On Tuesday JC kept Kyle home from school and spent the morning psyching himself up for Lori’s arrival.  Frank was working on his house so JC was supposed to call when Lori got there and he’d meet them all at the park, so JC was a little more calm knowing that Frank would be there again.

            At eleven o’clock JC took Kyle to the front room with his snack to wait for Lori.  Jessica joined them and sat in the deep chair to read her magazine, she figured when the doorbell rang she could bolt up the stairs.  It was childish, but she wasn’t sure she could keep her composure if faced with Lori in person again.

            “Jessi?  Chex miss is good.”  Kyle grinned with chewed up cracker in his mouth.

            “Chex mix is good huh?  Can I try some?”  She extended her hand as Kyle placed a pretzel and a piece of cereal in her hand.  “Yum.”  She chewed slowly.  “That is good.  Eat it all up.”

            “Daddy want some?”

            “Nope, that’s okay.  Thanks.”  JC shook his head and pulled an old People Magazine from the table in front of him.

            “Kay, I pay wiss it.”  Kyle flopped down on the tile entryway and began systematically removing his snack from the little covered bowl he carried it in.

            Jessica watched him for a few minutes, then turned to her magazine and became engrossed in the “It happened to me” stories near the end.  She read through a couple stories, then frowned.  “Jace?  What time is it?”

            “It’s uh…”  He looked at his watch and she noticed that he was sitting forward, leaning his elbows on his knees instead of reading his magazine.  “Ten after.”  He said with a quick glance at his watch.

            Ten after eleven?”  She asked, though she knew she’d been reading for longer than ten minutes.

            JC sighed and closed his eyes.  “Twelve.”

            “Jesus."  She tossed the magazine onto the table and watched it slide to the floor as she stood up and stormed up stairs, making sure to slam the master bedroom door as she went.

            "Uh oh."  Kyle looked up from his snack.  He'd set the Chex mix out in one layer across the tile floor and was eating them one at a time.

            "Yep, uh oh."  JC nodded and blew the air out of his lungs in one deep breath.  "Jessica's a little upset."

            "Yeah."  Kyle sighed and ate another cracker.

            "Do me a favor buddy; can you pick up all those crackers and put them in your bowl?  When your mommy gets here I don't want to accidentally step on them and make a mess."

            "I done?"

            "No, you can still eat them, just put them in the bowl for me, okay?"  JC stood up and went to the bottom of the stairs.

            "Kay."  Kyle leaned over and picked up a few of the crackers to put in his plastic bowl.

            "Thanks buddy.  I'm gonna run upstairs for a minute, okay?"

            "Kay."  Kyle nodded, but didn't look up.

            JC hopped up the stairs and walked slowly to the master bedroom.  He opened the doors without knocking, stepped in, then shut the door behind him.  "Jess, listen, I know you're upset but -”

            "JC come on.  She's an hour late."

            "She's forty -”  He went to correct her.

            "It's an hour JC."  Jessica came out of the bathroom with a kleenex in her hand though her eyes were dry.  "This is ridiculous."

            "I know, but what am I supposed to do?"

            "I don't know JC.  I don't know… but keeping him down there waiting for more than an hour isn't what you should be doing."

            "Well then what?"  JC shrugged.  All he wanted was for everything to work out, but nothing was.  "She said she'd be here, and I have to give her the benefit of the doubt."

            "Oh stop it."  Jessica made a face and turned around to go back into the bathroom.  She blew her nose then came back out.  "Jace… I’ve been trying to keep quiet about her this week; I’ve been ignoring all of her little bouts of forgetfulness or whatever.   Haven’t said a word while you’ve let her walk all over you and I've been trying to see the good in her, I really have.  But I just can't anymore.  I can't!"  She threw her hands up in exasperation then crossed the room to sit heavily on the corner of the bed.  "I've always supported her, you know I have.  From the very beginning I was the one who was telling you to let her see him because she's his mother and everything, but right now she's just taking advantage of you."  She stopped and took a deep breath.  "I mean, she's been here for four days and she's only seen him once?  And for a few hours at that?"

