It starts with Lance wanting chocolate chip ice cream. Which, considering what happens next, fits in a painful dramatic-irony sense. Of course, it doesn't make him feel any better.
Joey pretty much sums it up when he says to Lance, "well, that was the most expensive box of ice cream you'll ever get. Hope it was worth it."
Lance wakes up to the disgusting sound of Justin throwing up. He puts the pillow over his head, then the comforter, then Justin's pillow. The ensuing muffled cursing is quiet enough. Having successfully blocked Justin out, Lance happily rolls over, head wrapped in the blanket, and starts dozing again.
Justin disturbs him by pulling the covers off, then proceeding to lay down in the middle of the bed and pile them all on top of himself. Lance opens one eye, staring at the ceiling. "Justin," he says. Sleeping naked was nice when you had blankets, not so much now. "hi."
Justin groans pitifully. From under layers of fabric he mutters, "I feel like shit."
"That's nice," and it's obvious that Justin isn't moving. Lance sighs, checking his watch, then rolls out of bed and starts getting dressed, picking his clothing up from the piles strewn around the room. "I have some stuff to do, so.."
"you're leaving me?" is the reply, and Justin flips his blanket down far enough that he can stare balefully at Lance. Lance feels utterly unashamed, and pulls some socks on. They probably aren't his, but whatever, Justin has lots of socks. "I mean, I really feel awful and you're just leaving?"
"You'll be fine," Lance says airily, tying his shoes. His jeans are chafing a little without any underwear. Gotta remember to leave some stuff here sometimes without Justin realizing it. Staying over at Justin's is nice, the sex is great, they have some laughs, but underwear in the morning is a bonus too. "I can set you out some coffee to brew before I go if you want?" because he's not heartless.
Another groan from under the blanket. "oh, christ. No. just, the thought of coffee--" and Justin's up again, stumbling for the bathroom. Lance watches his naked ass disappear behind the closed door, and the familiar sounds of retching start up.
Lance wrinkles his nose, and scoops up his wallet to leave.
He doesn't come by Justin's place for a few days, because each time he calls Justin is curled in bed feeling like shit. Even after a miracle shot, Justin still says he retches every morning for half an hour. The third morning, Justin answers the phone in his car, says he's on his way to that private doctor they go to, and so Lance leaves him alone. He makes some eggs, reads the paper, does some things.
Justin calls back in about an hour and a half. "Dude, uh, can you meet me at the guy's office?"
"What?" Lance is sipping coffee and flipping through a magazine, actually pondering a nap. "Why?"
"Just. Come on."
Lance gets alarmed, and the names of medicines and cover-ups and thin, skinny bodies all flash behind his eyes. "Is, dude. You fucking. Are you okay?"
Justin laughs, shaky. "It's not like. no, you're fine, don't worry. Just, can you come?"
A sigh of relief. He didn't think Justin was stupid enough not to be careful about who he was fucking and with what, and Lance's last blood test was less than four months ago, and he's slept with two guys since then including Justin, both with a condom. It's still pretty fucking scary. Maybe it's bronchitis or something, that'll fuck up his voice. "Yeah, okay. I'll be there in a while."
"Okay, yeah," and Justin's voice is weird. "Thanks."
Lance stops for coffee on the way, figures he'll bring some for everyone cause people like that kind of thing. He gets an iced frappaccino for Justin, since he's all but convinced himself that it's his throat, just Justin's throat, which throws Justin into a panic but isn't the end of the world.
He forgets the coffees in the car at the office. He forgets that he even bought coffee when he gets inside.
Lance stares blankly from Justin to the doctor and back again. "You're what?"
The doctor shows them several charts, and ultrasound pictures of Justin's belly. A couple of them show a little shadow, off to the left a little. Lance points at it, once, and then moves his finger. He could have sworn that's where someone's kidney was, but grade eleven biology was a long time ago, and this doctor has a lot of degrees, and he even called up someone else through the wonder of the computer age and conferred with him for a while, and then someone else and they all agree.
Justin's sitting on the metal examination table, legs crossed and looking miserable, not to mention really really pale.
"But, pregnant though," Chris says, fiddling with the stirrups on the table. Lance looks away, a little queasy. Those stirrups, if he's not mistaken, are for examining. Uh. Examinations. Lance focuses his gaze on the poster for A Healthy Heart on the far wall. Chris adds, "that's kind of far out."
The doctor shrugs. This is after almost an hour of evidence presented to them and questions asked. Johnny is standing in the corner, frowning a lot. Like, a lot. Lance is sure that Johnny was paying attention to all of the evidence and weighed it accordingly. He can't remember any of it.
