Disclaimer: Fiction-ous; no libel or slander intended regarding real people. Soundtrack: "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John.



blue jean baby, L.A. lady

Britney knows that she's not going to get to keep on dating Justin.

It's not as upsetting to her as it should be, maybe. She's never really wanted Justin as a boyfriend, necessarily. It's enough that he's hers, in this peculiar friendship and more. She knows that she's not going to get to keep dating him.

She knows this in her mind, really, around the time they start dating officially. He seems a little too feminine, a little too sensitive. It's not nice to contribute to stereotypes, or anything, but she thinks maybe that she knows something that Justin doesn't. Sometimes, she notices a kind of teasing from Trace, and maybe Joey, and maybe the crew.

Justin blushes, or he's brutally honest, blunt about it. The teasing is meant to make him feel at home, but one day when Trace says to Justin, "Y'know, he's basically your boyfriend already, man, you might as well take him instead of me," Justin looks a little darker.

Britney holds his hand in her lap, and strokes his thumb. Later, he says, "Promise you won't leave me?" and she does.

She says, "I won't. I love you." And he says it back, and she knows he means it. Just not the way he thinks.

seamstress for the band

They go to something at "A Happy Place" with Joey and Kelly and the producer, whasshisname, and Emmanuelle. Wendy opens the door, gives her and Justin a little hug and kiss, and ushers them up to the roof. Apparently, Lance does all his business, good and bad, up out under the sun and the stars.

Greeting Lance, Justin's hand lingers a little longer on his hip, and Britney's heart lurches a little. Lance notices, and pulls away, cool, but Britney's arms go around his neck, and she says, "It's really good to see you," and she means it.

Lance hugs her back, and murmurs, "I'm glad you came."

The view from the balcony is amazing, just amazing. It takes Britney's breath away, like the canyon in her movie was supposed to - the beach and the sunset, and then the buildings with the sparkle and shine. Hollywood. She understands why Lance loves it here. She loves it a little bit, herself, being allowed to sit by herself and be by herself and just, be peaceful.

Britney sees Justin and Lance leaning against each other. Lance isn't holding his hand. People let her be, for a while, and she takes some time by herself, just sips her champagne happily, quietly, and lets the sun set in front of her.

pretty eyed, pirate smile

He's crying. Britney keeps the fear, and distress, out of her voice. "What's wrong, tell me."

Justin sniffles, and she can picture him perfectly. Last week, they had a fight that almost ended in a broken vase, but now he needs her, so it's done and done and forgiven. He hiccups. "There's just so much stuff, and I can't, and they. And I."

She murmurs soothing things, like "I love you" and "I'm not going anywhere, I promise you, I'm not," and right before they hang up, he says, "Thank you so much."

In the mirror, she knows that her face is scrunched up in worry. Justin seems so fragile sometimes. "Of course. That's what I'm here for."

you'll marry a music man

People always ask her when the wedding is.

If it weren't for PR, she'd tell them the absolute fucking truth. It would probably shock everyone -- Chris, JC, her mother, Lynn. They would all think that she was settling, hoping that some day he'd turn around and fall in love with her like a wife, but it's not like that.

She knows that Justin knows, and that he feels the same way, at least most of the time.

Britney would open her mouth and say, "I'd marry him tomorrow."

Because she would. She loves him, past forgotten, future solid and weighty. They fight, boy do they fight. And they don't have sex, that's also true. But she'd marry him anyway.

Britney smiles at the interviewer. "We're young yet, to think about marriage, and it's so hard to plan for the future in this business. Everything is so shaky. You know? I'm just glad that we have each other now."

It's probably one of the most intelligent answers she's allowed to give. Chris would call her foolish, to be willing to marry a gay man, but Britney needs him, like crops need rain. And she knows he needs her.

ballerina, you must have seen her

People watch Britney everywhere she goes. Her ass. Her hips. It's a little weird. Maybe she doesn't get it because women aren't attractive, she's not drawn to those curves. Chris tried to explain it to her once, saying, "You have a way with your body that says you're in control of it."

She is in control of it. Nowhere, does she feel happy as much as dancing.

