~*~ 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 Thirty-Five

~*~ Caught in the Undertone ~*~



Grizzly weather blankets the mountainous regions of Colorado and the winds makes outside temperatures dip and seem to be below zero. It is New Year's Eve and the pair has both decided that going back to the real world tomorrow is the best thing. Justin is strong; this past week and a half together accomplished everything it was intended to do and he is ready to take on his celebrity alter ego once again. There is only one more thing but that can never get out. It will have to be this way. To Kobe, their relationship is fully consummated now because he said `I love you' and his boyfriend validated it by saying it back. He cannot take it back or go back nor does he want to. Tomorrow is their last day and he has been curious about something for a while now. It is early in the afternoon and the shooting guard is remembering a conversation with his girlfriend. Another set of real lies.

"They added a couple more days of publicity---" Kobe Bryant was saying.

"I don't like this."

"I know sweetheart but I have to do it. You know that."

"I'm not sure what I know anymore," she was clearly stressed out.

"What's that mean?"

"I don't know. I'm trying not to have the same argument right now."

This was a very hard situation to navigate and him making so many mistakes was only compounding and making it worse. Vanessa had every right to be upset with him but he cannot regret what he has done. It was almost two in the morning only a few days after Christmas and Justin was fast asleep in their room while he was all the way downstairs and far away from him to get some privacy to talk. Kobe had to put on a pair of pajama slacks because he was naked and he just had to call her. This lying was becoming too real and was obnoxiously starting to overpower his life. He was unable to give her up. But he also could not give him up. There was a dead silence on the line because his girlfriend was trying to keep her emotions away and he was thinking of something to say to keep himself covered but still sincere. It was only a few more days. That was all. All he needed was a few more days.

"---I mean, we missed Christmas together and now I can't spend the first day of the new year with you. Help me understand this Kobe---" his girlfriend continued.

"I wish I could," he replied with a hint of sadness.

"This is the first holiday we've been apart since high school. My parents are driving me crazy. I can't stay here."


"They keep filling my head with all these thoughts. You're lying. You're off cheating on me. I can't stand being here when they get like this."

Kobe remained silent as he listened to her and her parents' attempt to turn her against him. Things were so messed up right now. There was no way she would believe them though. He had been extra careful ever since he met Justin. Maybe it was all finally catching up with him. Or maybe they were right. His heart did not know what he wanted. Her or him. Though choosing Vanessa certainly would make everything that much easier. The right path may or may not be the easiest path. She was crying again and it was all because of him. Bryant tried to find any words to express himself but it was hard. He hated when she cried, especially when it was because of him. Her parents were right of course but he needed to use yet another lie to cover the many he has told in the months prior. Kobe was tired because of how late it was and Timberlake took almost all his energy when they made love earlier.

"You know what they're saying isn't true Vanessa," the basketballer tell her.

"But I'm here hearing all of it by myself. Do you know how that makes me feel? And how it makes us look---"

"What do you want me to say? This is part of my job you know that."

"Kobe you don't know what they think about us. I can't take it. I need you here."

"I know I know. It's just for a few more days. I promise I'll make everything right. I'll make this up to you baby."

"I miss you. How was your Christmas?" she asked after most her tears have dried away.

"Um---I had interviews all day and missed getting you under some mistletoe. You tell me how it went."

"It doesn't sound nearly as sexy as last Christmas or the one before that---"

Both reminisced about past Christmases together and this truly was the first time that they were apart for the holiday season. The baller always made it a point to be with her but so many things have happened to him this year that it just was not possible to come back to her. Not with Timberlake being the way he was. They continued to talk lightly because both could not do anything about the predicament and further fighting was useless and only hurtful. He yawned and rubbed his eyes because he was tired and desperately wanted sleep. Snow blew harshly outside and he could hear the whistling through the windows. This was the only way he could talk to her though. Vanessa had since calmed down but her voice is still off and a million miles away. It was something he would have to fix in person after he left Colorado. Bryant closed his eyes because he was falling asleep while still on the phone.

"Uhuh---" he mumbled in a groggy voice.

"Kobe---what did I just say?"

"Huh? I---don't know. I'm tired baby."

"I want to go back to LA. I don't want to stay with my parents for the new year," his girlfriend repeated herself.



"I don't think that's a good idea. I know it's hard but you should stay."


"Because I don't want you to be by yourself during the rest of the holidays. It's only a few more days with them. Despite everything, you know your parents love you very much," Kobe convinced her.

