The caravan of buses and trucks arrived in Seattle at almost nine that night. The trucks went straight to the venue to begin the stage set up while the buses dropped everyone at the hotel. The small radio in the front of the bus played in the background as they parked near the back of the hotel.

"I song." Kyle perked up from his half asleep position on the couch.

"Hmm?" JC interrupted his conversation with Chris to look at the little boy. "What?"

"I song." Kyle scooted off the couch and laughed as he scampered toward the radio.

"Whoa hey, don’t touch that." Justin’s hand covered the controls as Kyle stopped short and smiled at the speakers.

"Dude, what’s his deal?" Joey asked.

"I song." Kyle laughed again and bounced his knees as he held his arms out to his sides for balance. "Rocket rocket!"

"What?" JC looked from Kyle to Chris.

"He likes this song." Chris chuckled and leaned over to turn the volume up. "Good choice."

The Stray Cat’s "Rock this town" blasted from the speakers and raised the spirits of everyone on the bus. Chris picked Kyle up and danced with him around the little sitting area while Justin stood on the couch doing a funky dance and mimicking Joey as he played the air guitar.

"They’ve lost their marbles." Lance laughed as he stood beside JC.

"You can say that again." JC smiled and shook his head as Kyle laughed hysterically to the big band sound coming from the radio.

"It’s good that he likes music though, huh?" Lance laughed.

"Yeah I guess so." JC watched as Chris spun Kyle around then almost lost his balance as the bus stopped.

"Well, he looked at me once, he looked at me twice… look at me again and there's gonna be a fight! We're gonna rock this town, rip this place apart." Chris sang as he and Kyle bounced down the little steps to the parking lot.

The crowd of girls erupted in screams as Chris set foot off the bus more than twenty feet away from them. He waved quickly then dipped Kyle to make him squeal with laughter as the others filed off the bus behind them. The security guards ushered them into the hotel and onto awaiting elevators where they rode up to their floor to get settled in their rooms.

Sean had checked them all in before they got there so all they had to do was collect their keys as they got off the elevator. After the scene on the bus Kyle and the guys were wide awake and full of stored up energy collected while sitting on the bus all day.

Chris went to JC’s room to play with Kyle and tire him out a bit before he went to bed so that JC could get some phone calls made. After an hour of catching alligators, Chris stood up and yawned, "Okay kid, I’m beat."

"Go nye nye?"

"Yep, it’s time for this big kid to go night night." Chris stretched his arms over his head and looked down at Kyle in his day clothes still. "Come on, let’s get you in your pajamas so you can go to bed too."

"I go?"

"Yep, you’re going to bed to."

"Go bye?" Kyle started toward the door, expecting to leave with Chris.

"No, you’re going to stay here, come on." He picked Kyle up and dropped him on the bed to grab his pajamas out of the bag. Chris changed him like an expert while talking to him the whole time.

"Rocket?" Kyle asked with a sly smile.

"You like that song huh?"

"I song." He nodded.

"That’s your song huh?" Chris laughed.

"Yeah." Kyle laughed with him and turned over to slide off the bed. His bare feet hit the floor with a soft thud and he walked over to the door, "Bye now?"

"Nope, sorry kiddo, you’ve gotta stay here and go to bed."

"I go." He insisted as he walked back to grab Chris’ hand and pull him toward the door.

"No, I’m gonna go, you’re gonna stay here." Chris said, but he followed the child anyway. "Hey Jace? I’ve gotta go man."

"Okay." JC held the cell phone to his ear and waved over his head.

"Jace." Chris said a little louder. JC turned around to look as Chris’s pointed at Kyle.

"Oh right." He jumped up and picked Kyle up as he cradled the phone between his ear and his shoulder. "Okay big guy, almost time for bed."

"Catch ya tomorrow man." Chris waved to both of them and ducked out of the room.

"Go bye?" Kyle asked JC with a quizzical look.

"Yeah Chris went bye bye." JC mumbled and sat Kyle on the floor in front of his little pile of toys, then returned to his call. "Listen Ali, I know you’re pissed but that was – " She cut him off with another tirade of words and it was another full minute before he could get a word in edgewise, "I wasn’t calling you selfish dammit, I just said that you’re acting like a bitch over noth – " She cut him off again and it became clear that he wasn’t going to be making his point that night. "Ali… Ali… ALI!" He practically shouted, causing Kyle to jump. "Stop, for just two seconds. Listen to me. I said I was sorry okay? I screwed up one night three years ago. You’re going to throw away everything we have over that?" He listened to her breathe over the phone for a second without answering. "So now you’re not going to talk to me?" The silence was his answer. "Good, then maybe I can talk for a second here. I want to work this out okay? This…" He searched for the right word, "… this situation is a shock to both of us and we need time to adjust, but I think in the end it’ll all work out I just need you to chill out and think about it for a minute." As soon as the words left his mouth he knew he’d chosen the wrong ones. She spoke slowly and softly, but got the point across. She felt betrayed and foolish and had no intention of sticking around to play mom to this child. Her maternal instincts were not at all intact and JC was the one that needed to grown up and take responsibility. "So that’s it?" JC asked when she was done laying it out for him. He was answered with an audible sigh before she hung up. That was it.

