"With A Little Help From My Friends"
Part 2: "Candlelight, Roses, and Other Disasters"

By Cody

* ** * ** *

"What can we do with this?" Laila, one of their hairstylists, mused, running her fingers through Justin's fro. "It's getting a little long." She turned to JC, who was getting his hair highlighted," What do you think? Cut it off or no?"

"No." JC tried not to sound overly emphatic, but he wanted to snatch the scissors from Laila's hand and throw them out a window. She wants to cut those gorgeous curls?! She must be on crack!

"Well, it's up to him." Laila pointed to Justin with her scissors.

Justin glanced at JC briefly, and then said flatly, "Chop it off."

JC winced at the words, knowing Justin was just saying it to contradict him. Hate me, fine, but don't take it out on those curls! JC thought, watching helplessly as Laila hacked off the golden tresses. They fell to the floor like the feathers of clipped angels' wings. Later, when no one was looking, JC scooped up a lock of Justin's hair from the ground and slipped it into the pocket of his jacket. Those curls he had so often dreamt of caressing, laying on the floor, waiting to be swept up and thrown away, made him want to break something. The discarded curls seemed to symbolize JC's love, golden and beautiful but worthless and unwanted.

* ** * ** *

JC was too upset to really give a damn about the costumes he was being shown. He just put on the first thing he was handed, found it fit, and told them it would be fine. A grey sleeveless top with a black panther on it and camouflage pants were set aside on JC's clothing rack. JC sat on the couch in the studio and looked over at Justin, who stood magnificent in all black. A sheer, sleeveless shirt and a leather vest accentuated his muscular arms, and leather pants that has silver stripes on the sides of the legs and outlining his crotch fit so snugly JC would've drooled if he wasn't so unhappy.

"JC," one of the clothing stylists, Kitty, called to him, "Come here, we have to pick out a jacket for you to wear."

"Anything's fine. Just pick anything." JC was in no mood to play dress up. He usually enjoyed picking out wardrobe, because he'd get a chance to ogle Justin as he changed, but he was too distressed about his fight with Justin to think about anything else. Sex is the last thing on my mind right now. JC thought, then caught a glimpse of Justin's ass in those tight leather pants,Okay, maybe not the last thing. JC sighed.

"He'll get over it." A deep voice assured him.

"Huh?" JC looked up to find Lance standing beside him.

"Justin. He'll get over it. He's just upset that you kept a secret from him, but he won't be able to stay mad at you for long. Don't worry." Lance put a comforting hand on JC's shoulder.

"I hope you're right," JC smiled weakly, "I hate when he's mad at me."

"Well," Lance tried to look on the bright side, "At least it doesn't happen often."

"Yhea," JC nodded, "but when it does..." he trailed off as he looked at Justin, who was inspecting his newly shorn locks in the mirror. "I wish he hadn't cut his hair." JC hadn't meant to say that out loud. I wish I had a remote control for Life. I could just rewind this whole damn day and do it over. The second time around I'd use my fucking brain.

"Yhea, it looks better long." Lance didn't really give a damn about Justin's hairstyle choices, but continued the conversation just to keep JC from mulling over his fight with Justin, " but as far as thug appeal goes, I think Curly looked best with cornrows."

"Yhea, he did!" JC was careful to keep the lust out of his voice as he agreed. Damn, Justin with cornrows...he looked so fucking sexy! JC hated himself for being turned on when he was supposed to be depressed. Justin's upset at me, I don't deserve to think of him like that. he scolded himself, but he couldn't help imagining running his tongue along the crevices between each tiny braid, Justin maybe kissing JC's chest as he did it...

Lance was shocked at the sudden heat in JC's eyes, What's he thinking about? Lance wondered, It must be pretty good, he just went from looking miserable to looking like he's about to hump someone's leg. Lance's cell phone rang, and he gave JC one last consolatory shoulder-pat before answering it.

