All the usual disclaimers apply: please stop reading if you are underage or homophobic.
This is a work of fiction - nothing is being implied about the sexuality of any of the people portrayed below.
Please read (important):
This part had been resubmitted to rectify an error with viewing this chapter in a Netscape browser. There is nothing new in the chapter, other than this message. My apologies to all Netscape users...
Where to begin...
Firstly, welcome to the new format. It's on a trial basis, so if it doesn't work out, I'll be going back to plain text files. I'm hoping this will give me the freedom to use some styles! I promise not to go overboard. :)
Secondly, I've got to apologise for two things. The first being for not getting back to many of you, as yet, (I was literally swamped with emails) and the second being for the wording in my last chapter. I did not mean to blackmail or threaten anyone into emailing me! I am thrilled I got so many emails, but that wasn't the point of the exercise. I just wanted to know that the story's audience hadn't dwindled to nothing. Unfortunately, due to the overwhelming number of emails I got, it's going to take me a long time to get back to all of you, so please be patient if you haven't heard back from me yet.
Thirdly, I'm still at a loss... While it was great to receive so many emails and so much feedback, it became abundantly clear that you guys'n'gals are split about the direction I'm taking. No one has said that I should give it up - which is very encouraging - but quite a few people want to see Justin and Kevin get together soon! However, a whole heap of other people want me to continue as I am; telling the story at my own pace and in my own style. Which means that I'm going to disappoint a lot people, regardless of which road I take. Though I can stress that the story has only encompassed a 48 hour period so far, it has also gone for over 10 chapters! That's a long time to keep anyone's attention span.
Which leads me to some bad news...
I'll have to take a break from writing the story (only for a couple of weeks - 3, or maybe 4, tops) to get my focus back. I'm not sure I want to continue the way I've been heading, but I'm also not going to recklessly abandon what I've scripted out so far (including the next couple of chapters). So over the next couple of weeks I'll give the story a lot of thought, as well as pen some alternative ideas, to see where and how I want to take it. I'm feeling guilty about this, but it's something I have to do. You have my apologies in advance for any frustration this decision may cause you. Don't fret though, I'm not going to stop! Besides the fact that I'm still enjoying writing it, the general consensus from all of you seems to be to continue - if only until I get to the physical side of their relationship. :)
With that in mind, please understand that this chapter was written before I submitted the last one, and before I got all that feedback from everyone. I'm still going to Q.A. this chapter, but I'm not going to make wholesale changes. So, if you're expecting it to be a whole lot different from the previous chapters, you'll be disappointed.
One last thing... many of you made the point in your emails that you don't feel comfortable writing to authors (myself included), or you thought that the authors in this archive wouldn't welcome mail from you. Some of you felt that you didn't have anything constructive to say, so there wasn't any point in saying anything. Please, please, please - don't think like that. All we authors would love to hear from you, regardless of whether it's just a simple, 'I really liked that chapter', or a detailed expose of each and every mistake in our text! Though feedback is the most valuable contribution you can make, we won't bite, or tear you to pieces, if you just drop us a line to say hello. And this goes to all the authors out there too! There's nothing wrong in saying hello or commenting on another author's piece of work. And though I've been slack in that department myself, I'll undertake to be more active in this regard (right after I've replied to everyone else!)
Well, I've said more than enough... we should really get on with the next chapter of Kevin & Justin.
The guys all gather for breakfast in Kevin's room again. Kevin is interrupted before he can wake Justin, and leaves JC alone with Curly in the bedroom. While he's outside in the lounge, Justin and JC talk about the night before: how Kevin seemed to have cried himself to sleep, and how Curly had done the same thing. Justin relates the whole tale and is about to tell JC (again) how much he loves Kevin, when Brian walks out of the ensuite and overhears them. Brian, as has happened before in the story :), has walked in at the wrong moment, and misinterprets what they're discussing. He starts to believe that Kevin has been right all along, and that JC and Justin really are together. He leaves, thinking murderous thoughts at them, and what they're doing to Kev. JC and Justin are also upset, but only because they think that Brian has discovered Justin's secret and will be telling Kevin at the first opportunity.
