On Tuesday night that week they were both home for Pizza Night when Carter reminded Fiona of her promise.  "I know."  She scowled.  "I have to go out with straight people this weekend.  I've got it under control."

            "Do you know where you're going?"  Carter asked as he wiped at his mouth with a greasy napkin.

            "Nope."

            "Who are you going with?"

            "Is this the Spanish Inquisition?"

            "I'm just curious."

            "Some girls from work.  You don't know them."  Fiona shrugged and reached for a third piece.

            "I don't know anyone you work with.  I mean, besides Jamie."

            "Jennifer and Nicole."

            "They sound really straight."  Carter squished up his nose.

            "Hey you were the one who wanted me to go out with them."  Fiona frowned at him and kicked his shin under the table.  "I didn't want to go in the first place."

            "No, I know." He smiled and picked a piece of pepperoni off his slice and put it on her plate.  "I was just kidding.  You'll have fun."

            "No I won't."

            "Not with that attitude you won't."

            Fiona sighed and changed the subject.  "So are you seeing Mr. Wonderful this week?"

            Carter smiled and blushed slightly, "Tomorrow night, yeah."

            "Yeah?"

            "Actually, he said something about lunch, but…" He shrugged.  "Tomorrow night for sure. He bought some new movies, so we're going to watch them."

            "How are things going?"

            "Great."  Carter nodded.  "Great…uh, good.  Really good."

            "Really good?"  Fiona smirked.  "You spend like, every night over there.  That's more than really good."

            "Yeah."  Carter blushed deeper.  "It's a lot of fun.  I haven't been to The Edge in weeks.  Isn't that nuts?"

            "They're going to call soon to find out if you've been abducted by aliens."

            "I know."  He laughed.  "I'm surprised Jamie hasn't said anything."

            "He's been out the last few weekends.  Out of nowhere he's got this social life or something. I don't think he's been out to the clubs since the last time we all went together."

            "That's crazy." Carter shook his head.  "We should have him over one night this week.  I haven't seen him in a while."

            "I'll talk to him tomorrow and see when he's free."

            "Okay."  Carter nodded.  "Oh!  Hey I almost forgot.  I have something for you." He jumped up and ran to his bag hanging off the corner of the couch.

            "What?"

            "Something that will make you squeal like a ten year old at a Hanson concert."

            "Or a twenty two year old at a Hanson concert?"  Fiona smiled.

            "I still can't believe you screamed.  You embarrass me."

            "You weren't there, relax."

            "But still."  Carter rolled his eyes and came back to the table with a hand behind his back.  "Are you ready?"

            "Yes!  Come on, what is it?"  She bounced in her seat as she wiped her fingers on a clean napkin.

            "It's not from me, but here." He handed her a CD that she already had.

            "I ha -"  She started to talk, then stopped as her jaw hit the floor.  "Shut.  Up."  She stared at the cover and tried to catch her breath.  "To Fiona, I enjoyed the dance… love Justin Timberlake."

            "You made a good impression on him apparently."

            "Oh my God."  Fiona gasped as she opened the case and looked at the signature on the inside.  "Fiona, Get used to it… - XO, JC Chasez."

            "He's a doll, isn't he?"

            Fiona fanned her hands in front of her damp eyes, "I love your boyfriend so much."

            "Yeah, well back off."

            "Eeeeeeee!!!"  She squealed just like he knew she would and threw her arms around his neck.  "They signed it just for me!!"

            "Yeah but see honey, I can't breathe.  Fi?  I can't - you're choking me."

            "I'm so glad you're cute enough to attract celebrities."

            "Hey." He tried to sound offended, but her chest was in his face and he still couldn't breathe.  "There's more to me than just my boyish good looks." He pushed her away gently and let her bop and bounce in her own chair.

            "No, I know.  But oh my God.  Oh my God."  She giggled and looked at it again.  "I seriously, truly… absolutely… adore your boyfriend.  I want to marry him."

            "Yes but he's my boyfriend."

            "Then you marry him for me."

            "Don’t be silly."

            "Dude, next time he comes over I'm tackling him."

            "No you're not."  Carter shook his finger at her.  "Fiona."  He used his warning tone.  "You will not tackle my boyfriend."

            "Carter… I have to."

            "No."

            "He signed a CD for me."

            "No."

            "He had Justin sign it for me."

            "No."  Carter held his ground and took another piece of pizza.

            "Carter dear… I won't be able to stop myself."  She shook her head then went back to the pizza on her plate, keeping the CD within grasp at all times.  Carter stared at her for a minute, knowing full well that he was going to have to warn JC before he came over next time.  He made a mental note to go to his house this week instead of having him over, then went back to eating pizza and discussing last weeks "Real World" episode.

 

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

 

            By the time Saturday rolled around Carter had reminded Fiona of her "straight night" plans three times and she was dreading the weekend more than anything.  She had spent the whole week with the best intentions of approaching both Nicole and Jennifer to see about actually hanging out Saturday night, but by Friday at five she hadn't even talked to them.

            Fiona watched as Carter got dressed up Saturday afternoon to go to JC's for an 80's movie weekend marathon.  "What time are you heading out tonight?"  Carter asked as he raked his fingers through his damp hair trying to achieve the same careless look that JC had perfected.

            "Um… like six?"

            "Six?  That's early.  Are you doing dinner before?"

            "Maybe it was eight.  I don't remember."

            "Give them a call to make sure."

            "I will."

            "What are you wearing?"

            Fiona looked down at her baggy jeans and Yankee's jersey.  "Um…"

            "Not that."  Carter shook his head.

            "No, not this."  Fiona agreed.  "I guess… I don't know.  I'll probably just put on my black jeans and that red blouse."

            "With the sheer things?"

            "Yeah."

            "Excellent choice.  Good boobie shower offer."

            Fiona frowned, "Thanks."

