Meg sat on the tattered couch in the dressing room, with a dressed and sleeping Lance in her lap. She flipped the page of the magazine that she had propped on the arm of the couch and slowly moved her fingertips back and forth as she scratched the back of Lance’s head almost unknowingly.

She read the story of Harrison Ford’s divorce with very little interest, she was just happy to get to spend a little time with Lance alone… even if he was fast asleep. She glanced down at his profile facing away from her, with his right cheek resting on her left thigh. She sighed and moved her free hand from the tangle of his hair to his side and scratched lightly. Apparently he was more ticklish than she thought, he cringed away from her fingers and frowned in his sleep. Meg saw this and smiled, then did it again. Lance shifted his whole body this time, and sighed in frustration. He opened his eyes slowly and rolled onto his back to look up at her, "You’re ticklish." Meg said softly.

"I know." He smiled and reached up to pull her close for a kiss. "Know what?"

"What?"

"I don’t have to go to that meeting thing in LA next week." Lance said softly.

"I know." Meg whispered with a smile.

"You know huh?"

"Yep." She nodded and played with his uneven hair.

"And you didn’t tell me?" He smiled and closed his eyes.

"Nope." Meg sighed and smiled happily, "I only found out this morning."

"You know what else?" Lance asked a minute later as Meg continued to scratch his head lightly.

"Hmm?"

"I love it when you scratch me." He laughed lightly.

"Oh really?" Meg smirked and giggled softly.

"Yep, scratching my back is the best way to send me straight to heaven."

"The best way huh?" Meg asked.

Lance cracked one eye open and smiled, "One of the best, yeah."

"Well hun, you’re laying on your back."

"I can move." He whispered and smiled up at her flirtatiously.

"Hey Lance, we gotta get a move on it." Justin said loudly as he threw the dressing room door open. Lance bolted upright, losing his balance in the process. He grabbed the arm of the couch to keep from falling over and quickly ran his hand through his hair.

"Uh, yeah, okay." Lance said quickly.

"Relax, it’s just me." Justin laughed and bent down to tie his shoe. "We’ve got the MuchMusic guys here, they’re taping our hackey so we’ve gotta go do that for them before everything else."

"Okay." Lance cleared his throat and stood nervously beside the couch.

"So… you ready?" Justin asked as he stood up. He placed his hands on his hips and looked at Lance and Meg.

"Um, yeah." Lance followed Justin out the door without so much as looking back at Meg.

Justin raised an eyebrow and watched Lance walk away, "Is he okay?" He asked Meg.

"Um… I think so." Meg shrugged. "He was fine a second ago."

"Maybe he’s just weird." Justin laughed and reached for the door, "See ya later alligator."

"After a while crocodile." Meg smiled slightly as Justin shut the door behind him.

Meg stayed in the dressing room for the duration of the show with her phone, and all the guys’ phones, sitting on the couch beside her. She read through the People magazine, then moved on to Maxim and Sports Illustrated. Joey’s phone rang about halfway through the show, so Meg picked it up and looked at the caller ID number. It was a New York number, so she knew it was his family. She let it ring through to voicemail, and pretty much ignored the phones for the rest of the evening.

When the show was over they piled onto their busses and headed for the next city, which was only a couple of hours away. They sleepily checked into the hotel in the middle of the night, and drug themselves to their rooms for the night.

 

In the morning the guys did an interview session in one of the ballrooms of the hotel while Meg rearranged their first week off tour to give them more time off. It was about time to start planning their summer, and she wanted to make sure they had a little free time before jumping into a promotional TV tour and studio time.

When the interview was finished, they all had two hours free to catch up on sleep or make their phone calls, basically to do whatever they wanted. Lance chose to spend it in his room playing cards with Meg, and she was thrilled.

"So what do you do while we’re doing interviews and meet and greets and stuff?" Lance asked as he dealt the cards on the small table. A heated game of Gin was underway, and Meg was winning.

"Um, I hang around on the bus taking calls. You know… work." She smiled and examined her hand.

"You don’t get to go out or anything?"

"Where would I go?" Meg asked, meeting his eyes.

"I don’t know. There’s a grocery store thing across the street, and a music shop. I thought there was an Old Navy up the block."

"Well yeah, but I need to keep my books with me. I mean I’m going to be pretty useless if I’m in Old Navy and I get a call without my book, right?" She asked.

"So ditch your phone." Lance drew a card and smiled.

"Oh sure." Meg laughed. "You’ll explain to Johnny why my shopping is more important than work, right?"

"You can’t take a couple hours off?"

