"Finding the Faith"

by AmyK

 

JC adjusted his tie in the mirror and brushed the lint off the front of his jacket as he sighed and leaned in closer to the glass. "Don we now our gay apparel." He looked himself over and cringed as the light reflected off his green sequined collar. "Just do it and get it over with. Fifteen minutes out of your day to make everyone happy." He grumbled, then licked his lips and stepped out of the tiny bathroom.

            "Are you ready now pretty boy?" Chris asked as he pretended to pout.

            "Yeah, I’m ready." JC sighed again and slouched his shoulders as they filed like ducks out of the little side room of the Nordstrom store they were in. The entire group was there to pose with Santa and help promote Chris’s new line of FuMan wear.

            "So how come we don’t have to wear the gear?" Joey asked Chris as they ducked between the racks of clothes. The store had been closed for more than an hour, and for once there was no one following their every step.

            "We did the promo shots earlier this week. You were there, remember?" Chris laughed. "Tonight we’re doing Santa."

            "I’m not doing Santa." Joey stopped walking and looked at Chris seriously.

            "Pictures with Santa." Lance thwaped the back of Joey’s head as they continued.

            "Hey C, nice jacket." Justin walked backward a few steps to kid his friend.

            "Hey J, nice pants." JC retorted without a hint of humor. Justin’s pants were black and decorated with red and green plaid patches. "So we pose for pictures, then we’re done, right?"

            "Are you in a hurry to go somewhere?" Justin asked with his eyebrow raised.

            "Anywhere but here. I mean, c’mon guys. Santa?" JC rolled his eyes and shoved his hands in his pockets.

            "Awww, little Joshy-poo doesn’t believe??" Chris asked as they walked up to where Santa was set up with his sweet little scantly clad "helpers".

            "I’m 24. Santa lost his magic a long time ago." JC said softly as he fell into line beside his friends. He plastered his usual fake smile on his lips and zoned out as flashes went off all around him.

            Santa had in fact lost his magic almost 15 years before. At 10 JC knew he was too old to believe in Santa, but he felt that it couldn’t hurt. Better to believe in something good like Santa, than not, right? But that was the year he got nothing for Christmas. It was a hard year for his family, and his parents explained that Christmas would have to be light. But JC had faith in Santa. Santa would make everything all right. He’d make sure JC and his brother and sister had something special for Christmas morning.

            But when they awoke before sunrise Christmas morning, they were met with the same cold and empty family room they had gone to sleep to. That’s when JC stopped believing. Good or not, Santa hadn’t pulled through. Now, even at 24, his faith was lost on this jolly old man.

            "Okay guys, let’s have you sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what you want for Christmas." The photographer shouted as he switched out the film.

            "He can’t be serious." JC grumbled under his breath. He eyed the exit with hungry eyes and contemplated making a run for it.

            "We’re almost done here." Lance said softly as he gently bumped JC’s shoulder. "Is Amber going to wait up?"

            "Yeah… I think so." JC nodded. "I hope so." He sighed and frowned as he watched Joey hop up on Santa’s lap and spew off an awesome list of things he wanted for Christmas. JC noticed he left off the "non-pc" request for the harem of girls to be at his beck and call, but he didn’t say anything.

            Justin was next, he blushed slightly as he sat on Santa’s knee and smiled for the camera. Santa said, "So Justin, how have you been?"

            "Um, fine. How about you Santa?" Justin asked, being sweet as sugar for the cameras.

            "I’ve been great, really busy which I know you can relate to." He gave a deep stomach laugh and asked, "So what do you want for Christmas?"

            Justin blushed; not quite believing he was being forced to not only sit on Santa’s lap, but to tell him what he wanted for Christmas. "I want to end world hunger." Justin said, casting another poster boy smile to the photographer.

            "Well I’m working on that, what about for you? What does your heart want?" Santa asked.

            JC scoffed and crossed his arms over his chest, was this guy for real? Didn’t he know that they were only there for the photo shoot and didn’t really need to tell him what they wanted for Christmas… as if it would make a difference.

            Justin shifted uneasily in Santa’s lap and looked back at JC almost nervously, "I want a Harley." Justin said softly. "That’s the big kid toy I want for Christmas… so if you could pass that along…"

            "I think I can do that." Santa laughed deeply again as Justin stood up and waved for the cameras. "JC, how about you?" Santa called.

            "Nah, it’s cool. Lance can go." JC gently shoved Lance forward causing him to practically trip over the ledge of the little stage area.

