For Better, For Worse by sweet18_2003
FeatureSummary:  Jaime, Stephanie and Anna met the Backstreet Boys after a show near their hometown. Because of an attraction, Kevin gives Anna his number. Through this, Stephanie and Anna hook up with two of the other boys, however Anna refused to date Kevin because of a recent divorce, saying he is not ready to start another relationship so soon. When Kevin sees Anna out with another guy, he becomes jealous, taking off in a rage of anger. He's in a serious car accident, landing him in a temporary, or possible pernament state. Thorughout time, although some good does happen, things mostly continue to go downhill from there on out until he can't take it anymore. Can the love and support of friends help Kevin out to regain the life he once had, or will he never be the same again?
Categories: Fanfiction > Backstreet Boys Characters: None
Genres: Drama, Humor, Romance
Warnings: Violence
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 26 Completed: Yes Word count: 114645 Read: 3900 Published: 04/15/04 Updated: 03/28/05

1. Chapter One by sweet18_2003

2. Chapter Two by sweet18_2003

3. Chapter Three by sweet18_2003

4. Chapter Four by sweet18_2003

5. Chapter Five by sweet18_2003

6. Chapter Six by sweet18_2003

7. Chapter Seven by sweet18_2003

8. Chapter Eight by sweet18_2003

9. Chapter Nine by sweet18_2003

10. Chapter Ten by sweet18_2003

11. Chapter Eleven by sweet18_2003

12. Chapter Twelve by sweet18_2003

13. Chapter Thirteen by sweet18_2003

14. Chapter Fourteen by sweet18_2003

15. Chapter Fifteen by sweet18_2003

16. Chapter Sixteen by sweet18_2003

17. Chapter Seventeen by sweet18_2003

18. Chapter EIghteen by sweet18_2003

19. Chapter Nineteen by sweet18_2003

20. Chapter Twenty by sweet18_2003

21. Chapter Twenty-One by sweet18_2003

22. Chapter Twenty-Two by sweet18_2003

23. Authors NOte by sweet18_2003

24. Chapter Twenty-Three by sweet18_2003

25. Chapter Twenty-Four by sweet18_2003

26. Chapter Twenty-Five by sweet18_2003

Chapter One by sweet18_2003
A/N : I wrote this about a year ago. If I get feedback, I will continue to post a chapter every couple of days. If I don't get feedback, chances are I won't post much of it. So please let me know what you think. Things really start to pick up after the first few chapters. Thank you

Chapter One

“C’mon guys, hurry.” Anna yelled over the crowd that was piling out of the large arena. She ran, pushing past people, clutching her backstage pass in her fist as tightly as she could, and turned around, seeing that her friends, Jaime and Stephanie were still lagging behind, taking their time, “Come on, come on, come on,” she yelled, walking backwards, bumping into people the entire way. She knew that they should’ve left to go backstage right after the concert, when all of the fans were still screaming for the band to come back out. Now, everyone had given up, and was on their way out. She scowled at Stephanie’s idea to wait, that way all of the other backstagers would be gone, and they’d have the guys all to themselves.

“Anna,” Stephanie yelled back, “Chill. They’re going to be there for a while. Don’t worry.”

Anna didn’t get it. Stephanie was the biggest Backstreet Boys fan around, yet she was the one relaxed and taking her time. She shook her head, and turned around, continuing to run. She didn’t know how Stephanie had done it, but she’d managed to win a radio station contest for two backstage passes, and somehow managed to talk the station into giving her three instead, because there were three of them. Anna was greatful for that. No one was left out, everyone was happy. She kept running, approaching the top of the stairs that led to backstage, but was stopped short.

“You’re not aloud back here,” an enormous man informed her, crossing his arms over his barreling chest.

“But…I…but…” Anna stuttered, panicking, staring up at him. He was so tall that she could feel her neck starting to strain.

“I’m sorry,” he said, kinder this time.

Anna turned around, ready to leave, pouting when Stephanie and Jaime approached her, “We all have backstage passes,” Stephanie informed him, as she and Jaime pulled them out and showed them to him. Anna got the hint and unfolded her hand and showed him hers. He told them where to go, and stepped aside to let them pass by.

“Very good, oh smart one,” Stephanie said, rolling her eyes, “You have to SHOW the guard your pass to get back here, not expect him to read your mind that you’ve got one.”

“Excuse me for being excited,” Anna shot back, but she was smiling, walking as quickly as she could, “Where are they?” she asked

“Do I have to do everything?” Stephanie asked, pushing in front of Anna, “Follow me.” She demanded, “At least I know where I’m going.”

Anna sighed and looked over to Jaime. She was visibly shaking, but her smile was so wide that Anna thought it would spread off of her face. The two of them followed Stephanie, who rounded a corner and knocked on a door. Seconds later, it opened, and Kevin appeared wearing nothing but a towel wrapped around his waist. Anna’s eyes bugged out of her head at the sight. Kevin was her favorite Boy and it was her fantasy to see him in nothing but a towel, less than a towel would be even better. She silently urged the towel to slip and fall off of his body.

“Hi,” Stephanie said, “We have backstage passes.”

“Oh, yeah, right,” Kevin said, with a far away look in his eyes. He opened the door wider and invited them inside, “Everyone else is just talking. You can join them while I finish up in the bathroom.”

Kira breezed past him and over to the other four members of the Boys boldly and confidently with Jaime and Anna shyly approaching them behind her.

“You’re joking, right?” Stephanie asked, “My god, Anna, weren’t you the one rushing us?”

She nodded, not trusting her voice. The moment had come to meet her favorite band, and she was freaking out. Jaime had been quite ever since the show had ended. She looked behind her at Kevin, who was still at the doorway, looking out and around for a moment before closing it behind him with a sigh, and heading back toward the bathroom to clean up. Jaime and Stephanie followed her gaze, the three of them looking at each other puzzled.

“What’s his problem?” Stephanie asked nobody in particular.

“He just filed for divorce,” Nick said, “He keeps thinking that Kristin will show up begging for him to change his mind.”

The other three shot him a dirty look and Nick immediately knew that the information was supposed to be kept confidential.

“Don’t worry,” Stephanie said, “We won’t tell anybody. But what happened?”

“He walked in on her sleeping with another man. He refused to give it another chance. It’s been a week since she signed the papers. He’s really depressed about it, so just bear with him.” Brian said, “He’s really down and despite the situation, he misses her. It’s not hard to see”

Anna was smiling inside. Her favorite was almost available again, but she also knew that she would never have a chance with him. He was a star, she was a nobody. In a half hour, they would be on their way home, the meeting just a memory.

“I’m sure he’s upset,” Anna softly said.

The guys looked at one another, trying to figure out what she’d said, if anything because it had been so quiet. Minutes later, Kevin emerged from the bathroom in jeans and a plain black T-shirt. Everyone looked at him, their eyes following him as he walked over and sat down. The girls didn’t know what to say to him, with the new information that they’d received, the silence uncomfortable. They were blowing the only chance that they would ever have to talk to their Boys. Kevin looked from person to person and sighed, his gaze stopping at Nick.

“You told them, didn’t you?” he asked with a sigh

Nick blushed slightly, “It slipped?” Nick said sheepishly, expecting the man to start to yell, but nothing happened. He just stared off into space, the look of longing still in his green eyes.

“I’m really sorry,” Anna told him, boldly putting a hand on his leg comfortingly. Kevin distractedly shook his head clear, and looked over to her, staring for a moment too long. He looked away again, and took a deep breath.

“It’s okay,” he said, taking in a deep breath and exhaling slowly, “I’ll be fine.”

“I have my baseball bat in my car,” Stephanie joked, “Tell me where she lives and I’ll take care of her for you.”

Anna and Jaime laughed, but when they saw the horrified looks on all five guys faces, their laughter quickly died.

“Inside joke,” Jaime explained, and decided to change the subject, “The show was amazing.”

“Thank you,” A.J. said, flashing her his charming smile. He’d taken an interest to her the second he’d laid eyes on her and was dying for a chance to talk to her, “And your name is?”

“Jaime,” she replied.

“Jaime,” he repeated, tasting the sweet sound of her name on his lips. He liked how the word felt.

Stephanie pulled three CD booklets out of her purse and shoved them in Nick’s face, “Could you please sign these for us?” She asked

Nick’s eye caught hers and he smiled, “No problem,” he said, “What’s your name?”

“Steph,” she told him, deciding to not make him have to guess at the spelling any more than he had to. Simple was good for Nick.

“Pretty name,” he muttered, making it out to her and passing it down the line, and starting the other two, remembering Stephanie had talked to Anna and A.J. had just asked Jaime’s name. He shook his head, still smiling. He knew that Steph would just have to be another fan attraction, but he felt that there could be more if given enough time. He reached down to his crotch and scratched, without realizing it after passing the last of the CD booklets along.

“So the rumors are true,” Steph laughed, “There was never any doubt in my mind though.”

Nick looked down and self-consciously brought his hand back up. Everyone laughed but Kevin, who was lost in his own world again.

“We’re all really sorry about him,” Howie apologized, “He’s been like this ever since he found out.”

Stephanie and Jaime shrugged while Anna smiled sympathetically, “It’s okay. I know how hard it must be on him. We were all wondering why he was a little off. I guess this explains it.”

Just then, there was a knock on the door. Nick got up and opened it.

“It’s time for you guys to get on the bus.” He informed them, “You need to check into the next hotel by two in the morning.”

The girls stuck out their bottom lip in a pout as the guys got up and hugged each of them, except for Kevin, who was still staring into space.

“Kev,” Brian gently said, shaking him. Kevin looked up, “It’s time to go.”

Kevin stood up and hugged the girls, saving Anna for last. He hugged her longer than anyone by a few seconds, then followed his band mates out of the room. The girls watched them leave, and waved, thanking them when Stephanie gasped.

“Wait,” she called after them.

The guys all turned around while she rummaged through her purse and brought out a camera, “Could we please get a picture with you?”

The guys smiled and walked back into the room with the man who had come to get them. Stephanie handed the man the camera and he snapped a few pictures, and handed the camera back to her. They said their goodbyes again and left the room. Kevin stared after them, and at the door even after they’d gone.

“Yo, Kev, over here,” A.J joked, “Snap out of it.”

Kevin looked over to him. He couldn’t help but think about Anna. He wished that he could get to know her better, but the chance had slipped past him.

“If you like her that much, run and give her your number, before it’s too late.” Brian said.

“But, Kris…”

“Try to move on…Anna would be a good friend, at least,” Howie urged him.

Kevin hesitated. It would be great to be able to talk to her…he quickly tore a small piece of paper off of a sheet of stationary and jotted his cell number down quickly and got up, running out the door. He wasn’t going to let the chance get by him. He ran down the narrow hallway and out into the arena. He looked around at all of the clean up crew and spotted the girls just at the doorway, opening it to get to the parking lot.

“Wait,” he yelled.

The three stopped and turned around as he ran as fast as he could toward them. Breathless, he handed his number to Anna without a word, and turned around, running back to meet the guys on the bus before they left without him.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Anna looked at the number, wondering if it was a joke. She’d tried calling it three times already and still had no answer. She and her friend had decided on getting a hotel room for the night. All three were too tired to risk the five-hour drive back home. Her heart had pounded so hard when he’d run up to her, of all people. But with every hopeful try, her confidence got lower and lower. It had to be a joke. After all, Kevin had been quiet the entire time. And why would a star give her his number? It made no sense and she’d been foolish to believe that it had in the first place.

“Try again in the morning,” Stephanie said, “They’re probably all asleep by now.”

Anna smiled tightly, looking at the number again, and picking up the hotel phone. She was going to try one last time for the night, while she still had the courage. She dialed the number carefully to ensure that she didn’t misdial any numbers and put it to her ear. She listened to it ring ten times before giving up and starting to hang up when she heard an answer.

“Hello?” said a breathless male voice.

“Hi,” she said softly, “Is Kevin there?”

Stephanie smacked her forehead and rolled her eyes.

“This is him,” he replied, “May I ask who’s calling?”

“Anna, from the show,” she told him.

There was a pause and for a moment, Anna thought that he’d hung up.

“Oh, yeah. Sorry it took so long to answer.”

“It’s fine.”

“I’m glad you called,” he said

Anna smiled to herself, deciding not to tell the man that she’d tried many times before and almost gave up on him. She didn’t want to depress him when he was doing so well for the time being. She couldn’t shake the image out of her head of him sitting there, looking so lost and upset. She was distracted by a voice coming from somewhere in the background.

“Is that the chick from the concert?”

“Yes, Nick,” Kevin replied


“Get Step’s number for me?” he asked

“No, Nick”

“Please?” he asked

Anna laughed, “I’ll give Nick her number okay?” She looked over to Stephanie who was sitting up, looking at her with question in her eyes.

“Get Jaime’s for me,” A.J voice said, coming in.

Anna gave Kevin both of their cell phone number and home numbers. She could hear Kevin sigh in disgust as he jotted down the numbers and handed them to the guys who were smiling like goons.

“Can I get your number and get back to you later?” he asked her, “It’s impossible to talk with them around.”

“Oh, sure,” Anna replied, slightly disappointed, but then remembered that she was lucky to even be talking to him.

“Tell Stephie I said HI,” Nick yelled.

“And Jaime,”

She could hear more than two laughing voices in the background and she rolled her eyes.

“Goodnight, Anna,” Kevin said, trying to sound nice, but she could tell that he was perturbed.

“Goodnight, Kevin,” she replied, leaving the receiver to her ear until she heard the click of him hanging up first. When she did, she gently replaced the receiver down.

“So, what did he say?” Jaime asked, too impatient to wait.

“Nothing, because Nick and A.J. kept interrupting. They said Hi, and wanted your numbers, by the way. I gave them to them.”

Jaime smiled to herself. A.J. had wanted to talk to her. She hoped that he called her. Stephanie was also happy, but didn’t want to show it too much. She could tell that Nick liked her. It wasn’t hard to read a mans’ mind…especially a man with a small mind.

“Poor Kevin,” Stephanie said, shaking her head, “He really did seem upset. I mean, years of marriage destroyed in one second. I can’t believe that they didn’t get my joke though.”

“Steph, we all know it wasn’t a joke this time,” Jaime cut in, “If it were up to you, you’d have that bat in her head.”

Stephanie sighed, “Yeah, your right. Nobody hurts one of my Boys and gets away with it.”

Anna cleared her throat, “Excuse me, but they may not all be yours for much longer.”

Just then, one of their cell phones started to ring. They all grabbed for them and Jaime squealed, running to the door.

“Hello,” she answered, “Hey, what’s up?” she winked at the other girls, slipping out into the vacant hallway, letting the door close behind her to ensure her privacy.

“So, why do you think Kevin gave me his number when he is so upset about Kristin?” Anna asked the girl who had a logical answer to everything.

“Maybe he needed a friend to talk to,”
Stephanie replied with a shrug.

Anna looked to the ground. She’d hoped that maybe…just maybe he would want more with her.

“Listen, he really cared about Kristin,” Stephanie said, reading her mind, “The last thing he needs is a new relationship. What he needs is a friend who’ll listen. Try to understand. He’s hurting right now.”

“I could tell,” Anna said, and she really understood. She’ been hurt many times by the male species.

Anna got under the covers of her bed deciding to try and get some sleep. Stephanie sighed, knowing that Nick wasn’t going to call her tonight. If he didn’t in the next week, she would get a hold of him through Anna or Jaime. It would be an easy enough task to take care of. She turned out the lights, knowing she should sleep as well. They had to get out of the hotel by 10:00 in the morning. Minutes later, Jaime walked into the room, and crawled into her bed.

“Girls,” she whispered, “A.J. wants to get together tomorrow with me and I agreed. They’re a few towns away, but he’s coming back to get me.”

“Change of plans,” Stephanie said, “Sleep in as late as you want. Chances are, we’ll all end up spending the day with the boys.”

Anna smiled under the covers. She was happy that the possibilities were high that she’d get to see Kevin, and get to know him, face to face.
Chapter Two by sweet18_2003
Chapter Two

Anna didn’t sleep for more than two hours that night. All she could think about was Kevin. She hoped that she’d get a chance to talk to him without the two younger Boys interrupting, or even get a chance to see him. After the show, he’d seemed so distant and kept spacing out. She’d noticed during the show too that his movements were mechanical and he wasn’t very into performing. Not like he used to be like in the shows she’d seen before. He seemed un-enthusiastic about life. But none-the-less, he’d given her his number. That had to count for something. Maybe he wanted to move on, maybe he just wanted a friend, but either way, she had a good feeling that she was about to become close with him in one way or another.

Stephanie woke up early to extend their stay in the hotel until the next morning. She knew that if they were with the Boys, then they wouldn’t be getting in until very late. She hoped that they’d get to see the show, but knew that if they didn’t, it wasn’t meant to happen.

At exactly eleven in the morning, a knock came to the door. Jaime rushed over to it, quickly running her fingers through her dark brown shoulder length hair, and opened it. A.J. stood there holding a bouquet of pink roses, a huge grin on his face.

“Told ya I was prompt.” He said.

Jaime laughed, “Most guys are late. I figured you’d be no different.”

A.J acted wounded from the comment, but quickly recovered. Jaime let him inside the room. Stephanie waved casually to him and Anna just smiled.

“Wait here. I’ll just be another five minutes or so.” Jaime told him.

“And you said that I would be late,” he joked, taking a seat in a chair placed in the corner of the room.

Stephanie snickered a little, “I know that you take longer than most women when it comes to getting ready. Hell, Anna only takes twenty-five
minutes.”

“Is Kevin going to be around?” Anna asked, ignoring the comment about her short time spent getting ready in the morning.

“I don’t know. You might want to call him. He’s still acting like a retard over Kristin. I don’t know how much company he would be.”

Anna nodded. She hoped that Stephanie didn’t end up going out with Nick. If she did, that would mean that she’d be left alone in the hotel watching old reruns of childish shows.

Just then, Stephanie’s cell phone rang. She dashed over to her purse and dug around in it, bringing up her neon green cell phone. She quickly and breathlessly brought it to her ear.

“Hello,” she said, and a bright smile formed on her face immediately after finding out who it was.

“Hey beautiful,” said the voice on the other end, “Remember me? Tall blonde guy from last night.”

“Of course I do,” she gushed, “And you’ve got blonde right.” She teased him good-naturedly.

“I’m naturally brunette,” he said, totally missing what Stephanie was really talking about.

“That went way over your head,” she said, her voice full of sarcasm, “Anyways, what’s up with you this morning?”

“Oh, not much. How bout you look out your window and find out for yourself.” Nick said, his voice full of secrecy.

“What are you up to?” Stephanie asked, making her way over to the window and peeking outside of the curtains, looking out the window and down five stories below her. She saw Nick standing there in disguise, holding a fist full of daisies. She smiled to herself, “So, I suppose you want me to come down there?”

“That would be the plan,” Nick laughed, “I want to get to know you. Kevin has nothing planned for the day, so me and Aje are taking advantage of it.”

“Can you hold on for ten minutes?” she asked, “I gotta jump in the shower really quick. You can wait in the lobby for me.”

“Do I have to?” Nick whined, “As soon as I am recognized, which could be any second here, I’ll be mobbed.”

“Then I suggest that you make sure nobody recognizes you,” Stephanie told him, “Or just be a big boy and deal with it if somebody does. I’ll be down in twenty minutes, okay Nicky.”

“I thought it was ten,” he protested.

“I lied. See ya soon,” she laughed, hanging up.

She smiled, placing her phone back into her purse, and looked up, seeing Anna looking at her, question all over her face.

“I’m going out with Nick,” she said, dashing into the bathroom before anybody else could claim it as theirs before her.

Anna sighed, “Guess it’s just me and a date with the Disney Channel today,” she said, flipping on the TV.

“Kevin might show up or call,” A.J. offered, hoping to encourage her, “He tends to sometime do things on the spur of the moment. It’s not often, but sometimes, he doesn’t have to be organized.”

Anna shrugged, “Maybe. If not, I’ll have fun here by myself.”

A.J. didn’t look convinced, giving her a look that said he didn’t believe her, “I’m nineteen. I can entertain myself for a day.” she kidded with a grin, “Ya’ll go have fun today.”

Jaime emerged from the bathroom hallway minutes later, looking behind her in confusion, shaking her head.

“Did I miss something, or is Steph just in a really big hurry to get ready for the day early for once? She pushed me out of there.”

“Nick is downstairs waiting for her,” Anna told her, “She’s going out with him I guess.”

“Ohhhh, well that explains a lot,” Jaime laughed, grabbing a jacket off the top of her backpack, “C’mon, lets get out of here.” She said to A.J, “If you need anything, Anna, call my cell.”

“I’ll be fine,” she told her friend, practically pushing them out the door, “Go have fun or else…”

Jaime’s eyes widened to Anna’s threat. She grabbed her purse and did a quick check to make sure she had everything that she might need. A.J. got up off of the chair and went toward the door, opening it for Jaime.

“Such a gentleman,” Jamie joked, then turned around, “Well, see ya later.” She said to Anna, “Tell Steph that I left. Bye!”