            "Straight guys like that."  Carter laughed and leaned in closer to the mirror.

            "Uh huh."  Fiona sighed and leaned against the doorjamb.  "So you're staying over?"

            "Tonight?  Nope.  I'll be home but it'll be late.  He's got some workshop or something in the morning."

            "Fun."

            Carter shrugged then frowned at his reflection, "My hair is making me nuts."

            "Here."  She reached over and smoothed it down a little before curling it around her finger.  "There, see?  Now it's perfect."

            "It's lopsided."

            "Leave it alone, it's perfect."  Fiona gave him a big fake smile before she sighed.  "Tell JC I said thank you again."

            "I've already told him five times."

            "Well until he comes over here so I can thank him in person, you'll have to thank him for me every time you see him."

            "Okay."  He ducked around her and went to his room to finish getting dressed.

            Fiona skulked around the house as Carter readied himself, then stood at the door to wave as he left.  She grabbed a piece of cold pizza from the fridge and got the stack of rented DVD's from her bedroom before flopping onto the couch.  A night full of videos was just what she wanted, though she hated lying to Carter.  She rationalized the he deserved it though, for forcing her to do something she didn't want to do in the first place.

            As she finished her first piece of pizza, the pilot episode of "Queer as folk" began on the screen and she settled in for the marathon to end all marathons.

 

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

 

            The sun set during the fifth episode and by episode seven Fiona was eating Chicken Chow Mien that had been delivered to her along with fried rice and a bag of egg rolls.  She was just getting to the rice when someone knocked on the front door behind her.  She paused the video and set the food on the coffee table before standing up to investigate.

            Fiona pulled the front door open and was surprised to see Jamie standing there with his usual smile, "Hey.  What are you doing here?"

            "Hi beautiful."  Jamie smiled and kissed her cheek.  "It's Saturday."  He shrugged and stepped past her into the living room.  His black leather pants looked worn in the creases and only added to his sex appeal.

            "Yeah...?"

            "Well I'm going to The Edge and Carter hasn't called yet so I was coming by to pull his tired ass out of bed or whatever."  Jamie paused and put his hands on his hips.

            "Nice shirt."  Fiona laughed softly as she got a good look at the logo on the front.  Only Jamie could pull off leather pants and a form fitting "got head?" t-shirt.

            "Thanks.  My mom picked it up for me in Toronto.  Can you believe they have shirts like this in Canada? Honestly.  I never would have thought it but apparently they've got a large gay community.  I'll have to take a road trip and find me a little Canadian boy or something."  He shook his head and brought his hand to the single silver hoop in his ear.  "What smells good?"

            "Dinner."

            "Chinese?"

            "Yep."

            "From China Hunt?"

            "Yep."

            "Oooo."  Jamie eyed her take out containers then shook his head, remembering the five pounds he was trying to shake.  "So where's Carter?"

            "He's not here.  He's uh... out."

            "Out?"  Jamie's eyebrows shot up and he returned his hand to his hip.  "Out where?  How?  I'm here how could he be out?"

            "He's at a friend’s house."

            "You need to stop talking in girl code and tell me what you mean."

            "I mean he's at a friend’s house."

            "A friend like you're his friend or a friend like he's probably got a dick in his mouth?"

            Fiona made a face and turned away, "The second one."

            "That's not a friend, that's a trick.  After all these years you should know that."

            "It's not a trick.  It's been like, two weeks."

            Jamie's jaw fell open slightly; "You lie."

            "I do not.  Jamie, I've been telling you about this since the beginning."  She sighed.

            "You kept saying he was out but you never said it was the same boy he was out with.  What's up with that?"

            Fiona fell onto the couch and pulled her socked feet up under her.  "You staying?"

            "I'm not dressed for staying." He shook his head but sat by her feet anyway.  "Spill it.  What's up with Mr. Carter?"

            "Jamie... I adore you.  You know that."

            "If you throw a 'but' in there it had better be naked and male."

            "Jamie."  Fiona sighed and stuck her thumbnail in her mouth.  "It's Carter's business."

            "This makes it your business and my business.  Don't be a bitch about this.  I'll resort to tickling the answer out of you if I have to."

            "I can't tell you, I've been sworn to secrecy."

            "Which means absolutely nothing.  Come on."  Jamie rolled his eyes and made himself comfortable.

            "I can't tell you… but if you guess…"  She raised her eyebrow at him.

            "You want me to guess?"

            "If you guess then I can honestly say I didn't tell you anything."  She laughed and wrapped her arms around her knees to look at Jamie.  She was dying to tell someone and he was the best person she could think of who would actually care.

            "Okay."  He moved closer to her on the couch as his eyes danced with excitement.  "What am I guessing?"

            "Who."

            "Okay… do I know this person?"

            "Kind of."

            "That's not an answer."

            "Well you know of him."  Fiona nodded.

            "That doesn't help.  I know of about a gazillion people."

            "Think about three weeks ago when Carter took some guy home…"  Fiona widened her eyes, sure that he would get it.  Instead, Jamie furrowed his brow and pursed his lips in thought.  "Jamie… you were practically humming about it in the car."

            "In the car?"

            "When you had to take me home because Carter took this guy home and left me stranded?"

            "Shit, he always does that."

            "Not with a guy like this."

            Jamie thought about it for another couple seconds before his breath caught in his throat and his hand came to his chest.  "Shut up."  He whispered.  Fiona laughed lightly and nodded.  "Oh precious mother of all that is good and pure.  You don't mean…"

            "Yep."  She nodded and laughed.

            "Not the pretty one."

            "Yes, the pretty one."

            "Mr. Sparkly-Sex-on-a-Stick?"

            "I wouldn't call him that."

            "Oh I would."  Jamie nodded.  "We're talking about JC right?"

