Sara stood in front of JC’s refrigerator and frowned, he didn’t have anything that could be considered food. Ketchup, orange juice that had probably gone bad, raisins, cheese, soy sauce and something that might have at one time been left overs, but Sara was too afraid to look. She had been watching his house for five days and had been eating out a lot.

"I need to go shopping, this is nuts." She mumbled to herself. She checked the pantry but almost everything in there required something she didn’t have. She sighed in resignation and grabbed her keys and purse off the counter, then headed for the grocery store.

She loaded her cart full of real food that would take her through the next couple of months at JC’s house. As she stepped up to the register a magazine on the rack caught her eye and made her heart skip a beat. "2001 Pop Odyssey – step into the hottest tour of the summer!" The headline read. A colorful studio shot of the guys graced the cover of Teen People, their smiles looked genuine and friendly.

"I don’t even believe I’m doing this." Sara thought to herself as she put the magazine on the conveyer belt along with her groceries. She needed some reading material for the night and she was sure that inside the magazine there would be a handful of pictures which she planned to cut out and keep handy. One thing she noticed about JC’s house was that there were no pictures anywhere. He had a single family portrait on his dresser but he couldn’t have been more than sixteen when it was taken.

She hid the magazine in the rest of her groceries and tried not to blush as the young man rang it up. When she returned to JC’s house an hour later she put away the food and made herself a turkey sandwich. With the refrigerator full of edible food, she was more comfortable staying there.

She ate on the couch with a napkin draped across her lap to avoid getting breadcrumbs between the cushions. The teen magazine lay open on her lap as she scanned through articles on how to tell a boy that you liked him without sounding like a dork, and lip liner tips. Her intense concentration on the breadcrumbs took away her coordination; as she reached to grab her water and turn the page at the same time, her hand knocked her glass off the end table.

It fell to the carpeted floor, but she didn't hear a shatter, "Thank God." Sara jumped up and dropped her sandwich and magazine on the couch to retrieve the glass. She picked it up and groaned; down one side was a crack that extended from the lip to the base. "Figures." She placed the glass in the trashcan then went back to her sandwich, which had left behind a small trail of crumbs. "Why why why must you be a neat freak?" Sara groaned and swept the crumbs to the floor, she'd have to vacuum before he came home. She returned her attention to the magazine and read up on Christina Aguilera’s new hairstyle.

After the first week of living out of her suitcase, Sara decided she might as well hang her clothes up, just to keep them from being wrinkled. After work that night she pulled the suitcase over to the closet and slid the doors open. "Damn JC! Have some clothes." She switched the light on to illuminate the closet that rivaled the size of the guestroom.

"How is this possible? There’s no room at all in here… he can’t possibly need all these clothes." She placed her hands on her hips and shook her head. "I’m not spending the next three months tripping over my suitcase every morning."

She sighed as she examined the task at hand, then went to the guestroom down the hall to check out the closet space. Hanging in the closet was a blue suede duster jacket and a vibrant red button down shirt. "Okay, stuff you shouldn’t wear in public. Got it." She looked over her shoulder at the full size bed on the opposite wall and for a moment pondered just moving her stuff to the guest room and staying in there.

Then she thought of the enormous bathroom attached to the master suite, the awesome sound system and the way the sun peeked perfectly through the blinds early in the morning. She furrowed her brow in thought. She could move some of JC’s more eclectic outfits down to the guestroom to free up some closet space for her own small collection of clothes, but what if he got upset? Then she thought she could move everything back before he got home and everything would work out fine, a win/win situation.

"He wants me to move in here so bad, he can’t be pissed that I touched his stuff." She rationalized as she made her first trek back to the guestroom with an armful of flashy clothes. She moved another two armloads of clothes to free up about three feet of bar space for her in his main closet, then set about hanging her own clothes which included three pairs of pants, three work shirts, a handful of everyday shirts and a sundress. That was all she brought with her to house sit, but she had tons more at her own apartment.

With her clothes moved, Sara sat on the deep couch and turned the TV on to channel surf a little before she started her homework. As she flipped through the channels a familiar face smiled back. She backed up a channel and laughed as she saw Joey putting his foot on David Letterman’s desk to pull his pant leg up.

"You look like a can-can dancer." Justin laughed.

"See right here? I had three staples in my leg there." Joey explained as he pointed to his calf.

"Ouch, they didn’t use a staple gun did they? You know, ‘Stand back!’ and shoot them at your leg?" Dave asked.

"No, they just kind of pinched the skin closed and kind of – "

"Oh stop! Stop man, we don’t need the gory details." Chris cringed and shoved Joey playfully.