            "She's busy."  JC tried to defend Lori.

            "Yeah, she's busy going out with friends and hitting clubs.  JC, she came out here to see her son who she hasn't seen in three months or whatever, and she's planning day trips to Daytona?"  Her vow of silence regarding Lori flew out the window as her tirade continued.

            "That's her loss.  She's his mother and I want her to see him whenever she can."  JC ran his fingers through his hair with a look of exasperation.  "She's his mother."  He repeated.

            "Yeah?  Well she's not fucking acting like it.  Stop making excuses for her."

            "Jessica… please…"  JC sighed.

            "I'm not trying to be a bitch here, but you can't keep letting her do this.  Kyle is getting stuck in the middle and he doesn't have any idea what to think.  He doesn't even count on her any more.  Do you know what he said to me yesterday when I told him his mom was coming to see him today?"

            "What?"  JC asked, though he was sure he didn't want to know.

            "He said 'no, she doesn't like me'."  Jessica's voice caught in her throat.  "How sad is that JC?  He's almost three and he thinks his own mother doesn't like him.  That breaks my heart JC."  She placed her hand on her chest and looked up at JC.  "Why do you think I shower him with affection every chance I get?  I'm not trying to win him over or 'steal' him away from her.  I'm not trying to make him like me more or shove her out of the picture; she's doing that on her own."  She wiped at her eyes quickly, willing herself not to cry.  "I cover him with kisses all the time because he needs that kind of affection and his own mother is 'too busy' to give it to him.  I don't know how you can put up with that.  Kyle is your son and you're not doing anything to protect him from feeling unloved by his mother."

            JC listened to her tirade in silence, but that last line caught him completely of guard.  He stared at her for a second and watched the realization of what she'd just said cross her face.  JC ran his hand over his head then pinched the back of his neck before he turned and walked out of the room without a word.

            "JC… wait… I'm sorry."  Jessica stood to follow him.  She caught up with him at the top of the stairs.  "I'm sorry; I didn't mean it like that.  I was just trying to say that -”

            "I know what you meant Jessica, and you're right."  JC said without turning around.  He hopped down the stairs and told Kyle to pick up his crackers.  "We're going to the beach, come on."

            "We go ina ossin?"  Kyle asked as he put his little bowl of crackers on the leather couch.

            "Yep.  Take your crackers off of the couch and put them in the kitchen please."  JC said as he walked to the kitchen and started opening and closing cupboards.  Jessica listened from the top of the stairs as JC went into the laundry room and pulled the drier open, “I've got your swim shorts in here, let's get you changed."

            "And I have a sobel?"

            "Yep, we'll bring your shovel too."  JC said quickly.  "Here, put these on and find your sandals."

            Jessica walked halfway down the stairs with a frown on her face, “Jace…"

            "Hey, get your suit on.  We're going to the beach."

            "But it's November."

            "Well, you don't want to wait around here all day do you?  Forget it; we're going to the beach."  JC passed her on the stairs and went to the master bedroom to change into his suit.

            Jessica stood still for a second, then slowly descended the stairs to the ground floor where Kyle was standing with his swim shorts in one hand and a shovel in the other.  "Uh oh."

            "I think your dad's lost it a little honey."  Jessica followed Kyle's gaze to the top of the empty stairs.

            "Yeah.  We go ina ossin."  Kyle held his swim shorts out to Jessica and shrugged.  "Less go."

            "Yep, let's go."  Jessica knelt beside Kyle and helped him change into his bathing suit.  She threw his clothes onto the washer in the laundry room, then dug around in the drier for a shirt.  "Do you want your dinosaur top?"  She asked as she held it up.

            "No my sark."

            "Your shark?"

            "Isa surfin sark."

            "Oh, okay…" Jessica frowned and went back into the drier.  "Is it white?"

