Snap Shots Series: Portrait

SIX


Willa found herself in the hallway looking for the way out. She knew it had been to the left when they'd walked in, but now the cement hallway seemed unfamiliar and she didn't know which way to go.

She was almost at her wit's end when JC ran up from behind her and got between her and where she was walking. "Willa, where are you going?" JC asked as she stalked down towards the door at the end of the hallway.

"I don't belong here JC," she paused and looked down the hallway to where Jackie and Bobbee were standing. Her eyes went from them to her stomach then back to his face. "I never did. I should have never thought that I could have."

JC looked at where she’d been looking then looked back at her. "What are you talking about Willa," JC said. "You belong here as much as Bobbee and Jackie do."

"I’m not his girlfriend anymore JC," She sighed and looked back towards where she'd come from. "Hell after today I’m not even his friend anymore. I don’t belong here."

"You and I are friends no matter what happens between you and Lance." His eyes were wild with emotion and she felt for him. He was caught in the middle of all of this. "You may not fit with him, but you fit with me and the others."

"Willa!"

She turned her head and saw Chris running towards her. He came to a sliding stop and threw his arms out. She cringed away from him until he curled his arms around her lightly and hugged her. "Hi honey!"

"Hello," she said. She expected him to be wild and crazy and usually it was a welcomed entertainment, but in her condition she wasn’t sure if she was up to his roughhousing. "How’ve you been Chris?" She looked over his shoulder for a moment, "Where’s Dani?"

"Willa?" Chris said and shocked her by being serious for a moment. "Have you been crying?"

Willa sighed. "No," she said then looked at him at a different angle. "Yes, I have, but its just because I’m tired and I’m way too pregnant to be putting up with--"

"What’d he say to you?" Chris asked looking at her then looked at JC, "What’d he do to her?"

"You know about this too?" She asked.

"About me becoming an honorary Uncle?" Chris said, "Of course." He hugged her again, "Aren’t we supposed to be celebrating? Oh...I know...I forgot the presents. Shit I knew I should have done something this week. Crap...I’ll send something to you. Does Lance have your address?"

Willa laughed a little at his antics, "JC has the address. You don’t have to send me anything."

"Are you kidding me?" He said, "I’m going to send a million presents."

"Really that’s ok," she said and asked again, "Where’s Dani?"

Chris’s eyes clouded over for a moment and he coughed. "You didn’t hear?"

"Nothing happened to her did it?" Willa asked grateful for a moment to be able to worry about something other than herself.

"No, she’s fine," he said, "Well she was the last time we talked."

"Oh no," Willa said, "What happened?"

"We broke things off for a while. There were a few incidents that happened with some fans that got to her and she and I have been getting a little frustrated with all this, but don't worry about us. You've got enough to worry about."

"I don't worry about me and lance," she said, "There is no me and lance anymore."

"I meant about your baby coming and your new job."

"Oh."

"Anyway, Dani and I are still friends and all, but we thought we should step back a little." She'd never seen such a hurt look in Chris's eyes before. He was really hurting and it seemed that yet again she'd put her foot in her mouth by bringing up such an ugly subject.

"Oh," Willa frowned and hugged him. "I’m so sorry." She marveled at the way that she sounded so motherly all of a sudden, as if being pregnant gave her a reason to act like she was a wise old mother hen. She didn't even have a kid to dote over yet and she was already doting over them.

"We’ll be fine," Chris said with a shrug. She didn't like the look on his face. He seemed to be putting up a good front, but she worried about him. He and Dani had been together for…well for almost forever and it seemed to her like a tragedy that they would break up, "At the moment it's just a break with the hope of getting back together, but we have some things to work out."

"Willa was just leaving," JC said breaking into the conversation.

"Really?" Chris asked.

"Yeah. I’m worn out. I thought I could hang around, but I should really get out of here."

"Oh come on Willa. Joey is going to be pissed that he didn’t get to see you. Oh, and Justin is about to synch up his microphone, but he’ll want to say hi too."

"I really should hit the road before the traffic gets any worse," she said, "How about you all come over sometime this week. We can barbecue or something at the house."

She noted the shocked look on JC’s face and the shrug that Spanky gave him when he seemed to look for answers at her sudden attitude change.

"That sounds great," he said, "Maybe we should have it at JC’s house though. We get kind of messy and I wouldn’t want to mess up your house."

"Thanks Chris." JC rolled his eyes at his friend.

"You know what I mean," he said, "She’s pregnant and you’re not."

"Duh!" JC said and rolled his eyes again.

"Your eyes are going to stick in the back of your head if you keep doing that," Chris said with a laugh.

"Whatever."

Willa sighed and actually enjoyed the banter of the two guys. In the last few months she'd been a bit sequestered from the normal world and it was nice to be back out in it, even under those circumstances. "We can have it at my house."

"No," JC said and shrugged. "I’ll set things up for Thursday night, we don’t have a show that night, but we’ve got interviews in the morning."

Willa looked over at Spanky then back at JC, "Sounds good to me."

