"Said and Done"

By AmyK

 

(Third story in a series - please read "The Last Song" and "Alone Together" first)

 

 

            Being in Europe was a time for growth for everyone.  JC and Jessica grew closer to each other, finding out that they had a lot more in common than just the physical attraction and Kyle.  They both loved museums, independent films and Greek food among other things.  Kyle grew closer to both Jessica and JC as his potty training improved and he ditched the pull-ups completely somewhere in Spain.  He began talking a lot more and even picked up some random French and German words along the way, thanks in large part to Joey.  Jessica and JC were able to spend quality time with Kyle, introducing him to the two-parent lifestyle in a way; but they were also sure to make time for themselves by enlisting the four "uncles" to baby-sit every now and then.

            JC kept in close contact with Lori and to his surprise; they actually got along very well.  He set up a schedule where they would call Lori every three days at noon California time, which was right around Kyle's bedtime wherever they were.  JC made plans with Lori to fly straight through to LA on their return so that Kyle could spend four days with her before they went back to Florida.  She sounded excited, and Kyle was ecstatic at the thought of going to the beach again.

            They celebrated JC's birthday in Edinburgh, Scotland with a full Scottish feast complete with bagpipes and kilts for everyone.  Though they worked hard for the time they were there, they were also given the opportunity to see the great attractions that each country had to offer.  Johnny understood that they may not get back there for a while, so he gave them a little more liberty than they were used to.

            The tour ended after eight weeks abroad and they were all packed back on a plane headed over the Atlantic Ocean… home to Florida.

 

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

 

            "You're going to LA?"  Chris asked with a yawn as they stood around the airport lounge waiting for the approval to leave.

            "Yeah."  JC nodded and leaned against the wall to take the strain off his back from holding Kyle.  "We're gonna go see Lori for a few days, then we'll be back."  He said softly.

            "That's cool."  Chris nodded.  "Well I'm going home for a few weeks, then dude, I'm off to good old PA."

            "You're going home home huh?"

            "You bet."

            "We're back in the studio in like, five weeks."

            "Yep."  Chris nodded.  "Halloween."

            "The Monday before."  JC shook his head.  "October 28th."

            "Damn, you're right.  I've gotta remember that."

            "Yeah you do." JC laughed lightly then shifted Kyle in his arms.

            "When does your flight leave?"

            "In like, an hour and a half."  JC yawned as Sean entered the lounge to tell them it was clear for them to go out to the awaiting cars.

            "I'll catch you later."  Chris waved and nodded at Kyle.  "Tell Kyle I said bye."

            "I will."  JC nodded with a smile.  The other guys came over to say goodbye and everything before they were shuttled out to the cars leaving JC, Kyle and Jessica almost completely alone.

            Jessica sighed happily and walked over to where JC was still holding the wall up.  "You look tired."  She whispered.

            "I'm too exhausted to be tired."  JC smiled and tried as hard as he could to keep his eyes open.  He wasn't looking forward to the six-hour flight to LA considering they'd just spent almost ten hours in the air. "You're sure you don't want to come?"

            "You know I can't."  Jessica smiled.  "I have to put in an appearance at home and get some things settled there."

            "Well if you change your mind, you know how to reach me, right?"

            "Yes, I do.  I'll give you a call a little later."  She hopped up on her toes to kiss him while leaning over Kyle as he slept.  "He's out like a light."  She whispered.

            "I know, with any luck he'll sleep on through to LA."  JC smiled, then kissed her again.

            "I'm not sure if you're that lucky Jace."  Jessica laughed softly.  "I still think you should go home and hang out there for a week before you go out.  You guys have just spent all day on a plane."

            "Yeah, but this way we get it all done with.  If we stayed home for a week there's no way on Earth I'd be able to convince him to get back on another plane."  JC shook his head.  "We'll be home in less than a week, then we're not going anywhere."

            "Good."  Jessica ran her hand over Kyle's hair and kissed his forehead.  "I love you little guy."  She kissed the tip of his nose and smiled as he squirmed slightly.

            "If you wake him up I'll never speak to you again."  JC whispered with a smile.

            "You're no fun."  Jessica smiled and tried not to look up at the monitors.  "My flight is going to be boarding here any minute and I've still gotta run to gate 9."  She frowned.

            "I know."

            "Do you have everything you need here?"  She looked down at his backpack and duffel bag by his feet.

            "Yep, we're set."

            "You've got your snacks and water?  Juice?"

            "We've got it."  JC nodded.

            "Okay…"  She looked over her shoulder, then bent to pick up her own carry on.  "I've gotta go."

            "All right, call me later or whatever."

            "I will."  She kissed him again quickly and smiled up into his eyes.

            "Love you."  JC said softly with a half smile.  He knew his timing was probably less than perfect, but he'd wanted to say that for a while and he didn't want to get on the plane to LA without her knowing that.

            Jessica tilted her head to the side slightly as she blushed, “I love you too."  She said slowly.  "B-bye."  She adjusted her bag on her shoulder then turned to leave.  Jessica walked away without looking back as her confused look melted into an almost giddy giggle.

            JC smiled as he watched her walk away and noticed the tiny skip she gave just before she pushed the door of the lounge open.  For the first time in his adult life, he knew what it meant to love someone that wasn't family, and mean it.

