The flash bulbs go off as they step out of the car.  I pull my walkie-talkie headset into place, step behind and to the side of the door to present my smile as I point towards where they should start.  If someone were to take a picture of me, all they'd see would be a bodyguard with a little scrawny arm sticking out from behind him.  Ahhh, my fifteen minutes of fame, what a memory.

I hate being a wrangler.  It'd be an easier job if I was working with real animals instead of the people I work with.

The Oscars.

Who the hell would have thought that we'd be at the same venue?  The bane of my existence is that we never are at the same place at the same time.  It's the way I've come to exist in the world and for him to be here is like an act of God--or JIVE Records, whichever comes higher on your list of Powers at Be.  He never shows up to crap like this.  That's the whole reason that our relationship works.  He has his and I have mine and never shall the two meet.  Never shall they meet until HE gets the brilliant idea that he wants to do movies then when his small sidekick type roles doesn't fly he thinks that movie soundtracks are more his style.  I'm proud as hell of him that his song got noticed considering it's his first solo effort, but DAMN IT when it comes to him showing up at MY WORK.

There he is in all his glory with his stuck up ass suto-girlfriend on his arm.  I wish Eric and the other security guys would gang up on her instead of the innocent girls that are in the crowd trying to get a piece of him.  Let strangers pull him limb from limb, but get her the hell away from him.

A crackling noise sounds in my ear and a short laugh comes across the line.  "Look.  It's Prince Charming."

"Shut up Kelley,"  I say under muttered breath. "You're such a bastard.

He turns and looks at me for a split second, confusion running wild over his face.  He does this look, hiding it from the cameras in front of him and making it part of what has become a routine.  His move to hold HER hand.  His fingers slide through hers and lock there in place.  I notice the way he leaves his fingers a little lose around her fingers, but still makes it look as if they're connected and never to be parted again.  My eyes scan up their arms.  He's in black and white Armani tonight, a classic look for an Oscar rookie.  I saw the suit the other day in his closet, but it looks insanely better on him rather than on the hanger.  And he smells better than the inside of the bag that the tux was hanging in.

Flashes blind me as the photographers take aim at the spectacle before them.  While everyone oohs and awwes over him all I find myself thinking is that I wish I could have had sunglasses as part of my dress.  At least then I could make faces and roll my eyes at the two of them and not get caught.  For the moment I try my best not to stick my tongue out or throw something.  She's horribly happy at the moment and so is he, or at least he's faking it well.  I personally think he's faking it too well.

Her head turns to the side.  She puts on that great fake "I'm friends with everyone smile" and waves with that beauty queen flipping wave that shows off the manicured fingernails and the sparkling ring on her finger.  It's not an engagement ring, but anytime a woman wears a ring around him everyone has an orgasm...like it's such a turn on to see him giving out rings.  If they only knew him.  He's not about to give out a ring. 

I frown.  Maybe that's just something he's told me.

"The Ice Princess has a new sparkly," the voice in my ear says.

I look across the crowd and find Kelley escorting Calista Flockheart and Harrison Ford down the isle.  "At least mine weighs more than a paperclip."

Kelley scratches his face, his lower neck near where his scruff of beard is growing in, throwing me the finger in the process.  "At least mine doesn't suck face in public."

My head flips back to my charges just in time to see his head turn.  He places a kiss on his date's cheek then glances at me.  He swallows.  I can see his Adam's apple pause for a moment and I secretly hope he chokes.  It would serve him right for even coming tonight.

She must have felt the hesitation in him because she turns and looks at me.  "Oh, hey Tammy."

"Hi," I wave nervously at the two of them and duck behind Eric's shoulder and behind Mike and Roger a little as they slowly move down the red carpet further.  I know I should be up in the front, but there is no way that I'm going to be put on camera with him.  It's too much of a temptation for me.  If there was actual proof that we were in the same place at the same time I might actually think that it's all real, but it's not, just like the way he acts with her.  I know in the back of my mind that it's not real, but no one wants to see HIM with someone like me and with my position at the moment I know I'd lose a lot of credibility if people found that I was dating a boy-bander, especially since I met him while working last year's show.

