"Hey man, can I ask you a question?" Justin asked quietly as he dropped himself into the booth beside Lance. It had been almost a week since they returned from Nashville, and they only had twelve days left on the tour.

"Sure." Lance shrugged and took a bite of his pizza.

"You won’t say anything right?"

"You don’t want me to answer?"

"I mean to the other guys."

"No man, I won’t say anything." Lance shook his head and wiped his mouth.

"It’s just, I know you’ve been with Michelle for a while now, and I uh… I’m having girl problems."

"Miss Kelly?" Lance smiled.

"No… not exactly." Justin said slowly. "I have… okay I’ve been seeing this girl in Vegas."

"So Joey was right?" Lance laughed.

"You can’t say anything." Justin said quickly.

"I won’t, I won’t." Lance took another bite of his pizza and waved for Justin to continue.

"So… anyway, she’s normal right? She’s not in the biz, she’s got this regular little apartment, a non-flashy job, and she treats me like I’m just her boyfriend that she met at a club or something. She’s just… just about perfect."

"Is that where you met her?"

"Yeah, like a year ago when we played the Billboard awards." Justin nodded.

"At that strip club?" Lance asked, surprised.

"Yeah, Joey was hitting on her and pissed her off so I went over to apologize for him, as usual."

"And you picked up the pieces?"

"I just about got my ass kicked, but yeah, that’s kind of when we hooked up."

"Wow… we’ve all seen your girlfriend naked?" Lance smirked.

"No, she’s not a dancer, she’s a waitress." Justin rolled his eyes, "Can you focus here for a minute, I’m in serious need of advice."

"What’s the problem then?"

"I’m kind of seeing this other girl."

"Other than the Vegas girl?" Lance asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Yeah." Justin nodded.

"Kelly?"

"Uh huh."

"And?" Lance asked with a confused look.

"And I think she may be perfect."

"So what’s the problem?"

"I think she may be totally perfect."

"Ouch."

"Yeah." Justin nodded. "So what do I do?"

"Wait. You think Kelly is perfect? Or the other girl?"

"Kelly. But I don’t know. She completely understands about the industry and how the group has to come first and… and everything like that."

"Did you do the whole ‘weigh the pros and cons’ thing?" Lance asked.

"Yeah, and Kelly won that one. But the uh, the Vegas girl is great, she really is. She’s so much fun and she gets me to do things I never would have even thought about."

"The nipple ring?" Lance laughed and dropped his pizza crust onto his plate.

Justin blushed and nodded, "Yeah, stuff like that."

"But wild and crazy doesn’t hold a relationship forever you know."

"I know." Justin nodded.

"So do what makes you happy."

"What if they both make me happy?"

"You’re young Justin, you don’t have to marry anyone right now so just have a good time looking." Lance reached over and messed the young mans hair.

"I am… but I want to start thinking about the future you know, which one will be better for me in the long run. Which one will I be happier with?"

"Well…?" Lance shrugged.

Justin thought about that for a second, "Yeah…" He nodded. "Thanks."

"Anytime." Lance wiped his mouth and smiled.

"Seriously Lance, don’t say anything to the guys."

"I’m not going to say anything, shit, they probably don’t even care."

"Thanks." Justin sighed softly.  Lance was right, he had to do what was right for him, but how did he know what that was?

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The guys were given 36 hours off a week later so Justin hopped a plane to Las Vegas to help him relax as the tour wrapped up. They only had a few shows left and the stress level was rising each time they exited the stage after a show.  He had one full day to kick back on Becca’s couch, and that’s just what he did. Becca popped popcorn in the kitchen then dropped herself on the couch beside Justin, "Why do boobs make guys go stupid?" Becca asked with a sigh as she adjusted her sports bra strap. It was almost eleven in the morning and they were settling down for a day of movies.

Justin stared at her with interest, then shook his head, "They don’t make us stupid."

"They turn you into babbling idiots." Becca laughed.

"That’s a harsh generalization don’t you think?" Justin asked with a smirk.

