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

By Cody

* ** * ** *

JC entered his hotel room, scared and eager. He saw the bathroom door was open and went to it. Justin was in front of the mirror, checking himself out. "You look great." JC assured him. Justin looked at JC in surprise, then smiled shyly. JC's heart jumped.

"You don't think the hack job's too hideous?" Justin smoothed his hair, sighing. "I can't believe I cut it off! My poor fro!"

JC dared to reach out and run his fingers through the short, soft curls, "It'll grow out..." he said softly. Justin looked at JC, his eyes so disarmingly intent that JC was startled and pulled his hand away. Quit it, Josh. You're letting your mind play tricks on you. There's no way what you're seeing in Justin's eyes is really there. This is no time for wishful thinking, you're supposed to be apologizing. "I'm--"

"Sorry." Justin finished for him, "Don't be. *I'm* sorry. I shouldn't have pressured you to tell me. I just felt like you didn't trust me, and I was hurt."

"I--" JC started, but Justin interrupted him again.

"Trust me. I know. I trust you, too. That's why I don't mind if you want to keep a secret." Justin bit his lip, his eyes sparkling, "but just this one, okay?"

"Okay." JC agreed, aching to touch Justin. Does he know what it does to me when he bites his lip? That soft, pink lip... his thoughts were cut short when Justin pulled him into a hug. He wrapped his arms around Justin, savoring their closeness. I don't want to let go.

Neither man loosened the embrace, and after a minute they repositioned themselves, stepping closer and burying their faces in each other's necks, inhaling their combined scents and finding it delicious. Each man's lips were touching the other's neck, and they both applied a bit of pressure, as though they were thinking as one. Perhaps they were. Their minds were oddly blank. It was like falling into a dreamless sleep and realizing peace in the void. There were no milling thoughts, no doubts, no fears. There was only a comforting silence. They breathed in unison, their pulses twin rhythms. "Justin?" JC whispered, his lips brushing Justin's skin as he spoke.

Justin shivered in pleasure, "Hmm?"

JC gathered his courage, "Justin, I--"

"Hey, guys!" Joey bounded into the room. They quickly separated, flustered. "You left the door cracked open. You shouldn't do that." Joey advised, pulling JC out of the bathroom so he could look at himself. "Ready to go?" he asked. JC and Justin stared at each other, dazed. When neither man answered, Joey looked at them and noticed their expressions, "Why do you guys look so weird?" he frowned, "You're not still fighting, are you?"

JC forced himself to break his gaze from Justin's and look at Joey, "Uh...no. We're not still fighting."

"Good!" Joey grinned, "I hate when people fight. Unless it's me and Justin!" Joey joked, pretending to bitch-slap him.

"Whatever, Joey. Don't make me kick your ass." Justin laughed, stepping around him and out of the bathroom.

"You wish!" Joey snorted. "Hey, does this shirt make me look fat?" He turned sideways in front of the mirror and sucked in his gut.

"It's not the shirt." Justin told him, plopping onto his bed so he could watch JC get ready. Damn, everything he does is adorable. He thought lovingly as he watched JC fix his hair. Fucking Joey. He ruined our hug. God, it felt so good to hold him.

"I'm not fat." Joey protested, after a few moments of self-inspection, "I'm not, am I, JC?"

"No, of course not." JC reassured Joey, throwing Justin a look, and Justin laughed, amused by JC's expression and giddy from making eye-contact with him.

"Hey, y'all," Lance greeted as he arrived, "You left your door open. You shouldn't do that."

"We know." Justin replied, "We found that out the hard way."

"Huh?" Lance was confused.

"Never mind. Let's go." Justin got up from the bed. His shirt had ridden up in the back, but he didn't realize it. Lance noticed.

"Oh, dude, here." Lance pulled down Justin's shirt.

"Thanks." Justin said, not seeing how JC's eyes narrowed suspiciously at Lance's helpfulness.