            "No."

            "What color is it then sweetie?"

            "Geen."

            "Okay."  Jessica pulled out the light green shirt with a mean looking shark on a surfboard, then pulled it over his head.  "Where are your sandals?"

            "Ina kitchen."

            "Okay, can you go put them on for me please?  I'm gonna go get changed.  I'll be right back, okay?"

            "Kay."  Kyle shrugged and ran back through the house to the kitchen to find his shoes.

            Jessica went upstairs to the master bedroom, hoping to find JC there so she could talk to him, but he wasn't there.  She heard him thumping around in Kyle's room, probably looking for Kyle's sandals.  He swore loudly and shut Kyle's closet door hard.

            Jessica sighed and opened her suitcase to find her suit.  She wasn't looking forward to a day on the cold beach with JC in a foul mood.  Jessica changed into her suit then threw her hair into a ponytail.  "We're gonna have to have a talk."  She grumbled to herself as she pulled her shorts on over her bathing suit and reached for a sweatshirt.

 

            JC bounced down the steps calling Kyle's name.  "Hey Kyle, dude, where are your shoes?"  He hit the bottom step and almost ran into Kyle.  "Where are your sandals?"

            "On my foot."  Kyle laughed and held his foot up for JC to see.  The sandals were in fact on his feet, but not secured.

            "Right on kiddo."  JC sat on the step and fastened the little velcro strap.  "Okay, go get your toys and we'll be ready to go."  He patted Kyle's leg and pointed him toward the family room where the toys were.

            JC grabbed beach towels from the laundry room then went out to the garage and opened the car to get the chairs and everything loaded into the back.  Kyle came out with his big pail filled with beach toys, which JC tucked into the back by the chairs and their bag of sunscreen and hats.

            "Alright buddy, are you ready?"  JC looked down at Kyle as he tossed the beach towels into the back seat beside Kyle's car seat.

            "Yeah."  Kyle said softly as he leaned against the side of the car.

            "Where's Jessica?"

            "I doe no."  Kyle shrugged then went to climb into the back seat.

            "I'm gonna go get her, don’t go anywhere."  JC reached behind him and slammed the car door shut as he headed back into the house.

            As soon as he stepped through the doorway into the washroom, Kyle gasped and let loose a blood-curdling scream.  JC whipped around and stood frozen for a split second.  Kyle was standing beside the car with his face turning bright red, his mouth gaping open in a now silent scream, drool dribbling down his lower lip… and his hand shut in the car door.

            JC sprung into action as Kyle inhaled again to let another wail go as he tried to jump up and down in place, but his trapped hand wouldn't let him move.  JC pulled the car door open and tried not to look.  “Fuck!  Dammit, fuck!”  JC shouted as he yanked Kyle into his arms and held his injured hand away from his body.  “Jessica!”  He shouted toward the house.  “Jessica get in here now!  Hurry!”

            Kyle continued to turn red before he caught his breath and screamed again, "Ooowww!”

            “Fuck.”  JC whispered as he held Kyle’s arm tight so that he couldn’t move his hand.  “Oh shit Kyle I’m so sorry, I didn’t see you standing getting in there.”  He looked over his shoulder again as he opened the front passenger door and began to climb in.  “Jessica!!”  He shouted with even more panic.

            Jessica appeared at the door with her heart racing, “What?  What happened?”  She ran over to where they were half in and half out of the car.  She saw Kyle mid-scream again and JC as pale as she has ever seen anyone.  JC turned slightly and she saw a drop of blood fall from Kyle’s hand.  “Jesus!  What happened?”

            “Go get the keys they’re in the kitchen.”

            “What happened?”

            “Go!”  He shouted as he turned and sat straight in the passenger seat.  He pulled the passenger door shut as Jessica ran back into the house for the keys.

            She returned a split second later with the keys and hopped in the driver's seat as the garage door opened.  “What happened?  Should we call an ambulance?”

