© 2005-2010 Julien Gregg
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 34

"So you're thinking about moving in with him?" Lance asked as he, Justin and JC sat in their suite in Sydney. They'd flown in that morning to be there for Skyler's show the following day, and JC had waited until they were actually in Sydney to tell them about his hope of moving in with Skyler once the filming was finished for the movie.

"We talked about it, and Skyler's worried about what it will mean for *Nsync," admitted JC. "But we're still thinking about it. I know that its a big step, but Scoop, I love him so much."

"I don't doubt that you love him, Josh," replied Lance. "Just make sure that you're both ready for this. I know far too well how hard it is to live with you when you're nervous. Don't look at me that way," he said when JC gave him a hurt look. "You know what I'm talking about. Josh, this suit is going to go on for a while, and you're going to get very upset over it at times. Can Skyler calm you down? Does he know how?"

"Lance . . ."

"I'm not saying its a completely bad idea that you move in with Skyler," Lance interrupted. "I just want to make sure that both of you are thinking this through. What if Johnny . . ."

"Lance, Johnny isn't my God!" JC cried. "Lou was bad enough. If Johnny is going to lord over us like Lou did, then I don't want to do this anymore at all. I told you this three months ago!"

"I didn't say that I would let Johnny lord over any of us, Josh. What I was going to say was that Johnny is working hard to get us what we want. I don't want you to blow it by getting to involved in Skyler when you should be focused on your career."

"That's just bull shit, Lance," spat JC, standing up. "If you don't really think its a good idea for me and Skyler to be together, then why don't you just say it. Don't throw this career bull shit at me. We're supposed to be friends, damn it!"

"Guys. . ."

"Shut up, Justin," cried both of them.

"Josh, I am your friend. I am not saying that I don't want you and Skyler to be together," said Lance quickly. "I just think that you need to think this through completely. What will happen if you move in with Skyler and the press starts printing something that you don't want the world to know?"

"We'll be careful," JC said defiantly.

"Careful isn't always perfect, Josh," said Lance. "You know that."

"You're talking about Utopia, aren't you?" JC asked.

"Mickey Splendt is what I'm talking about," reminded Lance. "One tabloid report and his career was over. Utopia had to break up because of the fall out. Josh, I just want you both to think about what you're doing."

* * *

"What are you talking about, Zack?" Skyler demanded as he let the tabloid fall from his hands. "I just talked to Carlos yesterday, and he told me that they were going to fight this."

"Utopia announced this morning that they have broken up," Zack said again. "They're over."

"They can't be over," Skyler insisted. "They were going to fight this, Zack. Carlos told me."

"Something else must have happened, Sky," said Zack. "I don't know any more than you do other than what was announced this morning."

"I need to talk to Carlos again," sighed Skyler. He pulled out his cell phone and called Carlos.

"He's probably not going to be in a good mood," Zack said as he sat down and picked up the tabloid. On the cover was a picture of Mickey Splendt with another guy. They were kissing, and the caption read: The Pop Star And His Men.

"Carlos, this is Sky," Skyler said into his cell phone, and then he was quiet.

* * *

"Look, all I'm saying is that we don't have to stop working together because of this, Rusty," said Mickey Splendt in Orlando. "We can still fight this!"

"Not with your boyfriend running his mouth," argued Rusty Kirk. "I don't want my career to be over because of this, Mickey. You promised all of us that this wouldn't get out."

"This isn't about my being outed, Rusty," accused Mickey. "This is about you saving your ass. You're so afraid that someone will think you're gay that you can't even see past this and realize that we are about to go on our very first tour as headliners."

"That's in the past, Mickey," insisted Rusty. "I won't stand on the same stage with you."

"You know, I really hate you, Rusty," sighed Mickey, slumping in his seat. "You never could think of anyone but yourself."

"Don't you blame this on me, Mickey," cried Rusty, standing up. "This isn't about me. This is about you getting drunk and giving the press a eye full. I know it isn't easy to have a relationship in this business. Keeping secrets is even harder, but damn it, you didn't even try!"

"You didn't even discuss this break-up with me, Rusty," said Mickey. "You booted me out of the group and broke everyone up before anyone even told me the damned tabloid existed."

