His head was buried under a pillow the next morning when someone's hand was placed on his back to shake him awake. He could hear a voice telling him something, but he didn't move. He felt horrible and didn't want to follow orders, but the person wasn't going away so he decided that he'd better get up before they doused him with water or pulled him off the bed or something extreme like that.
"Hmmm," he groaned out. He opened his eyes and found that they were still puffy. When his eyes looked down he could see his bottom eyelids puffed out from his cheeks. "What time is it?" he asked before he focused on what he soon saw was Serena standing in front of him.
"It's almost ten," she said, "Melinda just came by and delivered a message to us."
"To us?" he asked and pushed himself up then looked at her again. He would have expected a message to him, but not to the both of them considering that she probably wasn't really supposed to be spending the night in his room.
As his eyes focused he could see the sad look on her face then saw that it looked red, not the 'I've just woken up' kind of red, but a sick looking rash-red, somewhat like what he saw on his face the night before. "What's wrong with your face?"
"That's the message," she said softly taking a seat on the bed next to where he lay. He wanted to smile at the way she looked. It was fairly early in the day and she looked tired and wrinkled in her clothes from the night before, but somehow she still looked beautiful. "Billy somehow got exposed to chicken pox. When he got home he found that he was itching so he went to the doctor first thing and well guess who didn't have them as a kid..."
"You've got the chicken pox?" he asked squinting now as he realized that the sun was blaring through the window at him. It was too early in the morning to be having this conversation. He should have remembered that he had appointments to get to that morning, but at the moment all he could see was her sad face staring at him.
She nodded at him.
"Sorry," he said, "That's gonna suck."
"I should be sorry," she said, "Since I haven't had them and probably will get a full blown case considering that I'm already itchy and getting spots, you aren't allowed to go near the other guys."
"Me?" he asked, "Why me?"
"Because Chris hasn't had them yet and Joey's got his daughter around and the two of us can't expose any of this to them."
"Are you shitting me?" he grumbled, "I've got about three days worth of work I need to do today. I can't be sitting around here with you."
"Melinda said that if you and I went near the crew that everyone would get them and since everyone hasn't had them already it would be an outbreak if we did," she explained.
"So what happens now?" he asked.
"You and I are going to have to be quarantined together."
"Is this punishment for making you go out with Billy?" he asked, "Because if this is, I'll never set you up again."
"Oh get off it!" she said with an angry voice, "Billy and I had fun on our date, let's leave it at that and get on with the day. Melinda's bringing me my things and you and I are going to be taken by van to the next arena. You're not going to perform this week and basically until we get over the contagious stage you and I are going to be stuck in a hotel room together."
"How long will that be?" he asked.
"About three days," she said with a serious tone.
"Great. Just great."
"Don't blame me," she said, "Billy is the one who exposed us to them!"
"I'm sorry," he said. He pushed himself up more and looked around, "So what time are we leaving?" he asked.
"In about an hour. Everyone already went on to the next venue, but we're getting special treatment."
"Do we get a limo?" he asked.
"I think she said it's a van," Serena said.
"Damn, sick and I cant' even get any star treatment."
"How are your eyes?" she asked.
Lance reached up and rubbed his face then stretched a little. "Well from what I can tell they're still puffy so I don't know..."
"Why don't you take your shower or whatever and I'll wait for my luggage then maybe we can get some room service up here, get breakfast and get the hell out of dodge."
Lance collected his things and went to take a shower. He'd long ago gotten used to the idea of sharing a room with another person so when he went in to the bathroom he looked at her and asked, "Do you need to use it before I get in the shower?"
"No," she replied, "I'm fine."
Lance couldn't help but to agree with that statement as he disappeared into the bathroom. She was fine.
Serena was lying in bed lazily watching television when Melinda returned to the room with her bags. She handed them over quickly and said that a call would be made to them when the van was ready to go. The management bus would be leaving without them in a few minutes. Her speech continued by explaining that the room was taken care of, paid in full, and all they had to do was to go out to the van with Mike (who already had gotten the chicken pox) and they'd be in the next arena by that afternoon.
