by Cody

She said, "Don't let it go to your head. Boys like you are a dime a dozen."

When you return to America after that first trip to Europe, you're stars. Just...nobody here has gotten the memo yet. You show them magazines with pictures of the group in it; articles and interviews they can't read because none are written in English. But you're thankful for that, because you know what you said in those interviews. Being famous isn't everything it's cracked up to be. It's not constant parties and designer clothes; it's sixteen-hour workdays and crappy motel rooms. It's young girls screaming hysterically in Dutch and tearing at your clothes, leaving welts on your arms from their glitter-polished talons. It's telling reporters that your favorite color is black and you're looking for a confident girl with a sense of humor. It's being homesick and exhausted and learning to need the four guys you're surviving this with more than you've ever needed anyone that didn't share your last name.

The only time you feel real anymore is when Joey's holding you close. He's bigger than you, and it makes you feel safe. He tells you, "Things can only get better." When you kiss him, he kisses back, and you're so starved for affection from someone who actually cares about you that you just let it happen, despite all the reasons that it's a really bad idea.

For instance, the fact that Joey has a girlfriend. She's bottle-blonde and her name is Kelly and she's funny and nice and you like her, but wish you hated her. It would be easier, if you weren't friends, to look her in the eye. She's smart, knows a lot of things about endangered species and '80's bands and cooking. Knows statistics about the depletion of the whale population and that Courtney Love used to front Faith No More and how to bake a killer manicotti. She doesn't know that you're fucking her boyfriend. But she still doesn't want him to go back to Europe with you. Well, not just you. There's also Justin and Chris, whom she knows, and Lance, whom she's getting to know. She thinks Lance is a fag and tells you so one night at the house Lou bought the group for the sake of maintaining rehearsal schedule during downtime. The machine slows, Lou likes to say, but never stops.

"Lance is such a fag," she whispers to you while you're sipping beers in the backyard.

Your stomach curls uncomfortably. "You think?"

She nods. "Not that I have a problem with that...What do you think?"

You shrug, desperately wishing for someone to come and interrupt soon. "Doesn't bother me either way."

"As long as he doesn't hit on you, huh?" Her tone is light, but you know that she's wondering, that she wonders about you, and you force yourself to laugh so you won't scream.

"You know I told Joey I don't want him to go back," she says, unapologetic.

"I know," you shrug again. "I understand."

"I just don't see the point of going all the way back to Europe." She glances at you quickly. "It's not that I don't think you guys sound great together. I do, really. It's just've been over there for months already and no one here's even heard of you."

That's what everyone says, no matter how many issues of Bravo you show them.

"And now that the Backstreet Boys are out...I mean, they're huge. How are you guys gonna compete with that? People will think you're just a copycat group." She shakes her head, curtain of blond hair swaying. "Besides, Joey should be in New York auditioning for Broadway. I told him I'd go with him."

What about me? you want to say, but instead, "We signed a contract. There's no turning back now."

"I know," she sighs. "I just don't want him to waste his time, when what he really wants to do is in New York."

What he really wants to do. Interesting choice of words. You press your fingers to your lips, holding in laughter and confession. It's horrible, honestly. The whole thing is just awful.

"Lou says we're gonna hit America soon. We'll see how it goes. Maybe it won't work out."

But you hope like hell that it will.

She said, "You're a touch overrated, you're a lush and I hate it." But these grass stains on my knees, they won't mean a thing.

Kelly's mad because Joey drinks too much and fucks too much and he's never around. You almost think it's something, that he's with so many other girls but never needs any boy besides you. But then you realize that Joey never needed any boy at all until he found himself alone in a foreign country, and you were very available and very familiar. It doesn't make you upset though, because he's just as comfortable and convenient for you.

She's both proud and unfazed by Nsync's success. She'll come to a show and be backstage afterwards crying with pride and telling him through her tears that, "Just because you're a big star, don't think you're not neck-deep in shit for that redhead in Indiana. Yes, I heard about her, you asshole!" You don't remember that particular redhead, but it gives you the heads up that Kelly has people keeping tabs on Joey. You're plenty discreet already, so that isn't a problem. It's just another thing that shows how differently you love Joey, because you don't give a damn whom he's sleeping with unless it happens to be you.

The difference is glaringly obvious when it comes to Joey's behavior. You love him for what he is because it doesn't really effect you. As long as nothing too heinous shows up in the tabloids and he isn't too hungover to stick his performances, it's all good. Kelly is set on mending his ways because when she pictures herself sixty years from now in a rocking chair on a porch somewhere, she sees Joey in the one next to her. Personally, you're more of a hammock-person.

