Snap Shots Series: Portrait

ELEVEN


[Seattle, Washington]

"You ready?" Wes asked in a yell over the slightly muffled sound of the crowd. They were backstage, but it seemed as if the sound of the crowd would have found them anywhere in the building considering how loud the crowd had been that night even after the guys had said their good-byes to the Seattle crowd.

In quick motions Lance removed his in ear monitors and wiped off his face with the towel that had been thrown over his shoulder as he came running off stage. He followed the flashlight trail out of the way of the others, throwing the towel to a stagehand, trading the towel for a fresh T-shirt and a jacket and only stopped when Wes grabbed the jacket from him so that he could pull on his shirt.

"Yeah," he said with a soft voice and rushed along behind Wes down the hallway. "Everything is set?"

"Yeah," Wes said checking his watch and looking around as if he was checking to see if they were going the right way, "The flight down to LA leaves at one, which leaves us enough time to get you to the airport and get a shower before the plane boards."

"Thanks for helping me set this up," Lance said.

"Luck Lance!" He heard over his shoulder and he waved to JC who was standing with the others a few feet away going through the same dressing down.

"See ya in a few days, don’t party too hard tonight!" Lance yelled.

Not waiting for Lance to finish his routine, Wes steered him down to where they met up with a car that was going to take them both to the airport. Everything had been packed before hand and the car was just waiting for the passengers so it could leave.

In the car on the way to the airport Lance thought about calling his mother again. He'd talked to her a few times in the last few weeks since he'd had to leave LA. He'd promised to call her that night before he left on his weekend break, but when he looked at the time and calculated the time difference he knew that he should just leave the call until later.

"I'll remind you to call her in the morning," Wes said reading Lance's mind, "Although I’m sure she’s probably left you a few messages. You know her when it comes to stuff like this. I’m surprised she didn’t fly out to see them too."

"Thanks," Lance said in a dazed manner as his brain began to try to comprehend the events that would happen the next day. He had been thinking about it for weeks now, but now that it was here it was starting to sink in.

He was tired. It wasn't just the tour or even the show. Since he'd found out that he was a father there had been a weight on his shoulders. JW had gotten better and had been at home for a week now and it was time for he and Willa to talk, but he was finding himself scared to have the conversation. He knew that it could destroy everything, but he prayed for the sake of his son that he could get through it intact and be there for his new family. Even if he and Willa didn’t get back together he knew that he would feel responsible for the two of them.

Luckily the airport was fairly empty that night which made the walk from the car to the VIP area a nice one. Usually Lance rushed through airports mostly due to the idea that there would be trouble with the crowds, but he found himself this time enjoying the walk. He guessed it was because some of the people he saw waiting for flights. He hadn't spent that much time around normal people in the last few weeks and it was refreshing to see people who weren't thirteen years old or who weren't screaming his name or one of the other's names every two seconds.

"You ok?" Wes asked.

Lance nodded and followed him into the VIP lounge. Wes grabbed up all the paperwork and signed for everything then the two men were guided to a very small room that looked like a small hotel room except that it didn't have a bed in the room.

Wes sat down at the desk and flipped on the television across the room with a remote while Lance slipped into the bathroom to take a shower.

***

When their flight landed in LA a few hours later Lance knew that he shouldn't have been nervous. He’d slept most of the way and he’d thought that the extra sleep would help him relax, but it didn’t. The plan was for him to stay overnight in the rest of the night in a hotel then go to Willa's house for the next two days and a night before he had to fly out to Orlando again.

"Lance!" he heard when they stepped off the airplane. He looked back over his shoulder thinking for a moment that Wes had been trying to get his airport, but Wes wasn’t even looking in his direction.

"Lance!"

He turned around in almost a complete circle then thought that it was a fan since it was in the middle of the night. He ducked his head. Who else would be there waiting for him?

When he searched the crowd he found Willa standing there with Spanky. She wore a huge coat pulled across her tightly standing there with a huge smile on his face. He thought for a moment that he was imagining it because he hadn't expected her to be that happy to see him. He'd noticed that she hadn't lost much weight since he'd seen her last. It wasn't that she'd been fat or anything, she actually had been a very pretty as a pregnant woman, but he'd expected that she would lose some of the weight that she'd put on during her pregnancy. He blinked a few times just to make sure that he wasn't seeing a mirage.

