"You're breaking up with me?" Lance said, covering the mouthpiece of his phone. "But, like, we're getting married on Sunday." It was Monday, Justin glanced at the calendar. Monday was the seventh. Next Sunday was circled in a big red heart. Lance was sitting on the bed, fully dressed. "And you're the one that proposed, dude."
The proposal had gone like this:
Justin had got down on his knees in the middle of Lance's favorite restaurant in New York. "Lance," he had said, "there's a hundred people here, for your birthday, and they're all going to laugh at me if you say no," and then he pulled out a really nice ring, and then added, "and I can't take the ring back, so even if you say no, you'd better like the fucking ring."
But Lance didn't say no, so he wore the ring every day, and Justin heard Lance saying to Joey later in the night that he actually really loved the ring a lot. He heard Lance slurring, "it's the best birthday present I've ever gotten, Joe, and that includes, like, everything." Joey had patted Lance on the chest, and then, Justin thought, taken him to go throw up.
"You got a ring and everything?" JC had said, holding a wine glass. Merlot, Justin had thought wisely. JC had insisted on picking the wines. It was always Merlot with JC. Justin thought maybe he'd had a few too many glasses.
"It's a nice ring," Justin finally said, a little defensively.
JC had patted him on the shoulder. "It's a really nice ring. It looks good on Lance."
So Chris laughed at him, while he was on his knees, and the rest of the restaurant followed suit. Diane asked him whether he was really going to make an honest man out of Lance. Justin toasted Diane. Joey toasted them. They sang happy birthday.
The proposal had gone well, Justin thought. Then they actually started the planning stage.
"--anyway, so I called the florist," Lance said to both his phone and Justin, pacing from Justin's huge bathroom to his walk-in closet, Wendy following not quite on his heels. Justin was sitting on their bed. "He says that he'll be at the rehearsal dinner on Saturday, and we'll work out what's going on for delivery on Saturday night."
Wendy held the phone to Lance's ear. Lance listened for a minute, and Justin could hear the shhhhh of hangers being zoomed around.
Lance paced from the closet to in front of the bed, Wendy tripping over herself to keep up and the phone to Lance's ear. "Mmm? No, he's right here. No, everything's fine, it's just. No, ignore him. You want to talk to him? Okay." Wendy held the phone out to Justin, while Lance held up two different ties and absently said, "my mom wants to talk to you."
Justin took the phone carefully. "Hi, Diane."
"You getting cold feet, sugar?" she said. Justin swallowed again. Maybe announcing his intention to break up was not a good idea while Diane was still on the phone. Maybe he should just get out of town for a few days. It was too hot in Orlando even in late September anyway, what were they thinking. Maybe a vacation, somewhere cold. Maybe somewhere like Sweden. Maybe they could just leave the wedding planned, and let Joey and Kelly walk down the aisle again, reaffirm their vows while he and Lance were off somewhere skiing, or--
"-it's natural," Diane said.
Justin blinked. "I." He thought for a minute. She'd been talking to him, while he was fantasizing about snow. "I'm sorry. I just. I'm."
Diane's voice was soothing, gentle. Kind. "It's okay, sugar," she said. "We're all nervous before the big day. I almost ran across three county lines before my momma brought me to my senses and made sure I married the right man."
"Right," Justin said, and then as Lance paraded around in his boxer briefs and a tie, arguing with Wendy about how late they could be to the luncheon, "I have to go. Get dressed and stuff."
He passed the phone back to Wendy, and stared down at himself. A pressed grey suit, casual dressy, no tie. He'd been ready for an hour, watching Lance try and argue with a guy about seating arrangements, and then another guy about catering. Lance's phone had two lines, and they were both busy.
Justin sat on the bed, and watched Lance run around. He didn't really think Lance had taken him seriously when he said he wanted to break up at all.
The planning stage had gone all right, for the first few months. Once Justin actually said the words, Lance got on top of everything fairly quickly. And it wasn't that Justin was complaining, it's just, he never really expected things to move so. Fast.
Of course, coming out and announcing a relationship had gone from a few quiet press releases to a fucking snowball that almost buried their careers and eventually buried everyone else. So it's really not much of a surprise that a mere three months after saying the words, Justin's staring down a bright, long tunnel and seeing a church at the other end.
And hah hah, pre-wedding jitters, whatever, Justin laughed it off for two and a half months. And then he started thinking.
The bachelor party was on Tuesday night. Johnny insisted on throwing it for them, back in August, and Chris argued for all of ten seconds, until Johnny said it was open bar. Chris relented. Plus, the compound had its own bowling lane, which was a definite plus.
