By the time JC returned from the studio that night, Kyle was already asleep in the bedroom and Jessica was fading fast on the couch with the TV on. "Hey." He whispered softly as he pushed the door open. The light from the hall lit up the sitting area and roused Jessica from her half-sleep.
"Hey." She smiled and stretched her arms over her head.
"How'd it go?" They asked at the same time. Jessica smiled and nodded for JC to answer.
"It was fine. I would have rather been here though."
"We have tomorrow."
"Part of the day, yeah." JC nodded and crawled onto the couch beside her. "Your turn."
"We had fun. Kyle is such a doll, I swear. I don't know what you're doing with him, but he is such a character. He had those little stuffed animals all over the place talking to each other and playing together." She shook her head and smiled.
"He's got a really wild imagination."
"That's for sure."
"Did Lori call?"
"Yeah. Pretty much on time."
"The clock on the phone said she was like, two minutes late."
"Ahh, no that's cool." JC licked his lips and pulled her onto his lap. Just having her that close made him instantly comfortable. "How'd the call go?"
"Were you nice?"
"Yes." Jessica rested her head on his shoulder. "I'm always nice."
JC responded with an amused snort and shook his head. "Seriously, were you?"
"Yes. But more importantly, she was."
"She was what? Nice?"
"Yeah. We actually had like a conversation. It was almost weird." Jessica frowned slowly. "Maybe she's changing though. I haven't talked to her in a while."
"No, I " JC stopped. "Yeah. I guess maybe she is changing."
"That's a good thing."
"If she can keep it up, yeah." JC sighed and rested is head against the back of the couch. "Let's talk about something else though. What do you want to do tomorrow?"
"How much time do we have?"
"Um." JC hummed for a second. "I don't know. I could get up and check but that would require getting up. And I don't want to do that." He nuzzled his nose into her hair and kissed her neck quickly.
"Hmm hmm." He agreed without moving his lips.
"Well where do you want to go?"
JC removed his face from her hair and smiled, "I've been here a dozen times already. Where do you want to go?"
"I've been here almost every time you've been here." Jessica laughed and reached up to smooth his hair down.
"Rockefeller Center. We can go ice skating."
"You want to go ice skating?"
"Yeah." She nodded. "Do you know how?"
"Of course I do."
"Yeah I guess we could rent skates and teach Kyle, huh? Or is he too young?" JC gave Jessica a quick look of concern.
"No, I'm sure he'll be fine." Jessica squealed softly. "Yay! An afternoon!"
"Yay." JC mustered very little enthusiasm. "Then I'm back in the studio."
"Do you think we'll be able to catch a show? I can't be in New York and not catch a Broadway show."
"You can. I'm sure you can find a matinee tomorrow or something. We'll be in the studio most of the evening."
"Yeah but a theater is no place for a two year old." Jessica shook her head.
"Have Frank watch him."
"No no that's okay. If we get some free time in the evening we can go. If not then I'll just see two next time I'm here." Jessica smiled and played with JC's hair. She wanted to remind him yet again that he needed a haircut, but his curls were actually growing on her and she wasn't sure how she'd feel if they were suddenly gone.
"What's playing that you'd want to see?"
"Rent." Jessica said with a sure nod. "Or The Producers."
"Hmm. I'll have to see what we can do."
Jessica smiled and kissed JC, "You are perfect." She said softly.
"I know." He laughed with his usual smugness then stood up and pulled her to her feet. "But I'm also exhausted. Let's go get some sleep."
"Ooo, you said the magic word." Jessica yawned and let him lead her to the bedroom where Kyle lay snoring in the bed by the wall.
"I think he's got the right idea." JC yawned and shuffled around in the dark room, lit only with the light coming in through the window from the moon above and the street below.
Jessica climbed into the bed and burrowed under the blankets to get warm as JC brushed his teeth in the connected bathroom. When he slid in beside her a few minutes later he radiated body heat and held her close. "I love you." He mumbled as he shifted so that her head was on his shoulder. He reached a cold hand over and pulled her leg to cover his like a human blanket.
"I love you too." She sighed and smiled into his chest. The decision to move in with him got easier with each second she spent with him. It was only a matter of time before there were no questions at all and the time was right. "Maybe for Christmas " She thought to herself as she rested her hand flat on JC's chest. She felt his heart beat and heard his breath go deep and even before she closed her eyes and let herself fall into the dream world, which could in no way compare to the life she was lucky enough to live in.
The next afternoon they were given free time to do whatever they wanted, within reason. Joey immediately grabbed Chris and they headed for Brooklyn where Joey promised they'd be able to find a great pick up game of basketball on the corner where he grew up. Justin hit the MTV studios to check in and say hi, not completely understanding the concept of a free afternoon. Lance stayed in the hotel and talked on the phone with Amy, who wasn't able to fly up to hang out with them. They discussed wedding plans and as he tried not to doze off she detailed their meal and what kind of cake she'd finally decided on.
