Snap Shots Series: In Focus
"Are you ready to go?" Lance asked.
Willa looked up from where she was leaned over searching for her shoe. She sat back up, a triumphant smile on her face as she watched him adjust his backpack on his back. "Almost."
Lance looked at the doorway and swung the other strap over his arm. "The guys are going to be here in a second."
"I know," she said and shoved her shoe back onto her foot and ground her foot around in for a moment before looking up at him to nod to him that she was all set.
"So that plan is for you to go and get your stuff and bring it back here while we're at TRL and taping those commercials for the Superbowl."
She nodded and avoiding making eye contact with him.
Willa stopped and looked at him. She was scared. For the first time she was scared and she didn't know what to do. In the past she'd been able to put up a good enough front so that people would think that she was ok, but this time she wasn't so sure that she could pull off that routine. It was hard enough trying to convince Lance that she was ok, how was she going to trick the rest of the world? Thank God he'd understood when she'd declined to join him for the tapings and things earlier when he'd asked.
Lance's voice was soft in the quiet room as he looked over his shoulder at her, "It's going to be ok."
Willa ran her hands through her hair and straightened her shirt a little. Her nap had taken its toll on the wrinkle-free clothes and on her moody. She felt groggy. "I know."
Lance held out a hand out to her and pulled her into a hug. He kissed her forehead. "Good."
There was a knock on the door and Justin's voice came through to them. "Time to go."
"We're coming J!" Lance called.
"Come on man...get off her and lets get going."
Willa stopped him as he tried to pull away. "Wait."
"What?" he asked looking at her when she didn't explain why she'd stopped him.
Bringing her hands to his cheeks, Willa pulled him in for a kiss. "I love you," she said. She hated the desperate tone that came out with her words, but it couldn't be helped. She was desperate. Desperate to hold onto a profession that she loved and the only man who seemed to understand and accept every part of her.
"I love you too," he said. He kissed her; one more quick kiss then looked at the door. "We should go."
"I know," she said. She took his hand and the two of them exited the bedroom and joined the others in the living room.
"I packed up your burger," Wes said hanging Lance a small box that looked like a doggie-bag container.
"Thanks," he said and tucked it under his arm.
Wes pulled the door open and the group exited the room and walked down towards the elevator. To Willa it seemed like they were an Army marching to war, except on the lobby level she'd be going off to collect her things and Lance would be the one to go into battle considering that he was going to be interviewed that afternoon.
"How've you been Willa?" Justin asked in a fairly soft voice as they walked, "I haven't talked to you in forever.
"Yeah, it was just last week," Willa said trying to force herself to be normal. She smiled crazily at him trying her hardest to be the person he'd met a few months ago who'd taken on Lance in a yelling match and who'd fought just for the sake of fighting.
"Oh...wait...that was you?"
"Yep," she said, "You were probably drunk off your butt, but I remember it."
"Was I good?" he asked with an evil grin.
"Hey!" Lance protested.
They piled into the elevator, the bodyguards shielding the other passengers from where the doors would open once they reached the lobby.
There was an odd tension that hung in the air when they split into their separate groups in the lobby. She'd stood next to Lance in the elevator, cherishing those last moments before they were to be separated by leaning against his shoulder. Justin, Loni, Lance and Wes would be heading to TRL and Willa and Spanky would make the short trip to her apartment. To Willa the division of the group seemed like it would bring miles between them instead of a few city blocks.
"I love you Fred," Lance said as he let go of her hand. He leaned to kiss her, but was stopped by Justin.
When they both turned and looked at Justin as he leaned towards them, he smiled and said, in an overly dramatic voice while wiping a fake tear from his eyes, "I love you too Willa."
Willa leaned and kissed Lance then leaned and kissed Justin's cheek. "Have fun boys."
Justin's fake announcement of his love to her smile, but she was still worried as she watched them climb into the limo with the others. Lance stopped as he climbed in and gave her a wink then disappeared into the car.
