NOTES: All made up, for entertainment only. Thanks to Younger, as always and especially for transcription. And to Shana and Kelly.


In the end he said fuck it because he was tired and why not just do it. So Lance came out and it wasn't grainy pictures but it was a prime ass fuck up. Some stupid party and MTV was broadcasting live from one corner and they knew MTV was coming, but the camera crew came late. He wasn't drunk, but Justin had just blown him so he could blame that for his lack of attention. He doesn't. They didn't know the cameras were there, figured MTV hadn't shown, missed the lights and the boom mike amid everything else going on. And so, Justin was draped all over him and Lance had his arm around Justin's waist and right there, going live to the all of the Eastern Standard Time zone, Lance said, "I'm so gay, I'm completely gay" in response to a comment he can't recall at all. He was in the background of the shot, but the MTV bitch wasn't talking and it was all very very clear.

He could have gotten out of it. He'd covered up and escaped worse, actually, actual videos of things and boys with pictures. But forty-five minutes after it happened, Lance, Justin, Johnny, the rest of the guys and the PR person they called in the dire emergencies were standing in a back room and Lance said, "Fuck it." Fuck it, and he wasn't going to worry about it anymore.

The biggest surprise of the night, more surprising than his own decision to come out, was the way Justin looked up and said, "Right, fuck it. Me, too. Let's do this." Lance still doesn't completely understand why Justin chose to come out, too.

It's been six months since they came out and Lance saves every tabloid photo, every one he can find scouring online, he saves all of them and sorts them by month and he has over 800 pictures on his hard drive. He feels like an obsessed teenie. Because he's "in love," because for the last six months, everywhere he goes, he has Justin by his side and they hold hands and kiss on the street and room together now on the tour and Lance only thinks it's gonna end with him killing Justin or vice versa once a week. After all, it's working. They're a story, they didn't lose all their audience because they had this love story to tell. Twu wuv, Lance thinks and rolls his eyes.

They weren't even dating. They'd been fucking on and off since the Celebrity tour but it was hardly a relationship. Even with the sex, Lance felt less close to Justin than any of the other members of the group.

The PR woman had dealt with worse but when both of them said they didn't want to cover it up, she sat down on the floor and covered her face for a second. Then she looked up and said, "How long have you two been dating?"

"We're not dating," Lance said. No more fucking making things sound right and fit the way he was supposed to be. "We're just, you know, fooling around."

Justin nodded.

The PR woman said, "No, we need to change that." And that was that, no more lying about liking guys, no more girlfriends he'd tried to love or girls he just brought to things, but one last lie to tell. The woman said, "You're in love. Starting now. Because we can't do this, we can't survive both of you coming out and then you say you're just fucking around." She paused and shuddered. "You're in love, so at least we have a nice story." One last lie.

They both agreed to it, after about ten minutes of discussion, they were officially in love, they'd officially been dating for the last six weeks and they absolutely positively could not break up for at least a year. They agreed because they wanted the band to survive, because of JC, Joey and Chris.

The hard part started right after that. JC swallowed and looked down. He crossed his arms and seemed to fold into himself. Lance said, "I won't say anything about anyone I've been with before now. I won't ever." JC looked up but he still looked smaller somehow. JC didn't say anything over the next two hours except, "Okay, you guys should do what makes you happy. It's fine."

They refused to hold hands on TV and cry. They hadn't just come back from rehab or something like that. Lance did two print things, one TV with Justin, Justin did two TV things and a few interviews with the big papers. A quiet coming out on their part, no press conference, just a statement.

The plan, before the party, had been for the band to do some work in the studio, but Justin's solo album was just about to come out so their lives had all been a little unscheduled. The record company shelved Justin's solo album two days after they came out so they decided to ramp up work on the group album. JC and Justin wrote some more songs, they finished an album.

Lance had never sweated out first-week numbers more in his life. The single had done well, had been doing well, but. It had been three months then, three months of tabloid photos of every time they touched, two of Lance's exes spilling everything to the Enquirer and the Sun, and even one of the guys Justin had a one night stand with. Three months of being a punch line, even more so than before, three months of sick sites on the Internet he found without looking very hard, three months of Jive people staring and talking about lowered expectations. The fan club membership had gone down twenty five percent. Everyone's mail was being screened.

Lance had planned on all that, he'd thought, someday I will come out and these things will happen. He hadn't thought he'd be standing next to Justin proclaiming his eternal love at the time, but he knew. He'd always thought it would be after the group, too.

He'd even planned on the kind of shit he got from the gay community, too. Some of the activists, anyway. The editorials about coming out just to pump up sales on a flagging act, about how Lance could have made a difference if he'd done it sooner. Always more about Lance than Justin, because Justin made serious statements about how he had wanted to do it sooner, about how he felt bad about lying before. Lance didn't feel bad at all. Justin could worry about the whole world and all the starving children and being an example. Lance would worry about himself. And Justin.

The sales were better than expected. Barely made it to a million the first week, but the fucks from Jive didn't glare as much. They did studies, Lance knew, he'd made sure to get a copy, that showed they'd lost a portion of the teen audience, probably forever. They'd kept some, and picked more twentysomethings. They'd got better reviews. The kind they deserved for the earlier albums, Lance thought, and just because they came out they finally got a fair shake. Fuckers. Annoying but not surprising.

The nice, unexpected kick was the overseas sales. They finally sold well outside the US, and they planned a long tour, with actual dates in Europe. The tickets sold well, too, and Lance thought they'd weathered the worst of it. They weren't dead.

He wouldn't change it. Even the worst days, the days that start with Beth telling him about all his hate-mail, when the A&R guy from Jive winces whenever he looks at Lance and looks back at Billboard, when they perform and people in the back bring signs that says he's going to Hell, when he's reminded that JC still isn't speaking to him at all, all of that. He wakes up and he's happier to be out. And in a few months, in seven or eight months, he'll be free of Justin as his fake boyfriend and he still has a career and a band and he's out now and it's good. It's really good to only tell one or two lies in an interview. And just be himself.


Justin wakes up slowly but he's awake and he climbs out of the bunk. Walks to the kitchen area and realizes Lance is up and in the bathroom. They don't share a bunk unless they had sex the night before and they didn't last night, so. They have sex a lot. They can't sleep with anyone else but it's funny to Justin that he's been fucking Lance on and off for a pretty long time now, and for the last six months exclusively. But it's not every night.

Justin starts the coffee, for him and for Lance. Chris is still asleep, he knows. Justin grabs his cereal and puts a waffle thing like Lance likes in the microwave. Lance, Lance, Lance, and Justin's been saying he loves Lance in so many interviews he can't say it and mean it anymore. He and Lance will be okay to break up and Justin will meet someone, probably a guy, and he'll have to say it in German or learn sign language because it's the only way the sentiment will be real to him.

When Justin was seventeen he told his mom he thought he was a little bit gay. Like thirty percent, maybe. His mom laughed and Justin got pissed and said it wasn't like being fucking pregnant or something, he could be just a little gay. She gave him a look and he apologized for sassing her. She said, "I think that's called bisexual, honey, and you know, it's okay." She already knew, of course.

When he was eighteen, there was Chris for a little while. Then Britney and even while he loved Britney and was absolutely and completely turned on by her and had sex with her as often as he could, even for all of that he realized more and more he needed to revise that thirty percent up. He thinks now it's really more like seventy percent. He only cheated on Britney seven times but they were all guys.

It made him feel bad. Not the being gay part, he doesn't feel bad about that at all. But he felt like he couldn't say anything and more and more his reasons were only fear. He couldn't say anything because things were the way they were and they might change but, for now, nothing. And for things to change, people have to say things. They'd have to say they were bi or gay and Justin got older and richer and he still never said anything.

One person doesn't change much but you have to try, he thinks. He knows he did the right thing. He kinda wishes they hadn't shelved his album, he kinda wishes he wasn't required to be Lance's fake boyfriend but he accepts it.

It's not that bad. He likes Lance. At least, they fuck a lot and Lance isn't the most hateful person in the entire world. And everything's been a little bit easier with someone at his side, going through the same thing. Lance isn't so bad. The toaster dings and Justin gets out Lance's waffle. Puts the butter next to the plate and some syrup. He pours a cup of coffee and puts it next to the food.

Lance comes up behind him, warm against his back and say, "Thanks," lips brushing across Justin's neck.

Justin reaches back and squeezes Lance's thigh and says, "No problem," and goes back to his own breakfast.


Lance wakes up and doesn't open his eyes. Hotel, he thinks. Canada, he thinks. Hotel in Canada and when he opens his eyes he needs to check if this is Toronto or Montreal and fuck, how could he have those two confused. Justin is lying half across Lance and Lance is pretty sure Justin has drooled on his chest. Lance moves his hand and rubs Justin's back.

It's a delicate procedure. He starts to shift slightly and shoves Justin very very gently. He doesn't want to wake Justin and he wants to get out of bed. After only six months, he has more experience slipping out of a bed he shares with Justin than a bed he'd shared with JC. But JC was different. JC was real, for one thing. JC was less prone to make Lance his personal pillow after sex. Okay, stop, Lance thinks. JC won't say he's gay. Or even not straight. JC just sleeps with men, and for a while, he slept only with Lance and said nice things and then they stopped. JC isn't talking to him, JC won't stand next to him in group pictures anymore and that's what's going on. And Justin is the one he had sex with last night.

He's managed to move Justin to Justin's side of the bed and he can get out of bed. He opens his eyes and walks to the bathroom. While he's peeing, he glances over at the counter. Justin has a lot of hair products. Lance has more than the average man, about the same as the average gay man, he thinks, grinning, and Justin has more. Lance prefers the curls, so he refuses to tease Justin about it.

It's a fucking annoyance because they're big enough, even now, that Lance shouldn't be sharing a hotel room. Even a really big room like this one. But, no, he's in love. Every hotel room on this damn tour is like this, Lance and Justin's stuff squeezed into some oversized room that always only has one bed. Lance thinks about stretching out, taking over an entire king sized bed and sleeping spread out and sighs.

Justin's shit isn't quite thrown everywhere, but it's still all over the place. He always takes the top of the dresser for his bag and Lance used to be able to put his things there. Lance is pretty far from being ready for this kind of domesticity.

He finishes brushing his teeth. He cracks his neck and that's that. His ten minutes in the morning of hating Justin and hating living with Justin over for the day.


Justin likes London. It's nice that they're selling well overseas this time, even if it is riding Britney's coat-tails in a way. That's how Lance describes it, he says, "It was great publicity for us, you know, in every country where Britney's big and we're not. So, everywhere but America. Even if the first they'd really heard of us was Brit's ex prefers boys."

