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At the moment she should have been going over the schedule for the next week or so with the people back in New York, since she was technically at her workplace, but she couldn't get into it. She'd ended up sitting on the stage watching her daughter and the guys play instead. She had been keeping an eye out for Lance, but he'd disappeared a while before so she'd concentrated only on the fun her daughter was having which only reminded her of Reese and that whole mess that was hanging in front of them. She wasn't technically divorced, but with almost six thousand miles between them it was as if they'd become strangers to each other.

The events of the night before had been running through her head too and the fitful night of sleep hadn't helped her deal with the situation. She hated to admit it, but even now, knowing that he was somewhere around in the arena made her smile. It shouldn't have been that way at all, she normally was too strong to let foolish feelings like that effect her, but she couldn't help it.

"Agh!" Gabby screamed next to her and slid behind her just as Chris came running at them. He'd been wild that afternoon, more wild than she'd seen any other almost thirty-year-old act. She thought it might have been from what he'd had to drink with lunch, but Joey told her that it was the ice cream and not the beer that had gotten him so hyper. He'd been the one who'd started the whole fight in the first place and she had instantly made a mental note to make sure that Gabby didn't start hanging around with him too much. All she needed was someone around to encourage her already mischievous daughter.

"You don't want to do this Chris," Patty said trying her hardest to be controlled through the whole experience. He held two cans of silly string up pointing at her and for a moment she felt like an old West gunfighter facing her nemesis at high noon. She'd been watching from the sidelines, only trying to help Gabby get the boys back when they sprayed her, but Chris was going to pull her personally into the fight that had been going on for the last ten minutes.

"Come on Patty," Chris said moving slowly closer.

She was amazed at how quickly they'd taken all the opening acts and made them family even though Gabby hadn't made the best first impression and she herself was on her way to earning the bitch of the year award. Meredith already had a connection, but the other groups, a trio of guy singers and a female group, along with Farzana had become instant friends. There were a lot of perks to the whole arrangement, but the only draw back seemed to be in the fact that in Chris's eyes everyone was on the list of people to play practical jokes on. "Deep down in there...somewhere passed all the Manager BS you want to spray someone just as bad as the rest of us."

"No Chris, I don't," she stated firmly.

"Yes you do," he said in a kid's voice still pointing the spray can at her.

"Whatever Chris," she said holding up her hands to that if he did spray her she wouldn't get it in the face. "We have to set a good example for everyone. We have to have some self control."

"Like this?" the voice came from behind her.

She whipped around just as Lance began to spray her. He'd snuck up behind her and had pulled Gabby out of the way without her realizing it and now the both of them were spraying her. Gabby sprayed orange at her feet while he had some purple string that he concentrated on getting in her hair. She wanted to shoot herself for not putting her hair up. It was going to take days to get the crap out of it.

"Ugh!" Patty said and let a smile crack her face as she moved to scoop up her daughter into a hug.

"No fair," Lance said from behind her, "You can't use her as a shield."

"Yes I can."

"No you can't." He stopped spraying and stepped forward to pull Gabby from where she was clinging against her.

In the process Patty found her arms around his waist as they started to wrestle a little trying to play each other. She had let the smile stay on her face but it faded when they stopped and panting looked at each other. She must have looked horrible with three different colors of silly string hanging all over her and her hair thrown in all directions from the fight to get away, but the look on Lance's face didn't seem to reflect that at all. There was something in his eyes, something dangerous that she knew she needed to get away from. It would lead to things that she shouldn't have been thinking about or thinking about doing.

She had expected him to walk away, but he didn't. He just stood his ground and watched her for a moment as the tension between them built again. They'd dropped their guards the night before and had kissed, something that she knew she would regret for the rest of the tour.

After a moment or two of standing there staring at him Lance grabbed Gabby and tickled her then made a plan with her to go find Chris, taking two cans of silly string with them.

Finding a way to escape, Patty walked back towards the bus, picking the silly string out of her hair and off her shoulders.

She could hear Rodney's laughs across the empty parking lot. "What happened to you?"

"A boyband attacked me," she said moving up into the bus past where he was standing. She paused and turned to back to him. "I thought you were going to watch a movie."

Rodney shrugged and leaned against the bus. "Farzana's dad called so I left them alone. He's pleading with her to come home again."

"Are you kidding me?" she said, "This is just what I need right now."