"You didn't just say that," Vanessa said in disbelief.

"I know that made me sound like a hypocrite but it's how I feel. If I can't be with you right now then you should at least be with others who love you as much as I do."

"But I don't want---"

"---You'll regret this if you do it. Stay Vanessa. For me. I'd worry about you if you were by yourself," he said truthfully.

"I do love them---they just drive me crazy."

"They're your parents---that's their job."

"Okay. I'll stay until the new year."


He is in his own world with his thoughts as time passes by outside and they are both on the sofa watching TV. The baller is barely paying attention to much because his mind is torn in two very separate ways but his life is intertwining at the very same time. It is confusing. Vanessa has always been there for him. She has been there even before his days as a professional basketball player and has never given him any reason to think of her as unfaithful or opportunistic. She is not the gold digger his parents have labeled her as and there is real love there. Bryant continues to stay caught up within himself with Justin resting his head on his shoulder and looking forward at the television. She is his support system in so many ways that there is no going back. His girlfriend's love has gotten him out of some of the darkest spots of his life thus far. And Kobe is grateful to her caring for him the way she does.

But then there is him. His smile. Warmth. And those brilliant blue eyes. Justin has become his light in so many ways. In fact, the only thing he does not know about is Vanessa. Other than that, he knows everything there is to know about the Los Angeles Laker. It was a scary prospect at first that someone knows basically everything about him but Kobe cannot see it any other way now. Timberlake makes him feel so comfortable and carefree that it is addicting. It is one of the main reasons that he can never give him up. The way they talk to each other and treat each other is what a true relationship should be. He knows that now. They both do. It is so complicated and confusing that he fears that he will break down any day at any time. Bryant knew that when he first met him at that charity ball game there was something special there but he never in his wildest imagination thought it would evolve into this.

"When will they stop talking about me?" the singer says to no one but himself. "You'd think I was the only person in the history of the world that blacked out on a stage. It's crazy right? Right? Kobe---"


"Babe what's wrong?" Timberlake looks up at him.

"No---nothing. I was just thinking."

"What about?"

"Nothing really."

"You're distracted."

The shooting guard processes the words and then, "I know tomorrow is the last day but a par t of me wants to stay."

"I do too. But you know we couldn't avoid going back forever," he puts everything into the proper perspective.

Early night is upon them and snowfall has picked up from more than a light flaking to a now brisk falling. There is an initial struggle at first but the chocolate baller securely wraps all of his thoughts away so he can fully focus on their new conversation. They watch silently as the entertainment reporter finishes up the story on Justin and that night at the club before moving on to something else. It must be so stressful being him. Everything for the most part is speculation, like always, because valid information is forbidden from being released. Kobe remembers the feeling that formed deep inside him when he heard about this on one of the giant screens hanging above the basketball court. He could barely move for a split second and everything went blank. It was scary and surreal. Timberlake is looking at him again and when he notices, their gaze meets. His eyes are tantalizing and mesmerizing.


"Tell me," the former N*SYNCer says as if he already knows.

"I've been wondering about this since the first time---" Bryant continues to be vague.

"Wondering about what?"

"How does it feel?"

"How does what feel?"

"When I'm---inside you," he replies to the question.

"Oh. Well, it was weird the first few times. It hurt a lot too. But that's your fault because you're so big," Justin grins and laughs at his words. "But I got used to it and now---well---you know."

Kobe smiles, "Oh yeah."

"Why'd you ask that?"

"I was curious."

A silence hangs in the air once again and the television's voice is the only thing bouncing off the walls. They have stop talking about him and what they suspect happened that night. It is so farfetched because some of the reports even have the incident linked to his ex Britney Spears and him missing her. These people could not be any further off. It is the most damning part of celebrity. Justin feels it when a hand reaches for and lands on his. When the pair holds hands, he always manages to feel so special and content. Bryant's eyes then focus on him and for a moment he thinks they are going to kiss but he is at a loss for words. His boyfriend has managed to get him tongue-tied; no one has ever accomplished this feat on him before. The Los Angeles Laker smiles to try and hide this fact and he thinks it is simply endearing. Timberlake will have to start up the conversation again if he wants answers.

He thinks about this first before asking, "Do you want to try it?"

Both men look at each other and the shooting guard uncertainly answers, "I---don't know. I think---so."