In the lounge, A.J. decides that he has to talk to Kevin about what he saw last night. He can't see how Boo and Curly can tour together if they're just going to cause each other pain. He and Kevin retire to the balcony where he admits that he knows that Justin is gay. Kevin's calm and indifferent response momentarially baffles him, as he didn't expect Kevin to know. He wonders if that's why the two of them had been crying the night before and feels an overwhelming sense of despair at Kevin's reaction. He had hoped that Kevin would love Justin the same way that Justin loves him. He becomes angry, and Kevin mistakenly thinks that A.J. is not comfortable with Justin being gay. Kevin feels relieved that he hasn't told his bandmates about himself, if that's the sort of reaction he'll get.
Lance impatiently waits for Josh and Justin to make an appearance, and feels annoyed at their tardiness. He also wonders what is keeping them, especially Josh, as they haven't eaten yet and it's almost time to go. Joey is thinking the same thing as he takes note that this is another occasion where the two of them have been alone together. He briefly wonders if they're gay, but dismisses the thought. He leaves to pack and the other two finally make an appearance.
While JC and Justin are eating, Brian walks back in. He spots them and becomes angry again. He heads off to the kitchen to escape them, and bumps into Kevin - who has been crying. Kevin relates to him what he found out that morning - about Justin having cried himself to sleep - and breaks down. As they're hugging, they hear footsteps approaching and quickly separate. Justin walks in on them. Taking one looks at the expression on Kevin's face, he decides that Brian must have told him, and he quickly leaves. He and JC head off to the limo, where he explains to JC what he walked in on. JC tries to counsel him into not jumping to any conclusions, and to see how Kevin acts around him.
Back upstairs, Kevin and Brian are heading out; they're the last ones to leave. Brian tries to comfort his cousin and, rather foolishly states that someone else might come along for Kevin to love. Kevin, in no uncertain terms, and showing all the hurt and pain he's suffering, tells Brian that he cannot love anyone else: Justin is the only man he'll ever love! He breaks down crying, while Brian can only stare at him mutely.
(Whew - they seem to be getting longer!)
"What's keeping them?" muttered Lance under his breath, as he paced in the lobby.
Everyone else had eventually made it down, except for Brian and Kevin. He had filled the first limo with Howie, Nick, A.J., Justin and JC and had sent it off to the stadium. Chris and Joey had then been ordered into the second limo, and he had got in as well. But as time had passed and the cousins hadn't shown up, he became agitated, and had to get out and pace.
He finally caught sight of them as they exited the elevator and started walking towards him. His anger evaporated in an instant: they both looked like death warmed over.
"What's wrong?" he asked in concern.
"Umm, Kevin threw up," Brian said, thinking of the first plausible excuse that popped into his mind. "He barely made it to the sink. He was vomiting for quite some time. Every time we were ready to go, he threw up again."
Kevin groaned inwardly. That sounded so fake he was surprised Lance wasn't laughing his head off! Why couldn't Brian have come up with something more plausible?
Luckily for both of them, Lance took Brian at his word, as Kevin did look extremely sick. Not that Brian looked any better. "Oh, sorry to hear that Kevin. Are you going to be alright? Have you gone to see a doctor?"
"I'm fine Lance. Really. It's probably just a 24 hour bug. I'm feeling better all the time."
Lance wasn't convinced. No 'bug' he had ever seen caused people to look this way and made them vomit copiously. "Are you sure? We can stop by a surgery on the way to the stadium..."
"Thanks Lance, but I'm sure." Kevin hoped that Lance would drop the subject. "Look, why don't you and Brian get in the car? I'll just check us out and be back in a few minutes."
"It's already been taken care of, Kev. All they need are your room keys. I can drop them off at the desk for you, if you'd like?"
"Oh, okay," Kevin replied, handing over his room key. Brian also handed his key to Lance.
They walked slowly to the limo, dreading the reaction of the other guys, as Lance hurried off to the reception desk.
Kevin hesitated and decided he didn't want to sit too close to the others. He pushed Brian in the back, indicating that Brian should get in first. Brian complied and Kevin got in after him.
"What kept you guys?" Joey asked bluntly, a hint of irritation in his voice.
"Umm, Kevin must have had a bad reaction to something he ate. He started vomiting just before we left his room. I think he threw up four or five times. We're sorry we kept you guys waiting."