As soon as they were given permission to leave, JC and Jessica grabbed Frank and Kyle and headed for the hospital first, to get Kyle's stitches out, and then on to Rockefeller Center. JC had promised Jessica that they would go and he wouldn't go back on that. They rented skates with little fanfare and were able to make their way around the rink a dozen times before anyone recognized him.
They were bundled up in layers to keep warm as JC skated all hunched over, holding onto Kyle's hands. Kyle's skates slid all over the ice but he laughed hysterically each time JC pulled him back to a standing position.
"I think he's too young for skates." Jessica laughed as she skid to a stop beside them.
"He's doing great." JC shook his head and adjusted the hat on Kyle's head. "Are you having fun?" He asked the little boy.
"Yeah. Is code."
"Heck yeah it's cold. We're on the ice, man."
"Ice ina juice?"
"Yep, kinda like the ice we put in your juice." JC laughed and caught Kyle under his arms before he fell on his butt.
"Whoa! Daddy whoa!"
"Whoa is right." JC picked Kyle up and leaned against the low wall surrounding the ice. "Are you ready to head in?" He asked Jessica.
"Whenever you are." She nodded and rubbed her bare hands together to warm them up.
"Your cheeks are bright pink."
Jessica tilted her head to the side and raised an eyebrow, "So are yours."
"Both of you look like Eskimos." JC laughed and looked from Jessica to Kyle. "Are you hungry buddy? Do you want some pizza?"
"Yeah!" Kyle giggled and sniffed as the cold air made his nose run. "Daddy I take off." He reached down and touched his tiny skates.
"Are you hungry?" JC looked to Jessica.
"I could eat." She nodded and pushed away from the wall.
"Uh oh, she's trying to get away."
"Get my Jessi!" Kyle shrieked with laughter as JC took off after her. They came to a stop side by side and laughed as they stepped into the waiting area together. "I get you!" Kyle laughed and dove for Jessica.
She caught him and held him close as they waved at Frank and stepped into the warm rental room. They returned their skates and changed back into their walking shoes before heading out. Several girls stopped JC for autographs and pictures so Jessica held Kyle and stayed just out of reach next to Frank.
They were able to spend the afternoon together before the guys were shuttled back into the studio to re-work some of the vocals they'd done the day before. JC returned to the room late again, long after Kyle had already gone to sleep and only moments before Jessica turned off the lights. He mumbled a hello, kissed her quickly then leaned over Kyle's sleeping form and kissed his forehead. "Late nights suck." JC whispered softly as he kicked his shoes off and slowly peeled his cold clothes off. He dropped them on the floor then climbed into the bed beside Jessica. Before she could ask him how it went, he was snoring softly near her ear.
"So this is how it is ?" Jessica whispered to herself as she let a small smile slip out. That was how it was, and she liked it just fine.
JC surprised Jessica with a real date on their last night in the city. Justin agreed to keep an eye on Kyle so that JC could take Jessica out to dinner and to a show. The whole night was one surprise after another as JC took her to Tavern on the Green in Central Park, then to Broadway to see "Rent", a show that Jessica had mentioned that she was dying to see. They were ushered backstage after the show to meet the cast and spend time with them before JC's security guard tapped his watch and motioned for the door.
By the time they got back to the hotel Jessica was high on adrenaline and excitement and she could barely keep herself from bouncing down the hall. "JC that was just amazing." She held his hand tight and swung it back and forth. "I can't believe you were able to do that. I can't believe I got to meet the cast and and everything. Tonight was perfect."
"Good, I'm glad you had a nice time." JC smiled and tried not to yawn. It was an exciting night, but it was still almost one in the morning and he'd had a long day. "Perfect ending for New York?"
"Perfect." They stopped at their room and she slowly wrapped her arms around his neck to kiss him. "Absolutely perfect."
"I'm going to have to really start planning to out do this in Toronto, aren't I?"
Jessica laughed and shook her head, "You're going to be busy in Toronto. Don't worry about it."
"I'll think of something." JC opened the door and they fell into the room.
"Hey." Justin greeted them from the floor without looking up from the TV where he was playing a new Xbox game.
"Hey." JC frowned when he saw Joey and Chris on the couch. Joey was sound asleep and Chris was sitting Indian style with his tongue between his lips and a controlled in his hand. "Party night in my room?"
"Uh huh." Justin nodded. "We didn't touch the mini bar."
"Joey did." Chris spoke up.
"Okay Joey touched it, but we didn't open it." Justin blinked away from the game and smiled. "Have fun?"
"Yeah." Jessica and JC answered in unison.
"His room." Justin shrugged and didn't offer another explanation.
"You guys almost done here?" JC asked.
"Almost." Chris nodded as Justin turned back to the game and gave it his complete attention.
"So how was Kyle?"
"Fine." Chris licked his lips and moved his controller all the way to the left, almost hitting Joey in the nose.
"When did he go to bed?"
"Like. An hour ago." Chris cursed under his breath and hit Justin's head with the controller.
"An hour ago?" JC took a step closer to the TV.
