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The club was decent-sized with immaculately waxed wood floors and a five piece jazz band that JC would later tell Justin, "Wailed, baby boy. Totally."

The patrons were all safely decked out in '30's retro-gear and blissfully unaware that anything had come after that era. JC never felt safer than when in a swing dance club.

This one was one of his favorites. Being in West Hollywood, nobody cared what gender their partner was, so long as the person could lead or follow, depending on their needs. JC could do both. He spent a lot of time on the dance floor.

He'd been introduced to the club by the same person who had taught him how to jitterbug and shag, his first two swing steps. She'd opened up the world of thrift stores that actually lived up to their name and dance halls full of people that just smiled and shuffled out to the dance floor even after he'd introduced himself. He was wearing a shirt she'd bought for him, a tiny three-quarter lengths sleeve affair that advertised, "I can shag with the best of'em." His swing pants flowed loosely around his ankles and his worn down Keds were providing the perfect amount of friction for this particular dance floor.

The tall blond looked familiar upon walking into the door, but JC thought he would remember a guy who came decked out in an authentic zoot suit. The real things didn’t come cheap and most swingers spent their life savings on one, if they bothered to invest at all. Zoots were more likely to be seen at a swing Event, such as the championships, than on a Saturday night at a club like "Billie's Ghost."

JC never claimed to be strong enough to resist the allure of a classily dressed man, though. He sidled up to the new guy, "You dance, or just enjoy the trappings?" It wasn't terribly unusual to get people who liked to come and listen to the bands while looking good. In fact, the worse a person dressed sometimes, the better a dancer they were.

The blond looked down slightly at JC. "That all depends on your point-of-view. Most of your friends seem to think me and mine can't dance worth crap."

JC's eyes widened slightly. He giggled behind his hand. "Hi Nick. Didn't know anybody else knew about this place."

"Me neither." Nick was hiding his distress at finding this out rather badly.

"Oh, hey, I'm not gonna give you away, if that's what you're worried about. I mean, that would be kinda stupid."

Nick's shoulders relaxed out of the knot they had formed. "Yeah."

"You never answered my question, not really."

Nick's face went blank for a moment. "Oh. Yeah, I dance. Had a…friend who used to bring me here. Taught me things."

"You follow at all?"

"I'm not following for you, Chasez, you're like half my size. If that."

"Indeed, but you have the twirling thing down pat."

Nick eyed JC suspiciously. "You've been watching our videos."

"You've learned my dirty secret. The guys count on me to study the five of you, collate the data collected and sabotage all your efforts. Will you let me lead now?"

Nick wanted to argue, but he really did love being twirled.


JC pulled Nick into closed position, Nick's left hand obscuring JC's right shoulder and the long fingers of JC's left hand intertwining with those of Nick's right. They started out in a slow double step before JC swung Nick out into open position, Nick's left arm dropping to his side.

They moved into smooth-style Lindy at JC's gentle insistence. Nick took two steps forward, leaning back to create a counterbalance against JC. On the third step he turned just as JC did. When they were each standing where the other had been to begin with they came smoothly back into closed position, just for JC to whip Nick back out to open. At the end of the step they were both exactly where they had begun.

JC took a few minutes to assess how good Nick's basic step was and how easily he allowed himself to be lead. Nick was good, better than a majority of the people JC danced with on a regular basis when he came around the circuit. JC halted on the eighth count for a break in the music and undulated slightly. He watched in appreciation as Nick free-styled.

The beat began again and JC turned the heat up a bit, releasing Nick into a series of free spins. Nick responded with a grin, doubling up on a few of the spins, lifting one foot on some to transform them into honest-to-G-d twirls. JC brought Nick back under his control, changing up the basic a bit with an eight-count in-out action that allowed him to pull Nick in and push him back out without either of them moving much from their positions in space. Just lead's weight against follow's, hands pressing up against each other for a centered balance.

JC swung Nick back into the basic, bringing him around to where Nick's arms were wrapped around his own midsection, holding him upright while JC pulled at Nick's hands from behind. Nick shot back after a moment of suspension in the pose, back into the open position of the first count.