"I want to try it."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

Timberlake clouds his thoughts for a moment, "I didn't want you to feel pressured. I mean---I know the stigma that goes along with doing it."

Kobe suddenly becomes more interested when he asks, "What stigma?"

"You're weak or soft or not dominant. You're less of a man---"

"Stop---wait," he interrupts. "All that goes along with having sex with another man?"

"Come on. You can't deny it. It's everywhere from music lyrics to movies and just about everything else."

"Well---I don't think you're weak or soft and you're definitely not less of a man because I've been inside you. And you can dominate me anytime you want baby. I will never complain," Bryant is serious to emphasize his point. "I don't want you to ever think you're less than anything in this relationship or in any other relationship. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me Justin and I've told myself that every day since I've met you. Our relationship is equal in every way and that's why I want you. That's why I want to experience this with you."

The former N*SYNCer cannot speak now because of what he just heard. He has to be the most perfect man ever created in the long history of men to be both this sensitive and self-aware of himself as well as people around him. He opens his mouth to say something but quickly closes it when nothing comes out. His boyfriend notices this and laughs because he knows all too well how being in that position feels. When he is sure that Justin can no longer take the silent suffering he moves in for the kiss. Everything he said is the honest truth. He wants that experience and now is the perfect time to do it. Before anything can escalate, the duo gets up and make sure the house is secured for their last night together and turns off the TV to retire upstairs. Timberlake holds on to his hand when they walk up the stairs and to their bedroom. He feels nervous but a passion deep inside consumes this for him.

As soon as they are in the vicinity of the bedroom lust overflows and lips crash together in ecstasy. Hands crawl over clothed skin and the barrier is becoming a quick annoyance that must be dealt with. Both are in tank tops but Justin is in shorts while Kobe adorns a pair of dark blue denim jeans. He looks like a thug; a sexy, hardcore, teasing thug that only wants sexual attention. This New Year's Eve is being spent the way it should be and the way it will be from now on. He pulls the young singer's shirt up over his head and away from his body and their lips bond together again. The darkness and freezing temperatures only enhance the mood but foreplay is still needed. Bryant moves himself back to the bed while guiding their bodies to the final destination. When his calf presses into a metal piece of the bed frame he sits down and rests both his hands on his boyfriend's waist and looks up at him.

"What?" Timberlake looks down at him and tries to hold back a laugh but it's not use.

"I'm just looking at you," he expresses while his thumbs and fingers make the switch from clothes to bare skin.


"You have the perfect body," the basketballer continues as he kisses the lower abdomen in front of him.

"Oh! Umm---"

"You are the perfect boyfriend," another kiss happens slight higher. "You are my heart. I wouldn't want to be doing this with anyone else but you."


His lips touch skin again on his boyfriend's abs while his hands move up and down either side of his slender naked torso. Slight wetness is on his stomach but the warmth and pleasure makes it sinfully delicious to experience. Justin's hands rest on the shoulders in front of him and his eyes are closed and glazed over while his torso is assaulted and his skin quivering for more. Fingers hook onto his basketball shorts and slowly slide them down; they are thrown aside and will never be looked at again for this night. Kobe's eyes light up when he sees the front of his lover's boxers bulging and wanting attention. He gropes him through the silk fabric and Timberlake throws his head back when he feels his most intimate area being touched and seduced. That article of clothing too comes off and the R&B songster springs to life with an agreement of being touched all over again. Lust is building.

The shooting guard wraps his lips around the head of his man's dick and sucks on it while his hands roam and explore his back. This is all about bliss and he wants their last night here together to be as special as every other night they have spent here as a couple has been. A place that no one knows about. A place that he has had at least two arguments with his girlfriend Vanessa because they could not be together for the holidays. That is something he will have to deal with once he knows that Justin is okay and ready to join the real world again. Bryant moves his mouth deeper and further as he essentially tastes his boyfriend. It is not repulsive or disgusting as it is made out to be. He loves him. He loves this. Hearing the moans and grunts that he solicits is only encouragement to do more and never stop. Timberlake's hand moves off of one of his broad shoulders and rests it on his head for it to keep going.