Still, they're in London, the album is selling. They have actual shows to do, in good sized places. Justin grins and plays with his water bottle. Today is press. A shitload of press. The usual day of thirty minutes with reporter after reporter. They're divided up, Joey and JC in one room, Chris, Lance and Justin in the other.

Lance steps out to the bathroom during the break between reporter three and reporter four and Justin looks over at Chris and says, "You're not mad at me, right? It's all okay?"

"You ask me that every month. And every month I say, it's good. I'm happy you came out. I'm okay. We're doing good, J." Chris grins. "How are you doing? With your fake boyfriend?"

"Good, you know. Except for the part when he's completely annoying and an anal prick." Justin looks over at Chris and looks back at his water.

"At least you two still fuck like bunnies. Cause that would really suck, you know, fake boyfriend and you aren't even getting any."

Justin shrugs and Lance comes back in at the same time the next reporter walks in the door. The reporter introduces himself and sits down, sets up his mini recorder. His first question is: "Did you two come out to gain publicity for a flagging career and finally penetrate the international market?"

Lance leans back in his chair and says, "Yes. Do you think it's working, because we don't have that much left to do to suck up for free press."

Chris cocks his head and says, "I can still go public with my affection for goats in red panties."

Justin loves both of them right then. The reporter's a prick, something he thinks the foreign press works hard on. Cheeky questions, it's a specialty. Justin fields the usual about Britney, about how he loved her and yes, he cheated on her, he feels awful about even now and not with Lance and she's really great. Lance says that everyone's been really great about the "big gay thing," and he doesn't even flinch when he mentions how supportive JC is, how supportive all the guys are.

Chris is actually supportive, unlike JC. Now that everyone knows Chris doesn't treat Justin any differently in public or private. He still spends a lot of time with Chris, even if he sometimes has to bring Lance.

No one else knows it's a sham. Or mostly a sham. Just the guys, Johnny, Justin's parents, Lance's parents, Britney because Justin insisted and she's still his best friend next to Chris and the PR lady who thought it all up. Even the bodyguards, Justin thinks, are pretty convinced Lance and Justin are starry-eyed over each other. Or, really, the bodyguards think Justin and Lance are actually dating. The bodyguards probably think Lance and Justin have one of those relationships where they snipe at each other all the time and then have lots of sex and call it love. It kinda bugs Justin that the bodyguards probably think he and Lance have a fucked-up relationship. It is fucked-up, but Justin isn't the kind of person who thinks a real romantic relationship is a combo platter of sex and veiled hostility.


Another awards ceremony, and they're nominated and they won't win. Lance sighs and he thinks no one even hopes they'll win this time. Red carpet time and Justin grabs Lance's hand. Same as ever, really, with all the flashes of light and people shouting things. Someone screams out "cocksucking fag," and Justin grips Lance's hand hard. Lance squeezes back and says, "I'm very grateful for that." Justin grins and Lance is almost glad. Glad to make him smile, glad to make the moment suck less for Justin. It's what they do.


Justin is pacing and Lance would kill him, it's incredibly tempting. He tells himself for the twentieth time that celebrities do not always get away scot-free. He looks at the laptop and he doesn't know why he bothers sometimes. He's shifted the managing stuff. His own investments don't require that much time. He's not allowed to act anymore, or really, no one wants him. He's not appropriate for family fare and he's been told Seventh Heaven in particular never ever wants his gay self back. There's still movies to produce, and he's already done with that. But the work is so enticing. Especially when Justin is pacing and just being. Not saying anything. Just pacing.

Lance slaps the laptop closed and turns around. "What the fuck, Justin?"

"I'm just," Justin says. He shrugs. "I'm bored."

Lance stands up and grabs Justin's arm as he walks to the bed. He pulls Justin down on top of him and they're kissing. It's hard and rough, this afternoon, without words.

And then it's done and they lie on their backs on the bed and pant and Justin says, "Okay. Wanna go to dinner?"

They haven't had one of those intimate nights out in a few weeks so Lance says, "Sure. Let's go out. And after, we can go dancing."

When they're both showered and dressed, they walk out the door and Justin grabs Lance's hand automatically. At first Lance thought the constant hand-holding was a lesson well learned from three years of Britney. Then he thought it was a bid for reassurance and now, he doesn't even think about it. He hopes Justin doesn't realize all the times Lance has wanted to squeeze until Justin's hand breaks or shake off Justin's hand and wipe his own against his thigh. Because now he doesn't mind so much. Justin's hand is warm and his grip is firm and they walk down the hall with the bodyguards trailing.


When they first came out, Justin was never sure if he was being convincing in his affection for Lance. They'd go to some restaurant while they were recording and Justin would remind himself to lean in, to take Lance's hand once in a while. He felt weird kissing Lance when there were cameras around and there are always cameras around. He did it anyway. It was a blow to some stupid conception of the world where he could hold Britney's hand and not a boy's. Except the boy was Lance.

They have eight kinds of sex, Justin thinks. It's a relationship, even if it's not the type of relationship they say it is. Before they were just fucking and it was only that kind of sex, like you have with one-night stands, over and over again. They can't have sex with anyone else with all the tabs following them so they don't. They're both clean so now they don't use condoms anymore and that's nice.

They have bored sex, when they're both bored and stuck on the bus together or in the hotel room they have to share. It's usually slow because they have time to kill. They have bored and irritated sex, when they're stuck together, and every little fucking thing Lance does grates on Justin's last nerve and Justin is probably doing the same thing to Lance. Then they're slow and rough.

They have hating each other sex when irritation isn't close to a strong enough word. That's the sex that's rough and fast, when Lance hits his head against the headboard and Justin doesn't apologize. They don't talk those times and it usually works better to calm them down than their frequent fights do.

They have kinky sex. Justin just asks because it's not like Lance will break up with him if he wants do to something gross. And they're both clean. One day Justin says something about golden showers or water sports and Lance just shrugs. He says, "Okay, whatever, I have to pee now. Let's do it in the bathtub."

Justin gets up and strips before he lies in the bathtub. Lance takes off his shoes and pants. He's got his dick in his hand and Justin says, "What do I do now? Should I be, uh, jerking off here?"

"I have no idea, Justin. This was your idea. And just to be clear, I will never take a shit on you nor will you be taking a shit on me," Lance says calmly.

Justin says, "Fuck, that's gross. Pee is okay, but no poop!" Justin sighs. "Let me start jerking off and don't pee on my face, okay?"

Lance starts peeing and it's really weird but still hot. Then Justin scrubs himself clean. Lance spends a week winking at Justin every time he needs to pee.

They do other stuff, things Justin never had the balls to ask Britney or Chris back in the day. Lance has done way more than Justin has so it's kinda nice.

They have horny sex, because it's like a real relationship, Lance is still his, he's there. When Lance is horny, he uses his voice and he struts. It's fucking hot. That's the sex where they talk a little, even if it's just "God, like that," and "Fuck me harder, damn it." Hot and sweaty and nice.

They have morning sex, the kind where one of them wakes up and rolls over and wants it. The kind Justin doesn't think is possible with one-night stands. Just warm and uncomplicated.

They have evening sex, like when the day is over and they're tired or keyed up and Lance is there. He's always there. He's still hot to Justin, he still moves that swaggering, confident way that makes Justin hard, thank fucking goodness. The sex is good, release and Justin likes sex.

Every once in a while they have what Justin thinks of as connection sex. With Brit he called it making love. He doesn't love Lance like that but there are times. Days when Justin's so tired and worn from the booing and the things they hear every day, some days like that Lance smiles at him and kisses him softly and the sex feels like comfort. Like Lance knows how to make him feel better or at least wants him to.

Whatever kind of sex they have, it keeps getting better. Lance is a considerate lover, though maybe that's the wrong word. Lance pays attention and even when they're hating each other, he does things he knows Justin likes. It could be worse, Justin thinks, this fake relationship that's still something, at least Justin is still getting laid.


Sometimes Justin wants to strangle Lance because if he hears one more remark about how some people can actually be quiet and not beatbox every few seconds to remind people they're in the room, Justin really will do something. He will. But then he remembers right after they came out and how Lance came down to the CBS studio and stood to the side while Justin talked to the anchorwoman on the Early Show. Lance refused to be on camera but he still stood there and nodded when Justin spoke and smiled at him afterward. Lance says something in every interview these days about Justin's solo album, about how great it is. The album that won't ever come out. So Justin won't kill him. Today.

Lance's mom is on Oprah. Ever since Lance came out, his mom has become activist mom, as Lance's dad calls her. PFLAG, National Coming Out Day, you name it and Lance's mom is happy to stand up and say how proud she is of Lance. She knows about Justin, the real story, of course, but she makes sure to say how much she loves Justin. She doesn't exactly lie, at least, she doesn't lie as much as Lance does in interviews.

She says a lot about much she admires Lance, the way he lets all the hate roll off his back. Lance doesn't get it. People make jokes and he's heard them all before. He hears hisses and boos and that's nothing new either.

He wonders if there's something wrong with him, that he doesn't feel anything about all this. He thinks about asking Justin about it, he can't think of anyone else to ask, but he doesn't.

So Lance's mom is on Oprah and all five of them are sitting in Joey's room watching the episode. A woman stands up and asks Lance's mom how she can be happy about never having grandchildren and how she feels about her son going to hell.

JC stands up and walks about and Lance doesn't flinch. Justin and Joey do. Chris just stares at the TV.

Lance's mom starts talking sweet and calm. She's quick to say Lance isn't going to hell and somewhere in the middle of it Lance covers his face and starts to cry. He hears his mom still talking and the door opening. Someone, Joey he thinks, puts his arms around Lance. Lance sobs and bites it back and, he's wrong, it's Justin. Justin is holding him and Lance can't stop crying. Fuck, he thinks. He's turned into a fucking drama queen.

Justin says, "Mommas, you know. They can always make us cry."


The tour is so almost over. No more hotel rooms with Justin, because they're in love and why wouldn't they want a room together with just one big bed. No more sharing a bus with Chris and Justin even though Lance wanted it to be Justin, Lance and Joey but Justin won that coin toss. Almost over. And then back to his pretty house and a six week break after eight months of work. And some fucking time alone, because he won't have to be with Justin every single fucking minute of the day, just occasionally for dinner and sex.

Lance tries not to look forward to not seeing JC every day. He tries not to be hurt by the way JC won't talk to him at all. JC's problem, not his. JC with his new girlfriend that he's brought on tour for the first time ever. JC who says the nicest things, the most supportive things when the camera's on and somehow can still talk to Justin, but not Lance. And even if Lance understands, even if he gets it, Justin isn't the one JC slept with and said he loved more than once, so it makes sense, even with that. It still hurts a little. Just a little.

