For Lance, the best thing about being a celebrity -- besides getting to do what you loved and getting paid gobs of money, of course -- was the guys. Lance was a good looking guy, but he knew that he wasn't that good looking, not drop-your-jaw-in-awe model good looking. He was the type of guy that, under normal circumstances, other guys would look at and classify as "dependable" or "reliable." He was the kind of guy other guys asked to take a look at their computers or their checkbooks. He was not the kind of guy other guys thought of picking up in bars and fucking in the backseat in the parking lot.
Unfortunately, no matter what he looked like, Lance was the type of guy who liked to have dirty sex with really hot strangers. He loved the rush of the first casual glances, the heart-stopping rapture of the first touch, the first kiss, and abandonment of orgasm with someone he'd never seen before, and would probably never see again, and he knew that if he had been plain old Lance Bass from BackWoods, Mississippi, he wouldn't get nearly enough of it.
He glanced down to the end of the bar, and the beautiful dark-haired boy sitting on the stool on the corner smiled a little. Lance crooked his finger. The boy smiled and stood up. His t-shirt was white and tight. Lance could see the outline of his abs.
Fame was so handy.
The guy's name was Andrew and he was a bottom, of course. They all were. Sometime in the late 90s tops had gone out of fashion, which Lance thought was pretty funny. It was like women going out of fashion for straight people. Andrew was funny and relatively smart for being a model, so Lance took him home and fucked him twice and didn't let him come at all. Then he rolled over onto his stomach and arched his back and said "do it this way."
"Lance," Andrew protested, his voice almost a whine. "I don't. I told you. I. Just."
Lance turned over and slipped a condom on Andrew's erection, tugging gently. Andrew shuddered. Lance spread his legs. "Come on," he said. "Do it for me. Please."
Andrew shook his head, but his hands were on Lance's thighs and his eyes were on Lance's cock. Lance arched his back. "Andrew," he said. "Come on. Come on."
"Oh, fuck," Andrew said, and slid forward.
He wasn't great at it, obviously, but he had a natural rhythm and he was so gorgeous, and he looked so surprised at himself that Lance came almost immediately, trying hard to remain still so Andrew would keep hitting him right there, his legs clasped in a sweaty vice around Andrew's waist. Andrew collapsed on top of him, some sort blurry time later, chest heaving.
"You were," he gasped. "That was fantastic."
"God, yeah," Lance said. He rolled Andrew onto his back and leaned over him, kissing the sweaty skin on his neck, the slick line of his collarbone. He tasted like salt and heat and Lance wanted to fuck him all over again. "You're fantastic," he said. Andrew smiled.
Andrew was a sex kitten, turned on by the brush of a hand over his spine or a single kiss on his responsive mouth, and Lance was hoping to get in one more quick fuck before he had to be off to a morning shoot when Justin walked in.
He'd kind of expected Justin to come over --it had been a few days and Justin usually showed up once or twice a week -- but he'd hoped to be wrong, especially when Andrew started moaning deep in his throat, a sound, Lance had learned, that indicated both willingness and readiness.
"Hey," Justin said.
Lance sighed. Justin had no manners. Any of the other guys, even Chris, would have slipped back out. Well, not JC. JC would have stayed and watched. But he would have been quiet about it. "Hey," he said. Justin was standing in the doorway, hands in his pockets. He didn't look embarrassed so much as annoyed. "You come for breakfast?" he asked, trying to ignore Andrew's suggestive hips, still pulsing in his hands.
"Yeah," Justin said. "Uh huh."
"Of course," Lance muttered. He shared a secret smile with Andrew. "This is Andrew," he told Justin, who stepped forward and shook Andrew's hand easily enough. His mother had taught him some manners, apparently.
He went to look for the omelet pan while Justin and Andrew exchanged pleasantries. Andrew was a good guy, Lance noticed, looking for butter. Cute, funny, sweet. He was almost boyfriend material, only Lance didn't do boyfriends. No point.
"Hey, Lance," Andrew said. "I'm gonna take off."
"Oh, hey." Lance tugged on Andrew's belt loops, admiring the way they pulled away from his perfect stomach. His skin was warm and silky under his shirt. "You have to go?"
"He makes a mean omelet," Justin said. Lance smiled. He was trying to be helpful, but he wouldn't leave. Typical Justin.
Andrew sighed against Lance's mouth. He was delicious. "I gotta," he said. "Talk to you later, okay?"
Lance kissed him, once, twice, another time, forgetting for a second that Justin was sitting right there. He made a mental note to lose this kid's number as soon as possible. A guy could fall in love.
"So," Justin said, while Lance was whisking eggs. "What was that about?"
"I had sex with him," Lance said. "You knew I was gay, right?" He smirked. He'd told them in the initial group interview, as soon as Lou had left the room. Justin, who'd been fourteen, had choked on his pop.
"Fuck off." Justin flipped him the bird. "Seriously."
"Seriously, I had sex with him." Lance started pulling ingredients out of the refrigerator for Justin's approval. It would be so much easier if he had one type of omelet that he liked all the time, Western or vegetarian or whatever, but Justin thought variety was the key to not becoming creatively dead, so Lance had to keep nine hundred different omelet makings in his fridge at all times. Justin was such a pain in the ass.
"Right, which is what I had the question about."
Lance smiled. "What's the question? You saw him, right?"
"Yeah, with your tongue down his throat. Sheesh." Justin shook his head. He looked cute, Lance noticed, the sun in his fledgling curls. Justin had always looked better with hair, in Lance's opinion.
"Okay," Lance told him. "You're being kind of a jerk considering you just interfered with my early morning action."
Justin shrugged. He didn't care. Justin never cared about anything but himself. It was part of his charm. "Whatever," he said. "Do you have any toast?"
There were two rules about being a gay celebrity that Lance had discovered: 1) don't have sex with anyone too close to you, because you'll inevitably end up giving something away in front of the cameras and there goes your whole career, and 2) don't have sex with someone too close to you because you'll inevitably end up breaking up and there goes your whole career. The repetition of these two rules were the only reason he had never had sex with JC. Anymore.
