By the time they got home from the hospital, Kyle was already asleep in his car seat. It had been an eventful afternoon and he was exhausted. JC parked in the garage then carefully took Kyle out of his seat and carried him upstairs. Jessica followed with the extra bandages and the beach stuff that was loaded but never used. JC laid Kyle on his bed for a late nap then went to the bathroom to get the Childrens Tylenol. He knew that when Kyle woke up his hand would probably hurt so he put the childproof container on the top of Kyle's dresser, and then shut the door softly.
"I'll let him sleep for a bit." JC whispered as he stepped down the stairs and took the beach bag from Jessica. "Thanks."
"No problem." Her stomach growled as they made their way to the kitchen. "I'll uh... I'll make something for dinner; I'm sure you're just as hungry as I am."
"Yeah." JC put his hand over his stomach, then dropped the beach bag in the laundry room and followed her.
"You're not going to want to let him sleep too long though. We can get him up for dinner and give him his medicine."
"That'll knock him out, won't it?"
"Yeah." Jessica nodded. "Probably. But at least then he'll have eaten and he can go ahead and just go to bed early. I don't think he'll have a problem sleeping all night once you get some food and his medicine into him."
"True." JC nodded and yawned as he stretched his arms over his head. "Hmm, what do we have?" He pulled the pantry door open and peered inside while Jessica took food out of the refrigerator.
"Chicken. I think you have some tortillas in the fridge. I'll make chicken tacos and rice. Do you have refried beans in there?"
"Umm." JC took a step inside. "Yeah. One small can thing."
"Cool." She nodded and got the needed pots and pans out of the cupboard. They stood side by side in the kitchen and put together a simple but good dinner. While the chicken was simmering in the salsa and lime sauce Jessica made, they stepped out onto the back patio to get some fresh air. The heat from the kitchen disguised the fact that it was cool outside and Jessica pulled her arms tight around her to help keep the chill away.
"It's a beautiful night." JC said softly as he stood behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. "Look how clear it is." He turned his face to the sky and stared at the stars.
"It's amazing how many stars you can see out here even with all the lights and everything." Jessica smiled and settled into the warmth of his arms.
"I know. I love it out here." He kissed her cheek then sighed into her hair. "Just think if you lived here we could watch the stars every night." JC smiled though he was only half kidding. He didn't want to pressure her, but he wanted to be sure that she knew the invitation was still open and that he still very much wanted her there.
"Hmm." Jessica replied a short while later. "Imagine that."
"Hmm." JC imitated her and laughed softly again. "How long does the chicken need to cook?"
"Another couple minutes." Jessica said slowly as she looked up at the stars, trying to memorize them for when she had to go home the next day. As much as she didn't want to go, she knew she had things to get done there. She dreaded reminding JC that she had to leave, after the day they'd had.
"I should call Lori." JC bit his lower lip and looked down at the ground, his chin resting carefully on Jessica's shoulder.
Jessica hadn't given Lori a second thought all afternoon and was almost embarrassed to admit it. "Why?" She asked as she bristled noticeably in JC's embrace.
JC frowned at her and said, Because Kyle hurt himself. He got six stitches and I know if she had him, I would want to know."
"Do you honestly think she'll care?" Jessica shook her head and stepped away from JC to turn and look him in the eye.
"Jessica " JC sighed and tried not to roll his eyes.
"I'm serious. If she was interested in him at all she would have shown up today or at least called, she didn't do either. If I were you I'd wait till she called and tell her then. It's her own fault if she doesn't call you."
"That's real nice."
"In fact, JC, if you really want to place blame here it's her fault this even happened. If she had shown up like she said she would, you wouldn't have been upset and we wouldn't have been leaving. Kyle would have been with her and none of this would have happened."
"Jessica that's not fair."
"Fair isn't what I'm going for here." She crossed her arms over her chest and stopped herself from saying more. She was quiet for a second as she heard what she said and realized that it undoubtedly came out harsher than she meant. "I'm sorry JC, I'm just upset." Jessica sighed with defeat.
"I know you are. And I am too, but still "
"Do what you think is right." She shrugged, then turned and walked back into the house to finish making dinner.
JC waited outside for a few more minutes, his mind racing as he weighed his options and tried to find the right answer in the mess that was his life. When he walked back inside with Candy on his heels, Jessica looked up from the stove quickly and said, "Can you go get Kyle?"
"Sure. Yeah." JC nodded quickly, glad for the short distraction. "Come on Candy." He tapped his thigh and the dog followed him down the hall and up the stairs to Kyle's room. Together they roused Kyle from his much-needed nap and JC carried him down to the kitchen.
"No daddy, I wanna seep."
"I know you want to sleep buddy, but you need some dinner." JC said as he sat at the table with Kyle in his lap. "You had a busy day today and we forgot to get you some food. So eat this then you can take more medicine and go back to sleep."
"Kay." Kyle yawned and rested his head on JC's chest. "Jessi I have owie."
"I know you do sweetie. How does it feel? Does it hurt?"
"Is the Tylenol upstairs?" She asked JC.
"On his dresser." JC nodded and stroked Kyle's hair as he tried to look at the bandaged finger.
"Okay." She placed their dinner plates in front of them, then went upstairs to get the medicine.
"Hey Kyle, you've gotta eat a little bit. Look what we made. Doesn't this look good?"
"Here, have a little bite." JC took a piece of chicken out of the tortilla with his fork and blew on it. "Mmm this smells good."
"Yeah." Kyle opened his mouth for the bite but still looked tired.
"Yummy, eat it up." JC smiled as Kyle chewed slowly. They took turns with bites until Jessica came down a few minutes later with her hair up in a ponytail and the Childrens Tylenol in her hand.
"How do you like that?" Jessica smiled at Kyle as he held the folded up tortilla in his hand.
"I like kickin and wice."
"You like the chicken and rice huh? Me too." She got her plate and sat with them. "How does his hand look?"
"I can't really see too much, but it doesnt feel warm or anything. Thats good, right?"
"Good." JC lowered his voice and kissed Kyle's temple as he held his son on his lap. They ate their dinners in silence as JC tried to coax Kyle into eating more of the chicken and beans.
