Beautiful Disaster by Music Diamond

The Carry On, Love is Coming Remix by

The sun, he come, the world
is all full of light

Nick felt the prickle of eyes on his back and looked over his shoulder at the dock, half expecting a star-shocked girl. Instead he saw a male silhouette, and he squinted against the sun. Nice body, flip-flops, checking him out and… Whoa. JC Chasez had just totally checked him out. JC recognized Nick in the same moment, and they said the usual awkward near-stranger things. Then JC asked him about Sky Passing Sweetly, and he babbled happily for a while, until he realized JC was getting restless.

No one wants to hear about your boring old boat, chanted the chorus of ex-girlfriends in Nick's head. Sure enough JC took off, leaving Nick lonelier than he'd been since coming out here for this break.

Out on the water he pulled out his notebook and tried to recapture that moment of seeing JC and the way the sun behind him had blazed with blinding potential before he was just a business acquaintance. But that was lost to him, he got nothing more than the sinking feeling when the moment died. So he put away the notebook and lost himself in the boat and the sky.

He tried to let it go, but he couldn't. It was the strongest attraction he'd felt since, well, in a long time, and he just couldn't let it go so easily. Nick thought about it for a while, imagining walking over to Justin's and knocking, but instead he picked up the phone.

"Nicky, whassup? I thought you were incommunicado."

Why did AJ always use words like that? "Nah, just hanging out. Got a question for you, oh master of gossip."

"Gossip, huh? Hit me."

"JC Chasez. Does he do guys?"

"What? Why are you asking?"

"Just answer the question."

"I know you have this faith in my straight man gaydar, but it's not like I have a list I can refer to. I'll have to ask around, and people will be wondering why, and I am not going through that if it's just your idle curiosity."

"He's here. Next door, at Timberlake's place. And he was totally checking me out, I think he was about to hit on me. Then he recognized me and backed down. But then we had a moment, and then he ran off. So I don't know what to think."

"A moment? What kind of a moment? Like a you want me, I want you moment?"

Sort of, but that wouldn't get AJ to help him. "Like I said something and he said something and it just sort of clicked. Like maybe we think a little the same or something."

"Hmm," AJ said, and Nick waited silently but impatiently. He'd learned long ago that nagging at AJ just made him do the opposite of what you wanted — which was true of Nick himself so he recognized it in AJ. Too bad Kevin had never figured that out about either of them.

Just when Nick thought he couldn't keep his mouth shut one more second, AJ said, "Let me make some calls. I'm not promising anything."

"Thanks man."

He bummed around for a while, trying to read his new magazine, but he was too restless. He picked up his guitar and was playing with the song that was almost finished, the one about the way his last girlfriend had ripped out his heart and pissed on it, when his phone finally rang.

"AJ, hey," he hoped he sounded more casual than he felt.

"Hey yourself. You owe me."

"So what's new?"

AJ snorted. "Apparently JC is non-practicing."

"What do you mean?"

"He flirts with guys, checks them out, has been known to totally crush on guys, but no evidence of acting on these inclinations. Yet picks up women constantly."

"Huh. Kind of like you."

"I do not crush on guys!" AJ was so cute when his voice got all squeaky and defensive like that.

"Yeah, you never watch Kevin in the dressing room."

"No, that was you watching Howie."

"Maybe, but what about your little David Bowie fixation?"

"That's not a crush, I'm just a fan."

"Uh-huh. I'm just saying, you may have rewound that one part of Labyrinth with the crotch shot a little more often than any real straight man would have."

He wasn't surprised when AJ hung up.

A new day, a new way, and new
eyes to see the dawn

Surprise was the first thing Nick felt the next morning when JC was waiting at the dock, surprise and gratitude for the second chance. He took a chance and invited JC on board, only tripping over his words a little. JC smiled with his whole face, like Brian but more so, his eyes closed into little slits. He stumbled as Nick helped him aboard, and for a too brief moment they were touching, JC's nearness too much after weeks without physical contact. Nick turned away and adjusted himself, hoping JC would just think he was doing something about the boat.

