This is dedicated to the first friend I made in this fandom, Em. One of my JoLa hero's, this WAS supposed to be for her birthday, but wow, it's really late, so lets just say it's for her. Also many thanks to Dazi for pointing out the great song for me to use, and to Ann for beta'ing, and for Silvia who means well. :)

More Than the Eye Can See

by Miss Kitty E

Sometimes words just can't explain
This is real

Lance woke up to the sound of Joey's singing and felt lucky. Preliminary indications were that a lot of the fans were excited to hear Joey's voice in a song of his own, on the bus Lance got a free show everyday. Joey sang along to oldies, to commercial jingles, sang snippets of songs he had no intention to write. It was nice.

He stretched as much as he could within the coffin-like confines of his bunk and tried to decipher the song. Joey was singing along to that Frankie guy he liked, and he sounded upbeat. He debated staying in bed for another hour, or maybe another three; there wasn't a day he didn't need more sleep. But the pros were outweighed by some unnamable con, and he rolled out of bed and headed for the kitchen area.

He stumbled a little, legs having forgotten how to shift and balance on a moving bus overnight. Joey smiled at him, even thrust his hip out at him as he sang and danced along. Lance noted it, and smiled back, but Joey didn't see, pulling cherry pop-tarts out of the toaster and sliding in some white bread. Joey liked warm foods in the morning.

There was a liquid breakfast with his name on it in the mini-fridge on the far side of the kitchen. He could wait until Joey was done, which wouldn't be long, or he could slide between the counter and Joey, their hips sort of brushing. He did so, putting his hands on Joey's shoulders to keep him from moving, he blinked when he felt something give under his palms. Joey was usually so solid. "What is this, Fatone, you wearing padding now?"

"Hm?" Joey shied away from Lance's hands, and didn't look directly at him, except in quick glances. "Any padding I got is all natural, Bass."

"No, I didn't- I'm not saying you're getting bigger. Your back, it- um, it felt-" Lance didn't know what it felt like, just not right. Not like the other times he'd rested his hands on Joey's shoulders. "Joey?"

Joey looked up at him, and Lance nearly ducked away from the eye contact, but then Joey was slowly pulling up the hem of his shirt. Lance inhaled and felt something spark inside, and wondered if all this time it had needed only this. No special word, no special catalyst, but just a moment to stand still was all it took to start off Part Two of "Joey and Lance: A Friendship." But instead of Joey reaching out to touch him, he revealed something Lance was just not prepared for.

"Jesus!" He dropped his coffee mug- the one he'd gotten in Italy, he liked that one -and the handle snapped off, flying under the counter. Lance didn't even look down, "Those aren't... they can't be real!" he insisted even though he'd just seen them move, had just dropped his empty coffee mug because they had fucking moved.

Joey cleared his throat, "They are." He turned around, and Lance saw the full curve of Joey's two small wings. They were black, sort of; the longer feathers had a greenish-purple iridescent quality, like the back of a beetle. They were about the length of Joey's upper arm, the last feather barely brushing Joey's elbow when he flapped them once, surprisingly fast and hard. Some of Lance's contracts fluttered off of the dinette table and onto the bus floor.

Lance blinked, slowly, and they were still there. "How did you..." he started to ask.

"They were a gift," Joey said, he started to put on his shirt, but Lance stopped him.

"Can I?"

Joey looked at him, a little surprised, and said, "Um, sure."

Lance lifted the hand that had stayed Joey's, and slowly ran three fingers over the arch of the bone, starting from where the wings broke the skin and down towards the last curved feather. He did it again, this time resting the full weight of his palm on the artwork of feather, muscle, and delicate bone. Joey moved his wing subtly against Lance's hand, and he jumped back, startled.

"Shit," he murmured, giggling nervously. "Fuck, that's cool." He watched Joey tuck them tight against his back, and slip on his shirt again. "They're just the right size, aren't they? To be hidden?"

Joey nodded, "For now." He looked over his shoulder at them, face at peace, "but they'll get bigger."

"Bigger?" Lance asked. Right now they were a little small, he guessed, for Joey's big frame, but he didn't know how big a man's wings were supposed to be so... "How big are they going to get? Noticeably big?"

"I don't know. Maybe."