"So that's it." He said softly to himself.

"Dats it?" Kyle gave him a questioning glance.

"Yep." JC sighed and threw his phone toward his bed. "Fuck." He grumbled under his breath, hoping Kyle wouldn't hear. He took a deep breath and ran his hands heavily through his hair. He needed a haircut but he hadn't had a spare minute in weeks.

"Daddy kay?" Kyle asked as he scrambled up from the floor and placed his hand on the bed beside JC's knee.

With those two little words JC realized that Ali didn't matter. The little boy in front of him, the son he never knew he had was asking in his tiny toddler voice if he was okay. A fluttering in his chest startled him at first as he smiled down at Kyle; "Yeah I'm okay buddy." He ran his hand over Kyle's short hair then quickly kissed the top of his head. "It's time for bed I think."

"We go seep?"

"Yep."

"You too?"

"Me too."

"Kay." Kyle walked over to the bed on the left which is the one he always chose, then used the nightstand to climb up onto it.

JC put his hands on his knees and stood up to stretch, "Do you want your dog? Lello?"

"Have Lello." Kyle reached under the pillow to pull the floppy brown dog out. JC tugged at the blanket and slid Kyle under the covers.

"Daddy rocket?" Kyle smiled up at JC as he pulled the blanket up to Kyle’s shoulders.

"What?"

"You."

"Me?"

"Yeah."

"Me what?" JC asked, realizing he was dipping into baby talk.

"Song."

"I don’t know what you mean kid."

"You song."

"My song?" JC gave him a look as he sat beside him.

"Yeah."

"I don’t have a song."

"Rocket." Kyle insisted.

"Rocket?"

"Yeah."

"I have no idea what you mean."

"Rocket song." Kyle slurred his speech with tiredness. "Rocket dow."

"Oh. Rock this town?"

"Yeah song."

"You want me to sing it?"

"Song." Kyle nodded.

"Nope, it’s bedtime." JC sighed. "Lights out."

"One?"

"All of them." JC shook his head and switched the bedside light off. He crossed the room to shut the main light off then found his way back to his bed in the darkness. As he laid down he saw that it was almost eleven at night, he cringed inwardly thinking about how cranky the kid was going to be the next morning when they all had to get up at six.

JC yawned and fluffed his pillow as Kyle started to snore a few feet away. He found the sound oddly reassuring as he turned toward the wall to try to lull himself to sleep.

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

Jessica spent the next day meeting with fashion executives from Tommy to try to come up with a design for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame where they would be presenting in two months. The meeting wasn’t over until almost three o’clock, but they had everything down to the guys socks planned out. Jessica was pleased with the styles and prices, which was all that was important. The suits were classier than what they wore to the MTV awards, but still had the hint of sass that made them stand out individually.

She went back to the hotel to take a shower and get ready for the show that night, she had a handful of new pants that needed to be altered and she planned on doing them before the show.

Jessica picked up her room key and dropped it in her pocket then double checked her bag to make sure she had everything she needed. Once she was certain that she wasn’t missing anything, she headed out to the elevators to catch one of the vans going to the venue.

"Hi!" Kyle squealed as Jessica walked up. He pulled tight on JC’s hand as he tried to run over to her. JC held firmly without looking up to see what had caught Kyle’s attention.

"Hey kiddo." Jessica smiled and tossed her bag over her shoulder. "You look tired buddy." Jessica smiled as she ran her hand over Kyle’s head.

"He just woke up." JC turned around and let go of Kyle’s hand so that he could run to Jessica.

"He just woke up? JC it’s like four thirty. When did he go down?"

"After lunch." JC shrugged.

"He took a four hour nap?" She shook her head. "He’s never going to get to sleep tonight."

"He’ll sleep fine." JC yawned and covered his mouth as others arrived to wait with them at the elevator.

Jessica laughed softly; "He’s going to be wired all night long."

"He’ll be fine." JC scowled.

"Hey don’t get mad at me, I’m just trying to help."

"He fell asleep after lunch, what was I supposed to do? We had a few hours of downtime so I used it to get caught up on the week’s worth of shit I’ve accumulated. He’s in my room tonight anyway so I don’t know why you’re so upset." JC frowned.

"I’m not upset I just…" She shook her head, it was pointless. "Nevermind, sleep well tonight." She added sarcastically before she stormed off to wait for another elevator.

She rode to the venue in the van with Sean and some of the other tour leads, feeling herself get more and more upset as they drove. By the time they got to the venue she felt as though she had smoke coming out of her ears. JC had no idea what he was doing and while he was running around too busy to figure it out, Kyle was getting the shaft. The little boy would be up all night long and his internal clock would be thrown out of whack. Chances are he hadn’t even eaten dinner yet either so that would be all messed up to.