JC was mostly quiet, not demanding attention or insisting on being shown off to the other people on the lake — nothing like any girls Nick had ever brought out here. They were sort of connecting, though JC actually seemed even shyer about this than Nick himself, and Nick really thought something was going to happen. He could feel it crackling between them, and as they returned to the dock he was already trying to figure out how to make his next move.

They got out, and JC looked a little funny. Nick wondered suddenly if he gotten seasick or something, feeling bad that he'd been perving on the man and hadn't noticed he wasn't feeling well, but then JC gave him one of those straight-guy arm punches and literally ran back to Justin's house. Nick stood staring after him until he felt like a fool, and then trudged back to his own house.

He tried to write again, sitting with his guitar and concentrating on the way the sunlight had reflected from the water on JC's hair, on the little sparks whenever their hands had brushed together. But every chord progression dragged him back to the parting on the dock, and he set down the guitar. Time to get drunk and jerk off.

On his way to the kitchen, the doorbell and his heart thumped. Had JC come back?

No, just FedEx, something next day air from Amazon, return address one of AJ's fake names. Nick signed off and shut the door, ripping open the package. Shit. It was JC's album. He looked at the packing slip, and found a note.

N— make sure he sees you as track 6, not 10. If it works out, I want to know the list from track 3. —A

Nick looked at the track list despite himself, and decoded the message. 'Make sure he sees you as Something Special, not One Night Stand. If it works out, I want to know the list from 100 Ways.' He made a mental note to kick AJ next time he saw the bastard.

He looked over the track list again. Blowin' Me Up sounded familiar, he might have heard that. And Some Girls AJ had played on a mix CD in his car for months, so that he knew. But he wasn't sure about the rest. There certainly seemed to be a theme, going by titles alone, and it did not match up well with the guy who'd freaked and run out on him.

Unless AJ's sources were right, and he was either straight or so far into denial he might as well be.

He started to peel the seal off the CD, then stopped himself and set it down on the coffee table. He had a plan, and he wasn't going to let AJ distract him. He grabbed a couple beers from the kitchen and settled down to choose some porn

Nick was not an organized guy. He tended to throw things into a drawer or a box, and forget about sorting them into any kind of order. His clothes went into which ever drawer had the most room, his CDs were unalphabetized, and his porn was a mess of tapes and DVDs, some out of their cases, all shoved into a plastic box tucked behind the books on the lowest shelf. In fact, that shelf was the closest thing he had to organization anywhere in the house, and the books there had been chosen on the grounds that his younger siblings were unlikely to pull any of them out and see what was behind them.

He sat on the floor with his beer, and began sifting through the movies in the box, dividing them into yes, no, and maybe. Somehow the yes pile was empty, and even the maybe pile was pretty dismal. Nothing with girls, because he was in a guy mood right now. Nothing he'd watched so far this vacation, which seemed to cut out most of the guy stuff he had. And the few that were left were the freaky weird ones AJ kept giving him for his birthday. Just the cover pictures on those were enough to make him nervous. Had it come to this? Was he so incredibly pitiful that he'd used up all his watchable porn?

Disgusted, Nick grabbed one of his old favorites, even though he'd watched it less than a week ago. He stuffed the box back in its hiding place, and went upstairs.

Half an hour later he turned off the TV in frustration. He was lying naked in his bed, watching his favorite porn — the one with the guys who looked like Howie and Brian — and he wasn't even hard. Even with the cheesy music and dialogue turned down, he couldn't get into it at all.

He pulled on a pair of sweats and headed downstairs. Maybe he just needed another drink. Something stronger.

On the way to the kitchen he got sidetracked by the CD on the coffee table. He picked it up and tore into the packaging. The images on the back cover were kind of cool, he'd like to see some of them a little larger. Inside the photos were bigger, easier to see JC's face and body, and Nick realized he had his hand over his cock, just holding.

The man wouldn't have put out an album about sex if he didn't want people to react to it, right?