She stomped up the stairs and immediately could hear Farzana in the back talking to her father. She knew the tone of her voice meant that things were bad back in Toronto. They'd been dealing with this for a while now. He'd initially gave his blessing to the trip, but now was wavering about the whole thing wanting her to come home and go to college like she'd promised she would.

"I know dad," Farzana was saying as Patty opened the door to the back and walked into the room. Rodney might have been right to leave her alone, but Patty knew better. If Farzana's dad told her enough times to come home to him and the family she might actually think about it seriously. At the moment, both personally and professionally it wasn't the time to be packing up and going home. With all the opportunities that she was about to get from going on tour with *NSYNC; Patty wasn't about to let her give it all up, considering how much it had taken to get there in the first place.

"No dad. I know that college is important and I thought we'd made a deal--." Farzana moved across the small room away from where Patty had taken a seat next to her and stared out the window. "I'm not being a smart aleck about this. I really like it out here on the road--"

"Who told you that?" she said and turned around and looked at Patty finally with a helpless look on her face, "No, I'm not homesick...I mean I am, but not enough to want to come home...yes I invited Hannah out on the road to visit...why? why? Because I'm out here on the road by myself and I need someone to share this with. I want someone other than a manager or a bodyguard to hang out with."

It was hard not to take that comment to heart, but she knew that Farzana didn't mean anything by it. They'd been on the road for months now and Patty knew that she needed her friends around. They visited off and on, but with the tour schedule the way it was her friends barely saw her as it was. They'd talk to Farzana more by phone than in person when they were there, so, it was just easier for them not to come out on the road.

"Do you want me to talk to him?" Patty finally asked when she could see Farzana needed a break.

The phone was handed over a moment later and Patty put it to her ear and tried to act professional. They had known each other for years now, but this wasn't the time for swapping recipes or telling jokes.

"Hi Mr. Jabbar," she said.

"Hi Patty," he said in a soft-spoken voice. She could tell this was stressing him out as much as it was stressing Farzana out. "How are you?"

"Good," she said, "Well for the moment, but it seems as if I might not be so good in a while. Farzana seems upset. Is there anything I can do to help out?"

"Not unless you tell my daughter to come home to her family," he said.

"Mr. Jabbar I thought you and Farzana had this out before we left on tour and that you've given her the year to figure things out."

"I had," he said and his voice cracked a little, "But my daughter is out there doing whatever it is that she does and we don't hear from her enough."

"Well I can make sure that she calls home more often, and I'm sorry for her not keeping in better touch, but the schedule has been very hectic lately."

"I wish she'd just call us to tell us that."

"I'll make sure that we keep you more updated on what we're doing. It's kind of hard to do considering that the schedule changes every day, but coming up we're going to be doing a few nights in a row in each city so at least you'll know that she's in one place for longer than just a few hours."

"You know Farzana used to ask me when she was little what I did all day long at work and now I feel like the tables have turned and I'm the one asking."

"Did she tell you about today?" Patty asked.

"A little."

"This morning she went and got interviewed by the local papers and radio stations. There was a quick signing session for some of her fans. Her fan club president came to visit for a while and did sound check with her. For the moment we're waiting for the stage to be finished so we can go test it out and then we're going to be talking to some more fans then later on tonight she'll perform."

"When does she sleep?" he asked, "It's too much."

Patty looked over and saw that Farzana's eyes had closed and that she seemed to be sleeping in her seat.

"She's really busy, but she's happy and she does sleep. Like right now she's fallen asleep sitting here and I plan to leave her here for at least three or four hours and have her get a good sleep before dinner."

Patty left the back room taking Farzana's cell phone with her. She'd return it to her in a little while and figured that Farzana needed to not be disturbed by it's ringing anyway.

"Please take care of her."

"You know I always do," Patty said then let out a sigh when she realized what time it was. "I have some calls to make to the east coast so I'm going to let you go. I'll try and get her to keep in touch with you better ok?"

"That's all I can ask for."

"I can assure you that she's having a blast out here and that she's very grateful for all that you and her mother have done for her. She's doing a lot of great things and being very progessional. I just hope that sooner or later she'll get the rewards that she's due."

"I'm sure she will, but I still worry about her."

"I understand," she said, "I worry about Gabby all the time, but sometimes you just have to let them live their lives."

The ringing across the room made her look over. "I really should go Mr. Jabbar," she said, "My phone is ringing and I need to do some other things."