Sara tucked her feet up under her and turned the volume up, her homework completely forgotten as JC leaned forward in his seat and smiled at the camera, "He’s doing better now though, there’s hardly even a scar. He’s been tellin' people he was shot by a sniper though." JC laughed and Sara couldn’t help but giggle with him as his eyes crinkled on the sides. A genuine smile from JC was hard to come by on TV; he always looked so worried about what everyone was saying. But lately when she saw him with the guys he looked relaxed and happy, a new and improved JC.

"So you can still dance right?" Dave asked Joey.

"He couldn’t dance before." Justin said as the others laughed.

"I can dance." Joey said defensively but with a big smile. He removed his foot from Dave’s desk and said, "Yeah I can still dance. Still dance, I could dance before." He turned to throw a look at Justin.

"Well you guys are going to perform for us next right? Your new song, what’s it called? ‘Pop’?"

"Yeah, that’s our new single ‘Pop’, it’ll be hitting the record stores on Friday." Lance made eye contact with Dave as he played with the watch on his arm.

"You have a song called ‘Pop’?" Dave smiled and held up the CD single.

"Yeah." Lance nodded.

"And you guys wrote it?"

"Justin wrote it." Chris said from the end of the row, "With our choreographer Wade Robson."

"Your choreographer wrote it?" Dave laughed. "How do you guys feel about that? Your dancing boy is writing your music?"

"Dance boy." JC said under his breath with a little laugh. They laughed and talked over each other for a second before Chris’ voice broke through.

"We’ve got a hit out on him, so he’ll be gone soon." Chris smirked at the camera, "Watch yer back Wade." He laughed devilishly.

"No it’s cool, Wade’s a good kid. I think you guys will like the song. It’s totally different from what you’d expect from a pop band." Sara noticed that JC talked with his hands more when he was on TV than when he was face to face.

"Well we’ll check it out right after this break. Stay tuned, Nsync is going to perform their new single, ‘Pop’ coming up next." Dave held the single up again as he faded from view and a Toyota truck commercial took his place.

Sara bounced gently on the couch as Max curled up on the floor by her feet. She yawned through the commercials then felt her adrenaline rush as they came back on to the opening chords of their new single. Sara had heard the song before, but seeing them perform it for the first time was amazing.

As soon as it was over Sara wanted to immediately watch it again, and she kicked herself for not throwing a tape in the VCR… as if she would have been able to figure out how to record. She stood up and stretched her legs then sighed, she had an early class in the morning that she really needed to study for.

"Okay Max… outside." She walked around the couch and held the back door open for the little dog that didn’t budge. "Come on Max, move it." He stared up at her with her sad sweet eyes, but did not move. "Max… outside." She pointed out the door as if he maybe just hadn’t heard her the first two times.

After another couple minutes of coaxing, she walked over and scooted him out the door herself, "You’re being a pain." She grumbled as she left him on the porch.

He gave her the puppy pout and flopped down by the backdoor on his big fleece pillow. "Good night boy." Sara shut the door then grabbed her books from her bag by the kitchen table. She set the alarm then padded down the hall to the bedroom where she turned on the little lamp on the nightstand to read by.

Two chapters was as far as she got before her head fell onto the open book, and she fell asleep with the American Literature text under her cheek.

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

"Please let me come home." JC whined into his phone as he rode with Justin back to Justin's house. He had been away for three weeks and had called Sara almost every day.

"JC it's not about me not letting you, but if you hopped on a plane right now you wouldn’t get here till like… midnight. Then you'd spend all day tomorrow sleeping, and you'd have to leave again on the red eye to get back to Florida so you can kick off your tour in two weeks. You'd almost be spending more time in the air than you would here."

"I miss you."

"I miss you too hun, a whole bunch." She looked around at the pleasantly cluttered living room of his and smiled as she imagined what his reaction would be. "I'll see you in two weeks though. I've already got the time off work and my tickets came yesterday. First class huh?"

"Nothing but the best." JC leaned his elbow against the window and sighed. "She won’t let me come home." He said to Justin.

"JC!" She warned.

"See I told you? No one wants to be near you when you’re being like this. I don't want you here; she doesn’t want you there…" Justin laughed. Sara could hear the humor in his voice as he sang, "No one likes JC everybody hates JC, I think he should go eat worms."

"Sara likes me, don't you?"

"Yeah, I think you're alright. How are you being?"

"How am I being?" JC asked Justin.

"He’s being like a kid." Justin laughed and rolled his window down. "He’s being like a whiney brat. I wanna go hooooooome, nobody liiiiiiiiiiiikes me." Justin imitated him.