Lance might have started to worry about that, because it would be pretty hard to explain full sized wings to even an adoring public. Joey might have to give up public life to enjoy his wings. His mind was elsewhere, on pleasant things like, "Can you fly?"

"Not yet."

Lance smiled and was thrilled. He tried to think of what to say, "We gotta tell the other guys, man."

"I don't know." Joey's toast popped up to punctuate his sentence and while he was buttering his toast Lance took a bite of his pop tart on the sly.

"Joey, they're awesome. And they'll have to find out sometime."

"I know, but for now lets keep it special." Joey picked up his breakfast and cast a dark look at Lance for his maimed pop tart.

"I don't think there's anyway fucking wings could be any less special."


Lance managed to keep it to himself all day, and after that it became his and Joey's secret. It was still a little odd to think about it, to try to get his mind around the concept, to alter all his thoughts about Joey to include the fact that he had wings. As he puzzled about, he wondered if he might have figured out the day Joey got them. He couldn't be sure because, come on, there wasn't a day Joey didn't smile genuinely, joyously, for some amount of time. But if he thought about it, there was a special smile, one that stood out because Lance tried to notice all of Joey's smiles and their reasons. That one he couldn't explain, he thought that must be the day Joey got his wings.

You make me restless
You're in my heart

It was almost a week before Joey told the other guys, and he spent most of those five days walking around the bus blissfully shirtless, wings unbound. It was still a little startling to Lance to see Joey walk out of from the bunk area and stretch in the lounge, wings unfolding to their greatest span.

The first time Joey had paused at the look at Lance's face. "What?" he asked softly.

"Nothing," Lance realized that was a little stupid to say, he had been starting. "Just... do you have to concentrate very hard to make them move?"

"Oh," Joey said, and he shook his head, "No, they just... it's not like dancing; I don't have to tell myself anything."

Lance smiled, "Maybe they already know how to fly."


It took three days for Lance to stop being startled every time he glanced at Joey. Three days to get used to the new form a body he'd lived with for six years had taken. Sometimes when Joey was engrossed in something, Lance would stare and take in the details; the way the wings folded, the way they moved just slightly when Joey took a deep breath, the way that Joey looked so much more serene and introspective now, the entire tone of his expression seemed changed by the peaks of his wings framing his face. He still looked like Joey, still looked warm and happy, but the wings made you think he had some unknowable reason for his smile.

It was nice, because Joey had been shamed recently by their management who were as kind as possible about approaching the subject of weight, and by the press who were as cruel as they wanted to be. Lance like seeing Joey comfortable, liked that Joey was comfortable with him. But after a while, it got sort of frustrating, because Joey's pants were still a little big from when he'd bought them before the tour, and so there was a lot of smooth skin on display, hints of Joey's hips peeking above his waistband.

Joey's back was impossibly broad, and his belly was just... poke-able. It was tough on Lance because Joey only liked to be tickled about once in the space of two hours; it made him feel self-conscious. Lance didn't want to explain that he only did it because he hadn't been able to stop his hands from reaching out in time.

No need to wonder why
Sometimes a gift like this you can't deny

Joey took Lance by the elbow in the hotel one night when Lance was heading for his own room, not entirely interested in the bootleg video JC, Chris, and Justin had insisted Dre buy because they knew they wouldn't be able to catch it in the theatres. And certainly not here in New York.

Lance looked back and tried to figure out what Joey wanted, but Joey already had his back to him. Lance had no choice but to follow. Inside Justin's room, Chris was remarking that whoever bootlegged this was pretty frickin' cool, because they even had the trailers on tape.

"Hell yeah, man. You know this one looks really cool," JC said, sitting next to him. He looked and saw Joey pocketing the extra key card. "What's up Joe, wanna watch?"

"Um, no. Actually could you pause it for a sec, I need to say something. Shouldn't take long."

Lance saw Justin looking at him knowingly and felt uncomfortable. He wished Joey would let go of his arm before Justin guessed something really wrong.

Chris did it instead, "You and Lance are having a baby?" The last time Joey had gathered the five of them together, he told them Kelly was pregnant, and that he didn't think they would get married any time soon, or possibly ever.

