As soon as they stepped off the plane on Maui, Sara knew this would be like no vacation she had ever even dreamt of. Three young girls stopped in their tracks and grabbed each other as their parents continued walking. The older one shouted for their parents to wait, as she and her sisters ran over to JC. He positioned his sunglasses on his face and prepared for impact.

"Oh my God, JC!" The middle girl giggled as she clung to the youngest.

"Hey, how’s it going?" JC smiled as Sara stood by with her backpack in her hand.

"What are you doing here?"

"Are the other guys coming?"

"Where’s Justin?"

"Can I get your autograph?" The questions were shot at him like bullets and he calmly and quietly answered them all as he scribbled his name on several post cards and posed for a picture as the girls took turns snapping photos of the others with him.

"Come on girls. Leslie, Anna, Shelby, let’s go." Their father said as he stood off to the side. The mom slapped his arm and smiled as she whispered to him who JC was. The dad rolled his eyes, but smiled anyway. "Come on guys, let’s leave him alone, he’s on vacation too I’m sure." He said as he placed his hand on the middle girls head. "I’m sorry about that."

"It’s no problem." JC laughed. "Are you guys coming or going?"

"Going. We just spent a week here, and let me tell you…" He looked at the three girls practically bouncing out of their sandals, "That was more than enough."

"I know what you mean." JC smiled and waved as the father ushered the girls toward their own gate.

"Three point six seconds… is that a record?"

"Huh?"

"You were off the airplane for three point six seconds." Sara laughed.

"Ahh, no that's no record. We once had a girl run down the tunnel thing."

"Oh man." Sara said softly. She honestly had no idea what she was in for, and her nervousness came back in a completely different way.

They made it through baggage claim and then picked up their rental car. The guy behind the counter showed JC where the hotel was on a little map, then handed over the keys. JC found his way to the Kea Lani resort and they got checked into their suite without incident. "Why am I so tired? It's only something like ten o'clock." She checked the alarm clock on the nightstand.

"That's Hawaii time. It's one in the morning LA time." JC laughed, then covered his mouth as he yawned.

"That would explain it then." She dropped her bag on the floor and knelt beside it to get her pajamas out. "What are we doing tomorrow?"

"Winging it."

"Do you have anything planned for our two weeks here?" Sara laughed as she took her pajamas and bathroom stuff into the bathroom. "Holy smokes, the bathroom is bigger than the Blue Banana."

"The what?"

"Haven't you ever seen "Pretty Woman"? You know… the Blue Banana?"

"Sara?"

"Huh?" She asked as she stuck her toothbrush in her mouth.

"You're the weirdest person I know."

"JC?" She smiled.

"Huh?"

"I know." Sara laughed then spit in the sink. She came out a minute later in her satiny short and tank top pajamas then sat at the foot of the bed.

"The only thing I have planned for us while we're here is to relax and to somewhere along the lines get some souvenirs to take home to my mom. That's it." JC took his shirt off and tossed it toward the suitcases as he lay back on the bed with his hands behind his head. "Is there anything you want to do?"

"I want to hike up to the waterfalls, but that's about it. Oh! And see a volcano, and eat fresh pineapple."

"I think we can manage that." JC laughed lightly then yawned.

"But mostly I just want to hang out with you. We've got lots of time to make up for and save up for."

"You'll be out to see us on the road, right?"

"Yeah." Sara nodded. "When I can."

"Cool." JC nodded.

"I'm going to bed now."

"Okay."

"You're in my space."

"Your space?"

"That's my side." She looked at him as though he should know exactly what she was talking about.

"We have sides of the bed?" He asked.

"Have you ever slept anywhere but on that side?"

"Yeah when I was - " He stopped just in time as Sara raised an eyebrow at him.

"Go on… when you were…?"

"When I was uh… on the road." He answered with a sly smile. JC knew better than to bring up ex-girlfriends when he was in Hawaii with his current girlfriend.

"Uh huh, that's what I thought. How about with me? Have you ever slept anywhere but there?"

"Nope, I guess not." He shook his head.

"That's right, you're in my space." Sara laughed and waited patiently for him to get up. He walked slowly to the bathroom as she made herself comfortable under the covers.

When JC came back a few minutes later he turned the lights off and wrapped his arms around Sara's middle. "Hey."

"Hmm?" She whispered.

"We're in Maui." He smiled and kissed her bare shoulder.

"I know." She laughed lightly. "You know where I'd rather be?"

"Where?" JC furrowed his brow, he could think of no where else he'd rather be.

"No where." Sara smiled and turned to face him as she kissed him softly.

"Me neither." JC pulled her to him and kissed her again, he'd be happy if he could stay there forever.

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

They had fresh fruit for breakfast, then changed into their swimsuits and shorts to check out the shops and beaches near their hotel. JC held Sara's hand casually as they walked from store to store, buying little trinkets and post cards as they came across them. He wore his baseball cap and sunglasses as a disguise and it seemed to be working pretty well. But JC knew better than that. Things were fine for the time being, but all it took was one fan, one ballistic teen-age girl, then all hell would break loose and no hat or sunglasses would help.

Sara knew that JC was worried about being recognized, she could tell by the way he stayed off to the side in stores and didn't say much when other people were in earshot. She refrained from using his name as often as she could, "Hey hun, doesn't your brother collect shot glasses?"

"Hmm?" JC asked as he turned away from a rack of silk flower leis. "Oh, yeah. He does. Did you find some?"

"There are a whole bunch over here." Sara smiled and led him by the hand to the opposite side of the store. They picked out two shot glasses and took them to the front. JC handed Sara his wallet, then leaned on the counter facing the door.

"Excuse me, I'm really sorry to bother you, but do you um… can I get your autograph?" The lady behind the counter asked softly.

"Sure." JC turned around and smiled, his disguise was useless.

"I know you're on vacation and everything… but I don't think I'll ever get this chance again." Her voice shook slightly as JC signed the notepad of paper she put on the counter for him.

"It's okay." JC said softly. "What's your name?"

