When Your Eyes Say Yes 2
When Lance heard his name he looked out into the stadium to see if he could
see who was yelling at him. He didn't see anyone so he lifted Laney into
his arms and held her close. He thought he heard his name again, but all
he could see was darkness so he didn't stop what he was doing.
"Ready Little Bit?"
She nodded. He had a feeling that she might be a little scared, but she didn't
show it so he followed out his plan.
"Lance!" Sydney ran towards the stage as Lance was lifted into the air a
few feet with Laney holding on to him. He had his arms carefully wrapped
around the wires that were hooked onto his waist so that he could balance
and keep her in his arms. He could remember some of the first times when
he'd gotten hooked up to the wires back when he hadn't been able to stand
upright, but with practice he now could do a lot of things on the rafters
that he'd never imagined he'd be able to do.
Lance pushed his wire headset microphone away from his mouth and smiled at
Laney. "Wave to your mom," he said with a smile holding onto her tightly.
Laney looked a little scared, but he had asked her before if she wanted to
go up in the air with him and she'd been excited about it so he'd brought
her up with him. She shook her head no that she wasn't scared and kept a
tight hold around his neck.
"You aren't afraid are you?" he asked.
She nodded no and hugged him tighter.
Lance laughed a little and looked out over the empty arena. That night was
going to be crazy, but it seemed for the moment that the joy of having his
daughter in his arms was enough for him. "Look, you can see everything up
there. Look, there's Uncle Johnny and Mike and Wes and Lonnie and everyone.
See we're flying."
"Yeah! Like Superman!" Joey said a few feet away from them where he was flipping,
literally, head over heels in the air. "I knew that I shouldn't have packed
up my cape again!"
Laney watched Joey with wide eyes pressing her head to Lance's neck tightly.
"He's gonna fall."
"No he won't," Lance said, "He does that all the time."
Laney held onto him harder.
"Laney honey you're choking me a little. Don't worry. I won't let you go."
He'd spent the morning at breakfast trying to get Laney to trust him more.
She'd tried French Toast for the first time and had ended up liking it which
had given him the hope that they were a lot more alike than he'd first thought.
Sydney had almost had a fit when she poured most of the maple sugar onto
her plate, but Lance didn't care. She was having fun and what was a little
syrup between father and daughter.
"I know," she said.
"Here, look," he said softly as they stopped about ten feet off the stage.
He swung his feet a little and they began to swing back and forth a little
like a regular swing. "Fun?"
Laney nodded then looked down a little at her mother. "I think we're in trouble."
"JAMES LANCE BASS GET YOUR ASS DOWN HERE!" Sydney screamed.
Lance looked down to where she was now standing almost under them. He saw
the fear in her eyes and knew that he should get down. He'd scared Sydney
by bringing Laney up into the air with him, that was easy to see. He hadn't
thought much about it before that. He'd checked the rigging before he'd taken
her up into his arms. Besides, it was safe enough. They'd brought Justin's
little brother Jonathan and Chris's little sister, Taylor up into the rafters
with them before so he'd figured that it would be ok to take Laney up a few
feet and swing a little.
"Damn it Lance get the hell down here. Now!" she screamed again when he didn't
move. She stomped her foot and he swore that he saw steam coming out of her
ears like in the cartoons. Although he would have loved for her to go completely
nuts in front of everyone, he thought it might scare Laney so he prepared
to go down by trying to make himself stop swinging.
A loud voice boomed over the sound system in the arena. "What in God's name
is going on up there?"
"Ooh…it's the all powerful Wizard of Oz!" Chris yelled from where he was
hanging on the far side of the stage. He went into a fit of laughter and
had to wiggle around a little to get his balance back.
Justin, who was in the middle of the five flying men, adjusted his microphone
in front of his mouth, and spoke to Tim who was no doubt watching them from
the equipment platform out in the middle of the arena floor. "Sorry about
that Tim! Sydney is having a fit up here!"
"Justin Timberlake you'd better stay up in the rafters!" Sydney said angrily
"Oh, come on Sydney, lighten up. We're just having a little fun," Lance said.
Laney nodded and took that moment to bravely wave to her mother. Lance couldn't
have asked for better timing, but it still wasn't going to save his butt
from the mess he'd created.
"Lance get her down here NOW!" Sydney stomped her foot with her last word.
"We're coming, we're coming," Lance said with a laugh and readjusted his
microphone in front of his mouth. She was making him look bad in front of
everyone, but there wasn't much he could do. He didn't want her to have any
bigger of a fit. "OK guys, get me down."
Slowly they were lowered to the stage and before Lance could get his feet
onto the floor Sydney was ripping Laney out of his arms and hugging her tightly
to her as if Lance was some kind of a kidnapper and had stolen Laney from
Lance slid out of his microphone and watched Sydney's crazy reaction. "Sydney,
calm down will ya?" Lance said with a laugh as she hugged Laney to her. "You're
gonna strangle her."
"Lance, you leave us alone," she said and started to stormed off.
"Look at her Sydney, she's gonna cry in a--" Before he could continue Laney
burst into tears, but the surprising thing was that she reached away from
her mother towards him. He clicked out of his flying harness and went after
her. He grabbed her up in his arms and held her close glaring at Sydney.
"What did you do to her?" Sydney said.
"Don't fight," Laney said hugging Lance. "Daddy didn't meant to get me in
"Honey we're not fighting. Your father and I are just having a little…" She
stopped and stared at Lance for a moment then looked at Laney.
"Daddy didn't mean it," Laney cried, "Don't fight or Daddy will go away again."
A sob caught in her throat and she coughed. "I don't want Daddy to stay away
Everything in the room stopped and it seemed as if nothing could be heard
except her crying.