Her and A.J. slipped out the door, letting it close behind them. Anna sighed, flipping through the channels, knowing that nothing good would even be on that early into the afternoon. She wished that Kevin would call her, but knew that the chances were slim with every moment that passed. She obviously wasn’t worth his time. Anna wondered why he even gave her his number if he didn’t want to talk to her. Minutes later, Stephanie came out of the bathroom, pushing a new stud through her belly button. She looked around for a moment, confusion written all over her face. Anna could tell that she’d put on a little makeup and done something different with her hair. Definitely not like the Stephanie she’d known for so many years.

“Where’s Jamie?” she asked

“Her and A.J. left already,” she informed her, not even looking up from the cheesy talk show she’d settled on. She sprawled out on her stomach, laying her chin on a pillow, not fully paying attention to the TV, but pretending that she was.

Stephanie walked over to the window and glanced outside, seeing that Nick was gone. She knew that he had followed her orders and went into the lobby to wait. Quickly grabbing a few dollars out of her wallet, she stuffed it into the pocket of her skin tight, super low-rise jeans and headed toward the door.

“I’m gonna get outta here, kay,” she said, not really asking for permission, but rather telling her friend, “Can’t keep Nick waiting too long. He’s got the attention span of a gnat.”

Anna laughed a little, “Yeah. Can’t keep the boy waiting. God forbid.” She teased, mocking her friend who usually said the same exact thing to her and Jamie, because she normally wasn’t this eager to go out with a boy. But this wasn’t just any boy, so she decided that it would be her friends one and only exception for dating.

Stephanie looked at her friend funny before speaking, “If you decide to go anywhere, leave a note or something,” she called, and then she was gone, just as quickly as Jaime had left with A.J.

“Left out again,” Anna muttered, taking in the silence. She considered going down to the pool, but remembered that none of this had been in their agenda, and that she had no bathing suit with her. Plus she’d already showered and was clean for the day. She didn’t feel like getting another shower to wash away the feeling of chlorine and little kids pee that would reek all over her skin for the rest of the day if she didn’t. Getting up, Anna grabbed her room key off of the nightstand and walked out the door, deciding to go downstairs and have breakfast. It would at least keep her busy for fifteen or twenty minutes.

Making her way down the stairs to get exercise instead of using the elevator, she looked around until she could see the breakfast buffet. She finally found it in a small room outside the lobby. Going inside, she stopped. All that was left were a couple of bagels, one box of shredded wheat and coffee. She made a face and grabbed a bagel, slabbing it with a little bit of strawberry jelly and sitting down at one of the tables.

“This is what happens when you’re late,” she muttered, taking a small bit of the dried out bagel, forcing it to go down.

Anna could hear that somebody else had come in behind her. She thought about warning them of the quality of the food, but decided to just let them find out for themselves like she’d had to do keeping her back turned.

“You know, you really don’t have to eat that excuse for food,” a male voice said, coming up closely.

“Yes, I really do,” she remarked with a sigh, looking down at it. She’d long since lost her appetite due to it, “My friends took the car for the day, and I have no way to get to any place decent. It’s either this, or starve and get up earlier tomorrow morning, if we stay later than today.”

“No, you really don’t,” the voice argued again, and she could tell that he was smiling by his friendly tone, “I’ll take you somewhere good.”

“I don’t even know you,” Anna said, standing up, and turning around to find herself face to face with the one and only Kevin Richardson, “Oh, hi.” She shyly said, blushing a little, “I didn’t recognize your voice. How did you find me? I mean…why are you
hear.” She stuttered.

“Easy,” he remarked, “I’m here to see you, of course. I called A.J. and asked him what hotel you were staying at. He told me, and gave me directions, and I came as fast as I could. I went up to your room at first, because he told me that too, but I guess I just missed you”

“I guess,” she laughed, “I took the stairs.”

“I took the elevator,” he said, “Less chance of being mobbed by fans hiding in the stairwells.” He said, half-way joking.

Anna grinned at him, “I got bored. Lame place to be for entertainment, huh?” she asked, picking up the remainder of the three fourths bagel and tossing it into a garbage can close by, “That’s enough of that. I don’t want to get food poisoning from it. Chances are, I would.”

“Come with me. My limo is waiting outside. I’ll take you somewhere that someone as special as you deserves.”

Anna blushed a little, “I um…I’m fine.” She told him, “I can just stop by the grocery store across the street and pick something up for dinner later on.”

“Then will you at least come with me for the day?” he asked, his eyes almost pleading, “You’ll have a good time. I’ll make sure of it.”

Anna thought for a moment. She really did want to go out with him. Hadn’t it been what she’d been thinking about for the past day? But now that the opportunity had come up, she was nervous. She knew though that she had to answer fast, so he could go about his day no matter what.

“I’d love to,” she told him, “Let me go and get my purse and leave Steph a note telling her that I left.”

Kevin looked at her strangely, raising an eyebrow and Anna couldn’t help but laugh at the expression on his handsome face. God he’s
gorgeous she thought to herself, knowing such thoughts were sinful when he was going through such a hard time. But he was acting normal today.

“Stephanie is kind of the protective mother of me and Jaime. She’d worry if I was gone when she got back and there was no trace of me.”

They had since left the small excuse of a cafeteria and were slowly making their way to the elevator.

“Ohhh,” Kevin said, “That explains a lot. I guess I’m kind of the father of the Boys when we’re on the road. But lately, Brian has taken over the role. I haven’t been much help to anyone lately.”

“I’m really sorry about your wi…well, you know,” she said, putting her hand on his shoulder, not wanting to say the words out loud and upset him.

Kevin winced a little remembering that he would be a divorced man in less than two weeks, but quickly recovered, “Some days I’m okay, others, like last night, I’m a mess.” He explained to her, “I never know what kind of day its going to be, but one little thing can change a good day. Like today, so far, I’m good. I’m with a beautiful, sweet girl who I’m going out with. But lets say that I pass a florist and see her favorite flower, all the memories come back and it makes me like I was last night. I don’t even realize what I do. The guys’ have video taped me during one of my spells. It’s not pretty.”

He chuckled, and Anna was happy that he seemed to be in higher spirits. She hoped that nothing would bring him down on their day out.

“I was worried yesterday when I met you and saw you like that. When the guys told me what was wrong, I was taken aback. For the record though, you didn’t deserve what she did to you.” Anna offered, hoping to make him feel better.

Kevin shrugged, “Well, I obviously wasn’t doing something right, or else she wouldn’t have done it.”

Anna thought for a moment. He made a clear point. People didn’t cheat without reason for doing so. Unless that person was just twisted and wanted all that they could get no matter what.

“Maybe it was because you’re never home because of touring and all,” Anna said aloud.

Kevin gave her another strange look, only this time, he looked pained and as if he were suffering.

“Not that that should make any difference,” she quickly covered, “I mean…okay, I’m just going to shut up now. Here’s my room.” She said, pulling her key out of her back jeans pocket and slipping it into the door’s key reader. The lights flashed and she opened the door, grabbing her purse off of the chair by the door and letting it close again.

“Okay, let’s go,” she said, smiling up at him with fake brightness, knowing that she’d already screwed up and offended him.

She started to walk ahead of him, leading the way down the hall and back to the elevator. She always hated elevators but wasn’t going to admit it to Kevin. It seemed childish and stupid.

“You don’t have to shut up,” he said, “I deserved it. But she knew about my touring when we started our relationship. If it got to be too much for her to handle, she should’ve come to be about it.”

Anna was uncomfortable, not knowing what to say to him, terrified of making things worse than they already were.

“You know what,” she said, “Lets forget this and talk about something happy. We are, after all, going to have fun today.”

The two approached the limo and the driver was already there, holding the door open for them. Anna thanked him and crawled into the back, her eyes widening at the sight of it. The place was about as big as her hotel room. Kevin stepped in ducking so he wouldn’t hit his head and sat down beside her. Anna continued to look around, seeing that there was a Champaign bottle in the center inside a crystal bucket of ice. She saw that there were pink carnations all over the back in classy décor and for the first time, she noticed the soft, sweet harmony of music.

“You think of everything, don’t you, Mr. Romantic.” She said softly.

“I tried. I wanted it to be special just for you,” he said, then looked worried, his normally confidence personality slipping, “You like it, don’t you? Is it too much? If it is, I can quickly change it.”

Anna laughed, “It’s all perfect, Kevin.” She said, “I love it. Thank you.”

She leaned in and kissed him on the cheek, something she normally wouldn’t do on a first date, especially someone she’d just met. Kevin could feel his cheeks starting to flush a little, his body tingling.

“Okay,” he said, “I’m happy you like it. Now lets get going. I’ve got a day full of surprises and events planned out for you.”

He tapped on the window separating the driver from them and it opened. He leaned up and whispered something to the driver and they were off. Anna smiled to herself, curiosity getting the best of her of just what Kevin had in store for the day.
Chapter Three by sweet18_2003
Chapter Three

Nick took Stephanie out to an amusement park that day that was in the general area. He knew that they would be pressing time, but wanted to take her out for a day full of adventure and thrills. Plus he figured since A.J. and Kevin were out as well, he wouldn’t have to hurry as much as normal. He still couldn’t believe that he was out with such an amazing girl. He’d found that they had a lot in common. He was glad that he had jumped at the chance to get her number before Kevin had gotten off the phone with Anna. He just hoped that Kevin would have more of a personality so he didn’t scare the girl away. He seemed to have an interest in her and him and the other three guys felt he needed a female to keep his mind off of Kristin. Especially until the divorce was final and a little while afterwards. It was all that he thought about and it was affecting his looks, personality and stage performance.

“Nicky,” Stephanie yelled, interrupting his thoughts, “Lets go on that!” she exclaimed, pointing straight ahead of them.

Nick looked and saw a coaster that was higher than his eyes could see. He looked up and saw that it disappeared well into the clouds. His eyes widened and his mouth dropped. He squeezed his eyes shut, hoping that when he opened them, the height would have been nothing other than an illusion. He opened his eyes again and took a second glance. No such luck.

“Sure…wha…what ever you want,” he stuttered, trying not to sound like he was too afraid of the beast of a track that was ahead of him. He didn’t want her thinking that he was some sort of pussy. He loved roller coasters, just not ones that were quite so large and high off of the ground.

Stephanie started to run toward the line with Nick close behind her. She quickly dodged a bunch of people, slipping in between the ropes and in position behind the last person before her. Nick tried her motives, but didn’t quite make it because of his height and clumsiness. He gave up, walking around the gate and through the lines, cutting in front of a few people to get back to Stephanie.

“Hey,” someone yelled, “In the back, ass hole.”

“Yeah,” someone else joined in, “We were here first.”

Nick started to protest, but Stephanie was too quick to let him get a word in for himself.

“It’s okay. He’s with me,” she called, shooting the man a dirty glare. He stepped aside, as did everyone else that was ahead of Nick, letting him reunite with who he’d come with.

“This is why you should keep up,” Stephanie said with a smirk, “We wouldn’t have to deal with these kinds of things if you did.”

“Very funny,” Nick said, shaking his head, quickly catching on to the fact that Stephanie was definitely a very sarcastic person. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out.

The line inched forward slowly through the winding long maze of rope leading up to the coaster. Nick could tell that Stephanie was anticipating getting on the ride but he wasn’t. He didn’t know how long they’d been in line, but before he knew it, they were being strapped into the ride.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” a voice came on over the intercom, “Please make sure your safety belts are fastened tightly. Please keep your arms and legs inside the ride at all times. Leave all valuables in the control room to be picked up afterwards. We are not responsible for lost items. Now sit back and experience the most terrifying thrill of your lives.”

Nick gulped as the voice faded away. Did she just say the most terrifying thrill? It was just a figure of speech right? Or was she serious. He hoped not, but the knot in his stomach told him that he knew that it was for real. He squeezed his eyes shut, wishing that this would just be over with. He felt a rather violent jolt as the ride started to move forward, and less than a second later, it was off, going at over one hundred miles per hour, up the enormous first hill and lurching over it. He felt as if it could fly right off of the steel track. The coaster winded through many loops and twists, making Nick lose track of how many he’d tried counting to calm himself. Now his stomach was in turmoil, and he hoped that he didn’t throw up right then and there. The car continued to accelerate forward on the winding track and Nick wondered if it would ever end. He felt as if he’d been on it for hours instead of a few short minutes. When the ride halted to a stop, Nick was almost afraid to open his eyes, for fear that it might take off again. But he knew that it was over when he felt the seatbelt loosening and the harness lifting up. He opened his eyes and quickly scrambled off of the ride, taking the steps two at a time to the bottom, breathing a sigh of relief when his feet touched the safety of the pavement. Stephanie followed closely behind him, a huge grin plastered to her pretty face.

“That was so much fun,” she exclaimed, “Let’s go again.”

Nick drew back, searching for an excuse to not go on the ride again. After that experience, he was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to stand the merry go round in Kiddie Land without freaking out. But he would never admit that to Stephanie. Not if he wanted a shot at dating her long term…or even short term. Admitting that he was more afraid than she, a girl, was would not only bruise his fragile male ego, but also damage her respect toward him, if she even had any to begin with.

“Um, do you really want to wait in that two hour long line again?” he asked, “We could do so much more if we didn’t.”

Stephanie looked thoughtful for a moment, considering his point. She glanced down at her watch. They would have to leave in three hours to get Nick back to the hotel to meet with the other two Boys so that they could get to their show on time. If they spent the majority of the time in a line, they would have no time for anything else.

“You’re right,” she said, “Lets go find something else to do until we have to get you to the show.”

Nick breathed a sigh of relief, repositioning his red haired wig, hat and sunglasses that he’d worn to disguise himself. Stephanie started to walk away, a knowing smile on her lips.

“What’s so funny?” Nick asked, curious to what was making her begin to laugh, shaking her head in amusement.

“I know you were afraid,” she told him.

Nick started to protest, “No, I wasn’t. I…we don’t have much time left together. Let’s make the most of it.”

“Then why are you whiter than my normal shade of pasty white, oh smart one?” she asked in her sarcastic voice, reaching out, putting her arm next to his comparing their skin tones.

Nick looked down and saw that she was right. He was almost a shade lighter than she was. A blush arose on his cheeks, making them a rosy pink.

“Yep, you were afraid,” she said matter-o-factly.

Nick didn’t even try to argue this time. There was no use even trying to deny what she’d already figured out. Nothing got past the girl, but for some reason, it made him all the more attracted to her.
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“Kevin,” Anna repeated for the fourth time, waving her hand in front of his face, “KEVIN.”

Still getting no response from him, she slumped back in her seat and crossed her arms, yawning. It wasn’t that she was bored, it was just that she’d hoped to have a fun filled day with him, and he’d been spacing out the entire time. She was lucky to get five minutes conversation in with him without some interruption. Nathan, the waiter at the fancy, expensive restaurant he’d taken her to came up to their table, distracting her from her thoughts.

“Would you like some more water?” he asked her, smiling flirtatiously.

“Um, yes, please,” Anna replied, forcing herself to smile back.

“How about your friend?” he asked, nodding toward Kevin who was staring blankly at the wall, “Or would he even notice?”

Anna laughed, realizing that he was right. Kevin wouldn’t notice. He hadn’t noticed anything that had gone on all day, including the couple on the sidewalk completely naked. She’d pointed them out to him, laughing out loud, but he continued to stare straight ahead, a dumb expression on his face.

“He’ll notice,” Anna lied, defending the man, although she had no clue why she was doing so.

Nathan shrugged and poured some water into Kevin’s glass. Anna sighed, wishing that her date would snap out of it already. If this was what he was like around the group, then it was no wonder they all wanted to kill him by now. Anna looked up again and saw that the waiter was still standing above her.

“I know this is bold, considering you are on a date, but you don’t seem to be having a good time” he said, “So I’m going to give you my number.”

The waiter pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket and scrawled his name and number out on it, and handed it to her with a smile.

“If you ever want to go out, give me a call.”

“I will,” she told him softly, squeezing the paper tightly in her palm.

Nathan placed their bill on the table and walked away. Anna tried to awake Kevin from his trance but still had no luck. She sighed and opened her purse, leaving a fifty and a twenty on the table, figuring the waiter could keep the remainder. All she wanted to do was get out of the restaurant and fast. It was humiliating having her date sitting there with glazed eyes looking like he was mentally handicapped, even more so with his disguise. All of a sudden, Kevin shook his head and looked around at his surroundings confused. He then looked to Anna with question in his eyes.

“I did it again, didn’t I?” he asked.

Anna nodded, not wanting to look at him. She would have had more fun in the hotel room with her childish shows.

“I’m sorry,” Kevin said softy. Anna looked up and saw that his eyes were full of apology, letting her know that he was sincere.

“Let’s just get out of here,” Anna said, standing up.

Kevin stood up behind her and together they walked out of the restaurant. Once outside, Anna remembered the waiter’s number that was still nestled into her hand. Guilt overcame her for even thinking of dating another guy when she was on a date with someone else. She opened her hand, letting it fall onto the sidewalk as she continued to walk away toward Kevin’s limo. It was then that he once again got the dazed look in his eyes, and froze, standing still. Anna rolled her eyes and sighed. Looking behind her, she saw the paper beginning to blow away from the wind. She quickly ran back and retrieved it, putting it safely into her pocket before running back to Kevin. The limo pulled up right next to them and the driver got out and opened the door for them. Anna got behind Kevin and tried to push him into the open door with all her strength. He wouldn’t budge and Anna realized that she wasn’t strong enough to push the man that was just about twice her size.

“Could you maybe give me a hand?” she asked Kevin’s driver.

“Sure,” he replied with a smile, as if he were all too used to this kind of thing happening lately.

With the help of the driver, whom Anna had gotten a glance at his nametag and saw that he was called Lance, the two of them pushed Kevin into the spacious back area. Anna got in behind him and let the driver shut the door behind them. She stared out the window, understanding why Kevin was acting the way that he was, but wondering why she wasn’t good enough to give him a good time and let him forget about his soon to be ex wife for just one day. Anna figured that after that day, she would never see Kevin again. She would definitely call the waiter. He only lived three hours away. They could definitely make something work or try to at least. All it would take was a phone call and a little plan making. Suddenly, Anna was excited about this. Maybe her date with Kevin hadn’t gone over well, but there were always other fish in the sea and she had a feeling that she had already caught one. Now all she had to do was reel him in.
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Jaime smiled as she took a sip of her cappuccino as A.J. finished telling her a story about how one of their shows went completely wrong. Brian had forgotten his entire solo in a song, and Howie had made up words for it. The fans had looked at them in total confusion. Nick had tripped and fallen into the drums, knocking them over and Kevin had swallowed wrong, chocking on his water right when he was supposed to sing, making somebody else sing his part for him.

“So I guess even you guys have bad days,” Jaime said with a laugh. She had always been under the impression that the Boys were absolutely perfect and never made mistakes…ever.

A.J. nodded and pulled out a menu off of the table next to them, looking it over for what they could get for dessert. They had decided to go to a little coffee shop there in town. They thought that it would be fun and relaxing giving them a chance to talk and get to know each other. A.J. had an idea, but he would have to talk it over with Kevin when they all met again in a few hours. The way he was acting, A.J. was almost sure that he wouldn’t have a problem with it.

“Yeah, we have our days,” A.J. said aloud, “We’ve all thrown up at least once on stage because we’ve insisted on performing while we were sick and really had no business being out on stage. That’s always embarrassing but we hate disappointing the fans, so we suck it up and hope we can keep everything inside.”

Jaime giggled, not even beginning to picture the sexy man barfing all over the stage in front of hundreds of thousands of people. A waitress came up to the table and A.J. ordered a slice of Mocha Chocolate Cheesecake.

“I’m really glad that we got to see each other today,” Jaime said, “It was awesome meeting you guys last night, but I was hoping that I would get to know you better somehow.”

“I had had my eye on you the whole night last night,” A.J. admitted, “Kevin getting the balls to give Anna his number inspired me to ask you out if Anna actually called. I’m glad that she did.”

Jaime smiled. Even if she never saw or spoke to her idol again after that day, she would still have a lifetime of memories of the special time that they’d had. Nothing could take it away from her. But she was going to be sure to ask if they could keep in touch. It was one thing she wasn’t going to be shy about.

“I still kind of feel bad for leaving Anna at the hotel alone,” Jaime said, “I hope she found something fun to do.”

I didn’t want to say anything there,” A.J. said, “But Kevin mentioned maybe going to see her. I didn’t want to get Anna’s hopes up though in case he didn’t show. Chances are, he did. They’re probably out having a good time, or at least on the phone together. I know he really likes Anna, but he’s also not nearly over Kristin yet. Not even close, to be honest. He’s just confused right now.”

“So, what’s the whole deal with Kevin anyway?” Jaime asked, “I always thought that he would be mature and strict. From what I saw last night, he was, um…not at all what I’d thought he would be like.”

A.J. chuckled to himself trying to find the most delicate words to explain what Kevin was going through.

