It was dark when Fiona finally got home from work that night.  Carter’s car was gone and the porch light was off which wasn't normal, but wasn't exactly reason for concern.  She parked in the driveway, then fumbled with the lock in the dim light of dusk.  When she finally got into the house she turned on the entry light as well as the outside light so that Carter wouldn’t have to come home to a dark house.

            She dropped her purse and keys on the pegboard behind the door and sighed deeply.  A light sound from the kitchen turned her attention to her right.  JC stood there in front of the sink with a guilty smile on his lips.  Fiona smiled back and said, “Hey.  You again, huh?"

            "Yeah.  I parked on the street this time though." JC turned around and went back to pouring water in the ice tray.  "Carter ran to the ATM to get some cash for later."

            "Ahh, okay."

            "We're going to the Rolling Stones tonight."

            "Oh yeah?"

            "Yeah."  JC slid the tray into the freezer then wiped his hands on his pants.  "So um… I feel like I should say something or… something."

            "Yeah, me too.  I have to apologize for that night in the club and stuff.  I should have minded my own business."

            "No.”  JC shook his head and blushed slightly as his eyes dropped to the crumb covered floor.  “No, I'm glad you said something.”

            "And I have to apologize for freaking out kind of when I saw you here the other day."

            "It's okay."  He laughed softly.

            "And I really have to apologize for what I'm about to do, but I just can not let this pass me up."

            "I… okay…?"

            "Can I have your autograph?"  She asked quickly as her hands flew to her eyes in embarrassment.  "I cannot believe I just asked you that… but you're in my house and I can't miss this opportunity."

            JC laughed and patted his pockets; "I don't have anything to write with.  But I'll bring something for you next time, okay?  A CD or something."

            "Sure, yeah.  No hurry.  I just had to ask though.  You know.  I've been a fan for a while now and you… you're in my house."  She laughed as she shook her head.  "I keep saying that."

            "It's okay." JC smiled his fan smile and shook his head to reassure her.  "You'll get used to it."

            "Yeah."  She blushed and dropped her chin to her chest.  "So… you're going to a show tonight?"

            "Um, yeah." JC shrugged.  "I was going to see if Carter wanted to -” He was interrupted by his phone ringing on his hip.  "Hang on."  He held up his finger and flipped his phone open.  "Hello?"  He answered and Fiona listened to his half of the conversation.  "Hey!  Where are you?  Yeah?  How's it going?  Yeah I'm here in LA still.  No… no I'm not at home.  A friends.  Uh huh.  Uh huh.  Yeah totally, you should.  But call first.  Yeah, you have to or he won't be there.  No, but I'll be working with Dallas I think a little later.  No, no not till later.  I will.  Okay… cool.  I'll call him tomorrow then and see what's up.  Okay, I gotta go.  I'll talk to you later man.  Love ya.  Bye.  Okay, bye."  He flipped his phone shut and put it back in its holder.  "Sorry." He smiled at Fiona as Carter ambled through the door with his arms full of bags.

            "It's okay."  She blushed.

            "Hey."  Carter smiled and dropped the groceries on the floor by the kitchen.

            "What's that?"  Fiona looked at the bags, then up to meet Carter's eyes.

            "Um.  Food.  I'm going to make up some chicken and rice before we head out.  That way we don't have to worry about the uh… crowds, or whatever."  He explained as he licked his lips.

            "That's a great idea."  JC smiled and squeezed past Fiona to help Carter with the bags.

            "Do you want some?"  Carter asked Fiona, as she remained rooted by the couch.

            "Oh, um no.  There's some pizza left in the fridge, I think.  I'll have that later."  She shook her head and blushed.  "Have a good time at the show tonight."  She forced a smile, then put her hands in her pockets and turned to leave.

            "Hey Fiona?  I'll bring the CD next time, okay?  That was Justin on the phone and I'm going to see him this weekend, so it'll at least have our signatures on it."

            "Oh."  She blushed even deeper and gave him a nervous smile.  "Thanks."

            "What?"  Carter looked at JC with confused look.

            "She uh…"

            "I asked for his autograph."  Fiona said quickly before she bolted to her room and shut the door tightly.

            "She did not."  Carter gasped dramatically and lifted the bag to the counter.

            "Yeah.  It was cute."

            "I'm sorry about that.  You don't have to." He smiled and shook his head.

            "No, it's no problem." JC reached into the bags and set the chicken on the counter.

            "I mean, I've had more opportunities and you don’t see me asking you for an autograph.  In fact, if I remember correctly it was you asking me for mine."  Carter raised his eyebrow and laughed at the absurdity.

            "I'll sign whatever you want."  JC's eyes glinted with devilish delight as he let his eyes wander down Carter's chest.

            "Yeah?"

            "Yeah."

            "Ah… but can I get Justin's too?"

            JC threw his head back and laughed, "On a CD, sure."

            "Ooo!  Really?!"  Carter feigned true excitement and clapped his hands.

            "You bet. I'll have him sign one for you this weekend while I'm getting Fiona's."

            "Yay!"  Carter danced around the kitchen for a moment before JC grabbed his elbow to stop him with a kiss.

