Chapter 20

“Do you believe in magic in a young girl’s heart

How the music can free her, whenever it starts.”

                             - Lovin’ Spoonful, “Do You Believe in Magic”




“Amazing,” Lillian breathed, staring in rapt fascination at the stage. “Simply amazing.”

            “You’re telling me,” giggled the tall girl next to her. Her name was Allie, Lillian had learned during the past two hours. She seemed to be one of ‘N Sync’s most devoted fans, having driven ten hours with her friend and little sister to catch the concert. And she planned on ‘stalking them all the way back to Florida,’ or so she claimed.

            Lillian smiled at her, appreciating her devotion to the guys. Allie seemed very sweet, if a bit overzealous when it came to the opposite sex.

            “Look at Lance!” Jennifer exclaimed. She was Allie’s sister and said she was fifteen, although she looked a little younger. Jennifer was a mirror image of Allie, only smaller. They shared the same sun-streaked light brown hair and willowy bodies.

            Vicky was Allie’s best friend, and she seemed to be the most outgoing of the three. Her face paint was bright and glittery, and the sign she held featured a few choice pick-up lines. Lillian’s favorite was “Are you a beaver? Cuz daaaaaaam,” with all the A’s written out in different glittery colors. Considering they were in the second row of the bleacher seats, the guys were bound to catch a glimpse of the sign. She knew Joey especially would get a kick out of it. He loved pick-up lines.

            Lillian envied their happiness and carefree lives. Even though she was only a year older than Allie and Vicky, she felt ancient compared to them. She couldn’t remember ever being as lighthearted as they were. When she was eighteen, she was working two jobs and applying for grants and loans. But she didn’t hold a grudge against them. It was impossible, they were simply too nice.

            “Lance!” Jennifer shrieked again, waving frantically in hopes of getting his attention. He looked over in their direction, but instead of seeing Jennifer he noticed Lillian, and he grinned suddenly.

            Lillian laughed as Jennifer practically fainted, thinking her idol was smiling at her. Let her think what she wants, no harm done.

            Vicky groaned out of the blue. “Damn.”

            “What’s wrong?” Lillian asked, glancing over as her camcorder zoomed in on Justin and JC.

            “The concert’s gonna be over soon,” she sighed, looking at her watch. At hearing that, Jennifer’s and Allie’s faces fell.

            “But it’s so good!” Allie complained. “I wish we could make them dance and sing for us forever,” she laughed.

            Lillian thought for a second. These three girls were so nice, and so in love with the guys. Considering that she worked on the tour, although they weren’t aware of that fact, couldn’t she do something to make them feel a little better? Then she smiled.

            “I’ll be back in a second,” she said, “Bathroom break.”

            “Hurry back,” Allie responded. “You don’t want to miss any of this.”

            “Here, I’ll tape for you,” Vicky offered, taking the camcorder. “But don’t blame me if I focus on Joey!”

            Lillian quickly pushed through the throng of dancing and screaming girls and headed to the stage, not being stopped by security because she pulled out her “staff” pass. Her timing was perfect. As soon as she got to the side of the stage, JC ran off it to towel off and drink some water.

            “Lily, what’s up? Having fun?” he asked, out of breath.

            “Definitely having fun,” she assured him with a smile. “But could I ask for a favor?”


            “I met these three girls, could I bring them backstage after the concert? They’re the sweetest people, and I’m sure you’d love to meet them,” Lillian said in a rush. She hoped he would agree.

            “Okay,” he said, “That’d be cool. Just tell Lonnie or Mike I said you could bring them.”

            “Thanks, JC!” she grinned, spontaneously hugging him. She was too euphoric to control herself.

            He laughed. “Sure, sure, anything for my friend. But I got to go now, the guys are gonna start to wonder where I disappeared to.”

            “Oh yeah, sorry,” she apologized bashfully.

            He waved to her before running back onstage.

            Lillian hurried back to her seat, eager to tell the girls the good news.


*                       *                       *                       *


            “Oh my gosh,” Jennifer breathed. “I can’t believe it, we’re gonna meet them! Thank you so much, Lillian! Why didn’t you tell us you knew them?!”