JC wasn't foolish enough to try anything overwhelmingly fancy on the ending. He knew there was no way he could hold Nick in a dip. Instead he spun Nick into four consecutive controlled turns and then leaned back into the counterbalance, ending the dance with the toe of his left shoe pressing up against that of Nick's right one.

Nick's cheeks were flushed, his hair falling slightly into his eyes. He let go of JC's hand and pushed it out of the way. "Thanks."

"You're a really good follow."

Nick ducked his head. "It was what I learned first."

"Yeah? That's cool. I had to cajole a whole bunch of the people I took privates with to teach me both. They were always all, 'you're never gonna use it.' But that wasn't really the point y'know?"

Nick did know. His lead was much better for being a follow. "Your footwork is really clean."

Footwork was what JC worried about most. He clapped Nick on the back and insisted on buying him a bottled water. Nick let him take the lead.


Nick had thought JC was sweet since back before he was willing to admit it, when all things NSYNC were obviously inherently evil.

They had gotten stuck in a hotel room together in Germany in the early fall of 1996 through a mix-up on Transcon's part. Nick had been sixteen and already used to being far away from everything familiar. By that point, he sometimes felt that Europe was everything familiar.

He usually roomed with Brian or AJ. AJ might have made fun of him a little for his fear of the dark, but it never left the room. Brian was always quietly understanding. When JC had turned out the light to go to sleep, Nick had gritted his teeth and sworn to himself that he wasn't going to let an NSYNCer in on his secret.

JC had been walking back to his bed when he'd noticed Nick's curled up position. "Hey, you okay?"


JC hadn't believed him. "Should I go get one of your guys? I think Howie's like two doors down."

"No, Jesus, I'm fine."

"You sound freaked. You sound like me when I have to get blood drawn."

"You're afraid of getting blood drawn?" Nick had realized his mistake two seconds after asking the question.

JC had not acknowledged the slip. "Needles. Wanna tell me what it is with you so that I can fix it?"

Nick had relented, JC was obviously not going to move until given a direction in which he could go to calm his roommate down. "Look, just, leave the light in the bathroom on, okay?"

"Sure." JC had done as asked and then jumped into bed. "Night Nick."

"Yeah, um, night."

Nick had fully expected his weakness to be the main source of Justin's jokes for the remaining years of both their careers. Justin had never once mentioned it, though, and Nick could only believe that was because JC had kept it a secret.

Nick took the Evian from JC's hand. "Thanks."

"Sure." JC untwisted his cap. "I take it you've been here before."

"Try to come every time I'm in town. You?"

"Among the reasons I bought a house out here. Admittedly not at the top of the list, but definitely in there."

"Florida's scene is kind of lacking," Nick admitted.

JC made a gesture with his fingers. "Just a little."

The band started a new song. Nick set his water bottle down, "C'mon. I wanna lead one."

JC tilted his head. The song was "Peel Me a Grape." "Kinda slow to Lindy on."

"Not gonna Lindy."

JC considered this for a second before blinking. "Oh." He followed Nick out onto the floor.

Nick pulled the smaller man flush against his chest. JC allowed his arms to drape over the crook in Nick's elbows. He placed his right leg in between Nick's legs. Nick's right leg wedged itself firmly between JC's legs.

The basic Blues step was simple. Nick's right leg came up in a step at the same time as JC's left leg, then vice versa. The action drove them even closer to each other, both dependent on their partner for balance.

Nick whispered into JC's ear, "You know you gotta relax for this to work, right?"

JC did know. He let go of any resistance lingering in his body. Nick felt the release and hooked his arms under JC's armpits, supporting his upper back. JC followed the support, sinking, his legs sliding parallel to the floor. Nick slowly brought him back up at the last moment only to lower his hold on JC to his lower back and place his arms so that JC dipped backwards, torso long and throat exposed. He was grinning and flushed when Nick pulled him back into the starting position.