            By the time their flight was called and they were allowed to board, the arm holding Kyle was asleep and the hand holding their bags was numb.  He settled Kyle into his car seat and calmed the cranky toddler down as they took off, then stared out the window… wishing that Jessica could have come with them.

 

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

 

            Their plane landed just after six that night, and it was all JC could do to drag himself and Kyle off the plane.  He thanked the traveling Gods for first class seats as he and Kyle made it to the terminal before everyone else.  Kyle was asleep against his shoulder and he carried both of their carry on bags and the car seat in his free hand.  By the time he made it to baggage claim his muscles were quivering and he was thinking that Kyle really had the right idea.  He grabbed a luggage cart and loaded up the car seat and two small bags then maneuvered it over to the baggage carousel.  Somehow, Kyle remained asleep during the whole ordeal, which amazed and pleased JC.  If he were to wake up right then he'd have a crying and cranky two year old to deal with on top of everything.

            "This was poor planning on my part."  JC mumbled as he tried to pull the first suitcase off of the moving belt.  A gentleman beside JC smiled and helped him grab the suitcase.  "Thanks."  JC smiled weakly.

            "No problem, it looks like you've got your hands full."

            "Yeah."  JC laughed lightly.  "It's been a really long day."

            "I can imagine."  The gentleman laughed as he looked at Kyle sleeping peacefully.  When JC's second bag came around the man grabbed it as well and got it secured to the cart.

            "Thanks a lot man, really.  I'd have been here all night."  JC extended his free hand to man.

            "I've got three kids myself; you're a brave one for traveling alone."  He laughed and shook JC's hand.

            JC laughed and nodded then pushed the cart toward the rental car counter.  Within fifteen minutes he had his full sized Ford Explorer rental parked at the curb and a skycap helping him get the luggage into the back.  He strapped Kyle into his car seat, which finally woke him up.

            "Daddy home?"

            "We're not home yet buddy."  JC whispered as he dug in the backpack for Lello.  He found the dingy looking dog near the bottom and cringed.  Lello needed a bath in a major way.  "Here you go, hold Lello.  We'll be to the hotel so you can sleep in just a few minutes, okay?"

            Kyle groggily opened his eyes and blinked a few times.  "Jussin?"

            "Justin went home, remember?"

            "And you and me?"

            "We're in LA.  We're going to see your mommy this week."

            "No."  Kyle whined.  "No I seep."

            "We're going to the hotel right now so you can sleep."

            "Kay."  Kyle sighed and held Lello tight as JC shut the back door.  He got in the front and they took off for the hotel more than a half-hour away.  By the time he pulled up in front of the hotel, Kyle was whining in the backseat and JC found himself whining back.  "It's only another couple minutes."  JC said as he jumped out of the car to give the keys to the valet.  "I just need to get my son out.  And the uh… the uh… "  JC's mind drew a blank.  "Suitcases, the suitcases."  He smiled and shook his head.  "It's been one of those days."

            "I know the feeling man."  The valet smiled as he held JC's keys in his hand.  A bellhop came out with a cart and loaded up the luggage, then JC got Kyle out and followed him into the lobby and up to the front desk.

            "Noooo." Kyle whined as tears appeared at the corner of his eyes.

            "We're going right up to bed buddy, I know you're tired."

            "I seep daddy."

            "I know… I'm working on it."  JC bounced Kyle up onto his shoulder and dropped his wallet on the counter to check into the hotel.  "Hi, I'm JC Chasez, I need to check in."  He opened his wallet and slid his credit card over to the desk clerk as he tried not to yawn.

            The woman took the card and tapped around on her keyboard.  "Long day?"

            "Yeah, we flew in from London with stops in Orlando and Phoenix."

            "Oh man, you must be tired."  She smiled then handed him two key cards and a little booklet.  "Here are your keys; you're on the ninth floor, room 9103.  Make a left off of the elevators and you won't be able to miss it.  If you would like breakfast delivered in the morning, please fill out this card and place it on your door before midnight."

            "Great, thanks."  JC tucked everything but one of the keys into his back pocket and switched Kyle to his other arm.  The bellhop followed him to the elevator and went up to the ninth floor with them.  JC found the room with no problem, tipped the bellhop and laid Kyle on the bed in the separate bedroom all before turning the lights on.  "Hey buddy, let's get your pajamas on."  JC said softly as he kicked his own shoes off.  He only sound Kyle made was a deep sigh followed by a soft bear-like snoring.  "That's a great idea."  JC sat on the bed by Kyle's feet and pulled his shoes and socks off.  He would be fine sleeping in his sweat bottoms and t-shirt, so JC pulled the covers back and draped the sheet over Kyle then sat on his own bed.

            The alarm clock on the table between the beds showed that it was barely seven at night but he was having trouble keeping his eyes open.  He removed his jeans and t-shirt, then pulled the drapes tightly shut and slid under the covers.  It was only a matter of minutes before he too was snoring lightly on his side of the room.

 

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

 

            When JC woke up the next morning he rolled over to check on Kyle, only to find the little boy sitting on the bed by his feet.  "Hey buddy, what are you doing down there?"  JC rubbed his eyes and sat up, careful not to kick Kyle off the bed.