            “Calm down, Jen,” her sister advised. But Allie appeared a little shaky herself. Only Vicky continued to act normally. Or as normal as she ever was.

            “Joey is going to fall in love with me, and then I’ll become his girlfriend and we’ll get our freak on!” she laughed.

            Lillian smiled indulgently at them. She was like that when she had first heard about the internship on the ‘N Sync tour. She could completely understand what they were going through.

            They approached the backstage entrance, where security was staked out to prevent any crazed fans from attacking the group. Luckily, Mike was one of the guards there.

            “Hi Mike,” she greeted him.

            “Hey, wassup,” he grinned. “These friends of yours?” he asked, motioning to the now silent and wide-eyed girls behind her.

            “Yeah, JC said I could bring them backstage.”

            Mike nodded. “He told me already. Go on in, then.” The guards stepped aside to let them enter, and quickly blocked the way again after they had passed.

            “Okay, deep breaths,” Jennifer said to herself. “Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out.”

            “Thanks a lot,” Allie said to Lillian. “Really. I mean, this is unbelievable.”

            Vicky nodded. “We owe you big time. I’ll be your slave forever. Well, Joey’s slave mainly, but yours too!”

            Lillian laughed. “You don’t owe me anything. I just thought you all are great people, and I wanted the group to get a chance to meet some of their most devoted fans.”

            She stopped in front of the door to the dressing room, where the guys had already changed back into their street clothes and were unwinding.

            “Okay,” she said, “Ready?”

            Three heads nodded in unison.

            She opened the door, and led the way in. And almost burst into laughter. JC had apparently told everyone of the extra guests, because they were all sitting together with fat smiles on their faces, looking like they were posing for a photographer.

            “Hey!” they all said simultaneously to the shocked fans.

            “You’re probably scaring them,” Lillian commented. She nudged Allie out of her stupor, who in turn poked Jessica and Vicky. “Guys, this is Allie. That’s Jennifer, her sister, and Vicky, her friend. They’re the ones I met in the audience.”

            Justin spoke up first. “Hi, it’s really nice to meet ya’ll.”

            They breathed out polite responses to his greeting, still stunned that they were alone with ‘N Sync.

            “Come on, loosen up!” Joey grinned. “Relax, have fun.” He noticed the sign that Vicky still held. “Hey, you were the one with the pick-up line sign. Nice!”

            Vicky smiled, proud that he’d seen it and more importantly, liked it. “Thanks, I thought you’d find it funny.”

            The girls finally emerged from their shock and reverted back into the confident, funny people they were. At Lillian’s reassuring smile, Jennifer went over to Lance.

            “Hi, I really admire you,” she said. “Like your dancing, singing, producing…everything is amazing!”

            Lance grinned at the compliment. “Thanks, Jennifer. That means a lot to me. So tell me about yourself. Where are you from?”

            Jennifer giggled and they began talking, with Chris joining in. Allie went over to ask JC for his autograph, and he chatted her up as he signed some stuff for her. That left Justin and Lillian as the only ones not talking.

            He waved her over and made room for her on the couch. “Take a seat. Did you like the concert?” Honestly, he was anxious of her answer. He hoped she liked it and had fun.

            “Of course!” she exclaimed, not disappointing him. “It was…wow. Just wow! I borrowed JC’s camcorder and taped it.” But she didn’t tell him how she spent the majority of the concert zooming in on him, and not the others.

            “That’s cool,” he smiled, glad she was impressed. And he was happy that she was getting to meet new people and become closer to the other guys. Lance couldn’t hog her forever. “We’re hitting the road again tomorrow, so there won’t be another concert for a few days.”

            “Oh no,” she gasped melodramatically, “Whatever shall I do? Oh wait, I’m friends with ‘N Sync. So I get to see them every day, even when there isn’t any concert.”

            “Yeah,” Justin said, poking her with his finger. “Aren’t you lucky?”

            “Ha,” she laughed, “Lucky when Lance isn’t trying to play a prank on me every day.”

            “He is?”

            She nodded. “He’s really determined this time.”

            “Don’t worry, the J and L tag team is together again! We’ll take him down,” Justin promised.