“Well, as you found out last night,” A.J. began, “He found out that his wife had been cheating on him. He really loved that woman, although I personally can’t see why. She sure didn’t have much. Anyways, it’s been messing him up emotionally ever since and it will until he feels he can move on. The mere reminder of her sends him into some sort of…freakish trance.”

“Oh, wow,” Jaime whispered, astounded at the more in depth information she’d been told, “I never thought that a guy like Kevin would get screwed up over a girl. I mean, you all seem nice and all, you always had, but Kevin just seemed like he wouldn’t let anything affect him no matter how bad it was or is.”

Jaime knew that she was rambling, but she didn’t want A.J. get the impression that she thought that they were the typical, rich snobby celebrities. She had always thought from interviews and magazine articles that they seemed to be really nice and down to earth. Now she was finding out that she was right.

“Oh yeah,” A.J. replied seriously, “Kevin may seem a little gruff sometimes, but he means well. Deep down, he’s like a big soft teddy bear. Hell, Nick and I have been pretty fucked up over chicks too.”

Jaime knew this from information that Stephanie had fed them throughout the years. She had always wondered though if they just acted upset to look good publicly or if they really had been upset over being dumped. She had never really thought that guys would be upset over such a thing.

“Just because we’re guys doesn’t mean we don’t have emotions too,” A.J. explained, reading her mind.

Jaime blushed, trying to cover for herself, “No, that’s…it’s not what I meant.” She stuttered, almost sure that A.J. would get upset with her stereotyping and leave without another word.

A.J. reached over and put a hand on top of hers and smiled at her, “No need to apologize,” he said, “Don’t worry bout it. It’s a common misconception, especially when people think that you can get another somebody without a problem. That’s not always true. Sometimes we just don’t want anybody.”

Jaime sighed, happy that she hadn’t pissed him off, “I’m really sorry,” she apologized, “Spend years with Steph and her conceptions of guys will rub off on you without you realizing it.”

A.J. laughed, “She’d better be good to Nick. He’s a big softy and really sensitive. After what that bitch Willa did to him, if she has that attitude, he’ll think that she just doesn’t like him.”

“Oh, believe me, “Jaime said, “She likes him…a lot.” If only Jaime could tell him just how true that was.
Chapter Four by sweet18_2003
Chapter Four

Anna slammed the hotel room door shut and threw her purse down. Falling onto the bed, she didn’t hold back. She screamed as loud as she could, as long as she could. The day had started out so perfectly. Kevin had come into the hotel and had been sweet and charming. He had asked her to go out with him and she’d agreed. But the day had ended in disaster. Kevin had finally woken from his trance right when Anna was getting out of the limo. He had quickly crawled out behind her and apologized over and over. He hugged her and tried talking, but she had pretty much given him the cold shoulder. He had insisted on walking her up to her room, but she told him that she could go herself and quickly walked away. Anna knew that he needed somebody to be there for him, and she wasn’t exactly doing that, but she had hoped that Kevin would talk to her about how he was feeling. Instead, she barely got in a complete conversation with him. She hated the hurt look on his face when she’d walked away. Chances were, she would never see or talk to him again anyways, whether he’d been fully attentive or not.

Anna rolled onto her stomach, wondering why she hadn’t been kinder to Kevin. Normally she was understanding and wanting to help. But for some reason, his behavior had annoyed her. She figured that she would’ve been better to him if he had talked. Looking at the clock, she realized that it was only two in the afternoon. The guys had to be back at four so that they could be at the arena at six. She had a full two hours…no, another full two hours of boredom. She turned on the TV and watched a couple of shows on Disney but got bored after an hour. She wondered if Nathan was off of work yet. Taking his number out of her pocket, she read the number once and then dialed it. The phone rang four times before being answered.

“Hello?”

“Hey,” Anna replied, “Is Nathan there?”

“Him speaking,”

Anna took a deep breath, wondering if she should just hang up before she got herself in too deep. Shutting her eyes and counting silently to five, she decided to carry through with the call.

“Hi,” she said, “It’s Anna, the girl from the restaurant.”

“Oh, wow,” Nathan said, “I didn’t think you would actually call. Did your date go that horribly?”

Anna laughed just so she wouldn’t cry, “It wasn’t a date. Just lunch with…somebody I met last night.” She replied.

“Picked up kind of a spazz,” Nathan joked, “Where did you find that guy? He wasn’t exactly...erm, normal.”

Anna’s heart swelled at Nathan making fun of Kevin, “I met him at a concert that I went to last night. He’s going through a divorce right now,” Anna explained, “I was just there for him.”

Nathan didn’t say anything and Anna wondered if there was something wrong with her hanging out with a married man who was soon to be single and meant nothing to her. She wished that he did, but she couldn’t change that.

“So, Anna, do you live around here?” Nathan asked

“Hardly,” Anna spat, with a bitter and regretful laugh “My friends and I were up here for a concert. We live about five hours away. I really want to get away from that place. There is absolutely nothing there at all.”

Nathan let out a low whistle, “Jeez. That must really suck. I know it does for me. Are you headed back any time soon?”

“Well, that depends,” Anna hinted flirtatiously, “My friends met some guys too and if things go good for all of us, we might all just stay awhile.”

Nathan laughed, catching on quickly to her hint, surprising Anna with his sharpness, “Well, if your not doing anything tomorrow night, how would you like to go out to dinner with me?”

Anna smiled, but a sinking feeling tugged at her heart. Trying not to let her disappointment from earlier that day get the best of her, she swallowed, forcing herself to answer.

“I’ll have to see if the girls are going to stay another day. If they are, then I’m definitely interested. If not, then I gotta go with them. They’re my ride back. Steph doesn’t trust me to drive, or Jaime for that matter. I don’t exactly know why. If I had driven, I would tell them we were staying for sure. Anyways, the point is, tomorrow unfortunately depends on what Stephanie feels like doing.”

“I gotcha,” Nathan replied with a snicker, “If it comes to that then I think we’ll just have to keep in touch and go out another time.”

“I think you’re right,” Anna responded, amazed at how easily she was flirting with this boy. Normally she was shy the first time she spoke to somebody. But with Nathan, it was so easy for her to be her true self.

Just then, Anna’s cell phone started to ring. She tried to ignore it, but it kept buzzing in her ear.

“Could you hold on a sec,” Anna asked, “My cell is ringing.”

“Sure,” Nathan replied.

Anna set down the phone and answered her cell, “Yeah?” she answered, almost positive that it was just one of her friends or her mom or
something.

“Anna, I need to talk to you,” a male voice came, and she automatically knew it was Kevin.

“This isn’t a good time,” Anna sighed, trying to keep the coolness out of her voice. She’d been having such a good time talking to Nathan.

“Anna, please,” Kevin begged, and she knew that she couldn’t turn him down again. It would be too mean.

“Hold on a minute,” Anna replied, setting down the phone and getting back on with Nathan, “Hey, could I call you later on,” she asked, “The date from hell is on the other phone.”

Nathan laughed, “Sure, just call whenever and let me know what’s going on for tomorrow.”

Anna said goodbye, feeling like a bitch for talking about Kevin like that, and picking her cell phone back up, “Yes?” she asked.

“Anna,” Kevin said, “I am really sorry about how I acted today. I know things started out perfectly. I don’t know what happened.”

“Kevin,” Anna sighed, “It’s not…”

“Please give me a second chance,” Kevin urged, not giving her the chance to turn him down, “It’ll be better.”

Anna bit her lip. She already had a date with Nathan and she didn’t want to cancel it unless she had to because of the fact that she was going back home. But she didn’t want to turn Kevin down either.

“I’ll think about it,” Anna replied.

Kevin breathed a sigh of relief. Her answer was much better than a flat out no. Anna couldn’t believe that she was giving in to Kevin.

“I have this idea,” Kevin said, “I know that Aje and Nick won’t mind. How about you girls come to the show tonight?”

Anna would like to see their show, but she wasn’t sure if she should go. But Kevin was trying so hard to make it up to her for his behavior.

“I guess we could,” she said, “But tell me…what was it today that triggered your little…episodes?”

Kevin sighed, “On the menu, her favorite meal…sushi with squash. Disgusting, I know, but I saw it there and froze. And afterwards outside, I saw a car that looked like hers. Its just the smallest things that do it.”

“Isn’t there anything that could make it so those things would, naturally, make you sad, but not totally conk out on people? I mean, you’re fine talking about it.”

“That’s the weird thing,” Kevin replied, “Just talking about it kind of helps. But visual reminders do things to me.”

Anna was silent, wondering what to say next. She wanted to talk to the man, but wasn’t sure what would be appropriate.

“Well, thanks for giving me a second chance. You’re going to love the show tonight. You girls can watch from backstage. It’ll be great. I promise.”

“I never had any doubt that it wouldn’t be,” Anna told him, “You guys have always put on a great show. I’ve seen plenty.”

“I’m glad to hear we’re doing our job,” Kevin said, “It feels great to hear fans positive input and support in person. I just hope that we can be friends.”

“I think that I would like that,” Anna told Kevin, “Being friends sounds great, as long as you promise that as soon as we go home, you won’t forget me and never speak to me again.”

Kevin laughed, and it was a beautiful sound for Anna to hear, “I could never forget you, Anna.” He told her. He didn’t plan on her going back home either. He had another plan that he would talk to the guys about. He was excited about it if it all went through as he thought it would.

Anna blushed at his comment, “Kevin, you’re so sweet.” Anna commented, “To be honest, I was a little mad at you at first tonight, but, I really enjoy talking to you. I’m glad that you called.”

Kevin paused, upset that he’d made Anna mad at him, “I’m sorry,” he said, “I didn’t mean for things to end so badly today.”

“I know,” Anna replied, “I guess that it’s not your fault that this happened. I’m going to be myself next time and be more comforting. I’m sorry I wasn’t exactly pleasant today.”

Kevin gave a small laugh, “Hey, don’t worry about it. If the roles were reversed, I’m not so sure that I wouldn’t be slightly rude myself. Anyways, I appreciate you not hanging up on me when I called.”

“I wouldn’t do that,” Anna told him.

“Well,” Kevin said, “I have to go. I would pick
you up for the show, but I don’t think that there is time. You can get a ride here with your friends and the guys. You don’t mind, do you?”

“Of course not,” Anna said, “I’ll see you in a couple of hours.”

“I’m looking forward to it,” Kevin said.

The two said goodbye and hung up. Anna smiled to herself. She was going to see the Boys for the second night in a row and would have backstage seats. She was happy that Kevin was speaking to her. Anna had a feeling that they were about to become really good friends.

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Jaime rushed into the hotel room in with a huge smile plastered to her face. Anna looked up from the TV wondering what she was so happy about, and then remembered that she probably had a better time that she herself had.

“I had the most amazing time with A.J today,” she encountered without even being asked, “He is a really great guy.”

“I’m glad that you had fun,” Anna told her friend

Anna forced a smile. She had gone back to her mood before Kevin called. She was again full of regret for the spoiled day. She wasn’t mad at Kevin this time though, she was mad at herself.

“What did you guys go do?” Anna asked

“We went to a little café a few blocks away and just talked…about everything. I guess we pretty much got to know each other. He’s got an interesting life. Compared to his, ours are so boring, even with Stephanie around.”

Jaime decided to leave out the part about there talk on Kevin. She wasn’t sure if Anna would want to know, or what she had been told would make her sad and disappointed. It was always hard to tell how the girl would take things.

“Wow,” was all Anna said, her eyes widening, wondering how life with Stephanie could ever be considered boring.

“So, what did you do,” Jaime asked her.

“Kevin did end up coming over,” she started.

“See, I told you so,” Jaime laughed.

Anna held up her hand to stop her friend from speaking so that she could finish telling her about her day.

“He took me to a baseball game, but we only watched a few innings. Then we went out to lunch. He pretty much acted like he did last night after the show.”

“Oh,” Jaime replied, “Umm, I’m sorry.”

Anna shrugged, about to tell her friend his offer for that night, but stopped short. She would wait until Stephanie got back and tell them both at the same time.

“He did call me then after he dropped me off to apologize,” Anna put in, “Gotta give him credit for that.”

Jaime shrugged. She plopped down on her own bed, pulling a bag of chips out of her purse and started munching on them. Just then Stephanie breezed into the room.

“Nick may be blonde, and he may be a great big pussy about some things, but he knows how to have fun,” she told them, “We went to a theme park that’s about half hour from here. It was a blast.”

Anna snickered at the thought of the tall blonde being afraid of a roller coaster. She, herself loved them and would go on almost any one, excluding most wooden ones. They were way too rough for her preference.

“A.J. is downstairs, Jaime,” Stephanie informed her, “He wanted to say goodbye one last time before him and Nicky left for the show.”

“Hey guys, I have some good news,” she piped up, remembering again what she had been waiting to tell them, getting her friends attention, “Kevin called me and asked us of we wanted to go to the show tonight. I told him we would be there. He said that we could watch the show from backstage.”

Jaime’s eyes brightened and Stephanie smiled, “Good thing the guys are still here. Now we have a ride to wherever they are.”

The three girls all looked at one another for a moment and smiled. They were going to another show, only with the guys this time. They could tell that they were all thinking the same thing. Life couldn’t get any better than this. Just then there was a knock on the door. Looking at one another in confusion, Stephanie walked over to answer it and saw Nick and A.J. standing there.

“Damn you chicks are slow,” A.J. said with a grin, “Listen, we just came up to say goodbye. We’re running late as it is.”

The guys walked into the room and hugged Jaime and Stephanie, kissing them on the cheek.

“I’ll call you really soon,” Nick told Stephanie
softly, “Next chance I get, I’m going to that little town you live in to see you.”

Stephanie put her hands on her hips, “Um, guys, you ain’t going anywhere without us,” she remarked seriously.

“What are you talking about?” A.J. asked.

“We’re going to the show with you,” Anna informed him, “Kevin said that its alright and to hitch a ride with you.”

“Really?” Nick asked hopefully.

The girls nodded in sync with one another and the two guys smiled, “Well, lets go then,” A.J. said, taking Jaime by the hand and rushing out the door with the others trailing closely behind him, “We’ve got a show to get to and I have a feeling that its going to go better than ever.”

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The other four members of the Backstreet Boys looked at Kevin in complete bewilderment. Nick and A.J. had brought the girls to the show with them. They were in one of the tour busses, the guys on another getting ready for the show.

“Kev, you’ve got to stop doing this,” Brian finally said, “Why even bother taking a girl out if you’re going to go loony on her?”

Kevin put his head down to hide the shame that was written all over his face. He knew that his cousin was right, but it was hard on him to act normal, when he didn’t even realize that he was doing it until it was too late.

“Bri’s right,” Nick continued, “Anna’s a sweet chick. She didn’t deserve what happened.”

Kevin’s head whipped up. His eyes narrowed, glaring at his four best friends, “Lay off of it,” he nearly shouted.

The guys all looked at each other in shock wondering what they’d done to set him off so unexpectantly.

“Dude,” Nick stated, “We’re sorry. Just trying to help.”

“Well you’re not,” Kevin snapped, “You’re making it worse if anything. I feel guilty enough as it is.”

“Maybe you’re just not ready to date. It’s obviously not helping you get over the divorce any sooner or easier,” A.J. suggested, “We thought that maybe it would, but Kristin is obviously still overtaking your brain.

Kevin was about to remind A.J. of his bitter ending with Sara and how he’d retorted to drinking to help get over it. He decided to keep his mouth shut though. A.J. had been sober for a little over a year now after months of rehab. It would be wrong of him to rub that in his face, especially when he was doing so well. He was the oldest member and because of that he was expected to be the most responsible and act the most mature. It was too late though. A.J. must’ve read what was on Kevin’s mind by the wounded expression that came over his face.

“I know,” he said, looking Kevin square in the eye, “Don’t even say it. I already know.”

The others looked from A.J. to Kevin in confusion wondering what they had missed. Nick’s train of thought soon wandered off to Stephanie though. He would get to see her again in a very short time…he hoped. Sometimes they were so pressed for time that they could only run out on stage without time to even think. Nick prayed that it wouldn’t be one of those nights. He could really use seeing her right before show time to give him the extra motivational boost. Jumping when he heard a knock on the door, Nick stood up to answer it.

“Hi,” Stephanie chirped

The other girls waved from behind her and Nick said ‘Hi’ back to them before drawing Stephanie into his arms.

“I missed ya,” he murmured so quietly so nobody else would hear him.

Stephanie threw her head back and laughed out loud, “Nicky, it’s been like, an hour and a half, tops.”

Nick shrugged, not understanding why it was such a big deal for him to miss her already.

“Anyways, some person came and told us to come and tell you that Bluewave, whoever the hell that is, is running a little late, but to get ready to take the stage,” Stephanie informed them, “I don’t know who the person was, but he was big and kind of an ass.”

“Okay,” Nick replied with a laugh, “Bluewave is our warm up band starting tonight. No Authority decided to go off on their own. Bluewave, they’re pretty good and very new. I’m not surprised that you haven’t heard of the They consist of six guys. Anyways, go ahead backstage and wait. We’ll meet you there in a few, alright?”

Stephanie agreed and Jaime waved to A.J but got nothing but a cool, nonchalant nod back. She gave him a questioning look but he’d already turned his head away. Jaime tried to ask what was wrong but the door had already closed behind them.

“Okay guys,” Kevin announced standing up, “I guess it’s show time.”

Howie, Brian and A.J. all stood up and walked toward the door that Nick had opened again. Howie and Brian hopped out of the bus and ran toward the backstage arena with Nick behind them. A.J quickly breezed past Kevin in a rush to get away from him as fast as he could but the strong man grabbed his arm to stop him.

“I’m sorry,” he apologized, his voice full of sincerity, “I honestly didn’t mean anything by it.”

A.J tensed, refusing to meet Kevin’s gaze.

“If you didn’t mean it, then it wouldn’t have crossed your mind in the first place,” A.J. said coolly.

“A.J, please believe me. I...”Kevin tried to protest again, but wasn’t given the chance to finish.

“Just forget it. I know I had a problem, but you had no right to even think about throwing that in my face,” A.J spat, shaking his arm free roughly. He was tempted to punch Kevin but it would be obvious when he bruised up that it was him who’d done it. He was, after all, the last to leave the bus before Kevin. He decided that if he got into another argument with Kevin, he would do it at a time that wasn’t so predictable that it was him who’d taken a swing at the man. He opened the bus door. He quickly bolted out letting the door slam loudly behind him. Kevin sighed, closing his eyes in guilt. He hadn’t meant a thing by his thoughts. He cared about A.J a lot, and the other guys too for that matter. He wouldn’t hurt any of them for anything but it looked like he had anyways. Kevin opened the door and slowly stepped out. The show would start in ten minutes. He didn’t want to put them behind schedule even though he had a feeling that the show would go badly anyways.

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Stephanie, Anna and Jaime screamed as Bluewave ran off of the stage. Nick wasn’t kidding when he’d said that they were pretty good. They were amazing. Anna found all six guys to be extremely good looking and talented. She had learned that they were between the ages of nineteen and twenty-four. The guys were Bryan, Ryan, Eric, Alex, Michael and Cody.

“Oh my god,” Jaime screamed over the loud cheers of fans, “I think that I have myself a new favorite band.”

Anna and Stephanie looked at Jaime in disbelief. Had she just said that she liked the new guys more than Backstreet Boys? Jaime wondered what she had said and then realized her mistake.

“Second favorite, I mean,” she corrected herself, “Nobody can top Backstreet Boys or replace them.”

Stephanie nodded in satisfaction at Jaime’s changing her way of wording. There was no way she was going to let one of her friends like Bluewave more than Backstreet Boys, no matter how talented, gorgeous and awesome they were on stage. It wasn’t going to happen in this lifetime. The six guys game walked past the girls to get to the other side of the stage.

“Hey, great job boys,” Anna called, then winced at the fact that she’d called them boys. They weren’t boys. They were men. Gorgeous, healthy, great looking men. She hoped that they weren’t offended in any way at her horrible terming.

“Thanks,” Ryan replied, walking back toward her. The others stopped and turned around, all flashing her white smiles, following Ryan.

Anna could feel her face start to flush. She hadn’t expected them to come and talk to her. She turned around to get help from her friends, but Stephanie and Jaime had disappeared somewhere, probably on purpose, and she was left alone with the guys. She had no idea what to say and the guys were looking at her expectantly.

“So, um, was being out there anything like you expected?” she said, asking the first thing that came to mind before they thought that she was stupid.

“We’ve done show’s before,” Cody replied, “But nothing like this. The size of the crowd completely blew our minds.”

“I agree. It wasn’t expected at all,” Michael put in, “It was an amazing feeling but scary. It was our first huge show. I think we’re all just happy that we’ve made it this far. We never really thought that we would.”

Anna grinned, but she was shaking inside, trying to figure out how to keep the conversation going.

“You did great,” she repeated.

“Thanks again,” Ryan said, “So, what part do you have here? Will you and your friends be around after every show?”

“We’re friends of the Backstreet Boys. Um, I don’t know if we’ll be around much though.” Anna told them

Anna thought that she saw disappointment cross their faces but wasn’t too sure. They all seemed really sweet. She just hoped that once they got famous…and she knew that they would with their talent…that the popularity didn’t go to their heads and turn them into the typical stuck up celebrity.