            "I up now."

            "I see that."  JC nodded and yawned.  "What do you have there?"

            "Isa boot."

            "Where'd you get your boot?"

            "Ina case."  Kyle slid off the bed and walked around to where one of the big suitcases was laying open on its side.  "Is all daddy."  Kyle sighed and dropped the boot back into the suitcase.  "Isa mess."

            "I know it's a mess.  We need to unpack I think."  JC sat up in the bed and stretched.  "We should do that after breakfast though.  Man, what time is it?"

            Kyle shrugged and looked toward the sliding glass door leading to the balcony.  "We go ouside now?"

            "Sure, hang on."  JC stood up and reached for his pants from the night before and glanced at the bright alarm clock in the process.  He pulled them on but left them unbuttoned as he pulled the curtains back and squinted in the sun.  "Little dude, it's barely six in the morning.  It's too early."  JC mumbled, then laughed lightly.  They'd had almost twelve hours of sleep, and there he was complaining.

            "Wow!"  Kyle exclaimed as he pressed his face against the glass.  He looked up at JC and laughed.  "Wow daddy!"

            "Yeah, check it out."  JC nodded and carefully slid the glass door open.  "Be careful."  He said as Kyle bolted out onto the balcony and immediately pushed one of the chairs all the way up to the building, then climbed up on it.  He stood up on the chair and shaded his eyes to look out over the streets below.

            "I see it daddy!"

            "What do you see?"

            "Uhhh…"  Kyle thought for a moment.  "A car."

            "A car huh?"

            "A tuck."

            "A truck?  Wow, there's a lot to see from up here."  JC stepped out onto the balcony to get some fresh air.  The cool morning air hit his bare chest and sent goosebumps all over his body.  He looked down at Kyle standing on the chair and smiled, the little boy had learned a lot while in Europe.  Chris always managed to be the one with the coolest view from his balcony when they had them, so Kyle always wanted to play in Chris' room.  But with Chris being afraid of heights he taught Kyle how to push the chair close to the door… and therefore far from the edge, to stand on it to get a better view.  Kyle had happily taken up that habit, and JC was glad for it.  Nothing made him more nervous than Kyle being near the edge of anything.

            They stayed outside for a little while before Kyle climbed off of the chair and brushed past JC on his way back into the room.  "Are you hungry?"  JC asked.

            "Yeah."

            "Do you want some eggs or something?"

            "A bago and eggs?"

            "Sure, we can get a bagel too.  Do you want blueberry or onion?"

            "Cinana?"

            "Cinnamon?"

            "Yeah."

            "With raisins?"

            "Yeah."  Kyle nodded.

            "Okay, I'll call and see if they have any."  JC nodded, then yawned and sat at the table.  "Man, I'm hungry."

            "I hungy too daddy.  Hava mosser ina tummy."  Kyle laughed and looked down at his little belly.

            "You have a monster in there huh?  Is it growling?"

            "Yeah, he say raaawr!"  Kyle growled and clawed at his t-shirt.

            "Well we'd better get you some food then."  JC laughed and dialed down to room service.  They'd spent so long in hotels he wondered if he'd ever be able to eat again without picking up the phone first.  He ordered up a big breakfast for both of them with apple and orange juice, as well as a soda for himself.

            "What is?"  Kyle asked as he held up a juicy piece of watermelon once the food arrived.

            "That is watermelon.  It's good, try it."

            "Is candy?"

            "No, it's fruit."  JC smiled.  "It's really good."  He took a bite to show Kyle, then smiled as he chewed.  "Yum."

            Kyle frowned at the peculiar looking fruit, and then took a small bite off the end.  "Oh daddy is good."

            "See?  I told you."

            "Yeah."  Kyle's smile grew as he finished the piece and reached for another, completely ignoring his eggs.

            "Eat your bacon too though buddy.  You can't just have fruit and a bite of your bagel."  JC tapped his fork on Kyle's plate.  He'd been trying to make sure Kyle ate balanced meals after noticing that he survived mostly on snack food and fruit.  "You need some protein."

            "Doe like poteen."

            "Yeah you do." JC laughed.  "You like bacon and eggs."

            "No poteen."

            "Bacon and eggs have protein in them.  It's…"  He started to explain.  "It's like your vitamins.  You need to have some with your breakfast."

            "I have sooby doo."

            "I know you had your Scooby Doo vitamin, but you need this stuff too.  Come on; just take two bites of the bacon for me please."

            Kyle sighed and ate half of a piece, then went back to his watermelon and bagel.  They finished up their breakfast, then showered and dressed all before nine in the morning.  "Well sheesh, we've still got all day to kick around here."  JC smiled with his hands on his hips.  He checked his watch, then reached for his cell phone to call Lori.  It was early, but chances were, she'd be up.

            "Cawin Joey?"

            "Nope, Joey's at home."

            "Yeah cawin him."  Kyle nodded.

            "Nope, we're calling your mommy.  Remember?  We came out here for you to see her because she misses you a lot."

            "Mommy?"

