Lance laced his hands behind his head and stared out across the park. It was so early that there was no one out but the joggers, making their way around the winding paths in the pre-dawn light. No one to bother him as he sat on the bench--sunglassless, hatless, disguiseless.
He could hear the sounds of feet slapping against pavement before he could see figures emerge from a nearby treed area; he'd begun to tune them out as he thought about everything that'd been happening recently. Their growing fame, the lawsuit, his relationship. Which is why he hadn't realized there was someone standing nearby unti he spoke.
"You're always up so early," said Chris, wiping the dew off the bench with the sleeve of his sweatshirt before sitting down next to Lance. "What are you doing?"
"Thinking," he said, with a small smile, taking Chris' hand into his own.
Lance shrugged. "Lots of things. Lou. The lawsuit. You. My parents." His smile faded as he thought about his now-tumultuous relatioinship with his family. There were days when he thought things might work out, and days when he though he might never speak to them again. Being forced to come out to his family in the middle of everything else had done little to relieve any of his stress.
Chris squeezed his hand and didn't say anything for a moment. They both knew the score. The lawsuit was taking a lot out of all of them--the five guys who'd once been so happy-go-lucky with their music and their friendship were now becoming more jaded by the day.
And as for the other stuff--it'd been hard for Lance to deal with his parents' rejection, especially with only Chris to talk to. They hadn't told the other guys about their relationship yet, choosing to wait until after the whole mess with TransCon was dealt with before introducing another twist into the NSync saga, so a lot of things were being kept between just the two of them.
Chris had given Lance an engraved keychain for their one-month anniversary--a safe gift, a gift that wouldn't raise questions they weren't ready for--that said 'always your ear, always your shoulder, always your friend' and hoped that Lance would take the sentiment to heart. They hadn't just become lovers in the midst of all the chaos, they'd become each other's rock.
"Fuckin' vampires at TransCon," said Lance, closing his eyes and leaning his head back again. "I wish this was just all over. I wish things were the way they used to be."
"Remember when we first started out?" said Chris, sounding wistful. They'd played this game a few times, when things were at their lowest. Remembering why they started this in the first place, remembering the things they loved, remembering what they were fighting for. This, music, *NSync, was their whole lives now, and damned if they were going to give it up.
"Yeah," said Lance, thinking of their first concerts, their first fans, the first recording sessions. It hadn't been so very long ago, but it seemed like ages. He sometimes wondered if they were ever going to manage to get their second album out, but he only voiced those fears to Chris. For everyone else, he remained as steady, as focused, as he could.
"We should get back soon," said Chris reluctantly. "The sun'll be up soon. We might be missed."
Lance nodded and gave Chris' hand a last squeeze before letting go and standing up. "I don't need that today. Yesterday, Joey was asking me what we talked about, when we spent so much time alone. Any more of that and we might end up telling them sooner than we'd planned."
"Like your parents," said Chris quietly.
"Yeah," agreed Lance. "Like my parents. And I don't think either of us wants a repeat of that." They began walking towards the entrance of the park, slowly, side by side.
"It wouldn't be like that," said Chris, his voice still quiet. Steady. "They'd understand."
"Maybe," said Lance. "But we don't need any more turmoil right now than we already have." He knew that Chris agreed; they'd talked about it many times over the past couple of months and each time had come to the same conclusion. "Lets not tempt fate."
They paused at the edge of the park, and Lance curled his hand around one of the gargoyles that graced the stately gate as he looked out across the city outside. "Every day I hope that something will happen," he said. "That things will change. That everything will be okay again."
Chris turned Lance's chin with a fingertip and kissed him gently. "It will be," he said. "It has to be. One day we'll wake up and everything will be even better. Just you wait and see."