A/N: The song in this chapter was written by me, so please don’t steal!

Chapter 10

Later that night

        JC wandered the halls of the large compound, yet again unable to sleep. The day had been entirely unproductive, and he wondered if anyone cared that they had wasted the whole day. Without even thinking about it, he turned the corner and headed down the hall to her room. She wasn’t there.

        The guys had dragged her somewhere, a little local restaurant, if he remembered correctly. He had begged off, claiming a headache. He hated lying to his best friends, his brothers. But it had to be done, if he was going to keep his past with Gray a secret.

        He couldn’t be around her. Not without the old feelings coming back tenfold. Not without the pain and anger she had caused him. Not without the happiness and the bittersweet memories encompassing him. She had once controlled every part of him, mind, body, heart, and soul. She would not do it again, even if it took avoiding her for the rest of the time she was here.

        He wasn’t off to a good start, judging by the fact he was standing outside the door to her room like an obsessed stalker. He shrugged, and pushed open the door. He was curious. That was all.

        The heavy wood swung open, revealing wine red walls. He smiled, remembering that wine red was her favorite color, and wondered how Johnny had known. He took a tentative step in. It was a mess. That hadn’t changed. It was interesting; her life was so organized and controlled, and yet she was so chaotic and messy. He walked fully in, noticing the clothes strewn across the bed and over the chaise lounge. Assorted make-up and toiletries covered the white vanity, and her CDs sat on the chair. He ambled over, wondering what she had.

        He opened the thick case. She had almost as many CDs as he did, and about as wide a variety. She had everything from Fuel to Ja Rule to Ella Fitzgerald. Several oldies but goodies. She was a jazz girl, but her tastes swung to alternative. Linkin Park, Staind, blink-182…good stuff. Aerosmith, U2…all of Lenny Kravitz’s albums. He smirked. She always did have an unhealthy obsession with him…

        I wonder…he thought. Did she bring it? She might have….

        He found her suitcase and sifted through it. Triumphantly, he pulled out several rolled out posters. She DID! She brought her Lenny Shrine. He carefully replaced the posters, snickering, and returned to the CD case.

        And then he found it. His smile disappeared. The Air Supply CD he had gotten for her, right after they had admitted they were…whatever they had been. He wasn’t ever one for classification and neither was she. He ran his fingers over the CD, and talking a deep breath, passed it by. He flipped through the rest of the case and discovered a few recordable, un-labeled CDs that had obviously been used hidden in the very back. Unable to resist, he slipped them out of their protective sheath. He glanced around the room, making sure everything was as she had left it. He left, shutting the door behind him, satisfied that it looked as if he had never been there.


Across town, at Mamma’s, a small Italian restaurant

        She still couldn’t believe that the guys had managed to find a good Italian place in the middle of Orlando, Florida, but she was beginning to see that there was no limit to what Joey’s nose for food could rustle up. She picked at her lasagna, and took a small sip of her Chianti. She never drank much more than a few swallows alcohol anymore, and she hoped no one would notice her lack of interest.

        A loud burst of laughter drew her attention back to the conversation at hand, where Justin was gesturing wildly and Lance was spitting up his wine trying to control his laughter.

        “And we were all up on stage at MTV dancing, right, and this girl throws these huge boxers on stage. She had to have had them personally made, because these had the words digital get-down printed all over it and telephones and her own phone number. And they landed on his HEAD. He like, stopped dancing, crashed into Joey, Joey fell down and broke the mic, and…”

        Gray smirked. They were talking about JC.

        “And then, JC slipped on something, and went sliding off the stage, boxers and all, still on his head. He fell right on top of the girl that had thrown them.” Justin continued, snorting with laughter.

        Chris snickered. “Thank god he’s so damn skinny, he would have crushed the girl if he had been, say, Joey’s size.”

        “Hey!” Joey protested. “Bigger is better, ya known, especially when you’re thinking in the sense of…”

        “Lady present,” Lance said, coughing discreetly.

        Joey colored. “Oh. Oh yeah. Sorry.”

        Gray smiled. “Its okay, I’m used to it. I mean, I do live with three guys that are like my brothers and they…” She trailed off and looked down at her plate. She was telling too much.

        Justin exchanged a glance with Lance. “Keep going, I like the sound of these guys. I mean, if they like to annoy you and they know great practical jokes to pull on you, then they’re about to become my new best friends,” he joked.

        She smiled slightly. “You won’t get their phone number from me. I’ve had enough pranks to last a life time.” Her tone was joking, and her mouth was smiling. Her chocolate eyes were serious.


Late that night, after everyone had gotten back to the compound


        JC carefully slipped the un-marked CD into his portable CD player and tugged the headphones over his head. Call it curiosity. Call it intrigue. But he wanted to hear what was on those CDs that he had taken out of her room earlier that night. He pushed play.

        “Hey Brandon, can you mix this up a little? I wanna add some beats on this part.”

        It was Gray’s voice, and he inhaled sharply.

        “Sure thing, Grace.” Brandon’s voice. He remembered him, not quite as clearly as…

        “MOUSE, the piano cue is here, not THERE. Jake, those drums sound weird. What’s the problem?”

        JC chuckled. She was bossy in the studio.

        “I don’t know, Gray, YOU wrote the drum part.” He could just hear her rolling her eyes. There was a clicking noise. “Gimme the sticks. Its one and two, roll and three.” She demonstrated.. “Okay, let’s start this over.” Gray’s voice said.

        A piano intro began, delicate, plucked notes that gained speed and picked up. A warped sound was heard, and a heavy drum and bass sound came through.

        “Brandon, add a warp here,” her voice instructed. The beat was heavy and techy, with a house sound that must have been picked up in various clubs over the years.

        “Okay, guys, I think we got it. This is a winner for the Club, Brandon. We’ll blow them outta the water with this one.” Gray said.

        “You think Annie will like?” Brandon’s voice asked.

        “Definitely,” was the last thing he heard before the track faded out.

        The club music was replaced by a piano melody, and Gray’s raw voice singing a rough cut of a song he recognized as one he heard on the radio, whenever he tuned to the alternative station. The track ended, and another began, yet another rough cut of a song on her album. He listened to the whole CD, savoring her voice, and ejected it when it was over. He slipped the other one in.

        “Note to self and those who listen, these are songs that not have been recorded, mixed, or otherwise altered by anyone except for me. These are all rough ideas…” The CD skipped to track one, the only track on the CD.

“You’re talking ‘bout love

But can you feel what you say

Everything I ever knew, its you

The world is talkin’ about pain You don’t know it”

She paused. “Damn, that’s rough.” And she continued.

“Yeah, until I leave, and then you’ll feel it (pain)

You’ll feel the love you’re talkin’

It’s not real to you until I’m gone

You don’t have to be gone for me to feel what you’re talkin’ bout

It’s all talk until you feel”

“I don’t wanna leave you

Cuz you know I’ll be back again

Hate the power (hate the power) you have over me

Quit talking bout love, feel it (Wanna feel it)”

“Yeah, until I leave, and then you’ll feel it (pain)

You’ll feel the love you’re talkin’

It’s not real to you until I’m gone

You don’t have to be gone for me to feel what you’re talkin’ bout

It’s all talk until you feel”

“You’re not the perfect man

I don’t know why I love you the way I do

I don’t know the first thing about love

Only that it’s defined in you.”

        The track ended, and JC hit the back button on his CD player. If he just tweaked some of the lyrics, and figured out some music…he reached for a pen and paper, and pulled his headphones off. He turned up the volume on his portable CD player as high as it could go, and he began scribbling lyrics and random rhythms across the page. This might just work.