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        Lance surveyed the pieces of tree scattered around JC's room with dismay. "Who knew that putting together a fake tree could be so hard?" he sighed to JC, who was sitting in his lap. They had been at it for almost an hour, and they still couldn't "simply put side 'a' into side 'b' and twist to lock!" It had seemed so easy when they were watching the demonstration.
        "We'll get real trees," JC promised dismally, leaning his head back against Lance's chest. He'd been doing that a lot through the day; making little comments about them and their future together. Every time he did it, Lance's heart skipped and he got this excited feeling in the pit of his stomach, but there was also something else there that he couldn't put his finger on.
        "Maybe Ramond or Larkin can put it together?" Lance suggested, resting his chin on JC's shoulder as he wrapped his arms around JC's waist.
        JC sighed unhappily. "We're so undomesticated," he growled. "If we were normal, we'd have this done in a snap."
        Lance shrugged. "We have people to do this for us. Why would we need to do it ourselves?"
        JC looked back at him. "Don't say that. There's a lot of pleasure in doing stuff for yourself."
        Lance felt like he'd been scolded, and he frowned slightly. "I'm not saying that there isn't. I'm just saying that it's not our fault that we don't know how to do this. We weren't taught. We were taught to call for help from someone else."
        JC sighed and faced the dismantled tree and studied it while Lance thought about what he'd said wrong with confusion. Suddenly JC sat up, which made Lance smack his chin on JC's shoulder rather painfully. There was a stabbing pain and he saw stars for an instant. "I've got it!" JC exclaimed, crawling out of Lance's lap and picking up two of the pieces while Lance sat there in pain and rubbed his chin unhappily, while watching JC at the same time. JC slid two of the pieces in together, twisted, then pulled, and they stood up straight. Lance's jaw fell unhinged.
        "How did you do that?" Lance asked, astonished.
        JC flashed him a grin. "I don't know. Shh, I'm on a roll." He winked at Lance and then reached for another piece of the tree. When he had all four pieces locked together, he managed to get it in the stand while Lance held it in place. It was as tall as Lance, and Lance glared at it. He hated being short.
        "Got it!" JC shouted joyfully, standing and grabbing Lance, pulling him backwards a few feet so that they could survey their--JC's--handiwork. JC had an arm around Lance's shoulders, and Lance leaned against him as he gave JC's work a once over.
        "I'm impressed," Lance assured JC. "You did a good job."
        JC glanced at him, pleased. "You were my inspiration."
        Lance blushed and felt his heart skip into his throat. JC laughed at him and then dragged him to the bed, where they had the box, yes, box of ornaments that they'd purchased, including one of their own that they were selling at Bloomingdale's, where five dollars of the purchase went to charity.
        "Tinsel!" JC exclaimed excitedly, picking up a box of it. Lance reached for a box of it as well, slowly looking it over as JC paused. "Should we go get the other guys and do this together?" he asked thoughtfully.
        Lance shrugged, picturing the delighted grin on Justin's face as he looked at Lance through the paper leaves as Lance handed him an ornament. The amazing way his blue eyes would light up as he studied an adorable ornament. The way that Justin would slip his arm around Lance's waist as they looked at the tree together--their work--and lean over to give Lance a sweet kiss to congratulate a job well done.
        "No," Lance answered, using his nail to tear open the packaging. "Let's just you and me do it and surprise the other guys."
        JC nodded. "That's a good idea." He grinned. "Can you imagine their faces when they see how great the tree looks?"
        Lance thought about that grin on Justin's face and smiled weakly. "Thrilled." He quickly tore into the package and picked up a strand of the tinsel, setting the box down and pulling on the silver strip until it stretched out of shape.
        "What's wrong?" JC asked, watching him. "Don't you ever use tinsel?"
        Lance held up the disfigured piece of silver and shook his head. "Nope. But I've seen it on store displays." He tossed the ruined strip down and picked up the box. "Strand by strand or just throw it?"
        JC laughed. "Just throw it, silly boy. That's half the fun."
        Lance shrugged and watched JC as JC picked up a handful of the strands and tossed them in the air over the tree, where they all landed in different spots, creating a light dusting of silver. He looked down at his own box, picked up a handful, and tossed them up just as he'd seen JC do.
        They all clumped together in one spot.
        Lance frowned at them while JC laughed and picked it up, handing it back to Lance. "Try it again," JC instructed. "They're supposed to flutter down into place."
        Lance arched an eyebrow. "Right. Flutter. There's a good one." He sighed and did as he was told, but they simply clumped on a lower branch. "You do it," Lance told JC, picking it up and handing it to his best friend. "I'll hang ornaments." He went to the box and pulled out a little bell, shaking it out of its box and holding it up. It was a while porcelain bell on a white ribbon, and it was so pretty and the chime so sweet and high that Lance couldn't resist it. The angels embossed on the side in gold and silver didn't hurt either.
        Lance slipped it onto one of the branches and smiled at the image. With JC only inches away, hanging tinsel and arranging it perfectly and Lance setting the ornaments on the tree, it truly felt like Christmas.
        That is, until Lance remembered that he had to hang lights before ornaments. With a sigh, he retreated to the box and reached for the string of lights that they'd purchased. JC was done with the tinsel by then, and together he and Lance laughed and joked and wrapped themselves and the tree up in the lights. Lance looked up at JC from where they were tangled up together and laughed out loud.
        "Feel like Christmas?" JC asked hopefully.
        "Definitely," Lance agreed. "This was a great idea, Jace."
        JC grinned. "Did I mention that I love it when you call me that?"
        Lance blushed slightly, dropping his eyes to the tree. "No."
        JC's finger came out and gently tilted up Lance's chin. Lance could feel every vein in his body pulsating as his heart pounded against his chest. JC was going to do it. JC was going to kiss him. He was finally going to do it.
        "We should probably get this done," JC said instead, and Lance's jaw nearly fell in disbelief as JC untangled himself and then helped Lance out. Lance was going to pop his best friend, he really was.
        "You hang these, I've got a surprise," JC told him, and Lance, still unhappy that he hadn't gotten his kiss, nodded and continued to hang the ornaments, making sure to stick the electronic ones into the little lights as he berated himself. JC didn't have to kiss him if he didn't want. It wasn't fair of Lance to expect it, especially when JC was with Bobbie. Though then again, JC had been all over Lance like he wasn't dating her, so who knew what was going on. The one thing that Lance was sure of, even if evidence was pointing otherwise, was that JC wasn't playing with him. He knew JC wasn't just playing. JC wouldn't do that. JC wasn't like that.
        Lance's world suddenly went dark, and he could feel JC's hands over his eyes as Lance was drawn back against JC's chest. "Ready?" JC breathed in Lance's ear, and for the first time, Lance noticed the smell of... gingerbread cookies?
        "Yeah," Lance agreed softly. He'd been so wrapped up in his thoughts that he'd completely ignored JC.
        "Okay. Look!" JC turned Lance's body so that he faced the perimeter of the room, and he had to smile.