The doctor says finally, "I don't know what to tell you. It's as unprecidented as you might imagine."
"So," Joey says finally. "Who's the father?"
Justin hits him with the folder he's holding -- the folder of pictures and charts and information that the doctor thoughtfully gathered together for him.
"That's a very good question," JC adds, thoughtfully. "Is, like. How can this even happen?"
"Let's leave that question for now," Johnny says, "and deal with what's going on."
They all look at the doctor, all except Lance, who's still staring at the poster. It's telling him that to reduce the risk of heart disease, he should get 'Daily exercise!'
"I don't think there can be a father," the doctor finally says.
"What, like Justin's a virgin and this is an immaculate conception?" Joey snorts, and Justin says "hey!"
"Well, I'm not quite sure," the doctor replies. "It's, rather. Er. I asked my collegue in New York for advice, who's had more experience with, ah, unusual physiology." He looks thoughtful, shuffles some papers in his hands around. Finally, he shrugs, saying, "Have you recently had intimate relations with uh, another species?"
Justin is immediately indignant. "I'm not into that!"
"I meant," the doctor hesitates. "Alien species."
"Oh, no." Justin frowns. "I don't think so. I slept with Jason Behr once, does that count?"
Lance sighs, and the doctor asks, "What about witches?"
"Don't think so."
The doctor frowns. "Mutant contact?"
Justin stares at him. "Not unless you count Carson Daly."
"Well. My my," the doctor says, hemming and hawing to himself. "Then I am quite flabberghasted. It appears that your untimely pregnancy is a mystery, my young friend."
Joey and Chris take Justin out to his car, supposedly to put him back to bed. Once they're gone, JC and Johnny kind of look at each other. Lance says to the doctor, "So what do we do?"
"Well," the doctor replies, "I would try to keep him comfortable, and humor him as much as possible." He glances away. "Justin is possibly going to appear very volatile in the next little while, and it's best if you do everything you can to accomodate him. His build and physique, not to mention lifestyle, is going to make this a very difficult pregnancy."
Lance nods. "So basically, we suck it up."
The doctor nods back, looking very sympathetic. "Basically. Good luck."
It's little consolation. Lance offers to drive him home, and Justin makes him throw the coffee out the car window before he gets in Lance's SUV. When they get home, Justin starts moaning about morning sickness again, and Lance has to help him to the bathroom.
"So." Joey gestures with the pool cue, but they gave up playing any kind of actual game hours ago. "Pretty weird, huh?"
Lance looks at him sourly. "Weird doesn't even begin to describe it."
"Well," Joey shoots the eight ball into a corner pocket, sighes, and fishes it out again. "It was kinda bound to happen eventually, right?" Lance looks at him like he's crazy. "I mean, come on. You've had a lot of unprotected sex-- you've said so yourself. A pregnancy scare was inevitable."
"Joey," he replies, "I'm gay. How the fuck does that work?"
Joey shrugs. "I dunno. It sounded good when I thought of it. Maybe it's your karma, come to punish you."
Lance makes a shot that goes painfully wide, and just throws the cue down on the table. "Fuck it. What about my karma?"
"Well," and Joey hesitates. "I mean, you've done some. Stuff."
Lance taps his foot, and it's pretty obvious that Lance is close to showing he's pissed off. Joey answers anyway, "Well, like, you sent that letter bomb to Carson. And you made Nick Carter cry in under ten seconds. And then last November, like--"
"Oh," Lance replies quickly, cutting him off. He sits down in a chair, looking pretty pissed off, for sure. "That. But, that's. I mean, all that stuff isn't that bad, is it?"
"Um." Joey stalls, trying to think of something diplomatic to say, and then Justin starts crying out for a fucking water bottle. He winces instead. "I dunno. It's some pretty fucking heavy black marks against you, if you did deserve this."
Lance stands up, sighing. "No shit."
"So what I really want to know," Chris says once Justin is down for a nap, finally thank god, won't he ever shut up, "is how it happened in the first place."
Lance fiddles with Justin's television remote. Joey and JC went home a while ago, and he suspects Chris is sticking around mostly because he figures Lance is planning on bolting as soon as Justin looks away. Chris would be right. "Fucked if I know."
"But, like," and Chris took the remote. "What kind of fucked up sexual antics could you get up to?"
Lance is only half listening to Chris, and half listening to the heavy breathing coming from Justin's bedroom. He feels for the poor guy, sure, but Justin sick is just too much to handle. Lynn usually babysits him, and Lance is fine with that, Justin is impossible sick. He sighs, as Justin starts thrashing around in his sleep. Please don't wake up, please don't wake up. "Seriously," Lance says, "nothing like. y'know."
