Meg drove the rest of the way to the hotel in silence as the girlfriends stared out the window, probably afraid to say anything. Meg pulled up to the valet in front of the hotel, tossed the kid her keys and left Kacey and Jennifer to get their own luggage. She stormed inside as her phone rang in her pocket. She put the hands free earpiece in her ear and clicked her phone on, "This is Meg."

"So come on up to my room and we can talk about this." Joey said, staring out his window watching Kacey and Jennifer fumble with their bags.

"Joey, I can’t go with you tonight. Seriously."

"Come on Meggy Meg." Joey whined. "We have to leave in an hour and I need date. You get free dinner that has to be better than bus food."

"I’m not going with you when all I have is jeans."

"Jeans is fine."

"It’s not." She shook her head as she stepped onto the elevator and pressed the button for the 4th floor, where she was staying.

"Yeah it is. Come on… don’t make me beg."

Meg laughed and said, "You have to beg or I won’t go."

"Fine, come on over and I’ll beg." Joey smiled.

"What room are you in?" She sighed as the doors opened on the fourth floor.

"6112, sixth floor." He smiled.

"Fine. I’ll be there in a second." She pressed the button for 6 as the doors shut.

Meg stepped off the elevator and smiled at the security guards sitting on the other side of the hall. She walked down the hall and knocked on Joey’s door.

"Just a sec." Joey called from inside. He tied his shoe and carried the other with him to the door, "Hi." He smiled as Meg walked in.

"Hi." Meg said, standing just inside the door.

"So will you come with me? Please?" Joey laughed

"That’s not begging." Meg said, her earpiece still in place.

Joey gave Meg a look and sighed, "I don’t beg."

"You promised." She held her ground.

"Meg…"

"Joey, I don’t even want to go."

"Please Meg, please come with me. I’ll do anything you want. Pretty please with sugar on top." Joey gave Meg his sweet, sad puppy dog eyes and a toddler like pout.

Meg thought for a second and shook her head, "Not good enough." She smiled.

"Forget it then." Joey laughed and stood up.

"Okay." She smirked and turned to open the door.

"Wait!" Joey put his hand flat against the door.

"Joey… what difference does it make if you have a date or not?"

"I can’t go to a function like this without a date." He explained.

"Why not?"

"Because. That’s just not how it works."

"I know how it works Joey… and I’m telling you it doesn’t matter."

"When all the other guys are bringing a date, it matters to me." He smiled slowly.

Meg stared hard at Joey for a minute, thoughts tumbling around in her mind. If she went she’d be forced to watch Lance and Jennifer all night and that would really, really suck. But she’d also get to be at a big Hollywood party. Not to mention the fact that Joey would owe her big time. "It’s not a date." She shook her finger at him.

"I know, I know." Joey rolled his eyes. "Katarina wouldn’t be happy if it was."

"Fine. I’ll go." Meg sighed. "When are we leaving?"

"In like… 45 minutes."

"Okay. I’ll meet you here." She turned and opened the door. "What are you wearing?"

"This." He held his arms open for her to see. Baggy black cargo pants with silver buttons and a black t-shirt with the superman logo in silver brads across the chest.

"That’s real Christmasy." She laughed.

"It’s me." He smiled and shrugged.

"All right. I’ll be back in 45."

"Thanks Meg."

"Yep." She sighed and shut the door before returning to the elevator to go down to her room.

 

Thirty minutes later she was standing on her bus frantically looking through her locker trying to find anything that might pass as decent to wear. She was coming to the end of her rapidly fraying rope, and on the brink of asking one of the girl friends if they had anything she could borrow when her phone rang.

"Yeah this is Meg." She answered, not slowing her pace one bit. She tossed the stack of sweatshirts on the floor by her bunk and sighed.

"Meg!" Chris shouted.

"Hey Chris, whatcha need?"

"You busy?" He asked.

"Uh, yeah. I can’t find anything to wear." She explained distractedly.

"Are you naked?" Chris asked with a sly smile.

"What? No." Meg stopped and leaned against the side of the bunks. "And before you ask, no I can’t get you out of tonight."

"That wasn’t what I was going to ask." He laughed.

"Then what do you need? I’ve got like 10 minutes to find something decent and I have nothing."