Today, for once, he gets to ride with Joey, at least to the venue because JC is coming separately, and Chris and Justin are in some marathon video game session. Joey sits next to him on the couch and shows him the latest pictures of Brianna. "She's the prettiest thing, ever," Lance says, grinning.

"Naturally, she takes after me, don't you think?" Joey laughs and then there's noise and they're near the venue. Lance looks out and it's protesters. They're at every show in the US, some traveling Fred Phelps brigade that carries signs and harasses people as they come to the show.

Joey opens the window, which they're never, never supposed to do and leans out to yell. He shouts, "Jesus loves me more than you" and "I'll see you sad fucks in hell and I'll be the one looking down!" The noise lessens and then gets louder again and Joey closes the window.

Lance rolls his eyes. "You don't have to do that."

Joey grins. "I do it every time, though, man, ask JC." Lance won't, but he believes Joey.

The show goes well, no mistakes, and only three shows left in this second leg, three more to go, Lance thinks. Sixty-six down, one in progress and three to go. Fifth song in and the signs start going up. Those people always get shitty seats and that's the part that annoys Lance most. Lance only read them once, squinting against the lights, they're easy to spot because the assholes always seem to use red on white, and there are these obscene stick figures. Something about him and Justin, he knows, unclean, God will punish you, blah, blah, blah. They've been at every show.

And since the third time the signs appeared, everything else is just about the same. JC misses a note and closes his eyes for the rest of the song. Joey grins because he knows security is already on the way to the seats where the sign-holders are, and they're all about to be thrown out and their signs seized. Chris and Justin grin because like always, right after the bad signs comes out, the seats on the floor suddenly start blooming with pride signs painted on pillowcases and happier banners. Lance only looks at one but he actually laughs for once. Some girl has written on a pillowcase "Lance, I have a really cute brother."

Just another show and as they're walking off stage, Justin drapes his arm around Lance's shoulders and kisses his ear and says, "Three to go, baby."


Lance is bored with Justin and that can't be good. He knows Justin in and out and he's tired of it. It's annoying. He knows when they get in bed that Justin will reach down the way Lance liked and now Lance doesn't. He's not even turned on by Justin anymore.

"Fuck," he says, stamps around his house, finds his keys and he gets in his car. He has to do something because he can't spend the next five or six months with Justin. He can't even imagine how much just the next week, three weeks of vacation will suck if he doesn't do something. When he gets to the health club spa place Justin went to in the morning, he parks by Justin's car and finds the bodyguards. He tells them he'll drive Justin home and waits.

Justin comes out showered and lean and Lance doesn't feel a thing. He sighs and waves to Justin.

Justin leans against the door and says, "Hey. Where's my car?"

"Told the bodyguards to drive it home. I'll take you back." Lance glances over at the corner of the parking lot. "There's photographers, Justin."

Justin bends over and kisses Lance, plasters a smile on his face.

Lance says, "Get in the car."

Justin looks out the window as Lance drives back to Justin's house. Lance says, "I was thinking. We could, we should go somewhere for the break. Get out of town."

Justin nods. Then he says, "Let's go somewhere. Let's, uh, no entourage or friends, you know? We need to talk and uh, we need to reconnect. We're not, you know."

Lance sorts out the uhs and you knows to get to whatever Justin is saying. He sighs and says, "Yeah. It would be good. Just the two of us, in a room full of people, you're the only one around."

Justin says dully, "That's not the way it is. We're not like that and fuck, we don't need to be but fuck it, Lance. I'm so fucking tired of you and we have to do this for five or six more months so fuck it, Lance. Let's go somewhere and actually talk before I kill you in your sleep."

Thanks to Beth's brilliance, they're checking into a resort in the Virgin Islands thirty hours later. They unpack their bags and Justin sits on the bed. He says, "Okay, we can talk now."

Lance grits his teeth and says, "What do you want to talk about?"

"Whatever. Just something, okay?" Justin sighs.

Lance sits down next to Justin. He can't think of a thing. He opens his mouth and hears himself say, "I'm glad you wanted to do this." He guesses he is.

"Good," Justin says. He kisses Lance's check and says, "That's probably enough for today. I need a nap."

They don't really talk much the next two days but somehow things get better. They play in the water and sit on the beach. Justin puts sunscreen on Lance's back and the slow pressure of his hands is actually a turn-on. Their second afternoon on the beach, Justin walks up to Lance after swimming, a little tan and dripping wet with the sun behind him. Lance puts his hand up to block the light and says, "Come over here."

Justin sits down next to him and Lance kisses him, hard and fierce. He's actually hungry for this for the first time in a month. Justin climbs on top of him and kisses him back with the same passion.

Justin says, "Photographers around?"

Lance rolls his eyes. He says, "I would fucking assume so, but actually I genuinely wanted to make out with you."

Justin grins. It's fucking annoying. Justin says, "Just fucking checking, man. I want you, too, I do." He grinds against Lance and it's easy to feel his erection against Lance's thigh.

"Well, fine. Just, you know, I'm not joking and when you say that --" Lance means to say more but Justin kisses him again and he decides not to bitch. They make out for a while, slow, nasty kisses and roaming hands and grinding against each other. Lance comes in his swimsuit and then they both run into the ocean.

There are photographers and two days later there are pictures. Lance clicks through each of them and stops at the last one. He says, "Fuck" quietly, but Justin hears him and comes over.

"What is it?" he says, glancing over Lance's shoulder.

Lance sighs. Justin'll see the pictures anyway. He maximizes it on the screen and leans back.

"Fuckers," Justin says. Lance glances at the screen. It's Justin, on the balcony of their hotel room, a view of him walking back into the room, unwrapping the towel around his waist. Justin has done that every morning they've been here, showered and walked out onto the balcony in just his towel before getting dressed. So, after all this time, the first shot of Justin's naked ass some fucker has ever taken.

"Fuckers," Justin says again. He walks away and slaps his hand against the table. "See," Justin says, clearly pissed, "I don't. I don't fucking mind if they take pictures of us, we're a story, we invited them in. Like fucking vampires, you have to invite them in. But my fucking ass, that's not a story. That's just fucking not fair." Justin sighs. He sits down and covers his face.

"I know," Justin says. "Not fair, who am I to say that? But fuck, Lance, I don't want pictures of my ass all over everywhere."

Lance looks at Justin, miserable and hunched on the couch. "I can get rid of it," Lance says.

Justin looks up and he's almost smiling. Then his face falls. He says, "You can't."

Lance knows that's true. But he can try because Justin looks really upset. He says, "I can try."

Justin sighs and walks over to Lance, rests his head against Lance's neck. "But thanks. Cause I know you'd try. But yeah, fuck it, I can't complain, right? I should've known."

They leave for New York City the next day and Justin's ass is already all over the web.


Justin has lunch with Britney at her restaurant in New York. He called her that night, when he'd decided, told her he was officially in love with Lance and she laughed. She's had to take a lot of shit from the press and she wasn't exactly happy that part of Justin's coming out included admitting that she and Justin had had sex, but they're still friends. She and Lance are still friends and right after the big coming out, Justin saw a picture of two of them, walking and Britney laughing her ass off. Justin asked and Lance told him Lance had asked her how she did it all those years, spending so much time with Justin. Brit told him it was easier for her because she had been in love with Justin and then she cracked up.

"So, yeah," Justin says. "I think we need to get a real portrait. Like, with a professional photographer, one of the good ones."

Britney laughs. "You mean, a famous one, right? There's eight million pictures of you two, Justin."

"I know, but see, Cribs, man. They, uh, called and they're gonna come over and do my house. And I just had it redecorated, so I'm very excited." Justin laughs and plays with his salad.

"You're so gay," Brit says, giggling. "I just had the house redecorated! Listen to you." She snorts. "So your new décor requires a nice picture of you and Lance?"

"It does. And so I say this to Lance and he's all, whatever. And he says what you said, about how there are eight million pictures of us. And of course, it's Lance. He literally has all of them saved on his computer. All of them, swear to God," Justin says.

"Does he have them sorted and stuff? Honestly, I assume he has them all sorted." Brit grins even wider.

"He does! Sorted by month. And some of them are okay, but, you know, they're just not right. I need something to put by the bed, you know?" He only liked a few of the ones Lance had saved; the ones where he could tell Lance really felt something standing there.


Someone Diane has done something with gets Justin's number and calls him about it and Justin says, "Yes, for sure. I mean, I can guarantee me, I'll talk to everyone else."

He calls a meeting and JC's off doing something so he's there by speakerphone. Justin starts in. "See, there's this thing. It's a benefit, in three weeks. For lobbying efforts to get ENDA passed."

"ENDA?" Chris says, grinning.

"The Employment Non-Discrimination Act. It's a federal law so people can't be fired or not hired because they're gay," Justin says.

"There are already laws like that," Joey says. "Aren't there?"

"There are state laws, but some states don't have laws like that, and never will and this would be federal. It's a benefit thing, but mostly it's just a concert thing where they'll have some cool thing to invite people to and wine and dine the right congressmen who are all on the fence and stuff. And I thought, maybe, we could all go down to DC and perform at it." Justin looks at Lance who's just tapping his fingers on the table. Lance looks up and shrugs.

JC says, "Three weeks? Three weeks from now exactly?"

Justin tells him the date. JC says, "I can't do it. I've got this thing and this family thing. I'm sorry, guys, you should do it without me, but I can't be there."

Justin wonders if JC is lying. They won't say anything because Lance won't say anything and somehow this has all become something Lance gets to decide on. Joey glares for a moment at the speakerphone. JC says he has to go and everyone but Joey calls out goodbye.

"So, the rest of you?" Justin smiles.

Joey says he's there and Chris nods and Justin looks at Lance who says, "Do I have a choice?"

The four of them meet the next day at the compound to figure out what the fuck they're going to do with their twenty minutes of performance time when they won't have JC. Lance steps out after a few minutes to deal with some production thing on a movie and Joey says, "You think JC was lying?"

Chris sighs. "Probably."

Justin thinks it's bullshit. Lance and JC were whatevers for a lot longer than Justin and Chris were but Chris isn't freaking out and treating Justin like a fucking asshole because Justin came out. Justin doubts Chris lies awake at night worrying he'll be outed. But it's not the same with Chris, of course, since after Justin, he's stuck mostly to girls, by choice, Justin thinks. Chris probably is really only thirty percent gay. JC is way more than thirty percent gay and he acts like Lance is poison. Justin starts to say something but Lance is back and they go back to figuring out the set list.

"We could do a medley," Lance says.

Joey laughs. "Sure, here's all our biggest hits, with just the parts where Justin sang lead."