It was one thing for the guys to monkey with their own schedules, but Kyle didn’t have any kind of control over when he ate or slept, not really anyway. Jessica let herself get more upset than usual so when they pulled up at the side entrance she was on a rampage.

She followed the crew through the back stage area until she found the back entrance where the huge semi truck had backed its trailer up to the loading area. Jessica waited patiently for one of the gear guys to roll her covered racks off of the truck. She wheeled them inside one at a time and lined them up against the wall, then grabbed the first one and headed down the walkway toward the halls leading to the rooms.

Jessica held the door open with her foot and shoved the rack of clothes into the dressing room, catching it on a corner of carpet. "Dammit." She growled as she pushed harder. "Come ON." Jessica shook the rack and held it tight.

"Whoa hey… don’t kill it, those are mine." Lance smiled as he walked up behind her. "Here… let me get that." He squeezed past her and leaned over to hold the carpet down so she could push the rack into the room.

"Thank you." Jessica fumed as she followed the rack through the door.

"Is everything okay?" Lance asked from the doorway.

"Yes."

"You sure? You look like you’re about ready to toss the rack." He laughed lightly.

"It’s nothing." Jessica insisted. She was there to do her job, not to use the guys as therapists.

"Okay." Lance nodded and cleared his throat as he looked out into the hall. "Hey uh, I know JC doesn’t say it much, but thanks Jess. You know, for helping out with Kyle and stuff. It’s been a mess trying to keep track of him and knowing you’re there to watch him is great."

Jessica sighed and rolled her eyes; Lance wasn’t the one she wanted to hear the thank you from. "Lance… don’t get me started."

"Okay." He shrugged and turned to leave.

"But you know what?" Jessica started before she could stop herself. "Kyle is the greatest kid ever. He doesn’t cry, he does what he’s told, he doesn’t whine or run around like a madman. I’ve never seen him throw a fit or be anything other than angelic. JC has no idea how lucky he is or how good he has it. He doesn’t deserve a kid like Kyle." Jessica stopped herself quickly. She hadn’t meant to throw insults around and that certainly wasn’t a way to win points in this business. "I… I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that."

"No, you’re right. He doesn’t know how lucky he is." Lance nodded. "He’s getting better though, he’s trying."

"Lance, I appreciate the loyalty you have to JC but he isn’t trying."

"He is Jess. He’s trying as much as he can… JC’s one of those guys that plans everything you know? He’s got everything planned, he knows what he wants to do and when. Then out of nowhere this huge speed bump jerks him off course. He’s just trying to find his footing."

"In the mean time this little two year old is getting lost in the shuffle."

"A tour is no place for a kid." Lance shook his head. "I’ll be the first to agree with you there. But when there’s no other option we’ve all got to make sacrifices."

"I’ve been making plenty." Jessica pouted.

"We all have." Lance nodded and fiddled with the buttons on the front of his shirt. "But none of us could do this without you. You’re the one holding this tour together."

Jessica sighed and rubbed her eyes, "No pressure huh?"

"No pressure." Lance laughed. "Give him a chance Jess. He’s trying."

"He’s making me cranky."

"Well… that’s JC." Lance shrugged. "Are you done assaulting my clothes now?"

"Yeah." She smiled slowly and shook her head, "But these are Justin’s, not yours."

"You sure?"

"It’s my job to be sure." Jessica laughed lightly and turned to push the rack into the corner. "Thanks Lance. I needed that bitch fest."

"Anytime." He waved then ducked out the door to hurry to the meeting he was running late for.

"Jessica?" Sean asked as he poked his head in the dressing room. "Oh good, there you are."

"Yeah?" She straightened the clothes on the rack and turned to face the door.

"Guess who’s here?" He slipped into the room with Kyle in tow.

"Oh hey buddy." Jessica smiled and crossed the room. "What’s up?" She knelt to pick him up.

"Can you watch him?" Sean asked as he checked his watch.

"All night?" With the long nap he’d taken that afternoon he’d be up late and she was already tired.

"No, just for the show if you can." He smiled hopefully.

"Sean, I’ve got tons of…" She let her sentence fall as Kyle tugged at the hem of his shirt then smiled up at her. "Yeah fine. I’ll watch him."

"Thanks."

"You’re welcome." She sighed and placed her hand on Kyle’s head. "I’ll give him to JC before the guys leave tonight."

"Okay." Sean smiled and left before Jessica could change her mind.

"Okay kiddo, it’s just you and me tonight." She smiled and ruffled his hair.

"Go bye?"

"We’re not going to go bye bye, but we can go get some dinner. Are you hungry?" She asked.

"Yeah." He nodded up at her. "Hogog?"

"Hot dog?" Jessica was getting better at his toddler talk. "I don’t know if they’ve got hot dogs, but we’ll find you something, okay?" He nodded slowly and reached for her hand.

