The Best Break Up in History
by Synchronik
The Best Break Up in History
by Synchronik

It starts as the best break up in history, better than Chris and Dani, better than Joey and Kelly, better even than Lance and JC who still fucking cuddle. Your break up with Britney ends with her kissing you on the cheek and pinky swearing not to tell any of your secrets (you like boys, too) if you don't tell any of hers (she's not a virgin, but it wasn't you who fucked her first). She smells the same way she always smells -- vanilla, your favorite -- and she smiles the way she always smiles at you, and you think cool. She is so cool and walk outside just as Chris comes by to pick you up.

Then all hell breaks loose.

But not right away.

"Really?" Lance says. He looks upset. He and Britney are really tight, which worked out super for you when she would come and visit because Lance would drag her out shopping and for dinner and you could hang out and play video games and not feel guilty about it like you would have if she were there. There are many other, better, qualities Lance has, but his willingness to entertain your girlfriend is the one you like the most.

Liked the most.

You nod. "Really. It's cool, though," you say. "We're still friends."

Lance raises his eyebrows at you. "Yeah, right," he says, and won't believe you no matter how many times you explain it to him.

"You can call her if you want," you say, in case Lance is thinking he has to take your side or something. Cause it's not like there's sides. You and Brit are still really friends.

"Duh," Lance says. You're suddenly glad there aren't sides, because you're not sure Lance would be on yours.

"No, really?" Chris asks.

You sigh. "Yes. Really. I broke up with her. Or she broke up with me. Or we broke up. Whatever."

"Dude, she's fine," Chris says, even though you know that Chris and Britney never really got along. He was too hyper for her. He scared her. You understand that. Chris scares you a lot of the time, but you like being scared more than Britney does.

"Not enough play, huh?" Chris picks at his teeth with a matchbook, lifts one eyebrow.

"Shut up," you say. He knew half an hour after the first time you and Britney did it.

Chris shrugs. "You okay?"

"Uh huh. We're still friends," you tell him.

Chris laughs so hard he cries.

"Really?" Joey says, and you flip out, because yes, YES you and Britney broke up, but fuck it's not like she's a diamond, or, or, you don't know something really rare, she's just Britney, just a girl for fuck's sake, yes a pretty girl, but a girl and not anything else! God!

You're not sure, later, how much of that you actually say to Joey, but at least some of it because he watches you with his eyebrows raised and his arms crossed over his chest and after a minute he says

"You done?"

"Yeah," you say.

"You okay?" he asks.

You sigh. "Yes. I'm fine."

"Dude, she's seriously hot, though," Joey says.

You walk away.

"Wow," JC says. He's pulled his earphones out of his ears and that's how you can tell he's really listening to you and thinking about you and not still secretly thinking about the song he was just playing. "Wow, Justin," he says.

"I'm okay, though," you tell him, because you are, because you and Britney are still friends. "We're still friends," you say.

"Really?" JC says. He doesn't look like he thinks it's funny. "Are you really, J?"

You shrug. "Sure, we are."

"Um, hey. Good," he says, and he's lying.


JC sighs. He hates telling people things they don't want to hear, but he'll tell them -- tell you -- anyway, because that's the type of person he is. JC doesn't like hitting, but he pulls no punches. "I dunno, J," he says. "It just doesn't seem like the best idea, you know? Like, you broke up for a reason, so maybe you shouldn't be friends."

"C, man," you say, laughing a little. That logic is very JC. "That's the idea. You don't have to like every single thing about someone in order to be friends with them."

"Hmm," JC says. "Okay."

You want to say something else, to ask him what he means by that, but he pulls the headphones up and pushes "play" on his Discman, so you don't. At least, you think, JC didn't tell you how hot Britney was.