            “No, no the hospital is close, go.”

            “JC what happened?”  She looked over her shoulder to back out and tried to remain calm as Kyle wailed on JC’s lap.

            “I shut his hand in the car door.”  His stomach turned as he tried to hold Kyle still in his lap.  “I didn’t see him.  I didn’t see you buddy.  Oh God, I’m so sorry.”  He kissed the top of Kyle’s head and tried to keep from shaking.  “Go left out of the gates, go to Sherwood and make a right and it’s like three blocks down.”

            “Okay.”  She followed his directions, going well over the posted speed limit.  “Did you see his fingers?”  She asked as the Emergency sign came into view a few minutes later.

            “Yeah.”  JC broke out in a sweat as he rocked Kyle on his lap.  “He’s… I think he just cut it.”  He tried not to look at the blood dripping from his son’s hand.  It wasn’t much, but to JC it looked like gallons.

            “Oh God.”  Jessica bit her lip as they turned into the emergency entrance.  She pulled up just outside the double doors, but JC jumped out with Kyle in his arms before the car stopped rolling.

            JC ran inside and straight to the check in desk, “I need some help here, my son is bleeding."  He said as he adjusted Kyle in his arms.

            "Where is he bleeding from sir?"  The nurse behind the desk stood up to get a better look at Kyle.

            "His hand, I shut it in the car door."  JC managed to say as his voice shook.

            "Okay, just one moment."  She disappeared behind another door as the other nurse at the desk checked in the next person in line.  "Okay, here you go."  She handed JC a sterile blue compress.  "Hold that over his hand and use pressure to stop the bleeding."

            "He needs a doctor, what if his hand is broken?"  JC asked as Kyle began to cry again.

            "We'll have a doctor take a look at him as soon as we can sir, I'll need you to fill out this paperwork first and then we'll put your son in que."

            "He's only two years old and he's bleeding."  JC tried not to let the anger show in his voice, but frustration on top of panic only led to that emotion.

            "I understand that sir, and if he's still bleeding after you've held the compress on his hand for five minutes, then come see me."  The nurse smiled politely and handed JC a clipboard.  "You can have a seat over there to fill out these forms then return them to the file on the wall by the door over there.

            "Who can I talk to about getting him seen right now?"  JC asked, leaving the compress and clipboard on the desk.

            "Sir, the patients here are seen in order of urgency.  I understand that your son's injury is frightening to both you and him; however we need to see life threatening situations first.  A doctor will see you just as soon as they can."  She stared JC down for a second, then raised the clipboard and placed it in his hand.  "If you'll have a seat please."

            JC huffed and took the clipboard and compress over to the chairs closest to the door leading to the examination areas.  "Okay buddy, I need to put this on your hand, okay?"

            "No."  Kyle cried and tried to pry his injured hand loose from JC's grip.

            "I'm sorry buddy; I've got to put this on your owie so it'll get better."  JC dropped the clipboard on the seat next to him then moved Kyle to his other knee so that his right hand was where JC could reach it.  "Oh shit…"  He whispered under his breath as he saw the cut on Kyle's middle finger.  "Okay… okay… okay I can do this."  He gave himself a quiet pep talk, then placed the compress over Kyle's hand and squeezed gently.

            "Ooooowwie!"  Kyle yelped.

            "Shit, I'm sorry."  JC loosened his grip.  "I'm sorry, shit…"  Tears rose in JC's eyes; he couldn't bear the thought of hurting Kyle anymore.  "Okay, we'll just keep it on there loose okay?  I'm sorry."

            "Daddy owie!"

            "I know it hurts, you're going to see a doctor really soon."  JC kissed the top of Kyle's head and held him close with his left arm.  With his right hand he tried to fill out the form, but the board kept moving with every attempt.

            Just as he was getting ready to toss the clipboard, Jessica came into the room.  "Hey, have you seen anyone yet?"

            "Just the girl at the check in."  JC grumbled. "Did you park?"