They contemplated two parties to begin with, but scheduling along with the shower, meetings, bullshit, blah blah blah, it was a nightmare. Chris finally declared it a double date, just forbid them from speaking to each other all night, along with all these other rules. Don't talk to each other, don't hang out together, pretend the two of you don't exist. At least two lap dances each. Making out at least once, and not with each other. Whipped cream with a cherry on top.
Lance rolled his eyes. "And you'll be the cherry?"
Chris licked Lance's cheek. "You never know, you never know."
Justin just sat and looked at his shoes. It was a little weird, not being allowed to talk to Lance, since they had a pretty common party routine by now. Mingle, whatever, drink a little, and then like, go home. It wasn't really exciting, but it was a routine. Justin wasn't sure how everything was going to work.
The first few hours, mostly, they just danced and drank a lot of beer. Justin did three tequila shots, then sucked down a Corona. It was midnight before the strippers came out, two pretty boys that reminded Justin a little of Nick Carter.
Glancing over at the other side of the room, Justin saw Lance all cozy with Chris and someone who looked like Rachel Leigh Cook. He wasn't sure whether it actually *was* Rachel Leigh Cook. Lance had a salt shaker in his hand and was licking the girl's neck, putting salt on it, then licking Chris's neck and getting salt all down Chris's shirt. Justin looked away.
"You having fun, man?" Howie and Nick sat on either side of him. "Cause," Howie continued, "you're looking kind of down."
"Can I do a body shot?" Justin asked, watching the stripper's ass. There was kind of a makeshift stage for them to dance around on, on the huge patio, and the guy was slithering all up and down it. Justin put his empty beer down. "Like, off one of you?"
Howie and Nick glanced at each other. "Okay," Nick said. "Me, though, cause he doesn't like the salt, it's all sticky."
"It's sticky," Justin agreed, and grabbed his own personal salt shaker. Johnny had presented Lance and Justin with a basket of lemon wedges and a salt shaker each at the beginning of the night. Justin had just put his down on the little table beside his chair. "But it's kind of fun, too," and licked Nick's collarbone.
He carefully poured a little salt down onto the wet skin, and Nick flinched a little as some of it went down into his collar. "Sorry, sorry," Justin said, and a shotglass materialized in his hand. He did the drink, licked Nick's neck again, fast and lips burning, then stuffed a lemon wedge in his mouth.
Howie giggled a little. "You're making a face."
"It's kind of gross," Justin said around the lemon. Nick grinned at him, wiping his collarbone a little. Justin threw the lemon wedge on the ground, and kissed Nick. Nick stiffened, for a minute, then he licked the inside of Justin's mouth, licked away lemon juice. One of Nick's hands came up to cup Justin's shoulder.
"Are you having more fun now?" Howie said, not angrily, when Justin pulled away a moment later.
Justin wiped his lips, chewing on a fingernail. Lemon, lemon and tequila. "I guess," he said. "One down, at least." Howie clapped him on the shoulder, and Nick leaned forward, waving some money at the stripper so that he'd come sit in Justin's lap. Justin got another beer, and let him. He didn't look over at the other side of the room, where Lance was getting the royal treatment from two boys in togas.
He got two lap dances, as ordered, and the guy, who was really kind of like a younger, black haired Nick, actually seemed to enjoy being in Justin's lap. He licked his neck, he winked, and at least twice, he brushed a hand against Justin's groin. Nick and Howie urged him on, and were soon joined by Joey, Anthony, and Britney, all of whom were trying to get the guy to take Justin upstairs.
Justin thought about it, for a while, while the guy was grinding down into his lap. He seriously considered taking the guy into one of Johnny's offices and blowing him, just to make sure he'd slept with more than one guy in the last year. The catcalls, in Howie and Britney's high voices, Joey and Anthony and Nick lower and quieter, were a weird counterpoint to the music, and Justin shook his head with a grin when the guy held his hand out.
"Why didn't you, man?" Britney said, when Nick and Howie wandered off to dance. They weren't out, weren't even supposed to touch each other in public. Johnny would have ripped off anyone's head who let press in though, so they were groping each other happily. "He would have gone down on you in a second."
"I dunno," Justin said, and watched Britney suck on a lemon wedge. It was tequila shots all around, and he had a nice little pile of discarded lemon rind right beside his deck chair. Britney added hers to the collection. "He seemed too easy. Besides. There isn't much point."
"There's a huge point," Britney said, hands on her knees. "It's to prove you know what you're doing."
Justin got up, pulled her out to the dance floor. While they were dancing, Lance disappeared into a back room. Justin never asked why.
Justin woke up Wednesday morning, curled around Anthony their stage manager, on a back office couch. His tongue was fuzzy. He felt like dying.
Britney was already up, he found her on the patio in sweatpants and clinging to a mug of coffee sleepily. "Hi, tiger," she said. "How are you feeling?"