A few moments after Melinda left Lance came out of the shower. He was dressed already in jeans and a long sleeved T-shirt and when he flopped down on the other bed and looked over at her she caught a whiff of his cologne or after-shave or whatever. He smelled delicious, she'd noticed it before, but this was one of the first times she'd seen him straight out of the shower and if she didn't already know that she couldn't have him, she would have pounced on him right there.
"You want to order some breakfast?" she suggested as she watched him.
"Yeah," he said lazily, "What do you want me to get you?"
"Scrambled eggs, coffee, and toast," she said as she pushed herself up into a standing position. Finding that her knees were a little wobbly, probably from staring at him, she moved over to her suitcase that was laying near where her feet had been on the bed. The bag with her make up and bathroom things was near the bottom of the bigger bag so it took her a moment, and some careful positioning on her part to pull her things out without throwing underwear and bras around Lance's room. She finally got a hold of the bathroom bag then reached in and grabbed a pair of wind-pants and a T-shirt and new underwear tucking it into the folds of her shirt before she disappeared into the bathroom.
The bathroom smelled of him. She wasn't sure what shampoo and conditioner he used or even what cologne he wore, but the whole room just smelled like him.
She carefully locked herself in the room before removing her clothes and jumping into the shower. It had been a while since she'd shared a room with a guy and it was a strange sensation to know that he'd just been naked in the shower before. She shouldn't have spent too much time thinking about it, due to the fact that it made her sound like a teeny bopperish but she realized that she was probably only one of a small handful of women who had ever shared a shower with Lance.
About fifteen minutes after she'd gotten into the shower she stepped out and wrapped herself in a towel then carefully got dressed again. She'd not brought her brush into the bathroom so she towel dried her hair and returned to the room just in time to see that room service had been delivered.
She paused in the doorway of the bathroom and looked at the person delivering the food to the room, praying that the sight of her walking out of the bathroom wouldn't start rumors. She never used to really think about things like that, but now she felt like she had to watch her back. The media frenzy that surrounded the guys had already had to place as the girlfriend of a few of the guys because she'd been standing in line to get on a plane with them. If someone saw her in the bedroom of one of them she was afraid of what might be said.
The delivery person left and Lance grabbed up a plate and took it to the bed he'd slept in the night before. He set it down only for a moment so that he could move the pillows around then plopped down, put the plat in his lap and began eating.
"How are your eyes?" she asked looking across the room at him.
Their eyes met and for a moment they stared at each other. It wasn't the most romantic thing in the world, him with the puffy eyes and her with the beginnings of chicken pox. Somehow the moment seemed to stick of the both of them until Lance finally swallowed, his Adam's apple bobbing up and down for a moment before he tore his eyes away from her and stared at his plate. "I just took another Benadryl and I took an Advil and after I eat I'm gonna ice them down," he said.
"Wow. I'm impressed."
"Don't be," he said taking a bite of eggs then chewed while he stared at the television, "Doc came by and made me promise before he left with Melinda."
"So they're gone?" she asked.
"Yep," he said, "Just me, you, and Mike are left. He's gonna call up when the van gets here."
"Oh," she said and moved to grab her brush.
She quickly began to run it through her hair when Lance said, "I didn't know your hair was curly."
"Only when it's wet. It dries almost completely straight," she said, "I hate it."
"I like it curly...you should wear it like that sometime," he said.
Serena tried to make the situation less tense than it had just become by joking around about what he'd said to her, "Are you flirting with me again?"
"You want some fruit?" Lance asked, braking the silence that had hung between them for the last hour.
Serena nodded her head no and moved a little on the bed, flipping the channel in the process as she tried to make herself more comfortable. They were stuck in the hotel for the second day in a row and she was about to die of boredom and from the itching that had plagued her since they'd packed up in the van to head to the next city. Her whole body felt like it was about explode because of the itchiness and after a few hours of sketching and watching television and playing solitaire she was about to throw herself off the balcony.
