JC, Kyle and the others pulled up at the arena just after three that afternoon, rested up and ready to go. JC dialed Jessica’s cell phone as they pulled into the parking lot and let her know that they had arrived and that he’d meet her in the dressing room in a few minutes.

"So what’s the little dude gonna do for tonight?" Justin asked as he ran his hand over Kyle’s soft spikey hair.

"Jessica’s gonna watch him for the show and stuff, then he’ll ride on the bus with us tonight." JC sighed and bent to pick Kyle up before they stepped off the bus.

"How’re you feelin’ there kid?" Justin asked. "Do you feel better?"

"My hand." Kyle held his little hand out to show Justin who acted appropriately impressed.

"Oh wow, did they put your IV in there for medicine?"

"Yeah, owie." Kyle nodded.

"Wow Kyle, you must have been really brave. I know I would have been scared out of my mind." Justin shook his head as Lance and Joey stepped off the bus making the awaiting girls scream from behind the barricade.

Kyle made an attempt at his scary face then offered a half smile as Justin hopped down the stairs, "I scare Jussin."

"You sure did." JC laughed. "Okay buddy, it’s gonna be loud here for a minute, I need you to keep the blanket over your head, okay?"

"No hot."

"I know it’s warm, but you need to hide. It’s like a game."

"I pay?"

"Yeah, you can play. You just need to keep your head under the blanket, okay?" JC asked. With Kyle still stick and just barely out of the hospital, he didn’t want to expose him to any more germs than he had to. Also, the media hadn’t gotten a clear shot of Kyle and JC wasn’t going to make it that easy for them.

"Kay." Kyle sighed and lay his head on JC’s shoulder as JC pulled the Raiders blanket up over his head so that only his bottom half was exposed. He stepped off the bus and was immediately flanked by two security guards and ushered quickly into the side door.

"Good job Kyle." JC pulled the blanket down and kissed Kyle’s temple. "You won."

"Win?"

"Yep, I’ll have to find you a prize." JC smiled and looked to the guard at his left, "Where’s the dressing room?"

"You’re expected in Sean’s office." He replied.

"No, I know… but I need to drop Kyle off with Jessica."

"I can take him." Lonnie smiled as he walked up.

"That’s okay, I’d rather do it." JC nodded and ducked away from the guards, "Tell Sean I’m on my way." He didn’t wait for a response as he followed the green taped up signs pointing him toward the dressing rooms. He let himself into the large room and set Kyle’s red bag by the door, "Jessica?"

"Yeah." She stepped out from behind a rack with a marker in her mouth. "Oh hey guys." She smiled around the pen, then reached up to remove it. "I’m just about done here." She knelt down for a minute, then stood up and re-tied her ponytail as she walked to where JC stood, "Don’t you have a meeting with Sean?"

"Yeah." JC nodded as he reluctantly handed Kyle over to her.

"Hey there sweet heart, how are you feeling?" Jessica asked as she rubbed Kyle’s back. "It feels like your fever is going down, did you bring Lello with you?"

"I Lello." Kyle nodded.

"Okay good." She kissed his forehead softly and examined his face as if she hadn’t seen him in weeks, "I’m glad you’re okay sweetie."

"I kay." Kyle nodded again and gave her a tired half smile.

Jessica smiled and looked up as she remember JC was standing there, "I’m finished here, so I was just going to take him out to my bus, but we’ve had an ant infestation." She sighed and crinkled her nose. "Is there any way we could go to your bus?"

"Yeah, I think so." JC nodded.

"That way he can have his own bunk and things. Just until the shows over, then I can hop on over to my own bus." She added quickly.

"Okay." JC nodded. "Yeah I just don’t want him back here, I mean… who knows who’s been here and touched all this stuff. Maybe I’m just being a germaphobic or something." He shrugged.

"No, that’s okay. He needs to be somewhere a little quieter than backstage also.

"Yeah." JC nodded and put his hands in his pockets as he looked toward the door. "Oh, and if you could keep him covered when you go to the buses? The media is crawling around out there like hounds and that just makes me real uncomfortable."

"That’s fine." Jessica nodded.

"And take security."

"I will."

"Okay." He nodded. "I’ll come on out when the openers take the stage just to check on him and stuff."

"Okay." Jessica smiled and rubbed Kyle’s back again as he lay his head on her shoulder. "When did you give him his medicine?"

"Um, I gave him some at one so he’ll need it again at 5. He takes it real well, it’s in the backpack in that zippered pocket inside."

"Alright." Jessica adjusted Kyle on her hip.

"Alright." JC sighed and leaned in quickly to kiss Kyle’s cheek, "I’ll come see you in a little bit, okay buddy?"

"I win?"

"Yeah, I’ll bring you your prize." JC laughed and caught Jessica’s eye, "He won."

"Ahhh." She laughed as JC hopped toward the door and let it slam behind him. "Okay precious, let’s go out to your bus and kick back, what do you think?"

"Gan?"

"Yep, again." Jessica nodded. "You’re still kind of sick so we want you to get all better."