Was he serious earlier? JC wondered, Is he really in love with Justin? Or was he just trying to get me to confess? JC went to Justin and put his arm around his waist, pulling him out the door and away from Lance, "We better get going. Where do you wanna eat, J?"

"Any where's fine with me." Justin put his arm around JC's waist happily as they headed for the elevator.

Joey hung back with Lance, and nodded towards Justin and JC, "Those two look happy." Joey observed.

Does he know? Lance wondered, looking at Joey's blank face, Nah, he couldn't. Joey's too smart to figure anyone out. Lance laughed out loud at his thoughts.

"What?" Joey asked him.

"Nothing. I was just thinking about how smart you are." Lance told him honestly.

"Oh," Joey grinned cluelessly, "Thanks!"

When they got to the elevator, Lance saw that only the button for the lobby had been pushed, and pressed the button for floor 8. "We have to get Britney." Lance reminded Justin, who was busy "fixing" JC's spiky hair. Really, it was just an excuse to touch him.

"Oh, yhea, I forgot." Justin blushed.

That's right, baby, forget Britney! Come to papa! JC thought, then grinned at his own goofiness. He unconsciously tightened his hold on Justin's waist.

Justin had turned sideways so he could use both hands on JC's spikes, so when JC pulled him closer, his crotch bumped JC's hip. Oh, shit... Justin thought, and couldn't resist grinding his cock against JC. The elevator door dinged open, and Justin quickly pulled away from JC and nearly ran to Britney's door. Oh, fuck, I can't believe I just did that! That was like an extremely mild form of rape! Justin was flushed with shame for having rubbed up on his best friend, and excitement from the sensation. He pounded on Britney's door.

"Damn it, Justin!" he heard her call through the door. That helped to calm him down in some odd way. He laughed softly as he heard her rushing around. Finally the door opened and she appeared, wearing an unzipped baby blue dress. "Hey, J. Zip me up, will you?" She turned around and he zipped her up obediently. She grabbed her purse and they all headed back to the elevator.

I guess I don't mind that Justin zipped her up. I mean, he is gay, Lance thought,but, damn, I wish I'd gotten to the door first. He admired Britney's curves, She looks so good in that dress. I wonder if I should tell her so. I know she said she's in love with Justin, but, still...I mean, it's not like Justin's gonna come around, and she's got to move on some time... "Uh, Britney, I like your dress. Is it new?"

"Thanks," Britney grinned, "but, no, I've actually had this dress for, like, a year."

JC watched the exchange suspiciously,Is Lance saying he likes that dress because it's Justin's favorite color? Or is he trying to throw Britney off his trail so she doesn't figure out he's in love with Justin? Is he in love with Justin? JC sighed, scratching the back of his neck in frustration, Damn, Josh, get a grip. JC looked at Justin and found the blonde looking at him. JC flashed him a grin.

Justin, who now had Lance and Britney between himself and JC, wanted to shove the two interlopers out of the way. Did JC notice the way I basically molested him? Justin saw JC's grin and decided he hadn't. Good. Now, let's see if I can have a little more self-control from now on. He tore his eyes away from JC, forcing himself to watch the elevator numbers decrease.

* ** * ** *

When they got to the limo, JC got in first, and Lance was about to get in and sit next to him when Justin said, "Lance, your shoe lace is untied." Lance looked down, and as he did Justin quickly slid into the limo.

Lance looked up at Justin, confused, "No, it's not."

"Oh, really?" Justin settled into his seat by JC happily, "My bad."

Joey sat on the empty side of the limo, and Britney was about to sit next to Justin when Lance stopped her, "Britney, sit next to Joey. You'll have more room."

"Oh, thanks, Lance." She smiled, "You're so considerate." She sat next to Joey and Lance sat next to Justin, not catching JC's suspicious glare. "How come you never think about stuff like that?" Britney asked Justin, kicking him lightly in the shin.

Justin shrugged, "He's got the manners, and I've got the looks." He joked, and everyone laughed.

