"Hey! Chris!" Justin shouted down the hall. He carried his duffel bag over his shoulder and a broad smile across his face. "Dude, I heard we missed out on all the action, where’s the ‘lil tyke?" It was Monday morning and the three missing members were on their way back to the hotel for their nine o'clock interview.

"Hey Just. Kyle’s in JC’s room, they’re getting dressed I think." Chris laughed.

"So what’s the deal huh? He’s JC’s?"

"Nah, I don’t know. He took the paternity test thing yesterday so we won’t know for another couple days."

"What do you think?"

"I try not to." Chris laughed. "You’ll dig him though. He’s a cool little kid."

"Right on." Justin ran his hand over his head and laughed again. "So what’s the deal man? We’ve got a show tonight and tomorrow then we leave Wednesday for Arizona?"

"No we have the Tonight Show Wednesday. We leave Thursday for Phoenix."

"Rad." Justin nodded and reached into his pocket for his key. "So I’ll catch you in a few at that thing right? The German interview downstairs?"

"You got it." Chris waved and continued to his room. He almost made it before Joey and Lance stepped off the elevator together.

"Ooooh man say it ain’t true." Joey laughed and ran down the hall. "JC got a call for the big P test before I did?"

"Yep." Chris laughed lightly and unlocked his door.

Joey laughed hysterically for a minute then collected himself, "No fuckin way man. That’s insane. Is he losing his mind?"

"I think so." Chris smiled.

"Good, it’s about time. Maybe now he’ll quit being such a bite in the ass sometimes, ya know?" Joey laughed again. "I mean, even if it isn’t his."

"How’s the kid doing?" Lance asked. Chris could always count on Lance to be the sensible and caring one. As much as Lance liked to party and get wild, he was just as compassionate.

"He's good, he’s doing alright I think. We've been hanging out ya know? You'd like him, he has fucked up hair." Chris made a swipe at Joey's hair.

"What's wrong with his hair?" Joey asked.

"Nothing it's just all wild. You'll see… he's a cool kid."

"Sweet, well hey we've gotta get settled. Downstairs for the Germans right?" Joey asked.

"Yes." Lance rolled his eyes and slid his card key into his door lock.

"The Germans are coming! The Germans are coming!" Joey shouted as he ran down the hall to his own room.

"They're already here and he probably just offended them." Chris shook his head and stepped into his room, "I'll see you downstairs." He waved to Lance then let the door swing shut.


"Dude, can you just… just put these on for me okay?" JC tore the tags off the only other clothes he saw for the boy, and handed him the shirt.

Kyle took it and looked at it for a second, then pressed it against his bare chest. "Put on."

"Yeah, put it on." JC took his own shirt and pulled it over his head then proceeded to tuck it into his unzipped jeans. Kyle just stood there turning the shirt over in his hands. JC sighed, "Come on kiddo, let’s go." He took the shirt back from Kyle and fumbled with it so that the neck hole was on top. He pulled it over Kyle’s head and the little boy worked his arms up through the holes.

JC finished tucking his shirt in then zipped his pants and reached for his shoes. Once they were tied he stood up and reached for his jacket, "Shit, I’m like ten minutes later here." He cast a glance down at Kyle who was still standing where JC left him. "Yo, where’s your pants?"

Kyle answered with a blank stare then reached down to pull at his diapers. "No no no, leave that on. Come on dude, I’m late." JC pulled Kyle’s pants off the bed and held them out for Kyle to step into. After a couple minutes of tugging and swearing, he got them up over Kyle’s diaper and swooped him up. "Let’s go."

"Lello." Kyle leaned as for over in JC’s arms as he could trying to get the dog off the bed. "Lello!" He screeched.

"Not now Kyle." JC hastily grabbed the backpack off the table without checking into see if it was zipped shut. Naturally it wasn’t and the contents flew across the floor. "Dammit." He dropped Kyle to the floor and stooped to pick up the box of crackers, diapers, wipes and a little stuffed duck.

Kyle took his opportunity and ran back to the bed for his dog, then met JC by the door. "You wanna walk?" JC asked.

"Yeah." Kyle nodded and waited patiently for JC to open the door. When he did he took off for the elevators, "Go ouside?"

"No, we’re not going outside. I have to go do an interview and you have – " JC stopped abruptly as a flash of red and blue came from the side and landed beside Kyle.