"Justin, we could stop wars by flying something in the shape of a huge boob over the battlefield. All the men would just stop what they were doing to gawk at the enormous tit."

"Oh please." Justin rolled his eyes.

"I’m not lying Justin."

"You’re exaggerating." He laughed and checked his watch.

"Not even a little bit." She countered. "Just watch, boobs have the power."

"You need help." Justin pushed himself up from the couch and dug in his bag for his phone, "I need to do my interview thing, can you behave yourself for a couple minutes?"

"You’re going to do it here?"

"I told you when I got here I had a phone interview to do."

"I thought you were going somewhere." She shrugged. "But yeah, I can behave myself."

"Okay." He laughed and hoped she would. He dialed into his management's office and they conference on the radio station where the interview was being broadcast. He made small talk with the DJ for a couple minutes before he started answering the questions from the listeners listeners.

Justin sat in the corner of the couch with Brodie’s head resting on his feet and Becca flipping channels on the muted TV. Becca only half listened as Justin did his interview, "Okay Justin, the first caller is Allison from El Cajon, are you there Allison?" The DJ asked.

"Yeah I’m here, is this Justin?" She squealed.

"Yeah, that’s me." Justin smiled.

"Oh my God!" She screeched and took a couple deep breaths.

"What’s your question for Justin?" The DJ laughed.

"Oh. Um, oh my God… um, where are you?"

"Right now?" Justin smiled, "I’m at home in Florida, in my kitchen." Becca scoffed and rolled her eyes.

"Do you guys have a couple days off?" The DJ asked.

"Um, yeah. We had our show last night, and then we have a show tomorrow, so today is free." Justin explained.

"So you flew home just for one day?" The DJ asked as he disconnected Allison's call.

"Yeah, I don’t get to see my family very often so ya know, any chance I get I like to fly home."

"That’s cool." They went on with the interview for another couple minutes, taking two more calls with questions from listeners, then the DJ asked a question of his own, "So how’s the new album coming? Have you guys started to work on it yet?"

"Yeah, in fact we were just down in Nashville at the Take Two studios. We’re gonna start recording after the tour is done, so in a couple weeks." Justin nodded and sat back on the couch.

"Do you guys have all your songs picked out and everything?"

"Kind of, I mean, we have about fifteen or twenty songs that we’re tossing around." Justin looked up and caught Becca’s eye as she smiled devilishly and slowly lifted her bra to flash him.

The DJ asked Justin another question but he didn’t hear it, he was otherwise occupied. "Justin? You still there man?" The DJ asked after twenty seconds of silence.

"Huh? Oh yeah… yeah I’m here." Justin shook his head and turned away form Becca as her face turned red trying to keep her laughter in. She stood up and made a beeline for her back bedroom as Justin blushed and laughed lightly, "Yeah we have uh… like twenty songs we’re going to work with."

"You covered that already." The DJ laughed, "I asked if you’re going to be collaborating with anyone on this album like you did with Lisa Lopez on the last one."

"Oh um." Justin tried to regain his composure as Becca came back into the living room and dropped herself onto the couch beside him. He threw her a dirty look as she giggled softly, "As of right now we’re not sure about any collaborations, we’re always open to that though, ya know? I think we wanna wait and see how we feel about the music first."

"Are you guys writing more of the music for this one?" The interview went on for another couple minutes before Justin said goodbye and grabbed Becca by the ankles to tickle her mercilessly.

"You think you’re funny huh?"

"I proved my point!" She laughed. "Uh… uh… uh…" She imitated him and dissolved in another fit of giggles.

"I didn’t go stupid." Justin blushed and shook his head as his phone fell form his lap.

"Oh you so went stupid." She laughed and shook her head. "Admit it. Boobs make men dumb."

"I’ll never admit that." He pinned her to the couch and supported himself over her as she continued to laugh. A glimmer or plastic caught his eye on the end table and he reached carefully for it, "Oh no. No no no, tell me this isn’t what I think it is." Justin shook his head as he held the telltale black and blue CD case in his hand. He sat back in his corner on the couch and dropped the case in Becca’s lap.