"Maybe." Chris shrugged and glanced up at JC. "Like. At nine."
"Chris, it's one in the morning." JC sighed.
"Oh." Chris frantically hit the side button on his controller. "You're in my way man."
"Sorry." JC took a step back and waited as they finished their game and named Justin the winner. "So Kyle was okay?" He asked again as Chris unfolded himself from the couch.
"Uh huh. We had pizza for dinner and then he ate like, a whole orange." Justin stood up and cracked his back. "He didn't get a bath though."
"That's okay." JC nodded. "Did he go to the bathroom before you put him down?"
"He said he didn't have to go." Justin shrugged.
JC sighed and prayed that he wouldn't have a mess to deal with in the morning. "Okay."
"You want us to take Joey?"
"Um. Yeah." JC gave Justin a look, did he really think he wanted Joey to sleep on his couch.
"Damn. Okay." Justin sighed and cleaned up the video game system.
"I'm gonna " Jessica nodded toward the bedroom and concealed a yawn behind her hand.
"G'night Jess." Chris said as he dropped video games into his duffle bag.
"See ya tomorrow." Justin waved.
"Good night guys." She smiled and stepped into the dark room then shut the door behind her.
Justin and Chris finished cleaning up then woke Joey up so they could all go back to their own rooms. "Thanks guys." JC smiled as they headed for the door.
"Yeah. You owe us."
"Well next time you guys need a babysitter, don't hesitate to call." JC laughed and opened the door.
"Dude, don't even say that." Chris yawned.
"Next time I need my car washed I'm gonna call you." Justin laughed.
"G'night." Joey mumbled as he passed JC.
"See you guys tomorrow. Seven thirty."
"Ugh." Three voices rang out in disgruntled harmony as they headed down the hall.
JC returned to his room and checked on Kyle before brushing his teeth and joining Jessica in bed. They were asleep before the blankets settled, knowing they'd be up again in just a few short hours.
They caught the early flight into Toronto and landed on time. The schedule for the day was completely packed so everything was being run on a very tight schedule. From the airport they had exactly forty five minutes to get to the hotel, drop off their things and get to the MuchMusic studios downtown.
Three separate cars drove the group across town and dropped them off at the large front entrance to their hotel. In perfect synchronization they pulled their luggage from the back while JC balanced Kyle in his left arm. They headed into the lobby where the people in charge had their room assignments, keys and elevators waiting for them. As they walked quickly across the marble floor JC's phone rang from deep within his pocket. He paused for just a moment to set his bag down and answer it, "Hello?" JC sighed into the phone as he tried to balance it on his shoulder while carrying Kyle and their bags.
"H-hi, JC?" Lori asked.
"Lori?" JC turned his wrist to check his watch. "What you're early."
"I know. Listen, I'm not going to be near a phone at our regular call time so I was hoping I could do it now."
"I right now isn't really I mean, we're in the middle of stuff."
"It'll just be for a minute." Lori explained quickly.
"Daddy I say hi? Is Jussin?" Kyle asked as they bounced down the flight of steps to where the elevators were waiting.
"Justin's right in front of us, it's not Justin you goof." JC shook his head and tried to smile for Kyle.
"Jace?" Jessica stopped walking and turned to face him as the others climbed onto the elevators.
"You guys go up." JC said quickly, waving them off as he set his bags down.
Frank stepped off the elevator and positioned himself at JC's side with Jessica a step behind him. "Everything okay?" Frank asked.
JC nodded and sighed softly, "Listen Lori. We just got to the hotel and we have to get into the room so we can head to the studio. Right now really isn't a good time."
"It'll only take a minute, can you hand the phone to Kyle."
"You've got like, one minute."
"JC " She complained.
"I can't do any more than that. I'm on a time crunch here. If you called at the regular time we would have been at the studio so Kyle could have talked."
"Well you're at the hotel, what difference does it make?"
JC pinched the bridge of his nose and forced himself not to argue. "The difference is that I have ten minutes to go upstairs, dump my bags and get back downstairs to catch our ride to the studio. Plus a potty break for Kyle and a minute for me to catch my breath. Every minute I'm down here arguing with you in the lobby is one less "
"Then don't argue and just put him on." Lori's annoyance rang through loud and clear.
For a moment JC pondered hanging up the phone but instead he held it to Kyle's ear and said, "It's your mommy. Say hi."
"Hi mommy." Kyle held the small phone with both hands as JC shook his head and took a deep breath.
"Hey man." Frank whispered and tapped the face of his watch.
"I know." JC whispered back.
"I in a hotel mommy. Yeah. Is big." Kyle craned his neck and held tight to the phone. "Kay." He nodded in response to whatever Lori said.
"It'll only be a minute." JC said softly as his eyes apologized to Jessica. She just nodded and stepped forward to pick up one of Kyle's bags. Frank pressed the button for the elevator and they waited patiently for it to arrive.
When the bell dinged JC looked at Kyle and said, "Okay we have to go buddy, say bye bye to your mommy."