            "Yep."  JC found her number in the address book on the phone and dialed her home number.  It rang for a second while Kyle bounced around the bed chanting, "Cawin mommy," over and over again.

            "Hey Lori, this is JC.  I uh, we're in town this week, like we planned.  I know it's kind of early, so I hope I didn't wake you up or whatever.  Maybe you're in the shower… anyway, we're at the Bel Age this time around so give us a call there when you get this.  Or on my cell, I'll have that on too."

            "Daddy I say?"  Kyle asked.

            "Hang on, Kyle wants to say hi."  JC handed the phone to Kyle and said, “It's her answering machine, say hi."

            "Hi mommy."  He giggled into the phone, “Hi mommy I see you.  I go sim and daddy.  I have bago and mamermelon."  He handed the phone back to JC.

            "Wait buddy, say bye."

            "Bye mommy."  Kyle shouted in the general direction of the phone.

            JC smiled and held the phone to his ear to complete the message.  "Okay, well anyway… call when you get this.  I'm gonna try you at work too, just in case.  Bye."  He hung up and looked at the phone.  "Okay, one more call."  JC pulled his day planner out of his bag and looked up Lori's work number.  He dialed and waited as it rang through to her voice mail.

            "Hi, this is Lori with Counterman Stanley.  I'm either on my phone or away from my desk right now.  Please leave your name and number after the tone, or press 3 to be connected to an operator."

            "Lori, this is JC.  I left you a message at home but I thought I'd call you here too, just in case you ended up having to go into work or whatever.  So uh, if you're at work please call me when you get this.  Kyle and I are at the Bel Age hotel and I have my cell phone with me.  Bye."  JC hung up then dialed the number again.

            "No daddy, one."

            "Sorry buddy, I have to call back." JC shook his head.  When her message came on again he pressed three and waited for an operator to come on the line.  "Hi, my name is Josh."  He said slowly.  He always introduced himself as 'Josh' to strangers over the phone, especially when it came to Lori issues.  "I'm looking for Lori Sczlansky."

            "She's off today, is there someone else who can help you?"

            "Uh, no.  Thanks anyway."  JC sighed and hung up.  "Well buddy, you want to go to the pool?"

            "Yeah!"  Kyle threw his arms up in the air and shimmied off the bed.  "And I have wing?"

            "Yep, you have your water wings, we didn't forget those."  JC stood up and cracked his back.  "We can go hang out there till your mommy calls, how does that sound?"

            Kyle nodded and pursed his lips in thought.  "I have two simmers?"

            "You have two what?"

            "For my simmin."  Kyle explained as he walked over to the suitcases.

            "I don't know what you mean."

            "For my simmin."  Kyle repeated as he plopped himself on the floor and dug through the suitcase, coming up with two pairs of nylon swim shorts.  "Have two."

            "Ah, yeah two pairs of shorts."

            "Yeah."  He nodded and carried them over to the bed as he reached for the snap on the front of his jeans.  "Howp daddy."

            "C'mere you little rascal."  JC smiled and grabbed Kyle up in his arms.  "You're in a big hurry to get in the pool now, aren't you?"

            "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!"  Kyle giggled as he slapped JC's arm to the beat of his words.

            "You're crazy."  JC put him back on the floor then unsnapped his jeans.  "Put on your shorts while I go change."  He stood up and got his own swim shorts out of the suitcase.  Unlike Kyle he had only one pair, but they were worn in and comfortable and very well loved.  JC changed in the bathroom then pulled a loose t-shirt on before he slid his feet into his sandals.  The reflection looking back at him in the floor length mirror was that of a beach bum, with wild hair, a "Big Dogs" shirt and faded shorts.  "Hang five."  He laughed and threw himself the 'hang-loose' hand signal before stepping out into the room.

            "Kay we go bye now."  Kyle said as soon as he saw JC.  He reached for his fathers' hand and began to pull him towards the front room and the door.

            "Wait, wait, wait.  We need to put sunscreen on you and get towels and everything like that."  JC tugged Kyle back into the bedroom where he grabbed the neon green kids’ sunscreen and squirt some into his hand.  "You know the drill."

            "Is geen."

            "Yep.  It's green."  JC sighed and rubbed the lotion into Kyle's shoulders, back and face until the green disappeared and he was left looking at a slightly shinier version of Kyle.

            "That's so you don't get sunburned.  Trust me, you don't want that."

            "And you?"

            "I'll put some of this on me too."  JC pulled the Coppertone out of the bag and applied it to himself as well as he could.  "Okay, you got your water wings?"

            "Yeah."  Kyle grabbed them off the floor.  "Have on."

            "You want them on now?  Why don't we wait till we get to the pool?"

            "No, now."

            "Okay."  JC shrugged and slid them onto Kyle's arms.  He blew them up then laughed at Kyle as he walked around with his arms almost straight out to his sides.  "You look silly Kyle."

            "No I look go simmin."  Kyle giggled and ran for the door.

            "Wait for me."  JC grabbed a few towels from the bathroom as well as his phone and room key, and then followed Kyle out the door.

 

            They played in the shallow end and snacked for most of the afternoon, still waiting for Lori to call.  Around two o'clock JC went to the pool attendants’ booth and ordered a small lunch to be delivered to the pool.  Kyle found it amusing that someone would actually bring them food at the pool and kept asking if they could eat at the pool every day.  "I don't think so."