"Well, I happen to think you're adorable!" Britney told Lance, who blushed at the compliment.

"I'm adorable!" Justin grinned, "I'm just sexy as hell, too."

"Talk about conceited!" Joey hooted, "You call me fat, what about your ego? That thing's obese!"

"First of all, that barely made sense. Second of all, I am gorgeous. Don't try to deny it!" Justin turned to JC for back-up, "Aren't I, Jace?"

"Yhea, you're hot as hell." JC grinned, laughing at Justin's conceit. If it wasn't so true, it'd be even more funny. But he's right, he is gorgeous.

"See? JC has good taste." Justin smiled, thoroughly satisfied by JC's answer. Lance started asking Britney about her plans for her VMA performance, and Justin leaned in closer to JC and whispered, "Just for the record, I think you're hot as hell, too."

JC flushed, grateful for the semi-darkness of the limo. The feel of Justin's breath on his ear and neck, and their thighs and arms pressed together, was enough to make him hope they'd never reach their destination. JC realized he didn't even know where they were going. "Hey, where are we going?"

"We're meeting Dana at a club." Joey told him.

"Dana who?" Britney asked.

"Yhea, Dana who?" Justin echoed.

"Dana, the reporter from earlier." Joey explained, "She wanted to do something tonight, so I told her we would."

"Why the hell'd you do that?" Justin exclaimed, "I don't wanna hang out with that ho!"

"Whoa, J, chill. What's your problem?" Lance asked, surprised at his friend's outburst.

"My problem is she's fucking annoying!" Justin scowled, crossing his arms and sitting back in his seat. JC watched Justin pout, finding it adorable.

"Why is she annoying? I thought she was cool." Lance defended Dana, who in his opinion had seemed like a nice person.

"Well, I'm fucking hungry. I thought we were going to dinner, not clubbing." Justin bitched.

"Damn, Justin, they have food at the club. Get something there." Joey said.

"I don't wanna eat at a club. Nobody eats at a club." Justin argued stubbornly.

"They do at this one. Shut up." Joey told him. Lance and Joey looked like they wanted to slap the bratty expression off Justin's face, JC and Britney looked like they wanted to kiss him. He didn't notice the hostile or adoring looks, he just looked down at his knees, thinking about what he would say if Dana started feeling up on JC. He knew he wouldn't actually say anything, but he thought up a few rather cutting remarks, anyway.

* ** * ** *

The club was actually a resteraunt, too, with booths lining the walls, a bar, and a big dance floor in the middle. When they arrived they found Dana waiting for them at a large circular booth. "Hey, guys!" She greeted them enthusiastically.

"Hey." Everyone but Justin answered, he just nodded.

"Britney, this is Dana. Dana, Britney." Lance introduced as Joey slid in next to Dana, followed by Lance, Britney, Justin, and finally JC.

"Yhea, we've met, actually." Dana smiled at Britney, "We did that interview a few months ago, remember?"

"Oh, yhea," Britney lied, "I remember."

A waitress came to their table and they all ordered drinks. "I thought you were hungry?" Lance asked Justin when the waitress left.

Justin shook his head, "Nah, I'll get room service later." He was in a better mood now, sitting so close to JC. He spread his legs so his right thigh pressed against JC's left. He was so busy concentrating on their legs touching that he didn't notice Britney was talking to him until she raised her voice.

"Justin, are you even listening to me?" she demanded.

"Huh?" he looked at her, surprised.

"I asked if you wanted to dance." She repeated, exasperated.

"Oh, uh, no, thanks. You go ahead." Justin realized Joey and Dana had already hit the dance floor.

"I'll dance with you." Lance said quickly.

"Okay." Britney smiled, following Lance out of the booth.

The waitress came back with their drinks and Justin sipped his rum and Coke, wondering if he should scoot away from JC now that everyone was gone. I don't want to, Justin thought, but it might seem weird if I don't. He reluctantly moved over a little. He looked at JC and found him looking back. Justin smiled, "You having fun?"