"Bye bye mommy." Kyle blew a kiss into the phone and handed it back to JC. "Daddy where we?"
"Where are we?" JC folded the phone and dropped it into the pocket of his sweatshirt. "We're in a hotel."
"That's far away from home."
"Yeah." Kyle nodded as they stepped onto the elevator and rode up to the floor where everyone else was waiting.
"Dude, what happened to you?" Justin asked as soon as they stepped off.
"And Kyle talked to her for a minute." JC sighed and refrained from rolling his eyes.
"Yeah well now you've got like, negative three minutes to ditch your gear. You're holding us up."
"Get over it." JC grumbled as he and Jessica headed down the hall to the room. Once inside JC dropped Kyle and all of the bags on the bed, then shuttled the little boy to the bathroom.
"Daddy I don't hava go."
"Try, because we're not going to be able to stop on the way to the studio." Jessica heard JC try to coerce Kyle into using the bathroom.
She smiled and took that free minute to stretch and check her watch. Justin was right, they were running behind schedule. She had been around them enough to know that arriving anywhere ten minutes late meant that they'd have to stay thirty minutes late.
"Buddy, I'm not even kidding. If you get in the car and decide you have to go, you're going to have to hold it."
"Kay." Kyle shrugged, then walked out of the bathroom and grabbed Lello from the top of his bags. "Jessi we go?"
"I " Jessica stuttered and looked up at JC as he emerged from the bathroom. "Yeah, let's go."
"Man I wish we'd get just one free day. A whole day." JC ran his weary hands through his hair then grabbed Kyle's well-loved backpack and followed them out the door and down the hall. They were running late and if they wanted to make up time they'd have to hustle.
The whole afternoon was spent in the studio then the boys were scheduled to do two appearances in town until almost eleven at night. Jessica took Kyle back to the hotel and gave him dinner and a bath before bed, then she watched a movie and waited for JC to get back. He was mentally and physically drained by the time he landed on the bed beside Jessica. "I can't believe how much this sucks."
"This is nothing hun."
"I know." JC growled into the bedspread. "I've turned into a cranky old man."
"Isn't that Chris' job?"
"Shut up." He laughed and flailed his hand blindly in a poor attempt to smack her. "Seriously though. Compared to the other albums we've put together, this schedule is nothing. We at least get a few free hours. But how come I'm all pooped like this at the end of the day? Two years ago I'd have been out partying with Justin and Lance."
"They went out?"
"Yeah." JC closed his eyes and sighed as he turned his head to the other side to look at her. "I'm old."
"You're not old." Jessica laughed and shook her head as she patted his back. "You've just got more responsibilities now." She nodded toward the tiny sleeping figure on the other bed.
"Who I've been ignoring for a week now." JC frowned.
"You're not ignoring him. You're working."
"You've just spent the last couple months with him every second of every day. You can't go getting upset because you have to work your ass off for a couple weeks now."
"And as soon as you're done here you're going to get two full weeks off."
"So stop complaining." Jessica smiled and poked at his side. "You've only got another week before you get to go home."
"I know." He grumbled and rolled onto his back. "And we get to go to Niagara the day after tomorrow. Joey put up enough of a fight to arrange for all of us to go. We've been to Toronto fifty gazillion times and we've never been able to go so we're going this time."
"That'll be cool."
"Yeah." JC yawned. "I just have to get through tomorrow."
"You'll make it."
"I hope so." He finished up his over-sized yawn and stood up. They followed what was becoming their nightly routine where JC hit the bed then fell asleep immediately and Jessica stayed up another couple minutes thinking about their future and becoming comfortable with how it was going to be. She fell asleep with a smile on her face and couldn't wait to see the falls for the first time with him and Kyle.
After two more full days in the studio and recording spots for MuchMusic's advertisements, they were finally given the day off to go to Niagara Falls. It was their last day in Toronto so they'd have to leave there by two to make it back to their hotel to check out and get to the airport for their flight to San Francisco.
As a group they wandered around the falls area with photographers and fans everywhere they turned. The weather was cold and snow fell on them as they stood at the low walls looking out over the fog hidden falls. "Is big daddy."
"Heck yeah it's big."
"Is code." Kyle put his gloved hands up to his face.
"Yeah, it is pretty cold." JC nodded and pulled his hood lower over his eyes. "But now we can saw we saw it. Let's go inside and check out the gift shop." He picked Kyle up and took Jessica's hand as they headed inside where Joey and Chris were waiting with their security guards. Everyone was bundled up, but only Justin and Lance were fool enough to stay outside. They wanted to see the falls from every angle so while they were out in the freezing weather, the others stayed warm in the shops.
"Hey Kyle, check it out." Chris held out a bite of fudge. "This is like, pure sugar."
"Don't give him that." JC reached for Chris' hand just before Chris made it to Kyle's open mouth.
"Dude. It's fudge."
"Do you want to deal with a sugar high kid?"