At Brian's words, Chris and Joey lost their irritation and became concerned. "Are you alright now, Kev?" Chris asked.
"Yeah, I'm feeling much better now Chris. The vomiting has taken a bit out of me, but I'm feeling almost 100% now. Thanks for asking."
That seemed to reassure them immensely.
"Well, if you start getting worse, you'll let us know won't you? We want you to get better." Chris's concern for him came across loud and clear.
"Thanks Chris. And you too Joey. I'll be sure to let you know. I also want to get better, so I'll go see a doctor if I start feeling worse." Kevin appreciated their concern for him, but felt extremely guilty about lying to them.
Lance appeared at that moment and got in. The driver closed the door behind him, then made his way to the driver's seat.
"I've got to call the others and let them know we'll be late," Lance said, as he pulled out his mobile phone and dialled a number quickly.
"Hi JC. Look, can you let the guys and Fatima know that we'll be slightly late?" A pause. "No, we've just left the hotel. We'll be another 25 minutes at least." Another pause. "It couldn't be helped. Kevin felt worse just as we were ready to leave and started throwing up. We had to wait for him to feel better." A long pause - Lance could hear JC talking to Justin. "What's that? What did Curly say?" Another pause. "No Justin, nothing's wrong. He just didn't feel too well. I've talked to him and he's feeling much better now." A short pause. "Oh, okay. Hang on."
Lance looked across to Kevin and held out his mobile. "He'd like to talk to you."
Kevin took the phone hesitantly, shaking inwardly at the thought of talking to his angel.
"Hi Justin." Pause. "No, truly I'm fine now. It just hit me suddenly, you know?" Another pause. "Yes, if I get worse I'll go see a doctor - I promise! Even Lance has made me promise that, so you don't have anything to worry about." A shorter pause. "Thanks Curly. I appreciate your concern for me, but I promise you that I'm feeling 100% better now." He couldn't help but smile at the genuine concern that Justin felt for him, even though deep inside it just caused him more hurt. If only Justin's concern was matched with his love. "Okay, we'll be there soon. Do you or JC need to speak to Lance any more?" He looked across to Lance to see whether he wanted to say anything else. He got a negative response from both of them. "Okay, bye Curly."
He hung up and handed the mobile back to Lance.
Brian silently sighed out in relief. He had been terrified about what might happen to Kevin if he couldn't handle talking to Justin. But thankfully, Kevin had survived the ordeal and had probably gained a bit of strength from it. There was no guarantee that Kevin and Justin would be able to keep away from each other for the rest of the tour, but if they did bump into each other, it would probably be okay.
Justin sighed in relief as he handed JC's mobile back to him.
JC raised his eyebrows, inviting Justin to explain what they'd talked about. Justin looked around to make sure that no one else was close by. Satisfied, he sat down on the stage and waited for JC to join him.
"We didn't really say a lot to each other. He just explained that he was feeling a lot better, thank God!, and he really appreciated me being so concerned for him." He paused and a smile appeared on his face. "But the best thing Josh, is that he doesn't hate me. He sounded so normal when he was speaking to me. If he's been told that I'm gay," his voice lowered on that word, "then he doesn't care about it!"
JC hesitated a moment, not wanting to destroy Justin's cheerful mood, but he felt he had to play devil's advocate. "What if he hasn't been told... yet?"
Justin's face fell for a moment. He thought about it, but couldn't come up with an answer.
"Don't sweat it too much Curly. Even if he finds out later, Kevin wouldn't hate you because of it. Even if it causes a strain between you, I don't think he'd hate you. And besides, you already said yourself that you'll try to keep away from him. He won't have a reason to hate you."
Justin could find some comfort in JC's words, but he cried inwardly at the thought of not being able to be with his angel. His eyes were getting ready to shed more tears, but this time he knew that he had to rein in his emotions once and for all.
JC could see the war raging inside his buddy and felt a sense of tragedy at what was happening. Though he didn't want to admit it to Justin, he felt that Kevin already knew about Justin's homosexuality. He had probably known since yesterday, when he had taken back control of BSB's scheduling. And for some reason, he couldn't accept it. The fact that he was talking to Justin again was encouraging. But the likelihood that they'd ever become anything more than friends was in doubt.