* ** * ** *

JC's in love. JC's in love. JC's in love. the thought echoed through Justin's mind mercilessly. Who is it? Who could it be? Maybe it's someone I don't even know. Some skank he picked up at a club. Maybe it's one of his exes. Maybe it's someone else's ex-, and he's afraid they'll get mad. Maybe it's Dani and he's afraid Chris will find out. Maybe it's Britney. Maybe it's Britney and that's why he didn't tell me. God, if it's Britney...that would be a little *too* ironic. Justin wanted to scream, or cry hysterically, or just do anything to calm his tumultuous mind. The thought of JC being in love was killing him, It's been hard enough watching him go through all those fucking girlfriends, but at least I knew he wasn't ever serious about them. But now he's in love. He loves someone, and it's not me. That makes it even worse, makes me feel even more pathetic for wanting him so much. I've never loved anyone else like I love him. Never wanted to touch anyone like I want to touch and know and feel every piece of all he is. It's so hopeless. I'm so hopeless. I wish I could just not feel this way. I wish there was a switch I could pull and turn all this off. The pain isn't worth the pleasure of loving him. Not when I hurt this bad. Justin imagined himself growing old, never loving another human like he loved JC. Wasting away, forever pining after what he couldn't have.

That beautiful, sculptured face, that soft, strong body, that goofy laugh, and that adorable quirkiness. JC was always doing or saying something off-beat that made Justin want to smother him in kisses and tell him how unique he was. His talent, his beauty, his mind and soul; Justin was consumed with love for every facet of JC's being. I know him and love him like no one else, but what does it matter? He loves some one else. He loves me, but not like I love him. He needs me, but he doesn't want me like I need him to want me. God, this is so fucked up. This whole situation is just so fucked up. The one person who can always make things better for me is the one person I can't turn to. Justin ducked into the bathroom, making a decision he knew was selfish, I didn't want to have to do this, but I need to talk to someone. He took out his cell and dialed Britney.

"Hello?" she answered on the fifth ring.

"Hey, what're you doing?" he asked, hoping he hadn't interrupted anything too important.

"Just in the middle of a photo shoot." Britney glanced at the photographer, who looked annoyed at the interruption.

"Well, I'll let you go." Justin tried not to sound too disappointed.

"No, no, it's cool. What's up? Is this about what you couldn't talk about earlier cause JC was around?" Britney still didn't know about the Wade incident at rehearsal.

"No," Justin sighed, "That was just me feeling like a jackass for jumping to conclusions. This is the end of the world."

"That bad, huh?" Britney made up her mind as she heard Justin's breath catch. She knew he must be close to tears. "I'll be right there."

"What? You can't. You're in the middle of a shoot." Justin reminded her.

"Nevermind that. You're at the studio, right?" She picked up her purse, ignoring the protests of the photographer as she walked towards the door.

"Um, yhea. We're picking out what to wear to the VMA's, but we're done now. We're heading back to the hotel." Justin looked at his wristwatch, "We'll get there around seven."

"Well, I'll meet you in your room, and then we can go back to my room and talk." Britney told him, "Just hold on till I get there, okay?"

"Yhea, I'll be fine," Justin felt bad for worrying her, "You don't even have to come. I'll just talk to you later."

"No, I'm coming." Britney insisted. "I'm already on my way out the door."

"I'll leave my key at the front desk for you, 'cause I might take a nap or something." Justin was relieved she hadn't listened to him when he told her not to come.

"Okay. I'll be there as soon as I can. I love you." She said.

"Love ya, too." He returned, and they hung up. When Justin came out of the bathroom he found his band mates ready to leave, and he let Chris pull him into a headlock and steer him towards the limo.

* ** * ** *

JC hung back as they made their way to the limo, his eyes on the man Chris had trapped in a headlock. JC was still racking his brain, trying to think of how he could smooth things over with Justin without lying or confessing his love. How can I save this friendship? JC got into the limo and sat next to Lance, turning to stare out the window, lost in his thoughts.

* ** * ** *

When they got to the hotel, JC went straight to their room, hoping and fearing that Justin would follow. Justin came to their door and hesitated, I can't face him right now. Justin went to Joey and Lance's room and knocked. Lance opened the door, "Hey, Curly. What's up?"

"Uh, not much. Mind if I chill in here for a while?" Justin asked as he walked into the room.