"Yhea, I guess." JC grinned, "I'm deciding whether or not to get my groove on."

"Go for it!" Justin laughed, taking another long sip of his drink.

"Maybe." JC nodded towards Justin's half-empty glass,

"Can I try that?"

"Yhea, here." Justin pushed the drink towards his friend.

JC took a sip, "Not bad. There's a lot of rum."

"Hey, you should dance." Justin urged, eager to watch JC. He looks so fucking hot when he dances.

"I don't know," JC didn't want to leave Justin, "You'll be all alone at the table."

"I'll go with you." Justin offered, finishing off his drink in one long gulp. Without waiting for JC to answer, he pushed him out of the booth and led him onto the dance floor by his arm. "Come on."

JC laughed, letting Justin pull him onto the floor, "I thought you didn't want to dance."

"I changed my mind." Justin flashed a dazzling grin. Guzzling down that drink on an empty stomach was getting to him. I feel a little...giddy. Justin thought, Giddy up. he giggled softly, watching JC's hyper dance moves. Justin moved smoothly to the music, watching JC with hungry eyes. JC was facing the other direction, and Justin took the opportunity to check out his ass. And what a fine ass it is. Suddenly, Dana appeared next to JC and began dancing with him. Justin frowned, Get away from him, you bitch! Dana reached out and put her hand around JC's neck, and Justin turned and went back to the table, too pissed off to watch. God, I hate that whore! I thought she was with Joey! Where the hell is he, anyway? Justin spotted Joey dancing with a girl on each knee, one of them sucking on his neck.

Justin caught a waiter's attention and ordered another drink. While he was waiting for it, he drank Britney's Long Island iced tea. When his drink came, he downed half in one gulp. He scanned the dance floor, trying to find JC. To his relief, he saw Dana dancing with Lance. Good, as long as that ho stays away from JC. Justin took another deep sip of his drink.

"Hey, how many of those have you had?" a voice startled Justin.

"This is my second." Justin said, looking at JC as he sat beside Justin in the booth. Justin didn't mention the Long Island iced tea because technically it wasn't his drink, it was Britney's. Just because I drank it, it doesn't make itmine. he told himself.

"You look a little...buzzed." JC noted Justin's flushed skin and slightly glassy eyes, "You shouldn't drink on an empty stomach."

"Like you care." Justin snapped.

"What's that supposed to mean?" JC was surprised at his friend's rudeness.

"Let me out." Justin ordered. JC obediently stood up and let Justin out of the booth.

"What's wrong?" JC asked, but Justin just headed for the dance floor without answering. JC followed him, "Justin, what'd I do?"

"Nothing. Go away." Justin replied, spotting Britney in the crowd. He made his way to her, glancing back to make sure JC was watching.

"Hey, J! Finally in the mood to dance?" Britney smiled. Justin didn't reply, he just grabbed her by the waist and pulled her close, grinding against her. "Justin?" she asked, "What're you-- " He leaned down and licked her neck, and she couldn't help but close her eyes and moan. His hand slid up the back of her dress, cupping her ass, and her eyes snapped open in hopeful, shocked confusion. She looked up at him and found him staring off at someone else with spiteful anger. She turned her head and saw JC staring back at Justin, looking hurt and puzzled. She pushed Justin away roughly, her eyes filling with tears, and made her way through the crowd.

* ** * ** *

Justin let Britney go, his gaze still locked on JC's. "Hey," Lance saw Britney leaving and went to Justin, "Justin, where's Britney going?"

Justin looked at his friend and shrugged, "I don't know. I'm not her keeper."

"It looks like she's crying." Lance told him. When Justin didn't reply, he said, "Well, why don't you go after her?"

"Well, why don't you mind your own fucking business?" Justin snapped, "She's my girlfriend, not yours."

"You're right, she is your girlfriend, and one of your best friends, so why don't you care that she just ran out of here crying?" Lance retorted angrily. Justin didn't say anything, and Lance started to push past him, "I'm gonna go find out what's wrong."

