II. Lance: Cheat
Lance sat on the edge of his bed, tossing his cell phone from hand to hand. He had an idea, but he wasn't sure if he should do it. It wasn't exactly playing fair. In fact, it wasn't playing fair at all. It was cheating.
Of course he got Brian. Of course. It couldn't have been Justin, charming careless Justin, who was probably already planning what hideous monstrosity he was going to buy with his winnings and flaunt in Lance's face. No, Justin got AJ, and where was the challenge in that?
He kicked restlessly at the papers that lay on the floor at his feet. Scribbled over with names, numbers, information culled from all the people he could think of, all the favors he could call in, and it all said the same thing: Brian Littrell was exactly as he appeared to be. Straight as an arrow, happily uxorious, devoutly religious. Damn it.
Lance sighed, and then straightened up. Maybe it was cheating, but he knew what he had to do. He opened his phone and dialed a number he knew by heart.
"Hi," he said. "It's me. I need a favor. You feel like taking a trip?"
Lance waited impatiently in the hotel lobby until a short plump blonde woman appeared. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail, and she was tastefully dressed in a pink flowered dress and low heels. She tottered across the gleaming floor and lurched into Lance.
"If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times," she said. "I just can't walk in heels less than three inches high. It fucks with my balance."
"You'll be all right," Lance said, pulling her toward the elevator. "And watch your mouth tonight, okay?"
"Thanks for flying all the way here on a moment's notice to help me win some sort of twisted sexual bet, Suzy," the woman said. "Oh, you're welcome, Lance. That's just the type of friend I am. "
"Thanks for coming, Suze," Lance said, and kissed her cheek. "I really appreciate it." They got into the elevator. "You remember your part, don't you?"
"I am but a simple Southern maiden with a deep love for my savior and for the most handsomest Backstreet Boy of all, Bobby."
"It's not Bobby, it's -"
"Kidding, kidding, I know it's Brian," Suzy said. "Jesus. Calm down a little."
"It's just. This is important."
"No," Suzy said. "Saving the whales is important. Feeding orphans is important. This is weird and fucked-up and probably indicative of deep-seated mental problems on both of our parts, but what it is not is important. Now, do you have it?" She held out her hand.
"Have what?" Lance looked confused.
"The mickey. You know, for me to put in his drink."
"God. You're like my moll. We're just going to get him drunk, we're not going to drug him. What the hell are you thinking?"
"Right. Cause it's a lot better to get someone drunk and take compromising pictures of him to blackmail him into sleeping with you so you win a bet. I mean, as long as you don't drug him."
"I'm not going to blackmail him into sleeping with me! For God's sake."
Suzy looked at him blankly. "Then what are we doing here?"
The elevator doors opened and Lance curled a hand around them to hold them open. "The pictures are just going to be a little leverage to help me persuade him to pretend he slept with me."
"Okay, back up a second. Who in the what now?"
Lance grabbed her hand. "Look, it doesn't matter. Just do what we talked about, okay?" Lance smiled at the bodyguard stationed at the end of the hallway. "Which room is Brian's please?"
Standing outside Brian's door, Suzy turned to Lance. "You know what this feels like? It feels like we're in the beginning of one of those cheesy horror films, where the kids kill someone in a freak accident and hide it and are picked off one by one by some crazy stranger with an ax. I'm telling you right now, this evening will not end with me helping you throw a body over a cliff."
Brian opened his door with a wide, genuine smile on his face and Lance flinched. "Lance, it's so good to see you. And this must be your good friend Suzy. I've heard so many nice things about you, Suzy," he said, and shook her hand.
"I'm your biggest fan, Mr. Littrell, it's such a thrill to meet you. It's so nice of you to let Lance bring me over on such short notice, but I'm only in town overnight."
"Oh, call me Brian, Suzy. After all, any friend of Lance's must be a pretty great girl. Come in, guys. Do you want anything to drink?"
"A glass of wine would be fine," Suzy said. As Brian walked into the room, she clutched Lance's arm and whispered, "I can't do this if he's nice, Lance."
"We're not going to hurt him or anything," Lance whispered fiercely. "Just shut up and do it."
"Seriously," Suzy said. "Make him mean. Make him talk about abortion or something, get me all het up. Cause if he's all sweet to me I can't - oh, thank you, Brian."
Two very long hours later, Brian excused himself to use the bathroom. Lance began to bang his head against the wall. "I can't take it anymore, Suze. Let's just go. I give up, I'll lose the bet, I don't care, Chris and Justin can laugh at me for the rest of their lives, but I can't take any more of this. I'm so bored."
"Come on now," Suzy said. "Nothing in this life is free. If you're going to win the bet you're going to have to pay for it somehow. Besides, it's not all that boring. I mean, that stuff he was saying about mortgages was kind of informative."
"Are you serious?"
"Oh my god, the boredom's started to atrophy your brain. No, of course I'm not serious. I'm so bored I'm considering gnawing off my own hand if it'll get us out of here and to the emergency room. He's not an awful guy, but bless his heart, he is dull. He's been all over the world, you'd think he'd have one interesting story." Suzy laughed. "I'll tell you what though, boy can hold his liquor. I told you we should have slipped him a mickey."
"You just want to be able to say you slipped someone a mickey."
"You know it. Now, when he gets back out, I think you're going to have to challenge him to a drinking contest or something."
