The Snap Shots Series:  Picture Perfect: Three


Thirteen:

"Speak to me," Lance said into the phone and threw a pillow across at Justin. They'd decided to hang out that afternoon at Lynn's house since they had a break in their recording schedule with Justin's little brothers. Justin didn't get to see his half brothers often since they lived with Justin's dad in Tennessee, but they were visiting which meant that no other plans could have been made for the afternoon. Lance went along partly because he knew that Lynn would cook them dinner that night, and partly because he missed his own family and seemed to find that the Harless house was a good substitute for the real thing.

The older boys had come over thinking they'd play a little basketball or watch a little television. The two younger Timberlake boys had different plans. They'd decided that a long drawn out pillow fight was called for considering that Jonathan said that he and Justin had started one a few weeks before and never got to crown a winner.

"Hey Lance," the voice said, "It's Doug Brown."

"Hey Doug, what's up in JIVELAND?" Lance asked knowing that the JIVE representative was probably calling him from the office even though it was the weekend.

"Nothing much, other than I got a call today from a certain modeling agency that wanted to confirm the invitation that was sent to one of it's charges." He could tell that Doug was smiling with this one.

After the whole fiasco and reaming that he got from Johnny everyone around the JIVE office and the WEG offices had been trying to smooth things over with the press while trying not to break any of the groups' fans' hearts.

"Really?" Lance said. He was kind of surprised at the quick reaction. He'd thought that she'd resist a little more, but it seemed as if his plan really was working out.

He ducked as Jonathan, the older of Justin's two brother's came over to hit him on the head. He held the phone away from his ear for a moment and looked at Jonathan sternly. "Go get your brother. I have to talk to this guy real quick."

"Ah Lance!" Jonathan whined then turned and ran back over to Justin.

"Don't leave me for two long with these two!" Justin called out.

Lance looked over to see Justin with his youngest brother, Tyler, in a headlock, tickling the kid into a fit of laughter.

"I won't," Lance said with confidence. He put his ear to the phone again. "So Big D, what's with the plans for this little shin-dig?"

Doug laughed into the phone. "Well first off, she's asked for your cell number, but I thought I'd clear it with you before I gave it out."

"Yeah you can give it to her," Lance said with a laugh. He could imagine her getting pissed off and posting it on a bathroom wall or on the Internet, but figured he'd take the chance. He could always get the number changed if he needed to. "So what else is going on?"

"Well according to her booking agent she'll be free the weekend of the ceremonies in New York. She lives in town so she'll be meeting you at the hotel and spending the evening with you. She plans to attend the party--"

"Are you reading this from a press release or something?" Lance asked. Doug was starting to sound like one of those Tele-marketers that didn't speak for themselves, just read from a script.

"Her agent sent me an email that was almost four pages long when I printed it out. I forwarded it to you by the way so you should check it out."

"Great…another stupid contract to look over," he said with a sigh.

"It's the price you pay," Doug said.

"Anyway she'll be free the day of the ceremonies and the day after so she'll be there with you and at all the after parties. She refuses to do any press before hand, other than walking the carpet with group, and she says that you have to pay for her hair and make-up expenses."

"I can deal with that," Lance said. He knew this was going to be an expensive endeavor, but it was worth it, just to see the look on her face when she had to follow him around like a puppy for the evening. "What about her dress?"

"She currently is shopping for one, but she thinks she can get that for free so you won't have to worry about that."

"Look, I'll read over the rest of the email later and if I have problems I'll give you a call and we can work this out."

"Lance, it's a date for God's sake. You don't need a contract to take the girl out."

"You'd be surprised Doug. It takes a lot more than just dinner and a movie to impress someone these days. Willa's just trying to make this so complicated that I'll want to back out."

"Well so far she's doing a good job of it. I'd back out if it were me." He laughed. "So what should I tell her people?"

"Tell them that I'll agree to whatever until further notice."

"Fine," Doug said.

Lance watched Jonathan watching him and knew it was time to get off the phone. "Look. I have a pillow fight to get back to."

"Tell Jonathan and Tyler to be nice to their big brother. If that guy sprains anything I think legally JIVE can sue the little Rug-Rats!"

"Don't let Justin hear you call those kids that or you'll be the one being sued."

Doug laughed until Lance heard the phone click to the off position and silence filled the line.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Willa pushed the door open to the office building that she'd called home her first two months in New York. She had long since gotten passed using the place as a security blanket, but she still marveled in how it was almost like coming home when she walked through the front doors. The modeling agency logos beamed at her as she clutched her bag to her side and held her little paper bag with her other hand. She felt some sense of pride as she walked by the receptionist who told her that Elena was at her desk if she wanted to go and talk to her.

She wove her way through the cubicles and filing cabinets and found Elena on the phone yacking away like she was sitting in her own home instead of in a crazy office.

Willa always admired Elena for that. She had been a model when she was younger, but now in her early forties, she still had the model looks with her long straight blond hair and blue eyes, but had been burned out on the business. She was now helping a lot of people in the agency get the right contacts. Willa's callbacks had doubled since Elena had taken over her bookings and although Willa knew that she got monetarily compensated for her work, Elena would rather eat Willa's grandmother's cookies than get paychecks any day.

When Elena saw her, she smiled then spoke into the phone, "I'll have to call you back on that. The travel arrangements should be made by tonight and you'll get your itinerary in the morning when you stop by."

