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Subject: Everyone’s Least Favorite (Gay/Celebrity/Boy Bands) Everyone’s Least Favorite Written by JM *** Disclaimer: I don’t know any of them. Matter of fact, I probably never will. I do know fiction. She’s a nice lady and she’ll let you know that, “This is all fake.” I don’t know if all the things are accurate from a timeline perspective so forgive me for that. These story is not intended to declare the sexuality of either of the celebrities (Brian Littrell or Justin Timberlake) represented, so please do not harrass these men if you ever meet them *** — Please send all thoughts and comments to: ail — If anyone ever really knew him, they knew he was good at pushing ego aside and dodging stereotypes. When he’s 12 and on the Mickey Mouse Club, he doesn’t fall into the typical traps that shouldn’t come with being that young and on television but it does anyway. He’s not mad when he doesn’t get as many solos as JC or Tony because they’re nice to him and always sneak him around backstage to where all the good snacks are. They tell him all the good stories about breaking curfews and hanging out with the cool girls that like them not just for their voices. They brag through it all, high-fives and doubled-over laughter. He laughs wetly, pretends he knows what they mean but hormones haven’t exactly kicked into full gear just yet. He’s just glad to have friends. He tries to comfort Britney when she loses out to Nita on solos but mostly sticks to corners when Christina throws fits over being picked over by “lesser talented” female singers. He just rehearses his lines with Ryan and smiles at Nikki because, yeah, she knows this thing is a little bigger than just bopping around on stage and covering every hit that’s playing on the radio right now. And when everyone’s crying about the show being over, he catches that makeshift smile Nikki’s trying to make real as JC holds her hand and, damn him, he’s doing his best to comfort Britney again but this time his tears and sniffles aren’t making the words come out right. When Britney kisses him on the cheek before leaving, she whispers, “you’re going to be every girl’s biggest crush one day Justin just like you’re mine,” scrambling away with one of those girlie giggles that he just doesn’t get. But it takes him a minute before his mother is picking his jaw off the floor and he’s shaking off that dumbstruck look. “Way to go kid,” Tony whispers, punching his arm while JC scrubs through his curls with his knuckles. He hates the term “kid” from then on and maybe it has more to do with the ending of something good rather than the way it makes him not feel like one of them. It stings. ** It’s somewhere in Europe, when he’s 15, that he hears it again. He’s long past that stage where he doesn’t know what he’s supposed to know when adults are talking. He’s still younger but taller than most of his friends now with a blonde mop and a “presence” that he shakes off with his goofy laugh and childlike tendencies. He’s feeling giddy about “this singing thing,” as his stepfather calls it, finally gaining some momentum and he can’t deny the massive amount attention he’s getting from women, young and old, across the ocean is deafening. He fits in with all the guys, the same way he did with Tony and JC, but this group is a little more protective rather than overprivledged teenagers running a nonstop party. But he never hears the word from JC, Lance, Joey or Chris even though Chris is tempted once to utter the word. Justin squints his eyes as hard as he can when he sees the word forming on Chris’s tongue and Chris knows better. He settles for “squirt” and everything falls into line from there. He’s met them, unofficially, quite a few times now, whether in some studio in Europe or back home, in Orlando, because they almost always played the same high school nights at Disney or events. “Those Backstreet guys” is what Chris and Joey would call them in private but Justin never saw the competition. They all wanted the same thing and, as far as Justin could tell, they were all civilized about it. It’s after some charity basketball game where they all actually mingle and Justin realizes it’s just he and Lance that don’t truly know “those Backstreet guys” because Joey is friendly with all of them, laughing and slap hands like they just won a joint Grammy. He’s trying to find his groove with all of them, though AJ is a little too far left from the middle for him most of the time and Nick is latching onto Brian like a safety blanket. Kevin’s nice to him like an older brother and Howie’s quiet, mostly like Lance except without the awkwardness. There’s a tension between AJ and Chris that Justin can’t read, not that he’s trying, but he hears JC say it’s something about a girl and that’s enough for Justin to laugh it up with some of the other players he doesn’t know. He’s thrilled when Nick falls into a conversation with AJ and JC because he and Brian end up in a corner of the room together. He’s been dying to tell Brian how great he is on the court. It’s a mutual exchange and Justin’s catching himself every five words from sounding like an overeager fan meeting Jordan or something. But Brian’s snickering and nodding, pleasant and honest in his demeanor, and it’s nothing Justin is used to. There’s compliments on Justin’s jump shot and how Justin is amazed at how Brian glides down the court for such a small guy and though it doesn’t last for hours, it feels that way. “We have to get together for a game when we’re back stateside,” Justin insists, pulling back his anxiousness when Brian gives a small nod, sipping on bottled water. “Uh huh.” “I don’t have a court but I’m going to one day. When I get a house,” Justin assures, almost cheers, and he’s a little overcome by the way Brian’s smile gets bigger like he knows that dream. “Me too.” Those hands are so skillful, even when they’re just twisting the top of a water bottle and Justin’s confused on why he’s watching those blue eyes, crystal in clarity like the pictures he’s seen of the ocean near the Caribbean. Brian makes a few casual jokes about the other players and Justin’s laughing, hands on his knees and doubled over when they discuss Lance, slapping Brian playfully on the shoulder when he jests about the shots Justin missed. “I’ll show you next time,” Justin persists, hand slowly sliding off of Brian’s shoulder and Justin’s not sure why it feels like static shock when it does but he rubs the pads of his fingers together to see if it’ll spark again. “Looking forward to it,” Brian smiles out, sipping water again and Justin watches lips curl around the neck of the bottle with wicked fascination. He’s a five year old for ten seconds, observing everything about Brian and wondering why it is the way it is; why that smile is so effortlessly and why Brian seems to be making all the best jokes. It’s like Chicago on the radio — easy listening and soothing his soul. Nick bounces from behind Brian like some sort of tiger, hands clasping on his friend’s shoulders and there they are again: two inseparable teenagers in the middle of the high school hallway. Justin’s lips