"What are you doing here?" he asked trying not to smile too widely when he saw that she had a smile on his face. He actually was kind of worried to see her there considering that they'd planned to meet up the next day. He wanted to be happy to see her, but he wasn’t sure what his reception would be like so he didn’t want to assume too much just because she was there to pick him up.

"I had a surprise for you," she said simply.

"Why are you in such a good mood all of a sudden?" he asked. He looked at her sideways trying to figure out how much of what was coming out of her mouth that he could believe.

Willa didn't answer. She just gave him this huge smile that he hadn't seen from her in almost a year and opened up her jacket. At first he was confused by the motion she made with her jacket, but when he looked down he saw hanging from her shoulders, like a backward backpack, a baby carrier and inside, sleeping peacefully was their son. His tiny head was leaned to the side and he was practically drowning in the baby carrier, but he was there with his lips pursed together and his hands in tiny fists sleeping.

He hadn't expected this at all and at the point he was at he was already over emotional from the end of the leg of the tour and everything. He held his breath praying that he wouldn't embarrass himself. His bag dropped off his shoulder and he stood there staring, wide eyed watching him breath softly against her.

"JW told me that he needed to see you." She tugged at the little hat he was wearing and saw him shiver so she pulled the jacket back around him a little. "He's got on a little jumper, but he's too little to be in this air conditioning…Anyway we thought that you and Wes should spend the whole time with us at the house rather than just one night."

Lance's eyes didn't leave his son, he didn't blink as he watched him, but when he did finally look up he saw that she was watching him. He didn't know what to say. He thought he'd have time to think of something to say, but he found himself standing there like an idiot staring at the two of them with his mouth open.

Seeing that he was hesitant about seeing his son she stepped over to him and slid an arm around him and pulled him so that he could see JW's face. She reached for his hand and maneuvered it so that JW could grab a hold of his finger.

Somehow in his sleep his song grabbed onto his finger when his finger touched JW's hand. He smiled and shook his hand a little, but the guy had a death grip on his finger.

"Aren't you going to say something?" she asked softly.

Lance looked at her then at JW then back at her. "He's beautiful Willa." He stepped back from her and frowned.

"What's wrong?" she asked.

"Nothing," Lance said and looked away.

"Are you going to cry?" she asked with a joking tone.

"No," he said and rubbed his face. He let out a sigh and tried to keep his cool. He was tired still and didn't have a clue about how to react to her welcome. He wasn't sure if he could believe that she was being so nice to him. She'd been civil on the phone with him when he'd gotten a chance to call her each day, but he hadn't ever felt fully welcomed back into her life and he couldn't understand why she would do it now. He looked down the hallway. "Let's go."

When he began to walk away Willa hesitated for a moment then caught up with him. "What's wrong Lance?" she asked. He could hear some sort of anger in her voice.

"Not here," he said sternly and looked over her head at something as if it distracted him from their conversation. She wasn't sure if it was a reporter or a fan or even something more serious than that, but he didn't hesitate in his walk so he could explain. "We'll talk when we get out of here."

Willa sighed and walked along with him with the two guards following them. When they got outside Willa led the way to the car and everyone piled in. Spanky driving with Wes up front and the two parents sitting in the back seat with JW sitting between them in the car seat.

Afraid that he might totally crack the wall that he'd put up in the airport, Lance looked out of the window for most of the ride. Somehow his hand had found it's way to JW and his son was holding onto his finger as they rode.

JW woke up and began to cry only when the car stopped. He'd fussed a little in his sleep when he'd been moved to his car seat. She'd seen the scared look on Lance's face and had to remind him that JW was fine and that he always fussed when he was moved. Her comment was proven when he fell right back to sleep as soon as they'd gotten onto the freeway. He only woke up again and was fully awake when they took him out to take him into the house.

"Come on in boys," Willa said with a smile when everyone came through the doorway. She gave directions to everyone so they could find their rooms while holding JW against her as he whimpered. He tried to steer clear of her in the house. He desparately wanted to hold his son, but at the same time he was scared to death of that thought. His son. It was just too much to handle at once.

When the bodyguards had disappeared Willa looked at Lance who was pulling off his jacket. "You want to hold him?" she asked.