He still wasn't sure if Kevin was gay or not... But, in any case, Kevin had made his choice, and Justin would end up paying for it!
"Umm, Justin? I gotta go and tell Fatima that they'll be late. Are you going to be okay?"
"Yeah Josh, I'll be fine. Regardless of what happens, I'm going to try and look ahead. The last thing I wanna do is hurt Boo. So my choice is quite clear. I'll just try my best to be a good friend to him, and forget about..." He couldn't finish the sentence. But the expression on his face as he looked back at JC was more encouraging than Josh had seen in days. Justin would live through this somehow.
"Okay, I'll be back soon." JC got up and walked backstage, knowing that he was running away. Justin would be unable to see the tears in his eyes as he felt his heart break in sympathy with his friend's plight. Why did Justin have to suffer like this? All he wanted was to love someone with all his heart, and he couldn't! The tragedy of Justin's unrequited love would haunt him for months to come...
Fatima was not happy, but things were out of her control. Neither of the groups were complete, and after yesterday's painful session with only part of BSB, she wasn't prepared to do anything until the remainder of the guys turned up. She fumed, but couldn't really blame anyone. If Kevin had been so sick that he had been throwing up, then it couldn't be helped that they were late. So long as he was feeling better now. And if he wasn't, then she'd make sure that he rested today.
She wouldn't be able to cancel the concert; she just didn't have that sort of authority. But she'd make sure that her concerns were brought to management before anything else happened to Kevin.
Her heart constricted at the thought of Kevin being unwell. Damn management and their excesses! They'll send Kevin to an early grave if they're not careful!
Within moments of their arrival, Fatima had pulled Kevin to one side and given him the once-over. She was happy to see that he was almost his normal self. He didn't look too good, but she couldn't find any sign that he was overextended, overexerted or seriously ill. And he was keen to get rehearsing.
Neither of them saw three pairs of eyes watching them intently.
JC and Justin stood close together, watching Fatima and Kevin talking. Kevin didn't look too good. In fact, he looked slightly worse than this morning. But from the way he was talking, and the animated way that he was trying to get Fatima to accept that he was okay, it was apparent that his illness had passed. Both felt relief at this. Justin was relieved because his angel was okay, and JC was relieved because Justin would be okay - now that he had a chance to see that Kevin was okay.
Brian, from the wings, quietly studied all four of them.
Fatima was coming on too strong for his liking. If he wasn't wrong she seemed to have a major crush on Kevin, and that was the last thing that either she or Kevin needed to deal with at the moment.
As for JC and Justin, they were at it again! For some reason they both seemed to be immensely interested in what was happening with Kevin. But there was no disguising the care and affection on JC's face as he looked at Justin.
He just couldn't make out what was happening with that odd pair!
Fatima took charge of events once she was satisfied that Kevin was okay. She rushed the BSB guys off the stage and got the 'N Sync guys in place, getting them to run through their stretching exercises.
She felt immensely relieved that Kevin seemed to be better. She had been shocked at the way he looked, but having talked to him had been enough to reassure her that he was truly okay. She sighed in relief. She knew that she was acting more motherly and over-protective of Kevin than she had any right to, but she couldn't break the habit. Kevin was like a surrogate son to her, and his welfare meant everything to her.
Though she didn't know it, Brian had totally misread her feelings for Kevin.
Justin barely managed a quick 'Hi' as he passed Kevin on the way to his position on stage. Kevin returned the greeting, smiling warmly back at Justin and making the sun reappear in Justin's life. Things would be okay! Kevin wasn't being as open as before, but at least he wasn't avoiding him.
Kevin in turn, buried his hurt as deep as he could and concentrated on his resolution to just be Justin's friend.
Fatima was really driving them.
Even though they normally broke at noon for lunch, she insisted that they just get a quick bite and then get back to rehearsing. With all the time they had missed the previous night, and this morning, they'd just have to have a cut down lunch break.
Of course, the BSB guy's didn't mind. Their set had just finished and they weren't on stage at the moment, so they could spend more time eating lunch. For the 'N Sync guys, it was another matter. They each ate a sandwich hurriedly, grabbed two more sandwiches and a cup of orange juice each, and headed back onstage. The BSB guys found it hilarious to see them dancing around with sandwiches in their hands. It was even more hilarious when someone broke formation, very quickly, and grabbed their O.J. for a sip, braving Fatima's wrath.