Not here, though, not in the living room. He took the CD upstairs and put it in his bedroom stereo, then sat down on his bed and turned it on. He skipped Some Girls because he was not in the mood right now. The second one, he liked the sound of it but he wasn't really following the words. JC's voice though, that was good.

Then the next track hit, with JC hoarsely begging him to 'speak your mind' and god he wanted that man. He touched himself through the sweats, just a little, and lay back on the bed to let JC's voice wash over him.

Mercy was next and JC growled his way into Nick's mind, even with the constant repetition of 'girl'. The song was a tease, it was desire held back, and Nick went with the flow. He ran a hand over his chest, tugging at his piercings a little, trailing his fingers almost to his waistband and then back up. When the next song started though, he lost a little of the mood. It was some kind of sappy love song, and though JC's voice was as beautiful as ever Nick was just not feeling the love. He fumbled around for the remote, and clicked forward to the next song. That one was kind of upbeat, something to dance to, even the line about 'I wanna do some things' just wasn't the mood he was going for, so he skipped again.

A driving beat, and the growl was back in JC's voice again. Yeah, this one he could do something with. Nick kept touching, letting his fingers drift lower and lower with each pass, remembering JC's hand on his arm, the movement of his throat when he drank water. The next song had the same promise, seductive lyrics and a hoarse voice, with sexual little gasps and cries in the background. What would he have to do to JC to get him to make that noise in bed? Yeah, shake it JC, Nick thought, slipping his fingers just under his waistband, do it till I'm satisfied.

The next one was a little familiar, the guitar and hand claps and the synthesizer, and then the staccato lyrics. He'd heard this one before. JC's voice wasn't as seductive as the last couple, but enough to keep the mood, and the beat was just right. Nick's hand drifter lower, just cupping himself through the sweats and squeezing a little in time to the beat. The song seemed to go on forever, with a long instrumental break, and he felt a restless. For a song about sex it was a little… unsexy. He reached out for the nightstand, fumbling in the drawer for a familiar shape.

He'd just gotten the lube warm enough to think about sliding his hand into his pants when the song changed, and he giggled in shock. OK, this was the dork that he'd seen out on the boat. And it was not a turn on listening to JC try out bad come-on lines on some girl, so with his dry hand Nick hit the remote.

Another one with a beat, but he kept his hand on the remote just in case. Softer voice here, no growling, but the lyrics seemed ok. He concentrated on the words, and realized with a thrill that JC was singing about exactly what Nick was lying here doing. Nick dropped the remote and used that hand to pull down his sweats. The lube was warm and slick on his cock, and he could feel his heartbeat throbbing in time. And then that line 'reaching for the places no one could ever go' and Nick had to squeeze hard to keep from coming right then, imagining JC doing that, his fingers there, for Nick. He reached for the lube, getting his other hand slicked up, and obeyed the song. No slow build up now, he got a finger in quick, pressing up and in and JC's whisper of 'I lie awake and masturbate' brought pictures to his mind better than any porn he'd ever seen. One hand up his ass, the other pumping frantically at his dick, Nick was almost there when the song faded out.

And shit, another ballad. Slow and mournful and so wrong. With a frustrated growl Nick wiped his hand off on his stomach just a little before fishing in the sheets for the remote. Instead of skipping forward he went back one, and then found the button for repeat. Back to the masturbation song, and it didn't take more than one more repeat of the part about fingering for Nick to be coming, JC's voice in his ears.


To sing the blues you've got to live the tunes and
Carry on

Nick woke up before the sun, sticky and achy and really fucking tired of this song. He found the remote and turned off the stereo, then peeled the sheets off his skin so he could stand up.

The ex-girlfriend chorus in his head started up as soon as the music was gone. Dirty little fag, they whispered. He doesn't want you, we don't want you, no one wants you. He staggered to the bathroom and turned on the shower. Water always cleared his head, and as soon as he stepped under the flow the voices were quiet.

