“Take these broken wings
I need your hands to come and heal
me once again
So I can fly
Until the end of time.”
-Tupac, “Until the End of Time”
“She’s not good,” Karen said worriedly. “I heard that one minute
she was working in class, and the next she was on the floor.”
“But why did she faint?” Lance asked, very concerned. The other guys
were surrounding him, trying to listen in on the conversation.
“The doctors at the infirmary said it was exhaustion and dehydration.
Remember, I told you that she hadn’t been eating or sleeping much, and kept
working instead,” Karen explained. “Also, she’s been kind of in this funk
lately. That kind of attitude didn’t help anything.”
“Yeah, I bet,” Lance sighed, running his hand through his hair.
“Listen, what do you think would help her right now?”
“Not just with the physical stuff,” he clarified. “Rest won’t do
anything for her mindset.”
“True,” she agreed. “I’m not sure, then. I guess that video you
guys sent made her feel a little happier.”
“Well, I’ll try to think of something. I’ll be in touch.” He
ended the call and turned to his friends, looking at him with anticipation and
“What’s going on?” JC wanted to know.
“Lily fainted, she’s in the campus infirmary for stress and
dehydration,” Lance quickly explained.
“Shoot,” Joey commented. “Is she going to be okay?”
“Yeah, of course,” he reassured them. “It’s just her emotions
right now that really worry me.” They all fell silent, knowing exactly why she
wouldn't be feeling too good right then. And they refused to lay the blame on
anyone. But Justin spoke up anyway.
“It’s all my fault,” he said guiltily. “I was too harsh on her.
And now I avoid her. Damn, if I was in her position I’d be the same way.”
“J, come on, no one said it was your fault,” Chris began.
“No, I know it’s because of what I did. But I can fix it,”
he offered. “I’ll make things right.”
The red of the setting sun streamed through the towering trees and fell
in scattered beams onto the sidewalks. The breeze calmed Lillian, lifting the
strands of hair off her neck. Finally, after some stubborn arguing, the
infirmary had allowed her to go back to her dorm instead of staying confined in
the austere room she had been issued.
I can’t believe I let myself become that weak. What was I thinking?
I worried Karen and Lance, and now people treat me like I’m an invalid. And I
have so much more work to catch up on. It’s like I’m trying to kill myself.
passed a couple leaving the dorm as she entered, and didn’t miss the looks
they gave her. She could easily imagine what they were thinking. She’s that
wacko who went on a pop tour but came back early, and then fainted in the middle
of class. Better stay away from her.
She had become almost accustomed to the curious and judging glances sent
her way, but this last one was too much. Seeing their arms wrapped around each
other, intoxicated by their own happiness, and pitying the outsiders.
The tears came against her will, and she tried to fight them. She had
cried more in those few months than she’d ever done in the previous five
years. At least Karen’s staying late at the library today, so I won’t
have to face her. She ran up the stairs to her floor instead of taking the
elevator; she didn’t want to encounter anyone else today.
The door to her room beckoned to her, and she gratefully hurried to it.
She unlocked it and stepped inside the dark room, letting the sanctuary surround
her. Except something was wrong. The room wasn’t dark, the lights were on. And
there were two other people in the room with her.
She wiped her eyes with her palm hastily, trying to eliminate any traces
of tears. Then she cleared her throat. “Hi Lance.” She turned to the figure
seated on one of the beds. “Justin.”
Lance noticed her surreptitious attempt to disguise her tears and strode
over to her, clasping her in a tight hug. “We were worried about you,” he
murmured. “Are you okay now?” He felt her nod, and he smiled. “Good. But
don’t ever do that again.”
She gave him a weak smile. “It wasn’t really on my agenda to do it in
the first place.”
Lance chuckled softly, then saw her glance fleetingly at the still silent
Justin before regarding him once again. Tension filled the room, and he was
getting uncomfortable. “Uh, I’m going to go out for some air. Maybe observe
the night life around here.”
She merely nodded, and he grabbed a pair of sunglasses before heading
out. The door clicked shut behind him, and she was alone with Justin.
They both remained where they were, Justin perched on the side of the bed
and Lillian standing next to the door. Their bodies were tensed and they
appraised each other with wary eyes.
Finally, Lillian shook herself out of her daze. We can’t just stand
here forever. “So…” she began, fumbling for something to talk about.