"What? It’s good." She set the case back on the little table and looked at him with a defiant smile.

"You own that hunk of junk, and not mine?" Justin asked with raised eyebrows. "I thought you were anti-pop."

"I like a couple songs on there." She shrugged.

"Please don’t say "Shape of my heart", if that’s it I’m outta here." He laughed and closed his eyes tightly.

"I like "The Call"." Becca smiled.

"The Call?" Justin shook his head in disbelief.

"Yeah, it’s kind of… " She thought for a second and laughed quickly, she could really piss him off here with two little words. She felt lucky. "It’s kind of like… dirty pop."

"Oh no! I know you didn’t just say that!" Justin laughed in surprise as Becca laughed at him. "Take it back."

"It is!" She argued with a challenging smile.

"You've just lost your 'Justin Privileges' for the week." He laughed and pushed himself up. He grabbed his backpack and headed for the front door, "I'm outta here."

"Fine, bye, see ya." Becca laughed and waved like Miss America.

"I’m really gonna leave." Justin tried to frown, but found himself laughing instead.

"No you won’t." She smiled and shook her head as he placed his hand on the door handle, threatening to turn it.

"I really am."

"Justin… you have the rest of the afternoon off and your flight doesn’t leave until four, where are you going to go?"

"To the Luxor."

"You’re going to go out in public looking like that?"

Justin looked down at his jeans and t-shirt, "What’s wrong with this?"

"Well first of all, you look just like Justin Timberlake, heart throb hottie of Nsync." Becca smiled as he rolled his eyes, "And in case you didn’t notice, the Nickelodeon awards or whatever are being held at the MGM and the town is mobbed with pre-teens. So you can go ahead and leave if you want, but I don’t think you will."

"The kids choice awards?"

"I don’t know."

"I thought they were filmed in Florida?" Justin frowned.

"Well there's a shit load of kids and Nickelodeon crew over there." Becca shrugged.

"Shit." Justin sighed and turned around to lean on the door.

"So you’ll stay?" She smiled smugly from the couch.

"Do you take it back?"

"Nope." She shook her head and let a tiny laugh escape. "You’re really upset?"

"You really think that shit is dirty pop?" He retorted.

"Yep." She continued to push his buttons.

"Then yep I'm really mad." He turned the handle and pulled the door open.

"Justin come on…" Becca laughed and pushed herself off the couch.

"Nope, I'd rather face a herd of maniac teen's, thank you very much." Justin smiled smugly just out of Becca's view.

"Yeah right." Becca put her hand on his shoulder and turned him around. "Don't be a brat."

"I'm a brat?" He raised his eyebrow at her as she leaned in to kiss him. "You know, you can't keep using sex to win me over."

"As long as you keep falling for it I can." She smiled and ran her fingers through his hair. "Come on Justin, it's just a phrase."

"Bite me."

"Really?"

"Take it back."

"It really means that much to you?" Becca asked softly. Justin just stared at her and blinked slowly, "Okay fine, fine… I take it back."

"Were you just saying that to be mean?"

"Yeah." She smiled.

"You caved in so easily Bec, I think you're losing your touch." Justin laughed and kissed her again. "But hey, if you want to see dirty pop… real dirty pop, I'll show you."

"You think you can top 'The Call'?"

"I'm sure I can." He reached into his backpack for the unmarked CD and popped it into her CD player. The beginning segment of  "Digital getdown" started and Justin smiled as Becca tried not to laugh.

"Justin… this is…"

"You'd better be leading up to 'amazing' or I will seriously walk out that door." He smiled devilishly. Becca just laughed and drew her fingers over her lips as if to zip them, "Yeah I thought so." Justin wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed her again. He only had another couple hours of this pseudo freedom before he would be whisked off to perform in another state. He let the thought of leaving slip away as he trailed his tongue lightly up her neck; that was more important at the moment.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The guys had two shows to do in Boston to wrap up the tour, and the first show was the show from hell. Anything that could go wrong, did go wrong and it stopped being funny about an hour into the set. Tension was high to start with and they were running on fumes, so the addition of ill tempered sound techs and faulty microphones nearly caused a stage fight. They huffed off stage and bypassed the media to head back to the hotel to cool off. One more show was all they had to get through, then they'd be done.

