Snap Shots Series:  Portrait

TWELVE


A pain in his shoulder woke him from a deep sleep. Lance didn't remember getting into bed that night so when he woke up in Willa's guestroom he was confused. He wasn't used to waking up in strange places. He was used to strange hotel rooms, but when he didn't see the phone bolted to the dresser next to him he looked around. He rolled over three times, shoving his face into the pillow trying to hang onto his dream before he finally lifted his head from the pillow.

Lance carefully rolled over onto his back to scan the room with his eyes before he tried to move. The place screamed of the same sense of style that he'd seen in her New York place. She had more room here in the house in LA and she’d taken full advantage. He had gotten someone to decorate most of his house, but this was all Willa. The attention to detail would make someone thing that she was a little neurotic about her things, but he liked the way that everything seemed to match. Even though most of the hotel rooms that he stayed in on the road matched, this matched just enough to look nice without looking too planned.

As Lance looked over and saw some pictures on the dresser he remembered falling asleep on the couch with JW on his chest. He could still almost feel his son's heartbeat against him. He touched the spot on his chest where his son and been the night before then immediately he looked around for the missing child fearing that he'd dropped the baby.

His confusion was soon settled when he heard a baby cry from outside the room. He wasn't sure for a moment that he'd be able to stand the sound of his son crying it got to him in a way he'd never experienced before. He’d seen a million people cry at concerts and when he and the guys met them in person, but this was different. This was a part of him; something more personal than anything he’d ever experienced before. He was about to get up and go and investigate when he heard relaxed laughing and knew that everything was ok. That was until he looked at the clock and saw that it was already noon.

"Damn," he breathed out. He started to push himself out of bed and felt like he weighed a million pounds. It usually was this way after a show and normally he'd go and get a massage or something to get his body back into gear, but this morning there would be no massage, no gourmet coffee, no pampering. He was with Willa and he was going to live normally for the next twenty-four hours. It wasn't that big of a challenge really, but he knew that he had to act like a normal person instead of the way he lived while he was on the road.

Pushing himself off the mattress Lance's jointed creaked and cracked before he finally was standing next to the full sized bed. He twisted his body twice to crack his back then made his way to his suitcase and pulled out a pair of wind-pants and a T-shirt and pulled them on over the boxers he'd fallen asleep in. He planned to take a shower a little later, but for now he had this urge to see his son and like he had for the last two months--Willa.

He made it to the living/dining room in his own sweet time trying to massage his sore shoulder. He got lost on the way, but soon found the three of them sitting around the table playing cards. In the fourth empty spot at the table sat a little seat and he could see the top of his son's head peaking out from his vantage point. Willa had a huge smile on her face, one hand filled with cards, the other hand on a small contraption that held his son. The tiny chair contraption bounced a little as Willa gently rocked JW.

"Hey Lance," Willa finally said noticing him. When she looked up at him she had a bright smile on her face and the tension from the night before seemed to be gone. She looked at him like she had when they'd been at the airport and it threw him for a curve. He needed to know what was going on with her and so far he didn't have a clue. One minute she acted one way and the next she acted another way.

Lance ran his hands through his hair and looked down at himself feeling bad about not getting dressed seeing that the three of them were already ready for the day. "Hey," he said greeting all of them rather than just Willa as he came around the table so that he could look at his son.

Willa hid her cards from him. "Don't cheat now," she said then turned her cards down to the table. She made a face when she heard one of the other guys groan then looked up at Lance, "Did you sleep well?"

"I feel like crap," He sighed and winced when he saw the expression on Willa’s face. He knew that JW was too young to pick up on the language he used, but she seemed to react as if he’d been teaching the boy swear words or something.

"Did you not sleep enough?" She asked, "You can go back to sleep if you want to."

"I got enough sleep. I’m just sore from the show last night." He used that moment to rub the sore shoulder that had been giving him trouble that morning.

"Your shows are crazy," she said.

"No," Wes said, "He’s just missing his morning massage right about now."