"Kay." Kyle nodded and lay his head on Jessica’s shoulder. "And Lello."

"Yep, and Lello." Jessica bent to pick up his red bag then backtracked to triple check the clothes for the night. Everything looked in order so she ducked out the back door and quickly ran by the cafeteria that was set up to let the rest of the crew get a quick peek at Kyle to know that he was okay. He’d become the "tour kid" in a way and everyone had been really worried about him.

She had two security guys usher her out to the bus while she covered Kyle's head, then she set him on the couch and took a deep breath. She hadn't been on their bus for a while but it always looked the same; a few mismatched sneakers in a pile, a couple sweatshirt or jackets, video games and movies left out on the couch, at least one cereal box in view and a pile of stuffed animals.

"Are those yours?" Jessica pointed toward the animals on the couch.

"No Jussin."

"Those are Justin's?"

"Yeah. No touch." Kyle shook his tiny finger at Jessica. "Jussin say NO!"

"You can't touch the stuffed animals?" Jessica frowned.

"Dis." Kyle let go of her hand and walked over to the stereo system that was right behind the animals.

"Oooh, yeah, you can't touch the stereo."

"Is Jussin."

"Yep." Jessica nodded. "Okay kiddo, this is gonna suck. I've gotta entertain you for like, 6 hours on the bus you've already spent a couple hours on." She said more or less to herself. "Do you want to read a book with me?"

"Yeah." Kyle nodded and climbed up on the couch, then dropped one of the extra sweatshirts on the floor and leaned his head back.

"Are you tired?"

"No." Kyle shook his head but his eyelids drooped.

"Okay." She smiled and looked in his backpack for his books, "Hey pal, where'd your books go?"

"Ina bed."

Jessica looked toward the back where the bunks were, "In the bed?"

"Yeah."

"Whose bed?"

"Daddy."

"Oh." Jessica sighed and placed her hands on her hips. "Which one is that?"

"Dere." Kyle pointed in the general direction of the back.

"Can you show me?" Jessica held out her hand for Kyle who sighed and scooted off the couch to show her.

"Dere." He said when they got to the bunks.

Jessica put her hand on the bottom bunk, "This one?"

"No."

"This one?" The put her hand on the top.

"No."

"This one?"

"No."

"This one?"

"No."

"Kyle which one is it?" Jessica sighed. She didn't want to go poking around in their bunks but Kyle wasn’t helping at all.

"I no." Kyle half shrugged and walked back to the couch where he took a few seconds to crawl back into his seat.

"Okay…" Jessica peeked in the first one and didn't see any kids toys, so she checked the one immediately below it and smiled. It had to be JC's or Kyle's. There was a pile of stuffed animals at the foot of the bed as well as his Elmo doll, a small pile of books and a flashlight.

She grabbed a few books and headed back out to the couch where Kyle was waiting patiently. She sat beside him and they read through a couple of books twice each before he dozed off against her arm. Jessica tilted her head back and took a little catnap of her own.

The sound of the crowd arriving more than an hour later woke Jessica, which in turn woke Kyle. "I seep?" Kyle asked groggily as he sat up slowly.

"Yeah." Jessica gave a soft chuckle and stood up to stretch. "Are you hungry sweetie?"

"Kay." He yawned and climbed off the couch to sit on the floor by Lello. He pulled one of the books off the couch and sat turning the pages with the little dog in his lap. Jessica watched him for a few minutes and frowned slightly. He must spend a lot of time entertaining himself with how busy JC was, and she was sure that when he was with his mom he probably did the same thing. Kyle was too much of a loner to have been given much attention and right then she wanted to smother him with hugs and kisses. He was surrounded by so many people who cared about him, yet he was still sitting around amusing himself with a book and a stuffed dog.

Jessica quickly wiped her eyes and smiled at her foolishness; Kyle was happy, she could see that much. There really wasn't much more a child could ask for. She cleared her throat and pulled the little refrigerator open, "Okay buddy, I'm going to make a little something for dinner, then we can turn on a movie and take your medicine, how does that sound?"

"Kay." Kyle said without turning around.

"Okay." Jessica said under her breath. She pulled out the makings for grilled cheese sandwiches and started the stove as she looked for a skillet. The best she could find was a frying pan, which would have to do. She made two sandwiches and cut up a pear then set them on the table for herself and Kyle.

"Kyle sweetie? It's time to eat." Jessica looked over and saw him lying on the floor using Lello as a pillow as he slowly flipped through one of the books. "Come on up here." Jessica walked over and picked him up, then set him at the table.

"Mok?"

"You want some milk?" Jessica stood up and got two glasses of milk then sat across from him again. "Oh, you're medicine. I almost forgot." She stood up again and dug through his backpack on the floor by the couch to get the Tylenol from the bottle. Jessica read the directions on the side and took the single small pill to the table for Kyle, "All righty, you know how to do this, right?" She set the pill beside his sandwich but he just stared at it.

"I have?"

"Yeah, you have to take that."

"No you." Kyle shook his head.