He turned on the shower radio, always tuned to the weather station, and washed himself while he waited for the commercials to pass. Shit, it was going to be too hot out on the lake. On the other hand, he thought as he turned the radio back off, at least that gave him an excuse not to run into JC again.

"Coward," he said to himself. He'd long ago stopped worrying about his habit of talking to himself. His psychiatrist said it was a tool, a coping mechanism, and didn't mean anything about his sanity. He was still working on getting her to put that in writing for him to give Kevin.

"What do I know," he asked himself. "What do I know for sure? He's interested, but he's scared. What is he scared of? If AJ's right, he's not experienced with guys. I remember that, when I was scared of it. If that's it, what do I do now?"

He remembered years ago Kevin taming a stray cat. Nick hadn't believed Kevin could do it, not the big scary bossy asshole that ruled by intimidation. But he'd done it, and Nick had watched and learned.

"Don't chase him, like not ever," Nick muttered. "When he does show up, never act surprised or all happy and shit. Just act like it's perfectly normal and right for him to be around. Feed him. Don't try to make him play, instead do something he'd want to join with and let him decide for himself. And when he's had enough for now, stand back and watch him leave."

Ok, he had a plan. He turned off the water and stepped out of the shower.

Now witness the quickness with which
We get along

When JC appeared on his doorstep a few hours later, Nick kept to the plan. They had tea and talked about Star Wars. Things were going well, JC seemed comfortable and happy. Then he looked over at Nick, and suddenly all Nick could hear was the CD from last night, JC's voice whispering and growling dirty things in his ear. Fuck the plan, he thought, and pounced.

It was like flipping a switch. Gone was the shy awkward man who could barely look Nick in the eye and jumped back when they touched. Gone was the fun silly Star Wars fan he'd been goofing off with. The man in his arms was pure sex.

They were naked in no time at all, and Nick had no idea how it happened. He wasn't sure how he'd ended up laid out on the couch, his head flung back over the arm and his glasses slipped onto his forehead while JC bit and licked his way over every inch of Nick's skin, but he wasn't about to argue with it.

Nick untangled his glasses from his hair and tucked them under the couch. At least that way they wouldn't get stepped on. Then he grabbed JC by the shoulders and pulled him up for more kissing.

Nick had never done this with someone so close to his own height, everything just lined up so perfectly. Their mouths were together, JC's tongue owning him, and when Nick opened his legs just a little their cocks met and he saw stars. It was everything JC promised in his music, sweaty and sexy and overwhelming and yes.

Afterwards they lay panting and sweaty, JC's hair tickling Nick's chin. His stomach growled, and JC lifted his head and grinned his big goofy grin. "Worked up an appetite?" he asked.

"Mmm, yeah, you make me hungry, baby" Nick said, wiggling his eyebrows. JC's eyes got wider, and the smile fell off his face as he scrambled off Nick. Shit, the plan. Keep with the plan.

Casually, so casually, he grabbed his jeans from the floor and pulled them on. "Chinese food good for you?" he asked.

JC visibly relaxed more the further apart they got, so Nick sent him off for a shower. He knew how long the food would take, so after he called he got into his own shower to rinse off and think.

He was still shaking a little, adrenaline running through his body like an after-show high, and he let the water stream down his face.

"AJ's wrong," he said, and the words felt good to say. He was tempted for a moment to call AJ and tell him, but no. "No way is JC repressed about guys, he knew exactly what he was doing. Shit, if I could have talked at all I would have been begging him to fuck me." And it would have been good, because JC's body knew what it was doing.

"His body, yeah. But inside? He's still scared. What is he scared of?"

Rejoice, rejoice, we have no choice but
To carry on

The brief separation had been a good idea. Goofy JC was back again, and Nick really like hanging out with that JC. He was fun, and nothing was awkward at all. Talking to him was so right, so natural. He didn't have to think about what he was saying, and no matter what came out of his mouth he knew that JC wouldn't think he was stupid. The man had as much trouble getting words to come out right as he did, so it was ok.

