Queer Eye For The *NSync Guy
by Pablo

The buzzer on his front door screeches loudly and Joey's still a little hung over despite sleeping in so late.

"Hello?" He's not sure who it could be and he's not really in any fit mood for company.

"Hey, sweetheart, it's me, Jai." And that's a voice Joey hasn't heard for awhile, his mood lifts almost immediately and the fog that had descended onto his brain is already clearing. Joey hasn't seen Jai since he was last in New York and that was months ago.

"Hey beautiful, let me just buzz you through... wait a minute? It is just you, right?"

Joey may be hung over but he's not stupid.

"Just me? What are you talking? Come on Joseph, let me in, it's like a thousand degrees out; I'm melting out here. I need some of your AC and then I can do something about your DC, mmmm hmmm." Jai's voice sounds soothing and by the end of his sentence he's almost singing the words.

Joey finds himself laughing along with Jai's joke and has to stop his hand before he pushes the buzzer to open the front door.

"Wait, what was that?"

"What?" Jai's voice sounds a little forced and Joey's now without a doubt that Jai's hiding something.

"I can hear them, the rattle of bags. I can practically hear Carson's teeth gnashing from here!"

"Oh for the love of Roberto Cavalli, let us in!" Another voice crackles over the intercom, Joey knows exactly who he has at his door.

"I knew it! Jai you promised me you wouldn't do this. I made you promise, remember?"

"My god! And I thought Jai sounded like a woman when he got angry?" Another voice and although Joey has to strain to hear him, he's sure that it's Ted.

"I'm right here, thank you very much." Jai again and Joey finds himself smiling when he visualises Jai shooting that look at Ted. Poor thing, Joey thinks and then chides himself mentally for feeling pity, reminding himself that he has to be strong.

"No means no, Jai."

"Oh Joey, we all know that it actually means not until next time." Carson must have his face pressed close to the speaker, his voice raises an octave and Joey's once again reminded of the pounding headache he has.

"Let us in, Joey, before it's too late. I can practically hear those man-made fibres screaming to be free! Set them free, Joey!"

"It's okay, Carson." Another voice, Joey guesses it's Kyan. He should recognise him, after all the episodes JC has made him watch over and over.

"You owe them that much! Set them free!" Carson again, his voice becoming louder.

"Carson, Just breathe."

"Please, Kyan? When will they stop screaming?" Carson's voice is thick and the words broken. He sounds like he's on the verge of tears.

"Joseph Fatone let me the fuck in! It's like `silence of the fags' out here and I need a god damn drink!"

Joey buzzes them in, almost without thinking. He knows when Jai takes that tone not to think too long before acting.

Joey stands in boxers and a shirt he quickly pulled on after hearing the buzzer. The sight that greets him as the door to his apartment opens will probably stay with him forever. It's like trying to contain a whirlwind in a very small jar There's cameras and crew, but they fade to insignificance as five immaculately-clad figures descend on him like vultures at an all you can eat buffet.

"Thank you." Jai's hands feel slightly cold as he touches Joey's face, a soft peck on the cheek and a quick, chaste hug. Joey hasn't moved and he's quickly enveloped by Carson. He hugs back without thinking and then notices Carson fumbling at his collar looking for the tag for the shirt he's wearing.

Carson's expression speaks volumes and Joey can't remember when he killed all of Carson's relatives. The look on Carson's faced is one reserved for serial killers alone.

After a few moments Carson's steadied himself, the others seem calmer and Joey's used to cameras after all. Before Joey can say a word, Carson's talking again. Joey watches him spin around in a small circle, arms outstretched.

"So, the resemblance? Lance Bass and I could be separated at birth, no?"

"Yeah by birth and approximately twenty years." Carson doesn't even flinch as Ted whispers not too quietly under his breath. In fact he's not fazed at all and instead starts to circle around Joey.

"Which of course would go a long way to explaining the obvious sexual tension I can sense between the two of us." Carson points between himself and Joey as he speaks, he has this predatory look in his eyes and this is one of the reasons Joey made Jai promise not to get him involved when he'd first told him about the new show he was on.

"Uh yeah, that's definitely what it is." Carson is of course oblivious.

"Which means if you ever feel the need to express that sexual tension through physical contact, I won't think any less of you, okay?"

"Sure." Joey can't help but roll his eyes.

"Oooh this is so fun, it feels like I'm actually in a world-famous pop band." Carson looks like he's a kid in a candy shop and Joey wills himself to not think about anything involving himself as a lollipop.

Kyan stops what he's doing and looks over at Joey and Carson. "The closest you've ever been to being in a pop band, was that time you went to see that concert and, well it ended with a restraining order if I remember correctly."