        "Oh, Jace..." Lance breathed. "It looks great!"
JC had strung silver and gold and green and red garland around the room, and along the room there were candles, which explained the gingerbread smell. There were also cookies on the kitchen table, and around the fireplace JC had strung even more garland. How Lance had missed that completely, Lance had no idea.
        "I can't believe you didn't notice," JC laughed. "But you looked pretty intent on getting those little ornaments up." He wrapped his arms around Lance's waist. "Which does look great, by the way."
        "Oh Jace, tree later. Look at this place!" Lance shook his head in disbelief. "You're a master."
        "Aw, you're making me blush," JC teased, laughing.
        "It looks great," Lance assured him softly, smiling. Now it was definitely Christmas. The whole hotel room had a homey feel to it.
        "Thank you," JC said pleasantly, grinning. "Now all we have to do is get our presents and stick them under the tree."
        Lance laughed. "That's right! I'll go get mine." He slid out of JC's arms, which almost seemed to cling to him, and picked up one of JC's room keys off the table. "I'll take this," he told JC, grinning.
        "I was going to tell you to anyway," JC called after him, and Lance grinned as he opened JC's door and walked out, to his own room. He found the presents in the closet easily, his fingers pausing as he picked up the bag with Justin's presents in it.
        Justin doesn't want you, Lance's mind reminded. JC may. Move your butt.
        Lance automatically stood, but he couldn't get Justin's face out of his mind as he carried the bags back to JC's room and began unloading the presents under the tree. Just between the two of them, they filled up over half of the tree, and they laughed together at the sight.
        "So what did you get me?" JC asked teasingly as they went to JC's door to go get the other guys.
        "Nothing," Lance responded easily, laughing. He opened JC's door and turned to go out, then stopped short, the smile on his face dying.
        "Hey, Lance," Bobbie greeted, sounding slightly nervous, but there was a smile on her face. "How're you?"
        Lance stared at her in disbelief, then forced the smile back onto his face. "I'm great, Bobbie. How are you?" Lance felt like his heart was breaking in two, and it took all of his self control not to start crying. JC could at least have told him that she was coming! The nerve of JC, that--
        "Bobbie?" JC gasped, and Lance glanced back over his shoulder to see his jaw falling open and his eyes bug. "What're you doing here?"
        Bobbie smiled weakly. "Hey, Josh. Merry Christmas."
        JC glanced at Lance discreetly, and then forced a smile, clearing his throat. "Sorry. Merry Christmas, Bobbie." He reached out and hugged her, and Lance moved to the other side of the doorway.
        "I'll see you guys later," Lance told them, feeling a pain in his heart. He carefully avoided JC's eyes, but he knew they were apologetic. At least JC hadn't known she was coming.
        "Bye," JC offered somewhat wistfully, and then the door was shut and Lance leaned against the wall beside JC's door, closing his eyes.
        "Well you look like hell," came a familiar voice that broke through Lance's thoughts. "What happened?"
        "Thanks, Joe," Lance sighed, opening his eyes. "I love you, too."
        Joey frowned slightly. "Lance, I'm serious. What's wrong?"
        "Bobbie's here," Lance offered instead brightly, watching as Joey's eyes widened and then went dark.
        "Nice of JC to inform us," Joey stated coldly.
        Lance sighed. "Yeah, I thought so too. Only JC didn't know she was coming."
        "When did she get here?"
        Lance shrugged. "About five minutes ago." He looked around. "No Chris?"
        A puzzled look crossed Joey's face. "He's out with Justin." He looked at Lance. "Do you think that something's going on between Justin and Chris?"
        Lance shrugged, remembering his little talk with Justin earlier. "I dunno. Maybe. Why?" Lance eyed Joey in what he hoped was a believable way. "I thought you liked girls. When did you get interested in Chris?"
        "I'm not," Joey admonished quickly; too quickly. Lance had to repress his smile. "I'm just surprised, I guess. I didn't know that they were..."
        Lance shrugged. "Dunno what to tell ya, Joe. Sorry."
        Joey shook his head and then looked over at Lance, his brown eyes tender. "Why don't you and I go watch a movie in my room?" he suggested. "And I'll take your mind off JC."
        "And how do you plan on doing that?"
        The voice was dark, sarcastic, and almost angry. Lance and Joey turned in unison to Justin's door, where he and Chris were standing there, Chris looking horrified and Justin looking... cold. Lance hadn't even heard the door open, but apparently it had, because they looked like they were just leaving.
        "Watching a movie," Joey returned warily, eyeing them. "I thought you two went out."
        "We stayed in," Justin shot back, his eyes still mistrustful. "A movie?"
        "Yeah, a movie. They come on the tv and people watch them for entertainment." Lance watched as Joey's eyes moved to Chris. "What were you guys doing?"
        Justin's eyes narrowed. "I know what a movie is, Joe. We were actually watching one, ironically enough. Why would Lance need his mind off of JC?"
        "What movie?" Joey asked back. "Bobbie showed up."
        Justin stopped short, his eyes going wide. "Bobbie? As in, JC's girlfriend, Bobbie?"
        Lance frowned.
        "Swap ya," Justin offered to Joey, though his eyes didn't leave Lance. He strode forward and wrapped both arms around Lance before anyone said anything else. "You okay?" he asked Lance softly, forcing Lance's head onto his shoulder.
        "Fine," Lance answered, feeling ackward in Justin's embrace.
        Justin sighed. "I'm sorry, Lance," Justin whispered, and then slowly tugged on Lance and led him back to his room. He looked up at Joey, Lance could feel that much, but what he mouthed was beyond him. All he knew was that a moment later, they were in Justin's room on Justin's bed, and Justin was holding him as they lay propped up against the headrest.
        "Did JC know?" Justin asked, running his fingers along Lance's back. His voice was so quiet and sweet in Lance's ear, not the slightest bit too loud.
        Lance shook his head as he listened to Justin's heart beat evenly. "No. He was just as surprised as I was."
        Justin sighed. "I wonder why she's here, then."
        Lance shrugged, wondering how he could ever have felt ackward in Justin's arms. Justin's arms were perfect: strong, gentle, and the perfect fit for Lance's body. "I don't know."
        "Well forget it. You're not with him right now." Justin leaned his head against Lance's in a semi-hug, and then smiled. "So ask me what I got Chris to admit."
        Lance laughed slightly. "That he's in love with Joey?"
        Justin pouted. "Damn it, Lance."
        Lance lifted his body to look at Justin without moving away from him. "You serious?"
        Justin nodded smugly. "Tell me I'm good."
        "Damn, Justin. You're good." Lance had to admit, he was very impressed. Then again, he knew how persuasive that boy could be. "How did you manage to pull that one off?"
        "I told him that you and Joey were hanging out."
        Lance frowned slightly. "And that was all it took?"
        Justin laughed. "He's been holding it back for a while. He's at the end of his rope. So when we saw you two out there a minute ago..."
        Lance sighed. "I saw Chris' face. I felt bad for him."
        "I felt bad for Joey. Did you see the way he looked ready to take my head off? I won't be surprised if he won't let me or anyone else even near Chris for quite a while."
        "It seems almost too easy," Lance commented thoughtfully, resting his arm on Justin's chest and looking up at him. "'cept Joey told me that he wasn't interested in Chris, but it was a total lie."
