"The Last Song"

by AmyK

 

"Oh my God! There’s Chris!"

One girl was all it took. Before he knew it, the small crowd of girls just outside of the lobby pushed through the doors and made a beeline for him. He would have been nervous, but his two security guards stepped into the line of fire and kept the girls at a safe distance. They calmed the girls down, then Chris began to sign autographs and pose for pictures. He knew it would only last for a couple minutes, that was all the time his security would allow for impromptu signings and hotel crowds.

"How’s it going?" Chris asked the young girl who was holding out a red teddy bear for him.

"Can you give that to Joey?"

"Aww man, I can’t keep it?" Chris pretended to pout, then turned the bear over, "Can I write his name on the butt so I don’t forget?"

"Sure!" The girl bounced out of the way as Chris write "Ho" on the teddy bears tag.

"Smile! Look this way!" One girl shouted. Chris looked in the direction of the order and made a face as the other girls laughed at his antics. They continued for a couple more minutes before the guards started to look agitated.

"Aww, come on guys, a couple more minutes?" Chris asked the guards. The girls had calmed down considerably and he had nowhere important to be.

"Fifteen minutes." Les said as he tapped the face of his watch. He stood a few feet away with his arms crossed, daring any of the girls to step out of line.

Lori watched the scene from a few feet away as she balanced her son Kyle in one arm, and her backpack on the other. Her heart was only then beginning to slow down after the excitement of seeing Chris walk in the door. She had watched the front of the lobby expecting the others to follow him in, but no one else showed up. Her plan was about to be ruined, and she couldn’t let that happen. She had it all planned, and it had to work. She couldn’t take it any more and this was the only way out.

"I tired." Kyle whined as he rubbed his eyes.

Lori sighed, she’d been listening to him whine for weeks now, something about his second birthday had set him off and he became almost unbearable. "I know you’re tired Kyle, I’m working on it." She snapped, quieting the small boy. She felt a flicker of sadness, she wasn't really mad at Kyle, but this would be so much easier if she was. She returned to her frown and bounced him to her other hip.

Kyle looked unfazed as he turned to look behind him at the growing crowd of people in the center of the lobby, "Wassat?"

"Let’s go see." Lori said, her courage suddenly outweighing any reservations she may have had.

She pushed her way to the center of the crowd and placed the tired two-year-old into Chris's arms along with a large manila envelope, "Give that to JC." She said quickly.

"Oh! Let me get a picture of you and the baby!" A young girl screeched as flashes went off left and right.

"Me too! How cute!" Another joined in as the crowd inched closer.

Lori glanced back over her shoulder as the swarm of girls moved in, then shoved the heavy doors open and left the hotel lobby before her tears overflowed and ran recklessly down her cheeks.

Fifteen minutes later Chris’ security team began to clear out the lobby and sent the girls outside, "Who's he belong to?" Les asked Chris who was still holding the toddler.

"One of them." Chris nodded to the girls who were heading for the exit.

"Hey!" Les shouted after them. "Someone forgetting something?" He pointed to the little boy in Chris's arms. They all shook their heads and turned around to exit the building.

"Dude, she was just here." Chris looked around, hoping to spot the mother.

"What'd she look like?"

"Shit Les, I don't know." Chris laughed. "Brown hair? I think. I just spent the last twenty minutes looking at a hundred different girls."

"All right, let's go over here and sit down, she'll show up in a panic in a minute or two." Les led Chris over to a bench by the elevators where they could keep an eye on the lobby.

Another twenty minutes passed and no one showed up. The little boy was now asleep on the bench between Chris and Les and the lobby was all but deserted. "All righty, time to call in the authorities." Les pushed himself up into a standing position and cracked his knuckles.

"The cops?" Chris cast a worried glance at the kid.

"You got a better idea? His mom left him here either on purpose or on accident, but either way, it's been almost an hour."

"Okay." Chris sighed and stood up to stretch. Several of the envelopes he had on his lap fell to the floor at his feet. "Shit." He kneeled over to pick them up and stopped as the large envelope with "JC" scrawled across the front caught his eye.

"Sheesh boy, you're getting mail for everyone." Les laughed as he saw the envelope n Chris's hand.

"Yeah but I think - " Chris stopped. "I think his mom gave that to me. Open it up."

"I'm not opening JC's mail." Les shook his head.

"Fine, I will." Chris rolled his eyes. Les just looked at him, so he sighed and pulled the envelope open with one hand and shook the single piece of paper into his hand.

Dear Josh… JC… whatever you're going by now,

Well, I guess I have your attention now, don't I? This is Kyle, he's two and he's your son. I know right now you're counting backward in your head so let me help you out there. April Fools Day, 1998 Boston. I've been trying to reach you for more than two years now, but I think your management and fanclub have pretty much written me off as a lunatic stalker. I haven't gone public because while I'm not exactly thrilled with you, I don't want to ruin your career.

