Anything But Ordinary 2

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[The next afternoon...]

JC slid the chair closer to the desktop and put an elbow onto the counter. His eyes moved up and caught the slightly mismatched twins taking their place. That afternoon Joey was wearing his normal “uniform” of baggy jeans with a strawberry shortcake logo t-shirt, his red baseball hat and red and white sneakers. Matching him with her own sense of style was his mini-me version, Brianna, who had the same strawberry shortcake shirt on, jeans like her father’s, small red running shoes, and had he hair into a ponytail off the back of her head with a red ribbon tied around the pony tail.

JC yawned as he flipped the switch to turn on the microphone in the other room and then motioned for Joey to put on the headset. He slid his feet out of his flip-flops, curled his toes to crack them then did the same with his free hand while the other held the microphone button down. “You ready?"

"I sing," Brianna said loudly, her voice sounding like not much more than a squeak over the Mic line. “I sing Diddy!” She started to crawl up on his lap just as he sat down and tugged at the side of the headphones, finally getting them off his head to tug at his hands to put them on her head.

When Joey lowered weight of the industrial sized headphones on hear ears she started to cry and she pushed them off. “No Diddy!” she screeched, “My ewo!”

“Jelly Bean, you have to put them on when you sing.” He glanced up at JC for a moment and smiled. “Remember when we went to see Uncle Tony at the club and mommy and me put earphones on and you did too so your ears won’t get hurt.”

She nodded.

“Well this time you have to put them on so you can hear Uncle Josh talk to you.”

Joey used a patient voice that JC had never heard before. Maybe JC had been too busy over the last few months to see what amount of a change had come over him, but the Joey that was sitting across the small room from him wasn’t the guy that had been on the road with him for all those months in Europe or the first few years after they’d come to the United States. He was a calmer, more mature man that clearly grown up in the last few months.

After the headphones were moved to a smaller size for her and placed on her head, she ended up looking like Princess Lea from Star Wars with these two bumps on the sides of her head.

“Turn around Jelly Bean,” JC said into the microphone that would play in her ears.

“I hear!” Her eyes were wide as if JC were God and had just created the whole world with a few words. “I hear Jaycee!”

It was amazing how the smallest thing could amuse a child. He laughed away from the microphone then leaned in to talk again. "Jelly Bean turn around and sit on your Daddy’s lap so you can reach the microphone."

She crawled around to sit in her dad’s lap, knocking the headphones forwards down over her eyes for a moment. Joey reached and moved them back then looked up. "Ok Jace, hit it."

“What are you going to sing Brianna?” he asked.

“Dough Miss wif a peg,” she said.

“What song?”

“Don’t Ever Mess With A Pig.” Joey’s voice showed the slight embarrassment that came along with admitting that he was a grown man that was about to sing a children’s song, “Its from one of those sing along videos.”

JC shrugged. “OK.”

Joey started the song with Brianna sitting on his lap with the microphone near both of them.

You may think that pigs look funny
You may laugh because we’re like so totally pink
You may chuckle at our curly little tails
But we’re tougher than you think

Brianna giggled at the end as she pointed her finger through the glass at JC then got a little attitude when she sang the next lines as if this was a rap instead of a children's song.

You gotta show a little respect
To all swine, small or big

Brianna put her arms out wide to show the word big for them.

And though a pig can be a mess
I said don’t you ever mess with a pig

JC didn't mean to start laughing but it was so cute the way she was concentrating as if she thought she might forget some of the words.

"Nooo--" she whined, "Jay-cee, is no funny. Is ceriows!"

"Sorry Jelly Bean," he said.

"Diddy Jaycee is not be nice."

“It’s alright hon,” Joey said bouncing her a little, “He’s ok.”

Not trusting her father, she pointed at JC as a second warning then began to sing again looking at her dad's mouth to sing at the right tempo.

Take your brothers and your sisters for a roll in the mud
Bring your mothers and your fathers too
Soon the whole wide world
Is swingin’ with the swine
And playin’ like the piggies do

Show a little respect…

"It's a wrap," JC said pressing stop when he saw Brianna take a bow still sitting in Joey's lap.