Nick got fancy, but never risky. He swung JC out into half-time Lindy, held him near to lying on the ground on his side, and spun him ever-so-slowly. When the song finally ended, he planted JC back on his own two feet from the final dip and looked at him with respect. "Not many guys'll give up that much control to me."

JC's hair was wild, matching the shine in his eyes. "I'm glad I did. Damn. Whoever taught you was big on protecting the follow, huh?"

"Number one rule of dancing."

JC nodded his agreement. "Wow. I mean, just." He giggled. "Yup. Wow."

Nick didn't even try to agree verbally. He knew when he was going to be able to form coherent sentences. Watching JC come off a dance high was not one of those times.


Nick was shy. People rarely believed him when he said this, seeing as how he had spent the large majority of his life on stage. One-on-one socialization was his own personal death knell, though, and now, sitting across from JC he desperately wished to find his inner AJ. AJ could walk up to anyone at anytime and start a full-blown conversation. Of all his gifts, it was easily the one Nick envied most.

JC ordered a Cosmopolitan and was now sipping at it gracefully, admiring the technique of a particular couple out on the floor.

Fumbling for something to say, Nick came up with, "So, can you actually shag?" and promptly prayed for the floor to turn into a man-eating crocodile willing to swallow him whole.

JC set his drink down on the bar. "Um, collegiate, yes. Carolina, no. Can you?"

Nick shook his head.

"How about Bal?"

"Very little bit, pretty much the basic and a few turns."

"You should learn, it's so much better than shag for the fast stuff, and you get to be all close, which granted, isn't always a good thing, but it can be." JC turned his eyes away from the dance floor and pointedly toward Nick.

Nick took a larger sip of his martini than he had been intending and fought not to cough as it burned its way down to his stomach. "Um, yeah."

A tiny brunette approached the bar and asked JC to dance. JC accepted and Nick was able to appreciate his lead aesthetically for a few minutes before he returned. JC sat back down at the bar and ordered himself another water before returning to his drink. "I've danced with her before, I think she's a regular."

"Looked pretty good."

"Yeah, she follows even when I fuck things up, which I appreciate deeply."

Nick grunted understandingly. "You'll have to teach me how to do that."

"Fuck up a lead?"

"Um, no, I'm fine with that on my own. West Coast, I don't know that style."

JC hopped up and extended an arm. Nick blinked at it. JC jumped up and down a little. "C'mon, this can't wait."

"It can't?"

"Absolutely not, West Coast is to swing as Mint Chocolate Chip is to ice cream."

Nick slid off his stool. "I guess if you feel that strongly-"

The rest of what he was saying got lost as JC pulled him onto the floor.


They were ushered out of the club with the smattering of others who had stayed to close it down at three that morning. JC had looked surprised when the band had announced last song and glanced at his watch. "Damn. Been awhile since I stayed this long."

"I don't think I ever have."

"Not even with the friend who introduced you to it?"

"We usually had, um, plans for after."

JC nodded. "Oh, Janette and me too, we just tended to lose the next day to sleep completely."

Nick bit his lip, wishing he had the ability to be as completely at home with his words and actions as JC always seemed. "Right."

JC reached the car he had driven and dug in his pocket for the keys. He pushed the button to unlock the door and made a small beeping sound in time with the car. Before opening the door he turned to Nick, "You have a way home, right?"

"I drove."

"Cool, I had a great time tonight."

"Me too." Nick grinned.

"So," JC was silent for a second, "Okay. Um, I guess I'll see you, probably. I mean, we're known to run into each other from time to time."

Nick laughed. "It happens." He took a sharp breath in, trying to figure out exactly what he was trying to say. In the end, all he came up with was, "Yeah, so see ya."

JC climbed in his car. He gave a tiny wave before driving off. Nick waited until the car was safely gone from the parking lot to hit his own forehead with his palm a few times. "Very smooth Carter, like fucking butta."

Four Months Later

It took him about an hour, but JC found Nick at the post-Grammy party and asked by way of a greeting, "Just how bored are you?"

