© 2005-2010 Julien Gregg
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 63

The weather was great, the skies were clear and the excitement was high. When they'd landed in Tokyo they'd had a fan reception similar to the last tour. There were screaming fans everywhere and instead of having the security staff rush off the jet to break up the groups closest to them, Skyler got off the plane and stood in the sea of fans to sign autographs and give hugs. He posed for pictures and pretended not to notice the press that was dotted all through the crowd. He managed to ignore each of them as they held out their hands though. He also made sure that when those cameras flashed he was smiling in another direction. He was out there for nearly three hours and it was tiring and stressful but he loved it. None of them tried to rush him or hurt him. They simply stood close and got their picture or autograph. The hugs he gave freely.

"That was intense," said Jeff Neal as they made their way to the six buses that would take them from the airport to the hotel. "Is it always like this for you?"

"In Japan it is," laughed Skyler as they entered the airport. There were more fans in the airport but they were carefully held back by airport security. "Sometimes in America it can be worse."

"I'll remember that," laughed the sandy haired, bright eyed dancer before he headed off to find Kaleb and Ricky.

Skyler thanked the airport security as they ushered him and his group through the airport and to the waiting buses. The trip from the airport to the hotel was uneventful and Skyler wasn't surprised when they got to their destination and found a fifty foot silk poster of the "Hearts In Armor" album cover in the parking lot of the hotel. He smiled wide when he saw it.

"That's just like last time," said Jason as they looked out the window and laughed together.

"It sure is," replied Skyler. "Japan loves me."

"Everyone loves you, Skyler," said Jason. "And don't pretend you don't know it."

Skyler didn't get the chance to reply. The bus came to a stop and everyone began to move. They swarmed the entrance of the hotel and Skyler turned back to look at them once he and Jason were in the lobby. He gasped as he saw everyone. They were all on his tour staff. Eighteen dancers, seventy-five construction workers and so many other people connected to the show they nearly rivaled the number of fans at the airport. Skyler couldn't believe he'd hired so many people for this tour.

"We're like an army," he breathed as they all began to come into the hotel.

"Good thing that we booked entire hotels in every city of the tour," said Jason, making Skyler cough.

"Entire hotels?" he asked.

"Yeah," chuckled Jason, turning to look at him. "Sky, there are more than a hundred people on this tour. We had to book entire hotels."

Their first day in Tokyo was a free one. Skyler and Jason took their bags to their rooms and then headed back down to the lobby with Jeff Neal and Kaleb Hassid to go exploring. Brent and three other security men went with them. They caused a sensation in stores all over Tokyo. They stopped for dinner in a huge restaurant and the security men had to stand around the table to keep fans from coming to the table. Skyler was having the time of his life. Half way through their tour of the city he noticed that the press in Tokyo wasn't as blood thirsty as the American press. He actually gave them five different quotes with a genuine smile on his face each time.

They got back to the hotel in time to join the rest of the dancers in a game of charades in the lobby. Skyler and Jason really weren't that great at the game but they had fun. It was nearly midnight when they went back to their rooms and turned in for the night. Skyler slept soundly but he deeply regretted the late night when Gus was pounding on doors at five the next morning.

MTV filmed the dance rehearsal that morning. Skyler was interviewed by Kurt Loder during the break, and Skyler was happy to see that the tension he'd felt between himself and Kurt at the hospital was gone. They laughed together and joked about different moves in the routines. Skyler was happy that he and Kurt seemed to be friends again.

"So tell me about Niki Harris," Kurt said when the interview began.

"Niki decided not to tour with me this time for her own reasons," he replied. "I'm sad that she isn't here, but I have a great bunch of dancers for this tour and, together, we'll show the world that I'm on my feet and in full swing."

"Your first show is tomorrow night," said Kurt. "Are you excited?"

"Oh I'm more excited than I've ever been in my life," said Skyler. "This tour is a lot more involved and it will let me show the world what I can do."

Back in rehearsals he smiled at the MTV cameraman during the most grueling of the routines. They were gone before they ended the rehearsal at six that night. Skyler was starved and exhausted. He wanted so badly to protest the brown rice and vegetables on the plate in front of him but he was simply too tired to say anything. He shoveled it in and headed upstairs with Jason to get some sleep. He kissed Preston's head as he passed Tabitha on his way out of the banquet room. It sucked that he would be spending very little time with Preston but he had commitments. He was asleep before he even got completely into the bed.

The next morning they had dance rehearsal for two hours. Gus let them sleep until nine that morning. By noon they were on the sound stage going through a few of the songs for sound check. Skyler smiled at Carlos Marquez as he sang "Come What May". Carlos was his opening act for the tour and he was happy to have him with him.