turn sideways and he wonders if he’s just jealous because Ryan or Dale aren’t around anymore for him to be that young? “Yo, Rok, we’re rolling out,” AJ announces from almost across the room and something dips in Justin’s stomach, aftershock and tangling. Nick’s howling, nearly jumping over Brian toward the others and that easiness in Brian’s smile tilts just slightly. He’s nodding toward a few of the guys even though they’re not as quick at moving toward the exit as Nick is. “Good game.” Justin’s nodding, bottom lip slowly slipping behind his teeth in some childlike manner and he wants to scratch the back of his head because, in theory, he feels more like a teenage Britney than his usual self. “I’m gonna work on my three-pointers,” Justin slips out goofily and unadulterated when Brian nods with a smile. “We shall see. See you around kid,” Brian blurts out, charmed smile but it wouldn’t have mattered if that smile came with a million dollar bonus the moment that word slips out his mouth. He’s backing away, following Howie’s lead but all Justin can hear is drums pounding and a raging guitar orchestrating his anger in his head. Kid. He hates it more and more even with Brian waving as he leaves. Stupid kid — he felt that way and it raked against his brain. JC’s clasping hands on his shoulder from behind and Lance is grinning like a satisfied lion. “You all right J?” Joey asks and Chris is right behind him, fitting together that final piece of a makeshift huddle between them. Justin’s nibbling his bottom lip raw, trying not to furrow his brow too much and make it obvious but it is. It’s disappointment abound but he’s stewing those emotions into anger when he says, “I hate those Backstreet guys,” and Lance and JC are groaning while Chris’s laugh turns into some kind of banshee call. ** When he’s 16, still making frequent trips to Europe to be something important in the music world, he’s passed that phase where most words bother him. He’s growing up fast, a little too fast for his mother’s liking because he’s figured out this whole boys-and-girls thing and he’s still shivering on the inside because his mom caught him having sex with that girl. But he’s too busy for that now, trying to remember words to songs and how to act in public and taking the bitter sting out that word “kid” because, fuck them all, he’s not one. They’ve seen those other guys around at events a bit infrequently now so it’s easier for Justin to avoid Brian and Nick each time, mainly because he thinks Nick fits the complete definition of “kid” and he’s still following Brian around like a puppy. But he’s friendly to Kevin and always manages to strike up a conversation with AJ even though he’s still weird on levels Chris can’t touch. Even when they’re all together, on a crowded stage, performing some silly charity song that is more rave-party-anthem rather than “We Are the World,” he finds himself butting right between Brian and the others, close enough where he nearly knocks Brian off stage trying to be seen. Brian’s playing it off, pointing at him, and Justin regrets later not being more interactive with someone that casually cool. He wishes he could be more normal when Brian manages to smile at him, helplessly on beat, when they’re all leaving. A small nod toward him as recognition that Justin kind of cherishes because he knows somewhere they are friends. It’s one morning when he’s stuck at home, sick and damn those stage handlers for spraying down the audience because his damn arm is in a cast with a broke thumb. He’s not usually paying attention to others’ music unless it’s old school like Leon Russell, Marvin Gaye, and maybe Teddy Pendergrass but the television is on MTV while he’s eating his cereal. He scoffs when he sees Nick and it’s some Backstreet tune that he really doesn’t know but the sight of Brian dribbling a basketball catches his eye. He snorts to himself because he still hasn’t built that court, nor does he have a place of his own, but he imagines Brian thinking about a game while dribbling that ball in his shirt and tie. He never did pinpoint when his cereal began to get soggy because his tepid blue eyes stayed focus on that video. He’s sure he’s never given much attention to a man’s eyes before but he’s transfixed momentarily by how blue Brian’s are. The way they’re bright like a blue flame, almost brighter than the diamonds in his ears. And the way his cheeks are defined everytime he smiles, chiseled and amazing, keeps Justin chewing the same soggy cereal for seconds. He’s rubbing at his chin because, yeah, he recognizes the other guys but Brian’s different. He’s spiced like cinnamon sprinkled over fluffy French toast and Justin’s wide-eyed for too long. “Fucking A,” Justin hisses lowly when the video disappears because, shit, he’s never had this happen before. He’s never caught a boner off of staring at a guy and it creeps him out for half a second though he’s trying to blame it on teenage hormones and tries stroking it through a video with that girl Gwen Stefani telling him “don’t speak” but it doesn’t work. “What the fuck,” Justin gripes, falling back on his bed and he can’t close his eyes. He knows Brian will be there behind his lids, talking about not caring who he is or where he’s from with that smile and criminally smooth voice. He rolls to his side and dials up Lance, then JC, fuck it, even Nikki when he finally finds the number his mother got for him, just to talk about life and music and why he’s so above being a “kid” even though kids get erections for no reason, especially when they’re straight and not into Backstreet Boys. ** He’s 20 when they’re at the height of it all, fame, and he’s in America more than Europe now. Everything’s colliding into each other for months; the label change, the soaring single, the emancipation from Lou, the whole Britney thing, but he’s more into the music than anything. He’s in and out of the Britney deal after the first few months because she’s still that little girl from years ago who doesn’t know where she’s headed and, though he cares for her, he hasn’t the time to be a guide as well as a boyfriend. He’s grown, physically and mentally. He’s gotten comfortable in his skin unlike before where he just laid back and wondered what the world saw in this lanky, platinum blonde, overly goofy at times guy? He’s still shy when he’s off stage but the guys are used to him, relinquishing their hold on him like a little brother. He tries not to be a stereotypical “heartthrob” because he’s not spending hours on his hair or freaking out over the bags under his eyes. He’s a perfectionist but he doesn’t maneuver through the world as if he owns it just because he’s Justin fucking Timberlake from the biggest group out right now. And though Chris and JC have become increasingly competitive now that the other labels have manufactured eighteen clone versions of them now, he still greets everyone like a friend when they meet at various events. He’s half-sleep at some office in Orlando looking over schedules and itineraries and countless bullshit that comes along with a new album coming out. He hates that he was over a half hour late and the other