Kyle jumped in surprise and his little face puckered up as tears threatened to fall. "Good going Joe, scare the shit out of the poor kid." JC scolded Joey as he adjusted Kyle’s bag on his shoulder and his phone in his hand.

"Hey! I’m sorry I didn’t mean to scare you." Joey’s tone immediately softened as he reached out to stroke Kyle’s hair. "Did I scare you?" Kyle’s face remained dry as he nodded and held Lello tighter. "I’m sorry. But at least I didn’t go like this…" Joey made a face and said "Raaarararrr!" As he tickled Kyle’s sides.

"Again!" Kyle laughed, his fear leaving as quickly as it came.

"Rararaaaarrr!" Joey repeated as Kyle laughed hysterically. "He’s cute." Joey smiled up at JC. "Hey kid I like your hair." Joey laughed and messed Kyle’s already sloppy looking locks.

"Yeah. He’s a doll. Listen, what am I supposed to do with him during the interview?"

"Beats me." Joey shrugged. "Who’s been watching him."

"Me and Chris." JC sighed. "And Jessica sometimes."

"So have Jessica watch him."

"She’s not here."

"Where is she?"

"I don’t keep her calendar Joe." JC frowned and yawned.

"You guys are heading down to Ballroom C right?" Sean asked as he walked up to them with a stack of 8x10 photographs in one arm.

"Yep." The older boys said in unison.

"Yeah." Kyle added from below.

"What about him?" JC asked. "Jessica’s not here."

"She should be." He frowned.

"I tried calling her a little while ago and she didn’t answer."

"I’ll figure something out." Sean reached for the backpack with his free hand then dropped it on his shoulder. "You guys go on down. Hey kiddo, come with me." Sean held his hand out to Kyle who took it without question. JC and Joey got on the elevator in the midst of their conversation and didn’t look back as the doors closed.

Sean took Kyle to Jessica’s room and knocked tentatively. After a few seconds she pulled the door open and smiled, "Hey Sean."

"Hi Jess, hey listen. The guys have an interview downstairs…"

She sighed and placed her hands on her hips. "So I’m the built in babysitter?"

"He knows you." Sean tried the rational approach.

"Like that would matter. This poor kid loves anyone that looks at him."

"Please? Two hours tops."

"Fine." Jessica sighed and reached her hand out to Kyle. "I’m going to take him out though, he’s been cooped up in the hotel for two days now."

"That’s fine." Sean nodded. "The caravan leaves at three for the venue."

"I know. We won’t be that long, I promise." Jessica smiled as Kyle walked into the room and headed straight for the array of fabrics laid out on Jessica’s bed.

"Thanks Jessica."

"You’re welcome." She sighed as Sean turned to head back to the elevators, he was expected in the ballroom as well.

"Okay Kyle, how would you like to go shopping?" She exaggerated her enthusiasm and clapped her hands.

"Yeah!" Kyle shouted. "Go bye?"

"Yep, we’re going to go bye bye." She opened his backpack to make sure he had supplies then put her wallet and room key in the big front pocket. "Let me get that stuff cleaned up and we can go." Jessica took a few minutes and folded the yards of fabric and placed them back in the bag they came in. "All righty. Are you ready?"

Kyle nodded and reached out his hand for hers. "Go sop."

"Shopping is fun, you’ll like it." She laughed and pulled the backpack on. She held his hand and they headed out for the afternoon.

Jessica checked out with the security team then she and Kyle went out to the front of the hotel to get a cab to the mall a few miles away. The crowd of girls seemed to be dwindling, but Jessica tried not to map too much attention to them. "Wassat?" Kyle asked as they walked by.

"That’s a bunch of girls."

"Oh." Kyle seemed satisfied with the answer and swung her arm back and forth as they waited for a cab. When one arrived Jessica held him on her lap for the short ride to the mall where they were dropped off at the far end of the huge outdoor mall. She paid the driver then squinted into the bright sunshine as she took Kyle’s hand and began their shopping.

Jessica walked at a toddlers pace past the first section of stores, and delighted in chasing him into stores and watching him ogle at the colorful window displays. They rounded the corner by the arcade and she saw a "Kidz Kutz" hair salon. "Hey Kyle, how about if we get your hair trimmed up, what do you say?"

"Say yo."

"Yo?" Jessica laughed. "I'll take that as a yes, come here sweetie." She picked him up and walked into the bright red and blue kiddie salon.