He sat beside her and put his head in her lap, one arm around her waist and his face buried in her stomach. She shifted so that her legs were crossed, giving him a little more of her thigh to pillow his head on. "That bad, huh," she said sympathetically. "I'm not surprised -- you were drunk enough to get up on stage with the strippers last night."
"I," and he looked up at her. She was smiling. "I what?"
Britney sipped her mug of coffee. Mascara was clinging to her lashes still, and it was obvious that she had on no bra under her wifebeater. "Oh, yeah," and she rubbed at her eyes, smearing her make-up some more. "Strippers, baby. You were pretty good."
"I." He licked his teeth, feeling slightly nauseous still. "Good for me."
"Chris was impressed," she said, shifting around a bit. "You gave him one hell of a lapdance."
Britney stroked his forehead, comfortingly. "Yep. He and Nick were pretty impressed. You kept making people put on the Neptunes and undoing your belt."
"Uh." Justin blinked, and closed his eyes against the sun. It was some god-awful time in the morning, the sun was just barely up and still, he was awake. "Was Howie mad?"
"Nah," she said. "You were too cute, what with the limbo contest."
Justin rubbed his forehead, too. Something was spiking into his brain, right above his left eye. "I remember that." He sat up again, with difficulty. "Kinda."
"It was a fun night," she commented. "And you and Lance didn't speak once."
"No?" Justin stretched, and then took her mug.
"Nope," and Britney watched him gulp cool coffee. "Chris kept having to keep you away from him. You didn't really want to party much."
"Fancy that," he answered around the rim of the cup. He looked at her, hair back in a pony-tail and a hoodie -- Howie's hoodie, he thought -- wrapped around her shoulders. "You're very beautiful." She blinked in surprise. "No," Justin said, giving back her drink. "I mean it." He rubbed his eyes. "You're beautiful."
"Thank you," and Britney went back to staring at the lake, watching the ripples in the early morning.
Justin leaned against her, trying to wake up. He mumbled, once, "did you ever envision this? like," and he halted. "For us?"
Britney didn't look at him. "I guess," she answered slowly. "Maybe once upon a time."
"Right," he said. Once upon a time, before he decided to go after cock. She had been over him for years, anyway. "I guess, we weren't. We didn't fit, like this."
Britney tilted her head to one side, delicate hands both wrapped around her cup. She turned to look at him, mouth turned down just a little. "Are you okay?"
"I," and he stared at his hands. "Yeah." He hadn't ever really envisioned the two of them going down the aisle, never really saw himself saying "I do" to Britney. He stared at his hands until everyone else woke up and decided to go out for breakfast.
"I'm not saying that it's not bad," Joey declared in the kitchen, "but cheating at a bachelor party isn't the same as like, you know." Chris nudged him as Justin wandered in, hearing only the tail-end of the conversation.
"Hey, you," Chris said. "How's your head?"
Justin shrugged. "I want pancakes."
"Good for you," and Chris rubbed Justin's belly gently. "You'll feel better after some greasy food."
Joey leaned forward, as their car pulled out of Johnny's driveway. Lance and JC were following in a second vehicle, with a couple of Lance's friends. "Okay, Justin. I gotta ask you. You think if someone cheats at a bachelor party it's as bad as if they did it normally?"
Chris started arguing, immediately, bringing up how pissed off Kelly was when she heard about Joey and the women from his party. Joey countered with Kelly's hooker that her girlfriends bought her at her bachelorette bash, and Chris said it was different because Joey knew about that, he'd even chipped in, and Joey finally looked at Justin. Justin rubbed his forehead again. "Like," he said. "I dunno."
They ate breakfast, and Justin didn't bother asking whether Lance had gotten laid last night. He didn't really care, in regards to the principle of cheating. Justin mostly cared that he hadn't. Lance didn't mention it the whole meal, just kissed Justin's cheek when he passed Lance the syrup.
Wednesday night he was supposed to pick up his father and the family from the airport, except some stupid website had published what flight they were all on so he had to wait in a car a few miles away from Orlando International, and have a car sent to pick them up and then meet them somewhere else. They weren't staying at his place, since his place was already full of his mom and his mom's family, but Justin had rented a floor of one of the hotels near Disney out so that they could stay and not worry about putting anyone out. Plus the hotel was good about not hiring people who were likely to go through someone's bags and steal shit just because you were famous, so he figured his folks would be okay and not hassled a lot.
His mom went with with him, and waited in the car while he got his dad and everyone settled in their suites. He made sure they knew what was going on, gave them the number of the car service that was taking care of all the arrangements, and gave his dad the schedule for brunch the next day and the rehearsal dinner after that. Because it was the rehearsal, he and Lance had discussed it and agreed, reluctantly, to let a few members of the press in; no video cameras, still shots only. More press would be at the ceremony itself.