"JC…" Sara laughed with pity. "I like you a lot, don’t worry about that."

"But you won't let me come home?" JC pretended to pout.

"Honey you can come home any time you want, I'm not stopping you. I just think you'd be better off there where you can actually relax for a day and a half instead of worrying about flights."

JC sighed loudly into the phone. "Hey J, you don't really care that I crash at your place, do you?"

Justin laughed and rolled his eyes, "Dude, you lived there for two years, you think I care that you come visit? Which I might add, hasn't been very often."

"Yeah, every day for the last month or so is hardly ever."

"I meant before." Justin laughed. "You can crash at my house anytime you want." He turned back to the road and continued driving.

"See? Justin wants you to stay there." Sara smiled and opened the dishwasher. "How's practice going? Are you guys almost ready?"

"Yeah." JC rested his forehead against the window again. "We've got it down pat, we're just running through the show like… three times a day now. Wade is brutal."

"Wade is your…? Remind me." She grabbed two of the plates and set them in the cupboard.

"Our choreographer."

"Our slave driver." Justin shouted to be heard over the phone.

"Yeah, I guess slave driver is more like it." JC smiled. "He's cool, I mean, we couldn't find anyone better. But damn… I can't feel my legs right now."

"Go back to Justin's and sit in the spa for an hour."

"Ooooh." JC groaned, "That sounds like heaven."

"Save your sex talk for later." Justin laughed.

JC rolled his eyes and ignored Justin, "How are things back home?"

"Fine." Sara nodded. "I have a huge Lit exam next Friday so I'm spending all my free time studying and reading all the required reading."

"Shouldn't you have had that done?"

"I'm reading it again." Sara dreaded the hours of reading. She continued to unload the dishwasher as Justin pulled up in front of his house.

"Well, we're here." JC opened his car door but kept his cell phone to his ear. "Last chance… I can still turn around and catch a flight west."

"That’s up to you."

"No it’s not." He yawned.

"Stay there Jace. I’ll see you in two weeks."

"Okay." He sighed and unbuckled his seat belt. "Love you."

"I love you too." She smiled and waited until he disconnected before she hung up her end. She fought back a bout of tears just like she had every other time he called. "When did I get so girly?" She whispered to herself, laughing as two tears escaped.

She turned her attention back to the dishes to try to keep her mind off of JC. She had no idea she would miss him so much when he left; she’d been used to seeing him every day and then all of a sudden he wasn’t there. It actually wasn’t all of a sudden, she’d known it was going to happen, but because she had refused to think about it, it felt sudden.

Sara sighed and reached to put the glass away but before it reached the shelf, the glass slipped from her hand and shattered on the hard tile countertop. "Shit." She quickly jumped back as pieces of glass went everywhere. "Dammit, can’t you just have plastic cups like everyone else? These things probably cost fifty bucks each." Sara sighed and reached for the largest piece. "Which means I owe you a hundred bucks." She mumbled under her breath.

Slowly and carefully she picked up the large pieces and dropped them into the paper grocery bag on the floor. Then she took the hand broom from the pantry and cleaned up the remaining tiny shards. She took the whole bag out to the garage and set it in the huge trash bin, then went back to continue unloading the dishes. She vowed to herself that she would bring over plastic cups and only use those for the rest of the time she was there, she was tired of picking up broken glass.

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

Two weeks later Sara caught her seven thirty flight to Jacksonville, and made herself comfortable in the cushy first class seats. She had one lay over to Phoenix but her flight made it to Florida right on schedule at five twenty.

"Sara?" Tom asked softly as she walked right past him. "Hey, Sara."

She stopped at the sound of her name and turned around, "Yes?"

"Hi Sara, I’m Tom."

"Oh! Oh my gosh hi! I should have recognized you, I’m sorry." She laughed and adjusted her bag on her arm. "I didn’t expect anyone to be here."

"We didn’t want you to try to take a cab to the venue, there’s so much traffic." Tom explained as they walked toward the front of the airport.

"How are we going to get there then?"

"I brought one of the guy’s vans. We’ll be able to go in the back way to avoid the parking lot." Tom looked at the sign hanging from the ceiling and asked, "Did you check luggage?"

"No, just this. I’m only here until tomorrow."

"Okay." They changed course and followed the crowd through the airport to the main parking lot. "So have you seen the stage yet? I don’t remember if you came out for the set up or not."

"No." Sara shook her head. "I haven’t seen anything. JC’s told me about it kind of, but I’ve been busy with my work and school and everything. I’ve heard it’s amazing though."