You love all of them and they love you. So you don't give a fuck if Joey screws a lot and parties a lot and phones Kelly crying and tells her he loves her. Backstage before each show, there's a whole chorus of "Love you, man" for you, from four people you can say it back to truthfully. And when you need it, there's Joey's strong arms to feel safe in and it's so easy, what more could you want?

It's ridiculous that an arrangement like that can be ruined by anything, when it's both so loving and meaningless. But it can and is. You pull into the driveway and park and he comes out of the house smiling, happy to see you.

"No one's here," he says. "Just Chris, but he's asleep. Come on." Takes your arm, leads you behind the garage and pulls you close. He puts his hand to your chin, and it makes you feel sexy the way he looks at your lips. "I miss your mouth," he murmurs. You kneel on cue, smooth your palms over his thighs.

Creak of the backdoor opening, and your eyes meet. "Joey, you out here?" Chris calls. "Phone!"

Joey grins down at you, shakes his head. You grin back, reaching for his fly.

"Joey, Kelly's on the phone. You here?" Chris tries again.

It happens so fast, it takes a minute to register when you're suddenly alone, still kneeling on the lawn with your hands in mid-air. You hear Chris and Joey, and then the backdoor slam, and let a few minutes pass before standing up, dusting off, and going inside.

You find Chris on the couch eating Oreos and watching Married...With Children. "Kelly's so hot," he says, and you don't immediately get whom he means.

"Christina Applegate," you say.

He twists a cookie apart. "Don't tell Lou the choreographer's dead."

You roll your eyes and head towards the bedrooms, stop outside Joey's. He's in there, the door mostly closed. You listen for a minute; you aren't mad but you're faintly humiliated.

"--been good lately, haven't I?" Joey's speaking softly, the same tone that missed your mouth. "I've been thinking about you all day, you know that?" Pause, then low laughter. "You know I do."

You retreat, because when it comes down to it the only thing hurt is your pride. You'd like to think nothing's worth missing out on your blowjob technique. Joey loves you and you love him, in ways that are perfectly indestructible and entirely separate from sex and completely different from how he loves Kelly. When you were away from her it wasn't an issue. Now that you're back in the States, circumstances have changed. It's not that you want him to feel for you what he feels for her. You want Joey in your life forever, but he's too...easy. He's an open book when you want a mystery, a simple love song when you need an unfinished symphony.

So it isn't anger or jealousy that makes you know that you'll never again have a problem meeting Kelly's eyes, it's the plain fact that there are some people who can be walked away from and still never stop kneeling, but you aren't one of them.

Also, you wouldn't mind finding someone to share a porch with someday.

And all I need to know is that I'm something you'll be missing.

Joey hasn't seemed to notice that things are different. That you haven't touched each other for over two weeks save in a friendly fashion. It's not that you want him to tear his hair out wondering what went wrong, but you'd expected at least a, "Where's the beef?"

You wait until you're back on tour, alone in the Quiet Room before a show and ask him, "So, you wanna mess around?" Just to see what he'll say.

He looks around like he thinks someone's hiding behind the wardrobe rack. "You kidding?"

"Why would I be kidding?" you prompt. Here it comes. You just want him to fucking acknowledge that things have changed. That sex with you isn't so take it or leave it that he hasn't even realized he's not having any.

"Well, I mean," he says, "I thought you and Justin...?"

"What?" You're shocked. "Justin?"

"I thought that's why we stopped?" Joey looks as confused as you feel.

Justin? Really? Sure, after you'd decided to quit fooling around with Joey, you'd spent more time with Justin. Swimming, playing basketball, working on songs. And you're very aware that Justin's grown now, tall and lean, muscular. Broad shoulders and strong arms and mile-long legs. And he makes you laugh, and he makes you mad, and you like that you can predict his every move (years of knowing him too well) yet still never know what's going through his head. But you've never seriously considered Justin as someone you might be naked with.

You shake out of your thoughts and Joey's staring at you expectantly. "So are you guys, whatever, or what? 'Cause if not, then why'd we stop?"

There it is: Why did we stop? You just needed to know that he wanted to know.

"I've gotta piss like a racehorse," Though you're usually anti-public restrooms. "I hope the urinals are clean." You make your escape, asking yourself, If I was a pre-show Justin, where would I be? And turn towards the Toy Room.

Maybe I should hate you for this, never really did ever quite get that far.