        Justin groaned. "Joey's going to be harder than Chris. I think Joe's got some issues about being gay. Or bi. Whatever he is."
        Lance shrugged. "I couldn't tell ya."
        Justin laughed. "No, I don't suppose you could." He hesitated. "Though you could tell me what you are...?"
        Lance stiffened.
        "You don't have to," Justin continued quickly. "I mean, I was just curious. But you don't have to tell me anything."
        Lance wasn't sure he was comfortable discussing his sexuality with one of the objects of his desire, but he figured Justin was being so good about taking care of him to get his mind off of JC that the least he could do was return the favor in some way. "I'm gay," he sighed. "Girls don't do anything for me. I tried, but... They just... I dunno. I'm just not attracted to them."
        "But you're attracted to other guys?"
        Lance nodded slowly, feeling a blush rise on his cheeks. "Yeah."
        Justin nodded thoughtfully. "I'm cool with that, you know," he reminded Lance. "It doesn't bother me."
        Lance smiled weakly. Oh so thrilled you aren't bothered by my sexuality, Lance's mind drawled sarcastically. How magnamious of you.
        Justin's hotel room phone rang, and he shifted to pick it up, placing his body directly under Lance's. Lance froze, and when he was about to move, to get off of Justin's perfectly sculpted body, Justin's free arm came out and held Lance in place, almost as an unconscious gesture. Lance's heart pounded in his chest, and he wondered if Justin could feel it. He was on top of Justin! And Justin knew he was gay! What the hell was Justin thinking?! Would he hold a girl on top of him? No, of course not. So why was he holding Lance there?! It was just cruel!
        "What's up?" Justin asked into the phone, his eyes over Lance's head and gazing at something. Lance thought about looking, but he didn't want to move, because now that he was over being mad at Justin, he never wanted to move again. Justin listened to something, and he smiled slightly. "No way, Chris." He listened again, and Lance tried to focus on what Chris was saying, but he couldn't strain his ears that hard, and he was really more interested in the amazing tingles that were running through his body. "I said no," Justin repeated. "We're busy." That caught Lance's attention, and he focused on Justin's blue eyes, which were still over Lance's head. Lance could feel Justin's open hand covering a large part of his back, and it was so sweet, such a comforting gesture. "Chris, I'm hanging up now." Justin listened, then grinned. "Whatever. Later man. You and Joe have fun." He laughed at whatever Chris said. "Okay. Bye." He reached over and hung up the phone, his body shifting under Lance's and then resuming his position under him, wrapping both arms around Lance's body. "Chris wanted to know if we wanted to go watch a movie with them."
        "Oh," Lance said, hoping he sounded even half way interested. Really, his every thought was focused on the arms holding him so comfortably, as if they were used to that position.
        "Hope you don't mind that I told them no," Justin continued, his voice as soft as it always was. "I figured they could use the alone time, and I'm really not in the mood to face them." He paused, sounding a little shaky. Again, his eyes were gazing past Lance. "I was kinda wondering if you and I could just hang out for a while. That is, until JC comes looking for you," he went on quickly.
        Lance frowned slightly. "JC's not the only important thing in my life," Lance reminded. "And that sounds fine. I like to hang out with you." He nearly kicked himself. He was practically blurting out liking Justin!
        Justin, however, didn't seem to mind. A large grin spread over his face. "I like to hang out with you too," he told Lance, then shifted. "And as warm as your body is, I have to go to the bathroom. I'll be right back."
        Lance quickly got off of him, flushed, and barely glanced up as Justin handed him the tv remote.
        "Try to find something decent," Justin suggested, going to the bathroom. "Something Christmas-y." Then he was gone, the door shut behind him.
        Lance rolled onto his back and clicked on the tv, and for the first time, caught sight of what Justin had been studying so intently.
        A mirror, with a perfect view of them laying on the bed together.
        Lance stared at his own reflection laying on the bed for several minutes before clearing his throat and flipping through the channels, looking for something worth watching. His heart sang a little song as he came across "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", the Dr. Suess cartoon, and he turned up the volume and propped up the pillows to watch, making sure that there was plently of room between himself and where Justin had been.
        "I love this cartoon!" Justin gushed, coming out of the bathroom. Lance glanced up at him and smiled warmly.
        "Who doesn't?" Lance returned easily, watching as Justin turned off the lights, shut the curtains, and then jumped onto the bed beside Lance, so close that Justin actually had to move over an inch to get off of Lance.
        "Stupid people," Justin answered, slinging an arm around Lance's shoulders and leaning against the pillows that Lance had propped up. Lance nearly swooned right then. He knew that Justin was just trying to reassure Lance that he was okay with gay people, but honestly, Lance didn't want Justin to treat him any differently than he had. Mostly because it was screwing with Lance's mind.
        Lance barely saw any of the movie as they laid there together. Instead he found his eyes kept glancing at the mirror, studying the way that they looked together and silently longing to memorize the picture for an eternity. They looked good together, at least, in Lance's opinion. Though Lance bet that if he turned on his side a little, and rested his head on Justin's shoulder, the picture would be even cuter.
        "You take up too much pillow," Justin told him, half teasing, half scowling. The next thing Lance knew, his head was resting on Justin's chest and Justin's arms were wrapped around him as Lance laid on his side. Lance's eyes widened in surprise and shock, in utter disbelief at what had just happened, almost as though Justin was reading his mind. Quite a large coincidence, anyway.
        "Sorry," Lance threw back sarcastically, smiling slightly.
        "I forgive you. Now shh, he's about to sing."
        Lance had to grin. This was Justin Timberlake, who got in front of thousands of screaming girls every night, and yet a little cartoon movie character singing was enough to captivate him. Amazing.
        Lance's eyes found the mirror again, and his smile increased. They did look perfect together.
        When the movie was over, Justin sighed happily. "Love that movie," he announced, grinning.
        "Me too," Lance assured him, rolling over out of Justin's arms and turning on the lamp beside the bed. He was going to just stay there until Justin reached for him and pulled him back, shivering.
        "It's freezing," Justin mumbled, hugging onto Lance tightly and squeezing him. "Aren't you cold?"
        How could he be cold when one of the hottest bodies in the world was pressing against him? "Not really," Lance answered. "But I'm also laying on you."
        Justin grinned. "There's a reason. You're warm." He hugged Lance again and then loosened his grip to a comfortable hold. "You know," he began thoughtfully; seriously. "There is one thing that I'll miss about not being home for Christmas."
        Lance's eyes widened. "One thing?" he repeated.
        Justin paused, caught off guard, and he turned those bright blue eyes on Lance, frowning slightly. "I don't have the same desperate desire to get home like you guys do. You guys are my family. To spend Christmas with my blood family would have been almost wrong."
