Part VI: Reunion
Justin looked up from where he was taking the carrier off of its base. He waved at Janie who was making her way down the front walk and towards the car. Britney walked around the van with Natalie's hand in hers.
"Where's Chris?" He asked and set the carrier down on the ground. Caleb stayed asleep through this all. He grabbed the bag with Caleb's stuff in it and threw that over his shoulder, before reaching for the handle and slamming the door shut.
"He's inside freaking out still," Janie answered with a laugh. "How was your trip out?" She wrapped her arms around him in a hug.
"Look at you," Justin looked her up and down. "It was way too long." He leaned over and picked up the carrier. The four of them started up the walk.
"How are you doing Britney?" Janie asked.
"I am tired and glad to be out of that van," She answered. Janie laughed. "Like Justin said, it was too long of a drive."
"Well let's get in," Janie started. Chris stepped out of the house just as they came up the front steps. Britney took Caleb from Justin, and smiled while the two of them hugged.
"It is really good to see you," Chris patted his back as they pulled away from each other.
"I know, man," Justin nodded, "It's been way to long."
"Who's the princess?" Chris asked with a laugh. He kneeled down in front of Natalie.
"Natalie," The three-year old held out her hand and Chris shook it. "And that's Caleb." She pointed at the baby boy who lay sleeping in the car seat.
"I'm Chris," He shook her small hand and then stood back up, "very cute." Justin laughed and grabbed the carrier from Britney.
"Well let's go in," Janie opened the front door and led them inside. They walked into the family room and Janie introduced the two boys who were watching TV. "That's Andrew and Randall. I think James is upstairs pouting. Can I get you guys anything to drink?"
"No thanks." Britney answered.
"Dr. Pepper if you have it," Justin answered, "Natalie do you want anything?"
"No," She shook her head. Janie walked into the kitchen to get Justin his drink.
"Why don't you guys take Natalie outside and show her the play set," Chris said. The two didn't make a move to go so he walked over to the TV and shut it off. "Go." Justin set the carrier down on the coffee table and sat down on the couch. Britney sat down next to him.
"Come on Natalie," Andrew grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the kitchen.
"So how was the drive?" Chris asked after Janie had come in with Justin's drink. She sat down in the chair.
"It wasn't too bad," Justin paused, "but there was a period of time there were all Caleb did was scream." Chris laughed. "Is that Lance?" Justin asked looking out the front window.
Sure enough, Lance and his family were making it up the front steps. Chris walked towards the front door. As Justin stood up he accidentally bumped into the coffee table, and woke Caleb up.
"I'll get him," Britney waved Justin off when he was about to pick him up. "Go say hi to Lance." She reached over and picked Caleb up before his cries could get to out of control.
"Thanks," Justin walked back into the foyer just as Chris was pulling the front door open.
"Hey guys," Lance said, "what's going on?"
"Not much yet," Chris smiled and hugged him. He nodded at Lance's wife and two daughters. Justin and Lance hugged before Lance introduced his family.
"This is Alison," He put his arm around her. "Alison this is Chris and Justin."
"Nice to meet you," Chris shook her hand. Janie walked up behind him and he turned around, "This is Janie. Janie, Alison."
"Hi," Janie said, "How are you doing Lance?" She gave him a hug.
"Good," He smiled. "These are the girls Elizabeth and Lauren." Britney came into the foyer with Caleb still in her arms crying. "Britney," Lance nodded, "this is Alison."
"Hello," She looked over at Janie. "Do you have some place I can go, that's quiet?"
"Yeah," Janie nodded, "You can put him down in the nursery."
"Great," Britney walked back into the other room and picked up Caleb's bag. She followed Janie up the stairs.
"Where are your kids Chris?" Lance asked as they stepped into the family room.
"James is upstairs avoiding everyone. Andrew and Randall are outside with Natalie." He answered, "Do you want to go outside and play Elizabeth?" Elizabeth nodded and he took her out to the back yard.