"You ready hon?" Spanky said breaking into her thoughts. She looked over at him, finding him holding the door of a taxi open for her.
"Yeah," she said and climbed into the car, scooting over so that Spanky could share the back seat with her. She'd grown accustom to dealing with Spanky around. At first it had been a battle, but now that they'd become a little team she couldn't imagine doing anything without him.
Twenty minutes later, Willa took a breath and threw her keys onto the counter after pushing the door open. She let her hand linger on the doorknob and waited until she felt the weight of the door being taken over by Spanky's hand before she let herself fully step into the room. This time she was glad to see that everything was in the same place as she’d left it. She’d worried all morning about coming home to another mess since she’d been gone all day. The whole break-in thing had caused her to be a little overcautious now when it came to locking the doors and making sure that everything was secure before she left.
"What hun?" He asked with a smile following her into the room. He closed the door and gravitated towards the living room as she moved towards her room. He'd slept on the couch the night before, but you would have never known it from the way the room looked. The only remains of his sleepover were the folded blankets on the end of the couch and the pillow that was thrown over it.
Knowing that she didn't have that much time, Willa headed for her room, but called over her shoulder, "Turn on TRL while I pack up my stuff."
"You can’t be away from that guy for even a minute can you?" Spanky’s laugh filled the silent room.
"I can," she said, "I just want to see who is on the countdown today."
"Yeah right!" he mumbled, but Willa heard him.
"I heard that you! Just turn it on," she said with a sigh. "I just want to see what the bastard is saying about me when I’m not around."
"That sounds more like the Willa I know and love," he said with a laugh and a few moments later Willa could hear the television broadcast throughout the apartment.
They went through the normal chatting and joking then the videos were announced for the day. Willa could picture it all as she folded her clothes and stuffed them into the rolling suitcase that she’d just unpacked a few days before after returning from Lance’s.
"Up next, a new bit of news on our guys NSYNC," Carson said as they went to the commercial break just after the number four song. Willa imagined the guys making faces into the camera as they pulled away to commercial.
Thinking that it had to do with the movie deal, Willa didn’t think twice about it and kept packing. She already had three casual outfits packed and was trying to get a fourth one into the tiny suitcase without completely wrinkling it, which at the time seemed way more important than to watch the television screen. She figured that maybe that MTV was going to break the news to the public about the press conference that had been scheduled for the end of the week.
"What?" She yelled.
Spanky's voice boomed through the room. "You might want to get in here!"
When Spanky yelled for her that she dropped what she was doing and rushed to the television set. He'd never sounded so concerned and she knew it must be something important.
"What?" She asked.
"They just showed a clip of that guy Brennan. I don’t know what’s going on, but I don’t think this is going to be good." He looked at her for a moment then reached out a hand and pulled her so that she was sitting next to him on the couch.
Willa’s eyes were glued to the television set as Bryan McFaden delivered the news of the day. Tiny pictures of her, Lance, Brennan, and Amy were behind him on the green screen shot that served as his background.
"In recent weeks the guys of NSYNC have been very busy. After having record sales of 2.4 million in the first week with their US album No Strings Attached, and rumors flying around about their adventures into the world of movies, you’d think that they would have gotten enough of the spotlight. Well it seems as if the successes and downfalls of their personal lives are now bringing them into our living rooms. This morning a press release from Willa Marviani’s ex-boytoy, model Brennan, showed up on MTV’s doorstep. The release accuses Willa’s current boyfriend, Lance Bass, of NSYNC fame, of not only starting a fight at an Orlando New Years party, but also accuses the NSYNCER of keeping Brennan’s unborn child from him."
"No!" She didn’t ever think that she would ever find herself truly screaming at the television, but a moment later a yell came out of her mouth that would have broken glass if it had been at a higher pitch.
As Spanky reached over and tried to calm her down, Willa searched wildly for her phone and immediately dialed Lance’s number.
