Authors note: I have a thing for JC and mint. I can't explain it. You'll have to forgive me.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Over the next week the two Chasez boys worked hard on potty training. JC was excited, but Kyle wasn't really too interested. By the end of the third day JC had reverted to subtle bribery, "Look at what I have here." JC opened the little gift bag from the Hallmark store and showed Kyle the wide assortment of star stickers.

"Wow! Isa star!"

"It's a lot of stars." JC nodded. "And check it out, these ones glow in the dark, so if we put them on your wall and turn off the lights you can still see them."

"Ina dark?"

"Yep."

"Wow." Kyle reached into the bag just as JC snapped it shut. "I see?"

"Nope, these are special stickers." JC shook his head and put the bag on top of the refrigerator, "If you want to get a star sticker, you have to go to the bathroom in the big kids potty."

Kyle heaved a deep sigh and put his hands on his little hips, "Why?"

"Because you're going to be going to school pretty soon and all of the other kids will go potty in the big kids potty. You don't want to be the only one in a diaper do you?" JC raised his eyebrow at his son. Peer pressure might work.

"Yes I have dipo and speso."

JC laughed and shook his head, there was no doubt Kyle was his. "Yes, I suppose you would be special if you were the only one in a diaper."

"I speso." Kyle nodded and turned quickly, leaving his hands on his hips. "Daddy have a dipo?"

"Heck no I don't wear a diaper." JC made a face. "I'm a grown up, grown ups don't wear diapers, gross."

"Dipo gose?"

"Yeah they're gross." JC followed Kyle to the family room. "You have to sit in your poop and your pee all day, that's pretty gross isn't it?"

Kyle cocked his head to the side, he hadn't thought about it like that. "Little."

"It's not a little gross, it's a lot gross." JC squished up his nose in distaste. "Nasty."

"I have a star?"

"If you tell me you have to go to the bathroom when you have to go. And if you pee in the toilet." JC nodded, then looked pointedly at the bag above the refrigerator. "Those are some pretty cool stickers in there. I think I saw some glitter ones and some with your name on them."

"Kyle?"

"Yeah… your name right in the middle of a star." JC smiled and reached for Kyle's little piano. He played a few notes then looked at Kyle, "I wish I had a star with my name on it."

"Yeah." Kyle frowned and stood by JC's legs to play on the piano beside him.

And with that Kyle began to potty train himself for stickers. He occasionally forgot to tell JC he had to go, but he wore a diaper just to be on the safe side. Within that first week he was into pull-up diapers and his second package of stars. JC couldn't believe Kyle was doing so well so fast, according to the parenting book he was ahead of schedule.

By the time the first day of pre-school rolled around, Kyle had knocked it down to only two pull-ups a day that he'd go through. He was getting much better about telling people he had to go, unless he was preoccupied with toys or in the car. JC knew that potty training could take months to be completed, so if things kept going the way they were he'd be almost completely trained by the time they went to Europe which would make things a lot easier.

JC held Kyle's hand in one hand with his backpack and lunchbox in the other as they walked into Little Rascal's Pre-School. "Check it out, this is pretty cool." JC whispered after he'd signed Kyle in and got him his sticker nametag.

"Yeah." Kyle whispered back. He walked with his neck craned to see the ceiling, "Daddy look." He pointed up at the rainbows.

"Maybe you'll get to make one of those."

"I make." Kyle nodded.

JC pushed open the door to Kyle's classroom, then walked straight through to the outside play area. He paused for a second before he pushed the door open and let Kyle walk into the playground. "Okay Kyle, you're going to stay here at school and play with Chad and the other kids, how does that sound?" JC knelt to Kyle's level and surveyed the playground from that height. Kelly and Joey had brought Chad over to play again that weekend and the boys spent most of the afternoon together.

"You say?" Kyle cast him a worried look that threatened to turn into tears.

"No, I'm going to go clean the house I think."

"I keen?"

"No you can stay here and play." JC shook his head as he began to have second thoughts. "You'll have fun, maybe you can paint too."

"No daddy say."

"This is a school for little boys, not for daddies."

Kyle looked around with an expression of apprehension, "Paint and Chad?"

"You can definitely play with Chad, I don't know if you'll get to paint though." JC looked around for a teacher and immediately spotted three. "Will you be okay here?"

"Yeah." Kyle nodded and took a step away from JC. "I see Chad?"

"There he is." JC stood up and lead Kyle over to the picnic benches with trays of soap laid out to make bubbles. "Hey Chad."

"Hi!" Chad jumped up with his wand and made a trail of bubbles. "Hi Kyle!"

"Hi." Kyle smiled and walked up to the table.

"Hi, I'm Brian. You must be Kyle's father." A young man walked up to JC.

"Yeah, hi." JC shook his hand then tugged at his lower lip. "We've… he's never been to daycare before." JC's eyes darted from Brian to the little boy, then back again.

"He'll be fine." Brian laughed. "Are you going to hang out with us today?"

"Can I?" JC asked.

"Sure, of course."

"I uh… no, I shouldn't. He needs to do this, right?" JC licked his lips then reached out to rub Kyle's head. "Okay buddy, I'm going to go home now."

"Kay bye bye daddy." Kyle laughed. "I bo?"

"Yeah, look at you blow your bubbles, that's pretty cool."

"And Chad."

"Yep, Chad too." JC kissed Kyle's cheek. "Okay, I'll be back in a little bit, okay?"

"Yeah." Kyle nodded and turned back to his bubble making.

"He'll be alright."

"I know." JC nodded and shoved his hands in his pockets. "Shit this is harder on the parents than it is on the kids, isn't it?" He laughed nervously.

"Sometimes." Brian sat at the picnic table beside the group of children and smiled up at JC. "So Kyle, have we met yet? My name is Brian."

"Hi." Kyle giggled and dripped the soapsuds across the table as he went to blow. "I have bubs."

"You're a great bubble blower, check you out." Brian reached over and helped Kyle hold the wand away from his lips to get the most out of his bubbles.

JC watched for a minute then slowly backed away and forced himself back into the building where he dropped off Kyle's bag and lunch then made his way to the front desk. He signed out and looked at his watch, three and a half-hours until twelve o'clock. He could make it.

The heavy glass door swung shut silently behind him as JC stepped out onto the sidewalk. He stood at the entrance of the daycare for a few minutes, debating whether or not he should go back and get Kyle. Part of him didn't want to leave, and another part knew that Kyle needed this time with other kids just as much as he needed time alone.

He sighed and shoved is hands in his pockets as he headed across the parking lot for his car. He drove home in silence and let himself into his empty house as his phone rang in the kitchen. "Shit." JC sprinted down the hall, swearing inside that it was the daycare center and something had happened. "Hello?" He jerked the phone off the charger. "Hello?!"

