we invented the remix 5

the timberlake effect part iv: all day long i think about sex by luxshine: the rock your body mix by withdiamonds



"Hey, that's a cool superpower you've got there, J," Chris said, scooting into the dressing room and looking surprised to see Justin already there. JC slipped in behind him like he was hoping he had turned into the Invisible Man when no one was looking.

Justin eyed the two of them suspiciously. He wanted to know where in the hell Chris and JC had been without having to actually ask them, since there was no way they were gonna tell him if they thought he really wanted to know. "What are you talking about?"

"Your amazing ability to be in two different places at once." Chris jerked his chin in the direction of the corridor. "Me and JC were just behind the stage, and I swear you were, too, Timberlake. Lumbering around like the clumsy oaf I know you're not, knocking things over. Some might think you were trying to make noise on purpose, to um, warn..." He shot a quick glance at JC, who seemed to be trying to hide behind Joey. Joey looked around at him, blinking, and Justin heard Lance snicker.

Justin had no idea what Chris was talking about, and he really wasn't in the mood for Chris's shit right now. "I haven't left here since I got dressed," he said, gesturing down at his costume. "Now, the show's gonna start soon. I'm glad you two," and he waved his hand impatiently at Chris and JC, "decided to join us. Joe," he shot across the room, "you got the hackey?"

He ignored Lance's raised eyebrows and Chris's narrowed eyes and JC's guilty mumble about checking last minute details with Kathy Griffin. Joey came up behind him and rested his hands on Justin's shoulders, shaking him gently. He leaned back into Joey's warmth for a minute, taking comfort from the solid presence behind him. They were co-hosting and performing at the Billboard Awards, and were nominated for several awards themselves. Justin sighed. He knew he was letting the tension get to him, making him imagine things. Chris and JC probably really had been talking to their co-host, and not indulging in a clandestine romantic assignation behind the stage.

He shook Joey's hands off and straightened up, smiling ruefully at Chris. He really needed to stop sneaking his mother's romance novels into his carryon bag when they flew. As a nineteen-year old boy, Justin shouldn't even know what the words clandestine romantic assignation meant.

Several hours later, at the afterparty, he realized that even if he knew what clandestine meant, Chris sure as hell didn't. Subtle apparently wasn't in his vocabulary, either. Justin was sure the entire club had to notice that Chris and JC couldn't keep their hands off each other. Although, honestly, if they hadn't acted so weird before the show, Justin might not have paid as much attention to the way they were behaving now.

"Justin," said a voice at his elbow, and he turned to look down at Britney. She smiled sweetly at him, then nodded at Chris and JC, who were still pretending to fight, poking and grabbing each other, mock-glaring, just like they had on stage during the awards show. It was so obviously an excuse to touch each other in public that Justin snorted.

"I know," he said, annoyed.

"I think it's cute. Don't you?" Britney trailed off, looking at Justin with sudden interest.

"Cute? No, I don't think it's cute," he said with revulsion. "I think they need to-"

"Get a room?" Britney suggested brightly. She glittered up at him, smiling as if she knew all his secrets.

"There's nothing for them to get a room for," Justin declared firmly. There wasn't. But he still wanted to know what they were doing earlier, before the show, when Chris claimed that Justin had been in two places at once. Not because he was jealous, that would be ridiculous. Not because he cared if there was something going on between Chris and JC. No, he just needed to know why Chris thought he'd seen Justin someplace where he hadn't been. That was all. It was simple curiosity.

"Uh huh," Britney drawled. "Justin Timberlake, if I didn't know any better, I'd think you were jealous."

Justin frowned down at her. "Don't be ridiculous, Britney. C'mon, let's dance," he said, and he towed her out onto the dance floor, her giggle echoing in his ears above the thumping bass of the music.



Justin never did figure out what happened that day at the Billboard Awards. He caught Chris looking at him strangely a few times, and JC seemed a little skittish around him for a while, but then things just kept getting crazier and crazier and Justin forgot all about it. There was their Super Bowl halftime performance with Aerosmith and Britney to worry about, and then the Grammys, and after that Lance decided he wanted to go off and make a movie at the same time they were trying to record their next album. He just had to drag Joey along with him, and then Briahna was born, and it was all so insane that Justin almost forgot about it.


Now that they had split up onto two separate buses, there was ample opportunity for Justin to indulge his inner voyeur. There wasn't as much to see as he had hoped, because Chris and JC were usually pretty careful, but every once in a while, his vigilance was rewarded.

Like tonight. They thought he was asleep. He'd gotten to be an expert at faking sleep; sometimes they let their guard down when he was around, as long as he was breathing regularly enough and added a little snore every once in a while to reassure them. He could see them from his bunk, if he pushed the curtain aside just enough, and tilted his head at just the right angle.

Justin peered at them as they sat on the couch, talking quietly with their heads close together. He tried to keep breathing as Chris shot a cursory look over his shoulder toward the bunks before climbing onto JC's lap, straddling his thighs. JC's hands fluttered over Chris's waist a moment before coming to rest on his hips, thumbs moving to caress the soft skin under the elastic waistband of Chris's sweat pants.

Justin guessed Chris's skin was soft there. He imagined it was, and sometimes when they played basketball he tried to touch Chris in just that spot, to find out for himself. It was hard to do. Chris would pull away right before Justin's fingers could find what they were looking for, spinning around with the ball in his hands, a secret smile in his eyes.

The soft rise and fall of their voices reached back toward Justin, giving him a rhythm. His hand moved slowly over the front of his boxers, speeding up as Chris's whispers got faster. He wondered what kind of things Chris said to JC when they were like this, but he couldn't come up with much. Chris was rarely serious, but by the way JC was murmuring back, soft and low, Justin knew it was good.