"No, you." Jessica smiled. "Take that and eat your dinner, then we can watch a special movie." She gave him a surprised look and smiled as he grinned back at her. She could tell he still wasn't feeling too great and he moved like his body was stiff, but he was being a trooper.

Kyle took his medicine then they ate dinner and crawled back onto the couch to watch the "Lion King" video Jessica had stashed in her bag. He fell asleep before the end so Jessica watched the last hour by herself then picked up one of the dozen Maxim magazines piled up beside the stack of DVD's the boys had collected.

She read for a while before the door flew open, "Hey." JC panted as he hopped onto the bus. "How's it going?"

"He's asleep." Jessica looked up from the magazine in her hand. "I uhh… I didn't know which bunk he usually slept in and since he crashed right there I just thought I'd leave him till you got back.

"No, that's fine." JC smiled and sat on the edge of the couch by Kyle. He lightly stroked his sleeping forehead and sighed, "Did he take his medicine?"

"Yeah, it was a little after five."

"Okay." JC nodded and instinctively checked his watch. "So he'll need it again in about an hour?"

"Well yeah, but he's asleep." Jessica nodded.

"But he needs his medicine."

"JC you don't have to wake him up to give it to him."

"It says every four hours."

"Well yeah, but if he's asleep you don't have to wake him up." Jessica shook her head. "His fever is already going down a lot, he barely feels warm any more."

"Well the doctor said to take it for 24 hours after the fever is gone."

"You might want to have the tour physician come take his temp then, just to see if it's back to normal." Jessica smiled. "He's been acting great though, not puny or cranky or anything, just real tired."

"Yeah, he's been napping a lot." JC sighed. "But that's normal right? I mean if he's sick and on Tylenol?"

"Yeah, it can make him drowsy."

"Okay." JC kissed Kyle's forehead then stood up, "I've gotta get back in there. The uh… the show's usually over about ten thirty or so, you'll be okay till then?"

"We'll be fine."

"There's security right outside the door." JC pointed to the closed door.

"Okay."

"And if anything happens just page Sean and he can… he'll come get me."

"JC everything will be fine."

"No, I know."

"Really. He's asleep, he's got his Tylenol, he's got Lello… he'll be just fine."

"I know." JC exhaled sharply and forced a smile. "I just don't even wanna go out there tonight."

"You're gonna do great." She gave him what she hoped was an encouraging smile as he hopped down the stairs and shut the door quietly behind him.

 

 

 

 

They drove through the night to St. Louis and checked into their hotel just before nine in the morning with a crowd of screaming girls outside. They got settled in then were shuttled back out to awaiting vans that would drive then between their half dozen appointments that day

Kyle bounced around with the guys to the three photo shoots and two media events. He hung out off to the side or in a separate room with a member of the security team for the most part, but ended up going into the last photo shoot with JC so he could kind of show Kyle what he did; as if Kyle could tell the difference.

"Okay kiddo, here’s the deal. I’ve gotta go work over there for a little bit with the guys, so I need you to sit right here and play with Lello okay?"

"No have."

"No have?" JC asked softly, trying to stumble through his Kyle-speak.

"Lello."

"You don’t have Lello?"

"No." Kyle shook his head.

"Where is he?" JC frowned; he couldn’t afford to lose that floppy brown dog.

"He seep."

"Where’s he sleepin?"

"Ina bed." Kyle sighed and looked around the photo shoot set. "I dere?" He pointed to a big backdrop of the night sky.

"No, you can’t go over there right now." JC shook his head. "Did we pack Elmo?" He kneeled beside Kyle and unzipped the backpack to look for something to entertain Kyle while they worked. "Okay, no Elmo." He sighed and stood up.

"Emo pay."

"He what?"

"Pay Laaance."

"Lance’s playing with him?" JC laughed.

"Pay game."

"He’s playing a game with Lance?"

"No." Kyle shook his head and reached into his backpack. "I pay." He pulled out a few diapers and an extra pair of shoes then emerged triumphant with a clear green game boy. "Emo."

"Ahhh, I see." JC zipped the bag and looked around for a place to deposit Kyle where he’d be able to watch the toddler during the shoot.

"Kyle my man." Lance walked in and immediately trotted over to where Kyle was standing by JC’s feet. "You’re gonna hang out here with us huh?"

"Yeah, he’s gotta be getting bored just sitting around with the guys." JC nodded and ran his fingers through his hair. "Plus his fever is gone, and he seems to be feeling a lot better."

"Cool, that’s good to hear." Lance nodded. "You gonna get your picture taken with us?" Lance smiled and looked around the studio.

"No." JC shook his head. "I don’t want his face all over everything."

"This is Lynn’s shoot." Lance said softly. "She’s cool, she’d give you the prints and negs. She could do some awesome shots man."

"I don’t know." JC looked concerned as he looked over at the photographer. Lynn was a fantastic artist and a great friend, but JC wasn’t sure he wanted to take the chance.

"You can’t hide him forever. If he’s gonna leak to the press it might as well be with some great shots, not grainy black and whites printed in the tabloids, don’t you think?"

"Yeah." JC sighed and looked up at Lance, "You gave him a game boy?"