"It is." Tom smiled, obviously proud of the guys. "You’ve never seen anything like it, I promise. We’ll be getting there just in the nick of time though, you won’t have too much time to visit."

"Oh…" Sara frowned. "That’s okay."

"But afterwards you’ll have all the time you want." He checked his watch as they stepped outside. "Their sound check party should be starting right about now, that’ll last for about an hour or so… then they have to report to wardrobe, hair and make up." Tom laughed. "Being the first show they’ve got to double and triple check everything."

"I bet." Sara nodded as the excitement in her chest grew. She hadn’t seen JC in five weeks, and she could hardly wait to see him after the show.

They made small talk as they walked out to the car and drove across town to the stadium, "Oh my God…" Sara whispered as they drove past the lines of cars. "They’re in there?"

"Yep."

"It’s huge."

"It sure is." Tom laughed.

"There are so many people…" Sara stared in awe at the floods of people waiting in line to get in the stadium gates. "Man, I’d barf."

"Don’t even joke about that. That would ruin the night if one of the guys got up there and barfed."

"They won’t. They’re used to it. I on the other hand… would lose my lunch." Sara smiled out the window as her stomach did a cartwheel. "So where am I going first?"

"We’ll go around back and I’ll see what the guys are up to. If they’ve got a minute I’ll run you back to say hi, but they will probably be swamped."

"Okay."

"So we’ll check, but then you’ll probably have to go to your seat so you don’t miss anything."

"Okay." Sara nodded and watched the crowd disappear around the side of the building as they drove around to the back entrance. "Where uh… where am I sitting?"

"We have a VIP section in the middle kind of." Tom said. "There are a couple chairs and couches set up there for friends and family. Unless you want to be on the floor, we can always arrange that."

"No, no that’s okay. Who else is going to be there?"

"Um, if I remember right Justin’s mom and brothers, Chris’s girlfriend, Lance’s sister and mom I think, Joey’s parents. I heard Britney was going to be here, but I haven’t seen her."

"Oh… okay." Sara nodded.

"Oh, Heather and Tyler will be there also, you know them right?"

"Yeah." Sara smiled, her nervousness lifting as she heard some names she recognized.

Tom stopped the car only a few feet from the door, then got out to open Sara’s door. They passed through the security at the gate and Tom signed Sara in for a badge. "Keep that with you."

"I know." She nodded.

"Okay, wait here for a minute, I’ll go try to track them down. Are you hungry?"

"No I’m okay." She placed her hand over her stomach; eating was the last thing on her mind.

"Okay, back in a few." Tom trotted into the maze of the backstage area as Sara moved closer to the concrete wall to stay out of the way. When Tom returned five minutes later he was shaking his head, "Nah, they’re in the middle of getting fitted for their jackets which means they’re running way behind."

"Okay." She tried not to let the disappointment show on her face; all she wanted to do was see JC.

"Let’s head on out to your seat so I can introduce you before the craziness starts." He smiled and nodded toward the hall to the left.

"Thanks." Sara followed him down the hall and out two huge and heavy doors where the cool night air rushed over her. She took a deep breath and stayed close to Tom as he weaved closer to the crowd.

The fans that could see back where they were walking went crazy at the slightest movement and Sara took two steps closer to Tom. "Tom, they’re going nuts."

"Yep." Tom laughed and walked up to where a line of the Staff Pro guards in their yellow jackets were standing. He showed his badge and they let both him and Sara through. As soon as they stepped out into the crowd, they blended in with everyone else. Sara stayed on Tom’s heels as they walked around to where there as a slightly raised platform with several people talking on it. Sara showed her badge at the entrance and Tom followed her up the three shallow steps.

"Hi Lynn." He smiled at Justin’s mom. "This is Sara. Sara this is Justin’s mom Lynn and his brothers Steven and Jonathan."

"Hi." Sara smiled nervously and looked around at the empty seats.

"Hi, it’s nice to meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you lately… Justin and JC come over for dinner a lot." She laughed and shook Sara’s hand. "Heather and Tyler are here also, they just went to grab some water."

"Okay cool." Sara nodded.

"How about Lance’s family?" Tom asked.

"They aren’t here yet." Lynn shook her head. "The Fatones are back there now, they’ll be back out right after the openers." Lynn smiled and tugged at Steven’s shirt, "Leave him alone."

"You gonna be okay up here?" Tom asked.

"Yeah." Sara looked around and sort of leaned on the railing.

"If you need anything just walk straight back there and one of the guards can help you out." He pointed back in the direction they came from then hopped down the steps; "I’ll see you after the show."