The R&B star feels more of his hard rod being engulfed and hands switch from his upper body to his lower portion, specifically his balls. He massages them gently through his fingers and then they slip away because Justin pulls back and looks down at him. There is something there. The taller man cannot explain it but there is something different in his eyes. A true lust clouds them. It is noticeable even in this dark. He feels as Justin tugs at his lower stomach to remove his tank top. It slide off his upper body and is thrown away too. Timberlake then drops to his knees on the floor and unbuckles his man's belt while he is still sitting on the edge of the bed. His jeans slide off as do his boxers and they are both naked now. Kobe remembers the last time his boyfriend was even remotely this dominant but this time he is more focused. Driven even. It is far more alluring than the first time he was like this.

"You had too much clothes on---" the former N*SYNCer is saying.

"Now I'm just like you."

"Imagine that."

Still on his knees in front of his chocolate basketballer, he moves in and puts his dick in his mouth. Justin moves his head up and down but it is an uncomfortable position. His knees are getting cold because the floor is freezing but he will not stop. Bryant falls back on the bed and rests both hands on his boyfriend's head for encouragement. But he feels cold. He immediately sits back up and looks down for a moment. He stops him from continuing and grabs onto his waist to throw him on the bed. It is warm there and they can carry on with what they both obviously want. The songster lands on his back on the bed with Kobe on top of him, kissing him aggressively. But he quickly turns around and presses his man into the bed with his lips turning into the aggressor. Timberlake rests his legs astride of his lover's body and holds both his hands over his head in capture. He is imprisoned here.

"Looks like you're caught," the singing star unfolds his game.

"Apparently so," he concludes in a sexy tone. "What am I going to do?"

"Well---what are you willing to do?"

"I don't know but please don't hurt me---" the Los Angeles Laker continues with the charade.

"Hurt you? Oh no baby---" Justin coolly says while getting ever closer to his lips and neck. "I would never dream of hurting you," he kisses his man's neck. "Torturing is something completely different though," he whispers into his ear before biting him on his neck.

"Oww! Oww! Oww!"

He sinks his teeth deep into that delicious chocolate skin and does his best to keep his flailing boyfriend in control while he tortures him. Kobe's expression is of slight pain mixed with laughter but always pleasure. His hands cannot move and his head darts back and forth in an attempt to get away from those sharp teeth. This is rough but fun and exciting at the same time. Timberlake finally removes his teeth and neither has a chance to breathe before he devours his man's lips in a sinful kiss. Their bodies grind together as hands explore naked flesh for the last time of this year and until when they do not know. Neither having a set schedule makes moments like these all the more special and precious. The basketballer enjoys this dominant side of his lover and it puts him in a comfortable place for what is about to happen. He is not weak and no one can tell him otherwise. This is right between them.

His tongue licks the wounded flesh of Bryant's neck and then he goes lower until he is teaching his chocolate brown nipples. Everything about his body is perfect and it is still amazing how different their shades of skin are. This will never be a black and white situation though; it is about love in its finest form. He licks the skin of his abs and then moves back up but then his boyfriend gets impatient and rolls him over to the bed. Justin looks up and into his eyes and they share a sensual kiss as he holds his head. Kobe moves down his body leaving kisses in his path until he ends up over his man's neglected pole. He sucks as much as he can and plays with his balls to get him ready. He wants this. There is nothing more he wants right now. A way to less complicate his life would be nice though. Things will never be that easy. He licks and sucks Timberlake's shaft to get him more excited than he is.

"Uhh---" the singer drums out. "That feels so good."

"It'll feel even better soon. I'm ready."

Timberlake takes the words into his brain and leaves them there until he is forced to make another action to keep up in momentum with the evening. They kiss and touch and grope because both are ready for what lies beyond. Kobe's back is pressed against the bed once more and try to relax himself for what is about to come. He should not be worried though. This is love. There is no doubt. His boyfriend positions himself in between both his long legs and gets ready for the inevitable. It feels right and he wants to experience this immeasurable pleasure that Justin has been feeling all this time. He is unaware when those icy blue eyes are focused solely on him as he stays in his own thoughts. There is no denying he is nervous but intrigued at the same time. Bryant feels a finger pressing against his lips and he looks up for their eyes to meet. A silent and encouraging nod allows him to move forward with this.

The head of his dick kisses his boyfriend's virgin hole and there is a slight moment of hesitation and doubt. In a twisted way, he has the power and control of this situation. It has never been about that but it is a strange feeling. Now, in every way their relationship will be equal. He tells Kobe to relax and once the words sink in, he starts to push in. Justin feels enormous pressure because of his lover's tightly constricting anal ring but he keeps going. There is a strong grimace on his face as he is being invaded for the first time. Things are slow and sensual so he can become comfortable with it all. It is a lot to get used to. And especially for it being the first time for him. The baller motions for him to stop so he can cope with the pain and discomfort but he tries to put up a brave front. As if nothing is wrong. But it really hurts and feels awkward too. The R&B megastar loves him even more for it.