“Well, we hope that you’ll be around. You’re one of the first who’s actually made a point to talk to us.” Bryan said, “I think that we can all agree that you seem like you’d make a great friend and fun to get to know.”

Anna shrugged, not knowing how to respond to his compliment. She hoped that her and the girls would be around a lot too. She wanted to get to know the new band. Then she could have eleven close guys friends…eleven gorgeous close guy friends.

“Well, we should get going,” Michael said when he saw Kevin coming toward them, “Gotta clean up and head to the busses.”

“In case I don’t see you for awhile, good luck,” Anna told them.

Each guy hugged Anna and walked away disappearing from view. As soon as she could no longer see them, she turned to Kevin.

“Hey you,” she greeted him.

“Hi,” Kevin replied, “I see you met Bluewave. Nice group of guys, dontcha think?”

“Yeah, they seem like it. What really happened with No Authority though?” Anna asked him out of curiosity. She loved their music and hadn’t seen their departure coming. She had just seen them the night before and everything had seemed fine. She had been hoping to get to meet them but was one day too late.

Kevin sighed, wondering if he should expose the situation to the girl. He trusted her with the information but the ordeal was somewhat of a personal measure. No Authority was trying so hard not to let the news go public or anywhere near the press. They didn’t want the attention on their problems.

“What?” Anna asked, not liking the chilling silence that had come from her simple question.

Kevin turned and met her eyes, “You have to promise that you won’t tell a soul,” he demanded kindly. Anna nodded, telling him that she wouldn’t, “One of the members found out last week that he had a type of cancer. He’s going in for treatment starting tomorrow. If things don’t go well, then they’re breaking up all together. If things do, they’ll tour again with us next year. The line Nick fed about them wanting to go out on their own was what they told us to say to protect the member.”

Anna’s eyes widened, her breath catching in her throat. They were one of her favorite music groups. She couldn’t believe that something so horrible was happening to the poor member.

“Oh, wow,” she said, “I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Yeah, so were we,” he said, “The poor guy kept his act up pretty good considering the situation. They put on a great act but I think that we did a decent job finding someone to take their place for the time being.”

“Yeah, you did,” Anna complimented him, “I can see that they’re going to be going places real soon.”

Kevin shrugged, “Can’t do it over night, but I can see them being really popular a few years down the road. Anyways, Nick and A.J are with Stephanie and Jaime. Its about time for us to go on. I just wanted to apologize again, in person this time.”

“Kevin, its okay,” Anna assured him, “Just go out there and give it all you got. You guys always do such an great job.”

“I have a feeling that this show will be interesting for all,” Kevin said more to himself than to Anna.

Anna shot him a quizzical look and he knew that he had to explain what he had meant by the comment.

“A.J. and I aren’t on good terms right now. I kind of did, or rather thought something that offended him…and he read my mind. I don’t know how the show is going to turn out. Hopefully better than I’m expecting but I have a feeling its not.”

“Try to get things right in the minutes you have left before you go out,” Anna suggested just as an announcer was introducing the Boys. She was glad that they had a three minute intro before they went out on stage, “You’d better get going if you wanna make it,” she informed him, practically rushing him out to the rest of the group.

Kevin jogged over to the other four guys and
two girls. Anna joined them soon after. The guys slipped quickly into their first outfit. Before Kevin ran out onto stage, Anna gave him a quick hug and kiss on the cheek. He kissed her back and took off to catch up with the others.

“Good luck out there,” she yelled as he entered the stage and started dancing.

They all watched with intensity and awe at the guys. None of them really ever realized just how much work the guys really put into the shows until that moment, seeing them up close. Stephanie could easily make out the sweat that was pouring off of their glistening, muscular bodies. None of them notices that Bluewave had come up behind them to watch until Ryan started speaking.

“Think one day we’ll be as good as them?”

The girls all looked behind them and Anna’s breath caught in her throat. The guys were even more gorgeous cleaned up…and shirtless. They had nothing on but pairs of baggy jeans and tennis shoes. Their abs rippled and glistened with moisture from their recent showers.

“You’re good, but Backstreet’s been around for
almost eleven years,” Stephanie informed them, making a point to let the new group know who she was favoring, “It’ll take a while to live up to them.”

Anna elbowed Stephanie in the side, letting her know to keep her mouth shut before she discouraged the newcomers, “As I told you earlier, you’re…amazing. With time and work, you will definitely be as well known and good as the Boys out there. I can guarantee it.”

“Thanks,” Cody told her, “We appreciate your encouragement. We’ve been singing for three years but this is our first big break.”

“Well, touring with the Backstreet Boys, you’ll become famous pretty quickly,” Jaime said, eyeing the guys up and down.

All nine of them watched the Boys perform for a while putting their full attention on them. Stephanie couldn’t take her eyes off of Nick. He looked so cute when he was concentrating on his dance moves. She laughed when she saw Kevin almost trip over A.J’s foot and wasn’t sure if it was intentional or accidental. She was leaning more toward intentional when Kevin pushed A.J. She wondered what was going on between them. It didn’t matter though. It had made the show somewhat interesting. Besides the little fight, she had to admit that it was their best show ever.

“I don’t think we got the chance to formally meet you,” Michael spoke, “What’s your name?”

“Anna,” she said, sticking her hand out to shake theirs.

“Hi Anna,” Michael replied, “I’m Michael, the blonde with the spikes is Cody, the other blonde is Ryan, the one with black hair is Erik, the brown haired one with frosted spikes is Bryan and the one with just plain brown hair is Alex.”

“The blonde girl there is Stephanie and the brunette is Jaime,” Anna introduced, “They’re my two best friends.”

“Nice to meet all of you,” Bryan greeted, “And thanks for the welcome earlier, Anna,” he said.

“You’d better not think you’re going to replace
my Boys,” Stephanie warned them, “Nobody can replace them. Got it?”

Bluewave stepped back slightly intimidated by the small blonde with the steel face. They didn’t know what to make of a girl telling them how it was going to be and how it wasn’t.”

“Don’t worry about her,” Anna whispered after she had turned back to watching the Boys, “It’s how she is…sarcastic and…yeah. Don’t let her get to ya.”

“I think we’ll be fine,” Alex joked.

For the rest of the show, nobody said anything. They just watched the Backstreet Boys perform. Each song brought on a new unique dance. Anna caught on to a few little bouts between A.J and Kevin and hoped that nobody else was noticing. He hadn’t been kidding though when he’d said that A.J. was not happy with him at all.

All to quickly, the last song came on. The guys all performed perfectly, giving it their all as those in the audience shrieked and cried out. Anna couldn’t believe how together they were and how well they used teamwork to put on a perfect show. The girls all cheered their hearts out and clapped their hands as loudly as they could as the guys finished up their last song. The show the night before was great, but being there behind the scenes was an experience that they all really wanted to get used to as part of their daily routines. Anna smiled thinking about her date the next day with Nathan. She was going to have three days of excitement. She just hoped that she could actually follow through with it.

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“Thanks again for going out with me tonight,” Nathan said, turning to Anna, “It’s not every day I get a date with a beautiful girl like you.”

Nathan had taken Anna out to a nice restaurant. They talked the whole time and got to know each other. There really wasn’t much else to talk about at that point, but she was still happy to be in his presence.

Anna blushed, “You say that to every girl you date,” she accused jokingly, yet she was serious.

Nathan shook his head, “Actually, I don’t date a lot. I’m always too busy. You caught my eye though. I knew that I had to get to know you.”

Anna smiled and turned her head back to the movie theater screen. Advertisements were still running. Stephanie had decided to stay due to an offer that they’d gotten after the show the night before so she’d been saved the trouble of begging her friend to stay so that she could go on her date. Anna was happy that there was no show that night though or else she would be missing it. It was probably a good thing that there was no show that night because A.J. still wasn’t speaking to Kevin. She bit her lip, wondering if she should tell him yet about the offer that her and her friends had received the night before. It was a once in a lifetime thing and she really wanted to take it with her friends. They were going to no matter what. She was still indecisive of whether she should or not. She wanted to, it wasn’t a question of that. It was because she was really enjoying her date with Nathan and he seemed to like her too.

“I’m guessing things didn’t end so well with the lunatic from last night,” Nathan said with a laugh.

Anna could feel herself starting to lose her temper but held back. Kevin was a great guy and she knew that he didn’t deserve the harsh things that Nathan kept saying about him, even if he would never know.

“For one, he’s not a lunatic. Things with him are fine,” Anna informed him, “We’re friends, nothing more, as I told you before. It could be more, but he’s not ready to take on another relationship quite yet. He’s famous, you know.” She added, hoping to intimidate him a bit.

Nathan raised an eyebrow, “Really,” he asked skeptically, “Just how famous is this guy?”

“Well known world wide,” Anna told him and he laughed, “I’m serious. I met him backstage after a show and he asked me out.”

Anna could tell that Nathan still didn’t believe her but she didn’t care. She knew the truth because she had lived it. Some guy indicating that she was lying wouldn’t bring her down. She could see where it would be unbelievable though. Again though, it didn’t matter. She wasn’t dating Kevin. She was on a date with Nathan and wanted it to continue going smoothly like it had been going since early evening.

“So, do you live around here?” Nathan asked, changing the subject, slowly taking her hand. Anna didn’t resist or try to pull away, “I know you said you might be going home, but, how far is home?”

“Five hours,” she told him, and she could feel Nathan tense up a bit, “I like you a lot though. If I decide not to take advantage of this opportunity, it won’t be so bad. We could like, go back and forth every other weekend or something.”

Nathan smiled at her, “I guess that would work out okay,” then a worried expression came over his face, “What opportunity?”

Anna laughed, “A music group wants me and my friends to tour with them. My friends are going. I want to, but, some part of me is telling me not to. I have until tomorrow morning to decide.”

“Is this some sort of joke to get out of seeing me again?” Nathan demanded, forcing her to look him in the eye.

“No,” Anna responded, “It’s one hundred percent for real.”

There were a few minutes of silence. Anna could tell that the offer had struck a nerve in Nathan. She didn’t know how he could already like her so much after a day as to not know how to respond to her.

“If you want it, then go for it,” Nathan finally told her, “I mean, I wish you wouldn’t, but, you’re right, it’s a great opportunity. We aren’t officially dating. I’d have no right to hold you back.”

Anna shrugged, still unsure of what she wanted. She had less than twenty-four hours to decide and it was a major decision to make.

“If I do go,” Anna stated, “I’ll write and call you.”

“It’s up to you,” Nathan replied, “I don’t want you to feel held back just because of our date.”

Minute later, the theatre lights dimmed and the movie started. Neither said anything for the remainder of the movie. Anna’s thoughts were on wanting to go with the band and tour. Nathan’s thoughts were centered more toward not wanting her to go but not wanting to hold her back. He didn’t know her well enough to do that. And even if he did know her well, it would still be wrong of him to tell her that she couldn’t go. Not when he could read it in her eyes that it would mean everything to her.

By the time the movie had ended a little over two hours later, a heavy rain had begun. Nathan drew Anna in close to him to try to keep her as dry as he could as they ran to the car. He drove her back to the hotel in silence. The rain slammed against the car like pellets and Nathan slowed down and turned the windshield wipers on full blast. Pulling into the parking lot minutes later, he drove right up to the curb.

“I had fun tonight,” he said, turning to Anna.

“I did too,” she whispered.

Nathan leaned in and hugged her goodnight
and Anna wrapped her arms around him back.

“Whatever you decided to do,” Nathan started, “Keep my number and call me sometime. Let me know how you’re doing.”

“I will,” Anna promised.

She opened the car door and said goodbye before making a mad dash for roofed shelter from the rain. The short run had already gotten her pretty wet. Anna made her way into the building and ran up the stairs to her second floor room. Digging the room key out of her purse, she slid it into the door and opened it. The room was completely dark, which surprised her. There was no way her friend were asleep this early. She guessed that they had decided to go out with their dates again. Flipping on the light switch, she walked over to the beds to change into her pajamas. She didn’t even hear footsteps coming up behind her as she pulled her clothes off and slipped her pajamas on.

“Where were you?”

Anna whipped around, ready to face the intruder, “Kevin,” she shrieked, “You scared the shit out of me. What are you doing here in our room? And how the hell did you get in?”

Kevin stared at Anna for the longest time, trying to figure out what to say to her. No words could express how he was feeling. He had seen her get out of the other guys car. Jealousy shot through him. Anna turned away from him and he could tell that he she was really mad and that he had overstepped his boundaries of waiting in her hotel room for her to return. But he didn’t care at that moment in time. He just wanted some answers to the questions running through his head.

“Steph got me an extra key. I was hoping you’d go out with me tonight,” he finally replied, “Where were you?” he then asked again.

Anna’s heart stopped when she turned around and looked up and saw the hurt expression that had come over his face.
Chapter Five by sweet18_2003
Chapter Five

“Where were you?” Kevin repeated for the third time, his voice coming out weak and sad this time instead of angry.

“You’re not my keeper, Kevin,” Anna replied with a slightly bitter tone, “Jeez, I’ve known you for two days and I automatically have to tell you where I am at ever breathing second?”

Kevin’s soft features hardened a bit, “Yes, as a matter of fact, you do, Anna.” He demanded

Anna rolled her eyes and turned her back away from him. She wasn’t going put up with this. She had thought that he was a kind, sensitive man, but she was beginning to think that maybe he was controlling. If that were the case, it was no wonder his wife had done what she had.

“If you’re going to be touring with us,” he continued, “We do have to know where you girls are at all times, to make sure that you are protected and nothing bad happens to you. If we know where you are, and you don’t come back, we’ll know that something is wrong.”

“For one,” Anna shouted, spinning back around to face him, “I don’t even know IF I am going to tour with you yet. And since you have to know, I was on a date with the waiter from the restaurant yesterday.”

At first, Anna could see hurt and jealousy entering his eyes, but they it was overpowered with anger.

“The waiter?” he spat, “Damnit, he saw that we were on a date and he still asked you out when I was most vulnerable.”

Anna rolled her eyes, “I wouldn’t consider it a date, Kevin,” she informed him, “It’s not like we’re a couple or anything. I’m free to date other guys.”

Kevin could feel himself begin to shake violently. Anna’s words were harsh. He really liked her and she had given up on him after one bad time.

“Are you going to see him again?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” Anna told him with a casual shrug, “Considering I kinda do wanna go with the rest of you, probably not.”

Anna could see a satisfied smile settling on Kevin’s lips. It sickened her to see that he was enjoying the fact that she probably wasn’t going to see Nathan again. Didn’t he want her to be happy?

“I do want you to be happy,” Kevin said aloud, reading her mind, “I want you to be happy with me. I want you to be my girlfriend.”

Anna sighed. It had always been her wildest fantasy to date Kevin. Here the opportunity was at her fingertips, and she was not sure what the right thing to do would be. Kevin looked at her expectantly and Anna knew that he was waiting for an answer right then.

“Kevin,” she finally managed to say, “I like you a lot, and would love to be your girlfriend…just not yet.”

Kevin looked at her with question written all over his face and Anna tried to think of the most delicate way of wording why she couldn’t.

“You’re not ready,” she explained, “It’s obvious that deep down, you’re just not ready for another relationship. If I were to go out with you, I want your attention completely on me. Besides, you’re not even divorced yet.”

“I am ready,” Kevin tried to insist.

Anna shook her head, “No, you’re not.”

Kevin’s softened features began to harden again, “Is this your way of letting me down easily?” he shouted accusingly, “Is this your own way of telling me that I don’t meet up to your standards.”

Anna choked out a laugh, “If anything, I don’t live up to your standards. I want to be yours. I want to wait though until you are completely over Kristin. Ask me in a few months and I can promise you I’ll say yes. I’m really tired and would like to go to sleep now, if you don’t mind.”

Kevin stood still, not about to leave until he had her. Anna sighed and crossed her arms as if to challenge him.

“I’m not good enough for you,” Kevin repeated, “You’re going to see Nathan again. Just tell me you want him and not me.”

“You are, Kevin. You’re too good for me,” Anna tried again, “As for Nathan, I had a good time, but I don’t want to be with him. I’d rather be with you.”

“Then why won’t you go out with me?” he asked.

Anna groaned in disbelief. Did guys in general just block out things that they didn’t want to hear?

“Because you’re not ready,” Anna told him, hoping that he was catching the hint of irritation in her voice.

Kevin clenched his fists. Anna could see the vein in his neck starting to bulge out and she knew that she had made him mad.

“I thought you’d understand that I needed somebody,” Kevin said in a voice so low that it chilled Anna’s spine, “But now I see that you’re just a selfish bitch. You never cared about trying to help me.”

Kevin spun around and opened the door of the hotel room, slamming it behind him. Anna winced at his hurtful words. She could hear his heavy footsteps pounding down the steps, but she didn’t chase after him to try to calm him. She figured that that would only give him his way. Slipping into bed, Anna listened to the rain that was still falling and drifted off into a peaceful sleep.

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“Has anyone seen Kevin?” A.J. asked, rushing around, still looking for him, “We’re on in twenty minutes.”

It was the next night and nobody had heard from Kevin since the day before. Guilt came over Anna. She didn’t know where he was, but knew that she was the cause of his disappearance. She knew thought that the man wouldn’t skip out on a show. He would show up at the last moment and everything would be fine. Bluewave had just come off the stage ten minutes ago and it was the thirty-minute intermission that was in between the two bands.

“I haven’t seen him,” Nick said.

The others chimed in saying that they hadn’t seen him either since early the day before. Bluewave even said that they’d seen no sign of.

“I had a question about tonight,” Ryan said, “I was told to go to him about it, so I went to his bus, but he wasn’t there...or anywhere.”

Anna could see worry cross over the Boy’s faces, and she bit her lip. She wished that she hadn’t been so cool the night before. But the truth was that Kevin wasn’t ready to date yet. Plus, he had no right waiting for her in her own hotel room and checking up on her. She was nineteen years old. Old enough to make her own decisions. She didn’t need a thirty two year old telling her what to do. Anna’s eyes widened as she thought about Kevin’s age. It was the first time she’d really done so. He was thirteen years older than her. THIRTEEN. He was almost old enough to be her father. Not quite, but, almost. But for some reason, his age did not bother her. She still wanted to be with him. Just not yet. What was so wrong with that? Anna knew that she should tell them what had happened the night before, but didn’t want accusing eyes on her for turning him down. The Boys would definitely be on Kevin’s side. So she kept her mouth shut and acted like she knew nothing. Kevin would be there soon.

“He’d better get his ass here, or else…” A.J. began, but stopped short, “I don’t know what. But we have to go out.”

The others nodded in agreement. They couldn’t post phone the show to a later date so soon before it was supposed to start. The screams were starting to get louder and more anticipated.

Twenty minutes passed and Kevin had still not shown up. The guys all kept looking at their watches to make sure that the times were right. Unfortunately, they were. Waiting an extra ten minutes, they knew that they had to do something. Something that they’d never done before in their years of performing.

“We need to go on,” Brian said, “With or without Kevin. If he shows up later, he can join in. But until then, we need to go out there and give it our all with just four of us.”

Everybody sighed, knowing that he was right. They knew that it would be weird having one person less than they were supposed to, but if they worked hard, it would all work out.

“Does anybody know his lines by heart?” Howie asked, “Who will fill in for him while he is gone?”

The guys all bit their lips. It was something that none of them had thought of. They knew their songs, but when it came to singing others solos, they tended to trip up a little bit. All four of them looked at each other not knowing what they were going to do about the problem.

“I know his lines,” Stephanie boldly piped up, “And the dance movies by heart. I’ve seen it done so many times. I know I’m not exactly Kevin, or dressed to be on stage, but you’re obviously desperate. I’ll sing and do his parts.”

Again, the Boys looked at each other. They wondered how well the show would go over with a girl on stage singing. It would be another first; there was definitely no doubt about that.

“You don’t really have any other choice,”
Stephanie told them, “I wouldn’t be picky if I were you.”

“She’s right,” Brian said, “And I’ve heard her singing. She’s got an amazing voice and she’s dressed good enough for stage. I say we give it a shot.”

“Okay then, lets go. Aje, go tell the announcer our plan so that he can inform the audience. Let’s go.”

A.J. ran to the announcer and told him what was going on while the others lined up ready to take the stage. Seconds later, A.J. joined back up taking formation while a loud voice came over the speaker system.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the Backstreet Boys will
take stage in just a few moments. Kevin isn’t feeling well this evening, so we have a special guest taking his place. Now put your hands together and scream as loudly as you can. I give you the Backstreet Boys.”

Shrieks erupted through the tightly compressed area as the Boys and Stephanie ran out on stage. Anna and Jaime watched in awe as their friend took action, blending in so well with the others. Jaime watched A.J. in sadness. He had spoken to her, but it was still distant. She didn’t know what had happened. He and Kevin still weren’t talking the day before and she wondered if it had anything to do with that. Everything had been so perfect when they’d gone out and then without warning, he’d started acting really weird towards her.

“Stephanie sure does know what she’s doing, doesn’t she?” Anna yelled, leaning into her friend so that she could hear her.