"Then don't give him that." JC gave Chris a look, then headed into the gift shop off to the left. They walked around with bright pink cheeks and picked up several cheesy souvenirs. Kyle chose a key chain to add to his backpack and a big stuffed moose to add to his collection. JC also picked up some maple syrup and a shot glass before they went to join everyone else in the warm walkway between the stores.
When they returned to the hotel they were told to put their luggage in the hall and to meet up in the lobby so they could all ride to the airport together. JC and Jessica set their luggage beside everyone else's then took their carry on bags and Kyle's backpack and headed downstairs with Frank. The sky was getting dark and they knew that once they landed in San Francisco, they'd just go straight to the hotel to sleep.
As they entered the lobby JC handed Kyle to Frank so that he'd have one hand free to sign autographs for the anxious fans waiting for them. "Franks gonna carry you buddy."
"Kay and Dill?" Kyle waved his stuffed crocodile.
"Dill too, yep. Just make sure Dill doesn't bite Frank."
"Ooo, does he bite?" Frank asked as he cast a sideways look at the alligator. Its white felt teeth flopped over on themselves making it look like he was smiling upside down.
"No." Kyle laughed and touched the stuffed animal's teeth. "Is a nice agator."
"Oh, whew. That's good." Frank sighed with relief as JC looked on with an almost proud expression. "You'll need to hold tight to me, okay kiddo?"
"Kay." Kyle nodded.
JC's phone rang in his pocket so he took it out and flipped it open without looking at the time. He knew it was close to the time Lori was supposed to call and he wasn't going to worry about five or ten minutes either way. "Hello."
"Hi, hang on, let me get Kyle." JC said as he waved Frank over to him.
"How how's he doing?"
"Kyle? He's doing fine."
"Everyone around here is getting colds is he he's okay?"
"Yeah, he's cool. No cold. No sniffles even." JC shook his head and said, "Hang on, I'll put him on."
"Okay. Thanks." Lori waited as JC explained to Kyle who was on the phone.
"Hi mommy." Kyle licked his lips and settled into Frank's thick arms.
"Hang on to Frank tight, okay?" JC patted Kyle's back.
"And don't lose the phone." JC smiled quickly.
"Kay." Kyle smiled back, then went back to talking to his mother.
JC nodded at Frank who knew just what to do. "Go straight to the car." JC said, though he didn't need to.
"You got it." Frank nodded and adjusted Kyle in his arms to have a more secure grip on the boy.
Jessica reached for JC's hand and swung it carefully, "So "
"So." He smiled down at her, then kissed her quickly. "Are you ready?"
"I don't think I'll ever be ready for that." She cast a worried glance at the street in front of the hotel. There weren't that many girls; not enough to make security sweat, but there were more than enough to set Jessica's stomach tumbling.
"We won't really have time to stop so it'll just be real quick."
"Okay." Jessica nodded quickly. "That's Lori?"
"Well, it's her scheduled call time." JC shrugged. "I'm just glad she called."
"True." Jessica smiled and took a deep breath as the other security guards pushed the door open and let the boys out one at a time. Frank and Kyle were the first ones out the door and they made it to the awaiting vans without pausing for a moment. JC watched with knots in his stomach until he was sure Kyle was securely fastened into his car seat before he and Jessica stepped out.
"I'll meet you in the car." She said softly as she let go of his hand and fell into step behind Lonnie. He cleared a path to the car and helped her in beside Kyle before he turned his attention back to the boys and the small crowd of fans. They shouted and snapped off pictures at an alarming rate, only succeeding in catching a few quick waves and smiles before they were herded into their cars and whisked away from the curb.
"Daddy we go home?" Kyle asked with a yawn as he settled into his unfamiliar car seat.
"Nope. Not yet. We get to go to California."
"And see Jussin?"
"Justin will be there, yeah." JC nodded. "What's your fascination with Justin this week? You just want to see him all the time."
"Yeah. You want to see him."
"Yeah." Kyle nodded. "Where's he?"
"He's in the other car."
"Because that's the one he wanted to ride in." JC shrugged and laughed softly. With Kyle asking why, he was afraid that the questions may never end.
"Yep. Joey's in the other car too."
"Nope, Lance is right there." JC pointed to the front seat where Lance was trying to fold a map back to its original shape.
"Justin's in the other car with Joey and Chris."
"I can see?"
"You can see them when we get to the airport." JC nodded and looked over at Jessica. "Does he have an off switch?"
"Nope." She laughed and shook her head.
"He's turned into Chatty Kathy."
"Something like that, yeah."
"Daddy I can see ina pane and I fye?" Kyle looked concerned and his expression caused both Jessica and JC to laugh.
"You want to fly the airplane?" Jessica asked.
"I can see."
"You want to see the cockpit where the pilot flies the airplane?" She asked, to clarify what he meant.
"Yeah." Kyle sighed and sat back in his seat.
"I I don't see why not." She looked at JC for an answer.
"Lance took him once." He shrugged. "We'll have to see if they'll let him see it again. That'd be cool."