"No daddy, I done." Kyle sighed and tried to wiggle out of JC's lap.
"Come on Kyle, just eat another couple bites."
"Two more." JC nodded and held the fork out to him with a bite of beans on it. "It's good." JC nodded and Kyle opened his mouth to take the bite.
"Is all done." Kyle said once he swallowed.
"Can you have another bite of chicken?"
"Yeah, I think so." JC nodded and got the bite ready on the fork. "One more bite then you can have your medicine.
"One more and I lissen sink?"
"And you what?" JC asked as he waved the bite in front of Kyle's closed lips.
Kyle turned away from the fork and said, "I hava bite an I lissen sink?"
"You want to listen to Nsync?"
"In your room?"
"Sure. Yeah, of course you can listen to Nsync." JC nodded as Kyle took a bite. He met Jessica's eye across the table and smiled. "I don't think he's ever asked to listen to us before. That's weird."
"It's cool." Jessica wiped her mouth on her napkin then opened the Childrens Tylenol to get Kyle's medicine ready.
Kyle chewed his bite then sighed and slid off JC's lap. "I go nigh nigh now and lissen sink." He said as he reached for JC's hand.
"Yep, you can go night night now." JC looked at his watch and pursed his lips. It was early still, but they'd had a long day.
"Here baby, you need to take your medicine so your hand doesn't hurt." Jessica stood up with the eyedropper full of purple liquid.
"Yeah, it'll make it so your owie doesnt hurt." She nodded as JC picked Kyle up and held him for her.
"Open up sweetie." Jessica dropped the medicine into Kyle's mouth then filled it halfway again to give him the correct dose. "Is that good?"
"Yeah, is gape."
"Grape huh? That's pretty yummy."
"Yeah." Kyle nodded slowly and licked his lips as he brought his bandaged hand up to rub his eyes.
"I'm going to go put him down."
"Okay." Jessica nodded and stood to give Kyle a quick kiss good night. "You were a brave little boy today Kyle. You did so good."
"You sure are Superman." She smiled and ran her hand over his warm hair. "Good night sweetie."
"Nigh, nigh." Kyle yawned and settled into JC's arms.
"I'll be right back." JC said softly as he turned to carry his son up the stairs.
When JC came back down a short while later, Jessica had already made herself comfortable on the couch with the TV on softly in the background. They turned a movie on and relaxed for the evening without a single interruption. The phone stayed silent on the charger and Kyle slept soundly upstairs.
"I need a shower." JC yawned as he stood up after the second movie. "I feel all grubby or something."
"You don't look it." Jessica smiled.
"I think it's the hospital."
"The hospital makes you feel dirty?"
"Well, I don't know. I don't like hospitals so I guess its like I can still smell it on me or something." JC shrugged and made a face. "Anyway "
"I will." He seemed hesitant as he stood against the wall staring at her.
She stared back and laughed softly. "What?"
"Nothing." He answered just above a whisper and a little too quickly.
"Nothing." His grin grew and his eyes crinkled as he turned to walk down the hall. "I was just thinking that if you wanted to come with me upstairs that might be cool."
Jessica laughed and shook her head as she stood up from the couch and stretched her back. "Sounds tempting. I'm going to clean up down here a little bit first, but then I'll come up."
"Do you want me to save you some hot water?" JC raised his eyebrow with his hand on the banister of the stairs.
"I'll take one in the morning." Jessica shook her head. "Before I before I go. That way I'll be all refreshed for the plane ride. But thanks."
"Anytime." JC hopped up a few steps and laughed to himself as Jessica went to the kitchen to clean up after dinner. He was happier than he had been all day just because she was there and smiling back at him. His heart skipped a beat as he realized for the thousandth time that she made him so incredibly happy, he just hoped she felt the same way. Really felt the same way.
Jessica straightened up the kitchen and family room while JC showered above her. She heard the shower turn off a short while later as she made her way up the stairs with her hands full of Kyle's toys. After quietly putting them in Kyle's room on his toy chest, she shut the door and went to the master bedroom. JC was standing in the shower behind the foggy window towel drying himself. "Hey Jace? What are our plans for tomorrow?"
"I don't know." JC's voice echoed off the glass doors of the shower. "I, we don't really have anything planned. Why? What did you have in mind?"
"Nothing. I was just checking to see if you had to work or anything. My flight leaves at like, so we'll have to leave here by what? ?"
"Yeah." JC wrapped the towel around his waist and stepped out of the steamy shower. "I'm actually planning on sleeping until around ." He smiled and dropped a quick kiss across her lips.
"You're pretty optimistic. You have a toddler you know."
"I'm kind of hoping the Tylenol keeps him out."
"Dream on honey." Jessica smiled and shook her head. "He went to bed so early tonight; I'd be surprised if he slept past five."
"Ugh, don't say that." JC's face withered into a cringe.
"Sorry." She smiled sweetly, went back into the bedroom to change out of her clothes.
JC took his toothbrush from the cup beside the sink and held it under the water before applying the toothpaste. He brushed while Jessica changed in silence in the other room. "I didn't call her." JC said a minute later as he rinsed his toothbrush in the sink.
"Okay." Jessica's mood took a turn for the worse at the mention of the other woman's name.
"I just thought you'd want to know."
"It's none of my business." Jessica said softly, not believing her own words.
"Yeah it is." JC set his toothbrush back in the holder and wiped his mouth. "Believe it or not Jess, you've got a lot more say in this than you think. You're the rational mind when I can't be."
"You're calling me rational?"
"Well you make me see things from a different perspective." He smiled slowly, but his eyes still looked worried. "I'm not looking forward to dealing with her when she finds out though." JC pulled the sheets back and sat on the edge of the bed with the alarm clock in his hands. He didn't change any of the settings he just looked at it for a minute.
Jessica stared at his broad, bare back and frowned with concern. "JC you know that I'm not here to cause trouble with you and Lori, right?"
"I know." JC said softly.