        Lance smiled despite the seriousness of the conversation. "I do know what you mean," he admitted. "I was thinking about it last night. If I had been told I was going home a day early, and you guys were all spending Christmas together, well, I would have stayed, too. And honestly, even if we weren't scheduled to be together on Christmas day, I think we'd do it anyway. I agree, you guys are my family, and while I'm glad that I get to see my family back in Mississippi tomorrow evening, I'm glad that I'm spending Christmas with you guys."
        Justin grinned. "Well I'm glad you think so. I feel much better."
        Lance laughed and smiled at him, resting his hands on his chin on Justin's chest. "So tell me the one thing that you're going to miss about not being home for Christmas."
        Justin blushed. Justin actually blushed. "You promise not to laugh?"
        Lance nearly laughed at the pink color staining his cheeks. "No," he answered honestly. "But I do promise that it won't be mean laughter."
        Justin hesitated, then bit his lower lip and spoke sheepishly. "Santa Claus."
        Lance stared at him. "Uh, Justin...?" he began slowly, thinking about how adorable Justin was. Just like a little boy! He wanted to pinch Justin's cheeks. "I hate to be the annoying third grader that everyone hates, but Santa Claus doesn't really--"
        "I know," Justin interrupted quickly, laughing slightly. "That's not what I mean. Well, it is, but it isn't. What I mean is that I know Santa Claus isn't... Well, you know." Lance found it positively endearing that Justin didn't want to say it. "But I'm going to miss the stockings. And the little presents that I used to get signed, 'Love, Santa.' My mom was always on tour with us when we were on tour for Christmas, and last year when she wasn't we were at home." Justin shrugged embarassedly. "But I'm going to miss the stockings. When I was younger I used to love running for my stocking and searching through it." He laughed slightly. "Okay. I dumped it out and spread the contents of it all over the floor. But you get my drift."
        Lance did, and he thought he was going to cry. "That's really sweet, Justin. I don't think that's funny at all. I know exactly what you mean."
        Justin looked hopeful. "You do?"
        Lance nodded, his heard breaking for this sweet boy. "Of course I do. When I was younger, I used to love finding stuff in my stocking. But Santa stopped visiting me when I was 12."
        Justin's jaw fell. "You're kidding, right? This is the first year that Santa isn't coming."
        Lance couldn't help but touch Justin's golden curls. "I'm sorry," he apologized softly. "I wish he would come for you."
        Justin seemed frozen, and as Lance started to move his hand away from Justin's hair, panicking that he had done something wrong, Justin spoke. "Santa couldn't bring me what I want," he admitted softly, his voice sounding strained.
        Lance paused mid pull and studied Justin closely. "What is it that you want?" he asked, wondering how fast he could make a purchase and if anyone worked on Christmas Eve past 5.
        Justin looked away. "Nothing," he answered, somewhat wistfully. "It's nothing."
        Lance frowned, not ready to let it go, but there was a knocking on the door. With a sigh, Lance climbed off of Justin and Justin went to the door and pulled it open.
        "Is he here?"
        Lance sat up as he heard JC's worried voice. "Yeah, JC. I'm here."
        JC looked past Justin to Lance, and then back to Justin, and then back to Lance again, his face unreadable. "Lance, can I talk to you for a minute?"
        Justin held the door out. "Come on in," he offered. "I'm going to go bug Chris and Joey."
        "Justin, you don't have to--" Lance started, standing.
        Justin turned and smiled slightly at him. "Play nice," he warned, and then he was gone. Lance stared after him and then slowly turned his eyes to JC, who was already in the room as the door shut behind Justin.
        "Look, Lance, I know that you and I--"
        "Don't, JC," Lance interrupted, holding up a hand. He could read the hurt and fear and nervousness on JC's face. "I know you didn't know she was coming. I'm not mad. Or upset. Or anything. She's your girlfriend."
        "Lance, you and I--"
        "Are friends," Lance finished, shrugging despite the lump that was forming in his throat. He raised his eyes to meet JC's blue ones, which looked to be starting to fill with tears. "That's just how it is, JC."
        JC shook his head and looked away from Lance, and Lance could see the tears forming. "No," JC objected firmly, his voice sounding slightly hoarse. "That's not how it is. That's not how I wanted it to be."
        Lance's heart skipped, but he sighed and put his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands. "Me either," he admitted softly, surprising himself with the admission. He slowly looked up at JC, who looked like he was afraid to hope. "JC, you're my best friend and you know that. No one could ever replace you in my life. And yeah, JC, I'm gay. You know that I'm gay. And I know that you and I could probably start and be something really, really great. But there's already somebody in your life, and I know that you love her."
        JC's face crumbled. "I do love her," he repeated, tears slipping down his cheeks.
        Lance felt like he'd been punched. "I know," he whispered softly. "That's not a bad thing, Jace. I'm happy for you. That's part of being a friend; being happy for the other person."
        "But you and I--"
        "Will be friends for eternity," Lance finished softly. "No matter what happens."
        JC sniffed and wiped away his tears, looking away. "So that's it?" he asked, his voice thick. "That's it? It's over?"
        Lance stood slowly and crossed to face JC, studying his best friend before slowly taking his face in his hands. "No," Lance promised softly. "We'll never be over." And then, after hesitating for only an instant, Lance gently touched his lips to JC's.
        It was a soft, sweet, careful kiss that lingered on Lance's lips even after it was over. He smiled warmly at JC with a false bravado that he didn't feel. "Now go on," Lance told him softly, nodding at the door. "She's waiting for you." He smiled slightly. "And I'll always be here."
        JC shook his head. "I don't deserve you," JC sniffed, his words sounding forced past his tears. "No one human does. Just an angel, put on this earth for you and you alone."
        Lance smiled. "JC, I love you. That's enough for me." Inwardly he was crying, and yet outwardly he was being brave. It was almost strange, like he was on autopilot, and he was just saying lines from a play. Like it was happening to someone else.
        "I love you, too," JC whispered, pursing his lips. "I didn't want it to end like this," he offered, his smile breaking.
        Lance frowned slightly and shook his head, smiling. "JC, nothing has ended," he insisted softly. "Nothing. Nothing's over, nothing's ended. You and I... We've just begun." He lightly stroked JC's cheeks, wiping away the tears that only slipped down again. "So don't cry, because nothing's changed."
        JC sniffed. "Everything's changed," JC corrected quietly. "I just lost you."
        Lance felt his heart beginning to bleed. "No, JC," he objected. "You didn't lose me. If anything, you gained me." He nodded at the door again. "Now go on. Really."
        JC rubbed his eyes. "Dinner. My room. At 8."
        Lance smiled and nodded. "Okay, JC. I'll tell the guys. You go have a good time with Bobbie."
        JC smiled weakly and then turned to go, opening the door and pausing in the doorway. "Lance?"
        Lance swallowed back his tears. "Yeah?"
        He turned and met Lance's eyes. "I meant what I said. I do love you. I mean... I love Bobbie, but I love you, too. And I am sorry."
        Lance smiled supportively at him, but he couldn't say anything back, and then JC was gone. As soon as the door clicked, the tears were streaming down his cheeks, and he stood there, staring at the door for a long time as he cried. And then, finally, he went to the bed and laid down face first on it, trying to control his tears and breathing.