            They grinned at each other conspiratorially.

            All too soon, it was time for the girls to leave. They all got ‘N Sync to sign something of theirs before they left, their faces reflecting their excitement and happiness.

            Vicky hugged Joey goodbye, and let him keep the poster. Jennifer figured she could die happy, now that she’d met Lance, and Allie smiled wistfully at JC. Lillian followed them outside to say her own goodbyes.

            “Lillian, thanks so much. It was the best. You’re the best,” Jennifer said enthusiastically.

            “Definitely. It was great meeting you tonight,” Allie added. “Hey, give us your email address or something, we have to stay in touch.”

            “Yeah,” Vicky laughed. “We bonded at an ‘N Sync concert together. This’ll be a great story for the grandkids.”

            Lillian smiled at all of them, glad that she happened to meet them. “I should be the one thanking you. I’ve never really been able to meet someone at a social event and get accepted immediately. You three are really the sweetest girls I’ve ever come across.”

            “Aww, you’re the sweetest!” Vicky immediately responded.

            They laughed and hugged, one by one, after exchanging email addresses.

            “Talk to you soon!” Allie called out as they left, waving.

            Lillian went back into the dressing room. “So what’d you guys think?” she asked the group gathered around the poster and laughing at the pick-up lines.

            “You were right. They’re really nice people,” JC complimented.

            “And that Vicky’s a wild one,” Joey said. “A kindred spirit.”

            “Not too bad looking, either,” Chris chimed in. “Except for Jennifer. She’s still too young.”

            “Yeah, especially for an old geezer like you,” Justin laughed.

            Lillian interrupted before the two started arguing. “Well, I’m glad you liked them. I loved the concert, by the way.”

            “Good! Changed your life, didn’t it?” Joey asked.

            “Oh yeah,” Lillian said, humoring him. “Of course.”

            “So it’s only eleven,” Lance commented. “What do you want to do now?”

            Everyone looked at each other, thinking the exact same thing.

            “Movie night!”


*                       *                       *                       *


            “Okay, in honor of your triumphant return, you get to pick the movie,” Joey offered.

            “Why thank you, Joey,” Lillian smiled, looking through the pile of tapes that had only grown larger while she’d been gone.

            “But if it’s a chick flick, I get to decide what we watch,” he continued on. “I have final say!”

            “Shut up, Joe, just let her choose,” Lance said, rolling his eyes.

            “How about ‘Braveheart’?” Lillian asked. “What a good movie!”

            “Nah, too long,” JC complained. “We can save that for the road.”

            “Hey, what’s this porno doing in here?” Lillian exclaimed loudly. When Joey lunged for the tape, she held it out of his reach, laughing. “Just kidding.”

            They burst into laughter, and Joey turned red. “Man, she got you,” Justin cackled.

            “Just pick a movie!” Joey shouted in embarrassment. “I’ll get you, Lilypad, just you wait.”

            “Try it,” Justin dared. “But I gotta warn you, I got her back. It’s the J and L connection. Pranksters to the end.”

            “Yeah,” Lillian agreed. “We all remember what happened to Lance.”

            Everyone began laughing again, but this time at their green-eyed friend. “I have to admit,” JC said, “That was pretty good. He smelled like Sprite for days.”

            “You know what, I’ll pick a movie,” Lance said, roughly shoving the laughing Lillian out of the way and grabbing a tape at random. He put the tape in the VCR and pressed play just as a weight hit him in the back.

            “Got you!” Lillian yelled, still giggling.

            “Hey, that wasn’t playing fair!” Lance protested, only to get another pillow thrown at his head from a different direction. “Justin!” he shouted, ducking down and letting the pillow fly over his shoulder.

            “Sorry, it looked like fun,” Justin said unabashedly.

            JC calmed everyone down and they settled in to watch the movie, but ten minutes later Justin spoke up.

            “This is boring! Man, Lance, why’d you have to pick ‘Driving Miss Daisy’?”

            “I didn’t know it was this movie when I put it in!” Lance defended. “Besides, even though it’s kinda slow, it’s still good.” He yawned. “I guess.”