Justin grabbed Lance's arm, "Hey, what were you and JC doing in Chris's room today?"

"What?" Lance was caught off-guard by the question. "Nothing. Just watching a movie." He lied.

"What movie?" Justin asked suspiciously.

"Hey, what's going on here?" JC came up to the men, who were glaring at each other.

"What were you and Lance doing in Chris's room?" Justin demanded.

"We-- we were-- talking." JC looked at Lance, his eyes wide with fear.

"Talking? Lance said you were watching a movie. You two should've gotten your stories straight." Justin released Lance's arm and turned to leave.

"Justin-- " JC started.

Justin whirled around, stepping close to JC, his voice rising, "God damn it, Jace! What made you stop trusting me? I didn't do anything, I don't deserve it! I thought we were best friends!"

"We are." JC nearly whimpered the words.

"The fuck we are!" Justin yelled, "Best friends don't keep secrets and lie to each other! We're not best friends, we're not friends at all! Just do me a favor and stay the fuck away from me, I'm sick of this bullshit!" Justin left, pushing people out of his way as he headed for the exit.

JC glared at Lance, "Are you happy now?" he hissed before storming away.

Lance stood in shock, wondering why everyone was flipping out on him. "Why would I be happy?" he asked, but, of course, no one answered.

* ** * ** *

Justin took a taxi to the hotel and went to Britney's room. He knocked and no one answered. He knocked again, "Come on, Brit. I know you're there. I can hear you seething." He giggled softly at his own joke, holding the doorknob for support, as his legs were feeling a bit drunk. It's not me that's drunk, it's my legs. he decided.

"Go away." She called. He knocked again. "Leave me alone!" she yelled. He knocked again. "Justin, get the fuck away from my door!" He knocked again. "If you knock one more time, I swear to God-- " He knocked again. She screamed in frustration and flung open the door, making him stumble into the room a little, his hand still wrapped around the doorknob.

"What do you want?"

"I want to talk to you." He released the doorknob and took a step towards her. She hadn't smelled the alcohol on him in the crowded club, but now he reeked of it.

"I have nothing to say to you." She said coldly.

"Britney..." He had that lost little boy look on his face, and she was softening despite herself.

"You're drunk." She accused.

"Yhea." He admitted, and she sighed as he sat on her bed. "I'm sorry."

"Sorry that you're drunk? Or sorry that you used me?" She was angry, he could hear it in her voice. Really angry. And hurt.

"I didn't use you..." he protested feebly.

"Yes, you did!" She cried, tears springing to her eyes, "You did, Justin! You used me to try to make JC jealous, or maybe to get back at him for something you've convinced yourself he did to you. You felt me up like some nameless slut, like some groupie...God, you made me feel cheap, Justin."

"I said I was sorry." He put his face in his hands.

"Sorry doesn't cut it, Justin. Not this time." She said simply.

He looked up at her, "What do you mean?"

"I can't do this anymore." She shook her head, talking more to herself than to him. "I can't do this to myself. It's not fair to anyone, it's not fair to *me*."

"What are you saying?" he asked, a little scared now.

"Justin, it's over." She told him, looking him straight in the eye.

* ** * ** *

"What?" Justin blinked, confused.

"You heard me," Britney said, "It's over. I'm dumping you."

"How can you dump me?" Justin exclaimed, "We're not even really going out!"

"Well, I'm not going to pretend to be your girlfriend anymore. You've used me as a cover for way too long, but it's not all your fault, it's mine, too. I let you use me, because it brought me close to you. It made you need me." She forced herself not to look at him, not to think about how beautiful he was, "But I realize now that it's not right for me to help you lie like that. You need to tell the truth, to everyone. Especially JC."

"Brit, you know I can't do that." Justin tried not to sound pissed off, but he was drunk, and getting sleepy, and definitely not in the mood for this. He shrugged out of his jacket and threw it on the floor, kicking off his shoes.

