by Miss Kitty E

You're dead, Lou. When I'm done with you there won't be anything but four piles of your separate parts. One of greasy skin and puffy fat, one of hollow bones and weak muscles, one of internal organs (your sorry excuse for a brain and your suffocated, black heart the cherries on top), and a fourth pile of all the shit and hot air you're full of. You're dead. You just don't know it yet, Big Poppa.

Bad contracts I was willing to renegotiate, creative control I was willing to jockey for on the next album, the exhausting tours, the hectic schedules, the bad advice I would play off with a smile, but now you've gone and hurt one of us. You hurt him. So you're dead. Plain and simple.

You knew he was sick, you knew he was tired but you gave him Nyquil to shut him up, and No-Doze to get him on stage. And when it got worse you just gave him stronger stuff, codeine cough syrup and amphetamines. He knew what you were doing, but smiled bravely and took the pills because he doesn't want to make trouble for us. And you weren't even there when the consequences of your actions came down, bastard. Did you see him sway, stumble, and finally fall? No. Did you hear the sound his body made when it hit the floor? No. Did you struggle to help him sit up, only to have him faint twice in your arms? No. Did you even show up at the hospital last night? Well... yes, but after you had finished dinner.

Did you charge the bill to 'N Sync? I bet you did. Fucker, you're going down. When I get the rest of them behind me, and two of them already are, you won't know what hit you. I don't care if it destroys the group, we won't burn out under your "guidance." Four separate piles... and I'll burn those, too.

"JC, honey, you're still here?" I love the way Mrs. Bass talks, just like her son.

Putting all of the rage I have into a corner of my mind, I blink up at her, "Yeah. I wanted to see him again before I go back to the hotel."

She smiles, looking back to the closed door marked 314. "He's fine." She knows this doesn't matter, she knows a lot. Lance even told her about the damn crush he had on me all that time ago, he's so close to her. "Don't keep him up much longer, okay?"

I smile, briefly, back at her, "I don't plan to, Mrs. Bass. Goodnight."

Readjusting the strap on her purse, she turns, "Goodnight, Joshua."

I take a moment to breathe, then get up, pushing open the door. I stand there for a moment, letting the door close behind me. Look at him, on a hospital bed, in a hospital gown, used Dixie cups one the nightstand from all the medication he had to take. He's got his eyes closed, face half turned into the pillow. I know why because I've watched him sleep a hundred times. He wants to sleep on his side, but the slight incline of the bed prevents him.

Stepping forward, my hand reaches out, touching his hair before I can even sit on the bed beside him. He hasn't washed it in a day or more, and the gel has lost its hold, but it smells like him. Everything else smells like the hospital. One hand slowly comes up to clasp me wrist, sleepily, "I thought you said you were leaving."

"Didn't want to, not yet." I smile, and admit why it feels so wrong to leave. "I'm used to having you close, where I can keep an eye on you." He and Justin were so young when they joined, I wanted to protect them both from all the ugly things I heard and knew about the business, Lance especially, because he was so pure- not innocent, but so kind and gentle. And I failed. Sighing, I let my fingers fall to his cheek, knowing he'd only roll his eyes if I told him I'm glad the baby fat never went away. "Not that it did any good."

His smiles fades, the dimple disappearing before the lips fall slack. "You're not blaming yourself, are you?"

"No." I blame Lou, make no mistake, but I hate myself for letting him treat you like a trained animal. Never again.

He mistakes the look in my eyes for anger towards him, and the grip on my wrist tightens a little, he's still so weak. "I'm sorry about all this, Josh."

I shake my head, and turn his face a little, enough to meet him for a kiss. Our lips meet twice, but I pull away before he can get into it. "I promised Mama Bass I wouldn't keep you up."

He looks a little sheepish, those beautiful eyes avoiding mine, "She's really glad you're being so... good to me through this."

I know sometimes it's hard for people to tell but he really is the most important thing in my life. Does he know? I'll have to tell him soon, say it aloud. After this is over, when I'm through with Lou, and not so damn angry inside. I kiss him again because I just can't help it, "Go back to sleep. I wanna watch you sleep before I leave."

It doesn't take him long, still so tired, I hope he's up to leaving tomorrow morning. If he's not, I won't let him leave, no matter what anybody says. I'll make my stand then and there and risk being reprimanded or replaced. Lou may think he owns you, Lance, but you're mine. One more kiss before I leave, a compromise after fighting with myself about finding a way to curl up beside him.

Once outside the room, I take out all my dark thoughts and take a second look at them. Yep, still angry. You're dead, Lou, and we aren't just gonna dance on your grave, we're gonna have a fucking concert on it.


"Justin?" Now's the time.

"Yeah, Josh?" A little miffed about his reading being interrupted.

"We need to talk."

"What about?" Concerned, he puts down the magazine.

"Just desserts."

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