"I was just going to see if you had booked Dani's flight out for New Years yet, and if so can you change it so she can stay another couple days?" Chris asked.

"Oh. No I haven’t booked that yet. But I can’t do it tonight Chris. I’ll do it first thing tomorrow, how’s that?"

"That’s cool."

"Leaving from LA?" Meg asked as she flipped her calendar binder open and made notes.

"Yeah."

"Okay." Meg yawned and said, "Now I’ve really got to go, I’m drowning in clothes here."

"Where are you going?" Chris asked.

"With you." Meg sighed and put the stack of jeans on the bunk beside her shoes.

"With me?"

"Well with Joey, but yeah, with you guys."

"To the Holiday thing?" Chris asked.

"Yeah." Meg sighed. "So can I just talk to you there?"

"Why don’t you wear your leather?"

"My what?" Meg stopped what she was doing to try to comprehend what Chris had said.

"The leather pants and stuff that me and JC got you for your birthday." He laughed.

"Oh shit, I forgot about that." Meg said softly.

"So wear that."

"No way Chris…"

"Come on. Just put it on. You’ve only got 5 minutes." Chris laughed and hung up. Dammit. He had a point.

Meg ran to the back of the bus and searched frantically for the box with the outfit in it. She found it under a box of signed CD’s and pulled it out. Meg opened the box slowly and pulled the leather pants out and held them up in front of her.

"I can’t wear these." She whispered to herself. Her alternative flashed in her mind – Jeans and a t-shirt. "Shit…" She peeled off what she was wearing and dressed in the wardrobe that was in the box. The whole thing.

She stood silently, looking at herself in the full-length mirror on the back of the closet door on the bus. Not too shabby. She ran her fingers through her shoulder length hair quickly before throwing on some lip-gloss and black sandals. She ran back into the hotel just as the elevator doors opened and Justin stepped off with Kacey.

"Whoa!" Justin stopped suddenly right in front of Meg.

"Have you seen Joey?" Meg asked.

"Has he seen you is more like it." Justin smiled.

"Come on Just, is he still upstairs?"

"Yeah, I think so." Justin nodded, still staring at Meg in her leather outfit.

"Come on Justin." Kacey gently tugged on his hand and led Justin towards the front door.

"Thanks." Meg called after them as she ran towards the elevator bay. She rode up to the 6th floor and took a deep breath before she stepped off the elevator and right smack into Lance. "Ouch!" She screeched.

"Sorry." He mumbled as he removed his foot from hers. She looked up and caught his eye, for the first time seeing that it was Lance. Her face blushed pink as she took a step back. "I… sorry, I didn’t see you."

"That’s okay." Meg laughed softly.

"You okay?" He looked down at her crushed foot.

"Um, yeah, I’m fine." She smiled and stepped around him as he and Jennifer got on the elevator.

"I heard you’re coming with us?" He asked with a smile, as Jennifer rested her head on his shoulder causing Meg’s stomach to do cartwheels.

"Yeah." Meg smiled uneasily.

"Cool, we’ll see you there." Lance gave a small wave as the doors slid shut.

"Damn I hope not." Meg shook her head and walked down the hall to Joey’s room.

Meg knocked quickly and waited for Joey to open the door, "Hey good you’re here, we’ve got to mo-" Joey stopped mid-sentence. "Wh-where did you get that?"

"For my birthday." Meg laughed and adjusted the tank top strap. "From JC and Chris."

"They bought you that?" He asked as he stepped out into the hall.

"Yeah." Meg nodded, looking over her outfit again. "Don’t you remember? And Justin held up the silver thong thing that came with it?"

"The silver- No… I don’t remember that." He laughed and shook his head as they walked down the hall. "I have a feeling I’m going to be in trouble tomorrow though."

"Why?" Meg asked as they stepped into the awaiting elevator.

"Because if Katarina sees this," He indicated her outfit, "She won’t buy the ‘we’re only friends’ bit."

"It’s not a bit, we are just friends. And it was either this or jeans." Meg frowned.

"I know." Joey nodded and laughed.

"I can always go change you know."

"No, don’t do that." He smiled as they stepped off the elevator and into the lobby.

"Then don’t complain." Meg sighed and followed closely.

"I’m not complaining." He shook his head as they walked out to where the car was waiting with the other guys inside.

"Hey Meg!" Justin said loudly as they hopped into the extra long stretch limo.