Willa smiled at the face Elena made as the person on the other end of the phone spoke to her. Elena was making fun of the chatty person on the other end of the line by mouthing the words, blah, blah, blah. "I know that you're nervous sweetie, but really, it's ok. Just trust me on this one."

A moment later the phone was back in its cradle.

"Do I have any messages Oh High Priestess of the Phones?" Willa asked.

"Not unless you brought me those cookies," Elena said.

Willa plopped her paper grocery bag onto Elena's desk and brought out the batch of cookies she'd made the night before and held out a thermos. "I brought you cookies and coffee from Jake's."

"Ah, a woman after my own heart," Elena said pulling off her phone headset she pushed her chair back from her desk. "Let me get you a chair and we'll chat."

Willa nodded and waited as Elena left her cubicle for a moment, returning only a second later with a chair for her.

"So did you find that number I asked for?" Willa said.

"Yes, I talked to Doug Brown over at JIVE this morning and he sent along the number." Elena grabbed out a mug for coffee then flipped her date book a few pages then handed Willa a little card that said Lance's name and number on it.

"Thank you," Willa said taking the card she slid it into her jeans pocket and poured the coffee.

"You know what Willa, you're already ten times as popular as you were last week."

"What are you talking about?" Willa asked taking a cookie. She looked around for a moment to see if any of the higher management agents were around then stuffed the cookie into her mouth.

"Well I've gotten calls from almost every entertainment magazine wanting to get interview time with you. MTV called and said that they wanted you to tape an episode of House of Style, and the E network wants you to do a special for their new behind the scenes documentary show."

Not knowing whether to be shocked or happy Willa just smiled. "Wow."

"Honey, this is great for your career. Of course it's wow."

After she thought about it for a moment she almost hated the fact that she was more popular because of this. It wasn't that she couldn't use the extra PR help, but it meant that Lance had been right all along and she knew that she didn't want him to come out on top on this one.

"Don’t look so distraught honey," Elena said. She ate a cookie then almost coughed it up. "I almost forgot to tell you. Amy called and left you a message. She just got back into town from being in Australia and wanted you to call her. She moved over into the Columbia district…" Elena leafed through some papers and pulled out a phone message sheet and handed it to her. "I know you two haven't seen each other in a few months but the girl sounded like she missed you."

"Good old Amy. She leaves the country for four months and doesn't leave a number for me," Willa smiled.

"I still can't believe that the two of you are so successful now. Its crazy to think that this time last year you both were huddled in that horrible apartment with the other girls just trying to make ends meat and now look at you both. Amy is successful in her acting and modeling and you are about to hit the big time with this whole Lance thing."

"This whole Lance thing isn't going to bring me much," she said, "I've worked hard and that's why I've gotten successful, not because I'm going to be linked to some superstar's arm for s few award shows."

"Whatever you say honey. Either way the two of you are more famous than I ever expected you to be."

"Thanks for the confidence vote Elena."

"Oh you know what I mean," Elena said.

"Yeah, whatever."

"Well anyway honey, I'd love to stop and chat, but work is calling my name," Elena said as the phone rang. "You give your boy a call and make plans and if I don't see you before the VMA's have a good time and enjoy whatever comes with it."

"I'll try Elena, I'll try."


Fourteen:

The vehicle slowed to a stop and the ten occupants in the back of the limousine stared out the window.

"Wow!" Justin said looking out on the far side of the car.

Willa sat for a moment staring at the group of people across the street. It seemed to be the same kind of crowd that showed up at TRL the day she was there, except tonight everyone was dressed up. They were screaming loudly and as the door opened she prayed that she would be able to get through the night ok.

Everyone began piling out dressed to the nines. The women all had on fashionable dresses and skirts provided by some of the biggest names in fashion. The men wore a mix of casual and dressy clothes that left them looking like models, but kept them feeling comfortable.

As Willa slid across the seat towards the exit of the car a hand was offered to her. She looked up and saw Lance smiling at her nervously. "You ready?" he asked as she stepped out.

She nodded and smoothed the short skirt down in the back as she got to her feet. The screams of the crowd got louder and camera flashes began to snap as the MTV cameras appeared before them and began filming. She groaned at the attention.

She loved being who she was, but she'd never dealt with the kind of attention that was focused on her at the moment. She still didn't understand how she'd gotten talked into agreeing to go with him to the MTV Music Video Awards, but somehow there they were and the world was definitely watching them.

Lance slid an arm around her and stood for a moment so that people could take pictures. They were on the far side of the car from most of the fans, but that didn't stop them from snapping away. He then reached for her hand and helped her up the set of steps that lead to a platform where everyone was supposed to stop and wave to the crowd.

There was a flash of activity around her as people ran back and forth and the MTV representative greeted them and tried to explain, over the sounds of the crowd, what the agenda for the evening would be. They first would pose for pictures then the reporters would ask questions then everyone would go inside and find their seats.

A moment later, as the group lead the way, Willa stepped up the step and everyone waved to the fans across the street and the guys clowned around for the cameras for a moment before they stepped down the far side of the platform. Willa had no experience with this sort of thing and watched the other girls in the group and followed their example. They stood with their men, but didn't try to get any of the attention. It was a humbling experience to say the least.

They were guided onto the red carpet that was in a U shape going down the block and coming back so that all the reporters could get their pictures before the groups of people got to go into the building for the ceremony.

Lance had a hold of her hand and didn't really speak to her as they walked. She found it strange since the others all seemed to be enjoying themselves. When they stopped to talk to some reporters the guys left their sides and huddled around the reporter and camera. Willa clutched her purse and adjusted the weight on her feet from one foot to the other hoping that they wouldn't be on their feet for too long. Her shoes were fashionable, but not functional and she needed to sit down.