"Serena, don't scratch," Lance said from where he sat at the desk. He'd been on conference calls all morning handling interviews and FreeLance business and when he'd ordered lunch she'd plopped it down in front of him and he'd thanked her and had kept working. He was not at all the best roommate she'd ever had.
"Shut up," she said and scratched her arm wildly staring at him in defiance.
"I'm warning you...Don't scratch," he repeated.
She took the pillow next to her and threw it at him, knocking half his paperwork onto the floor and causing both his pager and cell phone to fall with it.
"What the hell was that for?" he asked.
"Just shut up," she said and scratched some more, this time trying to reach a spot on her back. She twisted her arm around, but she couldn't quite reach the spot that was itching the worst.
"OK, just don't blame me later when you have pock marks all over you," he said with a laugh.
She stopped scratching and reached for the calamine lotion that Melinda had delivered. It seemed that her whole body was going to be covered with it by the end of the week. "Leave me alone Lance," she grumbled, "I'm not in the mood for a lecture."
"Why don't you sketch or something," he suggested.
"I did that already. I'm bored."
Lance threw another piece of fruit in his mouth and chewed it a little. "Did you work on Farzana's dress?"
"I'm done with the pattern. I need to get the material and start sewing it, but I can't because I'm contagious and also because my arms are covered with these damn spots and would probably end up getting her infected with this." She twisted her arm and tried to scratch her back but it wouldn't work.
"Oh," he said and munched on a strawberry.
"Why are you handling this so well?" she asked.
"Self-discipline," he said with a smirk.
She'd watched him all morning and strangely enough she'd expected him to be a big baby, but he hadn't really scratched much. He'd taken a shower that morning when they'd woken up then had gotten into a T-shirt and shorts, reapplied some calamine lotion left over from the day before then had worked most of the morning away. She wondered if having his mind occupied was keeping him from scratching.
"Yeah right," she said, "Just like you were disciplined when you ate that whole gallon of ice cream yesterday."
"Hey," he said putting his elbows on the edge of the desk he propped up his chin on his hands and stared at her. "It wasn't a gallon. It was a half gallon."
Serena rolled her eyes and scratched her other arm. "Whatever."
"Ok," Lance said after a moment. He got up from his seat. "I can't stand you scratching."
Before she could move he was at her side and grabbing the calamine lotion from her. She sat up and stared at him shocked to see him moving so quickly. He was already covered in the pink liquid himself, and looked ridiculous, but somehow seemed to have kept his head. With his freehand he grabbed at her T-shirt.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm going to coat you in this crap so you stop scratching!" He pulled on her T-shirt some more and it finally came up and over her head. She was wearing a bra, but crossed her arms over her chest.
She looked up at him from where he was standing and he threw a smile at her, "It's nothing I haven't seen before," he said. He turned her shoulders so that she was facing away from him and he sat down behind her and a moment later started to put the lotion on her back.
"I wonder if your fans know if you're this big of an asshole," she said in a huff.
"Such a mouth on you," he said, "I hope you don't talk to our kids that way."
"Our kids?" she said in shock.
""Honey, a million and one girls would love to be in your position right now," he said with attitude.
"Ugh," she said, "You're such a pig sometimes."
His hands kept moving and he laughed as he applied more lotion. "Oink Oink baby," he said.
Although she should have turned around and beaten the crap out of him for making fun of her she relaxed and finally let out a laugh about it all.
[ Later That Night ]
"Stop rolling around." Her voice came out of the darkness slightly muffled, long after he'd thought she'd gone to sleep and almost scared him. He had crawled into bed after taking a shower and when he'd looked across the room at her he'd thought that she'd been asleep. She'd been watching television
"What?" he asked into the darkness. His arm began to itch, but he tried to think of something else so that he wouldn't scratch. His shoulder had been bothering him since after dinner and he was trying to bet himself out of trying to scratch the skin there.
"Stop rolling around!" she repeated, this time with more force. "I'm trying to sleep over here and I swear if I hear those damn track pants swish one more time I'm going to rip them off you and tie them around your neck!"
