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I stand by and watch him be something he's not from a distance. He puts on that face. He's acting like he's just what these girls that surround him, asking for autographs, have made him. But I know there's more to him than that.
He's alone, and he hates it. Even with all the people he's around the whole day, he's alone. Because they don't really know the person that lingers behind the bling bling. They don't care, as long as he aids their fantasies when they try to sleep at night.
It's never been about the adoration for him. It's never been about the money. He just loves to do what he does. He always has, ever since he was 12. He'd take out the keyboard his parents brought him one Christmas and just sit, creating melodies. He was different back then, when I first met him. Before the hard work turned into fame. Before the day's faded into night's. Before every time he walked out of his door he came face to face with fans. Before people saw him as money. He was simple back then, he was ordinary and he knew people surrounded him because of who he was, not what he was.
I fear that he'll never know what it felt like before *NSYNC blew up. That he'll never know what it's like to be ordinary again. Just a guy walking down the streets that no one need pay attention to, just so they'd feel better about their lives because they'd had a brush of fame by meeting a celebrity.
These girls were the make of him, but they'll be the break of him. I can see it coming.
He's decomposing before my eyes. With every visit, I see more and more of the guy I knew once hidden behind a thicker wall of defence, intending to keep out all the bad stuff. The stress of not being around his own people is getting to him.
But this place is all he knows now.
I don't think he could survive having a regular day job. To be home every night and sleep in his own bed. I don't think he'd know how to be that regular guy, with regular problems and regular relationships. I know heís changed too much to be that.
Itís not completely a bad change. Heís still just a guy. Heís just grown up. He knows the people he can trust and the people he canít. He knows that everything he does is put under a microscope and analysed. But heís just a guy. He makes mistakes.
Suddenly heís not signing autographs no more. Heís grabbing my hand and dragging me inside the sanctuary of his home.
He closes the door and looks at me, "Thank God thatís over." He says and I can tell by his eyes that he doesnít want this welcome whenever he comes home. This is where he comes to hide. To be the simple guy no one sees, but theyíre still waiting for him.
Then he smiles. Heís glad to be home. To have a whole year to be just, whoever he wants to be. A year.
Will that mean heíll eventually be able to walk to the shops without someone recognizing him on the street? Will this year mean heíll become just a regular guy? Will people care about getting his autograph then? I donít know. But Iíll love him all the same.
Heís my friend. No matter if everyone knows his name or no one does. If heís forgotten for what he gave to the music industry, then so be it. But Iíll always love him just the same.
Iíve seen him win love and lose love. Iíve seen him on bad days and good. Iíve seen him scared and overjoyed. Iíve been with him from the start.
With a sigh he walks over and wraps his arms around me. My 5í4" frame coming to chest height with his 6í1". Perfect hugging height. I smile as he squeezes me tight because I know heís happy to be home. "I missed you so much." He says.
Itís only been a month since he saw me last. But I know he misses Ďusí.
I hug him back for a while before I rub his back, "I know you did, and I missed you too."
Pulling away he looks down at my face and I see a twinkle in his eye, "Iím home." He says before running off to the lounge.
I laugh and follow to find him switching on the stereo and pumping up the volume on his latest CD. He starts jumping about the room without a care in the world and I shake my head with a giggle. This is the guy I know. This is the guy Iíve always known. He just hides away a while around people that are only interested in his fame.
He runs over to me and grabs my hand before leading me to the couch. We both climb on and start jumping until our bodies canít take anymore.

~~~~~*~~~~~
I pull back the curtain slightly to see outside and I shake my head. "You seriously want to go out?" I ask him.
Heís been home a week and still girls sit outside his house day and night in case he happens to go somewhere. They know heís inside. Theyíre just waiting for their chance to see him.
"I wonít be a prisoner in my own home." He says grabbing his keys.
"Iím not suggesting you are. But there are over 100 girls out there." I over-exaggerate. There are only about half of that, but they scare me. "Without security, what hope do we have of making it out of the driveway alive?"
His shoulders sag, "Come on Boo. I canít stand staring at these walls any more. I need to go out."
I fold my arms across my chest and shift my weight to one side, staring him down. "If you want to go out there and get attacked by the hormones that are teenage girls, then fine. It was nice knowing you." I joke as I walk over to the couch and sit down.
He walks over and drops down beside me before falling side ward, so his head lands in my lap, "Take me away from here." He asks, and I can swear I hear a plea in his voice. We sit there for a matter of minutes in silence before he speaks. His voice broken with the sorrow he feels. "It shouldnít be like this." He says.