            "H-Hi Santa." Lance mumbled as he stood beside the chubby old man.

            "Hello Lance, it’s always nice to hear from you. It’s been a while though, hasn’t it?" Santa’s eyes literally twinkled as he motioned for Lance to sit on his knee.

            "Um… Yeah." Lance smiled and pulled the cuff of his red velvet dinner coat down to almost cover his fingers. Lance posed for a couple pictures with Santa and draped his arm over the back of Santa’s chair.

"So what would you like this year?"

            "I have everything I could hope for." Lance smiled, giving his usual ‘what do you want for Christmas’ answer.

            "Oh… I’m sure there’s something." Santa smiled and tugged at his beard.

            "I really do have everything. I’m happy, I’ve got all the material things I could possibly want."

            "But isn’t there anything at all you would want?" Santa asked quietly.

            "Well... I wish my Nana could be with us this year… she’s too sick to travel all the way to Mississippi. But we’re going to go visit her the day after Christmas… so… but I still uh… I still wish she could be with us. I know being with family would make her feel a lot better." Lance looked down at his lap, embarrassed for getting all sappy with this Santa-for-hire.

            "Well Lance, I think I can do that. You’re always so good to think about other people." Santa patted Lance’s back as he stood up to walk off the platform.

Almost before Lance could move out of the way, Chris was positioned on Santa’s knee, "Hey Santa, what’s up?"

            "Not a whole lot Chris. You’ve been busy this year."

            "Yeah… I’ve got lot’s of things going on."

            "You sure do." Santa laughed and shook his head, "I’m surprised you’d dare to sit on my lap, after that whole parking lot incident."

            Chris looked quickly over to the other boys who were snickering in the corner. Chris had gently and accidentally tapped another car in the parking lot at a club they had all gone to, and cracked the headlight. But instead of stopping to leave a note or anything like that, Chris decided to make a hasty retreat and in the process dinged another cars passenger side door. The guys had a good laugh over it, teasing Chris incessantly for days about it, but Chris’s conscious ate at him for weeks. There was nothing he could do about it now, but he still felt bad for not doing something at the time.

            He couldn’t believe one of those fools had actually said something to this guy, "I… well I uh…"

            "It’s okay Chris." Santa laughed heartily, "You’ve made up for it I think. Now… what is it you’d like for Christmas?"

            "I’m good, I don’t need anything."

            "Sure you do." Santa smiled and patted Chris’s back.

            "Nah… " Chris shook his head and smiled as the photographer snapped off a couple more shots. "The only things I want aren’t material things."

            "That’s fine…" Santa smiled.

            "Okay then, I want my family to get along on Christmas. There’s always an argument about something stupid." Chris explained. "Which I guess is one of our Christmas traditions, but it’d be nice if this year we didn’t have one, you know? Since I’ve been gone all year I don’t want to spend the day refereeing my mom and grandma."

            Santa laughed and said, "You know those arguments bring your family a little closer together, but I’ll see what I can do this year."

            "Thanks." Chris smiled, but rolled his eyes as he slid off Santa’s lap.

            "Okay JC, your turn." Santa laughed and held his arms open.

            JC sighed and bent to re-tie his shoe, just to stall. He stood up and straightened his jacket, then ran his fingers through his hair again and took a deep breath. He stepped onto the platform and stood to halfway behind Santa’s chair to pose for pictures.

            "Come on JC, on the lap like everyone else." The Photographer put the camera down long enough to instruct him.

            "Can’t we just take the pictures?" JC mumbled, watching the other four guys get escorted out the side entrance to be hustled off to their hotel.

            "JC…" Santa turned in his seat and looked at the blue eyed man. "I think I owe you an apology."

            "What?" JC asked quickly, standing up straight.

            "I know that I let you down a long time ago… and I haven’t heard from you since." Santa’s eyes looked sad as JC blushed and shook his head.

            "What are you talking about?" JC asked silently. How could this old guy know about that? JC wasn’t even sure the guys knew.

            "I let you down, and I’m sorry for that." Santa’s eyes sparkled as he patted his knee.

            "Come on JC, the lap. Just sit so we can get the pictures and get out of here. I don’t know about you, but I’m beat." The photographer shut the back of his camera and held it to his eye to focus.

            "Grab a seat JC." Santa said softly.

JC rolled his eyes and walked around Santa, then sat on the very edge of his knee, feeling like a total idiot in the process. He smiled for the camera and tried to look cheerful, but that was hard when he was feeling so weirded out.

            "So what can I do for you this Christmas to try to make it up?" Santa asked.