"If I start crying, you think you could say a little something about my poor, sick cousin Adelle?"

"Do I have to use the name Adelle?"

"I figure that makes everyone sorry for her on two accounts, being sick and having to live her life with that name."

"Right, smart boy."

Nick laughed somewhat bitterly.

"Think anyone would notice if we split?"

"Not soon enough to do anything about it."

"Your ride or mine?"

"AJ'll be stuck here if we do mine, and I don't wanna be the cause of a relapse."

"Fair enough. I'll threaten to write Justin out of all our songs if he doesn’t let Chris ride with him and Brit."

Nick nodded appreciatively and wondered when JC had decided to take lessons in ruthlessness from Lance. He made a mental note to send Lance a fruit basket.

Nick made it out to where the limos were parked but had to wait for JC, unable to recognize NSYNC's ride. They climbed in and JC murmured something to the driver. The limo was already moving when JC looked toward Nick, "Um, we were both thinking 'Billie's,' right?"

Nick spread his hands in a gesture of agreement. "Where else?"

JC settled back into his seat. "Sorry about tonight. I really dig the way you guys sounded in 'Shape'."

Nick snorted before he could hold it back. "Uh, thanks."

JC frowned. "I don’t say things I don't mean. Not ever really, but never ever about music."

"No, I didn't mean it… Look, we knew we weren't gonna win, okay? U2, y'know."

JC nodded enthusiastically. "Yeah, but, if you have to lose to someone, right?"

Nick couldn't help but smile. "I suppose." He couldn’t remember the last time he'd smiled over losing something.


Early boogie-woogie was playing over the club's speakers while the band took a break. Nick dragged JC out to the dance floor and initiated the basic step in West Coast. JC was pulled in for two steps through his right arm until he met up with Nick in a touch step only to be pushed backward again and into a triple step. JC took liberties with the non-moving portions of the dance, swiveling and kicking and doing just about anything likely to make Nick drool.

Nick, for his part, had taken some lessons since the last time. He led JC into the eight turn count that, with the exception of very subtle accentuation, worked the way smooth-style Lindy did. Back in starting position, Nick let JC stew for a bit before leading him through a combination of inner and outer controlled spins that stayed perfectly in alignment with the straight-line form of the dance. He finished up by leaning to the left with JC resting safely along his right side.

JC led the next one, practicing his Balboa with Nick. Nick had picked some up in the intervening months between their last meeting. JC pulled them into closed position, both of them standing rigidly erect, their chests pressed tightly together. JC bounced forward three steps and kicked lightly, then repeated the step backwards. Nick was still learning to feel comfortable with the basic, so other than a few controlled turns and unmeasured runs to different spots on the dance floor, JC refrained from getting too fancy.

They stayed on the floor for an hour, not speaking very much. They alternated leads with each song. JC learned that Nick had a thing for tandem Charleston moves, which allowed him to lead both standing directly behind JC and in front of him with only the commands that his hands were relaying to JC's. Nick discovered that JC led smooth-style Lindy better than Savoy, which was made up of the same exact step but a drastically different body position. JC found that he actually enjoyed jitterbugging with Nick if the tempo was right. Nick attempted to follow JC's shag lead only to end up feeling like an utter and complete tool.

By the time they stumbled off the floor and into the nearest booth, neither of them was even trying to hide the fact that they were on the threshold of passing out. They didn’t speak until the waiter had brought them four glasses of water.

JC finally said, after several straight minutes of making rather unattractive gulping noises, "You are one very skilled man."

Nick became fascinated with the ice in his glass. "Um, probably've just had more time to practice than you. I mean, you were rehearsing, right?"

"I thought you guys were recording."

"We…are. Kind of. We're-" Nick stopped, as though suddenly aware of who he was talking to.

JC shook his head. "You don’t have to tell me. But, uh. I hope it works out for you."

"Yeah." Nick bit his lip. "No kidding."

JC felt guilty for having brought up whatever it was that was making Nick upset. He made it up to him by slipping out of the booth to request a blues song. Nick didn't make JC ask to have the dance.