"So, cute," JC said. He was in his morning-at-home attire, which meant loose sleep pants and a small t-shirt. JC had the best stomach ever, better than Justin's even. Lance remembered it tasted like cinnamon toast.
"Very," he said. JC handed him a cup of something that was probably his proprietary blend of herbal tea. Lance sniffed it politely and set it down.
"I don't know how you do it," JC told him. "I never meet anyone nice."
Lance slid his arm around JC's shoulders and tugged him in. JC's silky hair brushed his arm. "That's your problem, man," he murmured into the curls above his ear. JC smelled of soap and shampoo. "You're looking for nice. I'm just looking for hot."
JC laughed. "Good point," he said. "Well, I think it's great. This boy sounds really great." Great was JC's catch-all word. He said it when he was happy for you but couldn't put his finger on why.
JC pulled back. "You're not going to see him again?"
Lance rolled his eyes. He should have known better. JC was a romantic. He should have told Joey, who understood how things worked. "JC, c'mon."
"You know I'm not."
"No?" JC wrapped both of his hands around his coffee mug and peered over the top. Lance thought if he could just fuck JC once more, his life would be complete. "Lance."
"JC," he said. JC stared balefully at him. JC batted his eyes. JC looked adorable, fuckable and sweet at the same time, and Lance considered calling Andrew just to take that horrible sad puppy look off of JC's face. "Hey," he said. "You want to go get a sandwich or something?"
"Sure," JC said, brightening. He set his cup down. "I'll put on a shirt."
Joey was his best friend because Lance thought every gay guy should have a straight best friend, and also because after JC, Joey was the most adorable person Lance knew. It was just impossible to dislike him, no matter what sort of asinine things came out of his mouth. Lance thought that between Chris' smart mouth and Joey's good natured directness, there wasn't much the band didn't get to say.
"Justin likes you," Joey said, spraying down their cars with the hose. He had a house of his own, with a driveway and a hose and everything and he still came over to Lance's to wash his car. Lance didn't mind. It meant that his car got washed, too.
"Did you call that guy about Bri's college fund? I told him to expect your call, Joey, so don't not call him."
"I'm serious," Joey said.
Lance rolled his eyes. "Justin Timberlake."
Joey stopped the hose. "Do you know any other Justins?"
"Whatever." Lance rolled his eyes. "Don't fuck around with me. Justin likes me, my ass."
"I'm sure that's part of it." Joey squirted the hose at Lance's feet. "He keeps bringing up your sex life."
Lance sighed, relieved. The idea that Justin liked him: it was too stupid. He couldn't possibly have believed it. "He walked in on me with a guy the other day. That's all."
"Ahh," Joey said. "You just let him in and went back to fucking a guy. That makes total sense."
"I didn't let him in, he came in. And we weren't fucking. Yet," Lance admitted.
"Don't bring me into your sick sex games, man," Joey said. "I'm just telling you, whatever he saw scarred him for life."
"Uh huh, like I could do that after he saw your hairy white ass that time in --"
"Enough!" Joey yelled, holding the hose up menacingly. "You said you'd never bring that up again."
Lance lifted a hand in surrender. "You want a beer, handsome?" Joey nodded. "And don't forget to call that guy about Bri, man. I'm serious." He pointed. Joey nodded again, and went back to washing the cars.
Inside the cool kitchen, Lance leaned up against the counter. He'd been right here with that guy when Justin had come in. Right here. He looked over at the laundry room door, then at his hand on the marble counter top. Then he shook his head and opened the refrigerator. Fucking Joey and his fucking stories.
Lance loved to be on break because he could get stuff done that ordinarily he had to pay other people to do, or annoy his parents about. For example, he took the SUV to the Jiffy Lube down the street to have the oil changed and sat in the waiting room while they did it, flipping through an old People magazine. Justin was in it with Britney, and by the length of his hair Lance would say it was about three months before the big break-up. Most people would have thought getting the oil changed was boring, but Lance liked it. People came in and out, dressed in all sorts of stuff, from all sorts of jobs, in all sorts of moods. A little black girl sat in a plastic chair next to him and offered to read him a story. A woman threw her keys on the floor when the cashier told her it would be an hour wait. A fat man read Glamour. It felt normal.
Then, when his name was called -- James, because he wasn't an idiot -- it felt better than normal.
His mechanic was a young man with "Ben" stenciled on his blue jumpsuit pocket, and dark floppy hair. And eyes. Blue eyes.
"Thanks, Ben," Lance said, taking the checklist from him. "Y'all always do a good job." He smiled. Ben, thankfully, smiled back. Beneath the shapeless jumpsuit and the grease he was very cute.
"You're welcome, Mr. Bass," Ben said. "I guess, um. We'll see you in another three thousand miles, then, Mr. Bass."
"Sure, yeah." Lance folded the paper up and shoved it his pocket. "Unless, you know. If you're not busy tonight."
"Um." Ben ducked his head and lowered his voice. "I don't get off until nine."
Lance smiled. This guy was too much. Too cute. "So, nine, then?"
"I'd, ah. I'd have to take a shower."
Lance touched Ben's elbow, feeling the slippery material of the jumpsuit. "Shower at my place," he said.
"Oh. Um." Ben smiled so big Lance thought his cheeks would crack. "Sure," he said. "Sure."
Lance squeezed his elbow and walked to the car. He loved feeling normal.
Ben was fresh. That was how Joey described girls who weren't virgins, but who weren't groupies, either, girls who still had the dewy feel of virginity on their skins, but weren't afraid to shake it a little. Ben wasn't afraid to shake it.
He wore the jumpsuit over, apologizing because he hadn't brought any other clothes to work. Lance didn't mind. He pressed Ben against the wall and unzipped him from throat to groin, sliding his hands inside. Ben had on a t-shirt and underwear and smelled of grease and sweat. Lance licked his neck. He tasted delicious.
"I need to shower," he murmured, his hands loose on Lance's shoulders.
"Afterwards," Lance said. Ben shuddered.
