© 2005-2015 Julien Gregg
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 104

There were no protesters waiting for them in Florida when the jet landed at the airport in Miami. There was no press waiting for them either. Skyler and Jeff along with their entire party were ushered to the waiting fleet of SUVs and driven to the hotel. The call had come in from Michael Jackson himself. Matt took the call and finally found what was going on. Several of the dancers were practicing for a special show at the MTV Video Music Awards in New York. It turned out that it will Michael Jackson's "Thriller".

He watched a special rehearsal for that event an hour later after the phone call. Skyler was gone though. He was at the radio station to be interviewed about the tour. He hoped that he didn't say much about the protesters. If he did Matt was afraid that they'd be thick at the arena once again. So far no one had seen any of them. He was sure that the restraining orders were responsible for that, but if Skyler riled them up he didn't think the orders would stop any of them from coming to cause trouble in retaliation.

He was surprised to see Jeff down there with the dancers for the rehearsal for "Thriller". He had no idea what was going on, but he was sure that he'd find out soon enough. When Justin Timberlake arrived just before Skyler returned from his photo shoot after the radio interview he found out exactly what was going on. Skyler joined the dancers, Jeff and Justin and they actually sang the song. Skyler took the verses, all three of them sang the choruses and Jeff did the speaking parts. The routine looked flawless and they sounded great together.

"That was awesome," Skyler said when they finished. "Justin, I'm glad you made it."

"I'm on down time at the moment," he said. "I also cleared the two days before the show for more rehearsal."

"Michael's make up artists will be there the night of the show for zombie make up," Skyler said. "This will be epic."

"Michael's going to be in the audience?" Justin asked.

"That's the plan," replied Skyler.

"You're staying for the show tomorrow night, right?" Jeff asked Justin and the trio made their way to the showers.

"You bet," he said with a grin.

Matt thought that it was about to get more difficult to be around them now that Justin Timberlake was with them. That meant more press, but it also meant more security. He supposed he'd see what happened. He looked out the window at the street below and saw that there were no protesters, no press and no fans around the hotel. Perhaps these guys really did know how to sneak after all.

The dancers were all talking about the fact that Ashton would be skating in a competition in DC. They were all upset because it wasn't going to be televised. They talked about that for the whole time that Matt stood there, looking out the window making sure that no crowd begin to be out there. He'd been keeping up with has going on with Ashton as well as the dancers and every other person on the crew for the tour. He'd only met the child once or twice and had expected him to be spoiled and unruly because of how much money his fathers had. However the child was polite and always sweet. He'd come to like him and now that he was skating he was watching the sports channels for any information about the boy. He'd also subscribed to four different sports magazines as well as Figure Skating Magazine to keep up on him. Of course that he was Skyler's manager he supposed he should be looking out for Ashton as well.

He didn't really have anything pressing for Skyler. For the rest of the day and night he'd be in his suite with his family and friends. The shows didn't start until the next day and he would have the rest of the day off. His only Sky High client was Skyler Thomas. With that he had to keep up with Skyler completely, because the man owned the company that he worked for. He sometimes booked things on his own which was actually fine with Matt. He thought about that as he went to his own suite to spend the afternoon and evening with his lover.

"So how's the new guy working out?" Justin as Skyler when they were seated at the dining table in the common room between the suites.

"He's a little green at the moment," Skyler replied. "He thought that since he had been a manager for other celebrities that he'd have not trouble being mine. Then he realized that what my career is really isn't like any other celebrity's other than Madonna's and Michael Jackson's probably."

"You mean he wasn't ready for the Skyler Thomas Crazy Train," laughed Justin.

"Is anybody ever really ready for it?" Skyler asked.

"Yeah but I remember when you were able to walk down the street in New York without the press trying to run you over to get a picture," Justin said. "That was when you first bought the apartment."

"God, that seems like twenty years ago," laughed Skyler. "I've forgotten what life was like when I could walk down the street."

"The last time I knew of was right before Preston was born," Justin pointed out.

"Yeah," said Jeff. "I guess it was about that time."

"You guys make it sound like my becoming a father ran my life off the rails," Skyler said. "It was really the tabloid article about me and Josh that did this. That was the catalyst."

"It kind of was," Jeff said. "That happened before Preston was born. Sky's right. The press started hounding him really hard just before Preston was born. It was after the JC thing."

"Funny isn't it?" Justin said without humor. "Josh always said you'd ruined his life. As it turns out he's the one that ruined yours."