"I let him use mine. It’s got an Elmo game in it so he’s set."

"Okay." JC nodded.

"All righty guys, head on over here so I can get some ‘before’ pictures." Lynn shouted with a smile. "They’ve given me a set schedule today and I want to undershoot it so we can have a little fun, so let’s move."

"You’re too hard on us Lynn." Justin whined as he draped his arms around her in a loose hug.

"You haven’t seen hard, kid. Go stand over there and get the others together." She kissed his cheek like a mother and patted his shoulder.

"What are the ‘before’ pictures? Before what?" Chris asked.

"Before hair and make-up."

"Oh man." Justin whined again as he took his place just left of center on the backdrop.

"Is he gonna be whiney like that all day?" Lynn asked as Joey walked up.

"Uh huh." Joey nodded and dodged Justin’s quick hand.

"Lovely. Put him in the back." Lynn laughed and looked over to where JC and Lance were standing. "Come on boys."

"Hey Lynn." Lance raised his hand in a wave then patted Kyle’s head, "See ya later buddy." He trotted over to where she was and gave her a quick hug.

"Is that JC’s little boy?" Lynn asked softly.

"Yeah, that’s Kyle."

"He’s adorable." She smiled and immediately pictured him through the lens of the camera. "Would JC want him in the shot?"

"No, I don’t think so." Lance shook his head. "He doesn’t want Kyle’s face all over the press you know?"

"Yeah, I know how that goes. If he changes his mind though I’d love to get my lenses on him." Lynn smiled and he knew she wouldn’t press the issue. "Hey Jace, are you going to introduce me?"

JC smiled over his shoulder and reached for Kyle’s hand as he picked up the backpack, "Hey Kyle, let’s go see Lynn." He tugged gently on his hand and they walked across the wide concrete flooring. "Hi Lynn, this is my son Kyle. Can you say ‘hi’ Kyle?"

"Hi." He said shyly.

"Hi Kyle, what do you have there?"

"I pay."

"Yes I see you’re playing, are you winning?"

"Yeah." Kyle smiled and buried his face in JC’s thigh.

"How old are you?"

"Dis." Kyle moved the game boy to one hand then held up two small fingers.

"Wow! You’re two? What a big boy." She laughed and looked up at JC, "He’s gonna be a heartbreaker just like you."

"Thanks." JC blushed with pride and looked around, "Is there somewhere he can sit while we do this?"

"Hrm, the only chairs I have are pretty high and with the concrete floor I wouldn’t feel safe with him up like that." Lynn shook her head then spotted a padded cloth used as a buffer between her cases of equipment. "Ah ha, there we go." She walked over and fanned it out just out of the cameras view, almost in the corner. "Here you go sweetie, you can sit right here and watch these guys get their pictures taken." She smiled as Kyle followed her over and sat cross-legged on the cloth. He turned his game on and became more interested in the figures moving on the screen than in the people in front of him.

"He’s easily amused." Joey laughed and dropped himself on the floor in front of Justin and Lance. "Can I just sit here all day Lynn?"

"You bet." She laughed and picked up the camera. "Okay, just a few without the hair and make up, then you can go get dolled up." She snapped off a few pictures while directing them where to stand and how to pose. "Stop frowning Chris, you never know when someone might be falling in love with your smile." She rolled her eyes as the guys cracked up laughing, Chris included.

"The cheese factors getting a bit high in here Lynn." Chris laughed and stepped off the backdrop, "Can we go get girled up now?"

"Yeah, go put your faces on." She waved them off as JC looked toward Kyle who was still entranced with his game. Lynn caught his eye and smiled, then waved him off as she walked over to where the little boy was sitting. She sat beside him with her camera and they compared toys for a few minutes. She showed him how to take a picture and let him push the button to hear the click, all the while making sure he was behind the camera.

"Are you having fun Kyle?" Lynn asked softly as Kyle pressed the button on her camera, taking a picture of the ceiling and lights.

"Yeah." Kyle sighed and looked around for JC. "Daddy?"

"He's getting dressed, he'll be back in a second."

"Minnit?"

"Yep, he'll be back in a minute."

Kyle cast a worried look toward the door JC had disappeared through, then looked back at Lynn, "And Joey?"

"Yes, Joey too. All of your buddies will be right back." Lynn smiled.

Kyle sighed deeply again and kept his eyes on the shut door, "Kay." He didn't smile again until Justin stepped out of the room rubbing his lips together, "Hi!" Kyle perked up a little as Justin walked over.

"Hey Kyle." He smiled then slid his lips over each other again. "I could do without the lip gloss gloppy stuff." He said to Lynn as he made a face.

"So wipe it off, it doesn't make a difference to me." She laughed and stood up with the camera in her hand. Justin looked at the sleeve of his long sleeved t-shirt and raised his eyebrow at Lynn. "Don't even think about it." She shook her head and he used the back of his hand to wipe his lips.

"If anyone tries to put gack on your lips, just say no, okay kiddo?" Justin rubbed Kyle's head and smiled.

"Kay."