"Laney," Lance said calmly, his eyes still on Sydney, who looked just as
shocked as he did to hear Laney call him Daddy. "Laney, honey look at me."
Lance lifted her eyes to his and he watched her for a moment. "Honey, I'm
not going to go away again."
"You aren't?" she asked.
He nodded no and glared at Sydney. "What have you been telling her about
Avoiding his eye contact had always been easy for her. She'd done it on numerous
occasions back when they'd been seeing each other and he would want to say
something to her and she wouldn't want to sneak away from everyone to talk.
"Nothing," Sydney said softly. "She knows that you weren't around."
"I wasn't around because YOU WOULDN'T LET ME BE THERE!" Lance yelled.
He winced when Laney cried again.
"Come on guys. We have to get this rehearsal done!" Tim's voice boomed out.
Chris made another Wizard of Oz reference that Lance didn't quite hear.
"Honey, go with your mom and wait and we'll have lunch together later."
After a moment of hesitation Laney wiggled out of Lance's hands and plopped
down on the stage floor. "Ok Daddy."
When Laney was out of earshot with her mother Lance felt his knees go a little
weak. He walked over to the back part of the stage where the stairs were
and sat down.
"You ok Lance?" Justin called down to him from his spot in the air.
Rubbing his face Lance thought for a moment about what had just happened.
His daughter knew who he was and it seemed as if Sydney hadn't told her.
She'd been just as shocked about hearing their daughter call him Daddy as
he had been.
"Come on Lance, get back up here so we can get this done," Chris yelled down
Lance stood up and took a deep breath, calmed himself down and went back
to work. Today was going to be a tougher day than he had expected. He just
hoped that Laney knew that it wasn't going to be a good thing if she burst
out like that about him being her father. He didn't want to deny her of anything,
but he knew that the news of his fathering a child was going to be a touchy
subject with more than a few people and he didn't want it to get leaked to
the press just yet.
"Why'd you do that?" Her tone shattered the momentary silence of the room
making him jump a little. He hadn't heard the door open, but there was no
mistaking who was in the room with him and that she was angry.
The dread of dealing with her now made him physically sick to his stomach
and he let out a groan before he answered.
"Do what?" he asked as he raked the towel over his head to clear away some
of the sweat left from the show.
"You promised her lunch and then didn't come to eat with her." She made it
sound as if he'd planned things to get hectic that way.
"What do you want Syd? I'm working." He tried to stay calm.
"Well don't make promises," she said firmly.
"I'm sorry," he said softly watching her closely. "It's not like I wanted
to break the lunch thing, but I'm working and you know well enough what that
means." He pulled the towel around his neck and held onto the ends to keep
his hands busy. He knew that if he let them hang loose they would show his
nervousness. He didn't want her to know that he was the least bit self conscious
about being alone with her.
"Just don't do it again." She turned and began to leave.
Lance let out a huge breath. "I can't do that."
"She's your daughter!"
"I know that!" He took a breath when he heard his voice raise. "I'm saying
that I can't promise that I won't break promises to her."
"Well don't make them then." She turned again and left the room.
He pulled the towel from around his neck and threw it at the door letting
out a loud yell as it hit the door and fell to the ground. He began to pace
back and forth trying to keep himself in the room. He knew that if he followed
her out into the hallway they would get into a fight that Laney might see,
but would also be in a semi-public place.
A moment later the door opened and Wes stuck his head in the door. "You ok
Lance was still pacing, but let his gaze fall on Wes. He was mumbling his
comments, looking like a crazy mad-man, but he knew if he yelled out half
the stuff he was thinking Laney might hear it and he'd made himself a promise
not to let her see him like that. If he and Sydney weren't getting along,
Laney would be the last person to know about it. He'd seen the way she'd
been scared earlier when they were disagreeing and he never wanted to see
that look on her face again.
"Jesus!" Wes ducked back out of the room, leaving Lance alone to pace.
When he got tired he flopped onto the lone couch in the room and threw an
arm over his eyes trying to block out the light of the room. He was having
a hard time keeping his temper with her. He didn't want to lose it, even
if he did feel that the situation called for it. He wasn't going to let Sydney
be in control again. He couldn't go through that a second time.
Where did she get off telling him how he should and shouldn't act when it
came to Laney? She was in no way, shape, or form, in the position to act
like the angelic mother after what she'd done. He hadn't had a chance to
be a dad to Laney and she needed to know that it was going to take some time
for him to get to used to the idea of it. If he made a few mistakes along
the way he was sure that it wouldn't be any worse than how Sydney had acted
the years he'd been away from Laney. After all, she'd made the worst mistake
of all; keeping Laney from him.
When someone knocked on the door Lance wasn't in the mood to receive visitors,
but instead of refusing the visit he called out, "Come on in." He hoped that
his voice didn't sound too angry.
A moment later Wes pushed through the door carrying a very sleepy looking
Laney who was clutching with one arm to Wes's neck and had tucked Mr. Bear
to her cheek like a pillow. She wore pajamas and seemed to be on her way
to sleep, although when she saw him she smiled and waved.
"Laney wanted to say goodnight before you go and get on the bus."
"Come here little bit," he said and reached for her. He sighed at the sight
of her sleepy smile and the way that she unlatched herself from Wes and crawled
into his arms, sleeping resting her cheek against his shoulder.
"I don't want to go to bed yet," she said with a yawn.
"But everyone is going to go to sleep soon," Lance said. He looked over at
Wes hoping that he would back him up.
"Yeah, we're gonna go out on the bus and go to bed," Wes said. He faked a
yawn and said, "We should go find your mom and make sure that she's gonna
go to sleep soon too."