"He also thought that being found out would ruin both of our careers," Skyler said.

"He ruined his," Justin said. "Yours is stronger than ever."

"If the rainbow flags in the crowds are any indication I'd say you're right about that," Skyler replied with a grin.

"It's great that the fans are showing support," said Jeff. "I wonder what they'll say when I finally get out there again."

"I think you'll be surprised," said Justin.

"Well we'll see one day," he said with an odd look on his face.

For the rest of the night they played with the kids, but Justin noticed that Jeff sat on one end of the room with his kids and Skyler sat on the other end of the room with Preston. It was really strange. They usually sat together and played with all of the kids. He noticed that Skyler would look over at Jeff from time to time but Jeff never looked back at Skyler. He wondered just what was going on.

When they put the kids to bed the three of them sat in the living room of the suite. Alex, Evan and Jason joined them. The conversation flowed like normal but Justin kept watching Skyler and Jeff. They weren't cuddled up to each other like normal, and he noticed that though Skyler would talk directly to Jeff and Jeff would answer him, Jeff never talked directly to Skyler. It was always one of the others. He wondered just what was going on.

"What the hell is going on with you two?" Jason asked, startling Justin.

"What do you mean?" Jeff asked.

"You're like distant or something," Jason said. "I can't quite figure it out, but you're not acting normal."

"I've just got a few things on my mind right now, Jason," he said. "I'm not trying to be distant to anyone. I'm just thinking about things right now."

"What the hell do you have to think about?" Jason asked.

"Jason, stop," said Skyler. "Just leave him alone."

"I think I'm just gonna go ahead and go to bed," Jeff said, getting up off the sofa. He didn't kiss Skyler or say goodnight to any of them. He just walked out of the living room in silence.

Skyler stared after him for a long moment while everyone was silent without saying a word. He wondered just what was on Jeff's mind, but he wasn't going to pry. Jeff was entitled to be a bit moody. After all the tour wasn't shaping up to be anything that they thought it would be. He'd just been forced out of the closet along with the rest of them and so far he hadn't really said much about how he felt about that. Perhaps this was what he was thinking about.

"I'm sorry, Sky," Jason said. "I didn't mean to run him off."

"Kid, he really does have a lot on his mind," Skyler replied. "He just got forced out of the closet with the rest of us. His family won't talk to him and then there's everything going on with this tour. He's also thinking about a solo album with Sky High. There's a lot on his mind. Please cut him some slack."

"I will," Jason said. "I'm really sorry."

"I know," Skyler said with a smile.

Justin was just glad that he wasn't the only one that had noticed Jeff's behavior. Skyler was probably right about all that was on his mind tough. He supposed that if he'd had all of that to worry about he'd be a bit moody, too. He'd been outed with the rest of them, but his mother and father loved him unconditionally. This hadn't fazed either of them. His solo album had been recorded and the singles were doing fine. He was heading out on tour in a few months and his life was on track. Plus he wasn't connected to Skyler's tour in any way.

When Skyler got to bed Jeff was either actually asleep or pretending to be. Skyler crawled into his side of the bed and tried to go to sleep, but he kept thinking about the way Jeff had been acting since they'd come back to the hotel. Jason was right about his being distant. Skyler had especially not liked the segregating of the children. If what he thought was on Jeff's mind then he was prepared to give the man some space to let him sort out what he was feeling about it all. If there was more to it then he'd eventually have to make him talk.

The next morning Skyler went for a run with Jason, Alex and Evan, leaving Jeff in bed. When they returned Skyler took his shower and then went and got all of the kids up and ready. Jeff was still in bed. He fed them breakfast with Jason's help and still Jeff hadn't gotten out of bed. Skyler was about to go and wake him after he'd gotten the kids cleaned up and Helen arrived, but Jeff came out of the bedroom dressed and ready.

Ten minutes later Nick and Drew arrived. Skyler hadn't even known that they were coming. He let that go and pretended that everything was fine. Justin and Jason watched Jeff like a hawk. It seemed that no matter what Skyler said his friend and little brother were going to worry over it just as much as he was worrying. He didn't know what to do about any of it at that point. He left the hotel with Jason, Justin, Alex and Evan shortly after Nick and Drew arrived for his meet 'n greet.

"Skyler didn't know we were coming, did he?" Nick asked once Skyler and his entourage were out the door.

"No," sighed Jeff. "I didn't think to tell him last night."