"Oh uh, Kalani." She spelled it for him and took the paper back with a shaky hand. "Thank you… thank you so much." She managed to keep her cool as she rang up the purchase. JC only hoped she wouldn't call all of her friends as soon as he left the store.

"You're welcome." JC smiled and grabbed the bag from the counter.

"Thanks." Sara added, as if the lady knew she was there.

"Have a nice vacation." Kalani added as they walked away. No one else in the store even glanced at them as JC and Sara left, clanging the bell above the door.

"Should we risk the beach?" Sara asked when they were almost back to their hotel.

JC paused for a second, absorbing Sara's tone. "Maybe we should stick to the pool today. It's already one and sand in the shorts sucks."

"Okay." She nodded and stepped out into the empty street.

"We'll walk down tonight and watch the sunset… how does that sound?"

"Sounds great." Sara smiled over her shoulder as the breeze picked up a stray curl and tossed it over her forehead. She brushed it out of the way and laughed, "Can we re-enact a cheesy love scene?"

"Of course." JC laughed with her and dropped his arm around her waist. "What cheesy love scene were you thinking of? The whole 'back of the car' scene from Titanic?"

"On the beach? I don't think so."

"The New Years Eve scene from "When Harry Met Sally"?" Sara gave him an odd look as he continued, "Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler in "Armageddon"?"

"You know too many chick flick cheesy love scenes." Sara shook her head as they walked into the hotel lobby and down the walkway to their suite.

"I'm a sensitive guy." JC tried to explain.

"Uh huh." Sara laughed and waited by their door for him to unlock it.

"I am."

"I know." Sara followed him in and they set their bags in the closet then headed out to the pool after grabbing beach towels.

The afternoon sun reflected off the almost empty pool as JC wove through the vacant sun chairs to the opposite side of the pool where they would get the most sun. Sara took her shorts off and adjusted the waist of her bikini bottom, then straightened the towel on her pool chair and sat down to untie her sneakers. JC watched from behind his mirrored glasses as she placed her shoes under the seat and stood up to straighten her top and tuck her hair behind her ear.

She looked up suddenly and smiled, "Are you going in?"

"Uh, yeah." He nodded and slipped his shoes off beside hers.

"Great." She grinned and held his gaze for a second, looking at her reflection in his glasses. "Are you going to take those off?"

"Y-yeah." JC plucked them from his face and dropped them on the towel, squinting at the brightness.

"You okay?" Sara laughed lightly and gave him a look.

"I'm fine." He nodded and pulled his tank top over his head then jumped into the pool splashing Sara's feet with water. He surfaced a couple feet away and ran his hands over his face to wipe the water off. "It's like bath water." He shook his head sending a spray of water all around him.

Sara slid in slowly and cringed, the water seemed a lot cooler than JC made it sound. She took a deep breath then went below the surface, swimming almost the complete width of the pool before coming up for air. They played around in the pool for a while before other people began to show up and join them. Everyone pretty much kept to themselves and soon JC and Sara found their way over to the side of the pool where a waitress came and took their drink orders.

"Can I get a picture?" A man in dark blue shorts asked as he walked up to where they rested their elbows on the edge of the pool.

Sara squinted up at the guy and kicked JC’s knee under the water; "Can he get a picture?" She asked sweetly, pouring on the sarcasm.

"Are you with the hotel? Taking shots of the guests as they enjoy their private vacations away from the stress and annoyance of their jobs? You know, getting away from the office, leaving all that behind to come to Maui with their beautiful girlfriend, because if so that’s a great idea man, I know everyone here would love to get a free 8x10 picture to help remember their vacation." JC smiled up at the photographer, hoping others in the pool had heard him.

"No, I’m not from the hotel." The photographer said nervously. JC smiled, this guy was new and JC knew he couldn’t go back to the office without a picture, if that was what he was sent to get. Besides, the kid asked which is a lot more than most photographers would do.

"Would you mind?" JC asked Sara, who simply shrugged in reply. JC wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her closer to him as he smiled up at the camera. Sara was looking up at JC the whole time, and the photographer seemed happy with that.

"Thanks man, enjoy your vacation." The photographer snapped off a couple more pictures really quick before standing up. He waved over his shoulder then ducked back into the hotel.

"Sorry." JC said out of habit.

"It’s okay." Sara sighed, then dunked under the water and swam across to the other side of the pool where their towels were laid out.

Water pooled by Sara’s feet as she straightened her towel again then sat back on the pool chair. She sighed and adjusted the back so that she was at more of an angle and smiled as JC pushed himself up on the edge of the pool. He swung his leg out and stood up in one fluid movement and Sara could see why all the girls swooned over him. She’d known that he was handsome since she met him, that was never a question. But seeing him stand there looking like he didn’t have a care in the world, she could see what the other girls saw and for the first time she felt a twinge of jealousy. It was quickly washed away when JC bent over her legs to kiss her forehead, dripping cool water across her tummy.

"Know what?"

"What?" She asked with a quiet laugh.

He sat on the chair beside hers and adjusted his towel, "I love you, and I just keep finding more and more reasons. You’ve handled all this fan stuff great this week… that’s hard to do sometimes." Sara just blushed and smiled, he couldn’t imagine how hard it was for her to stand back while he was "JC Chasez".

"I love you too." She said softly as JC smiled then closed his eyes and lay back in his chair.

After an hour of lying out they decided to go back and clean up before dinner, so they wouldn’t smell of chlorine and sunscreen. They dressed in actual clothes instead of shirts thrown on over their bathing suits, then headed out to a restaurant that the concierge recommended that was just up the beach a ways.

They ate dinner at a small beachfront restaurant on the sand and walked casually back up the beach to their hotel afterwards. JC pulled her hand gently and stopped walking when they reached a little cove just before the beach in front of where they were staying. "Remember when we were talking earlier?"

"Earlier? We've been talking all day, can you be more specific?" Sara laughed and brushed her hair off her cheek.

"Re-enacting cheesy love scenes."