"You sound great," Carlos said as Skyler and the others came off the stage.

"Thanks," said Skyler. "You sounded pretty good yourself. I heard you yesterday while we were dancing our asses off."

"Yeah," chuckled Carlos. "I can't wait to see your show. I mean I've seen some of the dance rehearsals this morning but I want to see it with the sets and lights. I want to see it with the crowd screaming and pumped."

"You'll get your chance, buddy," Skyler laughed. "A few of us are planning to check out your show, too."

"Well mine isn't as elaborate as yours," said Carlos. "I have ten dancers to your eighteen."

"Keeping it light I see," laughed Skyler.

"Something like that," Carlos replied with a wide grin.

"Well I can't wait," Skyler said.

"What do you think?" Carlos asked, cocking his head to the side to look at Skyler with a small smile on his face. "Is the world ready for you?"

"Probably not," laughed Skyler. "But here I come."

"And you'll knock them on their asses," Carlos laughed. "So what's on your agenda next, Fame Grabber?"

"A little quiet time with PJ," he replied. "He's growing so fast."

"I played with him a little earlier today," Carlos informed. "You've got yourself one cute little boy."

"Thank you," Skyler replied, beaming a smile at him.

At nine months old, Preston was developing very well. He could sit up unassisted and he was already scooting his body around when he was on his stomach. Tabitha kept telling Skyler that the child would crawl soon. Skyler just hoped that he was there to see it happen. For the rest of the evening until it was time for Preston to go to bed Skyler played with him. He loved Preston with all of his heart and he was so proud of anything the child did. Being a father had turned out to be a wonderful thing for him and he was so happy that Preston was in his life.

He talked to Jeff Timmons on the telephone before going to bed that night. They both complained about missing each other and Skyler laughed. If they missed each other already they were really in for it. This was going to be the longest tour Skyler had ever embarked on. It would also be the most grueling. He had several back to back shows booked in this tour and there was very little down time. Oh sure he had days between cities and things like that but most of those days would be spent doing tour things.

When he got off the phone with Jeff he thought of calling Cassie, but he dismissed the thought with sadness. Cassie was still in America and refusing to speak to Skyler. He was sure she was calling Kaleb or he was calling her every single night. The two were in love with each other. Skyler just wished that he and Cassie weren't still fighting. He loved his little sister and fighting with her was torture. She'd thrown such a fit about the tour that he really had fired her. He couldn't pretend that it was anything other than what it was now. Chad was still talking to him, but Skyler could hear a distance in his brother's voice when they talked.

He was at odds with his parents as well. Tabitha watched over Preston while he was busy and his father was already with them now that the stadium had been set up. She didn't say much of anything to Skyler though. He'd noticed that when she looked at him there was sadness in her eyes. He knew he had to fix this. He just didn't know how he could. With Cassie and Chad it was next to impossible. Chad would be taking off on his own tour soon and Cassie was staying with Kristy Swanson in New York. He was thinking about how much he missed the twins when someone knocked on his door.

"Come in," he called. He'd left the door unlocked because everyone in the hotel was a member of either his or Carlos's staff. There was no need to lock the door with this group.

"Hey, Sky," said Tabitha as she came into the room.

"Hi, Mom," replied Skyler, wondering what this little meeting would be about.

"I just wanted to check in," she said as she came over and sat on the edge of his bed. "We haven't had much of a chance to talk since we arrived."

"I've been very busy," he said. It wasn't a lie. Even though he'd just had a free day he'd still been busy thinking about the show.

"Oh, I know," she said. "Skyler I wanted to apologize to you for the way I reacted when you first told us about this tour."

"I accept your apology, Mom," he said. "I wasn't angry with you or Dad about what you said. I know that you were both just worried about me."

"We still are," she said, looking at him evenly. "But we see that you're handling this perfectly so far. The dance rehearsals would have likely done you in if you weren't really ready."

"Thanks, Mom," he said, leaning in to hug her.

"Oh, Skyler," she said, hugging him back. "I love you so much, you know?"

"I know, and I love you, too," he said. "Even if sometimes I show my ass."

"You wouldn't be a Thomas if you didn't show your ass from time to time, sweetie," she said with a chuckle. "I'm married to your father and the mother of your little brother, remember? I know the Thomas men very well."

"Having the Thomas attitude doesn't excuse the way I talked to you and Dad, though," he said seriously. "I really am sorry about what I said."

