"I don't want you to go," Steven whines.
Justin has come out of the bathroom. He's slid into some faded jeans, a green t-shirt with the logo of a fake softball team called The Shamrocks on it and a hooded zip up sweatshirt. He carries his black leather jacket with him and is collecting up his things in his backpack so that he can leave for the day, when Steven starts to walk in his way to try to distract him from leaving. I know this tactic well, not because of what Steven is doing or has done in the past, but with my own experiences when my father would have to go on a business trip and I tried to do anything to get him to stay. It's the classic idea that if they can't get ready to leave that they'll get so frustrated that they'll give up and stay home instead. It seems perfectly logical to a person Steven's age, but all it's doing for Justin and all it did for my father with me, is putting the person in the worst mood when they are leaving.
I see the signs well before Justin finally gets frustrated with him and picks him up, sliding his hands under Steven's armpits before he sets him on the edge of the bed. Justin's fairly good at hiding his frustrations. His brother's get the run of his life when he can let them, but this morning he's reached his limit faster than normal. Usually, he'll make jokes or dodge subjects that he hates that are brought up, but with family he's too normal with them to beat around the bush about it so when he speaks firmly to Steven there should be no question as to the intention behind the anger in his voice.
"Stay here Steven." It's an order.
Steven still isn't old enough to understand that work and play are two different things and looks at his brother as if he's been smacked on the bottom or something drastic like that.
I feel for Steven and Jonathan. Both the boys have seen their brother work for his entire life, but they aren't able to understand yet that JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE and their brother are two very separate people. When Justin is home in Tennessee he's treated like another sibling, but when JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE is in New York there are things that Justin has to do that Steven and Jonathan can't be a part of no matter how good or how quiet they are. So instead of being good and quiet like Jonathan has been, Steven takes the other extreme and makes a fuss to get attention. Lisa warned me once a few months ago about this, but I've never seen Steven be so antsy before this week.
"Honey," I say and move over to where Steven is sitting on the edge of the bed. He's now taking the clothes that Justin left on the bed and throwing them on the floor into a pile. I pick them up and start to fold them into piles. Jeans on one side, white Hanes brand t-shirts on the other side and in the middle the various t-shirts he's brought to New York with him. "Steven sweetie, your brother doesn't want to go--"
Steven brings out his most pathetic voice to speak with, "Yes he does."
In Steven's eyes, at least for the moment, work is number one with Justin and no matter how much that actually is a reality for this morning, it would never be the truth when it came down to things. Justin always puts family first. He schedules things around birthdays and holidays and special events in his brother's lives, but this morning with the schedule that Justin has and the importance of this week in general, a pouting little brother isn't something that he can stop to remedy.
"Crap. I need to pack all this crap up so we can go to LA tonight, don't I?"
"Yeah." I turn away from Steven. "Pack up the bulk of it, I'll check around for the rest and make sure that Jack and D grab your bags."
Justin nods and only glances at Steven.
It's a wonder that this boy lives and breathes on the days when Justin is in one state and he's in another. His pathetic pouting makes it seems like Steven hasn't got a friend left in the world. "He always has to go because the stupid girls are screaming at him if he doesn't go."
My head snaps immediately towards Justin and there is no mistake about the emotion that is in his eyes. He's gotten the first guilt trip in a while from his brother and it's like a dagger to his heart. He's told me about how he feels bad leaving his family at home all the time and its one of the reasons that Lynn seems to be on the road with him a lot. He gets homesick like the next person, but really he feels bad because his brother's get homesick for him too.
Today is Steven's first time to actually voice it to his brother in that manner. He's said other things that would give the hint of how upset he is, but never actually saying that he believes that he comes behind the fans when Justin makes his decisions.
"Justin," I say when he doesn't speak. I don't like the blank look in his eyes and the fact that I'm not going to be with him for the rest of the morning worries me. I'm sure Sonia and Tiny will keep an eye on him for me, but my neurotic little brain won't let go of the idea that all hell breaks loose if I'm not in the same room as him.
"You know what?" he says with an even tone to his voice. I can hear him trying to keep the emotion out of his words, but soon you can tell that it's anger that is behind his words and even more, you hear the hurt that his brother's words have caused. "I really need to get out of here." He pushes me away when I start towards him. He ends up standing in front of where Steven is sitting. "Steven, I haven't got time to sit here and argue with you. Either you hug me good-bye or you don't, but either way I need to go with Tiny to work."
My head snaps back to get Steven's reaction and all I see is this little ball of crying boy. My sympathetic side wants to curl him into my lap and hug him and tell him that it's going to be ok--basically baby him for the rest of his time in New York. The other more selfish side of me has other reasons that I don't want the little guy to cry. The biggest is the fact that I know that it's tough to calm him down and I don't want either of us to have the stress of going through that.