Lance soon returned and slid an arm around her waist as they proceeded down the carpet. She was enjoying the attention that she got standing by his side and feeling the warmth of his arm around her was more comforting that uncomfortable. Besides, he smelled nice and looked nice and she knew that she was causing over a million girls to be jealous, which she usually didn't pay attention to, but that night it made her feel special.

Lance's arm slid a little on her back and she found that his hand had found itself to a place it shouldn't have been. "Get your hand off my ass," she said and stepped on his toe.

"Willa! Lance!" A group of reporters called as flashes went off.

"Damn Willa. This isn't supposed to be torture…just smile and look at the cameras," he said through his smile. He moved his foot away from where she was digging into his toe. "Remind me to wear steel toe boots next time."

"Lance! Willa!" Another reporter called out to them. "Justin! JC! Bobbee! Dani! Chris! Joey!" The yells got louder and louder the longer they stood there.

"Lance if you don't get your hand off my ass right now I'm going to throw a fit in front of all these reporters and smack you," Willa warned him leaning close so that the bystanders of the situation would think she was telling him something private.

Lance moved his hand and leaned and kissed her cheek then leaned and whispered, "Don't you dare throw a fit Willa." He looked over at Chris and Dani who were staring at him. They must have noticed the tension between the two of them, not that it wasn't hard to see.

"Why not Lance? They've said everything else about me. Why shouldn't they talk about what a bitch I am? That's what you wanted."

Lance stared at her for a moment. "That's not what I wanted at all."

They moved down the red carpet and found where the MTV News people had their cameras set up. They'd been informed on the way over that they would do the red carpet thing then have a short interview with MTV News. The representative that had greeted them at the car steered them to a waiting area while Blink 182 finished their little interview.

When Dave Holmes ushered them up onto the platform the five members of NSYNC detached themselves from their dates, leaving Willa in a group with the other girlfriends.

"Willa, come on up here," Dave yelled.

Willa looked at the other girls and made her way up to the group. Dave was about to start the interview then asked, "Why don't you step over and stand with Lance?"

Willa shrugged and moved so that she was between Justin and Lance.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lance stood next to Willa, but kept his arm from around her. He knew that the reporters had gotten what they wanted from the earlier shots and he didn't want to push his luck with her. After the whole hand thing a moment before he knew that he had to be on good behavior or everything would blow up in his face.

Crossing his arms over his chest he let his hand brush her arm from it's hidden spot under his armpit. He leaned over. "This should be over in a few minutes," he said.

"Really it's not a problem." She smiled.

As they came back from commercial Dave began the interview. "So this is a new year for all of you. Are we going to see some surprises this year from your performance?"

"You'll definitely be surprised," JC said with a cocky smile.

"It's not anything you've seen before," Justin added.

Dave smiled then moved onto the next question. "The new video is up for three awards tonight. Willa, this being your first video, are you nervous about bringing home an award?"

"I'm not nervous at all," she said with a smile. "I mean I just did some acting. It's the director Wayne and these guys' job to be nervous. I'm just along for the ride."

"And what a ride it's been…" Dave said, "So I take it that you and Lance are together again seeing that you showed up tonight."

Lance swallowed hard and prayed that Willa wouldn't mess up what they'd agreed on saying earlier in the day. They'd spoken over the phone four times in the last week trying to figure out how to present themselves to the press. They hadn't been seen together in almost four months and it was going to cause issues with a lot of people to see them in public again.

Willa glanced at Lance for a moment then said, "Yes. We've had a rough few months…" She looked at him and smiled. "It's been sort of that Ben Affleck-Gwenth Paltrow-on again-off again sort of thing, but yeah we're back together now."

Lance held his breath as she spoke. She was flawless in her little speech and she even seemed relaxed. She was playing off the camera and Dave perfectly.

"Ah…troubled love," Dave said with a laugh and said, "Well good luck this evening guys. I hope that everything goes well for the evening and I'm sure we'll be seeing you all around the TRL set in a few months seeing that your new single just came out and I'm sure you'll be bringing by a new video."

"Definitely," Joey said.

"We're shooting the new video next month so you should be seeing it in about eight or ten weeks," Justin said.

As they pulled away to commercial everyone shook hands with Dave then stepped down again and reentered the long red carpet. They were half way through the line and would be finding their seats soon.

Lance saw Willa shiver as the wind picked up. "You cold?" he asked.

"no," she said stubbornly.

"Jesus Christ Willa you don't have to be that stubborn. I may be an asshole in your eyes, but I'm not going to let you freeze to death out here on the street."

"I didn't think it would be this windy. I look great but I'm like a Popsicle."

Lance slid out of his leather jacket and slid it over her shoulders. "Just don't steal it. My cell phone is in there."

"I won't," she said and stuck her arms through the sleeves then took his hand again.

"See I told you this would work out," he said and leaned and kissed her on the lips. "We get along just fine."


Fifteen:

When he heard someone's phone going off he thought to look for his, but remembered that it was in his pocket with Willa. The people around him were staring at him and finally a woman behind him leaned over the chair and said, "I think it's in her purse."

"Ah yeah," Lance said and grabbed the purse. Everyone had been told to turn off their cell phones during the ceremony, but she must have forgotten to do it before she'd disappeared at the commercial break to use the restroom.

"Willa's phone," Lance answered the call.

"Willa?" the voice asked.