"Skyler, we're a family," she said, putting her hand on his arm. "Families fight from time to time. We didn't actually fight but we had a few heated discussions over your decision to tour. Those discussions haven't changed the way that I, or your father, feel about you. We're both so proud of you. You have this amazing talent and you shine when you're performing. I love to see you perform, Skyler. Please believe me when I say that I'm proud of you."

"I do believe you, Mom," he said, hugging her again. "It's just nice to hear it from time to time."

"Well don't worry about that," she said. "We'll all tell you as often as we have a chance."

"I'll do my best to make sure that you have every chance," he said through a yawn.

"You do that enough without trying," she said, leaning forward and kissing his forehead. "Get some sleep, shinning one. I love you."

"I love you, too," he said. He was asleep before she closed the door on her way out.

The next morning, promptly at six AM, Gus woke Skyler and all of the dancers for dance rehearsals. They rehearsed until eleven and all of them were thankful when Gus pronounced them ready. Skyler had lunch with his mother and brother before he headed over to the stadium for sound check. Jason was excited and talking about how he couldn't wait to get on stage. He didn't look nearly as tired as Skyler felt.

"I just can't wait," he said as Skyler sat down.

"I know, honey," said Tabitha, smiling at Skyler. "He's excited."

"He has been since we stepped off the plane," laughed Skyler. "Fear not, squirt. Your chance is just hours away."

"I'll be in the booth with the technicians tonight, Skyler," said Tabitha. "That's the only place in the stadium that will be quiet enough for PJ."

"Thank you for agreeing to take care of him on the tour, Mom," Skyler said.

"Oh you don't have to thank me for that," she said. "I love my grandson."

"Well, thank you anyway," he said with a smile.

"Cassie called me last night," Jason said, startling Skyler to silence as the smile slid off his face.

"How is she?" Tabitha asked, eyeing Skyler.

"She asked how everything was going," said Jason. "She wanted to know how Sky is doing."

"And what did you tell her?" asked Skyler, trying desperately to keep his voice light.

"The truth," said Jason with a shrug. "You're doing fine."

"Well, Cassie is just worried, sweetie," Tabitha said to Jason, but she was looking at Skyler. "She just doesn't want anything to happen to Skyler."

"Nothing is going to happen to me," Skyler sighed. "I'm doing just fine. Sure I'm tired but that's to be expected with the little amount of sleep I get here in Japan. It's only going to get worse as the tour progresses."

"We know that, honey," she said softly.

"Well I have to get to sound check," he said, getting up and taking his plate of brown rice and vegetables with him. He hadn't eaten even one bite.

A half an hour later he was standing beside Kaleb Hassid as the music for "Precious" played on the stage. All of the dancers were standing around to watch. Skyler was irritated by a strange buzzing sound that could be heard just over the music dub. He and Kaleb looked at each other for a second before Skyler began to sing.

"Precious and fragile things need special handling. My God what have we done to you?" he sang, and the buzzing got just a bit louder.

"We always try to share the tenderest of care. Now look what we have put you through," sang Kaleb, and the buzzing changed to a high pitched screech.

"Stop!" cried Skyler, pulling the headset from his head and putting a hand to the other side of his head at the same time. The buzz-screech continued as the music continued to play. "STOP!"

"God!" cried Kaleb as he yanked his headset off, too. "What is that?"

"All right," Skyler said once the music and buzzing stopped. "Now that I'm nearly deaf, would someone please explain to me what the Hell that sound was?"

"Try it again, Sky," called his father over the speakers. "I think we found the problem."

The music started again without the buzz. Skyler and Kaleb smiled at each other before they put their headsets back on.

"Things get damaged. Things get broken. I thought we'd manage, but words left unspoken left us so brittle there was so little left to give," they sang together.

The music played on and after a few bars the buzzing returned. This time it was louder than ever and Skyler winced as he yanked his headset off his head. Kaleb did much the same thing and they both looked at each other for a moment before Skyler put his mic to his mouth and said, "Ok, someone who knows something about sound had better fix that or there won't be a damned show!"

"Give us a minute here, Sky," said his father.

"God, what is going on up there?" Kaleb asked, rubbing his temples. "One more shot of that shit and my brain is going to explode."

"It sounded like nails on a chalkboard at the end," Skyler said. "My teeth started to hurt."

"There has to be some kind of interference or something," Kaleb said, looking around the stage.

"OK, Skyler," said Ben. "Try it one more time."

The music started again and Skyler reluctantly put his headset on as Kaleb did the same.

"Angels with silver wings shouldn't know suffering. I wish I could take the pain for you," sang Skyler, waiting for the buzz to return.