"I'd like to see it too." Jessica smiled and laced her fingers through JC's on the seat between them.
"Well we'll have to wait and see." JC spoke to her like a child then laughed. Kyle chattered the rest of the way to the airport. Though he pretended to hold his hands over his ear, Jessica knew that JC was loving every word that came out of Kyle's mouth. The little boy was sounding more and more like his father every day and it cracked everyone else up.
When they got to the airport and began to board, Jessica took Kyle and they went to visit the cockpit. "Jessi, done touch." Kyle said sternly as he shook his finger at her.
"Oh no, I won't touch anything."
"Only he fyes a pane."
"That's right, only the pilot gets to fly the plane." Jessica nodded and laughed with the Captain as he handed Kyle a small pair of plastic gold wings.
"There you go Kyle, now you can pretend you're a Captain too." He tapped his own wings fastened to his chest and smiled.
"Yeah." Kyle smiled and held the pin tight.
"What do you say, Kyle?" Jessica prompted him.
"Tank you." Kyle smiled and showed off all of his baby teeth.
"You're welcome, champ. Have fun on the flight, okay?"
"Kay." Kyle nodded and handed the pin to Jessica. "Have it on?"
"I'll put it on you when we get you strapped into your seat, okay?" She turned to the captain and the flight attendants standing near the exit, "Thank you."
"You're welcome." They all smiled and nodded.
Jessica took Kyle to his seat and strapped him in. "My wing Jessi."
"I won't forget your wings." She smiled, then carefully pinned them to Kyle's Bob the Builder sweatshirt. "There you go. Are you ready to fly?"
"Yeah!" Kyle pumped his hands in the air and caught the attention of Joey sitting in front of him. The older man turned around in his seat and entertained Kyle with a puppet made from the barf bag. Kyle thought it was hysterical, so Jessica spent the take off drawing a face on the waterproof bag for Kyle to use.
By the time they got to San Francisco, Kyle was asleep with his barf bag puppet dangling from one hand and his stuffed alligator discarded on the floor by his backpack. They were all tired from the flight and time change, but somehow they made it through the crowded airport to the baggage claim, then out to their awaiting rides to the hotel.
Once checked in, JC, Jessica and Kyle went to their room to crash while Joey and Lance decided to check out the nightlife. For a few minutes JC wished he could have the kind of life where he could stay out till three in the morning even if he did have a meeting scheduled for seven thirty the next day. But one look at Kyle sent those thoughts packing. Joey and Lance would have fun that night, that was for sure, but JC would have fun for a lifetime and that seemed like a fair trade.
The next day was full of meetings with several new producers that they'd be working with over the next couple days, and then at least five hours actually in the studio. Jessica and Frank took Kyle to see the new Disney movie at the theater downtown then had lunch at the wharf. Kyle had stopped asking for his father after the first week, and by then he would just ask if his daddy was going to be home at bedtime. Jessica shook her head and bit her lower lip. "I don't know sweetie. I'm sure he's going to try, but if not we can call him, okay?"
"Kay." Kyle nodded but she could see his disappointment.
"You guys will be home soon and then you can see your daddy all the time."
"Yeah." Kyle sighed and swung Lello by one scraggly ear.
"But in the meantime, how would you like to go see some big huge sea lions?" Jessica feigned true excitement and bounced Kyle on her hip. "Does that sound like fun."
"I can touch em?"
"No, we can't touch them. But we can look at them and walk around." She messed his hair and said, "What kind of sound do seals make?"
"I doe no." Kyle frowned and looked at Frank. "How do they talk?" He asked the guard.
"You know what kiddo, I don't know. Why don't we go see if we can find out how they talk." Frank winked at Jessica and they headed over to the famous gathering of seals on the pier.
They spent some time watching the seals and barking back at them, then Jessica took him shopping where he could make his own stuffed bear. They walked around and rode the trolley before heading back to the hotel to wait for JC. There was a message for Jessica when they got to the room, "Hey guys. Well I guess you're out having fun. I hope you're enjoying this weather more than I am." JC's laugh made her smile, "Anyway, we're on a little break right now. It's like I don't know, it's around two or so. I don't think we're going to be here too late tonight, but Sean is going to be on a call with us at about five so well we'll see what that's about. Okay, I'm gonna get back to work I just wanted to check in and say hi. I'll try to give you a call later. Love you. Both of you." He laughed again, then hung up.
Jessica replayed the message then started the bathtub to start getting Kyle ready for bed. When he was washed, dried and dressed in his pajamas Jessica brushed his hair and teeth in the mirror. "We need to get you a haircut pretty soon, don't we. Your hair is almost over your ears!"
"Is like my daddy."
"You're right, it's getting long like your daddy's hair. That's kinda crazy."
"Yeah." Kyle laughed.
"Who else has long hair?"
"You're right, I do. And who else?"
"Mm hm, and who else?"
"What about Lance?"
"No." Kyle laughed at her silly question then put is finger in his mouth, "Amy havs long hair."