"Well out with it, Sugar," said Drew. "What's going on?"

"I don't know," Jeff sighed again. "There's just so much going on and I can't seem to get my mind around it all. The tape, my parents, this tour and the crazy protesters and my career is up in the air. There's just so much."

"Have you talked to him about any of this?" Nick asked. "I mean I thought he said you could record your solo album any time you wanted."

"He did say that," Jeff replied. "I haven't talked to anyone about what's in my head but you two."

"He's your lover, man," said Drew. "You gotta talk to him. You love him, don't you?"

"Of course I love him," Jeff said. "I love him so much it scares me sometimes. I just don't know how to tell him what I'm feeling right now. Things are so in the air with everything. I mean I stood there and looked at all of the rainbow flags in the audience at every one of the shows since the tape came out and it just blows me away. It's like he can't do anything to piss his fans off. They'll be there no matter what. I guess I'm scared that mine won't be there for me."

"You can't hold that against him, man," said Nick. "Skyler Thomas is a force. No one was going to give a damn about his sexuality. I mean, Sugar, it's been a guessing game with him for years. The tabloids made it that way. His fans decided on that issue years ago."

"I know all of that," he said. "I was there for a lot of that tabloid shit. Hell, I even helped him with some of that. I just don't know what my problem is."

"Well you'd better figure it out pretty quick," said Drew. "Skyler doesn't strike me as the kind of guy who will suffer the silent treatment long."

"I know," he said. "I just feel like he doesn't need me at all. I feel like if me and the kids weren't here it wouldn't make any difference to him. That scares the shit out of me."

"Where's this coming from?" Nick asked. "Skyler has shown nothing but love to you in all the time you've been together. Hell he fired a manager from his company because he dissed you."

"I know," he moaned. "That made me feel really good. I don't know where these feelings came from. I hate them. I know he's probably hurt that I'm not talking to him about this, but I don't know how. Honest to God, Nick, I don't."

"Well I'm not going to hold your hand on this one," Nick said. "I'm sorry, but Skyler's the best fucking thing that's ever happened to you. I'm not going to help you destroy what you have with him."

"I don't want to destroy what we have," Jeff cried. "Do you think I don't know that he's the best thing that ever happened to me? I know he is, damn it. I just don't know how to talk to him about what's in my head. You're blowing this way out of proportion. The last thing I would ever want to do is hurt him and lose him. I asked you here to give me advice on how to talk to him. Damn it, you're supposed to be my best friends."

"You want advice," Nick said. "Try this, then. You open up and talk to him about this. Clear the air, Jeff. Don't let this fester or you will lose him. He'll get tired of this shit pretty fast. Then you'll be up a fucking creak. There's no helping you with this. I'm sorry, but you have got to talk to him. That's all there is to it. Do it soon, too."

"And don't hold what's happening with your family against him," Drew said. "Don't get all jealous now because his family supports his every decision. This isn't new. That family is closer than any I've ever known. They come together when something happens like nothing I've ever seen. It isn't his fault that your family isn't like his."

"I know that," Jeff said. "I feel so damned lucky to be a part of his family. They love me like another son. I know that if anything happened to me they'd come together for me just like they do for Skyler."

"Then stop fucking it up," Nick said. "You've got the kind of relationship that all of us dream about, Sugar. You're gonna blow it if you don't get this shit out of your head. The only way that's going to happen is if you talk to him about it. Let him help you."

"I want to talk to him about all of this," Jeff said. "I just don't know how."

"It's simple, Sugar," said Drew. "Open your mouth and fucking talk."

Jeff knew he wasn't going to get any help from his friends. He was afraid that if he told Skyler what was really on his mind he'd leave him. He couldn't live with that. He just had to figure out a way to keep it from happening. He knew he couldn't keep giving him the silent treatment. He had to talk to him. He was just afraid to do it. Nick and Drew didn't understand that, or if they did they just didn't think it was important. Talk to him they said. Well he was going to, but if he lost him after this talk they were both going to hear about it.

Skyler and the rest came home about ten minutes later. Jeff got up and hugged his lover and kissed him. Then he took him by the hand and led him back to their room. He sat down on the bed and patted the space in front of him. He had to gather courage for this. Skyler couldn't leave him over it. He was more scared than he'd ever been in his life. He didn't even know how to start the conversation. He just knew that he had to.

