When you lose something it’s gone. And you can never get it back. But what happens if you lose yourself? What happens if you are so caught up in an image that you don’t know who you really are anymore? What happens when you stare into a mirror for 20 minutes, and don’t recognize yourself?

What happens when you want something so badly, you’ll do anything to get it, you even turn on yourself. I can barely stumble out of some strange hotel bed every morning without being blinded by 50 cameras. I can’t even make it to my car before being bombarded with pens and asked to autograph everything imagined. I can’t even think without being haunted by millions of fans screaming my name, Nsync’s name, demanding me to look this way, SMILE, and if I don’t, I’m a jerk.

Well, then I guess you can start referring to me as a jerk, because I’ve had it. So what if the public thinks I’m a dedicated singer. So what if the fans expect me smile in every photograph, sign every CD cover, and so what if I miss some big promotional gig just because I don’t feel like going.

I’ve been to so many different magazine interviews that ask the same questions over and over. And I’m forced to answer them the same way over and over. And I don’t even get to answer them my way. Heaven forbid. I’ve been given a list of answers, and that’s how I answer them. I’ve said my favorite color is baby blue so many times, that it’s to the point where I have to think about what favorite color actually is.

It may sound selfish to you. But I’m just tired of being in the spotlight 24 hours a day. My passion is for the music. Not for the interviews, media coverage, autograph signing. None of that stuff matters to me. What matters to me is my singing. It’s my outlet, my talent, and I want to share it with the world, but I don’t want to share myself with the world.

I’m my own person. I can’t even be myself. I have to live up to my image. To my heartthrob image, my flirtatious image, it’s fake. This is not me. And no one ever sees that. No one sees me for who I am. They see me how the media portrays me, and that’s it. They recognize my face, before my voice.

The passion to make music, and the passion to share that music with the world is what I’m in this for. I appreciate everything that everyone has done for me. But all I ever really wanted was to be myself. And I can’t, because no one will let me.

So enjoy my image while it lasts because if I can’t show the real me, why bother? Because I promise that I won’t stick around very much longer if this is how it’s going to be.

Justin sat up in bed and ran a hand through his sleep-matted curls. Well, I might as well make myself useful he thought turning to look at the clock on his bedside table. It was only 5:26; meaning nobody else was up yet. As if on cue, Chris snorted, and shifted his position under the comforter from the adjacent hotel bed.

Justin walked over to the dresser and yanked out a t-shirt and a pair of running shorts. He always liked to run early in the morning, it helped to wake him up, and prepare himself for the long the days he knew were ahead. It also gave him the chance to go out in public with little disguise. The fear of recognization wasn't as great, because not many people were out yet. Being in different cities everyday of the week, he got a chance to do a little sightseeing. He changed his clothes quickly, and bent over to lace up his new Nike cross-country sneakers.

Minutes later he found himself outside. He stretched a bit to loosen up his muscles, and then took off at a slow jog down the sidewalk. He loved the way the air smelled in the morning. It smelled fresh, a mixture of moisture and wet grass. He also ran in the morning, because it was much cooler.

There was a downside to running though. He had plenty of time to think. He'd thought a lot this morning. He'd been thinking so much lately that he was to the point where he'd purposely kept himself busy so he could avoid the questions in his mind.

He knew he couldn't fight it much longer though. He wasn't himself anymore; in fact he hadn't been himself for the longest time. He didn't even really know how to act like himself anymore.

Who was he? Besides being Justin Timberlake, besides being in the spotlight, besides singing, who was he? Who were his real friends? And who were just psycho fans that wanted something from him?

Justin accelerated his pace as he jogged down the sloping sidewalk. He wanted to give up. He wanted to quit. He wanted out of Nsync.

But that wasn't possible. That would be giving up. That would make him a coward. He would be a failure. A disappointment. He'd disappoint his family, the guys, his friends, his fans, and he'd disappoint himself.

He'd needed an escape. He needed a way out of this. But unfortunately there was only one thing he could come up with, and he was not going to kill himself, that would disappoint everyone even more.

Justin let out a frustrated sigh, and forced his eyes to look upward. He looked around, noticing he was now in the busy downtown area, although it didn't look very busy. More cars were on the road by now though, he noticed.

His breathing rate was beginning to increase, and he decided to run about a mile further then head back. A sound from across the street stopped him finally. It sounded like someone was calling out to him. He held his breath, and listened a second time. Sure enough, a voice he couldn't recognize was yelling out "Justin!" He thought about just continuing his pace, ditching whoever it was, but his curiosity got the better of him and he scanned the adjacent sidewalk.

He saw someone waving their arms at him, and he squinted his eyes, finally realizing that it was JC. "Wait up man!" JC yelled over the noise from the traffic.

Justin stopped and folded his arms across his chest. Great, he though to himself. He bent down and quickly tied a loose shoelace as he watched JC jog across the street. I wonder what he'd down here for.

"Hey J," JC greeted him. "Jayce? What're you doing down here so early?" "Just out running," he smiled back, "You're always doing it, so I figured why not? Besides, I have nothing better to do at 5 in the morning."

"True," Justin nodded, and started jogging again.

"What's wrong kid? You look a little stressed," JC commented catching up with him. "Nothing," Justin breathed, "I'm just, I don't know JC, I'm tired you know?" "Tired?" JC winkled his eyebrows, "What do you mean?"

"I'm tired of this," he exasperated, "I'm tired of being famous." "I'm tired of being in a new city everyday, I just want out." JC nodded, "I know what you mean." Justin turned to look at him, question stirring in his eyes. How does he know how I feel, he loves what he does, this isn't like him. "I-I've wanted to give up so many times Justin," he admitted speaking softly, his downcast.

Justin became suddenly intent on studying the pavement. He could feel the hot tears pushing to surface, but he couldn't cry now, JC knew how he felt, but why had he stuck around, why am I such a coward?

"I wish there was some escape, someway out, I wish I was having fun again," Justin blurted.

He looked over at JC, surprised to see him nodding in agreement. Suddenly Justin couldn't be around him for another moment. He couldn't take it he needed to be alone. He couldn't breathe he felt trapped. "JC? I, um, I'll meet you back at the hotel ok?" Justin called jogging straight out into the street.

JC nodded, picking up his head to look at Justin when he saw it. Justin blindly jutted out into the busy street, right in the path of a huge bus. "JUSTIN! WAIT!" JC screamed his heart pounding. Justin's head jerked up, and he looked straight into the low-lighted headlights shining in the still slightly dark morning sky.

JC's breath caught as he watched Justin's shocked expression shift from confusion, to shock, to sheer terror. There were tears in his eyes JC could see that now. And suddenly he was besieged by impulse. He squeezed his shut, ducked his head, and darted right out to Justin, stopping only inches from him. There was no way the huge bus would see them standing there. JC could feel the pressure pounding him, and he knew it would be all over soon. He couldn't believe this had all taken place in a matter of seconds. It felt like ten years had passed since he'd made his way from the safety of the sidewalk to here.

"JC, NO!" Justin managed to squeak. "It's our escape Justin, I love you," JC's voice broke, and he squeezed his eyes shut again, feeling his world fade into black.


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