"Hey kid." She smiled.

"How’s your foot?" Lance asked with a darling little smile.

"Just fi-"

"Whoa! You’re wearing that?!" JC asked from the other end of the limo. Bobbee looked at him sharply and sighed.

"Don’t sound so surprised, you and Chris bought it for me." Meg laughed as JC and Chris turned bright red. Their mutual girlfriends all of a sudden became silent and chilled.

Joey and Justin tried to contain their laughter at the situation as they closed the doors and headed out of the parking lot. "Talk about a mood killer." Joey whispered softly.

"Hmm?" Meg wrinkled her forehead and brushed her hair out of her sky blue eyes.

Joey nodded in the direction of the quiet foursome, "I don’t think they knew about the outfit."

"Of course they did they bought it." Meg gave Joey a look.

"No, Bobbee and Dani."

"Well it’s not like they bought it for me to wear for them." Meg rolled her eyes and sat back in her seat.

"Yeah but that’s not the point. I mean I’m gonna catch hell just for being seen with you, but they bought this… I mean… they’ve got some explaining to do."

Meg shrugged, "They should have thought of that before."

"Yeah." Joey laughed softly, "I guess they should have."

They drove the rest of the way in silence, except for Lance and Jennifer, they kept a steady flow of conversation going softly in their little corner. Meg tried her hardest not to watch or listen to them, but it was a small space they were sharing.

When they got to the Universal Amphitheater, they waited in line for a few minutes before it was their turn to exit onto the red carpet. They were bombarded with flashes of lights and shouts as they walked quickly into the reception area. As a group they walked around to the different media representatives and talked for a couple of minutes with each one.

Meg felt naked without her earpiece and cel phone handy, not to mention the other girls treated her like a virus. She stood off to the side observing everyone around them. As always Megs eyes drifted back to Lance. She watched the back of his head and his profile as he and the others talked animatedly about some of their upcoming projects. She could single out his voice, and recognize his laugh, even in the crowd of hundreds.

She let her mind wander as they made their way to their seats, she imagined that she was here with Lance, and Jennifer was Joey’s date, and that everyone was happy. She was deep into her own little dreamworld when the festivities broke for intermission, and the crowd wandered out to the reception area again. Her fantasy seemed too real when Lance walked up and asked, "Are you having a good time so far?"

His voice so close to her ear startled her, she looked around quickly for Joey and Jennifer but didn’t see them. "I… yeah I’m having a pretty good time." Meg smiled uneasily.

"You sure?" He asked. He really needed to quit talking to her, or else she’d melt right through the floor.

He leaned on the wall beside her as she nodded, "Yeah, it’s um, a lot different than I thought it would be." She looked around nervously again and asked, "So where’s Jennifer?"

"She’s over there hitting on Mark McGrath or something." Lance nodded in the general direction of the exit.

"Oh really?" Meg smiled and raised her eyebrow at him. "That’s real nice, considering she came here with you."

"Nah, we’re just friends, I mean… you came here with Joey right?" Lance asked. When she didn’t answer his ears turned pink and he added, "Unless, I mean…"

"No, we’re just friends." Meg shook her head as her heart raced. "He didn’t have a date. I mean, he did but she couldn’t make it, so he um asked, or well begged me to come with him."

"Joey begged huh?" Lance laughed softly as his eyes crinkled around the edges. "I’d pay good money to see that."

"It was pathetic, really." Meg smiled and shifted her feet.

"I’m sorry about squishing your foot earlier." He winced slightly.

"It’s okay." Meg glanced down at her foot and saw the light blue beginnings of a bruise between the straps of her sandals.

"No it’s not, ouch, look at that." He kneeled in front of her and placed her foot on his thigh, "Oh man that has to hurt." He gently traced the bruise to her toes, pressing lightly.

"Only when you touch it." Meg said, trying to maintain her composure.

"Then I’ll stop." Lance kissed his finger and softly touched the bruise. "All better." He set her foot back on the floor and stood up. "So what are you doing for Christmas?" He smiled and put his hands in the pockets of his dark brown pants.

"Um, actually I’m flying out to Phoenix to visit my grandmother and my aunt."

"That sounds like fun." He smiled politely.

"No it doesn’t." Meg laughed and fidgeted, without pockets or a phone to occupy her hands she didn’t know what to do with them. "How about you?"