"Ooh that! Yes, I remember that conversation."

Out of no where JC swept his leg around and dropped Sara on her back in the sand, "Is this what you had in mind? "From Here to Eternity"?" He asked with a smile as the waves lapped at their feet.

"We're not close enough to the water." Sara laughed as he lay on her chest.

"Do you want to stand up and try it again?" He asked with a devilish smile.

"No." She shook her head and continued to laugh. "This has got to be the most un-sexy I've ever felt."

"Oh yeah?" JC leaned down and kissed her but she pushed him away after only a few seconds. "What?"

"I can't breathe." She laughed. "I don't know how Deborah Kerr did this with Burt Lancaster laying on her."

"You're ruining the moment." JC laughed and used his hands to support some of his weight. He couldn't help but laugh as she tried to wipe the sand off her cheek with her already sandy hands.

"JC, this is the antidote to sexiness, let me up." She laughed and tried to push him off.

"Play along." JC reached for her wrists to hold her still. "Just one, and then I'll let you go."

"I'm all sandy and g -" Sara started. He cut her off with a hungry kiss and smiled against her lips as she relaxed under him.

"There, that's all I wanted." JC held his face directly over hers and studied her eyelashes. "Was that so hard?"

"Are you done?" She smiled and raised her eyebrow at him.

"Do you really want to ask that?"

"Can I get up now?" She laughed and tried again to push him off. He reluctantly fell to the side and let her stand up and brush the sand off her bare legs. "Come on, let's go back up so I can clean myself up before I go to bed." JC didn't make a move to get up; he simply rolled onto his side. "Let's go… come on, or else there will be sand all in the bed and that's gross." She reached down and offered her hand to help pull him up, then again tried to wipe the sand off her shorts.

They slept with the large sliding glass door open all night to hear the waves on the beach not far from their balcony. It stopped raining during the night and they woke up to bright sunny skies.

JC talked Sara into braving the beach to go snorkeling and to check out the coral reefs that were everywhere. They hovered above a school of brightly colored fish with their hands locked together. Sara had never been snorkeling before and she was still very nervous about sharks. JC tried to smile around his mouthpiece, but ended up just looking silly and that set her mind at ease.

With her head under the water the only sound Sara heard was the beating of her own heart and the silence of the water. After more than an hour on the water they reluctantly went back to shore and took their masks off, "You look like a raccoon." JC laughed as they handed their gear over to the guy they had rented it from.

"So do you." Sara reached back to wring out her hair. "That was amazing, there was a huge school of fish out there, do you know what kind they were?" She asked the snorkel guy.

"What’d they look like?"

"They were kinda big, maybe four or five inches, and they were white kind of with a little black and a yellow tail." Sara explained as she held her hands about five inches apart.

"With like a black dot on the tail, it looked like an eye." JC added.

"Ahh, those are butterfly fish, pretty aren’t they?" The guy laughed.

"They’re beautiful." Sara nodded. "What about the blue and yellow ones? They were a little smaller though, and we didn’t see as many."

"Those were probably the damselfish… bright blue?"

"Yeah." JC nodded.

"Yeah those are damselfish. Did you see any sharks out there?"

"No, thank goodness." Sara held her hand over her chest. "You’d have had to carry me in if I saw one."

"They pretty much leave you alone unless you start messing with them." The guy laughed and dropped their gear in a big tank of water. "Did you have a good time?"

"It was great, thank you so much."

"Anytime." He waved as JC and Sara stepped out of the little store. They walked back across the street to the beach and were approached by two young girls looking for an autograph and some photos.

Sara did her best to ignore the fans, but realized that wouldn’t make anything better. She smiled when she was asked and politely stood to the side when JC was signing autographs and making small talk with them. They usually kept their cool and left in a fit of giddy laughter when they were through, but every now and then a group of them would follow JC and Sara up the beach or into shops.

The photographers were more annoying than the fans, simply because they followed them everywhere. For the most part they kept a low profile just out of their line of vision, but she knew they were there, and that was the annoying part.

JC tried to apologize, but Sara waved him off, "Don’t apologize, they’re your fans, you can’t just say no." The smile she gave was forced, but she didn’t see a reason to complain if it would only cast another shadow on the vacation.

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

When Sara awoke the next morning she was alone in the room. There was no note from JC so she assumed he’d gone out to pick something up. She ran her fingers through her hair as she yawned, then reached for the scrunchie that had fallen out during the night. She stood up and stretched as she walked toward the glass doors leading to the balcony. She pulled them open and the ocean breeze blew in to wake her up even more.

She walked to the railing and leaned on it to watch the people walking on the beach in front of the hotel. The rain had stopped and the sky looked clear as she leaned way out to look up past the awning.

Sara heard JC’s key in the lock a few minutes later, but she didn’t move from the balcony. She closed her eyes and imagined that they could stay there in Hawaii forever… without the troublesome disturbances.

"Guess what I’ve got?" JC asked as he walked into the room. He dropped his room key on the table along with a few Danishes he’d picked up then continued over to the balcony where Sara was standing at the rail in her pajamas.

"Hmm?" She opened her eyes slowly and looked over her shoulder.

"I went downstairs and I found one of the best hiking trails in Maui." He held a glossy pamphlet out to her. "Guess where it goes?"

"To the waterfalls?" Sara asked excitedly as she grabbed it from his hand.

"Yep, it’s a four mile hike so it’ll take a while… but I think it’s just what we need." He joined her on the balcony; "If the clear skies keep up it’ll be a beautiful hike."

"When are we going?" Sara could hardly contain herself. Seeing the waterfalls was one of her main goals for the trip and the hike would almost guarantee her some more private time with JC.

"This afternoon if you want." He nodded. "They have tour guides that can take us, but I thought we would just do it ourselves. The guy said that the path was really well marked and easy to follow, the guide just kinda tell you what’s what and things like that."

"That’s okay, we can do it by ourselves." Sara threw her arms around his neck, "This is perfect, thank you so much JC. I know I keep saying that, but this is really just… just perfect."