"Hey, come play against me!" Joey invited him. He was sitting on his bed playing Forsaken on Playstation.

"Why? You in the mood to get your ass kicked?" Justin laughed.

"Ooh, big talk for a little man!" Joey teased.

"Well, not everyone can be as fat as you. Someone's gotta be the heart throb!" Justin flashed a charming grin, wiggling his eyebrows.

"Yhea, that's what we've got JC for." Joey joked. "Oops." He muttered as he saw Justin's grin fade and Lance threw him a dirty look. An uncomfortable silence fell over the room.

Lance cleared his throat, desperately trying to think of something to say to distract Justin from sulking, "So, uh, have you heard from your mom lately, J?"

"Actually, I have," Justin said, smiling a little, "I got an e-mail from her yesterday."

"Oh, yhea?" Lance wasn't really that interested, but asked, "What's going on with her?"

"Same old stuff," Justin shrugged, "She's on the PTA this year and they're having an auction to raise money for a new gym, so I'm gonna send her an autographed CD or something."

"You could send her some french toast." Joey suggested, grinning.

"Yhea, want me to take a bite before you send it?" Lance offered.

"Well, they'll just say it's Curly's, anyway. He's the one everyone loves best." Joey affected a preteen-girl falsetto, "Ooh, look at his big frizzy fro! I'm gonna marry him!" They laughed, and Justin's ego purred.

"What about your parents?" Justin asked, his eyes on the tv as he played the video game.

"Uh, I don't know, actually," Lance admitted, "I haven't checked my e-mail for a few days."

"What?!" Justin's voice was heavy with mock-horror, "Scoop hasn't checked his e-mail within the past 24 hours? Are there swarms of locusts circling the hotel yet?"

"Shut up." Lance laughed, "I've been busy. Besides, I've always got my cell phone on incase anyone needs to get in touch with me."

"Ah, I knew there had to be a catch," Justin raised his eyebrows, his gaze never leaving the tv, "There's no way Mr. Hollywood could be completely out of the loop. The business world would grind to a halt."

"Actually, I do want to check my e-mail. I think I'll do that now." Lance picked up his cell phone and room key, "I'm gonna go use Chris's laptop."

"Why don't you use your own?" Joey pointed to the coffee table, where both their laptops rested.

"'Cause y'all are gonna bug me if I check it in here," Lance said.

"You just wanna look at porn!" Justin accused, and he and Joey cracked up.

"No!" Lance blushed, "I just want a little privacy!"

"Why, you got something to hide?" Joey shot Lance a teasing look, then quickly turned his attention back to the video game, "Sexy e-mails from your secret girlfriend?"

Lance looked at Justin, expecting him to react to the mention of a secret girlfriend, but he was too caught up in Forsaken. Good thing Justin wasn't paying attention. It would've reminded him of JC. Lance thought as he turned to leave.

"Digital, digital getdown!" Joey sang after him.

"Go to hell!" Lance called over his shoulder as he slammed the door. He went one door down and knocked. "Chris?" he called, "Open up, it's me."

A few seconds passed before Chris opened the door, "Hey, Poofu, what's up?"

"Not much. What're you doing?" Lance looked past Chris and saw JC sitting on the couch.

"Me and JC are watching Raiders of the Lost Arc." Chris lowered his voice discreetly, "I'm trying to cheer him up."

"Hey, Lance!" JC waved to him from the couch.

"Hey," Lance stepped into the room.

"Wanna join us?" Chris invited, going back to his seat in an armchair and propping his feet on the coffee table.

"Nah, I was actually coming in here to see if I could use your laptop." Lance glanced at the tv, "I can't check my e-mail in my room, Joey always tries to read over my shoulder."

"You can use my laptop," JC offered, "Here." He tossed Lance his room key.

"Thanks." Lance missed and the key landed on the floor. He picked it up and then looked at his band mates, "I'll come back here when I'm done and we can all go to dinner." "Not me. I have to go pick up Dani at the airport." Chris

said.