Kyan looks like he's going to continue but the way Carson glares at him silences him immediately.

"Kyan, don't destroy everything I've worked so hard to create, okay?"

"Sure." They smile sweetly at each other and Joey doesn't think he's ever been this petrified.

Joey notices Jai kind of wandering around taking everything in, a look of concentration on his face. Joey realises he still hasn't moved and the five separate and move around the room with the precision of a military operation. A well-organised and immaculately attired military operation.

"Kitchen." Ted grabs the case he'd been carrying and makes his way into Joey's well-used kitchen. He has an interesting look on his face and Joey wants to ask him if he's okay but there's a whirlwind of activity and his attention is drawn back and forth between his five guests.

"Bathroom." Joey watches Kyan move down the hallway.

They're so smooth and professional, Joey thinks; they're like Charlie's Angels, only more gay and within moments Joey's alone with Thom. The crew and cameras almost forgotten.

Carson's voice carries back down the hallway to him as he moves towards Joey's bedroom. "If you need me I'll be in the bedroom, first I'll check out that closet although there's probably not that much room in there."

A suggestive look is the last thing Joey sees as Carson disappears.

"Oh no, those treatments with this `furniture.'"

Thom does exaggerated air quotes when he says the word furniture and the look on his face is horrifying.

"My god, man? What on earth did gay people do to you to deserve such punishment?"

"What? I did this myself." Joey's a little hurt for a moment but going from the look on Thom's face he should be more concerned for the designer's health. Thom looks a heartbeat away from fainting.

"Joey, those colours may look good on an album cover but no! Not on furniture!"

Before Joey can respond, Jai's back. "Okay, okay people. We have work to do here. There's no time to waste, we're on a tight schedule and you all know what that means?"

Ted pops up from behind the counter in the kitchen, a smile on his face and a blender in one hand.

"Margaritas?"

"Exactly."

Joey finds himself being dragged into the kitchen by Jai, one arm thrown around his shoulders.

 

Carson's head is buried in Joey's wardrobe, one hand claws at the clothes that he has hanging there whilst the other rifles through any items that cover the floor of the relatively small space. Every now and then a mutter can be heard from Carson, his voice muffled. Joey looks up at Jai who's standing next to him a forced smile plastered on his face.

The fact that Jai looks almost as worried as Joey feels doesn't go very far to helping calm his nerves.

Carson turns around quickly, a dark suit clutched in one hand, he shakes his head a little before looking directly at Joey who feels himself cringe under that stare.

"This? Not so much `my big fat Greek wedding' more like my big fat ass! Get rid of it."

Joey watches as Carson throws the offending item over his shoulder. It lands in a pile of other clothes already given the same treatment. Even the cameraman looks apologetically at Joey, who just squirms even more as Carson continues to dig through his clothes.

"Ah at last, something I can work with."

And that's something Joey never thought he'd hear Carson say.

"It's functional, but has smooth clean lines, it screams class."

It takes a moment for Joey to notice what Carson's talking about, then he sees it.

"Uh Carson, that's a plastic suit bag?" It even sounds like Jai thinks that Carson's finally lost it.

"I know, and it's by far the best piece in his wardrobe."

Joey tries to say something but Carson's channelling Colonel Kurtz and quickly moves one hand up to Joey's face, his finger presses against Joey's lip to silence him.

"Shhh, don't make things any worse than they already are, Joey."

Satisfied that Joey won't say any more, Carson moves back to rummaging through Joey's clothes. "Oh wait, here it is. This is what I've been looking for."

Carson pulls out a blue and green striped tie and holds it delicately between his fingers, almost as if the fabric is hot and will burn clean through his flesh. From the look on his face, Joey wouldn't be surprised if it already had.

"Come on Joey, fashion it into a noose and hang me with it! What have I ever done to you? Why do you hate me? These clothes, oh my god this isn't a wardrobe!" Carson's hand quickly dips back into the pile of clothes and he pulls out a frilled lime green shirt, "this looks like a drag queen has exploded in here!"

"It's okay, Carson, calm down. Take a seat." Jai gestures for Carson to sit on Joey's bed.

"I can't sit on that, if I do I might end up the mother of twins!" Carson sounds just the wrong side of worked up, his face is pulled into a grimace and his voice seems to be getting louder and louder.

"Hey, those are clean sheets, I just changed them."

"What, in 1987?"

"Look Carson, this is no worse than any of the other shows we've done."

"Jai, you promised me it wouldn't be this bad, you told me that `everything would be okay, beautiful.'"