"You use a condom?"
Lance levels his best close-to-snapping glare at Chris, who's totally unfazed. "Yes, of course." Neither he or Justin are stupid, he wants to say, but really, the whole thing is so stupid that he can't be sure.
"What were you doing the last night you were together, man?" Chris settles on a Lifetime documentary. No, it's a reality television show, Lance amends, and then he realizes it's A Baby Story. He covers his eyes. Chris adds, "cause, seriously. You donated sperm to the Timberlake Foundation, you managed to impregnate --"
"Shut up," Lance says, but it does no good.
"--a guy, in a miracle of modern science. You went where no men have gone bef--"
"Fuck off," Lance says, miserably. "He bought me ice cream, and then we ate it and then we slept together. I was on top. Dude, that's all."
"What kinda ice cream?" Chris asks. Lance refuses to answer. "How long was he gone?" Chris asks, and Lance doesn't answer. "Do you think he maybe broke one of the unwritten rules of the universe while he was at the grocery store?" Lance stares at Chris, bewildered. "I bet," Chris declares, "he parked in the Expectant Mothers' parking space. And this is the world getting back at him."
Fucking Chris, sticking around so that Lance can't bolt. He stares moodily at the television, while a happy couple try and explain their joy at expecting a bundle of screaming lung capacity in a few months.
It's a good enough theory, though. And it holds up, especially when Chris asks him over dinner, "so, d'you steal the pregnant lady parking spot again?"
"Only," Justin protests, "for like, five minutes! I was only buying one thing, anyway."
Lance puts his face in his hands. He tried to creep out the door, earlier in the day, but Chris grabbed him and had refused to let go. Fucker. They're eating pizza and mashed potatoes. "There you have it," Chris says, triumphantly. "Some pissed off witch, who's girlfriend was pregnant, saw you and hexed you so that you'd learn a lesson."
Justin throws up all his dinner. Lance escapes while Chris has one hand wrapped around the phone, talking to Lynn, and is rubbing Justin's back with the other.
The problem is, they still kind of have work to do. The tour was over, sure, but an awards show here, a TV appearance there. Plus it's going to be hard to explain away Justin's new swiftly blossoming belly.
"Is it gonna keep doing that?" Chris asks while they're in the van to the Ananda Show. "Like, don't most people take time to show?"
Justin shrugs. "I'm not that fat."
"Dude, it's kind of showing," Chris says, smacking Justin's stomach with the palm of his hand. Lance doesn't really know what Chris is talking about. Justin's stomach is as flat and wash-board-y as ever.
"Shut up," Justin says easily. Today is obviously one of Justin's better days. As in, he isn't throwing up all over the place and moaning. Thank God.
They do the show without any hitches, Justin dances fine and sings fine and Lance is relieved. He thought maybe having a growth inside him would throw his center of balance off, or whatever, one of those fancy dance terms that wade always bandied about.
And everything is fine. For about a week.
Just as Lance starts to let his guard down, Justin calls him and asks if he'll go to 'planned parenthood'.
"Come on, come with me!"
"It'll be fun!"
"Fuck off," Lance says, almost crying. "I'm not going with you to some expectant mothers' workshop. I don't care how much you beg."
"Aw, come on," Justin says, licking Lance's neck. "You won't regret it..."
Lance pushes him away. "Justin," he says, "that's what got us here in the first place. There's no way you're gonna be able to convince me to go by trying to fuck me. Ask Chris."
Justin sighs, but asks Chris.
"- tell me you're sorry," Justin says, as he and Chris wander into the baggage claim area. Lance is standing with Joey, waiting patiently for his other suitcase. "A, you're not sorry, and B it's no where near good enough, anyway."
Joey raises an eyebrow, and Justin stalks up to them. "Hi guys."
"Justin," Chris says, "is sulking because I did exactly as he asked."
Lance bites his tongue, because he never thought Chris was a rimmer, but probably shouldn't say that in the Orlando airport, it's probably not a great place to spill that secret. He settles on, "Oh?"
"You know that workshop?" Justin says, grabbing Lance's first case. "The motherhood one? Well, I asked Chris, like you said." Chris beams, and immediately Lance feels sorry for Justin. "He scared the shit out of all the women there, after trying to pick them up, and the group leader asked us not to come back."
Lance finally spies his second suitcase, and grabs it off the carousel. Justin hefts his other one, and Joey says, "you can't carry that!" Justin looks at him like he's crazy. "Pregnant la-- people. Shouldn't lift heavy things. Give it to Chris."
Chris complains all the way to the car. Justin, Lance notices, isn't in a much better mood. He gets in the driver's side, and taps his fingers against the steering wheel.