Chris rocked back and forth, and Justin thought he moved like JC, his hips undulating gracefully, much the same way that JC did everything. Chris brought his hand between them, but Justin couldn't see; it was hidden by their bodies. JC closed his eyes and the tenor of his voice changed. As Chris's other hand came up and covered JC's mouth, Justin knew JC was coming. JC's eyes closed and his head went back, exposing his neck, and the sounds he made behind Chris's hand were almost enough for Justin, but he needed more, just a little more.

He watched as Chris stiffened and reached down to touch himself through his sweats, JC's fingers tight on his hips. Justin fought to keep his own eyes open as he came, one hand on his dick, the other pressed to his lips.

Justin didn't think he'd made any noise, but he looked up to find JC watching him with dark eyes. When Justin met his gaze, JC shook his head slightly. Justin flushed, and twitched the curtain back in place before Chris could turn around.

"JC," Justin said the next day, as they pulled into the venue. Chris was in the back, shoving dirty clothes into his suitcase.

JC raised his eyebrows inquiringly, but Justin was sure JC knew what Justin wanted.

"You and Chris. Can I-I mean, do you think I could-would you let me-" But JC was shaking his head again, and his eyes were soft.

"Sorry, J." He smiled ruefully. "I am, really. You're totally hot, dude." He ran a finger down the side of Justin's jaw and Justin instinctively turned his face toward it. "But me and Chris are just that-me and Chris. That's it." He tilted his head and looked at Justin. Justin tried to ignore the pity in his eyes. "We cool?"

Justin nodded, not trusting his voice. Chris emerged from the bunk area, looking curiously between them. He slapped Justin on the ass and said, "Let's go, J. We've got a show to put on, man."

Justin followed them off the bus, disappointment slowing his steps. He hadn't wanted them to know that he watched them sometimes, that he knew about them. Now that they did, all he wanted was to be let in.



Justin couldn't decide whether or not he cared enough to be truly pissed off. If Britney wanted to fuck Wade, more power to her. It wasn't like he was exactly faithful himself. Okay, so maybe he was only unfaithful in his mind, maybe his cheating consisted of jerking off to the sights and sounds of Chris and JC as they became less careful around him. But he lusted in his heart, and somewhere he'd heard that that counted just as much as lusting in someone's bed.

So he didn't bother to say anything about it. She kept smiling brilliantly at him in public, and he smiled right back. He caught JC watching him sometimes, and Justin knew he wanted to ask him about it.

"Justin," JC cocked his head, looking speculatively at Justin. They were backstage in Oakland, and JC had caught up with him in the corridor halfway between the Quiet Room and makeup.

"It's fine, JC," Justin shrugged, not meeting JC's eyes. "It's…whatever. Don't worry about it." He could hardly tell JC that he was as guilty as Britney was. He changed the subject. "I've written some songs."

"I know, man." JC still had that look on his face, like he was trying to figure something out. "We've been waiting for you to show them to us."

We. Us. Right. JC and Chris were NSYNC's new writing dream team. Johnny encouraged them, telling them it was never too early to start gathering songs for their next CD.

Justin shrugged again. He wasn't going to tell JC what he'd been thinking about doing with the songs he'd been working on.

Apparently, though, either JC was a mind-reader, or Justin wasn't nearly as capable of subterfuge as he thought he was. "You talked to Pharrell lately, dawg?" JC asked in a silky voice.

Justin's head shot up in surprise before he could catch himself. While he struggled to get his game-face back, JC smiled indulgently. "Chris talked to Chad the other day."

Justin tried to look nonchalant, but he had a feeling he wasn't doing a very good job. "Really? How's he doing these days?"

JC looked at him shrewdly. "Nice try, J." He turned his head and yelled, "Chris! Get over here." Justin shivered at the hard glint in his eyes as his gaze swept over Justin's face.

Chris materialized seemingly out of nowhere, coming up behind JC and standing with his arms crossed, smiling at Justin in the friendly way that sometimes made Justin's blood freeze.

"Justin here wants to know how Chad's doing," JC said conversationally. "I told him you talked to him the other day. He doesn't seem to have known that."

"Really?" Chris's eyes glittered the way Justin imagined a cobra's would, right before it struck. Justin tried hard not to look like prey, standing there in the middle of the arena corridor. "He seemed to know how you were doing, Justin. He seemed kinda surprised that I didn't know what he was talking about when he was rhapsodizing about your new songs."

"I told JC about them," Justin said defensively. He did. He had. He wasn't trying to go behind anyone's back here. He wasn't the one with all the secrets.

"Uh huh." Chris nodded, then turned to JC, whapping him on the back of the head. "He told you about them?"

"Fucker," JC said mildly, rubbing his head. "Sure he did. About five minutes ago."

"That totally counts, C," Chris admonished. He looked at Justin. "When were you gonna let us hear ‘em, J? C and I are about ready for some new ideas for the next album, right C?"

JC nodded. Justin felt the trap closing as he stared helplessly from one to another. He wanted so much from them. Chris moved closer and Justin fought not to back away. When Chris reached out his hand and trailed a finger over Justin's cheek, he shivered and turned his face into the touch, closing his eyes in submission. Chris withdrew his hand and Justin opened his eyes in time to see Chris's smile. JC kissed Justin softly on the mouth and whispered, "Good boy," in his ear. "Come to our room tonight, J." He pulled back and let Justin see the offer he couldn't refuse in his eyes.

When Pharrell called him the next day, Justin let it go to voicemail.



Justin looked around the spacious hotel room. His luggage had been deposited next to the bed, the drapes were open to let the Florida sunshine in, and the air-conditioning was cranked all the way up. The phone blinked red at him, and Justin grabbed for it, listening eagerly to the message.

"Timberlake. Don't unpack, just get your ass down to Room 2394." There was a pause, a rustling noise, and JC's voice replaced Chris's. "We're waiting, Justin."

Justin scrambled to obey. He was intimately familiar with that note in JC's voice; he wasn't about to waste time unpacking.