"I didn't break up the group, Mickey," argued Rusty.

"Oh, you're going to blame me for that?" Mickey laughed sarcastically. "That's rich, Rusty."

"All I did was say that I wouldn't work with you anymore," replied Rusty. "Carlos is the one who decided to break up Utopia. He said if all of us weren't together then he didn't want anything to do with the group anymore."

"Could you two be a bit louder?" Damon Kress hissed as he came into the hotel suite. "I don't think they heard you in the lobby."

"Where is Carlos?" Mickey demanded. "I want to know why he just broke up the group."

"What group?" Damon gasped. "The group was history before Carlos talked to the press this morning, Mickey. You were out anyway."

"Oh, so you guys all got together and decided that I had to go, huh?" Mickey accused.

"No, it wasn't like that," Damon protested. "Rusty was the one who decided that if was him or you, Mickey. Carlos just said that if anyone was leaving the group, then Utopia didn't exist anymore. This isn't about hating you. None of us hate you. How could we?"

"Rusty sure seems to hate me," spat Mickey, glaring at Rusty.

"I don't hate you, Mickey," sighed Rusty, sitting down again. "I just don't want this scandal to touch me. None of us do."

"Speak for yourself, straight boy," barked Damon. "You're just scared of what everyone will think about you."

"Yes, I'm scared!" Rusty cried. "Hell, Samantha won't even talk to me right now. Its because she thinks I'm Mickey's boyfriend."

"That's bull shit, and you know it," said Damon. "Samantha knew about Mickey. Hell, she knows about me and Carlos, too. She isn't talking to you because of the way you treated her last Friday."

* * *

"Hey there, fame grabber," Carlos said before pulling Skyler into a hug after getting off the plane in Sydney. "Thanks for inviting me."

"No problem," replied Skyler. "Where's Damon?"

"He's still in Orlando," said Carlos. "He didn't want to leave. You know we're not together anymore, right?"

"You called me when you two broke up," said Skyler. "Well, at least you can have a break from all of that. The show is tonight."

"Yeah, I'm looking forward to seeing your show," said Carlos.

"How is Mickey?" Skyler asked as Brent drove them to the hotel.

"He was still furious last night," said Carlos. "He and Rusty have been fighting ever since the tabloid story was released."

"It was a bit of a shock for me as well," admitted Skyler. "I can't believe Mickey would be that careless."

"Careless isn't the word for it," said Carlos sadly. "I hated to walk away from the group, but Rusty had already said that he wasn't working with Mickey anymore."

"That's awful," said Skyler. "I had no idea that Rusty was so . . ."

"Believe me, you don't know the half of it," said Carlos. "He's already started on me and Damon."

"What does Jerry have to say about all of this?"

"He's in LA, filming," replied Carlos. "He called when he saw the thing on MTV, but he said he didn't want anything to do with Utopia if we weren't all together, either. Its a huge mess, Sky."

"It sounds like it," replied Skyler sympathetically.

"I'm still planning to record a solo album, though," said Carlos. "I wanted to discuss that with you, though."

"We'll talk about it when we get to the hotel," replied Skyler. "There's something I want to discuss with you, too."

"If you're talking about Sky High, I've already heard," chuckled Carlos. "Word is traveling fast, my friend."

"Nothing definite has even been decided yet," said Skyler.

"Tell that to Madonna," said Carlos. "She's been talking about it to just about everyone in the industry. My guess is that she's trying to make sure that it happens for you."

"Well, hopefully whatever she's planning works," said Skyler. "She's here, by the way. She arrived sometime last night while I was sleeping. I wonder why she hasn't said anything about what she's been up to."

"Looks like we're about to find out," said Carlos, looking out his window. "She's standing in the parking lot, getting her picture taken."

Madonna was surrounded by paparazzi as the limo pulled into the hotel parking lot. People were used to Skyler and the others being around with the movie being shot, but once news of his concert circulated, and other celebrities started to arrive, the press swarmed the hotel. What they didn't understand was that not many of the newly arrived celebrities were actually staying at the Majestic.

"Toy," called Madonna as soon as Skyler was out of the limo. "Where the Hell have you been?"