"I'll be here," JC didn't want to be in his room alone. He'd been relieved when Chris had come to his door and invited him to watch a movie. It was too depressing to be around all of Justin's things. He usually loved how Justin's cologne lingered in the air, but now it only served to remind him of how he'd screwed up their friendship. I can't think about that right now. I don't want to break down in front of the guys. I'll fix things between me and Justin, somehow...

All right. Say hi to Dani for me." Lance told Chris as he left. When he got to Justin and JC's room, he realized he hadn't asked JC where his laptop was. It wasn't laying out, so Lance went ahead and checked the dresser drawers and JC's suitcase. "Where the hell is it?" Lance grumbled. Finally he checked under JC's bed and found it. "What's he keep it under here for?" he wondered aloud. Lance opened the laptop and set it on the coffee table, sitting on the floor so he could type comfortably. He laughed at JC's wallpaper, it was Star Wars, and all the icons were characters from the movies. "Cute," Lance muttered, "but how do you know what's what?" Lance clicked on Chewbacca's head, and a schedule opened. He closed it and tried Yoda, which turned out to be Microsoft Word. "Where's the fucking Internet?" Lance clicked on Hans Solo's head. "Ah, finally!" he waited as the internet connection dialed and then logged into his e-mail account.

The first email he opened was from his aunt. Lance started to read it and then got bored and minimized it. "I'll finish you later." He told the e-mail, going on to check the rest. After he read and answered the rest, he decided to finish his aunt's long, boring account of her adventures in gardening. He clicked on the minimized window.

It's just so hard sometimes. I want to tell Justin I'm in love with him, but I know I can't. It would

What the fuck?! Lance thought, his eyes widening. He looked at the bottom of the screen and saw the minimized window he'd meant to open. He hadn't realized JC had left a file open. It must be his diary or something. Lance realized, Oh, shit. This can't be his diary. What the fuck is going on? JC's in love with Justin? What the FUCK?! He couldn't resist reading more of JC's diary.

ruin everything if I told him. I couldn't do that to the group. And it could ruin our friendship. I would die if Justin hated me. I love him more than anything, he's my entire world. I can't even remember what it was like not to love him. It's been four years since I was with a woman, and I don't miss it. I don't want any other man, either. Just Justin. I would die to be able .

Lance looked up from the laptop in shock as the door suddenly opened.

* ** * ** *

"Justin?" Britney asked as she opened the door to his hotel room with the key he had left for her at the front desk. She saw Lance sitting on the floor, "Oh, hey, Lance. Where's--" she started, then noticed his dumbstruck expression, "What's wrong?" Lance didn't answer, he just looked from the laptop in front of him, to her, to the laptop, and back to her with a guilty, bewildered look on his face. "Talk, Lance. You're freaking me out."

"I..." Lance croaked.

"What's wrong with you?" Britney came towards him to look at the laptop screen. He tried to cover it with his hand, but she pushed his arm away, reading out loud, "It's just so hard sometimes. I want to tell Justin..." she trailed off, then looked at Lance in shock, "You're...?"

"No!" Lance yelled, then caught himself and lowered his voice, "No, this isn't mine! I mean, I didn't write this! I just wanted to check my e-mail!"

"Who wrote it, then?" Britney asked, the realization of what was happening flooded over her and she had to sit down on the couch, "JC?" she whispered, disbelieving.

"I didn't mean to read it! It was an accident!" Lance cried defensively, but Britney wasn't even listening.

"JC's in love with Justin?" she asked softly, tears slipping quickly down her cheeks.

"Oh, god, Britney, don't cry!" Lance was instantly beside her on the couch, pulling her close. She buried her face in his chest and sobbed. "It's okay, shh." He stroked her hair comfortingly, "We don't have to say anything. We'll just pretend we don't know."

"Y-you don't understand!" she sobbed, twisting his shirt in her fists, "I mean, I know he'd never...but I guess I just thought...one day...but if he loves him...then it's over, you know? It's just...done."

"Okay, it's all right." Lance was thoroughly confused by Britney's ramblings, but allowed her to cry until she calmed down. "Feel better now?" he asked her, like he was speaking to a child. She nodded.

"Yhea, I feel better. Sorry about that." She wiped at his wet shirt sheepishly.