Five minutes later he knocked on the door to room 2394, sending a quick glance down the hallway. Very few fans would arrive at Challenge this early, and he wasn't particularly worried about being spotted. He bounced from foot to foot. He wished they'd hurry up and answer the door.

When they finally did, Justin's breath caught in his throat. JC stood there, barefoot and shirtless, his jeans slung low on his waist. His belt was undone, his hair was unruly, and Chris peered out from behind him, his arms wrapped around JC's waist. Justin swallowed.

JC reached out and fisted a hand in the front of Justin's t-shirt, pulling him firmly into the room as Chris turned and headed for the bed.

Sometimes they only let him watch. Justin really, really hoped that wasn't the case today. They'd been in the studio for a couple of months, and that meant no hotels, and it had been a while, really, because with JC and Chris doing the producing as well as most of the writing for the new CD, they'd been pretty busy.

But JC yanked Justin's shirt off over his head while walking him back toward the bed, where Chris was waiting to tug his pants down, surging up to kiss him in a warm welcome. Justin felt the tension leave his shoulders. It would be okay this time.

After that it was just a tangle of arms and legs and at one point Justin was positive that Chris was kissing him and blowing him at the same time, but no, that must have been JC sucking his cock like a pro. JC fucked like a pro, too, or at least he fucked like someone who did a lot of fucking, coolly and with a confidence that took Justin's breath away. Chris watched them intently, his gaze hot on Justin's face.

They fell asleep with the morning sun warm on Justin's back. JC kissed his shoulder and Chris curled up against his side, one leg thrown over him.

"Justin. Come on, J, wake up, baby," JC murmured in Justin's ear. Justin blinked sleepily. He didn't want to wake up yet. "It's time to go to your own room, J. Britney'll be here soon." Justin opened his eyes and looked blearily around. It seemed as if he'd only been asleep for a minute, but the sun had changed, now slanting across the floor and dancing in the mirror over the dresser.

Justin stretched lazily, dislodging the leg pinning him to the bed. Chris stirred behind him and grumbled sleepily. He poked Justin in the ribs. But Justin was warm and comfortable and he didn't want to move.

"Get out of my nice warm bed, Timberlake." Chris rolled onto his stomach and pulled a pillow over his head. "Go meet your girlfriend," he mumbled.

Justin sat up reluctantly, wanting nothing more than to stay here in this bed, this room, for the entire weekend. But Britney was arriving in a few hours, and Challenge officially started tomorrow, and he had to go be her boyfriend.

He climbed out of bed and pulled his clothes on under JC's watchful eye. Justin couldn't decide if JC appreciated watching him get dressed or if he was making sure Justin didn't pocket anything valuable on his way out of the room. It was a little disconcerting.

"See you later, C," Justin said uncertainly as JC held the door open for him. JC winked at him and Justin smiled, relieved. Over on the bed, Chris snored, oblivious. Justin took one more look, trying to ignore the feeling of being dismissed. JC and Chris's stuff was scattered all over the top of the dresser and their shoes tumbled together in a pile on the floor, looking very cozy.

"Later, J." JC smiled and shut the door in his face.

The next day, while the Knights and the Daze ran around in the brutal Miami heat and Shannon Elizabeth made her annual attempt to maim Justin for life, Justin had to admit that Britney looked fine in a bathing suit. Justin loved her, he really did. He was happy to see her, and the fans obviously were, too. Every time Justin kissed her, or she laughed up into his face as they raced around the sand trying to spell words in the pool with floating letters, or thaw out frozen t-shirts for some reason Justin hadn't yet figured out, the crowd screamed their appreciation.

Justin wondered what in the world the people who thought up these games had been smoking, especially when he had to play tug-of-war in a big vat of applesauce, but then he decided he didn't begrudge the Challenge staff a little recreational pharmaceutical fun. It was all fun. Fun in the sun.

JC had apparently had too much fun in the sun yesterday afternoon, and he left immediately after the National Anthem. He hadn't even stayed for an hour, and had been covered head to toe in jeans and a long-sleeved white shirt. With his sunglasses holding back his hair, which curled wildly in the humid sea breeze, he looked hot, in more ways than one. Justin frowned after him as he left with his parents, wondering what Chris and JC had been doing yesterday afternoon while he waited for Britney to get in from the airport, and just how far down JC's sunburn went. Chris's elbow caught him in the ribs.

"Quit starin'."

"What happened to him?" Justin asked, ignoring Chris's command and watching JC walk out of the tent area.

"Dumbass fell asleep on the boat yesterday afternoon." Chris shook his head. "His back is fried. He looks like a lobster," he said fondly. "I told him to put sunscreen on, but does he listen to me?"

Justin laughed. "No one listens to you, Chris."

"Oh, yeah?" He looked sharply at Justin. "Is that right, J?"

Justin's smile faltered. Chris punched him lightly on the shoulder and laughed. "Come on, the Knights are gonna kick your ass, boy. Where's that hot girlfriend of yours? Maybe she can help you get some actual points, so Lance doesn't have a complete breakdown. I don't think he can stand losing another year in a row, ya know?"

Justin chuckled, relieved. "Did you see what he did to Joey's door last night? Joey is a bitch." He laughed again.

"Oh, god, yeah, and did you see the invitations Joey and Kelly spread all over the hotel? Party in Lance's room." Chris cackled, and then some guy in a CFTC t-shirt shooed them back out onto the bright sun as the games got underway.

And now, true to Chris's prediction, the Daze were kicking the Knight's asses. Lance was looking grimly determined, and Justin grabbed Britney and kissed her, to the delight of the crowd. "Let's go help Lance be a human bowling ball and earn us some more points, baby."

JC came to the afterparty that night, but he didn't stay long. Chris hung around for a little while, probably so as to not arouse any suspicions by leaving with JC. Like anyone would notice, Justin thought. He wanted to go back to the hotel, too, to see if JC was okay, but Chris shook his head.