“Dis ouff,” Brianna said tugging at the headphones. As soon as they were off her head she crawled down and ran towards the booth door and started to claw at the door handle that was just out of reach. “Out!”

"That was great," Joey said with a laugh picking up Brianna to bring her back into the front part of the studio. "I missed having fun like that with a microphone."

“Jelly Bean have you been singing?” Kelly asked coming down the steps with Trey expertly hugged to her shoulder and Farzana bringing up the ranks with two drinks in her hand.

Brianna stuck her thumb in her mouth and leaned against Joey's shoulder. “I sing a peg song and a vewy ceriows.”

JC let his eyes linger on the little girl in Joey’s arms then looked at little Trey in Kelly’s arms. When he caught Farzana staring at him, he turned back to his mixing trying not to show the strange sadness that had fallen over him in the last few moments.

He wanted all that with her, but with their careers keeping them on the far sides of the United States and the world, he wasn't going to be making things more permanent until they could both be in the same place at the same time.

To his surprise, Farzana came up behind him and put her hands on his shoulders.  She leaned down and kissed his cheek. “How was it?”

“Brianna’s a natural,” he said with a laugh.  He leaned his head against hers and took a deep breath.  He knew that she'd see this as a sign that something big was on his mind, but also that he didn't want to talk about it right then. He didn't at all try to change the subject to anything that had to do with them.  “And is as hammy as her dad.”

Her hands massaged his shoulders, fingers hitting the most sensitive spots on his neck without her trying.  “What’d she sing?”

“Don’t Ever Mess With a Pig,” he explained. His hands moved over the buttons on the control panel then moved to his laptop. “Give me a second and I’ll play it back for you.”

She moved and sat down into his lap, laughing a little when he gave her a surprised look. “Ok.”

After a moment the song was burned onto a CD and he was putting it into the sound system that would play in the room with them.

The recording played for only a few moments, but by the end everyone was red in the face with laughter.

“I sing!” Brianna said with bright eyes.

“You’re perfect Jelly Bean,” Farzana said holding out her hands to Farzana.

Moments later he had Farzana and Brianna in his lap. He wasn’t sure if the chair would hold them all, but he liked the idea of the two of them sharing a family moment like that. Feelings like this only washed over him every so often, but it was times like this that the words will you marry me were right on the tip of his tongue and the idea of borrowing Joey’s kids and not giving them back really was something he wanted to do.

Brianna finally crawled off her lap, feeling the need to go over to JC’s books of CDs, pull out a book that held a hundred and twenty CDs, only to flop it on the floor to look at the CD inserts. She watched the little girl only until she realized that JC was watching her too. She smiled and pressed a kiss to his cheek that was near him.

“She’s cute,” he said in a soft voice as Kelly took a seat on the couch with Trey and settled him into her arms.

"Uh huh," Farzana answered.

"Dis won," Brianna called out. She started to try to pull it out of the cover and Joey had to help her get the CD out of the case.

Joey took the CD away from her and held it so she couldn't reach it.  She tried her hardest to stand on her tiptoes and reach it, but he wouldn't let her.  “Oh no Brianna you aren’t listening to this crap.” 

“Uh Oh!” she said in a warning tone. “You say a no word.”

Farzana smiled as Joey explained that Britney Spears wasn’t something that she needed to be listening to due to the fact that “Opps I did it again” didn’t need to be a part of her vocabulary.

Three hours later the vocabulary of the group had gone further down than the “Opps I did it again”  lyrics could have ever gone.  Luckily, Brianna was in front of the television watching the unreleased version of Harry Potter that Joey had somehow bribed off a movie executive for Colton.

"Hey Farzana do you need any help in here?"

She was in the middle of throwing together another batch of margaritas and checking on the marinating chicken when she looked up to find Colleen leaning in the doorway from the back porch.

"Umm--"  She looked over the piles of plates and other food waiting for everyone to eat.  "--I think things are pretty much under control but you can make the salad if you want."

"Sure!"  She literally jumped  towards the island in the middle of the kitchen.  Despite everyone being in casual clothes, Colleen had seemed very formal with all of them up until that point.  "I hate just standing around.  Make me useful!"

"Well the veggies are in the fridge--"  She started to move towards it but Colleen beat her to it.