"Coolio." Chris hugged her again and checked his watch, "Speaking of interviews, I need to go check on Ron. I’ll see you on Thursday. Make sure you bring a big car with you because I plan to go shopping or at least have Bobbee go for me to go shopping for your presents."

"Don’t worry about it Chris," Willa said and blushed, "Thanks for the thought though."

"Love you," he said quickly and ran down the hall in the opposite direction.

"Are you going to leave still?" JC asked.

Willa nodded and looked over at Spanky who seemed to be waiting for her final decision. She took a deep breath, "Yeah."

"You know that we’re going to keep track of you even if Lance doesn’t."

"I know that, and I cherish that friendship, but you've got Bobbee here and I know you all don't get to see each other a lot. You should go be with her. Spanky will get me home ok and I’ll see you all on Thursday."

"Do you want me to have Lance come too?" JC asked.

"It’s your house and technically your party, so do what you want," she said with a sigh. A pain started to form in her lower back, a side effect of standing for so long with her extra weight.

"Are you sure you're going to be ok?" he asked.

"I think so," she said and nodded.

"JC! We've gotta get you to sound check!" Mike one of the other bodyguards yelled towards them.

"I'm coming!" JC yelled back then turned and looked at Willa. "I'll call you tomorrow ok? We're still going to be in town for the week and I want to make sure you're ok."

"No promises, ok?" she said.

"That's fine, but I am going to call you up and maybe come over to visit. I wanna see your house again."

"No promises."

Spanky came up to her and reached to rub her back. "Are you ok?"

"Yeah," she sighed again, "I just need to get home and get off my feet."

"Good deal," he said and maneuvered her towards the door.

A few minutes later they were on the road, but they got stuck in traffic again so they crawled their way home instead of speeding home like Willa had wanted to.

After spending twenty minutes in one spot Willa began to get antsy. First she fiddled with her seat trying to get more comfortable, then reached for the air conditioning then Willa reached out and flipped on the car radio. It was playing a country song so she switched channels. A Britney Spears song played out loudly and just as Spanky started to nod his head to the tune she switched it again.

"What the hell are you doing woman?" he said, "Did you forget to take your Ritalin this morning?"

"No!" she said and switched the channel again. This time a song by the Backstreet Boys came on. "Damn!"

"What is your issue girl?" Spanky said and reached out and covered the knob with his hand.

Willa pinched his hand and he withdrew it and placed it on the steering wheel again. "Shit girl. Maybe you need a valium instead of Ritalin."

"Leave me alone Spanky. I just want to go home and this damn traffic and those stupid songs aren't helping," she said and flipped the channel again. "I hate LA! I can't get a fucking channel here that doesn't play Britney fucking Spears or Christina fucking Aguilera!"

Finally "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel came on and she sat back but her hands weren't still. She tapped the beat of the song on the armrest and kept her hand moving over her seatbelt, first pulling out some slack on it then smoothing it down then moving it to a different position across her body.

"I didn’t know you hated the pop world so much," Spanky said.

"It's not that," she said, "I just can't stand--"

"I know sweetie. I know," he said with a sigh.

"Ugh!" She finally growled out and curled her hands into fists. "I’m so mad I could spit!"

"Well open the window if you do because I just washed the car and I don't want to have to wipe up after you."

Willa tried not to hard to crack a smile with that comment, but she couldn’t help it. Somehow he had a way of getting her mind in the right place when she began to stress out.


Lance emerged visibly calmer from the bus when Was told him it was time to get to the stage for sound check. He liked the way that Wes seemed to immediately treat him normally again. If he could keep that up for a few hours he knew he'd be ok. His body seemed to have calmed down, most of the nervous energy gone, but his mind was still reeling from the earlier conversation. In reality Lance was still mentally a mess, but he held his shoulders back and tried to repeat the words of the songs for that night's show in his head to keep his head into what he was supposed to be doing for the rest of the day. He couldn't space out, not now, not in front of the 50 or so thousand people that would be watching him perform in three hours time.

He began with No Strings Attached.

Oh, ooh, ooh yeah, hey yeah
I see the things he does to you
All the pain that he puts you through
And I see what's really going on
Staying out at night
While you're by the phone

Wes finally broke through his thoughts. "You've got a line across your face," Wes said as they went through the doors and back into the backstage area.

Lance reached up and rubbed his cheek where it had been plastered against the bedding. He hadn't moved from the spot where he'd flopped down onto the bed the entire half-hour that he was alone. His eyes had been open and staring across the room, but he'd been some where else. He couldn't explain it, whether it was some kind of meditation or what, but he'd relaxed for those thirty minutes leaving him with some hope that he would be able to handle the next few hours.

"Lance."

Can we get connected?
I need some love and affection, baby
I'll call you on the phone
I hope that I get through
If you're in the mood and on the phone,
here's what you do: leave a message
You know the kind I like to get back to

"Lance."