They got about halfway through the movie before they touched, but the moment there hands brushed while grabbing for the remote dorky JC was gone and the sex god was back. Again the instant nakedness, and again JC crawling over him tasting everywhere.

But Nick was not going to just rub off against him this time, he was going to taste and feel and… He slid off the couch to kneel between JC's legs. Yeah, that's it he thought as JC's hands tangled in his hair. Fuck my mouth, fuck me, use me, take me. Good thing his mouth was full, Nick thought wildly, that way he couldn't actually say any of this out loud.

And then JC, as if he read Nick's mind, started to talk dirty. He growled, he hissed, he moaned, he cussed, and every word went straight to Nick's balls. He ran his hands up JC's legs, gripping the muscled thighs to keep from jacking off. He wanted more than that.

And man did he get it. He had barely finished swallowing when JC pulled him back up on the couch. They rolled around a little, kissing and touching, until Nick though he would explode. "Please," he moaned, trying to keep the tremor out of his voice. "Just…" do what you promised, anything, something.

JC bared his teeth in something not quite a grin, and proceeded to do about half the things he'd talked about while Nick was blowing him. Half was enough, Nick probably wouldn't have survived all of them at once. He barely survived what he got.

Nick was trying to remember how to breathe, and taking inventory to make sure nothing important had been literally sucked off his body, when he realized JC was getting dressed. The plan, he had to let him go, it was the plan.

JC paused with his pants halfway up, just to look him up and down. The bastard was smug about what he'd done to Nick.

Fuck the plan.

He asked JC to stay, and just like that fear was back. Shit. JC let out a string of obvious lies — after hanging out all day he suddenly had something urgent to do at ten o'clock at night — and left Nick alone on the couch.

Alone except for the voices taunting him in his head. He started the movie over to drown them out. When that didn't work he unlocked the bar.

Go your way, I'll go mine and
Carry on

He really hadn't drunk enough to cause a hangover, but Nick still felt like shit. He dragged himself out of bed and through his morning routine without actually waking up. His first conscious thought was that he needed to do some grocery shopping, because there was nothing in the fridge he could stand to think of eating.

"JC will feed me," he decided. "His fault, and he owes me a meal." The plan said Nick should feed JC, not the other way around, but every time he followed the plan Nick ended up alone.

He barely remembered to pull on a pair of jeans before he walked out his back door, across the dock, and up to Justin's house. The kitchen was a lot like his, except for there being a JC on the phone at the table, and a humongous fruit basket.

Fruit. Apple, bite, good. JC, kiss cheek. Plan? No. Boat.

Nick walked out, vaguely aware that JC was telling someone on the phone about him being there.

Out on the water his head slowly cleared, and Nick lay on his back looking up at the clouds. Plan A had been based on JC being sexually unsure, and that was obviously untrue. Nick rubbed at a sore muscle in his thigh, thinking.

"If he isn't scared of sex, or the guy thing, what is it?" he asked the sky. JC was obviously a man who liked to feel good, who listened to what his body wanted.

"Is he scared of something about me in particular?" What had he told JC that day on the boat, anything about his problems? No, they'd talked about group stuff and fan stuff, and a little music. Yesterday they'd talked Star Wars and had sex. Whatever JC was scared of it wasn't the fucked up mess inside Nick's head, because he hadn't seen that yet.

Maybe JC had a fucked up mess inside his own head.

Back at home, Nick scrolled through the names on his phone. His psychiatrist was on vacation herself, and even though he had an emergency number for some other guy that she'd given him, Nick wasn't going to get into this with a new person. Aaron no way, AJ maybe, Brian maybe, Howie maybe, Kevin no way.

It was tempting to call AJ and tell him his info had been wrong, but that wouldn't help him. It was tempting to call Howie and ask what was wrong with Nick, why everyone either ran away or ripped him to shreds. But Howie might actually answer, and that Nick could not deal with. Brian then.

He caught Brian at a good time, and they caught up for about half an hour, Brian talking about the wife and the kid and the dogs and music. Nick didn't say much of anything real, and eventually Brian called him on it.