Anything to talk about. “Do you want anything to drink?” she asked,
motioning to the small refrigerator in the corner of the room.
Justin merely shook his head and continued to remain silent. His intense
gaze was trained on her face, and she wanted to hide self-consciously.
He noticed that her eyes were still suspiciously bright. “Were you
crying?” he asked, although he already had a pretty good guess of what her
answer would be.
“Um, no,” she said, shaking her head and keeping her eyes downcast.
“It’s just…allergies. Irritates my eyes.”
Sure. But he didn’t argue with her. He knew what it felt like
trying to keep his pride intact. “Okay,” he replied, letting the doubt show
in his voice. She glanced at him quickly before lowering her gaze again. He
sighed, not liking where their reunion was going. “Lillian, come sit with
She approached him cautiously and gingerly balanced herself next to him
on the bed, keeping some space between them. She didn’t want him to get close
enough. He would start analyzing her appearance and realize she was lying about
He cleared his throat and thought of how he should begin. “I…I was
worried about you.”
“There’s no reason to be,” she replied quickly. “I’m fine.”
Justin scoffed at that obvious lie. “Fine? I don’t think so. Unless
fainting in class is a normal thing for you. Damn it, Lillian, you know how to
take care of yourself better. Are you two years old or something?!”
She was beginning to get angry. She hadn’t asked him to come back into
her life when he was the reason things became the way they were. And instead of
apologizing for creating a riff between the two, he was insulting her. “Of
course I know how to take care of myself! I’m not a child, or an idiot,” she
“Well, you’re sure as hell acting like one. Not eating or sleeping,
only working,” he said disapprovingly.
“How would you know what I’ve been doing? Were you spying on me or
something?” she demanded.
“Hey, I wasn’t spying on you,” he immediately defended
himself. “I heard it from Lance.”
“Lance? How would Lance know? I didn’t tell him-“ she broke off
quickly, realizing that she had just given herself away.
“See? You can’t deny it,” he claimed, not missing her slip. “You
think you can just work and work, and all your problems will go away? Dream
“Dream? Oh, it’s funny you say that,” Lillian bit out
sarcastically. She was fuming, and shot to her feet. He was such a jerk, to just
waltz back into her life after no phone calls or emails and start lording it
over her. “Because I recall that I used to have a lot of dreams. But that was
before my friend betrayed me.” She shook her head, trying to dispel the sudden
onslaught of emotions. Her voice softened. “And I thought it had been my
He looked at her sadly. He could see the small traces of blame still left
in her clouded eyes, even though her words didn’t acknowledge them.
“Lillian,” he entreated, grasping her hand carefully, “It wasn’t your
fault.” She continued to shake her head, the words barely penetrating into her
mind. “Come on now, don’t cry.”
“I’m sorry,” she sniffed, hating herself for the pitiful way she
was acting. “I was just…”
“You were just upset because real friends don’t abandon each
other,” he finished for her. He pulled her down next to him, this time
eliminating any space between them. “Sweetheart, I’m the one who’s sorry.
I should have believed in you, and if not that, at least kept in touch. I’m
the biggest ass in the world.”
She paused, this time fully hearing what he said. She tilted her head to
the side, his endearment echoing in her ears. Sweetheart.
Justin stared at her, waiting for her reaction. After a few seconds, he
still didn’t receive one. “Lillian,” he prodded, nudging her shoulder.
“What?” she asked, still distracted. “Oh! Yeah, you are an ass,”
“Yes, I am!” he responded eagerly, wanting her to forgive him. Then
he caught the small hint of a smile lingering on her face. “Hey,” he
drawled, grinning, “what’s that I see?”
“What’s what?” she said mischievously, now fighting to keep a
Unexpectedly, he reached out and pulled her cheeks. “A smile!” he
proclaimed, laughing. She beamed at him, pushing his hands away. Then he calmed
down. “Seriously. I’m sorry. Can you forgive me?”
Lillian searched his solemn face, and decided that she liked what she
saw. “I forgive you.”
The happiness flooded him, and he gathered her close for a tight hug,
almost squeezing the breath out of her. Finally he released her, and she loved
the adorable grin on his face. “We’re weird,” she said. “Five minutes
ago, we were fighting, and now we’re all chummy again.”