My heart aches for him. I know this life is something he wishes he could escape sometimes. Down time is more or less that time. When heís got no busy schedule to keep his mind occupied, focused on the taskís of the day. But thereís something in the way he is this time, that scares me. I know heís close to breaking.
I shrug, "Itís the price of fame I guess." I say wearily, my tone matching how I feel.
He knows I donít like the attention that comes along with his job, so in response to my comment he sits up and rolls his eyes my way, "I never asked for this."
I sigh. I hate seeing him hurting and heís hurting more visibly than usual. His wounds are showing. "JC, no one in their right mind would ask for this. No one gets in this business because of the prison factor. It just happens." My facial expression projects smug his way. "Along with the bling comes along the girlies who canít wait to get in your pants just so they can say they had a piece of the Chasez meat." I see the amusement in his eyes but he knows Iím not joking and Iím sympathetic to the restrictions on his life.
"Is that what youíre hanging around for?" He plays.
"Been there, done that, and I seriously donít think itís worth all this who-ha. Sure, youíre good. But Iíve had better." I see his jaw drop.
"Hey, Iím a good lover." He protests.
I shake my head with a playful smile, "Those bunnies are giving you way too much credit. Hey, I have an idea. This whole year youíre taking time off, stay single. The women you choose to mate with are all wrong. You need a professional on the case."
He scoffs, "Youíre gonna find me a girlfriend?"
"Yeah, although personally I think you should stick to the blow up doll I got you for your birthday. She doesnít talk. Sheíll relieve your tension whenever you want her too. She doesnít have PMS. She wonít use you for a mug. She wonít steal from your wallet with your consentÖ and, you donít have to worry about her cheating on you."
"Ouch, that hurt."
I nod, "Yeah, the truthíll do that to you."
~~~~~*~~~~~
"Wanna watch a movie?" He asks jumping up from the couch and looking down at where I sit.
Heís had a month at home now and heís starting to feel the pressures of being a prisoner. Heís thinking of anything he can do within the confides of his own home so he doesnít have to concentrate on the restriction. The girls are still camped outside. There are less of them than when he first got home, but weíre still not free of them completely.
He finds himself getting bored easily. Heís sleeping more, heís eating less and heís already written an albums worth of songs. The tension of being out of the limelight has him on edge. Heís like a heroin addict going cold turkey. He wakes in the night sweating and wakes me to keep him company until the sun comes up. Heís fatigued. Iím fatigued. Weíre both in need of medication.
I smile weekly. This will be the 4th movie day weíve had this week and itís only Thursday. "Sure. A movie will be fun." I agree as I stand.
He grabs my hand and we make our way to his home theatre. "What movie do you want to watch?" He asks walking inside the room toward the wall of DVDís.
I walk over, "Do you have any we havenít seen?" Iím being sarcastic. I love the guy, but I need out of this house. So I can only imagine how crazy he must be feeling. I throw my hands up, "I canít do this for another day." I yell and I can see in his eyes that my outburst has surprised him. "I need to go out." I spin on my heel and head for the door.
But he runs after me and blocks the doorway before I can step through it, "No. You canít leave me in here on my own."
"Iím sorry but you canít prison a woman with PMS." I argue, hoping heíll be sympathetic. Heís not. I can tell by the way he blocks me every time I try to get past him. "Címon Wilma, move it or lose it." I fight with him to escape. But it does me no good.
He grabs me at my waist and tackles me to the wooden floor, "Youíre not leaving me."
I laugh as I try to claw my way from beneath him, "No. I have to get out of here. I need to breath real air." I scream. But as Iím about to drag my legs free, he grabs my ankles and pulls me back along the floor toward him. "No. Let me go."
He turns me over so Iím lying beneath him on my back, "You canít leave me." He says again.
Iím not smiling now. I look into his eyes to see to the very depths of his soul and it screams at me not to leave him lonely in that big house, where he has nowhere to escape to. My heart acheís for him.
Unconsciously I reach up to his face with my hand, gently resting it on his cheek and caressing his skin with my thumb. Iím completely comfortable with the situation, even though I know thereís intimacy underlining the coat of my actions. The humour of the moment has passed. He is staring at me with the same intensity that I am staring at him. His face lowers and heís kissing me. I close my eyes, concentrating on this moment between us. His lips are so soft and inviting. My body starts to yearn for his touch and then, I pull away. An uncomfortable aura hits the air like a 10 ton weight and I struggle to free myself from beneath him.