"Hello there! Are you here for a cut big guy?" The overly cheerful teenager behind the counter asked. Kyle hid his face in Jessica's neck as the receptionist offered him a sucker.

"Yeah, can we… do you take walk ins?" Jessica looked around at the almost empty store.

"Oh sure, no problem. Grant is in the back, I'll just go get him for you." She smiled and trotted across the black and white checkerboard floor.

"Down." Kyle wiggled as he spotted the huge toy chest.

"Okay, just for a second." Jessica set him down and followed him over to the toys where he picked up a Tickle-Me-Elmo and looked at it funny. "Here, can I see it?" Jessica kneeled in front of him and took the fuzzy red creature. "Check this out." She squeezed his middle and Elmo giggled in her hands.

Kyle gasped and looked up at Jessica with a huge smile, "Again!"

"You like this huh?" Jessica laughed and squeezed Elmo again causing him to shake all over the place. Kyle's little mouth fell open and he tentatively reached out to touch the doll. "Here, babe, give Elmo a hug."

Kyle took the doll and squeezed him tight, then laughed along with Elmo as the doll spoke. "Oh no!" Kyle squealed and hugged Elmo again.

"That's pretty cool huh?"

"Coo." Kyle plopped himself down on the floor with Elmo in his lap and just kept on squeezing the poor stuffed dolls tummy.

"Grant is ready whenever you guys are." The receptionist said with a smile from behind them.

"Thanks." Jessica tossed her hair over her shoulder and smiled, "Okay Kyle, grab Elmo and let's go get your hair cut." She scooped him up off the floor with Elmo in a death grip. They walked to the opposite side of the narrow salon to where the man she assumed was Grant was waiting by a chair shaped like an airplane.

"Hi there!" He too was overly excited to be there.

"Hi, this in Kyle."

"Hi Kyle, who do you have there?"

"Emo." Kyle smiled and hugged the doll to make it giggle.

"Elmo huh? Are we gonna cut his hair too?"

"No!" Kyle laughed and reached for the steering wheel.

"How about your mommy here, are we going to cut her hair too?" Grant innocently asked.

Jessica blushed as Kyle gave her a confused look; "I'm uh, not his mother. I'm his uh… nanny." She explained. That was the closest she could get to the truth without going into way too many details.

"Ahh I see." Grant smiled, around there everyone seemed to have a nanny. "Well should we cut her hair too?"

"No!" Kyle giggled in his chair and put Elmo between his feet.

"How about you? Do you think you need a haircut?"

"No!" He laughed again.

"What's the plan?" Grant looked up at Jessica expectantly.

"I'm not sure, it's cut pretty uneven on the top there, then it's real short in the back. I don't know what look they were going for but they missed." Jessica sighed as she gently ran her fingers through the hair at Kyle's neck.

"It's might just be easiest to shave it and start over." Grant smiled and pulled Kyle's hair straight up with two fingers. Sections of uneven hair fell sideways and he laughed.

"Oh no, I don't want to shave his head!"

"Not all the way. Just kind of like a buzz cut, only not that short all around." Grant grabbed hi scissors to show her. "Like this, I'll shave it to about a half inch around here, then the top we'll leave a little longer. About as long as this section here." He straightened Kyle's hair again and pointed out the shortest section.

"Just… just not a Marine cut."

"No no, nothing that short." Grant laughed and shook his head. "He's got gorgeous hair, we couldn't shave him bald!"

"Okay…" Jessica said hesitantly. "Just… just keep him cute."

"Not a problem." Grant ruffled Kyle's hair and started his process like a pro. By the time he brought the little clippers out Kyle was smiling and sitting perfectly still. He didn't flinch or move as Grant sheered off his baby fine hair and trimmed up the sides.

"You're gorgeous!" Jessica mused when Grant was done. "Oh look at you, what a doll."

"Man, he was one of the best kids I've ever cut." Grant laughed and used a little brush shaped like a big toothbrush to get rid of the tiny hairs left on Kyle's shirt.

"I just hope no one freaks." Jessica said softly as she ran her hands over his new haircut. "Oh well…" She smiled and lifted Kyle out of the airplane and headed to the front. "Thank you so much Grant, it looks great."

"Anytime." He smiled and waved as he bent to sweep the hair off the floor. Jessica paid the receptionist with her own money and left a generous tip.

"Okay kiddo, let's put Elmo back and finish shopping." She looked up at the big Snoopy clock on the wall and saw that it was already after ten.