"Daddy can I got on the bus with you? Mommy says that I have to stay with
her and go to the hotel then go on the bus later, but I wanna go with you."
"I think we can do that," Lance said with a smile. He kissed her forehead
and said, "Let me get my backpack and we'll go find her."
Lance was about to put Laney down so he could pack up, but she wouldn't let
him so he balanced Laney on his hip and stuffed everything in his backpack.
He looked for his phone, pager, palm pilot, and security tags then looked
at Wes. "Got everything?"
Wes looked around for a minute then nodded and held the door for them as
Lance swung his backpack on and carried Laney out into the hallway.
Sydney was just down the hall so he waved her over.
"You want me to take her so you guys can hit the road?"
"No," he said, "Actually I was going to ask if Laney can come on the bus
with us tonight. I mean look at her, she's already tired, might as well get
her to sleep as soon as we can."
Sydney stared at him and he knew it was because what he had said had been
so responsible sounding. Lance knew well enough, from previous experience
with Justin's little brother's and Chris's sisters that getting the kids
to bed sooner than later was a good thing.
"So can she?" he asked.
"You sure you want to take her for the night?" Sydney leaned and touched
Laney's forehead and then leaned and kissed her.
Lance knew that if they had been a couple he would have leaned and kissed
Sydney then. It was a Kodak moment that he wished he could enjoy, but he
knew he couldn't. It wasn't in the cards for them to be together, no matter
how much he wanted to be there for Laney, he knew he wouldn't be able to
stand to be connected with Sydney like that again. She'd crushed him when
she'd left and he didn't want to go through that again.
"Yeah, she can sleep in the back bed and watch a movie or something," Lance
said then looked at Laney, "You wanna watch a movie with Uncle Joey and me?"
She nodded then returned to her half-asleep position in his arms.
"Well give me a hug first," Sydney said.
Laney leaned and hugged her mother then settled back into Lance's arms.
"Honey, be good ok?" Sydney said, "I love you and I'll see you in the morning.
You go to sleep and when you get up in the morning we'll go and get breakfast."
"Can I have pancakes?" she asked.
"I think we can find pancakes," Sydney smiled and made eye contact with Lance
for a moment. "Maybe your dad can have breakfast with us to if he doesn't
have to work."
Lance made a face at Sydney. He couldn't believe that she was pushing him
into another situation like that. She knew he couldn't make the promises,
but she was forcing him to do it anyway. "I'll check the schedule before
we go to sleep."
They said their good-byes and Lance headed towards the bus that he shared
"Hey you two," Joey said licking his lips as he stuffed a piece of leftover
pizza in his mouth. He waved and said, "You guys sharing the bus tonight?"
"Yeah," Lance said, "I think though that it's time for Laney to go to sleep."
"I don't want to go to bed," she said.
"Well I need to take a shower so why don't you sit with Joey for a while
then we'll watch a movie."
Laney nodded and crawled out of Lance's arms and slid into the bench seat
on the far side of the table from Joey. He slid her a piece of pizza and
asked her about her day as Lance left the room. He wasn't sure if he should
leave Laney with him for too long, but he did need a shower and he didn't
need to have her throw a fit or something if he made her go into his bunk
right away to go to sleep.
When Lance returned to the front of the bus a while later wearing his sweats
and a T-shirt to sleep in he found the room empty except for Wes who was
on the phone. The bus had already pulled out and he knew that Joey and Laney
had to be somewhere so he turned around and went into the back of the bus
to see if they were watching a movie.
"What are you two watching?" he asked as he checked in on them. They were
sitting on the big bed in the back watching the television.
"It's a daddy movie daddy," Laney said with a smile.
Lance glanced over at the television just as Adam Sandler's character in
Big Daddy asked his roommate's girlfriend about her job at Hooter's. "You
can't have her watch this," Lance reached and flipped off the television
knowing that it wasn't exactly a kid's movie.
"Hey!" Joey protested.
"Hey!" Laney said mimicking Joey.
"We were watching that!" Joey said.
"Yeah!" Laney said looking over at Joey only to get praised for her comment.
Lance made a face at Joey who faked a yawn and immediately left the room.
"I'm going to bed."
Laney looked at him. "Where are you going?"
"I have to get to sleep," Joey said.
"Can we play cards tomorrow?" she asked.
"But of course," he said and left the room.
Lance watched Joey leave then looked at Laney. "Are you ready to go to sleep?"
"No," she said.
"Excuse me?" he said.
She folded her arms across her chest, something he figured that she'd probably
seen Sydney do. "No. I wanna watch a movie. You said I could watch a movie."
Lance thought that he could reason with her a little so he tried. "Well honey
we don't have any kids movies so you can't watch them."
She pouted. "But you said I could watch a movie!"
"Laney, don't pull this on me. You need to go to sleep and so do I." Lance's
day was too long for this. He didn't need to deal with a crabby little kid
"I'm not pulling anything," she said, "I wanna stay up and watch a movie!"
"Laney, come on now. I'm going to sleep and you're gonna sleep in the empty
"I don't want to!" she yelled.
Wes came into the room when her scream filled the air. "What in God's name
is going on in here?"
"Lance told me that I was pulling something and that I couldn't watch a movie."
"Laney honey, it's time to go to sleep. I don't think your mom would like
you to be up this late. You promised that you were going to be a good girl
and I would hate to have her know that you weren't going to sleep when you
should. You need rest. You don't want to fall asleep while you're eating
your pancakes in the morning do you?"
"No," Laney said as if the threat of her mother and the added pressure about
the pancakes had changed her mind.