guys left him to do normal things before chaos etlik escort rains down on them for the next eight months. He’s stared down the two Jive reps enough that they’ve left him to himself and he’s got his feet propped up one of the many spinning chairs circling the circular table. His phone keeps vibrating against the table and he’s trying to muster up enough imagination to chat with Britney. He drags his fingers through his curls, telling himself the sex is good enough to keep this game of Trivial Pursuit with her exciting but e wandering sigh passes his lips and he clears the call once more. There’s laughter outside and it’s oddly familiar in a way Justin can still remember his lines from the Mickey Mouse Club. “Yeah, man, it’s good to be back at home.” Justin spots Brian as he’s walking by in the hallway outside with Nick and a few others and just the sight catches him off guard, knee knocking against the table and he’s wincing silently for a minute but it’s enough to snatch Brian’s attention. A hint of curiosity accompanied by a slow-brewed smile molds Brian’s features and Justin wonders is he 16 again watching MTV? He looks down to his papers like that’s going to work but he hears “I’ll catch up with you guys a little later” and he peeks up through lashes the moment Brian pushes Nick down the hall before walking into the room. There’s some sort of commotion like Nick’s repelling the idea but Justin catches the sideways look Brian gives, head turning away and it’s that “I’m older than you” warning that JC gives him sometimes except he didn’t know Brian and Nick could balance that sort of relationship. “Is that your master plan for world domination?” Brian asks and that voice hasn’t changed much over the years. Still bursts of Southern thickness laying over bouncing words. “More or less,” Justin snorts, inadvertly chewing at his bottom lip. Bad habit, he’s been trying to break since he was a… He laughs to himself because, yeah, now he’s daring to call himself that. “More like the label’s plans for world conquest or something.” “I think it’s called industrial slavery. Or occupational,” Brian jokes, sliding into a chair across from Justin. He’s got one of those perked up smiles Justin expects from Joey or something but he doesn’t mind it on those pink lips. “Oh yeah, welcome to the family. I guess.” Justin nods slowly, bites back the feeling that Brian’s being sarcastic. “Wasn’t my idea to trample on you guys’ territory. Didn’t mean to be disrespectful or anything because you know, we’ve always kept it separate.” “No offense taken. I know the business. You gotta do what works for ya,” Brian replies and there’s an honest laugh that follows. Justin gravitates toward it. “Besides, not all of you are so bad.” Justin sees the humor in Brian’s expression, ducking his head some with a quiet chuckle. “We’re working on Chris’s rehabilitation.” “You used to be shorter, smaller.” “You used to be taller,” Justin chimes back, bottom lip automatically slipping behind his front teeth when Brian’s brow raises, fused laughter cascading against the walls as they smile. “Heard you’re getting married.” Brian rubs at his chin, makes crazy eyes that Justin shakes his head at. “You should revisit your sources.” Brian’s tapping his fingers on the table, shimmy-shimmy-shake-shake. Justin’s not even sure why he made the statement but then Brian’s adding, “Something like that. Heard you’re dating Britney.” Justin snorts, pushes the papers sideways carelessly, eyes down and cast on the way his own fingers are drumming a beat against the table. He whispers, “something like that,” and he wonders if that’s his phone buzzing against the table again or the question in his head. “It’s been awhile. Besides the obvious and all things considered, how’ve you been?” Brian wonders, leaning over the table with fingers bridged to support his chin with elbows on the table. There’s a genuineness and the tip of sunlight careening in the room shows Justin, even after all these years, Brian’s eyes are just that blue. “All things considered,” Justin whispers, staring off into unthinkable space because he’s sure staring into another man’s eyes isn’t exactly normal protocol for a straight man who’s banging one of the most sought after women in the world and isn’t desired by at least five million girls under the age of twenty-one. He tries not to smile arrogantly because, truthfully, life was better than his expectations had permitted. “I’ve been good, man. Blessed. Trying not to be overwhelmed by, y’know, life and the changes and this ‘thing’ the guys and I are trying to accomplish.” Brian nods, fingers interlocking and he’s twiddling his thumbs. His eyes are quiet and thoughtful and Justin is cursing in the farthest corner of his mind for bothering to look at Brian’s eyes again. He feels like a teenager admiring his hero, eyes quickly ducking when they share contact with Brian’s for too long. “But what about you? Heard about your -” Justin catches himself right at the corner of the statement because Brian’s eyes go a little dim and he wonders if maybe it’s too much for two guys who’ve never ever really talked like this. “How are you since the surgery?” Peaks of a smile were pulling at the corners of Brian’s lips and instant relief fell over Justin. It had been years but Justin still regrets not being vocal to the others about reaching out to Brian when he was in the hospital, not forcing something to happen with Lou or Johnny so that Brian knew they cared; that he cared. “I’m healthier, well at least according to the doctors. I can keep up with the guys again, handle the being on the road thing. I still get check ups just to be sure but life is…” Brian’s pausing on the words, eyes drifting up in a thoughtful manner as he unconsciously rubs at his chest. “Better.” Justin’s nodding like he understands, unmistakable smile on his lips the moment Brian’s eyes turn on him again. He’s building a fort of thoughts in his head but, honestly, he’s happy for Brian. Fingers sweeping over the skin on the back of his hand, deep inhale as Brian nods with him. The silence leads Justin to chew on his bottom lip, inescapable childhood habit that he curses mentally about while Brian leans back in his chair. He figures Brian will probably excuse himself, shaking his hand like some gentleman that he is, and there Justin would be again — just a kid admiring Superman as he drifts off. “Bet your hoop game isn’t as good now,” Justin blurts out and, fuck-if-he-knows why he even says it, but Brian’s lips are twisting sideways in that scoffing manner that Justin shivers at. But then there’s an accompaniment of a smile, surefire and brash. “It’s better.” “Yeah right,” Justin laughs out coarsely, hiccuping over his nervousness as Brian’s brow lifts. “Well, it doesn’t have to be great against a rookie like yourself,” Brian chimes, sliding his fingers purposely back and forth across the table. He’s making motions with his hands like shooting into the basket, cheering for himself in a maniacal and senseless way that leaves both of them doubled over in their chairs with laughter. Justin leans back in his chair with lips puckering in that