"No Emo." Kyle grabbed the stuffed doll to his chest sending Elmo into a fit of giggles.

"Yeah, we need to put Elmo back."


"Kyle… come on pal." Jessica reached for the well loved doll but Kyle moved just out of reach. "Say bye bye to Elmo, we'll come back and see him later, okay?"

"No bye."

"Yep, say bye bye." Jessica nodded and placed her hand on her hip. She knew she looked like a mother doing that and the thought almost made her laugh.

"Bye Emo." Kyle pouted and placed the doll back on the chair in the waiting area. "Bye bye."

"That's right, we'll come and see him again later, okay?"

"Bye." Kyle repeated with a sad look back at the doll.

Jessica took his hand in hers and they left the kiddie salon on their way through the mall. They walked together past several more stores before Jessica stopped to buy some candles and scented lotions. As soon as they left the store Kyle tried to pull his hand from hers as he bounced up and down. "Dere! Dere!" He squealed.

"What?" Jessica looked to where he was pointing and laughed. Kaybee Toy Store had a Tickle-Me-Elmo doll on their clearance table just outside the store, and Kyle had spotted it.

"Emo!" Kyle laughed and again tried to run away from Jessica.

"Hang on buddy, come here." She scooped him up and together they walked across the courtyard. Kyle picked up the box with the doll and immediately tried to open it with his little fingers. "Ten bucks? Sheesh, it's yours." Jessica laughed and carried Kyle into the store with the box in his hands.

"I take it he likes Elmo." The kid behind the counter laughed.

"Yeah, you could say that." Jessica reached for the cash in her pocket and handed the kid a twenty. He laughed and gave her the change; "It has batteries, right?"

"You bet." The kid waved as Jessica walked out the door and found the nearest bench. She managed to pry the box from Kyle to get the doll out, and once he had it in his hands he wasn't going to let it go.

"Well, I think I've just spent the best ten bucks ever. Those guys are going to adore me." She picked Kyle up and they headed for the food court to grab some lunch before they went back to the hotel.

She had kept Kyle for more than two hours, and their interview was most definitely over. She didn't have anything to do until they got to the venue so she didn't mind keeping Kyle with her for a while. They sat at Mc Donalds and ate happy meals, then added the two small toys to Kyle's backpack to play with later.

The cab ride back to the hotel rocked Kyle to sleep so Jessica was left carrying his warm, limp body back upstairs to her room. She lay him on her bed, then stepped out into the hall to try to find JC. Instead she ran into one of their security team, "Hey Tim, where are the guys?"

"They were invited to the Sony lot to visit the set of Tom Cruise's new movie." Tim rolled his eyes. "Apparently his kids are on set and big fans."

"When are they coming back?" Jessica sighed.

"Dunno, Sean said something about meeting back here before two so they'd all ride over together at three thirty to the venue."

"Great." She had an hour and a half till they got back. "Are you the hall monitor?"

"Yep." Tim nodded and stretched his arms over his head. It was his job to make sure only people involved with the tour were on the floor.

"Okay when they get back can you send either Chris, JC or Sean to my room?"

"Sure thing. Will they know what it's about?"

"Oh yeah." She nodded then went back to her room.

Kyle slept for another hour then slowly woke up and rolled around on the bed, he was well rested and ready to play. "Emo?"

"Well hello there, did you decide to wake up?"

"Yeah." He rubbed his eyes and padded over to where Jessica was sitting on the couch. "I'll bet you need your diaper changed." She picked him up and lay him back on the bed to change his diaper, "Wowee, yeah you do."

"My cut." Kyle reached up and touched his hair then laughed.

"That's right, you got your hair cut today. Do you like it?"


"Do you want to see what it looks like?" She pulled him to his feet and straightened his collar.

"Yeah." Kyle reached his arms up so she could pick him up and carry him into the bathroom.

Jessica flipped the light on and looked at Kyle in the mirror. She gave him a surprised look and said, "Look at you! How handsome, what a big boy."


"Yeah, you look rad." She laughed as someone knocked on her door, "Uh oh, let's go see who that is."

When she pulled the door open she was actually surprised to see JC, she had expected Sean. "Hey Jess." He said almost shyly with his hands in his pockets. "You uh… you wanted me to come down?"

"Well… yeah… I uh, I have Kyle."

"Ahh, okay." He didn't make a move to come into her room or take Kyle.