"You stay here with Britney, Justin," he said firmly. "I'll go make sure Sleeping Beauty is ready to play basketball tomorrow. He'll be grumpy enough without you hanging around bugging him, too."

"Sure, whatever," Justin said to Chris's retreating back. He looked around for Britney, and smiled when he saw her dancing with Lance. It was fine. He had Britney tonight, and that wasn't half bad.

He went to join his girlfriend.



Being asked to do the Super Bowl again, twice in four years, was a really big deal. Justin kept trying to explain that to Britney.

"I get it, Justin, okay?" Irritation had a way of making Britney's Louisiana accent more pronounced, which made her sound whiny. Justin figured she probably did get it, and that was why she was pissed.

Britney hadn't been asked to perform this time.

"Look, B, you know if I had a choice, you'd-" he started, but Britney broke in with a brittle laugh. She put her coffee cup down on the counter behind her with a barely controlled thunk and glared at him.

"Right, Justin. I get that, too. You don't really have choices, do you?" She cocked her head and looked up at him with something like pity in her eyes.

Justin flushed at the contempt in her voice. "Seriously, Britney-"

But she kept talking right over him, moving past him to grab an apple out of the bowl on the kitchen table. She whirled around, confronting him again. "And really, Justin, Janet Jackson? Whose idea was that? She's a has-been, Justin. She's a has-been and an old hag. Her album's never gonna sell, I don't care how many Super Bowls she does." Britney took a bite of her apple and began to chew furiously.

"She's not-" he started indignantly, but then he stopped at the look on Britney's face. There was really no reason to aggravate her any further by protesting that Janet wasn't old at all, and also, she was as hot, if not hotter, than she had been when she was Brit's age. He didn't say any of that. Justin liked to think he wasn't stupid. He leaned back against the counter, his arms crossed, waiting for her to calm down.

"Whatever, Justin." Britney rolled her eyes, then tossed her half-eaten apple in the sink.

"Well, it wasn't my idea, you know," Justin ventured. Actually, it kind of had been. He'd had a crush on Janet Jackson since he was twelve years old, and when she approached him about performing with NSYNC during the Super Bowl half-time show, he'd been thrilled beyond words.

Chris and JC had been less thrilled, but Justin had talked his way around them as only he could do, when they were inclined to let him.

And now Britney was pissed, but Justin didn't know what he was supposed to do about that. When she didn't say anything more, just stood there pouting at him, he put his finger under her chin and tilted her head up, smiling down at her as sweetly as he could. "Come on, baby girl. No one remembers who does the half-time show anyway. Seriously? Hardly anyone even remembers who won the game a week after it's over." He bent down and kissed her, coaxing her mouth open, licking softly at her lips. It took her a minute to respond, but she finally did, pushing him back against the counter.

"Umm, baby, you sure know how to kiss." And that was the last Justin heard about it from Britney. At least until after it was all over with.

Later that month in Miami, they'd just finished the final run-through at rehearsal when Janet pulled him aside. NSYNC was planning to do two songs, Pop and one of their new ones, All Day Long I Dream About Sex. Then Janet was going to come out, and after singing something from her upcoming album, they were all doing a medley of Rhythm Nation and another one of NSYNC's new songs, Rock Your Body.

Justin thought it was going to totally rock.

"Hey, Justin. How you doing, baby?" Janet's smile was dazzling, and it was aimed right directly at Justin, making him feel as if they shared something special, just the two of them.

"Hey." He beamed back at her. How could he resist?

"I love just love that song, Justin, especially the end." She sang softly, "Bet I have you naked by the end of this song," and smiled teasingly up at him. "I've been thinking about the choreography, baby. And I had an idea. Come and tell me what you think."

Janet winked, looking around at the others as they gathered up their things and milled around the rehearsal venue, waiting for transportation to arrive and take them back to their hotel. She held a finger up to her lips. Justin was charmed and he felt himself blush at her mischievous smile.

Chris and JC had their heads together in the corner, their shoulders touching, JC's hand resting possessively on the small of Chris's back. Lance had his head thrown back, laughing at something Joey had said. As usual, no one was paying any attention to Justin at all.

He winked back at Janet. "I know a quiet place we can talk," he said, and he put a careful hand on her waist to guide her out the side door and down a long hallway to an unoccupied dressing room.

JC was madder than Justin had ever seen him. For once he was actually coherent in his rage. "What the hell were you thinking, Justin? What was going through your mind? What could possibly have made you think that was a good idea?" He turned to look at Chris, like maybe he had the answers JC was looking for.

Chris shook his head. "It wasn't even in the same universe as a good idea," he growled.

The two of them were standing in front of Justin, their anger both frightening and well-coordinated. They were clenching and unclenching their fists, almost in unison, and they both wore the same furious expression on their faces.

"You do know that's the last Super Bowl we'll ever be allowed to play, don't you?" JC snarled, glaring at Justin.

Justin sat on the couch, numb. They'd never been this mad at him before; he felt almost paralyzed with fear. What if they stayed mad forever?

"It wasn't supposed to come all the way off," he protested miserably. He'd already said that more times than he could count. He'd said it to an indignant and incredulous CBS, to large, humorless men from the NFL, to representatives from the FCC, who were barely restraining themselves from rubbing their hands together with glee, and to his mother. She was the only person not treating him like he'd turned into a serial killer overnight. Janet refused to talk to him at all, and Justin knew he'd lost her as a friend for good. Britney was appalled, and Justin was too upset to call her on the hint of triumph he could see behind her shocked expression.

"Wardrobe malfunction," Chris snorted angrily, turning and walking across the room again. Justin thought he was too mad to ever sit still again.

