Staring Down The Sun 1

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He could feel the tension beaming off her from across the room.  She'd been fine all summer traveling around and now that they'd been in the same city for five nights in a row, spending time in the Los Angeles house, she was going stir crazy with not enough to do.  It was funny how that happened.  When they were on the road running around in circles all she wanted to do was go home and now that they were home it seemed as if she wanted to be back on the road.

It was different for him.  He was busy and barely had time to sit down these days no matter where he was.  He'd been on the fast track doing appearances all over the city, but once he stepped inside the house his attention focused on family and relaxing.  He would have suggested for her to go over to Farzana and JC's or to Colleen and Lance's, but it had been a few months since they'd seen anyone on the West Coast, especially in Los Angeles, so he knew that Meredith would feel strange about inviting herself over.

The fact that Tegan had gotten fairly hyperactive after the last few weeks of being stuck on a tour bus on the road and the fact that Jack had a cold didn't help ease the tension.  The stress of that, even though it was a common cold, was something that her mind had been on.  The fact that he was a normal three year old that he had eaten dirt and had survived that ordeal didn't seem to matter to her.  Having him not be himself limited the amount of things she could go out and do in the city and that caused her even more grief.

"Hasn't Gritty warned you enough times about your nails?"  He saw her jump a bit and hated that he'd scared her.  She'd been in deep thought.  He could have told that by her posture, but it was confirmed by her fingernail tapping on the top of the dresser that she had a million and one things on her mind that night.  "Jack will be ok tomorrow and Tegan and I will be fine this afternoon."  He moved up behind her, letting his hands drop from where he was fixing his collar on the blue shirt she'd insisted that he wear that night and massaged her shoulders before he moved to lean and kiss her cheek.

"I know," she said with a sigh and leaned back against him, reaching her hand back to pull his arm around her.

Warmth.  He always felt warmth with her.  No matter if it was in a hotel room in New York, in the bus in the middle of the night on a rocky road, or standing there in their bedroom.  There was that connection there that hadn't severed, that thing that they both could rely on to take away all the hurt and pain of the day and replace it with love and familiarity.

"If you want me to cancel the appearance I will," he suggested, knowing full well that she wouldn't let him do it.  He had learned a while ago that even just the offer to do something was good enough as doing it.  It reminded her that he wasn't being selfish and that he wasn't forgetting that there were other people that he had to think about even though his career had taken over their lives for most of the last five years.

"No," she said, "I know it'll be a short night.  You're not performing so you'll be in and out of there and I'd like to think that I'm secure enough to be able to let my daughter and her father bond without having issues with it."

It was true.  He'd scheduled a performance on Jay Leno that night, but two weeks ago had rescheduled the appearance into just a Q&A session because that week had been packed with appearances anyway and losing the Leno Show performance was the least of his worries.  He knew that his fans would want him to sing and maybe he'd bring out a guitar or something and sing one of the old songs, but for the most part he didn't want to make too big of a deal out of the appearance.

Luckily his scheduling had been the way it had been or they would have truly been out of luck.  When Jack had gotten sick they'd agreed that Tegan would go with him and Mike to the appearance and now that he wasn't performing he could keep her with him for the whole time that he was there.  "How about tomorrow morning we both stay home and play out back with the kids," he said thinking how much he needed that right now.  He needed a normal day.  "Tegan's been needing a regular day and I feel like if we don't run her around silly now that we won't get a chance to do that for another month."

Meredith sighed.

He didn't like that she was sighing and reminded himself to tell her to get to sleep that night early.  They'd be back before bed time, but he hoped that she'd at least be waiting up for them in bed instead of pacing the house, like she was known to do for him most nights when he was out late at an industry party or club performance.  "That sounds good," she said, "But only if Jack's cold is better."

A cry came out of the room next door to the master bedroom as if the little boy in question had heard that they were talking about him.  "I'll get him," Justin volunteered and moved away from her.  As his chest cooled from the heat of her back against him he felt other parts of his body reacting to the heat and loss of heat.

"Watch your shirt honey," she said as he left the room, "Don't let him sneeze on you."

"I won't," Justin said with a laugh.  "Will you check on Tegan?  I told her to go get her shoes on and I have a feeling that she got side tracked.  The whole idea of having enough room for ALL her Barbie's out on the floor is something I don't think she's used to."