"Skyler, I'm so sorry for the way I've been acting," he said, trying hard to keep his voice steady. "You were right about me having a lot on my mind. There's so much going on right now that all of it is hard to process. I'm scared that if I tell you what's on my mind, what I'm really afraid of you'll just leave me."

"Jeff, you have to understand that I'm not going to leave you over anything that's on your mind," replied Skyler. "I know that the tape has to be on your mind, your family's reaction and the fact that your record company basically booted you out of your group. That's a lot to have on your mind. Why would I leave you over it?"

"Because that's not all of it," Jeff said, looking down at his folded hands. "Skyler, lately I feel like you just don't need me. It feels like if the kids and I weren't here it wouldn't make a difference to you."

"Why do you feel that way?" Skyler asked. He was right. This wasn't anything that Skyler had been thinking was on his mind.

"I don't know," he sighed. "I guess it's because this whole tape thing didn't seem to faze you in the least. You just brushed it off and went with it."

"There was nothing else for me to do, Jeff," Skyler said. "I knew that I had you and the kids, I had my entire family behind me. That was all that mattered. I do need you, Jeff. I'm always going to need you."

"I so needed to hear that," Jeff said as he started to cry. "God, Skyler, I was so scared."

"Come here," Skyler said, reaching out and pulling him closer. He took him in his arms and held him tight. "You don't ever have to fear that I don't need you, Jeff. You're my heart. If I didn't have you I'd be lost. I wouldn't be able to do any of this without you. I love you so much."

"I love you, too," he said. "You have no idea how much I love you."

"You take your time thinking over the rest of it," Skyler said. "Just know that if you need me I'm always with you."

"Thank you," he said as he held him tighter. "I love you."

"I love you, too," replied Skyler.

Jeff went with them for sound check and stuck to Skyler like glue. Everyone smiled when they looked at them. They wondered if Jeff was going to stick to Skyler during the show too. He followed Skyler backstage when Brody took the stage. They'd begin letting people into the arena in a few minutes and he didn't want to be out there when that happened. People were still smiling at them when they came into the party room.

Justin and Jason were happy to see that things were back to normal, or as normal as they could be at the arena. Neither of the two men had discussed anything that went on during their private talk. Jason had assumed the worst because Jeff came out of the bedroom in tears. Skyler just kept hugging him and telling him that everything was fine. Jason and Justin both were curious after that, but neither wanted to ask Skyler what was going on. It seemed rude.

Skyler shocked Jason and Justin by inviting Jeff onto the stage that night to help him sing "Open Arms". The crowd went crazy of his holding Jeff's hand while they sang and hugging him tight before he let him go back stage again. He did it the following night as well. The crowds of Miami absolutely ate it up. The tabloids loved it as well. Stories were printed in each with pictures that upset Skyler. He didn't like the idea that tabloid photographers and reporters were at his shows. He knew there was nothing he could do about it though.

Word came in from Atlanta while they were on the bus headed toward it that fighting had broken out between the Christian protesters and the fans. Skyler, Jeff, Jason, Alex and Evan sat in the common section of the bus to watch the coverage on the television. Skyler was on his phone to Clay and Matt the entire time. When they finally arrived in Atlanta they saw the National Guard was there, keeping the peace. The press were screaming questions at the Guard, the protesters and the fans. It was a mess that Skyler didn't want to have to deal with.

That night they made their way into the arena with the National Guard lining the entrance and keeping reporters and protesters back. Fans were allowed inside once tickets were shown. It was a crazy set up but it worked. Skyler's show was sold out and every ticket holding fan got to see the show. He did not comment during the show about what was happening outside, but he did give more thought to finding a legitimate professional reporter and photographer to give interviews to.

"What are you saying, Clay?" Skyler asked at the hotel the next morning when he'd come to tell him about a decision made by the president of the arena.

"They're canceling tonight's show because of the fighting outside, Skyler," he said. "They said it isn't safe for the fans out there, and I agree with them completely on this issue. I'm sorry, Skyler, but this is necessary."

Skyler silently counted to ten after that. Jeff held tight to his hand. He had to think hard about this. Then a decision came to him that made him smile. He would simply move the show if it was too dangerous for Phillips Arena. He'd move the show to Detroit. He'd already talked to people in Detroit and learned that restraining orders had been filed against churches in the area for the nights of his show and two nights after the show.

"Call The Palace in Detroit," he said. "Book the twenty-seventh for a special show. Get Andrew up here so I can issue a statement to the fans. I want this out there today, Clay. No matter what it costs I'm going to do a show that night in Detroit for the fans who have tickets to tonight's show in Atlanta. Make this happen, Clay."