            "You're crazy." JC laughed into Carter's lips and put his hand on his waist.

            "I know."

            "For me?"

            "Of course."  Carter smiled up at JC then kissed him again.  “Are you hungry?”

            “Yes.”

            “Good.”  Carter’s tongue slid over JC’s lower lip before he took a step back and reached for the grocery bag.  “Do we have time?”

            “Um…”  JC looked at his oversized watch.  “We have to leave here in about an hour and a half.”

            “Ah, we’ve got plenty of time.”  Carter smiled and pulled the wine out of the bag and handed it to JC.  “Can you open that?  We’ll get started on the wine while I put dinner together.”

            “Who knew you were this domestic?”

            “I’m a well trained gay man.”  Carter batted his eyelashes and laughed.  “Actually, I like to cook.  And Fiona doesn’t cook at all, so it works out well.  You?”

            “Eh.”  JC shrugged and opened drawers in search of a bottle opener.  “I never really got into it.  There wasn’t a need.  I went from living with my parents to living with the guys and being on tour where everything’s pretty much made for you.”

            “But what about when you go home?”

            “I order in a lot.  And I eat a lot of cereal.”

            “God, you’d get along great with Fiona.  If she could have Captain Crunch three times a day she would.”

            “Regular or with crunch berries?”

            “She’s not picky.”

            “Gotta have the crunch berries.”  JC laughed and surfaced from the last drawer triumphant.  He removed the cork from the bottle and sniffed it expertly.  “Yum.”

            “You seem like you’d be more of a gourmet type person, not sugar cereal.”

            “I like fancy food.”  JC nodded.  “There’s something magnificent about clafouti and chateau briand.  I could live happily on veal gremolata and vanilla crème brulee.  But those things take skill to make.  Skill and time, neither of which I have.  If I can pour dinner in a bowl with some milk and be done with it in ten minutes, why wouldn’t I?”

            “Okay.  That’s it.  You need to eat real food.”

            “I eat real food, I just don’t make it.”  JC laughed and took the wine glasses that Carter held out for him.  He poured, then handed Carter his glass.  “So what are you making tonight?”

            “Nothing fancy like those things you mentioned.  Garlic herb chicken with lemon grass and wild rice.  It’s simple, but at least I can pronounce it.”

            “Sounds good.”

            “It is.”  Carter took a sip of the wine and set it aside.

            They worked together in the kitchen with JC reading the recipe for Carter who was actually more adept in the kitchen.  By the time the meal was ready, they only had a few minutes to eat and get on the road.  They ate quickly, burning their tongues in the process, then grabbed sodas for the car and headed for the door.

            “Oh wait.  Let me let Fiona know we’re leaving.”  Carter said softly as he took his keys from the counter.

            “She’s still here?”

            “Yeah.”

            “She’s quiet.”

            “Ha.”  Carter rolled his eyes as he went to her door and knocked.  “Fi?”

            “Yeah?”

            “We’re leaving.”

            “Okay.  Have fun.”

            “I will.”

            “Be safe.”

            “I will.”  Carter smiled and blew a kiss at her door.  “I’ll be home late.”

            “I won’t wait up.”  He could hear the smile in her voice.

            “Okay, we can go now.”  Carter’s smile grew as he stepped around JC and out into the cool night air.  As they walked down to the curb, Carter’s stomach did a flip-flop.  This would be the first time they were actually out in public together.  As in, together.  Not just running to the store or at the club together.

            JC unlocked the passenger side door and held it for Carter, like any gentleman would.  “Thanks.”

            “Watch your feet.  That… sorry it’s a mess in there.  You can just step on those.”

            “It’s okay.”  Carter reached down by his feet and picked up the stack of homemade CD’s.  When JC got in the other side, Carter held them up, “Did you make these?”

            “Those?  No.” JC shook his head, then took the CD’s and tossed them in the back seat.  “Justin got this new program on his computer so he burns me like, a CD a week or something.”

            “Is it… him?”

            JC laughed and shook his head as he started the car.  It purred softly for a moment then was silent as they pulled away from the curb.  “No, he leaves his stuff on my voicemail when he wants my opinion.  These are just his favorite songs of the moment.  He goes through some truly fucked up phases.”

            “Like what?”

            “Well there’s one in that stack that’s all covered versions of his favorite songs.  Then another is all girls names and just… things like that.”

            “Hmm.”

            “I haven’t even listened to them all yet.  I can’t keep up.”  JC laughed and ran his hand through his curls as they headed for the freeway.

            "So... are there, I mean, what are the rules?"  Carter asked after a minute of silence.

            "Rules?  Rules for what?"

            "For tonight."

            JC looked at him, completely confused, "Wh - I don't know what you mean."

            "The rules.  For tonight. For… for me.  For us."  Carter explained as he blushed in the darkness.

            "I don't know what you mean."

            "Well this is in public right?  The concert?"

            "Of course."

            "So…?"

            "So?"  JC looked over at Carter as the streetlight illuminated his face.  "It's just a concert.  It's not like there's a chance of us fucking on the floor or whatever." JC laughed.