"You’re welcome." He laughed. "So let’s get ready. We’ve got to drive about a half hour to get there and if we want to do the whole hike and be back here in time to hop our flight to Oahu, we’ve gotta get a move on it."

"Yay!" Sara bounced past him into the room and grabbed her clothes out of the suitcase. "We get to go see waterfalls!" She giggled and forgot about the annoyances from earlier in the week.

She dressed as fast as she could, then ate one of the Danishes on their way out to the car. "How far is it?"

"About twenty or so miles. It’s just outside of Hana and that’s just a little ways from here."

"What’s it called?"

"Kipahulu Valley. And I’m sure I pronounced it wrong." He laughed as she flipped through the little booklet.

"I can’t wait." Sara bounced in her shoes as JC unlocked the car doors and let her in. JC loved seeing her this excited over little things, that was one of his favorite things about her. They rolled the windows down for the drive into the tropical valley.

There was a tiny parking lot next to what looked like a ranger's station with a phone and restrooms nearby. Sara bought a couple post cards and sat on the bumper of the car to fill them out while JC used the restroom. She stuck them in her backpack then tossed it over her shoulders as JC walked up and extended his hand, "Let’s go." They both had smiles spread across their faces as they walked across the parking lot to the bottom of the trail.

Two couples passed JC and Sara as they started up the path and JC stopped them to see how the trail was. "It’s great, don’t bother going all the way up though." One of the guys said.

"Yeah?" JC frowned.

"Yeah, it’s all right, I mean if you’ve got the time. But there’s this little break out about three quarters of the way up on the right, you can’t really miss it." The same guy said as the rest of his friends continued past them. "The view there is spectacular, worth the whole hike up." He laughed.

"What’s at the top? Sara asked.

"The same view pretty much." He shrugged. "Just a little higher up. You also pass more banana trees, but there are plenty of them on your way."

"Cool, thanks." JC smiled as the guy waved and trotted after his friends. "Sounds like fun."

"I’m just excited to see waterfalls." Sara laughed and adjusted the backpack on her shoulders.

"Me too, come on." JC nodded toward the path and they started the trek up to the top.

They were more than a half mile up before they stopped to check out some bright purple flowers that were growing just off the path. Sara stopped and stooped down to get a closer look and noticed two people on the trail just below them.

She didn’t think anything at first, they had run into several people who were on their way down, so having others starting up the trail after them was nothing out of the ordinary. What was out of the ordinary was the fact that they were not dressed for hiking, and carried a camera directed at them.

"Hey." Sara said softly.

"What is it?" JC smiled and knelt beside her to see the flower.

"More reporters. Are you really that hot of a ticket?" She asked with a tight smile.

"Shit." JC sighed and stood up with his hands on his hips. "Just ignore them. I’ve about had it." He turned quickly and started back up the trail.

Sara could only match his sigh and follow him, if they ignored them, maybe they’d go away.

"Are they still back there?" JC asked more than an hour later as they reached the three-mile mark. The ground was softer as the got higher; it had obviously rained not long before they got there.

Sara looked over her shoulder and saw the two photographers fifty feet behind them, "Yeah."

JC just scowled and shook his head, he refused to let them get the best of him and ruin their hike. They continued up the path to the cut out where there was a railing and a few small benches. "Wow, babe look at this. This is unbelievable." He reached out his hand to help her up the last few steps, then pulled her close as they looked down on what could be a jungle with a waterfall in the background.

"Wow…" Sara smiled and leaned into his chest as he wrapped his arms around her. "It feels like we’re at the top of the world, doesn’t it?"

"It sure does." JC smiled and leaned down to kiss her, but a movement caught his eye by the trail. A photographer stopped and adjusted his lens as JC tensed up.

Without looking Sara knew that the photographers had just crossed a line. She sighed and rolled her eyes; the wonder of the moment was gone. "Let’s just go."

Sara had been able to handle the ones who snapped their picture from a distance, and after a while she practically tuned them out. There were more than she expected, but then again, she had no idea what to expect. However one side of Sara knew that following someone as they hiked then trying to snap a photo of a private moment was uncalled for.

"We hiked all the way up here…" JC said softly as he looked back out over the scene laid out in front of them.

"I know." Sara tried not to cry as she took his hand and pulled him back toward the trail down.

"You’re ruining our vacation." JC spat as they brushed by the two men that had followed them. "Have some fucking courtesy."

"JC." Sara said softly as she continued to tug him along, "Ignore them."

They made their way back down the path without seeing the two guys again, JC wanted to apologize but he knew that was getting old. He would apologize and Sara would say it was okay, when he knew it wasn’t. He should have known better than to try to take an actual vacation so soon after releasing the album.

They made their way back to the car and drove back to the hotel in silence as it started to rain again. Sara rested her elbow on the open window and stared out at the passing sights. "Maybe things will be better when we get to Waikiki." She thought to herself. She knew there would be more people there, and thought they might blend in a little more.

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

Sara put the last of her tiny souvenirs into her bag as JC bushed his teeth; they only had an hour to get to the airport for their flight to Honolulu. "So we’ll be in Honolulu for four days?"

"Yeah, well… the rest of today, Thursday, Friday then we leave for LA Saturday morning."

"And when do you go back to Florida?"

"Sunday night, I'm taking the red eye."

"That's a lot of air time." Sara frowned.

"Yeah." JC agreed. "But it's worth it."

"Don't you get sick of flying?"

"I get lots of free tickets with all the skymiles I have." JC laughed. "But yeah, sometimes I get sick of flying. Like Lance says, the chances of a plane crashing are like, a million to one. But we fly so much that every time we go it's like we're testing those odds."

"That's morbid."

"That's Lance." JC shrugged.

"How can you fly with him when he talks like that?"

"I tune him out and take a nap." JC laughed and moved their luggage closer to the door. "Are you about ready?"

"Yeah." Sara zipped her bag shut and carried it to the door.

