Written for Glace's Indigo Girls Become You challenge, using the song Bitterroot.
by Lesa Soja
JC had thought it might feel strange to have Lance back, sitting there suddenly in the middle of JC's living room like Russia was just a patch on a map. But Lance looked the same as he had the last time JC had seen him, his hair fairly light and his body very thin, wearing a dark shirt that emphasized his pale skin, and waving a hand as he talked, just like he always did. He looked totally normal.
What actually felt strange, JC realized, was having the room so crowded. Chris was sprawled on one end of the couch, Joey was on the other, Justin was sitting cross-legged on the futon, and Lance was on the floor leaning back against the hassock. JC stepped forward and set a bottle of hard lemonade down next to Lance before joining Justin on the futon. Lance flashed him a brilliant smile before going on with his story.
"- so I said, 'I am on vacation.' And he said, 'What do you call work, then?'"
JC laughed with the others. Lance picked up his bottle and turned his eyes towards JC while he lifted it to his lips. JC looked down and drank a little unsteadily from his own glass.
When Lance stopped telling stories, there was a pause. JC glanced at the floor near Lance's legs and listened to the water rippling through his wall fountain, and everyone's breathing. He was almost sorry when Lance waved his bottle in the air and snickered.
"It's eleven PM - do you know where your popstars are? What would they say about the party boys of 'Nsync if they could see us now?"
Joey laughed. "'Bunch of lightweights'," he said.
"That's nothing new," Chris said. "They've been saying that about Justin for years."
Justin raised his eyebrows. "You are so paying for that, later," he said. Chris met Justin's eyes, grinning.
"Oh, hey, Joey!" Lance said. "Do you have pictures of my goddaughter to show me?"
"Do I ever!" Joey said. He slid down to the floor next to Lance and pulled his wallet out of his pocket.
Lance glanced up at JC and tilted his head, but JC had already seen the photos, in Joey's emails. He got up instead and filled his glass with water.
In Las Vegas, they had all crowded in together for the ride to the stadium. JC got in after Lance and sat next to him, trying not to press overly closely against Lance's side. "Shove over," Justin told Chris.
"There's plenty of room here," Chris said, and he hooked an arm around Justin's waist and pulled him onto his lap. Justin squealed and struggled in Chris's grip, laughing. Lance glanced at JC and rolled his eyes.
"Sorry to have to cut out, you guys," Joey said finally, "but I've gotta catch the fucking redeye back to New York. I'm just gonna call a car."
"Don't bother, man," Justin said. "We'll drive you, no problem."
"Thanks, J - but I don't wanna make you leave early, too."
"No, we can totally take you. I have a bunch of radio crap before the thing tomorrow, so, it'd be smart to call it a night."
"You should come hear this kid, by the way," Chris told Lance. "He ain't half bad."
"Oh, yeah!" Justin said. "Fuck, I meant to say this earlier. I really want you to come, okay? Just let me know when, and I'll make sure you get the right passes."
Lance smiled. "Cool," he said. "Iím going back tomorrow to spend some time with my folks, but after that, maybe."
"Okay." Justin grinned.
Justin wrapped Lance in his long arms, Chris squeezed him ruthlessly, and Joey folded him close. Then it was JC's turn.
"Oh, by the way," Lance said while Chris was wringing the breath out of JC, "has anybody talked to Johnny lately? He say when he wants us back in the studio?"
"Not yet, I don't think," Justin said. "I have some more stuff lined up, till the end of next month, and Joey's run's been extended, so. There's time yet."
"Hey, congratulations!" Lance said, smacking Joey's shoulder.
Joey beamed. "Yeah," he said.
"If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere!" Chris said. Everybody laughed.
Just like that, the room was cleared again. JC glanced over at Lance, and then turned and began picking up glasses.
"C, hey," Lance said, moving behind him. "Why don't you just leave those for now? Let your staff get them tomorrow."
"Um," JC said. "Okay." He put the glasses back down again and turned to face Lance.
"JC," Lance said. He laid his hand on JC's shoulder, and his eyes were impossibly soft. JC took a rapid breath, and another. "C?" Lance said again, and leaned forward and kissed him.
Lance had kissed him four times before, congratulatory or consolatory swipes of his mouth across JC's. This felt just the same. Then Lance was running his hands down JC's sides to his waist and pressing their hips together. JC began to feel a little dizzy. Lance was still kissing him. He opened his mouth, and Lance's tongue swept in.