But here's the deal. I can't do this. Kyle is a good kid, he's really great and smart and everything, but I can't raise him right now. My mom all but disowned me when I got pregnant so I've been going alone since then. I can't afford the babysitters it takes to watch him all day while I go to work and school, and I'm coming to the end of my rapidly fraying rope here. I've moved around so much in the last year I hardly know which end is up. I need to get on my feet, and since you look like your feet are solidly on the ground, you can take him. You can give him the stability he needs and you can afford to buy everything he could want. You will be able to give him so much more than I could, and he deserves that.

His birthday is January 4, 1999 and he's allergic to penicillin. He doesn't like cats, but he loves dogs. The rest… well… you'll learn as you go.

L.

"Whoa. Not good." Chris said as he dropped the letter onto the bench.

"Yep, time to call the cops." Les nodded at the other guard Andre, and then he went over to the concierge. The police arrived ten minutes later without the lights and sirens. They discreetly parked around back and appeared in the lobby out of nowhere. They went first to the front desk to get the head of security out to see if they may have a surveillance tape of the lobby, then they began talking to Andre.

Chris sat back by the little boy and re-read the letter without touching it. "Do you think it’s legit?" Les asked, he had read the note over Chris’ shoulder.

"Doubt it." Chris shrugged. "There’s one way to find out though." He took his cell phone off his hip and dialed JC’s mobile number. It rang through to voice mail and Chris checked his watch. JC would just be landing in Florida. "Jace, man… time to flip a U-turn and come on back." Chris said softly into his cell phone. Two police officers stood to the side taking statements from Andre and the hotel clerk. "As soon as you get this you need to call me at the hotel, then hop on the next flight back to LA. Everyone’s okay, I mean no one’s hurt or anything… but seriously, I’m not kidding around here man, just uh… call me as soon as you get this."

"Come on Chris, we’re going upstairs." Andre nodded to the elevators.

"To our rooms?"

"Yeah. The media’s sniffing around out there and the last thing we need is a shot of you being interviewed by the cops." He looked over his shoulder as Les and the police walked over. "I’m no PR person, but even I know that would be bad."

"Yeah." Chris nodded and stood up, then looked back at the little boy asleep on the bench. "What about him?"

"Grab him."

"Me?" Chris cast a worried glance at the child. "I’ll wake him up."

"Let’s go." Les said loudly as he held the elevator.

Chris reluctantly bent over and scooped up the sleeping boy then rested him on his shoulder. Kyle didn’t budge or open his eyes at all as they stepped onto the elevator beside the two uniformed police officers and his own security.

They walked as a group to Chris’s room where he sat in the big chair and waited for the police to finish questioning Andre. "Hey." Les said with a smile as three more people Chris didn’t recognize stepped into the room. "Don’t let Colleen see you like that, or before you know it you’ll have one of your own."

"Ha, dream on punk." Chris laughed, but looked down at the little boy with compassion. This poor kid was in the middle of what could be a big mess, and from the sound of the letter, he’d had it rough.

"Are you Mr. Chasez?" One of the uniformed officers asked Chris as she walked up with a small pad of paper.

"No, I’m Chris, I’m JC’s friend." The officer looked at the names scrawled in her notebook and located his name on the list. Chris stood up and laid the little boy at the head of the bed, then put a pillow by his side so he wouldn’t roll off; a move he’d seen on TV.

"JC?"

"Mr. Chasez." Chris crossed his arms over his chest and stepped to the side by the window.

"I’m office Whaley, so what happened exactly?" The female officer opened her note pad and looked up at him expectantly.

"Um, I’m not sure. There was a pretty big crowd and this girl came up and put the kid in my arms I guess to take a picture." He shrugged. "People ask me to hold their kids all the time for pictures so that was no big deal. But I guess she took off."

"Did she take a picture?" The officer looked up from her notepad hopefully.

"I don’t know." Chris shook his head. "There were a lot of people and cameras."

"Did you read the letter?"

"Yeah." Chris shoved his hands in his pockets and nodded.

"Did you touch it with your bare hands?"

"Yeah."

"So you’re prints will be on it?"

"Probably." Chris sighed. "What’s going to happen to him?"

"To the child?"

"Yeah."

"He’ll be taken into protective custody until his mother can be found." She explained, as though there were no other options.

"Foster care?" Chris frowned.

"Yes. Well, no. Tonight he will be taken to the receiving home in Santa Monica, from there he will be placed with a family as soon as one becomes available."

"And he’ll stay there until you find his mom?"

"Or another family member who will take responsibility." The officer nodded and clicked her pen open and closed. "How long will you be staying at this hotel?"

"Um, for another couple days I think. We leave next Thursday."

"Is this number here a good one to reach you at after then? 310-252-1900?"

"Yes, that’s our management team, you can reach me through there any time." Chris looked over his shoulder at the sleeping child. "Hey what about the letter?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well it says JC is his dad?"