"It's okay. I never really liked this shirt, anyway." He smiled.

She returned the smile tremulously, "It's just that...look, Lance, I'm about to tell you something, and you can't--"

"I won't." he promised.

"Okay," she took a deep breath, "Me and Justin aren't really together."

"Huh?" Lance's forehead furrowed in confusion.

"It's just a cover-up." Britney explained, "Justin...he's in love with JC."

"He's in..." Lance felt lightheaded. This has got to be some freaky dream. He pinched himself. Ow. The stinging pain wasn't proof enough. He pinched himself again. Ow, again. Okay, so this is real. But this can't be real. "So you and Justin aren't really in love?"

"Well, I love him," Britney admitted, "which is why I flipped out...I mean, I knew Justin could never love me like he loves JC, but I guess I thought that maybe, one day...I don't know what I thought. But if JC loves him, it's just, like, there's no hope for me, you know? Not that there ever was, but...it just makes my situation even more dead-end."

"Oh, Brit." Lance's heart went out to the girl, who looked close to tears again. Why do I feel disappointed? He wiped away Britney's tears and knew why, I care about her. I can admit that to myself now. Britney went to the bathroom to "fix her face" and Lance clicked JC's diary closed and logged out of his e-mail. When Britney came out of the bathroom, he looked at her expectantly, "So, what do we do now?"

"I don't know, " Britney shrugged, "I guess we just let nature take its course."

"Well, I don't think it's doing a very good job so far. They're not even on speaking terms." Lance said, getting up to replace the laptop under JC's bed.

"What?" Britney asked, "Why not?"

"Ask Justin about it," Lance advised her, "He's in my room."

"Okay, he's probably wondering where I am, anyway. He wanted to talk to me, he called me earlier cause he was upset." Britney headed for the door.

"Well, you talk to Justin, and I'll talk to JC. We have to help these two get together." Lance opened the door and let her go out first.

"We do?" Britney asked, raising her eyebrows.

"Sure." Lance said, "It's our duty as their friends to try to help them find happiness."

"Well, if it's our duty." Britney smiled, "But we can't just blurt it out to them. That would be embarrassing for all of us, and it might blow up in our face. I mean, we'd have to tell JC about us reading his stuff. We'll just help them figure it out for themselves."

"Good thinking. I guess the first step is to get them speaking to each other. You talk to Justin in his room, I'll talk to JC in Chris's, and then we'll all go out to dinner, okay?" Lance walked Britney to his room, "Here," he handed her his room key, "Go on in."

"Okay," Britney took the key, then paused before saying, "Lance, I just want to let you know...you're a really cool guy."

"Well, thanks, " Lance grinned, "I try."

"I mean it. I really respect you for handling this so well. I mean, finding out two of your best friends are gay...I think it's incredible that you're so accepting." She told him, honest admiration in her eyes.

"Well, they're still the same people. I mean, they're like brothers to me, nothing could change that," Lance told her simply, "I love them no matter what."

"You're incredible." Britney repeated, giving him a quick kiss on the cheek before turning and going into his room. He stared at the door as it closed behind her, and then went to go talk to JC.

* ** * ** *

"Ooh! Victory! Tell me, Joey, what exactly does shit taste like?" Justin asked, tossing his controller onto the bed.

"Shut up." Joey scowled.

"No, seriously, you should know. You just ate it." Justin laughed, a conceited grin on his face.

"Hey, y'all!" Britney called, coming into the hotel room, "Whatcha up to?"

"Nothing, "Joey answered sullenly, "Justin's just being an asshole, as usual."

"Aww," Justin made a fake-sympathetic face, "Baby sad cause he lost?"

"Who are you calling a baby? You're, what, ten?" Joey restarted the game as a one-player.

"Ten and a half." Justin corrected, sticking out his tongue. "So, Britty-poo, took you long enough to get here!"

"I know, sorry." Britney apologized, "Traffic was bad." Lie number one. she thought

"It's okay. I was just kidding." Justin got up from the bed, "Let's go to your room and talk."