            "Right."  Fiona nodded and reached to touch his arm.  "But I didn't tell you anything."  She changed her tone to let him know he was being warned and he nodded in response.  "Because Carter would kill me and if this got out it would be bad."

            "I know, I know.  I can be discreet."  Jamie waved his hand in a dismissive way.  Fiona's look said she didn't believe him and he got defensive.  "I can!"

            "Jamie, I'm not even kidding.  This is a great thing for Carter so don't go messing it up."

            "Jeez honey, I'm not going to say a word."  Jamie stood up and straightened his shirt.  "But hey, maybe Mr. Chasez will pass the word around among the other boybanders that The Edge has a prime selections and I'll get my shot at one of them."

            "Oh you should be so lucky."

            "Keep your fingers crossed."  He laughed and blew a kiss in her direction before heading out.  "Let the Princess know I came by and am offended that he would choose getting laid over hanging at a bar with me all night."

            "Will do."  Fiona laughed and turned the volume up on the TV.  "Hey!"  She called over her shoulder hoping to catch Jamie before the door shut.

            "Yeeees?"

            "Not that you would… but can you not mention to Carter that I was here tonight?"

            "Okay."  He paused.  "How come?"

            "I'm supposed to be hanging out with straight people or something."

            "Ew."  He made a face.

            "Yeah, I know."

            "I won't say anything.  Promise."

            "Thank you."

            "You wanna come hang with gay boys?"  He nodded toward the door, inviting her along.

            "No thanks.  I've got my gay boys right here."  She held up the fist season of 'Queer as Folk' on DVD for Jamie to see.

            "Damn, I'd almost stay home with you to watch that again.  It's all about the Brian and Justin love."

            "Nah, the hopeless romantic in me still wants Brian and Michael to hook up."

            "Won't happen hun."

            "I know."  She sighed.  "But I can still hope."

            "All right.  Well I'm gonna go find me a Brian.  Or an Emmett or something.  See you Monday."

            "Okay, bye."

            "Bye."  Jamie waved, though she didn't see it, and then shut the front door tight behind him.

 

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

 

            "Hey.  You're home early." Carter said as he walked in the door just after one in the morning.  "You look… comfortable." He frowned.  "A little too comfortable."

            "I'm just the right amount of comfortable."

            "Did you go out tonight?"

            "Yes."  Fiona lied.

            "Where'd you go?"

            "A het bar."

            "A what?"

            "A het bar.  Heterosexual."

            "A breeder bar."

            "Yes."  Fiona kept her eyes on the TV as two hot boys seduced each other.

            "What are you watching?  Is that -?”

            "Yes.  It's boy porn."

            "Fi."

            "It's 'Queer as Folk' the first season."

            "Is it possible for you to not be around gay stuff for 24 whole hours?"  Carter sighed as he kicked his shoes off and stood behind her.  He massaged her shoulders and yawned, "Do you think you can do that?"

            "Are you going away on a vacation without me that I don't know about?"

            "No."

            "Then how do you suggest I live here with you and stay away from all things gay for 24 hours?"  She craned her neck to look at him.  "It's just a TV show Carter.  It's not the end of the world."

            He made a disagreeing sound in his throat and changed the subject back to his original point, "So how long have you been home?"

            "An hour."

            "You've eaten almost that whole pint of Ben and Jerry's in under an hour?"

            "Yep."  She licked the spoon to get the last bit of fudge from the underside.

            "You're gonna make yourself sick."

            "Are you going to keep talking?  Because if so I'll need you to pause this.  It's a good part."  She sighed and frowned up at Carter who had stopped massaging her shoulders.

            "I'm trying to be friendly and talk about your night, sheesh."  He walked around the couch and sat by her feet.  "Where'd you go?  Who'd you hang out with?  Did you meet any cute boys?  Are you going out with them again?"

            "We went to a bar, I hung out with two chicks from work, no we didn't meet any cute boys and I'm only hanging out with them again if you make me."

            "That bad?"

            "Het bars suck."  She spoke from memory, not from having been there that night.

            "Well maybe you should try something other than a bar next time.  Find a club or something, go downtown and see what's happening."

            "Carter, I did what you wanted me to, isn't that enough?"

            "Jeez Fi, I'm not doing this to piss you off.  I just… you spend all your time around me and Jamie."  He sighed.

            "It's different for me."  She frowned at the TV.

            "It's not that different."

            "It's a lot different."  She sighed and paused the TV show to look at Carter.  "I'm not like you guys.  And I'm not like those annoyingly sweet and flirty girls out at the het bars.  I'm in my own little world, population one."

            "That's only because you won't let anyone else in."

            "I don't need this tonight Carter.  Seriously.  I don't.  I just want to finish this pint and fall asleep wondering if Brian and Michael will ever hook up."

            "They don't."

            "I know."

            Carter sat for another minute as she started the show again and gave it her complete attention.  "Okay, well I'm going to bed.  JC's coming over tomorrow to help out in the back yard.  If you have some input there, you're welcome to join us."

            "Thanks."

            He stood up and paused by the hall.  "Good night Fi."

            "G'night."  She mumbled at the TV.

            Carter pursed his lips and shook his head, then went into his room leaving Fiona alone in the dark… right where she wanted to be.

 

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

 

            The next day JC came over as promised, to work on the back yard.  As soon as Fiona saw him walking up the front walk, she jumped up and headed for the door.  “Fiona!  No!”  Carter grabbed her arm and pulled her back before she could open the door.  “No.”

            “I just want to thank him!”  She argued with a huge smiled on her face.

            “I’m so serious.  You cannot tackle him.”  Carter shook his finger at her as JC knocked on the door.

            “He still knocks?”  Fiona frowned and pulled the door open.  “JC!”  She squealed and threw her arms around his neck.

            “H-hi Fiona.” He gave Carter a questioning look over her shoulder as he hugged her carefully.