He shrugged and leaned back on the bed, pulling her down alongside with
him. “Well, what can I say? No one can stay mad at the magic that is the
Timberlake. It’s not humanly possible.”
She laughed, then poked him in the ribs. “Just…just promise me that
it won’t happen again.”
He didn’t have to ask what ‘it’ was. “I promise,” he whispered.
“Good,” she breathed out, yawning.
“Tired?” he inquired, feeling a little drowsy himself.
“Yeah. I don’t know why, usually I go to sleep a lot later than
this,” she explained, trying to keep her eyes open.
“I don’t blame you. You should be resting anyway. I mean, after
what’s happened in the last twenty-four hours, you should be out like a
light.” He paused after hearing no response. “Lillian?” He turned to her.
Her eyes were shut.
He smiled gently. “Goodnight,” he said softly, placing a kiss on her
“Goodnight, Justin,” she murmured, only half-awake.
He reached over her to turn the lamp off before lying back down and
cushioning her head on his shoulder. “Sweet dreams, Lillian.”
I wonder how things went. Lance strolled down the dormitory hall,
approaching Lillian’s room. He had been out, exploring the campus and
observing college life. There wasn’t much going on, considering most of the
students were studying for their finals, according to one of the workers at the
local café. But the peace and quiet had allowed him to relax, and gave him a
chance to make a call to the guys to update them on the situation. He reached to
knock on the door, but it opened and his fist hit air.
A woman stepped out of the dark room. She looked surprised to see him
standing there, but she quickly recovered. “Lance.”
“Karen, I’m guessing.”
“You guessed right. Come on, let’s go out and get something to
eat,” she suggested, pulling him away from the door.
“I hope they didn’t kill each other,” he said, nodding at the room.
Karen grinned at him. “Not even close. Take a look,” she said,
opening the door and letting him peer in.
He paused to let his eyes get adjusted to the darkness, and then he
grinned too. “How cute is that,” he commented, looking at his two friends
curled up on the small bed together. Lillian was using Justin’s arm as a
pillow, and sleeping peacefully, he didn’t seem to mind.
“Too cute,” she laughed quietly. “Now let’s give them some
privacy. I bet they’re both pretty tired. And this gives us a chance to
gossip! Now tell me, Mr. Bass, boxers or briefs?”
“Thanks,” Lillian smiled, giving Lance a hug.
“You’re very welcome,” he replied. “Stay outta trouble, okay? I
don’t want to have to come and baby-sit you again.”
“Sure, sure,” she laughed. Then she turned to Justin. “And thank
you, too. I’m glad we’re…okay again.”
He nodded, completely understanding what she meant. “I’m glad too.
Now we can make fun of Lance behind his back!” he exclaimed excitedly.
“Man, shut up,” Lance complained, giving his friend a shove. “We
all know who brought this whole friendship together again. Lance! Lance Bass. I
Both Lillian and Justin rolled their eyes in unison. “Let’s just
humor him,” Justin suggested.
Her reply was interrupted by a car horn honking at them. It was one of
the members of security, coming to take them to the airport. “I guess you
should go now,” she said sadly.
“Yeah,” Lance replied, picking his bag up and putting it in the trunk
of the black car. “It’s been fun hanging out again. You should come back on
tour with us,” he remarked before stepping into the back door.
“You really should,” Justin immediately agreed. “Movie nights,
watching our kickin’ concerts. Great stuff!” He glanced at the car, then
added in a lowered voice, “And we can pull the ultimate prank on Poofoo.”
“What was that?” came the shout from the backseat.
“Nothing, nothing,” Justin answered nonchalantly. “Well, I’ll
definitely keep in touch this time,” he said, grinning down at Lillian.
“Me too,” she promised, wishing he could stay with her forever.
He paused awkwardly, then quickly leaned over and kissed the top of her
head. “See ya,” he called back to her as he got into the car.
She automatically waved as the car drove away, still a little surprised
over his show of affection. Wow, two kisses in two days. Well, he is a
friendly guy, Lillian. Don’t exaggerate something so small. But still, a
girl could dream.
“What was that?” Lance inquired curiously, examining the face of his
friend sitting next to him.
“What are you talking about?” Justin asked in return, shooting a
quick glance at him before turning back to look out the window. He resumed his
humming that had been interrupted by Lance’s question. And I swear, by the
moon and the stars in the skies, I’ll be there. And I swear, like the shadow
that’s by your side, I’ll be there.