"I don’t need it." She shrugged. "I get out and run laps around the arenas during the show, so it’s not like I’m cooped up inside all the time. Besides, I have fun hanging out."

"Do you write in your journal?" Lance asked with a sly smile.

"Yep, every night." Meg frowned at her cards and took two more.

"Really?"

"Yep." Meg sighed and rearranged the cards in her hand. "When I remember. So probably more like every other night."

"Cool, I’m glad you like it."

"Do you keep a journal?"

"Yeah." Lance nodded and laughed lightly, "You’re not gonna win this one."

"Hmm." Meg drew one more card and smiled. "I think I just might." She slowly lay her cards on the table and said, "G-I-N."

"No way…" Lance sighed and looked at the cards in front of him. "How do you do that? Every time. I swear you have a deck up your sleeve or something."

"Nah, I’m a gin pro." She laughed. "Now come on, you’ve got that online chat thing in a half hour, I’ve gotta hustle you downstairs."

"I know, I know." Lance reluctantly stood up and stretched. "Who am I chatting with?"

"AOL people." Meg shrugged and picked up the cards from the table to shuffle them quickly.

"I mean who else? The guys?"

"Oh, um, Joey and JC." Meg stood up to follow Lance out of the room.

"Where are Chris and Justin?"

"Uh, Chris is recuperating from his cold, so I’m letting him sleep. And Justin is recording his voice stuff for that helper buddy guy thing on your website."

"I haven’t done that yet." Lance shut the door behind them and led the way down the empty hall.

"Nope, you’re recording that in a week I think. Chris does his this weekend if he’s feeling better."

"Does that like totally mess up our schedules when one of us gets sick?" Lance pressed the button for the elevator and leaned casually against the wall.

"Not really. You guys pretty much pull your asses to whatever it is you have to do until you're half dead and Johnny makes you stop." Meg sighed and rubbed her eyes. "But once you guys decide to quit being macho men and agree to sleep it off, then yeah it gets harder."

"I’ll try not to get sick on you, how’s that?" Lance asked softly.

"That would be great." Meg laughed quietly as the doors open and they stepped onto the elevator with one of their security guards.

"I know you aren’t really leaving the floor without us, are you?" The guard asked Lance.

"Just going down to the chat thing. Third floor conference room, right?"

"Wrong." The guard shook his head. "You’ve gotta go on back up to 11 and have the girls make you up all pretty first."

"For a online chat?" Lance asked, whining like a kid.

"It’s going to be broadcast in real time on the net. Read your notes boy." The security laughed and hit the button for 11.

"Shit." Lance sighed as Meg stepped off the elevator on 3.

"I’ll meet you back down here." She smiled as the doors shut to carry Lance and the security back up to 11.

 

Meg let herself into the conference room on the third floor and was immediately assaulted by Joey. "Magnadoodle!" Joey practically pounced on her as she walked in the door.

He squeezed her tight as she protested, "Joey I can’t breathe hun."

"Sorry, I’m just really happy to see you." He laughed.

"You’re on crack." She laughed as he released her.

"See that’s how those rumors get started." He shook his finger playfully at her. "Hey C! I know where that crack rumor got started." He shouted across the room to JC who was chatting with a couple of the guys by the computers they had set up.

"Hi Meg." JC waved and went back to his conversation.

"Where’s blondie?" Joey asked, calming down instantly. He nodded over to the little refreshment table and Meg followed him with her arms crossed.

"He forgot about hair and make up, so he’s up there getting all dolled up."

"Lovely. I hate this crap." Joey waved his hand around his face to indicate all the make up and fuss put into his appearance.

"Yer so purdy." Meg laughed and helped herself to a bottle of water.

"Thanky." Joey laughed and grabbed an apple. "So what’s the plan for the rest of the day? Just the show?"

"You wish." Meg rolled her eyes, "You guys have a photo thing after this, a meeting with execs to talk about the new album and studio time, and then the show and everything that goes with that."

"Ouch. So while we’re doing all of that, are you going to go to the spa and get like a manicure and your toes painted and all that stuff?"

"Of course, that’s what I do every day, I sit in the spa for hours on end getting massaged and pampered. Sheesh, you don’t think they actually put me to work around here, do you?" She laughed and shook her head, "I have a meeting with Johnny right after this to talk about your summer plans."

"We don’t get the summer off?" Joey pouted.

"I’ll see what I can do." Meg laughed and walked over to where the computers were set up.

"So we’ll each be on our own computer, but talking to the same people in the same room or whatever, right?" JC asked.