        "Don't fight it," Justin's voice soothed, and Lance suddenly felt a hand rubbing his back. "Cry, Lance. It's okay to cry."
        Lance sniffed and sat up, facing Justin and quickly wiping away his tears. "Sorry. I didn't hear you come in."
        Justin lightly brushed away Lance's tears. "I know. Don't be sorry." He reached out and handed Lance a tissue, which he snatched off the box on the bedside table. "Here."
        Lance smiled and laughed shakily, wiping furiously at his eyes and nose. "I must be a mess," he muttered, unable to even look at the mirror for fear of what he would see.
        Justin shook his head seriously. "No," he promised, his voice low. "You're not." Lance looked up at him, and their eyes met and held for a long time. So long, in fact, that Lance stopped crying completely as he found himself utterly fascinated by the blue color that Justin's eyes were. He had never seen that color blue before, and as he stared, trying to think if he could place it, he forgot all about JC and even being upset, and the fact that it was Christmas started to settle in, and the fact that he was happy and in good company started to come back.
        Lance suddenly smiled. "Thank you, Justin," he thanked happily, starting to feel much more cheerful. So he and JC were going to put things on hold for a while. That meant nothing. People broke up and got together all the time.
        Justin looked slightly confused, but he smiled back. "You're welcome."
        Lance impulsively reached out and hugged him, and was immediately encircled by two very strong, firm arms. Lance lost himself completely in that embrace, loving the warm, happy glow that spread through out his body and lit him from the inside out. It was Christmas. He had no right to feel bad on Christmas Eve.
        "Dinner's at JC's at 8," Lance told Justin, pulling away. He crawled over to the phone, dialed JC's room, and waited.
        "Hello?" came Bobbie's voice.
        "Hey Bobbie, is JC there?"
        "Sure, one second." Lance listened to Bobbie call for JC.
        "Hello?" JC asked, sounding surprised.
        "Should I have the guys bring their gifts over?"
        Lance could hear JC's smile. That was it. JC knew things would be okay. Lance knew things would be okay. They would survive and go on, stronger than before. "Yeah, of course."
        "Alright. Be right there." Lance hung up the phone and turned to Justin with a large grin. Justin looked surprised and a bit confused, but patiently waited for Lance to explain. "Got gifts?" he asked, grinning.
        Justin arched an eyebrow. "In the closet."
        Lance jumped up and dashed to it, crashing into Justin's body a second later as Justin slid in between him and the door and he hadn't slowed down quickly enough. He made an 'oof' sound, and would have fallen if Justin hadn't of caught him and yanked him backwards, against Justin. Justin leaned against the door while Lance leaned against Justin, Justin's arms wrapped around Lance's waist.
        "I never knew you to be one for early presents," Justin panted.
        Lance started laughing as he looked up at Justin. "I'm not," he told Justin. "Christmas day, that's when you get gifts. No, JC and I have a surprise for everyone. Get your gifts and let's go."
        Justin eyed Lance warily. "You want me to take your presents out of the closet, carry them to JC's room, and do what with them?"
        Lance grinned. "You'll see." He gave Justin his best innocent look. "Trust me."
        Wordlessly Justin moved off of the closet, taking Lance with him, and then pulled it open, picking up bags of presents. Lance was impressed by the rather large stack Justin had accumulated. He'd boughten quite a few gifts. Lance grabbed four sacks, Justin grabbed four, and there were still two left, but they left those there as they trooped across the hallway to JC's room. Lance kicked the door to knock, and Justin laughed while Lance shot him a grin. JC pulled open the door with a smile, and Lance walked in past him, Justin following.
        Justin stopped short and stared.
        "You guys did all of this?" Justin breathed, astonished. "It looks great! And oh my god, there's a tree!" Justin practically dropped his bags and sprinted to the tree, looking at all the different ornaments. "When did you guys do this?" he demanded, turning on them. "Oh, look, a little angel!"
        Lance couldn't help but laugh, relieved to find that JC and Bobbie were doing the same. "We did it earlier today," Lance answered, shaking his head slightly and yet loving Justin's boyish excitement. "Looks good, huh?"
        "Looks great!" Justin exclaimed happily. "Joey and Chris are going to die!" He suddenly paused and turned to look at Bobbie, sitting on the bed almost nervously. "Hi Bobbie!" he greeted. "How are you?"
        Bobbie smiled at him. "Hi Justin," she laughed. "I'm fine. How are you?"
        "Impressed!" Justin yelped, hurrying over to the bags he had abandoned and dragging them to the tree as he began unloading them. "This is going to be the best Christmas absolutely ever!"
        Lance laughed out loud and looked over at JC, who was grinning at Justin. JC slowly looked over at Lance, and their eyes met, and they smiled at each other warmly before Lance went to go help Justin unload the bags.
        "I'll call Chris and Joey," JC announced, going to his phone. A few minutes later, there was a knock on the door, and Joey and Chris let out two gasps in perfect unison.
        "Damn!" Chris exclaimed. "This is... This is... This is..." He shook his head. "This is going to sound completely cheesy, but I absolutely love you guys and I am so glad that we're spending Christmas together as a family."
        Justin jumped to his feet and pointed at Chris in one fluid motion that left Lance impressed. "See?!" he shouted. "See?! I told you! I told you! Christmas with the family! No one ever listens to me, but I knew it from the beginning!"
        Lance stood as well and placed a hand on Justin's shoulder. "We heard you," he assured Justin, smiling. "And you were right. This is how we should be spending Christmas."
        Justin nodded smugly and wrapped his arm around Lance's waist. "You all thought I was crazy," he reminded. "because I didn't jump at the chance to go home a day early. But now you see. Now you know I'm not crazy or insane."
        "Not more than normal, anyway," Joey teased.
        Justin arched an eyebrow and pointed a warning finger at Joey.
        "Let's go get those other bags," Lance suggested, grabbing Justin's arm and practically dragging him out the door. Joey and Chris followed them, and JC held open the door as they came back in. To Lance's surprise, Bobbie was gone.
        "Bobbie went back to her hotel," JC told them. "She said that we were obviously having 'a moment' and she didn't want to interrupt."
        Justin started laughing. "How considerate," he teased. "She comin' back later?"
        JC shook his head. "She just stopped by. We're both booked for the next couple of days."
        Joey and Chris finished unloading their gifts, which they had stacked all on top of each other's, and yet still it took up an extremely large portion of JC's floor. They all stood back and admired their handiwork.
        "We do good work," Lance said to JC, wrapping an arm around his waist as JC wrapped an arm around his shoulders.
        "A great team," JC agreed, and Lance flashed a grin at him. JC smiled back down at him and then released Lance, looking at something past Lance for an instant and then going to the phone. "I'll call for dinner, since we're all here."
        Lance gave him a confused frown, and then looked up at what JC had been staring at.
        Justin's eyes were trained on JC, but without even looking at Lance he was crossing the few feet to Lance's side, putting an arm around Lance's shoulders. Lance's eyes widened and his jaw fell slightly. What was JC saying?!

