Staring Down The Sun -- Eleven


"Are you sure you have everything?" Meredith asked in a loud whisper as Justin carried Jack out to his car seat.  The decision had been made to have Justin take the kids with him when he left for the shoot instead of bringing them over later, so the whole group of them had been packed up at five in the morning to leave for the day while Meredith found herself running around making sure that everything at the house would be taken care of that day while she snuck off for a few hours.

"Yes Bear," he said with a nod towards her.  Justin was buried underneath a huge sweatshirt with the hood up and a beanie cap on underneath that, but shivered and pulled Jack closer to him.  He loved this side of his son.  He knew the kid had a lot of energy and never would discourage him from using it, but there was still something about cuddling with his son that made him feel all warm inside.  "I've got their extra clothes, some pull ups for Jack, enough toys for the family of Eight is Enough, and--"

"Ok," she said and put a hand on Jack's back.

"We'll be fine today."  He leaned into the car and moved Jack to his seat.  He was still mostly asleep and seemed to curl into his seat when Justin finally let him alone.  Tegan had already gone through this process a bit earlier and he was glad to see that she was already curled up into her own blanket back to sleep.  "We're almost ready Mike," he said towards the front seat then turned back to his wife knowing that she needed a few more parting words from him before he could leave her alone.  "You act like I never take care of them."

"I'm just sad because I'm going to miss all of you today."  She leaned against him.  "Well it's been a while since I've left them with you for more than a few hours in a row."

"No worries," he said and pulled her into a hug.  The night before had kept them up longer than he'd planned and he know was going to suffer for it, but he knew he'd never have traded that time with her for anything.  "Trayce is going to show up over there in about an hour and sit with them while I film.  We'll be fine if you would just stop worrying."

He felt her heartbeat slow and relax.  "I know.  I know."

"We gotta run Justin," Mike said from inside the car and Meredith pulled away from him.

"Bear."  He leaned and kissed her neck.  "Hmmm, you smell good this morning."

"I need a shower," she said scrunching up her nose.

"You're fine," he said, "And we'll be fine.  Just have fun with Farzana and tell her that she needs to hang out with us during CFTC.  She and JC should come and stay with us that week."

Meredith nodded and leaned to kiss him, then wiped a finger across his lips before smiling at him.  "I'll mention it to her."

Justin moved and closed the door to the back seat then pulled the front door open.  "I love you."

"Love you too," she said and placed a quick kiss on his lips before leaning towards Mike.  "Take care of them."

"Always," Mike said.

When his goodbye was done he closed them into the car and pulled on his seatbelt before he leaned back in his seat and took a deep breath.

"Long night?" Mike asked.

Justin smiled.  "I should have gone to bed earlier."

"Well nap away.  It should take me about a half hour to get over there at least."

Justin turned his head towards his window and let his eyes drift close.


"Listen to this..."

Meredith looked up from the magazine in front of her, turned her face towards the sun, then turned back towards her friend across the table.

"Today's planetary energies:  There is a time for work and a time for play. Today is a time for work. Regardless of where you are and what you are doing, there is work to be done. Adopt a critical eye to keep on the lookout for things that need improvement. Today is a perfect day to assess these things and take necessary action for their repair. Leave no stone unturned as you go through your day today."  Farzana sighed.  "Isn't that a bitch?  I just made number one and the freaking planets are telling me that I need to work."  She shook her head.  "I don't smoke, but I could use a cigarette.  I swear these astrology people talk to my father on a daily basis."

"I thought things with your dad were good now," Meredith said.

"They are, but they aren't," she said, "The moment that JC and I were married and it was all out in the open my father decided that now I needed a family and that I needed to get more intense about my career.  I swear sometimes that man doesn't know how to play.  It's work work work with him."

"Really?" Meredith sipped her coffee wanting to say to her friend that was she was feeling about her father wasn't at all abnormal.  Meredith had put up with Justin's workaholic ways for years, but it was becoming clearer and clearer that one of these days something was going to have to give.  She'd been good about getting her own projects in here and there, but the fact was that Justin's career had skyrocketed and she'd had to follow along with him.  It wasn't the best of situations, but she wasn't about to complain.  She had everything that she needed--except for maybe time.

"Why are you being all quiet this morning?" Farzana asked pulling her sunglasses down on her nose so that she could see her without any obstruction.

"No reason."  Meredith felt uncomfortable being looked at that way.  People looked at her critically all day every day and she knew it was a part of her lifestyle, but to have a friend look at her that way gave her grounds to worry that maybe her thoughts about the stresses of her career and Justin's career were more apparent than she wanted them to be.

Farzana folded the paper and put it down on the table top.