They all rode back to the hotel in silence, and quickly went to their rooms to lock themselves in and try to sleep in the few hours they had before their next appearance.

Justin pushed open his door, dropped his hat on the floor and fell onto the bed. He was glad that the room situation had been figured out and Chris was in his own room, he could do without the tossing and turning in the bed opposite him. He dropped his arm over his head and silently prayed for an extra eight hours of sleep. He absentmindedly pulled his shirt over his head and tossed it toward the bathroom as the phone beside his head rang. "No no no, come on man. Just leave me alone." Justin grumbled as he reached for the phone. He let his hand sit on the phone as it rang one more time; "I should just let it ring." He thought to himself as he shook his head and lifted it to his ear. "Hello?"

"Hey babe, I'm sorry to call so late. I just wanted to touch base, make sure you got there okay." Kelly said softly.

Justin smiled; for once glad he answered the phone, "Hi Kell."

"Did I wake you up?"

"Nope, I wasn't asleep yet." He stifled a yawn and stared at his shoes, dreading the movement of bending over to untie them.

"You sound tired."

"Yep." Justin ran his fingers through his hair and rubbed his head.

"What’s wrong hun?" Kelly asked softly as Justin sat on the floor beside the bed.

"Nothing." He sighed and switched the phone to his other ear, wishing Kelly were closer than 3,000 miles away.

"You sound upset…"

"No, I’m not upset." Justin shook his head. "I don’t know, tomorrow’s our last show and it’s kind of been anticlimactic you know? We’re wrapping up this huge tour and all I can think of it ‘what now?’. Do you ever get that way?"

"Of course." She smiled and stirred pasta into the boiling water on her stove. "Every time I finish a tour, or album… anything big. Justy, this tour has been your life for the last three months or so, leaving the tour is going to be a big change."

"But we’re going right into recording pretty much. It’s not like I’ve never done this before." Justin closed his eyes and pressed hard with the heels of his hands.

"No, but it’s still the end of something big." She smiled and rested her hip against the counter as she stirred.

Justin sighed and tried to shake the feeling of dread that had been hanging over him for the last few days. It was more than just the end of the tour, but he couldn’t explain that to her. "How’s the choreography and stuff coming?"

"Good." She nodded. "I’m loading up on my carbs, lots of spaghetti and stuff." She laughed lightly; "This is going to be nuts for a few days. I start the big promo stuff on Saturday in New York, I’ll be there till Monday night."

"Hitting TRL?" Justin smiled.

"Yep, and Saturday Night Live."

"Watch out for Carson, he’s got a thing for you, you know."

"I know." She smiled playfully. "Why do you think I keep going back?"

"Aww, that’s not cool." Justin smiled and sighed as he ran his fingers through his hair. "How were ticket sales?"

"Sold out the biggies, they’re actually talking about adding some dates."

"Ouch."

"Eh." She shrugged. "At this point, what’s four more shows?"

"True." Justin nodded. "Well I’d better go. We’ve got to report at five tomorrow, and that’s only four and a half hours from now."

"Okay hun, have a great show tomorrow."

"I will." He whispered. "I’ll see you later."

"Goodnight Justin."

"Night." He waited until he heard her hang up before he set the phone back on its base and leaned his head back. Four hours of sleep sounded heavenly right then, but he couldn’t make himself get into the big bed. He closed his eyes and rested his head on his arms as he sat against the wall, and was asleep before he could take off his shoes.

The next day was more hectic than usual; they had a dozen things to do since it was the last show of the tour. They had a special encore and dialogue they had to go over, not to mention the usual pre-show activities. Justin stole a moment to himself between wardrobe fittings and dinner, and curled up on the dressing room couch. He laid his head on the scratchy cushion and closed his eyes, hoping for an undisturbed fifteen-minute power nap.