"Ohh," Lance said then moved his legs a little sending a swishing noise into the room. He hoped that she wasn't in a bad mood and would take the movement as a joke.
He heard a noise that sounded like she'd sat up a little and he wished he could see her. She'd been covered up already in bed when he'd come out of the shower and he hadn't gotten a chance to see her sleep wear that night. It was a perverted thing to do, to take advantage of her like that, when she was sick, but he still couldn't help it. "Lance Bass I mean it."
"Chill out over there Serena," he said with a laugh, "I'm sorry I woke you up...I'll try not to be so loud."
He could hear her move again, plumping up her pillow then laying down one way then moving again before she said sleepily, "Thank you."
"Hey Serena?" he said after a moment of silence.
"What?" she asked.
"Why do you want to have kids so badly?" he asked, "I mean you're still young...you've got time to--"
"Do we have to talk about this now?" she asked.
"I was just wondering," he said, "It's been on my mind for a while now."
"Well I'm sorry," she said, "I didn't mean to keep you up at nights."
"Look. It's a legitimate question. I mean you're not a dog--"
"Thanks," she groaned out.
"You know what I mean. I'm sure there are a lot of guys after you so why not just settle down and have a family."
"It's not that easy Lance, you may have girls throwing themselves at you, but I don't have guys doing that to me. Most guys I know want me to be this little girly girl and basically I want the family without the husband because I don't think I could get along with a husband if I was forced to," she said.
Her voice wavered a little and said, "You aren't that bad. I mean you get along with everyone on tour...or well everyone except Justin anyway."
"Justin just needs someone around to deflate his ego every once in a while," she said.
A moment later the television flicked on and she turned it a few channels before letting it rest on CNN. "If we're up we might as well watch the news or something."
"Isn't there something else we can watch?" he asked.
"Don't you want to see how your stock prices are doing Mr. Business?" she asked.
"No," he grumbled and looked over at her. He stared at her. She must not have noticed, but the strap on her tank top she was wearing had fallen off and in the low light in the room he could see her semi-exposed breast.
"What's up your butt?" she asked ruining the moment in his mind. She instantly seemed to notice
"Nothing," he said and moved a little. He pulled his pillow up and put it at the foot of the bed and lay on his stomach to watch the television.
"Lance?" she said.
"I wanted to thank you for sending me out with Billy," she said, "I really did have a good time with him...even though we started off pretty badly."
"No trouble at all," he said, "There is a dinner that everyone is going to when we get to Vegas, if you want I can call him and have him come out here for it," he said looking over his shoulder at her.
He watched her shrug and nod, "I guess that'd be ok."
Lance nodded then turned back to the television trying hard not to get upset about it. He wanted her to have fun and Billy was the only guy he trusted with her, but at the same time he wished that he really could be the one to take her out. He thought that what she was planning was a bit dangerous, not only for her health, but for her heart and he was hoping that Billy would get the picture and date her, but not take it any further. "Good. I'll set it up."
"Where have you been? Chris was screaming out losing something and only you supposedly would know where it would be?" Justin asked as she came walking towards him down the hall. She'd been gone for a while, but he was the last person she'd expect to miss him or wonder where he was.
Serena looked at him with a cautious smile and said with a simple tone, "I had to go out." She could tell that her answer wasn't one that he was looking for.
"Go out?" he asked, "I got yelled at and almost beat up because you decided that you had to go out?"
"Oh give me a break Timberlake." She looked over his shoulder and could see Meredith coming out from where she'd gone out into another hallway then cut back over to where they were. "Just because Meredith can't come to visit doesn't mean you have to be a prick out things," she said angrily trying to hold back her laughter as she caught sight of Meredith sneaking up behind him.
"What does this have to do with Meredith?" he asked, "Damn, you're worse than the guys about that crap. Yeah, she can't come out here and well yes I'm a little pissy about it, but it--"
"I think you're more than a little pissy," Meredith said from behind him.
