Chapter 6

“But if you see me walking by,

And the tears are in my eyes,

Look away, baby, look away.

Don’t look at me;

I don’t want you to see me this way.”

            -Chicago, “Look Away”



            The screams and cries echoed in the stadium, bouncing off the walls and releasing into the balmy night air. Justin sat in his dressing room, fidgeting while Elaine blotted his face with a tissue and another woman fixed gel through his hair. In the next chair, JC was drumming his fingers on the armrest, humming softly to himself.

            When he felt Justin’s eyes on him, he looked over and grinned nervously.

            “Tonight’s the night, J,” he said.

            “I know, man,” Justin answered. “I hope we don’t miss our entrance to the third set. We’ve been practicing forever. And my voice better not crack in the ballad. Shoot, maybe I should get another drink of water.”

            JC placed his hand on his shoulder, preventing him from standing up. “I wouldn’t get another drink, unless you plan on pissing your pants in front of a packed crowd.”

            “Hey, if peeing your pants is cool, call me Miles Davis,” Justin quipped, repeating a line from his favorite Adam Sandler movie. His joke alleviated the edgy tension in the room. They both got up from their chairs to join up with the rest of the group.

            “Good luck, J-baby!” Elaine said coyly, smoothing a hand down his arm.

            Even that didn’t ruin Justin’s excitement. He distractedly smiled and thanked her, then left the room with JC in tow.

            “Time for a bit of hackey!” Chris exclaimed, holding the cloth sack up proudly in the hall. Joey and Lance were already there, ready to start their pre-performance tradition. Justin and JC completed the circle, and the hackey-sack flew through the air.

*                       *                       *                       *                       *

            Justin peered into the screaming crowd, trying to pick out individual faces through the bright lights in his face. They were in their last set, a medley of their most popular fast songs. He was ecstatic. The blood was pumping in his veins as he danced, and he was sweating hard, but he loved every second of the experience. This was what made his whole life worthwhile. Performing in front of fans that loved and worshiped him.

            The group stepped into an inverted V, all the while singing, “I want you-“

            The stadium suddenly fell into complete darkness, and the last word of the song was drowned out by the shrieks of the panicked audience.

            JC shouted over their clamor, trying to tell his friends to stay calm. “Don’t move, you could hit something or fall. Just stay where you are!”

            Backstage was chaotic. The hallway lights all went out, and crew members were crashing into each other. People were shouting to grab flashlights and check on the guys still outside, and more security workers rushed outside to contain the crowd to prevent them from rushing the stage or hurting each other in alarm. 

            Lillian was near the entrance to the stadium assisting the sound crew when it had turned pitch black. Someone near her had a flashlight, and she followed him as he ran his way to the stage.

            She raced along the blocked off path and up the stage steps, only to find herself pressed up against a warm, muscular body. She heard an “oomph!” as she accidentally ran into the person, and they both toppled over.

            She was lying sprawled on top of the person, and he was shaking his head dazedly. She peered more closely in the darkness to examine who it was, and to her extreme mortification, it was-

            “Justin! I’m really, really sorry. I couldn’t see you in front of me!” she apologized quickly, blushing wildly.

            He easily rolled out from under her and sat up, then pulled her into an upright position also. He rubbed his back, then waved her apology away.

            “Don’t worry about it, Lillian. I was just surprised. But girl, you sure hit hard for a lightweight. Remind me to never tangle with you. Ouch!” 

            She could hear the smile in his voice, and she smiled back, even though he couldn’t see her response.

            One of the bodyguards came over and slipped Justin a flashlight, then moved on to distribute more to the others. JC came over and pulled both of them up.

            “Let’s go, management wants us backstage. In case the barriers are broken,” he explained, ushering them quickly down the stairs and glancing concernedly at the crowd.

            They moved into one of the larger dressing rooms and placed flashlights around randomly to offer some illumination. Studying her friends, Lillian could see a range of emotions playing across their faces. Joey was hyper and twitchy, bouncing his knee up and down at a rapid pace. Chris looked anxious and a bit confused. JC’s eyes were narrowed as he contemplated what had just occurred. Lance was staring up at the ceiling lights, as if he could turn them back on if he looked at them hard enough. And she didn’t even need to guess what Justin was feeling because he was voicing his thoughts to everyone in the room.

            “This does it. What the hell is going on here?! We must be cursed or something. Dammit, and on opening night too,” he raged, pacing back and forth.

            “Justin, it’s ok. Probably just another mistake,” Lance offered.

            Another mistake? Yeah, and I’m really a very masculine girl!” Justin burst out sarcastically, not stopping to think about his words.

            Everyone looked at him, then doubled up laughing.