"Yeah, the host will be monitoring the questions, and passing them on to you." The guy explained.

"Well I’ve seen chat rooms before, there’s no way we’ll be able to keep up." JC shook his head and scratched the side of his nose quickly.

"This isn’t a free-for-all chat. The only messages you’ll see will be coming from the host. All of the other chatters, your fans or whatever, post their questions to the host. They can all see your responses, and the questions, but they don’t type directly to you. Know what I mean?"

"I think so." JC nodded. "This is a pretty cool set up."

"Do you guys get to chose your screen names?" Meg asked with a smile.

"No, for this kind of chat they will just use their names, that makes it easier for the host and all of the viewers." The guy explained.

"Okay so now what about the cameras? They can see us as we type it?"

"If they have video capabilities, yes." The guy nodded. "Plus I’m pretty sure they’re going to record it to post in the archives, or on your site or whatever."

"That’s cool. Will we be able to see them? I mean if they have cameras?"

"No." The guy shook his head, "This chat is only set up for one way transmission."

"Okay, but what if I got one of those little camera things for my own computer?" JC asked. They guy went onto explain what he could use the camera for and how he would be able to see others who had cameras. Meg listened for a little bit, then excused herself as her phone rang.

Meg took the call on her hands free earpiece as she walked out into the hall and headed for the elevators. "This is Meg." She answered.

"Hi Meg, this is Suzanne from GQ, how are you?"

"I’m doing great, how are you?" Meg asked, pressing the button for the lobby. She’d left all of her binders on the bus, and would need them.

She talked to Suzanne for a little while and made arrangements for all of the guys to do a spread in GQ for a fall issue. "Well depending on the location, I could get the shot scheduled as soon as May or June."

"We’d like to do the shoot in New York at our studios there."

"Okay, then we’re looking at sometime later, what’s the deadline?" Meg asked as she flipped through the calendars. It was only February and they were already being booked for the fall.

"Um, we need to have the shoots done before September first." Suzanne said, looking at her own calendar.

"Okay." Meg nodded and looked at the August calendar. "I know this may be cutting it close, but how about the week of August 10th?"

"That’ll work out great, the 13th?" Suzanne smiled and they both put it on their calendars. Meg wrapped up the conversation and grabbed her books to head back inside.

She stepped quietly into the third floor conference room and stood off to the side with Johnny as they guys sat around the little table preparing for their online chat. She gave them a small wave and smiled.

There were a couple photographers taking pictures of the event as it got underway. Meg’s phone rang in her pocket as they boys took their first question. They laughed among themselves and typed on the keyboards in front of them. Meg laughed at them as they played "hunt and peck" with the keys, not at all used to typing.

"This is Meg." She answered her phone and headed off to a quite corner. She took the call and confirmed Chris’s online chat on FuManSkeeto later that month. Meg made a note on the calendar to remind Chris later that day then went back to stand behind the guys.

Meg watched over Lance’s shoulder as they answered a wide array of questions from fans. They had questions ranging from future record plans to what color socks they were wearing. The guys were having a blast answering all of the questions, and making fun of each other in the process.

Meg’s phone rang again as they took their last question, and Lance looked over his shoulder with a frown, "Can you take that outside?" He asked quickly.

Joey and JC looked shocked for a minute, then hurriedly went back to typing, pretending not to have heard. Meg held Lances gaze for a second before he turned back to his monitor, her phone ringing for the second time. She quickly turned on her heel and hit the "talk" button as she opened the door.

"This is Meg."

"Hey Meg! This is Trav, what’s going on hun?" Travis asked happily. He was her favorite MTV rep, and she was usually excited to talk to him.

"Nothing, whatcha need?" Meg slammed the elevator button and held her binder across her chest.

Travis paused for a second, "Is everything okay?"

Meg sighed and tugged at her dark red hair, "Yeah, I guess. I’m sorry I snapped at you."

"Well shit, I hate asking you for a favor now…" He smiled, hoping to cheer her up a bit.

"I’ll do anything for you Trav, you know that." She tried to smile and climbed onto the elevator.

"I’ll tell you what, if you can get me 30 minutes at your location with all of the guys, I will take you out to the nicest New York dinner you’ve ever had next time you’re in town."

"Can’t tonight." She shook her head.

"Well no, next time you swing by the slums." Travis laughed.

"I meant for the guys, they have no time tonight." She shook her head.

"I don’t need it tonight, just sometime before Saturday." Travis explained.

"And you’re crew will come to us?"

"We’ll go wherever they are. We need an advertisement segment for the Video Music Awards."