Justin must not have recognized her voice because he whipped around after his eyes widened and for a moment Serena thought he might lash out at her or something thinking that it was someone else standing behind him interupted. Shock washed over his face when he saw who it was and for the first time since she'd met him Justin didn't know what to say. "What? How? When?"
"Justin," Serena said calmly, "If she wanted to hear you stutter she could have done that over the phone."
Justin immediately pulled her into his arms and held her close. His arms went around her waist and trapped her against and Serena looked at the two of them for a moment, "I'll see you guys tomorrow at dinner... just remember that he has a show to do tonight so don't break him."
"I won't," she said over Justin's shoulder.
"Bye guys," she said and began to walk off still trying to curb her jealousness. She hated to see them so happy and the way that Meredith had been in the car ride over had made her think that she wanted to just head to her room for the whole trip. If she was going to have to be exposed to their happiness she wasn't sure if she could stay sane.
Serena stood up and found Lance standing before her watching her with a strange look on his face. "You ok?"
"Yeah," she said running her hands through her hair. She caught sight of her arm and stared at it for a moment. The chicken pox there were only a reminder of the last few days. It had left them tired, but they'd bonded in those days a little so it wasn't at all strange for him to be asking about her since they'd spent that time together. "Still recovering from being sick."
She nodded and tried to walk past him, but instead he grabbed onto her arm and pulled her close to him into a hug that he held her in for a long time. While she liked the feeling of being in someone's arms she knew that it wouldn't be right to have Lance be the one to hold her close. They didn't belong to each other and she didn't need to get confused by his behavior.
Finally when she got away she stared at him, "What are you doing?"
His eyes searched her face and while she wanted to just lean into him and take his concern as nothing, she knew she needed to stop it before it started something. "I just thought you need--"
She slapped his arm away when he reached out to her and glared at him.
"Fine," Lance said squaring his shoulders, "I quit, die an old bitter woman for all I care."
As he stalked away Serena took a deep breath and walked the opposite way. Her heart was breaking in two at the moment, but she tired to focus on the task at home. She was at work and she had to get things done, personal live drama again had to go to the back seat.
When the show started a few hours later Serena was still in a mood. She'd tried to calm down, but that whole bitter woman comment had gotten to her more than it should have. She decided to head to the dressing room to wait for the show to be over so that she wouldn't run into anyone and start a fight.
Expecting it to be someone needing her for something she shot Meredith a nasty look then calmed down, "Hey...sorry about the look. It's been a long day."
"Are you ok?" she asked, "Justin was saying that you were sick."
"Yeah, I'm sure that's not the only thing he's called me lately."
"No," Meredith said, "He's really worried about you and well he also sent me to apologize for him for yelling at you earlier."
Serena sat down and frowned, "Well tell him thanks for the apology."
"Ok," Meredith said coming into the room, "Now that the apology is over tell me what's wrong. Don't take this the wrong way...either you've got your period or it's some boy because no one can put that evil of a look on a girl's face for nothing."
"I'll take door number two Bob Barker," she said.
"Well I hope it's not my man that is giving you trouble or I'll have to kick him where it counts." Meredith sat down on the couch stared at her.
"No," she said, "It's not him...for once...it's just all of them...the whole male population right now that is killing me."
"ALL of them?" Meredith joked, "No wonder that look was so evil."
"Well there's only one that really I'd love to kick right now, but most of them--"
"So what did Lance do now?" she asked.
Serena's stomach dropped. "What?"
"Justin said that you guys were hanging out last week so he must have done something to get you pissed off."
"Justin has a big mouth and he's leaving out the whole story," she said moving in her chair. For a moment she thought that she might be getting the chicken pox back, her whole body started to itch again. "Lance and I had the chicken pox together last week. That's why we were hanging out."
"So what's the deal with him then?"
Her innocense about the whole thing caught Serena off guard. She didn't understand why Meredith seemed to know so much about her. She didn't think that he paid that much attention to her.
"I don't know, he's setting me up," Serena said.
"Oh yeah, Billy is coming out here isn't he?" she asked.
"Yeah," she said.
Meredith smiled again. "He's a sweetie."