            "Well, no.  But -”

            "There are no rules, Carter.  Actually, wait yeah there is.  The rule is that we have to have fun.  And spend an obscene amount of money on overpriced merchandise."

            "I just meant -”

            "I know what you meant." JC smiled and took his hand from the gearshift to rest it on Carter's knee.  "And it's fine.  We can be seen in public you know.   To anyone who even notices, it'll be me at a concert with my buddy.  They don't need to know what kind of buddy."

            "Okay.  Buddies."

            JC frowned; he didn't like the sound of that.  "It's just that…"

            "No, I know."

            "It's not that I'm… I don't know…"

            "I know."  Carter smiled.  "I just wanted to know what to expect kind of."

            "I just can't, you know… go around like that."

            "It's okay."

            "Not that I think -”

            "JC, it's okay." Carter laughed.  "I wasn't asking to be a prick, I was just asking so I'd know. I didn't expect to be hanging all over you all night or whatever.  That's what the after party is for."

            "There's no after party."  JC furrowed his brow and looked at Carter.

            "Sure there is." Carter raised his eyebrow at JC and smirked.  "Your house… after the concert.  Didn't you get the invite?"

            "Oooh!  That after party.  Yeah you can hang all over me at the after party."

            "Awesome."

            "Awesome."  JC smiled and seemed to relax in his seat.  "This is going to rock.  Have you ever seen the Stones?"

            "Not in concert, no."

            "They're unbelievable.  I caught them in New York when they kicked off this tour."

            "Really?"

            "It's crazy, seriously.  This is a band that totally stands the test of time.  I mean, they've been around longer than I've been alive.  It's crazy man.  Great show."

            "Better than yours?"

            "Have you seen mine?"

            "Of course."

            "You have?"

            Carter laughed and reached to turn the radio down.  "I live with Fiona.  You've seen first hand how much of a teenager she is.  We've seen you guys in concert like, four times.  We even drove to Vegas."

            "Oh my God.  I'm dating a fan."  JC laughed and playfully tore at his hair.  "Aaahhh!  That's breaking rule number one!"

            "Would it be better if I thought you guys sucked?  Pretend like I'm not a fan?"

            "No, that won't help."  JC shook his head and laughed again.

            "I'm sorry."

            "It's okay.  Man, I can't believe that out of all the guys in LA I had to go hook up with a fan.  How many male Nsync fans are there?"

            "More than you think."

            "Oh man."  JC sighed, but continued to smile.  "Figures."

            "Is that bad?"

            "No.  No it's not bad." JC smiled and looked over at Carter.  "Just kinda… weird."

            "Weird?"

            "In a good way." He leaned over and gave Carter a quick kiss.  "Don't worry about it."

            Carter's smile broadened as his heart skipped a beat, "Okay." He said softly.

            "We're going to have so much fun tonight." JC said suddenly.  "They put on an awesome show.  I mean, it's like, ten times better than anything I've ever seen because it's more about the music than the show, you know?"

            "Yeah."

            "That's what matters.  And these guys have been around long enough to know that.  All they care about is making sure everyone gets what they paid for."

            "That's cool."

            "Yeah.  Hey, maybe we'll get to meet them."

            "M-meet them?  The Rolling Stones?"  Carter's jaw fell open.

            "Well I don't know if I'd hold my breath, but it's possible."

            "Wow."

            "One of the perks." JC shrugged and laughed at Carter's shocked expression.

            "Yeah… I'll say."

            "This is going to be so much fun." JC said again, meaning more than just the show.  Carter was so new to everything it would be like showing someone "The Wizard of Oz" for the first time, which only made JC's excitement grow at the same time.

 

            When they got to the stadium JC pulled in behind the long line of cars and picked up his cell phone.  He talked to someone on the other line who gave him directions to another secure parking lot where they were met at the entrance by a large black man who hugged JC as they walked up.  “Hey kid.  Justin said you’d be here tonight.”

            “Heck yeah.”

            “He’s skipping it though, huh?”  The man asked as he held the door open.

            “Yeah, he’s got work to do.  He just got in this morning I guess.”  JC shrugged and waved to a group of fans standing by the gate.  They were obviously there to see the Rolling Stones, but several had recognized him.  “What’ve you been up to?”

            “Same old stuff man.  I just got in last night.”

            “Yeah?  Where were you?”

            “I was pulling Joey duty while the kid was in Florida.”

            Florida?  What was he doing home?”

            “Bri’s first haircut.”  The older man grinned like a proud dad himself.

            “You’re kidding, already?”

            “Yep.”

            “Wow.” JC laughed and shook his head.  “He’ll have to send me a picture.”

            “She’s cute.”

            “Of course she is.”  JC sighed, the remembered that Carter was there.  “Oh, hey man.  I’m sorry. Carter, this is Lonnie.  Lonnie, this is Carter.”

            “Hi.”  Carter shook the man’s huge hand as his heart raced.

            “Nice to meet you.”  Lonnie grinned and patted Carter on the back.  “You up for a wild time tonight?”

            “Sure... uh, sure.”  Carter bobbed his head and looked around the backstage area.  “Where are we uh, sitting?”  Carter asked with his hand on JC’s elbow.

