Chapter 12

“Why does my sky hang with wet tears?
Why is its face always gray?”

                        -“Sky,” Faye Wong


            Hannah stood nervously next to the large waiting area in the lobby, too tense to sit down on one of the empty sofas. Although any casual observer would see nothing unusual about her, a keen eye would notice her white-knuckled clutch on the edge of her coat and that her eyes seemed a little wide.

            She had admirably hid it before, but her proposition to Josh had been all bluff. She wasn’t sure if he would allow himself to be coerced into going to see a movie with her, but she figured she had nothing to lose anyway. Thank god he agreed.

            But after that ordeal, she had another thing to worry about. Will he actually show up? Right now she was seriously doubting it. Seven o’clock, she had said, and yet it was now seven thirty, and still no sign of him anywhere.

            Hannah was ready to abandon her act of bravado and give up, but at that moment Josh appeared from one of the gleaming gold elevators. And right behind him were Justin, Lance, Chris, and Joey.

            Her heart fell at seeing the other guys. Not out of unfriendliness, of course, but she had been hoping for a private night out with Josh. Now there would be no chance of talking with him. Oh, come on, Hannah. Just be glad he’s here.

            She lifted her chin, resolving to make the most of the opportunity. “Hey, guys,” she greeted them, smiling.

            Lance and Joey automatically smiled back and said hello. Chris pretended not to hear her, obviously still miffed about his missing Gameboy earlier that day. Justin had to nudge his older friend with a sharp elbow before turning back to grin charmingly at her.

And Josh…Josh focused those disarming blue eyes on her before nodding and looking away, staring blankly at something above her head. Hannah had to hold her sigh in. This was not going as planned. At all.

            “What are we watching?” Justin asked. “Because I have a few suggest-“

            “Don’t listen to him!” Chris interrupted, coming out of his sulk. “Only a crazy man on crack would follow his movie suggestions.”

            “Ahem, speaking of crazy men on crack…” Joey whispered in the background, only to present Chris with an angelic demeanor when he turned around.

            “No, I promise it will be good this time!” Justin exclaimed. “I’m not that bad. I chose ‘Dracula 2000’ last time, remember?”

            Lance coughed discreetly and the others remained silent, averting their eyes from Justin’s.

            “So anyway,” JC said hurriedly, “Why don’t you choose?”

            Hannah stared back into his inquiring gaze, marveling at the way its color stood out from his dark hair and tanned face. What did he ask again? “Oh! Um…I don’t really care. Whatever you guys want to see is fine with me.”

            “’Bubble Boy’!” Justin exclaimed, waving his hand in the air. “Let’s watch ‘Bubble Boy’!”

            “Well, I can’t think of anyway to watch,” Lance stated, ignoring him.

            “I got an idea! ‘Bubble Boy’!” Justin urged, looking back and forth at his friends.

            “Me neither,” Joey added. “I’m game for what you want to see.”

            “I want to see ‘Bubble Boy’!” Justin fairly shouted.

            “There aren’t any movies out,” Chris commented, thinking to himself. “We’ve already seen the best stuff.”

            JC shrugged. “Well, Hannah, you got us into this mess. Think of something.”

            She rolled her eyes at his tone. It wasn’t like they were suffering or anything. Apparently, watching a movie was a rough task in his world. “Look, Josh, I only wanted to do something fun tonight. I, for one, am tired of seeing you so depressed and sulky. Sorry for trying to be nice.”

            She let out a sigh of exasperation and annoyance and turned to Justin. “If you still want to watch ‘Bubble Boy,’ I’ll go with you.”

            Do I?!” Justin yelled. He grabbed her arm. “Let’s go!”

            JC watched as the two of them quickly left through the glass doors, followed closely by Mike. “Glad that’s over with,” he scoffed, looking at Lance, Joey, and Chris.

            Joey had taken a few steps after Justin and Hannah, and froze when JC raised his brows at him. “I’m kind of bored, man. At least the movie theater has popcorn and stuff,” he explained defensively before running to catch up with his youngest friend.