The Los Angeles Laker pushes against Justin's clenched abs to stop him from going any deeper because it hurts. There is minimal pleasure but it is there and it is addicting. It is the only thing that wants to keep him going further. He bends in carefully and they kiss softly and smoothly so the pain can be concealed. This is their moment to experience it all with each other and nothing will ruin it. Not his father. And not his girlfriend. Timberlake whispers something in his ear and moves back to his lips all the while pushing more into him. Kobe clenches up as his insides become torn muscles to accommodate his lover's pole. His insides are so tight and untouched. This is what the first time feels like. He is finally experiencing it from the other end of the spectrum and it is different as well as overwhelming. They will be fully connected again and that connection will have to last them for the future.

"Dammit! Stop. Wait there," Bryant breath is shallow and pained.

"Okay. Relax---relax," he coos while brushing his lips against his face.

"Uh---oh. That feels good."

"I know what to do to make you feel good. This will feel good too."

"I guess you do," Kobe replies with a much stronger voice.

He has to be strong. This pain is bad but he has been in far worse pain before. Another nod finally allows the young singer full access into him and his entire dick is ultimately buried deep inside his boyfriend's body. A moment of stillness follows until Justin pulls back and then pushes forward gently to create a rhythm for himself. Tissue inside is breaking but he could care less because the pleasure is coming in buckets so it feels too good to stop. Kobe's long fingers scratch into the bed and a small grunt escapes his lips while his man gets to work on gradually deflowering him. The plunges are initially easy and sensitive so that the transition is as painless as possible but the tightness of him drives Timberlake over the edge. He wants it all without have the patience to wait. But he forces himself to remain at this current slow and acclimating pace. There will be another sign and he just has to wait for it.

It is like being a kid on Christmas morning all over again. He wants his presents now. The shallow thrusts continue and lips are locked and fingers scrape against bare skin. The basketballer breaks the kiss and whispers only one word to him and then the anxiousness is gone. He is ready. Rhythm and speed work together to create a motion and pace that is full of pure bliss and harmony. Their bodies are one and the connection there gets stronger every time they are together. Justin grumbles as he slams in and out because it feels so good. He never imagined it would feel like this. His boyfriend still feels pain but the more this happens, the more it goes away. Kobe hooks his long legs around his lover's torso and it only enhances his sense of feeling even more. Things evolve from there and the touches are harder and the kisses are destructively sinful. Bryant moans softly in his mouth and closes his eyes.

The former N*SYNCer plows deep into him and holds himself there before drawing out and bursting his way back in. This newfound pleasure is a new form of gratification and expression that will have to happen more often. His mind cannot focus on anything else now but this pleasure because it is a drug. Nothing else matters. The crash on stage. His parents. The real drugs. Moments like these are untouchable and cannot be sullied by lingering doubts and thoughts of any problematic situations. Kobe holds the back of his head as the passionately kiss and while tongues wrestle and dart at one another for supremacy. Intimacy between them is something Justin is positive he has never experienced with anyone else before. This is how he knows it is real. It is like his boyfriend is able to touch his soul and caress and comfort it especially when they are like this. Whenever he is scared or lonely or hurt.

Thrusting reaches its pinnacle momentum with both lovers groaning and hissing into the large room. Justin backs off his lips and sits up straight to concentrate more on his strokes and the baller takes this time to reach for his attention-starved dick. It is rock hard and wanting release in the worst possible way. They both do. He removes the long legs from around his lower waist and holds them up with his hands to make more sinful thrusts happen. It is the first time and he is not sure he is reaching that special spot yet. Timberlake remembers the first time; Kobe managed to hit his special spot in one of his thrusts but he made it look easy that night. He wants his man to see all those colorful stars and spots but the warm friction and moist tightness are all conspiring against him to end it all. The goosebumps on their skin and the heightened sensation of touch and smell has the couple surrendering to it all.