            “Thank you so much for the CD!  I can’t believe you did that, thank you!”

            “Oh… it was uh, no problem.”  JC patted her back and laughed lightly.

            They stood connected for a minute before Carter reached up and freed JC from Fiona’s bear hug.  “You’ve said thank you, now let the poor guy breathe.”  Carter laughed and moved in to take Fiona’s place.  He kissed JC hello and blushed as JC’s mood changed considerably.

            “So you guys are planting today?  Or what?”  Fiona tapped her foot and waited for them to pry themselves apart.

            “Planning.”  Carter said.  “Then if we get time we’ll run up to the plant place and buy some.”

            “Fun.”

            “Wanna help?”

            “No thanks.”  She shook her head and bounced up on her toes.  “I’m actually going to go to the movies with Jamie.  We’re going to see that new Freddie Prinze Jr. thing.  With the haunted house?”

            “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”  Carter shook his head.

            “Neither do I, Jamie picked it out.”

            “Have fun.”

            “I will.”  She laughed, then grabbed her keys and headed out the still open front door.

            “She’s a little high strung.” Carter sighed and watched her climb into her car and head out.

            “She’s amazing.”

            “Something like that.”  Carter rolled his eyes and pulled JC into the house to shut the door.

            Somehow they managed to work on the yard enough to get to Home Depot and buy the plants that would eventually be planted.  When Fiona returned home Carter and JC were braided together on the couch looking exhausted but happy as they shared a bottle of Sam Adams and laughed at some stand up comedian on the TV.

            “We bought many, many plants today Fi.”

            “Yeah?  What kind?”

            “The pretty kind.”  JC smiled up at her.

            “The kind that hopefully won’t die on us.”  Carter leaned his head back to look at her upside down.

            “Did you get them all planted?”  Fiona’s eyebrows shot up as she headed for the back door.

            “Um.  No. Not exactly.  But they’re put right where they're going to go n the ground so you can at least get an idea.”  Carter explained while JC laughed at something he’d missed on the TV.  “What’d he say?”

            “He was talking about finding a job in the sewers.”

            “Gross.”  Carter made a face.

            “It was funny.” JC shook his head and giggled again.

            Fiona sighed and smiled as she walked around the couch to the back door and peered outside.  “Oh, I love those little white ones.  It looks awesome you guys.  When are they going to be planted?”

            “Tomorrow.”  JC and Carter groaned in unison.

            “Ew.  I’ll have to call Jamie and make some plans or something.”

            “That’s fine.  You don’t have to help.”  Carter pouted, but kept his eyes on the TV.

            “Good.”  Fiona laughed then blew a kiss at the boys on the couch and disappeared into her room.

 

            The next day Fiona relented and stayed home to help the boys plat their little garden in the backyard.  She let them dig the holes and prep the soil so all she had to do was add fertilizer and drop the plant into the hole.  They had a great system going and they were done before the sun set. JC treated them all to pizza and they ate it in their new backyard, enjoying the scent of jasmine and lavender.

            Carter and JC left as Fiona hauled herself to bed complaining about having to work early the next morning.  They were going to JC’s house where they had more privacy and the freedom to do whatever they wanted… wherever they wanted.

 

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

 

            Carter spent almost every night that week over at JC’s.  He made it home for Pizza Night Tuesday simply because that was one thing he could bring himself to miss, but come Wednesday night he was back at JC’s, living in his bed and making breakfast in the morning.  He didn’t return to his home until Saturday morning when he realized that he had run out of clothes and he needed to go home to get some clean ones.  He also missed Fiona in a weird way, and he knew she’d be cranky with him for being gone all week.

            In hopes of smoothing things over, Carter stopped at the German Bakery near his work and picked up two hot cinnamon rolls on his way home.  The smell of the pastries made his stomach growl the whole way to his house and he couldn’t wait to tear open the bag and dive into them with Fiona.

            Carter walked in the front door then twirled toward the kitchen with the warm bag in his hand.  "Fiona my dear.  My little sugar cookie.  My darling.  The light in my life…"  He grabbed her hand and spun her around in the narrow kitchen.

            "Stop."  She frowned and shook her hand out of his grasp then went back to the pitcher of juice she was making.

            "Fioooooona."  He sang and hugged her from behind before placing a quick kiss on her cheek.  "I love you.  Love, love, love you.  Have I told you that lately?"

            "Have I told you that the phone bill was due three days ago and the gas and electric bill was due last week?"

            "Who pissed in your Lucky Charms?"  Carter laughed, but didn't let her go.  “Look.  I brought you cinnamon rolls from Edelweiss Bakery.  Yum!”  He set the bag on the counter to let the sweet aroma fill the kitchen and hopefully calm Fiona’s temper.

            "Listen, just because you spend more time over at Loverboy's house than you do here doesn't mean you don't have responsibilities."

            "I'll write you a check right now.  Come on, in like five years have I ever not paid you?"  His fingers tickled her sides to try to elicit a laugh.

            "Knock it off."  She frowned and pulled his hands from around her waist.  "I'm trying to make juice."

            "You're a grouch."  Carter dipped his fingers into the pitcher and flicked the juice at her face.  "Lighten up."

            “I’m in a foul mood.”

            “No kidding.”  Carter stuck his tongue out at her, then smiled and opened the fridge.  “Oh man, is that cashew chicken?”

            “Yes.”

            “From last night?”

            “Two nights ago.”  Fiona sighed and finished stirring her juice.

            “Can I have it?”  Suddenly the cold cashew chicken sounded better than the cinnamon rolls.

            “Sure.”

            “Yum.”  Carter took the take out container out of the fridge and reached for a fork.  He ate it cold as he watched Fiona clean up her mess and wipe the counter off.  “So what have you been up to?”