She looked at her strangely for only a moment wondering why she was so eager to help all of a sudden then relaxed when she laughed, "I'm sorry for being such a freak, but when Lance is in town he never lets me cook.  I've been eating French Toast for every meal when he's around."

Farzana laughed heartily.  "That is his specialty--"

"There are so many things I could say to that comment."  Colleen held up a few carrots and the lettuce and cucumber.  "This?"

With a nod of her head Farzana searched for the other things they needed.  "Let me get you a cutting board and the salad bowl."

When the cutting board and veggies were set on the counter Farzana watched her wash the vegetables and start to cut them.  She wanted instantly to pry information about her and Lance.  She'd spent some time with her in Orlando, but mostly Colleen seemed to be a mystery to everyone.  They all could tell that Lance was completely in love with her, but other than that she was just kind of there in the group, not really shunned or anything, but just hadn't been around enough to get to know everyone.

"So how are things going with you and Lance?"

 "Things are great--"  She shrugged and kept her eyes on the knife in her hand.  "It was shaky there for a while, but we seem to have resolved most of our issues."  She paused for a moment.  "Truthfully both of us have been so busy that we've barely gotten to be around each other since the whole contest thing in New York.  Things are going really well though."

"That's awesome."  Farzana relaxed.  "We were all really pulling for you guys to make it.  Lance seemed to never be able to get things together when it came to girls.  I'm glad things are clicking for you guys."

"I appreciate it. I have to admit I was really nervous about first about being accepted into the group.  Dani has been great, kicking everyone's asses around here to keep me around and everyone has pulled me right in made me feel at home."

Farzana looked out the window at her extended family and then caught the look in JC's eyes.  She had noticed it a little earlier, but now it was clear that he needed to be home.  It agreed with him even though she did see a bit of sadness mixed in there as if part of him was still in love the idea of being a work-a-holic.  Being around his friends at home only enhanced the relaxation that he was in the middle of enjoying.  "Yeah that's kind of how this group is for the most part we are all one big happy family."

Colleen sucked in a breath of air and for a moment Farzana had thought that she'd cut herself or something.  "Shit.  I knew what I was going to ask you earlier.  I am bring Lance home to meet mine this weekend. He's a little nervous--"

"He'll be fine.  He probably just doesn't want to make a bad first impression."  She went around to the dining room and pulled a chair into the kitchen.  "Meeting the significant other's parents can be kind of rough."  She pushed her hair behind her ear and for a moment was flashed back to the day in Orlando when her father had burst in on them and stole her back to Toronto.

****

"Oh my god!" she breathed out.

"What's wrong Zana?" JC asked.

"Farzana," Melinda said pushing into the room, "I told him you and J were busy recording, but he said he needed to see you."

"Daddy?" she asked moving away from JC a little. "What are you doing here?"

"I'm taking you home," he said in a serious tone. She knew that she was in trouble. He wasn't mad or even upset. This was his upset voice. That disappointment that he'd felt since the first time he'd seen her on stage. He'd given her permission to go to New York and to tour, but putting aside her studies when she didn't have a record deal was definitely something he wasn't going to approve of. She didn't even have to hear what came next. "Your mother and I have given you the time you need. We want you to come home to Toronto."

Her heart fell to the floor and she felt her chest constrict as she realized that she couldn't tell her father that she belonged there with JC. He wouldn't go for the idea that she'd miss out on school for a guy, even if the guy was trying to help her career.

JC's hand slid into hers from where she sat hidden behind the piano and she felt courage fill her. It might not have been enough to stay there, but at least she had to explain to him what was going on. He needed to hear it from her instead of her mother or someone else. "Daddy...I've got a job to do here," she said, "I'm working on the album and I'm going to shop it around in New York and LA..." She turned to JC and he gave her a strange look. "Right JC?"

"Yeah," JC scooted over farther. "Besides...Farzana and I are--we're getting this song onto a demo to send to a record company."

Farzana thought she was going to throw up...not because JC was saying what he was saying, but because he'd chosen to say it in front of the wrong person. She turned towards him. "What are you doing?"

"I was going to tell you," he said, "I talked with Jive and they are going to offer you--I have all the details--" He looked at her father. "I was going to tell you about it, but we got side tracked, sooo what do you think?"

