[Tuesday afternoon...]

"So we hear that you're living with JC Chasez of NSYNC out in Los Angeles--"

Truthfully Farzana had gotten tired of interviews and hadn't really been paying that much attention to the rapid fire interviewer in front of her until JC was mentioned.  She missed him after only such a short time and wanted to be back in Los Angeles with him at the moment.  "Josh--I mean, JC--and I have been dating for a while now and I've moved into the house he bought two years ago.  He's been on the road so much since I started working on my songwriting that mostly I live there without him, but yeah, we share the house."

The woman looked at her with a slightly mischievous smile.  "So is it serious?"

"Serious?"  She knew exactly what the woman meant, but she needed to delay the information that was coming out about them.  Everyone had been asking questions about them and it saddened her a little to know that people were more interested in her relationship instead of her music, but the fact that they were still interested was a compliment for her either way.

"Are you gonna get married?"  The woman's eyes never moved away from her.

"Married?"  Farzana blushed and looked towards Rodney.  "I don't know.  I know that we're in love with each other, but marriage is a big step.  I think that JC and I are still so focused on our careers that we're not really ready to settled down just yet.  I mean I'm still really young and so is he and I'm not sure that's what either of us want for the moment.  I'm not saying it'll never happen, but for the moment we're just dating and very much in love."

"Is it hard to date someone with a career like his?"

"I don't think it's harder than dating anyone with a job that has them travel.  People always ask me about that and I find that every day people sometimes see their significant other's less than I see JC.  At least with the two of us we can afford to travel to see each other.  I know a few people who have a hard time getting out to see their boyfriend or girlfriend because it's too expensive to fly to be with them."

"So how many days is the most you've been apart?"

"Since we started really being serious, I think it's only been a month apart and that was just recently.  JC went with NSYNC to Japan for a month and I was working on songs for a new group so I had to stay in town."

"Is he the type of guy that calls a lot?"

"He calls when he can.  Most guys aren't big phone hogs and I know that.  He's good about telling me where he is," she sighed.  "Like I know where he's going to be today and tomorrow and this weekend and next week...I may not know what he's doing all the time since that all changes with the passing minute, but at least I know where in the world he is."

"What about your parents?" the interviewer asked, "Do they like your choice in men?"

"My mother seems to be ok with any guy that I've dated.  She always makes sure that it's who I want to be with.  My father on the other hand--"  She looked at Rodney with a helpless look in her eyes and blinked away tears.  "I'm daddy's little girl and he's not going to be happy with anyone I bring home.  He's really protective like that.  It shows how much he loves me even though sometimes it gets a little annoying to explain to him that JC is a good guy with a good job."  She laughs and takes a sip of water.

"Well thank you for being patient with my questions.  I know it's hard to deal with relationship questions."

"No trouble," Farzana says.  "I'm used to it because of the type of relationship I have.  I'm just glad that people are still interested.  I didn't think that people would still be waiting to hear about me."

Farzana shakes the woman's hand and stands up.  She grabs her jacket and purse, shakes her hand.

"Thanks for meeting with me so quickly," the interviewer says.

"No troubles."

"So where are you off to now?"

"Into the studio for another recording session.  I'm working on a soundtrack song right now for a movie that is going to be out in a few months."

"Really?  You're singing?"

"Yeah," Farzana said, "I've been singing off and on for a while, but I've been writing so much I don't get a lot of time to record."

"Well good luck with that.  I'm sure we'll be giving you a call when the new song comes out."

"Definitely," Farzana said.

"Phone," Rodney said handing her the cell phone he'd been holding for her while she'd been doing her interview.

They were leaving the radio station and on the way to the studio.

Farzana grabbed up the phone in her hands.  "Who is it?"

"I wish that I could tell you that it's going to be something good like JC, but it's not."

"My father?" she asked.

"No."  Rodney took a deep breath.  "Your mother."

"Momma?" Farzana felt tears in her eyes.  She wanted to be with her mother, but there was too much standing in between them even if they were in the same city.

"Hi honey."

"What's going on?"

"I just wanted to say that you sounded great this morning."

"You heard?"