"We can go to yours. It's empty." Britney handed Justin his room key, "I went to your room first. No one was there." Lie number two. Britney hated to lie to Justin, But it's all for the best, she comforted herself.

"Where's JC?" Justin asked, concerned.

"He's in Chris's room," Britney said.

"Alone? Chris went to the airport to pick up Dani." Justin felt bad, Poor JC, sitting all alone in--

"No," Britney interrupted his thoughts, "He's with Lance."

"Oh," Justin remembered, "Oh, yhea, Lance is checking his e-mail in there." Justin knew better than to get jealous, but he couldn't help wondering what JC and Lance were doing in Chris's room. Alone. God, Justin, be more paranoid. JC and Lance are straight. They're probably just watching tv or something. Or something. "Maybe we should go hang out with them."

"No, you said you needed to talk to me." Britney tugged on Justin's hand, "Let's talk." He let her lead them to his room and obediently unlocked the door and let her in. "So, what's going on? Why is it the End of the World?" She asked him, flopping down on the couch.

"Huh?" he sat by her, distracted by the thought of JC and Lance and what they might be doing.

"Remember earlier? Frantic phone call, saying it's the end of the worlds as we know it and you're feeling not-so fine?" Britney gave him an exasperated look, "Ring any bells?"

"Oh, yhea." Justin's face collapsed as he remembered, "JC's in love."

"You know?" Britney blurted, shocked. She recovered quickly, "I mean, how do you know? Did he tell you?"

"Yhea, well, he told all of us. This stupid reporter, who was mad flirting with him, by the way, asked him if he'd ever been in love, and he said yes. She said 'Are you in love now?' and he said yes. And then he wouldn't say who he was in love with because it was 'too personal'. I said, 'Nothing's ever been too personal before, why is this different?' and then he got all pissed off and started yelling at me, so I told him to fuck off. Or maybe I told him to go to hell. I don't remember. So, anyway, now I'm not speaking to him. I can't believe he's in love with someone! I think my chest is gonna cave in or something. It feels like it is. And the worst part is, he won't even tell me who he's in love with! We never keep secrets! I hate him! I hate him!" Justin ranted, "God, I love him!"

"Justin!" Britney took his hands in hers.

"What?" he was almost yelling.

"Breathe." He breathed, and she continued, "Okay, now, why are you really mad at JC? And don't say it's 'cause he kept a secret."

"But, he did! How could he? Why doesnít he trust me?" Justin pulled his hands away from her so he could gesture wildly, "I've been there for him! I never once betrayed his trust! What gives him the right to keep secrets from me?!"

"Justin! Listen to yourself! 'What gives him the right?' First of all, everyone's entitled to some privacy." Justin started to interrupt, but she didn't let him, "Second of all, you've kept a secret from him for years! You haven't told him who you're in love with! You even lie and pretend to be involved with me! He's never lied to you!"

Justin's mouth opened in protest, then closed. He frowned. "That's different."

"How is that different? You have one secret, well, so does he. Let him have it. If or when he's ready to tell you, he will. If you want him to tell you who he loves, then it's only fair that you tell him who you love."

"You know I can't do that!" Justin looked terrified at the idea.

"Well, then, let it go. You have no right to be mad at him." Britney nudged his knee with hers. "You should apologize. I bet he's miserable over this."

"Well, he did look a little upset in the limo." Justin admitted guiltily.

"Okay, then, you get ready for dinner. We're all gonna go someplace fun and forget any of this ever happened." Britney ruffled Justin's fro, "by the way, what the hell did you do to your hair? Did you get in a fight with a weed-whacker?"

" That bad, huh?" Justin looked in the mirror self-consciously.

"It'll grow out," Britney told him, "but why'd you do it?"

"I was mad at JC and he said I shouldn't cut it, so I did." Justin gave her a sheepish smile, "Pretty dumb, huh?"

"Yhea, but at least you'll have a constant reminder of why you shouldn't fight with your best friend," Britney teased, "Maybe that'll keep your punk ass in line."

"Well, until it grows out." Justin flashed a dazzling grin, and her heart somersaulted.