"Is anybody home?" They heard Joey yell from the foyer.
"Joey! Don't you know how to knock?" Janie yelled as she came down the stairs. She wrapped her arms around him in a hug.
"You know I don't." He laughed and kissed her cheek. "Lookin' good miss Janie."
"Yeah right," She laughed. "How are you doing Kelly?"
"I'm good." Kelly yawned, "A little tired but glad to be here finally. It's all Joey has talked about for the past month and a half." Janie laughed and pulled them into the living room where everyone was reacquainted or introduced again.
"If you guys want you can go outside and play," Janie told Michael and McKenna. "The backyard is right through the kitchen there," She pointed towards the kitchen door. The two of them took off through there.
A few hours later they had all made it outside where Chris was in charge of cooking the hamburgers and hotdogs. Janie had made herself comfortable at the table and was talking with everyone who was there.
"Janie!" She looked up when she heard her name and smiled seeing the little boy run over to the deck and up the steps. Janie stood up and he wrapped his arms around her legs.
"Hey Jake," she bent over and wrapped her arms around him. "How are you?"
"Missed you," he said quietly.
"Oh I missed you too," Janie smiled. "Where's your Daddy?" She looked up when he pointed out towards the yard. "Josh you come up here and say 'hi' to everyone!" Her voice was loud across the yard. He hesitated for a minute and then headed towards the deck.
"You came," Janie wrapped her arms around him in a hug. "It's nice to see you. Now you say 'hi' to the boys while I run inside for a minute. Jacob would you like to come and get a drink?"
"Yes," He nodded and grabbed onto her hand. The two of them went inside.
"What's up man?" Justin asked coming over to his friend. It had been over eight years and the two hugged. "It's good to see you. You still in the studio?" JC nodded his answer. "Cool. We'll have to get together then."
"How have you been?" Chris looked up from the grill and over at him.
"Fine," He answered. "I'm sorry guys." They knew what he was talking about and accepted the apology.
"Not a problem," Joey slapped his back, "we all survived didn't we?"
"I guess so," JC shrugged with a laugh.
"Chris you're about to burn the hotdogs," Justin laughed. He turned back to the grill.
"Oh shush " Chris laughed and looked down at the grill. He picked up the tongs from the side of the grill and picked each one up; then set them on the serving plate. He did the same with the burgers.
"So where did you come from JC?" Lance asked.
"LA." He answered.
"There are drinks in the cooler over there," Chris pointed towards the ice chest in the corner, "and dinner is served." He picked up plate and moved it to the table where Janie had set up the plastic dishes and other foods for their meal.
JC walked over to the cooler and pulled out a can of soda just as Janie and Jacob stepped out of the kitchen and onto the deck.
"What did you get to drink?" JC asked Jacob. Jacob held up the silver Capri Sun drink and showed his Dad. "Cool." JC opened his drink and took a sip of it, before setting it down on the table.
"Everyone come and get it!" Chris yelled out towards the yard.
"Chris fix Randall's plate for him," Janie stated and sat down at the table. Chris waved her off. When Randall was sent over to him, he picked up a plate.
"Do you want to eat Jacob?" JC looked down at his son. Jacob nodded. "All right," He picked the little boy up and walked over to the table.
"What have you been doing lately?" Chris asked JC as he made a plate for Randall. "Help me out here big guy. What do you want to eat?"
"I want that," Randall pointed to the bowl of potato salad.
"Potato salad?" Chris asked shocked, "You don't like that. How about this pasta salad and a hotdog?" Randall nodded his answer.
"Janie didn't tell you?" He asked and Chris shrugged. "I have my studio and am working with a local band. I also play at a bar Tuesday nights."
"Sounds like fun." Chris smiled and scooped up some of the pasta and put it on the plate for Randall. Randall pointed to the bag of potato chips and Chris put some of those on his plate.