"And you couldn’t have called to schedule this earlier?" Meg asked, giving Travis a hard time.

"Well actually, AJ and his boys were supposed to do a segment, but they uh, weren’t nominated and are apparently a little bitter. We need the filler and I know your boys are good sports."

"Were my boys nominated? You know, because if not, then they don’t want anything to do with you or your stupid TV studio." Meg laughed and walked down the hall to her room.

"Yes, they were nominated for 5 awards. Hell they’re even gonna win a few. So can you squeeze me in?"

"Of course I can." Meg said, without even glancing at her calendar. Right then she’d move mountains for Travis. He could always cheer her up.

"Radical. When?"

"Let me check." Meg sat on her bed and crossed her legs as she sat back against the headboard. She flipped her calendar open and chewed on the end of her pen, "Thirty minutes?" She asked.

"Yep. One hour at the most, you know how those troublemakers like to goof off. If they can be serious about it and get it in one shot, it’ll only take a few minutes."

"Yeah right. So an hour?"

"Yeah." He laughed.

"Okay, you’re going to owe me big time for this. I can get you Thursday at 8am. But you absolutely positively have got to be done by nine. They have to be in the cars and out of the parking lot at 9:15 no if’s and’s or but’s."

"You are a doll." Travis laughed and said, "When are you in New York next?"

"Not until next month." Meg sighed.

"Okay, are you still seeing the blonde one?" Travis smiled.

"Shush, that’s a secret."

"Well…?"

"Yeah, I guess." She sighed. "I’ll we can talk about that over dinner."

"Call me when you get to the city, thanks a lot Meg."

"No problem. Are you coming with the crew Thursday?"

"Hell no, I’m a phone boy." He laughed. "I’ll talk to you later."

"Bye Trav." Meg laughed and clicked the phone off. She sighed and closed the binder as someone knocked on her door. Meg debated not answering the door, expecting it to be Lance. She sighed and went to the door anyway, and was surprised to see Johnny standing on the other side. "Oh, um, hi." She said quickly.

"Hi, hey do you have a minute?" He asked.

"Sure." Meg nodded and grabbed her binder off the bed. "Your room?"

"If you don’t mind." Johnny smiled and held the door open for her.

"That’s fine." Meg smiled and followed him down the hall.

"Hey Meg, I just wanted to touch base as far as the boys summer plans." Johnny explained as Meg sat across from him at the small table by the window in his room.

"Okay, well so far they aren’t too busy. They still have quite a bit of time, but I know they’re looking forward to a week or two off."

"Are there two consecutive weeks they can go?" Johnny asked.

"Um, not right now, no. But I can always shuffle things around." She glanced down at the calendar in front of her and flipped through July and August. "June is out, they’ve got lots of stuff going on then. I can probably get two weeks at the end of July, and the first part of August."

"Yeah, get them two weeks, cancel things if you need to." Johnny nodded. "They’re getting tense as I’m sure you’ve seen."

Meg nodded and cleared her throat, "Yeah, I can tell. I’m trying to get them a day free next week."

"That would be great." Johnny’s pager hummed on his hip, and he reached down to quiet it.

"Of course, it would help if they actually took the day off. Instead they’re out running around all day and dancing all night. That’s hardly a day off when that’s all they do for work."

"I agree." Johnny laughed. "I should tell them they have to relax on that day. I doubt they’d listen though."

"Yeah." Meg smiled and picked at her fingers.

"Hey… I’m uh, sorry about you and Lance. I mean, I know you had fair warning going into that relationship, but it’s still going to be rough having to see him all the time. He’ll get better."

"I… what?" Meg asked with a sick feeling in her stomach.

"I just meant that even though he’s being kind of mean right now, that’ll go away. He’s a good kid, but starting a relationship on the road can be tough."

"I um… we… we’re not, Johnny we didn’t break up." Meg explained through cold lips. "Not that I know of anyways."

"Oh." Johnny said. "Well I’m embarrassed, it just looked like… well, nevermind, I guess I was wrong. He just looked like he was being really short with you."

"He was." Meg said softly before she stood up, and let herself out of the little room.

 

Meg unintentionally avoided Lance the rest of the day, then slept on her own bus on the way to the new venue in the next state. Whatever Lance’s problem was, she didn’t want to be anywhere near it. Meg busied herself with printing up the boy’s weekly schedules and posting them on the roll around closets as well as on their bus.

The guys were busy all day, and that afternoon they had an interview with Inside Hollywood in one of the suites on their floor. Meg hung out with Kat in the spare room that everyone was using as a snack room and lounge. Meg bitched to Kat about her "guy" problems, and Kat complained about cramps.