"Yeah," she said, "I've kept track of you and when I found out that you were in town I wrote down all the interviews that people have been talking about.  This morning's was great."

"I can't believe you were up and listening to me.  That morning show is insane."

"They asked about JC a lot."

"Everyone has been asking about JC today," Farzana said.

"Are you on your way somewhere?" she asked.

"To the studio," she said, "I'm recording this afternoon, but if you want to come by I'd love to see you."

"I don't know if I can get away honey," her mother sounded sad for a few minutes."

Farzana found tears in her eyes.  "Look momma," she said, "I need to go now, but if you can get away to have lunch with me just give me a call and I'll find a time for you to come and meet me."

"Of course honey," she said, "I love you."

"I love you too," she said and hung up the phone.

If Rodney hadn't pulled her into a hug she would have crumbled to the ground crying.

"Sweetie," Rodney said with a soothing voice, "It's ok."

"I can't."

"Farzana.  You did a good job on the phone with her.  I know it's hard for you, but really you did a good job of talking and making yourself open to her--"  Rodney led them to a bench in the lobby of the building they had been in for the quick interview.

"I can't be in the city and not see her."

"Do you want to go home?" Rodney said, "I'll take you if you want."

"No," she said straightening her shoulders.  "My father will never let me leave if I step foot in the house."  Her shoulders started to shake.  "I'm afraid of my own father," she cried into his shoulder.  "How is a person supposed to live with that kind of fear?"

"You take it day by day and you get through it just like you have so far," Rodney said, "Do you want to call JC?"

"I don't know," she said and started to straighten up a little.  She wiped her face.  "I don't think I can call him right now."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, " she said, "I should fix my face before I go into the studio."

Rodney looked at his watch for a moment then reached and wiped a stray tear off her cheek.  "We've got time.  We'll hit the hotel before you meet with Wendy."

[Wednesday morning...]

Being on the phone in public was definitely a good way to keep from having to speak to anyone.  JC didn't remember the joys of it until he stepped off the plane in New York.  The city was definitely one place that he knew that he couldn't walk around on his own and if he started a conversation with one person, he'd end up spending most of his day stuck there talking.

Taking a night flight was a good thing.  The only people around seemed to be business suits, letting him slide through the airport almost unnoticed.  It only took him ten minutes to get to the car and start his ride to the hotel.  Now he was in the middle of a laugh conversation with Melinda since she'd called him as he stepped off his flight.  She wasn't in town, but he felt like she had her eye on him from up on high or something.

"Does being horny have anything to do with you being in New York early?"  Melinda was laughing when she said it and JC knew that he should laugh too, but hearing her reaction to his early flight into New York wasn't what he wanted to hear.  "Like a little flight to Toronto tonight might be just the thing to get you ready for your talk with Brian tomorrow?"

"Melinda you kill me," he said into the phone as he stepped out of the car, outside the W in Union Square.  He looked up at the building for a moment then smiled at the doorman before he turned back to grab out his rolling suitcase and his backpack.  He stepped into the lobby knowing that the two guards that had met him at the gate would follow him.  "I can't get out to Toronto until Friday.  Farzana is going to be performing--she left me a message about it--so I'm going to go up and surprise her.  I thought I'd make it up there on Saturday, but I talked to Brian and he insisted that I go and see her perform on Friday night."

"Oh," she said, "I'm still surprised that you're here early."

"And that has to do with my sex life?" he asked.

Her laugh came across the line and soothed him.  It was times like this when he could joke with his friends that he felt like a normal person again.  Everything else that morning had made him feel like a freak.  His flight in LA had been late so he had to go to the VIP section to wait and having guards with him always made his skin crawl.  He loved his own crew, but since they were technically on vacation, Tiny and Mike had sent their friends along with him on this trip.  He knew he could trust the guys, but it still was uncomfortable having strangers following him around.  "Well you have been known to be a horn ball."

He practically screeched at the thought of the world thinking that he was a horn ball.  For most guys that would be almost an honor, but when his fans were in the high school and junior high age range there had to be a line drawn when it came to his sexuality.  It was good to show a little of it, but he had sensors to keep him in line.  "By who?"

She laughed.  "By everyone!"