Justin convinces Lance to stay with him because it's stay with him or Chris, and Chris is obsessing over something new, some new golf swing, so he's always on the course. Plus Justin has better food in the fridge.
Lance agrees, because Chris really does have godawful shit in his fridge sometimes. Week-old take out, leftovers from when JC comes by. He cooks, and he's a pretty good cook, but what he cooks is what always astounds Lance. It's like Chris makes a miracle meal out of spare parts.
"Comes from the childhood," Chris always tells him when they marvel at his abilities. "Plus I like leftovers."
Justin throws the spoon across the room.
Lance sighs. "Okay. The mocha almond ice cream is a no, then." Justin glares at him, and Lance throws his hands up in surrender. "Okay, I'll get you the mint chocolate chip from the store. Jesus -- I thought being gay meant I wouldn't have to deal with this kind of hormonal--"
Justin throws a book at Lance's head.
At the store, Lance goes to park in the Expectant Mother parking space -- because no one, honestly, no one EVER parks there, and then thinks better of it.
He puts the car in reverse, and parks in a no-parking zone instead.
Justin eats his second bowl of honey nut cheerios with chocolate syrup on. Lance subtly blocks his view of the bowl with a hand. Justin has been eating the weirdest shit lately, and won't even let Lance avoid meals with him. He's cooking all sorts of bizarre combinations, chocolate with shrimp, yams and honey. Sweet and sour and salty and bitter things all wrapped up together in like, rice paper and bananna leaves. The thai place down the hill is number three on speed dial.
"So where are you going today?" Lance asks, and tries not to feel nauseous as Justin adds some apricot jam to his bowl. All sweet things, today.
"JC and I are gonna try another community center, then go swimming at his place I think?" Justin says with a mouthful of cereal. At least he's keeping breakfast down four out of five days of the week, now. Tuesday Lance woke up to the pitiful sounds of retching coming from the main bathroom, but only Tuesday. Small miracles.
"Yeah?" and Lance butters his toast. Maybe if, maybe if he doesn't look at Justin's food, he can eat. He keeps his hand up, blocking his view of the bowl. He's almost finished, anyway, Lance reasons, when he's done I can eat.
"Yeah, since Chris was so fucked up about it." He pushes the bowl aside, and then drinks half a litre of milk straight from the carton. "Kelly knows this lady, on the other side of the city. She went to lamaze classes at her center."
"Dude, you're not even showing yet," Lance says. Justin reaches for the jam, starts eating it off the spoon. Oh, god. Lance pushes his plate away. "And that's fucking disgusting."
"Shut up," Justin says, licking apricot jam off his thumb. "You wouldn't come with me, so you don't get to complain."
Lance gets up from the table and leaves the house. He stops at Taco Bell, but only eats three bites before a vision of Justin layering mayonaise and honey on yams swims before his eyes. He throws the taco out the car window, because that's the worst mental image ever, just absolutely disgusting. There's nothing that will top that. Then he thinks for a minute, and for good measure goes back to Justin's and throws all the pickles and peanut butter out.
Lance and Joey fly out to film The View, and Justin calls him every night with more complaints. His newest is how weird JC is being. "Like," he says, "He wants to write a song about the continuity of life, and my pain and suffering and I can't figure out how to tell him, you know, that I'm suffering because my back hurts and I ache all over and he's giving me a headache."
"Uh huh." Lance is laying down, trying to nap before the guys fly out to meet them tomorrow. "Tell him to fuck off?"
"He's being too sweet about it," Justin says finally, "like, he really cares about what's happening to me."
"Uh huh," Lance says, rolling his eyes at the ceiling. "so when is your flight tomorrow?"
"We get in at nine," Justin says. "I'll see you at the hotel."
"Uh huh," Lance says again. Then, "no, wait. I'm flying out tomorrow. Hollywood, for, the," and he yawns. "So I'll see you in DC."
"Dude, it feels like you've been gone all month," Justin says. "I haven't seen you in ages. At least there's only another week of this."
"Uh huh," and Lance yawns. He really isn't even sure what month it is. "I'll talk to you later."
Once the movie finally opens for real, Lance goes back to his mother's house and falls asleep for two fucking days. He turns his phone off, he unplugs the ringer, and he ignores everyone for two days. His mom brings him food, and makes him juice, and after his family all visit him and pet him, Lance feels a lot better.
"So, honey," Diane says, "what's been going on in your life?"
Lance opens his mouth to explain about everything, and suddenly hits a brick wall. "I," he says. "A lot."
"You look tired, baby," she says fondly. "Is Justin treating you all right?"