It really felt good to just sit around and talk trash with a girl friend, that was one thing that Meg really missed being out on the road. Kat wasn’t exactly her peer, but she was the only other female on the tour, and the only one that would be able to offer any kind of advice.

"Well honey, here’s what I have to say about that." Kat leaned back in her chair and took a sip of her Dr.Pepper. "Lance is a good ole sweet southern boy that’s been thrown into the glitz and glamour of Hollyweird. When he’s out on the road he doesn’t know shit from shinola so you can’t really blame him. He’s not in his element, and adding a girlfriend to his chaos doesn’t help. Now that doesn’t mean he’s not head over heels goofy for you, I think he is. I mean good lord, lookit the boy." She laughed and retied her ponytail. "He just doesn’t know what to do with ya."

"And we can’t be boyfriend and girlfriend except when we’re alone, which we never really are."

"Right. He’s trying to cover his ass, making it clear to anyone who can’t know, that you guys aren’t dating. Know what I mean?"

"Yeah." Meg sighed. "It sucks though."

"Yep. It does. And you shouldn’t have to put up with that." Kat shook her head.

"My options are slim." Meg sighed and leaned her chin in her hand as one of the phones on the bar rang. She instinctively reached for it and clicked "talk" before she realized it wasn’t hers, "Um… hello? This is Meg." She covered her face with her hands hoping it was at least someone she knew.

"Meg? Oh did I dial the wrong number? This is Diane, I’m looking for Lance." She said sweetly.

"Oh, then this is Lance’s phone." Meg laughed. "I’m sorry, you dialed right. I just picked up the phone because it was ringing, I didn’t look to see whose it was. Did you want to leave him a message?"

"Well is he busy? Nevermind, I’m sure he is or he would have answered his own phone."

"They’re doing an interview, did you… is this important? I can go get him if you need." Meg offered.

"Would you sweetie? That would be great."

"Sure, no problem. Is everything okay?" Meg asked with a concerned tone.

"Everything’s just fine, his father just got out of surgery and I wanted to let him know how things went."

"Surgery?"

"It was nothing major sweetie, nothing to worry about. He just had his appendix taken out and I know Lance was concerned about that." Diane explained.

"Okay, well I’m glad things went okay, I’ll go get Lance for you, okay?"

"Thanks hun."

Meg set the phone on the table and said to Kat, "That’s his mom, I’m going to go get him, so don’t hang up the phone, okay?"

"I won’t touch a thing." Kat sat back and continued to drink her Dr.Pepper.

 

Meg walked down the hall to the suite on the end and pushed the door open slowly. The guys were gathered on and around a big plush sofa against the windows, looking out over the lake that the hotel bordered.

"Hey guys, sorry to interrupt." Meg said as she slowly approached the interview session.

"Hey Meg." Joey smiled.

"What’s up?" Justin asked as he tossed an old, worn hackey sack from hand to hand. "Think fast." He tossed the sack to Meg who caught it expertly.

"Lance you have a phone call." Meg said quietly as she lopped the sack back to Justin.

"Can’t it wait?" He asked, not even looking at her.

Chris’s eyebrows shot up as he looked from Lance to Meg and back, "Would she come interrupt us if it could?" Chris asked.

"Who is it?" Lance asked quickly.

"It’s your mother." Meg said sharply, "But if you’d like, Mr. Bass, I can take a message." Chris and Joey snickered under their breath as Lance stood up quickly and followed Meg out to the hall.

"What was that?" He whispered once the door was shut.

"You have a phone call." Meg said without looking back at him. She continued down the hall to her room as Lance followed close behind.

"Mr. Bass? Come on Meg." He grabbed her arm and turned her to face him.

"Treat me like a human then. I swear you treat me worse than anyone else on this damn tour."

"When we’re in public we can’t act like boyfriend and girlfriend, you know that."

"I’m not asking for you to make out with me. Shit Lance, I just want you to treat me with some respect. I mean, say hello, smile, wave… something. Joey gives me hugs, Chris makes fun of my hair, Justin tosses those stupid hackey sacks at me, JC calls me pet names… they treat me like part of the team. You treat me like hired help, like annoying hired help."

"Meg, I can’t show you any affection in public."

"There is a difference between not showing affection, and ignoring me completely." Meg said as she pulled away from him and unlocked her door. "Your mom is waiting on your cel, you’d better go take the call." She shut the door, leaving Lance standing in the hallway alone.

 

 On to the next part…

 

Copyright � 2000 Amy Lynn