"So, here you go. I just changed him and he had lunch a couple hours ago, he might be hungry, he didn't eat all of his chicken nuggets."

"I've got a burger in the room."

"For him?"

JC nodded and finally looked up. "What… what did you do to him?" JC asked with a confused look.

"I took him to get a hair cut." Jessica explained.

"You shaved his head." JC reached for Kyle as the little boy laughed.

"It's a buzz cut, kinda like Justin's."

"It's… it's shaved." JC ran his hands over Kyle's head and the short hair stood on end.

"JC it was all uneven, it looked like he'd had a run in with a weed whacker." She frowned at JC then tickled Kyle's neck sending the child into a fit of giggles. "Here's his bag and his new Elmo doll thing." She grabbed the backpack off the table and JC draped it over his arm. Kyle happily took Elmo from her and squeezed him to make him shake and giggle.

"Great. Thanks." JC said sarcastically as he turned to leave. He carried Kyle down the hall to his room and sat him at the little table, "Time to eat up kiddo, we've got a show in like five hours which means we've gotta leave in like, an hour and a half. We've gotta book."

"Nigh nigh book?"

"No, no night night book. We've gotta get out of here though, so eat your dinner." He nodded at the hamburger on the plate in front of Kyle. "You gonna be okay out here? I have to take a shower."

"Kay." Kyle nodded and eyed the enormous hamburger in front of him. JC watched for a second then grabbed his change of clothes and went into the bathroom.

Kyle took off the top bun and put it on the table beside the plate before he meticulously took the hamburger apart. He placed the tomato beside the bun, the lettuce by his glass of milk, the partially melted cheese on the table to the left of his plate, and the pickles on top of the cheese. Kyle ran his mustard coated hand over his new haircut and laughed.

He then picked up the bottom bun and took a tiny bite out of the middle, smearing ketchup on his nose and hands in the process. Once the bottom bun was finished he took a bite of the cheese then reached for his glass of milk which toppled over and drowned the rest of the food on the table.

"Uh oh." Kyle stood up from the table but the milk had already dripped across his lap. "Uh oh Jaaaayce." He stood there and watched the milk drip for a second before his bottom lip began to tremble.

Kyle rubbed his eyes to wash the tears away, then looked toward the steam filled bathroom. JC shut the water off then and Kyle ran to the bed to bury his face in the covers. "Kyle? Hey Kyle you okay out there buddy? Did you eat your dinner?" JC shouted as he wrapped a towel around his waist. "Kyle?" JC stepped into the room and sighed. "Hey, where'd you go?" He looked around the room quickly and spotted the little boy with his head lying on the bed.

"Uh oh."

"Uh oh? What's uh oh? You okay?" JC stood by the foot of the bed looking down at the little boy. He wasn't completely sure what to do, but the kid looked upset.

"Spill mok."

"You what?" JC sat on the bed and rubbed Kyle’s fuzzy head.

"Da mok." Kyle lifted his head and pointed to the table.

"Oh shit!" JC jumped up and ran to the table. "Oh Christ there's milk everywhere!" He must have shouted because Kyle broke into a fresh bout of sobbing. "Shit!" JC retrieved his pager from the soaked tabletop and shook off his magazine and itinerary. It was only after grabbing another towel from the bathroom to mop up the mess that JC realized Kyle was still crying. "Shit." JC tossed the dripping towel onto the table and scooped Kyle up in his arms. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't yell at you. It's okay kiddo; I'm not… I'm not mad." He forced the words and tried not to think about the damage that had been done to his pager.

Kyle rested his mustard covered face on JC's clean shoulder and cried some more. "Lovely." JC caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. His shoulder was now a mix of mustard tears and snot, while Kyle's cheese and ketchup coated hand grasped his arm. "Oh man, we've gotta get cleaned up."

The phone on the nightstand rang in the middle of everything and JC dove to answer it. He fell onto the bed with Kyle still on his shoulder and answered the phone, "What?"

"JC?" Sean asked.

"Yeah, what? We're kinda in the middle of a crisis here."

"What's the problem?"

"I just took a fuckin shower and now the kids crying, he made a mess of my table, he ruined my pager, he's got ketchup and mustard and cheese all over me and snot. God this is a fuckin mess."

"Take it easy… calm down."

"Get Chris here now. I can't do this."

"You're gonna have to, Chris left for the venue already."


"Went with Chris."

"Isn't there anyone who can take this kid so I can get ready? Jesus."