He climbs to his feet. Then as we stand there, looking at each other, trying to form words to excuse what just happened, the phone rings saving us.
~~~~~*~~~~~
"That cannot happen again." I say as he puts down the phone and I climb from the bed, wrapping one of itís sheets around my body as I stand.
Heís been home 3 months now, and he still hasnít left the house. He tried it yesterday and got bombarded for autographs. It scared him, I know it did. Because when he finally got home he was shaking. He never truly understood why he needed security from a couple of girls. But yesterday, heíd come to realize why it was necessary. He was so shaken up that he hadnít wanted to sleep alone. That was the first time weíd slept together. Well, the first time sinceÖ the first time.
"Youíve said that already and as I recall, you said that after the first time too." He says, humour dripping from his every word.
"Well, that was absolutely the last time." I state, almost at a loss for words. Heís right. I did say that after the first time. But this time I really mean it.
"Was it that bad?"
I shake my head, "You know it wasnít bad. Itís justÖ youíre my friend and this absolutely shouldnít have happened between us." Iím not sure whether Iím trying to convince him or myself.
"Why not? Weíre both single people, and it doesnít mean we have to be anything more than friends."
"But thatís just it. Itís sex and sex should mean something more than curing boredom." He laughs and a smile finds itís way to my face, "I realize not getting your nightly fix at the Playboy Mansion is leaving you in withdrawal. But Iím not a Bunny and I refuse to let you treat me like one. So, that was your lot."
"If I didnít know better Iíd say you were hot for me."
"This isnít funny Chasez."
"Uh oh, you called me by my surname. I must be in trouble." He stops, a knowing look presented on his face, "Or maybe, just maybe, thereís more to this than youíre actually letting on. Maybe I hit a nerve." He raises his eyebrow.  "Are you falling in love with me?"
I scrunch up my face, "No. You should be lucky." I react.
"Then why is this such a big deal for you?"
"Because, what hope do I have of meeting someone and having a normal relationship if I keep falling into bed with you?"
"What is a normal relationship anyway?"
I point at him, "Stop changing the subject." I demand as I gather my clothes from the floor. "Weíre not going to have sex ever again."
He laughs again, "What if we get married?"
I stop what Iím doing and look him in the eye with an evil squint, "Ooh. Donít push it, or I wonít hesitate to leave you here alone." I say before I disappear from the room.
As I walk down the hall, I can hear him fumbling to get dressed so he can follow me. But when he calls out my name, I slam my bedroom door and turn the key in the lock. I rest my back on the door and breath deeply. I never wanted to go through that again. But itís happened and I canít take it back. All I hope for now, is that my heart wonít want more from this relationship than it has. The hardest thing I ever had to do was get over JC, to see him with his new girlfriend and act like my heart didnít want him in that way. I got over him once, but Iím not sure I could again.
I walk over to my bed and drop down upon it, still grasping the sheet I took from his bed. It smells subtly of the sex we had the night before and I eagerly shed myself of it before throwing it at the door in rage. Maybe if Iím angry, thatíll stop any romantic feeling I have toward him.
Iím lying on my bed naked now, just staring up at the ceiling. Then I hear his voice, calling to me through the wooden barrier.
"Boo?"
With a sigh I sit up and stare at the door. I donít want to see him right now. I climb to my feet and head for the bathroom, flicking on my stereo as I go. I need to wash his smell off me.
~~~~~*~~~~~
He bangs on my door, "Come out Boo!" He calls to me.
Heís been home for 6 months now and slowly the attention surrounding him is dying down. He can go out now and only get stopped maybe twice, mostly they just look. They donít approach him. Guess heís old news to them now.
The funny thing is, because heís free to come and go as he pleases, he doesnít. He actually wants to stay home because he doesnít have to. Heís weird like that. If heís restricted in doing something, it makes him want it even more. But if heís free, heíd rather just sit home and play practical jokes on me. Thatís what weíve been doing for the past 2 months. But his last one, not half an hour ago wasnít a joke. Of course he saw it as one. I, on the other hand, didnít find humour in finding him lay on the floor of the lounge in a pool of blood with a knife sticking in his chest. Thatís why Iím locked in my bedroom. It scared me. I truly thought he was dead. It was only when I broke down in tears that he let me know it was just another one of his jokes. But I didnít find it funny. I couldnít look at him. I had to be on my own. So I ran to my room, where Iíve been ever since. Iíve cried so hard since I closed that door 15 minutes ago. The vision of seeing him lying there dormant kept playing over in my mind and the reality of the feelings that created wouldnít leave me. How could he think that would be funny to me?