The little boy holds his arms out to his brother and is sobbing wildly. "I don't want you to go--Why can't you come home? --I'll be good." He sucks in two deep breaths of air then hiccups and holds onto his chest for a moment. "Owe--" He rubbed his chest from the force of the hiccup. "I won't mess up the play room or leave the video games out." He pauses. "And I wasn't the one that put water on your shoes. It was Momma who left them out on the porch when the sprink--" He hiccups again and winces painfully. "I didn't do it."
Jonathan slides up next to me and hugs me as Justin moves across the room to Steven. Jonathan keeps completely confused about how to act at the moment. I would be too if I were him. Jonathan went through his separation anxiety thing when he was smaller too, but somehow he and Justin came to the conclusion that it didn't do either of them good to get too over emotional about it. Nowadays they say their good-byes in a more grown up way. It's too bad though that Justin misses out on the tears that Jonathan sheds for him. If he saw them I think it would make his leaving even harder on him.
Justin has tears in his eyes and keeps his lips tightly shut and looks away from his brother's pain. He holds him in his arms and looks as if he's going to squeeze the youngest Timberlake boy to death. This is the part that I hate the most about my day, about my job, and about my life. If we could take the boys everywhere I know that we would, but it's not good for any of them to be together that much and even worse for them to be apart that much.
"I know Justin doesn't want to go," Jonathan says in a soft voice.
"He really doesn't Jon," I say and hug him against me.
He's being very withdrawn for his usual self. He's been packing up his backpack and Steven's and cleaning--basically avoiding the whole scene in the living room--and I understand why. I think Jonathan knows that if he's quiet and doesn't make a sound that Justin will respect him more. Of course he'll cry and be upset when Justin finally leaves, but Jonathan I think knows that his brother would want to see a smile on his face rather than the opposite reaction that Steven is having at the moment. "You guys will see him soon. I know that he's got a weekend off for your dad's birthday so he'll be back home in maybe two weeks?"
When Justin looks like he's ready to put Steven down I walk over and take him from Justin.
Justin doesn't look me in the eyes for a moment then finally makes eye contact as Steven hugs himself against me and hides his face against my neck. "I'm good," he mumbles.
I pat his back and wave Justin towards Jonathan. "I know you are sweetie. Justin knows that too."
Jonathan hugs his brother tightly and when Justin picks him up stays there for a moment not moving.
I know if I don't do something soon that they could stand there forever. I want to say my goodbye to Justin and I'm more than sure that he needs a quick pep talk right now. "Steven you should wash your face off and maybe we'll eat the rest of those pancakes before we have to leave."
He nods against me, but when I look down his eyes are stuck on his brother. "I'm gonna put you down real quick and make sure that Justin has everything he needs before he leaves then I'll come back and we'll go get you your key chain."
Steven nods again and when I move to set him on the couch he grabs up the pillow and hides his face.
"Jonathan?" I say as I approach the brothers. "Why don't you help your brother wash his face off then we'll get out of here and shop a little. I think we might have time to go to Toys R Us in Times Square if we get there early enough."
Jonathan pulls away from Justin and waves then goes over to his brother.
"They'll be fine," I say.
Justin's eyes stay on his brothers. "Make--make sure that--"
"Justin," I say and move in between him and his brothers. "Justin look at me for a second."
"What?" he says and makes eye contact.
My hands reach out and cradle his cheeks. "Sweetie. They'll be fine. I think Steven didn't get enough sleep last night."
His eyes avoid me for a while before he locks gazes with me. "You'll stay with him?"
"I'll carry him if I have to," I say trying to reassure them that his brothers will be taken care of even if it's not him that takes them to the plane.
"Justin," I move and kiss him. I can taste the salt of his tears on his lips. "Sweetie--" I look him in the eyes and then press my cheek to his trying to calm myself. The adrenaline rush from the kiss I just gave him has my whole body buzzing. I just kissed him and didn't think twice about doing it and he doesn't seemed to be surprised about that at all. "He'll be fine. I'll tuck him into his seat myself if that's that it takes."
His arms slide around me and he hugs me to him. His head curls down and I can feel his chin on my shoulder. "Thank you," he says and moves away from me. His head moves up again and he waves to the boys. "Bye guys, Love ya."
He disappears and I feel instantly that I need to curl up into a ball. Over emotionally charged moments like that tire me out more than anything. With other people screaming and crying at Justin I tend to take a sarcastic approach to their reactions to him, but his brothers are a whole different story. With them Justin is even more vulnerable than he is when dealing with fans. He takes his brother's emotions heavily and I know that even as he leaves here his mind and his heart will be here with them instead of where they should be, on the work.
"Steven let's get you and Jonathan changed--" I walk across the room towards their food. "Are you done?"