"Yes, that will be something we’ll look into when we track down Mr. Chasez."

"He’ll be back tomorrow. I left a message for him to call in when he lands in Orlando." Chris scanned the room, taking in the small crowd that had gathered.

"Then we can work on that then."

"Well is there any way you could leave the kid here?" Chris shuffled his feet nervously.

"Mr. Kirkpatrick, that’s not standard procedure."

"Yeah but do you think you can?"

"We have to look out for the best interest of the child."

"And you think dropping him in some group home halfway house thing in the middle of the night is a good thing?"

"When there are no other options, yes." She set her jaw and closed her notebook.

"I’ll volunteer to take care of him until JC gets back."

"And then?"

"Then I guess we’ll see if JC is the dad." Chris said, though he knew there was no way that could be. He was met with a cold silence, and he sighed softly, "If JC’s the father, I know he wouldn’t want the kid in foster care even for an hour. If he’s not… well then there’s no harm."

"You’re not a licensed home."

"It’s after nine, the kids zonked over there. Let me keep him here with me and in the morning if JC isn’t back, you can come and get him." Chris cast a worried glance at the little boy. "No offense to your system or procedures or anything, but foster care sucks. That kid has had a hard day and the last thing he needs is a ride in the back of a cop car to a ‘facility’. He needs a warm bed."

"I’ll be in touch first thing tomorrow morning." She said reluctantly. The maternal instinct in her wanted the boy cared for, and she knew dropping him at the shelter in the middle of the night wouldn’t be the best for him, not when there was someone willing to take care of him.

"Okay." Chris nodded. "Thanks."

"You’re welcome. And thank you Mr. Kirkpatrick. If I have any more questions I’ll have one of the officers get in touch with you. Is there anything else you’d like to add?"

"No." Chris shook his head; he couldn’t remember anything about the girl.

"Okay, I’d say we’re done then."

"Thanks." Chris nodded as the officer went over to the other officers by the door.

The phone rang between the bed and Chris jumped to answer it before it woke up the little boy, "Hello?" He half expected it to be JC.

"Hey babe." Colleen said softly. "You busy?"

"Yeah, yeah kind of." Chris nodded.

"Is that JC?" Les asked.

Chris shook his head and said, "Hey Colleen, I’ve gotta go, we’ve got a mess here."

"What? What’s wrong?"

"Nothing, I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?"

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I’m fine." He sighed. "I’ll give you a call in the morning, okay? I love you."

"I love you too babe." Colleen frowned, "Are you sure everything’s okay?"

"It’ll be fine. Bye hun." Chris said quickly. Colleen reluctantly said goodbye also and they hung up. "That was my girlfriend."

"Would she know anything about this?" An officer asked.

"No, she’s in Chicago."

"Is there anyone else who was there that’s not here now?" The same officer asked.

"You mean other than the kids mom?" Chris asked sarcastically.

Andre gave Chris a stern look and said, "We were the only ones down there at the time."

"We’re going to go talk to the front desk clerks. We’ll be in touch tomorrow." The female officer said, as she looked back at Kyle asleep in the middle of the bed by the wall.

The officers filed out of the room while Les hung out by the door; "They aren’t taking him?"

"Dude Les, I can’t let them take him to some receiving home." Chris shook his head. "He’s gonna hang out here till JC gets back tomorrow."

"Jace will be back tomorrow? For sure?"

"I haven’t talked to him yet, but yeah."

"He’s not gonna be happy that his weekend was blown." Les shook his head.

"I don’t care. He’s gotta get this all sorted out." Chris looked at the little boy asleep in his jeans and t-shirt. "He’ll be cool till JC gets back."

"All right, well give me a holler if you need some help." Les headed for the door.

"Okay." Chris nodded. "I think I’ve got it."

"See ya in the morning, let me know when Jace is coming in and we’ll go get him."

"You got it." Chris nodded and shut the door behind Les, then turned back to the little boy. He sighed and reached for his suitcase to pull his laptop out. Watching TV was out of the question since he didn’t want to wake up the kid, so doing his e-mail and checking out things online was the only quiet thing he could think of.

Before Chris could power up his computer, his cell phone rang in his coat pocket. Chris crossed the room to grab it off the chair and answered it, "Hello?"

"Chris?" JC asked.

"Hey JC, what’s up?" Chris asked out of habit.

"Nothing here, what’s going on over there? What’s so urgent?"

"Why didn’t you call the hotel?"

"I did, it was busy. Then I had to find your cell number and all that." JC yawned. "So what’s up?"

"You’ve gotta come back Jace, like… now."

"No way Chris, I'm home for the weekend. Whatever you've got can wait till I get back Monday."

"Nope." Chris shook his head; "You really need to come back now."

"I’ve been home for like two hours." JC frowned.

"We've got some issues here that you definitely need to be a part of." Chris pulled the blanket up to Kyle’s shoulders.