Justin, Britney also thinks, is a better dancer than she is. That might be part of what she likes about him, and it might be part of what scares her. Because he rarely dances with her, and maybe, some day, he's going to find someone else to dance with. But probably not, because some things are too big, and this feeling is one of them.

dancing in the sand

When they were in the Bahamas, Britney had a few margaritas, convinced Justin to drink a few pitchers with her, and she asked him, "Are you happy?"

He looked at her from across their little glass table, a bit bleary eyed. "I, yeah. I guess so."

"No." Britney looked down at the glass, playing with the condensation. She never felt so embarrassed. "I mean, with me."

His startled gaze was enough. "I - yeah. I mean. You are, right?"

And she looked at him, tremulous smile at the ready, eyes a little shiny. "Oh, yeah, I am. I, yeah. I love you."

Dumb, dumb, dumb, Chris and even Lynn, and everyone, would have said, when he watched their waiter's ass when the guy - Rico or something - walked away. But Justin's hand found hers, and latched on, and she didn't need to worry about where his eyes were, because she could stroke her thumb along his.

and now she's in me, always with me

She gets confirmation about him and Lance sleeping together from Chris.

"I." He sounds really embarrassed about it on the phone. "He's. Okay. Now you know. I'm gonna go, and I'm gonna pretend I didn't just betray him, okay?"

She feels a little tired, and sits down on her bed. "I. No, you didn't." Quieter, she says, "Thanks, Chris. For telling me."

Chris sounds angry. "He should have."

"I - he wouldn't have, though, so thank you." Britney is breathing in little sobs, but not big ones. It'll be a little upsetting, for a little while, but she knows things won't change. They're not going to ever change between them. "Thanks."

Chris is sympathetic. "What're you gonna do?"

"I--" but he's already interrupting, apologising for being nosy. She takes a breath. "No, it's okay. I, I'm not gonna do anything. I mean. I love him. And, I kinda knew."

"You're a more forgiving person than I am."

She can't explain that there's nothing for her to forgive, because Justin still loves her and she still loves him and Lance, Lance might turn out to be Justin's boyfriend, Justin might fall in love with Lance, but she's still, this.

"Don't tell him you told me, okay?" Chris wants to know why, and all she can say, "I, you wouldn't get it. I just want him to tell me himself." Because that's what really hurt, that she didn't hear it from Justin himself.

"Okay." Chris adds, "I'm sorry."

"No," Britney answers, and her lips smile, for real. "Don't be. I'm not. Lance is a good guy."

tiny dancer in my hand

Britney doesn't know what to say, whenever people say Justin has her in the palm of his hand.

In some ways, it's true. She's normally the one to fly out to see him, she's normally the one to stop being angry first. But he also does his share of apologising, and she called him up every day for two weeks after the "Slave" video shoot and feeling gross and used and depressed and small and scared. And he said the same thing, every time she hung up the phone: "I love you, don't forget that."

She never does.

Britney says, a little broken, "You're. You want to break up?"

Justin looks away. "I think, maybe we should, stop, publicly."

She breathes in, and out, and in again. "Okay. Do - um. Why?"

"Brit--" and he looks over at her, and sees her expression, and his face softens and he takes her hand. "No, no, no." He squeezes her hand, and then takes her up into his lap gently. Softly, he murmurs, "No. I just, they. They wouldn't understand."

She leans against him, curls against him and lets him hold her. Lets her breath out, relieved. "Okay."

He says it, again. "I love you. I promise."

Britney closes her eyes, smiles at him. Justin makes her happy, makes her angry, so frustrated sometimes she wants to throw things. But he's always, this. And he means it. Whatever else, he always means it. Britney says, "I love you too. I'm not going anywhere."

He kisses her, and she kisses back, gently, soothingly. Their hands find each other, hold on tightly.

When she's asked what it's like to kiss Justin, she's allowed to say that no one has ever kissed her like he does - and people think it means she's turned on or something. It's true, no one's kissed her like Justin ever has. No one will. When he kisses her, she believes him. When they kiss, she feels loved, for real.