They checked out then drove their rental car back to the airport and dropped it off before running to catch their plane. Sara looked the plane over as they walked across the tarmac with the sun setting in the background, "Dang, that thing only holds like ten people." She muttered to JC.

JC gave her a nervous smile as images of Ritchie Valens and Buddy Holly flashed across his mind. The plane was tiny with only fifteen windows on each side. "It'll be okay." He nodded to reassure himself as he hoisted his backpack onto his shoulder. The rain started as they hopped up the metal stairs and JC looking longingly back at the airport.

"I'm… gonna… hurl." Sara whispered as she walked down the narrow aisle to her seat.

"Please… please don’t." JC couldn't be more serious, but he smiled anyway. They sat in their tight seats and held each other’s hand the whole way to Honolulu.

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

Rain poured down as JC and Sara left the Honolulu airport in their rental car. Sara held the map out in front of her and tried to point JC in the right direction to get to their hotel by the beach.

They pulled up in front of a sculpted pink hotel nestled up close to the broad beach; the Royal Hawaiian awaited them. Fresh flower lei’s were placed over their heads as they entered the lobby and checked in, "Let’s never leave." Sara whispered as she looked around.

JC signed his name on the register, then looked outside, "Sounds like a plan." He smiled and took the key from the hotel manager before they headed for their room. As soon as JC got the door open, Sara bolted inside.

"Oh my goodness! JC look at this!" Sara ran across the room and threw the tall glass doors open. She stepped out onto the balcony beside a wrought iron patio set and leaned against the railing, "Look at this! It stopped raining!"

"That's pretty cool."

"Cool? This is amazing. Can we just wrap up this room and take it home with us? You can just drop it on the back of your house and we can look out over your backyard or something?"

"You bet, see if it'll fit in the suitcase." JC laughed and stepped out beside her. "While you're at it, pack up the view." He smiled down at her then kissed the corner of her mouth. "Let's go for a walk." He said softly.

"Okay." Sara smiled, but in the back of her mind she was frowning. He wanted to go for a walk because they just got there, and maybe they would actually get some alone time outside without the prying eyes of the photographers and fans. No one knew they were there… yet.

"Okay." He smiled and kissed her again. They locked up the room and snuck out the side entrance of the hotel and walked down to the practically deserted beach. There were two other couples walking along the waters edge, but they were far enough away that JC and Sara had all the privacy they wanted.

"I'm glad it stopped raining." Sara said as she looked up at the star filled sky.

"So am I." JC's bare feet sunk with each step and he lightly kicked at the sand. "It's hard to believe we're halfway done with our vacation, huh?"

Sara sighed and looked out over the water, "I still just can't believe I'm here." She slowly turned to look back at JC. "You're not going to knock my feet out from under me again, are you?"

"No." JC laughed and shook his head, "Not tonight."

"Good." She stopped and reached up to smooth down his eyebrow as she let her fingers linger by his cheek. She tilted her head to the side as if to study him, then slowly brought her lips to his, if only to reassure herself that she was having a good time.

JC let the kiss linger for a few minutes before pulling back and brushing her hair out of her eyes; "You look tired."

"I am." She said softly.

"Let’s go back then… I know the sun takes a lot out of you."

Sara nodded, but neither of them moved. She had spent the last couple days trying to enjoy the little bits of time they had alone while trying to ignore the times when they weren’t. Nighttime seemed to be the only time they were able to be out in public alone and she didn’t want it to end so soon.

"Hey… if you want to call Dr. Grayson or anything, you can. I know you talk to her a couple times a week, so if you want to you can." JC watched Sara’s brow furrow.

She blinked quickly and looked up at him, "I’m doing alright."

"No, I know."

"I’ll give her a call when we get back, she wants me to bring lots of pictures and stories."

"You can tell her all about snorkeling."

"And the tiny airplane."

"And the waterfalls and everything."

"You should come with me." Sara smiled, hoping he’d say yes. He hadn’t set foot in Wycroft since the day he left, and she thought it might be good for him.

He paused just the slightest bit then nodded, "Yeah. Yeah we’ll have to go together."

"Cool." Sara smiled and covered her mouth as she yawned.

"Cool." JC nodded back toward the hotel. "Let’s go." He let his arm fall around her waist as they walked back to the hotel to go to bed.

As JC turned the light off and climbed into bed, he thought to himself, "I hope this vacation gets better. She’s smiling through it all, but this can’t be fun. I really hope this gets better."

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

Their first full day on Oahu was spent mostly indoors as they checked out their hotel and visited the Day Spa for massages. Sara received a facial as well and was in heaven as she floated back to her room where JC had dinner set up outside on their covered balcony.

The rain had stopped but the warm dampness in the air made the evening feel like a blanket draped over their shoulders, "Are you having a good time?" JC asked softly as he took a bite of his dinner.

"I’m having a great time." Sara said after a moment's pause. That was the truth, at that moment she was having a great time. However, the week was taking its toll on her and she wasn’t sure how much more she could take. She wanted to be able to go to the beach with her boyfriend, or to walk around the streets shopping or even go out to dinner in private.

JC noticed the pause but didn’t say anything. He didn’t want to say anything that might upset their vacation, he knew she was getting tired of the constant attention from fans and photographers but he wasn’t sure how to stop that. "Do you miss home?" He asked instead.

"Yeah." Sara smiled and looked down at the fork in her hand. "As weird as that sounds, I really do."

"Me too." He nodded.

"But this is the most beautiful place I've ever seen." Sara looked to her left at the beach less than 50 yards away. "Thank you so much for bringing me here."

"You're welcome. I'm glad you like it." He concentrated on his dinner as the words left unsaid hung in the air.

Sara took a deep breath and looked up like she was going to say something, then changed her mind. "What?" JC asked as he tilted his head to the side.

"Nothing. Nevermind."

JC looked at her for a second then put his fork down, "No, what's wrong?"

"I just… I don't remember it being at all like this back in LA. Am I just missing something? It seems like there are just more people here bugging you. You know what I mean?"

"Yeah, I know what you mean."

