It Wasn't Me
“Do you want to explain yourself?” Chris drummed his fingers on the armrest, his gaze focused on the distant Baltic.
“It wasn't me, Chris,” Joey sighed, rubbing his fingers nervously against the car seat. “I don't know the girl – I never laid eyes on her before.”
The Danish countryside remind Chris of France, just a little, and he watched the passing scenery in silence. “It's bad enough, watching you in clubs,” he continued, still turned away: “but, I figure, at least you come home with me at night, and there's never any messing around – that I know of—”
“It's not my fault,” Joey said, reaching out to touch Chris' tense shoulder. “I know it seems like I flirt with them – and I do, a little – but I don't have sex with them – you know I don't, Chris.”
“Do I?” he asked, but he seemed less angry.
“You do,” Joey answered. “It's just you, now.”
* * *
“This came for you,” Justin said: “now you've got me accepting subpoenas.”
“Fuck,” Joey grunted, reading the plaintiff's name. “Just, fuck.”
“What is it?” Chris asked, wandering into the bus' living room.
“Joey got sued,” Justin giggled, then froze. “Sorry, man.”
Joey cringed, turning away toward the back of the bus and running his hand through his hair.
“What's going on?” Chris sighed.
“Paternity suit.” Joey handed him the subpoena.
“Oh,” Chris breathed, his eyebrow raised. “Oh, my.” He sat down, heavily, on the sofa.
“Umm.” Justin slipped away, unnoticed.
“We've had this talk,” Chris said, picking up an empty can of soda and setting back in a different spot on the coffee table. “So, is this a fake, too, Joe?”
“Yeah.” Joey couldn't meet Chris' eyes.
“I thought so.” Chris got up and pushed past Joey. “Well, that's unlucky, isn't it?”
Chris turned around in the doorway. “Yeah?”
“Yeah,” he sighed, continuing down the hall to his bunk.
* * *
The next time, in a suite at the Mark Hopkins, Lance was the one holding his friend's hand.
“You really need to practice safe sex,” he suggested, helping himself to a Scotch from the minibar.
“I do,” Joey moaned, raking a hand through his hair.
“So how come you keep getting these suits, Joe?”
“It's extortion, that's what.”
“Keep telling yourself that, man.”
“I took the tests, and I won the suits – remember? It's all about the money.”
“If you didn't sleep around so much, you wouldn't have these worries.”
“It just takes one time, man, you know?”
“Or a hundred – doesn't Kelly ever get tired of it?”
“Well, yeah,” Joey said, curling up on the bed, and Lance felt a pang. He sat down beside Joey and stroked his arm.
“Oh, come on, now,” he murmured after a moment, cuddling up to his friend.
“Thanks,” Joey whispered, as he rolled over to kiss Lance.
* * *
“Who is it?” Lance asked, blearily, walking up behind Joey. It was a Sunday in September, and it was too early for callers – fans, by the look of it.
Or not. “Where is she?” the woman was saying. “Where's my daughter? What have you done with her?”
“Ma'am,” Joey began, taking a step back, “I think you must have the wrong house—”
“You're Joey Fatone – you have my daughter.”
Lance blinked, looking at the middle-aged woman yelling at Joey. “Joe,” he whispered, pulling on the waistband of Joey's boxers, “close the door.”
“Where is she? Where's Brandi?” The man – Brandi's father? – loomed over Brandi's mother. He stepped forward, and Joey slammed the door in his face.
“I'm calling Jive,” Lance called over his shoulder. When he got Legal on the phone, he turned to look at Joey, slumped in a chair by the front door.
“It's not me,” he whispered.
“Dave, it's Lance Bass. We need some help. Over at Joey Fatone's – yeah, that's right.” He stared at Joey until his friend looked up, then poked the seat beside him. 'Come here,' he mouthed, and with an effort Joey walked over and sat down on Lance's sofa.
“Uhh huh,” he continued. “Yeah. It looks like there's another suit on the way. – Fuck, I know. Yeah, I'll put him on.”
He handed Joey the phone. “I'm gonna go fix some coffee, OK?” Lance stood, his arm outstretched to rub Joey's shoulder. Joey, his eyes downcast, did not reply.
Lance's hand fell to his side, fingers folded over thumb.
* * *
The bedroom door opened noiselessly, but JC saw the movement out of the corner of his eye. Joey smiled at JC's raised eyebrow and crawled across the bed.
“It's over,” he said, softly, nuzzling JC's bare neck. “I ended it.”
JC pushed him away and cupped his chin. “So you've defended your last paternity suit?”
“That's right,” Joey grinned, his hands sliding down JC's pajama bottoms.
JC moaned and squeezed Joey's cheek. “And it's over with the others? There's no one else?”
“Just you and me, baby,” Joey replied, pressing JC back against the pillows.
“I'm trusting you,” JC noted, his hands busy with the buttons on Joey's shirt. “And I probably shouldn't.”
Joey's eyes sparkled as he ran his hand over JC's groin. “Scout's honor,” he grinned, his mouth hovering over one of JC's hardening nipples.
“Right,” JC growled, abandoning the argument.
* * *
Joey sat in a pool of sunlight beside Johnny's desk, facing the others. Justin was smiling at him, looking puzzled, but the others – JC in particular – watched him with guarded expressions.
“There's something I need to tell you,” he sighed, scratching the back of his neck. “I'll spare you the details, but before I broke up with Kelly, I – we – got a little carried away. She's having my baby.”
“Aah,” Chris said, coolly. “So you'll take responsibility for this one.”
“Probably a good idea,” Lance offered.
“Yeah,” JC added, “'cause this time 'It wasn't me' won't cut it.”