            "Yeah." She nodded and reached to touch Kyle's head.  "Is he okay?  Where's the doctor?"

            "We have to wait."

            "Let me see."  She walked around the chairs to stand on the other side of JC to look at Kyle's hurt hand.  "JC, let go…"

            "What?"

            "You're squeezing his arm."  She said softly as she placed her hand on JC's shoulder.  His hand was holding tight to Kyle's wrist to stop him from moving his hurt hand and he didn't even realize it.

            "Sorry."  JC took another deep breath and released Kyle's wrist.

            Jessica leaned a little closer and looked at Kyle's injured hand.  "Oh honey, it's not that bad."  She shook her head and rubbed JC's back.  "It's really not that bad at all, there's just a little cut on his middle finger."

            "Yeah but it's probably broken."  JC's voice began to sound panicked again.  "If I broke his hand I'll never forgive myself."

            "No… no JC, really… it doesn't look that bad."

            "Is he still bleeding?"

            "Just a little bit, it's not dripping any more but you've got it all over your shirt."

            "I don't care about that."  JC shook his head and kissed Kyle's forehead.  "Can you fill out the forms for me?  I can't… "  He looked down at Kyle and shrugged.

            "Sure, yeah of course."  She sat beside him and took the forms and pen.  Jessica filled out as much information as she could, then turned to JC, “Who is your insurance carrier?  I know that I have Blue Cross through work, is yours the same?"

            "We're on Healthplan."

            "Okay, and then I need your social and what name the insurance is under."  Jessica tapped the pen on the plastic board.  "Then that's all."

            JC recited his social security number from memory and gave her his full name as it was listed on the insurance.  Jessica filled out the form then excused herself to go turn it in at the nurses' station.

            When she returned JC seemed to have calmed down a little bit.  "You didn't need his birthday or anything?"

            "January fourth."  Jessica said.  "I know his birthday."  She smiled sweetly then gently touched Kyle's neck, “You're doing so good sweetie."

            Kyle sniffed and hiccupped in JC's lap as silent tears rested on his cheeks.  "Is o-owie."

            "I know it is angel, and the doctors are going to come and make it all better."

            "I g-go ina o-ossin?"  He said as his breaths came in little spurts.

            Jessica looked up at JC's pale face and shook her head, “Maybe we can go tomorrow."

            "N-now."  Kyle said as new tears appeared at the corner of his eyes.

            "You have to see the doctor now honey… you have to see the doctor first, then we'll ask him if we can go to the ocean, okay?"

            "K-kay."  He stampered as he rested his head on JC's shoulder.

            "We aren't going." JC whispered over Kyle's head.

            "I know."  She whispered back as she squeezed JC's shoulder in what she hoped was a reassuring way.  Kyle freaking out was understandable, but JC's nervousness and panic worried her more than anything.  His face was pale and his teeth seemed to chatter with nerves.  "We won't have to wait long." Jessica said softly as she looked toward the door to the examination rooms, she hoped she was right.

 

            Twenty minutes later the door opened and a male nurse stuck his head out into the waiting room.  "Kyle Chasez?"  He called Kyle's name, pronouncing Chasez wrong.

            "Yeah."  JC stood up with Kyle in his arms.  "Chasez."  He pronounced it correctly out of habit.  "This is Kyle."

            Jessica stood and followed them to the exam area near the back of the emergency room where it was a little quieter.  "The doctor will be with you in just a minute, why don't you have a seat there on the bed."  He nodded for JC to sit then pulled the little curtain closed.

            "I hate hospitals." JC muttered under his breath as he hopped up on the bed; careful not to jostle Kyle's hand any more than necessary.  "You doing okay buddy?"

            "Is owie daddy."

            "I know… I'm sorry."  JC kissed the top of Kyle's head again as Jessica crossed her arms over her chest and leaned her hip against the bed beside them.  She could see JC's pulse in his neck and could tell he was ten times more anxious than he was letting on.