            JC looked over his shoulder at the old man and scoffed. They’d gone all out. They got a man with a real white beard and real white hair, a real jelly belly and a real twinkle in his eye. He must have cost a fortune. "Nothing." JC shook his head. "I’m over it."

            "Now JC... you don’t expect me to believe that, do you?" He smiled and gave JC a knowing glance.

            "Fine. I want world peace." JC said quickly, then turned to face the photographer.

            "What do you want for you? From your heart."

            JC stared Santa down for a minute then said, "If you were really Santa, you’d know what I wanted."

            Santa stared back and whispered, "She will say yes… but it’s not what you think."

            JC stood up quickly and shoved his shaking hands in his pockets. Santa had spoken just as JC thought about his deepest heart wish. He’d felt a flicker of electricity pass through him to the older man as he began to whisper the response. "We’re done?" JC asked the photographer who had seen the interaction play out.

            "Um, yeah. The others are out in the van." He nodded.

            "Okay." JC bowed his head and walked quickly towards the exit, casting one last glance over his shoulder at the white haired man before he shut the side door and slid into the van beside Chris.

 

 

 

JC unlocked the door to his hotel room and stepped in quietly, in case Amber had fallen asleep, which she had. He turned the bathroom light on so he wouldn’t be completely blind as he rustled through his bags to find the tiny box he’s hidden weeks ago.

            JC sat on the edge of the bathtub and stared at the tiny black velvet box in his hand. He’d thought about this for a long time, trying to decide when would be the perfect time to ask Amber the question of a lifetime. He figured when the time was right he would know, but the time never felt quite right. There was always something tiny getting in the way of making it perfect.

            "Oh well… we’ll see if this Santa guy was right." JC said to himself as he tucked the box in his backpack, then switched the light off and crawled into bed beside his girlfriend. She didn’t stir as he wrapped his arms around her middle and kissed her neck softly, "I love you Amber." He said softly, feeling almost forced to say it.

            "It’s too hot." Amber mumbled half asleep as she tossed the blankets… and his arm… off of her. "You said you were going to be home before ten."

            "I’m sorry. We had to do this Santa thing." JC explained softly into the darkness.

            "Sounds like fun." Amber mumbled and fluffed the pillow under head. She sighed once, then fell back into the deep sleep he had awakened her from.

            JC yawned and rolled onto his side to face the window, then fell asleep himself.

 

 

 

            "Baby…" JC said softly the next morning. He’d ordered up room service and had them send Amber’s favorite, Belgian waffles with strawberries and a caf� mocha. "Amber… baby wake up." He sat on the bed beside her and stroked her hair, as his heart raced a million beats a minute in his chest.

            "Hmmm?" She rolled over and pulled the sheets up to her chin. "What time is it?"

            "It’s 8:30." JC glanced at the tiny travel clock on the nightstand. "I have to leave in an hour and I have something for you."

            "What is it?" She rubbed her eyes and stretched her legs towards the end of the bed.

            "Well wake up first." He laughed nervously. "Have some coffee."

            "Oooh, a mocha?" Her brown eyes opened slowly and she smiled.

            "Of course. And waffles." JC smiled and moved the food cart closer to the bed.

            "Oh yum." She pushed herself to a sitting position and leaned over to kiss JC quickly, "You rule."

            "I uh... yeah. Wait. Amber." JC stopped her hand as she reached for her coffee. "Wait." He smiled.

            "What?" She asked with a confused smile.

            "I um… whoa… I uh…" JC stumbled on his words as he tried to form a complete sentence. He was sure when the moment came the words of poetry would just flow from his lips, but nothing was happening and he was looking like a fool. He opened the bag at his feet, then took her hand in his, "Amber, I would like the… uh… would you do…" JC sighed and pulled the ring box from behind his back, "Will you marry me?" He asked quickly.

            "Will I what?" Amber asked with a light laugh. "Are you serious?"

            Not the reaction he had been hoping for. JC’s heart sank to his knees as she stared at the velvet box in his hand. "I… yeah I’m serious." He said, as he finally looked her in the eye.

            "JC…" Amber looked at his with a cross between a smile and a frown. "I can’t marry you. I mean, come on. I’m only 22. I’m too young to even be thinking about that." She laughed. "And you’re on the road or in the studio all the time. Really Jace… you were seriously thinking about marriage?"

            JC stood up and dropped the ring into the pocket of his jeans, "Yeah Amber, I was." He said shortly.