"H-hi… JC?" A girl asked.

For a split second JC thought it was Ali, "Yeah?"

"This is Lori, I uh… I got your message last week, I'm sorry it took so long to call. I uh, I started a new job and I was down in Del Mar meeting with my new supervisor and everything."

"Oh… oh it's okay." JC's mind spun off in fifty different directions. He didn't know what to say or how to react to actually having her on the phone.

"Anyway, I was actually calling to let you know that I'll be in Florida in a couple weeks."

"You – you’re coming to Florida?" JC asked softly.

"Yeah, the company is sending me out there for some training, to Orlando actually. I thought you might live close to there so I was wondering if I could come see Kyle?"

JC’s heart raced, "Come see him?"

"Just… just for a little bit." Lori’s voice was tinged with desperation.

"I uh…"

"You and your girlfriend can be there the whole time, or your bodyguard or whatever. I just want to see him."

His girlfriend? JC frowned, he’d been single since Ali dumped him and that was – JC stopped mid-thought and blushed, "Jessica."

"I’m sorry, I forgot her name." Lori said softly.

"What? I’m sorry, I just kind of…" He hadn’t meant to say that out loud. "Yeah, Jessica, my girlfriend."

"I’ll only be in town for five days and most of that will be in training." Lori said softly. "I know you said you’d call when you were ready to let me see him… but JC I just have to see him. Please?"

JC took a deep breath and thought about Kyle, "Y-yeah. Sure you can come see him." He nodded. "When are you coming?"

"In two weeks." Lori gave a sigh of relief. "I’ll get there Sunday night and I leave on Friday, so I was hoping maybe one of those nights I could come by, or maybe a couple nights."

"We can work something out, yeah." JC’s mind raced as he tried to think of every possibility.

"And uh… we can either do it at my hotel, or your house… or somewhere else. I just… I really want to see him."

JC nodded though she couldn’t see him, "Yeah."

"Is he there?"

"No he’s umm, he started pre-school today."

"Oh." Lori sounded disappointed. "O-okay, well I just wanted to make sure that would be okay with you. I didn’t know if we still had to go through our lawyers or not, so I… anyway, thanks."

"Thanks for calling to ask." JC forced himself to sound cordial as he tried to organize his thoughts.

"So can I call when I get in?"

"Yeah." JC said quickly, "Just give me a call here when you get to Florida and we can set up times and things then."

"Okay." Lori nodded slowly. "Thanks JC." She added softly.

"Sure." He took a deep breath. "I’ll talk to you later." He gently hung up the phone and exhaled sharply. "Man oh man." He amazed himself with how ‘together’ he sounded. From the beginning he was sure he’d flip if she called him at home demanding to see Kyle, but he hadn’t. Then again, she hadn’t demanded anything. She sounded so unsure and nervous asking for permission to see him, JC just couldn’t say no. Jessica’s words from months before flooded his mind, "Do you want to have to tell Kyle his mom wanted to see him and you wouldn’t let her?"

Jessica.

"Perfect…" JC whispered as he smiled to himself. Having Lori come out gave JC the perfect excuse to see Jessica again. He ran upstairs to his bedroom and grabbed his cell phone from the pocket of his jeans from the day before, then looked up Jessica's number. He dialed from his home phone and waited as it rang, praying she would answer the phone herself.

"Hello?" A familiar female voice answered in mid-laugh.

"Hi, Jessica?" JC asked nervously.

"Yeeees." She smiled, not paying attention to the voice on the other end. "Who’s this?" Jessica's friend laughed and reached around her for the carton of ice cream.

"This is JC."

"Oh… oh hi." Jessica gave her friend a weird look, then backed away from the kitchen counter towards the doorway. "What uh… what’s up?"

"I need your help." He said quickly.

"Why? What happened?" She immediately thought of all the things that could be wrong.

"Lori is coming to Florida in two weeks."

"Oh." She sighed in relief. "Okay?"

"She thinks we’re dating, remember?"

"Well yeah." Jessica crossed the dining room and dropped herself into the overstuffed couch against the wall. "I thought you cleared that up with the laywer though?"

"I did, but see Lori never showed up at court you know… so she doesn't know." JC smiled slowly.

"Uh huh…" Jessica raised her eyebrow even though he couldn't see her.

"So…" JC paused. "Can you come out and play house for a few days?"

"What?" She laughed and almost dropped the phone. "I can’t just – Jace I have a – You want me to fly down there for that?" Her cheeks flushed quickly as she lowered her voice.

"I’ll fly you down."

"Can’t you just tell her we broke up?"

"No." JC shook his head.

"No? Why not?"

"Because the whole basis of my argument was that I had a stable home out here with two loving parental figures." He left out the fact that he actually wanted to see her himself, and that this was just an easier and sneakier way to get her to come.

Jessica sighed and shook her head; "Your whole argument was based on a lie."

"Hold on now, whose lie was it based on?" JC asked with a sly smile.

He had her there. "True." She said softly.

"It’s only for a couple days. You can hang out with Kyle and stuff, I know he misses you."

"He does?" Jessica smiled like a big sap as tears rose in her eyes. She hastily blinked them away and laughed at her overactive emotions, "I miss him too."

"So come on out."

"For a couple days?"

"For as long as you want." JC shrugged, he wasn’t going to be picky.

"I’ve got work to do."

"Yeah, picking out clothes for us. You can kill two birds with one stone. I know Lance was saying you could do this a lot better if you could see the clothes on him."

Jessica sighed, he was right. "You guys talk too much. You’re like a bunch of old ladies in a knitting circle."

"Something like that." JC laughed. "Seriously though, can you do it?"

"Yeah. Yeah I can come down. When do you need me there?" She reached over the arm of the couch for a pen and scratch paper.

"Um, Lori will be here in two weeks on Sunday night so I’m guessing she’ll come by on Monday. She’s only going to be in town till that Friday morning, so maybe Wednesday too."

"Okay." She scribbled on the paper and mentally packed her bags.

"I’ll pick up your ticket though."

"You don’t have to."

"I’m begging you to come down, sure I do." JC smiled.

"I’d have to fly down eventually anyway."

"Stop arguing." JC sighed and laughed. "I’ll get your ticket and give you a call later with the details. You’re sure this is okay though? I know this is technically your time off too."

"It’s okay." She said after a moment's pause.

"Okay. Thanks a lot Jessica. I’ll be sure to let the guys know too so that we can all get together and do some fitting stuff."

"Okay but if I’m going to do that I’ll need to ship the wardrobes down there. Is there a central location where I can store them?"

"Wardrobes?"

"The roll around closets we use on the road." Jessica explained. "Right now I have them in a storage unit here that I’m using for an office kind of." She laughed lightly.