            “Work.”  She opened the bakery bag and took out one of the rolls.  She set it on the newly cleaned counter and licked her fingers before tearing a small section off.  She blew on the bite before she put it in her mouth and chewed slowly.

            “You really are in a bad mood, aren’t you?”  Carter frowned and set the food down.  “Are you okay?”

            “I’m getting a cold.”  She sniffed to show her sinus condition to Carter, and then tore off another bite.

            “Have you taken anything?”

            “Sudafed.”

            “Has it helped?”

            “A little.”  She nodded.  “But it still makes me irritable.”

            “Understood.”  Carter dropped his arm over her shoulder and kissed her temple quickly.  “Go lay in bed and take it easy.  I’ll make some soup or something and come in and feed you later.”

            “I’m okay.  I think the cinnamon roll will do the trick.”

            “I know.  But a day in your jammies is just what the doctor ordered.”  He placed the sticky roll on a plate and licked his fingers.

            “For the sniffles?”

            “Yep.”  Carter smiled and gently pushed her toward her room.  “You should have called me.” 

            “I’m an adult.  I can handle a runny nose.”

            “You still should have called.”  Carter shook his head as she shuffled across the dining room and down the hall to her room.  He followed her into the room and set her cinnamon roll on the bed by her pillow.

            “Chicken and stars.”  Fiona said over her shoulder as he shut the door.

            Carter smiled and shook his head; she always reverted back to being a nine year old whenever he started acting like a parent.  A perfect parallel for their relationship. He checked the cupboard to make sure they had chicken and starts soup, then he went to his room to nap the afternoon away also.

           

            At lunch time Carter joined Fiona in her bed and they ate soup and sandwiches together while watching “Trading Spaces” on her little TV in the corner.  “I’m feeling more human.”  She said during a commercial break.

            “Are you?”

            “Yeah.”  She smiled and slurped her soup.  “Thank you.”

            “You’re welcome.”  Carter nodded and set his empty bowl aside.  “I’m sorry I’ve been gone all week.”

            “It’s okay.”

            “I’ll make up for it.  Promise.”

            “Okay.”  She smiled and reached for a new Kleenex.  After blowing her nose she added the wadded up tissue to her ever growing pile on the floor by her trashcan.  “I think if I take a hot shower and brush my teeth, that’ll help.”

            “It can’t hurt.”

            “I know.”

            “Did you call your doctor?”

            “No.”

            “Do you think you should?”

            “Not yet.  It’s just a nose thing.”

            “If it goes into a cough thing you need to go see him.”  Carter shook his finger at Fiona and stood up to take the dishes to the kitchen.  “I mean it.”

            “I know you do.  And if it heads that way I’ll go see him.  Promise.”

            “Okay.”

            “Can I shower now?”

            Carter crinkled his nose and made a gagging sound, “I really wish you would.”

            “Shut up.”  Fiona laughed as Carter giggled and ducked out the door.

            She hauled herself out of bed and took a long and hot shower to help clear her stuffy nose.  The bathroom door stayed open to let the steam out since Fiona hated getting out of the shower to a fog filled mirror.  Carter was glad that the water was still running when the phone rang a short while later.  It was JC and Carter was surprised to hear from him.  “I thought you were working today?”  He asked softly.

            “I’m done.”  JC smiled.  “So can you come over?"

            "Actually…"  Carter cleared his throat and closed the door to the bathroom to block out prying ears.  "Fiona is kinda…"

            "Glad to have you out of her hair?"  JC smiled and Carter couldn't help but smile back.

            "Well no actually.  See… her and I, well we…" He had no idea how to phrase what he meant.  "We've been living together for like, five years now.  Almost six."

            "Yeah.  So it's about time you got outta there, huh?"

            "I… we've gotten used to being around each other all the time and I've never really not been here.  Neither has she."

            "You don't take vacations?"

            "We do, but we're usually together."  Carter shrugged.  "It's kind of hard to explain."

            "You're like a married couple."

            "Yeah.  Kinda.  That's what my friend Jamie always says.  He always calls her my wife and stuff."  Carter laughed softly.  "He's just jealous though I think, since he doesn't have a hag."

            "Should I be?"

            "Be what?  Jealous?"

            "Yeah."

            "Of Fiona?"  Carter laughed out loud.

            "Of Jamie."

            "Jealous of Jamie?  God no.  No, that's…"  Carter shook his head and pictured Jamie in his mind.  "No."

            "Hmm."  JC made a sound deep in his throat.

            "The point I'm getting at though is that Fiona is feeling kind of neglected I think and she’s coming down with some kind of sinus cold thing.  And I haven't been here like… all week practically."

            "Okay."  JC nodded.  "Well I actually… kinda wanted to talk to you.  I should have cornered you last night, but it slipped my mind."

            "T-talk?"  Carter choked.  In the past, 'talking' was usually a bad thing.

            "Yeah.  So can I… you know… come over there?"

            "Here?"

            "Yeah.  Or did you want to like, just hang out with Fiona tonight?"

            "No, I - yeah you can come over."

            "Are you sure?"

            "Yeah, I'm sure."  Carter said as JC's call waiting beeped in his ear.

            "Okay.  Oops, hang on."

            "Go ahead and get that.  Just come on over whenever."  Carter shook his head and tugged at his bottom lip.

            "Okay, I'll be there in like, twenty."

            "Okay, bye."

            "Bye."  JC said quickly before he clicked over to his other line.  "Hello?"

            "Hey!"  Joey shouted over the din of voices on his end.

            "Joey?  Dude, where are you?"

            "Hang on."  Joey laughed and said something that sounded like, "Thanks a lot!" before there was a rustle of noise then near silence.  "Okay.  Hi."  Joey smiled.

            "Where are you?"  JC smiled.

            "I just got to the theater."  Joey laughed and took a deep breath.  "My phone kept cutting out when I tried to call you on the way so by the time it finally got through we were here and I had to come in and there was a crowd."

