© 2005-2010 Julien Gregg
All Rights Reserved
Saying goodbye to Chad had been difficult. Saying goodbye to Jeff had been almost impossible. They'd all went in different directions at the airport. Skyler was flying to Canada while Chad was flying back to Spain to finish his tour and Jeff was headed for Atlanta to join his band mates. They were about ready to head for Orlando to record their album, and Skyler wouldn't see him until the end of the tour.
Several people had shown up that day in Chicago. AJ McClean, Nick Lachey and Britney Spears had arrived the morning after the twins. Jordan Knight an hour before the show started, but Skyler made sure they all joined him for his final show in Chicago. They'd had a great show and the radio stations were talking about it already.
Problems arose in Toronto, forcing Skyler to cancel a show because of illegal tickets. The first box of the "Indestructible" CDs arrived just before they headed for Michigan. Skyler was very happy with the end result and everyone connected to the tour got an autographed copy of the CD. They all seemed very happy about it.
Dale joined the show in Michigan and his parents came to see his first show. Skyler took pictures with them after the show and signed everything they could find for him to sign. He got hugs and kisses from Mrs. Durante and he promised to visit them as soon as he could. He was happy to know that they still liked him as much as they did. After not hearing a word from them after the video he wasn't sure what they thought of him.
In Massachusetts he finally canceled a show because of his head. The press began to report that the tour was over because he was to be hospitalized, but he was back on stage when the show reached Maryland. His first show in Maryland had the critics saying it was his best so far. He was forced to cancel the last two shows in New Jersey because of his head. His vision was getting worse with every show and he was starting to get scared. He'd finally agreed to see a doctor and had been prescribed even more medication.
There was no slowing down though. He had to finish the tour. That was all there was to it. They got to Sweden when they first heard that the Vatican was putting up a fight to keep his show out of Italy. He was furious over it but decided not to say anything until they knew for sure what was going to happen. When they reached France it was official. The Vatican had banned the show in Italy. Skyler made sure to have his PR team issue a statement telling the world that he would never perform in Italy again. He actually sat in front of a camera to invite the Italian fans to see the show in Germany.
During his free time with the cancellations of the shows in Italy, he wrote new songs. He had four of them by the time the tour finally reached Germany. He gave the best shows he could for the fans in Germany and even smeared the Vatican while he sang "It's Not Your Business", stopping the song midway through to talk about the cancellations of his shows in Italy.
While the tour was in England, Skyler stayed with Madonna and Guy and let them talk him into looking for a house in London to buy. He thought he'd never spend a night in it but he agreed to at least look at houses via paperwork that was sent back to Orlando for him to look over. The biggest event while they were in England was the arrival of Preston's first birthday. They threw a huge party and so many celebrities arrived to help them celebrate that more hotels were booked.
"I can't believe it's been a year," he said to Madonna as they watched him smear cake all over his face and giggle.
"Time goes by so fast when they're young, Sky," she said. "We miss a lot."
"I wrote a song about it," he said while he thought about being there for Preston's first step. He wondered what he would miss.
"Chip was saying something about that when we were in Chicago," she said. "He said you weren't releasing it though."
"Nope," he said, smiling at her. "It's Preston's."
"I'd like to hear it some time," she said, and he smiled at her before getting up to talk to the band. The instruments were at the arena but Guy had plenty for them to use. They'd played the song only twice in the past but they were ready when Skyler announced that he wanted to sing to Preston.
Madonna sat with the family and held Preston on her lap so that he could see his daddy sing. He clapped his hands as Skyler stood in front of the microphone and waived at him. He loved him so much that the waive of emotion nearly made him cry. Instead he signaled for the music to begin.
"I was never alive 'till the day I was blessed with you," he sang. "When I hold you late at night I know what I was put here to do. I turn off the world and listen to you sigh. And I sing my angel's lullaby. Know I'm forever near. I'm the one you can always call. Right now all you know to fear are the shadows on your wall. I'm here close enough to kiss the tears you cry, and I will sing my angel's lullaby."
He let the music play a bit as he stared at his son. Preston was still clapping his hands and a bright smile was plastered on his cake smeared face. Skyler nearly cried again as he looked at him.