Chris grins. "That might work. We'll need to work on the arrangement, but it would work, I think."

Lance leans back in his chair. "At least we won't have to dance. I mean, it would look silly with just the four of us. Big empty space at different parts, right?" He's looking down, radiating lack of concern. Justin wonders for the hundredth time how much this JC thing is bothering Lance.

They decide to do the medley thing, and Gone because they can arrange around JC on that one, too. Half of one of the singles from the last album. And they still have eight minutes left to fill. Lance looks up and pokes Justin. He says, "We should do that song. From your album. The one I really liked, with the dumb title." He grins, but Justin can see the tentativeness there.

Justin says, "I don't know." He loved that album, he thinks still it was really good. And all the record company told him was that they were taking it off the schedule, they would maybe put it back on when 'things calmed down.' But things will never be calm enough because Justin isn't going back in the closet and Justin hasn't even listened to his cd of the tracks in months. It hurts.

Lance says, "You should. It's a great song." He smiles again. Joey nods and Chris says it's a good idea and Justin agrees. It won't be that bad. They pick another song to cover for the remaining four minutes and they get to work.

Lance and Johnny take care of calling the band together and Justin's touched that all the guys say they'll do it for free. Justin's already volunteered to cover all the incidental expenses like travel and hotels and the like.

Justin stays up late three nights in a row looking up stuff about the legislation. Lance points out that the group putting on the thing would be more than happy to send Justin a briefing book but Justin wants to make sure he knows everything. After the show, they'll need to mingle and Justin wants to talk effectively about this.

He feels stupid but he still writes a report with bullet points from what's he learned and from the briefing stuff the group sends him. He prints out three copies and gives one to each of the guys at their last rehearsal. Joey rolls it up and sticks it in his pocket and Chris asks if there will be a quiz on the plane.

Lance leaves his at the rehearsal space and Justin grabs it when he leaves. He drives over to Lance's and says, "Hey, are you not even gonna read it?"

"Man," Lance says, "You're the political one, here, okay?"

"But," Justin sighs. "What if people ask you things after the show, because there'll be people there, you know."

"Lots of people, Justin, of course," Lance laughs. He pulls Justin onto the couch and rests his hand over Justin's legs. "I'm sure if someone asks me something, I'll just say, 'Justin would be happy to talk about that.' Because I'll be standing right next to you, right?"

Justin nods and leans his head against Lance's shoulders. "Fine, but it wouldn't kill you to look at it." Lance just snorts and pulls Justin closer.

The show goes okay, maybe even good. People seem to like the song from Justin's long lost solo album and Lance smiles at him when he's done, mouths "good for you." It still just makes Justin sad. He knew people would like it, it's a fucking good song. Sounded great on the album and now it's shelved. But the rest is good, people cheer and the ones in front cheer even louder when he takes Lance's hand as they get off the stage.

He hasn't done any of these political things since coming out and he just wants to show he's not some idiot. So when the whole show's over, he takes Lance's hand again and smoothes his tie and reviews everything he studied. Congressmen and aides come up to talk him and it never comes up. They just want his autograph for their kids. The most he ever gets out is "it's an important cause." As the party is winding down he stands in the corner with Joey and Kelly and says, "Well, okay, I guess we did something here, right?"

Joey laughs. "They didn't want to hear your talking points?"

"They just wanted to shmooze." Justin sighs and looks down, blushing.

"Well, we still did something," Joey says. "We were here and we weren't afraid to show our faces."

Kelly smiles at him. "A man stands up, and that counts, too." Joey looks serious for a second and then he nods.


Lance is even used to Justin's smell now. It's not so strong, it doesn't linger on his sheets, but nine months and counting and he's used to it. Expects it. Justin switched to Neutrogena Rainbath for his soap a few months ago, said, "sure, it's girly, but I'm out of the closet, I can use it now." Sweat and the sharp tang of Rainbath and something particularly Justin.

Lance sighs and brushes at his shirt, like the faint smell of Justin will just come off. It's not even Justin's shirt so he doesn't know why he can still smell it. He doesn't really mind, he knows. He thinks this shirt was at Justin's for too long, and he just retrieved it tonight for this party. The party that Lance has spent a very enjoyable week planning. Joey and Chris insisted on a blowout before they all went back into the studio.

Joey also insisted that Lance arrive early, without Justin, which makes Lance nervous. He wonders what's come up. He wonders for a moment if Joey knows something about Justin. If Justin has cheated on him or something. But there's no way. Justin wouldn't.

"Probably nothing," he says to the empty house, and walks up the stairs to the study. "Meet me in the study," Lance says, "like he's fucking James Bond. Or a lawyer."

He walks into the study and Joey's leaning against a chair, talking quietly to JC. They both look up at Lance and JC looks away. Fuck. Lance says, "Joey, what's the deal here?"

Joey's already walking to the door and he closes it and locks it. He says, "Lance, sit down." Then he looks at JC and says, "I'm not going into the studio with you until you say something, man. I'll fucking wait all night, and more. You look at him," and he waves at Lance, "and you say something real. No more of this, JC."

Lance starts to say something, to make Joey let them go, but then he looks at Joey and knows it's useless. JC is just sitting there, covering his face with his hands. It's long, long like forever before Joey says, "Come on, man. It won't leave this room, but fuck, you just gotta stop this."

Even longer to wait. All Lance can think is, he loved JC. Loves him still, maybe. His picture by Lance's bed still and they used to sleep together and JC even said it, more than once and now they haven't talked in nine months. He's okay with it, he was pretty sure he was. He knew, he knows JC isn't maybe so comfortable with things. With the way JC is. It's okay, he doesn't need this. He almost says it out loud. Lance looks at his hands.

JC makes a sound, something between a gasp and a sigh and something else. Lance looks up and JC still has his hands over his face. JC puts his hands in his lap and doesn't look up. Lance is okay with that.

JC says, "I'm sorry," his voice quiet but even. "I'm sorry because I know I've hurt you." Lance thinks, no, it's okay. It's okay. It's all okay. "It's not something I'm proud of. I'm not." JC sighs. "I'm not like you and Justin, I can't. I'm not okay with this. I'm not okay with being like the two of you, but I know. I should try. I'm sorry."

JC looks up and looks right at Lance. Lance can't breathe and he's never hated Joey as much as he does right now. JC has the prettiest eyes in the whole world. JC says, "I loved you. I still do, but I can't. And I'm not. I'm not even close to good enough for you and I know that. And I've hurt you by being like this. So. So, I'm sorry. And Joey's right and I can't keep hiding from you. So. I'm sorry."

Lance says, "Okay." He stands up and braces himself against the chair. "Okay, so we're okay and I'm gonna go now." He walks to the door and when he looks back, after he's unlocked the door and opened it, he looks back and sees JC curled in a ball in the chair and Joey standing behind him, one hand on JC's shoulder. Lance turns around again and leaves.

He leans against the wall in the hallway and closes his eyes. He thinks, fuck. This fucking hurts. Like the past nine months when he thought he was okay with everything rushing up to choke him. His chest aches. He can't breathe and fuck, fuck. Fucking hurts like nothing has. He thinks, it's over. And that hurts, too.

He smells Justin again, because Justin is standing in front of him, Justin puts his hand on Lance's waist. "Something wrong, baby? Cause you look fine and we have a party to get to." Justin, he can tell is smiling, Justin has no idea.

Lance opens his eyes and says, "Something's wrong. I need, you know, I just need a little time here, okay?"

Justin's hand tightens on Lance's waist. "Okay, I'll cover for you. You come down when you're ready."

Ten minutes to make sure he can smile at all the guests and look convincing. Two hours of laughing at the same jokes he always hears and only one drink and he never does see JC again that night. He only sees Joey as he's leaving, one arm around Justin. He says, "Seeya later, Joe." He doesn't look at Joey directly.

They go back to Justin's and Lance is grateful. Justin says, "You wanna talk?" Justin's already under the covers in just his underwear. Lance stands up and carefully removes his shirt, his pants.

Lance sits on the bed and says, "I don't wanna talk about this. Ever."

Justin says quietly, "What's this? Just tell me the subject, okay?" His voice sounds kind, not pissed.

"It's nothing. I just. I need to get some sleep." Justin turns off the light and curls up next to Lance. Lance doesn't fall asleep for hours and all he can think is over, over over. It's all over for real.


Justin feels good and things are great. Completely great. He sings James Brown as he walks down the hall. They're back in the studio and it's not the album that has to be good enough to make up for Lance and Justin being all gay and in love. It's an album that just has to be good. Better than the last one. Justin wants it to be great. The first week has been good.

For the last album, the big gay album, they couldn't get most of the producers they'd talked to. They weren't a sure thing at all, so Justin understands. And it worked out well; Justin and JC got a lot done on that album. They did ninety percent of the producing, almost, and they learned a lot. Justin shimmies down the corridor, he's stoked. He's fucking stoked and this is going great.

He gets to the room where JC is recording Lance's vocals and stops in the doorway. Lance is leaning against the board and looking down at JC and JC is grinning. And that's good. It's good that JC has stopped being an ass. Justin likes that. JC is sort of like a rueful puppy, he's eager and sweet now and trying to be better.

Lance looks up and says, "Yo," and rolls his eyes.

"Yo, homey!" Justin laughs and walks in. "I wanted to hear our song. Get yer ass in the booth." Justin pauses. "If JC is ready."

JC turns around and faces the board. "I'm ready."

Lance walks to the booth and says, "It's not our song. You should take that credit off, Justin, I had nothing to do with the song."

Lance is full of crap, as per usual. Justin had been working and working on this melody, playing it on his guitar around the house and then Lance was humming it, but not quite right and Justin got him to play it on the piano and then it all worked. Then Justin ran and got his guitar and Lance played something and it was a song. Lance is also full of crap because he knows full well that Justin practically transcribed one of their conversations for the lyrics and so, yes, Lance is full of crap and did indeed co-write the song. "You had a lot to do with, dude."

Lance shakes his head and puts on his headphones and winks at Justin. "You're full of shit, Timberlake, but I'm not gonna complain about the royalties if you want to give them to me."

JC laughs quietly and looks up at Lance and they're ready to go.


It's a fucking freebie, he'd be free and in the clear if he did because no one would know, no one would tell and Lance is getting hard as he realizes it. Ronnie, Ronnie who is always up for a quick fuck, is here, right here and in the basement of Lance's house and they have every reason to be here and no one would know. Ronnie wouldn't tell, Ronnie never told the other fifteen times they did this last year before Justin. Ronnie's hot, too, thin and taller than Justin, curly dark hair, and yeah.