Jai looks over at Joey before he responds; Carson seems oblivious to their conversation. "Calling him beautiful calms him down."

"How can you tell?" Calm isn't a word Joey would use to describe Carson.

"You said, it'll make up for it. Meeting Lance..."

"Joey." Jai puts his hand over his mouth as he coughs.

"...would make everything worthwhile. Meeting Lance..."

"Joey." Jai says again under his breath.

"... would make up for everything you said."

"Hey! Woman on the verge! Okay Joey, I think we need another coffee break."

"I'll get the blender." Joey starts to walk back out towards the kitchen.

"And I'll need a damp wash cloth." Carson still sounds a little out of control.

"What? To put over your eyes?"

"No, in case I spill my drink."

 

Joey's not unused to riding in a Limo, but he's never been in a limo ride quite like this. Jai is a stabilising force next to Carson who apparently is attempting to self-medicate in an attempt to convince himself that Joey's fashion sense is merely a hallucination.

Carson seems relatively in control, all things considered and doesn't spill a single drop of the drink he holds tightly in one hand.

"So we're gonna get you everything you need Joey. No expense spared, we're gonna shop `til we drop, and then get back up and we'll keep on shopping. Okay, are you with me?"

"Sure." Joey's pretty sure nobody really believes in his conviction.

"Okay, but first there's this little bar I know on the way, we'll do that first."

"Uh, Carson? Is it the sort of bar where there'll be a half-naked guy dancing on the bar?"

Carson takes another sip before he responds. "That depends, there's a show every hour on the hour. And every half hour and by `that depends' I meant yes there will be."

"Uh Carson, why exactly do we need to take Joey there?"

Carson doesn't say a word and drains his glass instead.

"Is it for the television show?"

"Exactly Joey, it's for the show."

Joey doesn't think that Jai believes him.

 

Joey's kitchen isn't that big and it's definitely not big enough for Carson. Nevertheless, Joey, Carson, Ted and Bill the camera guy are all piled in there. Ted has been through every single one of Joey's cupboards and going from the look on his face Joey thinks Ted may have cottoned on to the fact that Joey isn't really much of a cook.

Or a cleaner; or very picky about hygiene in general given the latex gloves that Ted is wearing.

"So this guy's like shoving his hand into Joey's..."

"ACTION."

"Oh-kay, Ted." Carson immediately becomes more professional as the camera is on him.

"So Joey, this is a Pinot Noir." Ted holds a large wine glass up in his hand, it's about a third full with red wine. The glass in Joey's hand is full of the same wine but the glass itself looks different. It also looks different from the squat tumbler that Carson holds in his hand.

Joey thinks Ted's probably noticed his kitchen isn't that well stocked. There'd been some shocked exclamation earlier about stemware that Joey had pretended to ignore.

Ted however doesn't seem phased. "It's a lighter style red, not too heavy so it's perfect for what we have planned to start us off for the evening."

Ted moves the glass up to his nose and takes in a deep breath. Joey mimics him, which makes Ted smile and nod his head in encouragement.

"It's from Martinborough, so the cooler climate there really brings out a complexity you don't always get with a pinot."

Joey tries to look interested.

"Martinborough? That's in New Zealand isn't it, Ted?" Carson looks all too pleased with himself and winks at Joey as he waits for Ted to answer.

"Sure is Carson and don't for a second think I didn't catch you reading the bottle a couple of minutes ago."

Joey has to try hard not to laugh at the expression on Carson's face.

"Take a long deep breath and tell me what you can taste on the palate, Joey."

Joey moves the glass back up to his nose.

"I've always wanted to move to New Zealand." Carson doesn't seem to be the sort of person that is easily deterred.

"Okay Carson, you do know Orlando Bloom doesn't actually live in New Zealand?"

"I know he doesn't, but Legolas? Mmmm, he could go off each day hunting and gathering, catching game with that bow and then when he came home?"

"What you'd prepare all that food for him?"

"No we'd fuck."

Joey no longer has to wonder what it feels like to snort red wine through his nose.

It looks like it's taking every ounce of Ted's willpower not to respond and Joey himself has to try hard not to keep laughing.

"Okay Joey, so just take a small mouthful, enough so you can experience the taste and let it sit for a moment in your mouth as you..."

Joey finishes the whole glass in one go.

A chorus of groans can be heard in Joey's kitchen. Followed by a loud belch and then more groaning.

 

"So Joey I want to observe you in your natural environment, just pretend I'm not here, okay?"

"Sure."

It's a little hard to pretend Kyan's not there considering Joey's bathroom isn't that big. His mirror's a little fogged up from the shower Joey's just taken and he rubs a towel in circles to try and clear the steam.