At the sound of the news report all the guys groaned out loud as if they all could tell that it was a scam and that it wasn’t anything to get upset about. Just another rumor to dispel. It was getting kind of old. Lance took a deep breath and shoved his hands into his pockets. At first he wasn’t sure if he’d heard Bryan correctly. Willa had told him about the report, but the true details of the entire thing had never been revealed to him.
Grounding his teeth together in frustration he prayed that he’d keep his cool. He was pissed off beyond belief that they would read the statement in front of him without asking him about it before hand. It was one thing to hear that the thing had been released, but for MTV, and Bryan, who was a friend of the group, to go on air without clearing or even warning Lance of the news was unthinkable.
"Wow," Carson said when Bryan had finished his report. He looked over at the guys, as if to see what their reaction to the news was before he gave an opinion on the situation. He caught eye contact with Lance then looked away quickly. "You’ve got quiet the little scandal going on there don’t you?"
The anger of the moment welled up in his chest and if Lance would have guessed he would have thought he was having a heart attack. Breathing hard, Lance took a step back and whispered into Joey’s ear, "Get me the fuck out of here before I slam my hand in that guy’s mouth. I know they didn’t clear this with Melinda or Doug or Johnny. What the hell are they thinking?"
"Calm down," Joey muttered and put a hand in front of Lance, shoving him back into position.
This wasn’t the time or the place to settle this matter. Lance knew enough about dealing with the press that he knew he had to take whatever comments came his way. He wasn’t at all going to let this slide off his back, but he was going to act civil until the camera’s went off, then he was going to have a few choice words not only with Bryan himself, but with the producer that let him read that statement on the air.
"What are you doing Joey?" Carson asked with a joking tone as Lance fought against Joey’s arm. "Is this guy getting too much publicity lately?"
"Uh, yeah, I just don’t want him to get a big ego," Joey said, "They’ve already started to call him HOLLYWOOD. We have to keep him grounded."
As if on cue Chris jumped into action and distracted everyone by hamming it up in front of the camera. "Look at me...I’m a monkey!"
"Ok Davy Jones," Justin said with a laugh.
"Not that kind of monkey," Chris said, "A Monkee...here we come, walking down the street!" He kicked his leg out like a miniature Rockettes routine and the crowd cheered.
"Whatever Nutcase!" Justin said and pushed him out of the way trying to get in front of the camera.
"Ok, well lets give this some time to sink in, here is the number three song of the day, from SoulDecision..."
Lance let the voices around him fade away as his anger focused on Bryan. The guy’s back was to him and he planned quickly a way that he could easily jump him from behind. Lance wasn’t at all the physical fighting type, but Bryan had attacked him and Willa without warning and he wasn’t about to forget that or let it go.
"Don’t you even think about it," JC said in a low voice as the screams of the crowd went up as the video played on the screen behind them. With his face only inches from Lance, and their chests bumped up against each other he grabbed Lance’s balled up fist and pulled his fingers from their clenched position. "Don’t you even think about punching that guy. I know how you feel Lance, really I do, but you are not going to attack an MTV VJ."
Lance smiled, "I’m fine. I’m just going to give that guy a piece of my mind."
He stepped forward, but JC pushed him back. "I think right now you’re going to give him more than that."
"And like he doesn’t deserve that?" Lance asked finally making eye contact with JC.
"Of course the guys deserves it, but..." JC gave him a serious, but sympathetic look. "Not now Lance and definitely not in front of the fans."
"Hey, what’s up guys?" Carson asked coming over to them. He moved his way into the huddle almost knowing that the conversation was a private one that the fans a few feet away might be able to hear.
"Make sure that fucker Bryan sticks around. I’ve got a few words for that asshole," Lance said loudly.
A few fans behind him gasped hearing his words. Not thinking about his actions, Lance gave them a dirty look and pushed past everyone. "I’ll be in the green room."
As he pushed through the small studio crowd Wes fell into step with him. He didn’t know if Wes knew how upset he was about the whole thing, but when he saw a production assistant try to step towards him probably to stop him from leaving the set, Wes instantly held the person.
