the pearl

I Love L.A. (L.A. Fantastico Remix)

A remix of I Love L.A. by bitterchick

Los Angeles has sunshine and palm trees and miles and miles of shimmering pavement, glittering in streetlights and sunlight. JC had a window seat on the plane in and as they descended, he watched the small houses and cars grow larger the closer they got. The freeways winded through suburbs, the trails of jet exhaust making everything seem shimmery and unreal.

Los Angeles was a city of the future. No one thought about the past.

And JC hoped Los Angeles would be his future too.


He laughed and smiled and leaned in close to Tony, whispering over and over how much he loved this place. "I'm going to make it," he said. "I'm going to be everything."


He stood there at the auditions, a piece of sheet music in his hand, a smile plastered on his lips, looking over the other guys, all tan and blond or tan and dark and all carrying the same sheets of music and wearing the same smiles, vapid talent floating in the shallow gene pool.

He sighed and looked at the clock. When they called his name, he went in.


"I can't take this anymore," he said to Tony, curled up on the couch and trying to avoid his gaze.

"You gotta hang in there," Tony replied. "You're gonna make it. I know it."

"I can't become that person they want me to be. I can't do the vapid grins and the blank eyes..." He was focused on the couch. If he stayed focused on the couch, then he wouldn't have to look Tony in the eyes and let him know that he was lying.


At the last audition, JC saw himself in a mirror. It took him several minutes to recognize himself.


They flew to Los Angeles, laughing the entire time. Justin kept on trying to lift drinks from the stewardess cart and Joey and Chris spent most of their time trying to imagine what wonders existed within the Playboy Mansion.

JC sat there quietly, staring out the window, barely noticing when Lance sat next to him. "Hey," Lance said quietly.

"Hey," JC replied.

"So I imagine you're not going to the Playboy Mansion, and I know I'm not, so..."


"Well, you lived here. Want to show me around?"

JC looked away from the window and looked at Lance. "I don't know what I can show you," he finally said. "I really don't have pleasant memories of the place."

Lance thought about it, then nodded slowly. "That's okay," he said. "We can make some new ones."

JC raised his eyebrows and, for the first time on the flight, smiled.


It was their second trip to Los Angeles and Lance and JC were sitting next to each other on the plane. Lance flipped through a guidebook, laughing and pointing out the stranger locales.

JC just looked out the window. As they neared the airport and the little "fasten seatbelt" light came on, JC turned to Lance. "I can't. Not this time."

Lance stopped mid-sentence and stared at him. "Why not?"

"I gotta spend more time with Bobbee."

Lance frowned. "You spent all your time in New York with her..."

"Yeah, I know." JC sighed. "But it's my image. You know that. I gotta keep up appearances."

Lance narrowed his eyes and nodded slowly. "Sure." He turned away and continued reading his book.


Another time, they reached the main concourse and along with their rental cars, a man stood there, holding up a sign that said "Chasez". JC walked up to him, talked to him for a few minutes, and shook his hand. He walked back with a set of keys.

"What're those for?" Lance asked.

"My house."

Lance set down his bag and stared at him. "You bought a house?"

JC shrugged. "Yeah. We're here often enough, and I'd really like to lay in some more production work, and Bobbee knew this broker, and, well..."

Lance frowned. "You bought a house without telling me?"

JC narrowed his eyes. "It's my house."

"And I'm —" Lance realized he was close to shouting and leaned in close to JC. "And I'm your boyfriend," he whispered. "You should have told me. What the fuck do you think you're doing?"

JC's fist tightened around his keys and he turned away.


Although Chris kept his cell on twenty-four-seven, it only seemed to ring late at night. And this was no exception.

He fumbled for it and flicked it on. "Hello?"

"Dude, it's me."

"What the fuck? It's 2am here."

"Shit, yeah, sorry. Um. Have you spoken to C recently?"


"Things are bad. I've been hearing things."

"Like you listen to gossip. Didn't you hear a few days ago that you were seen knocking on Britney's door begging for forgiveness?"

"Fuck you, man. And it's not just me hearing things. He calls me sometimes. Like at 3am. And yells at me."

"What's he saying?"

"He keeps talking about how I'm a backstabbing bitch, how I want all the glory for myself, shit like that." Justin paused. "I don't get it, Chris. This ain't like him, and from what I'm hearing, he's doing a lot more than the occasional smoke or drink he had with us."

"Again with the hearing."

"Fuck, aren't you listening? Something's up with him! It's not just National Enquirer shit..." He paused again. "I got a call from Tony. He wants someone there. And I don't think C's gonna stop with just a phone call if I'm there."

Chris sighed. "Fine. I'll call you when I'm there."


He thought they were overreacting. They usually were. But one look at JC's house, and he knew they weren't.

It took him a half-hour to kick everyone out. He started with the music, then the girls, then the freeloaders. The dealers were the last to go, and he treated them carefully, noticing the bulges in their coats before swearing at them.

He found JC upstairs on his bed, his head falling over the edge, laughing soundlessly as a girl and a boy, both looking like they were barely sixteen, licked him. Chris picked one up, then the other, and pushed them out the bedroom door before locking it and turning to JC.

"Get the fuck up," he growled. "Get the fuck up, grab a bag, and pack. I'm taking you home."