        It was 11:00 o'clock, exactly. At least, that was what the glowing red numbers on Lance's clock said. With a sigh, Lance sat up, utterly exasperated. His mind was racing a mile a minute, and he couldn't fall asleep when he kept thinking of JC and Justin.
        Dinner had gone well. They had laughed, and joked, and had a good time. Things between JC and Lance weren't weird at all. Actually, they were really, really good. It was between Justin and JC that things were weird, which surprised Lance to no end. Justin seemed to be angry at JC, and JC seemed to be practically handing Lance to Justin. Lance was completely confused.
        Lance stood up and dressed quickly, throwing on his khaki's and the same thing he'd had on earlier, and left the room. He wasn't sure where he was going, but he wanted to go someplace; outside, maybe. The cold air would certainly shake him up.
        "Where's Danny?" Lance asked, surprised as he came into view of the elevators and found the body guards there, minus Justin's guard.
        "He's with Justin," Ramond answered hesitantly, exchanging looks with the other guards.
        Lance's jaw fell. Justin had gone out?! At this hour?! Where?! "Where? When? How long has he been gone? Was something wrong?"
        Ramond smiled slightly, as though amused. "He's fine, Lance. He went downstairs about a half an hour ago."
        Lance frowned in puzzlement. "Downstairs? Downstairs where? Why?"
        Ramond hesitated again. "I'll take you," he offered, standing. Lance nodded and punched the button to go down, waiting impatiently for the elevator to hurry up. It was so late for Justin to be out, and Lance couldn't help but worry about him.
        As soon as the doors opened, Lance hurried on, followed closely by Ramond. Lance was already pushing the 'close door' button as Ramond was coming through, and the doors nearly shut on his shirt. As soon as the door was shut and they were on their way down, Ramond glared at Lance and looked at his shirt.
        "Sorry," Lance apologized, shrugging sheepishly. He was bouncing on his toes nervously, desperate to find out what Justin was doing up at that hour, and on Christmas Eve, no less.
        Ramond sighed, and Lance could have sworn he heard Ramond mutter, "Love." Lance turned wide eyes on Ramond, who wasn't looking at him. The elevator dinged open, and Lance rushed out, distracted away from Ramond by his desire to get to Justin. Ramond slowly led the way through the almost completely empty lobby and back along a hallway to a side room that Lance hadn't known was there. To his surprise, Ramond paused outside of the doors and put a finger to his lips before slowly pushing the door open.
        Lance slipped inside at Ramond's gesturing, and Ramond followed a second later, closing the door quietly behind him. Lance was surprised to hear a piano playing, and Justin's soulful voice filling what seemed to be a small, empty theater. Slowly Lance crept to the doorway, where he caught sight of a large piano on the stage, Justin sitting at it, and playing and singing. Danny was in the very back row, sitting there, and to Lance's surprise, Danny seemed to be near tears.
        Wise men say only fools rush in
but I can't help falling in love with you
Shall I stay would it be a sin
If I can't help falling in love with you
Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes some things are meant to be
take my hand, take my whole life too
for I can't help falling in love with you
Like a river flows surely to the sea
        "Justin," Lance whispered, tears in his own eyes. He glanced back at Ramond, who also seemed to be getting emotional. Ramond nodded slightly at Lance, and slowly Lance stepped down the aisle to the front of the theater, to the stage.
        Suddenly, without warning, Justin's eyes came over and met Lance's, and Lance froze.
        Darling so it goes some things are meant to be
take my hand, take my whole life too
for I can't help falling in love with you
for I can't help falling in love with you

