© 2001, JulieOh
* The gentle southerly breeze ruffled through Lance's hair,
* lifting the golden locks like his hairdresser did with her
* fingers every morning, cooling his scalp where the sun had
* been beating moments prior. He looked down at the face of
* the woman standing before him. As the sun slipped completely
* below the far-off horizon, her pupils widened, stretching to let
* in more light so she could continue watching the fine features
* of his visage.
* "Lance..." She breathed the word like a drowning person gasping
* for air.
* "Yes my sweet love?" He placed his hand gently against her cheek,
* cupping his palm in the shape he'd use if he were holding a brandy
* She turned her face away. "I can't do this any more!" she wailed,
* crystal tears slipping down her rounded, flushed cheeks like water
* dripping down a fresh apple.
* He reached for her before she could move too far from his
* reaching arms. "Tandyce...."
"Hey dude, whatcha doin'?"
Lance quickly closed his laptop before Chris could see what was on it. "Uh, nothing," he stammered. "Just, um, writing some e-mails."
"Then why all the secrecy?"
"Hm? Oh, they're just personal, that's all."
"Sure they are. Come on, let me see what you were really doing." Chris tried to reach around Lance to grab the computer.
"No, come on, man! Do I read your things?"
They continued to wrestle and argue, but Chris finally slipped past Lance's defenses. He flipped the screen open and started to read the document loaded there.
"Chris!! Come on...." Lance kept trying to get his laptop back, but Chris was fending him off with one hand while he read. He hooted with laughter.
"What the hell is this? You're writing a.... fanfic?!?"
"Shh, not so loud!"
"You are! Dude!" Chris couldn't stop laughing while he read. "Why? What are you gonna do with it once it's done?"
Lance shrugged. "I was bored, so I started surfing around some sites. Do you have any idea how much of this is out there? Some of it's pretty good, but most of it..." He shuddered. "They write like they know us or something. So I figured, if anyone knows us enough to get us right in a story..." He shrugged again. "A lot of these sites take submissions, and they'll post the story for you."
"So, what... you're gonna send it, say 'hey, I'm Lance Bass, and this is what we're all really like'?"
He scoffed. "No, I'll do it anonymously."
Chris was quiet for a moment while he kept reading. "Tandyce?" he finally said. "Why didn't you just call her 'Candice', like a normal name?"
"Because normal is boring. I wanted to be different." He crossed his arms defensively. "I think Tandyce is pretty."
"Sure, dude. So, do the rest of us get to be in this?"
"I dunno yet. I guess."
Chris grinned. "Make sure you give me some hot action." He punched Lance on the arm before turning to leave his hotel room.
"Ew, I'm not writing any of that shit, man! Especially not about you!"
Chris turned in the doorway. "What, no smut? Come on, these stories *always* have to have some smut in them, it's like a rule or something."
"There are plenty out there without any sex at all. I'd have no idea how to write that, anyway..."
"What's the big deal? You've done it, just write about it," Chris called over his shoulder, the door shutting behind him.
Justin slid onto the bench across from Lance in the bus' tiny kitchen. Lance glanced up briefly, then returned to his laptop screen, reassuring himself that the younger man couldn't see what he was doing from there.
Lance typed a few more sentences, aware that Justin was still watching him. He tried to ignore him, typing his next words after a moment's thought. He shifted in his seat uncomfortably. Finally he glared up at Justin.
"Huh? Oh, uh, nothing. Sorry, am I bothering you?"
"No, the more people staring at me while I work the better. Hones my concentration."
Justin paused a moment. "Whatcha working on?"
Lance froze briefly, then shrugged. "Stuff. Just, y'know." He went back to thinking, punctuated by brief spurts of typing, and Justin was quiet for a while longer.
Then... "So what's my girlfriend's name?"
Lance looked up at him, not understanding. "Um.... Britney?"
"What? Oh come on, you gotta be more original than that." Justin pouted, and Lance frowned at him, still not getting it. "I do *get* a girlfriend, don't I? You're not gonna make me go single?"
Realization dawned, and Lance ground his teeth. "I'm gonna kill Chris," he muttered.
"Hey, I think it's cool," Justin protested. "I just wanna make sure you're doing things right for me." He winked, and Lance rolled his eyes.
