Interlude. Lance: Prosper
Chris slid into the seat next to Lance. "How much do you think Jive is regretting organizing this dinner?"
Lance laughed. "Shouldn't you be over talking to Nick?"
"Tonight's your last chance, you know."
"Hey," Chris said, "I'm starting to think you're doubting the plan."
"I'd never doubt the plan. I'm just wondering when you're going to get around to it."
"Soon, soon," Chris said. "But right now I just want to sit back and enjoy this buffet of awkwardness and sexual dysfunction spread out in front of me. You know, we just might be the only two truly relaxed people in this room."
Lance laughed again. It was true. Howie and Nick were huddled together in a far corner, drinking hard. Howie's eyes kept drifting toward JC, while Nick's darted around the room, only resting when they found Chris. Nick jumped every time someone passed behind him.
"I think you're giving Nick a nervous breakdown," Lance said.
"Ah, abject terror and twitching neurosis. That's what I like in a sex partner." Chris grinned. "All part of the plan, Bass." Chris nudged Lance and pointed. "Is that the most pathetic thing you've ever seen in your life?"
Lance looked. Kevin and Joey were sitting at a table, legs spread wide, arms hooked over the backs of their chairs, also drinking hard, talking loudly about women. There was a good two feet of space between them. They were both staring straight ahead. The waitresses had already started to cut a wide swath around them. "You should use part of your winnings to fly Kevin's wife in and buy Joey a hooker or something," Chris said, "cause we're gonna get sued if they keep this up. I've gotta go say something. They're like construction workers over there."
Lance watched Chris amble across the room. He felt a big hand on his shoulder as someone sat in the chair Chris had vacated. "I'll give you ten grand to make Chris leave me the hell alone," Nick said.
"Don't need your money, Carter." Lance smiled at him. "Besides, none of us can ever make Chris do anything he doesn't want to do."
"Shit," Nick said.
"Why is it getting to you so badly?"
"Dude," Nick said," I think he's trying to kill me. He's always leaping out at me from corners or jumping on top of me, all poking me and shit. He tried to knock me over when I ran into him in this morning. I don't know what I did to him, but I'm sorry already. Kirkpatrick's a fucking lunatic."
"Is someone taking my name in vain?" Nick twitched. Chris leaned his elbows on Nick's shoulders. Nick shrugged violently, but Chris hung on, snaking an arm tightly around Nick's neck. "What, Nicky, you can't stand to be away from me for fifteen minutes? That's sweet. You missed me so much you had to come over here to see me."
"I didn't fucking miss you," Nick said, shoving his chair back and standing up. Chris was still plastered against his back, feet dangling down. Nick spun around until Chris dropped to the floor. "Get off me!"
"Nick, Nick," Chris said, "relax. I was kidding."
"You're not funny."
"But I am," Chris said. "I'm very funny. I'm universally acknowledged to be the world's funniest boyband member. Admittedly, that's something like being the most brilliant member of O Town, but I like to think I raise the bar a little for everyone."
"You're not funny," Nick repeated stubbornly.
"I am," Chris said. "You just don't get me. But then, you've never been one for the witty banter, have you?"
"How's this for witty banter? Leave me. The fuck alone. Before I get a restraining order."
Chris' brow furrowed. "Well, it could possibly be considered banter, if we stretched the definition. A lot. But it's not that witty. And on second thought, I don't even think it counts as banter." He smiled brightly. "Was that your first try? Let me help you out. Now, this isn't going to be my best work; it's off the top of my head, plus it's a little weird to banter with your own banter, but it'll give you some idea how it's done."
Lance moved his chair away. Nick looked like he was about to blow.
"Okay," Chris said, "I said to you, 'You don't get me.' Now you could have said, oh, let's see, 'I got you, Kirkpatrick, I just want to return you.'" Nick stared at Chris, his eyes narrowed. "See," Chris continued helpfully, "it's like you got me at the store, and I'm broken or something, you don't want me, so you want to return me. Got has two meanings here." Nick was silent. "I mean, I warned you, it's not comedy gold, but it's light years ahead of that restraining order thing."
Nick looked at Chris for another minute, then turned on his heel and stormed across the room and out the door. Howie chased after him.
