nsync in black and white

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

Early Days


"You were right." There was a pause. "That's not something I say to a whole lot of people, so you should be, you know."

Howie shifted, and squinted at the glowing numbers on the clock beside the bed. "I promise to treasure your words," he said. Seventeen minutes past two.

"Yeah, well. You should do that."

"Even if I... don't actually know what you're talking about?"

A finger flicked him on the side of the nose. "Something big, dude, or I wouldn't even mention it. Something that we, um, didn't agree on when it happened. Something that made me feel like you didn't, uh, you know, even when you said all the right things."

"Oh. That." Howie cradled his nose protectively. He didn't know what to say. He hadn't handled it well, at least, it didn't feel like he had, although probably, there wasn't a good way he could have handled it. But Chris had been very hurt, left behind when Howie grabbed the brass ring, and Howie still felt sick, sometimes, at the thought of what he'd done. And he could tell himself over and over that it had been the right decision, and it had, but...

"'Cause I gotta say, I don't think me and Kevin Richardson would have worked together."

Howie's eyes widened in the dark as he contemplated this. Kevin's overdeveloped sense of responsibility pitted against Chris's blithe absurdity. They could probably power the national grid on the resulting explosions, and, lord, how AJ would have enjoyed sitting at the ringside taking bets, but no, dear God no.

"And anyway, I found my guys, and we fit, and I guess you fit with your guys, and we are going to kick your asses off the charts when we get up and going, so. It does work out, like you said."


"Yeah, so, I just wanted you to know."

"I didn't..." Howie faltered. "I didn't mean to leave you behind."

"You hafta take the chance when it comes around," Chris said, firmly. "I would have done it to you. I told myself I wouldn't, but I know better. If it'd been me that got in, I'd have gone with it. Not because—not for any of the things I said, I know you never meant it like that. Just, you know when something's right and you have to grab it and hold on, yeah?"

"Yeah," said Howie, settling down against the warmth that was Chris and sliding his available arm back over Chris's waist.

"So. Uh. You gonna mind if I hold on?" Chris sounded hesitant for the first time in this odd conversation. Then Howie's mind caught up.

"You don't think I'd let you go, do you?" he said, and squeezed fiercely. "Chris, you dumbass."

"Smartass, you mean."

Chris squeezed back, and Howie buried his face against Chris's neck, breathing in the familiar scents of boy and cheap soap, and feeling like he was home. "It won't be easy."

"I know. You're a big star now, you got options. All those screaming fans."

Howie poked him. "Because I am so into casual sex with groupies. You know that's not it. It's just, we're touring, and you're touring, and how often are we going to get to meet up like this? I mean, we don't do a lot of charity basketball games, and I—I miss you, a lot."

The arms around him tightened, and lips pressed against his forehead. "I know." Chris sighed. "And I don't have much money right now even for calling my family, and what about if you go back to the States, or the other side of the world? We just—we have to grab it when we can, promise me we'll have this when we can, and the rest of the time, we have to just live our lives."

Howie thought about this. It wasn't what he wanted, exactly, what he wanted was Chris, there with him all the time. He'd even contemplated getting Chris a job with their crew, for a while there, but he couldn't deny Chris his own chance at fame and fortune, now he had a group to work with. It was going to have to be like this, for now, too much wanting and waiting and not enough having. But it was better than not having Chris at all.

"Grab it while we can," he agreed. "And speaking of which, I have a call set for, oh, two and a half hours from now. And if this is all the time we have for months, I don't want to spend it sleeping."

"Always the smart one," Chris muttered, and leaned in to meet Howie's mouth.



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