"It is," JC answered as he picked up a plate. "Do you want a hamburger or hotdog?"
"Hotdog," Jacob answered.
Chris finished serving Randall and led the little boy over to the table. He pulled an extra chair over to where Janie was sitting and let him sit down. "Do you want me to get you something?" He asked.
"I'm not hungry right now, so I am going to wait." Janie answered. "Will you get James though?" Chris nodded and headed inside.
"So what are you doing now?" JC asked Joey. He put a handful of chips on the plate.
"Working on movies and hanging out with the kids," Joey answered. "I am back and forth between Orlando and LA."
JC nodded, "You should drop in sometime. I'm pretty much by myself since Jacob is with his Mom on the weekdays."
"You aren't married?" Lance asked.
"I was just for two years." He shrugged and turned around to go sit down. JC sat down with Jacob on his lap.
"So what band are you working with?" Justin asked as he pulled up a chair.
"The band is called Sure Drop," JC answered and bit into the hotdog before holding it for Jacob to take a bite. "They are actually a Christian pop-punk band. Nothing like what I am used to doing, but it is fun."
"That's good," Justin nodded and bit into his burger. He chewed thoughtfully.
"Justin will you take Caleb?" Britney walked over to him with the crying baby boy. "Natalie is being picky." Justin took the baby from her and sat him on his knee. He bounced him up and down a little bit. Britney walked away.
"So how is your career going for you?" JC asked, "I've been to some of your shows and have the CD's. It's good stuff."
"Juice Daddy," Jacob reached for the Capri Sun and JC handed it to him.
"I'm working on some new stuff. I'm looked for people to work with so " Justin hinted with his eyes.
"I'll think about it," JC nodded. Justin smiled and adjusted Caleb so his head was resting on his shoulder.
"All right, we'll see you guys tomorrow morning at nine!" Chris waved from the front door. He closed it tight when everyone had gotten to their cars and were pulling out.
"Where are you staying at Josh?" Janie asked. He and Jacob were still there and it was already late. She yawned and watched as Chris got James, Andrew, and Randall off to bed, or at least upstairs.
"I don't know," he shrugged. "I didn't think that far in advance when I left."
"Well we don't have any extra rooms, and Chris would kill me if I volunteered us to give up our bed." She laughed, "So the couch is open to you and Jacob. Or you can put Jacob in Andrew and Randall's room."
"He'll be fine on the couch," JC peaked into the living room where Jacob was already crashed out. "Are you sure though? We can get a hotel still."
"Its fine," Janie waved him off. "I am going to run upstairs and get you and Jacob some pillows and blankets."
"Thanks," he watched as she disappeared up the steps to get the stuff for them. JC walked into the living room and leaned over to pull Jacob's tennis shoes off of his feet. He set them on the floor, and moved Jacob's feet so they weren't hanging off of the couch. JC sat down and took his socks and shoes off too.
Chris and Janie came back down the stairs. Chris set the pillows that he was carrying on the couch and then left the room to make sure the doors were locked for the night. Janie set the blanket and sheet down on the coffee table. She picked up the sheet and started to unfold it so she could lay it out.
"Don't worry about it," he grabbed it from her. "Just go to bed."
"Okay," Janie gave in. "I will try to be quiet in the morning." JC smiled and nodded. "Good night Josh."
"Night," JC watched her walk out of the room and back up the stairs. Chris came back through the room a few minutes later before disappearing to where Janie had gone minutes before.
JC put a pillow on one end of the couch and picked up the sleeping boy. He lay down with Jacob in his arms and reached over to pick up the sheet Janie had started to unfold. He pulled it over the two of them and reached up to turn out the light.
"Jacob you can sit right here," Janie pulled out one of the chairs at the kitchen table. She helped him up onto the seat that was next to Randall's. Her boy's were already eating their pancakes and eggs that she made them for breakfast. "Do you want milk or orange juice?"