            "Yeah daddy.  I bite anen I sim.  I bite anen I sim." He giggled and tried to bring his sandwich to his lips with his water wings still on.

            "If you go swimming right after you eat, your tummy will hurt."  JC shook his head.  "Here, let me take those off."  He reached for the little plugs.

            "No, I have."  Kyle turned his body to the side so JC couldn't reach.

            "You can't eat with them on, look at you."  JC laughed and shook his head.

            "Yeah, I eat."  Kyle chewed on the bite he'd managed to get, then smiled up at JC as he danced around in the puddle under his feet.

            "You're a nut."

            "No."  Kyle laughed.  "You a nut."

            "No way Jose, you're a nut."

            "No way sosay, you a nut."  Kyle giggled and tried to take another bite of his sandwich.  They finished their lunch with JC holding Kyle's sandwich for him, then they walked into the gift shop for a few minutes to buy a bottle of cold water.  It was a little decoy for JC so that Kyle wouldn't rush back into the water after eating.  He knew that the 'no swimming after you eat' rule mainly applied to people who were swimming and not toddlers who sat on the pool steps, but the paternal side in him liked the rule and decided to enforce it.

            After twenty minutes JC and Kyle went back into the pool and played around for another couple hours.  JC kept an ear out for his phone and checked it every couple minutes to see if anyone had called, but it remained silent.  When he finally managed to drag Kyle out of the pool he was all shriveled up like a pink raisin and he reeked of chlorine.

            They went back up to their room and JC immediately started a bath, “We need to clean you up buddy."

            "Lato."

            "Later?"  JC raised his eyebrow at Kyle as the little boy grabbed a handful of his little Golden Books and sat in the huge recliner chair with his Elmo doll.

            "I have book."

            JC shrugged, as long as he got a bath before bed, they were in good shape.  "Okay, then I'm going to take a shower, okay?"

            "Kay."

            "Don't go anywhere."

            "Kay."  Kyle said without looking up from his upside down book.

            "And don't touch the TV."  JC shook his finger at Kyle as he reached to pull his t-shirt over his head.

            "Kay."  Kyle sighed and shook his head.  Several times in Europe JC came out of the shower to find Kyle channel surfing and occasionally stopping on the scrambled sex channels complaining that he couldn't see.

            "I mean it."

            "I no touch."  Kyle looked up and smiled like an angel.

            "Okay."  JC smiled, then pulled the bathroom door halfway shut so that he could still hear in case the phone rang.

            He showered and dressed in clean clothes, but his phone hadn't made a sound.  JC frowned and picked it up to check the reception, he had five full bars.  He dialed the number for time and heard the standard recording as clear as a bell.

            "I see po man?"

            "Pokeman?"

            "Yeah."  Kyle giggled and scooted off the chair, stacking his books carefully on the floor beside it.

            "I hate that movie."  JC whined as he went to the suitcase to find it.  Joey and Justin had gotten Kyle hooked on the cartoon while they spent hours in their hotel rooms, and now JC was paying the price.

            JC of course took the movie out and placed it in the VCR for Kyle to watch.  It was a video that Justin found on one of his many shopping excursions that had about five episodes of the cartoon back to back with no commercials.

            While Kyle watched the video, acting out some of the action sequences with his stuffed animals, JC cracked open his laptop and went to work.  Kyle knew better than to bother his dad when the laptop was open, so he watched the movie intently and all but ignored JC.

            When the movie was over Kyle sighed and climbed up on his bed and stared at JC while the TV flickered.  "Just a second buddy." JC mumbled as his fingers flew over the keys.  "Just a second."  He finished what he was typing, saved it, and then turned the computer off.  "Oh man, what time is it?"

            Kyle giggled and tossed Elmo in the air.  He squeezed the little red beast's stomach, but his batteries died a long time ago.  "I doe no."

            "Dang."  JC rolled his shoulders as he stood up and checked his watch.  "Okay, I'm going to try to call your mother again.  Where's my phone?"

            "Dere."  Kyle pointed to the nightstand.

            "No, my cell phone."

            "Ummm."  Kyle scampered off the bed to start looking around.  "I have!"  He picked it up off the foot of JC's bed and held it over his head.

            "Thanks buddy."  JC took the phone from Kyle and scanned down to Lori's home number in the built in address book.  He listened to it ring, then rolled his eyes as her machine picked up again.  "Hey Lori, this is Jace again.  I left you a message earlier this morning and I still haven't heard from you."  He sighed and ran his hand over his jaw, “Anyway, we're at the Bel Age Hotel 310-854-1111 or you can always call my cell.  We'll be around tomorrow, so call when you get this."  He hung up the phone and looked down at Kyle.

            "Daddy I say?"

            "Nope, I already hung up."  JC's cell phone rang as he finished his sentence.  "Hey cool."  He stretched across the bed to get the little phone.  "Hello?"  He asked, hoping it was Lori.

            "Hey you."  Jessica's voice made him smile and almost forget about Lori.

            "Hey babe."  JC smiled and tugged Kyle over to the bed.  "Guess who it is?"