"Oh, uh well yeah. You can send them to my house. I can stash them in my garage." He nodded. "Then the guys can just come over here and you can do your measurements and tailoring."

"Sounds good." She nodded and copied down the address he gave her. "Okay, I’ll get these loaded out tomorrow so they should get there in a few days."

"Great, I’ll call you tonight with the flight details, okay?"

"Sure." She nodded and ran her hand through her newly cut hair. "Where’s Kyle?"

"He's at daycare… it's actually his first day today. I think he'll like it though, you know, with all of those other kids and everything."

"That’s cool, I'm sure he'll have a blast."

"I'm sure he will too." JC smiled and drew squares on his pant leg. "I'm gonna go get your flight information and stuff so I’ll call you later with that, okay?

"Okay."

"Thanks again Jess."

"No problem." She nodded as he hung up the phone. Jessica set her phone back on the cradle and sighed, "So I guess I’m going to Florida." She said softly.

"You're going where?" Katie asked.

"What?" Jessica blushed quickly and looked up with her pen in her hand. "Huh?"

"You're going to Florida?" She giggled and bounced into the room.

"You were listening to my phone call?"

"I was standing in the kitchen and you were talking." Katie shrugged. "So you're going to Florida? Are you going to see anyone I know? Or anyone I've heard of? Or anyone I've lusted after?"

"I'm going for work, so yes, I'll probably see the guys." Jessica nodded.

"Probably?"

"Yes, I will see them. I'm going for work. I swear, if I'd have known you were such a teeny fan when you moved in I never would have told you I work for them."

"Oh I'd have found out sooner or later." Katie laughed as she dropped herself on the couch across from Jessica. "Besides, when I moved in here I wasn't a huge teeny fan."

"Somewhere along the way you crossed over huh?"

"You've seen him in leather pants, right?"

"I put him in leather pants." Jessica smiled.

"And that… that is why I love you to pieces." Katie leaned over and hugged Jessica tight. "Can I go with you?"

"No."

"Will you let me go to the concert next time they play anywhere near here?"

"You could have come last time but you decided that Ireland was more interesting." Jessica laughed.

"Dude, so not my fault. If I'd have known my sex machine was coming to Hartford I would have never planned my trip." Katie scowled. "This is unfair. You've been living here for almost three years, you go on tour with them for months at a time when I basically have to live by myself, you get to see my man in leather pants and I never get to meet them. You suck."

"I get to see him in a lot less than leather pants." Jessica laughed evilly and mentally pictured Justin in the tight black leather pants she'd chosen just for him. Katie was right, he looked damn good in them… but he looked even better with them around his ankles.

She laughed to herself as Katie scowled, "Stop picturing my baby naked."

"I'm not picturing him naked." Jessica laughed, "I've never seen him naked. Besides, he's too young for me. If the time ever comes when you're actually in town the same time he is, I'll introduce you and let him become your love slave."

"You rule."

"I know."

"So you're going to Florida?"

"Yep." Jessica stood up and stretched her back. "Jessica to the rescue. I'll be leaving in a couple weeks and I don't know how long I'll be gone for."

"Okay." Katie sighed. "Are you sure I can't go?"

"I'm sure."

"Fine." Katie pretended to pout while Jessica tried to contain her giddiness as she jumped from the couch. She had lots of packing and preparing to do.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

When JC hung up the phone he had to wait for a minute for his pulse to return to normal. He smiled at the phone for a second, then hung it up and opened the refrigerator. He'd been too nervous to eat that morning as he thought about dropping Kyle off for his first day of pre-school so he grabbed a piece of cold pizza and took a bite.

JC carried the pizza through the house as he walked around it in complete silence, taking stock of all the little changes that had been made since he and Kyle returned after court. There were little plastic "locks" on the cabinets under the sink and a stray Lego on the ground by the stove. There was a collage of little handprints all over the front of the dishwasher and a plastic action figure wedged into the gap between the dishwasher door and the counter top.

A smile crossed JC's face as he removed the action figure and made his way through the rest of the house, picking up small toys and clothes along the way. The house was almost eerily quiet as he went from room to room, then JC realized that this was what his house was like before Kyle. The deafening silence echoing through every room seemed so out of place. When JC reached Kyle's room he hit 'play' on the little bright blue tape player thing Kyle had just to hear noise.

"Rubber Ducky, you're the one *squeak* *squeak* you make bath time lots of fun! Rubber Ducky I'm awfully fond of you!" Ernie sang out loud and totally off key.

JC hit 'stop' as he smiled and shook his head and left the room. He went back downstairs as he finished the crust of the pizza then sat on the couch and leaned his head back as he yawned. He had another couple of hours before he had to pick up Kyle so he figured he might as well entertain himself with a movie he hadn't seen in a while.

He turned "The Usual Suspects" on and made himself comfortable, trying not to think about Kyle which he found was harder to do that he thought.

Just before twelve, JC turned off his TV and walked quickly out to his car. It'd been long enough and all he wanted to do was get back to the pre-school to get Kyle. He signed in at the front desk then walked quickly to the room at the far end of the hall.

When he pushed the door open he scanned the room to find Kyle then felt a twinge of panic creep in when he didn't see him right away. "Hi there! How are you?" Michelle asked as she walked up.

"I'm fine, where's Kyle?"

"He's uh…" She turned around and looked around, then her face broke out in a wide smile, "He's right over there in the playhouse. He's the puppy in their little playgroup I think." She laughed and waved as Kyle jumped out from between two little girls and barked.

"Oh man." JC laughed nervously as his anxiety left almost completely. "Hey buddy! Look at you."

"No daddy." Kyle frowned as he stood up and walked over. "No I say."

"You… you want to stay?"

"Yeah I say again."

"Well…" JC scrambled for words, "You'll be back on Thursday, that's only two day away." He reached to mess Kyle's hair.

"Morrow?"

"No, not tomorrow, the day after."

"No daddy I say." Kyle's lower lip stuck out as he threatened tears.

JC looked up at Michelle and shrugged, "Is this normal?"

"Sometimes." She smiled. "This is a new and fun experience for him and he doesn’t want to leave. But I think once he realizes that he gets to keep coming back, it'll be easier." She nodded and reached for Kyle's hand. "Right now you get to go home with your daddy and when you come back on Thursday you'll get to make a volcano! How does that sound?"

"Cano?"

"Yes, a volcano with Jell-O and cookies." She laughed. "But in order to do that you have to go home right now and rest. You can also think about other things you'd like to do so you can let me know on Thursday, okay?"

"Anen I can pay?"

"Yep, and then on Thursday you can come back and play." Michelle smiled and led Kyle to his cubbyhole. "Here, lets get your things so you can go with your daddy."