They got themselves some dinner then Jessica cleaned him up and went back to get the rest of the rolling racks for the guys. With Kyle standing on the bottom of the racks, Jessica got them all to the dressing rooms then went back to the bus to get the new pants that she hemmed and altered for the boys.

"Rocket dow rocket." Kyle mumbled to himself as he made Lello dance in the air.

"What are you saying there Kyle?" Jessica smiled and picked him up.

"I song."

"You’re singing?"

"Yeah." He nodded.

"Ahhh." Jessica shook her head; he was already taking after his father. They walked around the perimeter hall to get to the dressing room on the opposite side of the venue.

"Amy St. Germain, I’m on the list there somewhere." The petite brunette sighed as the security guarded the list from her view. "S-T-G-E-R-M-A-I-N" She spelled it slowly and Jessica immediately recognized her as Lance’s girlfriend.

"It’s not on here." He shook his head and held the clipboard to his chest.

"Amy!" Jessica shouted as she balanced Kyle on her hip. She flung the three pairs of pants she was holding over her shoulder, "Hey what are you doing here?"

"Trying to get in." Amy laughed and retied her ponytail. "Help!"

"Hi, I’m Jessica, can I help?" Jessica smiled as she walked up to the guard.

"She’s not on the list and I can’t let just anyone through here." He explained quickly.

"She’s on there somewhere, do you mind if I have a quick look?" Jessica tilted her head sweetly, then looked down at her own badge. "Thanks." She took the chart and looked it over, "Ah, here it is. They just spelled out ‘saint’." She pointed to Amy’s name on the list as Kyle adjusted Lello in the crook of his arm.

"Thanks." Amy smiled and signed the paper that the guard held out for her. She traded him the clipboard for a badge then stepped through the barricade. "How’s it going? This must be Kyle." Amy reached out and tickled the back of his neck.

"Yep, this is Kyle. Can you say ‘hi’ to Amy?" Jessica asked the little boy.

"Hi." He smiled showing a mouth full of tiny teeth. "Lello dog." He held the dog by his tail to show Amy.

"Oh is that your doggie? That’s a great dog."

"Yeah Lello." Kyle insisted.

"Lello? That’s his name? Hi Lello." Amy laughed and pet the stuffed dog. "He’s a little chatter box." She smiled at Jessica.

"Yeah, he’s been talking a lot lately." Jessica sighed and boosted him up on her hip. "Well come on back. I was on my way to the dressing room; the guys should be there pretty soon. Does Lance know you’re here?"

"Yeah, I told him I was coming in for the show so he knows I’m supposed to be here." Amy nodded and moved her purse to her shoulder. "But he doesn’t know I’m here."

"Okay." Jessica smiled.

"So how are things?" Amy put her hands in her pockets as they walked around the backstage area, surrounded by the familiar sounds of stagehands shouting and the fans being let in.

"Good, same old thing, ya know?"

"Except now there’s a kid on the tour." Amy laughed.

"Yeah." Jessica frowned.

"Are you stuck with him a lot?"

Jessica sighed, "I don’t know about stuck, but yeah I take care of him a lot. I mean, JC is so busy all the time, he can’t really change that. I’ve probably got more free time than almost anyone so…" She shrugged and mentally kicked herself for defending him.

"Well yeah but that’s still your time."

"I don’t mind really, I mean, he’s a good kid." Jessica smiled at Kyle; "You’re a good kid aren’t you?"

"Rrrraaarrr!" He made a scary face and bent his fingers in an innocent looking claw.

"Nooooo… you’re a nice boy, you’re not scary." Jessica laughed and tickled him under his chin.

"I scared." Kyle laughed and made his scary face again.

"Okay, okay, you’re scary." Jessica laughed and shook her head as she pulled the door to the dressing room open, "Anyone naked?" She shouted before she stepped in.

"Just Lonnie." Chris shouted.

"Shut it Chris." Lonnie said in his deep voice, then laughed. "If you don’t mind underwear and back hair come on in."

"Ooooh!" Joey and Chris erupted in laughter; "Hairy backs? Gross!" Chris tossed his hat at Joey. "He was talkin ‘bout you monkey man."

"Not hardly." Joey laughed and tossed it back.

"Here you go guys, three new pairs of pants just for you." She set Kyle on the floor to check the labels of the pants in her arms. "Justin?"

"He’s on the phone." Joey shook his head as Kyle immediately walked over and tried to tickle his bare thigh while he made his monster noises. "Whoa! We’ve got a monster in here!" Joey knelt to Kyle’s level and tickled his sides.

"JC?" Jessica read the next label.

"Missing in action." Chris shrugged.

"Of course." Jessica mumbled under her breath. "Okay, Mr. Kirkpatrick… new pants for you."

"What about me?" Joey asked.

"You got yours a week ago." Jessica gave him a look. "You didn’t blow out the seams or anything did you?"

"No, but one whole section of those sequin things is all loose, they’re falling off all over the stage."