"Yeah, okay Justin, you'll get a girlfriend."
"Cool." He grinned. "Well, I'll let you get back to writing. You need help, I'm just in the back."
"Yeah, sure..." Lance replied absently. His mind was already spinning....
* Justin looked down at the pretty blonde girl on his arm. She
* had long flowing hair, and skin as creamy as that good thick
* cream they serve with tea in the really nice restaurants. Her
* sky blue dress reminded him of the sky on a gorgeous clear
* day, and he sighed.
* "What's wrong, sweetiepie?" She turned her blue eyes up to
* look at him. She was quite short, but he stood as tall as a six
* foot tree.
* "Nothing pumpkin, I was just thinking how beautiful you look
* tonight." He leant over to give her a peck on the tip of her nose,
* and she giggled and blushed. He turned his eyes to look across
* the room, and sighed again.
* The truth was, something *was* wrong. He and Dalila had been
* on a few dates, and he was happy with her, but something wasn't
* completely right. Their time together was pleasant enough, but he
* knew that if his life was a movie, she would be buried in the
* credits somewhere as something like "fourth blonde girl".
* He finally spotted Chris across the room with his girlfriend,
* Tryphena, and they headed over to join them. They wove
* through the crowded ballroom, their path jagged, like a
* bumblebee dancing its way through the hive, but they finally
* reached their destination.
* Justin opened his mouth to begin a greeting to his friends, but
* he was interrupted by a bloodcurdling scream tearing through
* the night outside the patio doors. A collective gasp tore through
* the room, and everyone turned towards the open doors just in
* time to see a body hit the pavement outside like a Hefty bag
* filled with vegetable soup...
"Dude, that's gruesome!!"
Lance jumped in his seat and turned to face his friend crouching on the bench behind him. "Jesus, Chris! Just give me a heart attack, why don't you!"
"Sorry, man, but that... that's just whacked." Chris looked faintly nauseated as he gestured towards Lance's laptop screen. "And what's with you and the weird names again?"
"At least you're in it and you have a girlfriend, don't complain." He turned back to the computer, stared at it a moment, and sighed. The inspiration was gone. He closed the program and shut down the machine. "Playstation?" He looked to Chris, whose face brightened.
"Name your game."
"Lance!" JC ran to catch up with his friend as they wandered the stadium after sound check.
"Hey, what's up?" Lance turned to walk backwards until JC reached him, then spun back forwards again.
"I was just wondering, well, if maybe..." He reached up and played with the hair falling over his ear nervously. "You know, with this story you're writing and all, if maybe you wanted a collaborator, or something."
Lance rolled his eyes briefly -- why not just tell everyone, eh Chris? -- then looked beside him at JC. "You want to write fanfic with me?"
"Well, you know. A lot of these things are written by two people, they switch off back and forth, or just brainstorm together, or whatever." When Lance didn't say anything, he shrugged. "It just kinda sounds like fun."
"I don't know..." Lance mulled over the options in his mind. He had managed to get a bit more written that morning on the bus, but he was at a sticking point. Another mind working on it could help, and he was planning on taking a break from it for a few days anyway. But he wasn't sure if he wanted anyone to read it before it was finished and polished. He wasn't sure if he wanted any of the guys to read it, period. It was bad enough they knew he was writing it in the first place. Then again, if they know already, how could it hurt.... "Yeah, I guess so," he finally said.
"Yeah, sure. I'll get a copy of it on disk to you later on, you can read it and let me know what you think. What should happen next, that kind of thing."
"Sure, yeah, sounds good. Hey, thanks." He whacked Lance on the shoulder lightly before taking off faster down the corridor. Lance wondered what he'd gotten himself into.
Two days later, they were on the busses again, headed for who knows where. Lance's cell phone rang, and he flipped it open, motioning for Justin to pause the game they were playing.
"Lance, you can't make yourself a killer. It's totally out of character."
"Your story. Didn't you tell Chris that you were doing this because you knew us better than those teenies who write most of this stuff? You'd never do something like your character did."
Lance swallowed. "It's that obvious?" He didn't think he'd revealed who the killer was yet.
"Um, yeah." JC used a 'well DUH' tone of voice. "Your girlfriend, who's been whining about things not being right and wanting to leave you since the first chapter, is pushed out a window, while you have no good alibi, *and* you're not too torn up about it?"