"Lance -" JC said when they broke apart, and then he didn't know what to say.
Lance's hands tightened on JC's hips, and he turned his head and brushed his lips across the side of JC's neck. "I've been wanting to do this all night," he whispered.
JC felt like laughing, a high hysterical sob. He swallowed. Lance looked at him hesitantly.
JC closed his eyes for a long moment. Then he looked back up. "Let's go upstairs," he said.
In Houston, Lance had smiled and said, "Don't be silly, you can share with me." He climbed into bed and waited for JC to get under the comforter, too, before saying, "Okay?" and clicking the light off.
JC went right to his bed and crawled into the middle of it, in the middle of his blue flannel sheets that hadn't been changed for a week. That couldn't be helped now. He sat up with one hand propped behind him, and Lance knelt in front of him and slid a hand around his waist.
Lance's eyes looked almost dark in the lamplight, and his lips were curled in rich curves. When JC kissed him, Lance kissed back. JC moved his hand up Lance's back under the T-shirt, and Lance's lashes dipped distractedly.
They kissed and kissed, in hot white bursts. JC's arm trembled and he lost his balance, landing on his back with a gasp. Lance shifted up to bend over him. "You okay?" Lance asked quietly. JC nodded. Lance smiled.
JC moved his legs farther apart, and Lance settled in between them.
"I missed you so much," Lance murmured. JC bit his lip. He arched his hips up and tossed his head to the side.
In Germany, Lance had huddled under the covers in the mornings, with just his nose and his shock of blond hair showing above them. JC always got up and took the first shower so that Lance could stay in bed a little longer.
When JC came out of the bathroom, he bent over Lance and shook his shoulder, just grasping it, really, to wake him. "Okay," Lance muttered. "Okay." He threw the blankets off in one convulsive jerk, but went on lying flat on the bed with his eyes shut. His T-shirt was twisted around him, pulled tight across his chest, and leaving a strip of his stomach bare. He was so young. JC looked away.
When JC opened his eyes in dim gray light, Lance turned towards him and smiled. "Mornin'," Lance said.
JC wanted to pull the blanket over his own head, wanted to stuff his fingers in his ears, or better yet, in his mouth. "Morning," he said. He lay still while Lance kissed his lips.
Lance shifted onto his back then and folded one hand behind his neck. "I wish I wasn't getting on a plane away from here today." He turned his head on the pillow, reached over and laid his fingers on the sheet, just short of JC's hand. "Hey, C. You wanna come with me? My mom was just saying how much she misses seeing you guys."
JC sat up and wrapped his hands around his knees. Air slid cool across his back. "I don't think I should," he said finally.
"What?" Lance said. "Why not?"
JC closed his eyes for a moment and listened for the sound of running water. "Lance," he said, "do you want me with you? Or do you want a piece of 'Nsync to hang onto?"
Lance sat up and turned towards him, and JC couldn't stand to see the look in his eyes. "Lance," he said, his voice gone helplessly soft. He reached over and touched Lance's face, his cheek, his jaw, and pulled him in and kissed him, and pushed him back again.
Lance's eyes shuttered. After a minute he scrubbed a hand over his forehead. "Well," he said. "I should probably get out of your hair."
"Lance, I'm sorry," JC said desperately. Lance let out a sharp breath.
"Yeah," he said, "no, well. Me too, C."
JC pressed his lips together.
"I'm gonna go take a shower downstairs," Lance said. He got up and found his boxers on the floor and pulled them on.
"What time's your flight?" JC said. "I'll take you to the airport."
"One o'clock," Lance said. "There's time, don't worry." He piled the rest of his clothes on his arm and closed the bedroom door behind himself. JC rolled onto his stomach and shut his eyes.
He got up after a while and took a shower and got dressed. Then he lay down on the edge of the bed again.
In Orlando, JC hadn't been able to sleep, despite eight hours of rehearsal at the warehouse and six hours of work before that. Now that they had a bass again, his head was ringing with five-part harmonies, day and night. He lay awake until his throat itched, and finally sneaked down to the living room to sound out the notes on the piano, pressing the keys with the faintest possible touch so as not to wake the others. The chords chimed under his hands as clear as they had been in his mind.
Eventually he stood up and went downstairs.