child. Nothing has ever been confronted or even acknowledged at some points. For his boyfriend to finally tell someone makes him feel good inside but he is also frightened at the possible outcomes of this talk. He is more anxious about this than the future talk with his father for a possible reconciliation. To see Kobe cry breaks his heart; he cannot protect his man. He cannot even protect himself. They are closer together now and everything stays silent for the time. Thoughts consume the room and the baller has since stopped crying but his emotional distress is still very visible. Timberlake feels powerless to help him and he hates himself for it. Not being able to say anything worthwhile now hurts more than his father slapping him. The road ahead is long.
"It's getting late," the R&B star grasps at straws because he does not know what to say. "Let's go to bed."
"---Yeah---okay---" his voice is distant and distracted.
"We'll get through this."
"I just need you to do what you promised me you would."
Unforeseen circumstances of the previous night caused him to reveal things he never thought he would tell anyone but Justin has that effect on him. His warm and trusting personality coupled with his explicit ability to listen and offer constructive advice makes it hard for the baller to keep his feelings to himself. In a way it is a huge relief that he is finally able to be honest as to why he uses steroids. Now there is only one secret left between them but that one will never be known. Heavy snow bashes against glass windows while the dark outside creates a sensual ambiance. A riddled blanket covers both their naked bodies and the last remnants of the Moon's light bathe over them. The intensity of last night still lingers in the air, even in sleep. Kobe is on his side of the bed and his boyfriend is on the complete opposite side almost at the edge. They are far apart from one another. A not validated irony.
The Sun eventually wins another battle in the never ending war as the Moon recedes into the background and is forgotten for the time. Shiny rays peak through intense snow clouds and shines into their large room and his eyes twitch under the new light. Bryant's flutters open and he looks up at the high ceiling and feels that moment of peace. It is still very early and he looks around to see his man all the way on the other side of the bed and still resting. After collecting all his thoughts, the basketball star softly moves on the bed closer and closer to Justin and he begins to watch him sleep. He looks like an angel, even when he slumbers. A perfect specimen of man physically and mentally. Kobe smiles as he rests his presses his elbow into the bed and uses his forearm and eventually wrist to support his head as he looks on. He is such a beautiful man. It feels like his heart beats for this love. For him.
When he can no longer stand it the basketballer whispers, "Justin? Justin---"
"---Uh---" the sleeping star mutters and shifts on the bed.
"Baby---it's time to wake up."
"---I thought this is supposed to be a vacation. It's so early," he finally opens his eyes and says.
Kobe then hovers over his face and softly whispers, "Merry Christmas Mr. Timberlake."
"What?" Justin becomes fully alert now.
"Merry Christmas Justin," the baller smiles down at him and moves in for a kiss.
He presses his lips onto his boyfriend's surprised ones and their share their first Christmas kiss together. He obviously does not know what today is. It is somewhat cute and endearing. But he has been working so hard lately and then his visit to the hospital and the recovery. It must have been so hard for him. But working past all that is what their concentration is all about now. Last night's heaviness will not plague the magic of this day. Kobe is determined to give his man the best Christmas he can. They are already together so that is a start. But there will be more. Justin holds onto his hands and falls more and more into the kiss. He feels a slight embarrassment because the days have gotten away from him. Even now, the notorious behavior of his past is affecting his present day. He forgot Christmas. All the things going on in his head is drastically changing his perceptions and distorting reality.
"I can't believe I forgot about Christmas," he sounds depressed after the kiss ends.
"It's okay baby. It's okay. The past couple of weeks have been hard for you."
"Merry Christmas Kobe. I love you so much baby."
Kobe smiles down at him and, "I know. Relax alright. This is supposed to be the best day of the year."
"I didn't even get you anything. And you've done all this for me---I feel so awful. I'm grateful baby---"
"---Whoa J. Slow down."
"I don't want you to think I'm ungrateful or unappreciative. I can't explain how much us being here together means to me," Timberlake begins. "And the car and you. You've given me so much and I haven't given you anything for you," he looks away as if he is ashamed of himself.
"Hey. Hey---come back here. You're not getting rid of me that easily Justin. Look at me," the baller requests until a pair of icy blue eyes meet his own. "Knowing that you're getting better is all I need. And knowing that you love me as much as I love you is the only thing I want from you Justin. Don't you get it? My Christmas present is you. It has always been you---I just got a little impatient and opened it a few months early. I love you. Okay?"
"I'm always thinking about you. I love you so much that it hurts when we're not together. When I can't touch you or taste you. I think that's why I let things get out of control. My stubbornness kept me away from you even though I was hurting for you. Not kissing you for so long drove me insane."
"Don't worry J---" Bryant hugs onto him. "I'm not going anywhere again. No matter how hard you try to push me away."
"I'm not going to---"
"That's my boy."