            “I’m going to steal Hannah’s purse,” Chris decided suddenly, looking at her figure with a mercenary gaze. “See ya, Jace.”

            “Are you going to leave me, too?” JC asked Lance. “Just leave me and hang with her.

            Lance shook his head in disappointment. “It’s not like we all hate Hannah like you hate her,” he said rationally. “And considering that you two grew up together, you should be the one trying to get her to like us.”

            “Well, fine!” JC exclaimed as he was left alone with only Dre to accompany him. “Desert me! Who cares that we’re in the same freaking band!”

            He stood there for a few more moments, knowing he looked like an idiot but trying not to care.

            “JC?” Dre ventured.

            “Yeah,” he answered, not looking up from the floor.

            “The car’s still outside.”

            “… Let’s go then.”

            Dre followed his charge to the black SUV outside, pursing his lips to keep from smiling and further pissing JC off.


*                       *                       *


            “Do you get what we mean now?” Chris asked, no longer holding a grudge against Hannah.

            She nodded, groaning. “Yes, I get it. Never ever watch a movie Justin recommends.”

            “That’s my gal,” Lance said, laughing. “We have taught you well.”

            “I should have realized something was wrong when we walked into a completely empty theater,” Hannah commented. She looked at Justin, who was walking slowly past the movie posters and pointing out some of them to Josh and JOey.

            “You’ve got to be kidding me,” JC replied, staring at Justin incredulously. “You had fun?! We watched ‘Bubble Boy’! This was worse than ‘Driving Miss Daisy’!”

            Justin shrugged, unrepentant. “The movie doesn’t have to be good in order to have some fun.” He grinned suddenly at his friend. “Besides, I noticed that you and Hannah got to talking. That’s an improvement, right?”

            JC appeared a little embarrassed that Justin had seen him conversing so amiably with Brat. She was the only one next to me, what else was I supposed to do? Actually watch the movie?

            “She’s not that bad,” he bit out quickly.

            “Huh? What’d you say? I didn’t quite catch that,” Justin replied, an exaggerated look of anticipation on his face. Joey smiled, glad that JC was actually admitting the truth.

            “I said she’s not that bad,” JC said, a little louder but not any slower. “For Brat.”

            An idea popped up in Lance’s mind. He snickered inwardly, ready to stir up some trouble. “Hey, Jace, if you don’t like Hannah, mind if I take her?”

            JC, who had been ready head back to the others, immediately whipped around and stared at Joey. “What did you say?”

            Lance shrugged. “Just saying, she’s pretty cute. Don’t be selfish, right?”

            Hannah is cute?” JC repeated. He turned from his friend to Hannah, paused, then looked again. “She is?”

            “Oh yeah,” Joey answered, smirking. He put on his best lecherous face. “I’d like to get me some of that.”

            “You’re just horny,” JC shot back. “You don’t really like her.” He stopped, thinking to himself. “And what did you mean, if I don’t like her. Why does that matter?”

            “Come on, man, that should be obvious!” Justin said, joining the conversation. Sorry, Hannah, but this will turn out right in the end, I promise. “She likes you!”

            “No she doesn’t,” JC hastily refuted. “She thinks I’m like a brother. An annoying brother.”

            “Jace, believe what you want, but I know attraction when I see it,” Joey replied. “And it’s very visible.”

            “Really?” JC asked, smiling slightly. Wait, why are you smiling? This isn’t supposed to make you feel happy! It’s Brat! “Um, I mean…yeah, Joey, you can have her. Go for it.”

            Joey suddenly was a little uncertain. Just when his spur-of-the-moment plan looked like it was going to work, JC did a complete turnaround. Then he rethought his own position. I get to hit on a girl. “Alright man, if you say so!” he said jauntily, walking off.

            “Likes me. Whatever,” JC muttered to himself, but unable to tear his eyes away as his friend smoothly approached Hannah and slid his arm around her shoulders.