            Jessica reached out and placed her hand on JC's back, "How are you?"

            "I'm fine." He said quickly.

            "He's going to be okay Jace."

            "I know."

            She saw him nod slightly, but his shoulders remained tense.  She sighed and rubbed his back, trying to be as supportive as she could while he panicked inside.  They sat in the little room for a couple minutes before the doctor pulled the curtain aside and stepped up to the bed. 

            "Hi, I'm Dr. Burke… what happened here?"  An older gentleman walked into the room with a tiny monkey velcroed to his stethoscope.

            "I shut his hand in the car door."  JC winced as he spoke.

            "Ouch, that had to hurt."  He ran his hand over Kyle's head.  "Can I see your hand little fella?"

            "No, owwie."  Kyle sniffled and rubbed his damp face into JC's chest.

            "Dad, can I have you turn to the side just so I can get a look?  Usually these things look worse than they are."  He smiled up at JC.

            "Sure."  JC pivoted himself on the corner of the bed so that Kyle's hurt hand was facing the doctor.

            "No daddy."

            "The doctor's just going to look buddy; he's not going to hurt you."  JC said softly.  "You're not going to hurt him, right?"  He looked up at the doctor.

            Dr. Burke smiled, "Nope, I'm just going to take a look real quick."  He gently touched the side of Kyle's hand and moved the middle finger back.  "All righty, he has a little cut there that might need stitches."

            "Oh God."  JC closed his eyes and exhaled.

            "And it looks like there's some bruising here.  I'd like to go get his hand x-rayed just to be on the safe side.  But little kids, especially his age, have soft… almost pliable bones.  They can really stand up to a lot."

            "You think it's broken?"

            "No, I don't think so."  Dr. Burke shook his head.  "But I want to make sure."  He scribbled something on the chart and handed it to a nurse who had appeared out of nowhere.  "Little Kyle here is going to go down to radiology to get a picture of his hand." He said to the nurse then turned to JC, “You can go ahead and take him down stairs to the x-ray lab and when you're done just bring the films right back here."

            "To this room?"

            "Yep, just come on back here and let the nurse have the pictures.  I'll check them out then come back and see about getting some stitches."

            "Okay." JC said as the blood rushed to his feet.

            "You're doing good Kyle."  Dr. Burke smiled down at the little boy and patted his head affectionately.  He'd seen plenty of first time parents in a panic over stitches, and he was always amazed at how calm the kids were and how wired the parents were.  He left the room quietly, then JC stood up and reached for the lab slip.

            "Here, I'll get that."  Jessica took the paper from him and led the way down the hall to the elevators to go down to radiology.

            JC went into the x-ray room with Kyle and donned a heavy apron while they took the pictures of Kyle's hand.  The technician had tried to get JC out of the room, but Kyle came unglued when JC began to leave so to keep him calm and still he let JC stay.

            It took ten minutes to get all of the images they needed and Jessica waited patiently in the hall. When they were done the three of them waited another couple minutes for the films to be ready, then carried them back upstairs to the exam room where a nurse took the x-rays.

            Kyle curled up on JC's lap and actually managed to doze off for a little bit before the doctor rushed in with the x-rays in an envelope in his hand.  "How'd it go down there?  You got back pretty quick."  Dr. Burke smiled.

            "It was okay."  JC nodded.  "They were on the ball, it went fast."

            "Okay, well I had a look at the x-rays, and I'm sure you'll be glad to know that nothing is broken.  He'll be sore for a couple days, but nothing permanent."  Dr. Burke reached out to ruffle Kyle's hair.  "However, I'm going to need to stitch up that finger.  It's deeper than it looks which is easy with little guys like this."

            "Damn…"  JC sighed.  "Okay."

            "Would you like to stay in here while we do this, or would you rather have me call another nurse in?"

            "No… no I can do it."  JC nodded.  "You're going to do it right now?"