He looked up and found Jackie watching him. The concern on her face was clearly visible and she was very cautious in her movements towards him. He hated the fact that she felt she had to act that way, but it wasn't really something that he could control. He'd had to push her away earlier or everything would have fallen apart. He still needed to figure out how to tell her about Willa's news, but it wasn't going to happen any time soon.

"Hey," he said. It came out almost as a sigh. He curled his mouth up into a half smile and reached out a hand to her. She took his hand and he gave it a squeeze. He focused he eyes on her, then straightened his posture. "What have you been up to?"

"Are you ok?" she asked looking at him with critical eyes, "What happened earlier?"

Lance pulled her hand to his mouth and kissed it, "I'm sorry. I had--" He sighed and tried to find the right words to apologize to her. "I didn't mean to put you off like that, but I just needed to calm down for a minute."

"Calm down? I heard you both in there yelling then when Willa left the room she was crying and I didn't know what happened."

"I'll explain it to you later on tonight," he said.

"Are you sure you're ok now?" she asked.

He nodded and inhaled a huge breath. "I'm fine now."

"Good," she said. She seemed to believe him, but he could still see that she was watching him more closely than she usually did.

His eyes wandered away from her and he zoned out for a moment.

It makes me ill
To see you give
Love and attention at his will
And you can't imagine how it makes me feel
To see you with him
Oh, it makes me ill
To see you give
Love and attention at his will
And you can't imagine how it makes me feel
To see you with him

"I'm fine," he repeated. He wasn't sure if he was trying to convince himself or convince her this time.

Wes seemed to appear next to him. "Ibraham and Tim need you to do your mic check then you have to get to the meet and greet."

Lance nodded at the instructions then looked at Jackie. "You'll be here right before the show?" he asked.

"Yeah," she said, "I'm going to go eat dinner with Bobbee and Ron and Steve, but I'll be back."

"Ok," he said. He still felt a little dazed, but he went through the motions of kissing her cheek and giving her a kiss before he moved away from her and into the main room of the coliseum.

Lance walked through the tunnel, underneath the rigging where the long arms of the stage stretched out into the coliseum, and found his way to the steps that would take him to the stage.

As he began to climb them he heard people talking so he stalled a little to listen. Normally he didn't like to eavesdrop on people but this conversation seemed to be about him so he thought he should pay attention.

"Is she ok?" Joey asked.

"She was crying," Chris said. Lance could hear the worry in his voice and he wondered for a moment why they were so concerned about his ex-girlfriend. He knew that when someone dated someone in the group, usually everyone got close, but he didn't understand why all of them seemed to be so concerned about a woman he'd dated months ago.

"She says she's fine, but I don't believe it. She hasn't seen us for months and now she left after like a half-hour. I don't know what exactly he said to her, but it couldn't have been good."

"I can't believe that Lance would abandon her like that. Knowing how close he is to his family and all I would think that he'd be over protective instead of--"

"That has nothing to do with it," Chris said, "He just found out that he's going to be a dad next month. That would freak any of us out a little."

"Yeah well he's an ass if he doesn't take care of her."

"Who's an ass?" Lance asked as he came up the rest of the steps and revealed himself to the rest of the group.

"Johnny," Justin immediately said, "He's going to try to take away some of our vacation hours this week."

Lance could tell that he was lying, even if he hadn't heard the earlier conversation. Justin always licked his lips when he lied. Lance had seen him do it a million times on camera when he spoke about his non-relationship with Britney, but he never thought he'd have to be faced with that reaction himself. He'd known that there would be times that the guys would keep things from each other, but he didn't like the feeling of knowing that they were talking about him behind his back.

"What?" Lance asked trying to test the waters a little to see how far they would go with the lie.

"Yeah, I guess we're going to have a meeting or something Thursday afternoon."

"With who?" Lance asked.

"It's not really for you," Chris said, "We’re meeting with a new act I'm trying to sign."

"Oh," Lance said, "Are all you guys going to be there?"

"Uh," JC said, "I think I'm going to the house and hang out with Bobbee for a few hours."

"I've got a phone interview to make up with one of the magazines," Joey said, not making eye contact with him.

Lance walked over and grabbed his microphone off the stand it was sitting on then walked across the stage to find where Tim was standing with his in-ear monitors. After sticking the battery pack onto his belt he threw the cords of the monitors over his shoulder and made his way back to where the guys were still standing. They'd turned and were all looking at each other with guilty looks in their eyes.

"What's going on?" Lance asked standing away from them.

"Nothing," Justin said.

"There has to be something," Lance said.

"Nope," Chris said with a smile that Lance could tell was too fake. "No one in here but us chickens."

"What?" Lance asked.

"Nothing…never mind," Chris mumbled.

"Let's get to work gentlemen. We've got everyone else done. We need to synch up Lance and we'll be done. It should take twenty minutes tops."

The guys separated and went through the motions of synching up Lance's microphone. The tension between the five of them was apparent, but they worked through the strange feelings between them and as Tim had promised they were done twenty minutes later, just enough time for the guys to hang out for a minute before the meet and greet started.

 


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