"So tell me how to stop the years from racing," he sang. "Is there a secret someone knows? I'll never catch all the memories I'm chasing. I'll never be ready to let go. And when the world seems cold, you feel that all of your strength is gone there may be tiny voice, your reason to carry on. When I'm not close enough to kiss the tears you cry you will sing your angel's lullaby. Let this be our angel's lullaby."
The music stopped and everyone was clapping, but Skyler only had eyes for Preston. The boy giggled at his father and Skyler nearly burst with pride as he watched. He walked over and took his son from Madonna and spun him around, crying, "Happy birthday, baby boy!"
That night he watched his son sleep for at least an hour before he finally crawled into bed. All of the tons of presents the boy had received were all safely packed and ready to be shipped back to Florida. They were leaving for Holland the next morning and there wasn't room for presents. Skyler was a little sad to have to ship the boy's presents back home, but he knew there was no way around it.
When the show reached Spain Skyler knew he'd made it to the home stretch. On the final day of the tour he had two back to back shows. He only hoped his head would let him get through them. Chad was back with them now that his tour had ended. The day before the final two shows the family spent the day in seclusion. Telephones were turned off, and everyone knew not to bother them as they just spent time together. This was really the only way that Skyler knew to ensure that he got through the last two shows, but he wasn't telling anyone that.
Jeff showed up later that night and the two spent a quiet evening in Skyler's suite. They were asleep by eleven, and Skyler was well rested when his wake-up call came the next morning. While he sat with the band and dancers after breakfast he told them about an idea that had been running through his head since the fiasco with Italy. They gasped when he told them that he wanted to perform a surprise concert and that he wanted everyone on the stage to be nude for the whole show. He was surprised when Dale immediately volunteered to dance in the show. Then Sully and Kaleb decided they wanted to be a part of it. The band started talking about how much their wives were going to scream at them for performing nude, and then Jeremy and Jessy wanted in. Finally Jeff Neal said he wasn't going to let them do it without him and the show was all ready. They just had to find a place to perform.
Harold and Jackie Littrell contacted him as soon as they got back to Orlando to talk about the magazine that they were starting with Sky High's help. It was called "Reality Magazine" and Skyler quickly came up with an idea for the cover of their first issue. He was surprised when Jackie thought it was a great idea and promised to talk to Brian and Kevin about it for him.
Two days later Brian Littrell, Kevin Richardson and Jeff Timmons joined Skyler in the Sky High Orlando building for the photo shoot. They didn't even bat an eye about what he wanted for the cover. Each of them were nude and the final pose selected had Brian and Kevin pressed against Skyler's sides so that their dicks were hidden with Jeff behind Skyler, shielding his own nudity. His hands were on Skyler's shoulder and he was peeking around Skyler's head. Skyler felt all three dicks get hard and had to fight to keep his own under control as the photographer snapped the pictures.
The next day found Skyler in the studio singing a song he'd hastily written after seeing a news report of a young girl who was beaten to death by her parents. He called the song "Concrete Angel" and nearly cried through the entire recording session. When it was finished he decided that all proceeds from the song would be donated to "Save The Children." He went home and hugged Preston tightly.
Greece was selected for the site of the nude concert, and Skyler decided that only acoustic instruments would be used. They flew over and quickly set up the stage on a nude beach on Crete Island. The crowd was sure surprised when the group danced and sang naked while two cameramen from Sky High filmed the show. They laughed about it all the way back to Orlando. Laura was beside herself when she found out what they'd done. News of the concert had beat them home. Each of the networks had the story and Skyler could only laugh at her outrage. Just ten days after the actual concert the DVD was released. They called it "Wireless: Skyler Live From Greece". The MPAA had quickly given the DVD an NC-17 rating and Skyler laughed when he learned that no other concert video had ever been given such an adult rating.
Two days later, Laura was beside herself again. The first issue of "Reality Magazine" hit the stands wrapped in brown paper. She'd seen the cover and nearly flipped right out of her skin. Skyler could only laugh at her. The very next day an edited version of the cover photo was in every tabloid with outrageous stories about sex orgies and every other conceivable nonsense. Brian and Kevin called to laugh about each tabloid.
The "Concrete Angel" single was released that same day, and Skyler was interviewed by Kurt Loder. He broke down three times during the interview while telling Kurt that as a survivor of child abuse he was sickened by the knowledge that it was still a major problem that children everywhere faced. He said that he hoped that the song would help to spark awareness.