"And we have to be there at three pm, at the church, and then there's the dinner and I have to make sure that everything's set up at the hall after," Justin finished up saying. "So you guys have a driver, and everything, and, um. yeah. I wish I could stay, but I gotta--"
His dad understood.
Justin went back out to the car, and paused for a moment in the lobby of the hotel. He could just. He looked around, hat pulled low. It was late enough that no one really recognised him, no one really glanced at him. The lobby was mostly deserted. He could just take off. He could just take off, just for a few days until this all died down, until he could be sure that the flowers were going to be the right color.
His mom kissed him on the cheek when he slid into the drivers' seat. "Honey," she said, "you look tired."
Justin shrugged. "Were you happy?" he asked. "When you married dad, I mean."
"Oh," she said. "Yeah, I was. And when I married Paul, too. I was."
"Right," he said. They drove back to his house, and tried to figure out sleeping arrangements for him, his mom and Paul, Trace, Trace's family and a bunch of other people, all in his house.
Justin and Lance's first date was Valentine's Day, because Justin was just that kind of kid. Lance was seventeen and Justin was even younger, and Justin held the door open for Lance and smiled at him all through dinner. The affair lasted exactly two weeks, and they kissed twice. Lance hadn't really been with anyone on Valentine's Day since, not officially anyway. Not enough to do more than make his assistent send flowers. Justin was with Britney, for a while, and he made sure to leave lots of rose petals everywhere because that's what people did.
Their second first date was Valentine's Day too, in amid rehearsals for the Celebrity tour and everything, so it was more of an hour eating take-out and drinking beers at Justin's place. After a few beers, Justin confessed to Lance that he'd asked him over because Britney was pissing Justin off, but Lance was actually okay with that because they fucked afterwards.
Since then, Justin was pretty sure that Lance bought him flowers himself, not Wendy or Beth or Diane. Justin made sure not to be too romantic around Lance most of the time, but for Valentine's day he kinda went overboard, booking private cruises and sunset on the beach. One time Justin had rented a whole bungalow complex in the Keys, so that they could have a beach all to themselves, no photographers, nothing. Justin figured that he was allowed, once or twice a year, to be romantic.
While they were on the beach, February fourteenth and splashing in the waves, wasting time, Lance had asked Justin how long he'd been planning this. Justin had said, "oh, like, six months I guess."
Lance was obviously surprised. Justin figured out later that Lance was surprised that Justin actually was sure that they'd be together the six months after, even after the whole big fiasco with the media and their coming out and their announcement. It was then he decided to propose. He never told Lance what made him decide to ask, and said instead that he wanted to give Lance the promise, an official promise, to always be there. And he figured that promise was the most sincere thing he could give Lance for his birthday.
Lance joked that it was the most arrogant thing Justin could do, but Justin grinned. "You said yes," he had said happily. Lance didn't deny it. Justin just wanted him to know that in the end, Justin would be there.
Thursday morning Justin took his dad and Chris out golfing, even though Lance had brunch planned with the wedding party and his family, and then an appointment with a very expensive photographer in the afternoon. They got to the course barely past seven o'clock, and actually had a nice few rounds before anyone noticed they were there.
Chris asked him, "what's going on?" once or twice. His dad didn't. His dad did give him and Chris a cigar each, at the clubhouse while they were waiting for the car to pick them up, and Justin held it in his hand, staring down at it like it had something to say to him.
Chris joked, "he's not pregnant."
Justin really didn't find that very funny, and avoided Chris and his dad on the green, saying he had to make a phone call, they could play through on him. He sat there and fiddled with his phone, finally calling Britney. "Brit," he said, "I don't know if I can do this."
"Aw, honey," she said back immediately, and Justin felt a little better. Britney always seemed to know what to say to make him feel better. Granted, it was mostly the same things, she said, over and over, and a lot of honeys and sugars and you'll-be-fine's, but coming from her, someone with such a big heart, he seemed to believe her. "What's wrong?"
"Dad gave me a cigar," he said, "and I don't know whether I can *do* this, I don't know if it's right, Brit."
Later on, Chris helped him pick out shoes. "Not that I can't wear the same ones," Justin amended, hastily, "but I've been thinking, we've been thinking, Lance and I. And there'll be press, so we considered changing for some pictures, once or twice, and now I have a more casual suit than the tuxedo, for the dinner, and we're all dressing a little more down for some other stuff, except, I can't decide on any shoes."
Chris glanced into his closet. "You have about a gazillion pairs, Justin," he said. "Just close your eyes and point."
Justin eyed him, mildly panicky at the thought of choosing clothing or shoes in such a casual way. Chris eyed his pants right back, and pulled out five different pairs in as many minutes, then left Justin with the hard decision. He finally closed his eyes and picked at random.