"Picking up Carlos," replied Skyler, putting his arms around her. "Nice to see you, but what's this I hear about you telling tales?"

"In due time, Toy," she chuckled. "Let's get inside. I'm tired of being pretty for the cameras."

They filed into the hotel as quickly as they could. JC was already there, waiting for Skyler, and Skyler didn't like the look on his face when he saw Carlos. Skyler hadn't had a chance to talk to JC that morning, so he didn't know how much he knew about Utopia's break-up. The look on his face said that he knew something, and whatever it was that he knew wasn't making him happy.

"Hey," said Skyler when he got over to JC. "How was your breakfast?"

"Not good, Sky, we need to talk," JC said stiffly, glaring at Carlos as he spoke.

"Ok," Skyler said slowly, looking from Carlos to JC and back. He wondered what exactly was on JC's mind.

"Now," JC said forcefully, grabbing Skyler's arm.

Brent stood up, but Skyler waived him off. He wasn't happy about the way JC was treating him, especially in front of everyone, but he didn't think he needed a bodyguard to deal with him. He was getting more and more angry all the way to the elevator, though. JC hadn't let go of him. Skyler yanked his arm out of JC's grip as the elevator doors opened and JC stepped inside.

"What the Hell is your problem, Josh?" Skyler demanded once they were inside the elevator with the doors shut.

"What's Carlos doing here?"

"I invited him," replied Skyler. "What's that got to do with the way you man handled me out there in front of everyone?"

"I don't want Carlos here, for one thing . . ."

"Josh, you don't get to dictate who I'm friends with, and you certainly don't get to grab me and cart me off," spat Skyler. "If this is the way its going to be between us in the future, then I don't think you and I are going to be good for each other."

"Skyler, wait," said JC, putting his hand on Skyler's shoulder.

"No, you wait," said Skyler coldly, jerking his shoulder away from JC's touch. "I mean it, Josh. If you ever try anything like this again, we're through. I have a show tonight, and I don't need this bull shit. If you can't behave like an adult, then maybe you should just go back to your hotel and leave me alone."

The elevator doors opened again on Skyler's floor, and he didn't wait for JC. He stepped off the elevator and stalked down the hall toward his room. JC followed him, but he didn't say anything until they were safely inside of Skyler's suite. Skyler was still angry, but JC looked ashamed as he stood there just inside the door.

"Sky, I'm sorry," he said, looking at the floor. "I would never hurt you."

"You have a poor way of showing it, Josh," spat Skyler, still angry. "I went through years of abuse at the hands of my mother and step-father, Josh. I won't go through anything even close to that again. Don't ever touch me like that again, or I swear to Christ I'll lay you out."

"Sky, I said I was sorry," said JC quickly. "I would never do anything like that to you, and you know it. I was just surprised to see Carlos Marquez come in with you. I don't want whatever is going on with Utopia to start happening to you and me."

"Is that what this is about?" Skyler demanded, turning around to stare at his lover. "You think that having Carlos here will make the press start talking about us? Josh, that's so stupid. The press is only talking about Mickey and Utopia because they have pictures. There's nothing for them to talk about where we're concerned, and for you information, Carlos is here because I invited him. He wanted away from the whirlwind in Orlando, so I told him to come to Australia for the concert."

"Sky, I'm so sorry," JC said as tears rolled down his face. "I would never . . ."

"Josh, you have got to decide if you're really ready for this relationship," said Skyler in a softer tone. "There will always be the risk of being discovered. I know that, and deep down I know that you know it, too. Don't get upset over something like what happened to Utopia. We're careful, Josh. As long as we stay careful, then we won't get caught. But you can't ever grab me like that again. I won't go through my childhood all over again for any man."

* * *

"I trust that you and JC have worked out your problems," Madonna said while she was sitting with Skyler backstage at the stadium. The show was only two hours away, and Skyler had just finished his sound check.

"We're fine for the moment," he replied. "Carlos told me that you've been telling people about Sky High."

"I have," she said, smiling. "Skyler, Maverick is excited about this. When you get back to the states, they're prepared to negotiate. Clay and Laura have already been contacted. Skyler, you're going to be the C.E.O. of your own company in a matter of months!"

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