"Ah, no," he said and laughed. He wondered if the person would know it was him. He was glad to hear that it was a girl. He might have picked up when Brennan called and he didn't want to even begin to imagine how that conversation might go.

"Where's Willa? Who is this?"

"Well who is this?" he asked.

"I asked you first." The woman's voice came out with attitude much like Willa's.

"This is Lance," he said with a laugh.

"Oh my God. Lance Bass?"

"Ah, yeah that would be me," he said and flashed a smile to the woman who'd pointed out Willa's purse to him.

"Oh my God! She really is dating you! I'd heard from the papers that you two were together, but I didn't believe it. I thought I'd never see that day that--" the voice cut off suddenly. "Is she there?"

"She's in the ladies room at the moment, I think." Lance scratched his head. Was it appropriate for him to announce where she was? He hoped that it wasn't someone too important on the line. He'd already done enough damage with his first announcement and he didn't want to do the same thing with another one. "Do you want to leave a message?" Lance asked.

"Tell her to call Amy as soon as she can." Lance could hear her giggling. "I have to tell her something important."

"Ok Amy, I'll tell her," Lance said.

"Where are you guys right now?" the female voice asked.

Lance looked around. "In the middle of the Metro Opera House."

"Opera?"

Lance laughed. Whoever Amy was, she sure didn't live in New York. Everyone knew that the awards were on that night. It was on billboards and the sides of buses all over the city. "We're at the VMA's."

"OH MY GOD!" the girl yelled into the phone. "You're at them right now?"

"Yes," he said, "Do you have any messages for anyone here?"

"Oh, no." More giggling filled the line. "Just tell Willa she'd better call me."

"I will." Lance hung up the phone without saying goodbye and stuffed the phone back into the bag that Willa had left in the chair when she'd gone out.

The show came back from commercial break and everyone settled into the chairs. Lance was about to sneak out and try to find Willa when she suddenly appeared and brushed past him to sit down into her seat.

"You ok?" he asked leaning over. He touched her hand and squeezed it.

"Yeah, the line was a bitch." She smiled and turned her head to the host who was about to introduce the next presenters.

"Your phone rang a while ago," Lance said.

"Who called?" she asked.

"Someone named Amy," he said.

"Shh!" Chris said from next to them. He was looking at them like he was the responsible one in the group, which Lance knew for a fact was a joke.

"S is for Shad-dup," Willa said rolling her eyes and laughed.

Lance stared at her. "Where did that come from?"

"I did a little research. So sue me."

"AND THE WINNER IS NSYNC!"

Lance glanced up from where they were leaned towards each other talking and was shocked to find the camera in his face.

"Well get up you dufus!" Willa said and pulled him up and hugged him as the rest of the group made their way to the stage. "Congratulations," Willa whispered and planted a kiss on him before he could pull away.

Lance left her side reluctantly. He held onto her hand until the last possible moment then let go of her fingers and walked up the isle and up the steps to join the others at the podium.

Justin was already making the speech. "We'd like to thank Wayne for a great video, Dennis for the choreography, and…"

"And Willa for looking so damn hot!" Joey yelled from the back.

Everyone laughed and Lance watched Willa scrunch down in her seat and cover her face as a Cameraman stuck a camera in her face. The shot of her was up on the big screen above the stage when Lance looked up. It was obvious that she wasn't happy with all the attention.

Before he could dwell on what Joey had said Justin broke out in a little song and did a dance, "We got a moon-man we got a moon-man."

Everyone laughed as they went off the stage and the next presenter came out across the stage. Lance glanced out into the crowd before he disappeared backstage and saw Willa had returned to sitting normally in her chair. He caught eye contact with her and smiled. She waved and was surprised to find her blowing him a kiss.

The guys would be heading to talk to the press. Lance liked to call it "The Line-Up" since it seemed like they were just thrown questions. They weren't as extreme as the whole where-were-you-on-the-night-of-so-and-so, but it was fairly rapid fire while they tried to get a sound-bite or a picture.

Lance didn't listen to the questions until he heard his name mentioned. The reporter shouted out something about him and Willa. "Let's just keep this focused on the video," he said, "That's what we're here for."

Another set of questions was thrown their way and then the guys were rushed into the backstage area. Lance found the clothes that had been sent over with the other wardrobe stuff. He had a black sleeveless shirt and red wind pants and running shoes. They had to perform a medley for four minutes and as Lance sat down to untie his shoes and let his mind go over the routine in his head.

This I Promise You. TV work.

Lance threw his shoes in the tiny locker next to Justin's and slid out of his pants.

Don't forget the timing on the turn. You're first and if you go to early everyone is going to screw up.

Pulling on the red nylon pants he knotted the waste, double tied it then slid out of his shirt and pulled on the sleeveless shirt before looking for the other set of clothes that were going to go ontop of that outfit.

Intro to It's Gonna Be Me.

Lance leaned to snap the snaps of the rip-away pants:

Move upstage and to the right. Make sure you leave enough room between Francesca and Nikki so you don't step on their feet.

When both sides of the pants were secure Lance went over to put on the other pair of shoes he'd wear during the performance.

Melinda had entered the room now that they boys were half dressed and was helping them hang up the clothes they'd first been in. When she got to Lance she looked him in the eye and with a slight smile said, "Breathe Lance. It's only four minutes."

"I'm not nervous."

"Sure and the pope isn't Catholic," Melinda said.

"He's from the bible belt. I don't think he knows who the Pope is," JC said with a laugh.

"Whatever," Lance said.