            "I’m sorry, I shouldn’t laugh. That was sweet, it really was." She grabbed his hand before he could turn away. "But… there’s no way this could work now. Maybe once you finish up with Nsync or something." She said with a smile.

            JC’s embarrassment turned to anger as he shook his head; "I’ll still just be me."

            "Yeah, but you’ll be you without the fearsome foursome, and without the half a gazillion girls following you around everywhere you go."

            "No… I’ll still be me, with all of that." JC shook his head and pulled his hand from hers. "I guess that’s it. Enjoy your breakfast." He knelt beside the bed and zipped his bag, then tossed it over his shoulder and headed for the door.

            "Wait, hang on. You’re breaking up with me?" Amber asked as she rose to her knees on the bed.

            "Yeah." JC nodded slowly, still facing the door.

            "You’re breaking up with me because I won’t marry you?" She laughed.

            JC just shrugged, "Merry Christmas." He pulled the door open and stepped out into the hallway. Christmas was still two days away, but this was the perfect way for him to start his vacation.

 

 

 

            JC arrived home later that day and was greeted by his mom at the airport, "Hey there angel." His mom pulled him in for a hug and kissed his cheek, "Guess who’s joining us for Christmas?"

            "I’m not in the mood for company mom." JC pouted and took his backpack off to hold at his side.

            "Nah.. come on… guess." She smiled and took the backpack from him. "You’ll never in a million years guess." She laughed and reached up to brush the hair out of her son’s eyes, "You need a hair cut."

            "My hair is fine mom." JC sighed and dodged her hand. "Who is it?"

            "You’re no fun." She pretended to pout, then laughed and grabbed JC’s arm as they started through the airport.

            "You just said I’d never in a million years guess. I don’t have a million years to sit here and guess." He said quickly. He scanned the airport and was glad he only had his backpack, the crowd at the baggage claim looked brutal.

            "Okay fine." Karen rolled her eyes and helped him push their way to the crisp air outside. "The Stewarts are in town until the New Year, isn’t that great?"

            "Don’t they usually go to Hawaii or something?" JC asked as he followed his mom through the crowd and out to the parking lot.

            "Yeah, they usually go to Maui, but I guess Emily missed her white Christmases." She shrugged and hit the alarm button on her key ring, unlocking the doors of her car.

            JC slid into the passenger seat as his mom tossed his backpack in the trunk, then climbed in beside him. "I’d rather be in Maui than here."

            "Well gee thanks."

            "You know what I mean, mom." JC smiled, his first smile of the day. He leaned over and quickly kissed her cheek, then said, "I’m glad to be home. I really am."

            "I’m glad your home too, angel." She smiled and started the car. "So how’s Amber doing? I kinda thought she’d be coming out with you."

            "Um, no." JC looked out the window and sighed as they pulled onto the freeway.

            "Are things okay between you two?"

            "No." JC shook his head and looked at his mom, "We broke up."

            "Oh Jace honey, I’m sorry to hear that. Recently?"

            "This morning." JC sighed again, and turned to watch the snow covered city pass him by.

            "I’m sorry Jace." She frowned and concentrated on her driving. "Thing’s will work out though, I’m sure. If it wasn’t meant to be, it wasn’t meant to be."

            "I know." JC nodded and rested his head against the cool glass. "It still sucks though."

            "I know." His mom nodded slowly and patted his knee. "But it’s almost the new year, a good time to start everything over, you know?"

            "Yeah." JC forced a smile and squeezed his mom’s hand. "So… How are Tom and Nancy? I haven’t seen them since your anniversary party in August."

            Karen filled JC in on what their friends had been up to since then. The Stewarts lived only a few blocks from the Chasez family and all of the kids had grown up together. Emily was their oldest, she was only a couple months older than JC, then there were Matt and Jason, the twins who were Tyler’s age, then last but not least, the surprise, 6 year old Joy. JC hadn’t seen any of them since the party that had been thrown for his parents wedding anniversary. When the guys had shows in the area, the Stewarts were always there to cheer them on, and Emily tried to make it to as many shows as she could.

            "Emily said she saw your show in Boston a couple weeks ago, but she didn’t get a chance to go back and visit you." Karen snapped JC out of his trance.

            "Oh really? She should have come back to say hi." JC picked at his fingernails as they drove into the suburbs.

            "Well you know how your security can be." She laughed.

            "True…" JC nodded. "She’s going to school down there now, right?"

            "Yeah, she’s a senior at BU." Karen said softly. "I don’t remember what she’s getting her degree in, math or something."