"Kay." Kyle sighed and reached for his lunch box. "Daddy I eat."

"You ate your lunch huh?"

"Yeah I eat all."

"Wow, right on." JC nodded.

"We played with a parachute outside this morning so he really worked up an appetite." Michelle handed JC a little slip of paper with 'What I did today!' printed across the top. Under that was a short description of Kyle's time in pre-school including a silver star for going to the bathroom in the toilet.

"Wow… look at that Kyle! You went in the potty?"

"Yeah." Kyle shrugged and pulled his backpack off the peg to hand to JC.

"Actually, I need to talk to you about that." Michelle said softly. "He used his pull-up this morning and there wasn't a clean one in his bag so right now he's not wearing anything. So far he's been good about letting us know if he has to go, but you may want to include a spare pull-up in there."

"Oh… man I forgot about that." JC blushed quickly. "He's been doing good at home, I forget that he doesn't have it down pat yet."

"It's okay. Like I said, he's told us twice that he had to go when he wasn't wearing anything, so it might be a good time to try underwear."

"Yeah, we've tried that." JC nodded. "But that's a good idea now that I know he can do it."

"It'll make things a lot easier, huh?" Michelle smiled.

"Yeah you can say that again." JC laughed and took the backpack from Kyle. "Well hey buddy, that's cool. Way to go." JC was still slightly stunned with the whole scene as they headed for the door. "Thank you." He smiled at Michelle.

"You're welcome. Bye bye Kyle, see you later."

"Bye Bye Miss Misow." Kyle giggled and waved over his shoulder as they headed for the exit. JC signed them out then went out to the car to load Kyle into his car seat.

"So you had a good time huh?" JC asked as they pulled out of the parking lot a minute later.

"Yeah. I go see lato." Kyle nodded and yawned from the back seat.

"Yep, you'll go on Thursday. I'm glad you like it kiddo… pre-school is a lot of fun."

"Yeah, is fun and rad."

"Right on." JC laughed and breathed a sigh of relief. Kyle was going to do just fine in pre-school, it was JC that had to face the adjustment.

When they got home Kyle headed straight for the kitchen and hauled himself into his booster seat. "I thought you ate your lunch?" JC frowned slightly.

"Have juice?" Kyle patted his hands on the table and looked at JC expectantly.

"You want to sit in your chair for juice?" He asked as he pulled the refrigerator open and took out Kyle's sippy cup of apple juice.

"Yeah."

"Ooookay." JC set the cup in front of Kyle then opened the little lunch box to clean it out and put it away.

Kyle powered down his juice then smacked his lips loudly, "Love juice daddy."

"You love the juice huh?"

"Yeah is yummy." Kyle licked his lips again then tried to get more juice out of the cup, "All gone."

"Yep, you drank it all." JC nodded and took the cup away to set it on the counter. "I'd say its almost naptime, what do you think?"

"Amost." Kyle yawned and reached his hands up to JC.

"Right on." JC nodded and lifted Kyle out of the booster seat. "Uh oh dude, what happened?" He tried not to drip pee across the floor as he held Kyle away from himself.

"I forget."

"You forgot?"

"I forget I go." Kyle shrugged, he didn’t really care that he smelled weird. He knew JC would hose him off and get him clean clothes; he’d be good as new in a couple minutes.

"How do you forget that you have to go to the bathroom?" JC sighed, but let a little smile escape.

"I dunno." Kyle held still while JC ran down the hall and dropped him into the empty bathtub. "I have bass?"

"Heck yeah you need a bath." JC made a face and looked the other way while he turned the water on. "Nasty."

"Nassy."

"That's right, that's nasty." JC clenched his lips closed as the water began to fill the tub, soaking Kyle's shorts and t-shirt.

"Uh oh daddy." Kyle looked down at his wet clothes.

"That's okay." JC shook his head and let the water run for another couple minutes. He peeled Kyle's clothes off then washed him off real well. "I think it's time to put a pull-up back on, what do you say?"

"I say kay." Kyle nodded.

"Right on." JC pushed his sleeves up and lifted Kyle out of the bath.

"Uh oh daddy." Kyle repeated, "My hair." He brought his hands to his dry hair.

"No, we'll wash your hair tonight, I just needed to get the pee off of you."

"No waas?"

"Nope, we're not going to wash it right now." JC wrapped Kyle in a towel and carried him upstairs to his room where he set the dripping boy on the bed and pulled out a clean diaper. "We've really got to work on this whole toilet thing buddy. When we go to Europe later it'd be really cool if you could use the big kids toilet all the time."

"No I have dipo."

"Yeah but see if you can use the big kids toilet you can go potty with me and Joey and all of us big kids and we wouldn't have to worry about accidents." JC tried to make it sound like fun which was harder than he thought.

"And Fank?"

"Well I uh…" JC thought about that for a second, "Yeah I suppose you could go with Frank too."

"And maybe Jussin?"

"Yeah, Justin too." JC yawned and helped Kyle into some clean and dry clothes then pulled back the blanket on his bed. "I don't know about you tough guy, but I'm ready for a serious nap."

"Me too. Is seerus."

"Seriously." JC laughed as Kyle rested his head on the pillow. He reached down and smoothed Kyle's hair down and sighed, "I'm glad you like school buddy."

"I no buddy."

JC laughed lightly, "I'm glad you like school, Kyle."

"Me too." Kyle smiled with his eyes closed and flopped over to his back.

"Me too." JC whispered as he ducked out the door and headed to his room, where he fell across the cool sheets and let himself get lost in the napzone.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

In the two weeks between his call to Jessica and her arrival, JC spent a lot of time working. While Kyle was at pre-school he had to find something to occupy his mind so he rearranged his office and started working on songs with no one in particular in mind. It got to the point where he enjoyed the time alone and let Kyle stay for the full four hours rather than picking him up after only a few hours. The guys got together as often as they could just to hang out and play in the pool or watch movies.

The wardrobes that Jessica sent arrived the weekend after she said she'd send them, so JC had hem set in the corner of his garage so they'd be out of the way. He never knew they had so many clothes, but when five large rollers showed up his jaw hit the floor. Each one had the guys initials stenciled on the outside along with their corresponding numbers, 1 of 5, 2 of 5 and so on so that they wouldn't get misplaced while being shipped.

Lance and Amy watched Kyle twice more so that JC could go out with the others by himself, and Kyle actually preferred that to hanging out with JC at home. Every time JC began to get things ready to go, Kyle would ask if they were going to "Laaaance and Mimi house?". When Saturday afternoon came, JC realized that he didn't have any food in the house that would be considered "real" food. He called around to see if someone could watch Kyle so he could go shopping the next day, but his first few choices were already busy. "Daddy I go see Laaaance?"