After the calls were made and the night was booked, Clay called Andrew and then told Skyler what it would cost to do what he planned. Skyler didn't care about the cost. He talked with Andrew and came up with the statement that invited the fans holding tickets to tonight's show to Detroit. He told them to set up a phone line for them to call and put the number in the statement. If they had tickets and needed a flight he'd send one of the Boeing jets back to get them.

They tried to talk him out of that one, but he put his foot down. He told them he'd be damned if he let protesters stop his shows all the time. He wasn't going to stand for it. It was high time that everyone connected to Sky High understood that no Sky High client was ever going to be expected to put up with this sort of terrorism. They didn't like that he'd used the word terrorism, but he informed them that in his mind that's what all of this was. The press, the protesters all of it was just a different form of terrorism and he wouldn't put up with it.

The statement went out and the phone started to ring. They took down names and gave times, talked to the pilots of the jets and got them to fly down to Atlanta for this. Skyler was getting what he wanted. They all got busy as he and his dancers and staff got ready to leave Atlanta for Detroit. He wouldn't speak to Clay, Matt or Andrew until it was all worked out. They didn't like it, but that's the way it was.

The press got wind of it rather quickly. It was all over the news that Skyler Thomas had made an unprecedented move. He liked that and actually commended the reporter who said it. He made sure he had his facts straight. The reporter's name was Anderson Cooper. He liked the guy on sight. When this was over he'd get Clay to check him out thoroughly. He thought he might have just found the reporter he'd talk to.

His family and dancers talked about the special show all the way to Detroit on the bus. They arrived in the city the morning of the show. There was no time for anything other than show related events. He did his radio interview and even talked about the decision he'd made. He didn't call it terrorism on the radio, but he did say that he wouldn't stand for what was happening when fans had tickets to see a show they'd paid hard earned money for. In the end the response was favorable from the radio interview.

The meet 'n greet that afternoon was amazing. Skyler was congratulated by fans from Detroit for really stepping up for his fans in Atlanta. He was all smiles when he got to the arena for sound checks. Matt and Clay watched the sound check and Matt commented on how happy Skyler looked. That was the happiest he'd seen the guy since he'd come to work for him. He thought it was a great thing he was doing, if not a little crazy.

"I'd been waiting for some kind of reaction out of Skyler," said Clay when they were talking about it. "I will admit that this one shocked me, but it shouldn't have. Skyler is a force after all."

"He certainly is that," said Matt with a grin. "This just shows me why his fans love him so much. The guy will do anything for the fans. It's kind of awesome, actually. I heard about what he did for the Mealiff family in Miami. At the time I thought it was crazy. Now I see it was just Skyler's dogged determination to make his fans happy."

"Yes, Skyler has a special kind of relationship with his fans," Clay said. "I don't think any other celebrity has quite the same respect for their fans as Skyler does. Make no mistake though, sometimes what he's prepared to do for them can put him in dangerous positions."

"So far I've only seen him in dangerous positions when his family is involved and the press wants a picture," Matt replied.

"That's a different kind of dangerous position," Clay said. "Stick around and you'll see what I'm talking about."

The show that night was amazing. Everyone was up and dancing, singing along with him and screaming for him every time he left the stage to change his costume. Matt and Clay actually sat in the family section to watch the show and commented on this part and that part. By the time the show was over he'd been called back to the stage for three encores. Then he signed autographs and took pictures with a group of fans outside the hotel for a half hour before going inside to collapse in his bed beside Jeff.

The next day was different only because fans started to arrive on the jet. Another hotel was booked to house them and Matt was shocked to learn that Skyler was paying the bill for their two night stay in the hotel. That had his financial department up in arms for hours, but he wouldn't budge on any of it. He performed another phenomenal show that night, but the show that was more amazing than any other that Matt had seen him perform was the following night.

The fans were more involved in that show than any of the others. They chanted his name before the show started. They chanted Brody's name when he came out. The show couldn't start for an hour after it was scheduled because of the chanting. They bought every hat, t-shirt, poster, CD and DVD that was for sale that night. Concessions had never seen such a successful night either. These fans responded beautifully to the hospitality that Skyler had bestowed upon them. It was the most amazing thing that Matt had ever seen in his life.