"What? No, I..." Joey did let go, and Lance took a step away, watching Joey with more amusement now that he knew what was going on. The other guys, though, seemed a bit worried. Even Chris was still and serious. "I um- I have something to show you," Joey turned around, and looked at Lance. Lance smiled, and Joey didn't exactly smile back, but he seemed calmer as he reached back and pulled up his shirt.

Chris, as always, spoke too soon, "Jesus Christ, Joey, you freaked us out for a new tattoo- oh my god!"

Joey shook his wings out, looking over his shoulder as he dropped his shirt. Justin had his hand over his mouth, and JC had his mouth hanging open, Chris was already standing up.

"Holy shit, Fatone. Holy fucking shit," he poked Joey's left wing, and then tugged on a feather. When he went for the right wing and in annoyance Joey flapped it; Chris jumped back.

JC took a deep breath, swallowed, and inhaled again, "How on earth did you- I mean how is it- how long-" He got a little flustered and just said, "Joey."

Joey knew had known JC so long he could answer questions that hadn't been really been asked, just started. "I don't know how I got them, I just... woke up with them."

"Woke up with them?" Justin repeated. JC was out of his seat and looking closely at Joey's wings; he didn't touch them.

Joey rolled his neck, like it was stiff, "I took a shower, something was not right, I look in the mirror, and I had wings. I don't know how."

"How can you not know?" JC was looking at Joey face now, and his forehead had a crease that was familiar to them all, confusion he was determined to resolve. He was not always successful, but he always tried.

"I just... they didn't come with a note JC." Joey went and sat on the arm of the couch, Lance noticed his wings were drooping a little, maybe Joey was tired. Justin shifted back a little to look at him, and when he thought Joey was looking he brushed a few feathers his finger. Joey didn't look back, but he folded his wings against his back.

JC sat across from Joey on the bed, "Do you have an idea?"

Joey looked for a moment at all of them and shrugged, Lance was fascinated that his wings shrugged, too. "I guess I do. In a way. When I was a kid in Catholic school they tried to teach you what it was to pray, but they didn't really, try too hard. They just said you prayed to God and asked for strength, faith, and whatever else you wanted or needed. I was six, you know, so instead of asking for peace on earth, or more money, I asked for wings. Cause, you know, I thought it was pretty cool Superman could fly." He seemed embarrassed that was his reason. "Um, I kept it up every night I thought to pray I asked for wings, but it became metaphorical, like... wings meant success, wings meant lucky. I didn't ever really think that I'd ever wake up one day with fucking wings."

JC asked softly, "So you think that-"

"I don't know what I think, they're just there."

"Why didn't you tell us about this sooner?" Justin lifted his hand again, but let it fall before it touched Joey's wing.

"They weren't much to see earlier."

Chris seemed extra jittery, his leg bouncing even as he picked at his nails. "What do you mean?"

Joey shrugged a few times, glancing at Lance quickly, too fast to search for any answer, just making sure he was there. "When I uh- first... found them, I guess, they were the size of hummingbird wings. They've been growing ever since."

"Wait," JC said, "They're still- they're going to get bigger?"

"Yeah," Joey said, standing. He went for his shirt, and put it on, tugging it low so that last feather wouldn't show, resettling his wings beneath the fabric.

"Really big?" Chris asked, frowning.

"I don't know. Listen guys, I'm wiped. I'll see you, later. For dinner or something."

"Joey, don't-" Chris started, annoyed that someone was annoyed with him.

"I'm not," Joey said grasping the handle of the door. Lance caught it before it closed, looking back at the other guys. Chris had the remote in his hand again, eyes already on the TV, so he went to Joey's room. Actually, he went to his room and used the adjoining door; Joey never really kept it locked, at least not when Lance was on the other side.

They'd checked in an hour ago, and it didn't make sense that Joey had already gotten the place dirty. The clothes he'd worn on the bus were on the floor, the clothes he'd rooted through to find the outfit he was wearing now were on the floor too. An empty water bottle was on the nightstand, his shaving kit was dumped out- why? Couldn't he keep it in the bag? ľon the bathroom counter, and Joey was on his bed, which had the itchy comforter pulled off.

He was lying on his stomach, wings unfurled gently like they had fallen open. Lance sat next to Joey, looking at expanse of his back rise and fall. He touched the skin between Joey's wings, laying his hand flat like he could glean some of Joey's feelings from the heat, the feel of it. His fingers strayed, ruffling Joey's feathers lightly.