Thankfully, the torture soon ended and the 'N Sync guys grabbed a quiet moment before Kevin hurried them outside for the meet and greet session.
By an odd coincidence, Kevin and Justin found themselves sitting side by side in the middle of the group. The rest of the BSB guys were seated at Kevin's right, and the 'N Sync guys were seated at Justin's left. Justin sat quietly, feeling his emotions churning at the closeness to Kevin, but he forced them aside. Now was not a good time to get into all that. Especially with the crowd of (mostly) girls bearing down on them.
Kevin also felt an emotional overload, but knew that he was just prolonging his agony. While JC and Justin were together, he couldn't act on his feelings. He forced them aside and concentrated on signing autographs and speaking to the excited girl/boy currently in front of him.
On occasion, either he or Justin would look quickly across at the other. Most of the glances were unseen by the other, but on the handful of occasions that their gazes met, they both smiled warmly and quickly looked away.
Terry, their road manager, appeared shortly before 2:30. He spent a few minutes scrutinising Kevin and was reassured that Kevin was feeling better. After yesterday's talk with Brian and the others, he had gotten the impression that Kevin wasn't really sick. But seeing the signs of fatigue and strain on Kevin's face, he was now convinced that they had been telling the truth. At around 2:40 he decided to step in and start wrapping things up. He quietly walked up to Kevin and got his attention. This close to Kevin, he could see the strain on Kevin's face and felt ashamed that he had doubted Kevin's illness.
"Kev, it's almost time to go... You'll be late for your interview at the radio station otherwise."
Kevin nodded in understanding and raised his voice. "Excuse me everyone!" He waited for the crowd to settle down a bit. "We'll only be able to spend another 5 minutes with you, I'm afraid. We've got an interview we need to attend, so please make sure that you get everything you want signed, signed in the next couple of minutes. Thank you."
A voice from the crowd asked him about the interview, and he quickly answered, telling them the station's name. He was aware, as were the others, that everyone would be rushing home to listen to it.
Five minutes later, each member of the groups gave a firm 'goodbye' to the handful of people still crowding around them and walked back into the stadium, past the guards who were stationed at the door.
The interview at the radio station was forgettable.
None of them felt any inclination to show any enthusiasm to the 'same old same old' questions. Kevin privately thought that it might be a good idea to come up with some questions of their own and have management fax them to the next interviewer they had to see. At least it might make these sessions more bearable. After being in Justin's company all day, he desperately needed a distraction!
The only positive outcome of all the time they had spent together this morning was that he knew he could be in Justin's presence without breaking down. That fact alone made him think that he could make it through the tour without too much trouble.
Justin thought the same things about Kevin. Kevin was approachable again, but still not the same way as before. He knew that with a lot of concentration, he could fool his buddies and the BSB guys into thinking nothing was wrong... But why did he feel that he was doing the wrong thing?
The rest of the afternoon was theirs to do as they wished. They didn't have to be back at the stadium until their final sound checks at 6:30. As they had already checked out of the hotel, their only options were to either sightsee and shop, or head back to the stadium to catch some sleep on the tour bus - which had turned up during their rehearsals.
Most of them opted to go out.
Brian, Howie and Justin were still feeling the affects of their lack of sleep, and decided to head back to the stadium. Though Kevin had had more than enough sleep, a quick, quiet word from Brian convinced him to act the part of 'the recovering invalid'. No one was going to believe he had been sick if he went out and shopped.
Justin immediately became concerned. He desperately wanted to get some sleep, but he couldn't face being alone in the same room with Kevin without JC's support.
JC sensed his friend's anxiety and made an excuse to head back to the tour bus with Justin, without having to be asked. The relieved look on Justin's face was enough to convince him that Justin still required his help.
The five of them set off in one limousine back to the stadium. The others hopped into the other limo and asked the driver to take them to the biggest shopping arcade in the city.
The ride back to the stadium was tense. JC and Justin couldn't say anything to each other with the others in the car. For the same reason, neither could Brian and Kevin. Howie, though normally observant, was just too tired to notice the uncomfortable silence surrounding him. As he was also sitting between the two pairs, he effectively cut off any communication that might have passed between them. Though it was highly unlikely that either group would say anything to the other...