Lance hasn't ever in his life since he started having sex gone this long only having sex with one person. He wants something new and he wants Ronnie. Ronnie turns around and smiles and moves closer. Lance reaches out, hooks Ronnie belt loop in his fingers and tugs him closer. They kiss, different from Justin already because Ronnie pulls Lance closer and there's nothing gentle about it.

Ronnie's hand is tugging at Lance's fly, skittering over the fabric and God, Lance is hard. He can't wait. Can't fucking wait for someone else's hand on his dick because it's always Justin and his big hands and Lance wants this so much. Ronnie breaks off the kiss and licks Lance's neck. Perfect, perfect, no one will know and Lance is already gripping Ronnie's ass and he has to remember to use a condom because he hasn't used one in months but Justin.

Lance steps back. Ronnie says, "What?"

Lance says, "I shouldn't. I just."

Ronnie squints. "Boyfriend?"

Sort of. And what the fuck, but Lance says, "Yeah." He can't and there's no reason, but he just can't. Lance says, "I'm sorry. Fuck."

Ronnie smiles and says, "It's okay. I have a boyfriend, too." Ronnie shrugs, Lance knows he has a boyfriend. Ronnie having a boyfriend hasn't stopped them before. "And yeah, let's, uh, let's go upstairs. No harm, no foul."

Lance decides to tell Justin about it because Justin's the only one who would understand, really. That it's so tempting when it's a freebie. He tells Justin at dinner, dinner at 1 a.m. when they've gotten home from the studio. "So, this morning, before I went to the studio, I almost made out with Ronnie, do you remember him?"

Justin slams down his fork. "Did you fuck him?"

"Excuse me? What the fuck, Justin? I kissed him, I stopped, what the fuck?" Lance sits back.

"I'm not supposed to be upset that you're just casually telling me about making out with some guy?" Justin stands up and pushes his chair back. "What the, damn it, Lance, why would you even want to?"

Lance stays in his chair. "Hi, you're not my fucking boyfriend. We're not committed here. Fine, sorry I told you, but I thought you would understand."

"Are you smoking crack? Understand what? What? Am I so fucking bad in bed you're desperate to get it from anyone? If you're gonna be catting around, could you please fucking inform me so I can be a lot more careful when I fuck your skanky ass?" Justin is pacing back and forth, his hands clenching and unclenching.

"Will you calm the fuck down?" Lance stands up and glares at Justin. "I didn't do anything. This has nothing to do with you. I'm not catting around. How the fuck can I cat around on someone who isn't even my fucking boyfriend? I didn't fuck him and if I HAD, I would've used a condom because I wouldn't do that to you. Calm the fuck down."

Justin leans against the counter, and covers his face. He sighs and puts his hands down. He looks tired but Lance is still pissed. "Look, Lance, I just. I don't get it. How can I have nothing to do with it? You're not my boyfriend, but you're with me."

Lance sighs. "God, Justin, it's not you. We're not having an issue, here. I just. God, Justin, I'm sorry I brought it up. I didn't do anything, I won't."

Justin rubs his eyes and walks upstairs without saying anything.

Lance tries to watch TV, but nothing's on and he's still pissed off. He calls Joey. "Justin is an irrational dork. I can't wait to break up with him."

Joey says, "Okay, sure," like he's not paying attention.

"Do you care?" Lance taps his fingers on the couch.

"I care, it's just. You know, I've heard this before." Joey laughs a little. "Look, what's up now?"

Lance sighs. "I kissed a guy and didn't do anything else and started to tell Justin about it and he freaks out like we just came back from our commitment ceremony and I fucked the pool boy on the kitchen table."

"Well, why'd you tell him? Cause right there, man, there's your problem."

"Yes, in retrospect, that was a mistake. It's just, you know, we're both stuck like this, and we can't see other people and I thought he would understand. I was clearly wrong." Lance looks up toward the stairs to make sure Justin hasn't come down or something.

"Okay, but this is Justin. Justin is not like you and me, you know?" Joey laughs again.

"In sooooooooo many ways. Justin is not like us at all."

"I meant. Like, you know, variety is the spice of life, right? No biological clock ticking here, you're not married, you're not in a relationship, I say, you say, as long as you're not lying to the person, it's okay to get some all around. It's even nice to sample, you know?"

Lance interrupts. "Exactly. Samples. I like to nibble. Spice of life."

Joey starts up again. "And that is not Justin's attitude. Justin is, like, Mr. Serial Monogamy. He takes it all really seriously. So, you know, it's different for him. He's not like, man, this sucks. So, yeah, you're not his boyfriend, but you guys have something and he's pissed."

Lance sighs. "So, wait, am I the asshole here?"

"Well, yeah, a little. If you didn't do anything, man, I wouldn't'a told him." Joey pauses. "Sorry, dude, but, yeah, you gotta remember the psychology here. The psychology of Justin."

Lance sighs again. "You are no longer my best friend. You're a complete boner. You were supposed to agree with me." Lance stands up. He hates everyone. He should have slept with Ronnie for all the shit he's getting now.

"Not gonna lie to you, man." Joey says bye and hangs up.

Lance walks upstairs and finds Justin lying in their bed. In Justin's bed. He's not asleep, he's just staring at the walls. "Hey, look, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I told you, I'm sorry I acted like it was nothing. Okay?"

"So," Justin says, still staring at the wall. "Do I, like, suck in bed or something?"

Lance sits down on the bed next to Justin. "You don't suck. You're great. It's not the sex, Justin. We're, you know, you and me, we're different. But I, yeah. I'm sorry. It won't, it won't happen again. Not until we're over."

Justin says, "Okay."


Justin doesn't think Lance listens to very cool music so he tries to change that. He thinks Lance shouldn't like Garth Brooks so much and suddenly he buys Lance Johnny Cash albums, and then alt-country or what have you and both their houses are littered with Ryan Adams CDs and Whiskeytown and Uncle Tupelo. Lance just waits and then Justin listens to them first and it all works out. Lance still likes Garth Brooks and Justin has started singing Ryan Adams around the house.

Lance is so fucking tired and he's not even sure why Justin is here. It's Lance's house and they spent all day in the recording studio and Justin went home. And now he's come here and Lance should ask, but mostly he wants to sleep. It's weird, the last few weeks, since the recording began, Lance keeps waking up with Justin next to him. They're almost together every night and Lance isn't sure how it happened. Or what's happening now.

Right now, Justin is washing dishes from their dinner in Lance's pretty black sink. Lance is sitting on the floor because he's just so fucking tired. Lance means to say he has a dishwasher. Justin knows he has a dishwasher, there's no need to do things by hand, but Justin is singing, so Lance doesn't say anything.

It's one of those bands, the CDs that Justin keeps buying Lance and keeping for himself, not Ryan Adams, someone else. Lance heard the CD yesterday, in Justin's car when they drove to the studio. Justin sings, "I'm coming home, I'm coming home via Chicago," and Lance smiles.

Justin turns around and stands over Lance, rubbing his wet hands on his jeans. "You're tired," Justin says. "Let's go upstairs, baby."

Justin pulls him up so he's standing and they walk upstairs. In bed, Lance wraps his arm around Justin and tugs him closer. "Sing a little," he says to Justin.

"You like the Wilco?" Justin grins.

"I like you singing it." Lance kisses Justin's forehead and Justin sings a little before they both fall asleep.

They have a Saturday off and Justin looks over at Lance. Justin says, "Kinky sex, man, we're all about it." He's bored and Lance is lounging back on the couch in a button down blue shirt and tight jeans so faded they're almost white. He looks really fucking hot. Way more than should be legal.

Lance doesn't even look up. "Do you want me to pee on you again? Cause if that's the case, get me a beer."

Justin pokes him with his toe. "Shut up. That was kinky, yo, I liked it."

Lance laughs. "You are the definition of kinky, Justin. You so are."

"What are you implying? Or inferring? Whichever I should be saying here, what you talking 'bout?" Justin stretches out and rests his feet on Lance's thighs.

"Okay, you try to be kinky. You really do. But, you know, I don't think you have it in you." Lance pats Justin's feet. His hands are always so warm. "Like, we did that peeing thing twice, Justin. It's okay. It's not a contest." Lance rubs Justin's foot, the one nearest to him and Justin squirms because that feels nice.

"I have kinky tendencies. Really." Justin covers his mouth as he starts to laugh because he has no idea why he's arguing about this.

"Justin, you don't even own a dildo."

"I do, too!" Justin starts to sit up, but Lance has his hand over Justin's feet, pressing down.

"The joke one that Joey bought you for your birthday doesn't count." Lance smirks.

"Okay, first of all, why is owning a dildo a mark of my kinkiness or not? And second of all, the point is I have one. So if we accept that owning one makes you kinky, I therefore am." Justin lies back on the couch and crosses his arms. Argument settled, he is kinky.

"Have you ever used it?" Lance's voice is lower than usual and mocking.

"I don't think that matters." Justin starts giggling again.

"You've never used it." Lance chortles or something like that.

"Joey put a lot of effort into the packaging." Justin can't even say it with a straight face.

"He bought you a black dildo and taped pictures of Nelly on it, it wasn't that much effort. It's almost sort of offensive when you think about it, but given your little crush on Nelly --"

"Not a crush!" Justin sits up. "I was, maybe, attracted to him, but I wasn't mooning about him and like, putting up pictures in my room or something."

Lance is smirking. It's annoying and really hot at the same time. Stupid Lance. Lance says, "Look, it's okay," and he says it like "you big dork." Lance says, "And you're right, owning a dildo is not a sign of kinkiness. Really, you should qualify just on the basis of your hair."

Justin lunges up and straddles Lance, grinning. "Take it back. Take it back now." He's tickling Lance and pressing down with his legs. Lance is laughing and pushing back against Justin.

"Take back what?" Lance grabs Justin's waist and throws him down on the couch, lying down on top of him. "Take back what?" He can't even say it without laughing.

"Wanna have sex now?" Justin's already pulling up Lance's shirt and he can feel that Lance is hard.

"Can we use the Nelly dildo?" Lance kisses him and they end up fucking on the couch.

Later they make it upstairs. It's pretty much the most embarrassing moment of Justin's life because he's naked, running out of his bedroom, holding the stupid dildo over his head while Lance tries to grab at it and he's naked, too, when Justin's mother and grandmother come up the stairs. His mother shouts out his name and covers his grandmother's eyes and Lance is laughing too hard to even stand up.


Justin smiles for the cameras and keeps his hand on Lance's elbow. They get in the limo and as the door closes, Justin is raising the privacy screen. He doesn't look at the other guys, he just spits it out. "Did you fuck him in the back room or just set up a time?"

Lance doesn't bother to look up because he's a fucking prick. He says, "I didn't fuck him anywhere but I wish I had. Because I'm really regretting every single time I ever touched you right now."