"Well, you would know better than me." He casually laughed and waved to someone on the other side of the room. "I’m flying home for a couple days, then back out on the road."

"Do you guys have a big Christmas party and stuff?" Meg cocked her head to the side as her heart raced. She’d never actually talked to Lance, other then scheduling stuff.

"Yeah, the whole family gets together. Grandma, grandpa, mom, dad, aunts, uncles and a zillion cousins." Lance ran his fingers through his hair, which only caused it to stick up more.

"No that sounds like fun."

"Yeah, it’s the one time a year I’m guaranteed a weekend with the family." He sighed.

"That’s cool." She nodded.

"Yep. So hey, any luck getting me that free time?" He smiled flirtatiously and licked his lips quickly.

"Um… actually, yeah. I was going to keep it a surprise." She laughed, knowing she’d never be able to keep it from him now.

"Seriously? You got me some free time?" He looked shocked.

"You bet. I’m Wonder Woman, remember?" She smiled slowly.

"That’s right… I just really didn’t think it was possible." He laughed, "So when and how much?"

"Next Thursday, the 29th." She knew the details by heart. "You’ve got some commitments in the morning, but from 11 until 2 you’re free to do what you like."

"Are you serious?"

"Of course." She smiled.

"I get three hours to do whatever I want?"

"Anything your little heart desires." Meg’s eyes met his and she blushed slightly.

"Wow… you rule Meg." He smiled as Jennifer walked up and casually draped her arm around his waist.

"Who rules?" Jennifer asked.

"Meg." Lance smiled at Meg and said, "She got me three free hours on the 29th."

"Cool! Where are you going to be?" Jennifer asked.

"Hartford Connecticut." Meg and Lance said at the same time.

"Maybe I can fly out and stay through New Years, you’re playing DC for New Years, right?" Jennifer asked sweetly.

Meg shifted her eyes to her shoes and cleared her throat, "I’m gonna go see if I can find Joey." She said softly.

"See you later Meg." Lance smiled, as Meg made her way through the crowd, not caring if Joey was at the other end or not.

"Meg-alicious!" Joey dropped his arm over Meg’s shoulder as she headed back to their seats.

"Hey." Meg tried to smile.

"What? What’s wrong?" He asked.

"Nothing." She forced a big smile, "I’m having a good time."

"But…?"

"But nothing. I really am." She smiled and sat in her seat.

Joey sat beside her and said, "We’re going on in the next segment."

"Yeah." She nodded. "Can we leave after that?"

"Leave?" Joey raised his eyebrows. "There’s a whole party after."

"A party?" Meg groaned.

"Yeah, come on. You’re off tonight, live a little. I mean, lookit your outfit, how can you not want to party?" He smiled and ran his finger over the smooth silver surface of her tank top.

"Joey…" She whined.

"It’ll be fun."

"You owe me big time."

"I know." He smiled.

"I’m serious. I’m going to remember this misery you put me through." Meg said without a smile.

"Misery? What misery?" Joey laughed.

"You have no idea." Meg sighed and crossed her arms over her chest as the others came and sat beside them. She kept her eyes forward for the rest of the night, so that she wouldn’t be tempted to stare at Lance and Jennifer cuddling on the other side of Justin and Kacey.

 

As they were leaving the amphitheater after the entire show, JC came up to Meg holding his cel phone out to her, "Johnnys on the phone."

"For me?" Meg asked, confused.

"Yeah, he’s been trying to reach you I guess." JC shrugged.

"Thanks." She took the phone and held it to her ear, "This is Meg."

"You’re at Holidays in Hollywood?" Were the first words out of Johnnys mouth.

"Well… yeah." Meg said slowly.

"With…?"

"With Joey." She looked confused, what was the big deal?

"I’d like you to come back to the hotel now please."

"What?" Meg laughed out loud. "Why?"

"We need to have a talk." Johnny explained.

"About what? I took the night off. My message on my voicemail says I will adress scheduling needs first thing in the morning. I was under the impression that my taking a night off every once in a while was okay."

"It is."

"Then what?"

"You’re out with the boys."

"Well yeah." Meg nodded and slid into the limo beside Joey and shut the door.

"Dating between the crew, staff and talent is not allowed."

"Since when?"