"Yeah, I know. He's great, but now it seems like Lance is too involved in my life and it's this strange place to be in," she said.
When the door opened up and Billy walked in the two girls looked at each other. "I guess that's the end of that," Serena said.
"I'll talk to you later," Meredith said and abruptly left.
"I didn't mean to interupt," Billy said.
"Oh no," she said, "It's just been a long day."
"You feeling better?" he asked hesistantly.
"Yeah," she said, "I'm not contagious any more."
"Good," he said and leaned and hugged her.
"How was your flight?" she asked.
He nodded and stuck his hands in his pockets. "I know you're working, but I just wanted to say hi."
"Oh," she said, "If you wait around for maybe another ten minutes or so we can go grab something to eat and hang out."
"Well I just wanted--you just looked out of it a little bit when I walked in here and I just--nevermind," he said, "You want me to wait in here for you?"
"No," she said, "Come with me... I just have to go check one more thing then we can go hang out."
"YOu sure?" he asked.
"You have your security stuff right?"
He showed off his sticker, "Yeah."
"Ok, then come on," she said and grabbed onto his hand and pulled him with her.
Billy followed her down the hallway and she checked on a few things then Billy asked if she wanted to go out and see the show so they went through the hallway and out towards the soundstage and found that the place was crowded so Billy sat and she ended up sitting on his lap, after he pulled her into the seat.
"You ok?" he yelled at her over the noise of the concert.
She nodded and leaned back a little to show that she was comfortable. It was a selfish thing to do, but having Billy's attention on her was taking away some of the hurt of having to deal with her confusion over Lance. She didn't even know why she was having feelings for him and feelings for Billy at the same time, but she liked Billy's uncomplicated feelings over the ones that Lance brought to the table.
During a slower part of the show Meredith showed up and sat next to them. Serena felt a little uncomfortable about sitting there like that, but when Meredith only smiled at her and gave her a thumbs up sign she relaxed a little more and even smiled when Billy whispered in her ear to relax.
It wasn't until later that night, when Billy got to Lance's room that night to crash on his couch that they'd even spoken, but Lance had a few things to say to him about Serena. He'd seen them during the show and it had thrown him for a loop.
Most times during the show he didn't concentrate on anything more than what he was doing, but he couldn't help but notice them sitting together and her hanging on him and him holding her close. At one point he even saw them kissing and he thought about jumping off the stage and going after his friend.
"Have a good night?" Lance asked from his seat on the couch where he was in the middle of a pile of paperwork that he was getting done before he went to sleep.
"Yeah," Billy said.
"I bet you did," Lance mumbled.
Billy walked across the room to get a drink from the suite's kitchen then stopped, "Excuse me?"
"Nothing," Lance mumbled.
"Ya know if you wanted her yourself you shouldn't have set her up with me," Billy said.
"Me wanting her?" he asked.
"Yes," Billy said.
"I don't want her," Lance said begining to stack his papers up.
"Oh give me a break Lance, we've been friends since kindergarden." Billy had dropped off his bag earlier and would probably be getting ready to go to sleep, "I know you want her, but if you don't make a move on her that gives me every right in the world to do so...I mean hell you even set us up."
"Yeah," Lance said, "Well maybe that was a mistake or whatever. I shouldn't have gotten my friends involved, but really I don't want her."
"Sure you don't," Billy said, "Just like you didn't give me a death stare tonight while we were sitting out there watching the show."
"I didn't," Lance said.
"Fine," Billy said, "I think I'm gonna go grab a room of my own tonight."
"Tell Serena I said hello," Lance said before he could stop himself.
"What the fuck is up your ass?" Billy growled angrily, "You invite me here to take her out and now that I'm here I'm getting shit on for it?"
"Nothing is up my ass Billy," Lance said, "Go get your own damn room and have all the sex with Serena you want. I could give a fuck what that bitch does."
"You know Lance, if you told her you liked her she'd probably be impressed, but I have a feeling that insinuating that she's a slut and calling her a bitch isn't the way to get her."
Lance watched as his friend stormed out of the room and slammed the door behind him.