He didn't see Lance all day, but got three voicemails from him saying something about a catering fiasco and people being fired. Whereever Lance was, it sounded like he was having fun.
Friday morning, Lance ran around their house, picking up invoices for catering and flowers and everything, putting them down again, double checking the seating arrangement chart which, really, was perfect, and yammering away on his phone trying to get things ready. Justin could tell he was having a great time.
"No, and I need more flowers, okay?" Lance said. "After we looked at the set-up for the dinner, with the tables and everything, there should be at least a dozen more bunches, maybe twenty to be safe?"
Justin watched him, sitting in their new bed. They'd picked it out together just a few months ago, and it was the first thing they really owned. Most of the other things that decorated both their houses were bought either on various whims -- mostly Justin's house -- or after looking long and hard for what went well with everything else -- mostly Lance's house. Even the things that Lance bought for Justin's house were impulses, and the things Justin picked out to go with Lance's furniture were always carefully selected.
"Someone needs to pick the chairs up tonight," Lance was saying to someone, "because I'm not sure that Joey's guy is going to work." Lance picked up a slip of paper off a dresser, put it down again, picked up a pen, put it down. "No, no," he said. Picked up a different piece of paper. Folded it. Put it down. Picked up the pen. "That'll be fine, yeah, thanks," and Lance put the pen down.
Lance was talking to his mom. Justin knew because of the face that Lance made just then, the kind of wrinkly nose yet smiling face that people only made when talking to their parents.
"Oh, I've got that all set up," Lance said, "I'm going to wear a blue corsage, and the rest I've got, yeah. But thanks."
Justin remembered. He still needed to find something old, something new, and something blue. Britney had lent him a pink thong to go under his dress slacks, and threatened to tell everyone how he liked Barbara Streisand unless he wore it. He believed her so he took it, and the shoe box it was hiding in was safely in his sneaker closet. Everything else, he still had to get. And Lance was adamant, they had to each make sure to have something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.
"The chairs? Is that what I said?" Lance unfolded the same piece of paper as Justin watched him. Justin's hands were resting in his lap, carefully not fidgeting, while he leaned against the headboard. They picked the headboard out together, too. "Right, that's what I said, I guess. That sounds great."
Justin tapped his finger quietly against his bare leg. Two days.
"No, mom, it's fine, we're going to have everything under control, I swear. I'm handling everything." Lance paused absently in front of Justin, kissing his forehead while he shuffled through a couple of business cards, obviously looking for his next target. Justin sighed. Something blue. Something blue wouldn't go with his tuxedo. "Oh, I guess-" and Lance held the phone out to Justin. "She wants to talk to you again."
Justin held the phone gingerly while Lance bustled off to make someone cry. "Hello?"
"Justin, how are you?" Diane said.
"I'm good, y'know. Lance is making sure everything's taken care of." Justin scratched his belly. The sheets rustled. "Everything's good."
"Are you good?"
Justin pulled the covers up over himself a little more; his bare chest was chilly. "Yeah, I'm good. I need," and he laughed at himself, even saying it out loud, "something old, something new, and something blue."
Diane chuckled. "Well, baby, if you'll let me, I've got a cufflink that's blue."
"It was my father's," she said. "His favorite pair. He lost one, almost ten years ago? But because he loves them, he won't throw the other out." Diane chuckled again. "My mother can tell the story much better than I can."
Justin rolled over, pulling the covers up tightly around his shoulders. It was barely nine am, he had to have at least a few more minutes grace before they had to get up and meet everyone for brunch. "A cufflink?"
"Mmm hmm." Diane even *sounded* like she was smiling. "I think it will suit you."
"Thanks," he said. "Thank you."
When they'd told Lynn and Diane about how they were dating, it was kind of anti-climatic. Justin had already told Lynn a lot of the details, so really it was just the love that they announced together. That and how they were thinking about coming out.
Everyone had been really supportive. Really really really really supportive. So supportive, in fact, that they'd had a PR representative from the label in to discuss their options even before the two of them had discussed it with their grandparents.
Justin had told Lance that he wanted them to move in. At least, as much as two people who had two houses each, various other pieces of real estate, and jobs which meant they lived out of suitcases more than the average bear. Lance had asked how the fuck they were going to make that work, and Justin had said, "make sure we're together in whoever's house we're in?"
"Okay," Lance had said. "Okay. Except, you have to get rid of your couch. And that vase thing that I hate."
"You think that your office will get away without any damage?" Justin responded immediately. "You're getting some decent goddamned patio furniture, yo."
"Fine, mock my office," Lance had said, but he was laughing. Justin didn't like the vase. He could get another couch, and hide his -- which he really loved but Lance hated -- in a spare room or something.