"Okay." She sighed. "Let me have them tonight and I’ll figure something out. Are they okay for tonight?"

"Yeah." Joey shrugged and stood up. "Hi Amy."

"Hi Joey." Amy smiled from the doorway.

"Where’s your man?"

"I was hoping you might know." She smiled and leaned against the wall.

Joey turned to Lonnie, "Where’s Lance?"

"Beats me. It’s not my night to watch him." Lonnie laughed. "I swear sometimes we need to install you guys with low-jack, so we’ll know where you are all the time."

"Someone looking for me?" Lance asked as he walked into the dressing room.

"Hey babe." Amy’s face lit up as she turned around to hug him.

"Hey sweetie, how was your flight?" He asked before he kissed her.

"Eh, it was long." She laughed and left her arm around his waist.

"Come on back while I get ready." He nodded toward the curtained off areas in the back of the room. They walked hand in hand through the dressing room and the other guys snickered.

"How does he do that man? He gets the girls that are right up the middle. Pretty but not drop dead gorgeous. Smart but not a braniac. Sarcastic but not bitchy. Nice body but not rail thin." Joey shook his head.

"Yeah, there are so few of us around…" Jessica smiled and tilted her head to the side wistfully.

Joey laughed and shook his head, "Yeah right Jess. Keep dreaming."

"What’s that mean?" She raised her eyebrow. "I’m a drop dead gorgeous braniac who’s incredibly bitchy and rail thin?"

"I didn’t say that."

"You don’t want to go to the other extreme Joey." She said cautiously.

"I’m gonna stop talking before I dig myself into a bigger hole." He laughed and walked toward the back of the room.

"Okay Kyle, you ready to go?"

"Go bye?" He asked.

"Not exactly." She shook her head. "We can go play games though, how about that?"

"Kay." Kyle took her hand and looked up at her sweetly. "Daddy too?"

"Nope, I can’t find your daddy." She sighed and shook her head. "Do you want to go look for him?"

"Yeah." Kyle gave her a half smile and let Lello dangle by his ear from his hand. "Look daddy."

"All righty." She held the door open then called over her shoulder, "Hey! If there are any problems page me."

"Okay!" Lance and Joey shouted.

"And if JC shows up let him know I’m looking for him." She added.

"Okay." They said in unison again.

"Let’s go." She smiled down at Kyle as they headed out in search for JC. She made it into a game where they’d look behind doors and under tables like spies and he had a great time. After an hour of looking they still couldn’t find him.

They stopped at the cafeteria and got a snack before heading back to the dressing rooms where they finally found JC getting ready. They had only another fifteen minutes to dress so they were rushed.

"Is daddy." Kyle laughed as JC ran by.

"Yep, there he is." Jessica fought the urge to roll her eyes.

"Hey guys, wanna keep me company." Amy patted the couch beside her as she turned on the little TV in the corner.

Jessica didn’t usually hang out in the dressing room unless she was working, but Amy was a friend and she didn’t have anything better to do. "How'd you get stuck in here?"

"Lance had to get ready." She shrugged.

"Did you at least get to visit a little?" Jessica raised her eyebrow knowingly.

"A little." Amy nodded with a slight blush.

"Cool, they should be almost done in there." Jessica pointed out as she sat. Kyle parked himself at the end of the couch and pulled a truck out of his ever-handy backpack.

"Yeah, then they’ve got to meet with Sean or whoever." Amy sighed. "I’d go nuts with a schedule like that."

"I don’t know how they keep sane." Jessica laughed. Just then a chorus of "Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do when they come for you." Echoed from the back area followed by a ripple of laughter.

"Ahhh! They’re coming!" One of them shouted.

"You were saying?" Amy laughed and turned the channel to MTV.

"I take it back. The sanity is gone."

"So what’s the deal with Kyle?" Amy asked softly as he played by their feet.

"He’s JC’s." Jessica shrugged and turned the volume on the TV down.

"Yeah, but Lance said they don’t know who the mom is? I mean, basically there’s no way to trace her? That’s just odd." She shook her head. "How’s JC doing with it?"

"Ugh, don’t get me started." Jessica rolled her eyes. "Honestly."

"Daddy song?" Kyle turned around suddenly.

"Hmm?"

"Daddy song?" He asked again.

"I don’t know what you mean honey." Jessica patted his back and handed him his other book.

"My word… look at that man." Amy stared at the TV screen.

"Ooo, can I borrow him?" Jessica laughed. "Who is that?"

"Nick, from 98 Degrees."

"Not bad. I didn’t recognize him without his clothes." Jessica laughed and looked at the screen where shirtless Nick was playing basketball with some other stars for the Rock & Jock game on MTV.

"Not bad at all. I wouldn’t kick him outta bed for eating crackers, that's for sure." Amy laughed.

Lance quietly cleared his throat as he leaned on the doorframe, "What was that?" He smiled and crossed his arms over his chest.