There is an unspoken moment of clarity in the room. Timberlake has just earnestly apologized for his irrational and destructive behavior of the past in reference to his boyfriend. He realizes that he was hurting more people than himself and he is truly sorry for it. Kobe nuzzles against his warm neck and kisses him there until their lips automatically find one another's again. Slightly brighter rays shines into the room but it is still drably gray outside due to the heavy snow clouds. It is the perfect morning for Christmas. The former N*SYNCer roams a hand down that exquisitely sculpted basketball body that belongs to him and no one else. His abs are so hard and sexy that his hand rests there for a long while. Bryant does not mind at all and when he feels a warm palm on his semi hard dick, he is surprised. He wants to but they have to stop. The expert touch is making him susceptible but it stops.
"Baby---I have---something for you," the Los Angeles Laker tries to convey between lustful breathing.
"You didn't even bother to wrap it?" he giggles as he gently squeezes his boyfriend's dick under the cozy comforter.
"No---" Kobe laughs too. "Not that."
"You didn't. Now I feel worse than before."
"No---don't. I just saw it and only thought of you."
"You really are spoiling me," Justin notices and replies again.
"You love it. Don't lie---"
To verify his answer the singing star kisses him once more but they have to break apart before things go too far; both men are getting far too excited to think straight. He stops it and sees his boyfriend's eyes wander away so he tries to look to where he is looking at. Right next to his body and under the blanket he sees the beginning of something red; the coverlet is black. Bryant smiles back and Justin finally sits up on the bed and this reveals the red bow and box even more. It is small and carefully tucked away but it is meant to be found simply because of its placing. He picks it up within his fingers and looks at it for a moment and then to his boyfriend. Kobe's eyes tell him to go further so he does and slips the ribbon away. The box inside becomes black and the former red one rests next to its matching bow. He clicks the box open and looks at the content inside. Kobe's plan is right on track.
The basketballer's face is glowing with a smile as his man opens his Christmas present. Inside is a small black leather necklace with a perfectly sized cross as the pendent. It is not overstated in size but it is so in diamonds seeing as the entire piece of constructed of diamonds alone. The piece is completely weighed down but the enriched gems. But, in the very center of the beautiful cross is a bright sparkling red gemstone. It is garnet, his birthstone color. Justin's face lights up with the piece of jewelry in his hand and looks at Kobe when he takes it away from him. He turns his back to his boyfriend and the leather bands find their way around his neck and the diamond encrusted cross lands just below his atom's apple. It fits perfectly, not too tight and not too loose. Bryant then kisses the nape of his neck and Timberlake closes his eyes to relish the moment. Lips are warm and sexy against his skin.
"How does it fit?" an excited Kobe Bryant whispers into his lover's ear.
"Great. How does it look?" turning back around to ask.
"Like I imagined it would look on you. Perfect."
"You didn't have to do this."
"I don't have to do a lot of the things I do. You're not getting away that easily."
"I love it," Justin honestly says and knows that he will probably never take it off.
He feels for it around his neck with his fingers; the diamonds are cold to the touch but he is happy. These past few days have been an escape from his real world as well as his superstar self. That is the best present his boyfriend has given him, releasing him to become whole once again. Justin can never repay that nor can he even begin to try. This has to be right. This has to be the only thing for him. Both men sit up on the bed now and look at each other and if they are the only two people in the world. Kobe's handsome face and stellar body fills his head with wild and sinful thoughts but that is where they will have to remain. The day is still young yet. He rests his head on his basketball boyfriend's chest when they lie back down and stare up to the ceiling together. The R&B songster is starting to feel bad and as if he is not deserving of this. He truly did come here with nothing and now has so much.
"It's really bothering me---" the former N*SYNCer hears himself say into the quietness.
"That you've done all this for me," his tone is saddened and apologetic.
"Don't let it. I don't need a car or a necklace from you to know how much you love me---" Bryant tries to tell him but he fears it is falling on deaf ears.
"How about me heart?"
"I'm giving my heart to you Kobe," Justin is serious. "I don't care what anyone else says or thinks because you will never be wrong to me. The way I love you will never be wrong. It's the only thing I can give you."
"And that's worth more than any car or necklace. I promise you that baby."
"What did I do to end up with you?"
"I don't know---but how about you come and thank me for your gift. You have to play with your other gift now," the baller says as he points and looks down.
"I thought that wasn't my gift," Timberlake comes back with and smiles.
"Oh it's all yours. You know it and I know it," he says and they kiss.
"It'll have to wait because I'm hungry."
"Wait---are you offering to make breakfast?"
He has to do this. It is the least he could do. The pair lingers in bed for a few moments more before they are finally up and beginning their Christmas day. While the tall basketballer is taking a shower; the steam clouds the mirror, he brushes his teeth and washes his face. It is not long before both end up under the spraying showerhead together but his grumbling stomach stops him from being intimate. Justin quickly soaps his skin and washes all over his body and then tries to leave but a pair of long arms grab around his flat stomach and stops him in his tracks. His boyfriend will not let him go so he tricks him but moving in for the kiss. Bryant protrudes his tongue and feels blood engorging his fully awake dick but Justin secretly slinks out of the shower and grabs a towel before making a break for it. He is safe, for now anyway. There will be plenty of time for that later. He has to get started on breakfast.