Afterwards, he propped Ben up in the shower and washed him gently, holding him up with one hand and moving the bath sponge with the other. Clean, he was even more beautiful, pale from being inside all the time, defined. Lance spread him out on the bedspread and fucked him all over again, letting him lie there on his stomach with nothing to do but moan and wrinkle Lance's sheets up in his fists.
"Oh man," he sighed when Lance sprawled on top of him, sweaty and sated. Lance smiled into the crook of his neck. He stroked Ben's skin until he dozed off, then rolled over and picked up his cell phone. Joey picked up on the second ring, the thump of a club in the background.
"Joey," he said. "Who are you with?"
"CHRIS AND JUP," Joey shouted. Lance jerked the phone away from his ear.
"Fucker," he muttered. "Are you gonna be there late?"
"DUDE, THERE ARE STRIPPERS," Joey said. Lance hung up without trying to say goodbye.
"'sat your boyfriend?" Ben mumbled, rolling over under Lance's hand. His cock was long and slender and half hard again. He groaned when Lance slid his palm over it. He was going to blow this kid until he screamed, he thought, and smiled.
"No, it wasn't my boyfriend."
"Good," Ben muttered. He had the most beautiful eyes.
They apparently hadn't been out as late as Joey thought, because Lance had just finished changing the sheets after Ben left when he heard his alarm system beep once. Justin. He pulled a shirt on.
Justin was drinking orange juice out of the goddamn carton again. He did, no matter how many times Lance had explained that was fucking gross and he just couldn't do it. Lance grabbed the carton. "You know where the glasses are, right?" he asked, not feeling bad for the dribble of orange juice on Justin's shirt.
"I finished it." Justin's logic, as usual, was impeccable.
"Uh huh. And you only do that when it's empty, right?"
Justin shrugged, smiling. He was wearing a grey ribbed t-shirt, one of the ones he wore when he was feeling like he might be doing something wrong and had to look cute. It worked. Dark grey was such a good color for him. It was a waffle t-shirt, Lance realized, eyeing Justin's broad smile. He went for the mixing bowl.
"So, how's Andrew?" Justin asked.
Lance pulled down the bowl. Andrew. Andrew. He tried to think, but his mind couldn't get past Ben, Ben of the beautiful creamy ass. His mouth watered just thinking of it. "Andrew?" he said.
"Andrew. Andrew-I'm-gonna-fuck-you-in-the-kitchen Andrew. That guy?"
"Oh," Lance said. He measured batter mix and water and threw them into a bowl. Andrew. The guy Justin had seen him with. "He's fine."
"So, he's your boyfriend, then?" Justin asked. Lance almost choked. His boyfriend? Where the fuck had Justin gotten that idea?
"Yeah, sure," he said. He handed the bowl to Justin and went digging for the waffle iron.
"You got rid of him?" Justin asked. He seemed amused, like he'd won something from Lance.
"What? You've never had a one night stand?" he asked. The waffle iron was heavy and needed dusting. He yanked a paper towel down and dampened it under the faucet, wiping off the plastic lid.
"Whatever," Justin snorted. "You just seemed to like him. You invited him to stay for breakfast."
Lance smiled. Sometimes Justin was so sweet. He asked all of them to stay for breakfast, even Ben who'd had to go for the early morning shift at the Jiffy Lube. "I'm polite," he told Justin. "I wasn't in love."
Justin looked up from the batter. "Okay," he said. "Whatever." He had the bowl wrapped in the curve of his arm and was swirling the whisk rapidly. He'd probably get some on his shirt, right under the curve of his pec. Lance watched his hand for a minute, the lip of the bowl pressed into his t-shirt. Then he forced himself to look away.
"Look," Joey said about a week later, coming over with Brianna in a chest sling. It made Joey look like a tool, but Brianna was the most adorable little girl ever and Lance swept her up right away, pushing his music trade paper aside. "He really likes you, I think."
"What?" Lance asked. "What did your crazy daddy say?" he asked Bri, who giggled at him.
"She's gonna puke on you," Joey warned. "She just ate."
"She is not," Lance said. "And you're full of crap."
"She is and I'm not."
"Is not, are too," Lance said, squeezing Bri. It was almost enough to make him turn straight, if it meant he got to have one of these. Bri laughed at him and groped for his reading glasses. "Your daddy's nuts," he told her.
"Your uncle's an idiot," Joey said, taking his daughter back. She threw up on his shoulder.
He had to reconsider though, when Justin showed up in his room one morning, tugging at his blankets.
"Justin," he groaned. "What are you doing in my room?" He was hoping that Justin would vanish, disappear, die, something. He didn't think it was going to happen.
"I came over for breakfast," Justin said. He sat down on the edge of the bed, his weight making an indentation Lance fought against rolling toward. In the early years, Justin had been a cuddler, especially in the morning. Lance remembered his smell, the feeling of his warm skin. He wondered when Justin had stopped. If he had.
He sighed. He was awake. "Oh, you fucker," he told Justin. "Don't think I won't kill you and hide your body."
"I brought eggs in case you didn't have any," Justin said by way of apology.
"I hate you," Lance said, folding back the blankets. "I really do."
"And orange juice," Justin said.
Chris grabbed him around the waist and kissed him on the ear. "Hey, big boy," he murmured. Chris' murmurs were still pretty loud.
"Now what?" Lance asked. The last time Chris had come on to him, not counting the times when he was really drunk and kissy, was the time he wanted Lance to run interference with his accountant, who was a real tightwad, even for Lance.
"I can't love on my favorite boyband member?" Chris licked his neck.
"Justin is your favorite boyband member," Lance said.
"Hey, yeah." Chris released him. "Speaking of." He shoved his hands in his pockets. "You gotta stop having sex in front of him."
"Yeah. Um. What?"
Chris waved his hands around. "He's. He keeps bringing it up all the time. He asked JC if he knew you had sex, and he keeps. I dunno. Bringing it up."
"I slept with JC."
"I know," Chris said. "That's what I'm saying."
"Justin knows I slept with JC."
"I know," Chris said again.
"And I never had sex in front of him," Lance said. "We were just kissing."