Lance wasn't facing her when she asked and he was glad that he wasn't, because the thought of holding his son scared him. It wasn't that he thought he'd drop him or that he shouldn't hold him. It was the fear that he'd get too attached that made him hesitate. He wasn't sure what Willa was doing and he didn't want her to tease him and make him think those things were going to be ok then pull away or something.

"Uh," he said and straightened from where he'd leaned over to put his jacket on the back of a chair. "Yeah, I guess."

"Why don't you go sit on the couch?" she said.

Lance did as he was told and took a seat.

"Lean back a little and get comfy and he can lay on your chest," she said, "that's how Spanky holds him and he seems to like it."

The thought of Spanky holding his son before he did made him a little angry, but he knew he couldn't help it. Spanky had been in town and he hadn't and when he thought about it for a minute he thought it would be better for Spanky to hold him than Brennan.

Lance leaned back and put one of the pillows on the couch under his arm. It was almost four in the morning and he was tired and hoped that he didn't fall asleep with JW in his arms.


When Lance looked comfortable enough Willa carefully positioned JW in his father's arms then stepped back. Looking down at him she pretended that this was all a normal family scene. She’d been dreaming about this moment for the month and a half or so that Lance had been away and wanted things to go well, but they weren’t going as well as she’d thought they’d go. She had tried to not notice the look on his face, but the fear there couldn’t be hidden.

He clutched the baby to his chest protectively, but he seemed to be holding onto him too tightly. She took his hand and moved his hand over a little so that one was over JW's bottom and one was across his back then laughed a little, "Lance honey, don't squeeze him to death."

She rubbed her hands together when she felt the tingle in her fingertips that had started when she had touched his hand. When she noticed what she was doing she stuck her hands into her pockets.

Lance nodded nervously at her. "I’m not going to squish him."

"Are you sure you’re ok to sit there with him?" She asked making sure that she could leave him alone for a minute. She wanted them to have time together, but she didn’t want to force JW on him.

"He's shivering," he said, "Is that normal?"

Willa could see JW’s chin quivering which ususally a sign that he was upset, not cold, but if he felt cuddled against someone he seemed to quiet down a little.

"What should I do?" Lance asked.

Willa let out another little laugh and went and got the lap blanket she had under the end table. She spread it out over the two of them, leaving the edge down far enough so that JW's head wasn't covered after she tucked it around his toes and body. Her son was now fighting to stay awake and she knew she should feed him, but she wanted to let Lance and JW to get to know each other so she made up an excuse to leave them there alone. "You going to be ok if I leave you two alone for a minute?"

"Where are you going?" he asked immediately.

"I'll be right back." She patted his knee. "I'm going to get JW a new diaper and see if we can't get him changed before I put him to bed again."

"Hmm," Lance said looking down at his son who was staring up at him. She watched as he'd made eye contact with the little boy and it seemed now that their bond couldn't be broken.

"I'll be right back. If he starts to cry just rub his back a little. That usually helps. He likes some of your songs, you should sing to him to. He likes More Than A Feeling."

"Oh no...you pulled out the oldies?" He asked.

"Well we normally listen to eighties music, but he seems to like his dad’s singing more than Richard Marx."

After she saw a smile form on Lance’s face, Willa went around the back of the couch and was heading towards JW's little room when she heard Lance's voice softly speaking to their son.

"You know what big guy?" he said. "I hope your mom stays in this good of a mood cuz I think I could get used to this."

Tears welled up in Willa's eyes and she disappeared into JW's room. She'd remembered to get extra diapers earlier in the day and spent a minute organizing JW's little closet while she had the chance. Most days in the last month had been spent with JW either at her side or in her arms and it was nice to get away for a while. Spanky had been a great babysitter and she trusted him with all her heart, but there was a part of her that somehow felt more comfortable having Lance hold their son than her bodyguard.

When she returned to the living room Lance had changed positions and was laying half way on and half way off the couch with JW on his chest. JW was curled up against him, tiny legs tucked underneath him, butt in the air, with a hand shoved in his face sucking on his knuckles. Lance was fast asleep with both arms around him, holding him in place, one on his back and one on his butt, like she'd showed him. It was such a perfect moment that she had to catch it on tape.