            "Yep, I'm going to have my nurse set everything up in here and prep his hand, then I'll stitch him up myself."  Dr. Burke smiled at JC and patted Kyle's hand.  "We're gonna get you all taken care of little guy.  You'll be home before you know it."

            "I go now?"  Kyle asked as he looked up at the doctor with pleading eyes as he hiccupped.

            "In a few minutes you can go home."  Dr. Burke smiled then stepped out of the curtained area.

            "I'm uh… I'm gonna wait out here.  It's going to get crowded in here."  Jessica said softly as she tugged on the curtain.

            "Okay."  JC nodded and licked his lips quickly.

            "Are you going to be okay?"

            "Yeah."  JC nodded and tried to give her a confident smile, but it fell at the corners and gave away how scared he really was.

            "I'll be right out here if you need anything."  She nodded toward the three plastic chairs pushed up against the wall.

            "Okay."  JC nodded, then adjusted Kyle on his lap.

            "I'll see you in a minute."  She dropped a kiss onto Kyle's forehead, then ducked through the curtain and sat on the hard chair.  A deep sigh escaped her lips as the days events raced through her mind.  Suddenly Lori's flaking out on Kyle didn't seem like such a huge deal.

            She spent a few minutes reading and re-reading the HealthWise posters on the wall before there was a rustle behind the curtain and a nurse poked her head out.  "Mom?"  The nurse asked as she saw Jessica sitting against the wall with her arms crossed over her chest.  Jessica didn't respond to the unfamiliar title, so the nurse repeated herself.  "Kyle's mom?"

            "Oh."  Jessica looked up and stood quickly, “I'm - "  She started to explain, but the nurse nodded her inside quickly.

            "We're going to need you to hold onto Kyle for the doctor.  I don't think daddy over there is feeling well."  She smiled over at JC whose face had gone from slightly pale to ashy gray.  He held a cardboard book on fire engines in one hand, but it hadn't been opened.

            "Jace?"

            "I'm okay."

            "Hun, why don't you go sit over there, I'll hold Kyle."

            "No, I've got it." JC closed his eyes and swallowed hard as he broke out in a cold sweat.  "It's my fault here's here, the least I can do is hold him while the doctor sews him up."  He pressed his lips closed and inhaled deeply through his nose.

            "You're not going to do him any good if you pass out.  Listen, I know you don't do well with blood and needles so why don't you go sit right there and I'll hold Kyle.  You'll still be right here in the room and you can even hold his other hand… you just… Jace you have to let me do this." Jessica explained softly.

            "Okay."  He cautiously stood up and used the bed for balance.

            "Daddy no!"

            "He's not going anywhere sweetie."  Jessica slid into the seat JC vacated and wrapped her arm around Kyle's back.  "He's going to go sit right there, okay?"

            "You say."  Kyle watched JC sit heavily in the chair and take a few deep breaths with his head between his knees.

            "I'm staying right here buddy."  JC mumbled as he laced his fingers behind his neck while sitting in the same position.  The nurse kept an eye on JC while she assisted the doctor by getting the sutures ready.

            "You're doing so good Kyle… you're such a big boy."  The doctor cooed softly as he carefully began to put the tiny stitches into Kyle's finger.  The little boy didn't even flinch; he just kept his eyes on the children's book Jessica was flipping through.

            Within a few minutes Kyle's finger was closed with six small stitches and his whole hand was wrapped in a white gauze bandage.  "There you go tough guy, you did so good!"  The doctor smiled and stood up.  "You were so brave; I think you must be a super hero.  Are you a super hero like Superman or Batman?"

            "Like supman."  Kyle nodded and placed his bandaged hand in his lap.  "Is owies inere?"

            "Yep, you've got an owie in there."  Jessica nodded.

            "I see?"  Kyle frowned and tried to pick it off.

            "No Kyle, you can't take that off.  You have to keep that on there so it doesn't get hurt more."  Jessica shook her head as JC stood up, looking pinker than before.  "Are you okay?"  She asked him.