"Well, whatever." Chris waved his hands again. "Whatever you're doing, stop it. I don't want to think about you lovin' anybody but me." He smacked his lips on Lance's cheek.
"Someday," Lance said, wiping his fingers over his face, "I'm gonna fuck you until you can't stand up."
"Promises, promises," Chris said.
Since Chris had mentioned it, though, Lance thought it made a kind of sense. It sure explained why Justin was being all annoying and doing shit like stealing his Palm and showing up at his house every frickin' morning. Justin had a crush on him.
And, of course, it was just like Justin to act like he was in the fourth grade about it.
Still, Lance thought, watching Justin slump against the mirror to talk to Wade, it was cute. He and Wade were friends, in the stupid goofy way that only boys like Justin and Wade could be friends. They actually still punched each other on the arm. Justin leaned and Wade leaned. Wade laughed and Justin laughed. They mimicked each other endlessly, until one of them realized they were supposed to be working and pulled away. This time, it was Justin, snapped out of his Wade trance by JC practicing. He pulled off his t-shirt and stepped forward, ready to go. Justin couldn't stand to be outdone.
Lance watched him for a second, his slender waist, his finely honed arms. The hair curled at the back of his neck. Justin had a crush on him. Hmm.
It was too bad Chris didn't swing his way, because Lance would have fucked him into the middle of next week, if Chris had really wanted which would have the double advantage of fucking Chris and not having to have Nights of Fun, anymore.
"Dude, tequila!" Chris shouted, slamming shots down on the table. Lance had considered not going, really seriously considered it, staring at his own reflection in the mirror, but if he didn't go then it would only be the four of them and something would feel off, and Justin would be pissed and might show up at four when the afterhours party died instead of at ten or eleven when he woke up hungover. It was a trade off. Lance did his shot.
The guy caught his eye when he set the glass down, a dark haired guy, built, adorable. Tank top. Leaning on the bar. The guy saw him staring and looked away for a second, and Lance waited for him to look back. He would if he was interested. He would.
Lance smiled. "I need another drink," he told JC, who slid out obligingly.
The guy's name was Brian and he was twenty and a student at the university. Biology. Maybe pre-med.
"So, you're smart," Lance murmured in his ear.
"Smart enough to know what I like," Brian said.
"Yeah? See anything you like?" he asked, glancing over his shoulder, pressing his palm flat against the wall.
"Hmm." Brian smiled, and tilted his head back.
He was a sweet kisser, slow and tasting of rum, and he put his arms around Lance's neck, which Lance liked. It made him feel powerful. And Brian had a gorgeous waist. "You're coming home with me," Lance told him.
Brian grinned. "Twist my arm," he said.
He'd put Brian up on a stool and tilted in between his thighs when Brian jerked and pulled back. "Holy shit," he said. "Are you all gay?"
"What?" Lance asked. He turned. Justin was groping some blond guy Lance had never seen before. "What the fuck?" he said.
Brian laughed. "Dude, isn't he dating Britney Spears?"
"Not anymore," Lance said. Justin grabbed the guy's ass. Lance blinked.
"I guess not," Brian said, and tightened his arms around Lance's neck. Lance took a last look at Justin, who was apparently checking out the blond guy's tonsils, and turned back. Brian had green eyes, just like he did. It was kind of like kissing himself.
Joey interrupted them, his hand warm on the small of Lance's back. "Hey," he said. Lance glanced over his shoulder.
"Joey, Brian," he said, nodding. "Brian, Joey."
"Hi," Brian said. His mouth was soft and swollen and Lance kissed him again just on principle.
"Hi," Joey said. "Lance. C'mere."
"He's hot, huh?" Lance asked when Joey had drawn him off. He smiled. Brian smiled back.
"Yeah, um. This is kind of what I was talking about." Joey ducked his head. He looked embarrassed.
"When I told you to stop having sex in front of Justin." Joey squeezed his eyes shut and tried to smile.
Lance blinked at him. "Uh huh."
"He's in the van with some guy," Joey said.
"Oh." Lance nodded. Justin. In the van. With some guy. It had happened before, a couple of times, but Lance had never been the cause of it. It made him feel responsible and pissed off all at once. "Fine."
"Sorry," Joey said, rubbing his hand up and down Lance's arm. "He is really cute."
"No, it's. Fine." Lance shook his head. He looked back at Brian, who was spinning idly back and forth on his stool, drink in one hand. Fucking Justin.
The guy must not have been very good, because Justin came back in a mood and picked a fight. Lance nudged Brian, who was not only a good kisser, but also knew how to take a hint, and Chris totally bailed, so Lance was left to handle him.
"What the hell?" he asked.
Justin tossed his head. "I don't have to explain myself to you," he said, and that, Lance thought, was the problem. Justin never thought he had to explain himself to anyone. Justin thought that people should spend time trying to figure him out, and trouble was, he was mostly cute enough to get away with it. Sometimes, Lance wanted to slap him.
"Why are you being such an ass?" he asked instead. That would send Justin over the edge.
"Oh, fuck you," Justin said. "I'm an--"
"You just fucked a guy in the parking lot," Lance murmured, leaning in close so that the people at the other tables couldn't hear.
"I didn't have sex with him," Justin protested. As if that was the part of the sentence that mattered. "And fuck you! You're going home with that guy you were making out with, and I bet you don't even know his name!"
"His name's Brian," Lance said. "And you're a fucking punk."
"Oh, whatever!" Justin shouted. The bodyguards took a step in as if they were concerned, but it was to keep other people away. As far as Lonnie and the guys were concerned, Lance could beat the shit out of Justin. They didn't get involved in intra-group things, Lonnie had explained to him once. That was why they still had their jobs. Lance respected that. "That guy could sell your ass to the National Enquirer--" Justin was saying, but Lance had had enough.
"Who just blew you?" he asked. Justin didn't know. Justin wouldn't know, not if he'd done for the reasons that Joey thought he'd done it. And Lance thought he had.
Lance leaned back and took a sip of his drink. It tasted pale and empty. "It's a simple question, Justin," he said. "What was his name?"