“What am I talking about?” Lance repeated incredulously. “That
little kiss from before! And you guys were awfully close last night, if you know
what I mean.”
“Jeez, Bass. We’re friends,” Justin explained, stressing the
word. “I’m like that with all my girl friends.”
“Well, I don’t know if Lillian knows that you’re an affectionate
“So? Why would that matter?”
“Because she might…make it out to be something more than it actually
is,” he warned.
Justin laughed at the idea. “Whatever. She’s not stupid. I bet
she’s gotten lots of hugs and kisses.”
“Not really,” Lance replied. He decided not to mention how she used
to tense up whenever he touched her. Eventually though, he supposed she had
become used to them showing their friendship physically. But Justin had never
been one to hug her much before.
“Come on, Lance. It’s okay,” Justin argued. Why would Lillian be
any different from his other friends?
“Fine. But all I’m saying is, don’t lead her on,” he cautioned,
his brotherly instincts taking over. He knew, even if Justin didn’t, that
Lillian loved his friend.
“I won’t,” Justin answered, rolling his eyes before going back to
you think our offer over?”
“Lance, I don’t know. I’m pretty immersed in my schoolwork here,”
Lillian replied ruefully, not wanting to disappoint her eager friend. She
cradled the phone against her shoulder as she examined her English thesis before
deleting a few words. “Stupid Shakespeare. I thought high school was the end
of him,” she muttered.
“What was that?” he asked curiously.
“Oh, nothing. So how is everything on tour?”
“It’s going well. Nothing like thousands of screaming girls to give a
guy an ego-boost, you know? Plus, I think they like my new hair.”
Lillian rolled her eyes. “And I thought Joey was the only one taken to
dying his hair in completely random colors. I guess that dark blue does
makes your face look thinner,” she added, giggling.
“Well, thank you very much for that backward compliment, Miss Lily,”
he drawled sarcastically. “Anyway, back to what we were talking about before.
Screw the schoolwork. Tim will write a nice letter of apology to your professor,
and then you can come back on tour with us! It’ll be great, I promise you.”
She drummed her fingers thoughtfully against her chin as she read over
her topic sentence. “What was that? I wasn’t paying attention.”
“Sorry! English isn’t my specialty, you know. Science is. I don’t
understand why we have to take so many English classes at a tech school
“Stop whining,” Lance laughed. Suddenly he exclaimed. “Hey! I’ve
got an idea. Why don’t you come on tour with us again, so we can help you with
your English! We’re not morons or anything, we’ve all been to school. And
Chris and Justin should be pretty good with writing stuff. JC too.”
“Hey!” she echoed. “I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
“Because I have a lot of makeup work. Because it’ll be weird to go
“Dang, I gotta go now. But you better think over the offer, because we
really want our little buddy to come back.”
“Okay, fine. I’ll think about it.”
Lance watched the others around him carefully, trying to gauge their
reactions. Justin was nodding, his eyes closed tightly. Joey’s grin stretched
across his whole face, and Chris looked just as excited. JC was fairly vibrating
from his pent-up energy.
“Sweet,” JC said. “I mean, this is amazing.”
“I know!” Lance quickly responded. “The sound of it is like nothing
we’ve ever done before.” He reached over and grabbed the jewel case from
Chris. “Let me see that one more time.”
Justin gathered in close behind him and together they examined their
faces on the new CD album. “I’ve gotta say, guys, we look good! If I
passed a mirror, I’d hit on my reflection. Damn!”
“Calm down, J, and let’s focus on the music,” JC laughed. He took
the stereo remote and skipped to the next track. “This should be good. Our
They all quieted down to pay attention to their newest slow song. The
beautiful strains of the piano streamed over the speakers and washed over their
minds. For the next four and a half minutes, a hushed awe settled over the room.
After the song ended, no one was willing to break the silence. Finally, Joey
His four friends nodded, completely understanding his babbling. The world
would be completely blown away by this new side of ‘N Sync.
“Miss Oswald, I just don’t understand,” Professor Lee exclaimed,
taking his glasses off and rubbing the bridge of his nose in frustration.
Lillian sighed and shifted her weight to her other foot, preparing to explain
the situation to her teacher once again.