            "Is mommy?"  Kyle's brow furrowed.

            "Nope, it's Jessica." JC grinned.

            "My Jessi!"  Kyle bounced on the bed and reached for the phone.

            "Hang on, Kyle want's to say hi."  JC said before he handed the phone over.

            "Hi Jessi hi!"  Kyle giggled.

            "Hi Kyle!  How are you?"

            "Kay."

            "Are you having fun out there in California with your daddy?"

            Kyle laughed again.  "We simmin ina pool."

            "You did?  Wow, I'll bet that was fun.  Is it warm out there?"

            "Yeah."

            "That's good; it's kind of cold out here."

            "Is code?  Is code ina pool.  Where you?"  Kyle asked as he patted his father's knee.

            "I'm at my house in Connecticut.  That's pretty far away from you right now."

            "You can see?"

            "Nope, I can't come and see you right now.  But I'll see you in about a week.  After you get home from seeing your mommy."

            "Kay.  And see Jussin?"

            "I'm sure you can see Justin too."  Jessica laughed.  "Can I talk to your daddy now?"

            "Yeah."

            "Okay Kyle, I love you sweetie."

            "Love too bye."  Kyle handed the phone to JC with a stern look.  "Is my Jessi and is code."  He shook his finger like a drill sergeant giving an order.

            "Okay."  JC nodded seriously.  "You're cold huh?"  He smiled into the phone.

            "Yeah, it's a little cool out here."  Jessica laughed.  "So how are you guys doing?  You made it all in one piece huh?"

            "Yeah, barely.  We got in last night like around seven and crashed for a good twelve hours."  JC fell back on the bed and laughed as Kyle did the same.  "To be honest I could use a nap right now."

            "Wimp."  Jessica laughed and bit her lip.  "So how's Lori, did she get to see Kyle today?"

            "Nope."

            "No?"

            "She's uh, well I left her a couple messages but I haven't heard back from her.  I had just hung up when you called so I actually thought you were her."

            "She's not at home?"

            "No, well… I don't know.  I've left her messages at home and at work."  JC shrugged.  "I don't know."

            "Have you gone to her house?  Maybe something happened."  Jessica frowned.

            "No, we haven't done that.  I guess if I haven't heard from her by tomorrow we'll do something."  JC sighed.  "I'm more upset than worried right now though."

            "Well yeah, but I don’t think she'd just not be there, you know?  She's been doing real good lately, hasn't she?"

            "Yeah, I guess.  I mean, we've only talked on the phone while we were in Europe and she was there when I said we'd call and everything.  And then you know she came out to see him and called when we were home."

            "Hrm."  Jessica sighed, wanting to change the subject.  "Well… are you guys having fun anyway?"

            "Yeah, we hung out at the pool today.  All day.  Literally, we got there at like, ten this morning, had lunch there and stuff, then we didn't come back up to the room till almost four."  JC smiled.  "I forgot how nice it is out here in California.  It's the end of September and still warm enough to lounge by the pool and get a tan."

            "Man, that must be nice.  I've got my sweats on and I'm curled up on my couch with a mug of hot tea."  Jessica laughed.

            "Are you wearing mittens and wool socks too?"  JC joked.

            "No.  Smart ass.  I swear, it's something like 55 degrees here and I'm cold.  I must be a California girl at heart."  Jessica laughed and sipped her tea.  "I wish I had coffee though.  Or hot chocolate.  Tea just isn't what I'm in the mood for right now."

            "We've got coffee and hot chocolate here.  You could come out and have some of ours if you want."  JC laughed, though he was only half kidding.  He'd love to have a real vacation with Jessica, one that didn't require a schedule and four other guys.

            Jessica laughed softly, “This is your time out there with Kyle.  It's his time with his mom.  I'll see you plenty when you get back to the right coast."

            "Promise?"

            "Of course I promise.  You'll be back this weekend right?"

            "Yeah."

            "Okay."  Jessica nodded and made a mental note.

            "Are you coming down?"

            "No, I just wanted to make sure you weren't staying there for two weeks or something."

            "I told you before it as just for this week."

            "I know, but you have a habit of changing your mind you know."  Jessica smiled and pulled her feet up on the sofa as her roommate walked through with her arms full of groceries.  "And I wouldn't blame you at all, California is gorgeous."

            "Well if you want you could fly out here and meet us and we can have a little mini vacation out here.  Just you and me and Kyle."

            "A six hour flight doesn't sound like any kind of fun."  Jessica laughed.  "I'll come see you when you get home, I promise.  I may even drive down."

            "That's a long ass drive."

            "Yeah."  She shrugged.  "But it might be fun."

            "Strange girl."  JC laughed and shook his head.  "Hey buddy, can you put those away?  Put them in the fridge." JC said as Kyle rolled two apples around on the floor.  "Those are to eat, not to play with."

            Kyle sighed and rolled his eyes, then picked up the fruit and put them in the fridge.

            "My God he's turning into one of the guys.  I swear, he's rolling his eyes and sighing at me now.  You'd think he was Chris or something."

            "Well that's what you get for letting them any kind of influence on him."

            "Hush, I've noticed you roll your eyes once or twice."