JC lifted his head slightly. "I am home."

"Fuck that." Chris looked around the room and opened up the closet. He found a single bag in there and threw it on the bed next to JC. He began throwing clothes onto the bed next to it. "You need help. You're leaving with me."

JC rolled onto his stomach and looked up at Chris. "If anyone's leaving, you are. This is my home, I don't need any help, and I'm not going anywhere."

Chris stopped, then walked over, picking JC up physically and sitting him upright. "What the fuck happened, man? How did you get this bad this fast?"

JC laughed bitterly, a harsh choking sound that echoed through the small room. "'This fast'? Has anyone been paying attention?"

Chris shook his head, unable to say anything.

"Great," JC said, moving towards his bedside table and picking up the crushed pack of cigarettes there. "I've finally shut you up. I can die happy." He pulled one out and lit it up.

Chris narrowed his eyes. "Yeah. Die. That's what you're gonna do, huh? Throw your fucking life away, so that I can get a phone call at 4 in the morning from some reporter telling me you're dead in the bathroom or your heart gave out behind a club or you smashed your car around a telephone pole. Did you think about that?"

"Yes, obviously, I'm thinking about everyone else when I'm here on my own," JC replied sarcastically. "Because we're not on hiatus and we're not moving in different directions and we're not spread apart all over this goddamned world. Because I'm thinking about you guys all the time, even when Justin's out sucking corporate cock for cash and Lance is doing stuff a trained ape could do and Joey's renting his ass on Broadway and fuck, man, we're all different now. Who cares what the other person's doing?"

Chris looked at him and shook his head. He reached over, pulled the cigarette out of JC's mouth, and then started walking out of the room.

JC watched him, then swore, grabbing the cigarette lighter and throwing it at his head. "Fuck you, Chris!" he shouted. "Fuck you and the high horse you came in on!"

The lighter flew past Chris's ear and he slowly turned around. He looked at JC calmly, then picked up a pair of jeans from the floor. "Put these on," he said quietly, throwing them on the bed.

"Why?" JC said suspiciously.

"I'm taking you out to eat."

JC frowned at him.

"C'mon, no ulterior motives. Just you, me, and some food."

JC frowned some more, then slid his jeans on. "All right," he said, his eyes still narrowed. "Show me."


They drove for over an hour, up and down hills and across freeways. JC ignored Chris completely, looking out the window as they drove, refusing to speak.

After several left turns and a winding road up a hill, they stopped in front of a large garden, with a small house in the middle of it. "We're here," Chris said.

JC looked at the place and frowned. "What the fuck is this?" he asked.

"It's a restaurant. Trust me." Chris got out of the car and walked towards the front door, JC eventually following.

Chris walked into the house and talked quietly with the girl standing in front of a table while JC looked at the decor disdainfully. After a few seconds, she smiled and picked up two menus, then gestured for them to follow.

For such a small house, the hallway was winding, taking several turns before they reached where they were supposed to sit. A small table sat in a smaller room, dim and silent. There were heavy velvet curtains on the walls and a sputtering candle providing the only light in the room. The girl set down the menus and pulled out the chairs.

JC sat down and looked around. "What, so now you're going to wine and dine me in an attempt to seduce me back to your place?"

Chris glanced up at him from the menu and shook his head. "Trust me," he said.

JC squinted at the menu, then threw it down. "Fine, okay, I trust you. I trust you so much, you get to order."

Chris smiled lightly, then turned to the girl. He muttered something to her, and she smiled, taking the menus before leaving the room.

Chris looked back at JC with a calm expression. "So why L.A.?"


"Why did you choose L.A.?"

JC frowned at him and shook his head. "Fuck, I don't know. L.A.'s such a..." He paused. "It's a fucked up town. And everyone comes thinking that their life will be grand and beautiful and instead they just get fucked up even more. It's a town of fuckups built on fuckups built on fuckups and I'm just going along with what I'm supposed to do."

Chris shook his head. "Are you sure about that?"

"Sure about what?"

"How fucked L.A. is."

JC sighed and leaned back in his chair. "I don't know. I don't know anything. I don't even know how I'm supposed to be."

Chris nodded, then looked towards the drapes. "If I showed you one thing, would it help?"

JC sighed again. "Would anything help?" he asked tiredly.

Chris shook his head, and then looked again towards the drapes. "This might." He reached underneath one and began pulling on a long cord.

The drapes slowly opened, letting in sunlight. JC swore and put his hands over his eyes, trying to block out the sun.

After a few seconds, the drapes were fully open and Chris lifted up JC's head. "C, look."

JC squinted, then his eyes opened widely. "Oh..." he said softly.

In this small room, with barely enough room for a table and two chairs, were floor-to-ceiling windows that covered three of the four walls. And, outside, was all of Los Angeles, a shining glittering jewel in the valley, a place of motion, light, sound, and spirit.

JC looked out the window and, suddenly, remembered his first flight into L.A. He remembered the joy, the excitement, the life that only came from a place where, no matter what, people lived and loved and built an entire wonder out of desert and brush.

JC smiled, turned to Chris. "I..."

Chris nodded. "I know."

This Real Person story was written by Kate Bolin. If you liked it, there's plenty more at And you can feedback her at