"Whatever," he said and looked around to see if he was taking up too much attention in the room.  He hated to feel like he was sucking up all the attention in a room.  He never had asked for that part of his fame.

"I wish I could see that paranoid look you have on your face right now."  He liked the sound of her laugh almost as much as he liked Farzana's.  "You don't have anything on your ass Josh."

His sarcasm couldn't be held back, it was the only way to keep himself out of trouble with Melinda.  "Thanks for the vote of confidence Melinda."

The beeping sounded in his ear telling him that a new call was coming in.  "Do you need to get that?" she asked ask if she knew the pause in the conversation was a signal that he was distracted.

"Maybe," he said, "Hold on."  He moved the phone to look at the screen and when he saw that it was Lance calling into his phone he knew he should answer it.  "I should get this.  It's Lance and he doesn't usually call me so I think--"

"Tell Mississippi that I said hi and that I want to see him and Colleen out in Florida in a few days because I miss them."

JC laughed a little.  "Ok."

"Love ya," she said.

"Love ya too girlie.  I'll call ya later on and check in with you after this meeting."  He laughed, "Don't schedule anything for me until I talk to you again.  Ok?

"Sounds like a plan."

He clicked over to the other phone line.  "Hey Lance."

"Hey C--"  He sounded like he was in a car somewhere.  There was the sound of the wind on the phone and some honking.  "I hear you are in the big apple."

"You heard right man."  He pushed his way through the doors into the lobby of the hotel without hesitation and moved towards the front desk knowing that the guards had already checked in and they would meet him there.  "I am meeting with Brian tomorrow, presenting a song I wrote for him to the label."

"Cool."  It sounded like Lance's car had stopped and that he was getting out to go somewhere.  "Man--"  There was a noise and JC imagined that his phone was being pressed between his chin and his shoulder so that he could sign some autographs or something since there were a few younger voices around him.  "You have plans for tonight?"

"Nah just wanna get some dinner."  The desk clerk handed him paperwork over to him.  He read over it quickly then signed his name and shrugged.  "I'm not in a partying mood tonight.  The only exciting thing I'm gonna do tonight is call Zana before I go to bed."

"You sound like me.  I call Colleen and leave her messages if she's not home.  Mind if I join you for dinner?"

"Of course not man."  JC was handed his key and he took it across to the elevator.  "What do you say to getting some good Italian down in Little Italy?"

"Sounds great. Meet you in the lobby at seven?"

"You staying at the W too man?"

"Got in last night for a meeting about the girls and I'm leaving tomorrow night."  He laughed.  "I gotta run, Tiny is trying to make me get off the phone.  Seven ok for dinner?"

"Yeah," he said, "I should be done with Brian after lunch sometime so seven sounds cool."

Lance laughed some more then finally said into the phone.  "Alright see ya then.  Don't let Carson know you're in town or he'll be having you up on the show."

"He's already put a call in to me about seeing me later on this week, but he doesn't know I'm here yet."

"Still, if word gets out--"

"I'll keep that in mind.  See ya."

JC hung up the phone, adjusted his bag on his shoulder and turned to the guys with him.  "I've got dinner plans with Lance.  I don't know if we'll need to two of you."

"You'll take the two of us.  After the last time you and Joey got stuck on the subway when you went to go get movie tickets, we're not taking chances with any of you guys again."

"Fine.  Fine." He grumbled.

He stepped up to the desk and checked in and made his way to his room.  He'd have enough time to shower and change before his lunch meeting then might have enough time to come back and maybe catch some sleep before he ended up going out with Lance that night.

Farzana's head was spinning.  She'd been in Toronto for only two days now and waking up again in the city was stressing her out.  She moved through the lobby to the cafe looking towards her feet.  "What time is it?" she asked looking back at Rodney who had become her shadow again.  She really didn't have a clue what'd she be doing right now if he hadn't been there with him, probably freaking out more than she was.

"It's almost nine," he said, "Hallie is probably in there ordering coffee or something.  You're fine.  You're not late."

"Are you sure?" she asked.

"Yes," he said, "You've got time for breakfast.  Damon isn't expecting you until eleven-thirty anyway."

"Thanks Rodney."  She paused and he almost ran into her.  "In case I forgot to tell you."