"So can we go to sleep now?" Lance asked.
"Yes," she said and flopped back onto the bed and curled up to a pillow.
"We're gonna sleep in the bunks."
"I don't wanna," she said.
"Why don't the both of you sleep back here? Everyone else is going to bed
anyway." Wes smiled at Lance then at Laney.
Lance wanted to groan again at the thought of how much he hated the fact
that Laney was so much like her mother. Laney had gotten her way, but that
was going to change soon enough. He might have let Sydney control his life
for more than a few years. Laney wasn't going to boss him around that way
at all, starting the next morning he was going to make sure that Laney knew
her place and that Sydney reinforced the values that he thought she should
Lance let his weight lean against the wooden hotel room door as he took the
credit card looking key from the electronic lock so that he could push his
shoulder against the door to let himself in the room. Normally the action
would have been a smile one, after all, the door wasn't that heavy, but that
night he had to push a little harder than normal and chose to accentuate
the action with a groan, just for good measure.
It had been an extremely long night and an even longer day. He'd checked
his watch in the elevator and had found that it was only two in the morning,
but it seemed way later than that to him. He'd been up since the crack of
dawn, or at least he'd thought it had been dawn. He'd actually missed the
sun coming up since he'd left for an interview before the sun actually came
up. He'd spent the rest of the day running from one interview to another
then had performed the show before he'd gotten a chance to pause for a minute
to think and at this point in his evening there was only one activity he
could think about. He needed sleep. At five or six hours would do him until
he had to repeat that days' schedule the next day.
Lance leaned over and flipped on the light so that he didn't trip over anything
in the room. Melinda had informed him on the way up in the elevator that
his bags had been brought up to the room and were waiting for him. He'd been
trying hard to stay awake as he leaned against the wall, but he reminded
himself to not go into the room in the dark. He knew that they would be left
either on the bed or at the foot of the bed and he knew that he didn't want
to trip over the bags. The last thing he needed was to sprain an ankle on
something stupid like that.
He jumped at the sound of the voice and prayed that instant that a fan hadn't
broken into his room. Although it had happened to him before, it always scared
the living day-lights out of him. He thought about Laney for a minute. He
was definitely going to have to make better security arrangements if Laney
was going to spend more time with him on the road. He wasn’t going to have
her go through seeing a fan attack him. He knew that was definitely something
she didn’t need to see.
The light flipped off again and a moment later Lance saw Sydney standing
in what he saw was the bathroom doorway. He hadn't really noticed before,
but the light in that room was on and it was acting as sort of a night light
effect for the bedroom.
Sydney was almost the last person in the world that he would have suspected
to be standing in his room. He looked around. This was his room wasn't it?
Those were his bags on the bed, weren't they? He squinted at the key in his
hand. He'd thought he'd grabbed the right key, but maybe he had grabbed the
wrong one. He was so tired they could have given him the key to a broom closet
and he would have taken it.
Pulling the door shut behind him, Lance enclosed the room into more darkness
again. He dropped his backpack onto the floor next to where he was standing
then shoved it with his foot so that it was out of the way. Its final resting
place was next to an endtable looking thing that had a lamp on it. "What
are you doing in here?"
Sydney moved away from the door and as his eyes adjusted to the dark he saw
her standing, leaning against the wall watching him. He could see that she'd
been sitting in one of the chairs in the room, probably curled up in a blanket
from the looks of it. A lap blanket had fallen onto the floor and there was
a pillow laying over one of the arms of the chair. "I asked them to book
us in the same room." She didn't sound at all shy about it, which worried
him. He just prayed that she wouldn't pick tonight to start to try to seduce
him again. He was too tired to play games.
"I had the manager switch my room to be with yours."
"You did?" He asked coming towards her. He wanted to see clearly the look
in her eyes. He didn't want to get tricked into something this time. He wasn't
going to go through that again. "Why?"
Sydney stepped forward and put a hand on his chest. She moved her head so
that she was looking towards the queen sized bed at the far side of the room.
He didn't see anything there and it amazed him that she was acting so strangely.
Lance stepped away from her, his anger rising a little. He didn't like her
being in his room and he really didn't like that she was changing plans that
effected him. "Why do you keep shushing me?"
Sydney put a hand up. "Because your daughter is asleep," she said softly.
"So now she's my daughter?" He said with a laugh. "Did she do something wrong?"
Lance slid out of his shoes and kicked them against the wall where his backpack
had been discarded. "My mom always used to tell my dad that HIS SON was waiting
to get punished if I did something bad."
"No, she didn't do anything bad. Shh. You're gonna wake her up," she said
in a loud whisper.
Somewhere in the darkness a small rustling sound came from the direction
of the bed then a small voice asked, "Mommy?"
Sydney stared at Lance. "Or at least she was until you woke her up," she
whispered and walked towards the bed, getting onto the mattress beside their
daughter to comfort her.
"Mommy is Daddy coming home soon?" His daughters voice came again from the
He marveled at the thought of that. His daughter. He wasn't sure if he'd
ever get used to the sound of the label. Not that it was a bad thing at all.
It was just almost too amazing to think about.
Lance reached to push the bathroom door further open and the room lit up
so that he could now see his daughter laying in bed alone hanging onto Mr.
Bear for dear life.
"Hi pumpkin," he said. A smile automatically formed on his face as he made
his way over to the bed. He found his voice sounding a little strange. He'd
always been fairly soft spoken, but it was as if he somehow knew a certain
voice to use with Laney that he didn't use with anyone else, or at least
he couldn't remember using with anyone else.
"Hi Daddy." She sat up and groggily hugged him, wrapping her arms around
his middle and squeezing him tightly.