“Yeah,” Jaime agreed, “I could never do that. I would be so horrible out there. I’d freeze. Stephanie is just acting as if she’s done this her whole life.”

“She pretty much has,” Anna joked.

Bluewave was pretty amazed at Stephanie’s ease on stage as well. They asked her friends if she’s done this before and they told them an honest ‘no’.

“She’s always been their number one fan though,” Jaime said.

“That explains it then,” Ryan laughed, “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that she’s almost better than they are…almost.”

Anna and Jaime couldn’t argue. They could see sweat beading her forehead as she danced and danced putting all of her energy into it. When one of Kevin’s solo’s slowly started creeping closer and closer, the girls cringed, closing their eyes and crossing their fingers praying that she would be okay. When the time came, Anna sucked in her breath and held it. Stephanie’s voice came out and she sang the words perfectly. Anna opened her eyes and let the breath out all at once. Stephanie couldn’t have performed better. Anna hoped that there was somebody important out there to hear her. Maybe she would be offered a record deal. She definitely deserved it. She might turn it down, but it would prove to her how good she really was.

“Wow,” Jaime breathed, “I can’t believe how awesome she’s doing.”

“Me neither,” Anna replied, “I knew she’d be good, but didn’t think she could pull it off this well.”

The show continued to go on and Kevin still didn’t show up. Everybody was really beginning to worry. The guys were because it was completely unlike Kevin to do something like this. The girls were worrying because they didn’t know what was wrong. Too soon, the show ended and Kevin was still not there. The group congratulated Stephanie on her amazing job, but it still wasn’t the same as how things were supposed to be. Everybody hoped that he was lurking around somewhere, or in the bus. They knew though that when they saw him, they would confront him then and there. This was going to be a show that nobody would forget and would be talked about amongst the fans for a very long time.

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“I still can’t believe how well you did during the show last night,” Anna told Stephanie as she brushed a comb through her thick curly hair.

Stephanie shrugged off the compliment, “It’s not a big deal,” she told her, “I was just doing the Boys a favor. No big deal. It’s not like I got a record contract or anything. Not like I will.”

She stuck her tongue out in distaste of her singing abilities. Jaime rolled her eyes from across the room at Stephanie. She never had believed how good of a singer she really was. She threw down her Cosmopolitan magazine and just stared at her friend for a long moment.

“Steph,” she encountered, “For the last time, you are good enough to get your own record label. Even if you were offered one though, would you even take it? Or say that you weren’t interested?”

Stephanie paused for a long moment. She had always dreamed of getting her own record label. But then again, she would constantly be away from home and the one’s she cared about.

“I don’t know,” she honestly replied, “I mean, I’d want to, yet, I’d miss you guys too much. You know I’m bad at goodbyes.”

Anna and Jaime looked at one another and small smiles formed on both of their faces. They knew that it was true. As insensitive as she seemed, they knew that there was some softness somewhere inside of her.

“So, I wonder how badly the guys are bitching at Kevin,” Stephanie asked thoughtfully, “He’s has to be back by now. He had like, the whole night to return. I wish I were there to see it.”

Jaime laughed and Anna looked away, biting the corner of her lip, hoping that Kevin was safely back now. Stephanie was right though. It was the next morning. There was no reason why he wouldn’t be.

“I wish I were there too,” Jaime commented, “So I could tell him how great you did filling in and joke saying that he should disappear more often.”

Stephanie’s eyes got wide in anger, “Don’t ever say that again,” she warned, “We so don’t want Kevin to not be in the band anymore. That would be a total disaster. Besides, the fans come to see all FIVE Backstreet Boys. They don’t come to see a short five foot nothing blonde girl.”

“They will now. You were spectacular,” Anna told her friend, “Wouldn’t hurt to be out there a little more often.”

Stephanie scanned Anna over for a second before saying, “You really worry me sometimes.”

Anna laughed, knowing that the line was coming from her friend and finished her hair up. As she was applying the last of her makeup, there was a knock on the door. Jaime ran to get it hoping that it was A.J. but it was Brian.

“Has Kevin been here yet?” he asked.

Stephanie and Anna joined Jaime at the door in curiosity of what the early morning visit was about.

“No,” Stephanie answered, taking over, “Should he have?”

“He should’ve come back, period,” Brian said, “He hasn’t been over to see us at all. I’m just wondering what’s going on.”

Fear coiled in Anna’s stomach. She knew that she should tell everybody the little information she knew about her turning him down, but knew that it would cause problems. It wasn’t likely that her refusal had anything to do with it anyways, so why bring it up. Or should she? What if something was really wrong and it might help to know what had happened?

“Guys,” Anna softly said, “Kev-“

Anna was cut off by A.J. flying into the room in a rush, completely breathless. His face was flushed and beet red, fear was pooling his eyes.

“There…there…we just got a phone call,” he gasped, “Kevin’s in the hospital. He was just found about three hours ago.”

Everyone’s face drained of color and Anna fell to the ground, shaking. Why hadn’t she told somebody sooner? Maybe Kevin wouldn’t be in the hospital if she had. Maybe he would’ve been found and better off. If she would’ve just said yes to being his girlfriend, he would be safely with all of them. Guilt overcame her as she started slipping into a mild shock. Kevin was injured, and it was all her fault. Anna didn’t realize Nick and A.J. picking her up and carrying her to the car, followed by everyone else, to get to the hospital to find out more information on their friend.
Chapter Six by sweet18_2003
Chapter Six


Anna sat in a chair in a fetal position rocking herself back and forth. Her friends, and the Backstreet Boys had arrived shortly after getting the call. To be honest, Anna didn’t even remember the ride there or getting to the waiting room. When her vision had finally focused and her mind cleared, she was lying in Howie’s lap. She freaked out and stumbled over to a chair of her own. It wasn’t that she didn’t think that Howie was cute, she thought he was gorgeous. It was more of the fact that she didn’t remember anything. Now they were all waiting for information on Kevin. Anna wished that they would hurry up. Until she knew that he would be okay, she was going to worry and feel guilty for the whole thing. She hoped that when they got to see him, he would forgive her or better yet forget what had happened two nights before.

“It was nice of Bluewave to want to come with us,” Brian said, trying to break the silence, “I felt that it would be useless though. They told us to call when we found out anything.”

The thought of making a call made Anna perk up. She needed to talk to somebody. Nathan. She could call him. He’d know how to make her feel better. Getting up, Anna walked out of the waiting room and to the payphone that was across the hall. She pulled his number out of her back pocket knowing that it would still be there and dialed it, waiting, praying for an answer.

“Hello,” a boys voice answered after four short rings.

Anna breathed a sigh of relief that he was there. Her body began to shake again and chills ran down her arms and legs.

“Nathan,” she replied softly, “Hi.”

“Hey, Anna,” he said, his voice rising in spirits a bit, “I thought that you’d be half way to somewhere by now.”

“Not even close. We haven’t even left yet,” she replied, and could feel herself starting to chock up with tears, “I’m in a hospital.”

“What?” Nathan asked, alarmed, “Are you okay? What happened?”

“Not me that’s hurt,” Anna told him, “Remember the guy I was with at the restaurant? He saw you drop me off. He was really upset and then asked me to be his girlfriend. I told him no. He disappeared then and now he’s here. We...we…don’t know what happened yet.” She said, spilling all, feeling better about getting it all off of her chest and out.

“Oh, wow, I’m sorry,” Nathan replied, “Is there anything that I could do? I’m here for ya if you need me.”

Anna shook her head and sniffled, then felt like a fool realizing that Nathan could not see her.

“No,” she replied, “There’s nothing anybody can do. I just needed to talk to somebody and you’re the first one that came to mind.”

“Really?” Nathan asked in surprise, “I…I didn’t think I’d hear from you again.”

“Nathan,” Anna said, “I like you a lot. I’m confused though. I…I like you, but I also like Kevin. But Kevin is still married…for another week and a half. I don’t know what I want yet.”

There was silence on both ends for a few minutes. Anna was afraid that she had hurt Nathan’s feelings by telling him she had feelings for someone else as well. But then she remembered that she wasn’t committed to either one.

“I just…I feel so guilty for this whole thing,” Anna sobbed, “It’s my fault that he’s in here.”

“Hey,” Nathan scolded lightly, “Don’t you dare say that. Why would you even think that?”

“If I had just agreed to be his girlfriend, none of this would’ve happened. He’s not ready for a relationship yet though. Why can’t he understand that I’m doing this for his own good?”

“Anna, you did the right thing. And who says whatever happened wouldn’t have anyways, no matter what?”

Anna sighed. She still felt responsible but could also see Nathan’s point clearly as well. It very well could have happened anyways.

“Well, I’d better go,” Anna said hesitantly, “I don’t want to be missing when they tell us how Kevin is.”

“Okay,” Nathan said, “For the record, I hope he’s okay. Oh, and just out of complete curiosity, who is the band?”

Anna stopped and a blush started to creep up her cheeks. She knew that if she told him, he would laugh at her and possibly never talk to her again. But he had asked, and she couldn’t lie…and if she didn’t tell him at all, he’d think that she was anyways.

“The Backstreet Boys,” she said hurriedly, “I really gotta go. Bye.”

Anna hung up the phone and breathed in a deep, refreshing breath. Now that she’d talked to somebody, she felt stronger and more collected. She just hoped that Nathan would talk to her again. The Backstreet Boys weren’t exactly the most popular among the male population. Taking another deep breath, Anna walked back across the hall and into the waiting room. She sat down next to Jaime and looked around at everyone else’s solemn faces that matched her own.

“Anyone know what happened yet?” she asked, wanting an answer from anybody who would speak up.

“Not yet,” Stephanie answered, “We don’t think that that’s a very good sign.”

Anna shuddered. Again she wondered why she’d turned Kevin down, besides the obvious. He probably thought that she was just like Kristin. She didn’t want to be like that at all though. Anna wished that he would have just tried to understand why she’d told him that she couldn’t date him. The last words that he had said to her came back to her mind she winced. He’d more or less called her an uncaring bitch. She resented the comment. She cared about him a lot. Anna was so lost in thought that she didn’t even hear the doctor come out to inform them of what was happening. She felt Jaime’s elbow poke her in the side and looked up.

“Kevin is finally awake, probably for the first time in days,” he began.

“So what happened,” Nick asked, jumping up and getting in the doctors face. The doctor backed away, looking like he was almost afraid of the harmless, clumsy blonde boy.

Brian and Howie got up and pulled Nick back down into his seat, holding him there to ensure that he wouldn’t move in for another attack.

“Give him the chance to tell us,” Brian muttered
quietly so that Nick only would hear him.

The doctor gave them all a cautious look before stepping forward again to appear professional and continuing.

“He was found lying in a corn field, about thirty yards away from his car. He apparently hit a tree and was thrown through the windshield. He wasn’t wearing a seat belt, which was a dumb move on his part. The corn probably broke his fall somewhat, making it less serious.”

Everyone gasped. If the doctor hadn’t told them first off that Kevin was awake, they all probably would’ve guessed that Kevin had died. Anna started to choke on the waterfall of tears that had come along with the guilt coming back.

“We found out that he’d been under the influence which is probably what caused the crash.”

“And he gave me shit,” A.J. muttered under his breath which got six pairs of eyes staring at him in wonder.

“Kevin is alert and can remember bits and pieces of the accident. He can have visitors in a couple of hours, but for now, we need to run tests and make sure that there aren’t any injuries that we may have missed.”

The doctor walked away leaving everyone to sit in silence for a few minutes. Nobody knew what to say about the situation.

“He’s not dead at least,” Nick offered, “But what was he thinking?”

“And what was that comment about, A.J.?” Brian asked

A.J looked up with fire in his eyes, “Forget it,” he spat, “It’s nothing. Just forget it, okay?”

“No, what was it?” Brian persisted.

A.J. scowled and sighed, “When we were scolding Kevin about the way he treated Anna and that he was screwed up over Kris, I could read in his eyes that he was thinking about my solution to losing Sara…alcohol, as if you could forget that. Anyways, look what he did? And for what reason? He gives me shit and then he goes and does it himself. It’s a double standard…that hypocritical bastard.”

Everyone stared at A.J. in shock not knowing that he had held that much anger inside of him. Everyone knew though that it was wrong of Kevin to even think that about A.J. It was a really sensitive subject for him. Anna cringed, knowing that there was a reason for him to drink. Her. She was the reason that he’d done it and ended up in the hospital. She knew that she had to tell them.

“It’s my fault,” she softly whispered.

“How is it your fault,” Jaime asked, and Anna could see that all eyes were on her expectantly.

“He asked me out,” Anna sobbed, “I told him no, because it was obvious that he wasn’t ready. He was so mad and he left…really violently. He left because I hurt him…just like his ex.”

“He’s no better than I am,” A.J. enraged out
loud, “Who the hell is he to talk? He really is a hypocrite.”

Ignoring A.J’s comment other than realizing that he was right, Stephanie tried to comfort her friend, “You did the right thing,” she said, “Kevin isn’t ready. He’s a grown man. He didn’t have to react like a child.”

“Steph’s right,” Nick agreed, “He did this on his own. If he can’t even take you on a proper date, then he doesn’t need a girlfriend. Hell, you met him just four days ago. He was a wreck before you met, and a wreck now. Believe me, we all know. He may not want to admit it, but he knows it too deep down.”

Anna smiled in thanks at them trying to comfort her. She was beginning to see that everybody was right. She shouldn’t feel so guilty. Anna’s eyelids burned as they began to grow heavy and she soon found herself in a deep, peaceful sleep.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Anna, wake up,” Jaime softly said, shaking her friend lightly, “Anna, wake up.” She repeated.

Anna slowly opened her eyes and looked up towards her friends’ faces looking down upon her.

“How long did I sleep for?” she asked somewhat groggily.

“About four hours,” Stephanie laughed, “Come on. It’s time to see Kevin.”

Anna sat up quickly and stood, fully alert and awake, “Where is he? I need to tell him I’m sorry.”

“In a hurry much?” Stephanie asked, “He’s on the sixth floor. Just follow me. While you slept, we took turns exploring.”

Anna blushed, embarrassed that she was the only one who’d lost the will to stay awake and wait to be taken to Kevin. She hoped that it wouldn’t be held against her later on when they weren’t about to visit with Kevin.

Following the others, Anna anticipated seeing Kevin, but was nervous. She hoped that he wasn’t too beat up from the crash. She hoped that he would be decent towards her. She hoped that…Anna didn’t have time to finish her thoughts. They had arrived at Kevin’s room and she was following everyone else in.

“Hey, Kevo,” Howie greeted.

“Hey,” Kevin replied, smiling at everyone cheerfully, “Thanks for coming to see me. I had to bug that old man to death to let me have visitors and he wouldn’t cave until he was done poking and prodding at me.”

“What were you thinking?” Brian asked, getting right to the point.

“Obviously not with my head,” he joked, shooting a warning look at Anna to keep her mouth shut.

“Don’t look at her like that,” A.J. shouted, “She already told us. Who are you to judge me? We’re the same now, so if you ever throw it in my face again, I swear to god I’ll make sure you’re miserable for the rest of your life.”

“Guys’, lets not fight,” Nick said, “That’s not exactly what we all came here for, ya know?”

“He’s right,” Kevin quickly put in, to make himself look more mature, “There’s plenty of fighting to do after I get out of here.”

The group laughed, knowing that he was right. Nobody said anything for a while, shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot.

“So, how do you feel?” Stephanie asked.

Kevin shrugged a little, “Okay, I guess. They have me so knocked up on painkillers that I can’t really feel much of anything. My arms, back and chest are really sore, but other than that, nothing.”

Anna found it odd that Kevin didn’t feel anything. He should at least feel something everywhere, shouldn’t he? She didn’t know and wasn’t about to make a big deal out of it. She would probably only end up embarrassing herself. She caught a few of the others meeting each others gazes though and knew that they were thinking the same thing as her. Anna decided that she would get a hold of his doctor and ask him if it was something that they should worry about.

“That’s good that you’re not in pain,” Howie said after another long silence, “Considering what happened. I’m surprised that they even found you.”

A few minutes later, Kevin’s doctor walked into the room interrupting their conversation.

“Just here to check his blood pressure,” the doctor informed them, going about his business.

“You did a pretty good job with the pain killers,” Brian congratulated him, “He doesn’t feel much of a thing.”

The doctor turned and looked at them all, blinking a few times in wonder before saying, “I never gave him any pain killers. He won’t be needing any.”

Everybody stared at him blankly wondering why Kevin didn’t need any painkillers and why he wouldn’t.

“I’m thinking I might need them. I’m kinda sore from the waist up,” Kevin told him crossly.

“Very well,” the doctor replied, “I figured you might.”

“But if Kevin isn’t on meds, then why can’t he feel much?” Jaime asked wondering if it might be something new she could pick up for when she continued medical school when she wanted to.

“I don’t think that this is the best time to bring it up,” The doctor told them, “Especially after the long day that you’ve all had.”

Kevin glared at his doctor, wondering what was being kept from him. He knew that it wasn’t good if he man thought that he needed to be stronger in order to be able to handle the news. How bad could it possibly be? A broken leg or two. He knew that that had to be it.

“Just tell me,” Kevin urged through gritted teeth, “I’d rather know what’s wrong with me right away then stressing over wondering.”

The doctor nodded curtly, seeing some truth in Kevin’s statement. He paused knowing that there would be no easy way to tell him.

“I think it would be best if I told Kevin, erm, alone,” the doctor started, “So if you all could please step outside.”

Everybody looked at one another and nobody budged. They were going to be there for Kevin when he found out, in case he needed somebody. Not in the hall letting him take the blow all alone.

“I want them to stay,” Kevin told the doctor bluntly, “Now tell me…get it over with so I can get back to my friends.”

“If that’s what you want,” the doctor said without putting up an argument, and then turned to the man “Kevin, you didn’t exactly walk…” the doctor coughed to clear his throat, “Excuse me. You aren’t going to get away from the accident without a scratch. It seems that, at least temporarily, you will be paralyzed from the waist down. That’s precisely the reason why you can’t feel anything.”

Kevin’s face paled and his eyes widened. He felt as if he were going to be sick and his breath began to come out short and raspy.

“I’ll leave you alone with your friends so you can all swallow the news,” the doctor told them and was gone.

Anna took in a shaky breath and looked around the room. Everybody had frozen and she felt like she was in one of those movies where time stops and she was the only one who could move until she saw a slight movement from Kevin.

“I have a career,” he whispered so lowly that it was chilling, and then his voice began to rise, “I can’t continue my career paralyzed. It has to be a mistake.”

Kevin tried with all his strength to try to move something, anything, but nothing happened. Everybody watched him in sympathy not wanting to tell him that it wouldn’t work. Kevin soon enough figured it out on his own and became enraged. Picking up the bedpan that was next to him, threw it against the door. It clattered to the ground loudly and Anna could see tears forming in his eyes.

“This isn’t happening,” he muttered, wiping his eyes and they screamed, “This isn’t happening to me.”

“We’re so sorry,” Brian said, cautiously stepping forward and putting a comforting hand on his cousins’ shoulder. Kevin roughly shrugged away.

“We can’t tour,” Kevin said, and the others could see that he was beginning to slip into a slight shock, “The most important thing in my life is being taken from me because of this.”

“Kevin, we can still tour. Sure, it’ll be different, and we’ll have to change some things around, but we can do it.”

Kevin shook his head and his eyes clouded over in anger and bitterness. Nobody knew what he was going to do next. They all felt bad for what was happening and couldn’t quite believe it. Kevin was vulnerable at the moment. He was capable of doing absolutely anything.

“No, we can’t,” he yelled, “Nobody wants to come to see us if we have to change everything around because of me being in a wheelchair,”

Anna could feel tears stinging her eyes. Everything was suddenly hitting her and the guilt started to come back to her. It was the next worse thing to being comatose, or a vegetable or even dead. Kevin, she knew, didn’t deserve this on top of Kristin cheating on him and the divorce. She wondered when things would ever start to get better for him. She remembered the saying “Things only get worse before they get better” and realized that it was true. She looked at Kevin for a long moment and saw that his gaze shifted at her. Their eyes locked and she could see fire in his.

“So, Anna,” he said, “What do you say about being my girlfriend now, huh?” he asked putting the spotlight on her and she hated him for it, but still wanted to be with him more than anything all at the same time. Anna bit her lip and tasted blood from all the gnawing she’d been doing that day out of nervousness. The spotlight was on her now, waiting for an answer to Kevin’s question. Anna closed her eyes and took in a deep breath and began to speak.
Chapter Seven by sweet18_2003
Chapter Seven

“Kevin,” Anna said, “I still can’t date you. You’re still not ready. Just because something bad happened to you doesn’t change anything. I will date you when I feel you’re ready, but as of now, you aren’t. Try to understand.”

“I see how it is,” Kevin replied, his eyes as cold as steel, “Before I wasn’t good enough for you. Now, I’m a crippled freak that’s so far out of your league that we might as well live on different planets.”