"Even Joey got it."
Lance heard a shouted "Hey!" somewhere in the background.
"You let Joey read it?" He rubbed his face with his free hand and sighed.
"Yeah, I needed a second opinion. So anyway, are we going to leave it this way?"
"We? It's my story, JC."
"You said I could help."
"Right." Lance sighed again. "I know I said I was writing it so that we'd finally have proper characterization, but I guess it just... changed. I decided to be different, surprise some people."
"Well, you've definitely got 'different'. Hey, I just got an idea, I think I can work with this. Do you want your character to be really cold, like a real prick about the whole thing?"
Lance bristled a little, and reminded himself that by this point they were pretty much talking about a completely fictional character. "Yeah, I guess so. But hey, not too much. Try and keep some of me in there."
"No, not too much...." JC was already sounding distracted. "It'll be okay. I'll e-mail you something in a bit, k?"
"Yeah, okay," Lance replied, but the line had already been disconnected.
* The two girls watched the members of *NSYNC from
* across the club. The brunette sighed.
* "He is so dreamy."
* "Which one is that?" her red-haired friend asked.
* "Mmm. I think JC is the cuter of the two."
* The brunette wrinkled her nose. "Linda, JC has no ass."
* "Oh but he is such a cool cat, Jane, he can pull off those
* shiny pants anyway."
Lance dialed JC's cell phone while he kept skimming the document before him. The other end connected.
"'Dreamy', JC? 'Cool cat'? People don't really talk that way."
"I do." He sounded defensive. "Besides I didn't say anything about all your God-awful descriptions."
"Hey, you need descriptions in fiction. It's like painting a picture, only with words."
"Yeah, but you have to let the reader's imagination take over at some point." He paused a moment. "Have you even read the rest of it?"
He reached the end of what JC had written....
* Lance awoke to the sound of an intense pounding. At first
* he thought the noise was merely a product of the hangover
* he was sporting after the drinking of the previous night,
* however he soon realized the offensive noise was coming
* from the door. He looked across the bed to the two women
* sleeping curled together, and smirked briefly. What were
* their names, again? He finally remembered, Jane and Linda.
* Not that it mattered.
"Two women, JC? And I don't care what their names are?"
"Hey, I *asked*, you said you wanted to be a prick."
"Just keep reading."
* The pounding on the door resumed, so Lance arose and
* found some clothes lying about which he pulled on before
* answering. He pulled open the door to find two uniformed
* officers standing in the hall before him.
* "James Bass?" one of them asked gruffly.
* Lance started at the use of his legal name. "Yes, that is me."
* The other officer moved into the room to clasp Lance's hands
* behind his back, while the first kept speaking. "Sir, you are
* under arrest for the murder of Tandyce Tandie...."
"Damn," Lance muttered. "You're sure I wouldn't try to run away or something?"
"Where? They've pretty much got you cornered."
"True. Okay, what happens next?"
"I dunno, man. It's back to you now. Thanks for letting me write that much, though."
"Yeah, sure." Lance hung up the phone and stared at the screen. Now what....
* Lance paced the tiny room, watching the shadows from the
* lone bulb swinging from the ceiling dance like people at a
* party. Only his mind wasn't in a party mood. His thoughts
* tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like
* underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.
* He had been there for... how long? He had lost track of time,
* with no windows and no way to judge the passing of days
* beyond the small trays of food his captors passed him. He
* thought it might have been a week, or maybe two.
* He was cold. He felt like someone might be if they'd been
* dropped outside in the fall with nothing but a t-shirt on.
* Not quite winter cold, but definitely late fall. He could tell
* it was raining outside -- even without a window, thunder
* rumbled through the walls, ominous-sounding, much like
* the sound of a thin sheet of metal being shaken backstage
* during the storm scene in a play.
* Suddenly he heard voices outside his door, and a loud
* commotion. He froze in his pacing. Were they back? What
* tortures would they inflict upon him this time? Although
* they really hadn't been all that bad even at first.
* The door burst open, and he jumped back instinctively. A
* swarm of uniformed police officers filled the room almost
* to capacity. It really was a small room. Once they realized
* this, and that he was the only one in there, they lowered
* their weapons, and some went back out again.
