Little Bit of Heartache: 1

by Miss Kitty E

"Do you think I'm fat?" Lance asked one day, because the thought had struck him after the wardrobe lady said, 'you're getting fatter, we need to get you new pants.'

JC looked up, his face kind of dumbstruck, liked he'd missed some lead in to that question, only there hadn't been any; Lance had just asked it. "What? Why?"

"Because, I mean. Look at you, look at me, I'm like twice as big as you, Joey's is, like, three times as much so... I just wonder," Lance found it hard to look at JC as he spoke, he looked at JC's shirt instead, deciphering the particularly loud, but intricate design. "Do you ever think we, you know Joey and me, need to... um, do what you do?"

JC shook his head, "No. No, Jesus, not at all. I... it's not like that, Lance. It's like... Me. I'm too big."

Lance bit the inside of his cheek and didn't understand, "But I'm bigger than you."

Again, JC shook his head, "You're not listening, you don't get it. I'm too big. Just me. Not you. You're beautiful." Lance kind of blinked when JC said that, and thought about it long enough to dismiss it. "So don't worry about it. And god, Lance, don't do it."

"No, I didn't mean that. I wouldn't," Lance sighed and picked at his jeans for a second, scraping away a mustard stain. It wasn't ever hard to find the flaw in JC's logic, the trouble was in getting JC to see it, to accept it. "So... you think I'm beautiful? That I shouldn't do anything drastic to change?" JC nodded shyly, eyes continually shifting from Lance's collar to his face. Lance tried to hold them there as he said, "I think you're beautiful, you know." He hoped that it would make some impact on JC to hear that, or at least make him feel better, even for an hour.

"Thank you," JC said, but he wasn't happier. His voice was so soft, Lance didn't think he had made anything even a little better. He abandoned his list, all the things he had meant to say, to prove it to JC.

Instead, he was quiet again, for a while this time, and when he spoke again it was only out of curiosity. "How is it that you're parents don't know?"

JC laughed a little bitterly. "The two weeks I see them out of the year now they see what they want to see. Fuck, they don't even know I'm gay and that's, like, twice as obvious."

Lance nodded, fully understanding a mother's ability to deny and refuse to see something whenever she saw fit. "Do you... I mean, is it just telling them that you're afraid of? Do you wish they could just put it all together? Understand without you having to come out and say it?"

For a long time JC considered this, staring at the window, shrugging helplessly every now and then as he tried to articulate even the first word. "No," he said finally. "I don't want them to know. But I wish they... like, it would be nice in a way, if they did. Because maybe they'd pity me instead of just... envying me and they'd finally... I could find out whether they'd love me even if they knew I was so fucked up, you know?"

Lance nodded, and JC seemed to be finished for the day, bending over his journal, writing down a few words. Lance knew it would be okay to read them, JC offered him diplomatic immunity for some reason, and there were no boundaries he was afraid to cross.

'So fucking pathetic, you can't even breathe. So dead in the head, you can't even see...'

He could even stand to know that they had been written. He couldn't get up and walk away knowing they'd be there to remind JC of his self-hatred every time he opened his notebook to write a love song he didn't really mean. He plucked the pen from JC's hand, and wrote beneath the words he had just read. He felt a little shy about reaching over JC's lap like he was, but it was important; he pretended not to notice.

'Joshua Scott Chasez is worthy of love,' he wrote in his own loopy script. He left the pen on the open page and left JC to read it. The pen had rolled down the notebook and lost itself in the loose folds of JC's tank top before his thin fingers sought it out again. Lance missed this, he was already talking to Joe about the movie they were going to do someday, pulling himself away for a while, so it wouldn't hurt so bad. In a way he felt proud, he'd done his good deed for the day. He wondered just how many "good deeds" it would take to make JC better.


Stupid Justin. Every time he wanted come along clubbing, the guys were relegated to an "18 & Over" bar for the first half of the night. You'd be lucky to find a girl who even looked legal, let alone acted like it there, and Lance rarely ever stuck it out till the second half when Joey and Chris ditched out for a "real club." Still, if he was on the hunt, Lance could expand his scope. Besides, sometimes he liked being able to approach somebody like a normal human being and the guys were less inclined to have the guts to dance up to him. Eventually, he would come across a tiny thing named Jason in one of the corners, nursing a Pink Lady and trying to hide his stare.

Lance pounced. "Hi," he said as he came up beside him at the bar, confident because, hey, he was Lance Bass. You know, of 'Nsync? That's right, the biggest fucking thing to hit this town since they opened a new mall down by the interstate. He had nothing to fear.

"Oh god," but the hysterics were well in control. It sounded more like nerves than a 'dream come true.' "Hi," he remembered to say. "I'm Jason."

"I'm Lance," he said, needlessly. "You're here all alone?"

"Nope. But my fag hag went and dumped me," his eyes followed Lance intently as he took the seat beside him.

"What's the point of a fag hag if you're going to club? Or are you not looking to meet somebody?"

Jason shrugged coquettishly, like he didn't even know he was doing it. "Maybe. But it seems like I've met somebody whether I wanted to or not." A line, a cheap one, but then this was a cheap affair.

Lance opened his mouth to speak, but he didn't get a chance to say anything. Instead, JC was there, an intruding, needy hand on his shoulder, "Lance, you wanna- Oh."

JC stared at Jason for a while, and Lance knew the look well enough; JC was just thinking, processing things slowly in his jumbled, tangential way. But Jason took it as a confrontation, as a big flashing sign that said, 'You're not wanted.' He left, and Lance was annoyed.

