ONE OF THE BOYS
Lara dressed in record time, pulling her hair up into a neat ponytail. She decided on a pair of denim shorts and a teal tank top that wasn’t too tight but wasn’t too baggy. It was true that Lance Bass probably did not care what she wore in more ways than one, but she’d feel more comfortable if she knew she looked decent.
She chuckled as she hurried down the stairs. It was ridiculous, like she was sixteen or something. When NSYNC had been popular, she had loved the fact that she knew one of the members, though she didn’t tell many people. They wouldn’t have believed her anyway. She had attended a few concerts, but was nowhere near the stage. She refused to use her connection with Chris to get better seats. She was really impressed the with group, with Chris, and with everything he had accomplished. HE just didn’t need to know that.
Lara took a deep breath and entered the kitchen, where JC and Chris were arguing over a take out menu. “Hi,” Lance said softly, smiling at her. She controlled the flip-flops in her stomach.
“Hey,” she said casually. “What are we having?”
“Your guess is as good as mine,” Lance said, raising a perfect eyebrow. “They’ve been arguing since we came in here.”
“I want Chinese,” JC began.
“I want sandwiches,” Chris interrupted. “And it’s my house.”
“And you’re acting like you’re five,” Lara retorted, slapping him across the head with a menu. “Why don’t you just get BOTH, you idiots?”
“Because…” JC snapped, then stopped. He laughed out loud. “Um, yeah, didn’t think of that.”
Chris slapped Lance with the menu. “C’mon, Bass, you’re the smart one here, why didn’t you think of that?”
“Don’t hit him,” Lara said at the same time Lance said, “Don’t hit ME!”
“Remind me why I invited you?” Chris said to Lara. “You’ve been here like a day and you’ve already got my friends ganging up on me.”
“Just like old times,” Lara said, kissing the top of Chris’ head on her way to the fridge. “Want me to call?”
“Nah, I got it. Get over here and tell me what you want,” Chris said. “And before you say it, Lance is NOT on the menu.”
“CHRIS!” Lara whined, turning bright red.
Lance skipped the menu this time and smacked Chris on the back of his head with an open hand. “Knock it off, Chris. You’re embarrassing her AND me.”
“Jeez, sorry.” Chris rubbed his head.
Lara sat back down. “I’m…I’m sorry, Lance. I hope I don’t make you uncomfortable or something.” Lara felt she could have fried eggs on her face, it was so hot.
Lance reached over and took her hand briefly. “You don’t. It’s very flattering. Honestly. You seem like a nice person.” He sighed. “Except for your choice in friends.”
“Well,” Lara said, leaning forward as if she were sharing an intimate secret. “Actually, I’m just using Chris to find NEW friends. Wanna be my friend?” She looked at JC. “You, too.”
“Sure,” Lance said, laughing.
“Definitely,” JC piped up.
“Quit talking about me like I’m not here,” Chris growled. “She’s just after you for your money, anyway.”
“No, I’m after YOUR money,” Lara sighed. “Get it right.” She picked up a menu and flipped through it. “Pepper steak. White rice, not fried. Pork egg roll.” She stood back up. “Drinks?” She went back to the fridge. “Milk…beer…water…Gatorade…ketchup, mustard, relish…” She rolled her eyes. “Kirkpatrick, this is pathetic. You have more condiments in here than anything else.”
“I like stuff on my food,” he said defensively. Lance picked up the phone and called in the order to the deli as Chris dialed the Chinese restaurant.
“I can run you out to the grocery store if you want,” JC said, surprising Lara. Chris was surprised as well, and stopped in mid-sentence. “Or just give you directions or whatever.”
“Thanks, JC,” Lara said, smiling. “Maybe after lunch.”
“Cool. I’ll take a bottle of water,” JC said.
“Make it two,” Lance said. Lara brought everyone a bottle of water.
“Maybe I didn’t WANT water,” Chris said after hanging up.
“Maybe I don’t care. Be happy I brought you anything,” Lara said. She opened the bottle and handed it to him.
“Thanks,” he muttered. She smiled sweetly at him and he couldn’t help but smile back. “So, Lance…” Lara glared at him. “I’m done, I mean it,” he said earnestly, and she believed him. “Lance, when are you throwing your party?”
“Uh, what party?” Lance blinked.
“You haven’t had a party in like…”
“Four weeks,” JC supplied helpfully. “I remember because I was in New York and couldn’t come.”
“Right, four weeks,” Chris continued. “Thank you, JC. So it’s been four weeks, and you need to throw one. Plus you haven’t seen JC in a while, I bet, so he deserves a party. AND my friend is here, and deserves to come to one of your parties.”
“Chris!” Lara gasped. “Don’t go inviting me to someone’s house! He doesn’t even KNOW me!”
“It’s fine,” Lance said, laughing. “I’d love to have you. You should know better…Chris doesn’t care about those sort of polite formalities.”
“Anyway, yeah, a party,” Chris said, getting back on track. “Lara, Lance’s parties are legendary. Great food, great music, sometimes a theme…lots of hot guys…”
“You look at the guys?” Lara asked innocently.
“NO. I meant for you…so you…nevermind,” Chris snapped.
“I COULD go for a party,” Lance said, staring into space. “Get something together quick. Maybe for next weekend. I haven’t had a themed party in a while.”
“Christmas in July,” JC suggested.
“JC, that is so lame,” Chris sighed.
“A better suggestion?” Lance asked Chris.
“Well, no,” Chris pouted briefly. “This has to be good…Lara’s never been to one of your parties. You’ll have the time of your life,” he said, turning to her.
“I’ve…had…the time of my life…” JC sang quietly. Lance and Chris groaned as one.