"Can you say no?"

"No." Kyle laughed and pulled on his shoelace. "My daddy?"

"He's coming."

"Go bye?"

"He didn't leave, he's in there getting his hair done. See you and me, we don't have a lot of hair so it doesn't take very long. But your daddy? Dude's got a lot of hair."

"Yeah." Kyle sighed.

"So you're gonna hang out here?"

"Yeah."

"Cool."

"And daddy?"

"Yeah, you're daddy will be out in a minute."

"I see?"

"You wanna go see him?" Justin held out his hand to Kyle. "Come on, let's go get him."

"Kay." Kyle put his game on the think cloth and took hold of two of Justin's fingers. The older man lead the way across the room to where the guys were getting their hair done and pushed the door open.

"Hey pops, I got someone here lookin' for ya." Justin laughed and looked down.

"Hey big guy." JC stood up from his hair chair leaving the stylist with her hands in midair. "What's up, are you okay?"

"Yeah." Kyle nodded. "I find."

"You what?"

"Find daddy."

"Oh you found me?"

"Yeah."

"Were you looking for me?" He asked as he picked Kyle up then sat back in the chair.

"Yeah." Kyle sighed and rested his head on JC's shoulder, getting tiny hairs stuck to his cheek.

"Well I'm right here." JC said. "We've gotta take some pictures then we're going back to the hotel."

"And Jessi?"

"No, we won't get to see Jessica until tomorrow."

"Now?"

"Tomorrow." JC shook his head.

Kyle sighed and swung his feet to gently kick JC in the knees, "Go now?"

"Are you tired kiddo?"

"Yeah."

"Do you want to go sleep in the van with Les?"

"No."

"Well Kyle dude, I've gotta take some pictures, do you want to take a little nap on your blanket?"

"Kay." Kyle nodded and snuggled into JC's chest.

"Is he okay?" Chris asked as he walked over.

"Yeah, I think all of this was just too much for him today. He's still kinda blah you know?" JC frowned and wished there was a way for him to take Kyle back to the hotel and completely skip the shoot.

"Yeah, I can imagine." Chris nodded. "You'll be back to 100% Kyle here in a few days' buddy." He smiled and Kyle then playfully thwapped JC's hair, "You gonna get that cut?"

"No." JC smiled as Chris and Joey left the little room together. His stylist finished his hair with Kyle in his lap, then he walked out to join the rest of the group. "Okay kiddo, go ahead and lay down here, I'm going to be right there on that little stage taking pictures, okay?"

"Kay." Kyle nodded and sat on the folded cloth again. He picked up his game boy and yawned as his eyes began to droop.

"Go ahead and take a nap, I'll wake you up when it's time to go."

"No nap." Kyle shook his head, but JC could tell he'd be asleep before the first roll of film was used.

JC was right and by the time the shoot was over Kyle had slept for more than two hours. JC woke him up and carried him out to the van where they rode back to the hotel after a long day and had a quiet dinner with Lance and Joey in Lance's room.

When they got back to their room it was getting late so JC gave Kyle a quick bath and changed his diaper on the bed before he put his pajamas on. "Oh hey, your medicine. Almost forgot that." JC sighed and reached into the backpack to get the bottle. He shook a pill out then closed it and put it away. "Here’s you go bud." He placed the small pink pill in Kyle’s hand.

"No wan."

"I know you don’t want it but it’ll make you feel better." JC said gently as he pulled Kyle’s pajama bottoms up over his diaper.

"No mo?" Kyle asked as he chewed the Tylenol.

"No more what?" JC scooted him closer to the head of the bed and tucked Lello under his arm.

"Mo owie?"

"No, no more owies." He shook his head and tried to smile.

"My hand?"

"Nope, no more in your hand."

"And doka?"

"Well… I don’t know if we’ll have to see a doctor again. I hope not though." JC smiled and ran his hand over Kyle’s hair. "We’re gonna keep giving you your medicine, that should make you all better so you don’t have to see a doctor again. Okay?"

"Kay." Kyle nodded and flopped his head on the pillow.

"Okay…" JC whispered as he watched Kyle get comfortable. "Do you feel okay now?" Kyle nodded. "Does your tummy hurt?"

"No."

"How about your head?" JC tapped Kyle’s temple gently.

"No."

"How about your back?"

"No."

"How about your chin?" JC playfully tickled Kyle under his chin as they laughed.

"No." Kyle scooted away from JC’s hand and smiled up at him.

"Okay kiddo, see you in the morning." He leaned down and kissed Kyle’s forehead. "Love you."

"Love too." Tears rose in JC’s eyes as he stood up. "You nigh nigh?"

"Yeah I’ll go night night later."

"Me now?"

"Yep, you’re going now. You’re pooped, you had a long day." JC switched the bedside light off and let his eyes adjust.

"No daddy."

"No?"

"No go." Kyle whined.

"You don’t want me to go?"

"No here."

"You want me to stay here?"

"Yeah."

"Okay." JC yawned and scooted Kyle closer to the wall so that he could lay on the edge, that way when Kyle fell asleep he wouldn’t have to crawl over him to get out.