Justin got up and stormed off, probably to pitch a fit in the corner or throw his weight around in front of people who would be impressed. Lance sighed and pressed his fingers into his temples.
"Hey, is everything all right?" Lance peered through his fingers. Brian, his face a combination of concern and hesitation. He was maybe thirty seconds from bolting.
"Yeah," Lance said. He slid his hand over Brian's. "I'm fine." And after a few minutes of kissing, he was.
He made Brian leave early, at the crack of dawn practically, shoving him into a cab with a wad of money for fare. Then he made himself coffee and sat on his screened in patio and watched the birds play in his timed sprinklers. When the coffee got cold, he got up and poured himself another cup and held that one in his hands until it got cold. At around nine, he sighed and went into the kitchen and started pulling omelet fixin's out of the fridge. Justin showed up ten minutes later.
"You're not getting eggs," he said, not even looking over his shoulder. He'd thought, maybe, that Justin wouldn't show up. Now that he had, Lance felt uncertain of his reaction. He'd wanted to tell Justin to stop being such an ass and grow up, but then Justin had been big enough to show up and Lance didn't feel like saying it anymore.
"Donuts, man," Justin said. "Jelly. You love the jelly."
"Yeah, what I'm not loving right now is you," Lance said.
"You're making eggs, though," Justin said.
"Not for you. You can't be a bitch and have eggs."
He didn't mean it, and Justin knew it because Justin always knew when he was getting his own way, but he came over and rubbed Lance's shoulders and curved his arms around Lance's waist and breathed on his ear, anyway. "I'm sorry, okay?" he said. "Really. Please."
Lance shook his head. Justin was bigger than him, had been bigger than him for a long time, but it was still something to feel him pressed up against Lance's back, his warmth and closeness and soft voice. "No eggs for you," Lance managed.
"Lance, come on," Justin said, rocking him. Lance felt something in his hair and wondered if Justin had kissed him. "Let me have some eggs, Lance."
Lance shook his head. "Fuck off," he choked, but Justin didn't let go. His hands were locked together around Lance's waist. Lance felt himself holding his breath so that Justin wouldn't notice the soft flesh of his belly. He made himself release it.
"Where's that guy?" Justin asked.
Lance jerked, startled. "I sent him home."
"Oh yeah?" Justin breathed. Lance wondered what would happen if he turned his head. Would Justin kiss him. Would he?
"Yeah," he said.
"Mmm." Justin stayed there, chin over Lance's shoulder, arms around Lance's waist, lips on the patch of skin between Lance's ear and his hairline. Finally, Lance sighed and cracked three more eggs into the pan.
"Justin," he said. Justin glanced up, mouth full. "You have to tell me what's going on with you."
Justin swallowed. "Nothing," he said. "I'm fine. These are really good." He speared another forkful of eggs.
"Yeah, thanks. Why are you following me around?"
Justin rolled his eyes. Lance sighed. It wasn't going to work. He needed to catch Justin by surprise or something. A prepared Justin wasn't ever going to tell him the truth.
"I'm not," Justin said.
"You totally are," Lance said. "You're starting to ruin my action."
"Please," Justin said, rolling his eyes. "You're kidding, right? How have I ruined your action?"
Lance thought for a second about listing the guys he'd had to ship out early because Justin had started showing up for breakfast three or four times a week, but the point wasn't to fight. Also, thinking about it, Lance realized that there were quite a few guys. Maybe he didn't want to list them all. He settled instead for "it's kind of hard to get action when you're all over me."
"I'm not!" Justin shoved back from the table.
"Yeah, you are," Lance said. He kept his voice low. "Like, last night. At the club. What were you doing with that guy, Justin?"
"I'm not acting like your boyfriend," Justin said. "Okay, I've been hanging out a lot. But not like your boyfriend hanging out. Just hanging out."
Lance smiled. "No, I know," he said. "But the guys I see, they don't get that."
Justin made a face at his eggs and sighed. "Okay, I guess," he said. "I can see how. All right. I'm sorry."
Lance nodded. He wasn't sure what he'd expected. Another temper tantrum, maybe, or at least vehement denial, but Justin was being really mature about the whole thing. Lance was kind of disappointed. "You want toast?" he asked. Justin always wanted toast.
He drove Justin in to rehearsal, keeping his mouth shut when Justin toyed with the radio. Justin always had to mess with the radio -- it was like he couldn't let anyone else control the music ever, at anytime. Lance didn't know how JC dealt with it. Justin had long narrow fingers that punched the buttons impatiently while Justin muttered "sucks" under his breath. Justin should have played piano, Lance thought.
"You like this?" Justin demanded, nodding his head at the radio. Reba McIntyre.
"Of course," Lance said. Reba was a god, or as close as you could come without actually being Tammy Wynette.
"God!" Justin said, rolling his eyes for effect. He didn't mean it -- Lance's taste in music couldn't have possibly been a surprise at this late date -- so it was meant as an apology, Justin's roundabout way of making sure that he and Lance were on the same page again.
"Whatever, wannabe," Lance said, flicking on his turn signal. When he glanced back over, he could see Justin's bright and genuine smile out of the corner of his eye.
Still, he hadn't thought they were quite as in tune as Justin obviously thought they were, a fact made clear to him by Chris' dynamic shout across the rehearsal room. "Lance, are you fucking Justin?" he demanded.
Lance paused, hands on his shoelaces. He resisted the almost uncontrollable impulse to look at Justin's face. Chris could have looked straight at him and professed undying love, but Lance was never as good at jokes as Chris. That was why he wasn't Justin's best friend. "I can't believe you told," he said to the air near Justin's right shoulder. "Alright." He sighed dramatically. "It's true. Justin's my love slave."
Chris sputtered and collapsed, holding his guts like they were going to burst through his skin. "You fuckers," he gasped, squinching his eyes shut. "You fucking fuckers!"
"No, it's true!" Justin shouted. It would have been more convincing, Lance thought, if Justin hadn't been choking on his own laughter. Joey and JC were tipped back against the wall, giggling, hands over their mouths like children. Lance shook his head. They were so easy, sometimes, it was hard to imagine they'd known each other so long.