Further along on tour, it's morning and you go to Lance's room to borrow his hair gel because you ran out and he uses your brand, but you knock and there's no answer. You knock again, harder. Then you pound on the door with the side of your fist until the one next to it opens and Chris's grumpy, rumpled head pokes out. "What the fuck, dude?"

"Where's Lance?" you ask, not sorry for waking him. He should be getting ready, anyway.

"I don't fucking know. Ask Joey." Chris's door slams shut.

So you go to Joey's room and knock. Maybe Lance crashed there. They didn't go clubbing with everyone else last night because Lance said they were tired. Nobody questioned it. Lance answers the door, and you're shocked by his appearance. "You get hit by a bus last night?"

"Something like that," he mumbles, glances over his shoulder and then lowers his voice. "Hey, do me a favor? Get the guys and bring them here, will you? We need to talk."

"Sure thing," you say. "Can I borrow your gel? I'm out."

He disappears, returns with his keycard. "Go nuts. And grab me some clothes while you're at it. I'm gonna hop in the shower."

You wonder why he doesn't shower in his own room, but don't waste much thought on it. You go ahead and fix your hair and gather an outfit for him. When you leave Lance's room, you find Chris and Justin in the hallway discussing what they want for breakfast.

"Guys, Lance wants us in Joey's room," you tell them, leading the way.

Lance opens the door again, wearing last night's pants but looking freshly scrubbed. "Joey getting ready?" you ask, handing him the clothes.

"Thanks man. He just hopped in the shower, but he'll be quick." Lance goes to the bathroom, emerges a minute later dressed.

"So what's up?" Chris demands. "I'm hungry."

"Let's wait for Joey to get out." Lance's eyes locked on the bathroom door.

"I'm gonna have pancakes," Justin says. "With maple syrup."

"Me too." Your stomach rumbling. "How about we go down and y'all meet us when Joey's ready?"

"Please stay." It's odd for Lance to sound so close to begging, especially since no one's made a move to leave.

"Is something wrong?" Justin asks quickly, alarmed.

"Let's just wait for Joey," Lance says again, and all eyes watch the bathroom door anxiously.

Finally it opens, and Joey steps out. He's pale and puffy-faced, and you can honestly say that through all the years of knowing him you've never seen him look quite

Someone knocks at the door, and when Chris answers, Steve walks in balancing a cardboard tray of coffees atop a box of kolaches. He sets it down on the dresser and goes straight to Joey, pulls him into his arms. Joey starts crying. First a little, then a lot. Lance comes up and puts his arms around Joey too, and starts crying. Your mind clambers to process the scene, Joey in his brother's arms sobbing. Lance is crying. Look closer and yes, Steve is also crying. You look from Chris to Justin dubiously, and then do the only thing you can think to do: open your arms and join the embrace. A moment later you feel Chris and Justin complete the fold. And then you're crying too and you don't even know why. Except that there's so much palpable emotion in the room, choking tears out of everyone.

When things are settled down a bit, everyone sitting and holding a kolache but too numb to have an appetite. You take a bite and it's like sawdust in your mouth, wash it down with coffee in desperate need of cream and sugar, the aftertaste awful but you just live with it. It's really the least of your concerns right now.

Because Kelly's fucking pregnant. Fucking having a baby.

Lance had suggested you all sit down for the news, but no one moved. You stood standing in a loose circle, prepared for anything. Except this.

Justin's horrible first response was, "Are you sure it's yours?"

And oddly, you'd been the one to react worst; your fist slamming into the side of his face before you knew what you were doing. "You fucking asshole!" you screamed.

Justin stumbled back, caught his balance on the dresser, eyes bugging almost comically. You looked at everyone and found them gaping at you like you were nuts.

You felt nuts. You were just so fucking angry, but not at Justin, not really. You took a step towards him and he tensed, but then you touched his arm and he relaxed. "Sorry," you mumbled. "Sorry, Justin."

"It's cool." He tried to smile, rubbed his jaw. "You hit like a bitch, anyway."

You grabbed his hand and squeezed as hard as you could, and he squeezed back. Then pulled you to him, and you settled into his strong arms gratefully. He held you tight, and you ducked your head to his chest and heard his heart beneath your ear. It was pounding.

"I'm so fucking stupid, fucking stupid," Joey intones now, sitting on the bed rocking back and forth, thumping the sides of his head with his fists. "What am I gonna do?"

"Little late in the game to start thinking ahead," Chris snaps. "This is gonna be such a shit storm."