"I'm sorry for interupting," he said with a truly apologetic tone to his voice.

"No, it's alright." She sighed and prayed that by ditching him like this she wasn't causing more problems. Farzana already had a struggle. She didn't need to make that worse. "I know that you're concerned, but believe me, we're taking good care of Farzana."

"I know."

"I'll talk to you later and I'll make sure that Farzana calls you," she said tapping her foot impatiently. She'd always heard of nagging stage parents and she wouldn't consider him one, but dealing with parents in general in the business, families in the business for that matter, wasn't pleasant no matter what. It was just another pull away from the task at hand.

The sound of heavy feet on the front steps were heard and a moment later Rodney was grabbing up her phone. "Are you going to get this?"

"Bye Mr. Jabbar," she said quickly and launched herself across to Rodney to grab the phone up. Lately she never knew who was calling her and if it happened to be Reese she didn't want Rodney to answer. The two men didn't get along well and at the moment she didn't want to have Rodney pissed off at Reese which would turn him into being pissed off at everyone else. She needed peace and quiet since she herself wasn't in the best of moods and Farzana wasn't happy either.

Clicking the phone on and saying hello should have been her second and third reactions to the ringing, but fearing that it might be something important she skipped looking at the caller ID, which she soon found was a huge mistake. There was a real need for caller ID in her business and in her life and nothing should have interupted that routine.

"Hey Patty."

"Hold on a second," she said into the phone then looked at Rodney. "I'm gonna go on a walk or whatever," she said and moved out of the bus.

"Hello?" the voice on the phone said, "Hello is anyone there?"

"Reese," she groaned and wanted to hang up. She ran a hand through her hair and found some dried silly string in it so while holding the phone with one hand to her ear she pulled her hair down and around her shoulder and pulled at the pieces in her hair as she walked away from the buses and out and around the arena.

"What? No insult for me?"

She was a little distracted by the task of cleaning her hair, but she heard the challenging tone in his voice. It was almost as if he wanted to test her to see if she'd blow up at him. He knew all the different things that would get under her skin. She had started to figure out after a few times of this ritual that he just picked at her to make her look bad. The more she blew up at him the more reasons he had to argue that Gabby should come and stay with him.

"You must be tired," he said, "That's the only time lately when you're half pleasant, when you're too tired to come back at with me with insults."

Patty bit her tongue and found a set of stairs to sit down on. No one was around, but she didn't want to argue with him this early in their conversation and about things that were so stupid. "You know I can have a civilized conversation with you."

"It'd be a nice change of pace," he said.

Change of pace? He usually was the one to start things off with arguments. She just reacted to what he had to say, which usually was exactly something that would set her off. "What do you want Reese?" she asked.

"There's my girl," he said with a sigh.

"Seriously what do you want?" she asked.

"Have you talked to our daughter lately?" he asked.

Patty sighed and looked around for a moment to see if she could find Gabby. "Did she forget to turn on her phone again?"

"I'm sure that her phone is on," Reese said his tone turning serious, "I was asking when the last time you talked, as in have a conversation, with our daughter?"

"I talk to her all the time," she said defensively feeling as if Reese was incinuating that she wasn't paying attention to their daughter. If he was going to do that he should have just come right out with it instead of beating around the bush.

"Has she mentioned anything to you lately about being upset about being on the road?"

"What did she say to you Reese?" she asked, "Just tell me so I can talk to her about it."

"I thought that you did talk to her," he countered with.

"I DO," she stated firmly. She got up and began to pace back and forth. "I talk to her every day, but she hasn't mentioned that she's upset. All I see of her is her having fun with everyone here."

"I think that Gabby should spend some time in London. We'll get her into a school with some other kids--"

"Over my dead body Reese," she said, "I'm not having my daughter a million miles away from me. I don't know what she's said to you, but from what I've seen of her she's been fine."

"Fine isn't good enough Patty," he said, "She needs to be with other kids."

Patty almost laughed aloud thinking of a rebuttle for that statement. Considering tha maturity level of most the people on the tour they were on, especially after this afternoon, being around kids wasn't something that she thought that Gabby needed. Her daughter was getting the best of both worlds at the moment. She got to learn to be mature from the managers and business types around on tour while she got the play along with the groups that were on tour. She didn't need to be in England to be happy. She just needed to be able to be free enough to do her own thing.

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Last updated: 07/05/04.