nsync in black and white

Fiction by Pen . . . . . not real, made up, purely intended for entertainment

The Sprinkle Fairy

written for DWNOGA 2006. Thanks to KC for the beta

Chris nearly hit his head on the underside of the bunk above as he startled at the sight. His sheet had been turned down, just as though this were a smart hotel, and there, on his pillow—on a tiny cocktail napkin on his pillow, in fact—was a glossy brown chocolate truffle.

On the brink of devouring it, he paused, and glanced suspiciously into the other two bunks. Not a sound. No giggling, snuffling, or other telltales indicated that one or other of the guys was lying in wait for him to fall for a boobytrap, like a chocolate filled with hot chili pepper.

Chris picked up the truffle and studied it. Walnut-sized, and actually, it looked kinda like a nut, too. He sniffed it cautiously. A rich, tempting scent filled his nostrils. Mmm... that was some serious chocolate, there. Yes, indeed. Justin asleep... check. On his back and looking implausibly pure. JC asleep.... check. A confusion of silky curls above tightly-wound blankets. Chris nobly resisted the urge to tweak at a lock, and clambered into his own bunk instead.

Lying in the dark with his mouth full of heavy, solid, intense, dark chocolate, he pondered for a few minutes. Had the girl who cleaned the bus developed a crush on him? Or maybe their driver had been bribed by a fan to put a chocolate on his pillow? If so, it had probably been meant for Justin's pillow, a thought that surprised him into a splurt of laughter, so that chocolate-flavored drool spilled out of his mouth. Maybe they all had a chocolate on their pillow, not just Chris. Nah, didn't like that idea much. He preferred the idea that it was for him, that somebody liked him better than the two pretty divas on the bus.

Oh, whatever.

Now he had to go brush his teeth again.

Four bus nights later, he'd have been more surprised if there wasn't a fancy chocolate on his pillow. Neither of the others had mentioned it, so maybe they hadn't had chocolates. And truth be told, Chris wasn't quite sure that he liked it so much anymore.

It wasn't that there was no note, no sign of any kind. Generally, fans liked you to know who it was sending you a present, they always signed them, plush Barneys or gummi bears or whatever, but really, he didn't much care where it came from.

And it wasn't that nobody else seemed to have any idea there were chocolates on the bus. Chris was all for that, really, he undoubtedly deserved chocolate more than anyone else on his bus, because they were tall and skinny and didn't understand the importance of chocolate in the grand pageant of life. Justin didn't eat it much, because he hated to get zits, but if he was in the mood he practically inhaled candy bars, didn't savor them, and didn't put on an ounce of weight either. JC savored, all right, but he could savor a carrot stick or a piece of fried fish just like he could savor a Reese's peanut butter cup. JC was such a freak. Anyway, it wasn't that.

The trouble was, Chris didn't really like rich, dark chocolate truffles with the density of lead bricks. The realization came to him as he was lying there in darkness, chewing heavily on the latest offering. What he really, really liked, was cheap, everyday candy.

The next time they overnighted on the bus, he flushed the pillow chocolate down the toilet.

* * *

"How long do we have before the meet and greet, Tiny?" Justin asked, as the bodyguard filled the doorway to the Toy Room. Chris was locked in battle with the games machine, Joey was sitting at his drum kit, practicing a new technique Billy had been showing him this morning. Lance was nowhere in sight, probably in the Quiet Room already with his computer.

"Almost half an hour."

The door opened to admit JC, who slipped inside with a tentative grin on his face, and went to stand at Chris's shoulder. Justin watched them fondly. It was like living with kindergartners, what with Chris's tendency to pull JC's hair and run away, and JC's inevitable hissy fits, but they couldn't seem to help it.

Moments later there was a shout of rage as the machine defeated Chris, but apparently some kind of record had been achieved, as Chris was demanding, at much too high a pitch, that JC admire the score and award him a trophy.

"I dunno, man, I don't think I have a trophy. No, wait, here. Ever tried these? They're from Michel Cluizel, single origin chocolate, seriously the best there is—"

"Nah," said Chris, indifferently, with barely a glance at the box JC was holding, "I don't like fancy-shmancy chocolates. We got Snickers bars in the Quiet Room, right?" And he disappeared through the other door, leaving JC staring after him, every line of his body expressing his disappointment.

Justin sighed.

