Thanks to Sheila, and the nsync mprov page, from which I took the words: accelerate, sequins, meditate, drudgery, amok, and puddle. Thanks also to Katie, for betaing. Title from "murder of one" by the Counting Crows; lots of the lines stolen from same. For my own little challenge.

blue morning

One, two, three four. One two three four. one two onetwoonetwothreefour--

"Five six seven eight and one." Wade shook his head. "You should know this by now."

"Hey," Chris mumbled in Justin's ear. "Think he's ever been laid?"

Justin snorted. "Not by me."

Day one, day two, day three day four day five day day day day day. Dancing, and dancing and dancing and strings of choreographers, counting off beats again and again and again. Rhythm, and then in the morning, a different kind of rhythm, Chris's hand and Justin's hand and their hands all wrapped together.

"Oh!" and Justin moaned, and stilled, arched up against Chris's palm. Rehearsal in an hour, on the stage, not enough time to do anything else. Chris grunted, shuddered, long and hard. "I." Justin counted his breaths, one, two, one, two, slowly deccelerating, the only thing in their lives that ever did.


"We don't have the sequins on these yet?" and Joey rolled his eyes. "Cutting it a little fine, isn't it?"

Chris rubbed Justin's head, rubbed the sweat and the dirt into Justin's scalp through the little canals in his cornrows. While Lance and Joey argued about costuming and timing and the nazi fucking dance directors gave them a much deserved break from those damned moving walkways, Chris murmured, "Where are you?"

Justin didn't open his eyes. "It's morning, and we're... we're walking outside, sunrise. It's cold. There's snow, y'know? It's crunching."

Chris had always suspected that the rehearsal room never had any windows so that they could properly forget that the outside existed, do the job and keep all eyes on the target. No distractions. It didn't have anything but mirrors so they could focus. Lakeland, it had no windows either, so they had nothing to look at all dress rehearsal but the stage and each other.

He replied, "Very nice. Can there be parkas involved?"

Justin's lips smiled. "Lots of parkas, okay." He shifted, stretched his legs out until his whole body trembled with the effort. Someone was calling them back, and Justin sat up reluctantly. "There's our vacation."

"No rest for the wicked, huh?" Chris stood up, and pulled Justin up too.


Justin meditated, it was true.

Or at least, he sat back, eyes closed, and he thought about things. Chris often walked in on Justin meditating, catching a spare moment of peace. Usually, unless whatever errand Chris was on was very very urgent, Chris let him be.

He touched Justin's shoulder, and Justin sighed. "What?"

"They need us for fittings. Something about, y'know." Chris always felt awful for sticking himself into Justin's quiet time.

Justin stood, and kissed Chris, hand on Chris's stubbly cheek. He said against Chris's mouth, "You need to shave."

"Sorry," Chris mumbled back. "They really need us."

"They always do." Justin tugged on his hand, this time, tugged him out from under the stage, and back into the life. Chris needed that, those fingers, that palm. He needed it like Justin needed time alone, needed it like people need sleep.


A lot of what they did, pre-tour, was pure drudgery - the same steps over, and over, and over, and over andoverandover again. Cameras, and mirrors, and more cameras, and never enough time to talk.

A lot of people always asked how they did it, too - how they handled the schedule, how they took the hours and the pace and the everything else. They always told people that it was part of the job, and they loved the job like nothing else, nothing else except each other.

Chris was never jealous when Justin was in the spotlight. He was never jealous when Justin wrote, and he wasn't jealous when the band ruled over them. They were in love with the same things: music, the band and each other.

Everything revolved around this, this ever-quickening pace, this frenzy. Sometimes Chris could look in the mirror in the practise room and not know himself.

Joey brought them some water, and all five of them stood and watched the pyro go off in the grass outside the stadium. Justin raised his plastic bottle. "To," and he paused. "Fuck, y'all know."

They had a drink, and at home Chris went straight to sleep, Justin holding him. Chris woke up happy and warm, and feeling up to watching himself dance for hours.


"Running amok! Running amok! Hi ho, hi ho, I don't give a fuck!" and Joey ducked instinctively as Chris jumped over the stool and landed with a 'thump'. He peered at Joey, and then asked, "Where's Justin?"

"He's going over some stuff with Tim."

"Right," and Chris was off again. Their whole lives were dreams, his whole life was a dream and he was living it.


"It's way too late in the game for you to be making these kinds of mistakes," Johnny said, and all five of them nodded seriously, and bit their lips and took it. Johnny had told MTV he needed to reign in the focus, but what Chris needed was a vacation.

Justin leaned over, right as they were all pretending to listen to Wade, and murmured, "So where are you?"

"It," and Chris thought. He whispered, "a field, no, a hill. Grassy. Just raining. And there are flocks of birds." Chris let his eyes close, and felt Justin pull him over to lean on Justin's shoulder. "Yeah. The sky, in the puddles. That's where I am."

Justin said, "Me too."

Chris counted his heart beat, one, two, one, two, steady and unchanging, even despite dancing sixteen hours that day.