"We're not, y'know," Lance replies, and then stops a moment. The truth is, Justin was treating him just fine. He blinks. "It's not really serious."
"He's called you four times since you got here, baby," his mom says, and Lance sighs, accepting his fate. He goes back to Orlando.
"I just thought we could spend some time together, you know," and Justin trails a hand up Lance's shoulder. "Before we all went to the Bahamas."
Lance shies away. "Justin, for the last time," he says. "I'm not sleeping with you again. Lord help us you'll have triplets or something."
Justin looks pissed off, but Lance doesn't care. He goes to stay with Chris, who talks about golf incessantly, and dolphins, but who doesn't want cashew nuts on his steak.
Chris leaves Lance alone, but JC corners him in the airport finally. "Lance," he says, "you can't just--"
"JC," Lance says patiently, "I didn't ask for any of this. I can't do anything about it, and, it's." He runs a hand through his hair. "Shut up."
"It's not like he wants this any more than you," JC says quietly. Lance goes to sit with Joey, and doesn't feel sorry for Justin one bit.
Johnny has a doctor look at Justin before they perform, which Justin tolerates only because they were promised swimming with dolphins later in the week. It's a small price to pay for being prodded for the better part of an hour.
"So?" Johny says, and even Chris can tell that he's nervous. Lance can almost feel the tension Johnny's radiating. His decision not to tell anyone, or cancel anything, is validated in the next second when the doctor proclaims Justin healthy, relatively, and able to perform.
"Awsome, let's hit the beach!" Justin says, and, then, "gonna get me some margaritas."
Joey puts a hand on his shoulder. "Dude, you can't drink."
"What? Oh, come on, but this is the only place I'm actually legal, dude, don't fucking do this to me."
Joey and JC are adament, and Justin sulks for a good three hours. Chris abstains for a while, to try and cheer Justin up, but gives up when Justin finally tells him with a sigh, "oh, go on. No need for everyone's party to be ruined."
Lance happily guzzles down fruity drinks with little cocktail umbrellas, and checks out the boys on the beach. They have two full days before any serious rehearsals are going on, and he intends to make the most of them. While Justin shepherds the other three guys around, Lance gets lost and finds himself a cute black poolboy. He takes him up to the hotel room, gets all his clothes off, and then while he's reaching for the lube, finds that he can't even begin to imagine having sex.
"Is something up?" the kid asks. Lance shakes his head, halting with one knee perched on the bed. God, he's hot. "Uh, you just look."
Lance scrubs his hand over his face. "Okay," he says, thinking fast. "Here's the thing. Can we just, y'know. fool around?" At the guy's confused look, Lance starts to babble. "My boyfriend. He, uh, it's cool, but he doesn't want me, you know. He wants to be the only one I'm fucking. And I give really great head, and I promise that it's--"
The kid is already sitting up, moving in to kiss Lance. Lance drapes an arm around his neck. "Is kissing okay?" he asks Lance, and Lance nods. "Good," he adds, and they fool around. Lance is blissful while he goes down on him, grateful for the quick lie that means he didn't have to explain why fucking anyone has become utterly terrifying.
There's a point, right before he comes, where all Lance can see behind his eyelids is a baby monitor, a baby monitor like those Fisher Price things that tell you whether the kid is crying, or happy, or sleeping or whatever. He gasps, and the guy looks up at him. Lance shudders a few times, desperately afraid, and focuses completely on the guy's face, his soft lips, his shoulders, whatever. In the back of his mind, he can still not quite hear the far off wail of a child.
The next two days feel like two weeks, but probably because it's the longest set of days Lance has had off in a row for what feels like forever. Still, the night before they're actually supposed to start rehearsing, they're all eating dinner together at the hotel. The concert itself isn't for another four days, half the fans and their parents aren't even here yet, and the CBS people even took the night off. It's nice, almost relaxing, except JC and Justin are taking advantage of the privacy to discuss baby names.
"If it's a girl," Justin says dreamily, "I want to name her after my mother."
Lance snorts a little bit down at his plate, because that is just, like, the ultimate mama's boy tribute. JC smiles, though, and says, "Oh, that's really nice. But what about Lance? What about his mom?"
Justin turns to Lance, all serious like. Lance keeps looking at his steak. Sometimes, pretending Justin doesn't exist actually works. "Lance?" he says, "Is it okay if we name the baby after my mother? We can give her, like, your mom's name for the middle name if you want."
Lance tries not to groan. At least Justin is eating a somewhat normal meal, a salad with shrimp and beets, but still. "Whatever," he says, "whatever you want."