Neither can go on much further under this intense pressure. Bryant experiences an odd combination of pleasure and pain because the thrusts are deep now. He must be so close. Justin selfishly grabs onto his man's dick and forces his hand away to jack him off while he is plowing him. He wants there to be a perfect rhythm between them. It will only make the end result that much more gratifying. It takes a few tries but he manages to get it right so the optimum effect is achieved. The combination of his tightness and the heightened sensitivity makes Timberlake's echoes incoherent and fulfilling. He continues to plow into his lover while Kobe's legs hook back around him. The R&B songster speeds up in the finale of the moment and jacks his boyfriend's dick until he convulses and shakes as splashes the white sticky liquid all over his ridged stomach. The animalistic lust and desire has won out in the end.

The tightness that follows is indescribable. His insides suddenly become almost impenetrable and that gratification pushes him off the top. He forgets. The basketballer winds and moans as his once iron-hard rod slowly deflates but he is not paying attention either. Justin bursts inside him because he is too gone on pleasure to be fully aware of where he is. He is spent but the plunges continue. The friction falls away though and the cohesion that was one addicting has disappeared. The sensation feels weird. This whole scenario feels weird. But Kobe cannot bring himself to forget about it. Even though it is still happening, this experience has changed him and he wants more. He is not weak. Timberlake finally pulls out of his now no longer virgin boyfriend after fully emptying himself inside him. He licks his lips and then has no more energy so he falls onto the bed like an asteroid plummeting to Earth.

"That was---intense. Damn---" the satisfied shooting guard whispers in shallow breaths.

"Uhuh---" is the only reply.

Afterglow is appropriate sentiment for this intimate time. He moves closer and holds Justin's hand while he rests himself. So many new thoughts run through his mind now. He has to admit that when he was younger he thought this was demeaning and emasculating for any man to experience but it is different now. Bryant feels no less of a man because he let another man be intimate with him. He feels no disgust or remorse as his youth self would have led him to believe. The pain is real though. His insides are burning and it feels like he is bleeding but he is sure he is not. It feels weird. Timberlake's eyes flutter and the heat generated between their bodies fights away the frostbitten outside. Their hands are still bonded together and outside's howling winds is the only thing to be heard. Kobe looks up at the ceiling but then his eyes wander around the room to land on the clock hanging on the wall.

"Oh---happy New Year's babe," the basketball legend sweetly says into the silence.

"Huh?" Justin finally looks up and at him. "What time is it?"

"One minute after actually. I guess we have perfect timing."

"Happy New Year's Kobe. I love you so much."

They share a passionate kiss; the first one of the new year. Today is officially their last day here in the mountains of Colorado and it is a bittersweet feeling. But it must be so. He can no longer avoid his father and the public about his situation and Kobe cannot keep Vanessa at bay for much longer. She must already be suspicious and her mind is thinking of all the possibilities as to why they are not together for the first day of the new year. Justin keeps the kiss sweet because he is still recovering from their actions. It felt as if he gave his all during their lovemaking and although he is out of breath internally, this feeling of content and compassion blankets him. Bryant rolls over and ends up partially on top of him but their kiss is only innocent. This kiss will set the tone for the next long year. Nothing will happen with them. The foundation will remain concrete and their love will be sustained.

"I love you J. Oww---oww---" the baller softly cries out when he tries to move back. "God---"

"Relax baby. Lie back and take it easy. It'll go away," Justin sits up and guides him back to the bed while saying.

"This hurts really bad."

"Do you want some painkillers?" he asks as he begins to get up. "I'm going to check the medicine cabinet---"

"No---oww. There's none anyway."

"Why'd you say no if there isn't any?"

"Nothing. I'll be fine."

Timberlake looks at him, "I know the pain too."

"I couldn't anyway Justin. I don't know how---"

"What? Tell me."

"How the painkillers would react to the steroids."

There is still that reality. The truth is that there is a small part of the singer that resents the fact that he takes these drugs and now that he knows the delicate reason behind it all, it is a piece of worthwhile information. But that manipulation will never come about in a distasteful way because this is a dire situation. He hears his boyfriend whispering something under his breath; the pain is still there. This subject is a delicate spot of their relationship so it must be approached with caution. There has never been any judging. Timberlake looks down at him as his eyes are closed and apparently trying to get some sleep to escape. A new year means new change. Ruthless cold freezes over the windows yet again but he remembers the lake in the back. It's worth trying. Kobe rolls to his side and now they are facing each other for the last time they are here together. The basketballer feels eyes on him so he opens his own.

"What are you thinking about?" Bryant asks.