"Daddy seep?"

"Yep, I’m gonna go to sleep too." JC yawned again and checked the clock. It was barely ten, and way past Kyle’s bedtime.

"Nigh nigh."

"Night night big guy." He pulled Kyle close and kissed the top of his head then let his eyes drift closed, he was a lot more tired than he originally thought.

Within a few minutes Kyle was snoring lightly into his chest and JC was comfortable under the light covers, he settled himself for the night with his large hand resting on Kyle's, then fell asleep knowing that Kyle was right there with him.

Over the next week JC slept in the same bed with Kyle, more for himself than for Kyle. Being that close to Kyle, JC was sure he’d feel it if another fever came on suddenly, and he didn’t want to be taken off guard again. He was so worried about Kyle getting sick, or being cold, or having a nightmare… being within inches of him while he slept seemed logical. Or so he tried to convince himself. After 6 nights JC tried to sleep in his own bed but found that without that little warm body beside him, it was hard to fall asleep.

"You just need to get laid Chasez." Joey laughed when JC happened to mention that he and Kyle had slept in the same bed. "That’s all it is. You’re used to having someone there, and if Kyle’s all you got… well then there ya go." Joey shrugged out of his jean jacket and cursed early morning TV shows.

"That’s sick Joey." JC made a face and tossed his sweaty shirt at Joey as he laughed.

"I don’t mean it like that you perv." Joey tossed the shirt back and reached to untie his shoes. "I just mean you’ve gotta have someone there. It doesn’t matter who."

"Yeah." JC nodded. "You still might be right though." JC smiled and ran a towel over his chest.

"Ha. I’m right." Joey scoffed, of course he was right.

JC nodded and pulled a clean shirt over his head then yawned, it was barely nine in the morning and he'd already been up for three hours. Kyle was still tucked in bed back at the hotel under Lonnie's careful eye, sound asleep and oblivious to the fact that the world was going on around him.

JC dozed in the van on the way back to the hotel and only half listened to the other guys' conversations about what they would do if they were given 24 hours to be "unfamous" as Joey put it. He laughed to himself at some of their responses, but kept his eyes closed. If he could be "unfamous" for a day, he'd sleep it away and not worry that he was missing any kind of appointments, that's what he'd do.

"Jace?"

"Hmm?" JC responded with his eyes closed tight.

"What would you do?"

"Hang out with Kyle." His lips said before his original answer could find it's way out.

"Really?" Justin asked with a surprised tone.

"Yeah." JC opened his eyes and yawned, "He spends so much time with Jess or the guards man, I'd just like to take one whole day and just hang out. You know, go to a park, or Disney or something and not have to stress about anything."

"You mean whenever he's not with us, he's with Jessica?" Joey asked.

"Most of the time." JC nodded. "Sometimes he's with Sean or one of the security guys."

"Dude, why don't we hire a nanny?" Joey shook his head.

"Because that would be stupid." JC shook his head.

"How would that be stupid? Nannies take care of kids, you've got a kid… seems logical to me." Joey defended himself.

"I don't want just anyone to watch Kyle. I trust the security guys and Jess and Sean."

"And us." Chris pointed out. "Me and Lance watch him sometimes too."

"Yeah." JC nodded.

"You let Chris baby sit?" Joey pretended to look hurt.

"I let whoever happens to be walking by babysit, when it comes to you guys. Chris just spends a lot of time in the halls." JC laughed as they stopped behind the hotel. "Seriously though, anytime you guys wanna babysit just let me know." Les jumped out of the front seat and opened the van door for them as they jumped out and scurried into the hotel.

On the ride up the elevator JC thought about the people that took care of Kyle for him and he realized he had never really thanked Jessica for all her help. He swore under his breath as he stepped off the elevator and walked quickly down the hall to his room. He had to shower and change quickly so that he'd have time to get Kyle ready so they could leave in two hours; but first he had a phone call to make.

He thanked Lonnie and relieved him of his duties as he picked up the phone and sat across from Kyle at the little table. "Whatcha got there pal?" JC whispered.

"Egg." Kyle whispered back as he took a bite.

"Is it good?"

"Yeah."

"Rad."

"Yeah." Kyle sighed and took a drink of his juice. JC talked on the phone for a few minutes then stole a few bites of Kyle's pancakes and headed for the bathroom.

"I've gotta shower real quick, stay at the table, okay?"

"Kay." Kyle nodded.

JC thought quick and took everything off the table except for Kyle's breakfast, just in case he spilled, "Okay, I'll be right back." He ran to the shower and cleaned himself up quickly, then while he still had his towel around his waist he grabbed Kyle and dunked him in the tub to clean the breakfast off his face.

Kyle stood on the bed so JC could dress him, then sat on the floor so JC could dress himself. They were doing good as far as time went so JC turned on Sesame Street and let Kyle rock out to Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch as he looked for his cell phone. "Hey bud, have you seen my phone?"

"On tabo." Kyle looked toward the beds.

"No my cell. The little phone?"