"Boo, open up." He calls from the other side of the door.
I stare at the door from where I sit on my bed and can imagine him wearing a big smile. I shake my head and dry my eyes. "That wasnít funny." I call back, my voice breaking with emotion.
He doesnít answer my remark, "Come on Boo, just open up. Iím sorry okay?"
I take a deep breath and walk over to the door before pulling it open. My eyes immediately search their way to his and I can see the laughter behind them. "You scared me." I say simply.
He steps forward and wraps his arms around me, "Iím sorry." He says, and I can feel in his touch that heís genuine. But that still doesnít stop the vision that will haunt me for the rest of my life.
"You shouldnít have done that, especially to a pregnant woman."
He pulls away and looks down on my face for any sign that Iím joking. But I give him none. "Youíre pregnant?" He asks seriously. The hilarity of his practical joke leaving his every feature. His hands become sweaty, sweat forms on his brow and his mouth is dry.
My eyes drop to the floor. "I wasnít going to tell you until I knew for sure. But Iíve missed two periods since weÖ you know, and I never miss my period."
He stumbles backward like Iíve just hit him with a baseball bat and falls against the opposite wall in the hallway. "Youíre pregnant." He says again.
I step toward him, "Itís okay. Youíre going to make a terrific Dad." I try to assure him.
"No. I canít be a father. Not until I have a wife." Heís in shock. I can see him shake slightly, like his skin has become uncomfortable wrapped around his body.
My anger leaps out of nowhere. "You shouldíve thought about that before you laid down with me."
"That was justÖ" He looks up at me again. Heís stunned. His face is deadly serious and his eyes, oh those eyes.  The eyes that swallow me whole and make me wish I hadnít told him, at least not like I did. I want to rewind. Act like those words were never said. Go back to the minutes before when he was still finding amusement in his practical joke. I never wanted to be the one to bring out those eyes. Iíve seen them only twice before. Once when he lost his high school sweetheart to the star quarterback on the school football team and then again when he found out how Bobbee had betrayed him. Why did I have to be the next in line to bring him to use those eyes. Then he starts to laugh, "You almost had me there for a second. But you shouldíve thought up something more inventive than pregnancy to get me back Boo."
I shake my head, "This isnít a joke JC. Iím pregnant with your child." He refuses to believe Iím not joking. I can see it in the way heís acting. Heís still wearing his smug smile. The one that he wears when he knows heís right. I throw my hands in the air, "Youíll find out whoís joking in 6 months time when a little Chasez pops out between my legs calling you Daddy." I say seriously, but I canít hold back any longer. A sudden burst of laughter flies out of my mouth and echoes throughout the whole of the upstairs. "Oh if you couldíve seen your face when I used the P word. Priceless, totally priceless. And if Iím not mistaken, for a minute there I had you." I laugh.
"You never had me." He smiles.
"Oh please! I totally had you."
He shakes his head, "Sorry, you werenít even close."
I fold my arms across my chest and shift my weight to one side, "Címon, I saw your eyes. You couldnít have faked that reaction even if youíd trained for 20 years at a drama academy."
He laughs, "You caught me off guard. But I know you have those pills you take, so I knew you wouldnít be pregnant."
Itís my turn to laugh, "My pill isnít a 100% guarantee."
"Maybe not. But I knew you werenít pregnant."
I shake my head unbelievably. He never admits to being fooled. Just like heíll never admit to being wrong. Iíd put it down to that male pride if I didnít know better. But it comes along with being a Leo. I know because I have the same stubborn streak. "Youíre such a loser." I state.
"Why? Because Iím better at this game than you?" He laughs.
"No. Youíre a loser because youíll never admit to falling hook, line and sinker for one of my plays."
"Thatís because youíre not good enough to fool me." He says before heading downstairs.
I follow instantly, ready for a confrontation. "Donít make me call you a liar." I sat walking into the kitchen behind him.
He turns his full attention to me, "Name one time that Iíve been sucked in by one of your practicals."
My hands find their way to my hips, "Last year. The night I got back from my Jersey vacation weekend with a black eye and told you Colin had beat on me. You wanted over at his place so bad to kick his ass that I had to come clean or your ass would still be rotting in prison."
His eyes admit defeat immediately, "All right. Iíll give you that. But upstairs just now, you never had me."
I raise my hands, "Whatever. I canít be bothered to care." I say as I walk over to the fridge.