            "Economics." JC nodded, he’d remembered that much.

            "That’s right." She smiled and turned into their driveway. There were four or five cars in the driveway, so she squeezed through and parked in the garage.

            "Who’s here?" JC sighed. "I really don’t feel like visiting."

            "Tom and Nancy and the kids are here, they came for dinner." Karen said, "You won’t have to visit for very long."

            "Mom…" He whined.

            "They know you’re going to be tired." She criticized him and shook her head, "It won’t kill you."

            "Fine." JC sighed again and grabbed his backpack out of the back seat, then followed his mom up the gravel path and into the house.

            "We’re home!" Karen shouted as they shut the door behind them.

            "Jace!" His sister Heather shouted as she rounded the corner from the living room.

            "Hey kid, how are you?" JC smiled instantly and hugged her tight. "Merry Christmas."

            "Merry Christmas." She smiled. "How long are you here for?"

            "Just till the 29th, then I’m off to Vegas. Wanna come?"

            "Oooh, I wish. I have to work New Years." She frowned.

            "Me too." JC laughed and hugged her again. "Where’s Tyler?"

"He’s not coming in till tomorrow." Heather explained. "He has finals and stuff." She cringed then laughed as they walked into the living room together and greeted the Stewarts.

            JC gave everyone hugs as his eyelids started to droop. It was barely seven and he was beat, the action of the last couple months always caught up with him as soon as he walked in that door. "Hey Em, I heard you came to the Boston show and didn’t say hi."

            "Yeah, well I tried. Your guards do their job well. They didn’t buy that I was your friend from the old days." She laughed and tucked her short brown hair behind her ear. "I guess next time I should give you some warning, huh?"

            "Yeah, I can get you tickets and stuff." JC smiled.

            "Next time you’re in Boston then, let me know." She wrapped her arms around his neck and said, "It’s good to see you again."

            "You too." He patted her back quickly and couldn’t help but notice her perfume. "I hate to be a party pooper, but I’m beat." He covered his mouth as he yawned. "You guys are coming over for Christmas?"

            "Yeah." Nancy nodded and straightened Joy’s ponytails.

            "Great, well I’ll see you then if not sooner." JC smiled and ran his fingers through his hair, then waved and headed for his old room.

            He shut the door to his room and leaned back against it as tears welled up in his eyes. He loved coming home so much, but he hated it at the same time… coming home reminded him of all of the things he was missing. He kicked his backpack across the room and pulled his sweatshirt over his head and tossed it over the back of his little desk chair. The t-shirt he was wearing stunk, he was sure of that, but it was the most comfortable thing he owned and no one was going to see him in it anyways. He sat on the edge of his bed and took his shoes off before falling backwards to stare at the ceiling.

            He lay that way, letting the few tears that escaped slide down his face and into his hair, for a few minutes before there was a knock on his door. "Yeah?"

            "Hey, can I come in?" Emily asked shyly from the other side.

            JC glanced down at his shirt then sighed, "Sure." Emily wouldn’t care what his shirt looked or smelled like. "Ugh."

            "Ditto." She smiled and stood in the open doorway. "I um, I just wanted to give you your Christmas present now, you look like you can use it." Emily held a little gift bag out to him and swung it lazily from her finger.

            "Thanks, you can leave it there and I’ll get it in a minute." JC said to the ceiling.

            "Do you want me to open it for you?"

            "No, that’s okay."

            "Then come on and open it now. Trust me. You’ll like it." She laughed softly and said, "It’s gotta beat staring at the ceiling."

            JC pushed himself up and rested his elbows on his knees, "Okay, what?"

            "Here." She took two steps into the room and handed him the little bag, then stepped back to the doorway.

            He held the bag in his hands, it was heavier than he thought it would be. He pushed the tissue paper aside and reached in with his free hand. He pulled out a medium sized bottle of whiskey and a shot glass. JC laughed and nodded, "Yeah, I think I can use this."

            "Good." Emily smiled and tilted her head to the side. "There’s something else in there."

            "Yeah?" He set the liquor and glass on his bed and reached into the bag again. He pulled the picture frame out and held it in front of him. It was a plain 8x10 wood frame with a pencil sketch drawing looking back at him. He squinted at the drawing for a minute before realizing it was himself looking back. It was a collage of himself from baby, to toddler, to child, to pre-teen, to late teens, to current. "Wow… Emily… thank you. Did… did you do this?"

            "Uh huh." She stuck her thumbnail in her mouth.