overconfident manner he’s managed to acquire over the years. He watches Brian’s grin eclipse. “You’re full of it.” “Full of talent,” Brian teases back, pushing back his bangs, apparitions of shyness behind blue eyes. Justin rolls his eyes, copycat smile on his own lips as he mutters, “one day we shall see.” He watches Brian’s head tilt sideways, hands clasped together like a man about to present a proposal. “Did you ever get that court you dreamed of?” Brian asks and Justin nods slowly, wicked adolescent feelings levitating in his stomach. He’s damning himself. “Why not now?” Justin leans back further, tries not to fall out of his chair at the proposition. Brian’s all coyness, open-ended smiles, and sweet but challenging eyes that Justin’s supposed to be able to look away from. But Brian’s doing it so casually that Justin knows better. “Seriously?” “You up for the challenge?” Brian questions, leaning forward some, dimples flaring with his smile. Justin barks out a laugh, covers his nervousness again with a crooked grin, all top teeth and cherry lips. “I don’t know if I’d feel good at the end of the day for beating a dwarf.” Brian’s eyes go wide, snorts and pushes himself back from the table. Justin watches, wonders if he’ll leave, but Brian’s standing tall, as tall as he could be for his height. He’s waiting, Justin can tell, patience evaporating like that vapid laugh Justin released earlier. Yet there’s still a kindness in his eyes that takes away that intimidation he’s forcing at Justin. Justin finally rises and he catches his bottom lip with his teeth again, gnawing, perks up at the way Brian smiles wildly. He’s sure he has other business ventures he’s supposed to take care of, meet up with Lance for lunch or something, probably call his mom or Britney. It’s all dashed to the side, unaccomplished for a moment. He merely scoops up his paperwork, says “I hope you can keep up in your car” while edging away from the table. Small snicker and Justin’s looking back over his shoulder. He can’t figure why he thinks Brian’s eyes are like the sun reflecting off of Aspen snow during the height of winter. It’s damaging — he doesn’t care what a man’s eyes look like. He’s not into the way incredible butterflies flap their wings through his stomach as Brian follows him down the long hallway toward the exit. He’s reminded of how much he hates Brian in that instance because, yeah, he’s not a fucking kid. “I just hope you can keep up on the court,” Brian retorts, moving in an opposite direction toward his own vehicle. ** They’re four games in now. One game of HORSE and two, onto the third, games of 21. The sun has been painting the sky gorgeous pinks and oranges for an hour now. Their bodyguards have long given up the swelling heat of Orlando and retired into Justin’s house, motionless and content as they sleep in the air conditioned living room. Even Justin’s mother Lynn has given up, fanning herself outside for an hour while they played before making the boys a tall pitcher of homemade lemonade and waving them off. Justin has been eyeing the way Brian plays basketball like he dances – smooth and unrehearsed. It’s almost as if he never notices how good he is but he’s always so focused, always so determined to prove himself. He’s smaller but agile and Justin is reverted to a 15 year old watching him make his shots, watching Brian chase after every rebound ball, and laugh everytime Justin manages to get past him. He tries to hold back the intensity in his smile when Brian compliments his three-pointers as if he’s finally accomplished something, diminishing the value of all of those gold records and sold-out tours and screaming fans because, damn, Brian Littrell admires his skills. “Too far to the left,” Justin calls out, using the bottom of his shirt to wipe sweat from his forehead as Brian rockets off another shot. His goading fails as the ball sinks in, Brian grinning innocently before chasing the ball again. Justin’s rolling his eyes with laughter, racing back down the court with Brian. He’s watching Brian from the free-throw line, dribbling the ball back and forth, pushing his damp bangs back while sweat darkens the color of his shirt. He’s fascinated, almost childlike as a toddler would gaze upon a Christmas tree. He strings his fingers through his own damp curls, blue eyes on blue eyes, waiting on the next move. He catches the fake Brian tries, grins mischievously to block Brian’s shot and they’re both tumbling, laughing as they fight over the ball. “You’ve gotten better young Daniel-son,” Brian jokes from the ground, brushing off dirt from his slick skin as Justin rolls to his back, still heaving out laughter. Justin does his best to block out the burnt sherbet sun as it halos behind Brian’s figure standing over him. It halos a glow around already golden skin and genuine blue eyes. He spots the ball tucked under one of Brian’s arms while the hand of his other reaches out to Justin. “You haven’t,” Justin teases, taking the hand to assist him in standing. He cackles while hopping back from a playful slap by Brian. He lets Brian take a few free shots while walking to the side, peeling away the shirt that won’t stop clinging to him like second skin, stretching his arms high into the air. The sound of a shot being missed, the clattering of the ball against the backboard, draws his attention back to Brian who’s mouth is slightly ajar and eyes are unfocused, darting away from Justin. Justin grins inwardly, ‘mutual admiration,’ he tells himself while scooping up the ball. “I hope your guys don’t mind you being kept this late. Don’t want them to worry, y’know, about your safety and all,” Justin remarks, fancy dribbling between his legs and he’s swishing a shot as Brian smirks diminutively. “Pssh. AJ’s probably worried more about how late he can sleep in tomorrow and Howie’s probably already with his family just enjoying what time we have,” Brian replies, jogging toward the bouncing ball, landing his own shot effortlessly. “Kev’ worries but he doesn’t show it until he has to. I’m sure he knows I’m safe.” “And Nick,” the name draws on Justin’s tongue, almost bitter because he was never that young, never that needy. At least that’s what he tells himself but Joey and Chris would argue otherwise. “Probably driving himself up the walls from boredom. Kid’s never satisfied unless we’re around to keep him company. He never grew out of that phase, which is fine. I’m always going to be there for him,” Brian replies, laughter filtering through each of his words, snatching the ball away from Justin with a grin. “You know the feeling?” “Not really.” Justin tries not to be short, wincing unconsciously at the word “kid” but he’s piling it all at his feet as he edges back and forth to block another shot from Brian. “Yeah, you never were like him,” Brian notes offhandedly, skidding back before sailing another shot through the hoop. Justin smiles, wholeheartedly, feels pride swell and anchor him to the court for a minute as Brian scrambles after the ball. He knows he’s losing now, if they’re even keeping score anymore, but it’s a willing loss. He’s ankara escort bayan somehow savoring all of