"You and Lance?" Joey asked. JC collapsed against his shoulder, helpless.
"Hey," Justin protested, kicking at them. "We could."
Lance stood up. They could? Right. Because someone like Justin, tall, gorgeous, charming Justin, who was just as famous, more famous than Lance himself was, would definitely be head over heels for Lance. Lance rolled his eyes. Sometimes, the kid was too much.
"Lance probably just doesn't realize that he wants me," Justin declared. He kicked the bottom of Chris' shoe. "He just hasn't seen the light, man."
"Oh, baby. I've seen," Lance declared. He grabbed Justin around the waist and swung him around, clutching for his hands. Justin was such a little cock, sometimes, full of dares and double dares. He pulled Justin until their bodies were flush. Justin was breathing hard from the laughter, his skin radiating heat through his clothes. Lance fought the urge to slip his fingers under Justin's shirt. Habit. "I never stop thinking about you," he said into Justin's ear.
It was a joke, a big fat joke, something to amuse the guys while they were waiting for Wade to show up. Justin wriggled under his hands, against his body. He seemed suddenly flexible, although he hadn't done anything particularly flexible, just hooked his arm around Lance's neck. "I can't live without you," Lance said, trying not to choke on the sweet smell of Justin's shampoo and warm flesh. The smooth skin of Justin's throat would taste like that smell, sweet and salty at the same time. Lance blinked. This was funny. JC was in tears he was laughing so hard.
"You're so hot," Lance whispered, his lips against Justin's ear, and then had to let him go. It was starting to become less funny. Justin shook his head, a small smile on his face.
"I need water," he said and headed to the hall.
"Lance, man!" Joey said. "Seriously! You're fucking him up! He's getting all warped in the head."
Lance, who'd been watching the door swing shut, turned around. "Hey, two million fourteen year old girls can't be wrong," he said, and was relieved when the laughter burst out fresh in the room.
He went out with Joey and JC after rehearsal, to this blues club where the only other white guys were the guy behind the bar and the guy at the front door, and no one ever asked them for autographs. They asked JC to sing sometimes, though, and while he was up there, perched on a stool and clinging to the microphone, Lance leaned against Joey's shoulder and said "tell me something."
"Hmm?" Joey said. He sipped his beer.
"You think Justin really likes me?" he asked.
Joey set his glass down, carefully. Turned his head. Blinked. "Lance," he said.
"No, I know." Lance smiled and shook his head. "Nevermind."
"It's just. Remember when he was in love with Chris? It'd be a mess. You and--"
"JC sounds good," Lance said. The tabletop under his fingers was scarred and grooved. Someone named John B. had carved his initials there so long ago that the deep edges of the letters were smooth.
"Uh huh," Joey said. He moved his hand from the beer mug and placed it over Lance's.
He woke up to the smell of something cooking. Justin. "When did you learn to cook?" he asked, refusing to see Justin's appearance in his kitchen as any more than a desire for free food.
"Just making you breakfast, man. A little payback." Justin shrugged and stirred with the spatula. A wave of raw egg landed on the stovetop. Lance winced.
"Hmm," he said. He didn't say anything else. He told himself it was just because he didn't want to distract Justin from his cooking, and refused to acknowledge the fact that Justin was wearing some snug track pants and his ass, well, it flexed. While he stirred. Justin had a great ass. Really. Lance tried to think back to all of the pick-up basketball they'd played before Justin had gotten sick of him sucking at it. Had he ever touched that ass? "Okay," he said, when Justin took his plate away. "Justin."
Justin turned around, eyebrow lifted.
"You have to tell me what's going on," he said.
Justin shrugged. He made it look like a dance move. "You weren't up," he said. "I made breakfast."
Lance sighed. Justin had been interviewed too many times to give away things he didn't want to give away. "Okay," he said. "Next time, wake me up."
Justin laughed. "They weren't that bad," he said. When he turned back to the sink, Lance ducked his face into his hands. Hopeless. He was fucking hopeless.
He meant to stay in that night after rehearsal, rent some DVDs, eat some pizza, but the house seemed empty to him, stale and airless, so he showered and changed and went to the bar near his house. The bartender, an older woman named Barbie who called everyone "sweetie," set him up with a beer before he even had to ask. He was about halfway through it when he felt someone looking at him.
"Hey," the guy said when he looked up. Tall, blond, pretty brown eyes.
"Hi," Lance said.
"You're that guy from that band, right?" the blond said. "Nick?"
Lance smiled. "Yup, that's me," he said. "Who're you?"
"I'm Randy." The guy leaned up against the bar, his grin smug and self-serving.
"Sounds promising," Lance said. Randy sat down.
They were in the parking lot in the backseat of Randy's Lexus when Lance pulled the plug.
"What? Why?" Randy sat back, his hands sliding down his own fly. "C'mon."
Lance blinked, shook his head. "I'm sorry, man," he said. His fingers fumbled over the buttons on his jeans. "There's someone. I'm kind of." He shook his head.
"Oh, you're kidding me, right?" Randy ran a hand through his hair. "You have a boyfriend?"
"Um, yeah. And I thought. Well, I just can't. I'm really--"
"No, no." Randy waved his hand. "It's fine. Whatever. I used to have a boyfriend, man. I get it."
"Thanks," Lance said. He hooked his finger in the door handle and took a final look at Randy's lean tanned stomach. Fucking Justin Timberlake, he thought, and opened the door.
He tried to jerk off when he got home, conjuring the image of Randy sprawled on the leather interior of his luxury sedan, but it kept turning into Justin, brown eyes shifting to blue, hair curling right in front of Lance's eyes. Eventually, he gave up and came, gasping Justin's name.
Justin came up to him at lunch the next day, all fresh skin and blue blue eyes. "Can I tell you something?" he asked. He had his hands in his pockets and was flexing them, making strange and somehow perverted shapes in the cloth.
Justin drew his hands out of his pockets and squeezed them together. He was nervous, Lance realized. "Okay, I'm just going to tell you, okay?"
