There was so much he still had to do. He had to make another album with Nsync, he had promised the guys he would. He had his album to finish. He had to say goodbye to his family, but most of all he needed to tell his lover how much he loved him and that he was sorry. The thought of not seeing Justin again made him sob harder. He had to tell him he was sorry, that he didnít really mean the things he said. He needed to explain why he hadnít been there 100% for him at the VMAís and that he didnít really blame him for Jive not supporting him. He needed to touch him once more, just once more. To kiss him and tell him goodbye.
Justin. He pictured his lovers eyes deep blue and liquid when he learned of his death. Justin would take it hard, personally as if he had done it deliberately to hurt him. But JC also knew heíd soon bounce back becoming Justin Timberlake again pretender to the throne of popdom. JCís throat was parched, his stomach rumbled from hunger. He couldnít help but hear Lance and Joey chastising him for missing his meals. He drifted away again the sound of the cars engine fading out to nothingness.
He woke to rough hands pulling him from the trunk. his body swung slightly as he was carried inside and dumped unceremoniously on the tiled floor. He lay still not daring to move. Shaking from fear and the freezing cold temperature beneath him. The men ignored him as they carried on emptying their car bringing in food and supplies. they laughed and joked with each other. He heard a can of something fizz up as the ring pull was popped. They toasted a job well done clicking the cans together over him spilling beer, soaking the thick woollen fabric that was tied over his head. Someone rolled him over onto his back, holding him in place with their foot on his throat. He felt vulnerable, helpless, like he was already dead. The sound of tearing fabric and he got a waft of fresh air, He sucked it in through his nose able to breathe and not have the tiny fibres irritating his nasal passage.
"Keep it shut." The order was barked as the tape was pulled from his mouth, ripping the skin from his lips. JC repressed the urge to cry out, and sucked his abused lips into his mouth trying to ease the stinging. a spout was thrust into his mouth and a cool stream of water squirted into his throat. He swallowed gratefully, easing the terrible dryness. The spout was replaced with a piece of meat, tough and dry, JC chewed it thankfully struggling to swallow, wanting to show how compliant he could be. If he did what he was told maybe, just maybe they wouldnít kill him. JC shuddered as he felt the knife on his throat, he tried to be still, tried not to whimper as the cool steel cut through the fabric and traced over his flesh. The blade ripped away the rough fabric leaving him completely naked. The knife moved back to his throat. He held his breath. the cord on his Leo pendant parted and he felt it lift from him. Now he felt even more naked than before, heíd worn that necklace for so long never taking it off. He tried to listen to the three men talking, but they talked in low hushed tones. JC was dragged backwards and pushed into a confined space, so small he couldnít stretch his legs. He heard a door slam and a bolt drive home, then the click of a padlock. Then silence.
* * *
The remaining members of Nsync sat in stunned silence on JCís couch as the police went over the upstairs bedroom.
"It might not be what it looks like."
"And just WHAT does it look like Lance?"
"Justin" Joey warned the youngest member .
"Justin .... I didnít mean... maybe he just went away for a break."
"Without telling us, without telling me?"
Lance dropped his head a single tear trailing down his pale cheek. "I ... I just donít wanna contemplate ....."
The youngest member moved to his bandmates side and wrapped his arms round him. Lance leaned into him clinging on for dear life, crying harder and harder. "Itís ok Lance. Heíll be ok. Itís Jaycee. Heís strong, stronger than any of you know. If .... if he has been .... heíll get through this, heíll come home. I have to believe that, you got to believe that." Justin began to shake, unable to catch his breath as he slipped into a panic attack. "Jace.. ..... oh god Josh ..... Josh......."
Chris threw himself across the short distance from the chair to the couch grasping Justin in his embrace, Joey completed the hug wrapping his arms round the three grieving men, making all the soothing noises he had learned since becoming a father.