"And you did it right after my solo," Lance groused. Justin didn't know why Lance even had a solo in Rock Your Body. He had definitely not written that song for a bass. Joey nodded sympathetically. They were all in Chris and JC's hotel suite. Lance and Joey sat on the couch opposite Justin, Lance with his arms folded across his chest, frowning across at him, while Joey kept patting Lance's leg and shaking his head gloomily.

Justin wanted to kill them both.

Chris and JC's anger was pushing everything else out of his mind. He knew he was probably in big trouble with the FCC, and he only hoped he could afford to pay the enormous fine they were no doubt going to impose. Already the uproar was fierce, and the outcry by the press and public had him wondering if he actually had killed several people during the show and just didn't remember it.

Johnny was probably at this very moment planning Justin's death, or at least his removal from NSYNC. Likewise, Jive. Joey and Lance were worried about NSYNC, and Justin's grandmother was very confused as to why her beloved grandson would do such a thing on national television. Justin's stomach did several flip-flops. International television.

But right now, nothing mattered to him except JC and Chris. Justin dragged his gaze up from the floor, where he'd been memorizing the pattern in the carpet, and tried to meet Chris's eyes.

Chris opened his mouth, no doubt to eviscerate Justin further, and then paused. His eyes narrowed as he studied Justin's face. Justin tried to put all his sorrow and regret right out there for Chris to see. Chris flicked a glance over at JC, and they had a wordless conversation that Justin watched with desperate hope.

JC was holding out; Justin could see that. He knew JC's face so well, was so used to studying it for cues, that he and Chris might as well have been talking out loud. Finally, JC nodded curtly and turned away to rummage around in the suite's well-stocked bar.

"Lance, my man," Chris said conversationally. "Joseph. I don't think there's much more to say here. Lance, I don't think your solo was completely ruined, dude. There's no sense talking this to death. I bet we're gonna have to do that for the next week or so anyway, might as well save our energy."

Lance and Joey were smart enough to know a dismissal when they heard one. With one last pat to Lance's knee, Joey stood up. "Kelly's probably given up on me by now. I'd better get going." He turned to pull Lance up by the arm. "Let's move."

"Quit it," Lance said, shaking Joey's hand off. He looked between Chris and JC, and then smiled reassuringly at Justin. Lance didn't seem to really be mad, Justin noted with gratitude. "'Night, J. Don't worry, it's not the end of the world." He shook his head at JC's glare. "Well, it's not, C. It was a mistake, is all. It was just a tit." He chuckled. "J didn't kill anyone, you know. Y'all need to chill." He smiled at Justin again and ambled out the door, Joey at his heels.

Justin didn't dare look at JC and Chris. He expected them to start yelling at him again, but they didn't. After a moment, he gathered his courage and looked around. JC was standing at the window, his back to the room. Justin watched as JC's reflection stared down at the drink in his hand.

Chris sat down next to Justin and put an arm around his shoulders. "J, J, J," he said. "You're just about worn out, aren't you?" Justin eyes prickled at the unexpected sympathy in Chris's voice.

JC looked around at that, watching the two of them. Then he sighed, put his drink down on the bar, and came to squat down in front of them. He put his fingers under Justin's chin and raised his head gently. "Look at me, Justin."

Justin stared into JC's eyes, which were soft now, no traces of anger left. JC leaned forward and kissed Justin on the forehead, then stood up again. "We all need to get some sleep," he said, and walked to the door of the suite. Justin got uncertainly to his feet. Were they going to make him leave? Earlier, before the show, which seemed like several lifetimes ago to Justin, he had hoped to be able to stay tonight. Britney was expecting him to stay here, he knew that.

JC opened the door. "We'll see you in the morning, J." It was said kindly, but implacably. "Give Brit our love."

Justin looked over at Chris. Chris smiled and shook his head.

Justin walked slowly toward the door. He stepped past JC into the hallway, then turned around and looked sadly at them both. "I'm sorry," he said, then headed down the hallway to the room he shared with Britney.

Not only was Britney surprised to see him, Justin didn't think she was all that thrilled about it, either.

"Did you have plans, or something," he asked, looking around the room for signs of another person or maybe a party. "Is there someone hiding in the closet?" Britney had only reluctantly agreed to even come to Houston for the Super Bowl, but it had been decided that it would look good to have her there with Justin, so here she was.

She sighed and rolled her eyes. "Don't be dramatic, Justin. I just thought you were going to spend the night with Chris and JC, is all." They'd all come back from the afterparty together, and Justin kissed her goodnight before heading to Chris and JC's room.

"Yeah, well, I thought so, too," Justin replied sourly. He kicked off his shoes and tossed them into a corner of the room.

"Don't pout." Britney looked at him shrewdly. "Are they mad at you?"

Justin nodded miserably. He pulled his shirt up over his head and it followed his shoes.

"Well, come on, then. Let's get you to bed. You've had a busy day." Justin wanted to tell her to stop treating him like he was five years old, but he kind of felt like a little kid. And she was right. He was really tired.

Britney was nice enough to only say I told you so two or three times while she cleared her clutter off the bed and told him to go brush his teeth. Once in bed, she gave him a blowjob that was the perfect thing to distract his mind from the million different directions it was trying to go, and then she petted his hair until he fell into an uneasy sleep.

Sometimes Britney was a good girl to have around.

A week later, Justin found himself onstage at the Grammys, staring out at an glittering audience that sparkled with anticipation. It had been a very long week, and Justin absolutely couldn't wait for it to be over.

NSYNC was nominated for four awards, and CBS, still smarting over the fines the FCC had levied against its affiliates, was keen to extract its pound of flesh from Justin's hide. They insisted that he apologize during the show if NSYNC wanted to accept their Grammys in person and on the air. The good news was that meant they were probably actually going to win a few awards.