He heard Meredith laugh and smiled himself as he entered the baby's room.

"Well hello there Mister Justin Randall," he said picking up his son.  He wasn't really a baby anymore.  He'd graduated to sleeping in a big boy bed, minuature as it was, he was no longer crib bound, although he still was in the habit of not coming out of his room or his bed until someone came to get him.  That was a blessing for them and they weren't about to break him of the habit, at least not until the end of the second half of the tour was over.  "Did you have a good nap?"

"No," he said with a grouchy tone and curled up against Justin, dragging his blanket with him, instantly shoving it up near his face.

Justin smiled and pulled down Jack's pajama shirt.  The kid had become completely obsessed by cartoons that were way older than his three years and that morning when he hadn't been feeling well, Meredith had given him a bath and had changed him back into Scooby Doo pajamas.  "Did you have a bad dream?" Justin asked patting his back.

Jack nodded against his blanket and looked at him.  "Mommy?"

"Awwe."  He pressed his lips against the little guy's forehead and felt the heat that was still on the kid.  Having a cold with a slight sucked and being three and having a cold with a fever was even more horrible.  "Come on Jack.  Let's try and go potty and then we'll go find mommy.  I think she has some juice for you."

"Daddy go too?" Jack asked.

He didn't know how he'd gotten wrangled into helping potty train his son, but somehow having Daddy potty with him was some kind of motivation for the three year old to go in the toilet instead of relying on his diapers and now pull ups.  He'd had a little bit of trouble getting the hang of it, but for the most part he was pretty good about when he needed to go.  "Sure," Justin said, "We'll do that and then maybe you wear your underwear instead of your pull ups?"

Jack nodded his head that he didn't want to wear them.  "No.  Pull ups.  I tired."

"You're too tired to go in the big boy potty?" Justin said carrying him across the hall to the bathroom near Jack and Tegan's room.  He set his son down and the little boy immediately dropped his blanket on the floor and went and pulled out a little step stool.

"Jack?" Justin said.

He watched his son moving the little stool around then he looked back up at his father and made a little noise.  "Hmm?"

"You're too tired to wear your underwear?"

"Hmm," Meredith said coming by, "I remember when there was a time you used to try and use that line on me."

Justin laughed a bit.  "Did you find Tegan?"

"Barbie's everywhere," she said holding up two in her right hand and three in her left.  "What are my boys doing?"

"Pottying," Justin said.

"Both of you?" she asked with a smirk.

"Go way," Jack said and came over to her to push on her legs and make her leave the bathroom.  "Is boy bafroom."

Meredith made a face at him and seemed to play along with his game instead of being upset about her son being slightly rude about kicking her out of the bathroom.  "Oh really Mr. Justin Randall."

"Gotta potty," Jack said again and pushed again.

"Ok," she said, "Ok.  I get the idea.  It's boys time to potty."

"Yes," Jack said with a frown.

Justin watched all of this trying not to laugh too hard about the whole ordeal as Jack closed the door on his wife.

She was glad that the boys were getting along so well today.  Justin sometimes didn't have the patience for Jack's games on days when he was doing press events, but due to the rescheduling he'd done a few weeks ago, they'd spent most of the day together between Jack's naps.  Justin was going into his interview that night with a relaxed attitude instead of a stressed one.

The stressed one now was her.  It was a little bit of an over reaction since she knew that with Johnny and security around that Justin would be fine taking Tegan with him, but she still had the motherly instinct to not let the child go anywhere without her.  It came from living on the road and being a bit paranoid about the kids.  Either one of the two could go walking away and disappear without anyone really noticing.

Disappearing.  It made Meredith wonder again where her daughter had gotten off to.  Hopefully the girl was on the first floor getting her backpack and shoes together to go.  The car was going to be arriving for them soon and she knew that being late to Leno wasn't an option.

"Tegan Lynn!" Meredith called out into the bottom floor of the house as she came down the stairs.

"Yes ma'am?"

It was cute the way that Tegan and Jack had taken to the southern accent that their grandparents and great grandparents would use around them.  There was something to be said for Southern ways.  The respect they had for their elders and the soft manner in which they spoke--despite Jack's little show of his territorial instincts earlier--left both the children with a charm that every adult that came into contact with seemed to envy and want in their own children.