"Oh, whatever. You're such a fucking asshole. Fucking propositioning that guy right in front of me. You can't regret fucking me more than I regret fucking you. I wish I could take every single time back." Justin crosses his arm and pushes back in his seat. He's sitting next to Chris and Chris is carefully looking out the window. Which would work better if Joey weren't sitting between Chris and the tinted window.

Lance is flicking imaginary bits of fluff off his jacket. "I didn't proposition anyone in front of you. I flirted with someone, and not very strongly, and he was clearly much more interested in you and you're being a psycho ass and you're not even my boyfriend so lay off this shit right now." Lance has almost raised his voice by the end of this declaration so Justin gets that Lance is angry. Justin could not care less.

"Whatever. You're a shitty pseudo boyfriend, you know that? I can't wait until I can break up with your skanky, anal-retentive, inconsiderate ass."

"You're not the only one counting the days." Lance sighs, all melodramatic. He says, "In fact, you know what, just fucking kill me now, because I can't wait three months for this to be over."

"I hope you're serious, because I am going to take you up on that as soon as there's no witnesses around." Justin glares at Lance. JC is sitting next to him, watching the two of them fight like it's a tennis match.

Lance looks up and finally meets Justin's eyes. He's completely pissed and Justin doesn't care at all. Fucking Lance. Laughing and reaching out and touching that stupid fucking video director while Justin was standing right there. Fucker.

Lance says, "If this is my last night on earth, and if it ends my time with you, I pray it is, in that case." He pauses. "Chris, take off your pants."

Chris whips his head away from the window and says, "Fuck, what do I have to do with this?"

Lance starts to move out of his seat and says, "I'm not gonna die and have the last guy I had sex with be Justin. We have time for a blowjob. Cooperate here, Chris."

Chris holds up his hands. "No way, Lance. Seriously." Chris smiles. "Not that I'm not tempted, but maybe without Justin sitting right next to me."

Justin is about to kill everyone. Chris for acting like this is so funny, Joey and JC just for existing, Lance for everything. Justin says, "No one wants your used skanky ass."

"Chris wants me, he's just stupidly afraid of you. I'm not. And I'll blow the limo driver if I have to to make sure the last dick in my mouth wasn't yours." Lance reaches over like he's actually gonna buzz the driver and Joey lunges to stop him. Lance looks at Joey, sprawled across the back seats and says, "Joey? You volunteering? Cause shit, man, if I'd know there was a chance you swung my way I'd, well, I'd have done a lot of things differently."

Joey says, "Shut up."

JC starts laughing and Justin would rip his lungs out but it's JC. And JC's been so nice lately, to Lance, Justin doesn't say anything. Lance looks over at JC and says, "What's so fucking funny?"

JC says, "You two. You're really cute, you know that? I hadn't noticed before. You're really cute."

Justin fumes and contemplates all the ways he can kill Lance and get away with it. Lance snorts and says, "We're not, but okay."

Joey flops on his back on the floor of the limo and says, "You're being pretty fucking annoying right now, both of you. Settle this, okay?"

Chris says, "And yeah, because I'm too old to be propositioned like this -- I could have a heart attack!"

Justin won't laugh, they can't make him so he stays mad until the limo gets them all home and he doesn't officially forgive Lance until sometime after the very impressive rimjob Lance gives him as penance.


Justin walks into the kitchen and Lance is hunched over a bowl of something steaming, cradling it with his hands. "Why are you still here?"

"I'm sick," Lance says. He sounds miserable and he's pouting. It should be annoying and Justin wonders why it's adorable and endearing instead.

"You can be sick at home. You didn't want to be here today, remember?" Justin walks over and rubs Lance's back.

"It's not today, is it?" Lance puts down his spoon and turns to look at Justin.

"It's today. It's in thirty minutes. Cribs, I'm very excited," Justin says. Lance turns around and groans.

"I'm sick." Lance hunches over more and goes back to eating his oatmeal.

"You could go home." Justin starts rubbing Lance's shoulder and rests his cheek against Lance's hair. Which is greasy, because Lance has been sick two days and he hasn't even taken a shower this morning. There's something seriously wrong with Justin, it's the only explanation because he's mostly thinking, so cute so cute socutesocutesocute.

"I can't. Your mother's bringing me soup. She made me soup and she's bringing it here." Lance sniffles.

"She can bring it to your house, too."

Lance sighs. "I just wanna stay here and be sick. Until your mother brings me soup and I can feel better."

"Well, prepare to be on camera, then." There's a buzz from the gate and Justin stands up and swats the back of Lance's head. "They're early."

The producers and cameramen swarm over the house and they start the set-up. Justin's really excited about this, he did just redecorate and he has nice pictures of Lance scattered throughout the house. He leads the producers and everyone on a quick tour before they start filming and they find Lance in the kitchen still. The producer perks up and says, "Will you be on camera?"

Lance looks up and says, "I'm sick. I look awful." He looks down and sips his hot tea.

"But will you be on camera? We can wire you up."

Lance shakes his head no. Justin says, "But you'll be on camera if we happen to run into you?"

Lance sniffles. "Fine, fine. It's just, I'm sick." Lance is whining, too, and his eyes are red, his skin is pale except for the blush on his cheeks, and all Justin wants to do is wrap him in blankets and bring him soup. Insane, Justin thinks.

They finally start and Justin's wired for sound. They do the cheesy come into my house opening and Justin starts showing off all the pretty things he has. It's his house and he loves it. And he just had it redecorated and he's pretty gleeful about the whole thing.

He walks into the living room and Lance is curled up on the couch, in clean sweats and with wet hair. He has a bowl of soup in his hands and Justin points at the couch and says, "New couch, same boyfriend. See, before everything was very white. Lots of white, like in Lauryn Hill's Ex-Factor video? But I wanted something, uh, warmer. So I used to have these white leather couches but now I have these. This is, like, cedar and the cushions are very soft. And before Lance says it, he's sick."

"I am sick," Lance says. He sniffles for emphasis and slurps his soup. The producer and the director are all over this and they make sure they have a boom mic since Lance refused to be wired up. Justin points out his cool new shelving and then perches on the couch behind Lance.

Lance is still sitting on the couch and he has his legs crossed. In his sweats and Justin is pretty sure he's not wearing underwear. It's kind of hot, and Justin looks down so he can enjoy the view. Not like he hasn't seen Lance naked a million plus times and lord knows, done more than look but it's just really cute. Justin rubs Lance's shoulder again and says, "You got your soup?"

"Yes. And now it's all gone," Lance says as he leans forward and puts the soup bowl on the table. He leans back and closes his eyes. "Wanna sleep now. I'm sick."

"Pretty clear on that, baby. Go upstairs, sleep." Justin rubs his palm across Lance's neck. He's clearly crossed some kind of line, tipped over the brink because he doesn't just find Lance completely adorable right now, he's also a little turned on.

"Y'all haven't been upstairs yet." So right, the bed was made and the room all pretty and it wouldn't be the same with sick Lance wrapped up in the blankets.

"Sleep here."

"Want a blanket." Lance is pouting.

"There's one right over there," Justin says, waving his arm.

"Want the blue fuzzy one." Lance looks up and his eyes are wide. It's irresistible.

Justin stands up and runs up the stairs to the linen closet and finds the blue fuzzy blanket. The cameramen followed him, of course, this shit is golden, Justin is sure. He holds out the blanket as he walks downstairs and explains that they got the blanket in Germany, many many years ago, and it's special. And ugly. He tucks the blanket around Lance who is already lying on his side on the couch. He doesn't cop a feel but he's really tempted. He feels the camera lights on him, and he kisses Lance's cheek and says, "I wuv you, sick boy."

Lance snorts and closes his eyes. "I'm sick," he says. Justin puts his hand on Lance's cheek and Lance opens his eyes and mouths "love you, too."

In the bedroom, Justin points out the great new bed and the wonderful view. He has a portrait of the two of them he got taken in New York that he had framed and placed by the bed. It's a really nice picture. They didn't have to do anything to make it look like Lance half-lives here, because, really he does.

Then it's done and they do the final lame bye bye shots. The director asks about getting Lance to stand with him and Justin can see Lance still out on the couch and says no. When they're finally gone, Justin goes over to the couch and sits next to Lance. "You up?"

"No," Lance mutters.

Justin climbs in behind Lance, and pulls the blanket over both of them. "I love my couch," he says, squeezed close to Lance. He reaches around and into Lance's sweatpants.

"I'm probably contagious, you horny freak." Lance doesn't move, though, and Justin has hand wrapped around Lance's dick. He isn't wearing underwear.

"Yeah, you were probably contagious two nights ago when I blew you, too." Justin starts moving his hand, up and down and just a little pressure, like he knows Lance likes.

Lance makes a low moan and then he says, "I'm sick."

"It's fucking criminal how adorable you are right now." Justin kisses Lance's neck.

"You're a sick fuck," Lance says and then he just moans as he comes.


When Justin comes over Sunday morning, Lance is wearing a dark suit but no tie. No tie yet. Lance is looking at his options, holding up ties so Justin knows he's upset. Justin says, "I came over to see if you want to go to church, but you've got --"

Lance keeps looking at the ties. Lance has a lot of ties for someone who doesn't wear a lot of suits. Lance says, "Ronnie. Ronnie's, uh, funeral."

Justin says, "Oh." Justin goes to the closet and changes his jacket to a darker one. He has a small section in Lance's closet. He doesn't remember when he left the jacket here but it looks better for a funeral than the suit he chose for church this morning.

He walks over to Lance and picks a gray tie. He stands in front of Lance and ties the knot and then pats Lance's chest. "We should head out now, right?"

"You don't have to go," Lance says.

Justin says, "Whatever."

In the backseat of the car on the way over to the temple, Justin says, "How did he, how did he die?"

Lance looks out the window and says, "He had an allergic reaction to a prescription medication he took. For asthma, for fuck's sake." Lance pauses. "The family is thinking of suing."

It's a Jewish funeral and Justin's never been to one. Jewish weddings and more than a few Bar Mitzvahs so he knows to put on a yarmulke. The rest is just standing and sitting down. They sing a little and Justin just hums. Lance looks drawn and bored and so Justin knows he's really upset.

As the service ends, Lance waits and doesn't really look at anyone. He says to Justin, "See. There's a graveside service, but. And a reception afterward. Ronnie's brother, Allen. He invited me to the funeral. Ronnie's boyfriend hates me. So not invited to the graveside part. I'm not."

They walk back to the car and Lance squeezes Justin's hand and lets go. "We have an hour to kill," Lance says softly. "But there'll be food at the reception and I think Ronnie's mom went all out so it would be rude to not eat a lot there."