Justin, who was sitting between JC and Howie, was starting to feel overwhelmed with the tension. Kevin hadn't said a word to him since before the meet and greet. He also hadn't looked at him since then. Justin had hoped that things were looking up again, but now they seemed worse than ever. Kevin had shut him out again, and he didn't know why.
He turned to face JC, his eyes showing the hard time he was having dealing with the situation. JC spared the others a quick look, to make sure that they weren't watching, and then he slowly reached down between them and grasped Justin's hand. Justin immediately grabbed his hand and squeezed it hard.
JC worriedly looked back up, to see how Justin was coping. He was startled to see that both Brian and Kevin were looking at them, and had noticed what he had done. Neither showed any visible expression, other than a quickly closed-off look from Brian. Kevin didn't appear surprised at all.
JC finally accepted that Kevin knew about Justin. Seeing no further need to hide anything, he stopped himself from pulling his hand away from Justin's. Justin needed his support badly, and he would be damned if he'd let his friend down!
When they reached the stadium, Howie and Brian almost sprinted onto the bus. Kevin, JC and Justin were left standing by the side of the road, as the limo pulled away.
JC knew that he had to warn Justin about what Kevin had seen in the limo. "Uh, Kevin? Go ahead and get some sleep. I need to speak with Curly in private for a few minutes. We'll be in the dressing room if you need us, okay?"
Justin looked across at JC in surprise, but didn't say anything.
"Okay, JC. I'll see you two a bit later."
JC watched as Kevin walked off and boarded the bus. Once he was certain that Kevin was out of hearing range, he turned to face Justin. "We really need to talk Curly. I have some bad news for you." He didn't wait for Justin to speak; he grabbed him by the arm and hurried him into the stadium.
Brian was still awake, against all odds, as Kevin slowly boarded the bus.
Kevin prepared himself for another 'discussion', but Brian remained silent. However, the look on his face was enough: it showed both disgust and sympathy.
"Why are you looking like that?" Kevin asked, after he made sure that Howie was asleep in his bunk.
"I couldn't believe what they did. In plain sight even! Don't they know how much it's hurting you?"
Kevin sighed. He appreciated his cousin's support, but it was all over now.
"Brian, don't. They don't know how I feel about Justin. They have no reason to know that I get hurt each time they do something together." He paused. "Besides, it's all over. There's nothing I can do unless they break up. So don't get upset with them for being in love with each other."
Brian took in the words and slowly nodded. His cousin was right. Besides he didn't have enough energy to argue any more.
"Go to sleep Brian. You're almost dead on your feet."
"Okay, but what are you going to do? You don't look like you need any sleep."
Kevin laughed softly. "I don't Cuz. I slept for over 12 hours last night. I'm wide awake. But because we need to maintain this charade, I'll pretend to sleep when they come back."
"Okay," Brian said, as he settled himself down into his bunk.
"Sleep tight Bri. I'll wake you in a couple of hours."
Kevin watched his cousin drop off before settling down into his own bunk.
"What was that all about, Josh?" Justin asked in worry.
"Shhh, wait until we're alone," JC replied softly.
Justin kept quiet until after they entered the dressing room and JC had closed the door. "Well?"
"They saw me holding your hand," JC replied, knowing there was no easy way to break the news to Justin.
Justin was confused for a moment. "So?" he asked. Before JC could reply, he realised the implications.
"They know Curly! Both of them know. I could tell by the way that neither of them reacted to it. Not a single sign of surprise or shock was evident!"
"Oh," Justin said softly.
"Well, it isn't all that bad... They know, but they don't seem to be offended or upset about it. They must have known since this morning, and neither of them have avoided you or confronted you about it."
"Yeah, I guess," Justin said, uncertainly.
"Don't stress about it Justin. Like I've already said; Kevin's a good guy. He wouldn't hold it against you for being gay. And I don't think Brian would either."
"But what if they tell someone else?" Justin asked, momentarially frightened about his secret becoming public knowledge. He didn't think it was likely that Boo would say anything, but he wasn't so sure about Brian.
"I don't think either of them are blabbermouths. I'm pretty sure they'd keep it a secret. If you're in doubt, just ask them. Now that they know, it can't hurt."