"Lance-" he said softly, like he was tired.

"I'm sorry," Lance took his hand away. "I didn't mean to-"

"No, it's fine. I just- it was... weird, to have them look at me like I was a stranger. Strange."

"Don't worry about it, they'll get used to it. I mean, I gave you some looks, I bet."

"Not like that. It never felt... like that."

Lance wanted to kiss Joey's shoulder, but he leaned down and pressed his cheek there instead. He felt Joey's right wing under his chest and was careful not to put much pressure on it.

"Just let them get used to it. In a week they won't even notice it anymore."

"I guess." Joey huffed a little, a petulant little noise.

Lance wished he could have rested there a little longer with him, but he wasn't really resting, not with his back so tense to keep from crushing Joey's wing. He sat up and rolled his shoulders to get the muscles to relax.

"I'll come get you for dinner, okay?"

"Yeah," Joey peeked open one eye watching him stand, "Thanks Lance."

"No prob," Lance said. He left feeling selfishly good about himself, because he knows now what he's always suspected, that no one was a better friend to Joey than him.

Can't you see?

In truth, they did get used to Joey's wings, in their own ways. They didn't flinch, or shy away from them like they had in the beginning. No one jumped anymore when a feather brushed their shoulder, or took a double take when Joey walked in shirtless, wings slightly apart to stave off the heat.

Lance thought JC might be jealous, a little, of Joey's wings. Joey himself never noticed it, or if he did, he never brought it up; but Lance did. Joey took off his shirt more and more to let them stretch out while there were rehearsing, while they were on the bus, and Lance saw JC watching Joey carefully before turning away like he couldn't stand to look anymore.

Chris was unflustered in as much as he didn't give a shit about much of anything anymore, even the miraculous appearance of wings on his best friend. He might have spent a night thinking up some good taunts, but other than that, he treated Joey that same, even the occasional, ill-advised tackle from behind.

Justin seemed to think they were cool enough at first, skittish, but curious. But after a few weeks, Justin started to resent the attention Joey got from the crew, and from Britney.

"Those are like the coolest things ever, Joey." She blinked her mascara'ed lashes at him and was promptly whisked away by a less than happy Justin. No matter.

As it was, Lance was the only one who liked to really touch them. One day while the band was tuning he pressed his hands down on the muscle and said, "See if you can push them up."

Joey could and did, even with Lance pressing down as hard as he thought would be alright, feeling Joey's delicate bones under the surface. He liked to run his fingers very gently under each row of primaries, dislodging any loose feathers while Joey sat pliant in front of him.

"You look like monkeys grooming each other," Chris had remarked once. Joey sat cross-legged on the floor between Lance's spread legs, one wing stretched out for Lance to work on.

"Monkey's don't have wings," Lance had replied, unflustered.

"The ones in Wizard of Oz did, remember?" Justin offered.

Chris thought this was hilarious, "How 'bout it, Joey? You got your tail yet?"

"Shut up," Joey tucked his left wing in, and stretched out his right. Lance's practiced fingers started in on it, every now and then Joey's wing jerked and he had to apologize for not being gentler, but Joey never asked him to stop.

The only light that shines
there in the dark

A month passed and Joey's wings were getting harder to hide. He wore loose shirts and jackets with the linings ripped out, but that started the critics gnashing their teeth again about the "portly member of 'Nsync." He didn't go out as much, girls in the club would try to hug him from behind, or put their hands on his broad shoulders. Instead he and Lance spent a lot of nights in, Joey shucking his shirt the minute he stepped inside Lance's hotel room. He would flap out his wings for a second to stretch them before tucking them against his back again.

"They're growing so fast," Lance murmured one night. Joey couldn't sit with his wings closed anymore. If he wanted to sit on a couch he had sit in the middle and spread them out along the back. If Lance wanted the couch, too, he'd have to sit with his head and back against soft black feathers. Joey insisted it didn't hurt to have Lance rest against them, and sometimes when he was getting tired, the dimmed lights and muted sounds of a "movie night" lulling him to sleep, he put his head on Joey's shoulder and felt a wing curl in on him; warm and soft, blocking out the light and noise from the TV.