Their moms loved it, loved it and supported them and adored them almost more than they loved and supported and adored each other, in the beginning.
Saturday morning, the day before the Day, Lance woke him up with the smell of coffee and a sharp poke to the side.
"I got you a gift," Lance said, handing Justin an expensive looking jewelry case. "I mean, it's not much, it's not a seventy thousand dollar bracelet or anything." He shrugged. "But, I got you something."
"Yeah?" Justin said, pleased and a little startled. "Why?"
Lance looked a little annoyed. "Well, I mean, it's tradition. At least I think. To get a bride a gift. Or the groom, I can't remember. Anyway." Justin swallowed. Lance added, "Plus, I thought you'd like it. Something new, y'know." He pulled his phone out, adding, "in case you didn't already have something new."
Justin opened the box, and found a bracelet inside. He did like it. He closed the box carefully, making sure not to snap his fingers in the lid. Lance was on the phone to someone, Justin's cousin-in-law maybe, making sure that everyone was ready for the rehearsal the next day. Justin put the box down, and took a breath.
All he had to do was get through four hours of photo-shoot with various members of the wedding party, Lance smiling brightly in the sunshine, and their mothers crying. He didn't even know why they were doing this the day before, it made no sense, except Lance had said that it was going to take forever, with every newspaper and Access Hollywood wanting a piece, so they might as well give themselves enough goddamned time. It just meant that he had to wear a suit two days in a row. At least this wasn't the actual suit. The one he'd be wearing.
Justin took a breath, glancing around the lawns. Lance had decided to get it done outside at one of the parks in downtown Orlando, despite the insanity of trying to close off everything to the public. So far, no one had gotten in, maybe no one was even trying. And, photo shoots where the sun was too bright and people were crying, he could do this. The photographer smiled at him, wide and kind of crazy. "All right!" he said. "Please, the five of you now."
Lance and Justin stood in the center, with Joey, JC and Chris leaning around them. Everyone smiled. Then the photographer said, "now, your mothers! The flower girl! Everyone, please!"
He arranged Diane, Lynn and Britney carefully, adding the rest of their families carefully, and then Johnny and everybody. He called out, "Smile!" and everyone did. Justin blinked as, like, a thousand flashes went off. The press were here early.
Access Hollywood brought a camera guy and a sound tech. "But just in case you'd be willing to talk," they said. "No filming without your express permission."
Justin and Lance looked at each other. Lance sighed. "Okay, but over here," he said finally, "so that we don't disturb the pictures." Justin thought privately that no one would be able to disturb that photographer -- he was currently photographing Britney in Versace rainbow, with Trace and Britney's mom. Everyone would have pictures with everyone.
"How are the two of you holding up?"
Justin looked at Lance. Lance was holding his hand, carefully, so that the camera guy could film it. Justin made sure he had a big smile plastered on his face. "There's a lot to do," Lance said. "A lot. I mean, we've been organizing everything ourselves, with Raphael's help."
The guy looked confused. Justin explained, "the wedding planner. He's been helping with design and hooking us up with stuff, but Lance has done all the detail work. I've just kinda watched."
The photographer called them back over, to have "dads and sons!" pictures, and Lynn and Diane went to talk to Access Hollywood briefly, along with Joey and his parents. Justin heard someone from over there say, "Oh, we're all really proud of them," but couldn't turn his head to see who.
Photos went until six; they had an hour to freshen up at respective hotels and then back for the rehearsal and dinner. Justin mumbled his way through the whole thing, in a bit of a daze, following people's lead and going where he was supposed to without seeing his feet moving at all.
When Justin was fourteen, he kind of had a crush on Chris. Everyone kind of had a crush on Chris; and then JC, and then Joey, and then Lance, and then JC again, and then Joey again, and then Lance, and then Chris. Chris was a really really important part of his life for always, but sometimes it felt like he was almost, more important.
Justin happened to look at him during the rehearsal, while the two of them were pretending to say their vows. He glanced over, and looked into Chris's eyes, then swallowed thickly. Justin could see, with perfect clarity, he and Chris holding hands, kissing, making love, making breakfast together, and growing old.
"And then, you two kiss, and the wedding party exits, et cetera et cetera amen," the pastor said to them. Justin snapped back to attention, to where Lance was smiling widely. "And then comes the party!"
"Okay," Lance said, "I guess we're done here."
"Until tomorrow," the pastor said.
"Until tomorrow," Lance replied easily. Justin followed everyone else out of the church robotically, ignoring the voices around him. Tomorrow. Tomorrow. Tomorrow.
He maybe had had too much wine, since he told Chris that he wanted to break up with Lance.
He maybe had had way too much wine, since he told Chris that he wanted to break up with Lance because he envisioned sex with Chris while rehearsing his own wedding.