"Frack, why did you call?"

"I just missed you."

"Uhuh. You're on your vacation from the human race, and you missed me?"

"You're my best friend," Nick said, relived that it felt like the truth again.

"Thank you. Cut the bullshit."

"The human race found me, or at least one part of it. I met someone"

He knew Brian was waiting for him to say more, but Nick was out of words. Maybe he should have called Howie.

"Why me?" Brian finally asked.

"You're the only one I know who's got a healthy relationship."

More silence, then Brian said "You know, AJ called me yesterday. That call was far more interesting then this."

"AJ's an interesting guy."

"But we talked about you. About the little favor AJ did you."

Shit. "And that was interesting?"

"Tell me about him."

So Nick did. Not the sex parts, though it was hard to talk around those, but the connection. The fun, and the way JC kept slipping through his fingers.

"I just don't know what this is," Nick finished.

"What do you want this to be?"


So with Brian's help he came up with a plan B. Brian thought the thing with the apple and the kiss on the cheek was just right, even if Nick hadn't even meant to do that. So they brainstormed more ideas along those lines, domestic things like cooking together and stuff. No sex, Brian said they'd gone too far too fast. Of course Brian said that, he had to. Then Brian said something else, and Nick had to stop him right there.

"A date? In a restaurant? Brian, this isn't some girl. We're both celebrities, I can't take him on date."

"Privacy can be bought, it just takes planning. You've been on those kinds of dates."

"Yeah but first of all I didn't have to do the hard part, and second of all we had a built in excuse to be somewhere together."

"If you want this to be real, like you said, you have to work for it. For all you know that's what he's afraid of, so doing this will show him it's possible."

He hated it when Brian was right. "I hate it when you're right."

"No wonder you have anger management issues then."

"Fuck you."

"No thanks, I have a wife. You know, you could call Howie and ask him how he arranges these things."

"Hell no." No way, Nick would rather die than ask Howie for advice on setting up a date with another guy.

"Yeah, you're probably right. Better not to involve him. Kevin's good at big romantic gestures."

"Marginally better than the Howie idea, but no. You I trust."

"Kevin would never hurt you."

"Unless he thought it was for my own good," Nick said. He'd been grounded and punished and treated like an unreliable kid too many times.

Brian put his hand over the phone, talking to someone, and then came back. "Gotta go, Frack."

"Sure, Frick. Thanks."


Nick sighed deeply, then dug out the yellow pages. What was the place Howie had taken him to down here?

Where are you going now my love?
Where will you be tomorrow?
Will you bring me happiness?
Will you bring me sorrow?

He'd thought asking JC out would be the hard part, but he'd underestimated the flood of memories from coming back to this restaurant. At least the new meds helped, a year ago he would have been crying, drunk, in a fight, or some combination by now.

He needed to tell JC a little about this stuff, needed to make sure that if they did manage to get something going that JC wouldn't feel like Nick had hidden the bad shit. False pretences, accused the chorus. Full disclosure.

Afterwards he felt exposed, raw, like he'd opened up his skull and shown JC exactly how to destroy him if that's what JC wanted. But JC didn't — he asked questions and looked like he cared. He seemed to be thinking deeply, really thinking about what Nick was saying. He promised JC he wouldn't try to keep him, wouldn't hold him back if he ever wanted to leave. And when Nick tried to explain why he'd said so much, JC didn't run away.

Then JC took him home and made love to him. Nick was blown away by this side of JC, being the center of that incredible focus was overwhelming. He felt beautiful and wanted and loved, though JC barely said a word. He felt real.

He didn't ask, but when he fell asleep JC was still there and he dared to hope.

When he woke up he was alone.

One morning I woke up and I knew
You were really gone

Nick had managed to fall back asleep, mostly by faking it. He'd learned long ago that if he faked sleep well enough to fool everyone around him, he could fool himself too. A good trick on tour.