"That is one confused young man," Chris said.
"Chris," Lance said, "I'm starting to doubt the plan."
Chris sighed and sat down. He threw an arm around Lance's shoulder. "I'll tell you what, baby," he said, "I'm starting to question it myself."
"Don't worry," Lance said, "when you lose this thing -"
"If I lose this thing -"
"If you lose this thing. I'll be gentle."
Chris grinned, that sat up straight in his chair and swore. "You know why I can't get any action? I'm too busy riding herd on these assholes. I tell you, Lance, you're the only one I can trust. I've got Joey acting like a refugee from a Mamet play, and now this. Have you seen what the cover boys are up to over there?"
"I've been trying not to look," Lance said, but he followed Chris' gaze obediently.
JC was sitting a little further down the table, talking brightly. Justin was sitting next to him, which wasn't a surprise. AJ was on his other side, which was. JC's crossed legs blocked part of Lance's view, but he could still see AJ, sitting low in his chair, one arm dangling over the back, almost brushing JC's arm. He was smiling lazily as he listened to JC.
Justin was pressed so close to JC's other side that he was almost in his lap. He was still, looking down, teeth worrying at his lower lip. He would have been doing a great job of hiding behind JC if he hadn't been so much bigger. As Lance watched, JC slid back gracefully so AJ could lean forward and say something gravely to Justin. Justin mumbled something, looked up, looked down, and then pressed even closer to JC. JC laughed lightly and took Justin's hand.
"We need to make some new friends. We've got to stop hanging out with other boybands," Chris said. "We're all starting to forget that everyone in the world isn't gay."
"We're not that bad. We've still got Joey."
"Joey is starting to forget he's not gay. I mean, what are they thinking, holding hands? There are real people here, waiters and shit. We're so going to end up in the Enquirer."
"It's okay. They're doing it under the table, after all," Lance pointed out.
"Yeah, but we can see. Who knows who else can? How long are these tablecloths?" Chris ducked under the table, then popped back up quickly, banging his head. "Lance, do not go under there."
"I wasn't going to," Lance said. "But why?"
"You do not want to know where JC's other hand is."
"Has he started molesting Justin in public now?"
"Oh, I only wish that were true," Chris said. "Lance, I think we've gotta take a stand here. Make a new rule: after this bet's over, no more sex with Backstreet Boys. Specifically, no threesomes with AJ. For anyone."
"I don't know," Lance said. "I don't think I can get behind that rule. I think it's kind of funny. Among other things."
"You're missing the big picture, Bass. Sure, I wouldn't mind seeing Justin a few more mornings after AJ's taken him apart." Lance snickered. "All right, I wouldn't mind watching AJ take him apart a couple times."
Lance laughed. "See, you're coming around. It'll be fun for the whole family."
"Oh, you laugh now, but wait'll they start bringing him on tour with us. And you know they will. We'll say no, but Justin will yell and JC will be very, very hurt and confused, and soon there's a sixth member of 'N Sync. It'll be like having a bad stepfather. He'll be lying all over the bus, boots on the couch, drinking all our beer and hogging the remote. And all his idiot friends will come over and play their Metallica CDs too loud and call us wusses, until we're all cowering in our bunks. I'm telling you, we've got to nip this thing in the bud."
"I think it might be too late, Chris," Lance said, looking over. AJ leaned past JC again and tapped Justin's knee, said something low. Justin looked up and laughed and released his deathgrip on JC's hand. AJ winked and sat back. This time, his arm was definitely brushing JC's.
"Oh, goddammit," Chris said. "Looks like AJ McLean's going to be our new daddy."
Lance laughed again. Chris ordered them another round and sat back, his shoulder resting companionably against Lance's. Then he whistled. "Man, this night just keeps getting better. Look who just got in from the Land of the Missionary Position."
Lance looked up. Brian was crossing the room unsteadily. He stopped to say something to Kevin and Joey, and Chris laughed. "He looks like the guest speaker at a meeting of the Society for the Rehabilitation of Heterosexuality - Boyband Division." Lance didn't laugh. He watched as Brian sat down and took a drink from someone's abandoned bottle of beer. Brian caught Lance's glance and held it. Lance looked away. When he looked back, Brian was still staring at him.