"It can't wait till Monday?" JC sighed.

"It can't even wait for an hour."

"Shit…" JC leaned forward on the dining room table of his Orlando home. "This had better be really important."

"It is." Chris said as Kyle began to stir in the bed beside him. "When you get here go in around back." Chris said.

JC scowled and sat back in his chair, "This is my first weekend off in two months."

"This is important C. Les will meet you in the back and bring you up to my room."

"Dammit. Okay. I’ll be on the seven o’clock flight tomorrow." JC clicked his phone off and rubbed his eyes. This had better be damn good.

 

It was after midnight when Chris finally turned the light off and lay down on the other bed in the room. He closed his eyes and was asleep before his head even hit the pillow. He dreamed of a children’s soccer team chasing him around a big field and woke up to the sound of a little kid crying.

At first Chris didn’t know what he was hearing, but as his mind became clearer he recognized the cry. Chris jumped up and reached for the light on the nightstand, knocking over the alarm clock in the process. "It’s okay… it’s okay." He mumbled as the small amount of light filled the room.

Kyle was sitting in the opposite bed with his hair sticking up at different angels with tears streaming down his face. "Its okay buddy, come on." Chris stood up and picked the little boy up then went to sit back on his bed, "Hey it’s – " He stopped mid-sentence when he found out why Kyle was crying. "Ugh!" He lifted the wet boy off of his lap and plopped him back down on his own already wet bed. Kyle only cried more as he was sat back in the large wet area of the blanket.

"Okay buddy, hang on. Damn, you’re in a diaper. Okay… okay… the front desk should have diapers or uh, or something." Chris reached for the phone and called down to the hotel lobby to ask if someone could send him up a couple of diapers.

"What size do you need sir?"

"Oh man, I don’t know." Chris ran his hand through his hair as Kyle climbed off the bed and padded over to Chris to lay his head on Chris’ knee as he continued to cry.

"How old is your baby?"

"He’s uh, two."

"Do you know how much he weighs?"

"Beats me. Like… 20 or 30 pounds?" Chris shrugged and pulled Kyle onto his lap, soaking his sweats in the process. He crinkled his nose at the smell, but held Kyle to him anyway. "Can you send some wipey things too? And if you’ve got some clothes or pajamas or something?"

"We have wipes also, but our shops don’t open until nine sir. I can have some clothing sent up then, or you can choose something yourself."

"Okay, yeah thanks. Can you hurry?"

"Yes sir, I’ll have someone bring the supplies up right away."

"Thanks." Chris hung up the phone then smoothed down Kyle’s hair. "Rough night huh bud?" Kyle’s cries subsided to a sniffle as he rested his head on Chris’ chest. "Let’s get you out of these icky clothes though, what do you say?" He lay the little boy on the dry side of his bed and pulled his jeans off and put them on the wet stain. His shirt was wet as well so he took it off, leaving Kyle laying in his soaked through diaper.

The diapers and wipes arrived a minute later and Chris took them happily. "Okay, I’ve seen "Three Men and a Baby", I can do this." Chris nodded and opened the package of diapers. He took one out and unfolded it with the tapes in the back. "Lookin good so far." He mumbled to himself.

Chris opened the wipes and reached for the tape on Kyle’s diaper, he tore them off and placed the heavy diaper to the side. "Dang kid." Chris turned his head to the side as the urine scent filled his nostrils. He wiped Kyle as good as he could, then set the boy on the clean diaper. "This isn’t so hard. No problem." Chris secured the tapes on the front of the diaper and pulled Kyle to a standing position.

Kyle’s eyes drooped as he yawned and stumbled backwards on the soft bed. Chris took another wipe and ran it over the little boy’s bare stomach, back, arms and legs to make sure he got all the pee off. "Okay tough guy, enough goofing off. Let’s go back to sleep." Chris mumbled as he dropped Kyle on his bed, leaving the wet bed empty.

"Me too?" Kyle asked as he lay his head down.

"You bet." Chris nodded and looked down at his sweats with a large pee stain on the leg from where he’d held Kyle. "In just a second." He sighed and headed to the bathroom to clean himself up and put on a new pair of sweat pants. When he went back into the room Kyle was sound asleep in the center of the bed. "Lovely." Chris mumbled.

He opened the window to try to get rid of the smell, then turned off the light and climbed into the bed beside Kyle. The blanket covered them both completely as Chris shut his eyes and fell back to sleep almost immediately, barely noticing the tiny body curled up beside him.

Much sooner than he expected, Chris felt the bed shift next to him. He cracked open his eye to see Kyle lying with his head on his hand and a huge smile on his face. "Hi now."

"Hi Kyle." Chris mumbled as he yawned. "Why don't you go back to sleep now buddy, it's too early." He pulled his arm out from under the pillow and checked the time. "Eight thirty. Wow." He sat up and rubbed his eyes then scratched at his stubble. "You hungry?"