"Fine, that's your choice. Back when we were kids, I promised you that you could trust me, and I meant it. I won't give you away." Britney told him, "But I won't help you lie anymore."

"What am I gonna tell everybody?" Justin whined, feeling a head ache coming on. He wanted to sleep. He laid back on the bed and curled up on his side.

"I don't care what you tell them. Tell them the truth. Or tell them we broke up. Anything you want, it doesn't matter. As long as I'm not a part of your lies anymore, you can do what you want." Britney couldn't help feeling guilty for putting Justin on the spot, He probably feels like I'm throwing him to the wolves. She looked at him, curled up like a little boy on her bed.

Despite his height, the muscular length of his body, he seemed so young and fragile. Flushed from alcohol, his eyelashes impossibly long, he was painfully beautiful. She realized he'd fallen asleep and sat beside him, stroking his curls wistfully, "I know you didnít mean to hurt me, Justin. I forgive you, I really do, but I just can't keep up this charade. It hurts too much, to have an empty shell of your love. It's for you, too, even though you don't know it. If I'm out of the way, maybe JC will tell you how he feels, or maybe you'll get the nerve to tell him. I can't be your crutch anymore. It's for your own good." She kissed his cheek, then turned and got up to get ready for bed.

* ** * ** *

After JC stormed away from Lance, he went outside and found their limo was gone. "Where'd he go?" he asked the valet.

"Your driver took Ms. Spears home." The valet told him.

"No, not the limo! Justin! Where'd-- did you see a tall--" JC spotted a taxi, "Never mind!" he called to the valet, running to the taxi. He flung open the door and slid in, telling the name of his hotel to the cabbie. The driver steered them into a crowded street, the cars creeping along slowly. God damn, is he trying to piss me off? JC wondered, then realized the driver probably wanted to prolong the drive to up the cab fare. JC fought the urge to scream at the driver to hurry. He balled his hands into fists and pounded into his seat, silently threatening the cars around them to hurry the fuck up. When they pulled up to the hotel, JC barely waited for the car to stop before tossing the cabbie a fifty and jumping out.

He raced to the elevators, waiting impatiently for a set of doors to open. He nearly broke the 9 button in the elevator, and it couldn't rise fast enough. When he got to their floor, he ran down the hall and burst into their room. It was empty. "God damn it!" JC cursed, kicking over a stray duffel bag. Justin's things tumbled out of it. JC kneeled to pick them up, wondering where Justin could be. He's probably with Britney. He realized, his heart wrenching, He's upset, and she's calming him down. She's wiping away his tears, kissing him, hugging him. It should be my lips kissing him, my arms holding him! JC threw Justin's things into the duffel bag angrily. He picked up the last item, the t-shirt Justin had worn yesterday. JC sat on Justin's bed and brought the material to his face, savoring Justin's lingering scent. Just last night, we were together in this bed. I woke up this morning with him in my arms. It was so perfect, me holding him, him holding me...and now...now he hates me. Tears came to JC's eyes as he recalled Justin's harsh words, the anger in those beautiful blue eyes. He told me to stay away from him, but I can't. Not just because of the group, but because I would die without him. I can't exist if he's not in my life. I need him. I love him. JC threw himself face down across the bed, pulling Justin's pillow to him and holding it tight, and sobbed. Deep, body-shaking sobs. He hates me. I love him more than anything, and he hates me. JC felt as though his heart was literally breaking, a fierce pain in his chest, and his tears flowed as though they'd never stop.

* ** * ** *

Britney had finished removing her make-up, had put on some flannel pajamas, and had just slipped into bed next to Justin when she heard a faint ringing. She looked around the room, trying to spot the source. It was coming from the floor. Justin's jacket lay in a heap by his shoes. "Justin, your jacket's ringing." She mumbled, reaching down to pick up the jacket. In the pocket she found his cell phone. "Hello?" she answered it.

"Britney?" It was JC. He sounded like he'd been crying.

"JC?" she asked, worried, "What's wrong?"