"That kid has a name." Sean said sharply. "Have some consideration, he's been through hell and he just might be yours."

"He's - " JC started.

"Enough. Now listen, I called to talk to you about the plans for to - "

"Listen Sean, unless it's crucial now can you just tell me later? I've gotta go shower again and get this shit cleaned up so I can be in the van in an hour." JC snapped.

Sean was silent for a second, this was attitude he never expected from JC and it shocked him, "When you get to the arena you come see me. Immediately."

"Okay." JC sighed, he knew he’d just crossed that invisible line with Sean.

"I mean it JC. Immediately. You don't go to craft, you don't go to your dressing room, you don't so much as take a piss. You come directly to me."

"Okay." JC nodded. He knew he'd be getting a well deserved ass chewing. Sean hung up in his ear and JC did the same. "Okay kid. Bath time." JC picked him up and carried him into the bathroom as his crying continued. "How am I gonna do this?" JC looked down at Kyle who by then had drool flowing down his chin, mixing with the steady stream of tears.

JC turned the water on and set the stopper, then waited for the bath to fill up as he stripped Kyle naked. "You're okay kiddo, we're just gonna take a bath. No biggie." When the bath was full he turned the water off then set Kyle in the middle, causing the water to rise to his armpits.

"Whoa, that's a little full." He reached for the plug to let some of the water out and Kyle's little bottom slid on the bathtub floor. He fell back and conked his head on the side of the tub only making his screaming more intense. "Oh man, I'm sorry, are you okay?" JC got Kyle back into a sitting position and kept a firm grasp on his shoulder.


"I know that hurt, I just - " He glanced at his watch and cringed, "We've gotta get you cleaned up so I can go."

"Owwwww!" Kyle continued to cry.

"I know… I know that hurt. You whopped your head there tough guy. Here… let me kiss it." He felt stupid saying it, but that always worked for his mom. JC leaned into the bathtub and placed a kiss on the back of Kyle's head. "See? All better. Where's the soap?"

JC kept one hand on Kyle as he reached for the soap and shampoo. He lathered the slippery toddler with one hand and tried to get all of the hamburger mess off of him. JC applied a small handful of shampoo to Kyle's head and tried to wash it with one hand.

Washing a child hair with one hand was harder than it looked, but JC was not going to let go of him again in case he slipped. When it came time to rinse his hair, JC was stumped. His mom had always used a big cup and dunked it over his head… but he had no big cup. He didn't even have a little cup.

"Shit… how do I do this?" JC asked himself as Kyle sat in the tub sniffling. "Okay… okay you're a big kid. Let's stand you up and turn the shower on. That'll work, you can do it like a big kid." JC turned the water on again then stood Kyle up, being sure to keep a hold of him.

As soon as JC pulled the lever to make the water come from the showerhead, he realized his mistake. Water went everywhere; soaking JC and hitting Kyle square in the face making the shampoo run into his eyes.

A piercing scream shot out of Kyle and ripped into JC's eardrums as Kyle began to hop up and down on the slick bathtub floor. JC held tighter to keep Kyle upright then used both hands to grab Kyle under his arms and sit him back down again. Since Kyle was back to screaming JC took that opportunity and scooted Kyle back under the shower and rinsed the shampoo out of his hair. Kyle sputtered as the shampoo hit his mouth and wailed even louder as the mixture of soap and water hit his eyes again.

"Fuck this." JC grumbled as he slammed the water off and picked Kyle up. He held the wiggling and wet little boy against his chest as he reached for a dry towel and went into the other room. He stood Kyle on the bed and quickly wrapped him in the big towel, then hugged him to him again; "I'm so late right now." JC sighed and tried not to look at the bright digital clock by his bed. "I really can't do this right now Kyle, I need to get you dressed then clean myself up. Let's go."

Kyle crying lessened as JC pulled a diaper on him followed by his pants and a shirt. JC brushed the towel over Kyle's head to dry his hair then took a deep breath, "You okay?"

"Y-yeah." Kyle sniffled as a stray drop of water ran down his nose.

"Okay… cool. Don't move." JC shook his finger at the little boy then ran back to the bathroom to clean himself up. He used a little hand towel and wiped his chest and shoulder, then pulled on the clean clothes he had originally brought in with him.

"JC! My main man!" Andre shouted through the door, followed by a series of knocks.

"Hey Andre." JC pulled the door open with his shoes in his hand.