            "All of your adoring fans?"

            "You know it."  Joey rolled his eyes but smiled even bigger; it was such a rush to see people standing out in the rain waiting for him.  "It's raining though."

            "That's dedication."  JC smiled proudly.  "They love you."

            "Yeah.  Well."

            "They do."  JC pet Joey's ego carefully, he always had a problem accepting praise or kind words.

            "So anyway.”  Joey continued on a new subject.  “I'm late so I'll have to spend extra time out there tonight or something.  But I wanted to call and check in.  I haven't talked to you in like… what?  A week almost?  How's that possible?"

            "We've been playing phone tag."

            "You're it."

            "Okay."  JC's grin grew as he carried his cordless into the bathroom to get ready to go to Carter's.  "So you're at the theater?  Are you getting ready?"

            "Yeah, I've gotta change my clothes and get to make up.  I'm late man.  Really, like a half hour almost."

            "Do you want me to call you back or something?"

            "No, no it's cool."  Joey shook his head and flipped through his rack of clothes.  "So what are you up to tonight?"  Joey asked, his cell phone cutting out every few seconds.

            "I'm going to a friend’s house actually."

            "Yeah?"

            "Yeah."

            "The same friend who's been over all week?  I swear, every time you called it sounded like you were having a party or something."

            JC blushed, "Yeah."

            "Oh really?"

            "Yeah."  JC laughed lightly, still giddy over the simple thought of Carter.

            "So what's his name?  What's he like?"  Joey raised his voice to imitate a teenage girl.

            "His name is Carter. He's really cool, you'd like him."

            "I'd like him like him, or I'd like him like him?"

            "You'd like him.  But he's not your type."  JC shook his head.

            "What's my type?"  Joey made a face and pulled his pants off the hanger to shake them out before putting them on.

            "Tall and skinny.  Floppy hair, pretty blue eyes." JC leaned into the mirror, "A little facial hair maybe… no piercings, no tattoos."

            "Oh you think so huh?"

            JC scoffed and stood up straight.  "I know so."

            "So he's a short fat dude with short hair, brown eyes."  Joey looked at himself in the mirror and raised an eyebrow at the reflection.  "Clean shaven with piercings and tattoos?"

            "Something like that."  JC nodded.

            "So you're dating me again?  Why wasn't I told?"  He took his faded and comfortable jeans off and tossed them over the back of the chair before pulling his Mark pants on.

            "I'm not dating you."

            "You just described me."

            "Oh." JC blushed.  "Oh, well… kinda.  I guess.  I mean, not really."

            "Yes really."  Joey laughed and pulled his undershirt over his head.  "This is really fascinating and stuff, but I've got a show I have to get ready for."

            "You called me man.  You want me to let you go?"

            "In just a minute.  I'm almost done dressing over here."  Joey smiled and knew that JC was picturing him half-naked.

            "Nice.  How's that going anyway?"

            "The dressing part?"  Joey laughed.

            "The show."  JC laughed with Joey and for the first time in a while truly missed his best friend.

            "Good. Great.  You should come out and see me sometime."

            "Yeah." JC nodded and meant it.  "I'll uh; I'll have to do that."

            "Dude, you're coming out for the VMA's, right?  Johnny said he thought you'd be there."

            "Uh huh." JC nodded.  "I'll be there.  It's not like I'm going to space or recording an album or driving across America."

            "Or acting on Broadway."  Joey added.

            "Right."

            "You're just fucking some poor kid that looks like me."

            "He doesn't look like you."  JC shook his head but smiled.  He had absolutely nothing against Joey or how he looked, and the six months they'd spent together off and on were great… but there was always a little wedge between them; and that wedge had a baby and won Joey's devotion forever.

            "Yeah anyway."  Joey rolled his eyes and reached for his sweater.  "My phone is cutting out.  Let me know when you're coming and I'll hook you up with tickets to the show."

            "Okay man, I'll call you later."

            "Tomorrow after like, eleven."

            "In the morning?"

            "Yeah."

            "Okay, you got it.  Good luck Joe."

            "D'oh!  Don’t say that!"

            "Break a leg."  JC blew a kiss down the phone line.

            "That's more like it.  Have fun tonight."

            "I will."  JC nodded, he knew he would.  "Bye."  He hung up and pressed the top of the phone to his lips. He did miss Joey, he missed him a lot.  But Carter was there now, and that made JC bounce with happiness.  He slid his feet into his sandals and gave his hair one final tweak before he headed out and drove towards the beach to Carter's house.

 

            "He wants to talk."  Carter said as he chewed on his fingernail and stood in the doorway of the bathroom.

            "About what?"  Fiona looked up from the sink and caught his eye in the mirror as she continued to brush her teeth.

            "I don't know."  He shuffled his feet and looked around nervously.  "Talking is never a good thing."

            "We talk all the time."

            "I know."

            "And you talk to him all the time."

            "Yeah but that’s just talking like… normal talk.  This is him saying he needs to talk to me."  Carter tore the skin away from his fingernail with his teeth, then winced as a thin line of blood appeared.  "He's coming over."

            "Okay." 

            "If he breaks up with me, I need you to come in and kick him out or something.  Stop me from turning into a blubbering idiot."

            "Carter."  She sighed and tried not to roll her eyes.  "He's not going to break up with you."  Fiona said around the toothpaste in her mouth.  She spit into the sink and rinsed her toothbrush out, "It's probably nothing.  When is he coming?"

            "He's on his way."

            "Do you want me to leave?"  She retied the belt of her robe around her waist

            "No!"  Carter's eyes flew open.  "No you need to be here.  I'm serious Fi, if I break down in front of him I'll die."

            "You're not going to break down and he's not breaking up with you.  I swear you're the biggest drama queen I've ever known."  Fiona rolled her eyes and stepped around him.