Anna felt as if she’d been slapped. She couldn’t believe that Kevin was being so cold towards her. She also couldn’t believe that he expected her to changer her mind just because something horrible had happened to him.

“Don’t yell at Anna,” A.J. defended, “She has every right to say no to you. If she believes your relationship would be better if it started later on, then have confidence that she is right.”

“It’s her way of saying never,” Kevin chided.

“That’s not true,” Anna protested, “I want to date you.”

Kevin eyed her up and down for a good minute trying to figure out if she was being truthful or not. She had hurt him twice. The first time had landed him paralyzed. Who knew what would happen this time. If he was persistent, he was pretty sure that he could finish himself off.

“Then why don’t you,” Kevin shot back.

Anna groaned, knowing that she was going to cave in to him. Kevin thought that she hated him and he would continue to think that until she gave him his way. She was going to be his girlfriend, no matter if he was up to it or not.

“Fine, Kevin,” Anna said, “I’ll go out with you, but the first time I even see a hint of longing for Kristin, its over until I know you’re over her.”

“You just feel sorry for me,” Kevin said, “That’s the only reason you changed your mind. You feel sorry that I’m useless now.”

Anna looked at Kevin in disbelief. She couldn’t believe that she was hearing this. There was no winning with him.

“How about quit feeling sorry for yourself,” Anna yelled, “Yes, I’m sorry that this happened, and I truly want to be with you. But no matter what I decide to do, it’s not good enough. It’s not the right answer. Why are you men so god damned complicated and confusing. Make up your mind.”

Kevin glared at Anna, not believing the harsh things that she had just shouted at him. He didn’t know who she thought she was. Jaime had told him that the girl used to be so shy that you could barley get a sentence out of her. Now she was bold and spoke her mind, a quality Kevin used to find attractive. With her, he wished that she was still shy and quite and would just shut up for the moment.

“Get out,” Kevin said in a low voice, “I don’t want to see your face ever again.”

Anna stood and stared at Kevin, realizing that he was just angry and would cool off in a few seconds. But the longer she stayed, the more upset she could see that she was making him.

“I said, GET OUT,” Kevin shouted at the top of his lungs.

Tears formed in Anna’s eyes as she stared at him one last time and fled from the room. Kevin sat with a smug look on his face but it faded when he saw Jaime and Stephanie’s angry faces.

“I used to respect you,” Stephanie said before her and Jaime ran from the room to try to catch up to Anna.

One by one, the guys gave Kevin disapproving looks before running out as well to try to see if Anna was ok. Nick was soon left alone with Kevin. He looked up at him and shook his head in disgust.

“Anna’s right,” he said, “Quit feeling sorry for yourself.”

And seconds later, he was gone too, leaving Kevin alone to wait for what was in store for him next in this huge nightmare.

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“Anna, wait up,” Jaime called, running as fast as her legs would carry her to catch up to her friend.

Stephanie had long since fallen behind. She’d taken her heels off and was walking at a leisurely pace behind the two marathon runners. Running was not her thing. It never had been, and never would be. Then again, it wasn’t Anna or Jaime’s either, but Anna had a slightly logical reason for her mad dash away from the hospital. She still couldn’t believe the things that Kevin had said to her friend. She knew that it was all out of anger and frustration, but it was still no excuse to treat anybody like that.

“Anna,” Jaime screamed again.

Anna continued to run, across the hospital parking lot and across the street, into a park nearby. Once in the park, she stumbled and fell onto the ground in a heap crying harder than she ever had before. Jaime reached her and knelt down, pulling her friend into her arms trying to calm her down.

“Kevin… hates me,” she wailed, “Now… I’ll never… get a chance …at dating… him. I…I was just try…trying to do… what was… right, and…it did… me…no goooood. ”

“He doesn’t hate you,” Jaime said softly, combing her friends hair with her fingers, “He’s going through a hard…day. I’m sure he’ll realize what an ass he was by tomorrow and be begging for you to come and talk to him so he can apologize.”

“Jaime is right,” Stephanie replied, coming up behind them, “He was wrong to single you out like that in the first place.”

Anna sniffled. She hated that this happened to Kevin, but she still felt the same way about him, no matter what. She liked him and wanted to be with him. She couldn’t care less if he was going to be in a wheelchair. It wasn’t a question of IF, it was a matter of WHEN. Anna looked up and saw the other four Backstreet Boys walking toward her. She cringed, wondering what they wanted.

“I’m sorry I hurt Kevin,” she said in a rush, “Please forgive me. It’s in his own interest right now.”

Brian held his hand up to stop her, “No need to apologize. We all came down to see how you were doing. Kevin is out of line. He deserved what he got from you.”

“Exactly,” A.J. continued, “He shouldn’t be like that. I know him too well though. Tomorrow, he’ll be sending YOU flowers begging you to talk to him…if he even remembers any of it,”

“How could he forget?” Howie asked, “You can’t just scream at somebody like that and accuse them of those things and not remember it. It’s not possible.”

“I told him that you were right about him feeling sorry for himself and that he needed to cut it out,” Nick offered, “None of this is your fault. He did it all on his own. If he even tries to blame you, then he’s just feeling guilty himself.”

Anna forced a smile in their effort to try and make her feel better. She could tell that, if her friends and herself stayed with the guys, that they would become her new best friends very quickly.

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Kevin couldn’t believe that his friends had all left him alone. He sat, wondering what had just happened. It had all gone by so quickly, in a blur, and suddenly, the room was empty. He also was having a hard time believing what was happening to him. He couldn’t quite comprehend the thought of him being paralyzed. The doctor hadn’t given him any other information, so he didn’t even know if it was something that would be permanent or not. Anna came to his mind and he half smiled, half scowled. He didn’t know why she wouldn’t give him a chance yet. She had a perfectly valid excuse. But what upset him was the fact that he didn’t know if it was the honest truth or not. Most girls would jump at the first chance they got at dating him, which was what was making him doubt her. But then the thought occurred to him: what if Anna was different from most girls and truly interested in his well-being. A slight blush started to bubble up to the surface of Kevin’s cheeks. He had been a complete fool to doubt Anna. He had known from the start that she wasn’t like most people. She was special and genuinely cared. But he had doubted her before giving her a real chance to explain, or before he’d even thought of the alternative possibilities. He’d right away thought that she was out to hurt him, just like Kristin had.

The thought of Kristin brought another thought to his mind. If he’d still been with her, then she would definitely have left him. That’s the kind of person that she was. She wanted the perfect guy. Not somebody with a flaw. Not somebody who was paralyzed. Then again, if he’d still been with her, then the whole ordeal would have never happened in the first place. But Kevin wasn’t about to regret the decision of a divorce. She wasn’t the person for him. He could see it now. Kevin hoped that Anna would forgive him for his behavior and stupidity. He cringed at the thought of the things that he had said to her. The thought of telling her to leave him alone. It had caused everybody else to leave too. Everybody was on Anna’s side and he didn’t blame them. He was acting like the biggest jerk and he didn’t deserve their company. Kevin just hoped that his friends would eventually talk to him again and give him the chance to apologize. And Anna, he hoped, would let him speak to her privately, so that he could make up to her everything he’d said or done in the past few days.

“Hey there,” A chipper voice said, walking into the room.

Kevin looked up and saw a woman dressed in aqua scrubs. She was young and slim and Kevin knew that she had to be one of the nurses. He despised her cheerful nature. He felt that it was rude, especially when it came to patients in his position. They came in all bouncy and walking, making people who couldn’t move, like him, long to be able to do so again. He knew that it was their job to make patients feel better, but didn’t they ever consider the possibility of their way of going about making the people feel worse? It made him wonder, because it sure didn’t seem like it.

Kevin just glanced at the nurse, eyeing her up and down as if she were an insect for a moment before giving her a curt nod to acknowledge her presence.

“Somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed,” the nurse joked, “I’m Desiree, but you can call me Desi...everyone else does.”

“I did not wake up on the wrong side of the bed,” Kevin said not too kindly, “And would you mind turning your cheerfulness down just a notch? Not everybody finds perkiness attractive in this dump.”

Desiree laughed, “Wow, Mr. Pop star has an attitude,” she joked again, “You might want to change that.”

Kevin scowled again, wishing that the young woman hadn’t recognize him, but knowing that thinking she wouldn’t would be asking for a miracle, “I’m normally a really nice person, as are the rest of the group. But, how about you go fall off of a bridge, paralyze yourself, and see how happy you are.”

Desiree stood thoughtfully for a moment as if trying to imagine what he was talking about. Kevin could tell by how quickly her facial expression was changing that he had hit a nerve.

“Okay, okay, you prove a point,” she finally said, “I’ll cut it down a notch if you act like your true self… the decent person I know you really are.”

“Deal,” Kevin replied without hesitation. He had learned that he’d be in the hospital anywhere between a week and two months, depending on test results and progress. He might as well be civil to people during his long visit.

“Good,” Desiree replied, “Now that that’s out of the way…let’s get back to business. I need to draw some blood for tests down in the lab.”

Kevin cringed a little and was about to protest, but quickly remembered his promise to cooperate. He let her slide the needle into his arm without so much of the smallest complaint. The sooner he let her do her job, the sooner he’d be left alone. He hated the silence though, so he thought of a question to ask Desiree to keep a little noise in the room.

“So…um…my condition…”

“What about it,” Desiree asked, looking up from what she was doing for a second to meet his eyes just to let him know she was listening.

“Is it permanent?”

“It shouldn’t be,” Desiree told him, pulling the
needle out and swiftly placing a cotton ball where the needle had been to help stop the blood flow. She put a band-aid over the cotton and put her utensils away, “If you go to therapy and work hard enough, then within time, you should be on your feet again without the slightest hint that this ever happened.”

Kevin’s eyes brightened at the news. He could be normal again. He wanted that more than anything. He hated feeling dependant and helpless…especially when everyone normally depended on him. He was impatient and hungry to have control over his life once again. One week, for him, was way too long to not be taking responsibility for himself.

“How long?” he asked.

“At least six months…” the nurse began.

Kevin’s face fell. Six months. Him and the guys had to go back on tour again. In six months, the tour would be long over with and they’d be working on a new album, getting ready to take of for a new world tour. He couldn’t let the guys or Bluewave down. This was Bluewaves’ chance at making it big. He had to fight to get better and make a full recovery sooner.

“It’s a lengthy process. Therapy takes awhile. You’re lucky that you’re even a candidate for getting well. Most never will.” Desiree informed him, “And I said that it would be at least six months. It could be as long as two or three years.”

Desiree finished up and walked out of the room. Kevin sat in astonishment. It could be years? That was one thing that he would not allow. He was young, strong, and for the most part, healthy. He was determined to make a full recovery in record time. He’d be back on his feet in no time, amazing doctors, friends and fans everywhere. He’d make sure of that.

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“Where’s Anna?” Kevin asked as soon as he realized that she hadn’t come in with the rest of the group. It had taken him a full five seconds to see that she had not arrived with them.

Jaime bit her lip nervously and looked to Stephanie for help. Stephanie put her hands on her hips and shot Jaime her famous look.

“Don’t think that I’m gonna tell him,” she said.

Kevin was getting frustrated. He wished that somebody would just hurry up and tell him what was going on. He clenched his fists at his sides trying not to snap at everybody. It was the first time any of them had visited him since he’d lost his temper on Anna. He was surprised and lucky that they had even shown up. He could see his band mates as well as Bluewave, who had come to see him a well, cringing and shifting uncomfortably. Worry formed in his stomach that something really bad had happened to her.

“She went to see Nathan,” Ryan finally told him.

Kevin leaned back against the pillow that was propped against his bed and closed his eyes. He had really screwed up. Before the accident, she’d told him that she probably wouldn’t see Nathan again. That was before he had messed up their friendship though. Now she was out with him probably having the time of her life. He was probably treating her as special as she really was. Kevin was jealous. He wanted Anna more than anything and to pamper and spoil her, but he knew that he could never do with her what Nathan could. Not right now, anyways.

“Don’t let it get you down,” Stephanie said in disgust, “My god. I thought you’d be glad that she didn’t show up. Anyways, they just met at a coffee shop to talk. She told me that she really isn’t all that interested in him.”

Kevin breathed a sigh of relief and opened his eyes trying to hide his happiness towards the news. He knew that it was wrong of him to expect Anna not to date, but he was worried that if she did, she’d fall head over heels in love with the guy, knocking his chances with her down to nothing.

“So, anyways,” A.J. asked, “Have you given any more thought to touring anyways? In another two or three weeks, you should be fine to put on shows again.”

A frown formed on Kevin’s face. He had actually forgotten temporarily about touring. A.J. just had to bring it up. There was still a slight tension between the two of them, but Kevin was trying to ignore it.

“I don’t think that we can continue with me like this,” he said, knowing that he was letting everybody else down, “I’m sorry.”

“There’s no reason why you couldn’t…other than your pride,” Nick said, “You could at least try.”

“I don’t want to try,” Kevin said stubbornly, “I don’t want to go out there any less than I was the last time.”

The guys all tried to be understanding and act like they really did not care one way or the other, but Kevin knew that they did. He turned to Bluewave and saw disappointment in their eyes. They couldn’t hide it no matter how hard they tried.

“When I’m back on my feet, I’ll personally make sure that you guys tour with us again. You have my word on it,” he promised.

“Thanks man,” Eric replied, “We’d appreciate that.”

Kevin smiled at them. He was determined to keep his promise to them. They had real potential and he wanted them to soar high quickly. The only thing missing from the picture now was Anna. He wanted to apologize to her but didn’t know how he could make it up to her. He swore to himself that he would figure something out and get right to it though. He needed to set things right before the gap between them drifted farther apart and it was too late.

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Anna’s hands shook as she slowly and carefully opened the envelope that had been delivered to her hotel door along with a vase of six-dozen roses and a box of Godiva chocolates. She pulled the card out of the envelope and read the front.

Words cannot express how sorry I am…

A small smile formed on Anna’s lips and she immediately knew whom it was from. Kevin. It had been almost a week since he’d told her to stay out of his life. A.J. was right though. He was sending her flowers now, trying to win her friendship back. It just wasn’t as soon as A.J. had predicted that it would be, but it had been done. She just hoped that her friends didn’t have anything to do with Kevin sending her the surprise gifts. She wanted his kindness to be strictly from him and him alone, not through bribery from others. Anna opened the card and read the inside.

Please find it in your heart to forgive me and lets start over with a fresh beginning.

Anna-
This card says it all…lets start over…I don’t want you to be mad at me for being a foolish male. I truly am sorry for hurting you in any way or blaming you for anything. Come to my room so that we can talk face to face. I want you in my life again, even if we are only just really good friends for now, or forever.
Love,
Kevin


A few tears formed in Anna’s eyes as she read the card over and over. She hadn’t exactly been a delightful ray of sunshine herself. She hadn’t even given Kevin a get-well card out of her frustration towards his attitude. She should have though, no matter what the circumstances were. Kevin was being unnaturally sweet towards her under the term’s they’d ended under a few days ago. She really did want to try to be friends with him, but knew that eventually, the subject of them dating would come up and Anna didn’t know when she’d feel right about dating him. Then again, from his letter, it sounded like he had given up on her all together. He’d said “even if they were only friends forever” which, to her meant that she’d messed up her chances with him because of her own beliefs and protection of the both of them.

“Who are the flowers from?” Jaime asked, walking into the room, “They’re gorgeous…wow.”

Jaime walked over to the vase and gingerly fingered the delicate, velvety pedals with her thumb and forefinger.

“Kevin,” Anna blushed, “They were delivered earlier.”

“Wow,” Stephanie exclaimed, appearing from nowhere behind her, “Talk about a sorry sucker. Well, at least he knew he fucked up.”

Anna chuckled, “We both did, I guess,” she said guiltily.

Stephanie rolled her eyes. Anna had nothing to feel guilty about, but when she did feel guilty, there was no changing her mind for more than five minutes.

“So, what are you going to do?” Jaime asked, after she’d sneakily read the card from over Anna’s shoulder. She found Kevin’s words to be sweet and thought that Anna should at least go and see what he had to say.

Anna paused and thought. She wanted to see Kevin, but she was afraid that he would just tell her off again. A small smile formed on her lips though, and she could feel herself start to blush. Anna looked down so that her friends could not see the silly look she knew was definitely on her face. His card and the flowers had been a sweet gesture; therefore, she knew that he wasn’t going to criticize.

“I’m going to see him,” Anna said softly, “I guess that I am going to give him another chance.”

She looked up to see if her friends approved of her decision and could tell that they did by the smiles that were on their faces. She smiled back at them and leaned into the flowers to smell them.

“So what are you waiting for then?” Stephanie asked, “Go and see him.”

Anna hesitates as nervousness came over her. She didn’t know why either. She had only known Kevin for a week and a half. But that week and a half had seemed like eternity.

“Now,” Stephanie demanded, practically pushing her out of the door, “He’s waiting for you.”

Anna laughed at Stephanie’s pushiness and waved as she jogged to the stairwell. She was going to see Kevin whether she was ready to or not.
Chapter Eight by sweet18_2003
Chapter Eight

“I’m really sorry for everything,” Anna muttered, pacing back and forth in the elevator, “No, that’s no good…umm…please don’t hate me anymore…shit, that’s no good either. Damnit.”

Anna had been practicing aloud what she was going to say to Kevin the whole ride to the hospital and the whole way up the elevator, but nothing that she came up with sounded justice to what she wanted to say to him. The doors slid open and Anna knew that she was on his floor, seconds away from being confronted with him. She paused, knowing that he hadn’t seen her yet and it still wasn’t too late to turn around and go back to the hotel until she was better prepared. Anna quickly decided against that route and stepped out of the small confined box and out into the open lobby area of the seventh floor. Anna had always thought seven to be a lucky number ever since she was just a little girl. Maybe, just maybe, it was a sign that Kevin was going to be all right after all. With slightly trembling hands, she peeked inside of her purse to make sure that the “get well” card she’d bought for him in the gift shop was still there, she set of in search of his private room.

“What am I going to say to him?” she said quietly to herself, “I have to think of something…” she looked up and saw Kevin sitting in his bed watching something on TV, “And fast.”

Anna searched her mind for something intelligent to say as she walked into his room and forced a cheerful smile to hide the nervousness that she was feeling. There was no use in making him know that she was slightly afraid of him. That was all that he needed at the moment on top of everything else.

“Hey Kevin,”

Kevin looked up and she could see his eyes widen in surprise at her presence, but she cold also see happiness along with excitement. It was obvious to her that he hadn’t been expecting her visit. Anna walked over to him and wrapped one arm around him in a light hug.

“Hey there,” Kevin replied, slowly putting an arm around her to hug her back, “Wow, I…um…I didn’t think that you’d ever come. I figured me asking you to would pretty much be like asking the Queen of England to turn American.” Kevin laughed a little at his joke to try and lighten the mood.

Anna wasn’t sure what she was supposed to say to Kevin’s comment, so she quickly changed the subject, “Thanks for the flowers and candy. It was really sweet of you, although I didn’t deserve it.”

“Yes, you did. What you didn’t deserve what I said to you,” Kevin corrected her, “What I had sent to your room wasn’t nearly enough to prove to you how sorry I truly am.”

Anna laughed, “You did great. It’s more than enough…more than I’ve ever gotten from a guy period, actually…including boyfriends.”

A cloudy look formed in Anna’s eyes as she remembered all of the guys she’d dated that hadn’t exactly gone out of their way to do something nice for her out of nowhere, or any special occasions either. Kevin saw in her eyes how this fact had lowered her self-esteem and made her feel like she wasn’t special or worthwhile to anybody and it made him and the more glad that he’d done the small gesture for her. If…no, when they dated, he would do so much more for the girl. He would treat her like the princess that she really was.

“So, um, anyways, you said in your card that you wanted to talk?” Anna asked, “What about?”

She was feeling slightly uncomfortable being alone in the same room with him. She still wasn’t completely over the things that he’d said to her. He’d called her an unfeeling bitch and accused her of lying to him just to get out of a relationship with him on top of many other things. It wasn’t something that could be erased from her mind or forgotten in one short week. It wasn’t something that could be forgotten in months, or years even. It was something that he would have to prove he didn’t mean and win her trust back by being his true self and treating her right.

“Yeah,” Kevin said slowly, “About that…I just wanted to say that I am truly sorry for anything that I said to you, Anna. It was out of line and you didn’t deserve any of it. I wish that I could take it all back.”

“I..” Anna began, but Kevin cut her off before she could continue trying to defend him a little.

“And it was wrong of me to put you on the spot like that by asking you to be my girlfriend again. I was just…so angry and I thought that if you turned me down, then so would anybody else. But I shouldn’t have done it. I should have waited things out. You’re the only one I want to be with.”

“I will give you that much, about it being wrong of you to center me out like that,” Anna joked, smiling at him, “Kevin, I really do want to go out with you…its torture telling you we need to wait. Believe me. I don’t care if…well, you know.” She said, not being able to say out loud in words that she didn’t care if he never walked again and his career was over. Those things didn’t matter to her. His fame didn’t matter to her. Him, as a person did.