"Did you go to work?" She asked. Lance watched her eyes drift open and shut.
He still couldn’t believe that she was his. Her eyes matched his to a T and
it was like looking in a mirror at himself. It was the one saving grace of
all this, that she was part his, well half his.
"Yep," he said and helped her lay back down. He tucked her back into bed
then glanced at Sydney. He couldn't see her face well in the darkness of
the room since the light from the bathroom was now behind her, causing her
face to be a dark silhouette against the wall, but he could almost sense
that she was amazed with the way he acted with their daughter.
"Did all the people clap loud?" Laney asked with a laugh.
"Yep," he said with a smile, although he wasn’t sure that she could see him,
"My ears hurt from it." He accentuated his words by rubbing his ears.
"Wow," she said and he her yawn. "Didn’t Wes tell you to wear ear muffs?"
"I wear a certain kind of ear plugs, remember, I showed you them?"
"Yeah," she said sleepily.
"Anyway, those make it better for my ears, but the crowd is pretty loud."
"Like when we went to the radio place?" She asked.
"I think it was louder than when we went to the radio station."
"I don’t know," she said with another yawn, "That was pretty loud."
Lance heard Sydney laugh a little at her comment. He prayed that she’d forgiven
him for taking her out in that crowd. If he had known that it was going to
be that crazy he would have left her in the hotel with a baby-sitter.
"Why don't you go back to sleep pumpkin. I'll tell you about my day tomorrow
"Ok Daddy," she said and he could see her snuggle back into the covers.
Lance glanced at Sydney. "Can we talk?"
There was a long hesistation then he heard her reply, "Sure."
"In the bathroom?" He suggested and pushed himself off the bed.
"Uh, yeah." She got up and followed him into the bathroom. Lance leaned against
the counter as he watched her close the door most of the way shut so that
they wouldn't wake up Laney again.
"What do you need?"
"First off I don't want you making decisions like that again," he
said taking a breath.
"Decisions like what?" She asked.
Sydney moved across the room and sat on the edge of the bathtub. That was
when Lance noticed the bubble bath bottle and the small yellow rubber ducky
sitting on the far edge of the bathtub. "I'm sorry. Laney wanted
to see you before she went to sleep, but it got late and she fell asleep."
"I don't mind that you want to manipulate things so that my daughter can
see me, but really you and I don't need to be having this much contact."
"Yes we do!" She said suddenly.
"No we don't," he said, "And keep it down Miss Hypocrite."
Sydney covered her mouth with her hand and stared at him for a long moment
before speaking. "We do need to be in contact."
"Why's that?" He was tired and he shouldn't have been that rude with her,
but it was hard not to keep the past from creeping up.
He heard her groan loudly then take a huge breath. "Because no matter how
much you hate me, and believe me, you haven't at all tried to hide that feeling,
your daughter needs to be in your life and that means that I'm going to be
around because I'm not going to hand her over to you. Not now or ever!"
"I'm not expecting you to hand her over. I never said that. I can’t believe
that you’d even bring that up. I would think that you know me better than
that. You know how important family is to me and I’m not going to deny my
daughter of her mother."
Lance moved, pushing himself more onto the counter so that he could sit instead
of leaning. "We can do this the easy way or we can do this the hard way.
I've already put in a call to my lawyer and I'm sure another one can be made
and we can settle this in court. I'm sure that your side will be great. After
all, you not only didn't tell me about my daughter, but you kept her from
me and from the financial means that would keep her--"
"Don't you dare!" She said angrily. "Don't you dare think for a minute that
I'm going to let you say that I didn't take care of our daughter well."
Lance chuckled. "Like the way it feels?"
She rolled her eyes. "Like the way what feels?"
"The idea that you aren't in control. You did that once to me Syd and I'm
not going to let it happen again and if I have anything to do with it, you
surely aren't going to do that to my daughter."
Lance took a breath. It was time to end this for the night. He was in no
mood to fight with her and he didn't think that he should have to. "Can you
leave me alone so I can get a shower?"
"What?" She asked with an astonished look on her face.
"Daddy! Wake Up!"
Lance's stomach flip-flopped as the bed bounced up and down underneath him.
If he hadn't known better he would have thought a whole roomful of WWF wrestlers
were using his bed for a wrestling ring, but instead he slowly he opened
his eyes and looked up to see Laney bouncing on the bed. She wore her pajamas
still, but it didn't stop her from doing her gymnastics routine next to where
he'd stretched out across the bed.
"Honey, I love you, but if you don't stop I'm going to puke!" He covered
his head with his pillow and tried to keep himself in the sleep coma that
he'd fallen into the night before after his shower.
"Laney!" Sydney's voice boomed in the silent room. "Get off the bed. I told
you that we weren't going to wake up your dad until after I got my shower."
There was a big bounce and the shaking of Lance's mattress stopped. He opened
his eyes to find that Laney was now sitting Indian-style staring at him.
"Yes?" he asked feeling that there was a question coming his way.
"Get up Daddy. It's breakfast time."
"What time is it?"
"It's already seven. It's time to get up!"
"I don't think so," he said rolling over onto his back. He stretched, rubbed
his eyes and looked over to find Sydney rummaging through her bag. For a
moment, before she'd noticed him watching her, she looked angelic, with a
small smile on her face, but when she caught him watching her it faded.
"Please Daddy!" Laney had moved over closer to him and was now using his
chest as a drum set beating out some unknown beat onto his ribs.
"Laney stop being a pest!" Sydney said harshly. Her temper seemed to be short
that morning, something that Lance remembered from the past as having to
do with something troubling her. He knew that it was probably him, but he
thought that she deserved a little grief after the way she'd treated him
all those years before.