"Nope, Lance and Amy are busy. They're driving all the way to the beach to have lunch."

"I can go?"

"I don't think so pal." JC smiled and shook his head. "Why don't we call and see if Joey can watch you, that'd be fun huh?"

Kyle made a face, "Joey?"

"Oh stop with the face man, you like Joey." JC rolled his eyes and picked up the phone as Kyle tugged at the buttons down the front of his pajamas.

"I like but I wan go see Mimi and Laaaance."

"I know you want to go see Lance and Mi - Amy, but they're not going to be there and I can't leave you home by yourself, so how about Joey?"

Kyle sighed and picked up his child sized fork to spear his macaroni, "Kay."

"Thank you." JC chuckled.

"Welcome." Kyle said as he stuffed his mouth with pasta.

JC smiled as he dialed Joey's number and silently prayed he hadn't gone out for the night yet, "H'lo?" Joey answered after only two rings.

"Joey! Old buddy, old pal!" JC said with a sly grin.

"What do you want?" Joey asked cautiously.

"What are you doing tomorrow morning?"

"Morning? As in before noon?"

"Yeah."

"Sleeping."

"Could I convince you to get up a little earlier?" JC laughed lightly.

"Why?" Joey wasn’t going to fall into some kind of trap.

"Because I need to go shopping real fast and anything with Kyle isn’t ‘real fast’."

"I’m not shopping for you. You get all that cookable stuff." Joey shook his head.

"No, I know." JC laughed. "Can you watch Kyle?"

"You can’t go shopping in the afternoon?"

"I’m going to the airport to pick Jessica up in the afternoon."

"So take – " Joey stopped. "Jessica?"

"Yeah."

"Jessica our clothes girl?"

"Uh huh."

"The same Jessica that’s seen all of us almost naked?"

"Yeah, she’s coming out." JC explained.

"To see you?"

"And Kyle."

"What the hell kind of mackin game are you playing here C?" Joey smiled, thinking he was being left out of something.

"No game. Lori’s coming out so – " JC lowered his voice and leaned towards the little window beside the table.

"Wait, Lori? Or Jessica?"

"Both of them."

"Talk to me." Joey prodded for more information.

"Lori is coming out to see Kyle."

"Right." Joey nodded.

"Right, well Lori thinks that Jessica and I are dating. So when Lori comes out it would be helpful to have Jessica here to play the part of the girlfriend, right?" JC asked softly.

"Yeah, I guess so."

"So can you watch Kyle?"

"What time are you picking her up?"

JC sighed, "Her flight comes in at one twenty, but I need to go to the store to get some real food because if she stays here she’s going to want to eat."

"You don’t have food?"

"I have food but not girl food." JC shook his head. "I’ve got guy food and kid food."

"What’s girl food?" Joey asked.

"Can you watch him or not?" JC sighed.

"What time?" Joey caved.

"Nine?"

"Shit, in the morning?"

"Yeah."

"Can you bring him here at least?"

"You live like – " JC started to complain that Joey’s house was twenty minutes out of the way, but stopped. "Yeah, I’ll drop him off at nine."

"Okay for how long?"

"Like… two hours. Tops."

"Okay." Joey nodded. "You’re gonna owe me big time."

"I know, I know. But I’ve already called the other guys and they can’t do it at all."

"So I’m your last resort?" Joey tried to sound offended.

"When I need someone at nine in the morning? Yeah." JC laughed. "But thanks man. I’ll pick you up a little something special."

"Great. Listen, if I don’t come to the door right away call me from your cell."

JC laughed, knowing he’d end up having to call him, "I will."

"All righty then."

"We'll see you tomorrow." JC smiled and said goodbye. He looked at the clock, Kyle had just gone down for a nap so that gave JC about an hour to do a quick pick-up of the house. There was no way the house would be, or stay spotless but she couldn't really expect that… not with a two year old running around.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Early the next morning JC dressed Kyle in his favorite safari shorts and elephant t-shirt, then loaded him in the car and drove a half hour to Joey's house in a neighboring suburb. "Daddy I see a dog?"

"Joey's dog?"

"Yeah."

"Yeah, I'm sure you'll see his dog. What's his name? I always forget."

"Joey?"

"No, his dog." JC laughed.

"Doggie name dog."

"His dog is named Dog?" JC raised his eyebrow at Kyle in the mirror.

"I doe no." Kyle shrugged and giggled, "Daddy I have?"

"Nope, we don't have a dog. We're gone too much to have a dog."

"Lato?"

"Maybe later we can get one. Maybe after we get home from Europe we can start looking for a dog or something." JC nodded.

"Kay."

"What kind of dog do you want?"

"Bown."

"A brown dog?"

"Yeah and big."

"A big brown dog, I think we can do that." JC laughed as he maneuvered his car through the traffic and onto the side streets that would lead to Joey's house. They pulled up a few minutes later and JC helped Kyle out of the back seat before dropping the backpack over his shoulder.

"Is Joey's?" Kyle looked around the bare front walk.

"Yep, this is Joey's house. We've been here before." JC cleared his throat and pressed the lit doorbell button.

"Where he?" Kyle asked as he danced around on Joey’s doorstep.

"He’s probably sleeping." JC shook his head and reached into his pocket for his cell phone. "I’ll call him to get his lazy butt up."

"His butt?" Kyle laughed and swatted at is own behind.

"Yeah." JC nodded. "Do you have to go to the bathroom?"

"No." Kyle sighed and jumped down the step with both feet.

"You’re sure?"

"I sure."

"Okay." JC sighed and dialed Joey’s home number from memory. He heard the phone ring inside and imagined Joey stumbling around his bed to find the phone. "Don’t forget to tell Joey if you have to go." JC reached for Kyle’s hand to keep him still. Potty training was going pretty good, but he still wore a pull-up just in case. He was known for ‘forgetting’ to go to the bathroom.

"What?" Joey grumbled into the phone.

"Hey." JC smiled.

"Jace it's like - " Joey stopped as his mind caught up with his mouth, "Dude, I'll be right down." Joey hung up the phone and JC flipped his shut.

"He's on his way." JC laughed as he reached for Kyle's hand.

"He here?"

"Yep, he's here."

"I pay?"

"Yeah, you can play with Joey." JC nodded as the front door opened slowly.

Joey rubbed his eyes then scratched at his stomach, "Hey." He smiled down at Kyle, "Sup kid?"

"Hi Joey." Kyle sighed as he stepped into the house. "Isa dog?"

"Dog's sleepin." Joey yawned as he ran his hand over Kyle's head. "Is he hungry?" Joey asked JC as Kyle walked down into Joey's living room with Lello tucked under his arm.

"He had breakfast, so he should be cool. There's some crackers and stuff in his bag and his stars."