"Yeah." Kyle sat up and imitated Chris rubbing his eyes.

"Right on." He stood up and stretched his back then pulled the drapes open, "Shit that's bright."

Kyle rolled onto his stomach and scooted off the bed, then went to stand by the window to press his face against the glass. He looked up at Chris and his tiny laugh turned into a yawn as he lost his balance and used the window for support.

"Not quite awake huh?" Chris had to laugh at the little boy. "Me neither. I think we should catch some cartoons and breakfast, then we can function. You like cartoons?" He was met with a blank stare, "You know, Scooby Doo? Transformers? Shit, what do kids watch now?" He asked himself. "Teletubbies?"

"Yeah Poe!" Kyle perked up immediately.

"Poe?"

"Yeah! Poe and Lala."

"Whatever you say man." Chris reached for the remote and clicked through the channels. Finally stopping on the only children's program he saw. A dorky looking guy in a green shirt spent ten minutes talking to a huge blue dog and a couple of other talking household appliances. Chris' eyes glazed over, but Kyle was thoroughly entertained.

Chris ordered up room service for himself and Kyle and tried not to doze off as they waited. It was still too early for the others on the floor to be awake, so he and Kyle ate alone at the little table in the corner. Chris opened the window to let in the early morning air then uncovered the breakfast of scrambled eggs, pancakes, milk and a 6 pack of Pepsi for himself.

"So kiddo, what do you like huh? Pancakes?" He pointed to the pancakes and the child stared blankly. "Maybe a little syrup on there?" Chris poured the warmed syrup over the pancake then cut off a bite and held it out to Kyle.

Kyle shook his head and frowned, "Mok."

"Mok huh? You mean milk?" Chris frowned and looked at the glass of milk. It was full almost to the brim, and he wasn’t sure if the little boy could manage a cup on his own. "Okay hang on." Chris lifted the glass to his lips and drank half of it in two big gulps. "Ugh, nasty." He handed the glass to Kyle and watched as he took a sip and smiled.

"We go ouside?" Kyle asked as he looked toward the window.

"I’m not hip to the kid lingo. You want to go outside?"

"Yeah." Kyle nodded and pushed the glass away from him on the table.

"We can go outside a little later." Chris mumbled as he took the lid off the eggs and put a bite on the fork. He tested the temperature with his finger and found it too warm to try to give the kid.

"Ouside later?"

"Yep." Chris nodded and blew on the eggs. "How about some eggs?"

"Yeah."

"Rad."

"Rad." Kyle nodded as the phone rang.

"Just a sec." He blew on the eggs again and reached for the phone. "Hello?"

"Mr. Kirkpatrick?" A female voice asked.

"Yes?" Chris took the saucer from the tray and put it in front of Kyle, then put the bite of cooled eggs on it. Kyle picked it up and ate it, then reached for the piece of pancake Chris left on the bigger plate.

"This is Officer Whaley, we spoke yesterday? How are you?"

"Tired." Chris yawned and scratched at his chin. "Any luck?"

"No, we don’t have much to go on for the mom. Have you reached Mr. Chasez yet?"

"Yeah, he’ll be here at 11." Chris blew on another bite of scrambled eggs, then set it on the table for Kyle. "What’s he gonna have to do?"

"Well, it’s up to him. A voluntary paternity test would be the easiest way to go, and probably the quickest."

"Don’t those things take weeks?"

"There’s a clinic in Long Beach that can have results in 3 days if needed."

"Okay, where’s that?" Chris searched for a pen in the desk behind him and scribbled down the information she gave him on the clinic. "And then what?"

"Well, I’m ready to come get the child this morning if you’d like."

"To take him to foster care?"

"To the receiving home. I talked to one of the social workers and she said it would take about 24 hours to place him."

"Shit…" Chris sighed. "Okay, so let’s say JC goes and does this test today, we’ll know in a couple days if the kid is his… then what?"

"Then we’ll know, and it’ll be up to Mr. Chasez."

"If Kyle isn’t JC’s what’ll happen to him?" Chris made a face at Kyle who smiled back and took a sip of his milk. He was still only in his diaper, Chris needed to call about getting him some clothes.

"He’ll be put into foster care." Officer Whaley sighed.

"And if his mom isn’t found?"

"If we fail to locate his mother or another family member he will go through the process and made a ward of the state to be put up for adoption."

"If JC’s the dad?"

"He will be given the opportunity to assume custody of the child for the duration of our search for his mother. If we locate the mother then it will be between them. If we can’t, then it will be up to him where the child goes."

"How about for the three days we’re waiting for results?"

"Like I said Mr. Kirkpatrick, I’m willing to come and pick up the child whenever you’re ready."

"Can he stay here with us though? Until we know for sure?"

"You’re leaving on Thursday." She consulted her notes. "If he gets tested today the earliest we’d get results would be Wednesday."