Justin shook his head. He believed JC, and knew that Kevin and Brian must know about him... But as long as he didn't confirm it, he could always pretend that they didn't know. That would afford him some small comfort. "No Josh. I trust Kevin. He's not the sort of person who would talk about someone's secrets to other people. And he's also capable of making Brian promise to do the same."
"If you're sure buddy... I can ask for you?"
"No. Thanks for thinking of me Josh, but it's gonna be alright."
Kevin's eyes opened a fraction as he heard them board the bus. He was still wide awake, but he had to go through with this charade... He closed his eyes as he heard them approach the bunk beds.
"He looks so peaceful," Justin said softly, smiling gently as he gazed down at the strong features of his angel.
"Yes, he does. I just hope he gets better," JC whispered back.
Justin turned around and smiled warmly at his friend. "Thanks Josh. For everything."
The love and warmth in Justin's voice made Kevin want to scream out in pain. Why was Curly torturing him like this? Why couldn't Curly speak to him like that? He'd give everything he owned and cared about to hear Justin say just one word to him in that tone!
JC looked back at his friend, not noticing the tightening around Kevin's eyes. "Think nothing of it sweetie. You know how much I love you."
Justin hugged JC and reached up to kiss him on the cheek.
Kevin, still with his eyes firmly shut, heard the kiss and felt a fierce stab of pain lance through his heart.
The silent scream echoed loudly through his mind, as his senses fought off a wave of black despair.
It's not true! he cried out in mental anguish, as his mind refused to accept what he had just heard. Please God! No! he cried out piteously, as tears began to seep past his eyelids.
No... Broken and battered, his mind whispered the denial before finally conceding the battle. They had won.
He turned away from them, facing towards the wall of the bus, and hiding his head in his pillow. He didn't want Justin to see him crying.
Justin and JC snapped around at the sound, and slowly relaxed when they saw that Kevin had merely turned in his sleep. They hadn't realised that he was still awake. They quietly slipped away, heading over to their respective bunks.
Had they hung around for another minute, they would have heard the quiet sounds of anguished crying coming from Kevin's bunk, as his grief-ridden heart and soul sought relief from torment.
Kevin ended up crying himself into an unintentional sleep. He was woken up by the very person he had promised to wake.
"Wake up Kev. It's time for us to get ready."
Kevin opened his eyes and looked up at Brian.
Brian immediately noticed the change in Kevin and became concerned. Somehow, even after all the energy that Kevin had expended on distancing himself emotionally from Justin, something had managed to hurt Kevin again.
"Are you alright?" Brian asked softly as he sat down on the edge of the bunk and reached across to gently grasp Kevin's shoulder.
Kevin smiled, to indicate that he was okay; appearances not withstanding.
"Yes Brian, I'm fine. I guess I was just holding out from accepting it. But now there's no going back. I can't be with..." He forced himself to stop. "So," he continued, "it's time for me to move on with my life."
Brian could do nothing but stare at his cousin, as he listened to the determination in Kevin's voice.
In the original storyline, this was the end of the first arc of the story. I ended it this way, in case I didn't want to continue the story. That was before all the emails encouraging me to continue, and even before I wrote the next two chapters, which form a mini-arc that brings the story closer to the present day (enough said).
As I mentioned in my notes at the top of the page, the rest of the story will now be under review. Though I feel happy with Chapters 12 and 13, I have to work out whether they'll fit in with the overall direction I'm going to head in.
Just as an aside, I consider this chapter as closure of a sort. If circumstances had forced me to end the story, I would have been happy to end it this way. While the two leads don't end up together, you at least know that they're destined to be together - which is what counts! And the scope is there for you to imagine their eventual get-together, in any way you'd like! :) If anyone is so inclined to 'disembark' at this point, please do so. There's no requirement to continue reading the series unless you really want to.
And finally, while the story is on hiatus, please keep reading all the other stories in the Archive... there are quite a few gems there! And to show your appreciation of the authors and their stories, please be sure to vote in the Boy Band Awards. Just follow this link: Boyband Awards
As always, it has been fun. If you'd like to contact me, you can do so at the following:
ICQ: rh_chan (ICQ #61523677)