"Thanks Tom." Sara waved as he trotted back to the backstage area.

"How are they doing back there? I know they get nervous before they kick off a tour." Lynn smiled and sat down, then Sara did the same.

"I didn’t get to see them actually. They were getting their jackets fitted or something."

"Ahh, then they must be running late. That won’t make them any less nervous." She laughed and delicately patted her hair.

"No, probably not." Sara laughed and sat back in her chair as Tyler bounded up the steps with his arms full of water bottles.

"Thanks Ty." Lynn smiled and took one before he handed them out to the boys, then turned to Sara.

"Hey, how’s it going?"

"Good, how are you?" She smiled.

"Good, school sucks." He laughed.

"Only a couple more weeks." Sara said as Tyler pulled one of the chairs closer. "Where’s Heather?"

"She ran into Janine so they’re doing girl stuff back stage. She says she’s helping but I think she’s raiding their make up stash." He laughed and twisted the top off his water.

They made small talk as the little VIP area began to fill up with Lance’s family and a few other people. By the time the show started all of the guys had family and friends represented and the energy level was high.

When the guys took the stage, surprising everyone with their entrance, Sara sat forward in her chair to lean on the railing. She watched in awe for the entire show, completely blocking out anyone else but the five on stage.

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

"Ahh! You guys were amazing!" Sara gushed as Chris, Justin and JC walked into the green room after the show.

She hugged Chris since he was first, and he spun her around, "I have to spin you now because I think I might be dead tomorrow." He laughed and put her down gently.

"You looked great out there." Sara couldn't take the smile off her face. "I'm really impressed." She smiled proudly at JC and practically squealed as she gave him a quick kiss. "Really, that was awesome. I didn't think you could top the last tour but… wow."

"You like?" JC laced his fingers through hers and swung her hand back and forth as he tried to catch his breath.

"A lot." She laughed again and just stared at him. It was still hard for her to believe how much he'd changed in the last year. The last time she saw him on tour he seemed like he was always just a few short seconds from cutting himself all the time… but now it just looked like he was on top of the world.

"Hey Sara! I thought I saw you out there! Where were you before the show?" Justin asked as he walked up and gently bumped his hip against hers.

"I was here." Sara continued to smile. "You were getting fitted when I came through, then I was hustled out to my seat. What's up?"

"Not much. Man, this is gonna be a long tour." Justin shook his head and wiped his brow with the towel in his hand.

"You really looked great out there." Sara couldn't stop smiling as Justin's mother and two younger brothers rushed in and swarmed around him.

"Come on over here." JC smiled broadly as he pulled Sara off to the side. A drop of sweat lingered on the tip of his nose as he ran his fingers through his hair and exhaled sharply, "Man I'm glad you're here." He pulled her close for another sweaty hug and kissed her slowly as they stood by the wall.

"You're all sweaty and gross." Sara smiled as she stepped back a minute later.

"Yeah, I know. That's the price we pay though." He laughed and quickly swiped his arm over his nose. "So you liked it huh?"

"I loved it! I don't know how you guys will keep that up for three months, but if anyone can do it you can." She squeezed his hand as Heather walked up with a bottle of water.

"Here you go, you look like you need it." She held it out to JC.

"I just downed a bottle of Gatorade and pedialyte, if I drink any more I'll barf." JC laughed, but took the bottle anyway. "How'd you like it?" JC pulled his sister in for a hug and held on extra long.

"You guys were awesome as usual. You keep out doing yourselves, I mean really… that whole rat pack skit was classic. You've just sent a hoard of 14 year old into cardiac arrest." She laughed then smiled at Sara, "I didn't get a chance to say hi when you showed up, how are you?"

"I'm good, how about you? How's school?"

"Great, I'm glad the semester is almost over." She sighed and patted JC's shoulder. "Hey, I've gotta go find Ty… he was on a Joey hunt."

"Joey and his parents are in the dressing room." JC nodded toward the hall.

"Okay, I'll see you later." Heather kissed his cheek and beamed, "You really looked great out there."

"Thanks kid." JC hugged her again then let her go find Tyler. He watched her go as he shook his head, "I can't believe she's graduating college this year."

"She’s not a kid anymore huh?"

"She’ll always be a kid." JC smiled and ran his hands through his hair again. "I need to go get cleaned up and everything, do you want to hang out here or just meet up back at the hotel?"

"I’ll uh… I’ll wait here if that’s okay."

"That’s perfect." JC kissed her again to burn the feeling into his lips before he ran down the hall to the dressing rooms.