"I think Lance needs a little space right now."
To Wes that was just about as bad as telling someone to fuck off. Lance knew that early on Wes had learned how to persuade someone to step back rather than pushing them out of the way.
Once in the quiet of the green room Lance turned on his phone and immediately checked his voice mail. He knew that Willa would leave him a message. It was inevitable that she would have seen or at least heard about the announcement. It had only happened a moment before, but if he knew her, either she'd seen it herself or Elena had already been on the phone with her.
"Lance, it's me. I’m on my way over to the hotel in a minute. Give me a call on my cell."
"Shit," Lance breathed out.
When Wes entered the green room Lance looked up at him.
"Willa left you a message?"
"Yeah, she and Spanky are heading back to the hotel."
"You wanna ditch?"
"I'm suddenly feeling like I'm getting a cold," Lance said with sarcasm. He coughed loudly then walked out into the hallway, Wes at his feet.
"I'll call the car and get us a ride."
"Call a cab instead," Lance said, "The car will never make it back to get them if I take it. I may be ditching those guys, but there's no way I'm going to leave them high and dry without a ride."
"If you say so."
"So down to the service entrance?"
"But of course," Wes said. He quickly dialed the number of the taxi service that they used when in the city. He ordered a car to meet them at the back entrance.
In the meantime Lance pulled out his two-way pager and paged all the guys telling them that he was going back to the hotel to talk to Willa. He then two way paged Melinda and Johnny and explained that he wasn't feeling well and needed the afternoon off if he was going to last out the rest of the week. He knew that he would hear about ditching the press, but he didn't car. He needed out of there and he needed out of there now.
Willa stepped into the quiet hotel bedroom and shut the door. Spanky had told her that he'd watch TV or something until Lance arrived so as she slid into the room alone she pulled out a set of sweatpants and a T-shirt, her pajamas for the night and slid into them. Her shoulders and neck ached from the tension from the situation and while all she could think of doing was to go and get into bed, she knew that she should wait for Lance. So after crawling into her pajamas she grabbed a pillow off the bed and pushed the door open of the bedroom and went to find a seat next to Spanky on the couch.
"You ok?" he asked.
"I'm a little stressed out. I feel all sore, like I ran a marathon or something."
"Yeah," she said and rubbed her neck as she curled her feet under her and placed her pillow in her lap.
"I know this will sound strange coming from me, but why don't you go take a bath or something? I'm sure you could use the relaxation. I'll leave when Lance gets here."
"As good as that sounds I think I'll wait for Lance to get here before I do anything...and you don't have to leave." Tears welled up in her eyes. "What would I do without you?"
"Probably kill someone."
Willa pushed her hair out of her face. "I am being serious."
"It's all good."
"Don't say it's just your job. You know that it's more than that."
"Really Willa, it's not that big of a deal."
"Yes it is," she said, "Are you going to go home tonight?"
"Wes mentioned to me earlier that I should sleep on the couch in his room tonight. I know you're going to be with the guys for the next few days and you don't need the extra protection, but I think I'll stick around."
"Thank you Spanky," she said and a yawn escaped her mouth.
"Dang girl. It's only about two in the afternoon."
"I know, I know," she yawned again. "I just need a little nap."
"Well go on and get to sleep then. Lance will probably kill you if you don't relax a little. I'm certain he'll kill me if you don't chill out."
She laughed and covered her mouth with the onslaught of another yawn. "Sorry."
"Don't worry about it. Just go get some rest. I'm sure that when Lance gets here you're going to have some talking to do. That'll take a lot out of you."
Willa nodded and pushed herself out of the chair. "If I ever forget to thank you Spanky, just remember, I love you for taking care of me."
"No troubles," he said giving her a reassuring smile.
"Tell Lance to wake me up when he gets here."
"Sure thing," he said.
Willa leaned and kissed his cheek then made her way over to the bedroom door. She stopped and turned in the doorway, "I'll see ya Spanky. Thank you."
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