He maybe had had excruciatingly too much wine, since after he told Chris all of this, and had rubbed his face in shame, he let Chris get up without another word.
But mostly, Justin knew he'd had too much wine because when Chris started walking across the room with Lance in tow, he didn't get up or anything, just stayed rooted to his seat. Too much wine. He was petrified with wine. Petrified and hot. The air conditioning wasn't working. Justin loosened his tie.
"So," Lance said, after Chris had deposited him in a chair and gone off mumbling, "how are you?"
"Uh," Justin said. "Hot." He was hot. It was hot in the restaurant, hot in the room. The air conditioner wasn't working. "It's maybe too hot outside for a wedding," he added, to no one in particular. "I've been thinking that maybe a ski holiday would be kind of cool."
"Hah," Lance said, but he wasn't smiling. "Cool, right."
"Yeah," Justin said quietly. He was just sitting, waiting for the food to come so that he could stare at it and push it around his plate and not eat any. Some stupid chair at some stupid table. Lance had probably done the seating plan for this, too, he'd done everything. He had the wedding planner on one-touch dialing in his cell phone. Lance was on top of everything.
"How are you really?" Lance asked, softly. "I mean, Chris said you said something."
"I, just." Justin picked up his glass, then put it down. "I don't know what to say."
"Why don't you start," Lance said slowly, "with explaining why you're starting to make me feel so nervous?"
Justin looked up, suddenly, and saw Lance watching him carefully. He loved Lance, he said, "I really love you," and then pushed his plate away so he could rest his elbows on the table. "But, like," Justin said, "what are we *doing*, Lance? I don't know."
"Is there something you want to tell me?"
Justin bit his lip. "I'm just, I keep thinking." He took a breath. He had to tell Lance. "I keep wondering what it would be like. To be with someone else." There. It was out, and Justin had said it, and now there was nothing he could do about it.
Lance had a napkin in his hand, and he started picking it apart slowly, tearing the silver and blue paper to neat shreds and making a pile of them on his wet coaster. He said slowly, "I blew Chris. Uh," and his hand went to rub the back of his head, "on Tuesday night. At, um. The party."
Justin picked up a few of Lance's discarded napkin pieces and started twineing them together, twisting the ends and tying them into knots. The paper ripped, so he carefully tied the two pieces together, then kept twisting them together, like rope. "Oh," he finally said.
"Listen," Lance murmured, "I'm sorry." His fingers were picking at the tablecloth, since his napkin was already in a little pile in front of Justin, little twigs of napkin woven together.
Justin shrugged. He started rolling the twigs into balls, tight little things. "It's okay, I mean." He watched Lance's fingers play with invisible lint. "I kind of figured something happened with someone. I wasn't mad or anything, it." He stopped.
"You have little silver and blue bobbles," Lance said. Justin nodded, once, fiddling with the balled up napkin. It was true; somehow all the little balls were one color or the other. "Those napkins were expensive, I guess," Lance finally mumbled.
"Yeah, probably," Justin replied. He stopped rolling them between his fingertips. His sneakers felt tight, under their carefully decorated table.
He made it halfway through the rehearsal dinner before bolting.
Joey found Justin with a baseball cap on and his tie undone, sitting on the roof of the hall. "Hey, what's up?" and Joey sat down beside him, even if the roof was dirty and they'd both get dust and shit on their suit pants.
"Hey, Joe," Justin said, raising his glass half-heartedly. Still too much wine.
"So," Joey started, "I'm guessing that you're not up here for the view." He gestured, to a nice enough view, sure, but Justin really hadn't been paying attention. "And my momma always says that the night before a wedding is the worst time for cold feet. So what's up?"
"I," Justin said. "I don't know."
"Fuck off," Joey replied cheerfully. "Yes you do."
"I, no, I," and Justin bit his lip. "I just. It's a big step."
"Yeah," Joey said easily. "It is."
"So, how do you know if it's the right one? I mean," Justin said, "you're married, how did you know?"
"J, you, like," and Joey frowned. "You never know for sure. I dunno. You just, you do it and it's great, or it's not."
"Yeah." It wasn't really the rousing speech Justin was hoping for; he played with his glass.
"What's really wrong?" Joey asked, moving to sit right beside Justin. "It has to be something pretty major."
"I just," Justin said, scratching his neck, "I just see all of these people, right, that we know. And like, we're all pretty close, Joe, you can't tell me that you and Lance aren't close, or like, whoever. We're all close. And how do we know." He halted. "Like maybe, you and Lance would be better than we would be."
Justin refused to look at Joey as he said it, staring out at the view instead. The city was beautiful. It was boiling up on the roof, even though it was dark out. Joey asked, "You think maybe someone would be better for you than Lance?"