* One of the men spoke into a walkie talkie he'd taken from
* his belt. "We have him. He appears unharmed, but have the
* medical team standing by." He turned to Lance, who was
* nearly collapsing out of sheer relief, like a Raggedy Andy
* doll that had just had its little support stand taken away.
* "Sir, come with us please. You're safe now."
* They wouldn't explain anything to him until the doctors had
* assured them of his good health. Lance had insisted they let
* his bandmates sit in the little hospital room with him while
* they told the story. His eyes grew wider as the officer spoke,
* growing into big green circles with only tiny black dots in
* the centres.
* A hate group had been operating in the city, plotting the
* demise of successful boybands everywhere. *NSYNC had
* been their first target; they had kidnapped Lance and replaced
* him with an impostor who would sabotage their lives and
* reputations from within.
* "What did he do?" Lance was afraid to know the answer, since
* his friends all refused to look at him, and he knew that was
* always a bad sign in situations like this.
* "He started slowly, so that no one would realize at first. First
* his dance steps were always a little off, and then he started
* singing quite badly. Apparently that wasn't enough to sway
* your fans and ruin your reputation, so he took stronger steps.
* He, um... he started drinking heavily, and sleeping around
* at parties..." The officer paused, not sure if that really would
* have been considered extreme behaviour, after all, he had
* read a lot of the old rumours and stories himself. But then
* Lance gasped and his eyes grew so wide they seemed like
* they might pop out of his head like little pingpong balls.
* "Oh, poor Tandyce," Lance whispered. "What that must
* have done to her...."
* The officer cleared his throat. "Actually, sir, I'm very sorry,
* but he killed her."
* "He.... killed her?"
* "Yes sir. Pushed her out a window, and made sure he got
* caught. Ultimate in reputation trashers, really. I don't know
* why he didn't just start with that."
* But Lance wasn't listening any more. He was wailing in
* mourning for his lost love, clutching onto whoever was
* sitting nearest him, which happened to be Joey. He clung to
* him like a shipwrecked man might cling to the last little
* board of floating wood he finds nearby.
* "OH, TANDYCE!!! NOOOOOO!!!!!!"
* The officer stood and talked to the others in the room, since
* his original audience was obviously lost. "Don't worry, men.
* We've caught them now, and you can rest assured that no
* other boybands will suffer this fate. Today is a good day
* for crime busters."
Lance hit 'save' and shut down his laptop with a small smile. Chris looked up from his spot on the couch.
"Yep." Lance leaned back in his seat, stretching his taut muscles.
"Can I read it?" Chris grinned excitedly.
"Um, I dunno, Chris...."
"Oh come on, JC and Joey have read it."
"Yeah, but not the finished product. Maybe you'll just have to find it on the net, and figure out which one is mine."
Chris gave him an "oh please" look. "Of all the thousands out there? I don't think so. Cough it up."
They stared each other down for a moment. "Oh alright. But don't laugh. Remember, this was my first attempt."
Chris dove for the laptop, and Lance headed for the back of the bus to watch TV. Justin was sitting back there already.
"Hey Justin. Um, that story's done, if you want to, y'know, read it. Chris is reading it now."
"Ooo, cool...." Justin jumped up and ran to the front, leaving Lance alone to flip channels idly, waiting for the feedback.... or fallout....
He didn't have to wait long. Chris came running back and flopped on the couch, resting his head on Lance's shoulder and clutching at his shirt.
"Oh, Tandyce, Tandyce!!!"
"Hey..." Lance blushed furiously, and jerked his shoulder to throw Chris off.
"Kidnapped, man?" Justin sat on the couch opposite them with a smirk.
"Other authors have done it...."
"Yeah, but... by a boyband hate group?"
"Come on, you guys. You said you wouldn't laugh."
Chris punched him lightly on the shoulder. "No, seriously man, it was good. Thanks for letting us read it."
Lance looked at him skeptically for a moment, then realized he meant it. "Thanks. Hey, maybe you can help me with my next one."
"You're gonna write another one?" Lance narrowed his eyes at him. "No, no, I mean, that's great, yeah, that'd be fun."
"No, I mean it."
"Right. I know you do."
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