"More photographers I mean. The fans are about the same everywhere and I can deal with that… but…" She shrugged. "I don't like my picture taken on a good day, nevermind all day everyday. I'm not photogenic at all."

"You're beautiful." JC smiled.

Sara sighed and rolled her eyes, she didn't consider herself beautiful but it was pointless to try to argue with JC about that. "That's not the same thing."

"I know it's not, but you have nothing to worry about. You'll look fine no matter what." He smiled and tucked a curl behind her ear. "This is the hoopla over the album and the tour and everything. It won't always be like this."

"I know." Sara smiled and placed her hand over his. "It just takes some getting used to. I just wish I could get used to it at home and not on our vacation."

"I do too." JC nodded and played with his fork in his free hand.

"But this is fine, at least we're getting some alone time together before you head out on tour, right?" Sara leaned down to catch his eye. "Right?"

"Right." He nodded slowly and smiled.

"Okay then. No more griping about anything. I'll promise to grin and bear it with the fans and everything, if you'll promise not to brood."

"I'm brooding?"

"You've been known to be a brooder." She smiled.

"Okay." JC laughed. "No more of any of that."

"From now on, we'll just make the best of this vacation."

"Even if it means staying indoors." JC nodded.

Sara looked out over the balcony as it began to rain again; "I think that actually sounds like a good idea."

"Me too." JC smiled and felt completely relaxed for the first time since they stepped off the airplane in Maui.

They spent the evening in their room listening to the rain pound on the pavement outside. It was still warm so they left the huge windows open with the smell of the ocean washing over the room and the sound of the rain and waves lulling them to sleep.

When they woke up the next morning they casually walked down to the little pool side restaurant in their hotel and ate a light breakfast of fresh fruits and pastries. Several girls walked up asking for autographs, which JC happily supplied them with. They politely left after a few minutes of conversation and Sara and JC were left alone to eat.

It had stopped raining during the night but the streets were still damp as they walked around Waikiki picking up gifts and souvenirs for their friends back home. Sara insisted that they buy an oyster from one of the street vendors to open it up and see the pearl inside. Of course, after she did one, she wanted to do another to make a pair of earrings, only the pearls didn't match, so she bought another. In the end she had a pair of earrings and three loose pearls she would have set some other time, or give them as gifts.

"You know those are a rip off right?" JC asked as they headed back to their hotel.

"I know, but it's something you have to do. I mean, where can you go in LA and crack open an oyster and get yourself a pearl?"

"There's a store in the Century City mall that does it."

"Shut up, are you serious?"

"Yep." JC laughed and took one of the bags from her so one hand was free for him to hold.

"So I just spent like two hours getting pearls for $11 each and I could have done that at home?" Sara laughed and looked up into his mirrored sunglasses.

"Yep. In fact I think it's cheaper at home."

"Damn, that's not cool."

"But look at it this way, if you forgot anyone you can always go get them a pearl when we get home." JC laughed and swung her hand gently.

"You suck." Sara laughed and looked up at the sky as it started to rain again.

"Come on." JC squeezed her hand and ducked under an awning of a store as the raindrops left quarter sized marks on the sidewalk.

"What are you made of, sugar? You're not going to melt." Sara laughed and pulled JC out into the rain where they walked at a leisurely pace back to their hotel. They arrived soaking wet and laughing, then went up to their room to change into the bathing suits to hit the pool. Rain or no rain, they were going to try their hardest to have fun.

After more than an hour in the pool they decided to call it a day and head back up to their room to have some dinner, "All the room service stuff sounds too hot." Sara complained as she looked over the menu. "Can't they just bring us a huge salad with mandarin orange slices and spinach? Man, doesn't that sound good?"

"Sounds like rabbit food." JC said as he looked in the mini fridge by the entertainment unit. "Man, we need to stock up on junk food."

"There’s a little supermarket up the street a block or so." Sara breathed on the window and drew a heart in the fog. The rain had let up a lot since they got back and was slowing to barely a drizzle.

"Wanna walk up there and get some grub? Maybe some alfalfa or turnip greens?" He laughed.

"Sure." She smiled and turned away from the window. "This is a freak of mother nature. There’s no way it should be this hot and raining at the same time." Her skin glistened with sweat as she stood in front of the air conditioner.

"Definitely weird, huh?" JC smiled and nodded for the door. "I don’t know about you, but I’m in the mood for chocolate and potato chips."

"Gross." She made a face.

"Not at the same time." JC laughed. "Come on." He grabbed his wallet off the dresser and tucked it in the back pocket of his shorts. He pulled his cap on and carried his sunglasses as they headed for the door.

Sara pulled a brightly colored floral shirt on over her bathing suit and shorts, then followed JC. They walked hand in hand down the damp street and watched the clouds that threatened more rain. The week had been interesting so far, and she learned more about what it would be like to be a celebrity's girlfriend. She wasn’t sure if she was comfortable with it, but she was willing to put it out of her mind, she was in Hawaii and nothing could spoil that.

JC picked up a small shopping basket as they entered the little store and they walked up and down the aisles picking snacks at random. "If you’re going to get Raisinettes then I get to get Fritos." JC laughed.

"Fritos are nasty."

"Oh, but chocolate with raisins is good?" He laughed and pushed his sunglasses up on his nose. Sara dropped the candy into the basket and they headed for the register. The basket was filled with enough food to keep them on a sugar high for a couple more days.

JC hummed an old Beatles tune as he tapped his feet by the register and swung the little basket in his hand. Sara stood beside him and rested her head on his shoulder and let her eyes wander over the magazines on the rack.

"Whoa, whoa, WHOA." Sara grabbed one of the tabloids off the rack and pulled JC out of the line. "Whoa."

"Sara, come on." JC tugged his arm free and stepped back up to the register.

"No, wait. Look." She turned the magazine around and showed JC the cover. Her tired looking, depressed expression stared back at him. "That? That right there? That’s me." She lowered her voice and pulled him out of line again.

"What?!"

"That’s… that’s me."