"It’s in the contract."

"Well I must have missed that." Meg said quickly. "And I’m not dating anyone from the staff, crew or talent. I came to a public function with the group. I’m not promoting myself, I’m not defaming their character and I’m making an embarassment out of them."

"It looks bad either way." Johny explained. "The date is over."

"No, dad, we still have the after party to go to. I’ll be in after that." Meg sighed and clicked the phone off.

"What was that about?" Joey asked as Meg handed the phone back to JC.

"Thanks JC." She smiled and continued, "Aparently dating amongst the crew, staff and talent is strictly prohibited."

"What?" Chris asked.

"It’s in the contract." Meg rolled her eyes.

"We’re not dating." Joey looked confused.

"Yeah, but it ‘looks bad’." She sighed.

"So you have to go to the hotel?" JC asked.

"He wants me to, yeah."

"You should probably go then." JC frowned.

"He’s not my dad." Meg said defiantly.

"No, but he is your boss, and if this is going to jeopardize your job with us, then you might want to go smooth things over." JC explained.

"Shit." Joey said under his breath. "I’m sorry I made you come."

"No, don’t be." Meg shook her head.

"Can we go back to the hotel real quick?" Justin leaned back over the seat and addressed the driver.

"Yes sir." The driver responded.

"I’m sorry about this guys." Meg shook her head and looked out the window.

"Don’t worry about it. You aren’t missing much." Lance smiled. "I’d go home now if I could get away with it."

"But you can’t, so now you’re going to be forced to have a good time. Poor you." Joey laughed and rolled his eyes.

The limo dropped Meg off in front of the hotel and she slowly made her way up to the 6th floor to talk with Johnny. She knocked softly on his door and waited as he removed his tie and opened the door.

"Come on in Meg, I’m glad you came." He held the door open for her and she stepped in quicklly. She sat at the little table and watched as he poured a glass of water, then sat across from her.

"I’m not dating any of them." She said softly. Though she wished she was…

"I know that." He nodded. "But from a media point of view, you are. They don’t buy the ‘just friends’ thing, no matter how true it is and how hard we try to sell it. You’ve seen this whole Justin and Britney thing get blown way out of proportion."

"Yeah but Joey has a different girlfriend every month, who’d even notice me?"

"The fact that you’re on the tour would draw attention to you."

"Johnny…"

"I know, you’re just friends. But I’m asking you to please keep a low profile. If anyone even thinks you’re dating one of the boys, that’s going to make your job a lot harder. I’m watching out for your best intrests, really."

"So I can’t go out with them at all?" Meg asked, as if the opportunity came up all the time.

"I would prefer if you didn’t. Unless it is a tour function."

Meg held his gaze for a minute before sighing and giving in, "Fine." She stood up and headed for the door.

"Out of the spotlight you can all be the best of friends, I think that’s a great idea. But flaunting it in front of media just isn’t a great idea." He shook his head and smiled.

"Okay." Meg nodded. She knew where he was coming from, but this just shot her chances with Lance one notch lower. Meg opened the door and took the stairs down the two flights to the room she was sharing with Kat and jumped in the shower. Glad for once that her room mate wasn’t around.

The next couple days passed uneventfully, they had lots of traveling to do, and jet lag to recover from. Meg was in the middle of a phone call with Kelly from J-14, trying to explain that the boys were busy for all of the first week of January, "But Bobbee is JC’s girlfriend." Kelly tried to argue that point.

"I know that. That’s just one more reason for you, and her, to understand how busy they are." Meg looked like she was talking to herself as she walked around the halls behind the stage in the arena. She had a couple of hours before the concert started, and was actually pulling double duty. One of the sound guys was sick so she would be in charge of changing out the mics when they went to acapella and back.

"I understand that you can make acommodations for JC if Bobbee was to come out to visit."

"Yes I can, if JC requests that."

"Then how about if I call JC and let him know that we’d like a minute of his time." Kelly asked, she was starting to get snotty, Meg hated that.

"I’ll tell you what, here’s JC, why don’t you ask him now?" Meg put Kelly on mute and walked up to the dressing room door and knocked.

"Enter!" Chris shouted from inside.

Meg pushed the door open and covered her eyes, "You decent?"

"Yeees." Chris said with his usual sly tone.

"Really?" meg laughed.