Sara hung out in the green room just standing off to the side, trying to take everything in. The emotions were high and the mood was ecstatic as the other guys mingled with their families for a few more minutes before heading to the showers themselves. There was a celebration planned back at the hotel so when the boys disappeared most of the guests left to try to beat the traffic. Sara waited with Tom and another member of the crew in the hallway until JC and lance walked out smelling like soap and dressed in clean, dry clothes.

"Much better." JC smiled and hugged Sara again, then dropped his arm around her waist, "Are you ready to party?"

"I can hardly see straight, but yeah, let’s go." She smiled and put her arm around his waist as well.

"How’s it going Sara?" Lance walked beside them as two security guards positioned themselves to their sides.

"Good, how are you?"

"Great." He smiled and tugged at his ear. "How’d you like the show?"

"It was amazing, you guys really out did yourself this time." She laughed. "You’ll have to actually jump from a plane and fly for your next tour."

"I think Chris would have to put his foot down there." Lance shook his head. "So are you going to hang out for a couple days?"

"Only until tomorrow." Sara frowned. "You guys are leaving around eleven right?"

"Yeah, quarter after." Lance nodded.

"What time is your flight?" JC asked.

"One o’clock. You guys are going by bus right?"

"Yeah." JC nodded.

"So you don’t have to worry about a mob at the airport." Lance laughed.

"Good." Sara squeezed JC quickly as they stepped out into the late night air. A small gathering of die hard fans waited against the chain link fence screaming as they walked the 20 feet to their vans.

When all of the guys finally arrived back at their hotel, a party was already in full swing at the rooftop bar and grill. JC introduced Sara around to almost everyone who was there, though she recognized most of them from the tour the year before. They stayed until the wee hours of the morning, then when they could barely remain standing JC and Sara went to their room three floors down.

"I’m so glad you’re here Sara." JC nuzzled her ear as they shut the door behind them. "I wish you could come out with us again."

"No you don’t." She insisted with little conviction.

"I do." He traced her bottom lip with his fingertip then kissed her again.

"Someone needs to watch your house."

"Don’t be so logical." JC laughed lightly and she shivered as his warm breath brushed her cheek. "Just say you will. Even if you won’t… just tell me you will."

"JC…" Sara started to argue as his mouth found hers again.

"Sara… tell me you’ll come out with us, just for tonight."

Sara knew what he meant. He just wanted to hear that she would, even though he knew that she wouldn’t. If she told him she would then for that time he could pretend that she would be there every night when he finished a show and for all of those long hours on the bus.

"Of course I will." She lied.

JC’s fingers laced through her curly hair and kissed her again as his other hand moved up the back of her shirt. When his cool hand touched her back she flinched away before falling into JC. She was too tired to stand up as it was, and the kisses he placed on her neck turned her knees to butter.

JC pressed is hand to her back to keep her standing and laughed lightly, "I didn’t think girls really went weak when you kissed them there."

"I guess you have that effect on women."

"At least this one." He laughed and bit at her neck playfully. He walked slowly toward the bed, half dragging her as he went.

Sara sat on the bed and tried to keep her eyes open as JC's hand on her back guided her toward the blankets. As soon as his head hit the pillow beside her, the day’s events collapsed on his shoulders and he yawned softly in her ear.

"Me too." Sara said with her eyes closed. She lazily pulled him to her and draped her arm over his stomach.

"Stay." He whispered.

"I'm here." She replied as JC kissed her again and nuzzled her ear gently, then his eyes drifted shut and he fell into a dreamless sleep.

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

Sara was up before JC's wake up call but she didn't move out of his embrace. She snuggled closer to him and kept still until the phone rang beside the bed. JC reluctantly rolled over to answer it after the seventh ring, "Yeah?" He mumbled before he cleared his throat. "Okay. Yeah. Thanks." JC hung up the phone and rolled over to face Sara. "Morning." His eyes were closed as he wrapped his arms around her waist again.

"Time to get up?" Sara whispered.

"Ten more minutes."

"What time is it?"

"Ten."

"What time do you have to leave?"

"Eleven." He mumbled into her shoulder.

"Then you definitely need to get up." Sara whispered, though she didn't move.

"I know." JC yawned and held her closer.

Sara let him doze off for a little while, then shook him lightly, "You need to get up Jace." She smoothed down his hair by his ear and spoke a little louder, "Come on babe, you can sleep on the bus."

"You’re comin’ with me, right?" He asked with a raised eyebrow, hoping the magic from the night before would follow him.

Sara shook her head slowly; "You need to get up."

"I know." He nodded and kissed her quickly. "Don’t want to."