Lance turned his head to Laney suddenly feeling like he needed to make up
for Sydney's bad mood. "Honey, why don't you get dressed and let me wake
up a minute then we can get breakfast."
"Ok Daddy." Laney hopped off the bed and ran over to a bag next to the window.
Lance watched her begin to pull things out of her bag and throw them on the
floor. "Damn," he let out a laugh, "I thought I was going to be the slob
of the family."
Sydney rushed across the room and began stuffing things back into the bag.
"Laney, you know better than this. I told you that we had to keep our room
clean while we were on the road."
Laney frowned, "I was--"
Sydney grabbed up a shirt and a pair of pants and shoved them at Laney, "Honey,
go put these on. We have to get breakfast then I have to go to work, your
dad has an interview and you have to go stay with Dre."
Laney pouted and stomped her foot. "I don't want to stay with Dre. Dre is
big and mean.
"He is not!" Lance and Dre said in unison. They made eye contact and held
each other's gaze for a moment then Sydney turned back to their daughter.
"He is not Laney. You spent all that time with him the other day and had
"I only had fun because Daddy saved me. I wanna go with Daddy."
"Laney!" Sydney said again with a harsh voice. "Go get dressed."
"But I wanna go with Daddy!"
"Laney. I told you last night before you went to sleep and when you woke
up this morning that your dad is going to be busy today and that you have
to stay with Dre," she said, "I don't want to discuss this right now. You
know that I have to go to work and you know better than to whine."
"Laney, I'm going to count to five…"
His heart broke when tears came to his daughter's eyes. Lance pushed himself
out of bed and went over and stood between them. "Why the hell are you in
such a bad mood?"
"Welcome to my life," she said then turned to their daughter. "Laney. Go."
Laney looked at him as if he was going to have the final say in the matter.
Lance glanced at Sydney for a minute then said, "You'd better listen to your
Laney walked towards the bathroom, holding her clothes in her hands mumbling
under her breath that she was sorry. It killed Lance to see her so upset,
but he wasn't going to have a parenting discussion with Sydney in front of
Sydney went about her business, leaving Lance standing there watching her
move around the room. "You didn't have to be so harsh."
"She knows better Lance." She paced the room, first going back to her bag
to put her things away then she went to the door of the bathroom. She knocked
and asked Laney if she needed any help before she went back over to repack
Laney's bag, all the time, mumbling, "I never should have come back."
"Why shouldn't you have come back?" Lance asked, "If it's that horrible why
did you come back in the first place?"
She stared at him for a long time. "I thought it would be different, but
I guess I was wrong."
"Different?" he asked.
"Yeah," she said and stuffed things into the bag, not bothering to fold them.
"What did you expect? For everyone to be glad to see you? For you to be welcomed
back like nothing happened? Like your leaving didn't effect all of us? That
it didn't effect me?"
"What?" She stared at him. "Excuse me?"
"You come back on tour and think that everyone is going to bow down and thank
you because you're back," Lance said angrily. Somehow this gave him the excuse
he needed to get all his frustrations out. "I think we all would have been
better off if you had just stayed away, but no, you had to drop into our
lives and bring Laney with you...which is double trouble as far as I'm concerned."
Lance caught the look in her eyes then turned to see Laney standing there
watching them. Tears were already in her eyes. She just stood and stared
at him and he knew that he'd really done it now. She was smart enough to
figure out that what he had said was directed at her.
"You said you weren't going to fight!" Laney said.
"We weren't fighting," Lance said.
Sydney pushed past him and went and picked up Laney. "Face it Lance. You
might as well tell her what you think of me and of her."
"Tell you what I think of you?" he said, "Like the way you told me four years
ago...what was it? If I think about it hard enough I'm sure I can quote what
you said. I think it went something like, He's a freaking kid! I can't handle
babysitting him anymore and…"
Sydney's mouth dropped open as she stared at him. "You were spying on me?"
"It wasn't really spying...I mean you did yell it into the phone. It wasn't
hard to hear it," he said.
"You were there?"
"I came to surprise you, but you gave me the surprise that night."
For once Sydney looked a little guilty for her actions four years before.
"Yeah Syd…I heard you. I heard you discount all that we had together to God
knows who on the phone. I guess I kept my part of the bargain. I never told
anyone about us, but you…you seemed to want to scream it from the roof tops
and you seemed to think so lowly of me that you'd call me a child…well you're
the little one now Missy."
"Lance, hold on…I can explain."
Explain what? Explain how you ran out of here without saying good bye? Or
how you told someone on the phone that you hated babysitting me. IF you were
that unhappy you should have said something, but I didn't think that you
were that horny to shut up and fuck me all the way to the bank. I'm sure
Johnny made sure that you had enough money to get you by."
"Wait a minute!"
"Why? So you can bad mouth me again?"
"I was pregnant Lance! That's why I left! I had to leave and get out of here
because I knew that it would ruin your career, ruin you if I stayed!" Tears
sprang to her eyes and she looked over at her daughter. "I'd do it again
in a minute. Yes, it was bad that Laney hasn't been with you, but you wouldn't
have been able to handle all that. I couldn't handle it myself."
"What I can't handle is you making decisions that effect my life without
me knowing about it!"
Sydney stared at him.
"Look. I have an interview to get to and you need to get to work. Leave it
alone for now…wait until we go to Mississippi and we'll hash this out."
After giving him a once over, Sydney bit her lip, then spoke. "Fine."
"Good, now as for Laney? She can spend the morning with me doing the interviews
then tonight she'll stay with Dre."
"Yeah!" Laney celebtrated.