"Yeah, we got clothes on." Justin laughed as Meg uncovered her eyes.

"Where’s JC?" She asked, keeping Kelly on hold.

"He’s in there." Justin pointed back to where the hair ladies were going to work on Joeys mop.

Meg walked back and took Kelly off mute, "Hey JC, can you take this call?"

"Sure, who is it?" He asked.

"Kelly from J-14." Meg smiled and handed him the phone.

"Hello?" he asked.

"Hi, JC?"

"Yeah."

"This is Kelly from J-14."

"Okay." He gave Meg a confused look.

"I was wondering if we could borrow you for a photo shoot on January 6th in Cabo San Lucas." She asked with a perky smile.

"Um, I don’t know. What did Meg say?" he asked.

"Oh, well… she said you weren’t able to travel that week." Kelly stuttered.

"Okay, then what’s your question?" JC asked, sounding annoyed.

"Well, I understand that you can request time to spend with um, your girlfriend." Kelly said quickly.

JC looked at Meg and asked, "What am I doing that week?"

"You’re spending the 2nd through the 5th with Bobbee and your family in Florida, then the 6th traveling to the venue in Toronto for the show on the 7th." Meg explained.

"There you go. I can’t do it." JC sighed. "And don’t try to use Bobbee to get a photo shoot with me. That’s bull shit, and I’m sure she wouldn’t appreciate it." He handed the phone back to Meg and rolled his eyes.

"Thanks JC, sorry to bother you." Meg sighed.

"No problem." He shook his head and smiled as the hairstylist worked gel through his dark brown locks.

"Now… if you’d just like a photo shoot with him I can arrange time later in January if you’d like to fly out to where we are and do it." Meg explained to Kelly as she walked back through the dressing room and out to the hallway.

"No thank you." Kelly said sharply.

"Okay." Meg smiled sweetly and poured the sugar on, "Well if you need any other Nsync scheduling done, please feel free to call me anytime!"

"You bet." Kelly said quickly before she hung up. Meg laughed out loud and walked over to the food room to get some dinner before the show.

"Meggy meggy mo meggy banana fana fo feggy, mi my mo meggy. MEGGY!" Lance sang as he walked up to Megs table with a small plate of pasta.

"Hey you." Meg blushed quickly as Lance sat across from her. She didn’t usually mingle with the boys before shows.

"I get time off this week." He smiled and licked his lips quickly as he unfolded a napkin in his lap.

"Yes, I know." Meg smiled and wiped her mouth, sure she had spaghetti sauce on her face.

"And I promised that you could come with me if you got me this time off." He smiled and took a bite of the bow tie pasta in front of him.

"Mmm hmm." Meg nodded.

"So, what would you like to do?" He asked.

Meg cleared her throat quickly and said, "Nothing. This is your time off, just relax and enjoy the quiet."

"I promised…" He said softly.

"No, that’s okay. Really, just enjoy your time away from everyone." Meg forced a smile and took a bite of her dinner. "I thought Jennifer would be flying out?"

"No." Lance shook his head and caught her eye. "She’s uh, busy."

"Oh." Meg cleared her throat again, a nervous habit of hers.

"So… you wanna do something?" Lance asked again.

"Lance… you know what Johnny said about dating, or appearing to be dating."

"So we won’t go out and be noticed. I can be sly." He smiled wickedly. "I can keep it on the down low. Can you?"

Meg cracked a small smile, "Okay." Her voice practically shook with nervousness.

"Okay you’ll go with me?" He looked almost surprised as he leaned back in his chair.

"Sure." She blushed quickly, and took a sip of her water.

"Cool." Lance finished the last bite of his pasta and stood up with the empty plate in his hand. "You could probably use the time off too, I know we’ve been running you ragged lately." He leaned over and barely brushed his lips over her cheek, "We’ll have fun, wait and see."

Lance stood quickly and walked towards the door, tossing his plate in the trash on his way. Meg stared after him, long after he disappeared through the door. Her cheek tingled at the memory of his lips as Meg giggled like a schoolgirl, her dinner now forgotten.

"What are you so giddy about?" Kat asked as she walked up and sat beside Meg.

"It’s just a great day Kat." Meg laughed again, "It’s a perfect day!"

 

On to part 3

 

Copyright � 2000 Amy Lynn