Farzana leaned against him and put her head to his chest. "As much as I want to get into a discussion with you about this...it's not the right time JC. I know what you're trying to do, but I need to deal with my dad before I deal with all the stuff with you."

"It's not about us," he said, "It's about the song and you recording it.

"It was about us. That song is us. It's you and me and it's--it's us."

"Farzana I can't let you do this."

****

"I keep telling him that he has nothing to worry about--"  She laughed a little.  "The guy has met everyone from Michael Jackson to the Queen of England--I mean Mom and Pop Blanchard should be nothing.  I mean--If he made it through meeting my best friend Stacey then my parents should be nothing."

"You'd think so."

She jumped when the phone rang and Colleen almost dropped her knife.

His eyes strained as he looked through the window to see Farzana grabbing up the phone.  He wondered for a moment who could be on the line considering half the population of LA, Orlando, and New York were standing on the porch with them.

"Did you ever think that you might be happier settling down then on stage singing to 40,000 people?" He asked turning back to his conversation with Lance.

Lance brought his beer to his lips then paused and brought it down again.  "I know that look in your eyes.  That I'm on vacation and don't know if I ever want to go back to work again look.  What brought that on Jace?"

"I don't know--"  He stared nervously into his bottle of beer.  "I've been home for a little under twenty four hours and I'm just--just wondering what I'll be doing tomorrow at this time and the next day at this time."

"Ok, that's the typical , it that always comes with you being in one place for more than a few hours," Lance said, "Now what brought this on?"

"I guess spending all day with Joey and the kids."  He motioned towards where Joey was sitting in one of the lounge chairs in the shade with Trey tucked in one arm and a burp rag on his shoulder.  "I see him with the kids and I don't know I feel kind of..."

"Jealous?"

"I don't know if it's that.  I mean I wouldn't ever want anything--"  He sighed and shook the beer bottle in his hand, letting the low level of liquid swirl in a circle.  "I just hope that it works out for me to have a family like his."

"Me too... I mean how can you not be envious? He has the woman of his dreams at his side and three children who love him unconditionally not because he is Joey Fatone of Nsync... but simply because he's 'Diddy."

JC didn't want to admit it, but the serious tone of the conversation was depressing him.  He'd been slightly dreading coming home, partly because he wasn't sure that he could do the whole domestic thing with Farzana and partly because he wasn't sure that if he got used to it that he'd be able to leave again.  He was saving that little bit of himself for the right time and place to give away and while he totally loved Farzana he wasn't sure if he'd ever be ready to be settled into a life and a love that would consume his life, the way it clearly consumed Joey's life.

“The P the I the D the D the Y Diddy,” JC sang drunkenly then took a deep breath to pause a moment and watch Brianna explaining something to her father while Joey held onto Trey.  He hadn't seen her slip outside and knew he'd have to mention to Kelly that they should watch her so she didn't fall off the balcony.   "Yeah.. Joe's a lucky guy.”

"He's not the only one--"  Lance said.

JC was starting to feel as if this was A Christmas Carol and Lance was the ghost of Christmas Present.  "Have you seen Justin around Mere lately? I thought she was going to smack him when he told her not to eat that chocolate cake because that stupid magazine on the plane said it wasn't good for pregnant women--"

Lance laughed.  "I mean what the hell is Justin doing reading Parenting Magazine anyway?  He's only a kid!  What happened to the ESPN Magazines and Sports Illustrated?"

"Yeah I know.  It's insane."  JC drank some of his beer.  "Did you see Chris beaming when Dani was flipping through the Brides magazine?  Who would have ever thought that he'd be getting married.  I thought after all the stuff that happened with Dani that he'd never let anyone back in his life, let alone HER.”

"She's the only one that belongs there Jace.  Everyone knows that," Lance explained.  "Your pretty lucky too you know."

"Huh--"  He didn't mean to sound so shocked at the thought.  "What do you mean?"