Justin can't remember exactly who Ronnie is. Which of Lance's Orlando friends. And then he gets it. Ronnie. The one Lance kissed and almost fucked. Justin thinks he deserves thousands of points for this. He says, "Ronnie's boyfriend hates you?"

Lance shrugs. "Timothy thinks me and Ronnie. While they were together." Lance pauses and looks over at Justin. Lance's eyes are a little red. Lance says, "He's not wrong. But. We hadn't for a year or so."

Justin thinks this would be the point where he could bring up the kissing thing and he won't. He says, "But they were together then?"

Lance says, "Yeah. They've been together three years." Lance pauses. "They had been together three years."

Justin gets part two of all this, because a year or so. A year or so means back before Justin and Lance came out, when they were just fucking, Lance fucked Ronnie, too. Justin deserves millions of boyfriend points for not bringing any of this shit up. Except Lance isn't his boyfriend. Justin sighs.

He looks at Lance as the car starts a leisurely drive to Ronnie's family's house. Lance rubs his eyes and says, "Ronnie's the first. I mean, just. No one I've slept with has ever died. Like, I had sex with him and he's dead."

Justin leans over and puts his arm around Lance. He rests his head against Lance's shoulder and says, "There was some time separating those two events. It's not cause and effect, okay?"

Lance snorts. "I know that. It's just. It's weird."

Justin says, "Yeah. And sad. Because you liked him."

"He was a great guy, actually." Lance doesn't say anything more until they get to the reception. There is a lot of food and Justin grabs some knishes and a slice of roast beef. It's really good. Lance sees Allen and drifts away to talk to him. Justin walks around the rooms, mirrors covered and framed pictures of Ronnie with his boyfriend and brother, Justin thinks.

Justin's eating a knish in the corner of the living room when a guy comes up and says, "Hey, Justin."

It's, fuck, Justin doesn't exactly remember the guy's name. W-something. Wendell. Wendell is short and skinny and Justin had sex with him a year and a half ago. Wendell, Justin thinks. Wendell has a really big dick and Justin couldn't deep throat the entire length of Wendell and it was pretty fucking embarrassing. Justin smiles and says, "Hey, Wendell, how are you?"

Wendell says he's fine and then he says, "I didn't know you knew Ronnie."

"I really didn't," Justin says. "Lance knew him, I'm, I'm here for him."

Wendell nods and says, "Yeah. You know, could have knocked me over with a feather when I heard about you. And Lance."

Justin just nods because he doesn't really have much to say to that. He never does. He and Wendell talk a little and then Justin looks up to find Lance. He sees Lance hugging someone, probably Allen, Ronnie's brother. Lance looks over and smiles at Justin and Justin smiles back. He puts down his drink and says, "Wendell, I think we're gonna be leaving soon."

Lance walks up and says, " Hi, Wendell, how are you?"

Wendell says fine again and Lance looks over at Justin. His hand on Justin's elbow, Lance says, "I'm ready to head out."

They go back to Justin's house, Lance getting out of the car without saying anything. Lance sits at the kitchen table and says, "You know Wendell?"

Justin shrugs. "We went out once two years ago. He's nice."

Lance grins. "Yeah, me, too. He's," and Lance holds his hands apart about a foot. "Like Ron Jeremy, I think."

Justin laughs. "I was so fucking embarrassed because I couldn't, you know," and Justin makes a gagging face.

"Yeah, I think he gets that a lot."

Justin has dinner with his mom and he asks Lance to come along. Lance just nods and takes off his suit jacket. Justin watches him reach in his pocket and take out the folded up program thing from the funeral. Lance looks at it for a second and swallows. He balls up the program and throws it out.

At dinner, Lance and Justin's mom have an involved conversation about a lawsuit some west coast rapper is bringing against his record company. Justin zones out a few times and neither of them notice.

Lance comes home with Justin and gets in bed without comment. Justin spoons against Lance and Lance says, "Justin. Thanks for today, you didn't have to."

Justin says, "Yeah, I did. But you're welcome."

He thinks Lance has fallen asleep but he's wrong. Justin blinks and Lance's shoulders are shaking, he hears a little choking noise. It's the fifth time Justin has seen Lance cry. He hugs Lance closer and whispers, "It's okay." He doesn't know what else to say.


"Fuckin' A, you fucker!" Justin laughs and pokes at Chris with his foot. His hands are occupied with the controller and he can't believe Chris just pulled that off. "Game over," Justin sighs and leans back against the couch.

Chris smirks and says, "Defeated again, how does it feel?"

"Fuck you," Justin says, still laughing. "Feels like you must be cheating somehow."

Chris says, "Well, I've been playing a little slowly to give you a chance, you know, because of how much you suck."

Justin hangs his head so Chris can't see how much he's laughing. Then Chris shoves a beer into his hands and Justin takes it. "Speaking of things that suck, can I say, Lance. Have I told you this yet?"

"He bought you a car, man," Chris says, drinking his beer.

"Yes, he did." Justin loves his car, it's so sweet and Lance got all these custom features and it's exactly the right color. His "anniversary gift." "See, he bought me a car. For our fake anniversary, right? Because, you know, something big that'll make the papers. And he gets pissy about my gift."

"You rented out that restaurant," Chris says, and he looks like he's indulging Justin, putting up with this.

"I rented out his favorite restaurant, paid a shitload of money to get a menu of his favorite dishes, even paid to get fucking Garth Brooks and Reba McIntyre piped in while we ate. And he's all pissy. Like, Justin, this is nice, but it's all romantic. And I'm like, it's our anniversary, for fuck's sake." Justin finishes his beer and crushes the can.

"It's not your actual anniversary. I mean, there's the two of you, stuck having dinner like it's a real thing." Chris crushes his can and throws it on the floor by his feet.

"It's not like we haven't had dinner, just the two of us, before. We do that all the time. But he doesn't perk up until I tell him about his second gift, you know, all the clothes." Justin spent $70,000 in Miami for Lance, getting exactly his size and the kind of things he liked.

"You guys are gonna be breaking up soon, right?" Chris isn't smiling now.

"Yeah, in like two months or something. Pretty soon. We need to plan it out." Justin shrugs and gets up to get another beer. He snags one for Chris and throws it at Chris as he sits back down on the floor.

"How, uh, how do you think Lance is gonna be with that?" Chris takes a long drink of his beer.

Justin shrugs again. "I think he'll be happy he can sleep around." Justin sighs. "The thing with Lance, you know, he plans. He has contingency plans and he never does think about how things are gonna feel."

Chris says, "Yeah," quietly. "And you think about the feeling part, so how do you think it's gonna feel?"

"I think, uh, I think it will hurt." Justin sighs. "Because, you know, we know each other better now and shit, and we sleep together. And it's not like we're dating, but it's, you know."

"It's a relationship," Chris says seriously. "It's not what you guys say it is, but it's a relationship. Lance maybe not thinking that."

Justin nods and finishes his beer. "I'll tell him, when we talk about the break-up part. We have to plan it, you know, make sure it looks right."


Almost the last song to record and Justin is still happy to be there. Two months of work and even the fucks from Jive have to admit it's good. They're gonna get really good reviews and it's gonna sell well. Justin walks into the room and Lance and JC are talking, holding hands. Justin stops in the doorway. They're not exactly holding hands, Lance has his hand on the board and JC has his hand over Lance's. Justin stares.

Lance is saying, "I was just. I was wondering if that song was about me, maybe."

JC says softly, "It is. I mean, I'm trying." JC looks down and grips Lance's hand. He looks up and says, "You know?"

Lance smiles. "It's all wrong, because I'm not that -- that song makes it sound like I'm so great, so strong. And I'm not."

"I think you are," JC says. "More than me, so."

JC sighs and Lance leans over, says something in his ear or maybe kisses him and Justin walks out. Because it's good, it's a good thing that JC is working through this stupid internalized homophobia and his thing with Lance. It's a really good thing. Justin thinks Lance is probably still in love JC, he knows Lance still has pictures of JC in his bedroom. So it's good, it is. Maybe when he and Lance break up, Lance and JC will get back together. Justin thinks that would be a good thing, and yet, the whole thing, when he thinks that, he's just pissed off.


Lance is drunk, really drunk. Alcohol is a depressant, and it was probably not a good idea to start out depressed. Lance thinks this and thinks he should do something about it, like stop drinking. Then again, he concentrates and remembers that that the not drinking is already taken care of. He's been cut off.

Joey sits down next to him and claps him on the back. "You called."

"I did?" Lance doesn't remember that. He remembers saying, "Don't call Justin." He's not exactly sure who he said that to.

"The bartender called. Let's go." Joey stands up and hooks his arm around Lance's waist. Lance stands up, staggers against Joey and sighs. Joey says, "I got a car. Let's go."

In the back of the car, Lance leans against Joey and rubs his eyes. The car is rolling and bumping. Lance refuses to puke just yet. Joey says, "Why did you call me?"

"I didn't call you," Lance says. He rolls with the car and rests his head against Joey's shoulders. Joey's warm and he doesn't smell girly at all.

"The bartender called me and I was just wondering, why me?" Joey's voice is low and Lance is so close to his neck. Joey's neck.

"I said don't call Justin when he took the phone from me." Lance reaches over and anchors himself on Joey's shoulder. He kisses Joey's neck, licks his way up to right behind Joey's ear.

Joey pushes him away lightly. "Stop that. Why were you getting this drunk?"

The car is shaking or something and Lance shifts the other way, the window is cold against his cheek. He covers his face with his hands and he's so fucking drunk. Joey should kiss him back someday. Lance says, "I want it to be real."

Joey puts his arm around Lance. He says, "You should tell him."

Lance should've never had a drink because he said it out loud, now it's out there and he said it out loud. He says, "fuck" loudly, and "I want to go home," and squeezes his eyes shut.

Joey pushes him, wakes him up. "We're home, dude, wake up."

He tries to get out of car, but Joey has to help him. He can't stand up quite right. He looks up and this isn't his house. He says, "Fuck you, Joey, damn it, I said home."

Joey says, "Shut up, Mr. Happy Hands all over me, okay?" He grunts as he pulls Lance up a little.

The door opens and the light is behind Justin, but it's Justin. Justin laughing, saying, "Is this delivery or you staying, Joe?"

Joey laughs, too, and Lance feels himself being passed over. Justin is holding him up now and Lance wants to get away. Joey's talking, saying, "The bartender called me, he's cool. He and Lance went out once, actually," and then a burst of laughter.

Lance pushes away from Justin, leans against the door. He debates making a run for it, but he's not doing so well right now. He's really pretty much standing up only because of the door and he thinks the door is about to give up on him. He starts to sag and Justin's arms are around him again.