"He's nervous because his GIRL-FRIEND is out there!" Justin said jumping up and down and pointing at Lance.

"I'm not the circus sideshow guys, Jesus!"

"You kiss your mother with that mouth?" Melinda asked then laughed as she left the boys alone in the room.

They went through their normal pre-show rituals and then stood and waited for the MTV representative to come and get them and bring them to the stage.

"Don't screw with your in-ears Justin or you're gonna be off key." JC warned as the youngest member of the group kept reaching to his belt behind his back to mess with the knobs on the monitor that he was wearing.

"It's going to be fine," Justin said.

Lance kept his mouth shut, but was finding that his mouth was gettting dry. He walked over to a cooler that had been left in the room and grabbed out a water. He was about to take a drink when the door burst open and the MTV representative came in yelling at them that they needed to get going. Lance slammed down a drink of water and had just enough time to put the cap back and to throw the bottle into the container again before JC grabbed his arm and dragged him out into the hallway.

The next ten minutes of Lance's life went by in a flash. They were lead to their starting spots and about five minutes later they were back stage again. The performance had gone great and everyone was telling them how good they'd done. Melinda even was excited as she went with them back to the dressing room.

"Ok guys we need to get you back out there. If you want to change then get to it," Melinda said, "Meet me out in the hall in five minutes."

Lance got changed and was out in the hallway in enough time to go with the others back to their seats.

"Wow!" Willa greeted him when he sat back down.

"Thanks," he said. "Nice, huh?" He watched the stage for a moment then felt her arm curl through his.

"That was great," she said and leaned and kissed his cheek.

Lance stared at her for a moment. "What was that for?"

"Don't all your dates kiss you?" she asked and turned and watched the next presenter.

"Ah yeah," he said and turned his head to watch the stage. "All my girlfriends are just like you." It was said with heavy sarcasm, but he didn't think she even heard him.


Sixteen:

When the final music played announcing the end of the show Willa was ready to go. She'd had just about enough of the whole music video scene. Everyone had been nice to her, but she felt out of place there because she kept thinking that people were making comments about her being there with Lance.

The row of people associated with NSYNC stood up. Everyone stretched, like people do when they're getting up from a long movie and Lance looked down the line. "Where are we headed to guys?"

"Party, party, party." Joey started to do the cabbage patch, which made Willa laugh.

Chris did a little dance too, as if he was trying to compete with Joey.

Chris's girlfriend laughed at him then turned to Willa, and finally, after almost four hours of utter silence spoke to her. "Do you think we can change dates for the night?"

"Don't you dare Willa," Lance said and slipped an arm around her. "She's taken."

Dani made a face at Lance and Willa curled into his hug. She didn't know if it was for show or not, but she was going to enjoy the attention while it lasted. She'd decided about half way through the show that she was going to have as much fun as she could at the after-parties, even if it meant playing along to whatever scheme Lance had planned for them.

The show had been great and the guys had won the awards that they'd come to win, including Viewer's Choice, which was a big accomplishment. Everyone was in a party mood, and although things between she and Lance seemed tense she hoped that the party atmosphere would ease tension. She knew that she could use a good stiff drink to take the edge of and hoped that after everyone got out of the stuff theater atmosphere that they would act like normal people.

JC led the way a moment later and the others followed them out to where the limo was waiting. People were on the streets again cheering, but no one seemed to notice as they all piled back into the limo.

The limo took off without instructions and soon Willa found herself back at the Ritz. The car ride there had been filled jokes and kidding around. Willa sat for most of it with Lance's arm around her as everyone sang along to the songs on the radio. She only moved away from Lance when Joey decided that he was going to stick his head out the sunroof, which landed her next to Justin for a moment, who sang a Backstreet Boys' song purposely off key I her ear.

She didn't understand why they'd returned to the hotel since everyone had been so excited about going out for the evening then Lance explained in the elevator. "The guys and I are going to take showers then we'll head over to Planet Hollywood and go from there. There are huge parties tonight so I hope you're ready for a late one."

Willa nodded and noticed how he still had a hold of her hand even though he didn't need to be since it was just the group in the elevator. He'd taken it when they'd gotten out of the car at the curb and had never let go.

The group in the elevator soon unloaded and everyone went running for their rooms. Lance dragged Willa along and once inside the hotel room started to strip out of his clothes. "Hang out and watch TV while I take a shower then we'll go and celebrate."

Willa didn't know what else to do so instead of watching him undress she searched for the remote and flipped the television on, quickly finding a movie to watch while she listened to Lance bang around in the bathroom until she heard the shower go on.

It was hard to do, but Willa kept her eyes on the television even when she noticed that the door was cracked open a little. She could hear the sound of the water splashing down in the shower and soon she heard a sound. For a moment she thought that Lance was talking to himself for something, but she soon heard him singing.

Thinking quickly Willa went to the door and pushed it open. She couldn't see him behind the shower curtain, but she surely could hear him. She stifled a laugh as he started to sing the sappy love song that he'd chosen to listen to on the way over to the VMA's. She had liked the song that had been on the radio, but Lance was putting his own twist on the song. It was really out of his range vocally, but he still was singing it.

Tell me that you live for love
That forever is never enough
That you wanted all your life to see
That you want so badly to believe
Tell me that it's not just me.

(It's Not Just Me by Rascall Flatts)

When he held the last word out for a few seconds she burst into laughter. She knew she was in trouble when he slid the shower curtain back so that his head could stick out and stare at her.

"What are you doing in here?" he asked.

