Giving Up The Ghost
by Icebun & Pablo

You arrive in Orlando and you're not sure if it's due to nerves or the heat but you end up hot and sticky with perspiration. You promised yourself that you wouldn't do it but that first moment you get there you grab your mother's hand and hold on tight. She just smiles at you and your nerves settle almost immediately.

They're all there; waiting, a look of hope on their faces and you just know that they're going to be disappointed. That they'll realise you're a fake and you don't belong here. But he smiles at you and you forget pretty much everything and just end up staring.

You haven't met anyone like JC and even though you're still only sixteen, you get the feeling you won't meet someone like him ever again.

You want to say something important, so he'll remember this moment like you're sure you will, but you can't think of anything so you smile and blush instead. You're torn between not wanting to leave and wanting to run away and hide. Then Justin says something about the way you sing and how it fleshes out their overall sound and JC's no longer looking at you at all. He stares at Justin who continues to talk about harmonies and tone and you barely notice that you're now an "us" as opposed to being just you.

You like that but most of all you focus on how intent JC is on every word that Justin says about the music. About your singing and how it fits in with theirs.

As you go almost unnoticed you fight off all thoughts of being forgotten, of being the last resort.

Of always being second choice.


That first day you meet him, the air conditioning in the studio is playing up. The air's heavy and the material of your shirt sticks to your back and you're reminded of that first day in Orlando.

The others are all excited about finally meeting BT and you wonder what your mother would say if she knew what you'd been thinking. If she knew how frustrated you were with the way that JC can't stop talking about him. About BT and how he's going to change the way you all sound.

You want to tell him that you're quite happy with the way you sound already, but instead you bite your lip so hard your teeth slice into it and you can taste the bitter tang of blood faintly on your tongue.

Almost as bitter as you.

JC's like a kid at Christmas, a bundle of nervous energy and it takes a lot for you to notice that JC looks wired. Considering he amazes you every day with his never-ending enthusiasm.

When BT arrives, you wipe your hand across your eyes. Small beads of sweat that you can feel across your skin in the confines of the over- heated studio.

Both JC and Justin, but mostly JC, talk at a million miles an hour about how much they've been looking forward to this and JC practically shines.

Yet again you're reminded of that first day in Orlando and even though you try not to, you ask yourself why it couldn't have been you that JC wanted to make beautiful music with.


The song's finished. BT's done his thing and you know without a doubt the five of you have a hit on your hands. JC would probably say the six of you.

You feel exhausted and wonder if you'll ever get a chance to rest. JC excitedly tells you how Brian has invited all five of you out to a club he's playing at that night. It's not really a lie when you say that you don't feel up to it, you're almost to the point of exhaustion anyway and you try and avoid the look of disappointment on JC's face.

The other's all say yes and as they file out of the studio Justin's the last to leave. He doesn't say anything but you know he doesn't need to. He says he knows with his eyes and you try to look away.

It's almost light the next morning when you hear a noise. JC's back and he looks more awake than ever. You pretend to still be asleep but as he strips off his clothes at the side of the bed your eyes open and he catches you watching. He smiles at you, slides under the covers and kisses you softly on the top of your head. He pulls you close and doesn't say a word.

You're comfortable, your bodies fit against each other so naturally. You're sick of just being comfortable.

His hair smells of smoke and something else, his skin warm where you touch and you press closer and try to forget.


You end up drinking a little too much and you know your face is probably flushed red even before you arrive at the party. Drinking's the only way to guarantee you won't bail before you even get there.

You push your way through the crowd of people just inside the VIP room and try and avoid eye contact with everybody. You finally find JC and when he sees you his face lights up and he smiles. You end up smiling back without thinking and move closer.

JC says your name and then you see who he's with. You say `hi' and call him BT without thinking. He tells you again, to call him Brian before pulling you into a hug. JC stands directly behind him and you try not to look uncomfortable, you end up shutting your eyes and JC'll probably think you're overcome with emotion but it's more because you don't want to be looking at JC when Brian's hugging you.

You know you're being petty but that doesn't mean you can do anything about it.


You've put it off as long as you can and if Chris were here he'd probably call you a bitch. You're not sure if JC even realises and even if he did it's not in his nature to say anything about it. He'd smile and tell you he understands.

The thing that annoys you most is he probably would understand and that's something you don't want to deal with.

They're both there when you first hear it; you can tell Brian understands how important it is to JC for you to be there. You hate him even more for that.

Their track. The track JC and Brian made together.

You try your best to hate it but you can't. JC's face lights up when you admit there's nothing you can say. Brian smiles too and for the first time that night you actually look him in the eyes.

JC makes a whooping noise and if you thought he was excited early on, he's just gone ADHD on your ass.

He pulls you into a hug and you almost can't breathe. He's still talking and you only take in every second or third word, as always his excitement is contagious. You stop smiling when JC grabs hold of Brian, one hand on each side of his face and they kiss. Soft and open on the mouth, a kiss that says more than you want to hear.

Watching the two of them, you realise that you've had enough of being second. That may have been enough when you were sixteen but now? Now, things are different.

Maybe it's time for you to decide just what it is you seek at night.


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