You go out with Lance in New York City and go to a straight strip club, even though neither of you really like them. Lance is gay. Way gay. Super gay, even, but he's been covering that up for the media for so long that strip clubs are like a habit for him. You don't like it not because you don't like women -- you weren't the first to have sex with Britney, but you enjoyed it, a lot -- but because strippers seem sad to you, in the way that makes you want to overtip them and give them advice about investments. But you go because it seems like a post- Britney type thing to do.

It shows up on Page Six, and the guys make fun of you and Lance for days. Joey calls you Trixie, and waves a dollar bill in your face and asks you to take it off. When you do a little shimmy, he shoves the dollar in the waistband of your underwear and doesn't make you give it back. The club wasn't fun, but the teasing is.

Two days after you get back from your week in New York, a reporter calls your house. That's not weird, because even though your number is unlisted, reporters know everybody, including people who work at the phone company, and eventually your home number always gets out somehow. What's weird is what the guy says.

"Justin?" he says.

"Yeah," you say. You don't recognize the voice right away, but there are a lot of people who have your phone number whose voices you don't recognize. You want to work with a lot of people.

"Is it true that you slept with a dancer named Michael Pritelli?"

All of the spit in your mouth dries up, so it's very hard to say "who is this?" but you do anyway.

"Jason Herbert, Los Angeles Daily. Is it true?" Of course. Fucking reporters.

"How did you get this number," you choke.

"Justin, is it true that you're --"

"Don't call here anymore," you say, and hang up. Michael. Michael Pritelli, the hot Italian guy that danced for Willa Ford on the last tour, who blew you in the quiet room for three weeks before he had to leave the tour because his mother got sick. Michael had been a doll, a nice guy, and you hadn't made any promises you hadn't kept and you'd given him a watch with "for a job well done" inscribed on the back as a present and, sort of, a bribe. An expensive watch. A Rolex.

"Michael talked," you tell Lance as soon as he calls you back.

"WHAT?" Lance says, and you nod guiltily at the phone before you recall that he can't see you. "I'll call you back," he says.

Twenty minutes later, twenty minutes of you pacing the room, hands clenched together in front of you, twenty teeth-grinding minutes later, Lance calls you back.

"He didn't," Lance says.

"A reporter," you say.

"No, Justin. I talked to Theresa and she talked to some people at the L.A. Daily, and it didn't come from him. He told them he didn't know what they were talking about. That's why they called you. They were trying to confirm."

"Well, then, who?" you ask, although Lance isn't much more likely to know than you are.

"I, um. I'll call you back, okay?" he says.


You wait by the phone for another half an hour, but Lance doesn't call back, so you call JC and tell him the whole thing. You can't sit here in your perfect house alone anymore and Lance isn't picking up the call waiting and Chris won't answer either his cell or his pager. He must be golfing.

"And your boyfriend hasn't called me back, yet," you tell JC.

"Man," JC says. "We broke up, like, a year ago."

"Yeah, but y'all still sleep together," you say.

"We do not!" JC says. "We just like each other's company."

"Whatever." You're pretty sure that Lance and JC still sleep together. Sometimes, JC even goes and shares the bus with Lance and Joey. "Point is, he hasn't called me back and no one else knew but us."

"You want me to come over?" he asks.

You do.

JC comes over and you make popcorn and watch DVDs on your flat screen and he ends up sleeping on your couch. You sleep there, too, because it's a pretty big couch and you don't want to head back to your empty bedroom.

Lance calls you back the next morning, jerking you out of sleep.

"What! What!" you shout into the cell phone. You can't help it. He should know better by now.

"It was Britney," he says.

"WHAT!" you scream and JC sits up from the other end of the couch, eyes wide with terror.

Lance sighs. "We don't know for sure, but some of her people are suggesting that it was her. She did an interview with the paper a week ago, so. Anyway."

You can't breathe. Your heart hurts, physically hurts, in your chest. "Have you talked to her?" you ask.

"She says she didn't, Justin," Lance says. He sounds sad, which means that he doesn't believe her.

"JC's here," you say, and hand JC the phone.