"Caught red handed." Jessica smiled and stood up. "That’s my cue to leave." She scooped Kyle up in her arms and grabbed his backpack. "See you later." Jessica laughed and headed for the door.

"What were you saying? Something about crackers?" Lance asked when the door swung shut.

"I said I want to lay in bed and eat Ritz crackers." She smiled with a blush and walked over to where he stood.

"Ha ha ha." He pretended to laugh. "Yeah that’s what I thought."

"Like I’d pass you up for him." She kissed him quickly and patted his cheek; "You’re too cute."

"Stop while you’re ahead." Lance gave her a knowing look. "Are you going to hang back here tonight?"

"No I’m going out front when the openers are done." She smiled. "I want to experience the whole show."

"Cool." Lance wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her closer. She wrapped her arms around his neck and smiled as she leaned in to rest her forehead against his. They stood that way for a minute without saying a word.

"You don't really want him do you?" Lance broke the silence, "Because I mean, I could arrange - "

"No… no the only one I want is you." She kissed him again, only to be interrupted a second later.

"Hey don't mind me! Just pretend like I'm not even here." Joey said loudly as he dropped his heavy shoes to the floor.

"Ahh, that was "Ruined Moment" brought to you today by the letters J and F." Lance said in his best DJ voice. He laughed lightly and took a step back; "You should get on out there anyway."

"Okay." She smiled reluctantly; "I'll see you after the show."

"You bet." He brushed his lips past hers again then watched as she turned to leave.

"Bye Joey."

"Bye Amy." Joey waved with a smirk as she flew out the door.

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

When the show was over, Kyle was still very much awake and getting cranky. Jessica carried him to the dressing room area to wait for the guys to get showered and cleaned up. Several people passed on their way out to break down the stage but the dressing room door remained closed. She a about ready to go knock when it burst open and Joey appeared with his hair dripping down the back of his pull over sweatshirt.

"Hey Joe?" He didn’t hear her so she repeated herself little louder. "Joey!"

He turned around and took three steps backward, "Yeah?"

"Is Jace sill in there?"

"Yeah, I uh… I think so." He nodded and wiped his forearm over his lips.

A small group of people brushed by them in the hall and Joey disappeared with the crowd, when Jessica turned around to watch the dressing room door she saw JC and Justin walking toward the exit with one of their bodyguards. "JC!" Jessica shouted as he headed for the door. "Hang on a second."

JC glanced over his shoulder at the sound of his name and cringed, it was too late to avoid it now. He slapped Justin on the shoulder then walked back to Jessica, "Yeah?"

"Here you go. I’ve got to finish up here." She handed him Kyle’s red backpack. JC took it in one hand then took Kyle’s hand in the other. "The car seat is already in your van."

Kyle tugged at his hand and tried to pry himself away from JC with a frown. JC stooped to pick him up and held him on his hip as the child squirmed, "No dow."

"I’m not putting you down Kyle we’re going out to the car."

"Jessi dow." He reached out for Jessica and started to cry.

"See? He wants to stay with you."

"Too bad." She shook her head. "I’ve got to wheel all those racks to the truck bay and I can’t do that with him."

JC held Kyle tighter and tried not to drop the backpack, "Hang on buddy."

"Good night Kyle, I’ll see you tomorrow okay?"

"Okay." JC nodded and lifted the backpack up so he could cover his yawn with his forearm.

"Good luck." She didn’t so much as crack a smile as she crossed her arms and walked away. She headed back to the dressing room to separate out the dirty clothes that needed to be laundered before she wheeled the racks of clean clothes down the long hall.

Jessica and the three hair and make up girls rode back to the hotel in a private van a little while later, she was exhausted and couldn’t wait to get a full nights sleep. She wasn’t expected anywhere until almost noon and since Kyle would be with JC she would be able to sleep in as late as she wanted.

Jessica smiled contentedly as she closed her eyes and leaned her head against the cool window, she could definitely use a solid ten hours of sleep.

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

JC never felt the little boys hand slip from his, and he didn’t notice something was wrong until they were off the elevator and he was standing in front of his door. He looked down at the key in his hand and frowned. "I’m forgetting something." He thought to himself. JC wracked his brain and looked at what he held in his hand, his duffel bag, his room key, his jacket, Kyle’s backpack… Kyle.

"Kyle?" JC turned around anxiously and looked down the almost empty hall. "Joe, where’s Kyle?"

Joey shrugged and pushed his door open; "Did you lose him again?"

"I’m serious Joe, where is he?" JC dropped his bags and key as he ran back to the elevators, "Rob! Rob, have you seen Kyle?" He shouted down the hall at their security guard.

"Nope." Rob shook his head. "He wasn’t on the elevator when we came up, is he staying with Jessica?"

"No." JC said as he frantically pressed the down button on the elevator. "Come on." He tapped his feet as his heart rate picked up. While he was waiting for the elevator to arrive he banged on the doors that were closest.