The same day the tabloids appeared on the stands, Skyler flew to Los Angeles to give Guy what he wanted. They started filming scenes for a movie titled Saving Henry and Skyler had even written a song for the movie on the plane. After ten days of filming, Skyler was in the studio recording the song and thinking about the new year.
"My mother came to Hazard when I was just seven. Even then the folks in town said with prejudiced eyes 'that boy's not right'. Three years ago when I came to know Mary, first time that someone looked beyond the rumors and lies and saw the man inside," he sang. "We used to walk down by the river. She loved to watch the sun go down. We used to walk along the river and dream our way out of this town."
He let the music play for a bit as he made faces at Billy Warlock and Scott Speedman, two of his costars for the movie. They laughed at him until he heard his cue in the music and began to sing again.
"No one understood what I felt for Mary. No one cared until the night she went a walkin' alone and never came home. Man with a badge came knockin' next mornin'. Here was I surrounded by a thousand fingers suddenly pointed right at me," he sang. "I swear I left her by the river. I swear I left her safe and sound. I need to make it to the river and leave this old Nebraska town."
"I think about my life gone by and how it's done me wrong," he sang higher. "There's no escape for me this time. All of my rescues are gone, long gone."
The music played and he went back to making faces at his costars. The words to the song fit the script perfectly. It was a story about a man named Henry who was accused of killing his girlfriend in Hazard, Nebraska. He was innocent, but found guilty. The biggest plot point of the movie was the appeal where Richard Gere tried to get the Supreme Court to overturn the guilty verdict. Julian McMahon played the district attorney who wanted Henry to die by lethal injection. Skyler played Henry.
"I swear I left her by the river. I swear I left her safe and sound. Oh I need to make it to the river and leave this old Nebraska town," he sang and then let the music fade.
"Perfect, Skyler," said Lou Retton from the booth. "Come on in here and have a listen."
"Sure," he said, smiling at the faces his costars were making at him.
He took off his headset and let himself out of the sound booth. Billy and Scott were laughing when he came in. He smirked at them before taking a seat. Lou pressed a few buttons and then the song filled the speakers. Skyler liked the sound and thought about how different this song was from the usual Skyler Thomas sound. It made him happy. He wanted to change things up quite a bit as soon as possible.
"I like the song, Sky," said Scott as he and Billy came to sit with him on the couch. "Way different than your other stuff though."
"Yeah," he replied. "Nice though."
"I love it," said Billy. "Fits the movie."
"That's what Guy said when he first got a look at the lyrics," Skyler said.
"Well, that's that," said Lou as the song played to its conclusion. "You're free to go, Skyler."
"Gotta get these boys to the airport, Lou," Skyler said, shaking the man's hand. "Thank you so much for all of your hard work."
"It was a pleasure, Skyler," Lou replied. "With you there wasn't much work involved."
"No, that's all you," laughed Skyler. "See you next year, Lou."
"Looking forward to it," replied Lou with a wide grin.
Two hours later, Skyler made it to his Los Angeles home after dropping his two friends off at the airport and picking up Jeff Timmons and Drew Lachey. The pair would be spending the New Year holiday with Skyler and his family. They were laughing over the way the press had nearly fallen over themselves to get pictures of them as they left the airport.
"Well you guys seem to be having fun," Chad said as they came into the house.
"You know me," laughed Skyler.
Jeff took Drew upstairs to show him where he'd be staying and Skyler followed Chad into the living room where Cassie was playing with Preston on the floor. It was still early enough in the day that Skyler didn't have to worry about much. They'd be meeting their Uncle Jase and cousin, Mike, for dinner at Genevieve on Rodeo Drive. This would be the first time any of them had seen their uncle, and Skyler hoped the man didn't want to talk business. With this being the first time that his father had seen his brother in over two decades Skyler wanted this to be about family and not business.
"I see those wheels turning in your head, Skyler Thomas," said Cassie as she looked up at him from the floor.
"No you don't," he laughed. "I'm not strategizing anything at the moment. Just thinking about how I'm going to spend my holiday with Jeff."
"Well as long as you haven't agreed to sing anywhere I think I'll stay off your back," she replied.
"Not to worry," he laughed. "I just recorded a song for the movie and that's all the singing I'm planning for a while."
"All right then," she said. "I guess I'll tell you that Renny called three times this morning. He said to call him back."