"Dude, have you seen your woman lately?"  He pointed towards where Farzana was still on the phone.  JC only noticed that she looked angry, but Lance seemed to see something beyond the current mood that she was in.  "She is GORGEOUS."  He held up his hands up.  "Don't get me wrong, I'm fully into my own girl, but--look at this... she pulled together a barbecue for like 20 people in less than an hour, your house looks like a home now that she's moved in here.  I mean it was home, but it used to look more like just someplace you store your stuff."

JC smiled at that thought.  It had been nice to come home this time to find her there.  When he'd come home to Bobbi she'd had a cleaning crew doing the dusting and everything and as much as used the services that they could afford, she was still the one to do cooking and cleaning on a daily basis.

"She makes you smile."  Lance pointed at his face.  "I mean look at you.  You're fucking giddy just at the thought of her.  She's great!"

"She is pretty great isn't she?"  He sighed.  "I don't know how she puts up with my shit sometimes, ya know?"

"She loves you," he said, "You don't have to be a genius to know that."

"I am excited that things are finally calming down a bit and that I can spend time with her."  He'd been thinking about it for weeks now.  The daily routine part of it seemed amazing, going to sleep with her every night and waking up with her was going to be amazing.  That morning he'd rolled over and watched her sleep for a good twenty minutes before she'd finally woken up.  He'd missed out on that and wanted to have that happen every day of his life forever how long he could.  "I feel like we have a lot to catch up on after being gone for so long."

“You will man. All you need to do is spend some time doing ordinary couple things. You guys are great together. One thing I know is true is that everyone is glad that you and Bobbi split up. As much as we all liked her and hated her, she really has nothing that can compare to Farzana."

"Yeah... it was a little overwhelming."

Silence slid between them for a moment and JC’s eyes found Farzana in the crowd. She was leaned against Kelly looking at Trey’s tiny carrier and making sure that the sun wasn’t getting on him too much.  Joey was now standing up and showing Brianna how to do some kind of a dance.  JC didn’t realize how much he really had missed her until just then. She had greeted him at the airport with a hug as if she hadn’t seen him in years, but it wasn’t until she smiled and waved to him at that moment that it really hit him.

"Thanks man."

"Wanna know something overwhelming?"

"What's that Lance?"  JC stretched a little and straightened his posture, trying to make himself feel not so introspective and sluggish.

"See that girl over there?” He subtly pointed towards Colleen with a finger that was holding onto his beer bottle. “I'm gonna marry her."

JC's eyes widened at this news.  He wondered when he'd gotten around to actually ask her.  "YOU GUYS ARE ENGAGED?"

"Shut up asshole—” Lance pushed a hand into his chest almost knocking him over. “No we aren't engaged—yet--but I know.” He watched his girlfriend. “I just know that I am going to be with her forever."

"How?"

"How what?"

"How do you know?"

"Because I can't live with out her dude." Lance walked away and wrapped his arms around Colleen from behind and kissed her cheek.

As Lance started up another conversation with Colleen and Dani and Chris JC turned and leaned against the railing to look out over the valley.

It was a moment later that he felt someone tugging at his back pockets and he turned around to find Brianna trying to crawl up his backside trying to use his back pockets as hand holds.

“What’s up Jelly Bean?” he asked.

“Nossin,” she said, “I sing.”

“I know you do,” he said and leaned to put his beer bottle down. He picked her up in his arms and held her close. “You did a good job today.”

Her tiny hands went to his face and she made him look at her. “Was wron?”

“Nothing is wrong Jelly Bean. I’m just having so much fun that I’m tired. Like when you stay up all afternoon and play with Nikkita when you know you’re supposed to be taking a nap.”

“Uh Oh,” she said.

“Yeah,” JC laughed, “Your mommy called us and told us about that.”

“I didna mee too.”

"I know you didn't," he said.

"I wuv you," she said trying to butter him up with a cute face.

"I love you too Jelly Bean."

When he looked up and found Farzana in the crowd again she was watching him with teary eyes and he knew instantly that her father had been the one on the phone.  He would have guessed when she looked at him that maybe seeing him with Brianna would make her look like that, but when she turned her head that certain way to the right and used the back of her hand to get her tears away he knew that they weren't happy tears she was dealing with.  She must have been trying to hold them back earlier, but something must have triggered her to let them flow.

The song Brianna sings is called Don't Ever Mess With A Pig.

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