"Baby are you done getting ready?" Meredith asked.   She found Tegan sitting on the couch dressed in her tiny jean skirt, a red shirt and khaki jacket looking bored as if she'd been waiting forever for someone to come and find her.

Tegan's face was completely flat of emotion as she spoke.  "Daddy is going to be late and Mr. Johnny is going to get REAL mad."

"I know," Meredith said with a smirk.  Justin always seemed to run late these days.  He started out on time, but often times she found him either half asleep on the couch or caught up in some television broadcast that he swore was going to be done in a half hour instead of an hour. 

"Which Barbie is coming with you?" she asked holding up the five Barbie's in her hands.

"Swan Lake Barbie AND MovieStar Barbie," she said moving to grab her bag so that she could hold it open.

"One," Meredith said knowing full well that Tegan knew the rules.  They didn't travel with that many toys, despite her husband's extravagant spending habits, they'd both agreed to one traveling case for each kid that they'd store toys and clothes and other neccessities in.  The only thing of Tegan's that didn't fit in her case was her bike and helmet.  When Justin would run around at the arena, sometimes Tegan and one of the guards would follow him, although most the time Tegan was a little too slow for Justin's speed so the guard, whoever it may have been, ended up staying with Tegan while Justin ran.

"Please?" she begged then resorted to cartoon like pout.  "Swan Lake Barbie will be lonely."

"Fine," Meredith said with a sigh slipping both Barbies into the bag.  Her daughter had been paying too much attention to the way Justin would convince her to do things.  The pout always worked on her.

"You almost ready Tegan?" Justin's voice came from behind them.

She rolled her eyes in her father's direction then smiled for Meredith as if she was sharing some big secret.  "Yes sir," she said and pulled her backpack on then looked at Justin who had Jack in his arms.  "Jack can't go."

"Tone Miss Tegan," Justin said making a serious face.  She'd inherited her father's lack of fear when it came to speaking and sometimes let her excitement get the better of her.

"Sorry," she said.

Justin's arm moved to better hold Jack under his bottom and his other hand rubbed his back then patted it.  "I just brought Jack down here so he and Mommy can have some juice and maybe watch a movie while we go to work."

Meredith nodded and moved over to get Jack from him.  She loved her son to death and was rewarded with a huge hug from him.  Her head started to ache and she wondered if she was getting Jack's cold.  She'd insisted on sleeping part of the night before with him and was thinking it was a bad idea.

"You ok?" Justin asked when she turned towards him.

She nodded.  "I might be getting Jack's cold."

"Well I'll try to be back soon so you can get some rest.  When I get back maybe Jack and I can go on a camp out so you can sleep."

"No Daddy," Jack whined.  "No camp-in."

Meredith knew exactly why Jack didn't want to go on a sleepover.  It wasn't that he didn't want to spend time with his father, but when Justin explained that he was going some where, Jack had gotten the idea that it meant that he would be gone for a long time instead of just going to the store and coming back.  The little boy was querky like that.  Meredith didn't care for it, but for the moment there wasn't anything to do about fixing the situation. 

"Not even in the living room?" Justin suggested.

Jack nodded his head defiantly.  "No."

"Ok. Ok."

"You'd better go and Mr. Jack and I better go get something to drink," she said leaning a bit so that Justin could kiss her cheek.  He did that and then kissed her lips before moving away from them.  "Have fun."

"Come on Tegan!" Justin called out as he moved to grab up his bag.  He usually traveled with an over the shoulder bag or backpack no matter where he went.  If he was just going to an interview he would take a book or two and a walkman and gum and a few toys if the kids were going to be with the group.

She could hear her daughter skipping over to them, the familiar squeak of her running shoes on the tiled floor.  "Yes sir."

Meredith leaned a little bit as Tegan came over to them.  "Tegan Lynn, you better be on your best behavior and listen to Daddy and Mr. Mike if he's there with you."

Tegan looked up at her and with a perfectly innocent face smiled,  "I will Mommy.  I like Mr. Mike."

"I know you do baby," she said taking in her daughter's huge smile with a smile of her own.  She was going to miss her that day.  It was going to be an easier day on her, taking care of half the dynamic duo.  "And he likes you if you're acting like a good girl."

"I'll be good."

"She's always a good girl," Justin said coming up behind her.  He picked her up, backpack and all, and carried her towards the door just as someone knocked.

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Last updated: 07/10/04.