"Hello?" he says. You didn't tell him it was Lance, but he catches on pretty quick, even just up, and you drag yourself off the couch when he says "oh, honey. That's too --"

You grab your cell and dial Britney's bedroom line. It's early in Florida -- maybe eight or nine, you think by the light coming into the room -- and that means it's Crack-of-Dawn early in Britney's sunny California bedroom that you helped pay for. She'd better answer.

She does, and denies it, and she sounds really upset and sad and says she'll say nice things about you in her next interview, which will be today, with Variety, and she's so sorry, and are you sure that none of the crew knew. Which you aren't, exactly. You don't want to believe her, but she starts crying toward the end and she says "oh baby, sweetie, I'm so sorry. I wish I was there," and you kind of wish she were here, too, because she always knew how to make you feel better, so you do believe her.

"You believe her," JC says. "Really?"

"JC, she knows that I have dirt on her, and she knows that I'd tell if she did."

JC folds his hands in his lap. He looks upset. That's because Lance is upset, you think, and JC still loves Lance a lot. It was a real surprise when they broke up, even though they didn't fight even afterwards.

"Justin," he says slowly. "Look. You. Maybe you should just cut the ties. With Britney."

"But I love Britney," you say, remembering the sweet catch in her voice on the phone when she told you how sorry she was.

"Well, sure, okay, but it just seems like, maybe, being friends with her isn't the best idea."

"You and Lance are still friends," you say again.

"She's not Lance," JC says. That makes you angry, the way he thinks that he's so different from you, Lance is so different from Britney.

"Lance is still friends with her," you say, although you're not entirely sure that's true anymore, either.

"She's not Lance," JC repeats, and you roll your eyes. JC is so predictable. Like Lance never did anything wrong when he and JC were going out. Like Lance is some kind of saint or something. "Just, you know. Watch yourself."

"Shake yo' ass," you say. JC laughs.

The L.A. Daily doesn't print anything, because they can't get confirmation and they know you have good lawyers, but Lance still doesn't talk to Britney anymore, even after you say he can. You're beginning to think that Lance doesn't give a damn what you say.

You and Britney have lunch to talk about the final details of the house. Photographers catch you (they're supposed to), and you smile and kiss her and don't look at the cameras. You've agreed that she's the one who gets to break the news, because she's the one who it seems most important to. You have the group, so you don't need to be so in control of your image as she does. You've gotten through Joey having a baby, you can certainly get through this.

"I miss you," she says, right before you part ways, standing in the open door of the limo.

"I miss you, too," you say. When you kiss her, you taste the familiar fake strawberry taste of her lip gloss. This may be the last time, you think. "Be good," you say. It's a joke.

"Oh, I always am," she answers, and waves goodbye.

"Oh, Justin," Britney says on a daytime talk show she's agreed to be on with her mom. "I just adore Justin. He and I have been so close for so long. It's kind of like we're brother and sister."

"Dude," Chris says, poking you. "You banged your sister. That's fucked up."

"Shut up," you say. You laugh along with him, but your feelings are still hurt.

"She said she was like my sister," you tell JC.

JC slides his arm around your shoulder and squeezes. "Mmm," he says.

"It's fucked up, yo." You know that Britney's being coy, that her people have outright denied that you've broken up, and you understand that and whatever, but still. Brother and sister. It's just not cool. "It's not cool," you say. "She could have said something about how we've loved each other as friends or something, you know."

"I know," JC says. His hand rubs up and down your arm. JC is the best at listening to things that involve feelings because he's the only one of the guys who isn't really afraid of having feelings. Lance and Chris tend to push theirs to the side of whatever they are doing, and Joey, well. Joey's usually just happy. JC has feelings, though, all of them, even ones that aren't happy or nice, so when you feel like having feelings too, you go to JC.

"Brother and sister," you say. "I sound like some Southern weirdo who freaks his cousins! I'm not from Louisiana, man."

"Tennessee," JC says, like he's reminding you. He tips his head to your shoulder and gives you a little shake.