"Enjoying my own private concert," she said, "I just have a question for you."

Lance wiped soap out of his face and wrapped the shower curtain around him a little. "Now?" he asked.

"Yes now," she said.

He gave her an annoyed look. "What is it?"

"Who sings that song?" she asked trying to hold back a laugh. She'd waited to use this one on someone good and it was perfect for him.

"Rascall Flatts," he said, "Why?"

"Let's keep it that way," she said and grabbed the towels closest to him and ran out of the room laughing.

"Damn it Willa bring me back those towels!" he yelled a moment later.

She was already out into the room and was trying to figure out how to hide the towels so that he couldn't get them. She didn't expect that he would come out of the shower, but when she heard a strange noise coming from the bathroom she turned towards the door.

Lance was standing there wrapped in the shower curtain. She backed away from him for a moment with the towels still in her hands then watched as he tried to corner her. She took a step the other way from him and got past him.

"Willa, just give me the damn towel or we're gonna be late."

"So we'll take a taxi," she said and backed towards the door that led to the hallway. She watched him for a moment and said, "What? Is Mr. Singer a little sensitive about his singing abilities?"

"Whatever Willa. Give me the towel back."

"No," she said with a smile. She backed up some more when Lance came towards her.

All of a sudden Willa seemed to notice something, not that she hadn't seen it before, but Lance was standing there half-naked in front of her. She'd seen him that one day on the set without a shirt on, but now she was standing there in front of him, alone, with him half clothed and she found herself not wanting to look at him. Not that she was at all disgusted by him, but because she thought she'd start to blush if she did look him in the eyes.

"What?" he asked.

"Nothing," she said and stared at him for a moment longer.

"Then stop staring and give me the towel."

Her eyes strayed down his stomach and she found herself not able to look at any part of him that didn't make her blush.

"Stop drooling Willa and give me the damn towel."

Lance stepped forward and grabbed onto the towel in her right hand. He pulled her towards him and tried to get it out of her grasp. When she went to readjust her hold on the thing she caught part of the shower curtain in her grasp and although Lance was only fighting her with one hand while the other hand was on the edge of the shower curtain.

There was a knock on the door just then and Willa turned to step out of the way, but ended up pulling the towel, and the shower curtain with her leaving Lance standing naked and wet as the door flew open.

Willa was half behind the door and could hear a scream of laughter erupt in the hall. She looked through the crack and it seemed as if the whole group was standing there watching Lance as he slammed the door shut.

Willa immediately threw the towel to him. "I'm sorry," she said with a laugh. "I'm sorry."

Lance grabbed the towel up and wrapped it around himself and stomped into the room. Willa could still hear the laughter in the hallway and knew she was going to get it for this one, but somehow the situation was extremely funny and she couldn't help but to laugh along with the people outside the door. That was until Lance grabbed up some clothes and stomped his way into the bathroom, slamming the door in her face when she tried to stop him so that she could apologize again.


Seventeen:

[ Two days later ]

"What'd you do then?" Amy asked between laughs.

"What could I have done? I tried to apologize, but he wouldn't let me."

"So is that when he turned into the asshole?" Amy asked.

"Well he was always an asshole. This is when he grabbed me."

"Grabbed you?" Amy was just as shocked as Willa had been when it happened.

"Well it didn't come out of no where…"

********

Lance returned to the hotel room from the bathroom with a scowl on his face. He'd gotten dressed and had done his hair making it spike up like always.

Willa was sitting on the bed in front of the television, but turned to look at him when he came out. He avoided eye contact with her.

"I'm, I'm really sorry about that Lance," Willa stuttered out.

"Save it."

"But, I really didn't plan for that to happen," she said.

Lance took a breath. "Get your fucking purse and meet me in the hallway."

********

"You let him talk to you like that?" Amy interuppted the telling of the story.

"No, I didn't let him. It came out of his mouth before I think he even realized he was saying it.

********

She tensed up then pushed herself into a standing position. She didn't move, just looked at him with this disappointment in her eyes. Her whole body looked relaxed except for the strange hard look on her face.

"Now," he said through his teeth as he ground his jaw around angrily.

She continued to stare as she blindly grabbed for his jacket on the bed then for her purse that was next to it.

"Leave the fucking jacket." Lance stalked over to her, ripped the jacket out of her hands before she could put it down then grabbed out his cell phone from where it was in the pocket. He threw the jacket back on the bed.

"That--"

"Save it Willa," he spat out at her cutting her off before she could finish. He looked around the room then went and found the room key. He didn't make eye contact with her.

"I'm not in the mood to hear it."

He went to the closet and grabbed out his black leather jacket and threw the coat on before stuffing the phone into the pocket of the new jacket then caught Willa staring at him again he pointed to the door. "Move it or lose it."

********

"You should really take this story to the press Willa, he sounds aweful," Amy said.

"I can't," Willa said.

"Why not?" Amy asked.

"I'll explain it later…just listen to the story for now.

"Fine."

********

Willa's eyes were wide with fear, but she followed his orders. She made her way to the door and opened it for them. Lance walked up behind her, and for a moment their hands touched on the doorknob.

********

"Please tell me you didn't kiss him."

"Of course not," Willa said, "Now are you going to let me finish?"

********

In the hallway Lance turned and made sure the door was locked then grabbed Willa's hand to pull her along to where the group was watching them. She was stumbling behind him in her heels and almost fell once, but his grip on her wouldn't let her topple over.

"That was rude," she finally said and pulled her hand away from him. "I almost fell back there."