Skyler broke his half hour rule that night and posed for pictures, signed autographs and hugged fans for nearly three hours. They weren't a frenzy that night either. These fans were respectful. They lined up and chatted with each other about parts of the show that they'd really loved. Matt stood there with Skyler to watch it all as it happened. Security men were there, of course, but they weren't as tense as usual. It was clear that what was happening that night was love pure and beautiful. By the time he got inside the hotel he was so tired he was dragging, but he was smiling and happy. If Matt had thought his career would suffer because of the tape he'd been shown that night that Skyler Thomas was still just as loved by his fans as he ever was.

When they made it to Chicago a call came in from Oprah about a live interview. She said she'd interview him anywhere he wanted, and Matt was shocked when Skyler consented to the interview. Oprah and her production crew set up in the green room of the United Center where the shows would take place and interviewed Skyler for two hours. They talked about everything from the protesters to Skyler's decision to fly the fans from Atlanta to Detroit for a special show that he'd set up for them. They talked about the lawsuit once again and the danger the press had put both Skyler and his children in at various times. They talked about the death of Laura Ullman and his response to the tape. They talked about his family and how much he loved them all. When the interview was over Oprah hugged him and told him that she was coming to the show and had purchased a ticket. She wouldn't hear of it when he told her he'd give her the money back and set her up. She was paying because she was a fan as well. He hugged her again after that.

Skyler got a call from Chad that night after the first show in Chicago. Chad had finished his album and was ready to film his first video. Skyler had no idea why his brother felt that he needed his permission to film the video, but he gave it and expressed his desire to the see the finished product. Chad was happy when the call ended and Skyler went to bed that night in a good mood. The show had been phenomenal once again. Clay and Matt were as happy as everyone else. The dancers were all in good spirits and the tour staff had all told them that they were having the times of their lives on this tour.

The show the following night was just as amazing as the night before. Skyler spent his usual half hour with fans when it was over and then they were packing the jets to fly to California. The buses would head out before the jets took off so that they'd be there in time for the show to travel from Oakland to Los Angeles. Skyler and Jeff were both in better spirits than usual. Clay was gathering information about a reporter named Anderson Cooper for Skyler. He'd told Matt that Skyler wouldn't be happy until a full report was put together so that he could look it over at his leisure.

In Oakland the fans were everywhere. Skyler waved at them from the SUV as it sped from the airport to the hotel. Matt was happy that he didn't stand out there and sign autographs. Justin Timberlake met up with them again in Oakland and special dance rehearsals were held for the MTV Video Award Show that would be held in New York on the twenty-second. From there Skyler and the dancers would all be flying off to Holland for the tale end of the tour. Things were wrapping up and Matt was thrilled with the numbers and the attitude around the tour.

Chad called Skyler twice before the first show in Oakland to tell him that Chris Cunningham had arrived and filming for his video was under way. Skyler was happy about that, but Matt overheard him telling Clay that he was worried about Chad's need his approval for every move he made in his career. Clay said they'd talk to him once the tour reached Los Angeles. They had a frank discussion about Skyler's interest in managing a career. He was in no way ready to start that venture now, but Matt was sure that it wouldn't be too long before he decided to make his life even more complicated.

When the show reached Los Angeles, Skyler and Jeff were met by Tabitha, Jase, Ali, Chad, Darby and Ashton once again. Matt stood back and allowed his client time with his family. The dancers were all bussed to the school, but Skyler, Jeff, the kids, Alex, Evan and Jason were all staying in either Tabitha's house or Skyler's. Matt and Clay were happy to return to their offices at Sky High for the week they'd be in Los Angeles. They were both at the school each afternoon for the special dance rehearsal and run throughs of the entire "Thriller" number and Matt was pleased that Michael Jackson was nowhere in sight.

Skyler forced off time on the two days that there was no show in the seven that he'd be in Los Angeles. He spent time with Jeff and the kids most of the time. He also made time for Chad and Darby. Cassie and Kaleb flew in from Orlando to be with the family as well. All that was missing was their father. Tabitha told him that she'd been talking with Ben on the phone every night, but she was still no more ready to take him back than before.

"Mom, you know that we'll support you in whatever decision you make about your marriage," Skyler told her in his living room when she told him that she was thinking about divorce. "No matter what happens you are still our mother and grandmother to my children. That will never change."

"Oh, Skyler," she moaned, leaning close to hug him. "I love you all so very much."

"We love you, too, Mom," he said, holding her tight.

