JUST ME Part Four

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[[TEN]]
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"Come on EJ!" Nick yelled over the booming music.

They hadn't been in the club for more than three minutes, but they had instantly been separated from the rest of the group. As soon as the five members of NSYNC had stepped both feet into the club they, and their respective bodyguards had been absorbed into the crowd. One minute EJ was right behind Lance and the next moment she was alone and being pushed around by the crowd.

"Damn these fucking heels!" EJ swore at her shoes.

The tiny black heels were cute, matching her skirt and the tiny silver buckles matching the silver writing on ther "Rock Star" T-shirt that Bobbie had insisted she change into, but they definitley weren’t the shoes to wear for trying to push through a huge crowd of people. She needed moutain climbing boots or at least steal-toe boots for that.

An elbow knocked her over a little and she fell into the person next to her. "Sorry."

The girl gave her a nasty look and she thought that she felt her kick her, but she couldn't see her feet so it might have been someone else.

Suddenly Nick reached out a hand to her, covering her whole outstretched hand with his palm. He closed his fingers loosly around her hand, got a grip of her, then gave her arm a little tug to get her passed some people. He gently pulled her closer to him, manuvering her around in front of him so that he could keep both hands on her, then pushed her from behind, hands on her hips, as they walked slowly through the crowd towards the VIP area where the group had been immediately taken by security after entering the club.

"You ok?" He asked into her ear as he slid an arm around her waste pulling her closer to him. It had been chilly earlier in the evening and she was glad to have his chest against her back, warming her. He was wearing a black and white short-sleeved Hawaiin print shirt and jeans and black and grey New Balance running shoes. His chin was resting on her shoulder at the perfect height to talk to her while they braved the storm of elbows and drunken bodies in their path.

"Some girl kicked me, but other than that I'm ok." She found herself out of breath, partially from the exhurstion of having to push against the crowd and partially because she was being squeezed up against Nick so hard. "I should have worn running shoes like you."

"Yeah well they wouldn't have gone with your outfit."

"I know, but at least I could have pushed my way through on my own."

When she turned her head to see if he'd heard her she found that they were cheek to cheek. Her lips were only inches from his cheek when she turned and she prayed to God that he wouldn’t move his head. She wasn’t sure that she wanted to start something with him and making an accident turn into an incident wasn’t the way she wanted anything to happen. She nervously gave him a smile to reassure him that she was ok and he moved again pushing her and pulling himself pased a few more people with drinks in their hands.

"Come here often?" She asked with a smile as a man stepped backwards pushing her even further against him. Now they were touching at every point almost from head to toe. It was a slightly uncomfortable position to be in, but she knew she couldn’t refuse his help. She needed it too much right then.

"Yeah," he said playfully. She could feel his breath on her cheek as he spoke in a lower voice, "All the time."

"Oh really?" She asked with a laugh and tucked her arms in as people pushed passed her. She didn’t know what the big rush was, but it seemed as if everyone was trying to get somewhere, except she didn’t see any place around the room that seemed more exciting than another spot.

"We’re almost there," he said.

She turned again and found herself cheek to cheek with him. "Are you sure?"

As they paused for a moment she stood on her tiptoes, but all she could see was people in front of her. They all seemed to be doing the same thing she was, trying to catch a glimpse of what was behind the velvet rope.

"Just hang on a little more and then we’ll be done with this mess." He sounded confident and she hoped that he was, because at the moment she was almost scared out of her mind. With the loud crowd around them and the pushing and proding to get into a better postion to see, she felt more like a punching bag than someone’s date for the evening.

She nodded and put a hand on his arm that was now tightly wrapped around her.

"Lance’ll kill me if I let you get crushed," he said softly. She wasn’t sure if she was supposed to hear that remark. She felt his arm move and watched as he slyly elbowed someone next to them causing them to get the idea that they wanted by. It wasn’t exactl y the method she would have used, but it definitley got the point across.

EJ laughed when the guy gave Nick an ugly look. "Don’t start any fights, ok?"

"Of course not," Nick said with a laugh, "I just don’t want you to get crushed in this mob scene.