"Man, it's like kicking a puppy," Tiny commented under his breath.

Justin turned to him, suddenly determined. "You think so too? You know what, man, we gotta do something about this."

"What do you have in mind?" Tiny looked at Justin with interest, but apparently no faith in Justin's ability to deal with the situation. To tell the truth, Justin had no clue what to do, but he was determined to do something. "Me, I'd say knock their heads together, but that'd get me fired," Tiny continued. "You could try a visit from the Sprinkle Fairy, I guess."

"The what?"

"The Sprinkle Fairy. A tradition, back where I come from. The Sprinkle Fairy sprinkles magic dust and makes people fall in love. Kinda like Cupid's arrow, but, you know. Real."

"Real?" said Justin, boggled. Tiny's face was showing not one hint of a smile, he looked like he was perfectly serious.


"The Sprinkle Fairy."

"Oh, man, no, there's no such thing as the actual Sprinkle Fairy. She's no more real than Santa Claus. But you get your presents at Christmas, don't you? Same thing."

"So... you're saying it's, like, a metaphor?" Justin could never quite remember the difference between metaphor and symbolism, but it sounded good, and probably, he thought, Tiny wouldn't know either.

"No, sprinkle dust is real. Worked for my daddy. He was in love with the prettiest girl in town, never thought she'd look twice at him until my grandma made up some sprinkle dust." It was cheating, Justin thought, to have a voice so big and rumbly that everything you said sounded authoritative. But he was intrigued.

"Let's go for a little walk," he suggested, "and you can tell me about this stuff."

* * *

This bus was in the most disgusting state, JC thought fastidiously as he picked his way through the debris. Scattered Playstation controls, magazines, shoes, empty Doritos packets, and a banana skin, lone testimony to a half-hearted attempt at healthy living. JC raged inwardly. This was all Chris's fault. Everything was Chris's fault, including the fact that he, JC Chasez, songwriter and musician, had been trying for an hour to pin down some kind of inspiration into a usable lyric or a melodic line that didn't totally suck, and had got nowhere. Chris was a malign influence, spreading mess and destruction and, JC noticed with increasing wrath, shards of Heath toffee, wherever he went.

By the time Justin arrived on the bus, the magazines and other trash were tied up in a bag, the games consoles were neatly ordered, and JC had worked up a fairly convincing argument that the parlous state of the entire US economy was directly attributable to Chris Kirkpatrick. There might be experts out there who disagreed, but JC was certain none of these experts had ever met Chris.

Justin arrived, to be given an armful (well, two and a half pairs) of sneakers, and told sternly to put them away. Justin kept forgetting that his Innocent Cherub face didn't actually work, at least not very well, now the curls were gone, but he took the shoes lovingly back to his bunk—JC was very nearly sure Justin was talking to them—and returned looking chastened. For ten seconds, maybe.

"So, what's up?" Justin said, sprawling happily onto the couch which JC had just liberated for his own use.

"Hah," JC replied, darkly. "You remember it was Chris's idea not to have that extra costume change, right? Well, you've heard of the butterfly effect—"

"What did he do?"

"What? Nothing. I mean, who?"

Justin looked at him in a pointed sort of way.

JC raised his chin, defensively. "Also, luxury goods. Necessary expenditure, it's important for the money to be kept circulating, I think you'll agree, if the economy isn't—"

"What did Chris do?"

"Nothing," said JC, sulkily. He sat down next to Justin, and plucked at a loose thread in the knee of his jeans. "He just. He didn't like the chocolate."

"Wait, we are talking about Chris, right?"

"Yes, exactly!" JC burst out. "I thought, chocolate, right, Chris likes chocolate, everybody knows that, I got this special stuff, it's from France, it's, like, ultimate chocolate, I put it, and I thought he, but he didn't, and then he just. Didn't." He scowled. "Go away."

"Dude," said Justin, curling an arm around JC's shoulders. "You're really upset about this."

"Am not," JC denied. "It's just. If he didn't want it, he could have been, you know. Nicer. Fucking Chris."

"Yeah, well, I think we'll all be a lot happier when you are," said Justin. "Will you let me help?"

JC mumbled something into the front of Justin's Abercrombie and Fitch sweatshirt.

"I know, C." Justin ruffled his hair. "I got an idea."

* * *

"Lance," Chris muttered out of the side of his mouth, "what the fuck is Justin doing?"