            "Wow…" He looked closer at the picture and saw that she captured every little detail of his smile and everything. Each face was looking at the next in line, and the current one was looking off the page to the right. "This is amazing. I didn’t know you were an artist."

            "It’s my minor." She laughed softly. "Anyway, you looked like you could use the drink."

            "Yeah, I really think I could. I don’t usually like whiskey, but I’d be willing to give it a shot." He smiled.

            "I got it when I went to Scotland over Thanksgiving, so it’s authentic."

            "You went to Scotland?"

            "Yeah." She nodded. "I have some friends that live there so I went back to visit with them."

            "How was it?" JC asked as he rolled the shot glass between his hands.

            "I thought you were beat?"

            JC shrugged and looked up at her, still standing in the doorway. "How was it?"

            "It was fun." She nodded. "I did lots of shopping, saw lots of castles, you know… stuff like that."

            "I’ve never been there." He shook his head.

            "I highly recommend it." She smiled and laughed lightly. "You wanna talk about it?" Emily asked a minute later.

            "Nah, it’s alright. Just…" He shrugged, "You ever have a really weird experience and then it… it just kind of… I don’t know."

            "Jace… I have no idea what you’re talking about." Emily laughed and grabbed the door handle to swing the door back and forth.

            "I sat on Santa’s lap yesterday."

            "Okay…" Emily said, completely confused.

            "I mean, I think it really was Santa. How bizarre does that sound?"

            "What do you mean?"

            "I mean… I think it really was Santa." JC said, looking up to meet her eye. She didn’t say anything for a minute, she just looked at him like he had lost his mind, "Nevermind." He shook his head and set the glass on the bed beside the whiskey. He stood up and picked his backpack up off the floor beside his desk, then sat back down with it at his feet.

            "No... wait what do you mean? You know there’s no Santa, right?" She smiled slyly.

            "I know that." He rolled his eyes. "But… Em, remember when I was like 10 and my dad lost his job and we didn’t really have a Christmas?" She nodded, vaguely remembering that far back, "Okay, that year I knew I was too old to believe, but I thought that if I believed and asked, Santa would make sure me and Heather and Ty had something under the tree. But we didn’t."

            "Well JC…"

            "No, I know." He shook his head. "But this guy, this rent--a-Santa guy, he knew about that."

            "He what?"

            "He knew. Somehow he knew about that, and he said that he owed me an apology."

            "Well I should say so." Emily laughed and stepped into the room. She shut the door behind her and leaned against the closed door. "So…?"

            "So… well he asked what I wanted for Christmas, to try to make up for that, and I said ‘world peace’ and he said I had to want something from my heart and then… I swear it was like he zapped me or something. Like static electricity."

            "He zapped you?"

            "Yeah, kind of."

            "Like with his finger?" Emily smiled.

            "No… not with anything." JC shook his head.

            "I don’t get it."

            "Nevermind… it’s just weird." He opened his backpack and pulled out his pager and set it on the nightstand, then took the ring box and turned it around in his hand mindlessly.

            "No wait… I’m intrigued now." Emily pulled the desk chair out and sat on it backwards so that she was facing JC.

            "It’s stupid." He shook his head.

            "So what? So are you and I still like you." She laughed.

JC sighed and sort of half smiled at her comment, "I didn’t ask anything out loud, but I thought it in my head. I thought, ‘The only thing I want for Christmas is for her to say yes.’."

            "You proposed to Amber?!" Emily’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. "Are you serious?"

            "Well yeah, but listen. I didn’t say that out loud right? He said, I swear to God, he said ‘She’ll say yes. But it’s not what you think.’. Now what the hell was that?"

            "Whoa…" Emily said softly.

            "Yeah." JC nodded.

            "So did she?"

            "No." JC whispered as he looked down at his shoes. "Nope." He shook his head and looked up at her. "So all day I’ve been trying to explain that away. The dude knew about the whole thing from when I was a kid, and knew what I was thinking… but then was wrong about that?"

            "Maybe he was just a wack-o or something." Emily shrugged.

            "I don’t think that was it." JC shook his head slowly. "But if he was really Santa, then…" JC shrugged. If the guy really was Santa, then he’d just been let down again.

            Emily was silent for a minute then said, "She said no huh?"

            "Yeah." He sighed and rubbed his eyes, suddenly more tired than before.

            "Is she crazy?" Emily asked softly with a smile. "Who in the world would say no to you?" She rested her hand on JC’s arm and squeezed lightly. "I sure as hell wouldn’t."

            "You wanna marry me?" JC scoffed and shook is head.

