Staring Down The Sun 17

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When he caught a figure of his wife out of the side of his eye then caught sight of Jack coming towards him he took a deep breath.  He knew that Jack would want to be picked up, but there was no way he was going to do it.  Not right now anyway.  He wasn't about to add the attention everyone watching him freak out because he was scared of his son.

"Hey there," Mike said holding out a hand to Jack so that he could slap him five.

Jack's eyes lit up and he pulled his arm way back so that he could slap Mike's palm hard.  "Hi Mr. Mike."

"Hey there buddy," Justin said when Jack wrapped himself around his leg.  He patted the top of his head then turned his attention to Meredith and Lonnie and Tegan.  "Hey honey."

"Hi," she said and leaned to kiss him.  "How was your press conference?"

"Good," Justin said, "I also chatted with Chris and Johnny about Tegan singing.  Farzana is around here somewhere and wants to pull Tegan into the studio tomorrow morning before the volleyball tournament."

"Really?" Meredith looked at him a little strangely.

"We'll have her try it out," Justin said then moved his attention to his daughter.  "You want to go to WEG tomorrow with Johnny and sing some songs?"

"Like on TV?"

"Yeah," Justin said, "You don't have to sing if you don't want to, but it might be fun to record something."

Tegan nodded at him then wiggled down out of Lonnie's arms.

"Dere's Uncle Chris!"  Jack yelled standing on his tiptoes and pointing across the lobby.

Tegan stood on her tiptoes too then asked, "Daddy can Jack and I go visit Uncle Chris?"

"I'll take them over," Lonnie said and leaned down to hold onto Jack's hand and Tegan's hand.

Justin knew the moment that they disappeared that Meredith was going to talk to him about the way he acted with Jack.  He took a deep breath, readied himself for an argument then found himself confused when no argument came.

"Good morning?" Meredith asked him.

"Yeah," he said, "It's good to see the guys again."

Meredith slipped an arm around him and hugged him.  "So you talked to Johnny about her recording?"

"Yeah," he said, "They're going to work on the song tomorrow morning and see what they can get out of it.  If Tegan likes it and wants to work some more they'll work the next morning too.  Nothing too crazy, just maybe from eight until noon, but a lot of that will be set up and Johnny and Farzana will be there with the engineers to make sure that Tegan doesn't get too tired."

"And I'll be there too," Meredith said, "As much as I trust them, I just have this feeling that Tegan will get upset if we aren't there."

"I'll end up over there, but I've got a meeting in the morning with Sonia."

Her voice cracked a little in surprise when he mentioned his meeting.  "I thought you met with her a while ago."

"I did," Justin said, "This is a new project I'm working on.  I just need to grab coffee with her away from everyone so we can talk."

"Ok."

"So how was your morning?" he asked.

"Jack was being a little bit of a pain when we were trying to get him dressed, but we made it."

Justin's phone rang and he grabbed for it in his pocket.  "Hello?"

"Hi honey," his mother said into the phone.  "We just got into town.  We'll be over at the house when you get back from the stuff this afternoon."

"Thanks for calling and tell me," Justin said with a sigh.  He knew that his mother would notice the way he was shying away from Jack so he immediately told himself that he had to do something about what was going on before his mother saw him.  If he thought Meredith would give him grief over this, he knew his mother would murder him over it.

"You ok?" she asked.  "You sound distracted."

"Sorry mom," he said, "We're in the lobby and it's just a little chaotic.  I'll be home in probably two hours and Mere and the kids might be home before that.  Want to go out to dinner tonight?"

"I'm a little tired," she said, "We can just order in.  Are Meredith's parents going to come over?"

"I don't know.  You want to talk to Mere?"

"Sure."

Justin handed over the phone to his wife.  "Mom wants to know if your parents are coming over."

As soon as Meredith started her conversation Justin slid his way over towards where Tegan, Lonnie and Chris were talking.  He knelt down next to Jack.  "How you doing buddy?"

"Dere's Uncle Chris and Uncle Joey and Uncle JC and Uncle Lance!"

"I know buddy," Justin said and straightened his son's shirt a little.  "Did you show everybody your jersey?"

"Dis Jow-don," Jack said slapping a hand against his chest.  "I go high!"  He pointed up towards the ceiling.

"That's right buddy."

"Mind if I interrupt?" Chris asked.

"No troubles," Justin said.

Chris smiled at him.  "Are you and the family planning anything for tonight?"

"Mom and dad are coming into town and Mere's parents are probably going to stop by.  What'd you have in mind?"

"Well I know everyone is going out to party tonight over at Pleasure Island at the club, but that's not until later.  I was wondering if you wanted to hang out with me and the guys."

"Why don't you have everyone come over?" Justin said, "We'll hang out with the kiddies for dinner and maybe my mom and Paul can baby-sit the Fatones and Tegan and Jack and we'll all go out for the night together."

"Are you sure Mere is ok with that?"

"Yeah," Justin said then looked over at Meredith who was still hanging around with Mike.  "I think."

"Go ask her real quick," Chris said.

"Hold on to these two," Justin said tapping both kids on the head as he got up and jogged his way over to Meredith.

"Bear?"

Meredith smiled.  "What BeeDee?"

"Can the guys come over for dinner tonight?" Justin asked.

Meredith laughed a little bit.

"I mean is it ok with you if everyone crashes at our house for dinner.  There is that party that we're hosting later on at Pleasure Island, but it's been a while since the five of us partied together.  I figure we can get Mom and Paul to watch Tegan and Jack and the Fatone kids so that we all can go dance it up at PI for a while tonight."

Meredith nodded, "Sounds good to me, but you should call your mom and Paul and make sure.  I know they'd love to see everyone, but--"

"Ok," Justin said, "Got my phone?"

Meredith handed over the phone, but before she let him call, she curled her arms around his waste for a moment.  "I saw you with Jack.  I told you that he wouldn't hate you."

Justin nodded then dialed the phone and kept an arm around her as he waited for his mother to answer.  He didn't know if what he'd done would totally repair the rift that was there between him and his son, but he knew if he didn't do something Meredith would take matters into her own hands and he didn't want the drama of that to get mixed in with all the other drama that was going to come his way being in Orlando during an NSYNC event.

"Hello?"

"Mom," Justin said, "The guys and everyone are probably gonna come over for dinner tonight.  We'll order out or something for everyone, but I just wanted to warn you and ask you a favor."

"What's the favor?" his mother asked.

"Can you watch the kids and maybe the Fatone's for a few hours while we go over to the party at Pleasure Island that WEG is throwing?"

"I guess," his mother said.

"Great," he said, "Thanks Mom."

"No troubles honey."

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Last updated: 07/10/04.