        Lance couldn't move. He couldn't breathe. He couldn't even think as the words washed over him. He had never felt a more magical moment in his entire life. Justin was singing... Justin was singing to him. Maybe not to him, but he had seen Lance and he hadn't stopped signing.
        As the song drew to an end, Justin's fingers on the keys stilled, and he held them in his lap. "What're you doing here?" Justin asked softly, but Lance heard him anyway.
        Lance carefully made his way up to the stage, taking his time to climb the few stairs separating the stage from the floor. He had been so desperate to get to Justin, but now that he was there, with Justin, he felt like moving slowly, like he had all the time in the world.
        Lance sat down beside Justin on the black piano bench, straddling it so that his knee touched Justin's. "Looking for you," he whispered back.
        Justin's eyes searched Lance's, and Lance sat there, allowing Justin to take his time. Justin finally looked away, swallowing and clearing his throat. "I was just playing the piano," he explained, looking down at it. "Singing a bit. No big deal."
        "Play?" Lance requested, wanting to hear Justin sing with a longing that made his heart ache.
        Justin glanced at him. "Play what?" he asked softly.
        "Anything." Lance was desperate. He had to hear Justin sing. He had to.
        Justin hesitated, then placed his hands on the keys. He hesitated once more, and then slowly began to play, his eyes meeting Lance's every few seconds.