            “Out front.  There’s a VIP section back by the soundboard so we’ll be up there.”

            “Oh.”

            “We could have probably sat on the floor with Lonnie, but...” JC shrugged.  “This is what we were given.  Better than nothing.”

            “No, it’s fine.”

            “We’ll get drinks and stuff too, so it’s not that bad.”

            “It’s fine.”  Carter said again as his eyes grew wider.  The backstage area was just as he’d imagined it would be; buzzing with people and crew members, guitars and drum kits and every now and then a person that Carter was sure was famous but couldn’t place.

            “Let’s go get some souvenirs first, then we can go take our seats.”

            "O-okay."  Carter followed JC and Lonnie looking more shell shocked than anything as they made their way to one of the first booths they saw.  They went to the front and JC began pointing at shirts and hats on the wall behind the young man selling the merchandise.

            "Yeah, two of those."  He nodded at the long sleeved shirts.  "Does Fiona want one?" JC asked as he turned to Carter.  "We should get her one, huh?"

            "No."  Carter shook his head.  "I can't… I mean, they're like, fifty dollars."

            JC shrugged, "It's the Stones.  Don't tell me she doesn’t like the Stones."

            "No, I… I'm sure she does.  But -”

            "Okay yeah make that three.  Large is fine." JC nodded as the young man got three shirts out of the large box under the table.  "Okay no, let me get six.  The guys will be pissed."

            "You're getting six?"  Carter asked.

            "Should I get seven just in case?"

            "No, I just mean… six?"

            "Well for us, Fiona, Chris, Lance and Joey."

            "But -”

            "Justin hit their show in New York so he got one there I'm sure."

            "Jace… that's a lot of money."  Carter frowned.

            JC frowned back at him and said, "Don't worry about it."

            "You don't need to get everyone shirts."

            "And hats."

            "JC."

            "Do you want a program thing?  There are some cool shots in there."

            "You don't -” Carter started to argue but was interrupted by Lonnie laughing and putting his heavy hand on the table.

            "Listen kid.  I know you mean well but this is how he works.  You've gotta let him spoil his friends or it can get nasty."  Lonnie laughed.

            "Thanks Lon."  JC smiled and shook his head as the kid behind the table put all of his purchases into three large bags.  "I like doing this."  JC said to Carter as he handed the cash to the kid.

            "But you don't need to."

            "I know."

            "I didn't bring that much cash."

            "Carter, you don't need any."  JC thanked the guy behind the table and took the bags.  "Can you run these out to the car?"  He asked Lonnie.

            "Do I look like a bellhop to you?"

            "Hmm." JC cocked his head to the side.  "Maybe a little around the eyes."  He said seriously, and then burst out laughing.

            Lonnie laughed back at him and playfully shoved JC ahead of him.  "Let me get you situated in the playpen first."

            "Thanks."

            "Uh huh."  Lonnie stayed close as JC lead the way to the VIP section in the center of the floor.  Three other people were there already and greeted Lonnie and JC with smiles and hugs.  JC introduced them to Carter who promptly forgot all of their names and relations.

            Lonnie took the bags and headed out to the car as Carter and JC got comfortable on the deep-set couch off to the side.  "I can't believe they have a couch out here."  Carter said softly.  "This is crazy."

            "This is the best way to catch a show."

            "Yeah…"  Carter looked around at the crowd and noticed a handful of people looking up at the VIP seats.  There were so many new things he had to get used to when he had JC at his side.  All the times they were alone together he forgot exactly who JC was, but at times like that there was no confusion.  JC was someone special to everyone, not just Carter.

 

            When the concert was over JC, Carter, Lonnie and the rest of the people in the VIP seats were ushered out through the back to avoid the crowds.  Lonnie saw them to JC's car then said goodbye to both boys.  "It's going to be nuts getting out of here." Carter said as he looked around at the parking lot.  Waves of people were exiting through the front of the stadium and within minutes the parking lot would be gridlocked with cars.

            "Nah, we go out that way."  JC pointed to where the buses were lined up against the chain link fences.

            "Another perk?"  Carter laughed.

            "Something like that." JC nodded and started the car.  They sat in a short line of other VIP cars on the way out, but they hit the freeway a good half hour before anyone else in the stadium.

            "So hey… I don't know about you but I had a great time tonight."  JC said with a sigh as they sped up the freeway toward JC's house.

            "Yeah, so did I.  You're right, the show was amazing."  Carter smiled.

            "Do you uh… think we should talk or something?"

            "Talk?"

            "About us."

            "About us?"  Carter practically choked on the word.  The question came out of nowhere and he had no time to prepare the speech he usually gave.  His graceful way of ducking out.

            "Yeah."

            "I… we can... I just... do you want to?"  Words collided in Carter's head as they tried to force themselves out in any random order.

            "If you do."  JC shrugged and pulled off the freeway onto the city streets.

            "Right now?"  Carter asked and was answered by another shrug.  His stomach clenched and he lips went impossibly dry.  The whole 'relationship' talk was one of his least favorite things, especially when he wasn't sure how it would turn out, and with JC he was never sure of anything.  "I... we can talk if you think we need to."