"Now are you going to yell at her again or can I leave the two of you alone
so I can get a shower."
"I didn't yell at her."
Lance took a breath and made his way to the bathroom, stopping to grab a
pair of jeans and a shirt. "Whatever." He smiled to himself as he made his
way to get his shower.
When Lance pushed his way out of the bathroom twenty minutes later he found
Laney, acting like his little shadow, at his side as he packed up his bag.
"You ready to go honey?"
"Uh huh," she said with a smile.
He put his hand on her head and looked around for a moment, finding that
Sydney was already on her laptop working. "Go up and jump up on the bed."
Lance grabbed up his backpack and slung it onto his shoulder. He turned and
saw Laney still standing where she had been. "What honey?"
She looked over at her mother then back at him. "Mommy said not to jump on
Lance took a calming breath. He had to remember that she was going to take
everything he said literally. "Well I say you can," he said. He pointed to
the bed, "Just so that you can get on my back for a piggy pack ride. No jumping,
just go and stand up there."
"Ok," she said. She crawled up on the bed and stood facing him. She came
up to this chest when he walked over to her. He flung the backpack off his
shoulder onto the bed and fixed the straps for a minute then held it out
Seeming to know what he wanted of her, Laney slipped the bag onto her back.
He looked at her with a serious face. "You have to make sure that you don't
"I won't Daddy," she said with a nod.
He sighed. Here it came. The speech that he had to give even though it broke
his heart to do it. "Honey, I need you to do me a favor," he said looking
into her eyes. It was going to hurt to tell her this, but he needed to think
a while before he let the cat out of the bag.
"Call me Lance," he said looking into her eyes, "Just like I call you Laney,
He thought she would ask why, but it seemed as if she was being coopertive
and wasn't going to put up a fight with this one. She nodded.
"You want Mr. Bear?" he asked looking where the bear was sitting on the bed
next to the pillows.
"Uh huh," she said.
"Well go and get him. I think he'll fit in the bag."
As Laney flopped down and scrambled to get her bear Sydney appeared. He hadn't
been paying attention to her since he'd come out of the bathroom, but now
she was there beside him with a hand ful of books. "Take these with you.
She's going to be bored if you don't bring something with you."
"Thanks," he said with a smile.
Laney appeared in front of him again. "Turn around Laney."
She did as she was asked and Lance unzipped the bag andstuff her book and
a container of pens and crayons into the bed.
"And these," Sydney handed him a box of breakfast bars. "She'll get hungry."
"Thanks," he said.
"You ready honey?" he asked.
"Yes," she said.
Lance turned around and helped her attach herself onto his back. Her one
arm was wrapped around his neck and the other one was thrown over his shoulder
and Mr. Bear was hanging across his chest.
Sydney figited as Lance wrapped his arm back around Laney to hold her in
place. SHe followed the two of them to the door and opened it for them. "Make
sure you eat breakfast."
"Ok," he said.
"Give me a kiss," Sydney said.
For an instant Lance thought she meant him, but she didn't.
Laney leaned and kiss her mother and Lance caught a wiff of Sydney's shampoo.
"Kiss daddy," Laney said.
"What?" Lance and Sydney said at the same time.
"You foughted," Laney said, "You have to kiss and make up."
Lance shrugged and looked at Sydney then leaned and kissed her cheek. "We'll
be back by one."
"You've got my cell number?"
"Dre has it," Lance said.
"Have fun then," Sydney said. He wasn't sure if she really meant that or
if she was just saying it for Laney's benefit.
Lance pushed the door open and could see Joey sitting on the bed. The blaring
noise of a video game was filling the room and Joey's eyes were glued on
the television set.
"What's he doing?" Laney asked.
"Playing games," Lance said and waited to see if Joey would look over at
When he didn't Lance knocked on the door and yelled, "Joey!"
He still didn't move. For all the times that Joey seemed to have ADD when
it came to certain things, he was showing great concentration now.
Lance watched in amazement as Laney, with her free hand that wasn't holding
onto his land, pounded on the door. "Uncle Joey! Daddy wants to talk to you!"
"What?" Joey called back from across the room. His eyes never left the screen.
"Can you do me a favor?" Lance asked. He’d checked on the other guys and
Joey was the only one who was spending his lunch hour doing nothing too important.
Well at least in Lance's eyes playing video games for an hour wasn't important
compared to Chris doing FuMan business, JC catching up on his sleep, and
Justin being on the phone with Britney.
"What?" Joey said not looking over.
Lance took a breath and calmed his voice. He was starting to panic. He needed
to get work done. He’d gotten about fifteen messages on his voicemail and
he needed to start returning them before more came in. "Can you watch Laney
for a minute?"
"I don’t wanna go with Joey!" Laney quickly protested.
Lance leaned down to her level. She’d been his shadow all day long and although
he loved her to death, and actually she’d kept everyone in a good mood that
morning retelling the story about how Mr. Bear decided that he wanted to
be in a boyband. It was all fun and great, but at the same time Lance knew
that he needed to make some calls. Just from the experience of the night
before and that morning he knew he couldn’t watch her and work at the same
"Honey, I just want you to play with Joey for a while so I can make some
phone calls. It's only going to take a half hour."
He wondered for a moment if she even knew how to tell time. She wasn’t wearing
a watch or anything so maybe she wasn’t old enough to learn stuff like that.
"A haft hour is a long time," she said. He loved the way she seemed so secure
of herself. He had been angry with Sydney for keeping her away, but it seemed
as if she’d done a good job raising her in the mean time.
Lance reached and removed the backpack that had been on her back for most
of the morning. He set it on the carpet next to her and helped her unzip
her jacket. "I’m going to be across the hall honey, not gone really."