Johnny and Justin's grandmother both thought an apology was an excellent idea. Lance was inclined to be indignant on Justin's behalf, and Chris had totally come to see the humor in the whole thing. In fact, the general overreaction of the press and the public to seeing one woman's nipple for a fraction of a second had made them all rally around Justin. They stayed up talking late into the night at Chris and JC's house in LA, trying to decide what to do.

In the end, the label didn't give them much of a choice. They needed the media back on their side, and there was nothing the media loved more than seeing a celebrity brought low.

Justin had to take one for the team.

Not sure how many Grammys they were going to win, Justin would apologize at the first opportunity, and then it would be over and they could enjoy anything they won after that. The whole thing sucked, in Justin's opinion.

NSYNC won two Grammys that night, one for Song of the Year for Cry Me a River, and one for Pop Album of the Year for 100 Ways. Justin stood at the podium, the Grammy in his hands after Chris insisted he hold it, while the other guys stepped back, still there behind him. The feeling of having them at his back gave him the courage to say what everyone was waiting for him to say. Scenting blood in the water, the media had been hounding him all week. Now he was about to give them what they wanted.

He took a deep breath, found his mother's face in the front row, and said, "I want to apologize for the unfortunate incident during last week's Super Bowl half-time show. It was unintentional, and I'd like to say I'm sorry to anyone who was offended by it."

And then it was over, and clutching their Grammy, Justin turned to the waiting arms of his four smiling bandmates, as they surrounded him and got him the hell off the stage.

Justin threw himself into the afterparty with abandon. He was giddy with relief that it was all over and he danced until it felt as if his feet were no longer attached to his body. He also drank until if felt as if his lips were no longer attached to his face.

He was aware of JC's gaze on him as he moved his hips against the pretty blonde doing her best to get his attention. He put an extra swivel into his next thrust and the girl's eyes widened as she smiled up at him in excitement. Justin felt reckless and high. He had no idea where Britney was.

The next time he looked over at JC, he was gone. Justin whipped his head around in panic. Where was he? If he'd left the club without saying anything to Justin….Justin searched the crowd for any sign of Chris.


The blonde had a pretty good grip on Justin's hips, but he quickly pulled away and left her on the dance floor without a word. "Fuck you, asshole!" she yelled after him, but he didn't turn around, just kept going, over to the table where Lance sat, a drink in one hand, a pretty boy with dark, intense eyes in the other.

Justin opened his mouth to ask, but Lance shook his head and said, "Bathroom." He looked up at Justin with a crooked half-smile and raised his drink in a toast. "To an amazing night, Justin."

Justin grinned down at him. "Yep." He nodded at the dark-eyed boy and turned on his heel, heading toward the bathroom.

They were both in there, JC and Chris, waiting for him. It was a small space, with a lock on the door. Justin sent up a quick prayer of thanks for VIP bathrooms.

"You did good, kiddo," Chris said, and JC nodded.

"Yeah, baby," he purred. "Really fine."

Justin looked back and forth between them. Chris's eyes were dark and predatory and he vibrated with energy. JC was hard already, Justin saw, his tight jeans outlining his dick in the bright light of the bathroom.

Justin licked his lips in anticipation, and Chris gave him an evil grin. Justin smiled back, spread his arms out and said, "Show me how fine."



In July, Chris asked JC what he wanted for his birthday.

The result was a group meeting a week before JC's birthday, the serious kind, where they met at JC's house and he wouldn't let anyone drink until they were done.

"As you know, next month is JC's 29th birthday," Chris announced, looking around at them all like he expected them to be stunned by this news.

Joey and Lance were ensconced on one couch, and Lance had tipped forward to let Joey knead the back of his neck. He looked up as Chris spoke, though, his attention arrested. Joey's hand stilled.

On the opposite couch, JC bit his lip and looked at Chris, then his eyes met Justin's and he smiled.

Stretched out on the floor between the couches, Justin sat up. He waited with some trepidation for whatever it was that had put that particular smile on JC's face.

"We've decided to go public," Chris continued.

Go public? Like, sell shares of Zeek stock to the public? Justin stared. Could they even do that?

"With our relationship," Chris said, laughing at their blank faces. "Come out of the closet, as it were."

Oh. Oh. That was the last thing in the world Justin had expected.

JC was blushing, but he looked determined. Lance sat up, looking delighted. Joey looked thoughtful and Chris, Chris looked defiant.

"Ooh, that means I don't have to. I can just date whoever I want and no one will notice." Lance beamed at JC and Chris. "That's awesome. Thanks, guys."

"Uh, well, man," JC said, looking startled. "You know," he said, turning to Chris, "That is kind of a cool thing, if you think about it. Lance can be out, too, and it'll all be cool."

"Yeah, cool, C. That's why I wanna do this, so Lance can date." Chris shook his head, but he was grinning. JC laughed. "So, Lance is okay with this. What about you, Joe?"

Joey slapped his knees and got to his feet. "I think it's about time. You guys have been together forever. You shouldn't have to hide if you don't want to. Can I have a drink now, C?"

But JC didn't answer him. "Justin?" he asked.

Justin looked into JC's eyes and saw the only answer possible reflected there. He smiled softly at JC, and at Chris, who was sitting motionless, watching Justin, waiting. "I think it'll be fine."

He could feel them all relax then, even Lance and Joey. He didn't know what they expected. What was he going to do, make a fuss about Chris and JC living their lives the way they wanted to, just so he could still have some kind of fucked-up relationship with them?

He wasn't going to do that.

Johnny tried to stop them, but only half-heartedly. They were so successful and so well-established that Johnny knew they could take the hit. It would be an adventure, no one as big as them had ever come out at the height of their success before, but they would all be fine with however it went down.

Besides, NSYNC had weathered a few storms before. If the Super Bowl had taught them anything, it was that the public's attention span was short. They'd had some trouble with airplay in the months following Justin and Janet's wardrobe malfunction, but with songs like All Day Long I Dream About Sex, and Goin' Down, that wasn't a surprise.