Kevin gave Nick an appraising look up and down when he came into the studio two days later. "Where'd the two of you go?"

Nick took a sip of the coffee he was nursing. "Two of who? Huh? Look, I'm sorry I split, I was five seconds from dancing on the tables naked to liven things up. Leaving was the only mature and responsible action for me to take, honestly."

"I don't care if you wanna stay and schmooze with those people. I just honestly wanna know where it is you and JC Chasez disappeared off to. You weren't sighted, so it had to have been good."

"His place."

"Nope, try again, Chris was staying with JC while they were in LA and Howie accompanied him back after the party. Howie says JC didn’t get in until well after three and he was alone."

Howie and Chris depended on each other for recreational sex when in they were within driving distance. It was casual and inexplicably sweet.

"I'm just curious. AJ says this isn't the first time you've gone out with him."

"We didn't exactly go out. We just escaped simultaneously. And last time was a freak coincidence, we both happened to be at the same place, same time."

"You have a good time with him?"

Kevin's voice had a soft edge to it and suddenly Nick knew what the conversation they were having was about. "He's a good guy, Kev. There's nothing going on, and there won't be, but even if there was, he can't possibly be using me for my money or my fame, so things are fine. Really."

Kevin nodded, if a bit reluctantly. At twenty-two, Nick was still the baby of the group and Kevin would always be psychotically protective. Nick and AJ had actually discussed and resigned themselves to this years before. Of late, with everything else in Nick's universe careening out of control, the whole dynamic was actually a point of comfort. Not that he was going to admit that to Kevin.

"Just be careful."

"Nothing's gonna happen. We don't even talk when we don't run into each other."

"Why?" Kevin tilted his head. "I mean, you like each other enough to spend long hours at a time away from either group together."

Nick tried, unsuccessfully, not to glare at Kevin.

Kevin laughed. "You haven't asked him for his number."

"He hasn’t exactly asked me for mine."

Kevin shook his head. "You want me to find out how to reach him?"


"I could."


Kevin put his hands in the air, supposedly as a gesture of backing off. There was a sparkle in his eyes though and Nick didn't believe it. Not for one second.


"Let me get this straight." Joey was sitting across from JC at an IHOP, pouring far too much syrup over a stack of pancakes. JC winced for the beleaguered breakfast starches. "You and Carter were hanging at the place Janie used to take you."

"Janette, she hated that nickname."

"She hated it coming from you."

JC opened his mouth to argue, but it was true. His significant others were always letting Joey get away with things they would murder him for. He switched back to the subject at hand. "Yeah, I mean, just two times."

"And he can swing dance?"

"I know. I mean, color me perplexed, but there you have it."

"Okay, let's review the facts. You like men, he likes men-"

"Although he seems oddly opposed to actually mentioning this. He was playing the fucking pronoun game with me."

"Yeah, well, he's been trained even longer and harder than you have, give the kid a break."

"I know, but he's gotta be aware that between industry rumor, and Chris and Howie, I'm pretty much in the clear."

"Maybe he just doesn't understand the correct use of pronouns. Moving right along, he asked you to Blues, and I've seen that shit, man. You do not go asking just anyone to get all dirty like that with you on a whim."

JC acceded this point to Joey without a word. "It's not like I think he doesn’t like me, it's just…I'm getting mixed signals, right?"

"What's mixed?"

"He never asks to see me again, or gives me his number or does anything that would indicate that he'd like to continue things outside of our little rendezvous."

"Just for the hell of it, I'm going to ask you if you have thought to do any of those things."

"I was the one who sought him out at the party, I think my interest has been indicated. I don't want to be the one doing everything, because then he might just be going along. I mean, he's mad sweet, we all know this. Even when he's drunk and snarky, he always apologizes for the stupid things he does later."

Joey stared at JC blankly. "How do you ever manage to get any dates?"

JC frowned. "I get dates just fine."

"When was the last time you set one up without management's interference?"

JC considered the question. "Well, I mean, Chris and I-"

"Don't count."