And when dealing with stupid crazy beautiful wonderful assholes who snuck out after the best sex you'd had in years.

Anyway, he'd slept in almost till ten. In the shower he'd put together all the clues he had, and came up with a new plan. Take JC out on the boat where he can't run away, and make him talk. No matter how long it took.

This was going to call for a fuckload of sandwiches.

When JC let himself in, Nick kept right on with making sandwiches. He was a little afraid to make eye contact, and listened to JC ramble until he realized. Fuck, he's dumping me.

Nick's body was used to keeping up appearances, dancing while he seethed with anger, safely sailing while lost in thought.

And, apparently, making sandwiches while his heart was breaking.

He said polite things and watched JC bounce on his heels as if he wanted to run. Watched JC walk out the door.

You did it again, whispered the voices. You tried to trap him, just like you did us, tried to make him yours and now he's running. He got what he wanted, and then he saw there was nothing else in you, nothing worth his time.

No. "No," he said out loud. "NO!" he shouted, slamming his hands down on the table.

Ew, peanut butter. So much for that sandwich.

He practically ran to Justin's backdoor, and into the kitchen. No sign of JC. The fruitbasket was still there, so he had another apple. And saw a box of condoms underneath. What did that mean? JC's friends wanted him to get laid? They expected him to get laid and wanted to make sure he was safe? They were teasing him? Given that JC had left them there in the fruit, Nick was going with that last theory.

While he ate his apple Nick replayed the last half hour in his mind, like a slow-motion replay of a dance routine. Who had made the first misstep?

JC had come in with a rehearsed speech, that much was sure. But his face, his tone… He'd wanted to be interrupted. He'd wanted Nick to fight, he'd been testing Nick. And Nick, as usual had failed.

Shit. Did he even want to wait for JC? Did he want to get something going with a guy who would mess him around this much just to test him? With a guy who seemed to have multiple personalities, just like his stupid sexy album?

Nick stood up and dropped his apple core in the trash just in time to hear JC coming down the stairs. He resisted the impulse to run, instead sitting back down and wishing he was wearing more than swim trunks. He had no idea what he was going to say, so he just started talking.

Words were his enemy, they always had been. They jumbled together on the way to his mouth and came out in a mess, and people laughed at him. JC wasn't laughing, he was miserable, JC was broken himself, JC thought Nick was too good for him.

There's a first, thought Nick.

He did his best to tell JC how he felt, and when he knew he couldn't say one more word without dropping to his knees and begging JC to stay, he walked out.

At home he cleaned up the squashed sandwich, and put away the rest of the stuff. He wouldn't be needing that many sandwiches anyway, not just for himself. But that meant there was room in the cooler, so he stared into the fridge, looking for something. Not beer, he wasn't destructive enough to drink on the boat. Besides, he'd promised AJ he wouldn't drink and drive ever again, and he was trying to keep that promise. If not beer, then… pudding. A six pack of pudding cups was stashed behind the beer. He started to open the pack, and then shrugged and put the whole thing in the cooler. And a spoon.

Oh, the questions of a thousand dreams
What you do and what you see
Lover can you talk to me?

Nick wanted to talk to someone, but he managed to rule out everyone he knew for one reason or another. So he sat there leaning over the side of the boat, watching the water move around, and talked to himself.

"Why do I even care? What is it about him? He's hot, yeah, but so are a lot of people. He's great in bed, but… ok, no one else is that great. Damn, does he even have a spine?" Nick almost lost himself in the memory of JC wound around him like a snake, but he managed to shake it off.

"Seriously, why would I want anything with him. What could we do, how could we be together even if he pulls his head out of his ass?" Nick sighed, dropping his head onto he folded arms. "It's not like we can move in together and adopt a kid or whatever. We live on opposite sides of the country, we both have paparazzi following us everywhere."

He turned around and pulled the last pudding cup out of the cooler. Mmm, chocolate. "Not like there's a point in thinking about the future when there isn't even a present. Hell, there's only three or four days of past, so why is this hurting so much?"