"You never got massages when I dated you."

"He didn’t need them then," Spanky said.

"Oh my God Spanky!" She said swatting at him. "Could you be any more crude?"

"Yeah," he said with a yawn as he reached out to touch his son's stomach, "He probably can be if you’d give him a chance."

Today JW wore a little jumpsuit outfit, or at least that’s what it looked like--Lance really didn’t know the technical fashion terms for baby clothes--that looked like a baseball uniform with stripes down the front. It even had a small baseball glove stitched on the right chest area. He wasn't much for baseball himself, but the outfit looked cute on him. He didn't know if that was a manly thing to say, but he could see that his son was going to be a lady-killer when he grew up. He was already winning over everyone in the room and would probably only get better at it considering who his family members and extended family members were.

"Better keep you away from Joey," Lance said softly. The baby smiled at him and made a gurgling noise up at him bringing him back to the present. "We gotta teach you to sing big guy," he muttered.

"What was that?" Someone asked.

"Nothing," Lance said and looked at everyone. No one really seemed to be paying attention to him, which was a switch. He wasn’t sure if he liked it or not, but the change of pace was nice. "What's the agenda for the day?"

They hadn't really made plans; just that he would stay in LA with them so he wondered how this was going to work. When he stayed with Willa before they’d be alone for the most part and hadn’t had to have a baby around. It was going to be tricky, but he expected that this trip was going to be eye opening.

Wes and Spanky played their cards and Willa turned and slapped down another one then looked up at him, "No agenda today. I just want you and JW to hang out."

"Yeah," Wes said with a smirk on his face, "You two can bond over Barney."

The three other adults in the room laughed then JW let out a laugh too which caused them to laugh even more.

When he spit up a little Willa automatically reached over and took the edge of a tiny cloth and wiped his face. She acted as if she’d been doing it for a million years instead of just a month or so. "That was JW's way of saying that he'd rather watch the Teletubbies. That Barney dinosaur is a loser."

"Sure," Lance said rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

"There's coffee in the coffee maker, but I'd microwave it since it's been sitting out a while," Willa called to him.

"No thanks," he said then walked into the kitchen. He'd gotten spoiled ordering at gourmet coffee shops and wasn't about to pour down Folders, "Mind if I look around?"

"Go right ahead," she said leaning over the backside of the chair. She smiled at him, "I’m too lazy to explain where everything is, but there aren’t any crazy things you could find that would end up embarrassing you or making you sick. Just the formula of course."

"Eww," Spanky said, "Don't even joke about that crap. How they can say that is the same thing is milk is beyond me. The board of health should condemn that stuff not promote it. It tastes like crap."

"Ok, first off I don't want to know how you know that," Willa joked, "Remind me never to leave you alone in the house. I know it may sound silly, but admitting you have a drinking problem is the first step to recovery."

"Ha ha," Spanky leaned over and pushed her playfully. "I got some on my hand the other day and licked it off instead of wiping it off. What the hell is wrong with that?"

"Watch your language!" Willa said.

"Yeah!" Lance added from the kitchen. It was probably one of the most hypocritical things he’d ever said, but he wanted to stay in the conversation.

"Like JW is going to start saying that because I said it," Spanky protested.

"You never know," she said.

"That’s right," Wes said, "We all forgot that Willa is SuperMom now."

Lance couldn’t see her from where he’d stuck his head into the refrigerator, but he could tell that she had turned to JW from the tone in her voice. It was a little higher and sweeter when she spoke. "Don’t you listen to Uncle Spanky Mr. JW. He’s got a potty mouth, but we’re going to work on that."

"Potty Mouth?" There was a laugh, "Is that a technical term?"

Willa laughed, "I’m not going to let my son grow up to be like you boys. I’ve heard all of you together. Not a one of you or Lance’s friends can keep their mouth’s clean."

"I brush everyday!" Lance said with a loud laugh.

Her laughter filled the house.