Steven and Jonathan both nod. "Fine then, we'll pack up, go down and find you a key chain then head to the airport."
"Do we have to?" Steven asks.
I move across the room and pick him up again. "You'll be fine big guy."
He rubs his face against my shirt and nods that he won't. "Why does he have to ALWAYS work?"
"He doesn't want to work all the time, but he has to get stuff done."
"Why doesn't he get stuff done sometime else?" Steven says. He wipes his nose and frowns. "It useded to be that he spendeded time wif me an--" He hiccups. "--Me and Jonathan, but then he went to Virginia Beach for the summer cuz he doesn't like us anymore."
"Stevie," I say, "Your brother doesn't hate you or anything--" I rub his back. "He was really sad this summer for a while and he didn't want to be sad around you because then you would worry about him."
"How was he sad?" Steven asks.
"He just was," I say, "I even went home to DC because he was so sad."
"You did?" he asks.
"Yeah," I say.
I sit down on the bed and sit him in my lap.
"But you cameded to my house."
I sigh and remember the week that I spent in Tennessee. I'd been planning to stay in the capital with my parents and see all the fourth of July fireworks, but Justin had called and asked me to spend the fourth with his parents. I only realized after I got there that he wasn't going to be in town so I spent four days in town taking Steven to his baseball practices and had seen Jonathan take his swim test to get to the next level.
"All of this doesn't have to do with you," I say, "Justin's boss will get mad if he doesn't go to work today and you don't want Justin to get into trouble, do you?"
"No," he hiccups.
"So how about we pack you guys up, pack your brother's bag up for him and maybe you can color him a picture and we'll put it in his bag for him to find in Los Angeles--" I say and look at Jonathan.
"Yeah," Jonathan says to support me, "Justin always likes your pictures. He'll hang it up on the refrigerator at the house in LA."
"Yeah," I say, "The last time I was there he had the last few ones up on the cork board in the pantry for everyone to see." The pantry door closes for when he's entertaining, but for the most part it sits open and Justin shows off his brother's artwork.
"Can I color and not pack?" Steven asks.
"Yeah," I say, "We'll get your brother's stuff into his bag then we'll grab up all the stuff from my room then we'll go shopping."
Steven climbs off my lap and goes to find paper and some crayons. "Ok."
Jonathan moves to pack up their bags except the paper and crayons that Steven is using as I check to make sure that all of Justin's bags are packed. It's only a few moments later that the door of the suite is being opened and Mike is coming in. I assume that he was having breakfast with relatives since that seems to be the regular pattern with him.
The next half hour is spent checking over the rooms, packing Justin's surprise picture into his bag and running across the street to Nate's to get a keychain.
The drive to the airport is quiet. Steven glares out the window with a pout on his face and Jonathan chats with Mike about going home and having to go back to school. My mind is half a city away on Justin and how his morning is going considering how traumatic it started out as.
The wind is blowing a bit as we exit the car and head across the concrete tarmac towards the plane. The pilot is standing outside the plane smoking a cigarette, but when he sees us coming he puts it out with his foot and straightens his tie. "Morning Vivian." He turns to Mike. "Hi big guy."
"Hey there," Mike says as he adjusts the boys' backpacks he has on his shoulders and moves the suitcase he's brought for himself to the side so that he can stop to talk for a minute.
"Morning Ronan," I say and move Steven to my other hip and adjust my backpack a little. It's getting heavy for some reason and I know that I should probably have taken some of the crap I have in there out and left it in my suitcase, but its too late now. "How was your night last night?"
"Good," he says, "We flew a business type guy up to Maine then flew back down here for the night."
"How's Maine?" I ask.
"Too rural for me," he says. He smiles at Steven. "Are you ready for another ride big guy?"
Steven shakes his head that he isn't ready.
"Awe," Ronan says, "I bet you're missing your brother. I know that look anywhere. It's the same look your momma has on her face when she's missing you back home.""
"Well I'm sure you can come and visit any time. Vivian always makes sure that Justin has time for you--" He looks at me for a moment as I nod. "And I bet all your friends are waiting for you to come home and tell them about your trip and flying in the plane with me and Willy."
Steven nods and hugs me harder.
I sigh and for the first time in a long time I seriously find myself sounding like a mother. With Justin I mother him a lot, but with Steven I'm motherly. "We've had a rough morning."
Jonathan, who has been unusually quiet today, slips between the captain and I, and looks at both of us before he asks, "Can I go sit in the seat again?"
"Sure buddy. Willy is up there making sure the plane is ready to fly." The captain seems to know that these boys need a little special time and consideration when it comes to their travel. "I bet he'd love some help."
"Thanks." Jonathan hugs me as his eyes light up. "I gotta go. I get to sit in the driver's seat."