"Milk," Jacob answered. He watched her walk around the counter and pour him a small glass of milk. She put a pancake and some eggs on a plate and walked back to the table where she set it down in front of him.
"Eat it all up," Janie smiled and kissed his forehead. "James do you want some more eggs?" She looked up at her oldest son.
"Yes," James answered and handed her his plate. Janie took his plate and walked back over to the stove. This was the scene JC walked in on that morning, and he couldn't help but smile.
"Hi Daddy," Jacob grinned. He had the syrup bottle completely upside-down and was squeezing it hard. JC moved fast to grab it before the sticky substance poured off the plate.
"I think that's enough," JC laughed and wiped his finger over the cap to get the excess syrup off. He licked his finger while running his other hand through Jacob's short hair.
"Good morning Josh," Janie smiled, "Give this to James please." She handed him the plate and turned back to the stove where she was making more pancakes. JC handed the plate to James who set it on the table. "There is coffee in the pot. And if you are hungry the plates are on the counter. Help yourself."
"Thanks," JC nodded and grabbed a mug from next to the coffee pot. He helped himself to a cup. "Is this all you do?" He watched her pour batter into the pan in three different spots and then move across the kitchen to cut up some fruit.
"Well I have to feed how many people?" She counted in her head, "twenty including myself." JC shook his head. "It's a good thing I don't have morning sickness anymore or no one would be eating." Janie laughed and looked down at the cutting board. She sliced into an orange.
"Chris is in the shower. He should be down in twenty minutes and then I will send you up." She smiled, "You can use our bathroom, and I will have Chris get you a shirt or something." Janie covered her mouth and yawned for a second.
"Do you know what we are doing today?" JC asked and reached for a plate.
"Tee time at ten," Janie answered, "for you guys, and us girls and kiddos are just going to hang out here. Do you want some pancakes?"
"Sure," he responded with a nod. JC was getting confused with how she managed to keep up with everything at once. He held his plate for her to put some pancakes on that were warming in the oven.
"How many?" She asked, "Do you boys want anything else to eat? We have plenty of food."
"Three please," JC answered. He shook his head and watched her use the tongs to set them on his plate.
"Have something else too," Janie shut the oven door and hung the tongs on its pull. She flipped the three that were in the pan and walked back over to the cutting board. JC still stood in the middle of the kitchen in a daze.
"She's amazing. Isn't she?" Chris' voice traveled across the room. Janie blushed from where she stood with the knife and orange in her hands. JC watched Chris walk over to her and wrap his arms around her. He kissed her cheek.
"That was fast," she smiled and put the orange slices in a bowl. "Now you get some food. JC get some eggs and fruit and sit down at the table." Chris laughed when she pushed him away and walked to the fridge. "What do you guys want to drink?"
"Janie I want you to sit down," Chris put his arm around her and led her to the table to sit down.
"But the pancakes Chr-" She started to stand up again and he made her sit back down.
"I can take care of them," Chris kissed her, "What do you want to eat?"
"I already ate something." Janie smiled up at him.
"Good," he moved over to the fridge, "What do you want to drink JC?"
"Anything is fine with me," JC shrugged and stood at the counter putting some of the cut up fruit onto his plate. He moved over to the table and picked up Jacob before sitting down in the chair Jacob was on. The little boy didn't protest at all.
"Morning," Justin walked into the kitchen like he owned the place. Caleb was in his carrier and Britney followed with Natalie.
"Hi," Janie smiled. "I don't remember letting you in." She grinned at the look on his face. "Help yourselves to the food. Can I hold Caleb?" Janie asked when Justin set his seat down on the floor by the table.
"Yeah," Justin answered and reached for a plate on the counter. "When do we need to leave Chris?" He asked and snuck a grape from the fruit bowl.
"In an hour umm 9:40," Chris answered. He put the pancakes in the pan on his plate and turned around, "You are early." He observed.