Lance stopped and listened to her laugh. He wasn't sure but he couldn't remember a time in the last year that he'd been happier. He was back with her for the time being and he was enjoying every moment of it when he wasn't getting completely confused by every other thing that was going on between them. "Thanks for the warning," he called.


Willa watched Lance when he came back into the room. The card game had now been slightly forgotten. Wes was sitting in his same spot and was shuffling the cards, but no one had suggested starting another game so they all waited in limbo.

It had been a few weeks since she’d seen Lance and this was giving her a great opportunity to take a look at him again. She’d seen him on television a few times, before he arrived at the airport and her opinion of him hadn’t changed. He’d been looking well, but being up close to him was so much better than watching a live broadcast of him from an awards show or a taped show on MTV.

Lance balanced a bowl of cereal in the palm of his right hand and a spoon in his left as he pulled back the chair where JW’s little carrier was sitting with a pinkie then plopped down in it. She heard a grunt when his butt hit the seat then saw the winced expression on his face. She wasn’t sure if he was acting this way because he was sore from the show the night before or if it was from just general nervousness, but he looked almost in pain due to his uncomfortable nature.

Wanting the silence in the room to be at a minimum Willa watched him for only a short while then reached over and took a raisin out of the bowl in front of him, "Find everything?" She made eye contact with him as she popped the raisin into her mouth and chewed slowly.

He looked at her with a smirk on his face as he stirred the cereal around a little.

"Yes," Lance said. He leaned over the bowl when she reached again for another raisin. "You’re worse than Justin. I can get you some of your own. I know I didn’t pour out the whole box."

Wes let out a small laugh and tapped the cards on the table straightening them into order and looked at Willa. "You aren’t going to take that kind of abuse are you?"

"Abuse?" She asked.

Wes nodded. "Basically being compared to Justin at a moment like this is a huge insult. You’ve been away a while. Unless you’ve forgotten, Justin is the little piglet when it comes to breakfast. So basically he just called you a pig."

"Piglet?" She laughed, "Is that a technical term?"

Wes held up his arms in a surrendering motion, "I just wanted you to know the meaning behind that. I’ve got more experience with my Lance to English dictionary than you do."

"Did you really call me a pig?" Willa asked looking at Lance as she pushed herself out of her chair.

"Not really," he said, "I mean I did, but I didn’t mean it." He shrugged and looked even more nervous.

Willa went over a put a hand on the top of Lance’s head and pulled his head back so he was looking up at her. "Where can I get a copy of that Lance to English dictionary?" She asked with a smile trying to reassure him that she was just joking.

"I’ll get you a copy," Wes said.

She’d gotten caught in his eyes. It was a dangerous thing to do and she thought for a moment that she could have stayed like that forever. She could have leaned and kissed him then. There was this smile in his eyes, a smile she’d missed the last few months and she wanted to capture the moment, but the other occupants of the room detained her from her goal.

"Thank you so much for dressing for brunch," she said and pushed his head forward, "Being on the road has made you lazy. You aren’t going to throw a rock star fit are you? Where’s my newspaper? Where’s my double latte decaf?" Her mocking tone made everyone laugh.

"Be careful girl," Wes said, "Or we’ll have to take this outside."

"What a nerd," Willa said and disappeared into the kitchen for a minute.

"Are you going to let her treat me like this?" Wes asked Lance.

"I love you too," Lance said sarcastically to Wes in between bites.

"You were the one who said it in the first place," Wes said.

"Well you didn’t have to point it out to her," he said, "I guess I won’t have to buy you that spotlight for Christmas since you seem to be doing fine on your own."

"You love me though," Wes said and was about to throw him the finger when Willa caught his eye.

"Don’t you dare Wes or you’ll be sleeping on the porch tonight. I don’t care if you are his guard. You’re going to need protection if you do that in front of JW."

"He started it," Wes said with a slight mocking whine to his voice.

Willa sighed sitting herself back at the table. "Now boys. I have a few years before I have to deal with a bickering little boy and although I’m sure you think that the practice will be good for me, I don’t think I need to practice something like that."