There were some minor issues in this venue, the catwalks would have to be set a little different than usual, so the five of them were spending a few minutes walking around the stage before soundcheck. Only Justin wasn't, he was way the hell over there with Tiny, and Chris thought, in fact he was sure, he saw Justin give Tiny something, maybe an envelope, and Tiny hand Justin a small package.

This was not good.

"Hmm," said Lance.

"You're seeing what I'm seeing, right?"

"Yeah, but the question is, what exactly are we seeing? Because no way would Tiny ever do what we think maybe he's doing, and as far as I can recall, Justin's never done anything that'd jeopardize somebody's job before."

They looked at one another.

"I'll talk to Tiny," said Chris. "You deal with Justin." Chris would not usually have any trouble dealing with Justin himself, but this, what this looked like, he wasn't exactly in a position to play the heavy, and Justin would only laugh at him anyway. Lance could apply instant thumbscrews, and Justin wouldn't be expecting an attack from that quarter.

Justin came back, looking as innocent as he could manage but with an undertone of furtive that nobody who really knew the boy could possibly miss. Lance beamed at him, and flung an arm around the manly Timberlake shoulders. "J!" he announced, "I missed you! Come talk to me." Justin went with surprising alacrity. Chris stared at their retreating backs, wondering if he'd maybe picked the wrong ally, but Joey was doing brotherly stuff with Steve right now, and JC would be either frantic or scornful if Chris so much as hinted that J might be getting supplies of illegal substances, and Chris didn't want to be on the wrong end of that, no way.

Justin's ears were pink, all through soundcheck, and Lance kept smirking to himself, but flatly refused to tell Chris why, or what Justin had been doing. Chris glared at him and threatened reprisals, but Lance just laughed and went off with Joey, no doubt to share with him all the information he was keeping from Chris.

Tiny was no better, he just looked indulgently down with massive, impenetrable calm, and told Chris not to worry.

And when Chris, in desperation, tried to consult with JC, JC just colored up and ran away.

* * *

Trying not to look as though he was in any way doing something that might, possibly, in some circles, be construed as bad and wrong, JC sidled into the Quiet Room and made a beeline for the bowl of assorted candy. Oh, fuck, he'd forgotten it would all be wrapped stuff. But he couldn't be certain that Chris would eat the fruit, or even the Pop Tarts, and they were wrapped too, of course.

He put the tiny pot down next to the bowl, shoved one of the big armchairs backwards so that nobody could open the door, and hurriedly ripped off the wrappers from all the candy bars, piled them back into the bowl, and shook the Sprinkle Dust over them. Fine white powder—was it sparkly? he could almost convince himself it was sparkly—coated the candies, but there wasn't much of it and he thought probably Chris wouldn't notice. Shoveling the candy wrappers into his pockets, JC pushed the armchair back into place, and sneaked off to find a trash can.

He sauntered casually back into the Quiet Room a few minutes later, and discovered to his horror that Joey was munching on a chocolate bar from the bowl.

"Hey, C, you hungry too?" Joey welcomed him through a mouthful of Milky Way.

"Oh. Um. Not really."

"U luk igud," said Joey, swallowed helpfully, and repeated, "You're looking good, C. All rosy-cheeked and healthy and cute." He reached out and patted JC on the cheek, then pulled him into a determined embrace, smacked a kiss onto JC's astonished lips, and squeezed his butt.

JC squeaked and struggled, and stood back, staring at Joey with eyes that felt as though they were several sizes too large for their sockets. Mercifully, someone called Joey's name at that point, and JC sent up a mental prayer of thanks. Joey winked as he turned to leave the room. "Never forget that you're irresistible, C," he said.

Oh, fuck, fuckfuckfuck. He had screwed up so bad! So very, very bad!

* * *

Justin peered cautiously round the door before venturing into the Toy Room. According to Lonnie, Chris was still bugging Tiny, far from here, but it was as well to be sure. Justin didn't want Chris to catch him alone, and yes, he was safe, Joey and Lance were here, snickering evilly, which was perfectly normal behavior for Lance but kinda odd for Joey. He eyed them suspiciously.

"Look, Joe, it's the Sprinkle Fairy." Lance was actually shaking with laughter.

Justin scowled at them, and felt his ears get hot.

"That stuff really works, you know," Joey assured him.