Timberlake walks down the cold steps and his hands instinctively go to the new piece of jewelry around his neck. He touches it and smile before he finds himself in the kitchen and his brain starts formulating plans on what to cook for their Christmas breakfast. In the refrigerator, there are eggs, bacon, waffles, and sausage links. It will make a perfect breakfast. The singer looks through the vegetable drawers of the Sub-Zero refrigerator because he is feeling extravagant. An egg omelet might be in the works pending the right ingredients. The mushrooms, green peppers, and red onions are there so he will make it. It will go perfect with the rest of the meal and is so much better than simple eggs. The scents and aromas make his mouth water and his stomach churn even more. Justin gathers all his ingredients and begins to make a small feast for the both of them. Kobe's still is still on the back of his neck.
An egg concoction simmers over the fire and orange juice is already on the table along with a few pieces of toast. The waffles are in the toaster and bacon sizzles on a pan next to the eggs. Justin looks around to see himself still alone; Kobe loves taking long showers. But it is okay because breakfast is not ready yet. The cooking aromas transcend space and heads up to the second floor of the house, where it smells divine. Snow falls through the sunny rays but it is heavily hindered by the darkened clouds. Kobe Bryant slips on a pair of basketball shorts under his navy blue boxers and a white tank top when the sweet scents of food hits his nostrils. He sits on the bed and fully stretches out his limbs before he reaches for his phone. He has to call her. It is Christmas after all. Vanessa has not been on his mind much over his time here with his boyfriend but she has been there. She is there. He finds it.
Two rings later and, "I was wondering when you were going to call me my busy boyfriend. Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas sweetheart. I miss you."
"I miss you too. It doesn't feel the same---" Vanessa begins to say.
"I know---I want to be with you but this is my career baby. How's your family?"
"Everything's alright. My parents think we're having some problems."
"You and me?" Kobe questions. "Why?"
"Yes---because you're not here."
"---They know why I'm not there right?"
"I told them."
He waits a moment before, "We don't have problems do we?"
"They only think that because my father saw me crying in my room last night. And he told my mother."
"Why were you crying?"
"Because of you," her voice threatens to break. "Because I miss you and I love my parents but I wanted to spend the holidays with you. I don't feel like I belong here alone and having to defend our relationship to my parents. I hate this---"
The shooting guard remains silent. Vanessa's parents have always been supportive of their relationship as far as he knew. Hearing this makes him wonder if they approve of him at all. It is another man that could potentially become a father figure to him that does not approve or supports him. Kobe feels his own father in these stirring emotions. He is digging himself deeper and deeper into a place he is sure that he will not be able to get out of. The phone line is silent and he has to finish their conversation soon before Justin walks up here to find him. But this is hard. She obviously needs him and guilt plagues his insides. He is off having the perfect Christmas with his boyfriend while his girlfriend is selflessly missing him and wanting to be with him. Bryant feels his insides tear but he made a decision to spend time with Justin and he cannot feel guilty. It is official; he loves them both the same.
"I'm sorry baby. I wish I could be there to hold you," the basketballer tries to comfort but he knows it is useless.
"When will you be done? I want us to be together for New Year's Eve."
A silent pause before, "I'm not sure yet. I still have a lot of things to get done before the year finishes."
"So I'm just supposed to wait around for you to be finished?" his girlfriend snaps angrily.
"I don't want to fight with you Vanessa. This is my job."
"You can't keep using that excuse."
"You act like I'm doing this because I want to. You know I don't have a choice baby," Kobe remains calm and keeps his voice in check.
"So I'm wrong for wanting to spend the holidays with my boyfriend---"
"I didn't say that Vanessa."
"You didn't have to. I have to go. My parents are calling me."
"Okay. I love---" Bryant starts saying but the line dies on him.
The words do not go through and he lets the phone slip from his ear. It is all his fault and she has every right to be upset and hurt. This cannot go one for much longer; when one relationship is thriving the other is breaking apart. It is too much to handle. Bryant retrieves the phone and rests it next to his Timberlake's turned off one and then begins to make his way downstairs. Once again, he has to store all these thoughts away and be strong for his boyfriend downstairs. They are stuffed directly in the back of his mind and he leaves the room to head to the kitchen where delightful aromas still originate. The enticing smells make his stomach grumble hard and he cannot feel guilty for spending time with Justin. He loves him. The baller stops at the archway leading into the kitchen to look. The former boybander is finalizing the meal and he looks so cute running around to get everything prepared.
"Hey---" the R&B crooner finally notices him there. "How was your long shower?"
"Long---and wet---" he playfully jokes. "Breakfast smells good."
"Are you hungry?"
"I am now."
"Well I'm done," Justin says. "Let's eat."
"Thank you baby. All this looks great," Bryant replies as they both sit together to enjoy breakfast.