            "Tsk."  Jessica rolled her eyes and laughed. 

            "I heard that."  JC laughed

            "I'd better get going.  My roomie just got back and it sounds like she's got a car full of groceries."

            "Okay."

            "Give me a call later though.  And definitely let me know when you get home."

            "I will."  JC nodded.  "Hey… at the airport, you know when you were leaving and everything?"

            "Uh huh." Jessica's heart rate picked up.

            "I didn't freak you out or anything, did I?"

            "Freak me out?"

            "Yeah, well, I mean… you just kinda left."

            "I just kinda left?"  Jessica asked, realizing that she sounded like a myna bird.

            "There's an echo."

            "No, I - I wasn't freaked out.  I wasn't ready for it, but… but it's fine.  I love you too."  Jessica said softly.  "I mean, both of you."

            JC nodded, “It kinda just slipped out, but I've been thinking about that for a while."  He licked his lips and pulled Kyle onto his lap as the little boy walked by.  "I'm glad I didn't freak you out."

            "It would take more than that to freak me out."

            "I'm not sure I want to see you freak out again."

            "It's not pretty."  Jessica laughed.  "Wait, again?"

            "You freaked out on me before.  At the beginning of all of this when I was a lousy dad."

            "Oh yeah."  She blushed.  "Yeah well you deserved that."

            "I know I did."

            Jessica listened to Katie fumble around in the kitchen before she flew by on her way back out to the car, “Wanna lend me a hand here?"  She asked quickly.

            "I've gotta go."  Jessica smiled.  "I'll talk to you later…"

            "Okay.  Tell Katie I said hi."

            "I will." Jessica laughed, knowing what her roommate's reaction would be.  Katie was a closet die-hard Nsync fan, and was constantly giving Jessica a hard time about her relationship with JC.  Katie went about subtly trying to get all the scoop Jessica had while trying not to grovel for a chance to meet Justin… the love of her life.  "Good night."

            "Good night."  JC bit his lip, and waited for her to hang up the phone before he hung up his cell phone.  "Okay buddy."  He bounced Kyle up and down on knees to make the little boy giggle.  "How about if we go out to get some dinner tonight?  I'm pretty sick of hotel food."

            "Yeah."  Kyle made a face.  "We can go donos?"

            "No." JC laughed.  "I don't think we'll go to McDonald's." He checked his watched and sighed. It was already after seven, and getting a little late for dinner.

            "Yeah I have kickin nugget."

            "I think we'll go to a restaurant and get some real food."

            "And cookies?"

            "We'll have to see if they have cookies."

            "And I eat all?"  Kyle giggled and put his hands over his mouth.

            "Well I don't know if you can eat them all, but yeah, you can have some."  JC laughed.  "Okay buddy, let's get going before it gets too late."  He stood up and threw Kyle in the air.

            Kyle laughed hysterically and said, “Whoa daddy!"

            JC laughed with him and hugged him close, “I love you buddy."

            "Love you daddy."  Kyle said with his face squished into JC's shoulder.

            "Alrighty, let's go."  JC grabbed his car key and room card and they headed out.  "So tomorrow maybe you can see your mommy."

            "And go ina ossin?"

            "Yeah, she might take you to see the ocean."  JC nodded.

            "No you."

            "You're here to see your mommy though.  You can see me any old time you want."  JC smiled and hit the call button for the elevator.

            "No you see a ossin."

            "If your mommy takes you, I don't know if I'm going to be there."  JC shook his head.  "But we'll have to see.  Maybe your mommy has other plans.  Maybe you'll get to go see a movie again!"

            "Fank?"  Kyle frowned.

            "Nope, Frank isn't here with us this time." JC shook his head.  He had turned down the offer to have security this time because almost everyone who cared where he'd be would be thinking he was back in Florida recuperating from Europe, not in LA.  He always had Frank's number handy though, just in case.

            Kyle sighed as they stepped onto the elevator.  "Daddy I like Fank."

            "I know you do.  He's pretty cool."

            "Yeah."  Kyle looked sad for a minute.  "I see Fank lato?"

            "Yeah, we'll see him later.  Maybe when we get home we can see what he's up to."

            "Kay."  Kyle nodded, and seemed satisfied with that answer.  JC carried Kyle out of the hotel and they walked a block up the street to a little chinese food restaurant.  They sat at a little table by the cash register and ate their dinner.  JC filled up on his spicy meal while Kyle picked at his rice and ate all of the pineapple out of his sweet and sour chicken.

            "Daddy, is like a nugget?"  Kyle held up the piece of batter fried chicken.

            "Yeah…"  JC laughed lightly.  "Kinda.  It's good though, try it."  He took the piece from Kyle and bit it in half, “Yum."

            "You have."

            "Nope, I have my own dinner.  You eat this."  JC blew on the bite then fed it to Kyle.  "Pretty good huh?"

            "Yeah." Kyle mumbled with his mouth full.  They finished up their meal and Kyle was excited to see that they got a cookie when they were done.

            "Check it out buddy, you can break the cookie open and there's a note inside."  He demonstrated and read his fortune out loud.  "You will find success when you follow your instincts."  JC smiled and tucked the small paper into his wallet.  He took Kyle's hand and they headed for the exit as Kyle cracked his fortune cookie in half.