We stop at five stations that I've picked out for him.  Two are Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight, the third is a reporter from MTV and the fourth is BET's coverage.  The last is a spot where he can be photographed by not only the fans, but by the pros again as if he'll look different at the end of line than he did at the beginning of the line.  I'm hoping that she gets tired and sneaks away from him a little so that they can get shots of him alone, but I'm not sure that it will happen that way.

We are at the fourth station before anyone even notices her as anything other than the star of the movie he worked on.  I think people still haven't gotten word that they are "dating".  It's totally a Jive inspired idea, but their PR people must be slaking because no one here is thinking of them as a couple just yet.

"So who is this lovely woman on your arm?"

If I've ever had to hold back my comments, tonight is going to test my strength and ability to keep my cool.  I have to get this stuff done and do it professionally.  My job relies on it and if I were to mess this up for him he'd hate me forever.

"This is Jasmine Long," He says and slides an arm around her back.  "She and I met while working on Quincy's Promise earlier this year."

They babbled on about the movie and the dress and his tux, but all I could let come into my realm of consciousness was the fact that his arm was around her and his hand was almost on her ass and when he spoke his mouth turned towards her as if he was speaking into her ear.

Shivers go up and down my spine when I think of that. I hate it when he does that to me.  He knows I'm ticklish.

Finally when they get to the final photography stop I move them into place then step back a little.  To my surprise a few people are calling my name in the crowd.  I smile, but don't wave.  This is his night and even though I know some fans know about me and him, I'm not going to pull attention away from the publicity event that is going on in front of me.  He and her are the perfect couple to take Quincy's Promise to the next level.  If he'd actually been in the movie I have a feeling that he would have played her leading man Roger Tufts.  They would have done well in those love scenes.

"What the hell am I thinking?" I mumble to myself.

His head turns and he glares at me then his expression turns into worry.  His arm slips from around her and he takes her hand again and whispers something to her.  She turns to look at him then lets her eyes move towards me.

I hate her.  I hate her.  I hate her.  She sneers at me without letting the crowd see then turns back to him and plants a kiss on him.

Taking a breath I move away from the outside activities.  I can't fathom what is going on.  He wouldn't do this to me.  He couldn't do this to me.  If the situation was reverse I know for a fact that he'd deck the guy that put his mouth on me, but right now, when I turn back towards him, he is looking at the crowd and waving as if nothing has just happened.

*****

"We need a filler," I hear one of the ushers call out into the hallway.  I move around a few security guards and wave.  I know I'm not required to do this, but getting a seat for a few minutes with probably a great view isn't at all something I'll pass up.

"Tammy.  You're a lifesaver.  I need you to sneak up to the third row and take over Monica Anderson's seat."

"No," I refuse remembering from the layout of the seating that it's the seat right next to HIM and the girlfriend.

"Tammy."  The usher makes a face to show his irritation, "This isn't a time to argue."

"No," I refuse again.

"Look.  Either get your ass up there or get out of here.  I need this right now and you're the only one out here who has clearance to go up there."

"Fuck," I sigh and step through the door.  I find myself watching Monica Anderson making her way up to the stage as I slip into her empty seat.  It's rolls into darkness as a clip of the movie she's introducing comes onto the screen.

"I'm sorry," I hear next to my ear as I sit straight in my chair trying to pretend like I don't know him.

"I'm sorry," he repeats.

Silence follows.

"So you're not going to talk to me now?"

"Stop it," I hiss at him and turn to see his eyes searching my face in the faint light of the room.

He truly does feel bad.  I can see it in the way his pupils dart around and don't land on me for too long.  "Please don't be mad at me."

"You kissed her," I say simply.