            “Whoa, you shouldn’t be saying that, J. Think of the millions of disappointed girls around the world. You’d ruin their lusting!” JC snickered at his now red-faced friend.

            “Yeah, whose bones would they jump if they can’t have you? Joey’s?” Chris added.

            Joey laughed, then realized what he had just said. “Hey! That was a low blow, jerkface. At least they’d rather get me than you.”

            “Oh no, Junior, you did not just say that. Who is the older, wiser, and therefore hotter one here?”

            “Yeah, you are older, but sure as hell not wiser or hotter. Come on man, you wouldn’t even be able to keep up. Probably die of a heart attack or something!” Joey shot back.

            Chris surged to his feet, and Joey joked, “Hey there old man, you better take it easy. Let me go get your pills. What were they called again? Viagra?”

            JC shook his head at their immature behavior, but couldn’t hide the smile across his face. The distraction had served to take everyone’s minds off their interrupted concert. We can always count of them.

            Chris grabbed the closest flashlight and started swinging it around wildly, all the while making laser sounds. “You dare to challenge me, impudent one. Now I shall whoop your butt with the power of the Dark Side!”

            Joey quickly took his own flashlight and said in a high voice, “It is I who shall whoop your butt! I am a real Jedi! The Farce is with me!”

            Lillian giggled at the reference to “Spaceballs,” a movie she loved to watch with Karen.

            Chris caught on quickly, and pretended to stare at Joey’s flashlight. “I see that yours’ is bigger than mine. But it’s not the size that counts, it’s how you use it!” he quoted before rushing at Joey.

            Justin had taken a seat when the spectacle had begun, and now he cheered his friends on. “Go Joey, show him how it’s done! Chris, knock him out, knock him out!”

            Lance took another flashlight and shone it at the ceiling, making random patterns. It illuminated the mock-fight and JC decided to create some suspenseful music.

            Lillian couldn’t stop her laughter. Only these guys would reenact a Mel Brooks movie after a blackout. They managed to turn any situation interesting.

            The door to the dressing room banged open. All heads turned to see who it was.

            “Okay guys, we’re getting the problem fixed. Or trying to. Some people say that the electricity turned off by themselves and others report that it was the crew’s fault. Or maybe some person trying to sabotage the concert. In any case, everything should be back in ten minutes,” Tim explained.

            “What’s up with the audience?” inquired JC.

            “They’re all still here and they’ve finally calmed down. You gotta go out and finish the last set, maybe add an encore. We just told them that someone was playing a harmless prank on you guys, so you have to show them that it’s true. Act like everything is just fine and dandy.”

            “Like sour candy,” Justin added. “Okay, if they bought that excuse we might as well go with it.”

            The others nodded in agreement and they rose to their feet just as the electricity returned.

            “Someone up there is having the time of their life,” Lance muttered, turning his eyes upward.

*                       *                       *                       *                       *


            I remember seeing some people surrounding the main electric controls, Lillian thought. But it was probably nothing. Just routine checks. Still, that odd feeling hadn’t left her. She couldn’t pinpoint what it was, but it was definitely disturbing her.

            Luckily, the rest of the concert went off without a hitch, and the fans were satisfied after ‘N Sync performed two extra encores. She was relieved, just because she wanted her friends to be in good moods. They worked so hard to keep her laughing and happy, she wished she could do the same for them. Though that’s not humanly possible.

            It was hard to believe, but in such a short time they had formed a close bond. She didn’t usually become friends with any person so easily, but the guys seemed to be exceptions to all of her previous rules. She would do anything to protect them.

            She shook her thoughts away and got back to the task at hand; writing Karen another email. She had stopped writing for a few days, although so many things had happened since the last email. She felt extremely guilty about not updating her friend.

            She was in the middle of describing the night’s concert when a loud knock resounded on the door.

            “Coming!” she shouted as she closed her laptop and checked to see if the room was presentable before making her way over to open the door.

            The second she unlocked it, Joey and Chris pushed it open and bounded into the room. They surveyed her room before jumping onto the two beds.

            She sighed. Another long night. The two looked even more hyper than usual. “Are you guys high?” she asked innocently.

            They grinned at each other, before Joey shouted, “High on life-”

            “-love-“ Chris added.

            “-and America!” they finished together eagerly.

            “Okay . . .” she drew out, “I take it that’s a big fat ‘yes.’”

            Another bang shook the door.

            “That’s probably Elaine,” she said. “You guys better get off her bed.”

            She opened the door, but this time JC and Lance rushed in.

            “This is where you guys went! Leaving us all alone in the hall,” JC accused, slapping Chris in the back of his head.