In a British newspaper interview, Britney says she may be looking for "a real man. You know, someone who understands women."

Even Chris keeps his mouth shut.

For a long time, you thought that you and Britney were made for one another. You had so much in common -- MMC, Star Search, your rising pop stars -- that it seemed natural to tell her everything you told the other guys. You'd known her longer than everyone but JC, anyway. And she was cute and sweet and then she became beautiful, so it was only natural that you fell in love with her.

But something had happened along the way. You had been kissed by a guy, a very pretty blond guy, and all sorts of things started up in you that you didn't even know could start, and Britney became only one of the people you wanted instead of the only one. And she slept with one of the dancers.

So you broke up.

And now she goes on television and tells people that she "has to discover herself" and she's been "smothered by people's opinions, especially people who think they know what's best for her" and maybe she needs to "stand on her own for a while."

She also says that she loves guys with long hair.

You put your fist through a mirror in a hotel, and someone tells the New York Post.

Lance stops hating you and starts hating Britney. He also starts hanging out a lot with Chris because Chris is the only one who can keep up with Lance's bitching and you and he don't do much anymore except golf, because Lance is always dragging him shopping and making him listen to demos. Chris retaliates with old school gansta rap, and soon Lance knows all the words to "911 is a Joke" and Chris is still going shopping.

You miss Chris a little, too, because Chris always makes you feel better, but that's okay. You spend time with JC, instead.

"So what this is is, like, a fundamental shift in Green's dynamic. You see?" JC's pointing back and forth between two photographs of paintings. Both paintings are paint splatters on a background of black. The only difference you can see is that one of the paintings has slightly more blue in it than the other.

"Uh huh," you say.

JC talks about the paintings for a little while longer. You try to pay attention, but art just isn't your thing. It's boring. It seems more like Lance's thing , frankly, so you ask the question you've wanted the answer too, ever since Britney went on television and said she "loved Justin, really, but people change, success changes them, and some more than others." She'd laughed when she said it.

"Why'd you break up with Lance?" you ask.

JC stammers over his sentence. "What? Justin. That was a year ago."

"So?" you ask. They still hang out together, alone even. JC still sleeps over at Lance's house some nights, and you can't wait for you and Britney to get to that point, to the point where you really are real friends again. "C'mon. Tell." You nudge him with your shoulder. He pushes you back.

"We're just too different," he says, smiling. He rubs a hand over your freshly shaved head.

"But you still love him," you say.

He grins. "Well, sure," he says. "But, you know. Not like that. Lance and I. We don't work like that."

"Britney and I didn't either," you tell him.

"I know," he says.

"Oh, yeah?" You lean up against his chest, shoving his book out of the way. You're tired of art. You want to talk about yourself. "How do you know?"

You expect JC to make a joke about how he's psychic or can just tell things, but he gets a serious face. He runs his hand over your head again. "I dunno," he says finally. "She's just. You need someone unique, Justin," he says. "Britney's a pretty girl, but she's. I dunno. Unspecial."

You sit up. "I thought you liked her," you say. You did. JC has always been nice to Britney. He's always said hello to her and helped her into cars and asked her if she wanted something to drink at parties. He's always been perfect to her.

JC doesn't say anything. He kind of folds in on himself, drawing his knees up onto the couch, biting on his thumbnail. He's nervous. He always circles the wagons when he's nervous.

"JC," you say.

"Justin," he says. "I'm sorry."

"It's okay," you tell him, but it's not. You thought you knew everything there was to know about JC, everything important, anyway.

You are wrong.

Lance is listening to Snoop Dogg on his Discman when you tap him on the shoulder. He'll never be the same again.


"Why'd you and JC break up?" you ask him.

"Why do you care?" he answers.

You sit down across from him. "C'mon," you say. "You had this big major love affair thing for, like, months, and then one day you're not going out anymore just like that. So what's up?"