            "It say?"

            "What does it say?"  JC asked.

            Kyle held it in front of him and said, “It say hi daddy ina ossin."

            "It does huh?"  JC laughed swung Kyle's hand.

            "Yeah.  We see a ossin morrow."

            "Yep, maybe tomorrow."

            "And Jessi?"

            "We'll see Jessica after we get home."  JC nodded.

            "Kay."

            "Okay."  JC said softly.  Kyle dropped his fortune on the ground as they rounded the corner and headed back to the hotel.

 

            When they returned to the room JC's eyes went directly to the phone on the desk.  There were no messages waiting for him, and his cell phone hadn't rang all night.  He sighed then let go of Kyle's hand.  "Okay kiddo, go get your pajamas out so you can take a quick bath and get ready for bed."

            "I tired."  Kyle yawned and stumbled toward the bed closest to him.

            "I know, but you need a bath.  You smell like sunscreen and ketchup."  JC walked through the bedroom and turned the bathroom light on.  He started the water and kept his hand under it to feel for the temperature.  "Come on buddy."

            "Have a bass ina mornin?"

            "Nope, the water is already started.  Come on, we'll make it quick."

            "Turn off daddy."

            "I can't turn it off."  JC stood up and walked out to the bedroom.  He helped Kyle take his clothes off then carried the naked little boy to the bathroom.  "We'll be real fast, okay?"

            "Kay."  Kyle yawned and didn't protest as JC sat him in the warm water.  "Morrow we go ina ossin?"

            "Yeah, maybe tomorrow we can go see the ocean.  Maybe your mommy will take you."

            "Kay."  Kyle nodded and let JC pour water over his head.  "Mebby mommy isona phone?"

            "Nope, your mommy isn't on the phone.  But I think she'll call tomorrow so you can see her.  We can call her in the morning again, okay?"

            "I can say?"

            "Sure, you can talk on the phone too."

            "Kay." Kyle nodded and tilted his head back so JC could wash his hair.  "Daddy?"

            "Yeah?"

            "I have cut."

            "You have a cut?"  JC poured a few drops of baby shampoo in his hand and massaged it into Kyle's short hair.

            "My hair."

            "Oh, yeah you had a hair cut like, last week.  Julie cut it, remember?"

            "Yeah.  Cut my hair and you hair and Joey hair."

            "That's right."

            "Yeah."  Kyle closed his eyes tight and said, "Rinse."

            "Yep, now we rinse."  JC laughed lightly.  Kyle knew the drill down to the last tiny detail.  He used the oversized cup they'd gotten at a 7-11 somewhere along the way and rinsed the shampoo out of Kyle's hair.  JC took a deep breath and smiled.  The scent of Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo always seemed to bring a smile to his face, he'd even used it once or twice just to have the scent around him when Kyle wasn't nearby.

            Kyle used the little hotel wash cloth and soaped up his body, then stood and let JC finish up and rinse him off.  "You're set buddy, see that was pretty fast."

            "Yeah is fast."  Kyle nodded as he yawned.  JC grabbed a thick towel and wrapped it around Kyle before picking him up.  He held him close as they walked out into the bedroom to finish drying Kyle off.

            "You got your pajamas?"

            "Yeah."  Kyle held the towel around his shoulders as JC lifted the red and yellow stripped pajamas off the bed.

            "Where's your underwear?"

            "I doe no."

            "Okay."  JC stood up and dug through his suitcase.  "Superman or Pokemon?"

            "Pokemon."  Kyle giggled.

            "You got it."  JC smiled and brought the little underwear over to where Kyle was standing on the bed.  As soon as Kyle was potty trained JC had gone out and bought him dozens of pairs of 'big boy' underwear and a few pairs of boxers.  Kyle wasn't a big fan of the boxers, but JC assumed it was an acquired taste.

            When Kyle was dressed in his pajamas, JC quickly ran a comb through his hair and grabbed Lello from the chair in the other room.  "Okay, here you go buddy."

            "I have Lello."  Kyle smiled and sunk into the big pillow at the head of his bed with Lello tucked under his arm.

            "Yep, you're set."  JC said softly.  He sat beside Kyle and pulled one of the children's books out of Kyle's backpack.  "One story, then its sleep time, right?"

            "Yeah."  Kyle yawned, and JC knew he'd be lucky if Kyle even made it through the first few pages.

            JC opened "The saggy, baggy elephant" and began to read softly.  Before he'd finished the book Kyle was snoring, just like he'd expected.  "Okay buddy, good night."  JC whispered as he set the book aside and switched the little light off.

            JC leaned down and Kissed Kyle's forehead then sighed into Kyle's short hair.  He said a silent prayer that Lori would call in the morning so that Kyle would be able to see her.  The last thing JC wanted to do was try to hunt her down in her own city, and he hoped it wouldn't come to that.

            He sighed then grabbed his walkman and his laptop and sat at the desk to do a little writing before he went to bed himself.  The eight weeks in Europe with Jessica and Kyle had given him lots of inspiration, and he couldn't wait to put those feelings to music.

 

 

 Next...

 

 

 

Copyright 2002, Amy Lynn