"Sure, okay." He set his sandwich down. Justin's arm was near his hand, but he didn't touch it. He wanted to. "Everything cool?" he asked.
Justin nodded quickly. "Oh, yes. Yeah. Sure. I'm, um. I'm in love with you."
Lance choked, and then managed to laugh. Fucking Joey. He should have known better than to tell Joey anything, best friend or no. "Justin!" he said. That was good. Volume was always convincing. "God, you crack me up."
"No, I mean it," Justin said.
Lance shook his head, faked a chuckle. "I'm sure you do," he said. "God, wait until Joey hears."
Justin left shortly after that, mentioning something about dinner with his mom. JC sidled up to him on the couch after Justin had gone.
"Hey, um, you're just kidding, right?" he asked.
Lance nodded. He couldn't tell JC, who would get all hopeful and dreamy. That was why he'd had to stop sleeping with JC; he was too idealistic and charming and Lance had almost fallen in love with him before he could stop himself. He wondered how Justin had slipped beneath the radar. "Yeah, C," he said.
"Really?" JC asked. He looked disappointed.
"He's not having dinner with his mom," JC said, folding his fingers into intricate shapes in his lap.
"My mom's in town," JC said. "Lynne's having dinner with her."
Lance felt his heart pause in his chest. "Really?"
JC nodded. "Yup. Really, man."
"Yeah, man." JC said. "I know."
Justin's house was dark when Lance got there, the Mercedes he usually drove missing from the garage. Lance thought for a second about waiting inside, but things were too weird. Justin was the type of guy who could just walk into a house and feel at home, but Lance didn't know if he was welcome at Justin's anymore. It was a weird feeling. Instead, he reclined the driver's seat a little and flipped on the classic country station and picked mushrooms off the pizza right around the crust where Justin wouldn't notice.
Justin showed up after about twenty minutes, almost denting Lance's SUV as he came around the corner.
"Why aren't you inside?" Justin asked, leaning in the window on his elbows. He didn't seem upset.
"I, um. I wasn't sure. You hungry?"
Justin smiled. "Starving."
Lance handed him the pizza and climbed out of the car. "Justin," he said, before Justin could unlock the door. "I thought I might have hurt your feelings."
Justin glanced back over his shoulder, surprised. "Oh, hey," he said.
"I didn't mean to," Lance said.
Justin turned back to the door, pressing in his security code. "No, it's okay," he said. He pushed the door open and let Lance step by. Lance stood and watched Justin close the door and reset the alarm.
"I brought movies, too," he said, holding up the bag.
"Great, c'mon." Justin gathered napkins and beer from the kitchen as they passed through and took Lance into the TV. room. They ate in front of Jackie Chan movies, the only action movies Lance could stand anymore because they moved fast and only took an hour and half. He'd tried to watch Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with the guys on DVD, but he'd gotten bored, and then tired of Chris doing slow motion kicks at his head, and had given up after only an hour. This was better.
Justin seemed okay until Lance snapped out of a pizza-induced haze and realized that Justin was sitting close. Very close. Underneath his arm and practically in his lap close. It reminded him of the girls they met on tour, the ones who were too cool to actually proposition them, but would sidle right up next to them and rub on them. Justin was rubbing his head on Lance's shoulder, like a giant cat. Lance fought the urge to run his hand over Justin's back.
"Justin," he said, careful to keep his hand up and away from Justin's body.
Justin hummed and tilted his head back, smiling. He licked his lips. He looked like -- Lance didn't want to think about what he looked like.
"What are you doing?" he choked.
"What?" Justin whispered, his eyes closing. He leaned in.
"You're acting like a girl," Lance said, and heaved a sigh of relief when Justin actually sat back, blinking like he'd just been woken up.
"I wouldn't be if you would just kiss me," he said. "Shit. You're so analytical about everything."
Lance pushed back. "Why the fuck would you want me to kiss you?"
Justin leapt to his feet, hands caught in his hair. "How many times do I have to fuckin' tell you?" he demanded. "I am in love with you!"
Lance felt like he'd been smacked. It wasn't true. It couldn't be true. This was Justin. Justin Timberlake. It just. No. "Chris," he choked out.
"That was three years ago!" Justin screeched. "God! Y'all don't pay attention to shit!"
Lance leaned back, startled. Justin was kind of freaking out, the same way he freaked out when the recording was going badly. "Okay, Justin," he said. "Okay."
Justin stalked around the room, swinging his arms. He was thinking of punching things, Lance could tell, but he wouldn't. Justin liked to think about hitting, but he rarely actually hit. It was one of the good things about him. "What the fuck!" Justin shouted.
"Okay." Lance folded his hands around one of Justin's. Justin yanked it back. Lance settled for grabbing ahold of Justin's shirt. "C'mon, man. Just sit down, okay? Calm down."
Justin didn't sit down, but he did stop flailing around. "I told you," he said. "I told you."
Lance sighed. "Okay, then I'm gonna go, okay?" He let go of Justin's shirt. He stood up and grabbed for a jacket. "I'll call you tomorrow."
"Fine," Justin said. "Fine. Go. Fuck you." He crossed his arms over his chest and scowled. Lance sighed. It couldn't go much worse, he thought, but Justin sighed and flopped back onto the couch. "Just, stay, okay? Stay and was the last movie."
"I dunno," Lance said, but he knew he was staying. He hadn't made the move to put his coat on when he should have and had lost all of his momentum. And Justin was slumped on the couch, his long legs stretched out in front of him, his narrow feet facing inward. He. Lance shook his head.
"C'mon," Justin said.
"Okay, fine." Lance sighed. He sat back down.
They watched in silence for awhile, but Justin kept fidgeting and shifting, even more like a girl than before. Lance watched him out of the corner of his eye, his eyes sparkling in the quick light of the television, his mouth open. Justin had always had such a nice mouth, a good smile.
Lance faked a yawn and stretched his arm over the back of the couch, drawing Justin in. If he spoke, said anything, Lance didn't know what he was gonna do. Run, maybe. But Justin just looked up hesitantly. "Okay?" Lance asked, caressing Justin's broad shoulder. Justin nodded mutely and curled up against him. Looking down at Justin's curls, the tip of his nose, Lance thought it might be true.