Chris says, "Hey, I'm kind of hurt over here. You haven't considered naming her after me?" and Lance is just grateful to be able to go back to his dinner.
"Yes, dude," Justin says, "because I so want to name my baby girl Christopher."
"Well, actually, I was thinking Christina--"
Justin shakes his head. "Nah, man, then everyone would think she was the mother."
Joey snorts, and Lance thinks, better him than me. "Justin," Joey says, "I don't think it's going to be figuring out who the mother is that's the problem."
"Anyway," Justin adds, "then everyone would just think I was doing it to get back at Britney or something and she's my friend, I don't want people teasing her."
Joey volunteers Abigail, which Justin vetoes as too Biblical. Chris suggests Candi, and JC says Verona. Justin is flipping through an honest-to-god baby name book, with a pen in his hand, and is carefully underlining potential choices. It would be utterly fucking ridiculous if it weren't so goddamned terrifying. Lance pushes his plate away. He's not hungry.
The concert goes off without a hitch. Except for some holiday stuff, Lance stays the fuck away from Justin for most of December. He ignores Chris, who's started looking through fucking baby catalogues, and ignores JC who's going on and on about the miracle of life, and he ignores Joey who wants Lance to realize what a great thing a child is.
Lance knows what a great thing a child is. He just isn't quite ready to have one himself. And especially not an unplanned one.
He successfully dodges the other guys, barring the Billboards, until they debut the Girlfriend video on MTV. Justin's practically glowing, during make-up, and even the stylists comment on it. Lance rolls his eyes and prays for strength.
They're sitting around, waiting to do the actual premiering and stuff, when Justin's eyes widen. He turns to Lance, shifts a little in his seat while JC is discussing the video's concept, and looks at Lance. Lance looks down at Justin's belly, just a flicker of a look, and Justin nods minutely.
Lance knows. The baby just kicked.
Joey glances over at them too, and then nudges Chris. JC trails off, as he's saying, "well, you know," and looks over too. Justin's trying not to smile too widely, but his eyes are totally shining.
Carson grins at them. "Justin sure looks happy."
Justin fumbles, ducking his head and going a bit red. "Oh, no, I'm just, uh, excited about this video. It's a change, and I'm excited about it."
They cut to a commercial, the guys crowding Justin. Lance puts a hand on Justin's belly, and he immediately feels it. Justin beams at him, whispering, "The baby kicked! First time!"
Joey puts a hand on Justin too, and smiles widely. "Kicking hard too. How you doing, baby?"
"I'm okay. It's a little uncomfortable, but I'm okay." They have about a minute to go until the show comes back on, but Chris and JC coo over Justin until the ten second mark, the three of them rubbing Justin's shoulders, telling him how amazing it is. Joey looks wistful, a little, probably remembering Brianna. Lance is kind of freaked out, since they're on live television.
All through the rest of the interview, Justin has a little happy smile on his face. Carson even asks again, joking that Justin looks like he had a secret. Justin just smiles. "I'm happy."
Of course, he throws up into a trash can when the interview is over, but he's still smiling.
The rehearsals for the next award shows are pretty rough, Justin's having a bad time of it and he needs to lay down every second moment. Not only that, but they're supposed to go back out on the road in less than three months, and there's no sign that Justin'll be able to handle the stress.
Johnny gets his high priced doctors in on a meeting, and Lance sits in the corner looking bored and vaguely pissed off while the doctors tell them the obvious. Naturally, Justin's lifestyle is going to make things worse. No, he shouldn't do nearly as much physical activity as he needs to. No, I know you're not going to listen to me at all. No, I'm not sure that, even if you take the proper precautions, everything will be fine. God knows.
Lance is bored. Lance is bored and fed up. Justin has a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch, and carefully pours vinegar over spinach for dessert.
"Come on, you have to admit, it's a pretty miraculous thing," JC says. Lance is flopped down, exhausted after another stupid round of awards. "You should come with us."
Lance sighs. "I don't care about the ultrasound, C, leave me alone."
"You should be there for Justin, man," JC says.
Lance considers hanging up on him. "Justin has you," he says, "he doesn't need me."
JC just repeats, "you should be there."
The real reason he shows up is because Joey owes him twenty bucks from a bet on the last football game, and Lance thinks that he's been avoiding him to keep from paying up. But he knows that Joey won't miss something like Justin's first ultrasound, so he pulls up to the private clinic, sunglasses firmly in place, in order to collect.
Inside, the rest of the guys are already peering down at a monitor that shows. Something. Lance doesn't look at it too closely. "Lance!" Justin says, excited. "Look! that's our little girl!"
"You owe me twenty bucks, Joe," Lance states flatly.