"Is-- is Justin there? Can I talk to him?" His voice was faint, trembling.

"He's asleep." She looked over at the sleeping form, "Want me to wake him up?"

A long pause, and then, "No."

"Are you sure?" Britney persisted, "Is everything okay?"

"Don't wake him up." JC ignored her question. "Goodnight."

"JC, are you-- " Britney started, but JC hung up. She looked at the phone, wondering if she should call back. She pressed number one on Justin's speed dial, and waited as it rang and rang. Finally, she sighed and hung up. "These boys are driving me crazy." She mumbled, tossing the phone and jacket on the floor and going to bed.

* ** * ** *

JC ignored his ringing cell phone, not wanting to talk to Britney. I can't believe she said that, "Is everything okay?" No, everything isn't okay, you dumb bitch. Everything is fucked to hell! He buried his face in Justin's pillow, wanting to cry, but not having any tears left. The seemingly endless supply of tears had ebbed, leaving him feeling drained. The only thing left in him was an aching, sorrowful emptiness. He's sleeping. He's sleeping in her bed. I'm in his bed, and he's in her's. The irony wasn't lost on him, and he laughed bitterly. I'm in Justin's bed, wanting him, needing him more than ever, and he's in her bed. Wanting her. Needing her. He felt so tired, too tired to feel anything but the emptiness. Too tired to even really resent Britney. He just wanted to sleep, to slip into his dream world, where everything was the way it should be. In his dreams Justin loved him, touched him, wanted him, needed him. In his dreams things made sense. He closed his eyes, begging sleep to come.

* ** * ** *

Justin woke up to the sound of a blow dryer. He sat up, lost in a groggy confusion. Where am I? And then it came back to him, all of it. The fight with JC and Lance, Britney's decision. He felt sick. The blow dryer stopped.

"Hey, there, Sleeping Beauty." Britney smiled softly, coming out of the bathroom. He started to talk, but she interrupted him, "It's okay. I forgive you." He smiled. "But I meant what I said last night." His smile faded.

"What do I tell them?" Justin looked at her imploringly, "What am I supposed to say?"

"That's up to you." She shrugged, "This isn't my problem anymore."

"Britney!" he pouted.

"I know, that's selfish," she walked to the edge of the bed, "but after all these years, I deserve to be a little selfish, don't you think?" He couldn't argue with that. "By the way, JC called your cell last night, while you were sleeping."

"Why didn't you wake me up?" Justin was glad to be able to yell at her for something.

"He told me not to." She picked up his cell phone, jacket, and shoes from the floor and tossed them on to the bed.

"What did he say?" Justin asked, putting on his shoes.

"He just asked to talk to you." Britney watched his hands tie the laces.

"But, what did he say? Exactly." Justin persisted, "You said, 'Hello?' and he said..."

Britney sighed, "I said, 'Hello?' and he said, 'Britney?' and I said 'Hi, JC, is everything all right?' and he said--"

Justin interrupted her, "Why did you ask if everything was all right?"

"He sounded like he'd been crying." Britney explained.

"He was crying?" Justin felt a rush of shame.

"Yhea, I think so." Britney noted Justin's guilty expression, "What'd you do to him?"

"Nothing." Justin lied.

"What'd you do?" Britney repeated sternly.

"I kind of blew up at him at the club, " Justin admitted, "I told him we weren't friends. I told him to stay away from me."

"Why the hell'd you do that?" Britney cried, "You jackass!"

"He lied to me!" Justin said, getting defensive, "I asked Lance what they were doing in Chris's room and Lance said they were watching a movie, and then I asked JC and he said they were just talking!"

"Maybe they were watching a movie and talking." Britney rolled her eyes, "That's possible, you know."

"No, they were hiding something." Justin insisted, "I could tell. JC looked all freaked out when I asked him what they were doing."

"Justin, you're being paranoid." Britney told him.

"Am I?" His voice was laced with jealous anger, "For all we know, they could've been..." he trailed off, not wanting to say the words out loud.