She was at each of the shows in Los Angeles. Everyone connected to the shows had a great time. Everyone was thankful that there were no protesters near the Staples Center. There were none around the offices of Sky High and there were none around the school or Skyler or Tabitha's houses. The shows had a special quality to them that wasn't easily identified. Skyler poured his heart out to the fans in Los Angeles, stopping the last show to tell them all how much they all meant to him and thanking them for being the absolute best fans in the entire world.

The day after the last show the dancers, construction crews, Skyler and all of his family boarded the jets and flew to New York, New York for the MTV Video Awards. Dance rehearsals were held each day. Skyler, Justin and Jeff performed the number each night to get it down. Matt and Clay watched it each night. Matt was in awe of the number. He'd loved the song in the eighties and Skyler, Jeff and Justin's rendition was amazing. He couldn't wait to see it with full make up and lighting on the stage at Radio City Music Hall.

The day of the show the dancers were in make up for four hours. Skyler, Jeff and Justin all donned tuxes and hung out watching the make up artists do their work. The dancers were transformed into hideous zombies. One was a werewolf and two were vampires. Jeff himself would become a vampire, but he would only change from the tux he was wearing into another that looked older then the one he was currently wearing. Skyler and Justin would be zombies in torn tuxes that looked like they'd been through a war zone. They had blood and gunk all over them.

The construction crews were allowed to set up the props and set for the number on one corner of the stage. Everything was on hydraulics and could be moved in and out of sight very quickly. That was good, because the entire show was filmed on all of the stage. Their performance would be the finale of the show. Matt was dismayed to find that Michael Jackson sat in on the final dressed rehearsal for the number. His staff took up almost as much room as Skyler's and that made the rooms packed to capacity. He declared the number flawless and left to take his place in the audience. Skyler, Jeff, Justin, Jase, Ali and Tabitha followed a few minutes later.

Clay and Matt where in tuxes as well. They had seats in the audience along with everyone else. Of course they weren't with Skyler and Jeff. They were seated a few rows back with the rest of the Sky High Staff. The show began and they paid attention, but Matt was looking forward to the spectacle that would be Skyler, Jeff and Justin at the end of the show. Skyler left his seat with Brent and Dom to go backstage to get ready to present an award. Clay told him that these events made him nervous where Skyler was concerned because they were never allowed to take enough security to keep him completely safe. Matt didn't think Skyler had much to worry about here. He'd been paying close attention to the way that the other celebrities treated his client. It seemed that they were all happy enough to be with him. Some seemed closer to him than others, but the general feel around them all was that he was still the same Skyler Thomas he'd always been. He was sure half of them were waiting for something to happen because he there. It seemed that something interested always happened with Skyler was around.

Skyler didn't come back for a while, and Clay got nervous about it. Finally after three awards had been given and they'd gone to commercial he came back and took his seat. Then he was up again to accept the award for Best Male Video Performance for "We All Need Saving". He was given the MoonMan statue by Brody Tanzek which was fitting. Skyler had presented Brody with his own MoonMan just a little while ago. Skyler returned to his seat and handed the MoonMan to Jeff. Not an hour later he was up again to accept the award for Video of the Year for the same video. There were thunderous applause for this. He'd not return to his seat after this one. Matt knew that Skyler, Jeff and Justin were now in make up. There were performances and other awards for directors and various technical awards before the finale.

Finally they announced him and the crowd went crazy with cheering and applauding. Matt was on his feet with the rest of them as the zombie Skyler Thomas was lowered to the stage from above on cables and a swing. The music started as soon as his feet were on the floor. Matt was amazed by the effects. There were grave stones, lots of rolling smoke and the dancers looked like they were climbing out of their graves as Skyler began to sing.

"It's close to midnight," he sang and the crowd went insane. "Somethin' evil's lurkin' in the dark. Under the moonlight, you see a sight that almost stops your heart. You try to scream, but terror takes the sound before you make it. You start to freeze as horror looks you right between the eyes. You're paralyzed."

The crowd went nuts again as Justin Timberlake was raised out of the floor. He moved slowly toward Skyler as they both began to sing and dance in unison with the dancers.

"'Cause this is thriller! Thriller night, and no one's gonna save you from the beast about to strike. You know it's thriller! Thriller night. You're fighting for you life inside a killer, thriller tonight!"

"You hear the door slam and realize there's nowhere left to run," sang Justin as they danced. "You feel the cold hand and wonder if you'll ever see the sun. You close your eyes and hope that this is just imagination, but all the while you hear the creature creepin' up behind. You're out of time."