"I just I love you guys so much. And I know that Lori is Kyle's mom and that's so important, I've never said it wasn't. Ever since she showed up I've always said that having her in Kyle's life is important for him. But " Jessica sighed as she rolled all the way over onto her side to face JC. "But she's making it clear that she doesn't want that or isn't willing to try. And in the process you're both getting hurt, you and Kyle."
"I'm not getting hurt by Lori." JC shook his head in the darkness, then bushed his hair out of his eyes.
"Yes you are. Every time you see that Kyle has been let down, you're hurt. Every time you have to lie to him or you get his hopes up for nothing you're crushed. You can deny that all you want but it's true. I can see that because I'm not in the situation with you." She reached out and took his hand. "You've given her so many chances how many will be enough?"
"I need to give Kyle the chance to see her. She's his mom no matter what I do, and no matter what I want."
"I know." Jessica's frown deepened more from concern than anything else. "But she's had the chance to see him and she's not stepping up to it. I just don't see how you can let her keep doing that."
"I don't know what else to do." JC pursed his lips tightly and ran his thumb over the back of her hand.
"You could play her game right back. Flake out on a couple meetings, not be here when she calls."
"That's real mature." He smiled slightly.
"Or you could just tell her she can't see him any more." Jessica said, her words barely audible.
"And what about when he's twelve and asks if his mom ever wanted to see him? Can I tell him that she wanted to see him and I wouldn't let her?" He carefully tossed her example back to her.
"I don't have all the answers JC I'm just tired of seeing her walk all over you guys like this. I don't know what you should do, but but if you don't do something it's just going to get worse and that's going to be so much harder for Kyle."
"And I love him; I don't want anything to happen to him."
"I know." JC whispered as he dropped his chin to his chest. "I don't either." He shook his head slowly then turned to look at her. With a soft sigh he said, "I don't either, and I'm done playing games. I really am."
"But I don't know what I'm going to do exactly. I mean, I don't know." He slid under the covers and switched the light off. Jessica followed his lead and sank into his warm and open arms. "A lot of things became clear today but finding those answers only made other things harder, you know?"
Jessica shrugged in the darkness. "No, I don't know. But I can guess."
"I'm so glad to have you here Jess. I'm glad you're willing to be this " He paused and debated using the word that had been going through his mind all afternoon. " this mommy kind of, to Kyle. He needs that. Just as much as he needs his mother."
"Yeah." She whispered, though her voice caught in her throat. She blinked away tears and nodded. "He does."
JC leaned forward and kissed her neck as his arms tightened around her and they settled into the bed. It had been a long and emotional day for everyone and together they hoped that in the morning things would be somewhat normal.
When Kyle awoke the next morning, Jessica was the first to hear him padding down the hall. She'd only been half-asleep so she got out of bed and went to the hall to let JC sleep in a little. "Hey sweetie." She said softly as she bent to scoop Kyle up in her arms. "Wow, you slept for a long time."
"Yeah." Kyle croaked in his early morning voice that eerily reminded her of JC.
"Do you want some breakfast?" Jessica asked as she carried him down the stairs. He shook his head 'no' and rested his head on her shoulder. "Do you want to watch some cartoons?" He nodded and yawned against Jessica's shirt as they walked into the family room beside the kitchen.
"I don't know if Elmo is on but we can look, okay?" She sat on the couch and cradled Kyle in her arms as she turned the TV on. They flipped to the cartoon channels and settled on "Blue's Clues".
Jessica and Kyle sat and watched TV until JC padded downstairs more than two hours later. "G'morning." He smiled with squinted eyes and electric hair.
"Hi daddy." Kyle grinned from his spot warm on Jessica's lap.
"Did you sleep well?" Jessica asked.
"Yeah, thanks for letting me get a little extra." He walked up behind them and placed a kiss on the top of Jessica's head. "How long have you guys been up?"
"Not long. We've seen a couple episodes of Blue's Clues."
"Ahh cool. Blue's Clues rocks." JC smiled and messed Kyle's hair. "How's your finger big guy?"
"Do you want some breakfast?"
"What do you want?"
"Mouse cakes." Kyle said without taking his eyes off the TV.
"Mouse cakes?" Jessica gave JC a questioning look, not sure if she really wanted to know.
"Mickey Mouse pancakes? Coming right up." JC laughed. "Jessica?"
"Sounds good to me." She smiled and tickled Kyle's side. "You like Mickey Mouse pancakes, huh?"
"Awesome." Jessica stood up and reached down for Kyle. "Do you want me to change his bandages before we eat?"
"Would you mind?" JC asked with a look of concern. He wasn't looking forward to changing them and seeing the black stitches across Kyle's finger, so if Jessica was willing to do it he was okay with that.
"Not at all." She shook her head. "Where did you put the gauze and wash stuff?"
"It's still in the bag there by the phone." He nodded to the little alcove at the end of the kitchen as he went about getting the ingredients he needed out of the cupboards.
"All righty kiddo, we've got to get your finger cleaned up a little bit." Jessica picked up the bag and set Kyle on the island behind JC. "Do you want to watch so you'll know what to do?"
"No." JC shook his head and kept his attention on the box of pancake mix.
"Jace you're going to have to do this."
"So watch." She smiled, then turned to the sink to wash her hands. With clean hands she took off Kyle's old bandage and set it aside. She opened the new package as Kyle looked on in silence. "All you have to do is take off the old one and make sure its not red or swollen. It looks good right now actually."
"It's kind of swollen there." JC said as he looked away quickly.
"It's just bruised. The doctor said that was to be expected. But it doesnt look bad, and it's not warm to the touch."
"Warm would be bad, right?"
"Right." Jessica nodded as she carefully wrapped the new bandage around Kyle's finger and secured it with a thin strip of surgical tape.
"Whyssat?" Kyle asked with a frown.
"That's to keep your bandage on. Like a big band aid."
"Oh." Kyle turned his hand over. "My supeman?"
"You want your sticker?"
"Oh okay." She peeled it off the old bandage and used the tape to stick it on the back of his new bandage. "There you go."
"That looks easy." JC nodded, though he hadn't really paid attention.
"I don't have to wash it?"
"No, you dont have to. You can wash it gently with soap and water, but it looks good right now." Jessica shook her head and placed Kyle on the floor. "But all in all you want to keep it dry and clean."