            "Is that how you proposed?" Emily laughed.

            "No." JC laughed bitterly, "No I said, ‘Will you marry me?’ and then she laughed."

            "Ouch."

            "Yeah."

            "Well she’s nuts."

            "Nah, she’s right. No girl in her right mind would want to marry me right now. I’m on the road all the time and everything." He shook his head.

            "That doesn’t mean anything. Marriage is a commitment of the heart." Emily said softly.

            "Would you?" JC gave a short laugh and looked her in the eye.

            "Is that a proposal?" She asked with a raised eyebrow. He didn’t answer, he just shrugged and handed her the ring box. "JC…?"

            "Well take it." He shrugged again and moved the box closer to her. "You might as well." Emily took the tiny box and opened it carefully. Her breath caught in her throat as the light caught the petite diamond solitaire set in platinum.

            "It’s beautiful." She said softly.

            "Does it fit?" JC asked as he ran his fingers through his hair. He had yet to smile, or show any emotion other than sadness.

            Emily carefully removed the ring from its holding and slid it onto her finger, the metal was already warm to the touch. It fit perfectly over her plain thin finger. "Yes." Emily looked at her hand with the shining ring on her finger.

            As soon as she said ‘yes’, JC’s spine tingled and his stomach took a nosedive. It took him completely by surprise again, and he looked up quickly to meet her eyes. "But not what I think…." JC whispered.

            "JC… that was some schizo wanna-be-a-Santa…"

            "I don’t think so." JC shook his head and reached for her hand to look at the ring on the hand of who it was meant to be on. "Would you?"

            "You’re asking me if I’ll marry you?" Emily almost laughed out loud, then remembered that had been Amber’s response. "I would be crazy to say no."

 

 

1 year and 2 days later

 

 

            "What time is it?" JC whispered loudly to Tyler standing directly behind him.

            "It’s 11:49pm." Tyler whispered back..

            "Okay." JC nodded and fidgeted with his cuff links. "Have you seen her? Did you go back there?"

            "Mom’s back there with Nancy and Heather now." Tyler whispered and patted his brother’s shoulder.

            "Okay." JC nodded again and cleared his throat. "But you’ve seen her right?"

            "Relax Jace, she’s here." Tyler laughed lightly and shook his head. He’d never seen JC quite so nervous.

            "I know." He exhaled nervously and bounced on the balls of his feet.

            "You look like you’re getting ready to perform JC." Lance said softly from just behind Tyler.

            "He is." Tyler laughed and looked back at Lance and the other four.

            "Nah, this is all improve, no performing here." Chris smiled and reached around the others to pat JC’s shoulder, "This is the hardest part man." Chris spoke from experience, he’d been married earlier that year.

            "Yeah." JC cleared his throat again and glanced back up the aisle. He checked his dead watch again and sighed, "What time is it Ty?"

            "11:51." Tyler laughed and reached to take his watch off. "You want mine?"

            "No." JC shook his head, then looked out over the crowd of people gathered in the candle lit church.

            This whole thing had been Emily’s idea, getting married right at midnight on Christmas. She had to have the candles lighting the church and the red and green velvet accents. JC let her plan the wedding exactly how she wanted it, this was her big day… he was just along for the cake.

            He had taken it upon himself to dash off a letter to "Santa" while trying to write his own vows. He’d felt foolish writing the words, but once he got started they came easily:

Dear Santa,

            Hi, this is JC Chasez. I’m 25 years old and I still believe in you. Man this is weird for me to be writing this. Oh well… I may as well get it over with.

            When I was a kid I asked for you to bring me and my brother and sister Christmas presents, because my parents couldn’t afford to get anything, and Christmas morning nothing was there. Well, that made me lose my faith in you from then on.

            Then last year I was doing a photo shoot and I was forced to sit on your lap. To be honest I thought you were some rent-a-Santa guy and I was pissed off that I had to even be seen with anyone even pretending to be someone I didn’t believe in. Then you apologized for the Christmas when I was a kid, and asked what you could bring to make it up… something that I wanted from my heart. My heart asked for her to say yes. You told me that she would say yes, but it wasn’t what I thought.

            That freaked me out that you could know that about me without me telling you anything. But I remembered and decided to see if you were just some wack-o in a red suit or the real thing. I proposed to my girlfriend that night… and she said no. I knew then that you must have been a nut.

            Then I went home to my parents house and met up with a long time friend of mine, Emily. To make a long story short, she said yes to one of my questions and sparks flew. She was the one. She said yes, and it was not what I thought. You had been right… you had been very right.