Being a new mother she had of course become a picture-aholic and had taken about 75 rolls of film of her son in the last week alone. Now she grabbed up her camera and went slowly back over to them. Focusing quickly she took a close up so that she could fit the two of them in the picture together. It wasn't an award winning shot, but it was the two of them and that’s all she needed.

"What are you doing?" Spanky asked in a whisper.

Willa whipped around and put a finger over lips and moved across the room and into the kitchen. Spanky followed her and leaned against he counter across from her.

"I don't want to wake him up," she said, "I wanted a picture of them together. Is that bad?"

"Who? JW or Lance?" he asked.

"Both. I can't believe the two of them together. They've totally bonded and they just met."

"This is worse that you were during your pregnancy," he said with a groan, "If you start bawling again all the time I'm going to have to separate the two of you."

"I can't help it, you know?" she said, "I thought it would be good to see them together...but it’s better than I imagined."

"You've really got him confused Willa," Spanky said.

"What’s that supposed to mean?" She asked.

"Don’t play games with this one Willa," he warned.

"I just want to pretend for one moment that everything is normal ok?" she said, "Is that too much to ask for?"

"No," he said, "You need to talk to him and get this settled because with you trying to raise JW and him being on the road there are going to be troubles. You need to get this settled."

"I will," she said, "I'll talk to him when he wakes up."

"So are you going to forgive him and marry the guy?" he asked.

"I don't know about marriage, but yeah I figure that JW needs his dad in his life. I don't want to have my family messed up."

"So is Lance back to being family again?" Wes asked from the doorway.

"Jesus, can I not have a conversation without someone listening in?" she said with fake anger then pushed herself up so that she was sitting on the counter facing the two bodyguards.

"I'm sorry," he said, "I just know that I've been with the guy for the last few weeks and even though you may not know it, he's worried about this. He wants to put things right and you need to give him a chance to do that."

"I'm not putting up the wall. Did you see him in the airport? It's like he couldn't get out of there fast enough."

"That's Lance. Family is something that he holds close to him and dealing with family issues has always been hard on him," Wes explained. "Its because he thinks highly of family matters and he doesn't discuss stuff like that in public. He doesn't want anyone to overhear things that they don't need to hear."

"Well why can't he just explain stuff like that to me?" she asked.

"Plus he'd just gotten off a flight and you knew that he had never seen JW before and while it was a surprise for him to see his son, it was more of a shock. I know him well enough to know that he thought that he was going to have time to prepare to see you and when you showed up like that he was caught off guard. He's not mad or even a little bit upset with you. Believe me. He's been talking about this trip back down here since we left LA the last time."

"Really?" she said.

"The boy is in love with you Willa," Spanky said, "Why do you think he's been paying my check all these months to take care of you?"

Willa turned away from him and busied herself by washing dishes in the sink. "He has?" she asked.

"No offense, but do you think I could just afford to hang out with you?" he asked.

"I thought the agency was paying for it," she said stopping her washing.

"No," Spanky said, "I've been reporting to Lance and his sister since he left in New York. He was mad about the whole situation, but he never would have let Brennan into your life and take over. He knew if I was here that I wouldn't let it happen either."

"He didn’t want Brennan around?"

"Hell no," Spanky and Wes said in unison.

"There’s a clause in my contract that said if I ever got brought up on charges for battery against Brennan Lance would bail me out.

"Really?"

"Please tell me that you aren’t that niave Willa," Wes said, "The guy is in love with you."

"He’s got Jackie in his life."

"Since when?" Wes said, "I haven’t seen that girl since the last time we were in LA. From what I can tell they’ve said their good-byes. She told him that she loved him and he said that he was in love with his son and needed to be with JW."

"He what?" She said. She dropped the glass in her hand back onto the counter, luckily it only shook back an forth for a moment before it rested in it’s correct position.

"HE. LOVES. YOU."

"Don’t say that," she said and pushed out of the kitchen.

"Don’t say what?" Spanky asked in a semi-loud voice.

"Stop it Spanky, you’ll wake up JW and you’ll have to take care of him," she said, "I don’t want to talk about this with you."

A cry of JW filled the room and a moment later Lance came walking towards the kitchen with JW held against him. His eyes were having a hard time staying open, but he could see enough to hold him out to Willa.

"I think he’s ready to see his mom again."

Once his hands were free Lance ran his hands through his hair and looked at the three of them. "What’s going on?"

The three of them stared back at him in silence.


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