this, blotting away what he’d thought of Brian and the others. Or just what he thought of Brian. “I always thought the others guys didn’t like me. Maybe thought I was a brat,” Justin remarks, letting Brian check him the ball. He dribbles without thought, natural rhythm guiding him. He shuffles, catches the way Brian’s not even trying to keep up. “Nope.” Brian’s eyeing the ball now, finding his groove again. “I think they’re not too partial to Chris, but that’s probably the AJ thing. Or is it Lance? I don’t know. Never paid them any mind.” “But me?” Justin wonders and he didn’t mean to say it aloud, double dribbling but Brian isn’t saying anything. Brian reaches to swipe the ball away, failing as Justin pulls back, dribbles around him but doesn’t head for the goal. “I liked you.” Brian tries again, close but Justin’s quicker, moving toward the hoop with a lay-up. Before Justin can make mention that “liked” is past tense, Brian’s got the ball and saying, “Like you.” There’s a nervous laughter from both of them when their eyes fall on each other. He spots the way Brian blinks back a look in his eyes, camouflaged and cloaked in ways Justin can’t interpret, but then he’s goofy Brian once more with the grins and crazy faces and anything that distracts Justin from some wanton truth. Justin is quick to follow Brian to the net this time, leaping with him and snaking an arm around Brian’s midsection to pull him down, both howling with laughter as they fight for the ball but it’s all a clumsy fall to the ground, tangled around each other with the ball rolling away. Brian’s snickering with eyes closed, fighting a little but it’s not a true effort. Justin’s laughing into Brian’s chest, nearly rolled on top of the smaller man. When he looks up and Brian looks down, their noses nearly touch. Justin is shaking a little, reality seeping in like unconfessed secrets, Brian’s breath bathed in the Winterfresh gum he was chewing earlier. He feels Brian’s fingers spread against his bare chest, licks his own lips because they’re dry and desperate all at once. It’s the tinge of fear in Brian’s eyes that tightens Justin’s muscles, stops him from instinctively moving further forward. He doesn’t know why everything in him burned and encouraged him to kiss Brian because, by all unforgivable means, that would be wrong. “Justin, I’m not,” Brian swallows before the word comes out, relating things through his eyes that his mouth had become too cotton-dry to speak. “Me neither,” Justin gasps out, still unable to pull away from Brian. It’s half the truth, as far as he can tell. It’s just Brian, ever since he could tell. He tried, once or twice, with friends, hated the taste of another guy’s mouth, couldn’t even force himself to enjoy it even though one of his friends did and that was wildly uncomfortable for weeks. Justin pulls himself away from Brian, rolls away and lets a hand rest on his chest hoping to slow that thunderclap sound of his heart trying to break out. He’s silently gasping for air, embarrassment soaking his cheeks in red flush. He hopes Brian has not felt his erection, the one he’s cupping a hand over to conceal. He feels the overwhelming anger with himself taking over, prickling barely visible tears that cloud his vision for a second. He sees it now — he’s just a kid. “Think it’s time we got something to drink.” Justin hasn’t even noticed Brian standing over him, gee-golly smile on his lips as he reaches out to Justin. Justin swallows that thick lump in his throat, the one that’s holding back all of his words. He takes the sweaty hand, tries not to hold on. They’re standing together, laughing off nerves and uncomfortably and, shit, Justin likes Brian even more for being this way. “Is this your way of telling me you’re throwing in the towel?” Justin asks, halfhearted laugh following. “Don’t kid yourself, junior. You still have a long way to go to beat the master,” Brian declares, playful pinch to Justin’s side making the other snicker. “You don’t even meet the height requirements to call me that.” Justin slings an arm around Brian’s shoulder as he leads them toward the house, regrets it for a second when Brian tenses up but then the smaller man is hesitantly easing an arm around Justin’s back, keeping minimum skin contact. Justin understands, nodding. “You will rue the day J, mark my words,” Brian jests, menacing faces that Justin can only laugh at. “‘Rue the day,'” Justin repeats, bottom lip bitten and laughter tamed by an eye roll from Brian. ** He doesn’t know how but they end up in Justin’s room watching the basketball game. He does know – their bodyguards are in the living room trading war stories now and they’re loud, wall-shaking laughter and sharing beers and it was Brian’s suggestion to skip his dinner with the guys to watch the game with Justin, making a few calls outside that Justin wanted to eavesdrop on but didn’t. And then there’s a pizza run and lots of talk about touring and the hardships and Lou fucking Pearlman and Brian’s nice when he talks about Johnny even though Justin knows he wants to rip him apart too. They skip anything having to do with Britney or Leighanne, settling on conversations about Jordan and Magic Johnson and Allen Iverson, “guy talk.” They sit on the floor, backs leaning against the bed because, yeah, sitting on the bed was uncomfortable with that wall of unspoken uneasiness still between the two. During commercial breaks they flip through old scrapbooks Justin’s mom has put together, laughing at Chris’ hair and Lance’s still amber-thick awkwardness. Justin rolls his eyes when gawking at his own foolish hairstyles, letting Brian tangle fingers in his curls now like a beautician, laughing lowly. He doesn’t let the comparisons to AJ bother him, teasing Brian about his schoolboy looks and Kentucky-fried guile. They hoot when a three-pointer is hit, debate over God-given talent over acquired skill. Justin loves how Brian listens attentively to his whole explanation about what makes a great player, nodding intermediately while Justin explains everything with his hands. He’s shy afterward, biting his bottom lip while Brian just stares with uncontainable respect. “Ah, come on, he could’ve made that. Call the foul ref,” Justin barks out, nearly tipping over his glass of lemonade as he shouts at the television. “He doesn’t have your skill set.” Justin feels the blush quake against his cheeks like that synthesized music JC loves. He ducks his head some, sipping off half of his lemonade to avoid looking at Brian. “Oh. Man, I’ll never forget this game,” Brian cheers, pointing to another picture in the scrapbook in Justin’s lap, finger tapping a picture from Europe, all of them posing, jersey’s and candid moments. “You were great.” “You were short,” Brian responds with a grin, taking a large bite of pizza. His grin grows when Justin snorts, tangling his own hand in his hair time, tugging at the curls. “I was average. Not my fault you were born a gnome,” Justin jokes, lips twisting sideways when Brian fakes a frown. He spots a smearing of sauce on the corner of Brian’s mouth, unwittingly lifts his hand. His thumb wipes it away and he sucks in his bottom