“A lot of personal things happened during the internship. I doubt I can
go back and continue as if nothing had ever occurred. Everyone there thought I
was malicious enough to try to hurt the group and sabotage their tour!” she
said, still uncomfortable with telling other people about the tour.
Professor Lee eased himself into his chair, then pulled out a piece of
paper from his desk. Slowly he began to read. “’We are deeply sorry for the
obvious inconvenience and abruptness of the whole situation, but we find that
there is no other option available. Ms. Oswald’s knowledge and work ethic
would be gratefully appreciated at such a busy time in our schedule. Please
allow her to return to the internship as soon as possible.’ It looks like they
want you back pretty urgently,” he observed, eyeing his student.
She let out another sigh and shook her head. “I have some crazy
friends,” she responded, knowing that the guys had personally written the
letter. Tim would have just offered an apology, not a chance to return.
Still, it would be fun to be with everyone again, a small voice
inside of her reasoned. But she just didn’t know. What if another
misunderstanding happened? She wouldn’t be able to survive a second time. And
would Thompsen and the other crew members be willing to accept her back after
such a long interim? There were too many possibilities to think of.
“I just don’t know,” she finally said. “I’ll think about it.”
Poor Professor Lee was about to fall asleep from their extensive debating.
He perked up again and regarded her with the experienced eye of a mentor.
“You should do that,” he said, nodding. “But Miss Oswald- Lillian- a word
of advice, if you will. If whoever wrote me this letter is fighting so hard to
get you back, they aren’t going through all this trouble for a coward. Don’t
disappoint them.” He looked at his watch. “You can go now.”
Lillian left the classroom, closing the door behind her. No one else was
in the hall as she leaned limply against the wall and stared blankly at the
bulletin board opposite her, deep in thought. Don’t disappoint them.
“She’s coming back?!” Joey shouted unbelievingly at hearing
“Yup,” Lance grinned satisfaction. “I guess Chris’ letter really
worked.” He paused for a second. “Huh. Imagine that. Chris’
“Give us the details,” JC demanded, hitting Lance’s shoulder to
prod him out of his surprise. “When’s Lily coming?”
“Oh yeah. Sorry about that. Um, her flight comes in…” he broke off,
turning to Joey. “What time is it?”
Joey quickly flipped his wrist over to check the time. “Seven
“Okay, then she should be here in twenty minutes.”
“Who should be here in twenty minutes?” Chris asked, coming with
Justin into the hotel room. He was sweating heavily, and Justin was bouncing a
basketball against the carpeted floor.
“Already back from your game?” Lance asked, receiving tired nods in
reply. “I forgot to tell you guys, Lily’s coming back today.”
“What?” Justin asked with wide eyes, letting the now forgotten
basketball drop and roll across the floor. Chris wasn’t surprised, instead
there was a smug expression on his face.
“I knew it. That letter must have been the last nudge she needed. Am I
good, or am I good!” he bragged, lifting his hand for a high-five.
Lance stared at his outstretched hand. “So anyway,” he said, turning
to the others, “Her plane’s probably landed by now.”
“How’s she getting here?” Justin asked, pushing the different
emotions out of his head and trying to focus on rational thoughts. “Taxi?”
“Um, actually I don’t know,” Lance admitted. “Most likely a
“Most likely?” Justin repeated. “She doesn’t even know this city.
And we’re a forty-minute drive from the airport! That will cost so much money,
you realize that? You at least told her the hotel, right?”
Silence met his question. Everyone turned to Lance incredulously.
“Please tell me you told her where we’re staying,” JC pleaded.
“I knew I forgot something,” Lance said sheepishly.
“You ass!” Justin cried.
“I’m sorry!” Lance replied. “Look, we can just send Mike or Todd
over to the airport to pick her up, and tell her to wait a little. I don’t
think she has enough cash to pay the taxi.”
“But I wanna go too!” Joey whined playfully. “She’ll be so happy
to see us be there to meet her. Trust me, the ladies love that.”
“Okay, here’s the plan,” JC spoke up. Everyone quieted down to
listen attentively to him.
“Tell us, Daddy,” Justin joked.