Joey looks up at him miserably, and Chris goes to him, his tone still hard but his hand on Joey's shoulder squeezing reassuringly. "You fucked up, kid. But that's life, right?"

Joey nods slowly, takes a deep, hitching breath and clings desperately when Chris hugs him, roughs a hand over his hair. "Buck up, Joe. You've got us, we'll fix it for you."

You don't know how the hell any of you could possibly fix this. Joey's just ruined the image you've all worked so hard and sacrificed so much to maintain. And what the hell does he know about being a father? He's a kid himself, one that parties too much and works too much and the last thing in the world he needs is a child of his own to raise. Will he have to get married? Will the fans flip out? What'll management say?

Justin's still got you in his arms, but he's getting up from the couch now and hauling you along with him, guiding you towards the bed. You drop your kolache on the carpet, climb onto the mattress and lean into Joey, reach for his hand, bring it to your lips and kiss it. Lance and Steve are on the other side of him and you look at them and realize they must be just as afraid as you. Justin's behind you, wrapping his arms around you again, one hand coming to rest on top of your hand that's holding Joey's. His breath is a steady ebb and flow on your neck, and it makes you brave to know that you're all scared together. You whisper, "Things will only get better."

Then you close your eyes and pray.

I'd never lie to you. Unless I had to, I'll do what I got to.

It's as hard to be with Justin as it had been easy to be with Joey. Because where Joey took and gave in equal parts friendship and sex, Justin demands every piece of you: mind, body, and soul.

If you're apart, he'll call and ask, "Do you miss me?"

And of course you say, "Yes."

Sometimes that doesn't satisfy him. He'll say, "Do you really, or are you just saying it to please me?"

So you miss him all the time, just in case he asks.

In bed, sheathed in sweat and panting for breath, every muscle warm from exertion. He moves slow, exhausted, and drags your hand onto his chest. His voice thick, "Touch me."

You want to sleep; your eyelids feel weighted. Each time you blink it's harder not to keep them closed.

"Look at me," he says. You look. "Don't stop."

So you don't. You force yourself to stay awake enough to admire him with your gaze and touch, and only quit when you're sure he's asleep.

Management finds out about you. A day of dance rehearsal at WEG, you take the opportunity of a fifteen-minute break to stretch out on the couch against the wall while the others wander off to the kitchen. Justin is back a few minutes later eating an apple. He plops on top of you, smiles when you groan at the burden of his weight and gives you the rest of his apple in favor of nibbling your neck. You squirm beneath him, tickled and tingling, irrepressible squeaks making him laugh. Your eyes fall on the doorway and there stands Johnny, the expression on his face unreadable. You freeze, can only watch as he turns and walks away.

Justin pulls back to look at you. "What's wrong?"

You shake your head; bring the apple to his mouth.

Johnny returns at the end of rehearsal and asks to speak to you alone. You tell Justin to catch a ride with Chris and the walk down the hall to Johnny's office feels like a plank. He says everything you expected him to say about pens in company ink and paparazzi and how he came to you first because you're older and he's counting on you to make the mature decision. You tell him how well you see all of his fine points and how you'll certainly think long and hard about it all. Afterwards you get in your car and just sit there for a long time before turning the ignition and driving to Justin's house.

"What'd Johnny say?" Is the first thing he asks when you walk through the door. He's wearing faded basketball shorts and his curls are frizzy, the way they get when he lets them air-dry after a wash.

You pull your shirt off, looking forward to a long, hot shower. "Nothing interesting. Business stuff."

Which is nice and vague, and Justin won't question it, because he finds the business elements of music nearly distasteful and beyond boring.

"Well it took long enough." He watches you make your way to the bedroom. "Miss me?"

And yes, of course you did.

The truth is you could slit my throat, and with my one last gasping breath I'd apologize for bleeding on your shirt.

You've never let anyone treat you the way you let Justin treat you. When other people express surprise, you're embarrassed to tell them that you are, too. It's nearly midnight when you finally call him. You waited for hours, giving him the benefit of the doubt.

"Hey, baby." You can tell by his voice; he's drunk.

"Where are you Justin?" You can barely hear him for all the background noise, music and talking. "We were supposed to hang out tonight, remember?"

"Oh shit, I forgot!" And if that's true, he's a fucking idiot. Because it was his idea to stay in tonight just the two of you, he'd even warned you to remember before he left the house that morning. "Did you know Britney's in town? She had a show tonight."