"I… yeah… what?" He snatched the tabloid from her hands and dropped the small red basket of groceries to the floor. "What is this?"

"You drive me crazy is more than just a catchy tune for Nsync member JC Chasez." She read from the cover.

"What the fuck?" JC flipped angrily through the magazine as Sara stood against the wall as her hands started to shake.

"Get me out of here." She said with an uneven voice. JC stood there skimming the article as the blood drained from his face. "JC, get. Me. Out. Of. Here." She whispered slowly, very aware of the scene that they were causing.

JC stood there motionless and continued to read the short story as he held his breath. Sara released his arm and turned quickly, then bolted out the front door of the store. She didn’t stop until she came to the corner in front of their hotel where she pressed the button to cross the street and waited, impatiently tapping her foot and fidgeting with her hands.

Sara felt like everyone who passed her was staring at her, recognizing her, judging her by what the tabloids said. She hadn’t read the entire article, but what she had read had only been partially true, it had gotten way out of hand. The light changed on the other side of the street and she hurriedly stepped off the curb and into the crosswalk with her hands in fists at her side.

"Sara, hang on." JC shouted after her when she was halfway across. He ran up beside her and reached for her elbow as her angry tears overflowed onto her cheeks, mixing with the rain that was beginning to fall again. "Wait." He tried to stop her from walking, but she yanked her arm away from him and ran the rest of the way across the street.

Sara disappeared into the hotel with JC only a few steps behind her. She stepped on the first elevator and watched as the doors shut before JC could catch up. Sara rode in cold silence to their floor and stormed down the hall when it stopped. The door unlocked on the first try and Sara shoved the door open. "This is all your fault." She said as JC rushed into the hotel room behind her. She threw her little purse across the room and cringed as it flew off the bed and scattered its contents onto the floor.

"My fault? Sara, I didn’t te-"

"No, you didn’t tell anyone. And yet they know. This is your fault JC. My private life is in everyone’s grocery stores right now. That’s my private life. That’s my life JC." She kicked at the foot of the bed and wished for something else to throw.

"This will all blow over soo-"

"Stop talking to me JC. I don’t even want to see you right now. This whole week has been shit and it’s your fault."

"Sara…" JC reached out to try to calm her down but she flinched away.

"The photographers following us on our hike, the fans on the beach… dammit JC, if you weren’t who you were then none of this would be happening." It was an irrational argument, but it was all she had to hold onto. The events of the past week were catching up with her and she needed someone to take the hit. JC was the only person she saw.

"We’ve talked about this before, you said you were okay with stuff like that."

"You never once asked if I wanted my own personal life, all my family garbage, my nice little stay at fucking Wycroft, my made up ‘high school trips to jail’, all of that printed out for all of America to see. If you would have told me they’d be digging up skeletons and making up some of their own I never would have agreed to this."

"Agreed to this? Sara, this is our vacation. I didn’t know we had some sort of written agreement."

"This is bullshit JC." She tore off her Hawaiian shirt and stood there in her bikini top as she continued to argue, "You might be okay with them digging around in your past, but that is not okay with me." Sara reached into her suitcase and pulled out her old green sweatshirt then shoved her hands down the armholes to turn it right side out.

"It’s not okay with me either. They had no right to go through your background." He shook his head and reached out for her again. "I’m sorry Sara."

"It’s not even true." She said softly as tears began to fall again. She pulled the sweatshirt over her head, then reached for her bag and zipped it closed after three failed attempts.

"I know it’s not true…" JC said softly.

"Yeah you know it’s not but everyone else out there- " She waved her hand angrily at the balcony indicating the rest of the world. Sara dropped her bag on the bed and stormed past JC into the bathroom.

"Wait, Sara where are you going?"

"Home. I’m going back to LA."

"You can’t… Sara you can’t just go. Come on, I – this is our vacation."

"Well the vacation sucks ass." Sara growled and threw her toothbrush into her bathroom bag then grabbed her hairbrush and scrunchie off the counter.

"Don’t run away from this." JC leaned on the doorframe of the bathroom and watched her toss things into her small bag.

Sara stopped and closed her eyes as the let her head fall back. She took a deep breath, then held it for a second trying to calm herself down before she spoke, "I am not running away."

"Yeah you are, look at you. One little thing happens and you’re packing your bags ready to hop on the next flight home." JC didn’t mean to sound angry, but he knew it came across that way.

"One little thing? JC you’ve been here with me all week right? That was you? If I remember correctly you were standing right there when those girls were following us down the street right? And when the photographers followed three steps behind us on our hike? I also seem to remember being photographed in the pool? Was that just me? I could have sworn you were there too."

"None of that stuff bothered you before, when we were in LA."

"That’s different. This is our vacation. They weren’t all over us when we were in San Francisco, I mean really." Sara frowned and turned to face him in the doorway. "And this tabloid thing has just pushed it too far. I can overlook the pictures and stalkers and… and fans and everything. But they made this personal now. The stuff they put in there has nothing, nothing at all to do with you, or you and me."

"I know Sara, and that is not cool with me." JC said softly. She finished throwing things into her bag and hastily pulled the zipper shut. She turned to the door and stared JC down, he didn’t move from his position blocking the door. "What do you want me to do?"

"I want you to move."

"Don’t take this out on me Sara. I can’t help this." He kept his voice even as he spoke, "If I can fix it, I will. That story was uncalled for and unacceptable, but it’s done."

"It’s your fault." She whispered and wiped the angry tears away.

"It’s my fault because if I wasn’t ‘JC Chasez’ no one would know you. It’s not my fault that they wrote what they did. I would never be okay with that, you know that Sara. I’ve done everything I can to keep your name out of the spotlight."

"Well apparently that’s not good enough." She pushed her way past him and headed for the door.

"Sara you can’t just leave."

"I can’t stay here right now JC. If I stay here I will hurt someone." She said softly. She pulled the door open as she hoisted her bag onto her shoulder.

"Please, Sara don’t go. Stay here and we can ride this out. We only have two more days left of the vacation, we’ll stay inside." JC felt as though he was falling as she stepped out into the hall.