"He has stars?"

"We're potty training, so if he tells you he has to go get him to a toilet then give him a star sticker." JC smiled.

"I'm not gonna remember that."

"He will." JC laughed. "You're sure you're up for this?"

"Yeah, I'm cool." Joey yawned again and hitched up his sweat bottoms. "See you in a couple hours, right?"

"Yeah, I'm going to run to the store and get some food and stuff, then take it home and put it away, then I'll be back here."

"Okay." Joey nodded and looked into the living room where Kyle was playing out of sight. "Hey buddy, don't touch that. I'll put the movie on in just a second okay?"

"I hode?"

"You can hold it, just don't open it, okay?"

"Kay." JC heard Kyle's little voice from inside.

"Keep your phone on."

"I will." JC laughed and dropped Kyle's familiar backpack inside Joey's front door. "Thanks a lot Joe."

"No problem." Joey waved halfheartedly and shut the door. It was "Shrek" time.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

JC got his grocery shopping done and hoped he'd bought thing Jessica would like. He added a few pints of Ben & Jerry's ice cream to the cart as an afterthought, then took everything home to unload. When things were settled he grabbed the bottle of MudSlide mix he'd picked up for Joey, and headed back to pick Kyle up.

Kyle filled JC in on all the fun he had at Joey's house while JC was shopping and how he loved the movie. "And Daddy isa dokey."

"It's a what?"

"A dokey go eee aww."

"Oh a donkey?" JC laughed.

"Yeah and a dokey talked." Kyle's eyes opened wide and he laughed hysterically. "Isa funny dokey daddy."

"It sounds like it's a pretty funny movie."

"You see?"

"Yeah, I'll have to buy that next time we're out." JC nodded and smiled at Kyle in the rearview mirror. JC smiled with a slight feeling of amazement; he still found it hard to believe that he was a single father and was actually doing a pretty good job at it. Every time he looked at Kyle and caught a new expression or any kind of smile he felt like the luckiest person on Earth. Not that raising Kyle was easy, but the challenge made it half the fun and worth while.

When they returned home JC nervously checked his watch. They only had a few minutes before they had to leave to go get Jessica at the airport, so JC took Kyle to the bathroom and made sure he was set to go. Kyle did his duty then ran out to the family room to play with his toys for a few minutes while JC ran upstairs to go to the bathroom and clean himself up. If he was going to see Jessica, he wanted to look presentable. He grabbed a baseball cap and tossed it on over his unruly curls then went back downstairs.

JC knelt on the floor beside Kyle and reached for the toys, "Come on kiddo, we've got to put this stuff away so we can go."

"We go now?" Kyle sighed and held tight to Lello.

"Yep, so help me out here." He looked at the toys scattered on the floor. It seemed like no matter how often he picked them up they always ended up on the floor.

"I kick asshole." Kyle laughed as he brought his foot up to kick JC's butt.

"Whoa there, hold on a second." JC dropped the plastic truck in the toy basket and stood up. "Do what?"

"I kick asshole." Kyle giggled again and pretended to kick at JC’s behind.

"I don’t think so." JC raised his eyebrow at the toddler and became serious. "Come here buddy." He pulled Kyle onto his lap and took a deep breath. Transforming into ‘dad mode’ was becoming easier for JC, but it was still weird, "We don’t say that word."

"Say kick?" Kyle gave him a confused look.

"No, we don’t say asshole."

"Yeah." Kyle nodded.

"No, we don’t."

"You say."

"I don’t say that." JC shook his head and tried as hard as he could to keep the smile off his face.

"I say asslick." Kyle giggled and covered his mouth with his hands. "I say and you say."

"Whoa! Hey now… no." JC’s jaw dropped in shock. "No way Jose, we don’t say those words at all. Where on earth did you hear –" the phone ringing on the table beside him cut him off. "Hang on." He said to Kyle as he reached for the phone. "Hello?"

"Say asshole?" Kyle asked as he looked at the phone.

"No don’t say that." JC said softly to the little boy.

"What are you doing?" Joey laughed.

"What?" JC asked, remembering the phone in his hand.

"What are you doing?"

"I’m explaining to my two-year-old why ‘asshole’ is a bad word." JC sighed.

"Oh man." Joey laughed. "You’re teaching him swear words?"

"I’m not teaching him to swear!" JC shook his head.

"Yeah? So where’d he learn that?"

"Gee, I don’t know. Maybe from one of his babysitters?" JC asked sarcastically.

"Why? Who do you – oh come on! I didn’t teach him that!" Joey immediately took the defensive.

"I’m not saying you did." JC sighed. "Listen Joe, I’ve gotta go finish this, can I call – ‘

"Knock it off ass lick!" Joey shouted to someone on his end of the phone before bursting out laughing.

"Yeah, that’s another one of his favorites, thanks." JC sighed. "I’ll call you later Joe." He hung up the phone and turned back to Kyle.

"Issat Joey?"

"Yeah that was Joey."

"Joey asslick?" Kyle asked with a genuine frown.

"Kyle… dude, we don't say that." JC shook his head and tried not to smile.

"Why?"

"Because that's a bad word and it's not for kids to say."

"You say?"

"No, I'm going to try not to say it either." JC shook his head. "So no more, okay? Don't say that anymore."

"Kay." Kyle shrugged and slid off JC's lap.

"Okay." JC sighed and stood up to hitch up his pants. He headed for the garage as Kyle followed a step behind, "Alright kiddo, let's go get Jessica."

"My Jessi?" Kyle asked as he reached for Lello.

"Yep." JC nodded and held the garage door open for him. He loaded Kyle into his car seat and handed him a few of his favorite toys before they backed out of the garage and headed for the airport.

"I have my Jessi?"

"We're going to pick her up right now." JC smiled into the rear view mirror. "She's going to stay with us for a couple days and guess what else? You get to have another special visitor this week too. You're such a lucky little boy."

"Anano speso?"

"Yep, another special visitor, do you want to know who?"

"My Jessi?"

"Someone else."

"Joey?"

"Joey's not special you silly, you saw Joey today."

"Is sink?"

"Nope, not Nsync." JC laughed and shook his head. "Your mommy is coming to visit you."

"Mommy and Jessi?"

"Yeah." JC cleared his throat. "Jessica will be here today and you can see your mommy tomorrow. They're both coming to see you, that's pretty cool, huh?"

"Yeah is cool." Kyle nodded and bounced Lello on his lap.

JC drove them across town to the airport and parked out in the boon docks by a bright green sign that said '2E', "We've gotta remember where we parked, okay?" JC asked as he grabbed Kyle's hand.

"Kay." Kyle nodded. "We park ina car."

JC chuckled softly, "Yeah, we parked in a car, I just have to remember where." He smiled and looked around to memorize the parking lot.