"What--you're--Britney?" You're sputtering, you're so mad. "You're with Britney?"

"Johnny thought it would be cool if were seen together," he says, and you feel like punching something. Like maybe his face. "There's all these photogs following us around, but we're pretending we don't know. They took pictures of us kissing."

"You were kissing her?" Fists clenched so hard fingernails bite palm.

Justin's laughing his fool head off. "Of course I was kissing her! She's my girlfriend, remember?" The lilt in his voice like he thinks he's being cute, like he expects you to be as amused as he is by all of this.

Fucking Camera Whore, you want to scream, I'll fucking kill you. Or maybe You're killing me.

"Oh shit, I love this song. I'll see you later, okay?" You can hear Britney calling him to dance. "I'll make it up to you when I get home."

"When will that be?" But he's already hung up.

You torture yourself imagining what he's up to, what he's doing with Britney in the glare of that spotlight he loves so much. You tell yourself it's stupid to let this bother you, because she doesn't mean anything to him, she isn't anything but his friend. Joey had a girlfriend, a real girlfriend, and it had never bothered you, had never hurt. But this...this doesn't just hurt, it stings.

You hate him for doing this to you. And you hate yourself for waiting up. The sky is brightening by the time he stumbles in; he reeks of smoke and alcohol but you still reach for him. You find yourself apologizing as he accuses you of not missing him.You've always been able to walk away, never the type to let someone disrespect you. But with Justin you feel defenseless, because it's love and need and want so unbearably mingled.

Does love draw lines or only blood? you mull later, wrapped in strong arms as the sun rises. You look over at him, whisper, "Justin..."

He doesn't stir. A little louder, "Justin."

Pink lips twitch faintly, as though even asleep he wants to charm you with his smile. It works.

'Cause I'm a wishful thinker with the worst intentions. This'll be the last chance you get to drop my name.

It's not that you hate Bobbie. At least, not at first.

When Johnny gives you her number and tells you she works at J-14, you figure you might as well call. You meet for coffee and she's sweet and complacent and appropriately hot, so you ask her to dinner. For a few months it's kind of fun to hang out with her; she's great for your ego. It's nice to know that all you have to do is snap and she'll come running. She encourages anything you show interest in, art and wine and designer clothes. She knows a lot about things she can't afford, and teaches it all to you. The problems begin when she starts wanting you to sate her expensive tastes.

"Well why not?" she demands, when you won't buy her sunglasses that cost more than your car note. "I'm your girlfriend, aren't I?"

The look she gives you belies that she isn't as oblivious as she'd let you believe. You tell her carefully, "I don't think this is going to work."

Matching your tone, she says, "Then you better come up with something that will."

Justin never talks about Bobbie. Chris makes fun of her sometimes, Lance seems to like her but probably hates her, and Joey loves her for her boobs alone. You wonder what Justin would do if he got a bit of his own back, so you deliberately make plans with him and then take Bobbie to one of those inane industry parties that you hate but she loves.

Justin calls you ten minutes after you're supposed to meet him at your house. "You're late."

"Late for what?" Innocent as a doe. "Oh damn, we had plans, huh? Must've slipped my mind."

"Well, come home," he says, that plain.

"Baby, I can't," sugary-apologetic. "I'm at a party with Bobbie. I can't just leave."

"Tell her it's an emergency," he suggests, and you imagine there's the barest edge to his voice.

You grin at how perfect this is. "I can't, she'll want to come along. I'll make it up to you later, okay?"

"Okay," a little huffy, but then his voice turns velvet-lush. "I'll be waiting for you, baby. I'm in your bed right now...know what I'm wearing?"

You swallow, clear your throat. "What?"

"A smile," he laughs, low and airy. "Don't make me wait too long, please?"

When he hangs up, you release a breath you didn't know you were holding. You find Bobbie and tell her there's an emergency. She's obviously pissed, but doesn't dare make a scene.

An agreement is reached not too long after that. She'll go to a few more events with you, you'll do a photo shoot with her for J-14, and then it will all be over. Thanks to her relationship with you, she's getting plenty of face-time in her magazine. She gets a new column called Bobbee'z Corner, and you remember how she told you she wants to write for Rolling Stone and laugh out loud.

Thanks to your relationship with her, you've taken up painting, bought memberships to a slew of museums, and built a wine cellar. You call it a draw.

Later that week when you phone Joey to check up on him, he's already heard the news from Lance (who found out through Chris, who heard it from Justin) and expresses sympathy for your loss. "I gotta say, man, I'm gonna miss the view."