            "But you know how I get when I'm in a relationship, what if I've totally freaked him out?"

            "What if you didn't?  What if he's coming over to say that he wants you to move in with him and he loves you more than chocolate?"

            Carter put his hand on his stomach and made a face, "Shit.  That doesn’t make me feel any better.  I think I'm gonna be sick."

            "No you're not."  Fiona put her hand on his shoulder.  "Go wait for your boyfriend and relax.  Have a glass of wine or a valium or something."

            "Fi."  Carter frowned.

            "Or both."  She laughed and raised her hand to his cheek.  "Relax.  Seriously.  Everything will be fine."

            “Promise?”

            “I promise.”  She nodded.  “Now I’m going to go slap some Vicks Vapo-rub on my chest and lay down.”

            “That won’t help your nose.”

            “It makes me feel better.  Leave me alone.”

            “Okay.”

            “And stop biting your nails.”

            “I’m not biting my nails, I’m pulling my hangnails.”

            “Well stop it.  You’ve got pretty hands and when you do that you mess them all up.”  She sighed and wiped her sleeve under her nose.  “G’night.”

            “Feel better.”

            “If he doesn’t stay over, come watch TV with me later.”

            “Okay.”

            Fiona shut her bedroom door and left Carter standing in the hall with his palm sweating and his heart racing.  As soon as JC knocked on the door five minutes later, Carter stuck his thumbnail in his mouth and pulled at the skin again.

            “Hey.”  He said around his thumb as he opened the door.

            “Hey.”  JC stepped in and pulled Carter’s thumb away from his lips to kiss him.  “Miss me?”

            “Of course.”  Carter forced a smile as his stomach did a flip.

            “Where’s Fi?”

            “She’s got a nose thing so she’s in her room medicating herself with Vicks.”  Carter shrugged and leaned against the wall.  “So you uh… needed to talk?"  Carter asked as he picked at his still bleeding fingernail.

            "Hmm?  Oh.  Yeah.  Actually, I just wanted to tell you that I was going back to Orlando next week."

            "Oh, uh… oh."  Carter bit his lip and dropped his eyes to the ground.

            "Just for a couple days though."  JC added quickly.

            "Oh."  Carter sighed with relief and looked up at JC.  "Okay."

            "I just need to meet with some suits about this solo project I'm working on."  JC smiled and was actually glad to see Carter's relief.  "Did… I mean, do you want to come?"

            "To Florida?  I can't, I have to work."  Carter shook his head.  "But thanks."

            "Sure, no problem."

            "So how long will you be gone?"

            "I leave on Monday and I'll be back on Friday I think.  Either Thursday or Friday, I’ll have to check."

            "Okay."  Carter bobbed his head up and down as he took a deep breath.

            JC's forehead frowned as his mouth gave a small smile, "You look like you just dodged a bullet or something."

            "I…"  Carter shook his head and sighed.  "Nothing."

            "Hey… nothing?"  JC placed his hand on Carter's arm and gave him a little squeeze.

            "I just…"  He licked his lips and looked up at JC.  "I've told you how I am in relationships."

            "Yeah?"

            "Well 'talking' is usually a bad thing."

            JC laughed and kissed Carter's pouty lips.  "Carter… you need to relax babe.  Seriously."  JC's arms snaked around Carter and held him close.  "If we're ever going to have that kind of a talk, you'll know in advance.  I don't play around."

            "I know."

            "When will you get it through your thick skull that I'm not going anywhere?"  JC's lips brushed Carter's ear as he lowered his voice.  "I'm right here."

            "I know."

            "So stop worrying."  JC kissed his ear quickly then leaned back.  "I'll be back in less than a week, and when I get back we'll spend the whole weekend together."

            "Okay."  Carter smiled shyly.

            "And next time I have to go somewhere, you can come with me."

            "Really?"

            "Absolutely.  If you can get out of work and everything."

            "Sounds fun.  I've never been to Florida."

            "I can't promise it'll be Florida next time… but if you want to go just say the word.  I'll take you to Disneyworld."  JC smiled.

            “Really?”

            “I’ll take you anywhere you want to go.”

            “Anywhere?”

            “Yes.”

            “Okay.”  Carter whispered against JC’s lips.  “Then I want to go to bed.”

            “Twist my arm.”  JC whispered back as he pulled Carter toward his bedroom.  He never had to be asked twice, and with Carter… he felt as though he didn’t even have to be asked once.  There was something special about Carter.  Something he couldn’t put his finger on but he didn’t care.  It was there and it wasn’t going away.

 

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

 

            For the four days that JC was gone, he was only able to call once and even then it was a quick, “How are you?” type call.  Carter was disappointed but he realized that those four days were just a tiny taste of what it would be like to really date JC.  He’d tried to explain what it would be like, but Carter honestly thought he was exaggerating.

            By Friday evening JC was all that Carter could think about and if he knew what time JC would be returning to LA, he would have counted down the minutes.  It was almost six in the evening when the phone rang and Carter jumped to answer it.  If it was anyone other than JC, Carter swore he’d hang up and have a temper tantrum; so when JC’s voice greeted him he practically danced through the living room.

            "Hey beautiful."  JC smiled when Carter picked up the phone.  Guess where I am?"

            "Please tell me you're in California."  Carter grinned.

            “I’m in California.”

            “Good.”

            “Better than that.”

            “Yeah?”  Carter asked as a knock sounded at the front door.  “Ooooh, get out of here.  You’re here?”

            “Why don’t you come see?”  JC laughed.

            “You’d better be here to take me away because I’ve been cooped up here all week.”  Carter said as he practically trotted for the front door.  He pulled it open and held the phone to his ear.  “Hmm, you look a little more tanned.”