            "Yeah… thanks."  He gave her a wobbly smile and reached for Kyle.  "You were so good Kyle.  See?  I couldn't even sit there and you did it like a big boy.  That's pretty cool."

            "Yeah."  Kyle shrugged, practically forgetting the accident that brought him there.

            "Here you go Kyle, for being such a great super hero, look what you get."  The doctor stuck a big Superman logo sticker on the back of his bandaged hand.  "See?  Now everyone will know that you're a big hero and it'll keep the bandage on too!"

            "Cool."  Kyle smiled and wiped at his almost dry eyes.

            "What do you say buddy?"

            "Thankoo."

            "You're welcome Kyle."  The doctor rumpled Kyle's hair and smiled at JC.  "Do you want a sticker too dad?"

            "No thanks." JC blushed and laughed lightly.

            "All righty then, mom?"

            "No thank you.  Kyle's the big super hero today."  Jessica answered then glanced at JC with a small smile.

            "Perfect.  Well whenever you guys are ready to get out of here just check out at the front desk and they'll get all of your paperwork in order."  He rolled his chair over to the side of the bed where Jessica and JC were sitting while the nurse cleaned up the suture tray.  "His finger will be numb for a little while longer, but after that you can give him children's Tylenol to ease the pain and reduce any swelling.  The bandage needs to stay on for the next couple days.  You'll want to keep those stitches clean and dry as well as you can.  I know with them being on his hand, and him being a two year old, that can be hard so I'll have some extra bandages for you when you check out up front, okay?"

            "Okay, great.  Thank you so much."  JC smiled up at the doctor and genuinely meant it.

            "It's my pleasure.  You'll want to take him to his regular doctor in about a week to have the stitches removed."  The doctor explained as he stood up and placed his hands on his hips.  "Be careful out there saving the world, okay Kyle?  Oops, I'm sorry… Superman."

            "Kay."  Kyle mumbled as he stared at his sticker.              "Daddy I supman."

            "I see that, what a lucky kid."  JC stood up and bounced Kyle on his hip.

            "Bye."  The doctor smiled as he ducked through the curtain to move on to other patients.

            "Okay kiddo… are you ready to go now?"  JC looked down at Kyle and tried not to stare at his bandaged hand.

            "Yeah."  Kyle sighed and rested his head on JC's shoulder.  "I doe like owies."

            "Nope, I don't like owies either."  JC kissed Kyle's forehead and smiled at Jessica.  "Where'd you park?"

            "In the parking structure, second level.  Do you want me to go get the car?"

            "No, no we'll be fine.  Let's go check out and everything."  JC used his free hand and reached for Jessica's.  "Thanks."  He said softly with a quick smile.

            "No problem."  Jessica shook her head, then paused to kiss him quickly.  "I'm just glad he's alright.  And you came out okay too."

            "Barely."  He gave a shaky laugh as he set the papers on the nurse's station to check out.  It had been almost two hours since they arrived and they were all exhausted.

            "You did good."  Jessica put her hand on his back and scratched lightly.  "You guys are both superheroes."

            "You're the superhero."  JC smiled over his shoulder as he signed the papers that needed signatures.  With the papers in his hand and the instructions on how to care for the stitches in his pocket, they headed out to the parking lot.

            Jessica's hand was firm and strong in JC's and for the first time in a while JC truly knew what it meant to have Jessica there with them.  She was there when JC needed her, and more importantly she was there when Kyle needed her.  Lori would always be Kyle's mother, but Jessica was right, she was more of a "mommy" to him than Lori was.  As hard as it might be for him, JC decided then and there to begin treating them as such.  He gave Jessica's hand a squeeze and kissed her quickly before they started up the stairs to the second level of the parking structure.

            There was no one else he'd want to act as Kyle's “mommy”… not even Lori.

 

 

 

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Copyright 2002, Amy Lynn