"Okay." JC nodded and poured milk into the mixing bowl on the counter. He made up a half dozen Mickey Mouse pancakes and served them up with chocolate chip smiles and marshmallow eyes.
"Oh man, this is like dessert." Jessica laughed and the silly face smiling up at her from her plate.
"It's good." JC laughed and sprinkled powdered sugar across the top of his pancakes.
"Not sweet enough for you?" Jessica raised her eyebrow at him as Kyle picked the chocolate chips off one by one.
"Not quite." JC smirked and added an extra sprinkle just because.
"It's no wonder you guys are always amped." She shook her head and took a bite of an ear. "These are good plain."
"Booooring." JC made a face and smiled at Kyle as the little boy laughed.
"You silly." Kyle shook his head with smears of melted chocolate chips on his fingers and lips.
"I'm silly? You've got chocolate all over you." JC laughed and leaned over to cut Kyle's pancakes into bite sized pieces before drizzling syrup over them. "Eat up kiddo."
They smiled through breakfast and Jessica tried not to think about having to leave that afternoon. When they were done JC took Kyle upstairs to get dressed while Jessica went to the master bedroom to take a shower and get her things packed up to go. The morning passed faster than she would have wanted to, and by the time she zipped her suitcase closed, she realized that it was already after .
Jessica sighed and placed her hands on her hips. Her hair was slowly drying in the ponytail she put it in, so she took it out and brushed it again before going downstairs. Kyle met her at the bottom of the stairs with a wide grin. "Jessi see?"
"Hey sweetie. You want to show me something?"
"What do you have?" Jessica took his unbandaged hand and let him pull her into the kitchen.
"Have a cookie." Kyle pointed to the open Oreo bag in the pantry.
"You want a cookie?"
"Yeah." Kyle giggled and bounced up on his toes.
"How about some lunch? You should probably have lunch before you have a cookie."
"Umm." Kyle thought about that for a minute. "No wan lunch."
"You don't want lunch?"
"Okay. Well how about if we get you something for a snack and you can take it with us in the car?" Jessica pulled a zip lock baggie out of the drawer and handed it to Kyle.
"Ouside." Kyle sighed and looked in the empty bag. "No isa snack."
"Here." Jessica reached into the pantry and opened up the box of crackers at Kyle's eye level. "Put some crackers in the bag."
"And we go bye?"
"Yep, I'm going to go get your daddy then we have to go."
"Kay." Kyle stood on his tiptoes and reached into the cracker box. "I have free cackers?"
"You can have three, sure. Have as many as you want." Jessica nodded as she stepped to the back door. "Jace?" She leaned out the door and shielded her eyes from the sun. "We have to get going."
"Oh man, is it already?"
"Yeah." She nodded and crinkled her nose; she didn't want to leave.
"All righty." He nodded and tossed the tennis ball for Candy one more time. "Go get it girl."
Candy barked softly and took off after the bright green ball. JC walked up to the patio and dropped a kiss on her lips as he passed. "Is Kyle ready?"
"He's getting a snack."
"He wasn't hungry for lunch and I told him you'd swing by Mc Donald's and get him a happy meal on the way home."
"Ah I see. You're making promises for me to keep, huh?" He laughed and put his hand on her hip.
"I figured you wouldn't complain too much. Now that I'm leaving its safe for you do go back to your happy meal routine." She raised her eyebrow and laughed lightly.
"It's not a routine." JC grinned and shook his head.
"Okay." She said, though the tone said she would be a fool to believe him.
"He likes to go and it's still good food. He loves the chicken."
"I didn't say anything." She laughed.
"And he doesn't really eat the fries. He just likes the toy."
"You don't have to convince me JC." Jessica smiled and stepped past him into the house where Kyle was putting crackers into his snack bag one at a time. "Is your snack ready to go?"
"Um, I need cookie."
"You need a cookie?"
"How about we put two in there?" Jessica reached over his head and pulled two Oreo's out of the open bag. "There you go. One for you and one for your daddy." She dropped them into his bag then slid the plastic seal closed. "Perfect, lets go."
"Did you put a cookie in there for me?" JC asked as he walked up behind Kyle and scooped him up.
"Yeah." Kyle laughed as JC growled into his neck.
"Good, I love cookies." JC laughed and bounced Kyle on his hip. "Where's your luggage? I'll go get it loaded up if you can take Kyle and get him n the car."
"I put it in the car already. We're ready to go."
"Jess, those are heavy."
"I managed." She laughed and grabbed the keys off the little table with the phone. "Come on, I don't want to be late."
"We won't be late." JC rolled his eyes and smiled at Kyle. "Your Jessi worries too much."
"Yeah." Kyle sighed and nodded as if he understood completely. "She worry for me and daddy and Jessi and a pane."
"Yep, she worries about everything."
"I don't worry about everything; I just don't want to be late. I have to check my luggage and if the guy isn't at the curb I have to go inside and wait in -
"Okay, okay!" JC held up his hand. "I got it; you don't want to be late. Well come on lets go." He smiled as he rushed past her with Kyle in his arms. He paused for a moment to kiss her quickly, then went to load Kyle into his car seat. "You know, you wouldn't have to leave if..." JC smiled at her over the back of the seat as she climbed in and shut the door.
"I know." Jessica smiled. She knew all right. She knew and she kept thinking about that, giving it a lot more thought than she meant to.
"Okay." JC smiled back, then shut the back door and hopped in the drivers seat.
They drove to the airport with Kyle babbling in the backseat about airplanes and stages and how they were both big. He seemed to forget about his bandaged hand as he talked animatedly about flying in the air. Jessica and JC popped in every now and then with "Mmm hmm." and "That's right, they are really big" every now and then but for the most part it was Kyle's little voice filling the car.
When they pulled up in front of the terminal, Kyle stopped talking and frowned at the window. "We go ona pane?"
"Nope, not this time." JC said as he parallel parked against the curb.
"I'm going on a plane to go home." Jessica nodded.
"I can go too?" Kyle asked as he reached for the buckle on his seat.