Justin says, "He's been weird all week, you know?"

Lance pushes at Justin but it doesn't do anything. Justin smells girly, Rainbath and sweat. "I'm right here, you guys. Stop fucking talking about me."

Justin says, "Okay," and kisses the top of Lance's head. Lance tries to bat Justin away but it's not working at all. Joey's saying bye and Lance leans his head back, his old friend the door. The door won't desert him.

Justin pulls Lance away and says, "Come on, let's go upstairs."

"Fuck, no," Lance says. "Couch, I want to sleep on the couch." He makes it out of Justin's arms and clings to the wall, starts to walk to the living room. Justin curses and grabs his waist again.

"Okay, couch, but you're gonna need my help, okay? Fuck, did you drink the whole bar dry?" Justin's big hands pressing against his waist, Justin's legs against his. Lance can't keep his eyes open.

Lance tries to walk and Justin tries to help and it's really not working. Lance wonders how uncomfortable the foyer would really be. Justin grunts and steps back. Lance is about to fall, but Justin lifts him up, one arm under his knees, the other under his chest. Lance claws at Justin's t-shirt and Justin grunts again. "God," Justin says, "you're a little bit more than I usually lift."

Justin staggers and Lance just rests his head against Justin's chest. He hears Justin panting and then he's falling, being dropped on the couch. Justin wheezes and says, "Wait here, okay?"

Lance rolls onto his side. He hates every breath he takes. He wants the couch to stop moving and rolling. Fuck, fuck, he thinks. And then Justin is back, saying, "God, I'm not hauling you to the bathroom, so, here's this." Justin lifts Lance's hips and shoves something fluffy, towels maybe, under Lance. Lance brings his legs up and hears Justin curse again. Justin takes off Lance's shoes and tugs off Lance's pants. Lance can feel the towels against his thigh. Fucking Justin, fucking annoying Justin.

Justin's gone again, and Lance is glad. He doesn't want to be here, he hates Joey for bringing him here. Justin comes back, presses a blanket around Lance, something warm and fuzzy. Lance reaches out and says, "I kissed Joey, in the car."

Justin laughs a little. He rubs Lance's back. "You do that when you're really drunk. Since, like, 1997."

Lance says, "I'm not sorry about it."

Justin's gone, again, then his hand is pressing against Lance's back, he's kissing Lance's forehead. "You keep trying, man," Justin says quietly, "someday he'll succumb to your charms."

Silence and then the lights go off, and there's just one light, Lance thinks, off to the left. He opens his eyes and he sees Justin curled up in a chair, watching him. He has a book in his lap. "Go to bed," Lance says, angry.

"I will," Justin says. "You get some sleep." Lance closes his eyes and hates himself. He hates Justin, he hates his life. Hates everything.

He's about to pass out and he says, "I'm sorry," and hears Justin murmur something back. Lance squeezes his eyes shut and thinks again, he wants it to be real. It's not, it's won't be.


Lance takes a bottle of Jack Daniels out of the cupboard and puts it down on the table. Justin doesn't say anything but it's been three weeks, he thinks, since Lance had a drink. Since Joey dropped Lance off at Justin's house. And now they were at Lance's house and Lance was ready to drink. Justin says, "Are we gonna talk about this now?"

Lance says, "Yeah," as he opens the bottle and pours himself a glass. "Time for us to break up."

Justin says, "Pour me one, too." Lance raises an eyebrow and gets another glass. He's finished half of his glass by the time he sits back down and he tops off his glass before he pours one for Justin.

Lance takes a sip. He says, "Okay, we need to work a time-schedule. To figure out a time-schedule. Of us breaking up. We can do it really soon, but we need to do it after the album comes out so we don't get the "broke-up to pump up album sales" thing. If we do it during the tour, then we'd have to alter all the arrangements and things."

Justin finishes his glass and pours himself another one. "Are you, uh, you're just gonna start hooking up right away or something? You got your eye on someone?"

Lance rubs his eyes. "Look, I think even more important, don't you Anne Heche me. You have to date guys. For at least two years. I mean, that's maybe negotiable, but your first date can't be some hot chick, okay?"

Justin takes a long drink. He can't think about it. He feels ripped up about this, he needs to pin down why he's already had a glass and a half of Jack Daniels. He says, "Are you and JC gonna get back together?"

Lance coughs. "Are you, why would you think that?"

"Because of the way you two've been. I just figured. You love him, right? And now he's not, you know, being like that anymore." Justin plays with his glass, watches the liquid move.

"Justin," Lance says. He pauses and Justin won't look up. "Justin, I'm not getting back together with JC. I can't. I won't be with someone who's not out."

Justin feels unaccountably happy. He says, "Okay. So, uh, I guess you're planning to date some hot guys as soon as this is over?"

"I was planning," and Lance laughs a little. "I was planning to date a series of tall blond guys, actually, just quick dates and the like. Nick Carter, Ashley Angel."

Justin looks up and grins. "Neither of them are out, man."

"Not yet." Justin laughs, too, and they drink more. They haven't settled anything at all and they're just talking about the past year and Justin tries to stand up and realizes he's drunk. Not too drunk. Not as drunk as Lance, who is almost passed out on the table. Deja fucking vu, Justin thinks.

When Lance first joined the band and the guys would get drunk, he would get all paranoid. It had happened to his sister's friend or someone Lance knew, the girl or boy or whomever, they got drunk and passed out and puked and died. Aspirated, Justin thinks and wonders how he remembers that term. They choked on their own puke and couldn't breathe or something. And it's been a while since Lance got like that but suddenly Justin is thinking about it. And he doesn't want Lance to die. So he needs to sober up, and soon.

He pushes Lance back so he's not face down on the table and Lance mumbles something. So Justin has time. He goes to the bathroom and tries to make himself throw up. There was a girl who told him how when he was on the show. She was thirteen. Justin thinks about her and throws up. It's fucking disgusting.

He walks to the kitchen and finds a bottle of imported water in the refrigerator. He drinks the whole thing and pants. Justin looks over at Lance, sees he's still leaning back in chair. Okay, action Justin. No Lance dying on his watch. He pulls Lance up from the chair and Lance comes to, a little, and the two of them stagger to the couch. Lance's couch this time.

He gets Lance on the couch, rolls him on his side so if he pukes, it'll be over the side. He thinks that's a good plan. He sits on the floor and rests his head against Lance's stomach. This'll work, he thinks. He won't fall asleep.

He wakes up because he really has to pee. Lance is still breathing and Justin has a crick in his neck. Justin goes to the bathroom and thinks he's being really stupid. Because Lance will be fine. When he goes back to the living room he stretches out on the other couch.

He wakes up to the sound of puking and thinks, deja fucking vu. Like three weeks ago, except Justin opens his eyes and this time Lance has made it to the bathroom. Of course, Justin thinks, when it's his fucking house he doesn't pee all over himself and the damn couch and then puke on the living room floor. Lance is less drunk this time, maybe.

Toothbrush. Justin gets up and goes upstairs to Lance's bedroom. He gets their toothbrushes and looks around the bedroom. He was just here, yesterday morning. He woke up here. The bed hadn't been made. But he hadn't noticed, really, that there was still that picture of JC but also one of Justin right next to the bed. He tries to think if that means something but he's still drunk, just a little. He walks downstairs and has to pee again. He goes right into the bathroom and Lance is still slumped over the toilet. "Are you done?"

Lance says, "Fuck you," and throws up again. Justin really has to pee and this is just a half bath, no shower so Justin thinks, screw it. Lance puked on his damn floor and Justin unzips his pants enough to pee in the sink.

Lance pushes himself up and says, "That's disgusting."

"You're the one hogging the toilet." Justin pours a glass of water and puts it on the counter next to Lance. Lance leans back and rubs his forehead.

They don't talk for a few minutes while Lance drinks his water and scrubs the sink and Justin brushes his teeth. Then Lance brushes his teeth and Justin thinks, now is a good time. Now. He says, "We didn't really settle anything last night. So, uh, when do you think we should break up?"

Lance spits out his toothpaste and doesn't look at Justin. "When do I think," he says quietly.

Justin says, "Yeah, we need to, we need to work this out." He swallows, wishes for another drink.

Lance sighs and sits on the counter. He looks at his knees. Finally, he says, "I don't wanna -- I don't want to."

Justin cracks his neck. "You want to wait until after the tour? Cause that would work, too."

Lance doesn't look up but he says it louder. "I don't want to break up."

That's. It doesn't really make sense. "When exactly?"

"Like, I don't. I don't want to break up with you for, like, the rest of my life." Lance pauses and Justin is just staring at him. It's so early and he's still a little drunk and this doesn't quite make sense, because he's just stupid, but he might be happy. Lance sighs and still hasn't looked up and he says, "I don't know when, but I just. I realized I'm not lying in interviews at all anymore." Lance turns and looks at Justin. "I'm not lying about us."

Justin is definitely happy. He's grinning and he hugs Lance, smelly Lance against him and says, "You don't wanna break up." He's babbling like an idiot, but fuck it, he gets it now. "See, I knew, I knew something was wrong and I couldn't figure it out and you said it first and now it's all clear."

Lance is almost smiling. "So you agree with me? You don't wanna break up."

Justin kisses him, toothpaste on his tongue and then says, "I don't want to either. Not at all."

Lance is grinning, now, a genuine heartbreaker of a smile. He says, "Because things will be, I dunno, harder now. Like, we can break up. So, it's not like we have to make up and we fight all the time. This would be us, real."

"I think we've been mostly real for a little while, you know? But, yeah, yeah, I see. It won't be easy," Justin says seriously. He can't help himself from laughing a little, and he says, "But you don't wanna break up with me for the rest of your life? We can move to Vermont or something. Or that country where it's cold and guys can get married."

Lance laughs and leans his head against Justin's shoulder. "I don't know about that. Yet. It's just." Lance grips Justin's waist. "I think we can do this and I want to do this and I really don't ever want to break up with you."

Justin is beaming. "Right. And you can't fuck around on me." Lance shakes his head. "Seriously."

"I won't," Lance says. "I won't." Lance looks down. "So, yeah, this is a big thing. I mean, you know, actual relationship."

"I've done that," Justin says. But three years of Britney and never seeing each other maybe doesn't count as much as Justin would like to think. "Maybe not like this, but I think we can do it. I do."

"I have faith in us," Lance says. "We, you know, we made it this far, right?" Lance looks up and smiles weakly. "I'm very very fond of you." He pauses. "Boyfriend."

Justin pulls Lance even closer and says, "You're my actual completely real nothing pseudo or fake about it boyfriend now." Then he kisses Lance and after, says, "I love you" over and over again in German.


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