It was nice to spend time with Joey, Lance didn't feel any ache at all when Joey went back to his own room; he knew he wasn't being abandoned. Joey would be back again the next night, and maybe they'd go downstairs to the hotel's five star restaurant, maybe they'd order room service. They'd watch another movie (if they hadn't already gone through all of them), or they'd go through a script, idly musing about doing another movie together, knowing that they couldn't. If they were feeling particularly silly, Lance would pretend to act surprised when Joey took off his shirt, and say "Oh my god, you're a- you're a giant chicken!" and the rest of the night he'd call Joey Chicken Boo.

Lance felt, for the first time, that he really had Joey, and could keep him.

I'm afraid
I guess this time there's just no hiding, fighting

It didn't last too terribly long, three weeks at the most before he realized he'd be sharing Joey with the whole world again.

He tried his best to keep up with Joey's moods, to be excited when Joey was excited, to be calming when Joey was nervous, and to be a willing distraction when Joey was tired of thinking up all the ways the world would be different after his secret was no longer a secret. It still felt good to be with Joey, but with each passing day the threat of being abandoned again for intrigued women and an honored place at parties and clubs. Joey wouldn't just be Joey after this, he'd be special in a way that everybody could see and everyday would want a piece of it. Lance didn't want to deny anybody anything, but he wanted the greatest and most important part of Joey to bear some permanent mark that Lance had loved and cared for it. So instead of pulling away now that Joey was preparing to leave him, he stayed.

The outfit Trace created was much, much more tasteful than Lance would have imagined. The jacket maybe, red velvet, gold embroidered, knee length thing that it was, was a bit over the top. But Lance liked the black vintage tuxedo pants, especially the elegant ribbon down the outside seams with designs in two shades of black. The shirt's stiff cuffs were oversized to match the oversized jacket, the sleeves just a little big, and the jewelry-like buttons just skirted effeminate. The alterations made were minor; slits up along the back with snaps to close them after they were arranged around the black, glossy ornament of Joey's wings.

"It looks like a Halloween costume," Johnny said.

"That's the point," Trace said in his 'I really am a good designer, dammit' voice. "People are going to be startled, and then think they've gotten the joke. They won't realize they're real until Joey's half way back to the hotel."

"And then what?" Lance didn't really mean to say it out loud, but he did.

For that question there was no answer yet. Lance would have to wait two days to find out for himself.

Close my eyes
You're the only one that leaves me completely breathless

Lance never really made use of his balconies. Their hotels were always nice but exclusively urban, and the air outside was tepid and had no taste. The view itself was always uninteresting, just office buildings, malls, other hotels. In one aspect only could they satisfy Lance's expectations; they could make him small again. He could go out and see fifty story buildings across from him, and dozens of cars passing beneath him and remember that the most of the world was, in fact, not in service of him, not aware of him or his problems. He could only find so many people who had it better than him, who could find pity that his career and the scrutiny it brought made it hard for him to be with a boy he liked.

It was humbling and a little depressing to find out he had no right to complain, but it made him feel better. The world wasn't going to end if he didn't get Joey, and similarly his world wasn't going to end if, for once, he didn't get his way. He only needed a few minutes really, time was so precious he'd learned to conserve. Three hours of sleep could last him a day, and three minutes of meditation last him a heartbreak. As he turned, he saw Joey there, on his own balcony, and eight dollar beer in hand.

Lance smiled in spite of himself, Joey looked like an angel taking a break. Some messenger of God who had lit upon a luxury hotel's balcony, shucked off his silk robe, and grabbed a beer. Just a little breather before he went off again to right wrongs and save faith all over the world. He coughed to catch Joey's attention and got it, wings perking up and everything. Joey didn't say anything, knowing the clarity of his words would be lost in the updraft from the still hot asphalt below. Instead, he nodded at Lance, and tipped his head back towards his room.

An invitation. Lance almost took the offer. He did want to go, to hear Joey's excitement, his worry, but he'd just found a little peace with the whole situation, he didn't need to go an irritate it. He shook his head in response, and in joking pointed to Joey, flapped his hands a little, and pointed to himself. Joey laughed, and waved his hand in dismissal. Lance waved his hand in parting, retreating into his room

He reached behind him to shut the sliding glass door and was startled to feel a hand already there. He spun around, startled and thinking up worst-case scenarios. Instead of a stalker, he found Joey with a slight hint of exertion in his breathing.