"No." Kyle shook his head and turned his attention back to the TV.

"Damn." He sat on the edge of the bed and picked up the hotel phone to call Jessica's room, he had a surprise for her and he wanted to be sure she was there to receive it.

"Hello?" Jessica answered the phone as she stepped out of the shower. She was ten minutes behind schedule and didn’t have a second to spare.

"Jessica?" JC asked as he sat on the bed by the window.

"Yeah?"

"Hey, I just wanted to make sure you were there."

"I’m leaving though, what’s up?"

"I just… I wanted to bring something by kind of." JC said.

"Can we do it later? I’m seriously leaving in like... two minutes."

"It’ll only take a minute." He insisted.

"Fine. One minute." Jessica said then she hung up the phone and pulled her clean clothes from her case then pulled them on over her still slightly damp body. She sat on the bed and buttoned her blouse then grabbed her hairbrush as someone knocked on her door.

"Just a second!" Jessica shouted as she tore her brush through her damp hair. She ran barefoot across her room and pulled the door open, "I’m running late Jace, what do – " She stopped suddenly and blushed.

"Jessica Wardrobe?" The young man asked from behind a large bouquet of pink and yellow roses.

"What?"

"I have a delivery for Jessica Wardrobe. Is that you?" He asked.

"Oh… uh… yeah I guess so." He couldn’t see her confused expression through the roses. It wasn’t her name, of course, but it fit.

"Then here you go. Have a nice day." The kid smiled as he handed the vase to Jessica, then turned to leave.

"Wait! Where… who are these from?"

"I’m sorry I don’t know ma’am." The young man shrugged then turned around.

"Hmmm." Jessica took the flowers into her room and set them on the little table then removed the tiny card from the plastic holder.

"Jessica – Thanks for everything – JC and Kyle." She turned the card over to see that Kyle had signed his own name with a few scribbled lines. Jessica smiled and closed her eyes to she inhale the sweet scent of the flowers. As cheesy as it was, she felt herself turning into a girly girl at the thought of getting flowers, even if they were just to say ‘thank you’.

She ran her finger over the petals of the nearest yellow one, then reached for her cell phone to call JC back. She dialed his room, and waited as it rang and rang in her ear then hung up and dialed his cell phone from memory. It rang through to his voicemail so she left him a short message, "Hi JC, this is Jessica. Thank you so much for the flowers, they really made my day. I’m really late though, so I’ll stop by later to say thanks in person. Uh… have fun today. I’ll see you later. Bye." She hung up and sniffed the flowers once more before grabbing her bag and bolting out the door, she was officially late.

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

When she was finished with her meeting she checked the guys schedule, then ran down the hall to JC's room to thank him in person. Jessica stood in the hall outside JC’s room and nervously tapped three times. She waited for a few seconds and was about ready to knock again when Lance pulled the door open, "Hey Jess." He smiled.

"H-hi Lance." Jessica smiled with a confused look and checked the room number again, "I was uh… looking for JC?"

"Who dat?" Kyle shouted as he jumped off the bed and ran to the door.

"It’s Jessica." Lance laughed and stuck his foot up to keep Kyle from running into the hall. "JC ran down to Sean’s room to make a couple calls without the rug monster yabering in the background." Lance laughed and playfully pushed Kyle back with his foot. "What’s up?"

"Nothing really, I just wanted to tell him thank you for… just uh, let him know I came by to say thank you and I’ll call him later."

"All right." Lance laughed as Kyle tried to climb up his leg. "Do you want to come in? He won’t be a lot longer."

"No, it’s okay." Jessica smiled. "Well he sure looks like he’s feeling better."

"Yeah, he’s been a little energizer bunny the last couple days. I don’t know how JC keeps up."

"Me neither." Jessica laughed. "Maybe if he had Chris baby-sit him for a couple hours they’d tire each other out."

"Hey that’s a good idea." Lance laughed again and leaned down to pick Kyle up. "You need a hair cut dude!"

"No cut." Kyle placed his hands on top of his head. "Daddy hair."

"You like you’re daddy’s hair? Are you nuts?" Lance shook his head.

"Who has hair like you?"

"Jussin." Kyle laughed. "Jussin cut?"

"Yeah, Justin needs his cut again too." Jessica laughed.

"He's lookin' like a mon-chi-chi lately huh?" Lance asked as he glanced at Jessica who was still standing in the hall.

"Who? Justin or Kyle?"

"I was talking about Justin, but yeah I guess Kyle does too." Lance ran his hand over Kyle's head again.

"I'll have to take him to get it cut again one of these days." She tilted her head to the side and sighed as she watched Kyle reach for Lance's perfectly placed shaggy locks. "Hey, have you talked to Amy? I haven't heard from her in a while."

"She's on vacation with her brother, they went to New York."

"With her brother?" Jessica laughed and gave him a look.

"Hey, don't ask me, he annoys the hell out of me too." Lance laughed and bounced Kyle on his hip.

"Oh well, I've left her a message so I'm sure she'll call when she gets back." Jessica shrugged and looked down the hall.