It only results in streaks on the surface of the mirror and Kyan's shocked gasps as Joey discards the towel on the floor next to a pile of his own clothes.

"So just go over your skin regime for me, start to finish, take your time, skin should never be rushed, okay? You may want to write that one down."

Unfortunately, Joey doesn't keep pen and paper in his bathroom, so instead he just nods and Kyan looks vaguely satisfied.

"Just when you're ready, pretend I'm not here."

Joey takes a deep breath and reaches both hands into the basin of tepid water. He moves his hands back to his face and splashes the warm liquid on his skin.

"Okay, keep going?" Kyan is furiously scribbling notes on a pad he holds.

"Uh, that's it."

Kyan's eyes widen in disbelief and one hand flies up to cover his mouth.

"We're doomed." His voice is quiet and Joey has to strain to hear him.

"Uh, Kyan?"

"Yeah Joey?"

"Should I also pretend that Carson's not here?" Joey points behind himself towards the shower cubicle, there's a bustle of motion and with one quick movement Kyan opens the shower door. Carson looks vaguely guilty as he watches Kyan and Joey.

"What are you doing, Carson?"

"Uh, research?"

"For what?"

Kyan doesn't sound like he believes him.

"Is it for the television show, Carson?" Joey tries to be helpful.

"Yeah, like Joey said it's for the show." Carson pulls the door to the shower shut again, quickly.

"Is Carson always this thorough?"

Kyan answers his question distractedly. "Oh yeah, they edit a whole lot out of each show. You should see the gag reel."

Joey looks at Kyan with a horrified look.

"Oh, it's not what you think."

 

Jai leads Joey into the room; he can sense Thom hovering behind him, an expectant look on his face. The room they enter is spotless, clean and almost bare. The walls are a light grey, a colour that carries over to the subtle but comfortable looking furniture.

"So what do you think, Joey?" Thom sounds uncertain as he waits for Joey to respond.

"Wow."

Thom's eyes widen in pleasure as Joey surveys the room.

"Don't you just love this wall colour?" Jai points to one wall, painted in a dark crimson, a shocking contrast to the other more pale walls.

"It's Benjamin Moore: Erotic Disaster." Thom looks remarkably pleased with what he's created.

"Wow."

"The feature wall is amazing, Thom."

As soon as Jai finishes speaking, Thom glares at him, the words almost spit out in retort. "Please, `feature walls' are so 2000. It's a focal point enhancement... that also happens to be a wall."

"Yeah, that's so much easier to say."

"Wow."

"Thank you, Joey."

"See Joey understands. So what do you think, Joey?"

"Wow."

"Oh, he's speechless." Thom seems so happy.

"So, guys?"

"Yes, Joey?"

"When do I get to see my apartment?"

 

A slight note of tension fills the air as five huddled forms crowd around a flat panel television. A clink of ice against glass is the only noise that fills the room. Tension so thick you could almost cut it with a knife.

"I'm so excited, I haven't been this nervous since the day I was kicked out of the Boy Scouts." Carson's voice is a shock in the almost silent room and the other four jump a little with fright.

"I can't help but feel that this one's special, that if we can succeed with Joey we can really say we've made it." Kyan has a dreamy look on his face and anybody can see the confidence he has.

"And ratings boom because, hello?" Carson gestures wildly with his hands.

"Shhh, it's starting." The sound of Jai's voice restores the hush in the room.

Five sets of eyes stare enraptured at the screen. All five squeal when Joey comes into shot, impeccably dressed and coiffed.

"I can't watch, I can't watch! No really, Carson get your fat ass out of the way I can't watch." Ted gestures with his hands for Carson to move out of the way.

Joey smiles on screen and for once the five are speechless; the only noise they can make is oohing and aahing of appreciation.

The screen fades to black and not one of them has said a word.

"Well, it's over." Jai's voice lacks his usual self-assurance as he waits for the others to respond.

"Yeah, he was quite something." Ted looks at Thom who reclines on the seat next to him.

"Oh yeah... really something."

"So girls, what do we think?" It takes a moment before anybody answers Jai and a hush once again settles over the room.

Ted's voice, sounding deeper than the others recognise finally breaks the silence. "I think Carson should quit hogging the doritos."

"Dude, only if you grab us another sixer." Carson follows up his request with a large belch, one hand reaching down his body to adjust himself.

"Hey, I wonder if it's too late to call my high school girlfriend?" Kyan asks imploringly.

"Joey! What have you done?" Jai sounds on the verge of tears, emotion easily heard in his voice. "Oh my god, he's turned us... straight!"

 

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