lip, their eyes on each other again. It’s that awkward silence they had been avoiding, the damaging effects it creates, sirens in Justin’s head telling him to pull back and talk about basketball or music or any fucking thing. Brian’s there before Justin can speak, eyes wide but lips closed and fastened to Justin’s. They open slightly, try to angle so Justin can feel them completely and, thudding like disco bass, it develops into a kiss. Not like the first ones Justin had when he was 12 or 14 or even 16. Not the sloppy ones when he thought he knew what he was doing with girls. Not chaste like the ones with Britney because she’s holding back. It has that spark, left-right-left step, full-contact. Justin closes his eyes before Brian, doesn’t want to look into those eyes anymore because they’re ghosts of what they were before. He opens his own mouth, moves with Brian for a second before skating a hand behind Brian’s neck, up through soft hairs to the back of Brian’s head, holding him there. If Brian was going to be mad or terrified, Justin was going to get as much now as he could. It wasn’t completely graceful, muffled thoughts and words, lips fighting to find equal rhythm, but it enticed Justin. No art, no thought-process, no calculation. Just truth, no matter how harbored or manic. He tastes lemonade and wintergreen against his lips, over his tongue. He’s feeling a need to pull back, breathe, but he still kisses Brian for a moment, takes it all in. Lets his hand fall away from Brian’s head, down his shoulder, over golden skin to his hand which is still on the scrapbook, cupping it for assurance. Brian doesn’t pull back as quickly, small pecks, full on kiss that patterns his tongue over Justin’s, takes in Justin’s last breath. Brian’s panting in front of his face, eyes wide, disillusioned with his mouth open. Justin refuses to pull his hand away because Brian might punch him even though Brian initiated the kiss. It just feels like the thing to do. Justin’s nibbling his lower lip when Brian finally speaks, “Remember when I said earlier-” “You’re not…” “I’m not,” Brian insists, dulling the small expanse of hope Justin had in his spirit. Brian swallows hard, exhales heavy. “But I like you. Like maybe I shouldn’t because you’re a guy, I’m a guy, it’s not what’s supposed to happen. Like it’s not how I was raised and, God forgive me, it’s not practical in the situation we’re both in. And you’re young, much younger than me and, I’m probably losing it in my head, but you just have so much of what I need in a person right now. You’re you, forget who I am. And you look at me like. Like you honestly care about what I’m going to say or do next.” Justin’s nodding, trying to fish through all the words to put together a cohesive statement but, jumbled and mumbled, it all still makes sense. He takes another healthy sip of lemonade with shaky fingers, the cool condensation sliding down the glass muting some of the pounding in his head. “So?” “So?” Brian questions back, head tilting. Confusion vibrates his expression. “So is this okay?” Justin wonders, leaning forward again. They’re right there, so close, Justin licking his lips and remember how soft the lips in front of him were. He’s terrified, still waiting on that punch from Brian. He spots the hesitance, pulls back some to pull off his shirt, scoot closer, push the damn pizza box out of the way, drop the scrapbook and Brian’s still unmoved. “I don’t know.” “‘m not a kid,” Justin insists, furious at the word grazing his lips. He has a hand on Brian’s thigh now, fingers pinching into the fabric of Brian’s jeans. Brian snickers, relaxes. His fingers cautiously run up the hair on Justin’s forearm, hover up his arm before drizzling back down. “You are. To me. But not in a bad way.” “In what kind of way?” Justin asks, moving his head forward, tilting. His eyes are barely open, lips just enough space away from Brian’s where the other man can back away if needed. “An innocent way. Like all of the maddening stuff in this world hasn’t taken over you yet. Like what this business will do to you hasn’t gotten a hold of you, thank God. Like you liking me, right now, is okay because you haven’t seen what hurt can do to someone.” Brian inches closer instead of pulling back, hand moving until it smoothes over the skin of Justin’s shoulder. “And what about Britney and Leigh…” Brian’s got his lips against Justin’s before he finishes, kissing, mumbling, “let’s not think about them right now. Or the guys. Just you and me.” The kisses taste sweeter this time, Brian’s hands on Justin’s face, holding him. They’re slow, drizzling honey, and Justin thinks he wants more. His hardon tells him he does, a hand sliding up and down the denim on Brian’s leg while the other traces along Brian’s cheek. His index and middle finger feel the sharpness of Brian’s jaw while he sucks on Brian’s tongue, smiles when Brian groans. Justin pulls Brian into his lap, makes Brian crawl over and knock over things as he does so, shoes kicking off, lemonade spilling and he’s going to have to explain the sauce stains on the carpet to his mother another day. Brian’s mumbling and griping and Justin doesn’t care because he has Brian’s lips fastened to his again before Brian can finish a whole sentence. Brian’s laced fingers through Justin’s curls and Justin’s strong hands are on Brian’s back, holding him steady in his lap. Feverish kisses, sloppy and poorly timed, carry them. Brian slows it, controls their lips for a moment so that Justin can taste every sensation his missing because of hormones. He kisses Brian with his eyes open, watching the blue in Brian’s. Those kisses ache against his spine. When Brian flicks his tongue in Justin’s mouth, their eyes shut and each kiss is purged on with heavy panting and frantic hands. Brian’s shy about letting Justin remove his shirt, fighting it some with a nervousness clouding his eyes. When the shirt finally drops away, Justin watches Brian cover his chest with his own hand, leaning down for a kiss. Justin slinks his head away, circles Brian’s wrist with his hand and pulls it down, his strength greater than Brian’s in that instance. He sees the vertical scar down the center of Brian’s chest, not too deep but a few inches long. He traces with his fingers down it, does his best to be comforting before leaning up to kiss at Brian’s collarbone, his thumb still outlining the scar. They tip over somehow but their lips never stay far apart. Justin’s smiling through quieter kisses, both on their sides with Justin’s fingers combing through Brian’s hair. The other man is kissing Justin with astonishment coating his face. It’s leading Justin to giggle, fit their faces together so that he’s leading the kisses. He doesn’t enjoy kissing Britney like this, she’s too sex-kitten-in-heat sometimes and other girls, the ones who just make out with him because he’s that curly-haired guy from a mega group, just kiss him chastely with he cups their breasts over the bra. “This is, uh, nice,” sincan escort Brian remarks softly, chest to chest, hands running up and down Justin’s ribs. “Could be nicer,” Justin whispers back, feral with his looks. He’s yanking