            This Christmas day at midnight exactly, Emily and I will be married in the Green Valley Church, and we’ll be thanking you, Santa, for making our lives whole by bringing us together. If it hadn’t been for you, I never would have this chance to spend the rest of my life with my soul mate.

            I know you’ll be busy that night, to say the least… but we would like to invite you to the wedding… just in case you get a spare minute on the East coast. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

                                                                                                Your faithful believer,

                                                                                                Joshua Chasez

           

 

 

The background music stopped then and the church fell silent. JC stood up straight and closed his eyes tightly, the moment had arrived. The music began again, softly and slowly as the doors at the end of the church were pushed open, and Emily walked through.

            "Wow…" Came a chorus of whispered from behind JC.

            JC forced his eyes open and followed their gaze. Emily stood beside her father practically glowing. Her heavy cream colored gown brought out the deep brown of her hair and eyes and the bouquet of deep red roses that she carried in front of her was tied with a dark green velvet ribbon. She smiled at JC as she and her father made their way down the aisle, one step at a time. As they got closer, JC felt his nerves calm down and by the time her hand was in his, he felt like he could do anything.

            "Hi." Emily whispered as she squeezed JC’s hand.

            "Hi." He laughed lightly, then looked back over his shoulder at Tyler. Ty looked at his watch and smiled, 12:00am exactly. Tyler nodded at JC and tapped the face of his watch.

            "Are you ready?" Emily asked with a nervous laugh.

            "Yeah." JC nodded and squeezed her hand again. They took the last few steps up to where the pastor was waiting for them, then took a deep breath together.

            The pastor led them through the formalities of the service, then turned to JC, "I understand you have written your own vows…"

            JC cleared his throat and smiled nervously out at the crowd. He focused on Emily’s eyes and sighed with relief, "Emily, you know I think in songs, so forgive me now for this." Everyone laughed politely as he smiled and shifted his feet, "Emily… I have loved you forever, in lifetimes before. And I promise you never, will you search any more. Over and over I fall, without you in my life I just wouldn’t be living at all. I’ll be your strength, I’ll give you hope, I give you my word and I give you my heart. This is a battle we’ve won and with this vow, forever has begun. I will take you in my arms, and hold you right where you belong. Every word I say is true, till the day my life is through, this I promise you." He smiled and blushed, then slid the thin band onto her finger as her hand began to shake.

            "JC, I uh… wow… that’s what I was going to say." She laughed softly and caught his eye as he smiled and squeezed her hand. "You…" She cleared her throat and started again, "JC you are everything to me. You’re my light and my dark, you’re my happiness and my sorrow. You’re my soul and my heart, and you’re my hope for tomorrow. You are everything I ever hoped for… I ever wished for." She smiled up at him as the tears threatened to fall. "I love you with everything that I have and everything that I am. I want to be all of those things for you, and that will never change. I love you Joshua, and I today I give you all of me, my heart, my soul, my everything." Emily quickly wiped the tear off her cheek and smiled up at JC. She took the shiny band from her maid of honor and pushed it up onto JC’s finger with shaking hands.

            "By the power vested in me by the sacrament of the church, I now pronounce you husband and wife. JC, you may kiss the bride." The pastor said softly.

            JC smiled and took a deep breath as he reached for Emily’s other hand, and held on tight. He brought his lips to hers and tried not to laugh with relief as he kissed her quickly. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him deeper, then laughed lightly, resting her forehead on his. "I love you baby." She whispered.

            "I love you too." He whispered back, then kissed her again. JC held her hand tightly and they turned to walk down the aisle, bound forever by the words they just said. The people in the pews passed in a blur as he and Emily walked quickly down the aisle, anxious to get home and have their first Christmas together.

            Just as they reached the thick doors at the back of the church, Emily stopped short and tugged JC’s hand. He stopped with his hand on the door handle and turned to see what had distracted his new wife. A shivering thread of electricity passed through Emily's hand into his as he looked up.

            "You’re welcome." The chubby old man with white hair said as he reached for Emily’s free hand. His sparkling blue eyes caught JC’s and he smiled, "What do you wish from your heart this Christmas?" JC just smiled at Santa, thinking to himself that he truly had all he could ask for. Santa smiled and laughed softly, "A lifetime of happiness… I think I can do that."

 

 

Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

 

Copyright � 2000 Amy Lynn

Copyright �2000
All Rights Reserved
No part of this text may be copied or reprinted
without the author's permission
.