            “Sorry, Jace, but you’re so boring. Lilypad knows how to have a real party!”

            “Yeah,” she spoke up, “Non-alcoholic drinks and watching TV is how we get down back at MIT.”

            “Sounds good to me,” Lance commented, before grabbing her laptop and opening the lid. JC shoved Chris off the bed and took his place, turning on the television with the remote.

            The door opened again, and they all turned to see who the newcomer was. Or rather, newcomers. Elaine walked in followed by Justin. She paused when she saw all the people in her room, instead of just Lillian. She sent a quick glare at her mousy roommate before pasting a smile on her face for the other guys.

            “Oh!” she breathed. “We didn’t know you planned on having a slumber party, Lillian. Well, Justy, we might as well come back later.”

            He agreed, looking uncomfortable under all the curious glances of his friends, and they turned to leave the room.

            Lillian stared after his retreating back with a forlorn face, though she attempted to hide it from the others in the room. Don’t be ridiculous, Lillian. Of course Justin would be attracted to Elaine. Who wouldn’t be? She’s beautiful and charming, among other things. Everything you’re not. Still, I can’t believe he doesn’t see how mean she is sometimes.

            Lance noticed her odd expression. “Are you feeling alright, Lily?” he asked inquiringly.

            “Hm? Oh, no, I’m fine. Just a little tired,” she said lamely.

            “Okay,” he replied, clearly not believing her. After she excused herself to go to the bathroom he exchanged a meaningful look with the others.

            “Did you guys see that?”

            “What? What happened?” asked JC.

            “You know,” Lance answered, trying to hint without being too obvious. “When Justin came in . . . with Elaine . . . and then Lillian . . .”

            “Still not following you,” JC replied confused.

            “Moron!” Joey interjected. “Lillian likes Justin but she thinks he likes Elaine, and she feels insignificant compared to her! Duh,” he finished, smacking his forehead with the palm of his hand.

            “Oh yeah, that,” JC replied, nodding knowingly. Chris and Lance whipped their heads around to stare at Joey.

            “What? I’m not blind, you know,” he responded to their incredulous looks. “Maybe if we tell Lilypad that Justin just wants to get laid and he doesn’t really like Elaine . . .”

            “No! That would make her feel worse!” Chris protested. “We should do something to make him see her in a whole new light.”

            Lance and Chris both shook their heads at that suggestion. “It wouldn’t work,” explained JC, “Because she’s not his type at all. I feel badly about it, but it’s the truth. Justin would never go for someone like Lillian.”

            “Yeah, also Lillian would really hate it if we got involved in her business,” Lance added.

            “So what are we supposed to do?!” Joey exclaimed.

            “Absolutely nothing. We’ll just wait and see what happens,” Lance replied. At Chris’ and Joey’s objections, he quickly cut them off. “For now, at least.”

            They grudgingly agreed. Lance was Lillian’s closest friend out of them all.

            She finally came out of the bathroom, and they turned back to the television, acting as if nothing had happened while she had been gone.

            Fortunately for them, Lillian was too preoccupied to notice anything was amiss.

*                       *                       *                       *                       *

            Justin was dancing slowly with her, holding her close in his arms. They swayed together, with the others looking on in approval. Lance opened his mouth to say something to JC, and out came . . . a high pitched giggle.

            Lillian opened one eye, realizing that the noise had come from the door. She listened more carefully, and heard a husky voice but she couldn’t make out the words. Curious, she sleepily pushed back the covers of the bed and went to look through the peephole. What she saw made her heart fall.

            It was Elaine, leaning with her back on the door, and Justin was kissing her. Passionately kissing her. They were almost devouring each other. Lillian wanted to throw up at the sight. She quickly stepped away from the door and called Lance, then grabbed some of her things and her laptop in her arms.

            In a bold move, she yanked the door open abruptly. Elaine would have fallen into the room if Justin hadn’t caught her arm quickly. Lillian gave them both a phony smile before walking down the hall.

            Justin saw Elaine glare at Lillian’s back before she turned around and teasingly smiled at him. “Well, the room’s free now. Care to come in?” As she spoke her long fingernails played with the short hair at the nape of his neck.

            He shrugged out of her grasp and looked at her carefully. She really prefers the heavy makeup, doesn’t she. I hadn’t noticed it before, but she looks kinda . . . cheap. He shook his head at her invitation, saying, “No, thanks. I’m not really up to anything right now.”

            He turned and walked away before she could latch onto his arm and whine about his sudden rejection. As he hurried away to his own room, he could feel her eyes boring into the back of his head. But oddly enough, he didn’t even care.



Previous Chapter

Next Chapter

Fanfiction Index