"Look," Lance said and grabbed her hand back. "This isn't how I'd love to spend my evening, but since you are here and everyone is expecting us to be there together you'd better act the part."

"Which part would that be?" she asked. "The girlfriend or the prisoner?"

"Give up the dramatics Willa," Lance said with a sigh.

"Dramatics?" she screamed at him. "You haven't seen anything yet!"

********

"You go girl!" Amy yelled.

"Stop it Amy. I need to finish the story."

********

"Shh!" Lance said to her.

Wes looked at the two of them for a moment from where he was standing with the other members of the security crew then turned back around when Lance glared at him.

"Talk about dramatics! It was a joke Lance." She threw her arm up in the air, "Hell! It wasn't even that! It was an accident, but I can see with your fun sense of humor you probably think that I planned that."

Lance raised a hand and grabbed her arm, just under her armpit. He lifted her off the floor a little and she almost fell over again.

"Hey!" she said and tried to twist away.

Lance gripped her arm harder and brought her closer to him. "Stop wiggling around!"

Wes turned around and watched them again.

"Hey big guy, you are a bodyguard aren't you?" Willa said harshly.

"And your point is?" Wes said.

"Well aren't you going to help me out?" she asked.

"I guard him honey, not you, so until you knee him in the nuts or something its not my place to step in." Wes turned back around laughing with the other guys.

"Owe!" Willa said and twisted her arm away from Lance. She flung her arm out and smacked him square on the face.

********

Amy cheered at this news.

********

The sound of the smack echoed in the hall. Willa looked a little shocked herself as Wes finally stepped away from the group and stepped in between them. Wes gave Willa a bear hug and backed Willa towards the wall.

Lance stood and stared at her with a blank expression on his face. From his reaction she figured that no one had ever dared to smack him like that.

"Let me go you big oaf!" she said pushing against Wes.

"Oh now I'm a big oaf. A minute ago I was going to save you from him."

"Let me go or I'll scream!"

"Don't hurt her," Lance finally said rubbing his face where she'd hit him.

"I'm not going to." Wes's voice lowered into a slightly intimidating tone.

"Get your guard dog off me!"

Heaving a heavy sigh Lance tapped Wes on the shoulder, "Let her go."

Willa squirmed away from them both then turned and headed down the hall without Lance.

"Where are you going?" he asked.

"Like you care?" she said.

"Willa. We had a deal. You're supposed to be at the parties with me tonight."

"Well things fucking change," she said. "I'm sure you can handle it. You're a big boy."

"Willa wait."

Willa stopped, but it was only because she'd met up with the end of the hallway. "Leave me alone."

"Willa."

She didn't turn and look at him.

"Willa, I'm sorry."

"Excuse me?" she said and looked at him.

"I'm sorry," he repeated.

********

"He tried to apoligize after all that?" Amy asked.

"Yeah. I'm sitting there scared to death that this guy is going to hurt me and he thinks that sorry is going to make everything better."

"What an idiot!"

"Tell me about it."

Willa's mind drifted a little as she thought back to a few evenings before. Although she had wanted to go home Lance had reminded her that it wouldn't look good for her to be leaving so early in the night since she was with him at the party. She couldn't argue with that fact, one because he was right, and two she was a little afraid that he'd get physical with her again and have Wes or Loni or one of the others back her into a corner again.

Willa heard a beep and knew that it was her call waiting. "Someone else just called. Hold on a second. I'll be right back."

Willa clicked the phone over to the other line. "Hello?"

"Willa, it's Lance."

Her breath caught in her throat. No beating around the bush with this guy…just say your name and give a girl a heart attack.

The bitterness she'd felt a few nights before came to her without warning. "Haven't we already said enough to each other?"

"I know that things ended badly the other night but I need a favor."

"A favor?" she asked. This was getting to be ridiculous now. She'd heard of people being clueless, but after the fight and the coldness they'd kept between them the rest of the night of the VMA's she'd thought she'd never hear from him again. Actually she'd hoped she'd never hear from him again.

"Look," he said with a sigh. "I wouldn't ask if it weren't important."

"Hold on a second."

Willa clicked back over to Amy. "I have to take this call."

"Girl we haven't talked in months, who could it be that's so important?"

"Look I'll call you back," Willa said.

"Who is it?"

"Nobody." Willa said.

"Is it him? Please don't tell me you're ditching me for the jerk!"

"Yeah," Willa said, "I'm sorry."

"You're going to talk to him?" she asked.

"I have to. He called me. I'm sure it's not going to be a long conversation."

"Chew him a new one girl. Chew him a new one."

"I will."

"Call me back afterwards."

"I will."

Willa took a deep breath before clicking over to the other line.


Eighteen:

"Lance?"

Lance had waited for her by looking over the paperwork that had been sent from Florida to him on the road. He sat up from his half lounging position on the couch and moved the phone to his other ear. He stacked up the papers in his lap into a pile and slid them onto the counter next to the sink. The cramped bus living room held not only Lance's office, but was doubling as the NSYNC production office for the morning while they made their way West.

Ibrahim, the Tour Manager, Tim, the Production Manager, and Melinda, the Special Projects Producer were sitting across the small room at the tiny kitchen table all working on that day's schedule. They would later be meeting with the security and the rest of the crew to go over the next few concerts, but for the moment they were all on separate laptops typing away busily.