"Joey?" Lance still took a step back as if he was afraid. "You didn't just-" He smacked Joey's shoulder, "I would have wanted to see. I didn't... when did you find out you could fly?"

"I just assumed."

Even though Joey was safe on sturdy construction, Lance felt fear again for what could have been. "Joey..." he said chidingly.

"It's okay, Lance. It's good to know, isn't it? In case of fire grab on to the winged dude." Lance did smile, but was still just a little mad that Joey had tested his luck like that. "Lance, are you- something's been off about you lately and-"

"I'm fine, really, just..." Lance opened his hands, as if he was helpless to pinpoint his trouble.

"Just what?" Apparently, Joey saw straight though that.

"I'm worried about tomorrow night."

"Why?" Joey closed the door and shut the out the street noise of the night.

"It'll be a whole new kind of attention after that. 'One member of 'Nsync freak of nature.' 'At last we can tell one of them apart.' They won't understand what this is."

"I don't understand what this is. Insults have never bothered you before."

They had, but there was nothing Lance could do about them, so he mostly kept quiet about it. He shrugged, "Well, I just... you'll be the center of attention and some people will hate you, some people will love you, and they'll all want to take you away." There was a very subtle "from me" implied at the end of that, which Joey didn't catch.

"Take me away from where? From the group?" Joey shifted his weight to one leg, "You know, of all the people you could be worrying about going solo, I'm not your biggest concern."

"It's not that," Lance wished he could send Joey away, talk to him in the morning. Quick as he was in a business meeting, he couldn't find a way to dance around this particular subject.

"Lance, what's your problem with me?"

Joey was surprisingly insecure about his friendships with people, and now he was in doubt of theirs. This called for an emergency use of truth, "Nothing. It's not you, it's losing you to everybody who's gonna want a piece of you after this. We've been... I mean we've always been friends, but we kind of... drifted. For a while, we weren't as good of friends as we were, but now we are and I don't want to go back." He looked up at Joey and shrugged again, "So."

Joey seemed surprised, and took a moment to reply. "That's... Lance..." He rolled his shoulders, "Are you accusing me of being a bad friend?"

"No. No. I mean... No. We just get busy and-"

"Get busy?"

Lance swallowed and tried to find another way to dance around what he really meant, "You go out and I stay in. I go out and you're not where you said you might be. Somehow we never see each other."

Joey looked at Lance long and carefully, his wings giving a peculiar seriousness to Joey's face. "You're saying we don't spend enough quality time. Jesus, you're not my... um, did you?"

Lance felt suddenly exposed, like he had come into himself to find his diary open, "I'm not talking about 'quality time.' Just... you and me time. Like old times."

"Lance, you're saying you want my time exclusively."

"So?" Lance didn't quite understand the significance of that. Of course he wanted Joey to himself for a few hours a day. They were friends, that was fair.

"That's dating. You wanna date?"

Lance froze, couldn't help but to do it as his mind was overloaded with the many, many things that had to be interpreted and decided upon before he could even open his mouth to answer. The way Joey had stood when he spoke, the way he had said what he said, the way his Brooklyn raising had formed his tone, his word choice, the way he didn't seem mad, but didn't seem happy. Lance inhaled and hoped to find the words in the air, but didn't.

"Lance, I wouldn't- I would wanna date."

"You do?" Lance had spent so long convincing himself that Joey didn't.

"Yeah," Joey looked so relieved just as Lance was starting to feel terrified.

He reached out and touched Lance's hand as if to nudge him into action. Lance jerked away at first impulse, startled. He looked down at Joey's short, thick fingers, and grabbed them, like their offer might soon be repealed. He looked up at Joey's face again, saw Joey lean forward. He closed his eyes and let it come.

Soft at first, the kiss gradually strengthened on it's own gravity, pulling two stubborn, long isolated planets into the same orbit. It felt good, was flavored with a slightly dirty kind of passion. Everything felt right, the merciless scratch of Joey's beard, Joey's hands smoothing over his hips, the taste of beer. They needed to talk, but talk could wait when Joey's mouth was moving against his in little nibbles. Gentle exploration, it felt so good.