"Missing the kids?"

"Yeah," she said, "A little."  She took a deep breath.  "We're so busy that I think this is the first time in a few months that I've actually sat in one place for more than five minutes."

"I know what you mean," Farzana said.

"What have you been up to lately?" Meredith asked leaning forwards towards her friend, "I feel like you've told me about it before, but I can't seem to remember."

"Well," Farzana said, "JC has been working on his second solo album for the last year and a half.  I've been doing production work for Eden's Crush, then worked with Dream street and now I'm onto working with Triple Image with Johnny.  The girls are out for summer break from school so I'm about to head to Florida for a week or so before Challenge so that I can work with them on new material...and I've got some other projects in the work.  I actually have a song for you to look at if you want to."

"Really?"

"Yeah."

Meredith took the piece of paper that Farzana brought out from her purse, unfolded it and looked at the lyrics.

Before you come around and tell me
Bedtime stories-better think twice
Before you come around and tell those
Bedtime Stories
Better take Daddy's advice

As much as I like a little danger
I have some rules by which I must abide,
So listen up if you want to have a future
Take it from me, you'd better run and hide

"What's this called?" Meredith asked.

Farzana took a sip of her drink then set it down and shrugged.  "Bedtime stories."

"You want me to sing a song called Bedtime Stories?"

"No," Farzana said losing the smile on her face. "I want Tegan to sing it for the movie that I'm working on."

Meredith let the paper touch the edge of the table and sat up straighter.  "You're working on a movie?"

"Yeah," she said, "I'm helping with the soundtrack for it and I need someone around Tegan's age to sing it."

"Why so young?" Meredith asked.

"Well," Farzana took a deep breath and Meredith could tell her friend was about to switch into work mode.  "The girl in the story falls in love with her soul mate when she's five and then ends up marrying him by the end of the movie.  This would be Young Katherine's theme song."

Meredith looked at the paper.  "Oh."

"Look."  She searched Meredith's face for a moment with her eyes.  "I don't need an answer tomorrow, but I'd need it done and recorded before the end of the summer."

"We're about to head back out on the road and we won't be home until--"

"Just think about it," Farzana said, "If you and she want to do it then we'll figure out the where and the when later."

Meredith smiled.  "Ok."

Farzana turned and pulled out a CD from her purse.  "Here's the demo of it and there's a back track version for her to practice with if she wants."

"Thanks," Meredith said, "You're so professional about this.  Why do I still feel like an amateur some times?  I mean really.  I've been at this for over five years--"

"I haven't got a clue what I'm doing most of the time, but I take a chance every so often and pray that it'll work out."

Meredith nodded.  "That's a great way to approach it."  She looked at the CD again.  "I have to talk to Justin about this.  He's going nuts over Tegan being on Jay's show, but then was freaking out when Chris came over the other morning ready to get her a record deal."

"Chris is in town?"

"Yeah," Meredith said.

"Uh oh," Farzana sighed out.

"What?"

"Dani's getting married," Farzana said flatly.  It wasn't that she wasn't happy for their friend, but Meredith knew that everyone was a little more partial to Dani than Chris even if they were still friends with both of them, "I thought you'd heard about that."

"NO!" Meredith said, "I miss out on everything when I'm out there on the road."

"Yeah," Farzana said, "She's met a really nice guy.  Martin Kenner.  He's a producer--worked with some punk bands--and a manager and--"

"And that's why Chris ended up in my doorway the other morning determined to become a manager and producer."  Meredith sighed.  She loved Chris like a brother and was really starting to get worried about him.  "I feel bad for the guy.  He really is in love with her."

"I know," Farzana agreed, "But something is just messed up between the two of them that just screws itself up every time they're in the same room."

"They try too hard," Meredith said, "I just wish that they could both be happy."

"Well Dani seemed to be the last time I saw her." Farzana let a smile grace her lips.  "She was telling me that Martin's got a huge house in Seattle that they're moving into.  He for some reason hates LA, but somehow they're having the wedding here.  Probably easier to get everyone to it if they're down this way.  I mean who wants to be up in Seattle anyway."

"Seattle is great," Meredith said thinking of the surprises that had been in store for her when she'd been on her first tour.  That was the city where Justin came and surprised her, swept her off her feet.  It was the moment that she knew he was truly in love with her.

"Oh I know," Farzana laughed out, "It just reminds me too much of home.  Toronto and Seattle sometimes have similar grey weather.  It's just--Well it's just hard to be in a place like that for a long time."

"I can't imagine being ANYWHERE for a long time," Meredith sighed out, "Unless you count being in LA for six or seven days a LONG time."


Bedtime Stories -- Jennifer Love Hewitt


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