He looks at you. "Did you talk to Britney?" You did, just last night. She's in Europe right now, and mentioned that she might have agreed to pretend-marry some guy on a novelty show "just as a joke, baby." You wish it didn't hurt so much.

"No," you say.

He looks at you some more, but you can fake Lance out if you need to, and he finally sighs. "We just weren't compatible."

"Like how, though," you ask. "The sex was good, right?"

Lance laughs a low secret laugh. "Justin, man," he says. "It wasn't the sex."

"Cause I bet JC's really good in bed. I mean, he seems like he'd be really good in bed." He does. You've seen JC on stage, and you've seen him kiss people once or twice and JC seems like he's the type of person who really focuses in bed, who really pays attention to every little detail.

"Justin --" Lance says.

"No, really. He's good in bed, though?"

"He didn't like to plan things."

You start laughing before you can even stop yourself. Lance rubs his eyebrows, the way he does when he gets really tired. "Dude," you say, unable to believe it. "You broke up with JC because he didn't have day planner?"

Lance shrugs. "He's just more --"

"Loopy. Insane. Whacked on crack?"

"-- spontaneous," Lance finishes. He scowls at you.

"So you gave up amazing mind-blowing sex with JC because he was more spontaneous than you were." You're still laughing, kind of, even though you can see that Lance is getting pissed off with you. You can't help it. Lance is an idiot.

"I don't expect you to understand," he says.

"Good!" you shout.

"Fuck off, Justin," he says. "Go call your psycho ex-girlfriend."

"Hey!" you say, but Lance is already walking away. You feel a little bit bad about it, later, but mostly only because Lance might tell JC and it might hurt his feelings. He doesn't like it when you laugh at Lance.

You find out that Britney has changed the name of her restaurant from People magazine and you call her cell four times before she answers.

"What the hell, Brit?" you say.

"Justin, don't swear," she says. "Really." She sounds just like she always did, and her voice annoys you.

"Why not? You changed the name of the restaurant without even telling me!"

"Like I'm supposed to keep the name. We broke up, Justin. Broke up. I had to change the name."

"You could've at least told me, then," you say. Somehow, though, you've already lost the fight.

"Oh, baby," she says. "I'm sorry. I'm real sorry. I'll call you later, okay?" She hangs up before you can even say goodbye.

"I hate her."

JC looks up. "I thought you guys were friends."

You make a face at him and he holds out his arm so you can slide underneath it. "Remember when we were kids," you say, "and she used to hang around us, and you would make her leave. She was so annoying."

JC smiles. You tip your head against his shoulder. JC smells like candles all the time, a faint smoky tinge to his normal everyday smell. You wonder if it's something he wears, or if he's been burning candles on the bus again. At any rate, it's familiar. JC. Comforting. You turn your face into his neck.

"Can you make her leave now?" you murmur.

"I can try," he says. He hugs you tight.

You would think that with all the people Lance isn't talking to that he would run out of friends, but he's on the phone when you walk up to him. He holds up a finger to you like you're the fucking waiter or something, but it's important, you need to talk to him, so you wait anyway instead of knocking the phone out of his hand.

"Yeah," he says, shoving the phone in his pocket.

"Is it true," you ask. "What you said about you and JC?"

"Justin," he says.

"I mean, how could you break up with him because of that? Because he's not as organized? No offense, Lance, but that's stupid."

"No offense, Justin, but you're stupid," he says, and walks away. You've been seeing a lot of Lance's ass lately.

You and JC are watching reruns of the Happy Painter on PBS at your house. It's a beautiful Saturday morning outside your closed blinds, and later, when you aren't so hung over, you'll maybe go outside and lie by your pool, but right now you're perfectly happy to lie with your head on JC's shoulder and let him stroke your newly shaved head.

"He's dead," you say.

JC chuckles. "You tell me that every time you see this show."

You shrug. "He's still dead."

"Mmm. Justin?"


"Lance called me."