"What a bum." Said a soft voice that pulled him from the sleepy fog he’d fallen into. The sofa sank under the additional weight by his feet as he opened his eyes slowly. "Sleeping on the job?" Kelly smiled and patted his knee.

"Kell? What are you doing here?" He rubbed his eyes and sat up slowly, not quite sure if he was still dreaming or not.

"You sounded bummed last night." She shrugged, as though that should be enough of an explanation.

"So you flew all the way out here?"

"Of course." She smiled. "I needed a day off too, and I know you’ve got some fun things planned for your final show."

"Yeah." He nodded and smiled, thrilled that she showed up. "Wow, I just can’t believe you’re here."

"I can’t stay long though, I’m on the eleven twenty flight to New York tonight." She frowned. "I have SNL to do tomorrow, or I’d skip it and stick around."

"That’s okay, I’m just glad you’re here." He reached over and pulled her in for a tight hug. "Man, I’m so glad you’re here. I’ve missed you."

"I missed you too honey." She kissed him quickly, but he held her tighter and deepened the kiss to make it last a little longer.

"I needed this, thanks." Justin ran his fingers through her hair and just looked at her for a minute, feeling suddenly energized.

"Unfortunately hun, you need to get back to work. I ran into Scott in the hall and he said to drag your butt out to the cafeteria."

"I’m not hungry." Justin pretended to whine as he pulled Kelly onto his lap.

"Too bad. You need to eat well for the show tonight. This is going to be your best show, come on." She stood up and pulled him to his feet then kissed him again, "Seven more hours and you can sleep all you want."

"For six whole days."

"Johnny’s giving you a week off huh?" She smiled with surprise.

"Yep." Justin nodded and tried not to yawn.

"Lucky." She laughed and shook her head. "I’d invite you to come hang out with me, but you need a break in a major way."

"You can say that again." Justin nodded and held the cafeteria door open for Kelly. She watched carefully as he dished up his lunch, making sure he was eating things that would get him through the show, then they sat together at an empty table in the middle of the room. "You’re not eating?"

"I ate on the way over. I was dying after the flight." She laughed and squished her nose, "Besides, I’ve eaten so much pasta the last two weeks I think I’ll burst if I had another bite." She looked at his plate piled with raviolis.

"Yum." Justin smiled and took a bite. They made small talk while he ate, then she joined him in wardrobe for the final fitting before they were due on stage for their sound check. As soon as they were done there they were ushered to the media and fan meet and greet, then off to the dressing room as their opener took the stage.

Kelly watched their final show from the sidelines with a broad and proud smile. They were so good, and so comfortable out there on the stage, she felt as though she was hanging out with friends rather than watching a concert. Seeing the faces of the fans behind her in the lower level seats, she could tell they were all feeling the same. What a great way to finish off the tour.

They played an encore and chatted with the audience a little more before their security guards hauled them off stage, "You were magnificent!" Kelly laughed as Justin ran by.

Justin kissed her cheek quickly and said, "Give me five minutes, I'll meet you by the back door."

"Babe, I have to leave like… now." Kelly frowned.

"Five minutes." He smiled then took off down the hall after the others. Kelly laughed and shook her head, then found her way to the backdoor after grabbing Ron and her purse.

"Kelly my dear, we've got exactly 40 minutes to make it across town to the airport." Ron tapped his thick digital watch.

"I know." She smiled and looked over his shoulder at the empty hallway. "I just want to say goodbye to Justin."

"He's got about another minute before I hog tie you and toss you in the back of that there limo." Ron nodded toward the door.

"Yeah yeah… I'd like to see you try." She laughed with him and tucked her hands in her pockets, secretly hoping Justin would hurry up.

Justin rounded the corner with water dripping from his hair onto his collar, "Ah ha… with one minute to spare." He laughed and trotted the remaining 20 feet.

"Just in time, Ron was going to tie me up." Kelly wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him quickly.

"I didn't want you to take off without saying goodbye. I'm not gonna see you for a while with your tour and everything." He held her close and rested his forehead against hers.

"I know."

"I'm going home for a week, I'll call you after that, okay?"

"Okay." She pouted slightly.