They crossed the warm pavement to the walkway leading into the airport, then stood in front of the monitors to see which gate she'd be arriving at. JC pulled his baseball cap lower and tried to tuck his hair up into it a little more. Over the last couple months he hadn't done much in the way of cutting it, so it was getting kind of shaggy looking.

"Daddy…" Kyle sighed. "Can see my Jessi?"

"We'll see her in just a minute." He checked the time on the screen then the clock on the wall; they only had another five minutes before her plane was set to arrive. They walked quickly through the security checkpoint and around a small roundabout to find the right gate. By the time they located it, her flight was being announced and the passengers were starting to file off in small groups.

JC stood on his toes to get a better look as he held Kyle in his arms. He was still nervous having his son in big crowds and always felt better when he was in his arms. As he turned his head slightly he spotted her walking off of the plane, looking around the gate area for someone she might recognize. Without warning JC's heart began to race and his palms began to sweat. Just seeing her standing there was enough to make his stomach clench tightly and his breath to come up short. "Hey look." JC whispered into Kyle's ear, "There she is."

"I see?" Kyle asked loudly as he looked around for his favorite person in the world. "Daddy I see Jessi?"

"She's over there in the green shirt." JC smiled and headed over to where she stood to the side of the crowd. "See her now?"

"I see!" Kyle laughed and wiggled to get out of JC's arms. When they were close enough he set Kyle on the ground and watched as he ran the last few feet to wrap his arms around Jessica's bare knees. "Hi!"

"Whoa! Hi there Kyle!" Jessica looked startled for a moment, then reached down and picked him up for a tight hug. "My goodness look at you! What a big boy."

"I big." Kyle nodded.

"I see that." She laughed and kissed his cheek, "Where's your daddy?"

"I'm here." JC walked up beside her and reached for her carry on bag. "How was your flight?"

"I - " Jessica stopped as she turned to face him, "It was nice, thanks."

"You brought more than this, right?" JC dropped her bag over his shoulder.

"Yeah." She smiled and bounced Kyle on her hip as he reached for her ponytail. "Did you get the wardrobes okay?"

"Yeah, they're in my garage ready to be used." His hand brushed hers as the stepped onto the escalator to take them down to the baggage claim area. "I didn't know we were taking so much with us."

"Not all of it will go." She shook her head as she stood on the step lower than him. "What I sent was pretty much just for us to see what we want to take and what will stay. Plus I want to make any alterations before we leave so I don't have to stress about it once we got there."

"That makes sense." JC nodded and tried not to stare at her as they crossed the main airport terminal to the baggage claim area.

"So I'll need to get a hold of the others and arrange a time to have them meet a your house, if that's alright."

"If what's alright?"

"That we meet at your house? Since the wardrobes are there."

"Oh, oh no that's fine." JC shook his head. "I've got plenty of room and stuff, plus the guys like to come play with the munchkin." JC rubbed Kyle's head as he rested it on Jessica's shoulder.

"I a muckin?"

"Yep, you're a munchkin." JC laughed.

"Daddy you a nut."

"I'm not a nut, you're a nut."

"No."

"Jessica's a nut." JC smiled as they watched the luggage come around the conveyer belt.

"No." Kyle giggled and smiled up at Jessica. "Jessi is Jessi."

"Oh, okay." JC rolled his eyes and laughed. "Let me know when you see your suitcase and I'll grab it since your hands are kinda full."

"Thanks." Jessica smiled and rubbed Kyle's back as he lay his head down, "You've really gotten so big."

"Yeah I big now."

"Yes you are." She kissed his forehead, "How do you like school?"

"I like it." Kyle nodded. "I paint and Chad and blocks and snack."

"Wow, all that huh?"

"You can see it?"

"I don't know, maybe. We'll have to ask your daddy."

"Daddy Jessi see my school?"

"Sure, we can take Jessica to your school when we drop you off on Tuesday." JC nodded.

"That’s mine right there." Jessica pointed to a dark blue suitcase as it rounded the corner. "I'd love to see your school. Do you have art up on the walls and all that stuff?"

"I have birds ona kitchen."

"You do huh?" Jessica looked appropriately impressed though she had no idea what he was talking about.

"He painted a couple of birds and it's on the fridge at home." JC smiled and lugged her suitcase off the belt. He propped it upright and grabbed the handle to pull it behind him.

"Yeah and a tree."

"Yep, they're in a tree." JC nodded as they headed for the exit. Jessica carried Kyle while JC managed the luggage on the way out to his car. He loaded her bags into the far back, then loaded Kyle into his car seat behind Jessica.

"He looks tired." Jessica observed as she slid into the passenger seat.

"Yeah, it's past his naptime and he had a busy morning." JC adjusted his rear view mirror to look at Kyle. "He hung out with Joey this morning, that's always a fun time for everyone." He rolled his eyes and laughed as he backed out of the parking place. "He's picked up some colorful language."

"Uh oh, I can only imagine what Joey's taught him." Jessica cringed as she laughed lightly.

"He denies teaching Kyle, but this morning Kyle said he wanted to kick me in my a-s-s-h-o-l-e."

"Oh my."

"Yeah."

"Well at least he knows what and where it is." She laughed and rolled her window down a bit. "I mean, it could be worse."

"I don't even want to think about that." JC laughed and reached into his center console, "Do you want some gum?" He extended the pack to her as he glanced at Kyle who had fallen asleep as soon as the car started.

"No thank you." Jessica shook her head and looked out the window to the flat landscaping extending out for miles in every direction.

JC popped a piece in his mouth and turned his attention back to his driving. They drove in silence across town to his house, but he couldn't help but look over at her every few minutes. Something had changed since the last time they saw each other but he couldn't quite put his finger on it.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

By the time they got to JC's house Kyle's hair was plastered to the side of his head with sweat and he was snoring lightly. JC lifted him out of his seat and carefully fit him onto his shoulder, being careful not to wake him. "I'll come get your bags in just a minute." He whispered to Jessica as she stepped out of the car.

"I can get them." She shook her head and opened the back. Jessica followed JC into the house with her bags in tow then stopped in the entryway, not sure where she was supposed to go.

"He's out like a light. Let me go put him down then I can help you get settled in down here." He nodded down the short hall to the guestroom door that was propped open with a heavy pewter figure in the shape of a sleeping dog.

"Okay." She whispered, so not to wake Kyle.

JC climbed the stairs quietly and laid Kyle on top of the covers on his own bed, then tucked Lello under his arm and smiled. "Just stay asleep for another hour buddy…" JC whispered. Kyle had been cutting his naps shorter and shorter lately and JC was trying to get him back into the napping groove.