"What did you want JC?" He would have cursed, he would have snapped, but this was JC, he couldn't.

There must have been some coldness in his eyes, in his stances, but JC shrank away. "Nothing."

He ran away like a girl who had just spilled punch on her prom dress. Lance didn't know what he had done. JC slept around, more than any of them really, because it had been so long since he'd had a real relationship with real boundaries, he never got mad when anybody else did it. Lance wondered as he followed after,- of course he had to follow after -if he had wanted Jason for himself. Lance didn't share, but he was willing to forfeit for JC, if that's what it took to get this little hissy fit done with.

Hissy fit. Did he mean that? No, but it was hard on Lance at times, JC took so much thought, so much energy. At any time, nights when Lance just wanted crash, to curl up in his bunk and sleep, or stare at a picture taped to the walls could be changed into sleepless hours of long conversations that left him too full, instead of a ready container for the next day. He felt selfish when he hid, when he avoided JC, but dammit sometimes he just wanted to laugh and shoot the breeze, but JC never could. But that didn't matter right now because he was catching up to Josh.

"What, JC? What'd I do?" he clamped down on JC's shoulder, and it wasn't too hard to stop him, turn him around.

JC shook his head stubbornly and took a few steps back, "Nothing, Lance. I just-" He started breathing deeply, and ran a hand over his eyes.

"JC, please," he wasn't angry anymore. "Tell me."

"I just..." JC sighed deeply, "He was so..."

And Lance knew, feeling awful and frustrated as he realized that Jason had been thin, thinner than JC, smaller in stature. So what, now everything was a reason? Everything had the potential to give JC another reason to hate and hurt himself? Fuck, what was he supposed to do? Spend his life in service, dedicate it to JC? This was going too far, but he couldn't refuse to go along. "I'm sorry, JC, I-"

"No!" JC stepped a little closer, to be better heard, and to be closer to what had become a source of strength to him. "It's not that, it's nothing you have to apologize for. I dunno, I just... if that's what you want, how could I ever live up to that?"

Lance blinked, shocked, scared, it sounded like- "You, uh, JC. Do you... you want me to..." he wondered if JC would get it on his own, but Josh just looked at him, waiting. "It sounds like you want me to want you. Like you need to-"

JC's brow furrowed, like he was in pain now, tired, frustrated. "Not like that. It's just... what would you think about me if that's what you like? God, I must seems so fucking pathetic when I-"

"You don't!" He took JC's wrist and pulled, he didn't know why. JC leaned in but didn't step closer. "You never do, and that's not 'what I like.' That was arbitrary, transitory. You're fine. You're better than that, you look good. I'm not lying JC, I'm telling you what I really think. Someday you'll see that..." He was sort of babbling, he realized. "Okay?"

JC nodded and wanted to go back to his hotel room.


Joey was a good friend, because he was a good person, did it all in a way that was so effortless, it impressed Lance. He thought that maybe that was the difference, Joey was a good friend while Lance was merely trying to be a good friend. After he and JC had made it back, his hotel room had been too quiet, and ugly. Yellow lamp light on beige walls, making them look smoke stained, and on dark blue blankets, making them black but an ugly, unreal black, and a carpet designed to hide stains, but didn't. It made him sick, he went to Joey's room and it was the same, but different. Joey laughed a lot, and knew that Lance was sad but treated it like it was no big deal. Eventually, a few bowls later, Lance didn't think it was a big deal either.

Joey was lying against the headboard, packing the pipe for once last round, and Lance was almost completely perpendicular, legs stretched out over Joey's. That was good too, the easy contact, affection that didn't come with a price, without a connotation, or a meaning. Then Joey went and made a big deal out of it.

"So what's wrong? Why are you here, man?" he put the pipe to his lips and put the lighter to the pipe.

Lance listened to the suck of Joey's breath before answer, "Stuff. JC freaked out." Now he took it and inhaled, deeply, pressing his lips together and feeling the smoke, too hot, in his lungs.

"About what this time?" Joey asked. He didn't take a hit right away.

"Who the fuck knows anymore? He took something and twisted it around until suddenly I thought he was fat and undesirable and even when I tell him that's not true, it doesn't matter. It's still there, I just know it. Fuck, Joey, I don't know what to do about him anymore."

And Joey put away the pipe and tugged him over with one arm high around his shoulders. Joey reeked of weed frankly, but underneath that was the smell of warm skin, and so Joey just smelled like another human being to Lance, and another human being was just what he needed. He curled into Joey, put his hand out on his stomach, Joey was so solid, like a rock, a soft rock, but something Lance could grab onto when he felt the current coming on too strong. He hoped JC could say the same about him.

"You're a saint for trying, you know," Joey said, matter-of-factly. His arm squeezed once and then was limp, maybe feeling a little awkward now.

"It doesn't feel like it," Lance replied. "Sometimes... sometimes it just seems like I'm helping him be the martyr."

"Maybe." That was all Joey had for him, sympathy and shoulder, Lance realized. So much but not enough. He laid with his cheek on Joey's shoulder for a long time, until just before he was too tired to make the trek back to his room. He said good night and thank you, and teased Joey about how he was reaching for the unfinished bowl, then let the door close. In the hallway, he stopped outside JC's room, and thought about knocking. He didn't, instead pressing his ear against the door, but the low murmur of a TV was all he could discern. He left and went to bed.

Part Two - Fic Index - Main