            Justin watched JC watching Hannah, entertained. He wasn’t worried that JC hadn’t protested against Joey’s suggestion. He’ll come around. I know it.


*                       *                       *


            “Alright, people, listen up please,” Sondheim announced, waiting for the orchestra’s undivided attention. The musicians stopped tuning up their instruments and looked at their conductor alertly.

            “First of all, I wanted to congratulate you on such amazing progress so far,” he said, cracking a smile that looked foreign on his weathered face. “And secondly, I’ve decided to write in a revision, to better showcase the band’s voices and your talents. Instead of simply having ‘N Sync sing a capella in the beginning of the song, they’re going to start unaccompanied, and also end unaccompanied. And when they five of them hold the last note, that’s when the orchestra will play pianissimo.”

            Hannah nodded slightly, agreeing with Sondheim’s decision. She wanted them to receive all the attention possible on their voices. That was the way it was supposed to be, after all. And Josh can show those critics how wrong they are.

            “So let’s try that, please,” Sondheim continued. He signaled to the guys, who were standing in their correct positions at the front of the stage.

            Lance raised his hand and began snapping his fingers to a slow beat. He then added his deep pitch. A measure later, Joey followed suit, his voice standing out by being a little higher. Next was JC, then Justin, and finally Chris. They held their notes for four full beats before finally beginning the actual song.

            “Was it under the paper moon that we first saw one another,” Justin started out. “Or when the nightingale sang in Berkeley Square?”

            “The time escapes me, but your smile never will,” JC picked up. “Though it was long ago, my life since then has been full.”

            “I remember you, you’re the one who made my dreams come true a few kisses ago,” all of them sang together.

            JC closed his eyes, concentrating on the fullness of the song and not on the world around him. This was how he found his sanity.


I remember you,

You’re the one who said

‘I love you, too’

Didn’t you know?


I remember too,

A distant bell,

And stars that fell like rain

Out of the blue.


Am I remembered by you

Now that we can’t be together tenderly?

Am I loved by you still

Now that we both deny the truth?


Where do we go

When the storm drives us apart?

What can we do

As the moon fails to show?


Once in a while,

I catch a cloud of you.

For some time,

Everywhere I saw your smile.

At moments,

I know that I was a little too lonely

And you were a little too late.


But as that highway

Stretches before me,

And you, my past,

Buried behind me,

Don’t ever fret;

For I won’t forget:


When my life is through,

And the angels ask me to recall

The thrill of them all,

Then I shall tell them

I remember you.


            Slowly they repeated the last verse, the orchestra gone quiet behind them. “…then I shall tell them I remember you,” came the melodious lines, carrying throughout the auditorium and echoing. At the last possible moment, the instruments joined back in, softly and somberly.

            JC blinked his eyes open, wondering why it was so silent. He turned around and somehow ended up staring right at Hannah and into her silvery eyes. After a long moment that was probably only a second, she bit her lip and lowered her head.

            “That was…wonderful,” Sondheim declared, clasping his hands together in satisfaction. “Just perfect. Exactly what I had envisioned.” He took a deep breath, composing himself. “Alright, everyone, take a break. You’ve earned one.”

            Joey immediately whooped and jumped off the stage while Chris pulled out a bag of chips from his pocket to share with Lance. JC held his arms outstretched behind him, hearing his shoulder pop satisfyingly.

            “Hey, man,” Justin said, nudging him, “Guess who just showed up.” He jerked his chin over to the door.

            JC looked over and almost groaned when he saw Bobbie. It had been two days of peace and quiet, and here she was again. Not that she annoys me…I just don’t feel like talking. That’s it.

            “Cover for me,” he whispered to his friend.

            Justin raised his brow but didn’t protest. “I got your back.”

            JC grinned and bolted off behind the curtain at the side of the stage. As he hastily disappeared, he didn’t hear Justin behind him.

            “Sorry, Bobbie, JC’s becoming good friends with a certain John right now.”


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