As soon as the group had left New York a few nights before they'd gone back to continue the tour. They'd played a show in the Mid-West then had driven all night to reach Las Vegas and were now winding their way across to Los Angeles and then would go to San Diego. Those three days in New York had been fun, but for Lance the trip left him with a pile of paper work that not only concerned his NSYNC dealings but also dealt with FreeLance things. He was now trying to catch up with the paperwork while the others slept the morning away. He was still in the clothes that he'd worn to bed the night before, but he'd already had three cups of coffee and had made more phone calls in the hour before breakfast than he would for the rest of the day.

"Yeah?"

He heard her sigh heavily as if this was all a big inconvenience to her.

"Ok, you have five minutes to try to explain to my why you think I'd do you a favor."

She sounded pissed off and he prayed that he could get through the conversation without blowing up at her. At the moment she was making his life a living hell. He'd gotten up that morning to face four different magazines that had their picture in it, which also had quotes from her in them. They weren't at all flattering, from what he'd read. He didn't know if they'd really come from her or not, but just seeing the pictures made him angry. They looked like a cute enough couple, but he'd seen the real look in her eyes in the pictures and she'd been as miserable as he'd been that night. The only good moment of the entire night had been when she'd kissed him right before he'd gone up to accept their first award. It was that memory that he tried to keep in his mind when he thought about talking with her.

"Hello?" she said.

Lance sighed. She was going to make this difficult on him. He'd already tried to apologize for the mess he'd made of their VMA date, not that he really thought that the disaster was his fault, but she was going to squeeze him like a lemon. He could imagine himself having to get on hands and knees and begging her to do this with him.

He wouldn't have even been calling her, but Melinda had insisted that the two of them get involved when the letter had come to them. "It's for charity."

Willa laughed. "What? The charity of Lance Bass?"

At the sound of her laugh Lance tried to count to ten. His anger began to rise.

Melinda was standing there watching him on the phone mouthing the words, stay calm. Lance waved her away from him.

Lance couldn't help it. There were certain things that he could handle from her, but this wasn't the time to be joking around. It was important that they do this together, even if they did hate each other. "I'm serious Willa," he said, "It's for Make a Wish."

"Well if it's something on the professional level, why are you the one calling me?"

"Because I knew that you're pissed at me, but this is important. I can call and have Melinda call Elena…" He breathed in and out and watched as Melinda gave him a thumbs up sign.

There was a long silence.

"Melinda is standing right here if you really want to talk to her," Lance said.

Melinda tried to wave him off, saying that she didn't want to talk.

"No," Willa said with a sigh, "What do you need me to do?"

Lance smiled at Melinda and motioned for her to leave him alone. She was in charge of setting the whole trip back home to Orlando up and she had asked him to call Willa to ask her about it. "It's supposed to happen in about four days. Melinda did an initial call to Elena and penciled it in, but you have the final say. A girl wrote to the two us through the group's fanclub to ask if we could spend the day with her before she goes into the hospital to have surgery."

"What does she want to do with us?" Willa asked, "It’s not like we're--"

"The Magic Kingdom," Lance said, "She just wants to spend the day with us. She saw the two of us on TRL and her sister and her want to spend the day with us."

"So it would be for the whole day?" Willa asked.

"The Make A Wish people wanted us to be with her from about ten in the morning until after dinner time…so about seven o'clock? There is going to be a photo session with her family and the two of us. We'll have security with us the whole day and they are going to have a camera following us around for part of the day."

There was a pause. He wasn't sure if that meant that she was going to say yes or no, but he let the silence hang between them. He didn't want to ruin this now. He might not be excited about seeing her, but he'd read the little girl's letter and knew that this would mean a lot to the little kid and he didn't want to disappoint her.

"Sounds fine with me," she said, "I'd better get on the phone to Elena and get myself a flight and a hotel room."

"Don't worry about it," he said, "I'll book you a flight this afternoon and I'll get you a place to stay. My treat."

Lance sat up when she agreed. He saw Melinda already celebrating. He groaned. He could see this being blown way out of proportion and knew that their trip to the Magic Kingdom would definitely end up in the tabloids. He could see the headlines now. "NSYNC's Lance Bass and Family take a magical trip to Mickey's Mouse House." He would be of course be getting engaged to Willa and the two girls with them would be their love children that were born out of wedlock.

"I wouldn't expect anything less," Willa let out another sigh. "Call me back with the details."

"Willa," Lance lowered his voice and turned to look out the window so that Melinda and the others wouldn't hear him. "If we're going to do this…" He cleared his throat and prepared himself for the backlash that he might receive from what he was about to say. "…We can't fight in front of this girl."

Lance shut his eyes for a moment then stared out the window at a few cars passing by. He didn't know where exactly they were, but he wanted to be to where ever it was soon.

"Fine, a truce for whatever time we're with her."

"Good," he said.

"How old is she?" Willa asked.

"Tracy is ten and her sister Jessica is thirteen."

"Thank you," she said.

As he expected, she hung up without a goodbye.

Lance clicked off the phone and looked up. Melinda had left him alone, but as soon as the conversation was over she was already there waiting for his answer. "Is she coming?" Melinda asked.

Lance nodded and leaned back. "Yeah," he said.

"You don't sound very excited. Isn't she your girlfriend?"

Lance wanted to laugh aloud at that comment. He hadn't really explained the situation between Willa and him. She'd seen the whole mess with them at the VMA's but she'd thought that their fight had been because of the whole shower incident. No one really knew the history of their fighting and he wanted to keep it that way. He figured that everyone already knew too much about his personal life than they needed to. Whatever was going on between him and Willa would stay between him and Willa.


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