"Sorry Willa," Wes said.

***

Willa had been sitting on the couch in front of the television with JW resting at her side for almost an hour when Lance finally returned from taking his shower and getting dressed. She barely heard him return to the living room, but when she did feel his presence in the room all the hairs on her arms stood on end.

"Taking a nap already?" He asked.

"I’ve been up since four this morning. JW seems to be living on East Coast time for the moment," she said with a sigh.

"Why don’t you go take a nap or something?" He suggested.

"It’s ok." She watched a smile come to his face when she yawned. "We need to talk anyway."

"Talk?" He asked.

Willa pursed her lips and looked at him, "We have to make arrangements so that you and I both get time to spend with JW."

"Oh." He came around the couch and found a seat next to her on the couch.

"I’ve been thinking about moving back to New York or to Seattle to be near my parents."

"Why?" He asked, "I thought you liked it here."

"It’s ok," she said.

She watched him eyeing where JW was laying on the couch. His hand slowly moved over and rubbed his son’s stomach.

"I thought you wouldn’t want to live with your mother again. I thought she was totally bugging you when she was here last."

"She was," she said with a sigh, "Speaking of that...have you talked to your parents about us."

"Stacey knows about the two of you and I’m guessing that my parents already know. I haven’t heard much out of them, but I’m not sure if that’s because they are upset with me or if its because FreeLance is just keeping them running around."

"Oh."

"You want to plan a trip out to Mississippi to see them in a few weeks."

"Maybe after the New Year," she said, "I’m going to have to go up to my parents for Thanksgiving and I think after that I’m going to have to recover for a while before I go anywhere."

"Come and spend Christmas with me and the guys in Florida," he said suddenly said. He wasn’t looking at her when he said it, but when he turned and looked at her he had this worried look in his eyes as if he was almost scared that she would refuse his offer.

"I think we could do that," she said, "But I would want to do something low key. Spanky has been stuck here with me for the last few months and I was planning on sending him on a vacation for two weeks. I don’t really care where he goes, but he needs a break."

"I’ll make some plans for him."

"You don’t have to do that," she said, "He’s my guard. I’ll arrange it for him."

"I was just going to suggest that he go out to Hawaii for some time," Lance said, "Stacey and Ford have a condo out there now and I thought that I’d offer him the use of it for the week."

"Oh."

"What’d you think I’d do?" He asked, "Just throw money at him or something?"

"No," she said.

The tension between them returned for a moment. It was only stopped by the fact that JW was starting to fuss.

"I should go change him," she said. She gathered the little boy up in her arms and smiled down at their son and said in a cutesy baby voice, "My little pooper needs a new diaper."

Willa began to leave the room and she felt Lance’s presence behind her so she stopped. She was just down the hall when he bumped into her. She instinctively clutched onto JW and to her surprise immediately felt his arms slide around her to steady her so that she wouldn’t drop JW.

"Where are you going?" She asked looking over her shoulder to look at him.

"You ok?" He asked.

She nodded, "So where were you going?"

"To help," he said simply.

"What?" She couldn’t help but to looked shocked at his admission. He had come into town to see them, but she hadn’t expected him to be that involved. Actually she didn’t want to believe that he would be that way because she didn’t want to get hurt again if he suddenly disappeared again.

Lance removed his hands from her shoulders. "I thought that I’d help out. He’s my son and I need to start taking care of him."

"Thank you Mr. After-School-Special," she said with a mocking tone.

"What the hell Willa?" He said angrily.

"Don’t raise your voice like that. You’re scaring JW," she said pulling the baby against her tighter.

"What?" He asked. He sounded exhausted with this little back and forth banter. "I leave you alone and you get mad at me and now I actually want to help out and you get mad at me. Can you please explain your rationale so I can follow the rules?"

Willa blushed with embarrassment. "I’m sorry," she said.

"You know, I know that I was stupid for not being there for JW and you before this, but I am trying to be here. I just don’t know what you want from me."


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