"Wow," I say knowing that this is tradition for him. I don't try to downplay the excitement Jonathan gets from his special star treatment. "Go on up there. I'll take Steven to his seat."
"How was the city?" Ronan asks as Jonathan disappears into the plane.
"Good but a little colder than I thought it'd be. I need to get back to the south and get some heat in before it really starts to get colder," Mike says as he pushes down the handle on his rolling suitcase and repositions the backpacks so he can move them inside.
"Come on in," Ronan says, "We should be heading out soon. Lisa is expecting us by noon."
I nod and carry Steven up the stairs of the plane and put him down in the isle. There are four regular seats and a couch bench seat in the back of the plane.
Steven lifts his head from my shoulder and looks around. "Can I sit in the front?"
"You can sit where ever you want buddy," Ronan says as I hear Jonathan in the front talking to Willy.
Steven crawls up into a chair.
"You want a pillow buddy?" I ask.
"No," he says and tries to put together his seatbelt. "I just want my backpack so I can read."
"You brought some books to read?"
"Yeah," he says.
"Maybe next time you visit you can read me some. I didn't know that you read that many books just yet."
"Yeah," he said, "I have homework now with my books."
Ronan must have been looking into getting the plane ready because soon I find Mike tapping me on the shoulder and Jonathan wanting to crawl into the seat across the isle from his brother.
"Can I have my walkman?"
"Sure," I say noticing the lines on his face that haven't yet gone away. He's been crying off and on since Justin left and I know I should make him blow his nose or something.
As I dig in his bag I find some tissues and hand them to him as I pull out his electric blue CD player with an Elmo logo on the side of it. "Which CD sweetie?" I ask.
"The blue one," he says.
"What's on the blue one?" I ask when I see him acting sad again.
"He got you his CD?"
"No," Steven said, "It's Justin singing to me--"
"Justin and Steven got to go to Johnny's and record some songs. They sing Sesame Street stuff so that Steven could learn his ABCs and his numbers."
"I know them good now," he said, "I can read some books, but not all of them."
"Can I hear one of the songs?" I ask.
Steven nods proudly and loads in the CD I hand him. He puts the earphone up to his ear and presses the button four times before he hands me the headset. "This is the bestest one."
As I slip on the headphones Justin's voice fills my ears and in a funny voice, with Steven singing along in broken lyrics they sing:
One two three four five
six seven eight nine ten
Ten Tiny Turtles on the telephone
talking with the grocery man
we would like some lettuce
would you send us ten heads please?
and ten sweet potatoes, and ten rutabagas,
with dimples on their knees?
We'd like ten cans of black-eyed peas,
they give you good strong muscles
Ten of those tasty sprouts,
the ones that they call Brussels.
We'd also like ten mangos,
they're the favorite of our sister Gert,
and one last thing please do include,
ten apples for dessert!
-- Ten Tiny Turtles
I smile at Steven.
"Listen to number seven," Jonathan says. "That's the best one I like."
I sit down for a moment and look at Ronan and Mike who are talking for a minute to make sure I have time to listen to the song. Mike waves that they are going to leave in about five minutes so Jonathan moves the song so I can hear a little of it.
Justin's soft voice fills the air and I know this must be the song he sings Steven over the phone. Justin has never let me hear him sing the whole song. He usually starts the song then slips away so that he can say goodnight to his brother, but today I get to hear a whole stanza in that breathy voice of his that sends goose bumps up and down my back.
Well, I'd like to visit the moon,
On a rocketship high in the air.
Yes, I'd like to visit the moon,
But I don't think I'd like to live there.
Though I'd like to look down at the earth from above,
I would miss all the places and people I love,
So although I might like it for one afternoon,
I don't want to live on the moon.
-- Live On The Moon
"Come on," Mike finally says, "Ronan needs to take off and you have a million and one things to do."
I look up at him and smile. "I know. I know." I give Steven back his headphones. "I'd rather hang out with you, Steven and Jonathan though."
"Maybe next time," Mike says.
"You guys have a good flight."
"UGH!" Steven says and crawls up to stand in his chair.
I lean and hug him and kiss his cheek. "You guys call me this week ok?" I say looking at him. "But ask your Daddy and Momma to use the phone first ok. You don't want to get in trouble like last time."
"Bye Vivian," Jonathan says and hugs me the moment I get away from Steven.
"You boys be good for Mike and for your Momma and Daddy and I'll make sure that Justin gets home soon to see you."
"Love you!" Jonathan says.
"I love you too sweetie," I say.
"What about me?" Steven asks.
"I love you too Steven," I say.
"What about me?" Mike asks.
The boys break into laughs as I wave to everyone and make my way off the plane.
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Last updated: 07/03/04.