Justin fell asleep. He wrapped his arms around Lance's waist and pushed his nose into Lance's neck and fell asleep, his weight unconscious and sweet. Justin slept with his mouth slightly open. His eyelashes fluttered. Lance watched him for countless minutes, just watched the timid motions of Justin's eyelashes until he couldn't anymore without doing something. Then he tried to move, laying Justin carefully on the couch cushions, and when he glanced up to Justin's face, his eyes were open.
"Hi," Lance whispered.
Justin smiled. "Hey." His hand came up to Lance's face and that was it, Justin's hand, his mouth. Lance kissed him.
Just a good night kiss, he would tell himself in the car, his heart thudding against his ribs. Nothing but a good night kiss, that was all. For a friend. A good night kiss for a friend. Because he always kissed his friends good night. All the time. Except for his other friends. All of his other friends.
Lance pulled into his garage and sat behind the wheel of his car, his fingers barely pressed against his lips.
He woke up at the crack of dawn, exhausted but unable to sleep anymore, adrenaline rushing through his blood. He got up and made coffee. He'd gotten through the whole entire newspaper, even the boring health and sports sections, and was just sitting and staring at the faint ripples on the surface of his pool when Justin finally showed up.
"Hey," he said.
Justin threw his coat over the back of the chair. "What's for breakfast?" he asked, smiling. Lance closed his eyes and opened them again and Justin was still standing there, smiling at him. All six feet of him, standing in the sunlight in Lance's kitchen.
"I didn't know what you wanted," he said.
"What if," Justin said, leaning casually against the counter. "What if I said I wanted you."
Lance choked back a laugh. Justin was so cheesy and stupid and so gorgeous. He couldn't. He couldn't possibly. Justin Timberlake. "Justin," he said, shaking his head, but he couldn't say anything else, because Justin's mouth was on his.
They hardly touched at all, at first. He wasn't even standing; Justin was leaning down, almost bent in half, his hand on Lance's elbow, and Lance considered saying no for a second, pulling away and making Justin waffles and forcing him to promise to never bring it up again, but it was Justin and he tasted of toothpaste and himself, and his mouth was hardly open and Lance couldn't help it. He kissed back.
He stood up and pressed Justin back against the counter, sliding one hand around his waist. Justin had such a narrow waist: Lance's hands met one the silky skin of Justin's back before Lance expected it. The kiss grew, expanded, became open-mouthed, grew tongues and hot panting breath, and when Lance pulled away, he yanked Justin after him. "C'mon," he whispered. Justin followed, stumbling like he was drunk.
He yanked Justin's clothes off. He wanted to be smooth and suave and give Justin the fuck of his life, but his hands kept trembling and shaking on Justin's perfect skin. He felt awkward and stupid, but Justin kept kissing him, lurching up off the mattress and grabbing him, dragging him down, his arms clinging. It wasn't like Lance hadn't imagined it from time to time, sex with Justin. Everyone imagined it, he bet. But it had never occurred to him that it would be like this, Justin's legs around his waist, one hand in the small of Justin's back, holding him up, his head tilted back, sweat blooming on his throat. It was amazing. Justin was amazing.
Lance was afraid.
Afterwards, he only let himself stay in the bed for a minute, panting against Justin's sweaty collarbone. He couldn't risk anything more.
He made Justin waffles for breakfast. Justin liked waffles and wouldn't talk too much while he ate them had been Lance's thinking. He was right.
They didn't talk in the car, although Justin did rest his hand on Lance's knee except when he had to shift gears. Lance made sure he was looking out the window whenever Justin would glance his way.
There was a reason, he thought watching Justin's shoulders under his t-shirt, why he'd never tried to sleep with anyone from the group except JC and Joey and Chris. It was too weird. He kept thinking of Justin's perfect ass, his eyes fluttering closed, the way his voice sounded when he came. He kept thinking of Justin throwing a tantrum in his living room. And now Justin was standing in the corner looking at his own reflection in the mirror like someone had run over his dog. He sighed.
"Hey," he said, tapping Justin's shoulder. "You okay?"
Justin glanced up into his reflection and attempted a smile. "Yeah."
"Buyer's remorse?" Lance asked. This was why. This was why. Fuck.
"Maybe," Justin said.
Lance plastered a smile to his face. "It's fine," he said. "I'll still make you breakfast." He hoped Justin would know enough not to come over anymore. He might have to spend a couple of days over at Joey's, just until Justin got the message.
Justin chuckled. "Yeah?"
Lance nodded. He wanted to smile once more, reassuringly, and walk away, but he couldn't take his hands off Justin's shoulders. "I won't tell anyone," he whispered, an excuse to stay as close as he was. "Not even Joey."
"No, you can," Justin said. "I mean. I might tell Chris."
Lance smiled. "Can I tell you something?" He was practically kissing Justin's ear. He wanted to. Justin nodded. He was smiling down at his shoes, his reflection in the mirror like something out of one of their videos. "Okay, don't freak out."
Justin nodded again. Lance slid his hands down to Justin's biceps and squeezed. "Okay. Um. I really wanted this. You. A lot. And, well, I still do. A little. So this might be a little weird for a while. But I'm okay," he said to Justin's reflection. "So don't worry about it, okay?"
Justin wrenched himself away from Lance's hands and shoved him back against the mirror. "You're an idiot!" he shouted in Lance's face. "I love you! I. Am. In. Love. With. You!"
"Justin," Lance said, shaking his head.
"Shut up!" Justin shouted. The kiss was so hard it knocked Lance's head against the mirror. Justin kissed him firmly, holding him up against the mirror. He felt Justin's waist under his hands and locked his fingers together, pulling Justin in close. Justin was in love with him. Justin Timberlake. Justin Timberlake, who was in his band and was maybe the one guy he really shouldn't make out with, or sleep with, or be in love with, and yet it was happening anyway. At some point, the other guys came in. Lance didn't really notice.