"She sure does. What about your grandma?"
"No." Kyle shook his hair.
"What about Frank?"
"What about oh, what about Joey?"
"No his is sort hair." Kyle giggled behind his hand. "I hava owie."
"You did, yep. But now it's all fixed." She raised his finger to her lips and kissed the tiny scar. "See? It's all better."
"Yeah. Daddy put my hand ina door."
"Aw, he didn't put it there, it was an accident."
"Yeah." Kyle nodded and walked around Jessica's legs to get to the bedroom. "Kay we can cawin daddy now." He climbed into the big bed and swung his feet expectantly.
Jessica looked at her watch and sighed, "Yeah. We can call him now. It's about time for you to go to bed." She got him situated on her lap before she picked up the phone and dialed JC's cell phone. She hoped that she'd somehow catch them during a break, though she doubted it.
"Hello?" JC asked quickly as he stuck his finger in his opposite ear.
"Hey, it's me." Jessica said softly.
"Jess? I can barely hear you."
"Yeah, it's me."
"Is everything okay?" JC stepped out into the hall where it was a little quieter.
"Yeah, everything's fine." She cleared her throat softly. "Kyle just he wanted to call before he went to bed."
JC sighed softly into the phone and pinched the bridge of his nose, "Oh man, is it that late already?"
"It's ten after eight."
"Okay." JC bit his lip and raised his finger for one more minute when Joey poked his head out of the studio. "Yeah, put him on."
"I'm sorry to bother you I know you're working." Jessica said quickly.
"No, no it's okay."
"Okay." She waved Kyle over and straightened his pajama shirt, "Here you go sweetie, your daddy is on the phone."
Kyle took the large handset and held it to his ear with both hands, "Daddy come here?"
"I can't come back right now big gut, I have to work."
"I go nigh nigh now."
"Yep, it's time for you to go to bed." JC nodded and bit his lip.
"I'll go to bed soon."
"I see a moobie today and I hava paw corn and candy!"
"Wow, you got popcorn and a candy? You're a lucky little boy."
"Yeah and my Jessi and Fank."
"And you can see?"
"I'll see the movie later." JC lowered his voice as Justin waved at him through the window, it was time to get back to work. "Okay buddy, I have to go back to work now. I love you."
"Love too." Kyle sighed and frowned into the phone. He pressed his lips to the mouth piece with a small kiss and said, "Bye bye daddy."
JC heard the soft pucker of the kiss and fought tightness in his chest. "Bye bye Kyle." He whispered.
The phone on Kyle's end dropped on the table as Kyle slid off the chair and headed for the big bed on the far side of the room. Jessica picked it up and licked her lips, "Okay, I'm sorry. I promised he could call if you weren't back yet."
"It's okay." JC nodded.
"Are you okay?"
JC sniffed, embarrassed by the sudden rush of emotions, "I'm fine. I have to get back to work now though. I'll be back soon, okay?"
"I love you Jess."
"I love you too." She smiled slowly.
"Thank you for watching Kyle."
"You're welcome." Jessica nodded and heard the catch in his voice. "You guys will be home soon and you'll have all kinds of time to spend with him."
"I know." JC licked his lips, forever glad that Jessica could read his mind.
"Okay now get back to work so you can finish up and come home."
"Home." JC sighed.
"You know what I mean."
"I know." He smiled and gave a little laugh to let her know he'd be okay. "I'll see you soon."
"Good night." Jessica hung up the phone and sighed. The one thing she loved most about JC was his complete love for his son. All parents loved their kids, she truly believed that. "Even the ones who didn't do it well.", she added, thinking of Lori. But she'd seen JC go from clueless new father who didn't know where Kyle was half the time, to the adoring father he was now who could barely stand to be away from his son.
Jessica pursed her lips and lifted Kyle up onto the bed and under the covers. "Okay sweetheart, it's time for bed."
"I hava Dill and Lello and Moo."
"Moo? Is that you're moose?"
"Yeah." Kyle giggled and crawled to the opposite end of the bed and pulled all three stuffed animals under the blankets with him. They were in varying stages of tough love, but they all showed signs of Kyle.
"He's pretty big." Jessica raised her eyebrow and turned the bedside light off. She leaned down and gave him a quick kiss, "I love you."
"Love too Jessi." Kyle sighed and wrapped his little arms around her neck. He left a wet kiss on her cheek then flopped onto his side and hugged Lello to his chest.
"Good night." Jessica whispered softly as she stood up and crossed the room to the easy chair in the corner. With a book in her hand and the radio playing softly, she settled in to wait for JC to get back from the studio.
It was after eleven when she gave up and put the book aside to get ready for bed. JC said they'd be back soon but for them soon could be two hours, or four hours. Jessica changed into her pajamas and brushed her teeth, she was on her way to the empty bed when the lock switched in the door and JC tip toed quietly into the room.
"Ahh, you're still up?" He whispered.
"Not for much longer." Jessica smiled and reached to hug him as he dropped his bag by the closet.