uncomfortably out of the picture, jittery fingers unsnapping the top button of Brian’s jeans. Brian goes stiff and Justin thinks he’s crossing too many boundaries in a short time. He presses a few kisses to the corner of Brian’s mouth, remembering who he is. The guy’s more Sunday hymns and Bible studies than Britney. There’s a delicacy he forgot once his dick wouldn’t stop throbbing in his jeans. “Can I?” Brian’s nodding shyly, not in that virginal way that would freak Justin out, but in that manly that reminds Justin this is a first for both of them. Brian’s mimicking Justin’s fingers, unzipping and peeling apart the front of Justin’s jeans as Justin does his. There’s a small nervous laugh from Brian, eyes staying on Justin’s face but Justin’s looking downward, watching more skin exposed as he pushes down Brian’s jeans. He’s tracing along the skin of Brian’s stomach with cautious fingers, dipping just beneath the waistband of Brian’s plaid boxers. “J, I.. I don’t know. This is crazy,” Brian whispers, finally yanking down Justin’s jeans until their tangled around his knees. The difference in height makes it difficult but Justin manages to line them up just right. He toys with the waistband until pulling them down just enough to see the brown, wiry pubic hair. He’s doing nothing but breathing, deep breaths in and out. He feels Brian lean in close, mouth to ear, a hand tangling fingers in Justin’s unruly curls. “A guy has never made me hard before.” “Mmph.” Justin wants to gnaw down on his lip to pacify the arousal. He’s nauseous, stomach doing cartwheels, sweat beading against his forehead, lips sore from kissing. He shoves a hand in first, feels Brian’s dick beneath the boxers, the way it’s hot and throbbing and Brian’s groaning right in his ear, almost pulling the curls from Justin’s head. “Gotta see it,” Justin hisses, yanking his hand out, dragging Brian’s boxers down and he almost misses it when his own cock slaps against his stomach, lengthy and red and practically dripping the minute Brian drags careful fingers from base to tip. He doesn’t know why he’s fascinated by the way Brian’s cock is thick like his, pale compared to the rest of his skin but a pinkish red just around the tip. He’s breathing through off-center kisses from Brian, still looking down, holding Brian’s dick, massaging it slowly until it jumps and weeps when Justin’s hand falls away to touch Brian’s balls. “G-God,” Justin gasps through a kiss, Brian’s once experimental hand so secure and confident while jerking Justin’s dick now. He scrunches his face, pushes images of small kittens and Chris running through a parade of bubbles in the park stopping him from cumming right there against Brian’s knuckles. He hisses away from another kiss, forehead to Brian’s, his thumb rubbing just beneath the head of Brian’s cock. They’re gasping together, fighting it all. Justin’s toes curling, feeling amateurish, fingers digging into the carpet. Justin’s hips thrust forward, deadly breaths raping his lungs as Brian’s fingers nervously play with his balls, cup them. Brian snorts a laugh as Justin tickles just beneath Brian’s, drawing back until they can grab Brian’s cock again, swift strokes. His hand doesn’t feel so freakishly large holding that thickness, halfhearted laugh escaping his own lips as Brian kisses at his chin. “Kiss me. Fuck, please, kiss me,” Brian pleads, holding onto the flexed muscles of Justin’s arm as Justin finds a steady rhythm with Brian’s cock in his palm. Justin obliges, tongue rubbing against Brian’s. He loves how sinful it sounds hearing Brian curse, repeats ‘fuck’ in his head over and over as the sticky precum from Brian’s cock lubricates his thumb and fingers. He pushes back Brian’s bangs, fingers the blonde strands between his thumb and index finger, takes his time in kissing Brian. He wants more. He doesn’t want to be some teenager cumming on the damn carpet with his friend. If this is it, all he’s going to have because this is going to be awkward later, he wants more. Justin wants to believe the enticement gives him the strength to stand, drag Brian upright with him. He fights getting out of his jeans, Brian a little more graceful. And he lets Brian have control for a minute when the older man pushes him back on the bed. The bed’s better now, safer, softer as Brian climbs on top of him, synergy raising the volume in kisses. Justin’s happily sucking Brian’s tongue, hands moving up and down Brian’s back, cupping his ass and, yeah, that feels good in his palms. He giggles when Brian sucks on his earlobe, rolls them around on the bed. He thrusts down, pins Brian and watches the way the smaller man writhes. He’s grinding their cocks together, openmouthed kisses that thumped in his brain. He likes the way Brian keeps fighting for control and they push and pull, still kissing, still owning their manliness. Justin likes the scent of Brian’s sweat from the game, the way it’s nothing like cheap perfume and cherry chapstick. He rakes his teeth along Brian’s jaw, smiles when Brian wraps his legs around Justin’s waist, keeps him so close that Justin could fuck Brian now if either were ready for that kind of step. He trembles through a couple of kisses when Brian’s hand eases between their bodies to jack Justin off. His back arches and Brian’s molding a hand over Justin’s ass, feeling the texture, pushing against hard muscle and Justin wonders how his eyes are rolling when they’re closed. Pink sparks behind his eyelids, biting down unconsciously on Brian’s bottom lip. “So-Sorry,” he stutters out, eyes opening and he’s rubbing his thumb along Brian’s lip. “No need to stop,” Brian gasps, legs spreading, feet planted on the bed to rock his hips up against Justin’s. “I want to kiss you some more.” It almost sounds like a request, a bashful question. Justin reads it in Brian’s eyes: it’s neither. It’s a statement, almost a demand. It’s drawing Justin’s bottom lip between his teeth and relinquishes the control. He’s not a kid, not a fucking child, but there’s something about the air around Brian that makes him want to be that submissive. They’re on their sides again, pushing pillows off the bed, rumpling sheets, eyes on one another while kissing alternatively. Justin’s got a hand between Brian’s thighs, feeling the coarse hairs there, rubbing the softer inner flesh. Brian’s got a hand on his cheek, massaging Justin’s lips with his own, tasting the aftertaste of lemonade and pepperoni and something sweet. He’s rubbing his tongue slowly over Justin’s, grinning when Justin gets lost in all of it for a minute. “This is… Awesome,” Justin gasps lowly, his voice thick and deep. He fingers are tracing over every expanse of Brian, trying to find secrets and mysteries behind its heat in such a compact frame. “You feel pretty amazing,” Brian whispers back, forceful kisses with his eyes closed. He’s cupping Justin’s cock again, thumbing the head until Justin’s shaking, just on the edge. “Wanna try something else.” It’s rave music in his head, the kind he used to hear all of the time in Europe. Toes curled, body aligned at another angle. He’s breathing heavy between Brian’s thighs. Black out, sparkling