"Nope. I have to go by myself this time." Jessica shook her head and looked into the back seat.
"I can go lato?" Kyle frowned and held his bandaged hand on his lap.
"Yep, maybe later you can come with me." She opened the passenger side door and got out to lean into the back seat. "I love you sweetie." She kissed his cheek quick and gave him an awkward hug in the car seat.
"Love you too." Kyle giggled as Jessica's hair tickled his ear. "See you morrow?"
"Hmm, not tomorrow." Jessica shook her head slowly. "But I'll call you tomorrow, how's that?"
"Kay." Kyle nodded.
"I'll call you tonight too."
"Okay sweetie." She sighed and smiled again, "Bye bye." With another kiss to his warm cheek, she slid out of the car and went to the back where JC was already getting her luggage out.
JC sat her heavy bag on the sidewalk then put his hands on his hips, "So."
"So." Jessica laughed lightly and wrapped her arms around his waist.
"So do you think you'll be able to come out and see us?"
"Yeah. I think so."
"Probably." She nodded. "I have to go home for a bit and check my finances and all that. I'll call you this weekend and let you know when I'll be out and all that."
"I'll pick up your ticket."
"You don't -
"Hush." JC laughed and put his finger to her lips as cars zipped past the drop off lane.
"JC." Jessica smiled around his finger.
"Stop it. Just let me know when you can come and I'll get you your ticket. It's not a big deal. I'd pay three times as much to have you come out." He let his hands fall to her hips as he kissed her softly. "Thank you so much for being here this week. It really meant it meant a lot Jess. With Kyle and his his hand and just everything."
"It's no problem."
"I don't know what I would have done without you."
"You'd have managed it okay." Jessica smiled and held him close. She hated saying goodbye and could hardly wait for the day when she wouldn't have to. "I'll see you next week, okay?"
"And like I told Kyle, I'll call tonight when I get home."
"Okay." JC nodded and kissed her again. "Tell the pilot to fly safe."
"I will." Jessica laughed and stepped up onto the sidewalk where her bags were waiting. "Bye bye Kyle."
"Bye bye bye!" Kyle giggled from his car seat.
"I love you." JC said almost shyly as he pulled his car keys from his pocket.
"I love you too." Jessica smiled and blushed as she shaded the sun from her eyes.
"Bye." He swung the keys on his finger and leaned against the back of his car as other cars pulled out into the moving lanes, he was taking too long in the loading zone.
"Bye." Jessica waved once, then grabbed her bags and headed into the airport wondering if she could really buckle down and decide to move down there just to avoid the scenes at the airport.
JC waited until she was in the wide automatic doors before he climbed back into his car and headed home. They stopped at Mc Donald's on the way, as promised, and ate their meal at the kitchen table in silence. JC gave Kyle his medicine after they ate then took him upstairs for a late nap. The doctor said to cut down the medicine on Thursday if he was doing okay, so taking a late nap once wouldn't hurt his schedule too badly.
With Kyle in his bed upstairs, JC hopped down the stairs and went to his little desk near the kitchen to look at the phone calls he had to return. As he flipped through the short stack of scribbled notes he'd left himself, the phone rang by his hand. The caller ID number flashed on the screen, but JC didn't recognize it. It was a local number, so it could have been anyone. "Hello?" He answered softly.
"JC? This is Lori. Listen, about yesterday -
"Yeah, what happened?" His heart skipped a beat as he heard the tone he used.
"Our rental car broke down and I didn't have my phone book thing with me. I tried to dial from memory, but I got a wrong number." She explained quickly.
"I didn't get to your house until almost one but you guys had left or whatever, so I anyway, I'm sorry."
"So am I." His jaw became tense and he tried not to grit his teeth.
"Is Kyle there?"
"He's asleep? It's three in the afternoon, isn't that late for a nap?"
"Well yeah, but his medication knocks him out and he needs his rest." JC took a deep breath and closed his eyes tightly.
"Medication? Is he sick again? He seemed fine this weekend."
"No. No, he's not sick. He got six stitches in his finger yesterday so -
"What?!" Her voice raised a notch and JC seriously thought about hanging up the phone.
"He has six stitches in his finger so I've been giving him Children's Tylenol and it sometimes knocks him out. But he didn't get a nap this afternoon either so he was probably -"
"What happened? How'd he get hurt? Is he okay?"
"He's fine." JC ran his hand over his face then pinched his chin with a sigh.
"What happened?" She asked again.
"I he got his hand shut in the car door. But nothing's broken."
"I dont care if your car's broken." She said sharply.
"I mean his hand. His fingers. Nothing there is broken; he just has a little cut on his finger and some bruising."
"A little cut? Six stitches are a lot for a little boy. Is he okay?"
"He's fine." JC sighed.
"How did that happen?"
JC winced, that was the part of the story he was hoping to skip over. "When you didn't show up we decided to go out to the beach so Kyle and I were loading up the car and I didn't see him standing there. When I shut the door it was his hand was there."
"You did it?"
"It was an accident." JC said quickly.
She took a deep breath and exhaled into the phone. JC counted up to ten before she spoke again. "He's okay though?"
"Where is the cut?"
"It's on his middle finger. On the kind of on the tip of his middle finger. On the pad by his joint."
"And he got stitches?"
"Six stitches, yeah. They're small."
"I can't believe this." She said under her breath and probably to herself.
JC kept silent on his end of the phone; he knew how he'd feel if Lori was watching Kyle and he somehow got hurt.
"Can... can I call tonight and talk to him? Or well maybe tomorrow since I'm getting in late tonight."
"Sure. Yeah, of course you can." JC nodded.
"I mean, since it's not our scheduled time."
"You can pretty much call any time you want to Lori." JC tried to keep his tone light.
She paused for a second and he heard a voice over the loud speaker on her end. "Okay. I have to get going. They're going to start boarding my flight here any minute."
"Okay." JC pinched his lower lip. "I'll talk to you later then."
"Bye." JC clicked the phone off and sighed. After a second he realized that he was still upset at her for not showing up. Part of him wanted to somehow call her back and let her now exactly what was on his mind, but another part knew he had to keep the waters calm and not rock the boat too much. She messed up and she lost out. He and Kyle were doing fine on their own, in the big scheme of things.