"Three directors in one day," laughed Skyler. "I don't know if I should feel honored or horrified."
"Go call Renny while I change Preston," she laughed.
Skyler went to his office and saw that Renny had left his private number. He called it and wound up disappointing the director some what. Renny was ready to start shooting the next Wheel Of Time movie, but Skyler was already shooting a movie with Guy. He explained this to Renny who asked that Guy contact him. In the end Skyler was happier than he was when he woke up that morning. This insured that he would be on movie sets for the better part of the year, making a concert tour impossible.
"What's got that smile on your face, Blondie?" Jeff asked as he and Drew came back downstairs.
"Renny Harlan," replied Skyler. "He wants to start shooting the next movie."
"You're already shooting a movie," said Drew.
"Right, and Renny wants Guy to call him with the shooting schedule," said Skyler. "But this means that with two movies, possibly back to back, there'll be no chance for a concert tour this year."
"That's great news, Sky," said Jeff, wrapping his arms around him and holding him tight. Jeff had been so worried when he'd had to leave the tour in Chicago and he wasn't itching to be without Skyler again like that any time soon.
"I'm happy with it," he said. "If I can find another movie I can delay a tour until well into the following year."
"Don't over do it with movies, though," cautioned Jeff. "It's going to be hard enough for us to spend time together without worrying about being around so many different celebrities all the time."
"Stop worrying, Blue Eyes," he said, holing him tighter. "We'll be fine. Movies are safer than the road. Trust me."
"What time do Brian and Kevin arrive?" Jeff asked when they let go of each other.
Brian and Kevin were coming to spend the New Year with them mostly to cause a stir with the tabloids. The foursome would be attending several parties on New Year's Eve and Brian had said he was in the mood to cause a little panic. Skyler had no idea what that was all about but he was happy to play with the tabloids a little more. They were still talking about the magazine issue with the four of them naked on the cover. Laura was still wide eyed over that and Skyler felt just a tiny bit sorry for putting her through it. So far the fan response had been outstanding. No one really thought any of them were gay, so what was the problem?
"They'll be here tomorrow morning," he replied. "We're supposed to pick them up. Their flight information is on my desk next to my notes from my conversation with Renny."
"You're going to be bad again aren't you?" Drew said with a wide grin on his face.
"You know me," replied Skyler with a matching grin. "They deserve it, Drew. Believe me after everything they've done to everybody it's high time someone played with them for a while."
"Not to mention what they did to you," said Jeff as he came up behind Skyler and wrapped his arms around him.
"Right," said Skyler, leaning his head back onto Jeff's shoulder. "We'll have some fun and yes, we'll be bad."
"Very bad," he laughed.
* * *
"I'm not doing it!" cried Justin Timberlake as he stood in the middle of Lance Bass's living room. "You can go if you want to, but I'm not going anywhere with JC or Chris."
"Curly, we have to be seen together," Lance said with a sigh.
"No we don't," snapped Justin. "We toured together and that was bad enough. I'm not doing it, Lance. I'm flying to Los Angeles in the morning to surprise Skyler. No one will talk me out of this."
"Justin you have commitments," said Johnny Wright who had remained silent until that moment.
"Fuck commitments," screamed Justin. "Nsync is over, Johnny. Sue me for breach of contract all you want, but it doesn't matter. I'm not having anything to do with this shit anymore. If anyone tries to stop me from leaving in the morning I'll find every reporter I can and out JC!"
He stormed out of the house and minutes later they heard his Jeep's engine as he shot out of the driveway. It had been like this since they'd come home from the tour. Justin had finally paid for his own bus and stopped traveling with them completely. Lynn was no help. She completely supported Justin in every decision he made and it was making everyone miserable. Lance wasn't any more happy with JC than Justin was, but he understood what it meant to honor his responsibilities.
Life in camp Nsync had become Hell as Skyler was seen in public more and more with Jeff Timmons. Things got worse when Lance met witch Carlos Marquez to have dinner while they were in Michigan to see Skyler's show. JC had snuck into the stands to see the show and then he'd freaked when he saw Lance leave with Carlos the next day.
With Justin's threats to Johnny it looked like Nsync was truly over. Lance just wasn't sure if he was upset about that or not.
Angel's Lullaby and Hazard are songs by Richard Marx.
The next chapter will be posted soon.