"How was he?"
"Perfect as usual."
"And how were you?" He brushed his lips over her temple.
Jessica smirked and uttered a short laugh, "Perfect as usual."
"I'll bet." JC laughed with her and reached over his head to pull his sweatshirt off.
"How was your day?" Jessica asked, trying to sound interested though she was already prepared to sleep.
"It was good. They changed our schedule though, so we're leaving earlier than we're supposed to."
"That's good though, right?"
"Yeah." JC shrugged. "We'll get home earlier."
"That's definitely good." Jessica stood on her tip toes and kissed him. His lips held the lingering flavor of pizza and she smiled, "Pizza huh? At least they're feeding you."
"I'm going to get fat if I keep eating like that." He held his hand over his stomach.
"What else have you eaten today?" JC thought for a moment and in that silence Jessica laughed, "Exactly. You're not going to get fat. You need to eat more, if anything."
"Ugh." JC closed his eyes and rubbed his full belly. "I couldn't possibly." He fell backwards onto the bed and kicked his shoes off. "We're going to be in the air for Lori's next call." He sighed and sounded like he'd rather think about something else.
"Mm hm. They made our flight earlier, so "
"You'll need to call her and let her know. Maybe she can do the call earlier. Or after you land or something." Jessica shrugged and bit her lip. She was glad to see that Lori was doing better with her calls, but at the same time she wasn't sure if she or JC were ready to completely give in to that.
"Yeah. I suppose I could do that." JC nodded and ran his hands through his hair. "It was working out good though. All of the calls were timed perfectly so we were in the hotel or studio or whatever. But since they're getting us out early that kind of hoses everything."
"Yeah but you get to go home earlier, that's cool."
"Yeah it is." JC smiled and shimmied out of his pants, taking his socks off at the same time. He threw everything into a growing pile by his suitcase and laid back down. "Too bad you won't be there." JC patted the bed beside him and took Jessica's hand as she sat beside him.
"I've gotta do Thanksgiving with my family. You know that."
"But we'll be home on Saturday and Thanksgiving isn't until Thursday so you could come home with us and stay for a couple days and fly home on Wednesday." JC tried to convince her but the smile on his lips proved that he knew she wouldn't really be able to.
"You're sounding kind of desperate there." Jessica laughed and laid down beside him.
"I am kinda desperate." He laughed. "I've had you here for what? Like, two weeks? And I've barely been able to see you. I just want to get you alone for a couple days."
"I know. You have to go home for Thanksgiving."
"And I have an apartment and everything."
"So you keep saying." JC stuck his tongue out at her and smiled. "Then again, if you'd say 'yes' already you could "
"I've given it thought."
"Yes, good thoughts." She laughed and rolled onto her side to curl up against his chest.
"And I have some things to settle at home but " She paused and licked her lips nervously. "It's looking like a better possibility."
"Is that a yes?"
"Not yet." Jessica said quickly.
"So what is it?"
"It's a 'I'm thinking about it.'."
"Jessica. You're killing me."
"It'll eventually be a 'yes'."
"I've still got things to sort out in my head." She kissed his jaw line quickly. "But yes. I would love to move in with you. Just not right this minute."
"Well you just be sure to tell me when."
"You'll have to make a big deal about it."
"I will." She laughed. "Big neon sign or something."
"A sky writer "
"Singing telegram "
"Maybe have it spelled out in sparklers on my lawn." JC laughed and ran his hand down her arm as he held her close. "Or you can just slide under the covers and whisper it to me. You know. Whatever works."
"I'll keep that in mind."
"In fact, I'd probably like that last option best."
"Okay." She smiled and kissed him again.
"Do you want to practice? You know just in case?" JC gave her a sly sideways smile.
Jessica reached for the top of the blankets and pulled them down over JC's torso. After a moment of repositioning he was mostly covered by the blanket so she slid in next to him and placed her hand flat on his chest. She supported herself on her hands as she leaned over his face, her hair falling around his shoulders. "JC? The answer is yes." She whispered as she slowly lowered herself to kiss him. "Like that?"
"Exactly like that." His arm went around her waist and pulled her down before he growled and rolled over to pin her to the bed. "If you do it just like that, that would be perfect."
"I'll keep that in mind."
"I hope it's soon." JC whispered as he cast a quick glance toward the other bed in the room. Kyle didn't move an inch and his light snores came at equal intervals. "I love you."
"I love you too." Jessica lowered her voice and followed his gaze before bringing her eyes back to his deep blue ones. "You're exhausted."
"No I'm not." He tried to protest, but he yawned over the final word. "Okay, maybe I am."
"Let's go to bed then." Jessica rolled off of him and they crawled beneath the covers for real. JC held her close to him all night and wished that he could stay awake and just stare at her all night. His eyelids fell as though guided by heavy weights and there was nothing he could do to stop it. He would dream about her and wake up in her arms, and for now, that would have to suffice.
Copyright © 2002, 2003 Amy Lynn