“I know,” he replied kindly, reading in her eyes just what she was wanting to say, “I know that you wouldn’t lie to me about it.”

There were a few moments of awkward silence. Anna didn’t know what to say anymore. She’d decided to give him the card right before she left so he could read it after when was gone. She hated people reading cards from her while she was there, so in case of the event of her writing something stupid, she wouldn’t feel like such a total moronic idiot.

“Have the doctors told you anything else…I mean, do you know anything?” she finally asked, realizing again just how long it had been since she’d last seen him.

Kevin nodded, “Yes, well, kind of. They said that with physical therapy, I should walk again normally with no problems. They also said that it takes six months to years though…that’s the bad thing.”

“That’s awful,” Anna gasped.

“No, not really,” Kevin said brightly, “Because it’s not going to take me that long. It can’t because I have a life and planned schedule that’s made out months in advance to get back to. It’s a responsibility of mine. I can’t let the guys down by taking my time. I’m going to be back out there in no time.”

Anna smiled, hoping that he was right. It would be so hard on him to hear that his plans weren’t likely, so she decided not to discourage him. She also decided not to encourage him either. Both would be bad, so she kept her mouth shut and didn’t say anything on the subject.

“Well,” Anna said, “I’d better get going. The girls are waiting and I’m sure they’re dying to hear how things went.”

Kevin laughed, “Girls and their gossiping,” he kidded with her.

Anna pulled the card out of her purse, deciding that now was the perfect time to give it to him. She handed it to him and bent down, hugging him once more, warmly and tightly and gave him a small kiss on the cheek. Kevin put his arms around her savoring the moments of having her that close to him, in his arms. When they let go, Anna stood up and prepared to leave.

“Thanks again for the flowers and candy,” she told him, “I’ll see you really soon, okay.”

“Sounds wonderful,” Kevin replied, “I’ll be counting the minutes until I know I’ll see you again.”

She started walking towards the door, and Kevin looked down at the card with her neat writing scrawled across the envelope. He had something else to say…or rather ask her and realized that now was the time, before he lost his nerve completely. He looked back up and realized that Anna was already almost out the door. In seconds, she would disappear around the corner and it would be too late for him to do it. It was either now or never.

“You’re right though,” Kevin said, stopping Anna.

“About what?” she asked in curiosity, going back over to Kevin’s bed to hear what he had to say.

“You’re right. I’m not completely over Kristin. I don’t know how long it will take before I will be, but I eventually will. Anyways, when I am, no matter what, will you promise me something?”

“Anything,” Anna told him, her heart racing in anticipation at what he was about to ask of her.

“Promise me that you’ll be mine?”

Anna’s breath caught in her throat. His request had to be the sweetest thing that she had ever heard and she knew that there was no way that she could not give him her word on it. She looked deep into his green, soulful eyes and smiled, taking one of his large hands in between her small ones.

“I promise,” she whispered.

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“The tour is officially cancelled…or post-phoned rather, as of this morning,” Brian said regretfully, “It’s already all over the news. The press moves fast,” he laughed bitterly, hating the press for putting their noses in business where it did not belong. It was their job, he knew, but he still hated them. He wondered why they couldn’t go cover a story on someone’s divorce or twisted, scandalous relationship.

He had called a group meeting in his hotel suite to inform everybody of the information. They’d all rushed their willingly to see what was up and hear what was so important. Brian picked up the remote and flipped on the television without another word and turned it to a news channel. He was right. The story was just starting on the six o’ clock news on channel four with a photo from one of their most recent photo shoots positioned in the top left corner.

“The popular boy band, Backstreet Boys has had to change their plans due to a mishap that landed one of their members in the hospital early last week. Kevin Richardson was in a car accident and is, as we know it, paralyzed, but not expected to be a life-long misfortune. For those of you who have tickets to their shows, until Richardson is well again, we have good news. The Boys have announced personally that they will definitely make up any shows that had to be missed. We will keep you posted with the latest information.”

Brian clicked the TV back off and looked around the room to see how the others had reacted to the story. Their faces were that of shock, anger and frustration. A.J. had his head in his hands, looking down. Anna had turned a pasty white. He felt exactly how they looked. Everybody was just a time bomb waiting to go off. It was only a matter of seconds now before somebody did. He gave it ten seconds before the first spoke their frustration.

“How could they just expose us like that,” Nick exploded, “Kevin deserves his privacy.”

Everybody nodded in agreement and Anna felt sick to her stomach. He didn’t deserve to have everybody know about what had happened to him. He was embarrassed enough as it was. He had wanted it to be kept private. Now the whole nation knew…possibly the world by now. And if not, they would soon, within days, weeks at the very latest. News spread fast.

“Does he know?” she asked softly.

“That the show is cancelled or that we’re all over the god damned news?” A.J. said, his voice rising a notch with ever word that he spoke. He couldn’t help it. The more he thought about it, the madder he got. He didn’t care if he was still upset with Kevin. He was still like a big brother to him and he wanted his big brothers privacy
confidential and kept between him, the Boys, the girls and Bluewave.

“Both,” Anna asked, “Won’t he be mad about the show being cancelled without talking it over with him first.”

“He wanted it to be done, so he can’t be mad at us for that. He told us he wouldn’t tour in the condition that he was in when we went to see him the day you went out with Nathan for a talk. We would’ve had to do it anyways, at least for a few weeks. He needs time to recover. As for the news…lord, I hope he doesn’t find out or has a sudden disliking for the news.” A.J. said with a low whistle, “Or else that will be one conversation that I think we’ll all want to avoid.”

Everybody nodded in agreement. They knew that as soon as Kevin did find out, and they knew that as much as they prayed he wouldn’t, that he still would, he’d go through the roof. Anna cringed at the thought of that. He had seemed so calm and had been so sweet to her two days before. She smiled in memory of his proposal. He’d seemed so sincere and she suddenly couldn’t wait for him to be over Kristin for good. His divorce would be final in three days. But then a frown formed on her face. She knew that finding out his publicity would ruin his good mood.

“God I hope he’s in high spirits when he does find out,” Howie said, “Or else we’ll never hear the end of it.”

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“Kevin, NO,” Nick shouted, trying to pry the remote out of Kevin’s hands before he could turn the TV on. He could barely make out in the room right next to Kevin’s the beginning of the story on Kevin. It was two days later and the story hadn’t died down any. If anything, it had spread and grown like wildfire. Parts of it weren’t even true anymore. Kevin roughly shook away and clicked the television on, flipping to channel four. The room grew silent as they all watched the story again, cringing, waiting for Kevin to go off. Anna looked over and could see the vein in his heck starting to bulge out and she knew that at any second, he would go off. She knew what that look meant all to well already. When they dated, she had to make sure that she didn’t make him mad too often. Not unless she wanted to be living on the streets on the nights that she pissed him off or annoyed him.

“How the hell did this happen?” Kevin yelled, glaring from the TV screen to his friends, back to the TV, then back to his friends again.

“We…we don’t know,” Brian said, “We called management, told them we had to cancel, and next thing I know, I’m hearing it on here.”

Kevin fell back and groaned loudly. The last thing that he wanted was pity from fans…or worse yet, for them to think that he was a freak and the band to lose fans and respect. It was that which he feared most of anything. Losing fans because they weren’t the same as they used to be.

“I took responsibility to cancel the tour and…then this happens,” Brian explained carefully, “I did everything I’d learned from you on how to take control in case you couldn’t.”

Fire filled Kevin’s eyes and he knew right away exactly what had happened. They’d been having the problem for some time now with these people. He couldn’t believe that Jive, their record label, would sink so low as to tell the world about his medical issues. He could see a lawsuit in the very near future with them over this. What did his being hospitalized have anything to do with them recording. Just because he wouldn’t tour didn’t mean that they couldn’t record new material in the meantime

“It’s not so bad,” Stephanie offered, “I mean…well…you’ll get a lot of fan mail and gifts.”

Kevin glared at Stephanie for a long second before speaking, “Don’t any of you get it? I don’t want pity. What part of that do you guys not understand? Cards and gifts will just be sent out of pity for me. I don’t want to be felt sorry for. I wanted to get better and go back out on stage without anybody but us knowing that something bad ever happened. It’s too late for that now though, isn’t it?”

Kevin laughed bitterly. His laugh sent a chill down Anna’s spine. She knew that things were hard for Kevin and would do anything to make it better. She would even trade places with him if that was what it took. But trading places was unfortunately impossible. All she could do was comfort him and be there for him throughout everything until things started to get better on their own. She just hoped that they would, and fast. No matter how long it took though, it would be a long, bumpy ride to complete recovery. Anna hoped that she was ready to face the obstacles to help Kevin get through it. She slowly took his hand in hers, hoping that her gesture was enough to tell him exactly what she was thinking.
Chapter Nine by sweet18_2003
Chapter Nine

Kevin sat staring blankly into space. So many things were running through his head, yet he couldn’t comprehend any of them. He was normally so together, but at that moment in time, he was sensitive and vulnerable. He knew that he should feel relieved and like a huge weight had been lifted off of his shoulders, but he felt nothing except emptiness. Kevin could feel tears stinging his eyes, threatening to come. He tried to will them away, but it was useless. They were meant to fall. Months ago, his life was perfect and on a role. He was happy, energetic, could walk freely and was in what he had thought to be a flawless marriage.

“Are you all right?”

Kevin jumped, snapping out of his daze at the sound of the voice. He looked and saw Anna standing beside him. He began to nod, but then shook his head. He didn’t want to keep his emotions cooped up. It would only drive him crazy and do him more damage. More damage wasn’t something that he needed at the moment.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Anna asked, placing a comforting hand on his masculine shoulder.

“Yes,” he replied weakly, “I would.”

Anna waited patiently as Kevin drew in a deep, jagged breath. She slowly took his hand in hers to give him the confidence and assurance in which he needed to go on.

“Considering I am here,” he began, “I couldn’t exactly make it to the court hearing today to make the divorce final.”

Anna was silent. She didn’t like what he was getting out. He was supposed to be moving on with his life without Kristin, not prolonging the process.

“I knew that I couldn’t make it days ago, so I called my lawyer to inform him of what was going
on.”

Kevin stopped and Anna wanted to know what he was trying to get at. His pause was long and drawn out. He took in a deep breath and closed his eyes to try to alleviate the pain that was shooting through his chest.

“What happened,” Anna asked, and then cringed at her impatient tone. She hadn’t meant to come off in that way.

Anna wasn’t completely sure if he had heard her when he didn’t answer her right off or if he was irritated with her for sounding so demanding. But when she looked at him, she could tell that he was struggling to go on.

“He was going to try to arrange for the hearing to be kept without my presence, since it was impossible for me to be there,” Kevin stopped again, remembering the whole ordeal and then shook his head to clear it before he got lost in his own thoughts once more, “Anyways, my lawyer called me this morning to clue me in as to what happened today. The divorce is final…I’m a free man.”

Anna’s eyes brightened as she threw her arms around him in an enormous hug, “That’s wonderful,” she marveled, “Congratulations.”

Kevin put one arm around her in a half-way hug and patted her back. Anna realized something was up and pulled away, confused. She stared at him with question in her eyes wondering why he seemed less than thrilled.

“I thought that you’d be happy,” she said after a long moment.

“I am,” Kevin said too quickly, “I mean, it’s exactly what I wanted. She cheated on me and I didn’t want anything to do with her anymore…but there is a tugging feeling at my heart because she was a part of my life for years. I’m relieved that it’s finally over then again I am kind of sad at the same time.” Anna nodded, understanding exactly where he was coming from. Kristin had been a part of his life for some time. He couldn’t just forget everything that he’d had with her in one day, as soon as the divorce was official.

“It will get easier,” she promised, hugging him again, “But I’m going to be blunt. This is exactly why I don’t want us to be a couple yet. You’re not over her yet. You may not have been able to see it before, but can you now?”

Kevin nodded, “Yes, I can too now,” he admitted softly, taking her hand in his. He looked up and stared intensely into her eyes, “Just, please, whatever you do, don’t forget the promise you made me.”

Anna smiled at him, “How could I? And I’ll do more than that. I’ll wait for you, no matter how long it takes.

Kevin smiled back at her. Every doubt that he’d had about her was washed away. He knew at that moment that Anna didn’t care about what his physical status was. She cared about him as a person and was only looking out for what was in his best interest, and he believed her every word.
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“Dear god, Kev,” Howie stated, walking into his room carrying a huge box, “The mail and gifts have really started flowing in now. By next week, we’ll have semi-trucks delivering the mail.”

Anna, Stephanie, Jaime, and the other Boy’s followed him each holding another box full of stuff. Kevin rolled his eyes. The nightmare was beginning. He was on the news, the newspaper, and even tabloids making up their own story on what had happened. The latest that he’d read said that Kristin had pushed him over a cliff so that the divorce wouldn’t happen. He’d found that one pretty funny, in its own sick way.

“Just set it all over there,” Kevin said, casually pointing to the far wall straight in front of him.

Everybody stated at him quizzically not moving from where they were standing in the doorway. They wondered what was up with his nonchalant attitude.

“Aren’t you even going to look at any of it?” Brian asked.

Kevin shook his head roughly, “No. Not even three days ago I remember saying that I didn’t want things sent out of pity. That’s all it is.”

“Kev, you’re being really ungrateful,” Nick told him in disgust, “It’s only cuz everybody cares.”

Kevin crossed his arms over his chest stubbornly. Ever since the accident, his entire personality had changed. His whole perspective on life had changed. He had a feeling that it was all for the worst in him too.

“Nick’s right,” A.J. replied, not even looking up at Kevin. “For once, he makes a good point.”

“I resent that,” Nick pouted, sticking his bottom lip out.

“Back onto the original subject,” Kevin interrupted, “I don’t care how I am acting right now. I have more important things to worry about than my attitude.”

The whole group stared at Kevin in shock. His attitude was the complete opposite of what they were used to. The old Kevin would have went though everything eventually and tried to write a personal thank you card or letter out to everybody. The person sitting before them was acting full of himself and rude.

“You feel sorry for yourself,” Nick said, ignoring Kevin’s killer glare, “You don’t want fans pity and get well wishes, but you feel sorry for yourself.”

“Again, the blonde speaks the truth,” A.J. grumbled, “You should listen to him more often. He just might have something intelligent to say.” Nick ignored the insult, or was it a compliment? He wasn’t sure. It could have been taken either way. He thought about the latest news story. It had shown clips from the night before at the arena they’d have performed at. There were thousands of angry, screaming fans beating at the doors. It disgusted him at how immature they had acted. It wasn’t like any of them could change the situation.

“If you guys don’t mind,” Kevin stated, “I’m not really in the mood for visitors right now.”

Brian and Anna drew back surprised. The others stated at Kevin as if he were an alien. They all quickly recovered though.

“Yeah, we understand,” Howie said, “We had some things that we needed to do anyways today.”

Kevin nodded curtly, obviously insulted at the way they’d so quickly given up on trying to persuade him to let them stay a little longer. To be honest, he enjoyed their company and was lonely without them there. He wasn’t sure on why he’d wanted them to go in the first place and regretted the request already.

“Aje, would you mind staying behind for a few minutes?” he asked, “I’d like to talk to you.”

A.J. rolled his eyes, crossing his arms over his chest. He obviously wasn’t thrilled about the simple request, but as everybody else begun hugging Kevin and leaving the room, he found himself standing still, waiting to see what the eldest member of the group wanted. There were a few moments of silence, which made him uncomfortable. He shifted from foot to foot wanting to run and catch up with the others as quickly as possible.

“I know that you’re mad at me,” Kevin stated breaking the chilling quietness.

“No shit,” A.J. retorted coolly, still not looking up at Kevin, “Ya think? What ever gave it away.”

Kevin winced at A.J’s harsh tone. It was obvious that he wasn’t on A.J’s favorite people list at that particular moment in time. The thing was, he wasn’t exactly sure what he’d done to make A.J. so hostile towards him. He’d been catching the vibes for days now and he was determined to get to the bottom of it.

“Stephanie’s sarcasm wearing off onto you?” Kevin joked hoping to get A.J. to laugh. Instead he got a glare, but at least he’d looked up at him. Kevin’s smile slowly faded knowing that this time, he’d have to be serious against his will, “So, why are you mad at me?” he asked with a straight face.

A.J shook his head in annoyance, “You’ve gotta be shittin’ me,” he said, “I mean, jeez, Kevin the God doesn’t know what he did wrong because he obviously doesn’t think that he could do wrong.”

Kevin could feel his face growing red with anger and quickly took three deep breaths to calm himself. He wanted to get somewhere with A.J. Not make things worse and the gap wider.

“Aje, I don’t know what I did to make you so upset with me,” Kevin tried again, “Honest. Please, explain.”

A.J. looked at Kevin skeptically. He wanted to yell and tell him that if he didn’t already know, then he’d have to wonder. But A.J. felt that he needed to know how he’d made him feel. He felt that he needed to know what he thought. So instead of doing what he wanted, A.J. did what he knew he had to in order to make himself feel better about things.

“Remember when you’d first met Anna and kept fucking up?” A.J asked, his tone still icy, “You kept zoning out because you were thinking of your ex wife?”

Kevin nodded, “Yeah, I remember.”

“You must not,” he laughed bitterly, “When I told you that you might not be ready to date. What were you thinking?”

Kevin started to protest and say that he didn’t know, but a look of remembrance formed in his eyes and A.J. could read that he felt bad immediately. But just because he felt bad didn’t mean that he’d be let off the hook so easily.

“You’re still upset with me over that?” Kevin asked softly, “Aje, I am really sorry about that.”

“But it hurt me,” he replied, his voice not kind but not harsh, “I could read what you were thinking, and it made me feel worthless all over again.”

“I thought that you were over that,” Kevin stated, staring blankly ahead, “I didn’t know that it was still on your mind.”

A.J. didn’t respond for a moment. All of the memories came flooding back to him at once all over again. He remembered how he’d felt that he was a disappointment to everybody. What he’d read in Kevin’s eyes that night had made him feel like all of his work in rehab had been for absolutely nothing.

“I was getting over it,” A.J. admitted, “Until your accident.”

Kevin looked at A.J. in confusion, “What does that have to do with anything?” he asked.

“Everything,” A.J. yelled in frustration throwing his arms into the air, “It has everything to do with how I feel.”

“Care to explain?” Kevin asked.

A.J couldn’t believe that he had to explain everything to Kevin as if he were a child. He especially couldn’t believe how easily he could forget what had landed him in the hospital in the first place.

“Because of Anna turning you down, you went out and drank. As a result, you’re now paralyzed,” A.J. started bluntly, and saw Kevin wince at the reminder of his condition, “Same thing as me. When that doctor said what happened…” his voice trailed off and she closed his eyes, shaking his head.

“I’m really sorry Aje,” Kevin apologized again, “As I said, I didn’t mean anything by what I had been thinking. It was just…I didn’t mean to hurt you. I never would.”

“You’re a hypocrite,” A.J. replied, “That’s what I was thinking then and that’s what I still think now.”

Kevin looked down in shame. He felt worthless, and like such a low. All of his years of trying to protect and be there, and he’d done the complete opposite to the one who’d needed his support the most.

“I know,” Kevin replied quietly, “Please don’t hate me though for it. Please try to forgive me. I can’t stand you being mad at me.”

A.J. looked at Kevin wearily. The man looked so pathetic sitting there and he looked genuinely sorry, but the things he’d thought of him and his actions couldn’t be easily forgotten.

“Please?” Kevin asked weakly.

A.J. could feel his heart softening. He couldn’t be upset when Kevin was trying so hard to get their friendship back on track. A small smile cracked on his lips as he smiled and he nodded.

“So, everything is ok now?” Kevin asked, his green eyes full of hope for forgiveness from his old friend.

A.J. nodded again and Kevin broke out into a huge grin, holding his arms open for a hug. A.J. raised an eyebrow and looked around to make sure that nobody was watching before giving Kevin the hug he was expecting. All of the memories came back again and once more, he felt alone. He roughly pulled away, the scowl back on his face. Kevin stared at him, wondering what was wrong now.

“No, you know what?” he said, his nasty tone returned, “It’s not ok. What you did was wrong. It all was. It’s not okay, and I don’t know if it ever will be.”

A.J. spun around and walked out of the room leaving Kevin to sit there bewildered wondering why everything had been okay between them again for only a few short moments.
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Anna hurridly opened her hotel bedroom when
she heard the phone ringing. She ran over to answer it before the caller was gone. Stumbling over the bed, she ripped the phone off of the receiver and brought it to her ear.

“Hello,” she breathed.

“Hey there,” a male voice answered brightly

Anna sighed. She could recognize that voice anywhere. It was Nathan. She’d hoped that it was Kevin. She picked herself up off of the floor and sat on the bed wondering why he was calling her.

“What’s up?” she asked him.

“Not a whole lot,” he replied, “I was just calling to check up on how your little Backstreet Boy was doing.”

“Nathan,” Anna warned.

“What?” He protested, “I mean it. I want to know how he is. I mean, I know now that you’re telling the truth about knowing him…you called me upset over it days before it was even on the news.”