"So he can stay?" Chris asked.

"I don’t see any reason why he couldn’t stay there. But if it’s found that the child is not Mr. Chasez’s he will be taken into protective custody."

"I… okay." Chris nodded. He’d hate to see that happen to such a good kid. He took another bite of the eggs and blew on them to cool them off before putting them on Kyle’s little saucer.

"I need you to have Mr. Chasez contact me when he gets in so we can find out what he knows about the mom, if anything."

"Okay."

"Maybe it would be best if we met him at the hotel at 11:30?" Officer Whaley asked.

"I think seeing cops sitting around when he got here would freak him out a lot." Chris shook his head. "I’ll have him call you as soon as he knows what’s up."

"I’d like to see him."

Chris sighed, "Fine, when he gets here I’ll have him call and you can set up a time to come over."

"We’re just trying to help Mr. Kirkpatrick."

"I know. But bombarding him as he walks in the door isn’t going to help anyone." Chris shook his head and made a funny face at Kyle.

"We can go ouside?" Kyle asked softly.

"Yeah, we’ll go outside in just a little bit." Chris swiped his napkin across Kyle’s mouth and helped him off the chair. The toddlers diaper sagged in a homely way and Chris dreaded changing him again.

"It’s too early to be dealing with this right now, I’m running on next to nothing. JC’s flight comes in at eleven, he’ll be at the hotel by eleven thirty… you should hear from him around twelve."

"You have my number?"

"Yeah, I’ve got your number."

"Thank you Mr. Kirkpatrick."

"You’re welcome." He sighed and rubbed his eyes as he hung up the phone. "Hey Kyle you’re not wearing any clothes big guy."

"No shoes." Kyle laughed and sat on the floor to hold his foot in the air.

"Nope, no shoes either." Chris put his hands on his hips and stared down at the little boy. His light brown hair was cut unevenly and stuck up in little tufts all over his head and had a tiny little dimple in his cheek when he smiled. "We’ve gotta work on getting you some threads."

Chris thought about the scene that would be caused if he carried an almost naked kid down to the lobby to get clothes, and shuddered. There had to be a better way. Almost everyone else on the tour had taken off for their free weekend, Chris had only stayed behind because he didn’t want to fly cross country just for the day and he enjoyed the peace and quiet when they were gone.

Chris yawned again and bent over his suitcase, "Speaking of clothes…" He pulled out clean clothes for himself and headed to the bathroom. The door was halfway shut when he realized that he couldn't just leave Kyle out there by himself. "Hey. Kyle buddy? Come on over here."

"We go ouside?"

"Uh, not yet. Come play over here for a minute." Chris nodded at the floor by the door. Kyle didn’t move so Chris crossed the room and scooped him up, then dropped him on the floor just outside the bathroom door and handed him the spare tooth brush that came with the hotel room, "There, play with that for just a second."

Chris left the door ajar as he changed into his pants and loose fitting t-shirt. He ran a brush through his hair and just pulled a cap on over it rather than spend fifteen minutes making it look good.

"Okay kiddo. Let’s try to figure out who’s still here that we can call to get you some clothes."

"Like you?"

"Yep, clothes like me."

"Okay." Kyle nodded in agreement.

"In fact, that’s a great idea. Let’s see if Jessica stuck around this weekend. She buys my clothes I bet she’d buy yours too." Chris reached for the phone and called down to the front desk to be re-directed to Jessica’s room.

"Hello?" She answered after three rings.

"Hi Jessica, this is Chris. Listen I know you’re busy and stuff but I didn’t know who else to call. I mean, you do our wardrobe so I’m guessing you like clothes and stuff." Chris rambled.

"I guess." She said slowly, not too sure where Chris was going.

"Well I need some help."

"I didn’t see anything on the calendar that would need my expertise, what’s up?" She cradled the phone between her shoulder and ear as she applied her mascara.

"I don’t know if you’ve heard or not, but I’ve got a two year old up here and he’s only wearing a diaper."

"You have a 2 year old?"

"Well yeah. But no, I mean… I don’t have a 2 year old, but I have one up here with me."

"You don’t have one, but there’s one with you?" Jessica asked, now completely lost.

"Yeah."

"So right now there is a 2 year old in a diaper, near you?"

"On my lap, yeah." Chris nodded. "What I meant was that he’s not mine."

"Oh!" Jessica laughed, "Okay, well who’s is he?"

"I don’t know." Chris sighed. "It’s a long story, but the dude needs some clothes and I don’t know what to do."

"Ahhh."

"I mean, I can’t just run to the mall and pick up kids clothes, so I was hoping you could. Can you?"

"I’m off this weekend, just like you guys."

"I know." Chris said hastily. "But I’m stuck here."

"I’m completely lost here Chris, where are the clothes he came in?"

"Sopping wet on the bed. We had a little accident last night."

"He was here last night?"