The dancers crept closer to the pair and they began to sing together again.

"'Cause this is thriller! Thriller night! There ain't no second chance against the thing with forty eyes. Thriller! Thriller night. You're fighting for you life inside a killer, thriller tonight!"

"Night creatures calling, the dead start to walk in their masquerade," sang Skyler, making the crowd scream again. "There's no escaping the jaws of the alien this time."

"They're open wide," crooned Justin.

"This is the end of your life," sang Skyler as they came together again.

"They're out to get you," sang Justin. "There's demons closing in on every side. They will possess you unless you change the number on your dial. Now is the time for you and I to cuddle close together, yeah! All through the night I'll save you from the terror on the screen. I'll make you see."

"That this is thriller!" they sang together as they danced with the dancers. "Thriller night. 'Cause I can thrill you more than any ghost would ever dare try. Thriller! Thriller night. So let me hold you tight and share a killer, diller, chiller, thriller here tonight!

"'Cause this is thriller! Thriller night. Oh, I can thrill you more than any ghost would ever dare try. Thriller! Thriller night. So let me hold you tight and share a killer, thriller, Ow!"

The music played as they danced. The crowd was still cheering. Then Jeff was lowered to the floor from his own cables and swing and they screamed again.

"I'm gonna thrill ya tonight," sang Justin as Jeff began to dance with them. He put his microphone to his face and began to talk.

"Darkness falls across the land," he said in a deep voice, making them scream. "The midnight hour is close at hand. Creatures crawl in search of blood to terrorize y'alls neighborhood."

"I'm gonna thrill ya tonight, ooh baby," sang Skyler.

"I'm gonna thrill ya tonight, oh darlin'," sang Justin.

"Thriller night," they sang together. "Baby, ooh!"

"The foulest stench is in the air," claimed Jeff. "The funk of forty thousand years, and grizzly ghouls from every tomb are closing in to seal your doom.

"And though you fight to stay alive, your body starts to shiver," he said as Skyler, Justin and the rest of the dancers started to shiver as if having a fit. "For no mere mortal can resist the evil of the THRILLER!"

"'Cause this is thriller! Thriller night," sang Skyler and Justin. "Oh, I can thrill you more than any ghost would ever dare try. Thriller! Thriller night. So let me hold you tight and share a killer, thriller, Ow!"

"Thriller," sang Skyler.

"Gonna thrill ya tonight," sang Justin as they and the dancers crept closer to the edge of the stage.

"Thriller," sang Skyler.

"So let me hold you tight and share a killer, chiller thriller night!" sang Justin as the music stopped, the werewolf howled and the lights went out.

The crowd went insane when the lights on the stage went out. They screamed and cheered, crying out Skyler's, Justin's and Jeff's names over and over again. Michael Jackson stood and applauded. The entire place was alive with applause and cheering as the crowd responded to the number. Matt had to hold his hands over his ears. He and Clay looked at each other and started laughing. Skyler had done it again.

They made their way backstage with Tabitha, Jase and Ali, navigating through the sea of cheering people. Matt noticed that celebrities and fans alike were screaming. He couldn't stop smiling. They finally got to the doors where a member of the hall's security was barring the door. He saw who they were and stepped aside to allow them into the green room. There was pandemonium back here as well. Everyone was talking excitedly. The dancers were talking and yelling back and forth at each other much to the aggravation of the make up artists who were trying to remove the make up from each of them.

Skyler, Jeff and Justin were off to the side of the room deep in conversation with Michael Jackson. Clay and Matt made their way over to them, stopping to shake hands with this celebrity and that one. Everyone was so excited. Skyler and Jeff were talking rapidly to Michael while Justin just grinned from ear to ear. Michael was congratulating them on a perfect performance. Skyler was going on about how much fun it had been and thanking Michael for allowing them to perform the number.

When Michael left it was time for another tear filled goodbye for Skyler. Tabitha, Jase, Ali and Ashton were there. Matt hadn't even known that Ashton was in the building. They were hugging Skyler and Jeff and all of them were crying. Matt and Clay hated to do it but they had to get them all moving. The jets were scheduled to take off in just over an hour. The tour had to finish.

"Thriller" is a song by Michael Jackson with slightly altered lyrics by Julien Gregg.

The next chapter will be posted soon.

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Concert 1
Concert 2
Concert 3
Concert 4
Concert 5
Concert 6