"Joey," you laugh. "They were fake, you know."

"No shit, really? I couldn't tell, what with them being the size of volleyballs and all."

"Not quite volleyballs," you argue. "More like...grapefruit, maybe."

"Cantaloupes," he compromises. "If only she'd been in Titanic, Jack wouldn't have died. He could've used her as a floatie."

"There were sharks." You'd heard that somewhere, possibly a documentary. "Hungry ones."

Joey is skeptical. "Do sharks like silicon?"

"Saline, man. They fucking love it," you assure him.

"Well at least she's out of the picture. That's what matters." He's still pissed about her forcing you to do the publicity shots. He knows you don't like taking them.

You sigh mournfully. "But now I'm left with an aching void where my opportunistic fake-girlfriend used to be."

"Cheer up," Joey tells you, "There's plenty of sharks in the sea."

If I'm just bad news, then you're a liar.

You don't know why you told Kelly. At the time you told yourself she deserved to know, but now you're not sure if you'd meant that in a kind or spiteful way. You've never disliked her, so you don't know why you'd want to hurt her. And you hope to god you didn't do it to hurt Joey, because you'd hate to think you had it in you to be like that. You just honestly don't know why you told her, what you thought it might accomplish. But she's the mother of his child, so isn't it only right that she know?

"What the hell is wrong with you?" Joey has a tight grip on your biceps, shaking you. "What goes through that fucking brain of yours?"

"I don't know," you admit. "I don't even fucking know sometimes."

He releases you, steps back and gapes. "Are you demented or something? Why would you do this to me?"

"It's not fair." Your hands fluttering wildly through the air. "It's not fair that she didn't know and I just..."

He shakes his head, fists clenched at his sides. "It was years ago, man. And it didn't even mean anything. Why would you dredge up the past like that just to fuck with shit? You're not like that."

"If it didn't mean anything, then why didn't you ever tell her?" It sounds so accusing, and none of this makes sense.

"What the hell are you trying to pull?" Joey hollers. "Why are you fucking with me, man?"

"You should've told her," you insist, because it's either that or admit you're insane.

"What I should've done is never touched you, you're so fucked up." You know he's just pissed and frustrated, and in his position you would be too, but you still jump on that. Because you're cornered and all of this blame and confusion is just too much.

"You should've never touched me? I wish you hadn't! I wish you weren't such a fucking Prick-On-Legs that screws his friends and knocks up his girlfriend and gets mad at other people when it's nobody's fault but his own that he's such a fucking slut!"

He grabs you again, and you flinch instinctively but he's just trying to look at your face. You're trembling. He whispers, "You're so fucked up, man. Why are you so fucked up?"

"It's not fair," you babble helplessly. "She deserves to know." Your cell phone starts buzzing, and you try to wriggle out of his hold. "Let me go, that might be Justin."

But he doesn't let you go, he just stares at you. You slump in defeat when the buzzing stops, and he says, "Where is he, anyway? Why isn't he here?"

Because you're in Justin's house, in his living room being restrained by one of your best friends. "He's in Maui with Britney."

"Maui?" he repeats, surprised. The rest of the guys stayed in Orlando during the break. "Why isn't he here with you? Or why aren't you there with him?"

"Because..." Softly, "Britney..."

"She doesn't know," Joey realizes, and pulls you close, strong arms around you. And you feel safe enough to cry.

It's a shame that you could never fall in love with someone like Joey. Someone uncomplicated and easy, who might cheat but is honest enough to stop if you catch him. Who would abandon anyone else for the one he loves. Because he's simple, and doesn't know how to make anything more important than being in love.

"You know I didn't mean what I said," he tells you, and kisses your hair. "You just got me in some hot water, is all. I didn't understand."

You want to tell him you're sorry, but don't feel like talking just now. You press your face against his shoulder and sigh.

"Hey, come on." He jostles you. When this garners no reaction, he belts out, "The sun'll come out....tomorrow!"

"Oh god," you laugh despite yourself. "Bet'cher bottom dollar."

You'd never trade the love you have that makes you ache, alternate ecstasy and misery. You know it's exactly what you want; it burns you and makes you burn. But you're so grateful that there are other kinds of love. That there is love that is easy, and serves solely to forgive and comfort and make you happy.

"Give him some time to grow up, he'll come around. You'll see," Joey says. "Things can only get better."

You grin. "Oh please, not that old line."


lyrics credit "You're So Last Summer" --Taking Back Sunday

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