"I'm so happy for you, Justin. Really, I am, but I can't help being more broken-hearted than ever." She thought as she left the room.

* ** * ** *

Lance knocked on Chris's door for the second time that day. JC opened it and let him in, "Hey, Scoop, did you find my lap top? I forgot to tell you I keep it under my bed."

"Uh, yhea, I found it." Lance said, trying not to sound guilty, "So, how's the movie?"

"It's good." JC sat back down on the couch, "I've seen it a million times, but it just gets better."

"Um..." Lance didn't know how to approach this. Do I tell him I read his diary? No, that doesn't sound like a good idea. Maybe I should confide in him first, get the secret-telling ball rolling. "Hey, JC..."

"Hm?" JC was caught up in the movie.

"JC, I need to tell you something." Lance started.

"Okay, what?" JC raised his eyebrows, still watching the tv screen.

"Um...I think I'm in love, too." Lance said, desperate to get JC's attention.

"Really? With who?" JC was interested now, he turned to look at his band mate.

"Um..." Lance hesitated, "with...with Justin."

JC's jaw dropped.

* ** * ** *

"Wh-- you're-- Justin?!" JC managed to sputter.

"Um..." Lance's mind raced. Ok, maybe I shouldn't have said that.

"You're in...with...since when? When did you...?" JC looked puzzled, pissed off, shocked.

"Well..." Lance didnít know what to do. He hadn't planned to say he was in love with Jusitn. I'm not in love with Justin. I think I may be falling in love with Britney, though. He spoke without meaning to, "Since last week." Last week? Good lie, Lance! What the hell's wrong with you?!

"Ha!" JC scoffed, his expression one Lance had never seen before, a mixture of triumph and pain. "Don't laugh! I'm confiding in you here!" Lance frowned at JC. Shut up! Lance's brain cried, Why are you still talking?!

"Since last week?" JC's voice was full of anger and mockery, "A whole week, Lance! Good for you! Wow! That's incredible!" he shoved his finger into Lance's chest roughly, "What do you think of four years? Four long, torturous years. But that's nothing compared to a whole week, is it?"

"Four years of what?" Lance prompted, rubbing the spot where JC had poked him.

JC suddenly realized he'd said too much, "Nothing. Nevermind."

"JC, are you in love with Justin?" Lance silently urged him to answer, C'mon, JC. Just say it.

"I..." JC's voice trembled, he looked down at this hands, as though the answer lay in his palms.

"It's okay," Lance reached out and put his arm around JC's shoulders, "I won't tell. I won't judge you."

JC pulled his band mate into a bear hug, burying his face in Lance's shoulder. "How did you know?" JC's voice was muffled.

"It doesnít matter." Lance didnít want to embarrass JC by telling him he'd read his diary. "You should tell him."

"What?" JC sat up, releasing Lance, "No, no, I couldn't do that! He'd hate me!"

"He wouldn't hate you." Lance said, "You know he would never hate you."

"Well, it would change things." JC looked back down at his hands.

"Donít you want them to change?" Lance asked, but before JC could answer a knock came at the door. JC got up to open it. It was Britney.

"Hey, JC," She smiled, "Justin needs to talk to you. He's waiting in your room."

"Oh, okay." JC said flatly. Seeing her reminded him of why he couldn't tell Justin how he felt. He's straight, you jackass. Remember? He'll never love you back. JC turned slightly to Lance, who had come up behind him.

"Hey, Britney," Lance grinned, "Everything okay?"

"Yhea," Britney returned his grin, "How about with you?"

"Perfect." Lance nodded.

"Okay, I'm gonna go talk to Justin." JC left, a little confused by Lance and Britney's conversation, but not really thinking much of it. Justin wants to talk to me. I hope that's a good thing.

"So, he admitted it?" Britney whispered, once JC had gone into his room.

"Yhea, he cracked like an egg." Lance told her, "How'd things go with Justin?"

"He was upset, but I calmed him down. I think everything is going to be all right." Britney put her arm around Lance, "Damn, weíre too good to them." "They don't deserve us." Lance agreed.

* ** * ** *

See if I sound like Oliver Twist when I ask for MORE...

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