"You were betting on girl or boy?" Chris said, interested. "Damn, I never thought of that. I could have made some money, too."
Lance holds his hand out for the cash, expectantly. Joey gives it to him. Justin coos over the monitor while JC rambles on about dress styles and pink bows.
Justin's convinced that he's started showing, so he doesn't leave the house much. Not only that, but he's coerced Lance into staying with him again, so that Lance is stuck dealing with Justin when he's home. He gets out whenever he can, meetings and appointments and strange craving grocery runs and lunches with Joey, but Justin always looks so fucking woeful when he leaves that Lance ends up setting up his lap top and a bunch of other stuff in Justin's dining room so he can work from there.
Lance comes home one afternoon from a meeting and finds Justin working on his laptop and eating celery sticks lined with grape jelly.
"Don't get that stuff on the keyboard," he says, but Justin ignores him, looks up from the screen frowning.
"Lance, we have to make sure I have the baby in California, okay?"
Lance shakes his head. "What?"
"Second-parent adoption laws. I've been looking them up, see? And Florida, like, sucks, it's totally illegal," Lance nods, he thinks he remembers something about Rosie O'Donnell and her kids. Maybe Justin will call her for advice. "--and so if I have the baby in California," Justin is saying, "you can adopt the baby no problem, there's total precedent and I've got a house, so technically I'm a resident and everything."
"Wait," Lance says, "why do I need to adopt the baby?"
"Dude, you're the father. Or, uh, one of the fathers. And same-sex parent adoption is all complicated, it's different in every state. Usually it's just for lesbians and their girlfriends or gay guys who adopt a kid together, but it's the same idea, I mean, unless you want to try and prove that you're the kid's biological father, and stuff --"
A brief publicity nightmare flashes before Lance's eyes and then he turns back to the matter at hand. "Yes, but. Why do I need to adopt the baby, anyway? You think you're gonna have to get child support from me?"
"No, I just." Justin pauses, bites his lip. "I just thought --"
"Look, Justin. We haven't even. We don't even know how we're going to explain the fact that you've had a baby, I don't think a piece of paper with both of our names on it is a very good idea and we don't even," Lance waits, and wishes like nothing else that Justin would get one of his crazy craving right now, so he could go off in search of a ham, crab and cottage cheese pita or whatever, but then he says, finally, "we don't even know whether this whole stupid fucking thing is going to go down solid."
He waits for Justin to start screeching at him for calling the matter of their unborn child "this whole stupid fucking thing" but that's he feels about it right now, and then Justin starts to laugh. "You said 'go down solid,'" he says, cackling, and for a moment he's the old Justin, the Justin who eats cereal and watches ESPN and only uses the internet to play computer games and Lance grins back.
Of course, in the next second Justin makes him go out and buy parmesan and pickles, "cause like, all my pickles have disappeared." Lance sighs and gets his coat. "And olives! and more spinach!" Justin calls out. Lance sighs again. It's better than trying to decide whether 'Christina Lynn' is a prettier name than 'Lynn Christina'.
"Would you marry me?" Justin says thoughtfully, in a break from practise.
Lance almost chokes on his water. "What?"
"Like, because our kid is going--"
"Shut up, Justin," Lance says, wiping water off his shirt with a damp towel. "Just shut up for one minute about." He stops talking at the mournful expression on Justin's face. "What?"
"You're not taking this seriously at all, are you," Justin says. Lance considers smacking him with the water bottle. "Like," Justin continues, "this is gonna impact us for the rest of our lives, and you're still treating it like a joke, like some stupid thing that just happened to us."
Lance unconsciously starts clawing at his face. "Dude," he says, very carefully, "it is just something that happened to us. I'm sorry, but for fuck's sake. I don't care what school you think she should attend, I don't care what names you underline in your stupid fucking book." He sits down, heavily. "I won't go to lamaze classes with you. I can't even believe that you're considering keeping this child."
Justin is very quiet for a very long time. "You wouldn't want to keep her?"
JC decides at that moment to wave them back into rehearsal. Lance fucks up the steps eight times in ten minutes.
Lance can't sleep all night.
He spends hours and hours tossing and turning, thinking about stupid Justin and his stupid question. Near dawn, when he's finally maybe sort of dozing, his cell phone rings.
Joey says, "They've taken Justin to the hospital."
They wait around in the hospital all night and most of the morning. Lance can't sit still the whole time. There are screens up, and Justin has practically a whole floor to himself, and that same doctor that was conferenced in at the very first appointment is here, even. Lance just stares out the hospital window.
Around eleven in the morning, one of the nurses comes to see them. "He's all right," she says. "He's fine. Justin is doing just fine."