He smiled at her.  "No trouble."

The small cafe was packed with people.  Fifteen or so tables of two and three person parties dined on small breakfast rolls and eggs and bacon and coffee.


She turned her head and found Hallie standing in the corner of the room.  She hadn't seen her friend in such a long time that it took a moment to even recognize her.  When she'd last seen her friend they were both still in high school wearing school uniforms and being nice little girls like their daddies told them to be, but now Hallie had taken a more relaxed persona, wearing jeans and boots and a shirt that looked like something that should be worn on stage, not to be worn to breakfast.

"Oh my God!"  It wasn't at all an insincere greeting from her friend.  They hadn't seen each other in so long that it was a shock to finally meet up again.  They hugged and Rodney pulled up a chair for himself.

"Hey Rodney," Hallie said and leaned to give him a hug.

"Hey girlie," he said, "Did you get over here ok?"

"Yeah," she said, "It's not that hard now that I'm in University.  I can get mornings off if I want."

Farzana frowned at the mention of school knowing that she should have probably been in her classes with her.  If her father had his way she would have been.

"I don't want you skipping school for this," Farzana said.

"Oh no," Hallie explained.  "I had a study group meeting this morning, but I made plans with them to study over the weekend."

"I don't want you to get into trouble," Farzana repeated.

"It's ok," Hallie said, "Just tell me about Los Angeles and how JC is."

"I talked to you a while ago."  Farzana took a napkin and wiped the table.  "Everything is fine."

"He's working this week right?" she asked.

Farzana couldn't help but have her eyes widened.  She remembered what day it was.  "He's in New York this morning."

Hallie seemed way too happy about talking about JC.  "Have you talked to him?"

She sighed and wanted to laugh.  She was going to sound so silly for saying it, but she felt like she hadn't seen him in years.  "I talked to him Monday night and got a message from him telling me that he was going to be cramming to get the song he's working on done by the time he got to New York so I didn't talk to him last night."

"Are you going to call him?" she asked.

"No," Farzana wasn't at all the clingy type.  She had talked to JC every other day when he'd been gone to Europe and would have only called him probably Wednesday if she'd stayed home in Los Angeles while he'd been in New York.  "I'll wait until we finish having breakfast.  Knowing him he's not even awake yet.  Besides, I don't want to be rude."

"No," Hallie said, "Call him.  I know you guys are so cute together.  I wish you guys were on television more so I could see you guys together.  He always looks so sad when he goes out and you're not there."

"Like on what?"

"I saw something on the internet from when he was in Japan."  Hallie frowned.  "Someone filmed him in the lobby of the hotel they were staying in.  He seemed tired and depressed."

Farzana kept her mouth shut.  She didn't want to be strange about this, but Hallie was starting to scare her.  She hadn't been this teenie the last time they'd seen each other.

"I'm sorry."  Hallie put a hand on her arm.  "I don't mean to be so childish about this.  I'm just excited for you Farzana.  You have it all.  You go to all the good parties, work with good groups and people, and have this amazing relationship.  It's hard not to get excited about it."

"It's ok," Farzana said, "It's far from perfect, but I have been blessed with a man who is very understanding and I think that's more important than the other stuff."

A waitress came and took their order and Rodney went to go get a newspaper then came back and spread it out on his half of the table and began to read it.

"When do you see him next?" Hallie asked.

Now she was getting annoyed.  Farzana would have rather talked about home and their friends than her life in Los Angeles.  "He should be up here this weekend.  We're planning to hang out together then he's gotta be in New York for the week, then I finish up here and go back to see him in New York and we fly home together."

"Really?" Hallie said, "All that traveling must get expensive for you."

"This trip I think the record company is going to pick up since I'm doing all these interviews and stuff, but I don't know.  I don't have any work being put out right now."  She sat back in her chair and hated that what she was saying sounded almost like bragging.  "I have songs being performed by that group I've been working with and then the song I'm working on now, but nothing current so it's up to the Finance Department to see if they want to flip for the bill or not."

"Still," Hallie said, "I bet it takes a toll on you."