"Do you think they would've?" Britney asked, "I mean, do you think JC's...into that?"

"No!" Justin answered quickly, "JC's straight." This was a fact. JC had girlfriends. JC fucked those girlfriends. The idea of JC being gay was one Justin wouldn't let himself entertain.

"You're not making any sense, Justin. If JC's straight, then why are you worried about what he and Lance were doing in Chris's room?" Britney was getting frustrated, she wanted to just blurt out the truth, but she had a feeling that would be a bad idea. Justin might not believe her, might get mad, anything could happen.

"Maybe Lance was trying to make a move on him, ever think of that?" Justin snapped.

She raised her eyebrows in surprise, "No, frankly, I didnít. Either way, if JC's straight, then obviously nothing happened, right?"

"I don't know." Justin said irrationally, "That's not the point."

Britney crossed her arms, exasperated, "Then what is the point?"

"The point is...the point is that they lied to me." Justin scowled, "JC lied to me."

"Okay," Britney let him have that one, "So, you're mad 'cause he lied."

"Yes." Justin nodded.

"Well, you and I have been lying to everyone, including JC, for years." Britney pointed out.

"That's different." Justin knew he was losing this argument. He sighed and stood, giving up, not wanting to be lectured, "Okay, no, it's not. Fine. I'm being stupid. All right. I'll go apologize." He picked up his jacket and cell and went to her, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek. "I'm sorry."

"It's okay," Britney shrugged, "You were drunk."

Justin brought his hand to her cheek, looking her in the eye, "No, I mean, I'm sorry...for everything."

"I know." Britney smiled, and he left.

* ** * ** *

JC woke up when he heard the door opening. He saw Justin come in, and his heart sped up. Oh, God, what's he gonna do? Is he just gonna ignore me?

Justin saw JC's eyes were open and said, "Hey."

"Hey." JC sat up in bed.

"Did I wake you up?" Justin asked, running a hand through his curls.

"No." JC lied. Damn, he's beautiful.

"Liar." Justin smiled.

JC felt a spark of hope,He's smiling at me!

"So..." Justin looked at JC sheepishly, "Do you hate me?"

"No. I thought you hated me." JC was confused.

"I could never hate you." Justin came to the bed, sitting next to JC. "I didn't mean what I said last night, any of it. We are friends, best friends. You're the best friend I've ever had."

"You're the best friend I've ever had, too." JC looked down at the bed, Don't cry. he ordered himself.

"I'm so sorry I said all those things. I'm so sorry I hurt you." Justin whispered, his voice catching.

JC looked up and saw tears slipping down Justin's cheeks, and, without thinking, he wiped them away. "Don't cry." JC begged, his own eyes spilling over.

"I won't if you won't." Justin smiled softly, wiping JC's tears gently. JC returned the smile, and they gazed at each other tenderly.

It's almost worth fighting, JC thought, for moments like this. The alarm on the nightstand went off suddenly, causing both of them to jump. JC reached over and turned it off. "We better get ready, we have rehearsal in an hour."

"Damn it." Justin groaned, flopping back on the bed. "Just what I need, Wade drooling all over me like a bitch in heat." He didn't really mind Wade, but he knew JC didn't like him.

JC laughed at the comment, "He won't be there today, remember? Lance took care of that."

"Oh, yhea. Good." Justin jumped up from the bed, "I got first shower!"

"Hey!" JC protested jokingly, "I should get first shower after the way you flipped out on me last night!"

"Sorry about that." Justin apologized again, "Go ahead."

"I'm just kidding." JC grinned, "You can have first shower if you want."

"All right, thanks!" Justin accepted quickly, running into the bathroom before JC could change his mind.

JC laughed, feeling a surge of happiness. He was so glad to have Justin's friendship, the usual bittersweet element of his feelings for his best friend was absent. "I love you." He whispered, looking at the closed bathroom door.

* ** * ** *

Free Refill (aka More, dumbass)

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