Lance can tell from the set of her face that that isn't all. JC stands up, rubs his hands together. "What about," he starts to say, and then stops. Lance almost laughs.
The nurse says, "Dr. McCoy will be in with you in a moment. I have to, I have," she replies, and they nod at her, knowing it's not her job to spread bad news.
Dr. McCoy uses a lot of technical terminology to explain why the operation went south. Lance thinks, 'went south, like a duck in winter', and then almost laughs again. He puts a hand over his mouth, quickly, to stop from giggling. No one would understand, he knows.
"I'm sorry," the doctor finally says, "she was just too little, too young." Lance doesn't think it's very professional for a doctor to refer to an unborn fetus as 'she'. When the doctor places a hand on Lance's shoulder, he ducks away.
Justin is sleeping, probably from the drugs and the operation and the weariness of being in a hospital to deal with something this big. Weary, maybe that's just Lance. He sits down in the chair beside Justin, curls up in it. The other guys, and Lynn, end up disappearing for dinner, but Lance just sits there, watching Justin. He doesn't think about anything, he doesn't cry, he doesn't talk to Justin or anything. He just sits there, under the television that's standard in all nice hospital rooms, and sits.
JC brings him some dinner from the cafeteria, saying, "you should eat something." Lance nods, but leaves it on the tray. The only thing he remembers thinking is, if the baby is gone -- and then he amends, if the fetus is stillborn. if it's not alive. if. If the fetus didn't survive. Where do they put it? Do they leave it in a tray, with all the gauze like on ER? Do they bury it? Do they cremate it? Where does it go?
Lance laughs out loud, finally, when he realizes what he's thinking. The laughter that he's been holding back all day finally comes to the surface. He chuckles for a moment or two, giggles, then looks at Justin. He stops.
"She was so little," he says to Justin, who's still asleep. "Too little to survive."
Lance goes for a long walk, after that. When he gets back to Justin's room, it's almost two pm. Justin's awake, and entertaining guests. He's got a little smile on his face, but Lance and probably everyone else can tell it's fake.
"Hey there, Lance," he says. "Did you bring me a present?"
Lance blinks. "Should I have?"
"It's customary, when you're in the hospital."
"Oh," Lance says. He was just thinking about Justin, Justin and all of this and how brave Justin was being. "Well. let me go out and come back in. I'll buy some flowers from downstairs."
"No, that's okay," and Justin waves off Joey, who's playing with a teddy bear that only JC could have bought, "just come in."
Lance goes back to the chair under the television. Then he stands up. Then he stands by the window. Lynn is sitting on the edge of Justin's bed, carefully, and Joey and JC are ringed around it. Chris is nowhere to be found. "Where's Chris?" he finally asks.
"Chris went downstairs to buy me some flowers," Justin replies, and then giggles. Lance watches Justin giggle, and Lynn smoothe out his hair gently.
Joey puts the teddy bear down. "Dude," he says, "I'm starving. We'll be back in ten minutes, eh? Want us to sneak you anything from the vending machine or whatever?"
Justin isn't supposed to eat anything solid, Lance remembers suddenly. That's part of the operation. Justin smiles at them, as Lynn glares, but he says, "no, I'm not really hungry."
The smile doesn't reach his eyes.
They keep him in the hospital for a week, and then send him home. When Lynn drives up, Lance is waiting.
"I thought, uh."
Lance raises his hands, helplessly, and Lynn smiles at him, pats his cheek. "Why don't I check Justin's fridge, and go grocery shopping. I know how you boys eat, and some home-cooked meals would do both of you good."
Lance grins at her. "Just no macaroni and cheese, please."
Lance helps Justin out of the car, and every time he stumbles, Lance is there to catch him. "You're being weird," Justin finally says. "What's up with you?"
Lance helps him into an armchair, and Justin waves him off, irritably. Lance doesn't take offence. "I just." He shrugs. "How are you?"
Justin opens his mouth, and then glances away. "I, I dunno." Lance sits on the arm of the chair, hand on Justin's head, gently massaging Justin's curls. "Like. You know. I laughed at the whole thing for so long, and."
A lump catches in Justin's throat, Lance can tell by the hitch in his breath. "She was so little," Lance finishes quietly. His hand finds it's way into Justin's, laces their fingers together.
"It's," and Justin gulps a bit. "I was stupid to think that. You know. Medically, it couldn't." He lays his head on Lance's thigh, finally. "It couldn't have turned out well. I mean, there was no way, medically. It couldn't. I just, I thought, maybe." Justin trails off.
Lance squeezes his hand, tightly. "You thought maybe it could."