Chris leaned in and said in Lance's ear, "Looks like someone's got a thing for you."
"He's drunk," Lance said. "He looks like hell."
"Guess things didn't go too well on the homefront." Chris shrugged and took another drink. "Well, you know what they say. Cheaters never prosper."
"I think I'm gonna go back upstairs," he said. "Getting a little bored of this thing."
"You want some company?"
"No, no," Lance said. "You. Um. You better stay here and try to win that bet." He smiled nervously. Chris looked at him sharply. Lance hurried away.
As he approached the elevator, he heard footsteps behind him but he didn't turn around. As the doors opened, he felt a hand on his arm. "I need to talk to you," Brian said.
"Brian, I'm kind of tired -" Lance said.
"I don't care," Brian said, and got in the elevator.
The elevator ride was silent. Brian stared at Lance. Lance stared at his shoes. He nodded to security and walked down the hallway, conscious of Brian following just a little too closely behind.
He opened his door and let Brian brush past him. He closed the door behind them. He wondered if something had gone wrong with his air conditioning. The room was chilly. He had goosebumps.
"Brian -" he said. Brian pushed him back against the door and kissed him.
It wasn't a very good kiss. It was hard and sloppy and Brian had a hand on Lance's jaw, squeezing a little too tightly. Lance put a hand tentatively on Brian's arm, and Brian pulled away panting.
"Brian, you're drunk," Lance said.
"So are you," Brian said. "You were there drinking all night." It was true; he had been, but he wasn't now. Now Lance was stone cold sober.
"You don't want to do this," Lance said.
"Oh, now you care about what I want?" Brian said. Lance looked at the floor. Brian leaned toward him again and Lance turned his head away.
"I'm not going to do anything when you're this drunk," Lance said.
"Fine. I'll just stay here and wait." Brian sat on the couch and stared fiercely at Lance. Lance sat down cautiously next to him.
"Brian, you should go home. We can talk later, when you're not so. When you're feeling better."
"You fucked with me," Brian said. Lance didn't say anything. "You did this to me."
"I'm sorry," Lance said.
"You owe me," Brian said. He leaned in and kissed Lance again. Lance let him. He opened his mouth to let Brian's tongue push inside. Brian had one hand on Lance's jaw, the other on his shoulder, fingers biting into Lance's skin. Lance made a soft noise deep in his throat and Brian's grip loosened. Lance closed his eyes.
Brian let go of Lance's jaw and ran a hand down over the side of his neck. He pushed, both hands on Lance's shoulders, and Lance slid to his knees. When he started to unbuckle Brian's belt, Brian twitched violently. "Brian?" Lance said.
Brian tipped his head back on the couch and closed his eyes. "Do it," he said.
When Lance's lips touched his cock, Brian made a harsh noise that sounded more like pain than anything else. Lance put a hand on his thigh and Brian knocked it off. He was breathing in hard shallow rasps. When he came, he gave a sharp little cry and then covered his mouth with his hand.
Lance sat back on his heels and looked up at him. "Brian -" he said, and Brian pushed him, hard, one hand in the middle of his chest, so that Lance sprawled backwards on his ass. Brian stood up and loomed over him.
"Don't," Lance said coldly. He looked at Brian. Brian dropped his eyes.
Brian shifted uncertainly. "I'm sorry. I don't. I'm sorry," he said. He held a hand out to Lance. Lance ignored it and stood up. He walked over and sat on the bed. He put his head in his hands.
He heard Brian say his name. He didn't look up. He heard Brian walk out and shut the door behind him.
He was freezing.
After a while he got up and headed to Chris' room. Chris opened the door and grinned at him. "Did you have a good time with your little friend?"
Lance walked into the room and Chris followed. Lance turned around and Chris almost bumped into him. "Watch it, Bass," Chris said lightly.
"Chris. I. There's." Lance ran a hand through his hair. "I have to tell you something."
"What is it?" Chris said, low.
"I. Um. I did something." There was a knock at the door.
"Go away!" Chris shouted. "I'm busy."
"Chris?" A voice called through the door. "It's Nick."