Looking at his watch he knew there was no way Jessica would be home yet, so he took the phone out to the backyard to play with Candy while he called his mom and dad. They were sympathetic when JC told them about Kyle's hand, but assured him that all parents went through the same thing at one time or another. In fact, his dad told him to be prepared to do it again, because Kyle was only two and that left a good ten more years of little fingers to watch out for.
In a way that made JC feel a little better, as talking to his parents almost always did. They chatted until Kyle woke up from his nap, then JC excused himself and got a snack ready for his son. JC and Kyle spent the afternoon relaxing around the house and playing outside with Candy, though JC wouldn't let Kyle play on the playset for fear of him getting his finger dirty or damaging the bandages taped to his hand.
Jessica called to check in when she got home and was just in time to say good night to Kyle. "He's going to bed already?" Jessica asked.
"Yeah. I gave him the Tylenol again because he was saying it hurt."
"Okay " She said, but she didn't sound too sure.
"It's not too early though. Considering he was up really early this morning, remember?"
"Oh yeah, how could I forget?" Jessica laughed softly. "Okay, well go ahead and put him to bed. I just wanted to call and let you know I made it home safe and everything."
"Okay, thanks." JC nodded.
"I'll call you tomorrow, or later this week, and let you know about
"You're coming though, right?"
"Yeah. I'm just not sure what day."
"Okay. We're meeting with Sean tomorrow so I wanted to know so I can tell him."
"I'm calling Sean next, so he'll know."
"Great." JC smiled, and he couldn't wait to see her again. "We're going to have a great time."
"Yeah, I like the city."
"Me too." JC sighed softly. "Okay, well I'm going to go put this tired little boy to bed."
"Okay, good night."
"Good night. I love you."
"I love you too. And Kyle. Give him a hug and a kiss for me."
"What about me?"
Jessica laughed, "Okay give yourself a hug and a kiss for me too."
"You're a nut."
"You're a nut." Jessica laughed, "I'll talk to you later."
"Okay, bye." JC chuckled and
bounced Kyle on his hip as he hung up the phone. He
placed a kiss on Kyle's forehead and said, "That was from your Jessi. She's going to come see us in
"Yeah." Kyle yawned and rested his head on JC's shoulder.
"But you're tired. Let's get you upstairs." JC kissed his son's temple again and carried up to his bedroom. He loved seeing Kyle's little figure curled up on the bed that was almost too big for him. It made him feel like the protector, which was something he rarely got to feel when it was just him. JC stood at the doorway and watched Kyle get comfortable under the covers for a minute, then slinked off to his own room to settle down for the night with his notebook that he'd been neglecting for a week. He had a lot on his mind that needed to find it way out, and the sooner the better.
In the morning JC and Kyle shared a breakfast of toast and scrambled eggs in silence. Neither of them were really morning people, and they'd gotten used to basically avoiding each other until they'd been up for a half hour at least. When they were done JC shuttled Kyle back upstairs and they both got dressed and ready for the day.
"Oh man." JC said under his breath as he tucked in his shirt. "Shit. Kyle, hey buddy. Come here for a minute. We have to change your bandage thing." JC raised his voice as he walked down the hall to Kyle's room. "Kyle?"
"Yeah?" Kyle appeared at his bedroom door.
"Come in here with me. We've gotta change your thing."
"My dipo?" Kyle's hand went to his crotch. "No."
"Not your diaper, tough guy. Your bandage. On your hand." JC wiggled his fingers then turned on the water and washed his hands. He dried them on the bright blue towel then sat on the closed toilet seat. "Okay let me see your hand."
"No is owie daddy." Kyle's face squished up as he hid his hand behind his back.
"I know it's an owie, but we have to change the bandages and make sure it's not infected."
"No is fetted." Kyle shook his head.
"I don't think it is either, but I have to change the bandages. Remember Jessica did it yesterday? That didn't hurt, did it?"
"Okay so that's all we're going to do today."
"My Jessi can?" Kyle asked, leaving his hand behind his back.
"No, I'm going to do it today."
"Jessica's not here."
"Nope, she's not here."
"Yeah my Jessi can do."
"I need to do it today buddy." JC shook his head and pulled Kyle onto his lap. They sat together on the toilet and JC held Kyle's arm tight. "Just let me take it off and make sure it's clean." Kyle only struggled a little bit until JC got the bandage off and tossed them in the bright blue trashcan at his side.
"Hey." Kyle said with a confused look on his face. "Whas issat?"
"That?" JC looked at Kyle's finger and pushed back a wave of nausea. He averted his eyes to smile at Kyle and said, "Those are your stitches."
"Because when you got your owie the doctors had to put those in to keep it closed so it doesn't get worse." JC explained as he tried not to look at the tiny row of dark stitches on his sons hand.
"You have one?"
"Nope, I don't have any." JC shook his head and reached for the sealed package of new bandages. Kyle took the index finger of his opposite hand and reached to touch the stitches. "Oh, hey no." JC grabbed his wrist before he could touch. "No, don't touch them. You've got germs on your hand and you don't want them to get in your owie."
"Yep, you've got germs."
"Yeah, I have germs too I guess. But I washed my hands to I could change your bandages."
"I wass too?"
"We can wash your hand when we're done here, yeah."
"Kay." Kyle sighed and leaned back against JC's chest.
JC replaced the bandages on Kyle's hand and tried not to look at the gash on Kyle's finger. There was bruising down the length of his finger and his hand had a reddish purple look to it. The wound itself wasn't swollen or infected looking as far as JC could see, so he wrapped it in the sterile gauze and taped it into place. He took an extra length of tape and stuck the superman sticker back into place then set Kyle on the floor. "Okay buddy, we're done."
"Does it feel okay?"
"Cool, then let's go get you dressed and we'll take off."
"No daddy I say here."
"We can't stay here; I have to go to work."
JC paused and thought for a moment. "Yeah. Yeah you can come to work with me today. I don't think you're ready to go back to school just yet."
"I go a work?"