"Can we talk about something else?"  Farzana asked.  It made her homesick to think of him which was a very conflicting thing.  She normally would have been thinking about Toronto and feeling that way, but now that she was here she wanted to be home in Los Angeles. "How are things with school and with all the guys around town?"

"Good," she said, "BJ and I hang out every once in a while.  He misses you."

"I miss him too, but Daddy isn't at all being nice about having his visit."

Hallie leaned her elbow on the table.  "Has it been that long since you've seen him?"

"At least six months or so," she said.

"Turn around," Hallie said suddenly.

Farzana turned in her seat and found that her brother was standing there behind her.  He wore his private school uniform, with the tie undone and still hanging around his neck and had a worried look on his face waiting for a reaction from her.

"BJ," she said and pushed back the chair so fast that it fell over.  She launched herself towards him worrying that he'd disappear if she didn't get a hand on him.

A few people stared at her as she started to cry as she hugged her brother.

"Dang," he said, "I skipped school for her to cry on me."

Farzana pushed away from him.  "You skipped school?"  She panicked as if her father was going to pop out of the woodwork and grab her right there.

"Yeah," he said, "Mom told Dad that I had a dentist appointment this morning so I got to drive over here myself this morning."  He looked at his watch.  "I've got about an hour before I should be back at school just to make it look real."

Hallie laughed a little.  "Come on and sit down.

JC slid out of the shower and looked around the room.  He hated this feeling.  He was in New York to work, but being a day early and not having anything to do that day was killing him.  He normally had too much to do and had to rush to do everything, but that morning he'd gotten into his hotel room and had taken a long shower and was planning on shaving, which he knew would take at least a half hour if he did a good job with a wet razor.

"Shit," he sighed tiredly.  It was only noon, but he felt like he'd been up for a few days now since he hadn't slept well on the plane.  He looked at himself in the mirror for a moment then slid out into the bedroom to get dressed.  He hadn't unpacked really, just had thrown his bag open enough to get out stuff for a shower before turning on the radio so that he could hear it in the room with him as he showered and now it was playing a song that made him think of Farzana.

somethin bout the way you move always gets me in the mood
and every lil thing you do makes me wanna get with you
maybe its the way you flow that makes me wanna lose control
well maybe I should let you know
anytime boy just say so

After he'd pulled on boxers and his jeans he went over to the bathroom counter.  He danced along to the song and decided that as soon as he shaved he was going to call Farzana.

anytime you want me just say so
cause when it comes to you I cant say no
there's somethin about ya babe
I aint livin without ya babe
so ill let you know
anytime you want me just say so

The thought made him pause a moment and take it all in.  He'd never felt this way with anyone that he'd dated before.  He had usually called his other girlfriends to unload his feelings on them or call them when they needed to unload on him.  With Farzana things were different.  He didn't feel as if he needed to call her to get out his frustrations.  He wanted to celebrate with her today because of her gig on Friday and because he finished the lyrics for the song.

there's somethin bout the way you smile
always seems to drive me wild
maybe it is just your style
that makes me wanna stay awhile
we can take it nice and slow we can turn the lights down low
don't nobody have to know i wont tell how far we go

Shaving took him only fifteen minutes.  He tried to be as slow and careful as he could, but he still seemed to be doing things in fast motion like he needed to get somewhere.

He found himself fifteen minutes later sitting on the couch in his boxers, newspaper spread out over the couch reading again.  It was then that he decided to call Farzana.  He dialed the number and felt his heartbeat race.  He felt like he was calling a girl he liked, but never had asked out.  He was going to have to ask her to marry him soon or the anticipation of that question was going to kill him.

Her voicemail came on and he left her a message.  "Hey Zana.  It's me.  I'm gonna be around for another few hours and then head out to dinner with Lance.  I heard that things are going well for you in Toronto.  I got your message about the gig on Friday.  If I didn't have to stay in town to record, I'd be there.  I'll probably send you a little something before you go on though...maybe call me and talk to me before you go on, ok?"  He sighed.  "Well, I'm sure that you're having a great time.  Keep me posted about your schedule.  I love you and I'll see you in a few days.  Call me."  He paused.  "Bye."

The song JC hears on the radio is:  Anytime You Want Me by Mya.

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