"Yeah?" Lance asked as he pulled his door open with his shirt halfway unbuttoned and a t-shirt in his hands.

"Help me." JC’s voice shook with anxiety.

"What?" Lance removed his shirt and handed it to Amy who stood behind him.

"I lost Kyle." JC ran his fingers through his hair. "He wasn’t on the elevator."

"Shit JC…" Lance sighed and rolled his eyes. He pulled his t-shirt over his head as he stepped out into the hall barefoot. "Where’d you see him last?"

"I don’t know. In the lobby?" JC jumped on the elevator as the doors opened; he didn’t wait for his security team to join him.

"Amy and I will search this floor, you go downstairs. Where’s Jessica?"

"I don’t know." JC shrugged as the doors shut. His mind raced as he rode down three flights to the lobby where he lunged off the elevator. He scanned the lobby as he ran to the front desk, "A little boy." JC’s words were rushed as he leaned on the counter, "I’ve lost my little boy, he’s two… he’s got uh, brown hair. Have you seen him?"

"I’m not sure sir, let me call the lost and found." The young man behind the counter said with exaggerated calmness.

"I didn’t lose my damn coat I lost my son!" JC practically shouted. He turned around and ran to the other side of the lobby, looking it over from one end to the other. There was no sign of Kyle and JC started to panic as stars danced in front of his eyes.

"Sir?" A lady shouted from the front desk. "Sir?" She speed walked across the marble flooring, her heels making clicking sounds as she neared JC. "You’ve lost your son?"

"Y-yeah. He was – there was a big crowd and he slipped away." JC explained, knowing how feeble that excuse was. He ran his shaking hands through his short hair and tried to stop himself from shouting.

"I think I found him then, unless there’s another lost little boy. He’s back in my office, let me take you to him." She said gently as she placed her hand on JC’s arm.

"He’s here?" JC’s heart leapt into his throat, but the feeling of anxiety didn’t go away.

"Yes, follow me." She led him across the lobby and behind the counter on the far end.

JC’s palms began to sweat and he took several deep breaths to try to calm himself, "Is he okay?" The thumping of his heart echoed in his ears.

"He’s fine." The lady smiled over her shoulder. "He looked kind of lost, but I knew someone would be by to retrieve him." She pushed open her office door and JC saw Kyle sitting on the floor rolling a big basketball away from him to watch it bounce off the desk and roll back.

"Kyle!" JC covered the room in two broad steps and swooped the child up in his arms, letting the ball roll across the room. "My God, are you okay? Did I lose you?"

"Daddy!" Kyle squealed as JC squeezed him tight.

"Oh man am I glad to see you." Tears rose in JC’s eyes as he realized just how worried he had been. JC looked him over from head to toe to see if anything was out of sorts or hurt, but he didn’t see anything. He ran his hand over Kyle’s hair and took a deep breath as the little boy squirmed to get down. "I’m gonna carry you this time, come on." He bounced Kyle onto his hip and smiled nervously at the lady standing in the doorway, "Thank you so much."

"It was my pleasure. He’s a sweet little boy." She smiled.

"Yeah… yeah he’s a good kid." JC turned to look at Kyle who laid his tired head on JC’s shoulder. "Thanks." His hands continued to shake with relief.

"You’re welcome." She held the door open as JC stepped through and out to the lobby.

The first person JC saw was Rob, a member of their security team, standing near the elevators. "Rob?" JC raised his voice to be heard across the lobby. "I’ve got him." Rob looked up quickly and trotted over to where JC stood.

"He’s okay?"

"Yeah." JC said as he tried to keep his voice level.

"Okay, let’s just go on back upstairs and call off the search." Rob reached over and ran his hand over Kyle’s spikey hair. "You okay kiddo?"

Kyle nodded without raising his head from JC’s shoulder, then yawned. He held Kyle tight with both arms as they got on the elevator and rode back up to his floor. JC rested his forehead on Kyle’s and stared into the little boy’s big hazel eyes, "Hey man, I thought I lost you." Kyle just nodded and smiled. "You scared me."

Kyle smiled and made the monster face that Joey had taught him, "Rrrraaaarrrrr!"

"That’s right, you scared me." JC laughed and anxiously wiped his eyes with his shaky hand. "Man I’m not letting you out of my sight again." JC shook his head.

The elevator dinged as the doors open and Jessica looked over her shoulder. "There he is!" She shouted as she ran down the hall and tried to take Kyle from JC.

"I’ve got him." JC kept his arms around Kyle and half turned away from Jessica.

"You lost him!" She shouted in anger as she tried again to take Kyle.

"I found him." JC said as he tried to remain calm.

"I can not believe you let him out of your sight. How could you just let him walk away from you? He’s barely two years old JC! Don’t you know anything?!" Her emotional tirade had taken on a life of it’s own as she continued. "You never cared before why should you start caring now. Give him to me, I’ll take him tonight."

"Jess… he’s fine." JC said softly, trying to calm her down. Her hands shook at her sides and her breath came in short bursts. "Come on…" He nodded down the hall toward his room.