JC made a huffing sound but went back to thinking. He gave up after a few minutes. "I'm twenty-five years old and a dating retard."

"I prefer to think of you as romantically-challenged."

JC flipped Joey off.


AJ, Kevin, Brian and Howie were all at the studio one morning when Nick showed up several weeks after his partnered escape from the after-party. They were sitting in a formation that Nick remembered vividly, if from a different perspective. Last time, AJ had been the one to walk in last. Nick racked his brain to figure out what he had done.

"I give up, what's my fault now?"

AJ looked pained for a moment before grinning. Nick got scared. "We're not breaking up, right? I mean, we promised each other we'd give this album a chance, you all promised, and I don't really care if AJ wants to try domestic bliss-"

"Whoa." Brian was making frantic halting gestures. "Slow down there, we're not breaking up."

"Oh." Nick felt robbed of his righteous indignation. "Okay. Um, I don't remember screwing up, so you're gonna have to tell me what this is about."

"We thought you might be somewhat resistant to our friendly advice-" Howie got cut off as AJ finished his thought for him, "And we figured there was strength in numbers."

"Friendly advice?"

Brian held up a piece of paper at the same time as Kevin. Kevin gestured with his. "More of a present, really."

Nick peered closer. Kevin's was a plane ticket. "You want me to go on vacation? Is this your way of telling me you don't want me singing lead anymore?"

AJ stared at Nick. "Tangential friendly advice: You have got to lay off whatever it is that's causing the paranoia."

"Just tell me what's going on." Nick knew he was dangerously close to whining, which the guys were never responsive to anyway, but he couldn't help himself. Howie had once described Nick as an impatient little bugger when he was thirteen and Nick thought that pretty much still held true.

Brian hopped up from the chair but then stayed where he was standing. "The ticket is for Pittsburgh, and my gift," he waved the hand holding it a little bit, "is a VIP pass."

"A VIP pass."

"We sometimes use them to get into concerts that we're not performing at," AJ explained patiently.

Nick decided he was above responding and instead asked in a very measured tone, "Lemme guess. NSYNC?"

Howie piped in. "Chris says that Joey says that JC's definitely interested."

"And here I thought I had skipped the social scene of high school. Guys, c'mon, this is stupid."

"It's not stupid." Howie sounded offended. "JC's a nice guy. It's not like it's the easiest thing in the world trying to find you someone."

"I didn't mean it like that, D. I'm sorry, okay? But I don't need you guys playing matchmaker for me."

"Beg to differ." AJ looked like he was about to say more, but Brian walked forward to hand the pass to Nick.

"What AJ is about to stick his head up his ass in the process of saying is, it may have passed your notice that you're a bit shy and in the closet and really, at this rate, you're not going to get laid again until you're thirty without a little non-divine intervention."

Nick looked down at Brian for a moment before taking the pass from him.


JC, Justin and Chris were hanging out in the dressing room before the Pittsburgh show when Nick poked his head inside the door. Chris was taunting Justin over the fact that his ass was getting far and away more notice than Timberlake's on this tour. Nick thought that was a bit odd, but didn't feel like interrupting Chris's triumphal procession. Justin, in attempting to shut Chris up by gagging him with the nearest face towel, was the first to notice Nick. He looked confused for a moment, before his eyes flickered to JC and back to Nick. "Hey, you here for the show?"

Nick nodded, but didn't come any further into the room. JC bounced up from his chair, "Hi, wow, nobody told me you were coming." He pulled Nick into the room and a firm hug, all at once.

"It was kind of a last minute thing." Nick pretended like Chris wasn't watching him with the same eyes of a scientist observing a particularly fascinating experiment unfold.

"Are you flying out after the show, or staying over night?" JC was beaming. It occurred to Nick that he'd never seen JC pumped with the kind of preternatural energy that each of them got before a show.

He made his mind focus on forming words. "Staying. Um, the Marriott."

"That's great!" JC grabbed onto one of Nick's hands for no evident reason. "Us too."