"You're late, the caravan is ready to head out and the only one missing is you."

"I know." JC sighed and sat in the chair to tie his shoes on over his bare feet. "We had issues." He looked across the room to where Kyle was still sitting on the bed.

"What happened?"

"Nothing." JC sighed and placed his hands on his thighs to stand up. "Can you just grab the bag and the kid?"

"He's coming with us?"

"You've got a better idea?" JC felt worn out and dreaded the upcoming show.

"Guess not." Andre shrugged and hoisted Kyle onto his hip. JC took the backpack and they headed out.

"This is fucked up." JC mumbled under his breath as the got to the elevators. "We can't have a kid on the tour."

"Speak up Jace, I can't hear you."

"I said we can't have a kid on the tour."

"Sure we can." Andre laughed. "He's cool, he's got the hair. He's good to go."

"Yeah." JC rolled his eyes and they rode the rest of the way down to the lobby, out to the van and to the venue, in silence.

When they arrived they were met with the usual crowd of girls that had been waiting all day for the guys to show up. JC kept Sean's warning in mind as he stepped out of the van, "Hey, I've gotta go see Sean. Can you keep him?" He didn't direct his question to anyone in particular, he just assumed someone would take over as he waved to the girls and ran toward the side door.

"Hey Jace! Where's Kyle?" Chris asked as JC ran by the cafeteria.

JC didn't answer he just jerked his thumb over his shoulder and continued to Sean's makeshift office near the back of the arena. He knocked once, then pushed the door open, Sean was expecting him.

"Sit down Jace." Sean said with his arms crossed. JC looked back at the couch and moved a small stack of papers before he sat. He casually checked his watch, noting the time. "I know you’re on a tight schedule tonight, but you need to hear me out." Sean stepped in front of JC and leaned on the table. "You need to grow up. A lot. I know having Kyle around isn’t anything you need right now, but none of us do. The police who came on Saturday night wanted to take him to a county home or whatever and Chris said no. He’d rather put himself out just to keep the kid from being tossed around the system. He did that because if it turns out Kyle is yours he wanted to save your ass." Sean paused and let that sink in. "Have you even stopped to think about that? I mean, I know it’s only been like a day and a half here Jace, but have you thought about that? What if Chris let him go to foster care and we found out he was yours? You’d want your son in foster care? You’d want that to leak to the press? And you know it would JC." Sean stared at JC and shook his head, "Even if he’s not yours man… he’s a great kid. You should be happy that you have the chance to make his life a little more comfortable for a couple days before he gets tossed to the county."

"I’m –"

"Don’t talk JC. Just grow up and treat him like he’s your own for the couple days he’s here. It won’t kill you. Take lessons from Chris if you have to. You have two days left with Kyle… at least. Have fun with it and relax. You’re being a prick." Sean stood up and turned around to shuffle papers on his desk. Their conversation was finished.

JC stood up without a word and left the room, more pissed off than anything. He wanted some time alone so he scoped out an abandoned locker room and bounced a basketball against the wall for a few minutes. He thought about what Sean had said and let it sink in. Kyle was the one stuck in the middle here, he didn’t have any kind of say as far as what happened to him and he was just trying to make-do with what was offered to him. He was only being a two year old when he made a mess. JC sighed and contended that he only had a few more days of putting up with him, then he’d be gone.

In the meantime JC wanted to do what he could to try to prove to himself that he wasn’t the father. If he could only remember where he was that April his mind could be set at ease. JC tossed the ball the length of the locker room and listened to the hollow ‘bangs’ as it smacked against the concrete floor. If anyone would know where they were at any given time it was Lance, so JC left the locker room and walked with his head bowed to the dressing room.

"Hey Lance, you remember everything." JC scanned the room as he walked in. He spotted Lance at the mirror and took a step towards him. "Where were we two years ago, April first?"

"Are you serious?" Lance laughed and leaned closer to the mirror to examine his eyebrows. "I don't know. What for?"

"The note that came with the – with Kyle said it uh… it happened April first in Boston." JC explained.

"Speaking of Kyle, where is he?" Chris asked.

"With Andre." JC sighed; at least that's who had him last. Chris sighed and rolled his eyes; JC's ambivalence was beginning to get to him.

"Then wouldn't that be three years ago?" Lance asked.

"What?" Chris asked.

"When she conceived." Lance cleared his throat.

"He's two." JC grumbled.

"Well yeah but then you've got that whole nine months of being preggo you know."