Johnny almost had a heart attack, though, when Chris and JC insisted on holding a press conference. No one was really sure that was a good idea. Jive initially said no, that they would drop NSYNC from their label faster than they could say bye, bye, bye if Chris and JC insisted on doing something that insane. There were threats of legal action from both sides, and then Jive said, fine, it was their funeral, but if they reserved the right to pursue damages if sales of NSYNC albums dropped too precipitously.

"Whatever," said Chris. He and JC had more faith in their fans than that.

JC had always maintained that his personal life was personal, and no one else's business, and here he was, ready to proclaim to the world that he liked dick. Chris's dick, to be specific.

Justin was impressed.

He also had no illusions that his dick was going to figure in any of the revelations.

The press conference was held at the Compound on a hot August afternoon. They filed in and sat at the long table in their usual order, with Justin on one end, Lance and Joey on the other, and JC and Chris in the middle. Justin immediately reached for the bottle of water in front of him, occupying himself with the task of getting it open and taking a drink. It was quite possible none of them would have a career at the end of the next hour.

He wondered if Pharrell would pick up the phone if he saw Justin's number. Mentally running through the short list of his other options in case he needed a new gig, he decided Timbaland might return his calls, but he wasn't sure about Will. That depended on Fergie. He tried to remember if his sixteen-year old self had done anything completely unforgivable back when they dated, a million years ago.

Sitting there lost in thought, the water bottle hit his teeth with a painful clunk when Chris elbowed him and cold water dribbled down his chin. Justin swiped at it with the back of his hand and glared at Chris. Covering the microphone in front of him with one hand, he hissed, "Asshole. What?"

Chris snickered, his eyes following the drops of water that had escaped Justin's hand. "That's a good look for you, J. Your mouth should always be wet."

Justin blushed and elbowed Chris right back. On the other side of Chris, JC leaned forward and frowned at them both. Chris just grinned, but his knee was bouncing under the table like crazy.

Lance looked out at all the cameras with amusement. Joey put his arm around JC's shoulders, pulling him close and whispering in his ear. Justin put his hand on Chris's knee and squeezed it reassuringly.

"Ladies and gentlemen." Johnny spoke into the microphone he was gripping like a lifeline. The murmurs of the gathered reporters died out. "Welcome to the WEG Compound. I'd like to thank you all for coming. NSYNC is the most successful band in the history of recorded music. They still hold the record for most albums sold in a week and they probably always will." He paused and looked over at the table, as if to say you can still change your minds if you want. JC and Chris looked steadily back at him and Johnny sighed. He straightened his shoulders and said, "I'll let Chris tell you all about the rest of it."

For a moment there was silence, and then Chris leaned forward and spoke into his microphone. "Hi. Thanks for showing up for this. This shouldn't be a big deal, but I guess it is anyway." He stopped for a second and smiled at JC. JC smiled back. "So, okay," Chris continued. "There's been rumors about our love lives, sex lives, whatever, for years. Since the beginning. We've always had to answer the are you single, are you dating anyone question, while at the same time we've tried to keep some part of our lives private. Justin and Britney have been dealing with that for years."

Justin smiled, pleased. The press was never far behind when he and Britney did relationship-type things. It was nice of Chris to acknowledge it.

Chris continued, "One time on Larry King, I answered that question by saying I was dating Lance. Everyone knew that was a joke. That was just me, fooling around."

Justin wondered if Chris's plan was to talk in circles until everyone was so confused that they missed the main point. Or were so relieved when Chris finally got to the point that it wouldn't matter anymore.

No, if that were the plan, they would have let JC talk.

"Also," Chris was saying, "Lance is so not my type." He stopped, looking around the room at the gathered reporters, waiting for the laughter to die down. "But JC here is."

There was complete silence as everyone waited for more. Those reporters who were familiar with Chris knew very well his tendency to go on and on about things, to take things three steps past where he should have stopped, past the point of being funny, to where you just wanted to murder him. Justin could have told them that Chris did the same thing in bed, too.

He had a crazy impulse to lean forward and say, "He means it. You should see the two of them together, it's the hottest thing you could imagine. JC likes to top, he gets off on being in charge, but so does Chris. When I'm not there for them to do that with, it's seriously hot, watching them go at it. How do I know? I spent half my life on a bus with them." He had to actually grip the sides of his chair for a minute to keep from moving.

Chris laughed as the reporters looked around at each other questioningly. "No, really. That's it. JC and I are together." A heartbeat, then the room exploded with camera flashes and shouted questions.

JC and I are together. It was simply put, but it said everything. Everything Justin had been denying for years. Hearing Chris say it to a room packed with strangers was almost a physical blow. Justin's heart pounded in his chest. He wiped his sweaty palms on his thighs and tried not to hyperventilate. He wished he was sitting next to Joey.

Justin bit his lip and sternly told himself to get a grip. This was not new. This was something he'd known for a long time. It was stupid to act like it hadn't been clear all along that he was never going to be an integral part of JC and I are together.

And now the world knew it.



Justin looked around at the inside of the church. The very pink church. He liked roses as much as the next person, possibly more, but there were a hell of a lot of them and the smell was making him dizzy. Or maybe that was because he'd been too nervous—try hung over, his brain supplied helpfully--to eat much today. A piece of toast was about all he had managed to choke down, and that was only because JC made him.

He only hoped he made it to the reception before he passed out.

Justin heard a whisper from somewhere to his left. "This took almost a year to plan?" Chris asked. He flapped his hand at the flowers filling the church, at the ribbons and garlands and rose petals everywhere. Justin sent a glare down the line of groomsmen. It was Chris's fault he was so hung over. He didn't think there was a variety of booze he hadn't tried last night, thanks to Chris's dubious bar-tending skills and insistence that Justin celebrate his upcoming nuptials by drinking himself into oblivion.