By the time he finished the pudding, he knew three things: he wasn't going to let himself pine after the jerk, he wasn't going to be the one make the next move, and he needed more chocolate.

When he got back to shore Nick tried to have an ordinary day. The kind of day he'd had before JC showed up and turned his vacation inside-out. He messed around with his guitar for a while, and got a good start on a song. No lyrics yet, but he liked the sound of it. After that he tried to play some games, and then to watch a couple of movies, but everything seemed flat and boring without someone to share it with.

Anyone. It didn't have to be JC, just another person. Maybe it was time to end his vacation from humanity. Maybe he should head into town, go to a club, pick someone up.

Too much trouble. He'd just make up that box of brownies instead.

Girl when I was on my own
Chasing you down
What was it made you run?

The next day Nick was proud of how ordinary things were. He packed the usual amount in his cooler, no extra sandwiches for someone who wouldn't be there, no extra chocolate to drown his sorrows.

He wasn't sure how to react when an extra guy showed up and wanted to get on his boat.

JC said something that didn't make sense, something about that song that he seemed to think was the center of their little relationship or lack thereof. Then he said "It's about hope," and Nick invited him on board.

"If you do this, if you get on this boat right now, you are going to talk to me. You are going to tell me what's been going on in your head while you played me, and why I should give you another chance."

"Another chance to what?" JC asked with a puzzled look, and Nick had to laugh.

"Maybe we can make this work, but only if we figure out what we're trying to make work. And if we're both trying."

JC tilted his head, looking at Nick as if he were looking up those words in a phrase book. Then he nodded, and got on the boat.

Nick took them right out to the quiet part of the lake and shut off the engine before either of them had said a word. After they stared at each other, and the water, and the sky, and the cooler, JC finally started to talk.

"I guess I've been kind of. And I should have been. But, it's hard. I can't, I don't know how. It's been years, and I fucked it all up then so how can I?"

"Why did you keep leaving?" Nick asked him.

"I didn't know how to stay. I've never been good at staying."

"And why did you keep lying about it?"

"I wasn't. Ok, but. I was lying to me, and then telling you that stuff. I didn't want to care, I didn't want to need you, because when I need someone they go away. I didn't want you to need me, because I always let people down."

"Oh, come on. I know four guys who've needed you and who you've never let down."

JC laughed, more a bark of pain than any kind of pleasant sound. "Yeah. Never, except kind of over and over I did. Especially. And he, I should have been better with him, but I hurt him, and I don't want to hurt you."

A lightbulb went off in Nick's head; JC's fucked up mess did have something in common with his own. "How long?"

"It ended six years ago, it lasted less than a year."

"I lasted two years with Howie before he wouldn't take my shit anymore. But I know I'm better now."

"I don't know if I'm better now." JC looked up at Nick, meeting his eyes. "I'm not, I haven't tried to get better. I've just avoided, just you know, had fun. No relationships. It's easier."

"Only in the short run," Nick said.

"Do you think you could, would you. We could try, but I don't know."

"I can't do it all," Nick said. I can't be the boss of this…" he shuddered at having to use the word " relationship… and, like, tell you what to do and shit. I've been there, on the other side, and it sucks like that. If we try this, we both have to try, and we both have to talk about shit."

"I want. I want to try, but I'm scared to fail."

"That's pretty much life, isn't it."

JC laughed a little, more a real laugh this time. "Yeah."

They sat a little longer, and Nick started to think they should have done this inside. Because here with all the famous and rich people all around them he couldn't touch JC, couldn't really tell what JC was thinking way over there out of reach. He stood up and started the boat, turning back towards the dock.

JC came up behind him, yelling a little over the sound of the engine. "So, um. Can I. Do you want to have dinner? I could… call for something, I don't know. Or we could go out, if there's somewhere."

"I thought you had a plane to catch."

"Nah, man. That was just my last attempt at escaping my fate."

Nick looked over his shoulder at JC, and they grinned at each other.

Carry on
Love is coming
Love is coming to us all