When they stopped again Nick looked up then yelled, "I’ve got her!"

EJ let her eyes drift upwards to find that Lance was watching her from his postiong on the balcony. He waved and blew a kiss to her then turned and disappared into the crowd upstairs. She didn’t know why, but she felt angry with him. It wasn’t as if he could have done anything from his position up on the second floor, but she thought at least that he could have watched to make sure that she was ok. It seemed though that he was too busy with the people upstairs to even care where she was. She almost wondered if someone had told him to go look for her.

It took a little extra time, but they soon reached the ropes of the VIP section.

"Thanks," EJ said and kissed Nick lightly on the cheek.

Nick smiled, "Anytime."

"Passes?" The guard at the entrance to the VIP section said.

EJ paniced for a moment. She hadn’t brought a pass, no one had told her to bring it with her.

Nick withdrew the laminated pass from inside his jacket and showed the man. He gave it a look then looked at EJ.

"She’s with me," Nick said. He slid his arm around EJ and leaned and kissed her cheek.

EJ shrugged her shoulders, "No place to put the pass with this outfit."

"Well show it off girl."

"What?"

"Show the outfit off and I’ll let you in." The guard looked her up and down once, then a second time before stepping back a little to take in the full picture.

EJ looked at him then at Nick then did a quick twirl, closing her eyes so that she wouldn't have to look at the way they were looking at her. She didn't like anyone to stare at her too closely and this critique made her feel like they could see right through her clothes. "There. See? Like it?"

The guy smiled and let them through, giving her a purple wristband to wear so that she would have security clearance. "Have a good time sweetie." He wiggled his eyebrows at her, an action that would usually constitute a good swift kick to the balls, but since she had to be politically correct that night she just smiled and made her way passed him.

EJ waited for Nick for a moment as they took the stairs to the VIP balcony. She found herself holding onto his hand, out of habit. He’d saved her from battling her way through the crowd alone and she didn’t want to lose track of him now, after all, she didn't know if the upstairs was going to be as packed as the downstairs.

Nick laughed and squeezed her hand. "That guy probably thinks you’re a groupie."

"That’s fine with me as long as I get up to see Lance." She looked up the stairs praying that Lance would be there waiting for her.

"Well lead the way girl," he said with a laugh.

A few moments later they found the corner where the guys had staked out a booth. Although not everyone was sitting there, she'd seen Joey and Chris at the bar with Kelly and Dani, JC and Bobbie were already dancing, and Justin and Britney were sitting in the booth drinking drinks and talking.

Lance was sitting in a purple velvet covered chair with a girl sitting on the arm of the chair with an arm draped around him. She wasn’t sure how it started, but suddenly a jealous feeling swept over her. She’d worked so hard trying not to make it look like she was with or even interested in any other guys on the trip, but now Lance was standing there in front of her showing, by his actions, that the girl on the arm of his chair was going to be staying there and that EJ wasn’t a reason for him to move.

"Hey!" He said and gave her a wave.

"Hey," she said. She dropped Nick’s hand when Lance didn’t move to get up to greet her or to move away from the girl. She wanted to go over to Lance and tell him off in front of everyone, but she doubted herself. She didn’t know what the story was with them and she didn’t want to overstep the boundaries between them. She had a slight right to feel jealous, after all, she'd come to Hawaii with him, but she wasn’t sure if she was deep enough into whatever arrangement they had to be voicing her opinion of Lance’s new friend.

Fearing that she might lash out and say something stupid that might ruin the rest of the trip, she turned to Nick, "I hate to ask you this, but can we brave the crowd and get a drink?"

Nick nodded then put his hand on the small of her back, "Let’s get to the bar up here. It’s less crowded than the one downstairs.

A few moments later, with no pushing involved, they found themselves belly up to the bar trying to catch the bartender’s attention.

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[[Eleven]]
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"Who's the girl with Nick?"

Lance turned his head and looked at Nick at the sound of Alayna's voice. He'd seen him earlier with EJ and wondered if Alayna was talking about the same girl.