"I figured it might take awhile to eat with everyone here. So I thought I would start early," He grinned.
"I don't know how he still eats so much," Britney sighed. "What do you want to eat Natalie?"
"I'm a growing boy," Justin smiled.
"Yeah right there." Chris laughed and poked at his stomach. Justin scowled playfully and threatened to throw an orange slice at Chris' head.
"Not in my kitchen!" Janie yelled. She looked back down at Caleb and straightened the pacifier in his mouth. She kissed the little boy's head. "JC whenever you are ready you can go upstairs and use the shower. Chris will get you a shirt to wear today."
"Thanks," JC smiled.
The other guys and their families showed up within the next fifteen minutes. They had a noisy breakfast while they finalized their plans for that day. The families were going to meet later that night for dinner at a restaurant and then head back to Chris' house for a surprise.
"So what do you guys think?" Justin asked leaning against his golf club. They were halfway through the course and it was early afternoon.
"What do we think about what?" JC asked setting up his golf ball on the tee. He lined up his shot and swung the club a few times first. JC lifted the club a final time and swung it; making contact with the small white ball.
"I'm thinking a concert. Not a tour. Just one concert," Justin finished his thought. They started to walk towards where the first ball landed.
"I don't think so," JC shook his head disapprovingly.
"It'd be fun," Chris said.
"We could probably do HBO or Pay-Per-View to broadcast it too," Lance started.
"I'm not so sure guys," JC said. He stopped walking and the other guys did too. They all looked around at each other. "It's not that I don't want to. I just I think that if we do this it'll turn into a new CD, promotions and lots of press. I don't want to deal with everything that comes with one concert."
"You don't have to do it all. We can cover the promos and press-" Justin started.
"And a new record might be fun to do," Joey cut him off.
"I'm up for it," Chris said, "Janie might kill me, but I'd do it."
"If you are dead, we aren't going to get very far," Justin laughed and started walking again. "Which is understandable, I don't think Brit would be too happy about it right now, especially with Caleb and I think maybe it is a bad idea." He nearly had himself talked out of his own idea.
"No no no. We can at least think about it and discuss it. It would be fun guys," Chris said enthusiastically. "Even with the new baby on his way I am sure Janie would be happy to help."
"She does everything for you," JC started, "doesn't she?" He sounded a little disgusted. "She cooks, she cleans, she has your kids, she raises them, and she probably planned this whole thing too."
Chris glared at the younger man. He watched as JC threw his club onto the ground and storm off.
"Shit," He cursed under his breath. The guys watched as Chris turned and kept going towards the green. Justin shrugged and reached over to pick up the club. He looked at the other two guys who were still there, glanced at JC, and followed Chris. Justin had to jog to catch up to Chris.
"Do you know what his problem is?" Justin asked.
"His problem," Chris stopped at where his ball landed. He hit it angrily and the ball only flew a few feet. Chris took three more steps and hit the ball again. He growled in frustration, "His problem is that he loves Janie. And he asked her years ago if she'd go on a date with him." Chris hit the stupid white ball again and it finally made it onto the green.
"And you know what she said?" Chris asked but didn't wait for an answer, "No. She said no and he hates me because I got the girl he wanted."
"Is this the reason why none of us have seen each other for eight years?" Justin asked curiously. Lance and Joey had caught up with them by now and were anxiously awaiting his answer.
"No," Chris answered harshly. The three of them let out the collective breath they had been holding. "I didn't date her until six months after. I don't know why he stormed out of the studio so many years ago I just don't know. And I don't think I want to know." Chris picked out his putter and walked over to his ball. "Let's just finish the game and let him cool off." He hit the ball and it went in.
They finished their game a few hours later and walked out to the SUV they came in. JC was sitting on the hood of the truck and jumped off when Chris opened the doors. He climbed into the back corner and buckled his seatbelt without saying anything. They all piled into the vehicle and Chris drove them to the restaurant they were supposed to meet at.