I can't fight this feeling any longer
And yet I'm still afraid to let it flow
What started out as friendship has grown stronger
I only wish I had the strength to let it show

I tell myself that I can't hold out forever
I say there is no reason for my fear
Cause I feel so secure when we're together
You give my life direction, you make everything so clear

And even as I wander I'm keeping you sight
You're a candle in the window on a cold, dark winter's night
And I'm getting closer than I ever thought I might

And I can't fight this feeling anymore
I've forgotten what I started fighting for
It's time to bring this ship into the shore
And throw away the oars forever
Cause I can't fight this feeling anymore
I've forgotten what started fighting for
And if I have to crawl upon the floor
Come crashing through your door, baby, I can't fight this feeling anymore

My life has been such a whirlwind since I saw you
I been running around in circles in my mind
And it always seems that I'm following you,
Cause you take me to the places that alone I'd never find

And even as I wander I'm keeping you sight
You're a candle in the window on a cold, dark winter's night
And I'm getting closer than I ever thought I might

And I can't fight this feeling anymore
I've forgotten what I started fighting for
It's time to bring this ship into the shore
And throw away the oars forever
Cause I can't fight this feeling anymore
I've forgotten what started fighting for
And if I have to crawl upon the floor
Come crashing through your door, baby, I can't fight this feeling anymore

        As the last notes ended, Lance looked from Justin's eyes to Justin's hands, and then, as Justin slowly pulled them off the piano, Lance took them, holding them between his own and meeting Justin's eyes again. His heart was pounding, his mouth felt like cotton, but he wanted to look at Justin. Really look at him.
        He saw a scared little boy, a boy in love, a boy in fear, a boy who wanted desperately to please, and yet wanting to go and hide. He saw someone who loved everyone, and yet hated them all at the same time. He saw a myraid of emotions.
        He saw Justin.
        "Lance," Justin whispered, and something about those blue eyes told Lance that Justin knew exactly what Lance was seeing, and it scared and excited him at the same time.
        "It's okay," Lance whispered back, and suddenly the little boy was in his arms, hugging him tightly. Lance swallowed hard and lightly stroked Justin's back. "It's okay, Justin. It's okay."
        Justin clung to him tightly, resembling a child, and Lance wanted nothing more than to take all that fear and uncertainty that Justin had away from him. Justin was so sweet and so pure and so innocent... What was upsetting him so much must have been something awful.
        "Please don't leave," Justin requested, his voice not higher than a whisper.
        "I won't," Lance promised, closing his eyes. "I won't ever leave, Justin."
        Justin's grip tightened, and then he was suddenly pulling back. "You sing?" he asked, almost shyly.
        Lance arched an eyebrow. "I'm not so sure that's a good idea. My voice isn't half as good as yours."
        Justin smiled slightly. "Please?"
        Lance sighed, then nodded, smiling slightly. "What would you like me to sing?"
        Lance hesitated, then nodded slowly. "Okay."
        The notes started on the piano, and Lance closed his eyes for a split second before opening them to find Justin's blue eyes on him, and he began the song that was one of his favorites.

The strands in your eyes that color them wonderful
Stop me and steal my breath
Emeralds from mountains thrust toward the sky
Never revealing their depth
Tell me that we belong together
Dress it up with the trappings of love
I'll be captivated
I'll hang from your lips
Instead of the gallows of heartache that hang from above

I'll be your crying shoulder
I'll be love suicide
I'll be better when I'm older
I'll be the greatest fan of your life

Rain falls angry on the tin roof
As we lie awake in my bed
You're my survival, you're my living proof
My love is alive not dead
Tell me that we belong together
Dress it up with the trappings of love
I'll be captivated I'll hang from your lips
And stand at the gallows of heartache, that hang from above

Repeat Chorus

I've been dropped out, burned up, fought my way back from the dead
Tuned in, turned on, Remembered the things that you said

Repeat Chorus

        Justin smiled when Lance finished, and Lance finally looked away, utterly embarassed that he had just sung that entire song to Justin. Justin, on the other hand, actually looked quite cheerful.
        "That was beautiful," Justin assured him, smiling. "Way better than anything I did."
        Lance smiled weakly. "Thanks, but it's not true."
        Justin's fingers were soft against Lance's cheek. "You don't give yourself enough credit," he told him earnestly, gently. He smiled and pulled back, placing his hand on the keys. "Now how about you and I sing a few Christmas carols?"
        Lance grinned. "There's something I can get behind."
        A faint smile touched Justin's lips in a joke that Lance didn't understand.

        After almost two hours downstairs--ringing in Christmas at midnight with "Santa Claus is coming to town"--they went up to their rooms. It was 1:00 in the morning, and yet there was something bugging Lance. He wasn't sure what it was, but he knew it was something. He had felt perfect sitting beside Justin at that piano while they sang and laughed and joked together, even managing to get Ramond and Danny to join in a few times. Still, the moment had been private, between just the two of them, and it was magical and romantic and perfect.
        To Lance, anyway. Justin probably thought Lance was just cheering him up.
        Lance gave out a tired sigh, shaking his head at himself. He really needed to get to sleep. 1:23. He was never going to get to sleep. Ever. His thoughts drifted to all the small children out there sleeping and dreaming of Santa Claus leaving gifts under their trees and goodies in their stockings, and the joy on their faces when they woke up in a few hours, way ahead of their parents, scrambling downstairs to see what Santa Claus had brought them.
        Wait, Santa Claus... There was something about Santa Claus...
        Lance sat up so quickly that his world went black and he had to take a minute to breathe. He shook himself, stood, and changed faster than he'd ever changed in his entire life. He ran out of his room and down the hallway to the elevators, giving the down button a shove.
        Ramond was already ready to go. "I had a feeling this wasn't over yet," Ramond sighed. "What are you getting him?"
        Lance stopped short and turned around, staring at his body guard. "What makes you think that I'm--"
        "Please, don't insult my intelligence," Ramond begged, holding up a hand to shut Lance up. He smiled. "So where are we going at 1:30 in the morning on Christmas?"
        Lance shrugged wildly. "I have no idea. All I know is that we have to find someplace that's open, and if it's not, we have to buy it."
        Ramond's eyes went wide. "Are you that desperate?"
        Lance paused and looked up into Ramond's eyes. "His happiness is very, very important to me."
        Ramond didn't say another word.

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