            "Well how do you feel about this whole thing?"  JC asked.  "I mean, I'm not like other guys."

            "This is like, coming out of nowhere..."

            "I know, I'm sorry.  I just... I've been thinking about y- ... it a lot lately."

            "Okay but are you, I mean, are we defining it?  Right now?"

            JC shrugged and cleared his throat thinking that right then might not have been the best time to bring it up.  "Sure."

            "Okay."

            "So…?  How do you feel about this whole thing?"

            "I feel fine."  Carter nodded nervously.

            "Fine?"

            "I'm having a good time with you."

            "I'm having a good time too."  JC kept his eyes on the road in front of him.  "With just you."

            "Just me?"  Carter smiled slightly, he got JC's meaning.  "I'm having fun with just you too."

            "Yeah?"  JC smiled and glanced over at Carter.

            "Yeah."

            "It's just that… well, I'm nothing special, it's just... with, you know, being in the group and everything I've got a totally different schedule and -” JC took his hand off the wheel to run it through his hair.  "And different rules, like you said."

            "I know."

            "Is that something you think you can work with?"  JC asked softly.  "Or want to?"

            "Yeah."  Carter nodded.  "Yeah, I'm okay with that.  It'll take some getting used to, but overall… yeah."

            "So… yeah?"  JC smiled shyly and looked over at Carter.

            "Yeah." Carter relaxed a little and smiled.

            "I hate talking about stuff like this."

            "Me too."

            "I mean, I never know where… like I don't know where you are with this whole thing and I hate sounding like a moron which is what I usually end up doing."

            "Same here."  Carter blinked a few times as his pulse returned to normal.  "I have a problem with being overbearing or clingy or whatever and that usually freaks guys out."

            "You're not clingy."  JC shook his head.

            "Yeah, well…"

            "I don't think so anyway.  No more than I'd want you to be."  He reached over and touched Carter's hand.

            "Thank you."

            "And I'm not… I mean."  JC sighed and pursed his lips.  "I'm not looking for someone to settle down with."

            "No, of course not."

            "I'm just -”

            "Tired of hooking up with nameless and faceless guys?"

            JC looked over at Carter and smiled slowly, "Yeah.  I want to slow down."

            "Me too.  Not that I was king of the hook ups or whatever, but I'm not really into that."

            "Me neither.  So wow."  JC took his exit and headed up the hill to his house.  "The relationship talk in less than an hour with no screaming or throwing up or anything."

            "That's... those are normal reactions?"

            "They've happened before."  JC shrugged.

            "Man."

            "Why?  What usually happens when you have the talk?"

            "I uh..."  Carter blushed.  "I usually end up giving this long speech about how it’s all my fault then I leave and try to forget his name, number and eye color or whatever."

            "It's always your fault?"

            Carter shrugged and sighed.  "It's easier that way."

            "Easier for who?"

            "Me I guess."

            "How is it easier for you to be the one to blame?  It takes two you know."

            "I know.  But like I said.  I get really clingy and that turns most guys off and… and well yeah.  So yeah…"

            JC shook his head as he turned into his driveway, "You'd be surprised how many times it was someone else’s fault then Carter."  He stopped before he got to the garage and leaned over to kiss Carter.  JC's tongue flicked over Carter's bottom lip as their mouths smiled against each other.  "You're the perfect mix of everything."  JC whispered with his lips only a fraction of an inch from Carters.  He pulled back for a moment and drove into the garage.  "You wanna stay?"

            Afraid of what might come out if he opened his mouth; Carter simply nodded and hopped out of the car before JC had the chance to put the parking break on.  JC laughed and hopped out as the garage door shut behind them and followed Carter into the house.  Their conversation could continue inside, but he doubted they had much more to say.  Words were not what was on his mind at the moment and he knew that Carter's mind was elsewhere as well.

 

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

 

            When Carter woke up the next morning, JC was still sound asleep in the bed next to him purring lightly.  "I…"  Carter whispered as he used his fingertips to brush the hair off of JC's forehead.  He stopped himself from saying that he loved JC, afraid that maybe JC wasn't really sleeping as deeply as he thought.  "I have to go."  He whispered instead.  JC's forehead crinkled where Carter's fingers touched and he pursed his lips lightly.  "Jace?  JC… I have to go."

            "No."  JC mumbled as he reached blindly for Carter.

            "I have to go to work."

            "Five more minutes."

            Carter chuckled lightly and shook his head, "I'm going to take a shower… but then we have to go."

            "Stay."  JC's hand snaked around Carter's hip and pulled him closer.

            "I can't."  Carter whispered as he kissed JC's sleeping mouth softly.

            "I'll pay you twenty bucks an hour to stay here." JC opened his eyes slowly and raised an eyebrow at Carter, making his proposition seem even sillier.

            "Honey, I'd cost more than that."  Carter laughed and slid reluctantly out of the warm bed.  "I really have to go though, and you're my only ride out."

            "What if I refuse?" JC asked as he yawned and stretched his arms over his head.

            "Then I'll have to call a cab and I'll be really bitter for a week."

            "Really?  I don't think I've ever seen you bitter."