"So, what would you have done, had you been pregnant?" He asks perching on a stool at the breakfast bar. His face completely displayed in sincerity.
"Wow. I never thought of that." I reply honestly as I take the box of juice from inside the cooler and head to the cabinet for a glass. "I guess Iíd have kept it." I confess.
"Really?" He asks, shock evident in his response.
"Sure. Letís face it, the way things seem to be going, youíd probably be my only chance to have a kid. Plus, I donít think I could ask for a better father for my child." I say pouring myself a drink.
He smiles, "You think so."
"Of course. Youíre gonna be a cracking Daddy, and I am gonna be so jealous because my kids father is gonna be one of those loser types. You know, knock you up and then go out for a packet of cigarettes only to never return. Yeah, I can totally see my life heading in that direction."
"Well, Iím here to make sure that never happens."
"Ahh, thanks big brother Josh. Youíre the greatest." I play.
"Donít make a joke of this, Iím serious. Iím not gonna let you end up with some loser. You deserve better than that."
"Why Joshua, are you getting soft on me?"
He nods seriously, "Yeah." He says reaching forward and laying his hand gently on mine, "Iím always gonna be here for you."
I raise my glass, "And if all else fails, you can father my children. Iím sure your wife wonít mind." I smile before taking a sip of my juice.
He smiles, "And if she does, Iíll divorce her."
I walk around the counter toward him, "We have to seal this verbal contract." I say holding up my hand and sticking out my pinkie in his direction. He mirrors my actions and we lock pinkie's. "Deal." We chorus.
~~~~~*~~~~~
Itís already been a whole year since *NSYNC went on hiatus and Iíve seen such a change in him from day 1 until day 365. He doesnít put on that face anymore. He's doesnít act like he's just what the fans have made him. People take him as they see him now, or not at all. He doesnít get hung up on how his actions will be perceived by the public. I donít think he cares, as long as he remains true to himself. He doesnít fear for his life if he decides to take a walk alone. Heís enjoying his life to the fullest, everyday, regardless of approval by the media.
But today is the day he goes back into that limelight and Iím worried for him. I fear the guy I know now, at this moment, will retract back inside and heíll start playing the pop-star role again like thatís all he is. Thatís not all he is. Heís so much more than that. Heís an ordinary guy with the same needs and hopes any guy has. He wants to be able to go about his business without criticism. He wants to live his life within the realms of normalcy. He wants to meet women and not fear theyíre after him for his fame or money.  He wants to be able to hang out with friends and not have every tabloid report on it like itís big news. He wants to be the guy he is right now, and be accepted for it.
I accept him for it. Because I know whatís behind the fake smiles. I know the hidden answer behind every one he give to a question. I know the secrets he hides. I know what he wants. I know what he needs. I know what he craves and what he hates. I know everything there is to know about the guy the fans adore so much. Because Iím his best friend.
He walks down the stairs with his suitcase in hand and Iím waiting for him in the hallway. He steps in front of me and lowers the luggage to the floor. He looks at me, and I can tell that heís wishing that this day hadnít come quote so soon. Heís enjoyed his freedom. But now, itís all about to be taken from him again. He takes a deep breath. "I guess this is it." He says solemnly.
I smile, "You know youíll wonder what the fuss was all about when you hear those girls calling out your name and screaming at you that theyíll have your babies." I say, trying to make him smile. I succeed.
A smile breaks out on his face and his eyes meet the floor momentarily. "Iím gonna miss you." He says.
I step forward and wrap my arms around him, "This house is gonna feel empty without you in it."
He hugs me tightly, "Youíll be all right when you start throwing parties." He jokes.
"There is that." I say, my smile unseen.
We stand there holding each other for quite some time. Neither of us wanting to let the other go because of what it means.  But as I hear him breath deeply, I know itís time for him to leave and I pull away reluctantly. "I love you Joshua Chasez. Donít go changing." I say forcing a smile.
"I love you too Boo." He says leaning forward and kissing me lightly on my cheek. He picks up his suitcase and walks over to the front door. But before he pulls it open I see him take another deep breath. Heís nervous.
He looks back at me and I force myself to refrain from screaming at him to stay. I smile. "Youíre gonna be okay." I say with more conviction than I feel. He nods and opens the door. Then, heís gone. The door closes behind him and Josh is gone. But JC is back where he belongs. The place he loves, doing what he loves with the people he loves. I know I'll miss him, but he'll be home again soon and I'll still love him just the same.

  © bentley76@blueyonder.co.uk 2002