Part Two: "Cocoon"
He led her into his bedroom and closed the door, led her to the bed, and they sat down. "I missed you." She said, her arms around his neck.
"I missed you, too." It was an instinctive response, but he wondered at his own sincerity. He hadn't really thought of her much, had been too busy. Three months on tour, talking to her long-distance maybe twice a week. Timing his calls so he would catch her just before she went to bed, so he wouldn't have to talk too long.
"I hate how we never get to see each other. It's not fair." She was kissing his neck, and he felt oddly detached, like his neck wasn't his neck, like he was someplace else.
"I know." He heard himself say. What did he know? He knew that he would try to fuck her and she would say no, because that was their roles to play. Him, the typical, horny boyfriend, and her, the good-girl, perfect girlfriend. Perfect because he knew she'd never put out, but would enable him to keep up the charade of...of what? Don't think. he told himself,You want this. You want her.
"Justin, I've been thinking about what you said, and you're right." Britney smiled softly at him. She had a beautiful smile. She was beautiful. Of course he wanted her.
"What did I say?" He said a lot of things. 'What did I mean?' he might've asked, but how could she know, when he was rarely sure himself?
"You know, what you said about how there's no reason to wait, since we're getting married anyway." She laid back on the bed, offering herself to him, "I mean, you're right. We're in love, we're going to get married someday; what's the point in waiting?"
He was dreaming, right? This was a dream. Maybe a nightmare. He fumbled to find his voice, "What?"
"I'm ready. I mean, I want to." She grinned at his shocked expression, "Didn't see that one coming, huh?" She sat up, took his face in her hands, "I trust you, Justin. I love you."
He pulled away from her touch, stood up from the bed, "We can't."
It was her turn to be surprised, "What?"
"You're-- you want to wait. Until you're married. Your husband. Your honeymoon." He reminded her desperately, wanting her to change her mind, take it back. Stop this. Stop it. Who gave her permission to flip the script?
She shook her head, "I don't get you. You're always pressuring me for sex, and now that I'm finally saying I'm ready, you're trying to talk me out of it?"
"I just...I don't want you to do anything you'll regret." That was why. Because he was a nice guy, a good boyfriend. That was why.
She stood up, put her arms around his neck, "I won't regret it. I love you."
He pulled her arms down, held them at her sides, "No."
She looked up at him in confusion, "Justin, don't you want to? Don't you want me?"
He couldn't do this anymore. He couldn't keep lying to her, or, more importantly, to himself. So, for the first time, he admitted the truth, "No."
The pain and shock in her face was mirrored in his own. She pulled out of his grasp, sat down on the bed because she couldn't stand. "I...don't understand." She whispered.
He was just starting to, himself.
"Is...what's wrong? Why not?" She looked down at herself, as though searching for the flaw that made her undesirable. He realized that to her, life was a fairytale. She was the beautiful, small-town princess that the world spun around. Rejection wasn't a part of her repertoire.
He felt like a million tons had just been lifted off his shoulders, and he could float, he could fly. He felt honest and clean and right. He tried to feel sorry for her, but he was too busy feeling happy for himself. Relieved. Reborn. Alive. "It's not you." He wanted her to leave, to disappear, so he could enjoy his newfound freedom. "You're great. You're wonderful. It's not you."
She looked at him expectantly, "Then, what is it?"
But he would have no more of the expectations of others. Not now, not right now. Right now he was light-headed, light-hearted with realization. He wanted her to leave, wanted to tell her to go. "I don't know." He lied, because he wasn't ready to tell her. He wasn't scared, he just didn't want to. Maybe later, he'd be scared. Maybe later he'd agonize over having to tell her, tell his friends and his family. Right now this was his; he was his. He felt like, for the first time in as long as he could remember, he knew who he was.
She stood up shakily. "Maybe I should go." She said, then looked at him like she expected him to disagree.
"Maybe you should." He patted her shoulder, because, really, he did care for her. He would be kind and comforting later, he would apologize for hurting her and hope she didn't hate him. But not now.
She went to the door, lingered for a moment, giving him the chance to stop her. He didn't.
Then he was alone, and he flopped back onto the bed, grinning. So, okay, he wasn't perfect. So, fine, some people would be disappointed. His parents might freak out, his friends might be shocked, and Britney might talk shit about him for a while. He didn't care. He felt good, felt like he'd just broken out of a prison. He stretched out on the bed, couldn't stop smiling. A knock came at the door, and he nearly sang, "Come in!"
JC's head peeked in, "Are you okay?"
Justin sat up, knowing he probably looked like an idiot, but unable to wipe the goofy grin off his face, "Yhea, I'm fine. I'm great, actually. Why do you ask?"
JC stepped into the room, closed the door, and made his way to the bed. He sat on the edge, "I just saw Britney leave. She was crying."
"Oh, yhea," Justin managed to tame his grin, thinking it was probably wrong to look so happy after making a girl cry. A nice girl. She was a nice girl, a really nice girl. He was sorry he'd made her cry. "We broke up." Well, they had, right? He'd call in the morning to make sure.
"Are you okay?" JC asked again, concerned. Most people's first question would've been, 'Why?'
Justin's grin came back full-force, "Yhea, I'm great."
JC smiled a little, "Well, that's good. Do you want to talk about it?"
Justin considered, and then shook his head slowly, "No...I mean, not yet. Later, though."
JC nodded, stood up, "You need some time alone?"
Justin couldn't help but laugh. Time alone? He'd spent his whole life alone. "No, stay with me. Let's watch tv or something." He got the remote from its place on his nightstand and scooted so his back was against the headboard. JC sat next to him, tried to take the remote. They fought jokingly for a minute, laughing, until JC gave up. Justin flipped through the channels aimlessly, not really paying attention. When he came to a "Thunder Cats" re-run, JC put a hand on his arm and told him to stop, and he did.
They watched the show, JC's hand still resting casually on Justin's arm. Neither moved, and neither acknowledged the contact. There was no tension in the room, sexual or otherwise. There was just a promise of what might be, gentle and soft like a fragrance, in the air. Sometime soon, Justin would tell JC everything. Sometime soon, that promise would be kept.