            "It's not pretty."  Carter shook his head as he stood naked in the doorway to the bathroom.

            "I find that hard to believe." JC propped himself up on one elbow and gazed at Carter.

            "Believe it."  Carter smiled over his shoulder then continued into the bathroom to start the shower.

 

            Carter showered under the shiny silver shower head and relaxed into the jet sprays of water shooting from the walls around him.  If heaven were a place on Earth, Carter was sure that JC's shower was one small corner of it.  When he made his millions doing whatever it was he decided to do with his life, Carter was going to buy himself a shower like JC's and stay in it for hours at a time.

            But that morning wasn't the time for that.  He showered quickly and sighed as he used JC's shampoo, knowing he'd be catching whiffs of it all day.  When he stepped out into the room again, dressed in the clothes he had on the day before, JC was still laying in the bed.  "I'm not kidding Jace, I have to go."

            "The keys are on the counter downstairs."  JC mumbled.

            "What?"

            "The keys.  To the car."

            Carter sighed and rolled his eyes.  He reached over the tugged at the blankets to reveal JC's face.  "Come on, you just have to run me to work.  It'll take fifteen minutes."

            "Traffic.  Hour round trip."  JC frowned and didn't open his eyes.

            "You are not a morning person, are you?"  Carter smiled.

            "No."

            "Okay.  Where's your phone?  I'll call a cab."

            "My keys are on the -” JC stopped and opened his eyes; "Do you drive stick?"

            "Yeah."

            "Then yeah.  My keys are on the counter.  Just bring it back tonight.  After work."

            "You want me to take your car?"

            "No, I want you to get back in bed and stay here with me all afternoon." JC said as his hand came out from under the pillow and reached for Carter’s waist.

            "I'd love to, but I have to go to work."

            "Then I want you to stop bugging me so I can go back to sleep." JC smiled and let his eyes close slowly, leaving his hand on Carter's waist.

            "I can't take your car.  It's worth more than my house."

            JC sighed, "Just take the car.  You'll be back tonight anyway."

            Carter paused, JC was serious.  "I'm going to take the car." He said as a threat.

            "Good.  Go."  JC waved and slid both of his hands back under the pillow.

            "You must really hate mornings."  Carter laughed, then leaned in and kissed JC's warm lips before heading out.

            Carter retrieved the keys from the counter in the kitchen and went out to the garage where the shiny sports car sat waiting for him.  His stomach did a flip flop as he thought of driving the car himself.  But JC had all but insisted, so he unlocked the door and slid in the driver’s seat.  "Oh my God.  Whatever you paid for this, it's worth it."  Carter sighed as he sunk into the leather interior.

            By the time Carter made it to the freeway any anxiety he had about driving a car worth more than he made in a year was gone and he was getting comfortable in the seat.  He drove across town to his work where he parked as far away from any other car as he could, and nervously left it unattended in the parking lot.

            He only went out three times during the day to check on it, and drove it back to JC's house as soon as he got off work.  If he had thought it through he would have driven around to show off the car to everyone he knew, but he was too worried about dinging it to be concerned with showing off.

 

            JC took Carter out to dinner before taking him home, then thanked him for letting him sleep in that morning.  "I needed the sleep."  He explained.

            "Yeah.  I could tell."

            "I don't even remember talking to you this morning really.  I woke up and thought 'I think Carter has my car' then I went to check and it was gone." JC shrugged.  "I'm not a morning person."  He laughed and dipped his fries in the ketchup on his plate.

            "I noticed."  Carter laughed.  "I love your car though.  Seriously."

            "It's nice."  JC nodded.

            "It's heaven.  I swear I just want your life for a few weeks."

            "No you don't."  JC laughed and shook his head.

            "I'd sell my soul for your shower."

            "Yeah but that's not worth living my life.  It's not as fun and exciting as it looks." JC shook his head.

            "Yeah… I can see how sleeping in every day and going out to clubs to pick up… uh, people, every other weekend and things like that can be so hard to deal with."  Carter rolled his eyes and laughed.

            "I was on a conference call for three hours today dealing with Jive Records over some petty shit that still isn't resolved.  I am going to have to fly to Florida to fix stuff that should never have broke in the first place and I've got to find a way to be in New York and Los Angeles at the same time in a few weeks." JC raised his eyebrow at Carter.

            "Don't you have people to do that stuff for you?"

            JC laughed out loud and took another bite of his burger.  "Man, I wish I did.  We have people to do our scheduling when we're on the road, but this is hiatus stuff.  Official appearances are scheduled for us, but I've got some other things going on that aren't handled 'officially'."

            "Ahh."

            "You're seeing the 'unbusy' version of me.  In another few months you'll see the chaotic version of me.  When I start putting hours into the studio and stressing about spring promo and tour schedules."  JC sighed and shook his head.  "Jus wait."

            Carter blushed slightly and became very interested in his hamburger.  So JC apparently thought that Carter would still be around in a couple months, that was reassuring.  A little scary, but reassuring nonetheless.

            They finished their meal as the tabloid press began to show up at the entrance of the restaurant.  JC waved at the cameras before climbing into the car and pulling away from the curb with a weary smile.  "They've got no lives man.  How hard up for a story do you have to be when you're hanging out at Fatburgers waiting to see some singer eating fries?"