            Joey sprang up from his seat on the floor. “Let’s do something fun. Movie night’s not gonna cut it today. We’re all too hyped up from the concert still.”

            Chris rose to his feet, nodding eagerly. “Joseph is right. We need to burn off all this extra energy. But how? That’s the question,” he said, lapsing into a deep silence and nodding to himself.

            They all thought of something to do. Suddenly JC shouted out, “I got it! Everyone wait here, I’ll be right back.” He raced out of the room, leaving his friends curious.

            Minutes later he came back, followed by Todd and Lonnie, who were looking very disgruntled. They were holding supersoakers in their beefy arms.

            “Water fight!” Justin cried excitedly. “You are the man!” he said, high-fiving JC.

            Joey ran over and took the waterguns from the bodyguards, then went into the bathroom with Chris to fill them up with water.

            “JC, you realize it’s a few minutes past midnight,” Lonnie spoke up. “And we’re in a hotel. People are sleeping.”

            “Yeah, like we should be doing,” Todd added.

            “Oh, come on,” JC argued. “When I went into your room you guys were shouting at the boxing match that was on HBO. You weren’t even close to sleeping.”

            The two bodyguards paused, thinking of a comeback. “Well, it’s the principle of the matter,” Todd finally said.

            Lance laughed. “That’s a weak argument. Can’t we just cut loose tonight? It’ll be fun!” The notion of a water fight in the middle of the night was sounding more and more appealing to him.

            “Yeah, you can be on my team,” Justin offered.

            Lonnie and Todd looked at each other, then sighed in defeat. “Fine, you guys can have your little water fight,” Todd assented. “But it’s your butts if Tim gets mad.”

            “Yeah, we’ll take the blame,” JC promised.

            Joey and Chris came back into the room, the tanks on the supersoakers filled with water. There were eight weapons, one for each person.

            “Teams of two,” JC said, quickly outlining the rules. “And we have to stay on the floors with people from the tour, which means the top three floors. You can’t go any further down than the eighth floor. And…what else?”

            “Elevators?” Chris asked.

            “Up for grabs.”

            “Pool?” Lance wanted to know.

            “Sure, we can refill there.”

            “Hotel rooms?”

            “Out of bounds,” JC decided. “We don’t want to trash the rooms. Now what are the teams?”

            Joey and Chris immediately grouped together, and Justin pulled Lillian next to him. JC nodded, surveying the room. “I’ll take Lance. Lonnie, you and Todd can be a team.”

            They all grabbed their water guns eagerly, although Lillian and the two bodyguards hung back reluctantly. Justin took one of the supersoakers and pushed it into Lillian’s hands. “Come on, Lillian. The J and L connection, remember? We’ll take everyone else down!” He began pumping the gun frantically, looking like a bloodthirsty maniac.

            She laughed despite herself and took a firmer grasp on the water gun. “The L and J connection.”

            “Fine, fine, the L and J connection,” Justin sighed, pretending to act sullen. Suddenly he noticed that only his team and Lonnie’s were still left in the room. “Hurry, we have to go find the others! Let’s go, guys,” he shouted to Lonnie and Todd as he raced out the room, dragging Lillian behind him.

            Lonnie turned to Todd, looking resigned. “How do we get ourselves into these things?”

            Todd shrugged. “All’s I know is this: We’re gonna soak those little suckers!” They bumped their fists and ran out of the room.



            “Check around the corner,” Chris prompted.

            “No! You look,” Joey protested.

            “You’re the one in front! Just peek out and see if anyone’s in the hall,” Chris argued.

            Joey grabbed him and pushed him to the front. “Now you’re in front. So look.”

            Chris ran behind Joey. “Who’s in front now? Go ahead, look!”

            “You first.”

            “No, you first.”

            “Oh, I insist, you can look first. I’ll be right behind you.”

            “No, I’ll be right behind you!”



            Justin crept stealthily against the wall, his supersoaker pumped and ready. Approaching the corner, he paused and turned back to Lillian. He put a finger up to his lips, signaling for her to be quiet. Then he swung around the corner, his water gun held threateningly in front of him. His blue eyes surveyed the hallway.

            “All clear, let’s go,” he said.