Next to Chris, JC fidgeted with the circle of small silver beads he wore around his neck. Justin smiled. Chris and JC hadn't exactly had a commitment ceremony, but they did exchange their favorite necklaces. For some reason, their fans were very attached to JC's Leo necklace. Seeing it on Chris had elicited some of the only negative responses to JC and Chris coming out that they'd seen from their fans. That necklace meant everything to JC, and Justin hadn't seen it anywhere but around Chris's neck in almost a year. Justin frowned as he studied JC. It was JC's fault he was so hung over. He'd offered to be Justin's designated driver, so Justin could drink everything Chris handed him.

Justin looked past JC to Joey. Joey and Kelly had been together longer than most couples Justin knew, but they weren't planning a wedding of their own, because they were of the "if it ain't broke, don‘t fix it" school of relationships. Now that Justin thought about it, it was Joey's fault Justin was so hung over. If Joey hadn't kept making toasts to Justin and Britney and their wonderful future together, Justin wouldn't have had nearly as much to drink as he did. He couldn't refuse to drink to his bride, could he?

Joey leaned over to whisper in Lance's ear, and Justin snickered. Lance looked almost as bad as Justin felt. That's because Chris had called him a pussy and dared him to keep up with Justin last night. Really, it could be argued that it was Lance's fault Justin had a hangover. Leave it to Lance to turn a rehearsal dinner into a drinking competition.

Brit's brother Bryan was next in the seemingly endless line. Justin had a rather fuzzy memory of Bryan trying to get Chris to stop giving Justin drinks. That was good. Justin was relieved not to have to exact revenge on his brother-in-law the same day they actually became family.

At the end of the line, Steven and Jonathan whispered and giggled together. Fortunately for them, they were too young to have anything to do with Justin's hangover. Justin was relieved. He wouldn't have to hurt his own brothers later.

Next to Justin, the only person who had actually tried to stop him last night cleared his throat and elbowed him. "What?" Justin mouthed, turning to Trace. Trace kept telling him he'd be sorry if he had to spend his wedding day with a hangover, but Justin hadn't cared. It just all seemed so final, somehow, and every time he looked at JC and Chris, he'd taken another drink. Trace nodded towards the back of the church. As the music swelled majestically, echoing around the beautiful old church, the bridesmaids started down the aisle. There were more of them than Justin wanted to count. In their matching pink dresses, and given his state of alcohol withdrawal, the organist should have been playing Pink Elephants on Parade.

Justin fastened his gaze on the arch at the back of the church and waited.

Then he saw her. She was so beautiful, his Britney. He'd known her since she was ten years old and she had never looked lovelier to him than she did right now. Saner heads and better fashion sense had prevailed over his bride and instead of the white leather mini-skirt she'd set her heart on, the one Chris had FuMan custom-make for her, she was dressed in a long gown of ivory satin with a pink lace overlay. She carried more pink roses than Justin thought it was possible for one girl to carry, and she took his breath away.

As Britney walked down the aisle toward him on her father's arm, Justin stopped thinking about anyone else.



Justin stared out the window at the passing scenery. He wondered how much of his life had been spent doing just that. He half-listened as Joey talked to Kelly on the phone, registering the change in his voice which meant Briahna without listening to his actual words. It was soothing and Justin drifted into a light doze as the mountains of the West morphed into the flatness of Iowa.

How many tours did this make? How many times had he climbed on a bus with these same four men, only to get off again in a different city, ready to do the same thing over and over?

Lance's phone chirped, breaking into Justin's reverie. He wondered idly what Chris wanted now.

"Sure, whatever. We figured as much." Lance listened a minute, then said, "You want to do it before we hit Chicago? Okay, you guys can come over here. I don't care one way or the other." He glanced over at Justin. "Better make it ten." He lowered his voice, except Justin could still totally hear him. Lance didn't seem to care, though. "Justin seems distracted. You know, the whole sitting and staring out the window thing. He'll probably be up all night." Lance nodded. "Okay."

Closing his phone, Lance looked around the bus. "Group meeting tomorrow morning, over here, around ten."

Joey covered his phone. "Terrific. Let's get it over with, so when we get to Chicago, I can ditch you fuckers and spend some time with my girls." He went back to Bri without waiting for a response from Lance.

Justin just shrugged. "Whatever." Lance raised an eyebrow, but Justin just looked back at him.

"JC's still worked up about the song lineup for the new CD." Lance grinned. "I know you're shocked. Chris thinks if he tells him we can have another meeting in the morning, it'll calm his ass down enough so he'll sleep tonight.

Justin smiled. He remembered nights like that, nights when JC was so wound up it would take Justin and Chris forever to calm him down. No matter how many meetings they scheduled for tomorrow, Chris was going to have his hands full tonight.

Justin let his memories flood back, memories of things he'd lost a long time ago. JC, leaning over him, his hot eyes boring into Justin's as he pushed him back against a dressing room wall. Chris, dark and dangerous, fucking him over the table on the bus. JC's silky whispers in his ear, Chris's hands in Justin's hair.

Watching them, out of his mind with need as they touched him until he begged.

Maybe it's time, the voice in the back of his head whispered. He'd been able to ignore that voice for years, but every once in a while it spoke up loud and clear and he had trouble tuning it out. Perhaps it was time to listen, before NSYNC went into the studio to start the new CD. The Tied Up tour was almost over, and when Britney's tour was finished, the two of them could get away for a while. They'd go on a second honeymoon, or something.

He could use a break from everything. He was so tired. And then, maybe, a new start. NSYNC would be fine without him. Chris and JC wouldn't miss a beat.

Justin pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and hit #1 on his speed dial. When he heard Britney's voice, he felt some of his weariness lift.

"Hey, baby," she said softly. "Can't sleep?"

"Not really," Justin admitted. "Listen, Brit. I've been thinking…"

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