Lance shrugged when he saw EJ hanging on Nick's shoulder as they toasted their cups. "Oh, that's just EJ."

Alayna coughed. "Is she normally that bitchy?"

"What?" Lance's head flipped around and he glared at Alayna. There were a few things in life that he couldn't stand and having Alayna insult EJ seemed to move from a non-existent item on his list to the top of the list in seconds.

Alayna glared in EJ's direction again. "She didn't seem very friendly."

Lance turned and glanced over his shoulder. He hadn't thought that she'd been rude. "She's just a little shy."

"I don't think she likes you hanging out with me."

Lance glanced over and saw EJ laughing loudly with Nick. "Yeah well she doesn't seem that upset."

"She's been drinking. No one seems upset when they're at a party like this and drinking."

"Whatever."

"You two aren't dating?"

"No," Lance said quickly.

"Are you sure?"

"Stop looking at me like that," he said, "Don't you have a man to get all dramatized over. Don't pick on me."

"So you are a couple."

"We're just friends."

"That's the publicity answer Lance. Tell me the truth."

"We've been hanging out. That's all I'm going to say."

"Are you going to talk to her?"

He looked over at her. "She's with Nick."

"Jealous much Lance?" she grinned.

"Alayna...I really don't need this. Do you want to go dance or something?"

"Sure," she said with a laugh.

"What?" he asked.

"If I didn't know you better Lance Bass I would think that you're in love."

"In love?" he said, "I barely know her."

"But you've been thinking about her."

"No."

"Sure, that's why you got up here a while ago and practically had kittens because she was stuck downstairs and the evil look you gave her and Nick was precious. You're too cute."

"Leave it alone Alayna."

"Whatever Lance. If you want to go talk to her, don't worry about me. Just go and find her."

"Alayna, just come with me and dance or leave me alone."

She tipped her head and watched her for a moment, "Fine, lets dance."

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"Hey Nick!" Lance yelled as he followed Nick walking around on his own. He wondered where EJ had gotten off to.

"What's up?" Nick asked.

While Lance felt like he should punch the guy for stealing his date for the night be was concerned about EJ more than he was concerned with dealing with him. "Where's EJ?"

"She left?"

His mind reeled with the information. He prayed to God that she hadn't left to go home with anyone. That would ruin the whole trip.

"Yeah, She went back to the hotel about a half hour ago."

"What?"

"She said she wasn't feeling good and went back to go to sleep," Nick said with a shrug.

"Really?" Lance looked at his watch. It was way earlier than he thought it was and he was surprised that she had already gone home.

"Yeah."

"Have you seen Loni or Wes?" he asked.

"They're down on the first floor watching the guys."

"Thanks," Lance pushed away from him and moved towards the stairs.

He was almost to his goal when Alayna stepped in front of him. THey'd been hanging out all night while EJ had been with Nick and while he'd had a good time with her, he wasn't in the mood to deal with her at the moment.

"Where are you going?" she asked with a flirty smile.

"Back to the hotel."

"Already?" she asked and made a show of looking at her watch although he could tell she probably wasn't sober enough to read the thing.

"Yes," he said and went to push past her.

"Why?" she asked.

He could tell that she was definitely not sober by the way she leaned against him to ask him the question. He knew her well enough to know that she would be acting that way if she were sober.

"I've gotta go Alyana." He tried to be diplomatic about it and step away from her, but every time he moved away, she moved towards him. Normally he and she would go hang out at the hotel, watch a movie and catch up on old times, and although that usually seemed enticing, that night it felt...it felt cheap.

"Don't run away," she said.

Finally he put a hand out to stop her. "I have to go meet up with someone ok? Maybe you can come by tomorrow or something and hang out."

She sighed heavily. "But I haven't seen you in a few months."

"I know, but it's really important that I go meet up with--" He watched her begin to sway a little and held onto her arm. "It's just really important."

"Ok," she said with a tipsy smile. "See you then." She leaned and kissed his cheek, "Have a good night."

Lance got his bearings really quickly and went to find Wes and Loni. He needed to get out of the club.

"Are you sick or something?" Loni asked, "I know it's too early for YOU to go home."

