Title: from the Janet song that *nsync covered, "that's the way love goes". Many thanks to Lennie, and also to Tiff for the beta. Disclaimer: Fiction-ous; no libel or slander intended regarding real people.

that's the way


One day, Lance just up and turns into a boy.


Chris looks at Justin. "What?"

"Okay, not literally, man." He pops some more chips in his mouth. "But, ever since we've known him. He's got, that hair, and his mouth. And he's pretty, sure--"

Chris says, "Pretty?" and Justin narrows his eyes.

"Yeah, pretty, but he's not really, I mean. There was something about him that was always." Justin waves his hand, almost getting Doritos down Chris's shirt. "Like when that guy in Munich hit on him, cause he thought he was. Like that. He was always kinda."

Chris supplies, "Androgynous?" while grabbing the chips away.

"Yeah. And then, all of a sudden, hello Lance, you're no longer, with the hair, and your eyes are kinda, hard, and - hey, those're my chips, loser! - sure, he's still pretty but now, I mean look at him. It's totally..."


Justin nods.

Chris sighs under his breath, looking at Justin's completely earnest little face. Justin licks his lips, flutters his eyelashes unconsciously, and Chris says, "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. You don't just 'wake up a man', J. You gotta work on it."

Justin's head swivels to Lance, lounging with his leg swung over the arm of an easy chair, pants riding low. It reminds Justin of the Janet vid. Lance laughs at something Wade said, leaning over. Chris follows his eyes, and raises an eyebrow silently.

Justin shrugs. "I dunno, so don't ask."

"You think that Lance woke up male because he slept with Wade?"

It sounds a lot stupider when Chris says it out loud, so Justin doesn't nod. Lance looks over, once, and grins, and his white teeth are just one part of a really male body.

Chris says sympathetically, "You like it," and again, Justin doesn't nod.


Justin doesn't mean to catch them, he's just going into the practice room, but he sees Wade kissing Lance in Johnny's house and now he can't help himself.

Wade doesn't turn around. He's not sure whether Lance sees him as he shuts the door. Justin's pretty sure that Lance's eyes are open, peeking over Wade's shoulder. He wants to ask, "So, this," and doesn't want to bother, invest himself in hearing the answer.

When Justin shuts the door, it makes a little click, like teeth against teeth, as the latch catches again, the knob sliding into place.

Lance's hair was messed up, Wade's hands in it. Lance's eyes were definitely open.


He tells Chris because he told Chris before, but Chris doesn't care. "Yeah, so? We knew that."

"I was gonna practise." Justin drinks from a water-bottle. "It was kind of annoying. I didn't want to--"

He almost says 'disturb them' but that's not true. He was afraid they'd see him. Chris rolls right over his pause. "So Wade and Lance aren't a one-time thing. Maybe they're just a two-time thing. It's not like they really talk much."

"Nah, I know. They're not really suited." Chris giggles, and then so does Justin, because picturing Lance and Wade together together, like dating, that's just never happening.

"At least, you hope, right?" Chris says, and nudges him. Justin scowls. It isn't like that. He saw Wade's short fingers rubbing Lance's scalp, and Lance's eyes weren't even closed. He doesn't have to worry, except for the part where they don't see Lance or Wade for another half-hour.

When Wade comes up after lunch, Chris says, "Took long enough."

Wade shrugs. Justin goes away.


Justin's eating a sandwich between going over steps for "No Strings Attached" and running through stage design with Joey. Wade comes up, in his navy blue teeshirt, and puts a hand on Justin's shoulder.

"Hey, Justin." Justin looks up. "Can I ask you something?"

"Sure." Justin takes a bite. He figures it's about the choreography, or maybe about how Justin bitched him out for ten minutes about making Chris throw something.

Wade clears his throat. "Are you okay? I mean. Lance mentioned."

"Oh." Justin puts the sandwich down, and nods absently. "Yeah, yeah, we're fine."

"It's." Wade takes a breath, lowering his eyelids. Justin's impartial side knows Wade'll get quite a ways, lowering those eyelids. Wade continues, "It won't affect work."

Justin bites back a chuckle. "No, I know it won't."

The idea of Lance letting anything affect work is almost funny, except it isn't. Justin pats Wade on the shoulder, to show he has no hard feelings, and then wonders why he thought that showing no hard feelings was important in the first place.


"Wade said he talked to you about seeing us."

Lance sits himself down across from Justin. Justin nods, and works to swallow the last of his soda. People are always coming up and saying important shit while he has stuff in his mouth. He finally chokes out, "Yeah, he did."

Joey comes up, thumping Justin on the back while he coughs up Coke. "You're gonna kill yourself, inhaling something, one day," he says with a grin.

Lance stands up, adding, "He always tries to swallow more than he's able to," and Justin doesn't look at the smirk Lance may or may not be wearing.


"Can I--"

Lance cuts Justin off with a kiss, and then holds a hand up. "We're not exclusive."

They don't do much, compared to what Justin maybe wanted when he first approached Lance, but it pretty much settles the question on Justin's mind. Not happily, but it settles it.


He goes to Chris. "I have a problem."

Chris smiles sympathetically, and then Justin just closes his mouth again. JC comes up to them, and then Justin sighs, because that's probably the only ten seconds he'll ever get alone with Chris for the next week, because they're practising for the tour pretty hard already. JC rubs Justin's head affectionately. "How're my two favorite boys?"

Chris stretches. "I think I hate Wade. My whole body aches."

Justin smiles at him, gratefully. JC answers, "He's only doing his job."

Chris grumbles, "Tell him to do his job to someone else."