            “Where’s Lance?” Lillian asked with a mischievous smile on her face. “We have to get him.”

            “Be patient, we’ll find him. We’ll find them all, one by one.”



            “Calm down, Jace,” Lance said, observing his friend who was almost bouncing off the walls.

            “Calm down?! Poofoo, this is awesome!” JC exclaimed. “How many times do you get to have a massive water fight in a four-star hotel?”

            Lance contemplated that. “True, very true. Okay, now I’m getting pretty psyched.”

            “Good! Who do you want to hit first?”

            Lance replied quickly, without any doubt. “Justin and Lily. Definitely Justin and Lily.”



            “You da man!” Lonnie congratulated his partner.

            “No, you da man!” Todd protested.

            “We both da men!” they exclaimed together, laughing.

            “Aw, this is genius. We’ll just stay here relaxing,” Lonnie said, motioning to the pool, “And when those fools come to refill, we’ll show them.”

            “They’ll regret ever interrupting the boxing match,” Todd agreed, an evil smile on his face.




            Justin swung his head with the beat, humming along to the elevator music. He stared at his reflection in the glistening metal of the closed elevator doors, then glanced over at Lillian’s. She looked impatient, tapping her foot on the carpet. “Don’t worry, we’ll find them soon,” Justin reassured her.

            They heard a ding as they reached the ninth floor. The elevator doors slid open, only to reveal a surprised looking pair of men holding supersoakers who had evidently been waiting for the elevator.

            “Oh-“ Lance begun.

            “-Shit,” JC finished.

            They bolted away from the elevator and ran in opposite directions down the hall.

            “I’ll take JC, you go after Lance,” Justin shouted to Lillian, already in hot pursuit of his dark-haired friend.

            “Got it,” Lillian agreed, racing after Lance.

            JC ran hard, a little out of breath because he was laughing so hard. His plan had worked. He could hear Justin’s shouts behind him. He glanced over his shoulder and was sprayed in the face by water. Faster, faster. He rounded another corner, and sped up. He primed the water gun. Just a little further.

            “There’s no use in running, Lance!” Lillian yelled, hitting him with water in the back just as he disappeared around the corner. She sprinted after him, but when she went past the corner she was hit by a cold blast of water. “Hey!”

            Lance had turned around and was ready for her. Now he had the advantage. He quickly looked behind him and saw that JC had Justin in the same situation. Justin’s loud shouts were filling the hall.

            “JC, to the stairs!” Lance cried. JC nodded, and chased Justin towards the stairwell, water shooting the whole time.

            Lillian noticed that Lance was distracted for a second, and she took the opportunity to grab his water gun and run down the hall with it. She had to help Justin.

            Justin ran down the stairs with JC behind him. Lillian was shooting JC, and Lance was trailing after her, deprived of a weapon. Their excited shouts and laughter bounced off the walls, echoing loudly. Justin burst out of the door to the stairs and dashed through the hall, the other three still behind him.

            He turned a corner, and got sprayed in the face with water. “What the-“ he began, wondering who hit him.

            “See?” a voice said. “I knew it was better to just stay put.”

            “Whatever, Chris! You just didn’t want to look around the corner,” Joey argued. “Oh, look out!” he warned as JC, Lillian, and Lance appeared.

            Chris and Joey soaked them with their water guns, and soon they turned around and ran back towards the stairs.

            Lance led the way as he climbed the stairs, occasionally getting hit by a stream of water, and went up to the highest floor. The one with the pool. All four of them ran down the hall as Chris and Joey continued to assault them.

            He shoved the door to the pool open and ran in, not noticing two bulky figures in the shadows. But when he neared the glowing blue pool, he was promptly pushed in. Lillian followed, then JC splashed in, and finally Justin was propelled in. They treaded water and blinked the water out of their eyes, looking for the perpetrator.

            Joey and Chris stared down at them from the deck of the pool, still dry. But that didn’t last long. Their eyes widened as Lonnie and Todd shoved them in to join the others.

            Lonnie and Todd laughed, ignoring the various complaints coming from the pool. “Yes,” Lonnie said, “We are definitely da men.”



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