"EJ disappeared back to the hotel and I need to go and talk to her."

"Oh, ok," Loni and Wes looked at each other then instantly agreed that Loni would go with him back to the hotel.

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[[Twelve]]
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Twenty minutes later Lance entered his hotel room leaving Loni so that he could go back to the club.

"I promise. I'm going to go in here and go to sleep. I may be next door, but i'm not going to leave the floor."

"Fine," Loni said and watched him disappear into his room.

Lance didn't have the key to EJ's, but figured that the connecting door would be open so he lightly knocked on the door and let himself into the room a moment later when he heard a soft voice say to come in.

"Hey," he said adjusting his eyes to the low light of her room.

"Hi," she said from where he found her laying in bed in front of the television.

"Why'd you leave?" he asked.

"I wasn't having fun," she said.

"No?" he said.

"No," she repeated.

Lance moved across the room carefully hoping that she wouldn't send him away. She wasn't sure that she looked sick or anything. She just looked tired. "Nick wasn't mean or anything, was he?"

"No," she said, "I just felt like coming back."

"Why?" He took a seat next to her at patted her leg through the mass of blankets that were covering her.

"Just leave me alone," she said with a sigh and curled into the blankets and turned the channel on the television to something else.

"Why?"

"WIll you please stop asking questions? I just want to go to sleep."

Lance held up his hands as if surrendering. He pushed himself up from the spot he'd been sitting in and retreated to the door. "Sorry. I just wanted to make sure that you were ok."

"I'm not ok!" she said angrily.

Lance turned from where he had been leaving to find her sitting up in bed watching him with an angry look on her face. "Well what's wrong?"

"You're wrong!" she spat out and it seemed as if those two words opened a flood gate of some oppressed anger that she had. "I can't believe you sometimes. I mean everyone has warned me that you're a little clueless when it comes to things, but I would have thought that you wouldn't be dumb enough to take a girl on a trip to Hawaii then dump her the first night for some girl in a club!"

"You mean Alayna?" he asked.

"Is that her name?" she asked, "I guess that would be her then."

"WHy are you mad at me. You and Nick seemed to be having a nice time together. I saw you cuddled up against each other most of the night. You didn't seem to be missing me much."

"I...I..."

"Yeah, that's what I thought," he said angrily.

"I can't believe you. I thought you were a sweet guy and you pulled it off for a while, but you're an asshole like the rest of them."

"Rest of who?"

"Every other guy I've ever met in my life!"

"Whoa!"

"What?" she asked, "Are you that dense? I think I've been more than nice to you and I've let you take advantage of that in the past, but really...either fish or cut bait because I don't want to play this yo-yo game with you anymore."

"Yo-yo game?" he asked.

"Before we went to the club tonight you and I were kissing and hanging out then once I got out in public with you you act like I have leprecy or something."

"EJ...honey..."

"Don't call me honey."

"EJ, you don't understand all of this."

"All of what?"

"This is my life. I don't like to live it, but if I show even an ounce of emotion for someone I get ripped to shreds in the press. I can't even look at a girl even at all friendly without it ending up on Entertainment tonight."

"Well then you shouldn't be with anyone."

"And that's my brain tells me, but--"

"But what?" she asked, "It's ok for you to be with Alayna?"

"Alayna has a man!" Lance said, "She has for a while. We get along well when we hang out and at one time there was a little romance, but really all we are is friends."

EJ watched him. "Wait, what were you going to say about your brain?"

Lance approached her and took his seat on the bed again. "I know that this is hard to explain and I'm not sure if I can even understand it myself, but I have a complicated life and as much as I want to just fall in love, it's hard for me to do that. When a girl dates me they don't just date me...it's not just me. It's me, the other guys, my publicist, my manager, the road crew, security all rolled up into this messy package."

"I've never complained before."

"ANd that's my trouble," he said, "I've never met someone like you who is so good about all of this. It's hard for me to handle and it's hard for me to make the next step forward."

"So where does this leave us?"

"In limbo," he said carefully. "I just don't want to ruin something that might be the best relationship I've ever had."
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