You sigh. Fucking Lance, and fucking JC for still loving him and listening to his bullshit.

"You want to know why we broke up?" he asks.

"Yeah," you say, because you do.

"We broke up because we're different. We wanted different things."

You sit up, pushing off of JC's chest. "That's it? You wanted different things?"

JC scoots to the corner of the couch and leans back on his elbows. "That's it," he says. "Why'd you and Brit break up?"

You sigh. You're not entirely sure, anymore. You thought it was because she cheated and you cheated and there was no time to really see her and you were drifting apart, but you guess it wasn't anything else but this: you wanted different things.

"Okay, okay," you say. You slide in between him and the back of the couch and lie down again. JC has a small waist, smaller than your own. You forget sometimes that he's not bigger than you anymore. He was for a long time. You fall asleep with your arm around him, his heartbeat in your ear.

The phone wakes you up. JC stretches for it, one hand still on the center of your back. The Happy Painter has given way to some animal thing. You watch an antelope dart around trying to get away from a tiger while JC murmurs into the phone.

"Oh fuck," JC says and grabs the remote, right as the tiger leaps on the antelope's back.

"Hey," you say, but it's Mtv, so that's okay, and that's your picture on the screen and Kurt Loder is talking. You tune JC out so you can hear.

" -- Timberlake's camp has not issued a response. We'll have more on this story, and the sexual exploits of all your favorite popstars, on Mtv News on the half hour." You shake your head. Fucking Britney. You're going to have to call her and say something, because this is getting completely out of control. She's supposed to be your friend, and she's just going to have to tell if she wants to stay your friend. You're tired of hearing rumors about your "inadequacy." It's enough to make you want to tear your hair out.

JC's hung up the phone and has both arms around you, now. "What the fuck, JC?" you ask. He shakes his head. "What?"

"That was Chris. On the phone," he says.

"What'd he want? To laugh at the new story about my 'sexual exploits'?" You smile, but JC doesn't smile back.

Mtv News leads off with it, a innocuous photo of you and Michael standing backstage at one of the shows, arms casually around one another. It looks like one of a billion photos of him he's seen before. It's the voice over that's shocking.

"Rumor has it that this man, an unidentified crew member on *nsync's last tour, is actually Justin Timberlake's boyfriend. Sources close to Timberlake say that he saw the man regularly on tour, and that this is the reason for Timberlake's recent split with pop wondergirl Britney Spears. When asked for comment, Spears told Mtv, quote 'Justin is my dear friend and I love him very much. What he chooses as a lifestyle is his personal business' unquote. Timberlake cannot be reached for comment."

Your heart stops in your chest.

When you come to, JC is leaning over you, hands on your face. "Justin, honey. Justin. Are you okay?"

"No," you say. Your voice is rough. "No, JC. I'm not."

The phone rings again, and JC goes away to talk on it. It's one of the guys, you know, because he sounds relieved when he hears the voice on the other end, and he even laughs a little toward the end. You can't really tell what he's saying though. You can't think of anything but killing her. Britney. Your fucking friend.

JC turns off the phone after he hangs up. "It's okay," he says. "Nathan and Theresa are all over it. It'll be fine."

You shake your head. It won't be fine. It will never be fine, ever again, because she gave you up, even after she promised you that she wouldn't, even after you kept your word and didn't tell her dirty fucking secrets. She was your girlfriend, she was one of your best friends, one of the few people that ever knew you, that you let know you, and she fucking told. She told.

"JC," you say, and he's there and he hugs you close while you cry.

The strategy is silence. Nathan and Theresa will handle everything, and you and the guys are supposed to stay quiet, except for being seen at several big clubs in Orlando where you are only going to dance with girls and wave and smile happily at the cameras but refuse, smiling, to answer questions. You hate the idea of it, but you're going to do it.

But then you don't have to.

Chris comes into JC's house like a tornado, throwing a bag of donuts on the table and spilling the coffees he has in a drink tray.