            “I was outside a lot.” JC smiled as he lowered his cell phone and slinked past Carter into the house.  “How was your week?”

            “Boring.”  Carter clicked his phone off and snaked his arms around JC’s waist as the front door swung shut.  “I missed you.”

            “Yeah?”

            “Yeah.”  He kissed JC to make up for lost time and barely had time to catch his breath before JC’s stomach growled against his own.  “Hungry?”

            Starved.”

            “Sounds like it.”  Carter laughed.  “Let’s go somewhere and get something.”

            “Okay.  Oh uh… hey… do you think I can stay here tonight?”

            “Here?”  Carter made a face.  “Why here?”

            “When I got home today I found the world’s largest colony of ants in my house.”

            “Eww, seriously?”

            “Seriously.  I called and had the bug guy come out but now there are dead ants everywhere.  I’m having a cleaning crew come in tomorrow, but in the meantime…”  JC shrugged.  “I was hoping I could stay here.”

            “Yeah.  Sure, of course.”

            “It’ll just be for tonight.”  JC said quickly.

            “No, it’s fine.”

            “Fiona won’t mind?”

            “Are you kidding?”  Carter gave him a look and laughed.  “She’d be the only reason why I’d say you wouldn’t want to stay here.”

            “She’s cool.”

            “She’s Fiona.”

            “But she won’t mind?  Because you know… I could always get a room somewhere.”

            “Don’t be crazy.  Of course she won’t mind.”  Carter sighed and kissed JC again, it’d been days too long.

            “Let’s go eat.”

            “Just a minute.”  Carter mumbled against JC’s lips as he kissed him again and let himself sink into JC’s arms.  They stood locked together in the entryway for a while before JC’s stomach growled again and he insisted that they go get food.

            They stocked up on Subway sandwiches and headed for a park to eat in the fresh air before heading to a club where one of Justin’s friend was going to be playing.  “The show starts at like, six, but we can hang out before.  Are you sure you wanna go?”

            “I’m not the one that’s jet lagged.”  Carter shrugged.

            “We don’t have to if you don’t want to.”

            “No, it’s fine.”  Carter shook his head.  He would like nothing more than to take JC home, strip him down and take complete advantage of the situation.  But Fiona was at his house and JC’s home was covered in the carcasses of a billion ants so they were left partying in public for the evening.

 

            By the time they stumbled into Carter’s house near midnight, JC was deliriously tired and Carter was ready to curl up next to him and not leave bed for days.  As they walked into the house Carter saw Fiona’s light on so they stopped at her door first and knocked softly.

            “Yes dear?”  Fiona called from inside.

            “Hey.”  Carter opened the door and smiled, “We’re home.”

            “Okay.”  She removed her glasses and smiled up at him.

            “Hi Fiona.”  JC said from behind Carter.

            “Hi JC.”

            “He’s staying over tonight because –“  Carter started to explain.

            “He’s been gone for a week.  Got it.”  Fiona smiled and waved her hand around indicating that she didn’t want the gory details.  “If you guys decide to crawl out of bed, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

            “Good night.  We’ll see you in the morning.”  Carter smiled and ducked under JC’s arm to get to his own room.

            “Good night.  Can you shut my door please?”  She asked to no one in particular.  JC reached over and pulled it closed with a charming smile.  “Keep it down, okay?”  She raised her eyebrow at him, then laughed at his embarrassed expression.

            “G’night.”  He mumbled quickly as the door shut.  Fiona laughed and shook her head then set her book aside.  Now that Carter was home safe she could turn out the lights and go to bed.  She yawned and got her stuff situated, then turned the light off and her radio on.  Whatever sounds came from the room next door, she was sure she wouldn’t want to hear them.

 

            Shortly before sunrise, Carter slipped out of bed and tip-toed across the hall to Fiona’s room.  He tapped lightly on the door, then pushed it open.  “Fi?”  Carter’s soft voice sounded from the doorway.  “Fiona?  You up?”

            “Hmmm?”  She frowned in her sleep then opened her eyes a fraction of an inch.  “Carter?”

            “Yeah.”

            “What’s wrong?  What are you doing?”

            Carter smiled and reached for her hand.  “Come here.”

            “What?”

            “He’s purring.”  Carter’s eyes danced as Fiona’s jaw gaped open.  “Shhh.  You have to be quiet.”

            “I will.”  She crawled out of her bed and took Carter’s hand, letting him lead her across the hall to his room.

            “Okay, come here.”  Carter whispered as he leaned into his room.  “You can hear it from here.”  Fiona walked up and stopped just inside Carter's door.  They stood in absolute silence for a minute before the gentle rumbling sound came from the bed.

            “Oh.”  Fiona said, though the sound barely left her lips.  She brought her hand to her mouth as gazed up at Carter.  “He purrs.”  She smiled behind her hand and tried not to giggle.

            “I know.”

            “That’s the sexiest thing I’ve ever heard.” Fiona looked at the dark figure curled into a half circle in the middle of Carter’s bed.  “Seriously.”

            “I know.”  Carter nodded, then pulled her back out into the hall and down to her room.  “Are you happy now?”

            “Sublimely.”  The smile never left her face as she slid back under her covers.  “I couldn’t sleep with him in bed with me.”

            “I usually don’t.”  Carter raised his eyebrow and laughed lightly.

            “I just meant that I’d want to stay awake and listen to him purr all night.”

            “That’s what I meant too.”  He smiled slowly and nodded, and she knew he meant it.  “Good night Fi.”

            “G’night Carter.  Thanks.”

            “No problem.” He blew her a kiss and then shut the door softly before returning to the warm spot in the bed beside JC.  The purring continued as JC sleepily wrapped his arms around Carter and rested his forehead against the back of his neck.  Carter sighed and smiled, he was sublimely happy too.

 

 

 Next...

 

 

Copyright 2003, Amy Lynn