"You're gonna be so busy you won't even notice. I need this time off to clear my head." Justin smiled and kissed her again. "Tell Carson I said hi." He laughed softly.

"I will." She laughed and squeezed him close for a second before Ron tapped her shoulder. "I love you baby." She whispered with her lips gently touching his ear.

"Me too." He muttered just before Ron pushed the door open and escorted her out into the cool night air. He blew a kiss before the door swung shut, then shoved his hands in his jacket pockets and headed for the media room. Three more hours until he was completely free for six glorious days.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

After a day of wrapping up some loose ends with his management team, Justin headed home to his mom's house where he didn’t so much as think about Los Angeles or Las Vegas. He slept in his old room surrounded by his Michael Jordan posters, Nikki Taylor calendar from four years ago and his familiar "downy" scented pillows.

Justin spent the time catching up with his family and playing with his brothers, trying to make up for the lost time of him being on tour. He promised that they could come visit him at the studios so they could check it out first hand.

On his last night at home Justin began to feel that little tinge of stress creeping back into his mind. The next day he'd have to face the "Justin Timberlake" life he had given up for the week. He snuck downstairs when he thought everyone was asleep and poured himself a glass of chocolate milk.

He stood in front of the wall staring up at the huge collage of family pictures. Pictures he knew like the back of his hand, pictures he'd spent years looking at but never really seeing. He sighed and set his now empty glass on the end table, then turned to sit on the couch.

"What’s wrong honey?" His mom asked from the doorway. Justin looked up quickly and shook his head.

"Nothing." He sat down and propped his feet up on the coffee table in front of him.

His mom noticed but didn’t say anything. "I’m your mom, you can’t lie to me." She smiled and sat beside him.

"It’s just… I’ve got chick problems." He sighed.

"Now that’s right up my alley." Lynn smiled and tucked her feet up under her on the couch beside Justin.

"Okay, well I’m seeing Kelly…" Justin started.

"Right."

"And she’s great mom, I mean, she really understands me and everything, we’ve been friends for years."

"But…?"

"But there’s kind of this other girl. And I think she may just be perfect." Justin rubbed his eyes and sighed.

"Oh." Lynn said after a moment's pause, "You’re seeing two girls?"

"Yeah, kind of." He sighed again and leaned his head back on the couch. "It’s just hard, I mean Kelly’s got it all, really. But this other girl, she’s… she’s normal for one, she’s not in the business or anything. She has this regular life and it’s like when I go see her I just think ‘wow… this is awesome’ because it’s totally backwards from everything I’m used to. She’s just about perfect"

"I see…" His mom nodded slowly.

"So what do I do?"

"Why are you worried about this all of a sudden? If it’s been going on for a while?"

Justin shrugged, "I just don’t want to do this anymore."

"Well, Justin babe, if you love one of them and she makes you happy, then that’s all I want for you. You need to do what you have to, to be happy."

"I don’t want to hurt either one though."

"Honey, it’ll hurt a lot more if you string her along when you’re not happy being with her."

"I am happy being with both of them though mom." Justin bit his lip and placed his feet on the floor.

"Well, honey, you just need to decide which one will keep on making you happy." Lynn raised her eyebrow at her son.

"Yeah… I guess so." Justin pushed himself up and yawned. "Thanks mom."

"You're welcome sweetie." She smiled as he leaned over and kissed her cheek. She patted his back affectionately then watched his stumble back down the hall toward his room. He had a lot of growing up to do.

Justin lay in his old bed that night and thought seriously about the women in his life, he had a decision to make, and he wasn’t going to go to sleep without making it. It should have been easy… go with the one he really loved. But that would mean taking a big step and admitting the relationship to everyone. If he made this decision, there would be no more lying to anyone, any more. He sighed and ran his fingers through his hair; people would be hurt by his decision. But his mom and Lance were right, he had to go with what would make him happy, and the one he really loved. His decision was made as he closed his eyes and went to sleep; thinking of how after this weekend his life wouldn’t be the same. Not at all.

 

 On to the end…

 

 

Copyright � 2001, Amy Lynn<