"You found him?" Lance asked as he poked his head out of Joey’s room.

"Yeah." JC waved and started walking toward his room. He looked back at Jessica still fuming by the elevator, "Come on, I wanna talk to you."

JC set Kyle on the bed and handed him his floppy dog Lello. "Are you tired big guy?" JC asked softly. Kyle closed his eyes and attempted a brief nod, "Okay, here you go." JC took Kyle’s shoes and socks off, then pulled the blanket up over his legs. "Goodnight." JC leaned down and kissed Kyle’s forehead then stood up to face Jessica who was still standing by the door with her arms crossed. "Listen Jess, I know you’ve put a lot of – "

"You lost him." Jessica repeated loudly, in case JC hadn’t heard the first time.

"Are you gonna calm down so we can talk? Or are you just gonna keep saying that?" JC lowered his voice as he stepped away from the bed and met Jessica by the door.

Jessica took a deep breath and shoved her hands in her pockets. She had no desire at all to talk to JC and certainly not about Kyle. "Talk." She said through clenched teeth.

"Okay…" He kept his eye on her to make sure she didn’t lunge at him. "I know you’ve put a lot of time into taking care of Kyle and I appreciate it. I really do and I don’t think I’ve told you that before. This is such a whacked out situation here, I mean, trying to take care of a kid on tour? This is the last place Kyle needs to be but it’s the best I can offer right now."

"You could po – " Jessica started.

"No I couldn’t." JC shook his head, knowing she was going to say he could postpone show dates. "When I lost Kyle tonight you have no idea how panicked I felt. I have never in my life felt so lost and terrified, I mean… never."

"I know how you felt JC." She replied sharply. "I spend twice as much time with him as you do. We’ve connected too you know, I feel like he’s mine half the time."

"I know you care about him."

"I love him JC. He’s such an angel and to see his parents just – "

"Stop right there." JC held his hand up. "Not ‘his parents’. I am trying my hardest here, and I know that I’ve gotten better with this whole parenting thing. I’m scaring myself with how much I care for the little boy." He took a deep breath and lowered his voice, "Yeah, it’s shitty that his mom just dropped him off… but Jessica… I’m trying here. I really am. This is still really new to me. I have to get used to looking down all the time, and to grabbing little hands when we’re walking somewhere, or juggling him in my arms with my luggage and his, and… and making sure we get extra pillows to put around the bed in case he falls off, I mean… there’s so much more to do now and you know I can barely keep my head on straight when it’s just me. I need help here, I need a lot of help."

"Then ask for it JC don’t just assume that someone’s going to pick up after you or take care of him just because you’ve got things to do. I knew I should have just taken him tonight, then this whole thing would never have happened." Her voice got louder as she spoke.

"Keep it down Jessica… there’s no need to shout." He tried to remain calm as he glanced back over his shoulder to where Kyle was sound asleep.

"I don’t mind watching him, but dammit JC this is crazy. The only thing you’ve showed since Kyle arrived is that you have no damn clue what you’re doing."

"I don’t. I admit that. I don’t have any kind of idea what the hell I’m doing." JC shook his head. "But I’m trying."

"No you’re not."

"Yes I am."

"No you’re not." She argued back, then tried not to smile as she heard how juvenile they sounded. "JC, Kyle’s life is in your hands every day and it scares the shit out of me that you can misplace him so easily and so often. Or that half the time you have no idea where he is."

"He’s with you."

"And when I’m working?"

"Then he’s with one of the other crew members."

"That’s exactly what I mean. You have no idea who takes care of your son every day and every night." Jessica felt the anger flowing up in her chest again.

JC paused for a minute to let her cool off a bit, "You want me to ask? Jessica… will you please help me here? I’m trying to get everything done and it’s impossible. I can’t do fifty things at once and I’d really feel better if I knew that someone responsible was watching Kyle when I can’t."

She held her tongue when all she wanted to do was point out that he wasn’t the most responsible person to start with, "I’ll help where I can."

"Thank you."

"Just like I have been." She added.

"Thank you Jessica." JC nodded. "I know you think that I’m the biggest screw up there is when it comes to Kyle… but he could do a lot worse you know."

Jessica nodded, JC was right. Kyle could do a lot worse, JC never once laid a hand on Kyle in anger, he made sure Kyle had food and a warm bed… he could definitely do worse.

"Are we cool?" JC asked a minute later.

"You need to keep a better eye on him."

"I know."

"And you need to know who’s watching him."

"I will."

Jessica paused and held his gaze for a minute, his damp blue eyes meeting hers with a look of question. "We’re cool." She nodded, then tore her eyes from his. Jessica reached behind her for the handle and let herself out of the suddenly hot room.

Once in the hall she took a deep breath and leaned back against the cool wall beside JC’s door, only then did she let the angry tears fall.

 

 

Next…

 

 

Copyright � 2001, Amy Lynn