Lance thought maybe they were moving too fast. Their kisses were just getting a little sloppy now, and Lance was breathing a little heavy as Joey's hand slid down his sides, fingers slipping under the waistband of Lance's old yellow sweat pants, and thumbs resting on the curves of Lance's hipbones. Lance was mainly busy with the many things Joey could and would do with his tongue, and he didn't notice that Joey was slowly tugging down his pants until a draught let him know he had skin exposed.

He pulled back and got "Joe-" out, before his mouth was covered again.

Too fast, Lance thought, too quick. Everything he wanted was coming at him too fast to appreciate. There was Joey's possessive mouth, and unabashed hands, and a slow move back, back, back to the bed where he would get still more of what he wanted. Like Joey's weight pressing him down into hotel sheets, Joey pushing one knee from the other to lay between them, more kissing, the crush of mouth against mouth until Lance couldn't remember anything but kisses, loneliness was forgotten, forgiven.

It would have been pretty damn presumptuous of Joey to take all that he was taking if Lance had thought to put up a fight at all. He couldn't say no, there was nothing to say no to. He wanted Joey to slowly pull off his old yellow sweatpants, to bury his face in Lance's stomach, and lay kisses there to make him twitch and gasp. Some prudish part of his brain was saying, "Slut, slut. Don't be so easy. This isn't how you do it," but the rest of him wanted the unexpected thrill of Joey's wings slowly sliding open until that last feather was at it's greatest span.

It was sort of embarrassing, hot, but embarrassing, when Joey puts his hand on Lance's dick, rubs and strokes. He's embarrassed that he surged up like he did, embarrassed that he can't think of anything else to do except curse breathily. He slid his hands slowly down Joey's long back, pushing them into Joey's loose jeans, squeezed, and when Joey chuckled at him, that was kind of embarrassing, too. Lance pushed past the embarrassment, reward awaited him on the other side. Rewards like Joey finally shimmying out of his jeans, and Joey moving his hand up Lance's thigh and then back.

Lance had to close his eyes when sensation upon sensation became too much to handle. On the backs of his eyelids he still could see the graceful curves of Joey's wings, felt the occasional brush of feathers on his shoulders as they moved with the force of Joey's thrusts. Lance was bent in half, spread open, mouth open as he sucked in deep breaths. He fisted his hand in Joey's hair, pulling tighter than he intended. Joey didn't seemed to mind it, maybe thrust a little harder for it.

A slow internal burn started in Lance's belly, fire that pulled Lance's muscles tight, radiated outward and made sweat bead all over his skin. Lance could feel the climax just within grasp, the rise to meet it slowing down to a crawl, gravity pulled him down, but Joey's thrusts lifted him up. He couldn't stop the noises he made, rough and off-rhythm grunts, but he couldn't have formed words if he tried. Joey's hand strayed clumsily between them, pulled and stroked, until Lance couldn't breath and it was either come now or die from lack of oxygen.

He came.

Joey followed soon after, and Lance watched his ascent, feeling voyeuristic even though he was a part of it. A ripple passed under his spread fingers on Joey's skin, and suddenly it was over. Lance took a deep breath and prepared for whatever aftermath there would be- tonight, tomorrow, a week from now by sealing this moment inside. The tired tenderness of the kisses afterward made Lance drowsy, and content.

Joey lay down on his stomach, still panting softly. Lance had to slip under Joey's wing to lie beside him, he put his arm low across Joey's back. He kissed Joey's temple, and thought, "This is good, this is mine now." Most of him believed it.

And there's nothing that
I wouldn't do for you

Lance woke up slowly over the course of five minutes, the first shift stirred him, but he refused to open his eyes. He rolled over, obstinate, and sure that he could find a comfortable position again. Something was wrong though, different. He rolled onto his back again, but that wasn't right. It took him a minute to remember what was different. There had been a Joey beside him when he had gone to sleep. He opened his eyes, Joey was gone and the room was quiet.

He tried not to be angry, not to be hurt, but he really hadn't thought Joey would do that to him. He lay back and thought about what he was going to do now. His mind wandered through different possibilities, fighting, crying, hiding, forgetting, never seeing him again, maybe working through it, or never resolving it. He cursed aloud, and heard Joey's voice.