“Lance, you call Lily and tell her to stay put for a bit longer. Chris,
you and Joey go find Todd and the limo. Me and Justin will go convince Tim to
let us out for a few. Got that?” They nodded quickly. “Okay, let’s go
“But I’m already late, I can find a taxi and get to the hotel if you
give me the directions,” Lillian argued, holding her cell phone close to her
ear. She was standing near a gift shop and had been about to buy a map before
the ringing of her phone interrupted her.
“No, Lily, just stay,” Lance replied. “Someone’s already
going to pick you up.”
“Are you sure? I don’t want to inconvenience anybo-“
“Don’t worry about it, see ya!” he quickly cut her off. Ending the
call, he turned back to the other four sitting with him in the limo. “Can we
say stubborn?” he asked, groaning. “I thought she’d never give in.”
“It’s okay,” JC said, “The important thing is that she won’t
leave. Now we can have some fun!” He reached into a bag and pulled out some
things, tossing them to his friends.
And now we’ll see what happens, Lance thought, looking at
Lillian looked down at her phone in frustration. “I can’t believe he
just hung up on me!” She put the cell phone away and grabbed her carry-on bag
in one hand, then slung her laptop over her other shoulder. She looked around
the airport, noticing how crowded it was even though it was getting late. Her
glance fell on a nearby magazine stand.
Special All-NSYNC Issue! It proclaimed proudly. Lillian laughed to
herself, then walked over to examine it more closely.
Below the hot pink bubble letters was a picture of the group mugging for
the camera. Joey was in the middle with his arms flung out, effectively pushing
the others out of the way. Lance was on his right side, trying to shove the arm
away, and JC’s mouth was open in laughter. Chris was leaning in from the left
side, apparently not noticing Justin, who had jumped onto his back. Lillian
thought they looked adorable.
She reached for the issue and read its price. It was only $2.99. She
couldn’t pass it up. Still giggling quietly, she went over to the cashier to
pay for the magazine. As she was walking, a broad back suddenly cut in front of
her and she accidentally ran into the person.
“Oomph. I’m sorry,” she immediately offered.
The man turned around and looked down at her. He had a large cowboy hat
on, and expensive looking sunglasses. “I didn’t see you there, little
lady,” he said in a thick southern accent.
Lillian stepped away from him and noticed he was holding a copy of the
latest “Source” in his hand. Ja Rule was on the cover. A cowboy holding a
hip hop magazine? “Um, that’s okay.”
“Please, go ahead,” he smiled broadly from under a dark mustache.
She looked at him, trying to figure out why he seemed so familiar. Then
she shrugged the feeling away and quickly bought the magazine. When she looked
back up again, the man was still there. Was it her, or did it seem like he was
going to laugh any minute?
“Thanks for letting me go first,” she said. “Bye.”
He tipped his wide-brimmed hat down in reply, putting his purchase onto
She glanced at him one more time before leaving the stand.
As soon as she had disappeared, he started laughing hysterically.
“JC!” a voice admonished, the owner coming out from behind a shelf of
“Sorry, sorry,” he managed to breath out between his laughs. “But
did you see her face?! Jeez, it was priceless.”
Chris laughed. “Yeah, it was. She looked kinda scared, now that I think
“I can’t imagine why,” JC shrugged, pushing his cowboy hat higher
on his head and opening his magazine. “Hey, look at that! Mystikal’s new
then, oh man, he was like ‘go ahead little lady.’ Lily was probably thinking
‘who is this psycho hick.’ But it was great!” Chris exclaimed to his
attentive audience. They burst into laughter after hearing of JC and Lillian’s
“Now it’s our turn,” Joey said, grinning mischeviously at Lance.
“Let’s move out!”
Lillian glanced worriedly at her watch, then back at the people rushing
in through the sliding glass doors. She didn’t see anyone who looked remotely
familiar. Who did Lance send, anyway?
Fifty feet away, two men began whispering conspiratorially.
“There she is,” Joey said, pointing at her.
“Here, put these on,” Lance commanded, handing a pair of bright
red-framed sunglasses at Joey and putting on his own pair of Ray-Bans.
“Maan,” Joey whined, “next time I better get to wear the
“Sure, sure” Lance replied distractedly. “Okay, I’ll go up first,
and you follow.”
“No!” Joey protested. “I’m wearing these goofy shades, I get to
“Fine,” Lance sighed. “Just hurry up.”