"If God has a master plan that only He understands I hope it's your eyes He's seeing through," sang Kaleb. The buzz still had yet to show up again.

"Things get damaged. Things get broken. I thought we'd manage, but words left unspoken left us so brittle there was so little left to give," they sang together.

The music played on and still the buzz didn't return. Skyler was afraid to hope that it was gone for good. He could still feel the dull ache in his head from the last bout of it. He and Kaleb slowly started to sway back and forth to the music after a bit.

"I pray you learn to trust; have faith in both of us, and keep room in your hearts for two," he sang, still tense as he waited.

"Things get damaged. Things get broken. I thought we'd manage, but words left unspoken left us so brittle there was so little left to give," they sang together. The music ended and the buzz never returned.

Skyler and Kaleb took off their headsets at the same time, and Skyler was smiling. Sully John picked up his saxophone and the music started again. He smiled at Skyler before he started to play. Skyler put his headset back on but he was still not sure he trusted that the buzz was gone for good. He hoped it was because the dull ache in his head was steadily getting worse.

"Never knew I could feel like this, like I've never seen the sky before. I want to vanish inside your kiss. Every day I love you more and more. Listen to my heart. Can you hear it sing, tellin' me to give you everything? Seasons may change Winter to Spring, but I love you until the end of time. Come what may. Come what may. I will love in' me to give you everything? Seasons may change Winter to Spring, but I love you until the end of time. Come what may. Come what may. I will love you until my dying day," he sang with his eyes closed. He silently willed his head to stop aching.

"Suddenly the world seems such a perfect place. Suddenly it moves with such a perfect grace. Suddenly my life doesn't seem such a waste. It all revolves around you, and there's no mountain too high, no river too wide. Sing out this song and I'll be there by your side. Storm clouds may gather and stars may collide, but I love you until the end of time. Come what may. Come what may. I will love you until my dying day. Oh, come what may. Come what may. I will love you, I will love you. Suddenly the world seems such a perfect place," he sang with his eyes closed.

Sully played the saxophone and Skyler swayed to the music he made. This was his favorite ballad on the album and he hoped that the buzz didn't return while they played it. He wanted to get this sound check finished so he could take something to make his head stop hurting.

"Come what may. Oh, come what may. I will love you until my dying day," he sang, and the music stopped. Sound check was over. He yanked his headset off his head and started off the stage without a word to anyone. Kaleb just watched him go.

His head was screaming by the time he got to his dressing room. As he took his pill he thought about Cassie wanting to make sure that nothing happened to him. What would Cassie say if she knew about this headache? He wondered. He thought about Cassie throughout the entire banquet style meet and greet before the show. As he smiled and pretended to understand everything that was said in a language he didn't speak he was actually trying to figure out a way to talk to his sister and make things right between them again. Not being in contact with her was harder on him than he let anyone know.

He was silent all the way to the stadium that night and his stomach was threatening to expel the dinner he'd eaten at the meet and greet. He concentrated on his breathing and hoped that he'd remember all of the dance steps when he got out there. The stadium was filled to capacity when his gang arrived and Carlos was already on stage. Skyler stood with Kaleb Hassid and Jim Kennedy to watch the tail end of Claros's show.

Carlos had very little set props for his show. Mostly he just used the lighting. Ben was already in the control booth with the technicians and would remain there while the stage was cleaned up before Skyler's show began. Skyler watched as Carlos's dancers danced around in black leather motorcycle jackets as Carlos sang his hit single, "Bad Blood". Skyler liked the song a lot. He thought Carlos was one of the most talented people he knew and he never missed an opportunity to tell him so. He didn't get to see Carlos's last routine because he had to go and get dressed for his own show. His stomach was still rolling as he made his way to the dressing room.

"Skyler, you look green," said Kaleb Hassid as he fell in beside him. "You all right?"

"First show nerves," explained Skyler, and the two shared a knowing grin.

"It'll be all right as soon as you hear them scream," laughed Kaleb.

"This is going to be so odd," Skyler said. "I miss Cassie and Niki."

"Cassie misses you, too," said Kaleb. "She's plenty mad at you, but she misses you just the same."

"You talk to her a lot?" Skyler asked as they reached his dressing room.

"Every night," replied Kaleb. "And don't worry, I keep telling her that you're doing just fine."

That was the last thing Kaleb said before heading for his own dressing room. The show was about to begin.

Precious is a song by Depeche Mode. Come What May is a song by Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor.

The Concert Chapter Links Are Below At The Bottom. To Read This Concert, Click Concert 5.

The next chapter will be posted soon.