"No, I just." He thought for a minute. "Like. There are all these possibilities, and how do I know that this is the right one?" It came out in a rush. "How do I know that like, I'm being true to Lance when like, maybe Chris and I would be good together. I just," he said, "how do you deal with that?"
"Dude," Joey said, "it's not about what you can give or can't give to people. Like, it's not the barriers you can and can't cross, or whatever you've been reading, or been told." He sipped his beer. "It's about what you can make together."
Justin frowned, slowly, thinking. He had a lot of different barriers with a lot of different people. Joey sat beside him, quietly. Justin finally said, "So you don't think that you and Lance would be good together?"
Joey snorted. "Are you trying to hook me up with your fiance?" When Justin didn't answer, Joey sighed. "Look, I love Lance. I love him, he loves me, and --" Joey paused. "Look, me and Lance don't have anything to do with you and Lance, okay? You and Chris don't, either."
"I didn't say Chris."
His wine was warm, the last few mouthfuls still sitting in his glass. Blushing pink wine. Joey said, "What, then?"
"It's just," and Justin swirled the wine around. He didn't really even like wine, but Lance had insisted. If he'd just stayed downstairs, he could be drinking beer by now, too much beer instead of too much wine. "Sometimes I trust Chris more than him. You know?"
"Justin," Joey said, kindly, "you're trusting me more than either of them right now. What does that matter?"
"It--" Justin stopped. "I dunno."
"Lance and I wouldn't have ever been able to make something like co-habitating work, not anywhere but a bus, man. We'd get bored, or angry, or, whatever. We don't have that." Joey took the wine glass and swallowed it, grimacing. "That's so gross, pink wine." He made Justin look at him. "Do you think that you could do that with Chris?"
Justin pursed his lips. "It's not just Chris, man, swear. I'm not like, hung up on Chris or something. I mean, Britney too, even you, maybe Nick? Even Trace, even my mom -- I don't know how to be *sure*."
"You'd marry Trace?"
"Oh, god," he answered without thinking, "no." He thought a moment, and shook his head. "No, definitely not."
Joey stood up. "Look, I dunno what to tell you, man. You just, you look at Lance, and you forget about how thinking about all these other people maybe is cheating, how you care about all these other people and you can't explain how, so therefore it must be a threat to Lance." He grinned at Justin. "You're so neurotic, quit thinking about tradition and stuff. That shit doesn't matter. Just marry him already."
"Yeah?" Justin said, finally.
"Yeah, man." Joey rolled his eyes. "Fucked if I ever will, someone should. And you and Chris would kill each other and you know it."
"Yeah," Justin admitted.
"See?" Joey said. "It's about what you make together."
Justin stood up, slowly. "I guess, you decided to make it work with Kelly?" Joey nodded. "Did your momma tell you this, too?" Joey nodded again. "She's right, I guess."
Joey draped an arm over Justin, steering him back off the roof and inside. "You just decide to make it work with someone that you think you can make it work with," Joey said. "That's what marriage is."
Sunday morning, Justin looked at the big circled heart on his calendar, and gulped. He and Lance had still slept together last night, even if there was no sex, even if they'd kind of had a fight the day before. "Morning," Justin said.
"Hi," Lance answered.
"Okay," Justin said, getting out of bed. Start small, like showering. Then dressing. Planning. Just keep stepping, one foot and then the other, and he could do it. He said, "I still don't have something old," he said. Just light conversation.
"Yeah?" Lance said. He paused, not getting up, and not sticking to light conversation. "You kinda disappeared last night. I thought maybe you weren't gonna show."
Justin padded naked to the bathroom to brush his teeth. "Well, Joey, y'know. He told me how to make shit work."
"With something old?"
Justin actually laughed. "No," he said, then, "that shit doesn't really matter."
Lance came up behind him. "Look, I am sorry about the whole Chris thing."
"I'm sorry for wanting to break up," Justin said, and put toothpaste on his brush. "I'm okay now."
Lance leaned his head against Justin's shoulder. "I'm kinda not." When Justin looked up, startled, he grinned a little. "No, like, I'm not gonna disappear like you did. But, it's Sunday already. And I mean, I thought if I could just, plan enough." Lance shrugged. "But it's still Sunday and I have enough time to think? Now that stuff is planned. And I guess, it's all really fast, kind of, and today we're actually --"
"Going to the chapel and we're gonna get married?" Justin said, flippantly. Lance shoved him into the shower and turned the cold water on, while Justin laughed and laughed and laughed, and also shivered.
He never found something old, stopped worrying about it. Diane gave him her father's cufflink right before the ceremony. Britney's thong chaffed like a motherfucker, but she eyed his ass, nodding in approval, as he walked into the church. Lance's bracelet fit just right, but not as well as Lance's hand in his.