He blinked, and gathered up the sheet around his waist. Joey was on the balcony, naked still, wings close around his body for the chill.

Lance watched him for a second, one hand holding the sheet up, the other holding the open door. "Thinking of flying away?"

Joey smiled but didn't directly answer. Lance walked up behind him, slipping the sheet around both their waists. He couldn't see anything over Joey's shoulders, didn't really want to, the air was crisp and almost covered up the warm smell of Joey's skin. Joey's wings moved slightly, and Lance felt his heart twist inexplicably.

"You're still not happy, are you?" Joey asked him.

"I am." He wasn't.

Joey sighed softly, "You're lying. What, Lance, what is it? I tried." He took another deep breath, Lance felt Joey's ribcage expand under his cheek. "I love you."

"I know you do." Joey shifted and Lance held on tighter, Joey went still. "Joey, you know, your wings are fully grown now, aren't they?"


"So what happens?"


"The catch?" Lance asked. "Isn't this where you reveal you'd love to stay but you can't? Whoever gave you those wings, it came with a high price, didn't it?"

"Lance, what the fuck?" Joey turned his face far enough for Lance to see in profile now, but Lance wasn't looking. "Why don't you have any faith in me?"

"I do," Lance said, reduced to being petulant. He wasn't used to being helpless before someone. He couldn't tell Joey what to do, though he wanted to. Stay, stay, stay, don't ever leave.

"It sure as hell doesn't seem like it. Lance, tell me."

"I just don't," Lance closed his eyes and tried to think. "I don't want to think I've got you when I don't."

"You're still... Lance, I thought we just took care of that?"

"By having sex?" Lance asked, meanly.

Joey turned sharply, throwing Lance off. Lance regretted instantly, Joey was touchy about being called a slut. "By being together, Lance. And I know the fucking difference."

Lance wished he had pulled on some clothes before coming out here, he was cold and naked and having a fight with someone he loved. Misery was cold in his stomach, as he said, "Maybe I don't."

"Why are you so convinced I'm going to leave you?"

Lance was quiet, and rather than look Joey in the eye he focused a little to the left, staring right over his shoulder. He lifted his hand to trace the peak of Joey's wing. "You've got the instruments to leave me any time any where always with you. Why did you ask for wings if you didn't want to be free?"

Joey put his hands on the railing and leaned back a little, "You really think you know everything, don't you, Lance? Lots of reasons I might want wings."

"Joey?" Lance looked at him sideways.

Joey reached out and tugged on Lance's sheet until they were back together, Lance sought out the warmth of Joey's skin, like a plant sought sunlight. "You know, you gotta trust me, Lance, to know a good thing when I see it."

"Jaded, I guess," Lance said, snuffling into the crook of Joey's neck and shoulder.

"If you had told me..."

"I know." Lance turned his cheek and looked up at Joey, "I just didn't think, you know. Wasn't sure."

"It's a sure thing now." Joey ran his palm down the length of Lance's spine.

Lance was quiet for a long time before musing, "You know, it just occurred to me, that anybody with a telescopic lens could have been taking pictures all this time. You and me stark naked and having a fight."

"Paranoia, I like that in a man." Joey dipped his head down and kissed him.

Lance yielded for a moment before a sudden chill came upon him, sending a shiver across his skin. "Let's go inside."

"Sure. Now that they have a prettier picture."

"It'd be a shame, though," Lance said, closing the door after them. "If they ruined your surprise tomorrow."

"If they've got pictures of you and me kissin' that's gonna be the least of our worries."

Joey bent down and picked up the blanket that had been discarded early on in the heat of passion, precisely because of the heat, and spread it out again on the bed. Lance returned to bed eagerly, chilled and excited about tomorrow morning. Joey would still be there, and things would still be good, and the whole mess about the awards show would be campy fun. Joey's biggest secret would still be Lance's to keep. He laid on his back with Joey half on top of him, sprawled. He smiled and let go of his fear, lay down his burden. He felt lighter now, without it, light enough to fly.

'Cause I wanted to fly,
so you gave me your wings
And time held its breath so I could see, yeah
And you set me free

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