"Yeah. You can come to work with me. We'll pack you some little toys or something, and a snack. I think we're just going over our itinerary anyway, so that won't be a problem." JC said to himself.
"Kay." Kyle nodded and headed for his room. "I hava packpack?"
"Yep, we'll put everything in your backpack." JC followed him into his room and went about getting Kyle's clothes out for the day. He got Kyle dressed then sent him on a mission to find a few toys that would fit in his backpack to take with them while JC went to get dressed himself.
They left the house ten minutes after JC had wanted to leave, then drove across town to the compound where everyone was meeting. "Okay buddy, now remember I'm going to be working today."
"And the guys are going to be there but we're working, okay? We can't play."
"Yeah a little."
"No, we can't play at all. We have to work."
"I wok a little?"
JC sighed and bit his lip, "Yeah, you can work a little too." JC said as he got Kyle out of his car seat. "And you need to be quiet in there."
"How does your hand feel?" He set Kyle on the gravel driveway and reached into the car for the backpack.
"Is a owie." Kyle frowned and looked at the bandage.
"Does it hurt?"
"Do you want more medicine?"
"No. Is ucky."
"Yeah but it'll make you feel better." JC looked at his watch. "Actually, you shouldn't need any for another hour or so." He said softly. "We'll give you some later, okay?"
"Kay." Kyle shrugged and pulled at the hem of his shirt. "Go inside?"
"Yeah." JC put his hand on Kyle's head to make sure he was out of the way when he shut the car door, then scooped the little boy up and headed into the studio. JC's stomach did a cartwheel as he heard the voices inside. He wasn't sure how the guys would react to seeing Kyle there at all, nevermind with a bandaged hand. His questions were answered when they walked in the door and waved to Chris, the first guy they saw.
"Daddy dow." Kyle wiggled until JC set him on the floor.
"Hey little man, what's happening?" Chris asked as he jumped off the barstool and trotted over to the door.
"Hava owie." Kyle's bottom lip stuck out as he held up his hand.
"What happened?" Chris looked up at JC quickly.
"Mommy say she - Kyle started.
"Did she hurt him? What happened?" Chris interrupted Kyle as his ears flashed red with instant anger.
"No, she didn't hurt him. I -
"Daddy put my owie ina door." Kyle sighed and held his hand up again.
"You put his hand in the door?" Chris looked more shocked by the second.
"No! I didn't put it there, it was an accident." JC shook his head. "He was getting into the car and I didn't see him."
"You shut his hand in the car door?" Chris asked as he knelt beside Kyle. "Are you okay buddy?"
"It was an accident." JC repeated.
"I kay. I hava sicker." Kyle showed off the old superman sticker that JC had been taping to the new bandages.
"That's pretty cool." Chris nodded then stood up. "Is it broken?"
"No. Its not broken he just has stitches in his finger." JC's stomach tumbled at the thought. "We had it x-rayed and everything."
"Was she there?"
"Oh, no. She was supposed to come by and see him but she wasn't there on time so we decided to leave and that's when it happened. Jessica was there though. She drove to the hospital and sat with him while they uh while they stitched him up."
"Well that's good she was there man, you would have fainted."
"I almost did." JC nodded with a small smile.
"So she just didn't show up again huh?"
"Apparently she showed up after we left, but still we didn't leave until she was already more than an hour late."
"Damn." Chris shook his head. "Why'd she even bother coming out here?"
"Day trips to
"What a bi - Chris stopped himself as Kyle let go of JC's hand and walked toward the door leading to the studio. "Seriously."
"Yeah, well " JC sighed.
"But Kyle's okay?"
"He's a drama queen." JC laughed lightly. "But yeah, he's okay."
"Kyle? A drama queen? How'd that happen?" Chris rolled his eyes and followed Kyle into the studio.
"What happened?" Justin asked as he jumped up off the floor. He reached for Kyle and picked him up to plant a quick kiss on his forehead. "Hey tough guy what happened to your hand?"
"Daddy hava owie on me." Kyle explained with his bottom lip in the well practiced pout.
"What?" Justin looked to Kyle as Joey walked over to see what the fuss was about.
"What'd you do?" Joey asked.
"It was an accident. Kyle was getting in the car and I didn't see him " JC took a deep breath.
"Put my owie ina door." Kyle sighed.
"You shut his hand in the car door?" Justin asked as Joey winced noticeably with his hands over his stomach.
"Mother fu- "Joey started to swear before the words melted away into a cough. "Ouch."
"Yeah isa owie." Kyle nodded and held his hand out to Justin. "I supeman now."
"That's a cool sticker." Justin nodded and looked at JC. "Is he okay?"
"He's fine. He got a few stitches and he has to take Tylenol every couple hours, but yeah he's cool."
"No." JC shook his head. "We got it x-rayed at the emergency room and they said nothing was broken. He's moving his hand around just fine. It's just that finger."
"His middle one huh?" Joey smirked. "He'll have fun showing off the scar."
"Scar?" JC said softly, he hadn't thought of that. "You think it'll scar?"
"Heck yeah." Joey reached up and pulled his hair back from his temple. "You see that little triangle thing there by my ear? I got that when I was like, one and a half. Steve knocked me into the corner of our screen door and I bashed my head open."
"That explains a lot about you Joe." Justin laughed and set Kyle on the ground again.
"Shut it." Joey thwaped Justin across the back of his head.
"It won't scar that bad." Chris said as he patted JC's back. He'd been the only one who caught the look of guilt in JC's eyes at the word 'scar'.
"Man I hope not."
"Scars are cool." Joey laughed. "You feeling okay kid? Does your dad have you looped up on drugs now?"
"He's on children's Tylenol." JC said again. "He's not looped."
"You should give him a shot of whiskey. Just like, four drops and the kid wouldn't be feeling any pain." Joey joked as he sat in the recliner chair.
"Yeah, I'll just ruin his pint sized liver, that's good." JC rolled his eyes and set Kyle's bag on the couch at the back of the studio. "So anyway, he's gonna hang out here with us today, is that okay?"
"That's cool with me." Chris nodded as he went to his own backpack and took his Gameboy out. "Here you go Kyle; you can play with this if you want. It makes all kinds of noise and it lights up."