"Yeah." Chris sighed again. "If you can just go pick up a couple pairs of pants or whatever, I’ll explain it all later."

"I’ll tell you what, they’ve gotta have something in one of the shops downstairs, I’ll go pick some clothes and bring them up right now, okay?"

"Yeah, but don’t go nuts or anything."

"Baby or not, any clothes I buy will be stylish." Jessica smiled. "What room are you guys in?"

"1541." Chris said as Kyle reached up to touch Chris’s earring. "No no." Chris grabbed the little boy's fingers and removed them from his ear. "I’ll see you in what? Twenty minutes?" he asked Jessica.

"Yeah." Jessica hung up and grabbed her purse off the dresser. She tied a pink bandana over her hair and headed downstairs to pick up kid clothes.

As soon as she walked into the little boutique Jessica immediately started to picture the guys in the clothes on display. She loved being their wardrobe lead and dressing them up was only half the fun; she also got to shop for a living. Who could ask for a better job?

"Hi there, can I help you find something?" The older sales lady asked.

"I’m looking for childrens clothes actually, do you have anything like that?"

"We do have a small selection, you might want to try the Beverly Center Mall, there will be a bigger selection there."

"I just need a couple little outfits." Jessica smiled and followed the sales lady through the store to where the childrens clothes were set out. She took her time looking through the tiny pairs of pants and shirts to match the grown up clothes in the front of the store. After a few minutes deliberation, she decided on a pair of safari shorts and a pair of denim overalls with shirts to go with them. She stopped and picked up two pairs of matching socks then headed for the register. She paid for her purchase then carried the bag up to Chris’s room and knocked on the door.

Chris answered the door with a yawn, "Hi, man am I glad you’re here."

"Hi." Jessica smiled and handed him the bag, expecting to go back to her room.

"Hang on wait." Chris said as he saw her turn to leave. "Can you help me out here?"

If he hadn’t sounded so desperate, she might have left. "Sure." She shoved her hands in her pockets and followed Chris into the room, which was when she noticed the little boy in a saggy diaper sitting on the floor with the TV remote control in his hand. "He’s adorable." She smiled at Chris as she knelt beside Kyle. "What’s your name sweetie?"

Kyle just looked at her and said, "Hi!"

"Well hi yourself." She laughed and looked up at Chris, "What’s his name?"

"Kyle."

"Hi Kyle, what do you have there?"

"I have TV." He smiled and pointed the remote control towards the TV.

"Doesn’t he have any real toys?"

"He doesn’t have anything." Chris shook his head.

"All right, explain that one to me. Did he come with the room?" Jessica asked as she stood up straight.

"No he… " Chris wasn’t sure how much he should share before he had a chance to talk to JC. "One of the girls handed him to me last night when I was in the lobby and took off, so now he’s here with me."

"Chris! You need to call the police or something. You can just call dibs on the kid."

"I’m not calling dibs." Chris shook his head. "And the cops have been here. Problem is, he came with a note saying he was JC’s so until he gets back, the kids staying with me."

"He’s JC’s?!"

"No." Chris shook his head. "I don’t know. JC’s on his way back right now, but I didn’t want the kid shuffled off to foster care, you know, just in case."

"Wow…" She looked back at Kyle looking for any resemblance to JC. She didn’t see any, but then she didn’t spend a lot of time looking at JC. "So what do you need help with?"

"I don’t know anything about kids."

Jessica laughed and shook her head, "I’m not a baby sitter."

"No, I know." Chris said. "I just meant that I don’t know anything about dressing them or anything."

"You dress yourself every day, what’s the problem?"

"He’s just… small."

"He’s a kid."

"Yeah. Can you help me though? Please?"

Jessica sighed and reached into the bag then pulled out the overalls and t-shirt, "Kyle sweetie, come here, let’s get you dressed." She held out the clothes to show Kyle as he hopped up off the floor and walked over to where Jessica was sitting. "Wow kiddo, you need a diaper change. Where are your diapers?"

"Dere." Kyle pointed to the stack beside the bed.

"Can you go get them and the wipes too? We’ll change your diaper and get you dressed."

"Kay." Kyle ran across the room and picked up a diaper and the small container of wipes, then ran back.

Chris watched in amazement, "How’d you do that?"

"What?" Jessica looked up with a confused look.

"Well… he did it."

"I asked him to." She laughed as Kyle lay on the floor in front of her. "You’re gonna owe me for this." She said as she removed his dirty diaper. She cleaned him up and put a fresh one on, then pulled him to his feet. "Okay Kyle, arms up." Kyle raised his arms and she pulled the new t-shirt over his head. She then held the pants down at his knee level and helped him step into them.

Jessica snapped the straps of the overalls and looked at Chris, "Do you have a hairbrush?"

"Uh… yeah." He jumped up and got one from the bathroom, "Here." He handed it to her and watched as she brushed Kyle’s thin hair and parted it on the side.