"Holy shit," you say. He's such a fucking walking disaster and you're just not in the mood, not if all he's going to do is make a mess. You just want to sit on JC's couch and listen to him hum and not think about a fucking thing.

"Holy shit, indeed, my young friend," Chris says, slapping a paper down on the table. It's a National Star or some other cheesy tabloid and Britney's on the cover, walking into some restaurant with sunglasses and a big floppy hat on. You always used to tell her that she looked like an idiot in those disguises, because only famous people would wear big stupid hats like that. It was written in big yellow letters right above her hat: I SLEPT WITH BRITNEY SPEARS.

"What is it?" JC asked, leaning over, one hand on your shoulder.

"It's her publicist, man!" Chris yells. "She slept with her publicist and he told!"

"Oh, wow," JC says. He wraps his arms around your neck and hugs you, but you don't know what to do, so you don't do anything.

You watch Jay Leno with JC and Joey and Chris and Lance watch Letterman at Lance's and you talk on the speaker phone, comparing monologue jokes. All of them deal with how Britney being a slut turned you gay. All of them are more about her than you.

"Looks like you're old news," Joey says before he leaves, slapping you on the shoulder.

"Yeah," you say. You're almost glad.

JC comes up and hugs you from behind, his cheek resting on the back of your neck. "You okay?" he asks.

You nod.

"Can I tell you something?"

You nod again.

"I never really liked her Justin."

You turn and smile, letting C keep his arms around your waist. He's got blue eyes, beautiful deep blue eyes that you always wished you had. "You told me that," you say.

"No, but really," he says. "I always thought you could do better."

JC is the sweetest thing ever, and you tell him that while you hug him back.

"So," he says, when you pull back. His hands are still on your hips. He's looking at your shirt front.

"So," you say. Something's up with him, but you're not entirely sure what. You hope he tells you soon because you're not really up to guessing. After the last couple of days, you just want to curl up in bed and sleep for a week.

"So you wanna?" he asks.

You blink. JC sometimes jumps from thing to thing in his head without letting you know where he's going. It's okay, it's just how JC operates. "Huh?"

"Try something better," he says. His eyes are on yours and his hands are on your hips, pressed tight, like he's keeping them from doing something else, and his mouth is slightly open, and he's JC.

You kiss him. You kiss him and his hands slip down and pull you tight. His mouth opens. His hair slips through your fingers.

"Baby," Britney says. She sounds breathless on the phone, like she ran to pick it up. "Hi!"

"I know you told," you say to her. In fact, you don't. Lance thinks he knows, and you're pretty sure you know because she's the only "inside source" that isn't still an inside source, but you don't know, not really, not until she says

"Oh, Justin, honey! I'm so sorry. I was just so sad, because of the break up, and I --" "You bitch!" you say. You hadn't realized that you didn't want it to be true. "You always say you're sorry, but if you were really sorry you wouldn't treat me like shit. You are a fucking bitch." You say it slowly, with relish.

"Justin?" she says. You've never called her that. You've never called her anything mean before, not even when you found out about the cheating. You've maybe kind of gone over the edge, just a little, but really. Seriously.

"I have to go," you say.

"Justin, honey," she says. She may be crying. You press the "end" button. When the phone rings again, you turn it off without even checking the caller i.d.

In your next interview, you say that some people can't be trusted, no matter how beautiful they seem on the outside. You shake your head sadly while you say it, but you smile on the inside.

You smile on the outside when JC slides into the limousine next to you and puts his hand on your leg.

"Promise me you'll never get mad at me like that," he whispers in your ear. The soundproof glass is up, but JC doesn't trust drivers. He's probably wise about that.

You laugh. "Promise me you'll never cheat on me with a dancer and then spread rumors about me in the tabloids and then sleep with your publicist."

JC's mouth slips over your earlobe. His breath is hot and tickles and makes you want to fuck him right there and damn the driver. "Pinky swear," he says.

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