"I know you don't, but if you miss the bus I'll be the one that gets in trouble." She laughed and scooted closer to the edge of the bed. It took a few tries but she managed to wiggle out of JC's arms and stand up at the foot of the bed. "Come on sleepy bones." Sara tugged the blanket off of JC's legs and grabbed his foot.

"Ten more minutes?" He mumbled into the pillow. "Come on and lay with me."

"JC it's ten thirty now…"

"You suck."

"So do you." She laughed and stretched her arms above her head. "Come on, come on. Get up so we don't have to rush."

"I don't like you." JC smiled over his shoulder.

"I don't like you either." She laughed and grabbed his arm to pull him out of the bed. JC stumbled to his feet then shuffled to the bathroom. When he emerged twenty minutes later he was still a little damp, and his clean shirt clung to his chest.

"Last chance. You sure you don't want to come with us?" JC asked as he checked his watch.

Sara laughed and kissed his minty lips. "I'd love to come with you hun, but you know I can't. I'm almost done with my semester and I have a lot to do to get ready for UCLA. Dr. Grayson wants to get together to talk about school and stuff before she leaves and I have to go back to work to pay for college." She sighed; after listening to all the things she had to do, running off with the tour didn't sound so bad.

"I know I know… it's just going to feel weird out there without you to vent to every night."

"You can call and vent a dozen times a day if you want." Sara smiled.

"But you won't be there."

"I know." Sara nodded. "Don't guilt trip me though, you know I'd go if I could."

"I'm not guilt tripping you, I'm just saying I'll miss you. A lot."

"I'm going to miss you too." Sara reached up and hugged him tightly.

"But I still have to go don't I?" JC laughed.

"Yeah." She took a step back as he reached for his huge duffel bag.

"Okay then, let's get this over with." He took a deep breath then opened the door and stepped out into the hall. Sara checked to make sure she had a room key, then followed him to where a crowd of the crew and the guys had gathered.

"I’ll call you tonight." JC said as they positioned themselves in a corner by the elevators.

"I won’t be home until about ten your time."

"Then I’ll call you after the show." His eyes danced around Sara’s face, etching it into his mind to carry him through the next couple of weeks until he’d be able to see her again. "We'll be back in Orlando."

"Didn't you just come from Orlando to here?" Sara asked.

"Yeah. We were supposed to kick off down there but they had venue issues, so we started up here."

"Ahh, I see."

"So I'll call you after the show, okay?"

"Yeah."

"Will you be at my house?"

"Um, yeah." Sara said softly. She'd spent almost every night at JC's house since he left.

"Load out guys, buddy up and find your team." Tom shouted as he walked up with his luggage over his shoulder.

"Are you coming down with us?" JC asked.

"Uh no." Sara shook her head. "The crowd downstairs is nuts and Tom said it would be best for me to stay up here until it thins out a little. I'm not big on crowds…"

"No, I know you aren't hun." JC used his free arm and brought her close again. He kissed the top of her head then tilted her chin up to look at him. "You'll be okay?"

"I'll be fine. I'm going to go back to the room and shower, then I'm on my way to the airport."

"Okay." He nodded and looked over his shoulder as the other guys and their crew got on the two awaiting elevators.

"Hey JC, you're my travel buddy." Joey laughed as he stepped on the elevator. "Come on travel buddy, let's go." One of their large guards held the door open as he smiled at JC.

"Love you." JC said as he kissed Sara goodbye.

"Love you too." She said softly as he licked his lips and turned to get on the elevator. She crossed her arms over her chest and forced a smile as the doors closed.

"Bye Sara!" She heard Joey shout from behind the guards. Sara laughed and waited for a few seconds after the doors shut until she went back to her room.

As she walked into the stuffy hotel room she could smell JC distinctly, his aftershave, his deodorant, his sweat from his discarded clothes accidentally left by the bathroom door. She picked up the clothes and stuffed them into her bag, then she jumped into the shower to get ready to leave for her flight home.

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

The garage door opened slowly as Sara waited in the driveway in JC's car with the radio playing sappy love songs. She parked the car then got her things out of the back and let herself in through the garage where she disarmed the house and went straight to the backyard to let Max in.

"Hey poochie! Did you miss me? Did you?" She leaned down and scratched him from his head to his tail causing him to wiggle even more. "I'll bet you think you're sleeping inside tonight don't you? I think you're right!" She laughed and hit the 'play' button on JC's answering machine.

The monotonous digital voice said, "You have two new messages." The first one was a hang up and the second was for Sara.