            "With another guy."

            "You think Mel Gibson and George Clooney have never grabbed a burger together?"  JC raised his eyebrow at Carter and shook his head.  "I'm not worried about that."

            "Okay."

            "And you shouldn't be either."

            "I'm not."

            "You have nothing to worry about."  JC said softly.

            "I know." Carter forced a smile and looked out the window. He had a lot to worry about.  The last thing he wanted was to do something that might out JC unintentionally.  He watched his step and filtered his words whenever they were in public together and it was quickly becoming habit to walk with his hands in his pockets.

 

            JC drove Carter home and let the car idle at the curb, "Tell Fiona I said hi."

            "Do you want to come up?"

            "Nah."  JC shook his head.  "No, I need to make a few more calls tonight and stuff.  I should get home."

            "Oh.  Okay."

            "See, we all have to talk to each other every day and I haven't heard from Chris or Lance so… so I have to call and check in at least."  JC explained quickly, to ease Carter's worried expression.

            "You talk to them every day?"

            "Yep."

            "Wow."

            "Sometimes it's just a quick message on a machine or something, but yeah.  We contact each other every day."

            "That's cool."

            "Yep." JC bit his lip and smiled.

            "Okay, well then I'll see you later?"

            "Yeah, call me tomorrow.  We'll make plans for the weekend."

            "Okay."  Carter smiled and leaned across the emergency break to give JC one final kiss before he went inside.  He let it linger for a few minutes before JC pulled back and licked his lips.  "You should go in before Fiona gets curious and comes out to see what the hold up is."

            "Oh, she knows."  Carter laughed, but opened the door and stepped out anyway.  "I'll call you tomorrow."

            "See ya."  JC waved and watched as Carter hopped up the short set of stairs to the front door.  Once he was safely inside, JC pulled away from the curb and headed home to make his calls.

 

            "Honey, I'm home!"  Carter called as he walked through the front door into the warm and well lit living room.

            "Hey there you are."  Fiona came out of the kitchen holding a sandwich in one hand and a soda in the other.  "Did you go to work today?"

            "Yeah.  JC let me borrow his car."

            "He did?"  She raised her eyebrow at him and gave him a look.  "His BMW or whatever?"

            "Yep."

            "Is he insane?"

            Carter shrugged, "He was half asleep when he told me to take it."

            "That would explain it."  She settled herself into the corner of the couch and took a bite of her sandwich.  "So…?  How was the show?"

            "Awesome.  Better than awesome.  We got to sit in the VIP section and everything."

            "Sounds nice."

            "Yeah.  Oh, and he got you a shirt thing.  I forgot it at his house though so I'll grab it next time."

            "A Stones concert shirt?"

            "Yep."

            "Dude.  He's the best."

            "I know."  Carter smiled and leaned against the back of the couch and yawned.  "How was your night?"

            "Last night?  Eh, I came home and played on the internet until about two in the morning."

            "Anything good?"

            "Odd Todd has a new cartoon up."

            "Yeah?"

            "Uh huh.  He dreamed about being homeless and Elf Up was there and drunk."

            "Right on."

            "After watching it fourteen dozen times though, it stopped being funny."  She smiled and popped open her soda.

            "Hmm."  Carter nodded and walked around the couch.  "So." Carter sat on the couch and placed his feet in Fiona's lap.  "We had the talk."

            "The talk?"

            "The 'what are we' talk."

            "Yeah?"  Fiona tried to sound interested, but not too interested.  "And?"

            "Well we're both pretty much relationship retarded I think."

            "Which I'm sure made it that much easier."

            "Yeah."  He laughed softly.

            "So are you going to torture me or just tell me?"  She frowned at him and took another bite of her sandwich.

            "We're dating."

            "Duh."  She rolled her eyes.  "Exclusively?"

            "For the time being."

            "Christ, you said that?"

            "No.  I'm just saying."

            "Carter, you've got to be positive about stuff like this.  For the time being?  Forget that.  If there ever comes a time when either of you don't want to be exclusive I'd hope you'd break it off or whatever."

            "We're young."

            "Dumb and full of -”

            "Stop."  He cast her a dirty look.  "I'm not saying I don't want to be exclusive.  I told him that I wasn’t sure what I was looking for and he said he wasn't either.  But both of us are tired of the random hook ups and stuff like that.  So while we're not looking for life partners necessarily, we're looking to slow down."

            "How is it possible that you found him?  This gorgeous, financially stable gay man who is on the exact same page you are when it comes to relationships who not only adores you right back, but doesn't mind your over bearing and annoying room mate?"

            "I don't know."

            "I just want to know what your mojo is all about because I need some vibes like that."

            "No, you need to stop hanging out at gay bars."

            "I like gay bars."

            "Well honey, you're not going to find yourself a man at them."

            "I know."  She sulked in the corner for a minute, then changed the subject.  "So he's your boyfriend?"

            "Uh huh."

            "Officially?"

            "Uh huh."  Carter smiled even wider and tried not to let his feet bounce too much in her lap.