orange light, throbbing bass. He remembers the first time Joey showed him a dirty magazine and wondered what this position was called. He squeaked when Joey explained what a “69” was, hand over his mouth while Lance tried not to vomit. The first taste is salty and he’s unprepared. He doesn’t know how to react to the taste of Brian’s slick precum on his tongue and he wonders if it’s counterproductive to back away. But then Brian’s licking at the head of his dick, a little less fearful, hesitant. Justin’s not a coward, he’s far from leaving a dare alone and the way Brian’s just suckling on the tip is a challenge Justin welcomes. Brian gasps over the head of his cock, Justin easing the tip a little further and further. He’s liking the taste, seeking it out. He’s slurping, not purposely, drawing back. He doesn’t gag, not at first, as he goes further down. It fills his mouth, throbs against his tongue and Justin imagines those first couple of blowjobs from Britney were never this good. Not the way Brian’s using his tongue, subtle teeth, doing the things Justin probably likes if he knew that he could like a blowjob this damn much. “Mmm.” Justin hums, eyes closed, fingers wrapped tightly around the base as he takes it down until his lips kiss his thumb. He stays there, sucking, swallowing until Brian heaving, desperate for air that’s coating Justin’s thighs. Brian’s just stroking him now, gently but with purpose. He’s gripping the sheets with his own free hand, trying to hold out. He wonders the psychological effect skipping a few bases will have on Brian later on. How this honest-to-goodness guy, who probably never sat in his bed and dreamt about Justin Timberlake, will feel after he’s accepted the fact that he’s made out with him, given head to him? It plays with his emotions for a moment but then Brian’s kissing at his thighs, gently touching him in a way that calls for something more. “You don’t have to keep going ’til I –” Justin tastes the shyness in Brian’s voice. He smiles, licking around the head, waiting for the thick drops of precum instead of running from them. He breathes through his nose, takes Brian in his mouth again and near pops his lips off the moment Brian takes him in again, sucking hungrily. He spreads his legs, breathing coming a little faster. “Fuck.” He draws the word out, taking Brian back into the side of his mouth, against his jaw. His cheeks hurt, stretched and unprepared. He feels Brian slowly working himself in and out of Justin’s mouth, throat opening because if he gags like a sixteen year old girl he’s going to hate himself. Tears at the corners of his eyes as he takes it deep, gulping as he goes. He’s sweating, rolls his hips as Brian merely suckles the head again. Brian’s rolling his balls, thumb sweeping back to place pressure on the skin between his sac and hole. Brian’s legs are shaking. Justin’s got his eyes open, tongue curling around Brian’s cock like a Dum Dum. That heady scent from his balls, the way those stomach muscles are contracted. Justin’s bobbing up and down, lips sliding off occasionally. He’s quick to take Brian back in, jacking him off as he moves upward and downward. Brian’s making noises that sound so familiar, keening and moaning and deep breaths. He’s becoming sloppy, desperate with his movements, gasping hard each time his hand bumps his lips out of way. “Oh, ngnh, fuck.” Justin clears his throat, closes his eyes when Brian’s hand molds itself around the back of his head. The slickness goes from thin to thick, salty, and it’s nothing Justin’s ready for. He pulls back some after the first few spurts, keeps his mouth open while jacking the head. He’s got something to prove, probably to himself, but he takes it all. He flinches when a few squirts hit his lips and cheeks instead of his mouth. He’s panting with Brian, looks up to see Brian’s head buried in a pillow, heaving chest and redness covering his skin. “Holy shit,” Justin gasps out, rolling to his back. He’s surprised when Brian’s still jacking him off, looks toward the hand and then spots Brian’s face, pale and sweaty. He smiles, tilts his head backward to enjoy the feeling. Brian’s lips are on the head again, tongue teasing the slit. Justin’s legs spread, his body gets into the groove. His hips raise, fuck Brian’s hand. Toes dig into the comforter, controlled breathing, as best as he can. He’s eyes shut tighter, hand on his chest. He bites down hard on his bottom lip, shivering. Thumb playing merry-go-round on the head. “Brian.” Justin squeezes everything inside of himself, quakes. It feels good, incredible. The way his body just convulses like the first time he really learned how to masturbate when he was 15. His hand eases down, feels the constriction of ab muscles, bottom lip shivering. He groans, whines in that sensational way he does only by himself but Brian’s there. Brian’s hearing him and he throws his first into his mouth, bites down hard as he cums. He shudders when streams of cum paint his chest and stomach, almost hit his neck. He feels the tremor again as Brian gives him another squeeze, pulling out the last few drops. His eyes bat open, chest rises and falling quickly. He stares at the ceiling, wonders when the room is going to stop spinning. “Amazing.” He doesn’t recognize his own voice but then Brian’s laying down next to him, hand on Justin’s stomach, sliding slick fingers over the muscles. “The weird parts coming, hmm?” Brian asks, head turning lazily toward Justin. Justin shrugs, revels in the physical celebration. He stretches, muscles losing tenseness. He feels Brian circle a nipple and it’s not strange. It’s wanted. “Whatever’s coming, it was worth it,” Justin whispers, sitting up slowly. He’s still lightheaded but in that fascinating way that makes him want to nap and do all of this over again. He scoots off the bed, peeks over his shoulder to see Brian sitting up, perplexed smile on his pink lips. Justin smirks back, stumbling toward the bathroom. ** When they’ve cleaned themselves off with warm towels that Justin has to bury deep in his hamper so his mother doesn’t ask questions on laundry day, he slides into some boxer briefs and rests on the bed with Brian. The other man has slipped back into his jeans and Justin half expects Brian to give up this act, quit patronizing him and duck out the house with his head hanging low. But Brian’s right there with him on the bed, talking about the rest of the game, joking about the other guys, singing silly songs with Justin through the commercial breaks. He’s shier, Justin can tell just by the way he keeps dragging fingers through his hair, pulling and messing it. Justin rests a hand on Brian’s thigh during one of the plays and Brian doesn’t move, just makes comments about Shaq and shots off the backboard. Justin smiles when Brian kisses him on the cheek, stays close to whisper, “You’re still a kid.” He nods, doesn’t mind it so much this time. He merely turns his head and presses a kiss to Brian’s lips, staggering through it at first. Brian’s showing him the way, kissing back and the game fades out again as they fall back on the bed.

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