"Hi uh… Sara? This is Cassandra. Hey I hope I have the right number. So uh, if this isn't Sara just skip the message, but if it is, give me a call! I know you're getting in kinda late tonight, but I wanted to get together for dessert or something. I'm working till ten so give me a call at home after that. We can hit Denny's or Canters or something, you know, get come cheesecake or something. I haven't seen you in like a month. Call me call me call me!" Cassandra laughed then hung up.

Sara already had the phone in her hand and was dialing before Cassandra's message ended; she couldn't wait to see her friend. They made plans to meet in a half hour at the Denny's by Cassandra's apartment, but Sara wanted to change her clothes first. The jean shorts and t-shirt she wore on the plane felt stuck to her body as she walked down the hall toward the bedroom. Max was a step behind her, he didn't want to let her out of his site again, "I'm sorry Maxie baby, I'm leaving you again." She gave him a pouty lip then scratched him again. "But trust me, after this I'll be home for a couple months. No more weekend trips or anything like that." If he could have sighed he would have as he sulked over to the bed and dropped himself at the foot.

Sara stood in JC’s huge closet flipping through her clothes as she tried to decide what to wear. She wanted to wear her black sweater but she couldn’t find it anywhere. "Shoot, I’ll bet it’s at my place." Sara frowned at the clothes in front of her and sighed.

She started over at the beginning and went through her clothes one at a time to make sure she hadn’t just overlooked it. Sure enough, almost halfway through she found her sweater tucked between a work shirt and a bright Hawaiian print sundress. She pulled it off it’s hanger and over her head, but stopped as she went to pulled her hair out of the neck of the sweater.

The closet had gone from having all of JC’s clothes, to being split almost completely down the middle with her clothes. Somehow all of her clothes had ended up over there at JC’s house, either because she just hung them up after washing them… or because she unconsciously wanted to move it. Either way, she was moved in.

Sara smiled to herself, she hadn’t even been to her apartment in three weeks and yet she didn’t miss it. When she left work late at night her car directed her back to JC’s house, when she woke up in the morning she knew right where she was, when she left a message for Cassandra she rattled off JC’s number as if it were her own.

Without a doubt, she knew she was home. She laughed again to herself and shook her head; she'd have to talk to Cassandra about that over dessert. She didn't know what she needed to do as far as giving notice at her apartment complex… and she would need help moving the rest of her things.

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

JC yawned and stood up after spending an hour talking to Sara back in California, a thousand miles away. He clicked his cell phone off and rubbed is warm ear as he headed back toward the bunks, trying to be as quiet as he could. "Jace? Is that you?" Chris asked from his lower bunk.

"Yeah." JC whispered. "I was talking to Sara."

"What’s she up to?" Chris whispered and pulled his curtain back.

"School and stuff." JC shrugged as he repeatedly opened and shut the mouthpiece of his phone.

"Sounds like fun." Chris nodded.

"I miss her man." JC sighed and tossed his phone onto his bunk. They weren’t even halfway through the tour and all he wanted was a couple days off to see Sara.

"I know."

"Like… more than I should."

"How much should you miss her?" Chris smiled.

"I don’t know, but not this much." JC pulled himself onto his bunk, using Lance’s bunk as a step. "She’s not going to be able to come out like, at all. With school and work and everything, it’s nuts." He sighed and tried not to let it get to him. "I wanna go home." He pretended to whine.

"Home huh? You guys living together yet?" Chris snickered.

"Funny." JC grumbled and rolled over on his thin mattress to try to find a comfortable position. "No, we’re not. I might just skip that step though."

"Whoa." Chris leaned out from his bunk and looked up at JC. "Seriously?"

"I’ve been thinking about it." JC lay on his side and bunched his pillow under his head. "Seriously thinking about it." He closed his eyes and tugged at his drape. "You think I’m nuts?"

"Nuts? I think we all are." Chris smiled. "But I think with Sara you’re a little less nuts."

"I don’t want to mess things up though."

"With us or her?" Chris asked softly. When JC didn’t answer, Chris knew he meant both. "You’ll be cool with us, you know that Jace. We’re all about seeing each other happy. Sara makes you happy, you’re like a damn giddy kid when she’s around." Chris paused. "You won’t be messing anything up with us… don’t worry about that."

"Thanks." JC whispered.

"And you won’t mess things up with Sara either. You guys are perfect together." Chris smiled, "I’d be more pissed if you didn’t say anything. She’s great… and you guys love each other, right? So go for it."

JC nodded in response but didn’t say anything. Chris was right though, they loved each other. Marriage was the next logical step… and JC had a lot to think about.

 

 

 Next…

 

 

Copyright 2001, Amy Lynn