"So?" JC frowned.

"Yeah so that'd be three years ago, April 1998." Chris shook his head and slapped Lance's butt with his magazine. "Come on calendar boy, what was I doing three years ago this April?"

"You were doing Nicole." Lance laughed and sat back in his chair.

"You're not helping." JC sighed and ran his fingers through his hair causing half of it to stick up in styled spikes and the other half to go virtually flat.

"Cass is gonna shoot you if you keep fuckin with your hair." Justin said without looking up from his magazine. Their hair girl Cass was always threatening to shoot them if they messed with their hair.

"You guys aren't helping." JC said louder than necessary as he headed for the door.

"Helping with your hair?" Joey asked with a laugh as he stepped out from the wardrobe area.

"Forget it." JC threw the door open and stormed out, leaving the four boys in the dressing room to laugh themselves crazy.

After several minutes of giggling and stray jokes about JC's hair, Chris bent to tie his shoes and said, "Seriously though, three years ago. Didn't we do that thing?"

"That thing?" Justin snickered and tossed his magazine on the couch beside Chris.

"No we did that last week. Three years ago we did that other thing." Joey chided in.

Chris ignored them and caught Lance's eye as he stood at the mirror again, "No come on. I’ve been thinking about this since I got that letter. Remember? You and me and Jace went down to that place in Boston to see the show that your friend was in?"

"Who? Sheresa?"

"I don't remember her name. The girl with the hair, the really long hair. We flew down from New York to see her in that murder mystery play thing? At the hair salon."

"Sheer Madness?" Lance gave Chris an inquisitive look.

"Dude, you're lucky I remember that much." Chris shook his head. "I remember it was April Fools day the next day though because we were gonna call up Johnny and tell him we lost our tickets and we couldn't make it back to New York for the show that night, remember?"

"Yeah I remember that. That was Boston?"

"We went to Cheers." Chris nodded.

"Yeah! Sheresa! That's right. Shit… she's his mom?" Lance practically choked.

"No no no. But JC took off with her friend that night… "

"Oh man! You're right." Lance blushed quickly. "He barely made it for out flight back to New York." He said softly.

"Yeah neither did you." Chris scoffed, knowing Lance and Sheresa had been a little more than friends.

"I don't remember when that was though, that might have only been last year." Lance frowned.

"It'd be easy enough to find out though. Call up Johnny and ask him where we were." Justin added from the couch.

"Right on." Lance reached into his pocket and pulled out his tiny cell phone. He hit the speed dial number for Johnny’s office in Orlando, and without looking at his watch he knew he'd be there.

"Lookit him, Mr. Gadget Man." Joey laughed.

Lance raised his finger to shush the talkers and turned away from the others, "Hey Johnny this is Lance." They listened to Lance's side of the conversation hoping to pick up on the missing part. "Yeah… yeah things are kinda weird here. Nah, he's okay it's just - Yeah. We're trying to help out though. Have you looked back to see where we were then? Uh huh. Both nights huh? Okay. No we were just thinking." Lance tugged at his bottom lip like he did when he was deep in thought. "Alright. I'll have Jace call you. Okay. Yeah. Okay have fun." He smiled slightly and shook his head as he hung up. "New York City… April first and second 1998."

Silence filled the room like smoke and no one said a word. "Should uh… should we tell him?" Joey asked.

"No." Chris shook his head.

"No?" Justin jerked his head up and gave Chris a look. "What do you mean no?"

"I mean we shouldn't say anything. If we tell him that now he's gonna stress over that until he gets the results."

"So? Maybe he should stress." Justin rolled his eyes.

"His stress level is peaked right now. We need him in prime condition tonight and dropping a bomb like this ain't gonna shine his concentration." Chris argued. "If it turns out he's not the father then none of this will matter right?"

"But what if he is?" Justin asked.

"Then we tell him what Johnny just told us so he can tell the cops and let them handle it." Chris looked from one guy to the next as they all sat in silence.

"Do you think the kid is JC's?" Joey asked a minute later.

No one responded at first, they each just shrugged and got real interested in their shoes. "Not necessarily." Chris said softly. "I mean, this chick could just be whacked, his mom I mean. That could be some weird coincidence. We have to wait for the DNA results."

"Yeah." Justin nodded, but they were all thinking the same thing.

If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck and looks like a duck. It's a duck.



On to chapter 4…



Copyright � 2001, Amy Lynn