"How was golf?" Janie asked Chris. She was sitting on a bench outside waiting for the guys to get there. Everyone else was inside waiting.
"It was fine." Chris helped her stand up and kissed her quickly.
"We will talk later." She said noticing the tone in his voice. "Everyone is inside at the table. So let's get in." Janie looped her arm through Chris' and the group of six walked into the restaurant. She led them to a private room and they all sat down. They made it through dinner without any other incidents and quiet conversation.
"I put this together for you guys," Janie said as she put the DVD in the player. "I hope that you enjoy it."
"Is this what you were all secretive about?" Chris asked her as she hit 'play' and moved to sit down next to him on the couch.
"Yes," Janie nodded her head and snuggled closer to him. "It should be fun." The DVD ended up being footage from their days together as a band. It showcased most of the good times and even some of the bad times. The kids seemed to enjoy seeing their Dad's in the past. The guys even had a good time making fun of them selves and reliving some of these things.
"Thanks for doing that Janie," Justin said.
"Not a problem. I had fun," Janie smiled. "Why don't we let the kids watch a movie or something and go sit outside and talk?" She stood up and looked over at James, "Pick out a movie that everyone can watch."
"I will," He groaned and stood up. Janie walked out of the room and into the kitchen. She got out some snacks and drinks while the guys and their wives made their way out back. After heading outside she set the tray down on the table and sat next to Chris on the bench he had pulled up.
"So Justin brought up the idea of doing a concert," Chris didn't even hesitate to bring up this topic. He looked over at JC to see his reaction. JC didn't even flinch and Chris was beginning to wonder if he was just ignoring him completely.
"That would be a nice thing to do for your fans," Britney nodded, "especially since you guys just sort of faded into oblivion."
"It would be," Janie smiled, "I would be willing to help out with it. After this baby is born though, but I would love to help." She frowned when she saw JC get up and walk into the house. Janie started to stand up and Chris stopped her.
"Leave him alone," Chris started, "that's why-"
"Chris let me go," She shrugged him off and stood up. The group watched her disappear inside after JC.
"Are you happy Janie?" JC asked. He knew it was her from the moment the sliding glass door closed. JC turned around and looked at her.
"Yes I am," Janie started, "why wouldn't I be?"
"Do you think it would have been different if you did go out on a date with me?" He asked quietly and leaned against the kitchen counter. Janie moved to sit on the stool.
"Of course it would have been different," Janie said, "you know that. Why are you asking me?"
"All I've seen you do this weekend is cook and clean and take care of Chris and your kids," he started, "and you just volunteered to help with a huge undertaking."
"I love what I do Josh. I always have. I love cooking for my family. I love taking care of my kids and of Chris. And I hate to say this, but I even love cleaning up after them all. This is my job now," she smiled, "and seeing him happy is why I do these things. It's why I spent several hours finding you guys, calling you, making arrangements for everyone, flying out to LA to see you, making you all dinner and breakfast. I like seeing every one of you happy. That's what I live for," Janie watched him pick up spatula and play with it in between his fingers. It was a few minutes before either of them spoke up.
"Why don't you want to do the concert?" Janie knew that was what was bothering him. He moved over to the counter she was sitting at, but stayed on the opposite side.
"I'm afraid I might hurt the guys again," JC said quietly.
"You won't," she assured him, "I know you won't." Janie put her hand over his. "They forgave you Josh, and they want to work with you. And I know you want to work with them again." She squeezed his hand and let go. "It'll be fine."
"Are you sure?" He asked hesitantly.
"Of course," Janie smiled, "and you know why?"
"Why?" JC smiled.
you guys have me to baby you," she stood up, "and I would
do anything to see Chris happy, to see you happy, and to see the other
guys happy. Now let's go tell everyone that you are in." Janie
walked around the counter and grabbed his hand before pulling him back
towards the glass door.