            "Okay.  Then now your job is to find me a boyfriend.  I found you one, the least you can do is do the same for me."

            "It's not that easy Fi.  The boys I look at like boys."

            "Then look at some straight ones."

            "I don't want to."  He whined.

            "Well hey; maybe your boyfriend can hook me up with one of his buddies."  She raised her eyebrow and licked her lips.  "Because you know, Justin is pretty cute."

            "Oh give me a break."

            "He is.  Come on, call JC and have him get me a date with one of them.  Justin's a little young, but maybe he has connections to hook me up with someone like Colin Farrell or Josh Hartnet."

            "You need mental help."  Carter laughed and sat up to take a bite of her sandwich.  "Seriously though Fi, you need to get out and meet people.  It can't be healthy for a good looking straight girl to surround herself with… well with me and Jamie all the time.  You need to get out."  He repeated.

            "I get out."  She pouted.

            "When was the last time you left the house without me or Jamie to go somewhere other than work?"

            "Um.  Hello?  I went and got dinner the other night."

            "You ran to the Chinese food place up the street and brought it back.  That's not 'going out'."

            Fiona sighed and rolled her eyes.  "Fine.  Whatever.  You want me to go out, I'll go out. Hell, I'll even have fun if you really want me to."

            "I really want you to." He laughed.

            "Okay I'll go.  But only because you're making me."

            "Good."  He picked a magazine up off the table.

            "You suck."

            "Maybe."  Carter shrugged and flipped the magazine open to the table of contents.  "This Saturday night I don't want to see you here.  Or at The Edge."

            "I said okay.  I'll go out with straight people."  Fiona rolled her eyes.  "Oh wait, this weekend I can't.  I have to go out to Reseda to see the Grandparent's.  It's their anniversary."

            "This weekend?"

            "Yeah.  I'm going up Saturday afternoon and I'll be home Sunday evening.  Wanna come?"

            "No, that's okay.  I'll get them a card though, maybe some flowers.  Can you bring them for me?"

            "Sure."  Fiona nodded.

            "So then next weekend you'll go out with straight people?"

            "Carter, I already told you I would."  Fiona sighed.

            "I'm just making sure."

            "This is going to be a long week, isn't it?"  She groaned and shook her head, wondering just how many times he was going to double check during the week.

 

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

 

            Carter spent a good portion of the rest of the week between JC's house and work.  Fiona worked more overtime than she expected and barely noticed that Carter wasn't home.  On the weekend she drove out to her grandparent's house as planned and happily sped home on Sunday.  She was anxious to get back to her house where people were normal and not pressuring her to get married and make little great-grandbabies.

            She arrived to an empty house with a quick note from Carter stuck to the fridge.

 

Fi, we went to Six Flags with some friends.  I'll be late tonight.  You can fill me in when I get home - there's my left over Bennigan's in here, enjoy!  I even left you some jam (gag!) for your sandwich.  Love ya - C.

 

            Fiona took the note down and sighed as she dropped her overnight bag on the floor and opened the refrigerator.  She took out the left over Monte Cristo sandwich and a Dr. Pepper then sat at the dining room table and dug in.  The sandwich was cold and messy, but she loved it more than anything at that moment and was almost glad she was home alone to enjoy it in peace and quiet.

            When Carter came bursting through the door after eleven that night he was excited but exhausted. He sat on the foot of Fiona's bed and told her all about getting to the front of the line and riding in the front car all day just because JC and Justin were there and they were famous.  He had tales of teenybopper fans and security guards and secret passages through the park that no one else knew about.

            Fiona listened politely and tried not to yawn.  She knew that Carter had a great time, and part of her wished she could have gone too, but her body was about ready to give out and all she wanted was to fall asleep and not wake up until noon the next day.  Knowing that she had to be up at six-thirty only made her more tired.

            "So… how are gram and gramps?"

            "They're good.  Old, but good."  Fiona finally yawned.  "They loved the flowers and wished you could have been there."

            "We'll have to go up and see them next month or something."

            "Yeah.  Or something." She fluffed her pillow and sunk under the covers.  "But I told them you had a new hot boy in your life so they completely understood why you couldn't make it."

            "You told them?"

            "They asked."  She shrugged with a smile.  "Now go away and leave me alone.  I'm tired."

            "I am too."  Carter yawned and leaned over to kiss her cheek.  "I'm glad you're back."

            "Me too."  She smiled and patted his head as he remained still with his lips against her skin.  "I'm glad you had fun with your boyfriend."

            Carter laughed and his breath tickled her cheek, "My boyfriend.  Ugh, that sounds weird."

            "I know."

            "I like him a lot."

            "And he likes you a lot too."

            "I more than like him Fi."  Carter whispered a second later.  "Is that bad?"

            "No, that's not bad honey.  That's perfect."  She kissed the top of his head then pushed him away, "But seriously… I'm tired."

            "Okay, okay.  Sleep tight."

            "G'night."  Fiona waved as she pulled her blanket up to her shoulders.  A small smile spread across her lips; Carter was finally happy and that was all she needed.

 

 

 

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Copyright © 2003, Amy Lynn