"Do I look like the kind of guy who challenges people to drinking contests? Does he?"
Suzy talked right over his protests. "Or, I know. Tequila shots! I bet that'll do it."
"Tequila shots? You really want to do tequila shots with him?"
"Do you want to die in this room listening to him talk about guitar ministries?"
"I'll check out the minibar." Lance got up and crossed the room just in time to catch Brian as he stumbled on his way out of the bathroom.
"Sorry about that," Brian muttered. "Guess I must have had a little too much to drink."
"We've got just the thing to fix you up, sugar," Suzy said as Lance pulled out a bottle of tequila.
Five shots later, Brian was out like a light. "Finally," Suzy said, and started to unbutton her blouse.
"Ooh, black bra. Very sexy. That'll look very nice," Lance said, and pulled out his camera.
"I do my best for you, baby," Suzy said as she curled under Brian's arm.
"Smile for the camera," Lance said, and started snapping away.
The next morning Lance woke up to the sound of someone shouting. He sat up quickly - was one of the guys in trouble, was something happening - and winced as pain shot through his head. He blinked and looked around. Brian was crumpled in the corner of the couch, his shirt off, Suzy slumped against him. Suzy clapped her hand over Brian's mouth and muttered, "Oh, for the love of God." She pressed her fingers against the bridge of her nose and said, "Oh, fuck."
"Brian," Lance said, "Brian, it's all right, it's just us." Brian took a deep breath and looked around him.
"What are you doing here? What are you - why is she - she doesn't have a shirt on!"
"Well, neither do you," Suzy grumbled. "No need to get all high and mighty."
"Listen," Lance said, "I need you to do me a favor, Brian."
"I don't want to do anything for you right now, Bass. I want you and this - this woman to get out of here."
"Okay, there's no need to be rude," Lance said. "I've got a little proposition for you."
"Did you hear me say get out? Do I have to call security?"
"Honey," Suzy said, "you and I have been sleeping here half-naked. If you don't want your wife to hear about it, and believe me, if she hears about it we will have been all the way naked, I suggest you listen to the nice man here."
"You wouldn't dare. She wouldn't believe you anyway."
"Bad news, Bri," Lance said. "We've got pictures."
Brian turned up at Lance's door at eleven o'clock that night. He didn't say hello when Lance let him in, just pushed past him and sat stiffly on the couch.
"Did anyone see you come in?" Lance said.
"No," Brian said sullenly. "I managed to get here without anyone but security seeing."
"Okay, you're kind of missing the point," Lance said. "But never mind. We'll make sure they see you tomorrow. Do you want a drink or anything?"
"I just want to get this over with and get away from you and your revolting friends and your filthy bets."
"All right then," Lance said. "No drink for you."
"So what am I supposed to do?" Brian said.
"Well, I was going to ask you to jump up and down on the bed a little and yell, 'Oh Lance, I've never seen one that big,' but you don't really seem in the mood. So do you just want to go to sleep?"
"Fine," Brian said. "Throw me a blanket. I'll sleep here."
"You can sleep in the bed. I'm not going to rape you or anything."
"I'll stay right here, thank you very much."
The next morning Brian looked exhausted and rumpled from sleeping on the couch in his clothes, and Lance smiled as he looked at him. This was going to be a pretty easy sell.
"Almost over, baby," he said. "We're going to walk out there, you're going to act like we slept together, I'll walk you out to the elevator and neither of us will tell anybody about this ever. You ready?"
Brian grunted, and Lance took his hand and led him into JC and Justin's room, where they all usually gathered for breakfast. Justin looked up and saw them first, and Lance took great satisfaction in watching Justin's mouth fall open in shock. He sagged against JC, who pushed him away irritably, still half-asleep. "Watch it, J, I'm trying to -" Joey and Chris turned as JC's words trailed off.
"Morning," Lance said brightly. "We were just on our way to the elevator but we wanted to stop and say hi. Didn't we, Brian?"
"Hi," Brian said.
"Oh. Hi, Brian," JC said. Brian blushed.
"He's a little shy," Lance said. There was a long pause. "They don't get out much," Lance said to Brian. "I guess we'll be going."
"Did you. Last night. You. You and Lance. Really?" Justin said. "I mean. You. Really?"
"We just walked out of his room holding hands at nine in the morning, Justin. What do you think?" Brian snapped.
"Sorry," Justin mumbled.
JC put an arm around him. "Sounds like somebody had a bad night."
"Or else too good a night," Chris said, and Joey smothered a laugh. Brian turned and walked out the door. "Look, you scared him away," Lance said, and followed him.
Lance caught up with him at the elevator. "Look, Brian, I'm sorry. It was kind of a shitty thing to do, but it's not like it hurt you or anything. And they're not gonna tell anybody, and I'm not, so, you know. No real harm done, okay?"
Brian stared at him stolidly. Lance reached into his pocket and sheepishly held out a sheaf of Polaroids. "Um, did you want these or should I just -"
Brian grabbed them and shoved them into his coat without looking at them. "I can barely stand to touch them," he said.
"Buck up, Bri," Lance said. "It could have been worse. Those could have been pictures of me and you."
"I think I'm going to pray for you," Brian said, and got on the elevator.
"Great," Lance said weakly. "Say hi to Jesus for me."