Lance seeks him out after dinner, while they're walking to the parking lot. He says to Justin, "You wanna do something?" and drawls it out so Justin imagines it looks like a proposition, if he squints hard enough.

Justin's still licking bar-be-que sauce from his fingers, and feels dirty and gross. He needs a shower. He laughs, a little shaky, ignoring the muscles that were oh so visible in Lance's biceps. "Only if it involves water and some soap."

Lance shrugs, casually, and his shoulders make Justin twitch. "Maybe tomorrow."

Justin observes, in the back of his mind, that he doesn't get into Wade's car, or Wade into his, and is incredibly happy about it. Then he realizes he's happy, and considers banging his head against the car door.


Chris answers his phone at eleven, yawning. "I was just about to go to bed, J."

"I have a problem."

Chris is tired enough, yawning still, that without thinking, he answers, "You've gotta give him some time. He's really unsure about you, okay?"

On the other end of the line, Justin shakes his head. "What?"

He hears the TV going in the background; Chris watching NASCAR before bed. Chris says, "Nothing."

"That's not fucking nothing."

"You're fucking nothing, right?" Justin can hear Chris grinning at his own joke. "Look, Justin. Whatever you're seeing isn't what's going on."

Justin gets a little angry. "And you'd know how? Come on."

Justin can hear the sudden silence that's Chris flicking the television off with a snap. He answers, "Lance is my buddy, too."

"Yeah." Justin feels tired, all of a sudden. "Okay."

As a fact-finding mission, it's a total bust, except that Justin finds out that Chris isn't gonna give him any clues. The only thing Justin knows now that he didn't before is that Chris has clues. Not that he's sharing. Not that anyone is.


JC brings Justin breakfast. They ride to the compound together often, because it saves gas, and JC's on an environmental kick, which everyone supports because it's fun to eat donuts in the car with JC. Justin lets him in. They have a little while before the first rehearsal of the day.

JC starts the conversation with, "So you're jealous of Wade, huh?"

Justin eats a whole donut in one bite, to avoid answering for another few seconds. "Yeah, so the whole planet knows. What'm I supposed to do?"

JC shrugs. "Wade's nothing, honey."

"He just." Justin's mouth works soundlessly, helplessly - he feels pretty helpless. "One day, Lance changed."

"And now you're attracted to him."

Justin grabs his car keys, and says, "Let's go." JC spares him the humiliation of saying anything about being attracted to Lance before, because while he didn't want to have sex with him, it was as much because he thought he didn't have any kind of chance.


Twice in rehearsals, Justin up and snarls at Wade. Being a good choreographer, and a pretty good friend, Wade takes it. Lance pulls Justin aside between a photoshoot and more rehearsals, and says, "Justin."

Immediately, Justin feels guilty for taking out his frustrations on Wade. Almost.


Saturday rolls around, and they all go out to dance at a club. Justin leans his head on JC's shoulder a lot, and on Chris's, and dances with Joey. He has a few beers, nothing serious because he's still underage and the record label would kill him. A lime margarita comes to the table, and the waitress says, "From the guy at the bar."

Lance is grinning at him. Justin sips the icy drink, and it gives him a headache almost immediately.

Chris pets his shoulder, at one point, saying, "Listen, Justin. Everything is a process, okay? You don't just wake up one day and bam. It's a process." But Chris has had more than a few, so Justin doesn't know what to make of it.


He goes home with Lance, anyway, and now they do more, a lot more, and it just confirms more of Justin's worst fears: that Lance knows exactly what he's doing, and Justin really doesn't. Justin lays on his stomach, panting, throat hurting because he can't breathe properly. When he turns his head to kiss Lance, everything about him smells masculine, and in control. Gripping Justin's hips, Lance seems immortal.

Lance says, sometime before he comes, "we're not exclusive," and Justin thinks, 'I know.'


Wade doesn't touch Lance, anymore, but Justin thinks that Lance is kind of dating this other guy, and so he doesn't dwell. It's only been two weeks since they first hooked up, since Justin managed to look at Lance and do something about it, and even if he talks to JC's answering machine, haltingly, one night, he gets used to it, slowly.


They're in the final leg of preparation for the tour, not quite the last week but close, so everyone is tired out, and cranky, and wanting to go home. Justin is just sitting on this couch, in one of Johnny's many living rooms, and sipping water, wanting nothing more than to sleep for a week and a half. Wade comes up, saying, "Hey, Lance was looking for you," and he hands Justin a huge plate of food.

Justin takes it gratefully, and smiles at Wade, and Wade disappears. He starts stuffing food into his mouth, not even thinking anymore. Bread, chicken, salad, whatever.

Lance finds him as he's polishing off the pasta salad. He sits down. "Hi." Justin has a mouthful of food, and tries to answer, but Lance just grins. "No, eat. It's okay."

The plate tips, almost spilling, and Justin puts it down, feeling like an idiot. He wipes vinegar off his lips, and looks away. "Look."

Lance puts a hand on his knee. "Justin."

Justin grins weakly. "Yeah, listen. I'm sorry. I'm an all or nothing kinda guy."

Lance pulls him a little closer, and Justin rests his head on Lance's shoulder, carefully. Into Justin's hair, Lance murmurs, "Everything has to be all or nothing, right away. I know."

Justin says, "I kinda, have a thing for you. I'm sorry."

He hears, "I love you," but when he looks up, Lance seems the same as ever, eyes still the prettiest thing in his face, lips still soft even though the rest of him is all male, grown up.

Justin says, "Did I hear that right?"

Lance shrugs, face open. "Yeah."

"Okay." Justin leans back again, and picks up his plate. "Just checking."