"There you go sweetie, you’re all done." Jessica patted Kyle’s bottom as he took off to go grab his remote.

"Damn, you’re good." Chris shook his head and laughed.

"He’s a human you know." Jessica sighed, "He’s a smart little boy."

"Yeah, I guess so. I was thinking he was more of a baby."

"Nah, he’s two. He may not have the speaking all of skills yet, but he knows the language." She laughed and pulled the tags off the other outfit in the bag. "Is that all?"

"Y-yeah. Thanks."

"No problem." She set the hairbrush on the table and stood up. "Bye bye Kyle."

"Bye bye?" He stopped and stood up to follow her.

"No honey, I'm going to go bye bye, you're going to stay here with Chris." She smiled and patted Chris's arm.

"We go ouside?" Kyle asked Chris.

"Yep, in just a little bit." Chris nodded.

"You can't take him out front." Jessica said softly. "There's a crowd."

"I know. We're gonna go out on the balcony in a couple minutes." Jessica looked past him trying to see the balcony, "It's safe, don't worry. It's all stucco and there's nothing for him to climb on."

"Okay." She nodded and tried to look again. "Okay, I'll see you guys later."

"Bye bye." Kyle waved and sat back on the floor with the remote. He clicked the button and turned the TV off then back on while he laughed.

"Good luck." She smiled at Chris before she left them alone in the room.

Chris and Kyle watched cartoons for a little while longer, then they took the little pad of paper and a pencil outside to the balcony to draw on the floor. Kyle couldn’t quite get a hang of using the pencil, but he could tear the paper into tiny shreds and throw them in the air like a pro. Chris sat with his butt inside and his feet and legs outside on the balcony. They were high enough up for Chris to know he'd be sick if he stood up.

"All done." Kyle threw the last piece of paper in the air with a satisfied smile and stepped over Chris's legs to go back into the room.

"Well all righty then." Chris laughed and stood up to brush his butt off as someone knocked on the door.

Chris shut the sliding glass door and latched it just to be safe, then crossed the room as he checked his watch. It was almost noon, this had to be JC.

"So what’s the big emergency?" JC asked as he walked into the room followed by their tour manager, Sean. "And Jesus, what’s that smell?"

"The smell is piss, and that’s the big emergency." Chris nodded at Kyle who was sitting on the floor in his new overalls and t-shirt.

"What’s this?"

"This is Kyle." Chris said. "A girl handed him to me with a letter saying he’s yours." JC’s jaw dropped as he tried to laugh. "The police were here but I let them leave the kid with me until you got back today to straighten things out."

JC laughed nervously, "Well he’s not mine."

"A paternity test will prove that." Chris nodded.

"You can't be serious." JC shook his head with a smug smile.

"I'm serious." Chris nodded. "You need to call Officer Whaley and answer some questions." He crossed the room and grabbed the scratch paper with her number on it.

"Dude, Chris, he’s not mine."

"I’m not saying he is Jace, I’m saying that the letter says you are and the best thing to do would be to take a paternity test." Chris sighed and rubbed his tired eyes.

"You think I’d be careless enough to knock up some girl I don’t even know?" JC frowned and tried to keep his voice low as Kyle played on the floor a few feet away.

"I’m not saying that." Chris was getting cranky, it had been a long night and he was exhausted. "Go take the test so you can prove that you’re not and then you’ll be off the hook."

JC sighed and ran his hands through his hair, "Where do I have to go?"

"To the hospital."

"Yeah, like that won’t be an attention grabber. JC Chasez walks into Cedar Sinai Medical Center and no one says anything?"

"The officer chick said there’s a paternity clinic in Long Beach that can give you the results in 3 days." Chris nodded toward the pad of paper where he had scribbled his notes from the call earlier.

"Three days?" JC asked as he heaved a huge sigh. "What do I have to do?"

"I don’t know, you give blood and they run DNA… shit I don’t know. Don’t you watch Jerry Springer or whatever when they do those tests?"

"Blood?" JC suddenly felt faint. "Forget it. I’m not his father, just call your little officer friend and have her come get him."

"JC, if you deny he’s yours and he’s put into foster care… and somehow someone finds out he is yours." Sean shrugged, "That mess will be a hundred times bigger than if you find out he’s yours now."

"He’s not." JC shook his head. "This is just crazy."

"It comes with the territory." Sean shrugged as Chris leaned back in his chair to stretch his back. "If we diffuse this bomb now, before it gets out of hand, you can save face either way. Rumors like this have a way of exploding, you know that."

"I know that Sean, but I’m not gonna give blood to prove that I’m right. Forget it." His hands began to shake at the thought of having to face a needle.

"There are other ways to get your DNA." Sean checked his watch. "If we leave now, maybe this can all be settled before we leave here on Thursday." That gave them four days.

 

Part 2 

 

Copyright � 2001, Amy Lynn