"What am I supposed to do?" he asks.

"Nothing," I say as the lights come back up.

We stand and clap as Monica Anderson walks off stage and the host of the evening comes back onto the stage to announce the next category.  The lights come up in the room and I get nervous.  When a camera person comes to sit next to me I pull off my headset and stuff it into the chair and fix my hair a little knowing that middle America doesn't want to see one of the nominees for the night sitting next to a handler.

"Smile Tammy," he mutters as the nominees for Best Song are read out by his date Jasmine who I hadn't realized until then had been absent from this little scene between us.

"I am," I mutter back.

"I said I was sorry," he says in a low voice.

"Quit it," I say between clenched teeth as a camera man moves into position to get him on camera for the announcement of his song.

"And Lance Bass's It Was You, theme song from Quincy's Promise--"

"Congratulations," I say more for the camera than him, then mutter, "I don't think I told you that this morning before I left."

He his hands stop, mid clap, and looks at me.  He rolls the word around in his mouth before he finally speaks,  "Thanks."

"And the winner is..."

I hold my breath and watch him grab the seat handle next to my elbow.  It's out of the way and no one will notice the skin to skin contact between us.  I move my elbow over and touch his skin and find that his hands are sweaty, even on the back side.

"It Was You--Theme Song From Quincy's Promise,"  The announcer sounds more excited than she should.  "Accepting the award tonight--Lance Bass."

Lance covers his face with his hand and looks at me for a moment.  I stand up to let him go.  He starts to reach and hug me and I nod my head no bite down on my lip to keep from crying.  I should be the one hugging him and congratulating him and relishing in the attention that he's getting.  Instead I find myself trying to slip passed the cameraman so I can make my way out of the room, away from the messed up situation and the feeling of dread that has finally settled onto my shoulders.

"Thank you everyone."  There is a long pause, but at this point I'm already up to the door of the theater and on my way out.  I turn just for a moment as I'm opening the door and I see a worried look on his face.  He watches me for a moment, makes eye contact with me somehow across that great space, then clears his throat and starts his acceptance speech while I find my way out into the lobby, out the front door and into some fresh air.  I know that in any other time or space he'd come after me and smooth things over, but now ISN'T the time or the place so again I'm left on my own waiting and wondering when I'll ever learn that I can't have my world be the way I want it to be.

*****

It's an hour and a half later when I finally see him again.  I coordinate their ride, getting them back to the limo that will take them down the three blocks to the winners gala.  It's such a strange place to be in, coordinating a date for the man I'm in love with, the man I live with, the man I hope to marry.  This time when he walks with me to find his ride he's taken off his jacket and slung it over her shoulders.  He doesn't hold her hand and lets her walk ahead of him, minding the back of her dress as they walk.  I walk on the far side of her from him and watch the way he interacts with her.  He fakes being tired so he doesn't alert anyone to the problem that he's dealing with, but I know the brooding look in his eyes and know that this is the last I've heard of this issue.

"Thank you Tammy," Jasmine says as she glides into the car.

"No trouble," I hear myself say in a monotone voice.

"Tammy?" Lance pauses for a moment and I close my eyes knowing that if I look him in the eyes I'll burst out in tears and the whole incident will end up on the front page of the enquirer the next day.

"Congratulations again on the award."  My lips are chapped and I lick them then open my eyes.  He's leaning against the car door and scuffing his toe into the ground.  I want to tell him to stop, to tell him that it'll ruin the shoe and that his stylist will kill him, but I don't.  Instead I curse him a hundred times in my mind for giving me that pouty look he's got on his face.  "It's an honor to have been a part of it."

He blinks a few times, scratches his neck then takes a deep breath.  "It certainly was memorable."

He disappears into the car and I step back onto the curb and watch the car slowly inch down the street.  I wish there was no traffic because as long as he sits there stuck in stop and go traffic, the longer I have to stare at the limo and wonder what's going on inside.

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