"The first time I saw the lake. It's amazing."

"I'm glad I could share it with you."

"We can---share---anything with each other right?" Justin begins.

He looks deeper for a meaning of the question then, "We can. You know we can. I can't talk to anyone else the way I talk to you. You don't feel the same way?"

"No---I do."

"So what's this about? Dammit!" he rests his hand against his lower abdomen.

"We'll talk about it later. Let's get some rest," the slightly worried singer changes his tune to protect them.

"Later when?" Kobe questions with his hand still clutching his lower stomach. "We're leaving here in a couple hours. Talk to me Justin."

"I want you to stop taking steroids."

Silence fills the air and the baller rubs his hand back and forth on his stomach. The pain is inside only but he cannot reach it. This conversation will be one of the hardest their relationship has had to endure thus far but everything must be said. Lines must be drawn in the sand. Boundaries have to be respected. Justin's feelings have to be explained and validated. He can tell that his boyfriend is thinking of the right combination of words to say to break this iceberg. Neither of them wants this to evolve into a fight and now that the former N*SYNCer knows the true reason for the drug use, it has become his leverage. A small sliver of regret dawns on him for bringing up the subject only hours into the new year but he will make this the perfect moment to deal with this. Kobe rests back on his pillow and looks up at the ceiling as the silver light of the Moon dances serenely above them. Not now baby.

"We need to talk about this---" Timberlake approaches the topic again.

"Why? I thought we already did."

"We didn't."

"No---" he intercepts. "We did but you didn't like the answers you got the first time so here we are again."

"Kobe---I can't deal with this."

"And I keep telling you that nothing's going to happen. It's the same conversation. Like always---" Kobe says amidst the burning pain.

"I never believed you took them for your game. Why'd you decide to tell me?"

"Because you deserved to know. But now you only have more questions. I know you---"

He thinks for a while before offering, "I don't think it's healthy."

"They're steroids Justin---of course they're not healthy."

"No. I meant still harboring this abandonment from your dad."

"And why wouldn't I still feel it? I was never his son. I was only his clay. To mold into his basketball prodigy. You don't know what that feels like. You have parents that love and adore you for you. They didn't have any secret agenda to make you into a singer from the day you were born. Do you think they would love you any less if you were a lawyer or a plumber instead? I never had any of that. I never had the option---"

His tone is rising slightly because of the anger of it all but they will get through it. Justin will not stop trying to get him as far away from those drugs as possible. And the fact that it is used to suppress past feelings of anger and resentment terrifies him even more. He fears what his boyfriend will do if all of that hostility managed to win out in the end. That can never happen. The former boybander holds on to his hand for comfort but more for support. Talking about this will help him. He has to get to a new place tonight or it may be next to impossible in the future. Timberlake picks up their pair of hands and kisses his man's. Bryant looks over to him, desperate to give him the answer he truly wants. But he could not handle himself without the high that has become his father's approval of him. There is no way he can go back to being that scared kid. He is unaware this is a disease now; it is consuming.

"I know just thinking of it is scary Kobe but---" he starts.

"I'm not scared!" the Los Angeles Laker snaps out. "I'm not scared."

"Okay. Okay---"

"I don't think I can do it."

"Stop it. Lean on me. Let me take care of you."

"You won't be with me every day," Kobe states the obvious to him.

"I know but you have to learn to lean on yourself. You can't keep doing this. What if the association does a random drug test? What then? This will ruin your career. Your endorsements baby. Think about it."

"Don't you think I know about all that? It's all I think about but I can't stop."

"You said you couldn't stop two times already. You're addicted Kobe. You're addicted to these steroids. Don't you see---"

"I'm not! Don't ever say that again."

Timberlake stops to regain his thoughts and then, "I won't lose you to this. I want you to stop Kobe. I'm serious. I understand that your father let you down---"

"---Let me down? He destroyed me!" the baller's voice almost breaks.

"And now you're destroying yourself. You're in the same position you fought all those years ago to get out of. The method may have changed baby but it's the same thing. You have to get him out of your head. You have to let this go and move on. You're only sabotaging yourself---"

"Stop---" Bryant trails off slowly.

"This will destroy you. Why can't you see that? I love you baby and I'm scared for you. You're too good for this. Get your father out of your head and release yourself from his control. You are good enough. You have always been good enough---"

"Leave it alone!" he harshly yells out to the room. "I---don't want to talk about this anymore."