Joey grinned and rushed towards his target. He walked quickly, and as he
neared Lillian he purposely jostled her hard. Surprised, she accidentally
dropped her magazine. Both her and Joey bent down to retrieve it, and their
“Ouch!” they both exclaimed.
“My bad,” Joey flirtatiously smiled. He reached out and steadied
Lillian, then grabbed the magazine before she could get a hold of it. Hmm,
handsome guys. Especially that Italian looking one.
“Okay,” Lillian responded still half-dazed. What’s with me
hitting people? And why do all the people have sunglasses on? She noticed
that he continued to examine the ‘N Sync magazine, having pushed his
fisherman’s hat further up his head so he could see the cover more clearly.
“You like the Backstreet Boys?” the man asked.
“’N Sync,” she replied wryly, holding her hand out for her
“Oh, my bad,” he said again, still not releasing it.
“Yeah,” she agreed, losing her patience for dealing with strange men
in the airport. “My magazine, please.”
“Okay,” he assented, but instead of giving it back he opened the
cover and began flipping through the pages. “That Nick Carter’s a cute one,
huh?” he commented, pointing at a picture of Justin.
From nearby, Lance noticed that Lillian was now fuming. He quickly
swallowed his laughter and moved in, before she attempted to physically harm
“Hey,” he called out, thinking of a name to call his friend. “Uh,
Joey looked at him incredulously. Tyrone?! “Oh, there you
are…Gaylord.” Haha, he laughed inwardly. Gaylord Focker.
It was obvious that Lance remembered watching “Meet the Parents” too,
because his eyes bulged out at the stupid name. But he couldn’t do anything
about it because Lillian was watching them both curiously. He had to keep their
disguises going. “Yeah, here I am. Anyway,” he said, turning to address
Lillian, “I hope my brother here wasn’t bothering you too much. He was born
premature,” he explained. “Very premature.”
The sunglass men are brothers, was Lillian’s only inane thought.
“So, here’s your magazine back,” he said, practically ripping the
magazine from ‘Tyrone’s’ grasp.
“Thanks,” she answered, taking the magazine and stuffing it in her
bag. “I…have to go…now.”
“Bye!” Joey cheerfully waved at her quickly retreating back, with
Lance collapsing on his shoulder in fits of laughter. Then he turned to his
blonde friend and they gave each other jubilant high-fives.
“Maybe it’s the water around here,” Lillian mumbled to herself.
“Contaminated water can lead to lots of strange things.” But what kind of
mother names her kids Tyrone and Gaylord? It’s wrong.
She strode rapidly through the current of people heading to their
boarding gates, feeling her laptop bang against her side repeatedly. Finally she
stopped when she spotted a row of empty chairs. Dropping her bags in one seat,
she sat down gratefully in the next one. I should call Lance. I’ve been
here for an hour now.
“Hello?” Lance said, answering his ringing cell phone. He smacked
Joey, who was still cracking up.
“Lance! The people you sent aren’t here yet. I should just go find a
“What? No! Um, he should be there any second now. Stay there for a few
more minutes, okay?” he pleaded, motioning his other friends over from where
they were eating pretzels.
“But-“ Lillian began.
“Great! See you in a few!” he exclaimed before hanging up on her for
the second time that night.
“What’s up?” asked JC, stuffing the last bit of the baked bread
into his mouth.
“She’s getting impatient,” Lance explained. “We should go get her
“I have a better idea,” Chris grinned. “Justin should go get
her now.” All their heads swiveled as one to regard their youngest friend, who
was examining the leftover cheese sauce from his pretzel.
Justin slowly raised his head when he realized everyone was staring at
him intently. With faintly impish looks on their faces. “Okay…” he
started, “Is there something on my face?”
“Nope, other than your usual ugly mug,” Chris replied.
“Oh, haha,” Justin sneered. “So can we go get Lillian now or
“No, no,” Lance shook his head. “Not ‘we.’ You”
“What? Why me? Why can’t Lance go?” he asked, confused.
“Because…because it’ll start your friendship on a good foot,” JC
“And you can spend some more quality time together, cause we only
visited one night before,” Lance added.
Quality time, huh? Justin’s mind flashed to the fun he’d had
with Lillian at the movie theater. The movie wasn’t the best he’d seen, but
they still had a good time. Suddenly he smiled and adjusted the visor on his
head. It was time to get those good times back. “Okay. I’ll go.”