Mprov 1 - I'm the King of the World!
by Elina

Words: come, servant boy; treehouse; infantile; the virgin suicides; The Plague; cous cous; power trip; dictator

It started off as a joke. As usual, a long bus trip equaled hours of idiotic banter, wisecracks, rambling...anything to keep the boredom at bay. They all knew not to take anything any of them said too seriously when they were operating on something like two brain cells. Total.

So everybody laughed when Justin said to Lance, "Come, servant boy. Attend to my wishes." Lance, standing by the microwave, cocked an eyebrow at Justin, then turned calmly back to his popcorn. Everybody knew you had to keep a close eye on microwave popcorn. Couldn't let it burn or the bus would stink for days. They all thought that was the end of the joke, right, moving on to the next thing. But then Lance pulled the fragrant bag out of the microwave, poured it into a bowl - only burning himself on the steam twice - and carried it in both hands over to Justin, where he dropped to his knees and proffered it, head bowed.

There was a few moments of startled silence. Then Justin grinned, grabbed a handful of popcorn, and stuffed it in his mouth as he lounged back into his chair. Everyone broke up, except Lance, who just smiled and watched Justin with lambent green eyes.

On the next long haul, things started out like normal - Joey ranting about some chick in the audience who flashed him her tits then wouldn't put out in the dressing room, Chris fidgeting like a dervish on speed, JC pretending like he was reading "The Virgin Suicides" - when Justin appeared to decide he wasn't over his little power trip.

"Lance. Over here."

Lance, typing quietly on his laptop, flicked a glance over the lid at Justin, then went back to typing. Justin waited a few beats, because that's the way they played it last time, and it had made it even better when Lance finally caved. But Lance didn't cave; he just kept typing, quietly. Justin looked around nervously, trying to see if the guys were paying attention. Joey and Chris sat smirking, and even - damn, even JC had an I-told-you-smile on his face, even though he acted like he was deep into his book. Damn.

Justin didn't think about what he was doing. Before he knew it, he was across the aisle and tugging Lance to his feet with a solid pinch on his ear. "I said, Lance. Over here."

"Ow, Justin! What do you think you're doing?" Lance canted his body away from Justin, trying to ease the pressure on his ear in the time-honored method of boys everywhere.

Chris jumped to his feet. "Yeah, fuck, Justin. What do you think you're doing?" He pried Justin's fingers off of Lance's ear and turned to glare up at Timberlake. "What, do you think because he went along with your stupid joke - ONCE - he's your slave for life or something?"

"Ow. Thanks, Chris." Lance rubbed gingerly at his ear. Chris flicked a smile at him, then returned his attention to Justin.

"No, man, I just - I mean, he played along before. I thought he was just gonna take a little more...encouragement tonight."

"'Encouragement'? You call that 'encouragement'? What are you, some kind of third world dictator?"

Justin bridled at that and pulled himself up to his full height. "No, I'm not. Because if I was I would ban you like exotic fruit. No one would be permitted to cross the border carrying you."

Chris stared at him for a second, then burst out laughing. "Dude! What are you TALKING about? How did you get from being the next Mussolini to banning me at Customs?"

Justin cracked a smile. "Don't know, man. But I would. I'd ban you like fruit. Or maybe I'd ban you like cous cous, 'cause that shit is nasty, and I like fruit."

"Hey," JC interjected, "don't bag on cous cous. It's good stuff."

Justin sneered. "Yeah, maybe if you're CRAZY it is."

"Hey, you said you liked it when you ate it at my mom's house."

"Yeah, well, gotta be nice to Mama Chasez. Wouldn't want to hurt her feelings. 'S bad enough she has a big-nosed dork for a son."

Joey stood. It was his turn to face down Justin. "Don't you think that was a little infantile, Timberlake?"

Justin rounded on him. "And you, Joey - you I would definitely ban. Can't have anyone bringing the Plague into my nice little country." The collective silence said, Whoah. Even Justin knew he had crossed the line. He darted nervous glances at his bandmates. "I mean, um, uh..."

Joey closed his eyes, inhaled deeply through his nose, then released the breath as he leveled a gaze at Justin. "You know. And I know. And everyone in this room knows. I. Tested. Negative."

Justin nodded spastically. "I know, I know, dude. I'm sorry. Shouldn't have brought that up. But, um, how is...she...doing anyway?"

Joey gave him a long look, then relented. "She's fine - doing as well as can be expected, I guess."

"Good, good, good." Justin seemed unable to stop nodding.

The tension in the room slowly subsided as the moment passed, and Joey returned to his seat. Chris returned to his fidgeting. Lance returned to his laptop, but he closed it and sat looking at Justin.

Justin sat down next to JC and tried to ignore Lance as long as he could, but finally twisted around and spat, "What?"

Lance smiled his slow Southern smile. "I was just wondering..."

Justin sighed. "Wondering what, Lance?"

"I was wondering...if you banned Chris, and you banned Joey, and you banned JC - okay, you didn't really ban JC, but you banned cous cous, so you know - anyway, I was wondering, who WOULD get to be in your country?"

Justin thought for a second, then smiled. "I guess it would be just you and me, kid."

"Not much of a country, two people."

"Nah, I guess not." Justin scratched his chin in contemplation. "Maybe if we had, like, a treehouse, instead."

Lance grinned. "Yeah. We could have a treehouse, and spend all day up there, and not let any of those crummy guys hang out with us - "

"And definitely no crummy girls!" Justin chimed in.

"Definitely no girls," Lance chuckled.

Justin reached over and tweaked Lance's ear. "Sorry about that, yo."

Lance smiled that smile, that bowl-of-popcorn smile, that eyes-lit-up-from-inside smile, and said, "No prob, dude." Then, firmly, "But you try it again and you're gonna find out what I did to Stacy the last time she did that to me."

Justin's eyes widened. "Ooh, what did you do?"

Lance shook his head. "Nope. No hints. Just think about the fact that it was the LAST time she did it."

Justin stared in awe at Lance's Sphinx-like demeanor. "Dang," he breathed. "Okay. So. Um. Who wants to play Trivial Pursuit?"

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