"I’ll be good," she pleaded. She tried to pull her jacket back on. "I can
sit and color. I promise to be quiet."
"Let her color with you!" Joey called from where he sat.
"You’re no help," Lance said and glared at Joey.
"You love me though," Joey said with a laugh.
Lance could have said a hundred million things slamming Joey with insults,
but when he saw his daughter looking up at him he smiled at her, putting
his hand on her head to ruffle her hair a little. "Well that's true," Lance
said, "But sometimes I almost wish..."
"Shush!" Joey said with a laugh.
When Lance’s face didn’t smile back on him Lance thought that he’d gotten
Joey paused the game and said, "You wanna learn how to play video games Laney?"
"I never played a video game before."
"She lives with a girl Joey. You remember how Sydney used to always hate
when we’d play."
"Oh..." Joey looked at him for a minute then looked over to Laney. "Come
on, leave your old man alone and come and play."
Laney looked up at Lance, "Is that ok?"
"Sure," he said. He thought for a moment. "Just don’t sit too close to the
"She won’t," Joey said with a laugh as Laney ran across to where he was sitting
and flung herself into Joey’s arms. He set her on his lap and handed her
the control. "Just don’t hit the red button," he said then looked over at
Lance. "I’ve always wanted to say that."
"Just don’t teach her to cheat ok? Little kids aren’t supposed to learn that
"Ooh. Daddy’s said crap!" Laney said in a sing-songy voice. "I’m gonna tell
"Uh oh!" Joey said with a laugh. "DADDY how could you?"
"Shove it Joey," Lance said.
"I’m gonna tell mommy. You aren’t being nice!"
"Laney," he said as he gathered his palm pilot and phone so he could go find
a quiet place to talk. "I’m sorry for swearing."
"I’ll make sure she tells MOMMY," Joey said.
"Yeah whatever," Lance said, "I’ll be across the hall. Twenty minutes tops."
"Don’t worry about it," Joey called.
A moment later, as Lance left the room, the sound on the television got turned
up and Joey was trying to teach Laney how to play. He hoped that his daughter
didn’t lose her hearing from sitting so close to the television.
Lance glanced down the hallway for a moment before crossing the hall to his
room again. He thought that Sydney would be down the hall, but when he pushed
the door open to their room he found her laying on the bed. She was facing
away from him curled into a ball holding onto the pillow tightly.
He stepped towards her and watched her for a moment then called out, "Sydney?"
He asked. He walked towards her and called out softly again, "Sydney?"
"Huh?" She asked. She rolled over halfway and looked at him, a dazed look
on her face. "What time is it?"
"It’s early still. We just got back from the interviews and everyone is going
down--" He stopped and looked at her then walked over to her side. "Are you
ok?" He asked.
"Yeah," she said and rubbed her eyes. "Where’s Laney?"
"She’s fine. She’s over next door playing video games with Joey." He sat
down on the bed and could see the strange look on her face. It was part pain
and part anger.
He reached for her thinking that he might be able to help her out.
"Don’t," she said and pushed his hand away just before his hand touched her.
"Sydney, this isn’t an insult, but you look like shit," he said. He made
a mental note to work on his vocabulary. Getting caught swearing by Laney
made him aware of his automatic use of foul language.
"What are you doing?" She asked.
He reached for her head and touched her skin. "Sydney, Jesus. You’re burning
up," he said. He moved his hand and touched her cheek. "What the hell?"
"Lance stop," she said and pushed his hand away. She usually wasn’t this
tough with him. He didn’t know what was up, but this wasn’t the Sydney he
knew or the Sydney that he’d known before everything had happened between
them. "Just leave me alone and let me go back to sleep. I’ll be fine."
"What?" He asked.
"Stop," she repeated and glared at him, "I know how to handle this. Just
leave me alone."
"Sydney, you have to go see a doctor or something." He tried to pull her
all the way over, but she wouldn’t budge.
"Honey, come on," he said, "Roll over and lets get you up and get your shoes
on and we’ll go see the doctor."
"No," she said.
"What?" He said. "Why are you being so stubborn?"
"Lance," she sighed and curled back into her pillow. "Lance I’m fine. It’ll
go away. It always has before."
Lance’s hand paused where it was in mid-air. "Before?"
"It’s nothing, I’ll be fine, I just need some sleep." Her voice came out
in a sound that was half way between a whine and a groan as if she was not
only physically protesting the movement of her from her place as well as
her mental anguish of having to deal with a stress.
"Sydney, you’re burning up. You need to go to the doctor."
"I already did," she said and pushed herself up into a sitting position.
She stared at him for a moment then her eyes fell onto her stomach.
He looked at her bare stomach, her shirt had been pulled up and there was
a tube expanding from her stomach that ran down coiled in her lap and connected
to a bag of liquid. "What the hell is that?" He could help but to sound shocked.
It wasn't every day that someone he knew had tubes coming out of them. It
was thing to meet fans that were in that position. He felt bad for them,
but this case was hitting a little too close to home.
"Just leave me alone," she said when he tried to reach for her again.
"What’s going on?" He asked.
"Nothing that you need to know about!" she snapped at him then waved her
hand towards the door, "Go and do whatever you need to do. I’m going back
to sleep until I have a conference call in two hours."
For the life of him Lance couldn't get his arms to move or his legs to move
and the idea of leaving her there alone when she wasn't feeling good really
set his stomach in a twist. "What the hell is going on Sydney?"
"I’ll explain later, ok?" She said with a sigh and curled back into her sleeping
position. "Just leave me alone right now. I need to go to sleep."
(c) 2002 Pit Pat Productions