"Please… JC please just let me go. I’m too upset to be rational right now, trust me." She looked up and met his eye as her bottom lip quivered.

JC reached for her and she didn’t back away. He placed his hand on the side of her face and sighed, "I’ll go with you."

"No." She shook her head and averted her eyes. "I just want to go by myself." She turned away from him and walked slowly down the hall

JC watched her get on the elevator then immediately hopped on the phone to call Tom, he needed major advice. "Dammit Tom, what the hell happened?" JC demanded.

"I know Jace, we're working on it."

"Working on it? Tom, her face was plastered all over the fucking Enquirer. Did you even read it?"

"Yeah… yeah we read it." Tom said with a sigh.

"She's not a celebrity. She's not famous. There is absolutely no reason for this to have been printed. You know that Tom."

"Hey, you're preaching to the choir here kid. We've got legal working on it and - "

"She was ready for her to be in the paper about me, but dammit nothing that they printed had anything to do with me. Half of it was lies." JC paced beside his bed as Tom remained silent. "They were lies Tom."

"I know." Tom nodded. "I've personally called the editor myself and they've agreed to print a retraction of anything that was false."

"That doesn't solve a damn thing."

"It's the best I can do right now."

"Wrong. I'm gonna sue them." JC shook his head. Half of him knew that was a pointless fight while the other half wanted to seriously slap them with a lawsuit.

"That's already in the works." Tom said, completely taking JC off guard.

"What?"

"We've got legal working on it."

"Good. But that doesn't change the fact that I'm in Hawaii alone because Sara left to go back to LA without me."

"I'm sorry Jace."

JC sighed and chewed on his fingernail as he felt his emotional energy draining. "I can change my ticket, right?"

"Yeah, yeah of course. I'll call Jan and have her do that. When do you want to leave?"

"Now."

"I'll have her get you on the first available flight out tomorrow, I'll call you with the flight time in the morning. Get some sleep if you can, and touch base when you get back to LA."

"I will." JC said softly. "Thanks Tom."

"You're welcome. We'll take care of this, okay?"

"Yeah."

"Okay… I'll talk to you tomorrow."

"Okay." JC nodded and closed his eyes. "Bye." JC hung up the phone and fell back onto the bed.

He spent the night in Hawaii alone, but he didn’t sleep at all. JC’s stomach did somersaults all night long as waves of dread washed over him in rapid intervals. He picked up the phone dozens of times to call her, but stopped before he could dial; she was upset and she needed more than a few hours to cool down.

He arrived at the airport the next morning and switched out his old ticket for one leaving that morning. It was a difference in price, but he didn’t think twice about paying it. He boarded the plane with a heavy heart and watched the ocean below as they flew back to Los Angeles.

When he landed in LA, he grabbed his bags then hopped in his car and drove straight to Sara’s apartment without bothering to go home first. He parked behind her building and took the stairs two at a time to her apartment, but as he knocked he realized that no one was home. He waited for twenty minutes on her doorstep, until one of her nosey neighbors came out and told him she hadn’t been home since the day before.

"Where’d she go?" JC asked urgently.

"I don’t know." The neighbor lady said with a thick southern accent. "There were all kinds of photographers and things around here when she got home."

"Shit." JC said under his breath. He shook his head and thanked the lady, then headed to his own house.

When he got home he dropped his bags and keys by the front door and ran back to his dark kitchen. He pulled the cordless phone off the wall and dialed Sara’s number from memory, then waited impatiently as it rang in his ear. He was about ready to hang up when her machine clicked on, "Hi, I’m not here right now, and I’m not checking my messages. If this is a reporter I have no comment, don’t call again. If this is a friend of mine I’m at Max's, you can reach me there." There was a loud clown horn beep, then silence. JC sighed and hung up the phone, resting his forehead against the cool chrome of his refrigerator, "Shit Sara…" He pulled open his junk drawer and found his address book with her parents number in it. He dialed the number and listened to it ring endlessly, no machine picked up.

JC looked at his watch and debated heading over to her parent’s house. It was just after eight; maybe they had gone out for a late dinner. A really late dinner. He didn’t want to hang around his house by himself so he changed into a clean shirt and ran his fingers through his hair, then left in his car again. He drove west to her parents' house in Pacific Palisades and parked on the dark street.

The security lights came on as he walked up the long driveway to the front door, but Max was silent when he rang the bell, confirming the fact that the family wasn’t home. JC shrugged and sat on the cold granite of the front steps and made himself as comfortable as he could. He didn’t have to wait long until headlights appeared in the driveway and lit the path all the way to the five car garage beside the house.

JC stood up and brushed his pants off as Sara made her way from the garage to the front door with her keys dangling from her hand, "What are you doing here?" She asked when she got within a few feet of JC.

"I’m here to see you." He reached out for her hand but she brushed past him and fumbled with the key in the lock. "Sara stop." He reached out and put his hand over hers and took the keys from her. "Stop. Come on." He took his other hand and placed it on her shoulder to turn her towards him. She looked down to hide her tear stained face as he pulled her close to him and held her tight, "I’m sorry babe, I heard about the reporters." He stroked her hair softly and spoke softly.

"How am I supposed to deal with this? How do you?" She asked into his chest.

"This will all wash over really soon Sara, trust me. Next week they’ll be talking abut some other scandal or celebrity couple. I’m just sorry you got put in the middle of this. Are you still mad at me?"

Sara didn’t answer she just took a deep breath as she stood back, "Can you come in?"

"Um… yeah." He glanced nervously toward the garages. Her parents didn’t really care for JC and the feeling was mutual.

"They’re not home, they’re in Prague till the end of the month." Sara said, noticing his gaze. "Come on in, I think this would be a good time to talk." She pushed the front door open and walked inside, leaving the decision up to JC as he stood on the porch.

JC hesitated for only a second before following her into the cool house and shutting the door behind him. He needed to talk to her also.

 

Chapter 9…

 

Copyright 2001, Amy Lynn