"Yeah, she will." Lance set Kyle on the floor and watched as he ran to the bed and scrambled up on it to jump up and down on the bouncy mattress. "Ugh, I've gotta go jump on the bed now."

"I can see you're dreading it." Jessica rolled her eyes and shook her head as Lance laughed.

"Well JC won't let him do it." He shrugged and said, "That's what us cool uncles are for."

"You're supposed to be the sensible one."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah." Lance jumped up on the bed beside Kyle and waved, "I'll tell JC you stopped by." He shouted as he began to bounce.

"Thanks." Jessica laughed, "Be careful."

"We will."

"Bow!" Kyle reached for Lance's hands and laughed as they jumped in unison.

Jessica shut the door as she left and giggled to herself as she walked back to her room. She only had an hour before she had to be in the van en route to the venue where she had yet another meeting with a new designer. She wouldn't get a chance to see JC again until they all got to the venue so she relaxed a little and got ready for her second meeting with Sean and the other tour leads.

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

Jessica arrived at the venue shortly before the guys who were running late as usual, she kept an eye on Kyle while they did their sound check and followed them to their dressing room when they were done.

"Daddy wok?"

"Yep, he's working." Jessica nodded.

"Kay." Kyle nodded and pulled his bottom lip between his teeth, a move she'd seen JC do on several occasions. She smiled to herself and waited for a few minutes outside the dressing room until Lance and Joey appeared, "Is Jace still in there?" She asked, though there was no place else he could be.

"Uh huh." Joey nodded.

"We've got the meet and greet." Lance said as he folded a piece of gum in half and stuck it in his mouth.

Jessica sighed and looked at Kyle, "We'll catch him after that then. Let's go see what we can dig up in the play room, okay?"

"Kay." Kyle laughed then wiggled to get down. She held his hand as they walked through the back stage maze to the little playroom where Sean and a couple of the riggers were playing a serious game of air hockey.

"I pay?" Kyle asked as he ran over.

"Next game kid." Larry said without taking his eyes off the game.

"I win?"

"Ha. We'll see about that." Larry smiled down at Kyle, then whizzed the plastic puck toward the opposite goal.

"Hey Sean? Can you keep an eye on Kyle for three minutes? I need to relay a message to JC." Jessica said quickly.

"You bet, this game will be over in just a second." He smacked the puck and sent it soaring into Larry's goal.

"Dammit." Larry growled with a smile and tossed a dollar at Sean. "Next time."

"Yeah next time." Sean pocketed the dollar and looked at Kyle, "Wanna race a car?"

"Yeah." Kyle reached for Sean's hand as they headed over to where the racing video games were set up.

"Five minutes." Jessica held up five fingers and nodded at Sean.

"You got it." Sean waved as she left the room.

Jessica left the playroom and trotted back toward the dressing room, hoping to catch JC alone before he got to the meet and greet.

She spotted him a minute later walking away from her down the hall. She quickened her pace to catch up to him, "Jessica Wardrobe huh?" Jessica laughed as she walked up behind JC.

He turned around quickly and smiled, "I spaced on your last name, I figured they’d get to you faster if I just said that anyway." He licked his lips nervously and looked over his shoulder. "Sorry about that."

"It’s okay." Jessica laughed, "Thank you for the flowers though, they were really sweet."

"Well thank you for all your help with Kyle. Really I… I don’t think I’d have been able to do it without you. I know I couldn’t have. I think I might have made the biggest mistake ever if you hadn’t been here to help. I mean… the urge to give up as so strong at the beginning." He paused and took a deep breath. "He’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me and the most important thing in my life right now, and if it wasn’t for you… he wouldn’t be here and I wouldn’t be who I am."

"I’m glad to help."

"Yeah but you go above and beyond the call of duty. Nowhere in your job description does it say ‘take care of this incompetent asshole's kid’." JC gave a short laugh. "You do more than just help Jess."

She nodded slowly and patted his shoulder, "You’re doing a great job JC. You had me worried there at the beginning, but you’ve done amazing the last couple weeks. You should be proud of yourself. I know the rest of us are." Jessica smiled and slowly let her hand drop.

"Thanks." JC blushed quickly. "I uh… I’m sorry but I’ve really gotta get in there." He looked toward the door to the room where the meet and greet was already starting.

"Oh of course. I’m sorry to keep you." Jessica shook her head and took a step back. "I just wanted to say thanks."

"Anytime." JC began to turn toward the door then stopped and took two quick steps toward her. He pulled Jessica in for a quick hug and said, "I’m glad you liked the flowers." Then kissed her cheek as he stepped away.

"Hey Jace?" Jessica finally managed when he had his hand on the door handle.

"Yeah?"

"Height."

"What?"

"My last name." She laughed and shoved her hands in her pockets.

"Ahhh, I’ll remember that." JC laughed and shoved the door open. He waved again as the door swung shut and Jessica heard the girls inside giggle and screech at the sight of him.

She shook her head and sighed as she walked back down the hall to the dressing room, she still had a lot of work to do.

 

Next...

 

Copyright 2001, Amy Lynn