“Everything is music with you,” Chris said, rolling his eyes.
“That’s it,” Lara said. “There’s your theme.” They stared at her. “Dirty Dancing.”
“What?” Chris asked.
“How big is your yard…like where you’d have the party?” Lara asked Lance.
“Huge,” JC and Chris said together. Lance blushed a little.
“It’s pretty big,” he agreed.
“You could kinda set up the food like it’s at a resort, you know, like in the movie? Have a buffet, something totally cheesy with like a pig with an apple in its mouth or something.” Lara chewed on a fingernail. “You could put down a dance floor, like in the movie. Or if you have a room that you could set up like in the movie, where all the dancers get down? And you’d have to have watermelon,” she said, laughing. “That’s one of my favorite lines. ‘I carried a WATERMELON?’”
“Play all sorts of early sixties music,” Lance said, warming to the idea. “And in the theater, I can just have the movie on, constantly playing.”
“You have a theater?” Lara asked.
“Well, sorta,” Lance said. “It only seats twenty.”
“ONLY,” Lara said, rolling her eyes.
“And everyone has to dress the part,” Lance said, nodding.
“What?” JC asked.
“JC, it’ll be easy. Jeans and a tee shirt. Bermuda shorts and a button-down,” Lance said. “A wifebeater and a bathing suit, for God’s sake.”
“Don’t fuck with the Party Nazi, JC,” Chris reminded him. “You know how he gets.”
“I need to make some calls,” Lance said, standing up with his phone. “Let me know when the food gets here.” He went out onto the deck.
“Have I created a monster?” Lara asked fearfully.
“Nah, he’s always this way planning something,” Chris said. “It is a good idea, though. This is gonna be awesome!”
After they ate, Lance left to run some errands. JC looked at Lara. “Ready to go?”
“I can just take her,” Chris pointed out.
“Or I could just drive myself,” Lara said.
They stared at her. “It’s LA,” JC said gently. “Not that we’re on the freeway or anything, but…”
“I get it, you don’t trust me,” Lara said, laughing.
“You DID run over a curb and blow a tire,” Chris reminded her.
“Yeah, when I was SEVENTEEN,” Lara reminded him. “Good God, Chris.”
“I don’t mind taking you,” JC said. “I need a few things anyway.”
“Fine, leave me here all alone,” Chris said, sighing dramatically.
“Aren’t you sick of me yet?” Lara asked.
“Duh, of course I am,” Chris said. “Go, get out of my hair.”
“Lemme use the bathroom quick, then we can go,” JC said.
Lara hugged Chris tight. “Chris, thanks so much for all this. It’s like an amazing vacation.”
“You’re welcome,” he said in surprise. “And I’m sorry…about Lance. I didn’t mean to take it so far that it embarrassed you.”
“It’s okay,” she said softly. “Believe me, I know he’s a dream that will never come true. Besides, that’s not what I’m out here for.” She frowned. “I keep ignoring the whole work thing, because I’m so nervous, but it’s only a few days away.”
“You’ll be great,” he said, smiling down at her. “You’ll knock ‘em dead, and then we’ll go out for a fancy dinner to celebrate. Someplace you need to KNOW someone to get into.”
“You know I don’t like all that gourmet crap, Chris,” she said, wrinkling her nose. Chris thought she looked so adorable, he kissed the wrinkled nose.
“Trust me,” he said.
“Um, yeah,” she said, a bit blown away by the strange sign of affection.
“Are you ready?” JC reappeared.
“Yeah, let’s go,” Lara said, slowly pulling away from Chris. “Need anything?”
“I don’t think so, but apparently you’re not happy with my fridge.” Chris dug into her wallet and handed her some cash. “Get whatever you think we should have.”
“You don’t need to…”
“TAKE the damn money,” Chris snapped. “You’re my guest.”
“Fine,” she sighed. “We’ll be back soon.”
JC drove to a small market about fifteen minutes away. He slapped a baseball cap on his head, even though in a place like LA, he didn’t get recognized all that often. Lara had drawn up a list in the car and muttered to herself as JC grabbed a cart. Lara looked at him and grinned. “I never thought I’d be doing this.”
“Hmm?” JC asked, picking up a few apples and putting them back before finding just what he wanted.
“Shopping with you. I mean, really. Not that I was a psycho or anything, but I was as into you guys as the next girl. This is a dream come true.”
“And this is just shopping,” JC said, wiggling his eyebrows. “You should do laundry with me, baby. I’d drive you crazy.”
Lara laughed out loud. “I can’t wait. I’ll save my delicates just for you, JC.”
“Promises promises,” JC said.
They made their way through the store, Lara tossing things left and right into the cart. “What’s going on with Chris?” Lara asked as she bent down for chocolate Poptarts.
“What do you mean?”
“What’s he doing with himself? I asked him, and he’s been so vague.”
JC sighed and leaned on the cart. “I wish I knew. He did that reality show thing, you know, and I seriously thought he might be doing the whole country music thing? But he gave up on it. I know it’s been, what, six or seven years since NSYNC did their thing, but he’s still floundering.”
“He’s talented at so much,” Lara said with a sigh. “To be honest with you…I…I think he should act. I mean, I know my opinion means shit, but he’s so funny. He’s quick and witty…that stuff he and Justin did at the end of “On the Line”? Hysterical.”
JC stared at her. “First of all, you’re his friend and your opinion DOES matter. And it’s funny, because I feel the same way. I think he’d be great at acting.”
“Maybe TV,” Lara mused as they started walking again. “He would be great on a sitcom.”
“Yeah,” JC said, deep in thought as they headed for the dairy aisle.