Nick was far from surprised. If nothing else, AJ was a tactical genius. It was one of his most underrated talents.

The silence was beginning to get awkward when Chris said, "Well, if the energy of screaming your lungs out for us doesn't exhaust you, Carter, you're more than welcome to hang with us after the show."

"I'll put my endurance to the test and take you up on that."

Chris cocked his head and smiled at Nick and JC. JC hoped he was misreading the glint that clearly read, "Do I have to do everything for you?"

JC turned back to Nick with his best I-want-to-suck-whipped-cream-off-your-cock smile. "After the show then?"

Nick licked his lips and nodded. "After. Yeah. That's. After."

Chris and Justin both laughed after Nick shut the door behind him. Chris walked up to JC and brought a hand down on his shoulder. "My ass may be fine, but I do believe it is the Chasez derriere that will be seeing some action this evening."

JC leaned into Chris a little. "Don't jinx it."


When Nick showed up to the room number he had been given to meet the guys in post-show that night, the only one in it was JC. Ernestine Andrews was singing, "Someone Exactly Like You" softly and before Nick knew what was happening, JC had swept him into smooth-style Lindy. He led Nick almost immediately through a series of controlled turns into a free spin which Nick had to put extra effort into making a twirl on the carpeted hotel floor, but he managed.

"Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing" came on, but JC didn't hand over the leading reigns. Nick opened his mouth to say something, more out of feeling that it was expected than actually minding that JC wanted to keep spinning him around, catching him with an arm around Nick's waist or, sometimes, directly over his stomach. JC caught the beginning of Nick's protest, quelling it with, "Relax, you'll get your chance."

Nick believed him.

Nick's turn came when the music turned sultry and Diana Krall's voice filtered over the sound system. Nick looked mildly perplexed. "I didn't know she sang 'Fever.' I thought I had all her albums."

JC preened. "You probably do, this isn't on an album."

Nick pulled JC into closed Blues formation. "Oh?"

JC slumped into Nick. "I met someone from her label at a benefit some time back, he was able to get me in touch with her."

"And she just reworked 'Fever' and recorded it entirely because you felt you needed it in your personal collection?" Nick writhed gently against JC.

"More like I begged and offered her a vast kingdom, wherein she asked me why I wanted it so badly."

Nick brought JC through a circular dip smoothly. "And you said?"

"That I needed it to help in the wooing of a certain someone."

Nick was glad he hadn't been doing anything fancy at that moment, or JC most likely would have ended up on the floor. "Right, the girl who introduced you to this stuff. Nice. Did she appreciate it?"

"Janette and I had long since broken up. I just got this recording a couple of weeks ago." JC's mouth was almost directly on Nick's ear.

Nick lowered JC half-way to the ground, bringing him up slightly and then down again three times before hauling him back upright. Nick had changed JC's position slightly while dipped so that when he came back up, he was nose-to-nose with his lead. Nick considered JC's eyes for a second before leaning in and kissing him. JC wrapped one leg around the larger man and closed his arms around Nick's neck, responding eagerly.

JC growled when Nick pulled away after a few moments, "You offered a kingdom to Diana Krall to get me in bed?"

JC tilted his head slightly, "You don't think you're worth it?"

"Well, I mean, you could have just asked."

JC pulled back a little and looked at Nick with his most earnest expression. "Nickolas Gene Carter, would you be my boyfriend? Oh, please, pretty pretty pretty please."

Nick pulled JC back into him. "Okay, the other approach had more class."

Suddenly, Nick twisted JC's standing position slightly and side dipped him, lowering his head to lick JC's throat, exposed when his head fell back naturally into the dip. JC screamed and laughed at the sensation all at once, scrabbling with his feet to keep his purchase on the floor. Nick brought him back up just as quickly as he had lowered him, setting him safely on the ground.

JC looked up at Nick accusatorily, "See if I ever trust you to be my lead again."

Nick spread his right palm over the small of JC's back and propelled JC gently against him. "I always protect my follow."

That was good enough for JC.

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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile