"JC… what was that about?" Jessica’s cheeks were flushed as they walked out to the vans together.

"What?" He asked innocently as he leaned into the car and strapped Kyle into his seat.

"You? Out there." She waved her arm toward the studio as she climbed into the van, taking Justin’s seat.

"Where am I going to sit?" Justin whined as Joey climbed in the back seat.

"In the other van." JC said quickly as the guard shut the door.

"I thought you wanted to keep Kyle private." Jessica said softly.

"I did."

"By putting him on national television?" She raised her eyebrow at him.

"I’d rather be the one saying when he’s on camera than have those assholes climbing around in the bushes trying to get the million dollar shot." JC strapped his seat belt across his waist as they pulled out onto the street. "The tabloids and media and everything will stop at nothing to get something they’re told they can’t have. If I kept saying that Kyle was off limits they’d push the envelope by doing anything to get his picture, anything. If I offer up a couple of approved pictures and have him on TV once, then they’ve got their exposure and he’s no longer this huge secret that they’re going to try to crack."

"No they’ll just think he’s fair game now. Once he’s on TV they’ll think it’s okay to hound into his life." Jessica scowled.

"No offense Jess, but you have no idea." JC shook his head.

"Well I think that – " Joey started from the back seat.

JC had forgotten anyone else was in the car and unintentionally interrupted, "Besides maybe – " He stopped and looked back at Joey. "What?"

"Nothing, I was just going to say that I think it’s a good thing because you said you were looking for his mom and maybe someone out there will recognize him. Or something." Joey shrugged and sat back in his seat.

"You did this to try to find his mom?" Jessica asked as she looked from Joey to JC.

"No." JC shook his head. "No that’s not why I did it, but that’s a good point." He nodded at Joey. "I’m having Lynn come by tomorrow to take some pictures that we can release to the press. She’s the only one I trust enough to do that."

"JC…" Jessica sighed. She had seen what the fame and media had done to the guys, and that was nothing Kyle needed to be exposed to.

"If I didn’t bring him out on my own, some snot nosed jerk would somehow sneak a picture of him going into or coming out of the hotel or venue or whatever. They’d play it like I was ashamed to say he was mine, or that I was trying to hide him… and I’m not."

"But JC look at Rosie, she’s kept her kids out of the spotlight, I mean… until today I had no idea what her kids looked like."

"That’s a completely different situation." JC shook his head.

"Our tour will be over here in a couple weeks." Joey said from the back seat.

"Exactly. Once the tour is over all this press hoopla stuff will die down and people will forget about him, but for now… I needed to do this." JC shrugged.

"And if it brings his mom out of the woodwork… all the better." Joey added softly.

"Hrmph." Jessica made a sound of disagreement and crossed her arms over her chest.

"Regardless… it’s done." JC sighed and looked out the window.

"Yep." Jessica breathed deeply onto the window and watched it fog up as they headed to the hotel. She was dreading the next couple weeks, and hoped JC had made the right decision.

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

The tour began to wrap up over the next nine weeks and the media was amazingly calm over the whole Kyle thing. They understood JC’s desire for privacy and accepted the pictures he provided the press. Jessica was still a little wary of all the media attention surrounding the little boy, but JC set the guidelines and stuck by them better than she could have hoped for. With that little bit of stress reduced, the guys relaxed a lot more. Instead of doing the shows as their job they were doing them as their playtime. They had more fun with the crowd, more fun with each other; the practical jokes became a nightly unpredictable thing that the band was usually in on. By the time their last week rolled around, they were like little kids going to Disneyland every night and the euphoric feeling was contagious.

"Jessi! Jessi! Jessi!" Kyle ran over to her and slammed into her legs.

"Whoa! Hey there kiddo." She laughed and placed her hand on his back. "What are you doing?"

"I hide!" He screeched as Justin and Chris ran around the corner and looked around frantically.

"Kyle!" They shouted as they looked behind clothing racks and storage cases. Justin looked inside the pockets of some of the hanging jackets while Chris looked in the three-inch gap between the cases.

"Where’d he go?" Chris asked Justin with his hands on his hips.

"I don’t know." Justin panted. "Have you seen Kyle?" Justin asked Jessica as Kyle wrapped his arms tighter around her knees.

"No." She shook her head and laughed. "Kyle who?"

"He’s a little kid, he’s got short hair and he’s wearing jeans I think." Justin explained with a smile.

"No he’s wearing a bathing suit." Chris shook his head.

"No I think he’s wearing jeans with a green shirt."

"That’s why we can’t find him, sheesh you’re looking for the wrong kid!" Chris rolled his eyes. "He’s wearing red swim shorts and a tank top."

"I haven’t seen anyone like that." Jessica shook her head.

"Okay…" Justin said with a defeated sigh.

"We’ll just play with him later then I guess." Chris pouted and turned to go.

"I here!" Kyle jumped out from behind Jessica’s legs wearing his beige and green safari outfit.

Justin and Chris turned around suddenly, acting surprised to see him there, "Hey Kyle!" Chris took off after him as Kyle bolted in the opposite direction.

"Gotta go." Justin smiled as he ran by Jessica.

"Keep an eye on him you guys." Jessica warned.

"We are." Justin waved over his shoulder and followed Chris and Kyle around the corner. Jessica smiled and shook her head; so many things had changed for the better since Kyle joined the tour. Chris and Justin had always been the playful two, but now they had an outlet for all their energy.

The dressing room was in an unusually clean state when she pushed the door open five minutes later. "Hello?" She asked tentatively. She had seen all the guys in their underwear before, but she didn’t want to just stumble into it.

"Yeah?" Lance called from the back. She should have known he’d be there.

"Hey Lance, it’s just me, Jessica."

"Hi Jess, what’s up?" He walked out with his t-shirt in his hands.

"Not much, I was actually looking for Joey, do you know where he might be?"

"Um, I don’t know. He said something about hitting the gym with Les, but I just saw Les cruising around by the barricades, so…" He shrugged and pulled his shirt over his head. "Who knows."

"Great." She sighed, "Do you know if he’s wearing his pants?"

Lance laughed and slowly smiled, "I uh… I hope so."

"I mean his – nevermind, I can just look." She blushed quickly and ducked around Lance into the actual dressing area.

"What do you need him in his pants for?" Lance asked as he continued to chuckle.

"He said he was having pocket issues again so I wanted to try to fix it while he was in them… but I think I know what’s wrong so I’ll just go take a look."

"Okay." Lance smiled and cleared his throat.

"So hey, how’s Amy?" Jessica raised her voice to be heard from four racks away.

"She’s good." Lance nodded. "She'll be here Thursday."

"I can’t believe the last show is Saturday, isn’t that nuts?" She laughed.

"Yeah, but it'll be cool." Lance nodded with a tired smile.

"Cool, so she’ll get to hang out on Friday?"

"Yeah." Lance smiled and got that dreamy look in his eyes. "Then we’re flying back to Florida together on Monday." He sighed.

"How much time are you guys getting off? I mean, I know I get something like two months without a deadline commitment for clothes, but…"

"Yeah we get I think eight weeks? Maybe nine?  Something like that. Then we start getting ready for the European leg of the tour which is probably when you’ve got to report back."

"Yep." Jessica located the pants that Joey was having a problem with and pulled them down, then sat on a little chair and whipped out her little kit. "Are you excited about going to Europe?"

"I guess." Lance shrugged, "We haven’t been there in a while so it’ll be awesome to play for them again."

"Now that you’re huge."

"Yeah." He gave an embarrassed smile.

Jessica made a few quick stitches then gave it a little tug. "Are you taking this whole stage set up with you over there?"

"No." Lance shook his head. "We don’t really have a way to get it there and it’d be so expensive to build another one over there. But we’ve already got the stage arranged for that leg. It’ll be different, but just as cool." He smiled as Jessica stood up to hang the pants again.

"I can’t wait." She sighed and tucked her hands in her pockets as she headed for the door again, "Well if you talk to Amy before she gets here, let her know that I owe her a day at the spa or something."

"Ooooh, I’m sure she’ll hold you to that."

"I hope she does, I could use one too." Jessica laughed and waved as she pulled the door open, "Well I’m gonna go see about annoying Les, I’ll see ya later."

"Bye Jess."

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

Jessica stood at the edge of the crowd next to a couple of the security guards, her badge was out in plain view so that it would be clear that she was with them when it came time to go into the arena. She had her arms crossed over her chest when another girl walked up to her. She wouldn’t have even noticed her if she hadn’t looked familiar at first, "Hi, I’m Lori… can I um, is there a way to get a message to one of the guys?" She asked.

"Not really." Jessica said distractedly. She wasn’t a messenger and wasn’t about to start taking notes and gifts from all the girls she met.

"If you could just let Josh… uh… JC know that Lori is here and I’d like to see him." She said softly.

Jessica was about to tell the girl that she wasn’t an answering service when a bell went off in her mind. She was Lori. The girl in front of her was Kyle’s mom Lori. The blood drained from her face and her lips turned cold; "You’re Lori?" She studied the woman’s face looking for similarities to the grainy black and white photo JC had of her. The eyes were unmistakable.

"Yes." The girl smiled nervously, "Is JC around?"

"You’re… you’re Lori." Jessica repeated. "Kyle’s m-mother?"

"Yes." Lori nodded and gave Jessica a look. "And you are…?"

"I’m uh, I’m Jessica. I’ve spent the last 4 months raising your son." Her shock turned to anger when the full realization of who she was sank in.

"He hired a nanny?" Lori almost laughed.

"I’m dating him." Jessica heard herself say.

"JC? You’re dating JC?"

"Yes." Jessica lied.

That caught Lori off guard, "Is Jo – JC around? I think we should talk."

"Oh you think now you should talk? I think maybe 4 months ago would have been a better time don’t you think? You know, instead of dumping your kid with a stranger."

"Chris wasn’t a stranger." Lori said softly.

"He was a stranger to Kyle. What kind of – "

"Is there a problem?" Les asked as he stepped closer to Jessica.

"No." Jessica shook her head quickly. "No problem. I’m going to go get JC, I’ll be right back." She said to Les. "Wait here." She addressed Lori before she turned and practically ran towards the dressing room.

The door swung open easily as Jessica threw it open and ran toward the back by the racks, "JC!?"

"Yeah?" He stepped out from behind his roller holding Kyle upside down. Kyle laughed like a maniac as JC swung him from side to side.

"We’ve got a problem." She said quickly, trying not to trip over her words.

"We?"

"You. You’ve got a problem." Jessica said. She wasn’t sure how to say it but if she told him right then, he’d drop Kyle on his head. "Here." She leaned down and grabbed Kyle under his arms to bring him upright. She balanced him on her hip and straightened his hair; "Lori is here to see you." She said softly.

"Who?" JC asked, with a confused look.

"Lori." Jessica met his eye and gave him a knowing look. "Yes, that Lori."

"She’s here?" JC asked to make sure he’d heard her right.

"Yeah, she’s out front. I left her with Les at the east gate."

"She’s here?" JC asked again as his cheeks burned bright red. "Well she can just stay out there. I’ve got nothing to say to her."

"I think you should." Jessica tried to hold onto Kyle as he arched his back, trying to go upside down again.

"If I go out there now, there’s gonna be a scene." JC fidgeted with his hands nervously.

"If you don’t go there could be a bigger one." Jessica said softly. "One thing though…"

"What?"

"I kinda told her we were together."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean I told her you and I were together."

"Me and you?"

"Yeah."

"Dating?"

"Yeah." Jessica closed her eyes and cringed slightly.

"Why did you tell her that?"

"I don’t know. I just… when she said who she was I panicked."

"Jess…" He said with a disapproving tone.

"So tell her I lied." She shrugged. "She just looked so smug I had to say something."

"Jessica, I can’t go out there right now."

"You’ve got to." Jessica nodded and bounced Kyle up on her hip again, "Sit still honey." She said softly to Kyle.

"Upsigh down." Kyle laughed.

"We’ll do that in just a minute sweetie." Jessica smiled at Kyle then looked back at JC. "I’ve got him, go on out and see what she wants."

"She’s not getting him." He said as the thought crossed his mind.

"Of course not." Jessica shook her head. "Just go see what she wants, we’ll be waiting right here."

"Fine." He sighed and ruffled Kyle’s hair quickly then kissed his forehead, "I’ll be right back." He skipped out the door and headed for the main hallway.

JC took several deep breaths as he walked down the loud concrete hall to where Jessica said Lori was waiting. He walked up to one of the event pro security staffers by the door, "Is Les out there?"

"Les?" The kid asked.

"Yeah."

"I don’t know." He shrugged and fiddled with his badge.

"Will you open the door and see if Les is standing right outside?" JC sighed, he was ready to hit something and the kid had no idea how close he was.

He sighed and pulled the door open, "Hey! Are you Les?"

"Who’re you?" Les shouted back.

"There’s a guy in here looking for you." The kid shouted without answering Les’ question.

"Who is it?"

"What’s your name?" The kid asked JC.

"Tell him it’s who he’s waiting for." JC rolled his eyes and leaned against the wall.

"He says it’s who you’re waiting for." The kid shrugged.

"Jesus." JC whispered under his breath.

Les pushed the door open and stepped through with a young lady following close behind, "What’s your name kid?" He asked.

"Jeff."

"Jeff?" Les raised his eyebrow. "You’re off the door. Good night."

"But I have to – "

"Nope. You’re getting on my nerves. You’re off the door. Go find your little boss person or whatever and tell them Les said you can’t work the door any more. And make sure they know you pissed me off." Les shook his head as the kid walked away. "You okay here?" He asked. JC didn’t say anything he just nodded and kept his eyes on the girl. "I’ll be right outside that door."

"Thanks." JC said softly. Les opened the door and stepped out, but left the door open a crack so he’d be able to hear if anything happened behind him.

"Hi." Lori said as she took a step toward him.

He instinctively took a step back and looked up at her with just his eyes, "What do you want?" His own voice frightened him.

"I thought we could talk." She stood up straight as the icy tone he used swept over her.

"We can’t talk right here." JC glanced around the narrow hall where they stood. "We’re staying at the Hyatt, come by there after the show tonight."

"I’d really rather talk now." Lori insisted.

"No." JC looked in straight in her eyes and set his jaw. "I have a show to do and I don’t have time to tell you everything I want to tell you. If you want to settle this now I can assure you that you will not like what I have to say. I'll talk to you after the show at the hotel, or I won’t talk to you at all. Whichever way you want it."

"JC you can’t just – "

"Watch me." He interrupted her.

"Can I at least see Kyle?"

JC took a deep breath to keep his rage under control, "If I have my way, you’ll never see him again." He glanced at the door over her shoulder and raised his voice, "Les?"

The side door opened before the word finished echoing off the walls, "Yep?"

"We’re done here." JC’s lips were white as he clasped then shut.

"No more visitors tonight?" Les asked as he held the door open for Lori. JC shook his head once then turned sharply and began down the hall again, leaving Lori standing in the doorway.

"Miss?" Les nodded out the door and waited for her to follow. She reluctantly sighed and rolled her eyes, then stepped through the door again to return to her seat.

JC opened and closed his hands a dozen times before he reached the dressing room where Jessica and Kyle were waiting. Chris had shown up and was sitting in one of the director’s chairs pretending that Kyle was tying him up.

"Hey." JC said softly.

"Where is she?" Chris jumped up as Kyle protested.

"No dow! I tie!"

"Oh, sorry." Chris sat back down and pretended to tie himself back up. "Where is she?"

"Outside I guess." JC shrugged. "That’s where I left her."

"JC…" Jessica started to talk but she didn’t know what to say.

"I told her if she wanted to talk she had to come to the hotel tonight." JC looked from Kyle to Jessica; "Can you… will you please keep him tonight?" Kyle continued to ‘tie’ Chris to the chair in silence.

"Y-yeah… of course." Jessica nodded.

"What did she have to say?’" Chris scowled.

"Not much. I just told her that it wasn’t a good time and that if she wanted to talk she’d go to the hotel. But I also told her that if I had my way she’d never see him again."

"JC…you shouldn’t say that." Jessica said softly with a frown.

"It’s true. She has – " JC stopped himself. "I didn’t want to talk right now because I didn’t want to get all riled up. I’ll talk to her tonight if she shows up."

"And if she doesn’t?" Chris asked.

"Then screw her." JC dropped his voice a notch and went around the side of the racks to finish getting dressed.

"Uh oh." Kyle said as he watched JC walk away.

"Yep, uh oh." Jessica nodded. "Hey Kyle, you’re gonna stay in my room tonight, is that cool?"

"And Lello?"

"Of course."

"I nigh nigh?"

"Not right now, but yeah you’ll go night night in my room." Jessica nodded.

"And Chris?"

"No… Chris will be in his own room."

"Oh."

"But we can hang out tomorrow when we go to Universal, okay?" Chris rubbed Kyle’s head affectionately.

"Kay and ride?"

"Yeah, we’re gonna go on rides." Chris laughed.

"You guys are going to Universal tomorrow?" Jessica asked.

"Planned on it, yeah. I guess it’ll depend on how this goes though, huh?"

"We ride." Kyle nodded, ending the discussion.

"I guess we’re gonna ride." Chris laughed and stood up. "But right now I’ve gotta get dressed."

"We’ll leave you alone for that." Jessica took Kyle’s hand and headed for the door, "Say good bye to Chris and daddy."

"Bye." Kyle said loudly as he swung Jessica’s hand back and forth.

"Wait!" JC came out from behind his rack of clothes wearing only his boxer briefs and a starched white dress shirt. "Wait… Jess… don’t take him out there right now."

"We’re not going anywhere." Jessica shook her head.

"I mean, don’t take him out to the bus or anything."

"I’m not." Jessica knelt to pick Kyle up. "We’re going to go to the cafeteria to get something to munch on, then we’re going to the play room."

"Just be real careful, okay?" JC’s knit his brow into deep creases.

"We’ll be careful." Jessica smiled and hugged Kyle close. "We’ll be right here in the dressing room when you finish."

As soon as the concert was over JC grabbed Jessica and Kyle and piled into the awaiting van to take them back to the hotel. Kyle was sound asleep and never once woke up until JC laid him gently in Jessica's bed. "G'night big guy." JC whispered.

"Bye daddy." Kyle mumbled as he squished his face into the pillow.

"I'll see you bright and early in the morning, okay?"

"Kay." Kyle sighed then began to snore as JC stood up.

"Thanks a lot Jess." He said softly as they walked to the door. "I know this is kind of a mess, but…"

"Don't worry about it." She said as she shook her head. "Just uh… you know, get things worked out or whatever." Jessica looked down at her shoes as she shuffled her feet.

"I'll come get him at - "

"Just call when you wake up. I don't have much going tomorrow so… so sleep in or whatever."

"You don't have to."

"I know I don't." Jessica smiled. "Listen, do what you've got to do and call me when you get up. Don't worry about it."

"Thank you Jess, really."

"Enough already." She rolled her eyes and blushed. "Go on down and meet with her… I'll see you in the morning."

"Okay." He nodded and stepped out into the hall.

"Good night JC."

"G'night Jess." JC gave her a weak wave and shuffled down the hall with his hands deep in his pockets. His hair stood on end as it did after every show and she saw for the first time how truly tired he was. Jessica sighed and shook her head, then shut her door. Only one more week and they'd all be home free; they could make it another week.

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

When JC got back to his room he picked up his phone and ran his fingers over the numbers. "Who are you callin?" He mumbled to himself. Who should he call? He held the phone and frowned, then reached for his book. He flipped through his calendar pages back a couple months and found the number for Officer Whaley.

"Well… I guess she needs to know." He sighed. He dialed the local number and waited as the phone rang in his ear. It was after eleven and JC didn't expect her to answer, so when it went to her professional sounding voice mail he wasn't surprised. "Hi uh… hey Officer Whaley. This is JC uh, Joshua Chasez." He took a deep breath, "We worked together a couple months ago, or well I guess you did the work and I just kinda… well anyway, my son was left in the hotel lobby by his mom with my friend Chris - " He stopped and rubbed his temple, "I'm rambling I'm sorry. I hope you know who this is." JC laughed lightly and said, "Um, Kyle's mom showed up tonight at my show and I thought you should know, just in case. If you need to reach me you can call my cell since we won't be in town much longer." JC quickly left his cell phone number then hung up the phone and mentally kicked himself. Was it possible for him to sound more retarded?

On second thought, that may not be the smartest question to ask. JC pushed himself up off the bed and headed for the bathroom where he showered quickly and threw on some comfortable jeans and a t-shirt in anticipation of Lori's arrival. Assuming she would show up.

Lonnie knocked on JC’s door just as he was ready to give up waiting. "You’ve got company." Lonnie said softly when JC opened the door.

"Thanks." JC nodded to the guard and held the door open for Lori, who hesitantly stepped in. He shut the door quickly then brushed past her to switch the table lamp on. "So…?"

"First let me say that I’m sorry I just dropped him off like that." Lori’s voice shook as she remained standing near the door.

"Grab a seat, this could take a while." JC avoided her eye as he pulled one of the chairs away from the table to sit.

"I’ll stand, thanks."

"Sit down." JC said, not leaving any room for argument. She reluctantly scooted the chair back and sat rigidly. "I don’t want to hear your apologies, right now I don’t even want to see you."

"JC I – "

"Don’t. Don’t try to rationalize this at all. I got your letter and I know that life may have been rough for you raising the kid by yourself but that does not excuse you in any way. What kind of mother abandons their kid with a stranger in the lobby of a hotel? What if I hadn’t come back? What if Chris was there on his own?" JC used all of his energy to keep himself poised and collected. The last thing he wanted was to fly off the handle at her, but at the same time, that was all he wanted.

"I knew Chris could get him to you."

"So you left your problem up to Chris?" JC challenged her.

She was quiet for a minute, then asked, "Where’s Kyle?"

"What if I said I let social services take him? Let them put him up for adoption after searching for four months to find you?"

"You wouldn’t." She narrowed her eyes at him.

"Oh you don’t think so huh?" JC’s eyebrows shot up. "How would you know? You don’t know me at all. To be completely honest the thought crossed my mind more than once. To let someone else deal with it." JC took a deep breath. "Mostly I didn’t do it for selfish reasons, it’d make me look bad, it would tarnish my name."

Lori stared at him with a look of relief; "You have him?"

"Yes. Barely."

"Barely?"

"I almost lost him."

"Toddlers tend to wander."

"No. He almost died." JC said softly. "I almost lost him."

"What happened?" Lori paled suddenly.

"He got sick." JC kept it short.

"Let me see him." She placed her hands flat on the table and looked prepared to pounce.

"No. He’s not here right now." JC shook his head and remained calm.

"Get him right now."

"You’re in no position to be telling me what to do. I could call the police and have Officer Whaley show up in a matter of minutes to arrest you for child endangerment, neglect and abandonment. Combine all of those and you’d be facing a lot of jail time don’t you think?" He was making most of that up, but it sounded intimidating.

"I did what was best for him." She said softly as tears rose in her eyes.

"I would have disagreed with you before, but now I know that you’re right. He’s much better off with me." JC quickly remembered what Jessica said earlier, "He’s with Jessica, my girlfriend, right now… he’s sleeping. If you want to see him you can come back tomorrow and you can have one supervised hour. In my room."

"Don’t be crazy." She almost laughed. "I don’t need to be supervised to see my own son."

"Yes… you do."

"I’m going to take him off your hands since he was such an inconvenience."

"No, you’re not."

"I’ll take you to court if I have to." She threatened, though her wobbly voice gave away her fear.

"You’re going to have to." He nodded. "After the charges are pressed I have a feeling you’ll be spending a lot of time in court."

She stood up suddenly and turned for the door, "You can’t keep him from me, I’m his mother."

"You should have thought about that before you left him in a hotel lobby." JC said from the table.

"I did think about it!" She shouted as the tears over flowed. "There was nothing else for me to do! Don’t you think I would do everything in my power for that little boy? I love him with ever ounce of my heart. I couldn’t take care of him… I had no money, no home, nothing JC. I had less than nothing. I did what I thought was best for Kyle, I knew that no matter what he’d be safer with you than with me bouncing from friends house to friends house."

"You could have told me about Kyle sooner, I would have helped."

"I tried."

"You didn’t try very hard. We went back through the fan mail and the management call records. They found a total of eleven messages or letters from girls claiming to be the mothers on our children. Of those eleven only four were for me. One was from Canada claiming I was the father of her nine year old daughter. One was from London claiming I fathered her twin girls. One was from a girl who actually called once for each of us trying to pin her son on us. And one was from you with no last name, no phone number, no address."

"I sent you letters."

"To my fan mail center through the record company where they are read and handled by mail room staffers. Not one letter was sent to the management company." He shook his head. "You robbed me of two years with my son."

"JC, I tried."

"You didn’t."

"I did try."

"Lori, I’m telling you, you didn’t. You didn’t leave me any way to get a hold of you when you left him. I had a private investigator doing everything he could to try to find you. You were unfindable. If you hadn’t shown up tonight I may never have found you."

"I had to wait till I got back on my feet before I could take him back."

"You’re not taking him back."

"JC, I’m his mother."

"And I’m his father." JC clenched his teeth and forced himself to take a deep breath. "If you’re so back on your feet leave me your address and phone number and I’ll have my lawyer contact you."

"Leave me yours." She challenged.

JC reached for the pad of paper on the table and scribbled down his home number, his cell phone, his management number and his lawyer’s office number. "You can call any of those numbers to reach me, just tell them who you are." He continued to write down the addresses for his management team, his home address and his lawyer’s office address. "You show up at any of those addresses or send anything to any of those and I’ll get it." His lawyer had suggested he do this first thing, to stop all contact and to only go through the lawyers. He handed her the paper and handed the pencil to her.

She took it with a shaky hand and wrote out her phone number and her address in the corner, "There, that’s where I’m staying."

"Great." JC stuck it in his pocket and shook his head.

"You’re really going to make this go to court?" She asked when she noticed the lawyers phone number and address on the paper.

"If you want to push it that far, yes." JC nodded. "I’d rather not, but it’s all up to you."

"And you’re saying I can’t see Kyle?"

"I’m saying you can’t see him without supervision." JC ran his hand through his hair and tried not to yawn. The adrenaline surge he’d been riding for the last two hours was slowly diminishing leaving him exhausted.

"Please can I see him tonight?" Lori asked as her tears overflowed onto her cheeks. "Please, I haven’t seen him in so long."

"No, he’s asleep." JC shook his head. "You could have seen him if you tried. That was all on you, you’re the only one who controlled if you saw him or not."

"Please JC… please just let me see him sleeping. So I know he’s okay."

"No." JC stood up and for a split second a wave of guilt washed over him as he watched this so-called mother crying over her child. But the images of Kyle crying for his mother, laying in his hospital bed, playing with his stuffed dog in the middle of sound cables during sound checks, curled up in the corner of the couch on the bus surrounded by the guys, clinging to JC in the middle of a crowd… he pictured all of those and realized that she wasn’t the kind of mother he wanted for Kyle.

"Kyle is fine. He’s healthy and he’s happy. He’s got everything he wants and he’s being taken care of by people who love him very much. You don’t need to worry about him. Right now he’s sound asleep in a big warm bed with his stuffed guard dog and a caring adult in the bed next to him."

"I just want to see him."

"Then come back tomorrow for a supervised visit. I have free time between ten and one, so choose an hour and come by then." He wasn’t going to back down on that stipulation.

"You’re serious about it being supervised?"

"Extremely." He nodded.

"Fine. Then I’ll be back tomorrow." She stood up to face him, "I can’t believe you’d keep him from me."

"Hmm, kind of like you kept him from me?" JC tilted his head to the side. She snapped her mouth shut and stared at him as he walked past her to the door, "See you tomorrow." He held the door open as Lonnie stepped to the side. He’d been waiting just outside the door in case he was needed, "Call me in the morning to let me know when you’re coming."

"I – Wha – Do – Which phone number do I call?" Lori stuttered as she stood up slowly.

"Either the hotel or my cell phone. Either one will get you directly to me." JC’s face was void of any expression as she stepped out into the hall.

Lori turned to walk away then stopped and faced JC again, "Did he… has he asked for me… at all?" Lori asked softly as a fresh course of tears rose in her eyes.

JC considered lying to her, telling her ‘no’ just to hurt her, to make her think her son had already forgotten her… but he couldn’t. "Yes." JC nodded, telling her the truth. The look on her face showed that no matter which response he’d given her, it would have hurt the same. Her son had cried for her, and she wasn’t there. Her face crumpled as she turned and walked down the hall with her head hung.

JC sighed and glanced at Lonnie before he shut the door and pressed his fisted hands over his eyes. He took two deep breaths to calm away the tears that suddenly threatened to overflow as his bottom lip quivered uncontrollably. JC let out the last deep breath as his emotional armor broke and his tears burned paths down his cheeks. The wall behind him was the sturdy support he needed as he slid down to the floor with his hands still pressed against his eyes. Sobs overtook his body as JC held his knees to his chest tightly, all of the emotion from the past months crashed down on him and filled his heart with fear, frustration, love, confusion and sympathy.

He wiped at his eyes with the heel of his hand, trying to regain his composure to keep his pride. He looked up suddenly and realized he was alone in his room, and no matter how much he cried or how loud he swore, no matter how hard he hit the mattress or fell to the floor… he was alone. He didn’t have to prove himself to anyone and for the first time in years he allowed himself to completely wallow in self pity, beat the sense out of the mattress, have an all out temper tantrum then fall asleep in his clothes on a tear dampened pillow.

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

JC woke up the next morning feeling well rested and ready to deal with whatever came his way. It was after nine in the morning when he finally pulled himself out of bed with a feeling of guilt. Kyle had been up for two hours down the hall in Jessica's room while he'd been snoring away in his king sized bed.

He rationalized to himself that she had told him to sleep in and not worry about it, so he took a quick shower and dressed in comfortable pants and a t-shirt before laying across his bed to call her room.

"Hello?" Jessica asked as she laughed hysterically into the phone.

"Well… I guess I didn't wake you guys up." JC smiled.

"No, we're up." She laughed and addressed Kyle, "Time out kiddo, no more tickling me. Your daddy is on the phone."

"Daddy hi?" Kyle stopped tickling Jessica's sides for a second and scurried up to the head of the bed where she sat with the phone at her ear. Jessica held the phone out to him so he took it and held it to his ear, "Hi daddy I pay."

"You're playing huh?"

"An Jessi."

"With Jessica? Right on. Well hey, I've got some breakfast here for you, are you hungry?" JC asked as the food service cart was wheeled in.

"Yeah."

"Cool, I'll be by in a second to get you."

"Kay." Kyle handed the phone back to Jessica. "Daddy."

"Hi." She smiled into the phone. "So uh… how'd it go?"

JC sighed, "Well… no one left in a body bag so I guess things went alright."

"Ouch."

"She's gonna come by to visit him today." JC said softly.

"Oh." Jessica licked her lips quickly and smiled at Kyle as he crawled across the bed to get Lello. "Hey sweetie, can you get your bag ready? JC is going to be here in a minute."

"Yeah." Kyle laughed and slid off the bed.

"So she's coming here?"

"Yeah." JC nodded.

"When?" Jessica didn't want to be nosey, but at the same time, she wanted to know.

"Um, I'm not sure. I told her I was free from ten till one and she could call to let me know when she'd be here." JC shrugged. "But uh… I'll be down in a minute to get him. Is he dressed?"

"Nope, he's in his pajamas. The only clothes I had was what he wore last night and I figured you were going to bathe him anyway."

"Yeah." JC nodded. "Okay, I'll see you in a few." He hung up and checked himself in the mirror real quick before trotting down the hall to Jessica's room.

When Jessica opened the door Kyle rocketed into his arms and laughed, "I tako."

"He was tickling me." Jessica translated.

"Uh oh… is Jessica ticklish?"

"Yeah." Kyle laughed.

"Where?" JC whispered.

"On tummy."

"On her tummy huh, what about her feet?"

"Yeah." Kyle nodded.

"Okay, I'll have to remember that." JC laughed and rested Kyle on his hip. "Those are cool pajamas. How come you have like 90 pairs of pajamas and I don't have any?"

"I cool."

"Ahh I see. You're cool so you get all the jammies?" JC asked.

"And hair." Kyle ran his hand over his head.

"You get the cool jammies and the cool hair?"

"Yeah." Kyle laughed and bounced in JC's arms.

"Thanks Jess, we'll see you later." JC waved as he and Kyle started down the hall discussing who was cool and who wasn't.

They sat at the little table together to eat breakfast while JC skimmed his planner to double-check their flight information for Monday. He was looking forward to getting home, back to his own house with his own bed, his own clothes, his own dishes… his own everything. He smiled as he redecorated his second guest room into a toddlers room for Kyle. It was the only other room on the second floor other than his office, and he couldn't give up his office.

"No bass?"

"Hmm?" JC shook his head into the present. "No way pal, you've gotta take a bath."

"I eat."

"After you eat." JC nodded.

By that time JC knew the routine with kids. First the food, then the bath. He’d learned that after a week of nonstop baths. JC waited until Kyle was spending more time playing with his food than eating it, then said, "Okay kiddo, let’s get you in the bath so we can get things going."

"Daddy too?"

"Nope, just you buddy." JC shook his head. "I took my shower this morning before I came to get you."

"You keen?"

"Yep." JC laughed and took a bite of Kyle’s cold toast. "I’m clean."

"Kay." Kyle sighed and stood up, dropping scrambled eggs from his lap to the floor. "Jama off?"

"Yeah, take them off and I’ll start the bath." JC bent over to pick up the bits of egg and toast, then dropped them on the plate and brushed his hands on his pants. "Do you want your bath toys?"

"No." Kyle shook his head and tugged at his pajama bottoms. "I get?"

"Oops, here, let me get that, they’re snapped to the top." JC reached down and unsnapped the pants then let Kyle finish undressing himself, a new independent task Kyle had discovered. JC turned on the bath water and let it run over his hand until the temperature was right.

"I go Chris?" Kyle asked as he dropped his pajama bottoms just outside the bathroom door and went to work on his top. "Ride?"

"Yeah, we’re going to go ride with Chris today I think."

"An sink?" Kyle asked with a worried look.

JC smiled, Kyle hadn’t gotten the fact that his ‘buddies’ were Nsync, so wherever they went he wanted Nsync to go too. "Chris is Nsync and I’m Nsync."

"And Joey?"

"Joey too." JC nodded. "And Lance and Justin."

"Jussin?" Kyle laughed.

"Yeah." JC helped him get his shirt over his head then tossed it out the door as well.

"No Jussin."

"Justin’s not Nsync?"

"No." Kyle shook his head.

"Then what is he?"

"Doe no." Kyle shrugged.

"I don’t know either." JC laughed and took Kyle’s diaper off then shut off the water. "Okay buddy, into the water."

"I sim?"

"Nope, the water is too shallow to swim in the tub."

"I ten?"

"You can pretend, yeah." JC nodded and lifted Kyle into the tub. He went to work soaping up a wash rag to clean breakfast off of Kyle’s face and hands, then he stopped as he heard something in the other room.

"Rocket dow rocket sidow bye bye is donna me." Kyle sang a medley of some of his favorite songs as he slapped the water with his hands.

"Shhh Kyle, just for a second." JC held Kyle’s hands to keep him from splashing. The phone rang again in the other room, "Dangit." He scooped Kyle out of the tub and sat him on the thick bathroom mat as soap dripped down his arms, "Don’t move." JC shook his finger at Kyle as he ran into the other room to catch the phone, "Hello?" He answered it on the fifth ring.

"JC?" Lori asked softly.

"Yeah?"

"It’s uh… its Lori. I just wanted to let you know that I want to come by this afternoon."

"Okay, what time?" JC said after a moment’s pause. The sound of his voice startled him into silence and he blushed, remembering the scene in his room after she left.

"Well you said you were available between ten and one?"

"Yeah, what hour do you want to come?" JC pulled the phone cord tight so that he could see into the bathroom. Kyle was sitting on the bath mat scratching the bar of soap with his fingernails.

"Um, how about eleven?" She asked. JC checked the clock and frowned, it was already after ten.

"That’s fine." JC mentally re-scheduled Kyle’s nap and lunch. "I’ll see you then, I’ve gotta go."

"Wait, where’s Kyle?"

"He’s in the bathroom waiting to take his bath." JC explained quickly. "I’ll see you at eleven."

"Okay." Lori said softly.

"If anything changes call me."

"Okay." She agreed.

JC hung up the phone without saying goodbye, then ran back into the bathroom and scooped up Kyle, "Okay kiddo, back in the tub." He plopped Kyle back into the sudsy water and grabbed the big plastic cup. "Sorry about that, the phone was ringing."

"Was Jussin?"

"Nope, it wasn’t Justin."

"Was Laaance?"

"Nope, not Lance either." JC shook his head and poured water down Kyle’s back. "It’s a surprise."

"Was Lello?" Kyle laughed.

"No no you silly goose, it wasn’t Lello. Lello’s a dog and he’s in the backpack." JC put a small amount of shampoo on Kyle’s head and used his fingers to work it through his hair. "Do you like your hair cut?"

"Jessi cut." Kyle nodded.

"Yeah she did, it looks good."

"Like Jussin."

"That’s right, it looks like Justin’s hair." JC smiled. "Maybe one time your hair will look like mine."

"No." Kyle laughed as JC rinsed his hair. "Is silly."

"You think my hair is silly."

"Chris."

"Chris thinks my hair is silly?"

"Yeah." Kyle laughed again and wiped his hands over his face. "Go boing!" Kyle held his hands out around his head and made a crazy face.

"Oh man, my hair does not go boing." JC laughed and shook his head. "Chris has no room to talk, he used to look like a pineapple."

"Pie appo?"

"Yep. You tell him that next time you see him."

"In head?" Kyle asked as he put his hand on his own head.

"Yeah, a pineapple on his head."

"No." Kyle laughed and shook his head as JC poured clean water over him again to rinse the soap.

"Yep, ask him about that. You wanna talk about silly, that’s just about the silliest thing I’ve ever seen."

"I see?"

"I’m sure I’ve got a picture around here somewhere."

"A pie appo?"

"I have a picture of Chris’ hair when it looked like a pineapple, yeah." JC laughed. "I’ll have to find one later and show you, he looked pretty silly."

"Yeah." Kyle nodded and stood up in the tub, using JC’s shoulders for balance. "I done?"

"Yep, you’re done." JC lifted him out of the water and stood him on the soggy bathmat as he dried him off with the towel. "Okay, let's go get some clothes on you, Mr. Naked Boy."

"I do?"

"Yeah, you can do it. Go pick out some clothes to wear and socks."

"Shoe?"

"And shoes, yeah." JC nodded as he picked up the dishes from breakfast and set them on the room service tray. As he picked up the pieces of toast that had fallen to the floor he thought of Lori and how she'd be coming over in less than an hour. A wave of nausea washed over him and he grabbed the side of the table to steady himself. He had no idea what to expect once she got there, and he hated not being prepared.

"I have." Kyle sighed from the bed.

"You've uh… you've got it huh?" JC pushed the cart out into the hall then sighed and went back to Kyle, "Okay buddy, let's get you dressed and ready."

"Have pass?"

"Pants? Yeah, let's put your pants on dude."

"Dipo."

"Diaper. Yep, you've got it." JC reached for a clean diaper and lay Kyle down on it. "Speaking of diapers dude, we're gonna have to do something about that."

"Dipo?"

"Yeah. Big guys pee in the toilet. Are you old enough to do that?" JC asked, not really expecting an answer.

"I big."

"Yeah, you're big. I'll have to find out if you're ready to ditch these yet though. Because honestly kiddo? These suck?"

"Dipo suck?"

"Oops, yeah don't say that." JC pretended to smack his own mouth, "I shouldn't say that either." He pulled Kyle into a standing position and held his overalls out for him to step into.

"Go ride?" Kyle asked as JC clasped the straps into place.

"What?"

"Go ride now? He asked again. "Chris?"

"You want to go ride with Chris?"

"And pie appo."

JC chuckled lightly, "No, you can’t go with Chris right now. You’re going to have a visitor." JC snapped the tiny silver snaps by Kyle’s neck and pulled his socks on.

"No, I ride." Kyle frowned and moved his feet away from JC’s grasp.

"It’ll have to be after your visitor." JC grabbed his foot and pulled the sock straight.

"I go now."

"Not now Kyle. We’ll go later if you’re good."

"No, now." Kyle’s forehead creased and he glared up at JC. "Go Chris."

"Hey. Knock it off." JC gave him a frustrated look and pulled his foot around to tug his little ankle boot on. "Let me get your shoes on, you’re going to have a visitor in just a couple minutes. After that we can get Chris and then go to Universal."

"He gone?"

"He didn’t go yet." JC shook his head. "We’re going to go when we’re done here."

"No done." Kyle scowled but held still for JC to get his shoes on.

"How about if we watch ‘The Iron Giant’ while we wait?"

"Ride after?"

"Yep, we’ll ride after the movie and after you have your visitor."

"Who?"

"It’s a surprise, but she’ll be here in just a little bit." JC checked his watch. It was twenty minutes till eleven so if things went as planned they could leave around noon, get lunch and a quick nap on the way to Universal Studios, then play around there for a few hours before Kyle would be ready to go home.

"Kay." Kyle sighed and scooted off the bed letting his heavy boots stomp on the floor. JC had thought about telling Kyle it was his mommy that was coming, but he wanted to see his initial reaction to seeing her again for the first time in four months. Part of him wanted Kyle to be shy or upset or to somehow show his disapproval, but another part of him knew that a child’s bond with his mother couldn’t be matched. That’s what scared JC the most.

"Where are you going pal?"

"Get Lello." Kyle explained as he tried to unzip the backpack to get the dog out. The surfaced a minute later with the dog in his hand then scrambled onto the bed to sit by JC. "Have."

"Okay good." JC nodded and leaned back against the headboard as he turned the movie on. Kyle sighed and slid back to sit beside JC, then crossed his ankles and turned his attention to the TV at the far end of the room. "Are you tired?" JC asked, as Kyle seemed to slide down a little more against the pillow.

"No." Kyle shook his head, but couldn’t hide the tiny yawn that escaped.

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

Eleven came and went and Lori still hadn't shown up. It was almost a quarter after twelve when there was a sharp knock on the door. JC jumped off the bed carefully so not to wake up Kyle who had dozed off shortly after the movie started. Kyle’s Raiders blanket had slid halfway to the floor so JC lifted it up and piled it by Kyle’s feet, leaving some of it covering him even though it was warm out. JC crossed the room reluctantly and pulled the door open while he tried his hardest not to be upset. "You’re late." He debated not letting her in at all.

"You said to come between ten and one."

"And you said this morning you’d be here at eleven."

"Something came up." She raised an eyebrow at him and brushed by with Les following a step behind.

"Something more important than your son?" JC asked under his breath as she crossed the room to the bed.

"Aww, how long has he been asleep?"

"About an hour." JC said as Les assumed his position by the door. He was assigned to be the silent watchman for the visits in JC’s room.

"Then that’s long enough, you can’t let him sleep too long in the morning or he won’t take an afternoon nap." Lori sat on the bed beside Kyle and placed her hand on his back. "Who is that?" She whispered as she cast a glance at Les.

"That’s Les. He’s supervising the visit." JC said in a normal voice.

"Hrm." Lori made a disapproving sound and picked Kyle’s limp body up from the bed. "Hey KyKy, look who’s here." She smiled and cradled him against her shoulder. "Is he still sick? He feels warm." She looked back at JC who stood frozen by the door.

"No, he’s fine."

"It feels like he has a fever."

"He doesn’t have a fever." JC insisted. "He’s been sleeping under his blanket so he’s just warm."

"KyKy baby, wake up sweetie." She bounced him on her knees to try to wake him up.

If there was one thing Kyle got from his father was his love for sleep, and his hatred for being awakened. That was one of the first things JC learned. "No go." Kyle frowned but didn’t open his eyes as he pushed her away.

"What’s wrong with him?" She asked with a hint of concern.

"Nothing, he doesn’t like to be woke up." JC sighed.

"He needs to though." Lori bounced him again.

"He only takes one nap a day with me, and you’re interrupting it."

"Well it’s too early for a nap anyway."

"Around here he naps when he can." JC leaned against the wall and crossed his arms over his chest.

She seemed to give up on waking him and turned to JC, "So… so what happened? You said he was sick before?"

"He had meningitis." JC nodded.

"Oh man… that’s bad."

"It can be, yes. But he’s better now."

"Well that’s good." Lori nodded and tickled Kyle under his chin. "Come on big boy, wake up so mommy can see you."

"No." Kyle whined.

"Kyle sweetie, its mommy."

"Mommy?" Kyle opened his eyes and yawned. "Hi."

"Hi there angel." She laughed and ran her hand over his hair. "You cut his hair?"

"Jessica did, yes." JC nodded. "He likes it, it looks like Justin."

"Do you like your haircut?" Lori looked at Kyle as if she were counting all his toes and fingers, seeing him for the first time. "My god I can’t believe how much you’ve grown up, you’re so tall."

"I big." Kyle nodded and held his hands over his head.

"Yes you are." Lori laughed and nuzzled Kyle’s neck as he laughed softly.

JC fought the urge to grab Kyle away and hide him in a room far away. Watching Kyle with Lori was almost too much for JC; he knew that Kyle had a bond with her, but seeing it in action was like a slap in the face.

"Have you had a good time with JC and the other guys?"

"Yeah I pay."

"You play with them huh?"

"Yeah Joey." Kyle nodded.

"You play with Joey."

"And I by, no no." Kyle shook his head and gave her a stern look.

"You… what?"

"He bit Joey, but that’s a no-no." JC said softly.

"Oooh." Lori nodded, "That’s not very nice to bite people."

"No, he say ‘NO!’."

"I’ll bet he did."

"And Jussin go." Kyle made a scary face and pretended to claw Lori’s arm. "Is scare."

"That sure is scary." She gave Kyle a wobbly smile. "You’re talking a lot now little guy. You’re so smart."

"Laaaance mar."

"Lance is smart?"

"Yeah, and me."

"You too." Lori nodded.

"Go ride now?" Kyle asked as he looked at JC.

Caught off guard, JC cleared his throat and shook his head, "Not right now, later."

"Later ride?"

"Yep, we’ll ride later." JC nodded.

"Ride?" Lori asked as she tore her eyes away from Kyle.

"We’re going with Chris to go on some rides." JC explained, without saying exactly where they were going.

"What kind of rides? He’s too little to go on rides JC."

"They’re kid rides." JC half squinted his eyes as his stomach clenched. He looked at Les in the corner and took a deep breath. Les’ leaned forward and his eyes asked if JC was okay. JC quickly raised his fingers in a partial wave toward Les letting him know there was no trouble, then he sat in the thick recliner chair by the balcony.

"Daddy go side?" Kyle squirmed down from Lori’s lap and ran over to JC where he caught a whiff of Lori’s perfume lingering around Kyle.

"Nope, not right now buddy, you’ve got a visitor."

"Is mommy." Kyle nodded.

"Yeah, that’s your uh… your mommy." JC turned Kyle around and leaned to talk into his ear, saying the words he dreaded the most, "Go sit with her, she came here to see you."

"Mommy side?" Kyle asked as he stayed close to JC.

"Nope, you need to stay inside." JC shook his head. "Go say hi."

"I say."

"I know you said hi." JC fought the irrational urge to laugh, "But go sit with her, she came here to see how big you are."

"I big." Kyle turned around to face JC.

"I know you are." JC nodded. "Hey! I’ll bet she hasn’t seen Lello, why don’t you go find him and show her how cool he is?"

"I fye?"

"Yeah, go find Lello and show her." JC gave him a gentle push toward the other bed.

"Mommy Lello?"

"I’d love to see Lello." She said cautiously as she glanced around the room.

"Kay." Kyle climbed onto the bed and dug around under his Raiders blanket until he found his floppy brown dog. "Is Lello." Kyle smiled and dropped the well loved stuffed animal in her lap.

"Oh wow, that’s a cool doggie! Where did you get that?"

"Daddy."

"Oh r-really? Daddy gave that to you? That’s cool."

"Actually I think Chris gave that to him. We get so many animals and stuff you know… so since he didn’t have any toys or uh… or whatever Chris found that for him when I was in Florida." Forming sentences suddenly became a chore for JC.

"You went to Florida?"

"I was in Florida when you left him."

"Oh."

"Chris watched him for a couple days until I could come back."

"Oh." She blushed.

"Well you know, it was either that or let the police take him to the children’s receiving home in Santa Monica. But Chris uh… he didn’t want to leave him in a foster home."

"I’m glad he didn’t." Lori said softly.

"Yeah. Me too." JC stood up and walked over to the wide glass door leading to the balcony. He leaned against the glass and tuned out the sounds of Kyle and Lori talking about his dog as he tried to focus on the shoreline so far away.

Les’ watch gave three short beeps when the hour was up and JC pulled himself away from the window as he stretched his arms. "What’s that?" Lori asked as she looked up at him. She and Kyle were sitting on the floor with a handful of his cars on the ground between them.

"It’s one."

She checked her watch and pushed herself up with the bed, "It hasn’t been an hour."

"I told you I was available until one. It’s not my fault you came at a quarter after twelve."

"JC… you said I could visit for an hour."

"You said you were going to come at eleven. If you had shown up on time you would have gotten your hour. But it’s one now and we have plans."

"I’ll watch him for you. Whatever you have to go to, I’ll stay here."

"No." JC shook his head. "Kyle’s coming with me, he and I have plans."

She sighed deeply and looked at Les by the door, "Can you guys at least walk me to the elevator?"

"Sure." JC nodded as he bent to pick up Kyle’s cars. He dropped them into his backpack then took Kyle’s hand as they headed for the door. "Oh wait, you need a jacket."

"No code."

"It’s not now, but it might be later." JC smiled and pulled Kyle’s Dinosaur sweatshirt out of his suitcase.

"Rrraaar!" Kyle growled.

"That’s right." JC nodded and grabbed a sweatshirt for himself then sighed and reached for Kyle’s red backpack. He poured the contents onto the bed, then replaced a few of the cars, some diapers and wipes, Lello and the two sweatshirts before throwing it over his shoulder. He had learned to never leave the hotel without the necessities.

Lori walked out into the hall with Kyle in her arms to say goodbye by the elevators. Les followed right beside her and he made sure there was another guard at the elevators to keep the place secure. As they neared the waiting area Jessica stepped out into the hall with her purse in one hand and a sweater in her other. She quickly pulled the door closed behind her, glanced at her watch then made a face and hurried down the hall.

"Jessi!" Kyle wiggled out of his mother’s arms and took off down the hall with his overall strap flapping behind him.

"Kyle!" Lori shouted after him as she began down the hall after the little boy.

"Hi there handsome." Jessica caught him as he slammed into her legs and lifted him up for a kiss, then rested her forehead against his. "What are you doing out here? Where’s daddy?"

"Dere." Kyle pointed toward the elevator area where JC stood with a shocked and almost embarrassed expression on his face. "And mommy." Kyle said softly.

That’s when Jessica noticed Lori standing between her and JC, "Oh, uh… hi." She said as she bounced Kyle on her hip as she adjusted her sweater over her arm.

"Hi." Lori said without moving her lips.

"Hey Jess." JC smiled as brushed past Lori and wrapped his arm around Jessica, brushing his lips against hers, "Are you ready to go?"

"Go?" Jessica whispered while JC’s head still blocked Lori’s view.

"Play along." JC whispered and kissed her again as Kyle laughed.

"Yep, I’m ready, are you guys ready?" She forced a smile and tickled Kyle under his chin.

"I go ride!" Kyle threw his arms over his head and laughed.

"We’re done, right?" JC asked as he looked over his shoulder at Lori.

"I’d… I’d like to say goodbye." Lori said as her ears turned pink.

"Oh of course." Jessica knelt to put Kyle back on the floor.

"Come here baby, let me say goodbye." Lori’s held out her arms.

"Bye." Kyle waved then turned to JC, "Go now?"

"Go say goodbye Kyle." JC took his hand and walked him over to where Lori stood. He picked him up and put Kyle in her arms, something he never thought he’d do.

"Bye bye sweetie, I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?" Lori hugged him tight and kissed his cheek.

"We’re busy tomorrow." JC shook his head.

"I’d like to see him." Lori met his eye, letting him know she wasn’t kidding around.

"Our day is already planned." JC shook his head. "We have a show tomorrow night in Orange County then we’re driving down to San Diego."

"San Diego?" Lori frowned as Kyle squirmed out of her arms and stood between her and JC. "When will you be back in LA?"

"I don’t know." JC shrugged. "Our tour wraps up in San Diego, then its back to Florida."

"Florida?!" Lori’s eyes flew open in surprise.

"Yeah, Florida. That’s where I live." JC gave her a peculiar look.

"You’re going back to Florida?"

"Yeah." JC nodded. "On Monday."

"Monday?" She seemed to gasp. "But… but what about Kyle?"

"Well, he’s coming with me."

"To Florida?"

"Yes." JC said slowly.

"You can’t just take him to Florida." A small smile played at the corner of her mouth, though JC doubted she found this funny.

"That’s the plan." JC nodded and looked back at Jessica. "We can talk more later, I’m late."

"JC, wait. You can’t just take him to Florida." Lori said a little louder than necessary.

"Lori I’m late. We can talk about this later." JC picked Kyle up and nodded toward the elevators as the door slid open. "Call me tomorrow."

"JC, I – " She started to argue, but JC turned away and walked toward Jessica.

"Give me a call tomorrow." JC repeated as she stepped onto the elevator. He waited until he heard the door slide shut before he let out the breath he was holding and turned to make sure she was gone. "Man…" He sighed.

"I’ve really gotta run." Jessica said softly as stood beside her. "I was supposed to meet with Sean like ten minutes ago."

"Yeah, yeah go." JC nodded. "Sorry I made you late."

"You're okay?" Jessica asked, concerned out of habit.

"Yeah." JC gave her a small smile as he leaned against the wall; "I'm cool."

"Okay…" She gave him a weird look then turned and speed-walked down the hall to Sean's room.

Kyle heaved a deep sigh and looked about as tired as JC, "Daddy?"

"Yeah?" JC asked as he leaned his head back against the wall.

Kyle walked up next to him and leaned against the wall, imitating his dad by putting his arm over his head. He turned his head to face his dad and asked, "Ride now?"

JC’s smile began as a tickle on the side of his mouth, then a half smile that grew into a full grin and a laugh, "Yeah, let’s go get Chris and ride." He grabbed Kyle under his arms and lifted him onto his shoulders. "Okay, which room is Chris in?"

"Doe no." Kyle shrugged.

"I think he’s in this one… let’s see." JC knocked on the door that he knew was Justin’s and waited for the younger man to open the door.

"Hey guys." Justin yawned and leaned on the open door. "Wassup?"

"Sup dog?" Kyle asked as he laughed like a hyena from his perch on JC’s shoulders.

Justin squinted and looked up at the little boy, "Sup dog?" Justin smiled and shook his head. "What’ve you taught that kid?" He yawned and rested his head against the door.

"Me?!" JC laughed grabbed Kyle’s ankles. "We’re going to Universal, wanna come?"

"No." Justin yawned again.

"Rough night?"

"You have no idea." Justin let his eyes drift closed as he stood there.

"Well get back to bed and for God sakes brush your teeth."

"Bite me." Justin laughed and shut the door in JC’s face.

"No by." Kyle said as they started down the hall.

"Nope, no biting."

"Jussin by?"

"Nope, he better not." JC shook his head.

"Kay Chris." Kyle bounced his hands on JC’s head as they continued down the hall.

"Okay Chris… I think this is it." JC knocked on Chris’ door and waited for the older man to open the door.

"It’s about gosh darn time!" Chris shouted as he pulled the door open and bounced out into the hall. "Hey guys, hi Kyle! Are you ready to go ride?"

"Yeah!" Kyle shouted four inches from JC’s ear.

"Hey buddy, no shouting." JC shook his head.

"You wanna shout? Come on over here." Chris reached up and took Kyle off of JC’s shoulders and dropped him on his own. "I’m shorter see? You’ll have a lot less chance of running into a door or something."

"See." Kyle nodded.

"Did you call up for a ride?"

"Les set it up." JC nodded.

"Sweet." Chris hiked up his baggy shorts and held onto one of Kyle’s ankles the whole time.

"Where?" Kyle asked as he pulled on Chris’ short straight hair.

"Where what?"

"Pie appo?" Kyle asked as his tiny fingers tickled Chris’ ear.

"Where’s the pineapple?!" Chris looked at JC with an accusing glare. "What the hell?"

"Oh come on, you said my hair goes ‘boing’ as if you have room to talk." JC laughed, glad to be getting somewhat back to normal as he tried to put Lori out of his mind.

"Dude, your hair full on goes BOING." Chris laughed.

"No pie appo." Kyle shook his head as he twirled his little fingers in Chris’ hair.

"No dude, there’s no friggin pineapple up in there." Chris sighed. "You suck JC."

"Yeah… well…" JC shrugged and sighed.

"So, how’d it go?" Chris turned serious for a second.

JC exhaled loudly and shook his head; "It went."

"That great huh?"

"Well, she’s pissed that we’re leaving LA tomorrow and going back to Florida at the end of the week."

"Yeah well we were pissed that she left a kid with us." Chris shrugged. "Shi – crap happens."

"Yep." JC shrugged and looked up at Kyle, "But it’s all good now right bud? We’re gonna go ride some rides and have fun tonight."

"Yeah." Kyle laughed.

"So what if she – " Chris started.

JC held up his hand to shut Chris up, "Nah, let’s just have fun today."

"All right, ‘nuf said." Chris smiled as the three security guards joined them at the elevator and climbed on to start their trip to Universal. JC tried as hard as he could to not think about Lori, but it was obvious to Chris that she was still plaguing his mind with thoughts of worry and anger.

He let it go and they all had a blast at Universal Studios, checking out the back lots, watching Jaws jump out of the water at them, laughing at street performers and buying some cheesy souvenirs for Kyle.

 

Next...

Copyright 2001, Amy Lynn