"Yeah, it's cool." Chris turned it on and set it on the couch as Kyle climbed up.
"Where's Lance?" JC asked with his fingers in his hair. He was ready to get down to work and there were several people missing from the mental roll call he was doing in his head.
"He was taking a call with Johnny in the office." Justin shrugged.
"I'm here." Lance called as he trotted into the studio in his warm up outfit. "I'm here, what'd I miss?"
"JC shut Kyle's hand in the door." Joey said without looking up from the binder on the desk. They were each given a binder to write down ideas and take notes, though usually they just had scribbles and doodles in them.
"What? Is he okay?" Lance stopped smiling and scanned the studio. "When?" He asked when he spotted JC by the couch.
"The day before yesterday." JC sighed and licked his lips.
"Shit, why didn't you call?" Lance at on the couch by Kyle. "Hey dude, can I see your hand?"
"Isa owie." Kyle said as he put his hand on Lance's knee.
"I see that. You've got it bandaged up pretty good there."
"He's got six stitches."
"You took him to the hospital?" Lance asked.
"Well he didn't stitch him himself, braniac." Chris laughed and spun around in the office chair.
"No, I mean " Lance looked up at JC. "He's okay?"
"Yeah. Jessica took us to the emergency room and he got x-rayed and stitched up. Nothing's broken."
"That's good." Lance's brow remained knitted as he looked down at Kyle then reached to mess his hair. "You've gotta be careful around cars, huh buddy?"
"Yeah." Kyle nodded the picked up the Gameboy and played it single-handedly.
"Man, he's lucky nothing got broke. My dad slammed my hand in the car door when I was like, nine and I broke my finger."
"He's one lucky little guy." JC nodded then fell into his seat beside Joey's. "We need to get to work though; we've got a lot of catching up to do."
"And whose fault is that?" Justin raised his eyebrow at JC. "I think someone here might have requested a couple days off to play house."
"And I think someone else might have taken those same days and gone to the beach to fuck around on Sea Do's." Chris raised his eyebrow at Justin. "Don't try to play it off like you were all ready to work and JC wanted a day off."
"Fine whatever, it's my fault." JC sighed. "So now we've gotta get down to work. If you guys wanna just goof off today that's fine. But I'm getting this stuff done."
"We're on a deadline. There will be no goofing off." Sean said as he walked into the little studio.
"Hey Sean." Joey raised his hand in a wave without looking up from the binder.
"Sean, Sean, Bo Bon, Banana Fana Fo Fon, Fee Fye Fo Fon Fon, Sean!" Chris sang as he spun around in the chair again.
"Well look who we have here. Kyle, my man. How's it hangin'?"
"I hava owie." Kyle stuck his bottom lip out and offered his hand to Sean.
"Whoa, what happened?" Sean looked to JC for the answer.
JC took a deep breath and began, "It was -
"It was an accident. JC shut his hand in the car door but nothings broken and he's got stitches but he's fine." Justin cut him off as he waved his hands through the air. "I'm gonna buy you a shirt that says that."
"Don't be a brat." Chris stopped spinning long enough to smack Justin's butt and laugh.
"Oooh baby, hit me again." Justin put an innocent look on his face and stuck his butt in Chris' direction again.
"Get out of here you perv." Chris slapped Justin again and they both burst out laughing.
"Okay, okay. Gather around, we've got work to do. Joey? Can I have a minute of your time?" He waved Joey over from the couch and tapped his papers on his thigh.
When they were all sitting or standing around Sean and giving him their undivided attention, Sean got down to business. They worked through the morning and went over their busy schedule for when they would be recording on the road. Since they'd be using different producers for almost every new song, they had to coordinate schedules with them as well so things were getting a little nerve wracking.
When they got to scheduling
"We don't have any free days, but -
"Oh come on, we can't get one free day in the city?" Lance rolled his eyes and didn't listen to the rest of what Sean was saying.
"But you'll have most of your nights free. You can hit an evening show if you'd like."
"Yeah but matinee's are better. More casual and stuff. Less crowds." Lance bit his lip and frowned into his lap.
"Come on Lance." JC sighed and raked his fingers through his hair. "So you go to an evening show, who cares? I'm sure Amy won't mind dressing up and going out after."
"Oooh, watch out Lance. You don't want to piss JC off, he might accidentally shut your hand in the door." Justin joked and bumped shoulders with Chris.
"Hey." Chris, Joey and Lance said in unison as JC inhaled sharply.
"Knock it off." Chris frowned and smacked at the back of Justin's head.
"That's not funny." Joey shook his head.
"It was an accident." Lance sighed and ran his hands through his hair in an unintentional imitation of JC.
"It's okay." JC said softly as he took a deep breath.
"Focus guys. We're almost done." Sean tapped his pencil against his binder to bring their attention back to their schedule.
"Come here buddy." JC held his hand out for Kyle who was looking bored on the couch. "We're almost done."
"Daddy we go." Kyle whined.
"In a minute."
"Now." Kyle whined loudly as JC pulled him onto his lap.
"We can't go now. We've got a
little more work to do." JC whispered as Sean went back to their schedule for
"No wok. We go bye bye."
"In a minute." JC whispered. "Shhh, we'll go in a minute."
Kyle's frown was set deep as he glared up at JC. "I go now."
"Not now Kyle. We'll be done in a minute."
"I doe like you." Kyle said with tears in his eyes as he slid off JC's lap. Everyone in the room heard Kyle's little words and sat soundlessly as Kyle sniffed dramatically and walked over to where Lance was sitting. "I see Laaance?"
"Hey kiddo." Lance picked Kyle up and held him on his lap with a quick look at the others. JC's eyes shifted quickly as he licked his lips and blushed all the way to his ears. For the rest of their meeting Kyle rested his head on Lance's shoulder and no one but Sean spoke. JC watched with an almost jealous stare and a knot in his stomach. Kyle had always loved his uncles and JC was grateful to have them be such a great part of his life, but seeing Kyle choose one of them over him hurt in a way that JC never expected.
Copyright © 2003, Amy Lynn