When he went back downstairs, Jessica and her luggage were missing from the hallway. He walked toward the guestroom and stopped when he got to the door, she was inside with her suitcase wide open on the bed in front of her.

"I hope you don't mind me unpacking, I just hate living out of a suitcase." Jessica said as she sensed him in the doorway.

"No problem." JC shook his head, "You've got the whole dresser there and most of the closet. I think I have some uh… some jackets in there, but if you need more room I can - "

"No, I'm sure this will be fine." She pulled the drawer behind her open then tossed her hair over her shoulder to get it out of her eyes.

"We've missed you." JC said after watching her re-fold her shirts for a minute.

"I've missed you guys too." She looked up and smiled quickly before going back into her suitcase.

"You know I uh… since I've been home here with Kyle I can totally sympathize with all of those stay-at-home moms out there." JC shifted his weight on his feet. "It's also made me realize just how much you helped me out on the road and everything."

Jessica stopped what she was doing and placed her hands on her hips, "I didn't really mind." She shook her head and took a deep breath as she looked down into her half-filled suitcase.

"No, I know you didn't. And I know I've said 'thank you' like a hundred times already… but I didn't really see how thankful I was until you weren't here. You know, when I had to run to the store or if I just wanted some private time, I couldn't just drop him off with you and know he'd be safe." JC bit his lip and frowned slightly. "Anyway, I'm uh… I'm really glad you're here."

"So you can leave him with me?" Jessica smiled playfully up at JC.

"No." JC shook his head, "That's not what I meant."

"I'm just giving you a hard time JC." She laughed softly and placed her shorts on the bed beside her shirts. "I don't know why I brought so many clothes, I'm not going to be here that long." She mumbled under her breath.

JC took a few steps into the room and rested his hand on the bed across from her; "You can stay as long as you want."

"Thank you, but I think I'll get the work I need done in a week or so. I know you want to spend time with Kyle and bond and stuff. Which is great by the way, not too many fathers get to do that." She spoke fast as she turned and slid her shirts into place in the open drawer behind her.

"Tell me I'm not seeing things Jess." JC said softly after watching her in silence for a moment.

"What?" She turned around and met his eyes.

"Am I seeing things that just aren't there?" He gave her a questioning and almost sad look.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean…" He sighed, he wasn't sure exactly what he meant but from the moment he saw her in the airport, everything he was feeling inside made sense. He moved around the bed so that he was standing beside her, "I mean between you and me."

"JC…" Jessica licked her lips nervously. "There is no 'you and me'."

"I'm not so sure about that." JC pursed his lips in concentration. "Maybe it's always been there and I just pushed it away while we were on tour or something. I don't know how that works…" He stopped his hand from reaching out to touch her by putting it in his pocket. "But now that I've had time to stop and really think about it, I want to kick myself." JC watched her carefully as everything she thought showed on her face. She looked almost startled at first, then embarrassed and flushed then finally confused.

"You never paid any attention to me before Kyle, JC."

"I never paid attention to anyone before Kyle." JC shook his head. "But as soon as he showed up you became a huge fixture in his life and then mine by default. When he was in the hospital… Jessica, I can't even begin to tell you how I felt. I know you were scared and angry at me and emotional and everything… but multiply that by like, a billion, and that's where I was. I had the stress of the tour on me, this new little boy that was counting on me and there was nothing at all that I could do to help him." He took a deep breath and looked up to smile slowly at her, "And you showed up to comfort me. To take care of me and make sure that I was okay."

"JC, I - "

"No, I know you probably went there to check on Kyle and probably scream at me too." He smiled, then shook his head. "But you did help me. Knowing that you actually believed in me and everything… God that made all the difference in the world. I was falling apart and you jumped in kept it together."

"You were doing okay." Jessica cleared her throat and closed the drawer slowly.

"No I wasn't." JC laughed lightly. "That night everything just kind of came together and I didn't know what to do with any of it, but on top of everything was you." He removed his hand from his pocket and tugged on his lip. "So I uh… I kissed you because that's all I could think of doing."

"You don't have to explain JC."

"I'm not trying to explain that, that's done. But from then on it was like every time I saw you after that I'd feel almost guilty for feeling attracted to you when I should have my whole focus on Kyle. I couldn't make room for a girlfriend or anything like that. Kyle took up all of my free time and my other time was spent working. I just pushed it aside as much as I could…" He waited to see if she was going to say anything, and when she didn't he continued, "But like I said, now I'm here and I've had a chance to look back on everything. From the day I got to LA to find out I had a son, till the last day of court… you were there for me when you didn't have to be."

"I was there for Kyle." Jessica said softly.

JC paused for a moment, "Is that all?" He gently reached out and placed his hand on her shoulder as she looked up at him. "Because for me, the attraction is still there… that never changed, you're beautiful inside and out." He smiled slowly. "When I saw you at the airport today it was like someone threw cold water on me and shouted, 'What are you waiting for?! There's no tour… Kyle's into the groove of things' and everything just clicked." He shrugged.

"Clicked?"

"Clicked." He nodded. "You love Kyle more than I ever expected. Right now Kyle is my number one priority and you understand that, you wouldn't want it any other way."

"Of course not." She shook her head as her heart raced. A frown creased her forehead for a moment as a thought struck her, "If you're looking for a mother figure for Kyle - "

"I'm not." He stopped her with a quick look. "I'm looking for a woman for me… but she has to care about Kyle and understand that he comes first no matter what."

"JC… it's not that simple. Being there for Kyle meant being there for you too, but that wasn't always by choice. For a long time I would take Kyle… not to help you, but just so Kyle wouldn't have to be around you." She cringed as he blushed and looked down. "When I first started with the tour I was attracted to you… of course. You were the hot young pop star that everyone was lusting after. That was nothing unexpected. But then you became just one of the guys and work was work... and when Kyle showed up I… well I didn't like you at all."

"Okay…" He exhaled suddenly as he heard Kyle's door upstairs creak open slowly.

"The night in the hospital changed everything though… for me too." She nodded. "I saw all of the stuff you were dealing with and seeing that made it easier to want to help you, and not just Kyle."

JC's eyes flickered upward as little sounds came from the room above them, "If I kissed you right now, what would happen?"

Jessica smiled and tried not to let the blush cross her cheeks, "I don’t know."

"So am I seeing things when I think there might be more here than just you helping me?"

"No." She shook her head as little feet made their way down the stairs.

"Thank you for coming out here Jessica." JC said softly as he moved his hand from her shoulder to the side of her neck. His fingers toyed in her hair for a second before he lowered his lips to hers and kissed her slowly.

While she expected the kiss, she didn't expect the tumbling in her stomach or the wave of heat that swept over her as she tasted the lingering spearmint flavor of his gum.

 

Next...

 

Copyright � 2001, Amy Lynn