"What? Wait, you had some sprinkle dust? But—"

"You shoulda seen C's face when I laid one on him."

Lance blinked. "You kissed JC?"

"It seemed like a good idea at the time," Joey said, shrugging modestly. "You know? To convince him the stuff works?"

"My hero," said Lance, relapsing into giggles.

"Yeah, but wait!" Justin interrupted. "You've eaten some of that stuff? It's supposed to be, well, you know. I mean, I guess Lance told you."

"That you've been supplying JC with love potion?" said Lance, rather pointedly. "Sure did."

"Goes pretty good with candy," said Joey, waving the stub of his chocolate bar.

"But," said Justin, helplessly.

"Don't worry about it, J. Nothing there to do anyone any harm," Joey told him. "It just tastes sweet."

* * *

Chris figured Justin would be hiding in the Quiet Room, and sneaked in through the Wardrobe entrance so as not to be deflected. Joey and Lance would have been primed to distract him, he was sure.

What he found was not Justin, but JC. JC muttering curses under his breath, and polishing something. Chris stopped dead. It looked like JC was masturbating a chocolate bar, rubbing the kleenex up and down, and blowing on it. This was spectacularly bizarre, even for JC.

Chris watched him lay the candy bar down on the table, and pick another one out of the large ceramic bowl. "So," he said conversationally, "was it good for you? Because it sure looked good for the Snickers."

JC leaped violently into the air, and blushed to a fetching raspberry color.

"So, what are you doing?"

"I, um. Cleaning the candy. There's no wrappers..." JC said, feebly.

Chris stared at him. "Since when do you care if the candy is wrapped or not? You haven't morphed into Justin, have you? Look," Chris moved closer, "it isn't going to hurt anyone. Put the kleenex down and back away slowly." He reached tentatively towards the bowl.

"No!" said JC with sudden determination. "You can't have them." He snatched the bowl from the table and cradled it protectively.

"What is it with you? First you're trying to give me fancy foreign candy, then you won't—wait, wait! Was that you, putting those things on my pillow?"

"Yes," said JC, refusing to meet his eyes, "but it was stupid, and this was even more stupid, I don't want you like that, so would you please just go away and get your sugar fix somewhere else."

Chris tamped down the surge of excitement that had sprung up with the realization JC had put the chocolates on his pillow. "So, do you—"

"Love potion. Sprinkles. Fairy dust. I put it on the candy," JC told his own knees, "but it's wrong. I shouldn't have. Don't want you to fall in love with me like that."

"What do you mean, like that?" Chris said. Because something here was more than usually strange. "Anyhow, I don't need—"

"It really works," said JC. "It worked on Joey. Only. Um."

"You telling me Joey ate a magic Snickers bar and now he's in love with you?"

"Look," said JC, defensive, "I know it sounds stupid, but it worked, and I didn't mean for him to eat it, but he kissed me and groped my ass, and I don't want him to do that stuff!"

"Then he'll have to get past me," said Chris. "Mind if I—" he reached for the bowl, but JC shrieked "No!" and jerked away, and the candy bars and a haze of white powder flew up into the air and showered down on the two of them, and Chris stumbled against JC, and JC staggered back against the table, and the table collapsed, and the two of them fell to the floor in a hail of fruit and vegetables and deli meats.

* * *

The crash from the Quiet Room startled the three of them out of their argument. Justin was first to reach the door, and consequently the first to see Chris and JC, locked together on the floor, entwined amidst a chaos of ruined food, and blissfully oblivious to anything but each other.

He retreated, and Lance and Joey retreated too, once they'd seen why.

Very quietly, Justin closed the door. Though judging from the way Chris and JC were attached at the lips, he thought it'd take a hurricane to grab their attention. Gonna have to hose them down, he thought, and grinned.

* * *

"Hey, Tiny," said Justin.

"Uh," said the bodyguard, and reached into his suit for a white envelope. "I guess..."

"I was just wondering," said Justin, "what it was. Exactly."

"Confectioner's sugar," Tiny admitted.


"Worked, though."

Justin gave him a Look.

"So." Tiny coughed. "You want this back?" He proffered the envelope.

"Nah, keep it." Justin eyed him beadily. "That buys me never getting called Sprinkle Fairy ever again, right?"

"Whatever you say, boss. Can't speak for your boys, though."

Justin sighed. It was going to be a long tour.



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