Anna sighed. Nathan hadn’t even believed her until Kevin’s story was on TV. And he was making fun of him.

“Kevin is doing fine,” she replied, “A little down, but other than that, he’s doing pretty well.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” he answered, and paused for a few seconds. Anna was wondering if he was still on the line when he spoke again, “Listen, I was wondering if you’d like to try and go out again.”

Anna paused. She really had liked him a few days ago. Had it only been days? Had she only known the Boys for two weeks, give or take a day or so? It seemed like she’d known them for a lifetime. Back when she’d met Nathan, and Kevin was still married and perfectly fine, she liked Nathan a lot because he’d paid attention to her. Now though, she couldn’t picture herself with him. He consistently made fun of Kevin. Sure, he didn’t flat out say it, but she could tell that it was what he intended. She couldn’t be with someone like that. She liked Kevin way too much also. She couldn’t date someone else while he was getting over Kristin. It would be wrong of her. It would hurt Kevin too much. She wanted to be with him. Not play games in the process of being with him.

“Hello?” Nathan asked with a chuckle, “Are you still there?”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Anna replied finally.

“Oh,” Nathan replied, “Why not?”

“I really like Kevin,” Anna replied, “I want to be his girlfriend.”

“Old man Kevin?” Nathan laughed, “That’s a good one. He is what, a good thirteen years older than you? Besides, I thought that you didn’t like him in that way because of his tendency to go retarded on you and that he still needed to get over his ex.”

Anna decided to let Nathan’s comment go in one ear and out the other. If she spoke her mind of it, she’d go down to the restaurant and murder Nathan for it.

“I’ve always liked him,” she replied stiffly, “He’s one of the sweetest people I know. I promised that I would wait for him to get over her.”

“And he expects this of you?” Nathan asked skeptically, “He expects you to just wait and not have any fun?”

“No, but I want to and decide to,” Anna corrected him. She couldn’t believe that she’d actually fallen for this guy. He was nothing but a judgmental jerk.

“Whatever you decide,” Nathan snorted, “You both are lunatics. You belong together, I swear.”

Anna was about to defend Kevin again, then herself, but the phone went dead before she had the chance to. With her whole body shaking, Anna roughly put the phone back down on the receiver. She couldn’t understand what had made the sweet guy she’d gone to the movies with turn into such a monster. Taking a few deep breaths, Anna calmed herself down enough as to where she could function, but it didn’t make her any less upset. She could feel hot tears rolling down her cheeks as she wondered why people had to be so cruel towards those who’d landed themselves in a misfortunate, temporary, situation
Chapter Ten by sweet18_2003
Thanks to dancinpacer and anita for reviewing 9. I appreciate you sticking with me!!! To everyone, enjoy 10! Looking forward to hearing your feedback!

Chapter Ten

Howie rushed to the phone as he heard it ringing at his hotel. He’d just gotten out of the shower when he’d heard the shrill sound buzzing for him to answer. Wrapping a towel around himself as he ran, he picked up the phone, nestling it between his chin and shoulder.

“Hello,” he answered, “D speaking.”

“Hey, Howie,” a male voice responded, “What’s up with everyone.”

Howie raised an eyebrow, not recognizing the voice on the other end. He wondered if it were a crazy male fan who was crushing on him. The thought made him shiver. If the caller knew where they were, he could easily find his room.

“Everything is good,” he answered, “Um, who is this?”

The voice laughed, “How easily you forget. It’s Danny, from No Authority.”

Howie winced, feeling awful for not recognizing the voice. He should have, beings they’d toured together for a few months. He hoped that he hadn’t insulted the member considering what their band was going through at the moment.

“Hey, how are ya?” Howie casually asked

“Doing all right,” he replied, “Eric and Ricky are doing pretty well too. We all miss touring though.”

Howie knew how he felt. Him and the Boys missed touring too. It was something that they’d have to get used to not doing though, at least for a while. The two bands had something in common now though. Each one had a member that was left stranded in the hospital.

“How’s Tommy doing?” Howie asked, hoping that the news was good. He wished that they’d contacted the group and asked how to keep this private. The newer band was obviously better about that than they were. The news on Tommy still wasn’t out in public while Kevin’s accident was all over the news after days.

“Could be better,” Danny told him regretfully, “Could be much worse too though. He’s been going through chemo and all and is sick as a dog.”

“I’m sorry that things aren’t going better,” Howie said truthfully, wishing that the information had been better.

“It’s all right,” Danny sighed, “The doctors say that he’s got a big chance of survival, but he’ll still be weak for months after treatment. Cancer sucks…for the victim and their friends.”

Howie agreed because him and the guys and girls were going through pretty much the same thing at the moment. Kevin was paralyzed and it was affecting everyone that was close to him.

“I know how you feel,” Howie answered, his voice trailing off slightly.

“Yeah, I imagine you do,” Danny laughed bitterly, “How is Kevin doing, anyways? I saw it on the news and couldn’t believe it. I was literally shocked. So were the rest of the guys.” “Kevin is okay,” Howie informed his old friend, “He is rather lucky to be alive, to be honest. None of us like to talk about that side of it though. He’s a little down, but thinks he’s some sort of God and will be walking again in record time. I think that he is in denial.”

“Tommy was too at first,” Danny agreed, “It took his first day of chemo for him to see the reality of the situation. Maybe it will take Kevin’s first day of therapy for him to see that it won’t be as easy as he is thinking it will be. As sad as that is to say, its how it goes in most cases.”

Howie knew exactly what he was talking about. Until Kevin’s first round of therapy, he wouldn’t be able to see exactly how difficult it would be for him. Howie would do anything to make it so the situation was different and it would be easier for his best friend.

“We all wanted to come and visit Tommy, but considering the most recent drama here, I don’t think that we’ll be making it.”

“Vice versa,” Danny replied, “We’re on opposite ends of the country. I guess phone calls to check up on how things are will have to due for now.”

“Yep. I guess so,” Howie agreed, “I hope that things turn around for the better for Tommy.”

“As with Kevin,” Danny answered, “He’s a great man and strong. I don’t think that he’ll be down long.”

Howie snorted, “He’s changed a lot since the accident. His strength is diminishing as we speak.”

There was a long silence and Howie knew that what he said was almost impossible for anyone who’d known the old Kevin to believe. Kevin being depressed and not having any hope was an unlikely story, but against all odds, they were living it.

“Well, I’d better get going,” Danny finally said, “We hadn’t spoken in a few weeks to any of you guys, so I thought I’d see how things were.”

“Thanks for calling. Sorry we didn’t get around to calling you any sooner” Howie apologized.

“No worries,” Danny casually replied, “Good luck with everything that’s coming up here soon.”

“Yeah, you too,”

“Bye,”

“Bye,”

Howie replaced the phone back onto the receiver and sighed. It seemed like there was always something going wrong. He hoped that Tommy’s chemo cured his cancer. He was glad that he’d gotten the call from their former warm up band. It was a nice surprise. Getting up, Howie walked back into the bathroom to finish getting ready for the day. It was going to be another long one.
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Jaime looked up and smiled at A.J. He was so adorable to her and she couldn’t believe that they were officially dating. Nobody had really asked anyone to be his or her girlfriend or boyfriend. It had just sort of developed into that. They hadn’t had all that much alone time together though. The majority of the time, they’d been in the hospital with Kevin or A.J. was with the other guys arranging things and canceling other plans that would be impossible to make. A.J. had begun being nice to her again. She didn’t know why he’d been so distant for a few days, but she was glad that it had passed. What she still didn’t know and wasn’t even close to being sure of was what had caused his bad mood. A.J. looked away from the movie that they’d been watching in his hotel room and smiled down at her.

“Whatcha looking at?” he asked

“How sexy you are,” Jaime told him. A.J. grinned taking the compliment to his head and Jaime laughed at him, poking his tight abs with the tip of her finger good-naturedly. She really hoped that their relationship worked out. As opposite as they were, she had to admit that they were probably a perfect match.

“So,” Jaime asked all of a sudden, “Back when we first met, why were you being so cold towards me the day we went out and the next couple after?”

She could feel A.J. tense up and wondered if she was overstepping her boundaries with him. She figured that it was either that or it was a sensitive subject for him to speak about openly. She really wanted to know because she’d thought that he’d just had a bad time with her earlier. It had been on her mind a lot and was determined to know what exactly had happened.

“I’m sorry,” Jaime quickly apologized when A.J. still said nothing for minutes, “Forget that I mentioned anything.”

A.J. gently placed his forefinger over her lips to stop her from speaking. She stared up at him and their eyes met. A.J. took his hand away and brushed a strand of her hair behind her ear, leaning down to kiss her on the mouth to let her know that she hadn’t upset him.

“You probably know all about my falling out a few years ago, right?” A.J. finally spoke.

Jaime just nodded, not wanting to speak and ruin the moment. He was calm and seemed willing to talk about it now.

“Well, to make a long story short, Kevin more or less threw that in my face. It really depressed me and I took it out on you when I shouldn’t have. I took it out on everybody, actually.”

“But didn’t Kev do the same thing the next day?” Jaime asked, the words slipping from her mouth before she realized it.

A.J. nodded, “That’s what made me even more upset. Although, you know that part already.”

Jaime nodded. That she did. They’d all discussed it in the waiting room at the hospital while waiting to see Kevin. It was hard to believe that he’d been unable to walk for just about two weeks now. She could see that he was getting weaker, but also knew that he’d start some sort of therapy really soon, which would help him greatly.

A.J. decided to leave out the bit of his and Kevin’s talk and Kevin trying to make things right. He knew that it had been childish of him to forgive Kevin and they do a turn around again and walk out in anger. The more he thought about it though, the more upset he became. Everybody seemed to be against him. They said that they were only looking out for what was in his best interest, but he wasn’t so sure if he actually believed that line or not.

“Thank god you don’t hold my past against me,” A.J. murmered, pulling her in closely to him, “I don’t know what I’d do if you did.”

“Why would I,” Jaime asked him.

A.J. didn’t say anything. He just continued to hold Jaime closely to him, like if he let go, she would drift away and disappear from his life like everything else that had been good in it.

“I l…care about you so much,” A.J. whispered in her ear when he finally did speak. He cringed at what he’d almost said to her. Although he did feel it, he felt it was too soon to tell her that he loved her.

“I care about you to, Aje,” Jaime told him softly.

She turned around and looked into his eyes and they soon started kissing, which quickly turned into a heated making out session which ended in the lights dimming and their clothes on the floor next to them.
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Kevin groaned as he lifted the heavy one-hundred pound weights over his head. Sweat beaded his forehead as he struggled to lift it one more time. A male physical therapist stood behind him as his arms shook, lifting it up and he gently helped guide the weight back onto its rack. Exhausted, Kevin let out a huge breath. It had been so long since he’d actually done a bench press, or so it seemed. He felt like he was so out of shape and it sickened him.

It was his first day of therapy and Kevin wasn’t thrilled. His joints were stiff. He could tell that much without even feeling anything and he hadn’t even begun working out his lower body yet. He could tell that he’d lost muscle tone in his lower body and it disgusted him. His whole life of working out and making sure that he was in top shape, everything that he’d gotten out of it, was almost gone. His legs looked like un-toned toothpicks. His upper body wasn’t exactly in top shape either. Before he could bench well over two-hundred easy. Now, he struggled with a measly one-hundred pounds. He knew that his declining shape was all in his head, knowing he couldn’t become so weak and untoned in so little time, but that didn’t cease his mind. He went by what he saw in the mirror, and what he saw disgusted him. Kevin could tell that he wasn’t making any progress at all and he was quickly becoming discouraged because he was used to getting results from what he’d worked for right away. He was used to being independent.

“Need a hand sitting up?” the therapist, whose name was Derek, asked, holding a hand out.

Kevin shook his head, “I can get it myself. I’m a grown man, after all.”

Derek stood before Kevin with his arms crossed over his chest as he watched Kevin expectantly, as if he were just waiting for the man to screw up. Kevin was determined to prove the man wrong and show off. He tried to pull himself up, but moved about an inch. He laid back down for a small rest before trying again. He got into a half-way sitting position before his body started to sway and he fell back again. After several more attempts, Kevin closed his eyes, knowing that he’d have to swallow his pride.

“Okay, so maybe I do need a hand,” he grumbled.

Kevin held out his arm out for the therapist to grab on to and within no time, he was in a sitting position once again. He wiped away the sweat on his forehead with the back of his hand and reached down to get his bottle of water to take a drink.

“Ready to move on to the lower region?” Derek asked.

Kevin looked up at him in despise. He hated the man already and he barely knew him. Then again, Kevin figured that he would probably have a disliking towards anybody who was his therapist. They were there to intimidate him, not help.

“Whatever gets me out of here sooner,” he muttered.

Derek helped Kevin off of the bench and onto a floor-mat five feet away. Kevin laid down on it just wanting to get the torture and pain over with. Derek sat at Kevin’s feet and lifted his right leg, gently bending his knees. Kevin couldn’t feel a thing, which scared him. Then again, he was paralyzed, so what was he expecting? Kevin hated not being able to move on his own.

“So, how did you end up here?” Derek asked, trying to make conversation.

“Is that really any of your business?” Kevin asked coolly.

Derek shrugged, “Only if you want it to be,” he answered, “Just trying to break the silence. It will make time go faster.”

Kevin said nothing. He didn’t know how anything could ever make time go by faster for him during therapy. It was long, boring, and he didn’t feel like it would do him any good. He thought that he’d been given false hope of ever walking again. He wondered if it was just doctors’ ploy to get their patients to trust them during their stay. Either way, he hated doctors more than anything else at that moment. Kevin sighed.

“Drunk driving accident,” he finally said in monotone.

Kevin could see Derek draw back at the fact that he’d actually gotten a response out of the hard-headed man.

“Was it your fault or the other drivers?” he asked.

Kevin laughed bitterly, “It was my fault all right. Thank god there was no other car involved.”

Derek said nothing, figuring that Kevin would explain without being asked to do so. He found in his years of experience that in over ninety-five percent of cases, once the patient begun talking, they continued willingly. It was breaking the shell that was the hardest part of all.

“I hit a tree,” Kevin continued, just as Derek had predicted, “Going pretty damned fast. I left my seatbelt off that night…something I never do. Who knows, maybe I was looking for trouble.”

Derek didn’t say anything and Kevin just stared up at the ceiling. He was feeling so frustrated with himself. This was the first time he’d openly talked about the accident, and he had to admit that it was making him feel slightly better. He had to wonder though if he’d had his seatbelt on, if he would even be alive, or if he’d be fine without a scratch. He’d seen pictures of his car and it looked like an acordian. He was going with he’d be dead.

“Well,” Derek stated, “That’s all for today. We don’t want to overwork you on your first day.”

Kevin choked back a laugh. He felt pretty overworked as it was. Who was Derek kidding? The therapist helped Kevin up into his wheelchair.

“Same time tomorrow?” he asked.

“Sure, whatever,” Kevin replied, and spun around, wheeling himself out of the torture chamber as quickly as he could. All he wanted to do was get back up to his room and sleep. His thoughts about the accident had scared him and depressed him. He was confused and wondering if even being alive was really even worth it.
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Stephanie sighed as she unpacked unloaded her duffle bags and suitcases from her car. Her and Nick had driven back up to her and the girls town to get their clothes and things that they’d need since it was obvious that they were staying with the guys permanently now.

“It was nice of you to bring Jaime and Anna’s clothes back with you,” Nick told her grabbing two of the bags and carrying them into the hotel room.

“Yeah, well, they were both busy and I had nothing better to do,” she replied flatly, “Thanks for joining me. It helped out a lot, believe it or not.”

The two had left the afternoon before on the long trip back to the girls’ apartment. They’d begun loading the trunk of the car, saving the back seat for the next morning. Ten hours on the road just to get clothes. She personally didn’t feel it was worth it, but then again, she didn’t want to spend the money on buying a new outfit every day, like they’d all been doing. It was a waste of the Boys’ money, who insisted on buying.

“I didn’t know that the state of Delaware was so close to Virginia,” Nick commented, “Damn, it was only like, five hours.” Stephanie shook her head and smacked her forehead with the heel of her hand before looking at Nick like he was an idiot.

“What did I say?” Nick asked, confusion written all over his gorgeous face.

“Just, shut up and be pretty,” Stephanie demanded.

“But…”

“Shhhh,” Stephanie cut him off.

Nick pouted and Stephanie felt sorry for her new boyfriend. It had taken him so long to actually get her to be his girlfriend. Since he’d won her trust, he was making sure to treat her like gold and cherish her. She finally decided to correct his little mistake on geography.

“Honey,” she said, “We went to the city of Delaware, Ohio. Not the state of Delaware.” She corrected and could see Nick’s eyes growing wide. She smirked at the look of innocence on his face. She could tell that he felt stupid. Stephanie could only hope that with time, Nick would gain some common sense from being around all of the time. If he didn’t, then she would feel like she was bringing up a child who was several years older than she was.

Stephanie and Nick had finally finished unloading the car and were now in her hotel room lounging on the sofa. Nick had insisted on upgrading her room to a suite for the two of them to share. He’d gotten Anna and Jaime their own suite as well. A.J. came and went as he pleased from the other two girls’ room.

“So, what’s in store for today?” Stephanie asked with a yawn.

“Before we go anywhere, you could use a nap,” Nick laughed, “You didn’t sleep at all last night.”

“Nick,” Stephanie explained, “I didn’t sleep because I have insomnia. You do know what that is, right?”

“I’m not stupid, Steph,” Nick replied, insulted when she snorted back laughter, “I’m not,” he insisted, “Besides, it was my first night with you. How was I supposed to know that?”

Stephanie shrugged, laying her head down on Nick’s shoulder. She was so hot for him at that moment, and was pretty sure that he was thinking the same thoughts as her, but decided for once not to speak her mind about her desire to screw him. She’d wait until the time was right and special. Nick was, after all, the sweetest man she’d ever met and the most respectful. Sure, he was a little slow at times, but it kept things lively and interesting between the two of them. Anna had laughed when she’d told her that she and Nick were an item. Anna had said that A.J. was more her type, and she supposed that it was true. But even so, she’d been given congratulations from her friend who was still waiting on Kevin.

“Would you believe me if I told you that I love you right now? Nick asked her softly, stroking her cheek with his thumb.

Stephanie sat up and looked him in the eye. She could tell that he was sincere, but knew that it was impossible to fall in love so quickly.

“I’d like to,” she told him, “But wait to say it until you know you mean it. Not just when you think you do.”

Nick nodded, catching her drift. Stephanie yawned again and laid her head back down. That much driving could really wear a person out.

“I like you a lot,” Nick told her and Stephanie laughed softly.

“I like you a lot too,” she replied, closing her eyes.

Nick smiled widely. He was thrilled to have such a special girl to call his own. Nick began singing to her softly. His voice was so soothing to her and before she knew it, she was in a deep, comforting sleep for the first time in years.
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“How’re you feeling,” Ryan asked, walking into Kevin’s room followed by the other five members of Bluewave.

Kevin looked up and saw his former warm-up band and drew back in shock. They were just about the last people he’d expected to see. He figured that since they couldn’t tour anymore because of his stupidity, that they’d back away and try to get revenge on him.

“I guess I can’t complain,” Kevin lied, “What are you all doing here?”

“Checking up to see how you’re doing,” Erik replied, “We’ve all been concerned and beings we’ve only been by once or twice, we figured we were due to pay you another visit.”

Kevin laughed. His perception on the band certainly was off. They were genuinely nice guys, he could tell. He still felt horrible for ruining their chance at making it big, or at least setting it back. He began chewing his lip, knowing that he should say something to them out loud.

“I’m sorry,” he blurted.

The six guys looked at Kevin wondering what he’d said it for. None of them felt he owed them an apology for anything.

“You did nothing wrong,” Cody answered.

Kevin nodded, “Yes, I really did. You’re not being noticed because of me being here. I could have prevented all of this if I’d used my head.”

Bluewave all shrugged as if this fact didn’t bother them at all. Kevin couldn’t believe that it didn’t though.

“No big deal,” Michael told him, “This gives us more time to play around with our music and get more organized. We were called on such short notice to start touring that we didn’t have the time that we needed to plan things out accordingly.”

“Oh,” Kevin replied, not knowing what to say, “Well, um, aren’t you the least bit upset?”

“Nah,” Bryan answered, “If we come up with a better performance, it will help us out in the long run, even if we don’t start for a few extra months.”

Kevin smiled in appriciation to the bands understanding, even if they were only playing along for his sake. It was obvious though that either way, they’d talked the situation over. They made a good point though. They were called on with about two days notice which wasn’t near enough time to pull together the perfect routine. He agreed that they were better off waiting, even though they were pretty amazing already.

“Remember my promise though,” Kevin said, “As soon as the Boys are back out on stage, you’re coming with us to tour.”

“We’ll hold you up to that,” Alex piped up, “We’re all looking forward to touring with the best pop band around.”

“And when you start making shows up,” Michael encountered, “Things will be crazier than ever. It will be great publicity for both bands.”

Kevin was glad that they’d had this discussion. He was sure that if Bluewave didn’t find elsewhere to tour during his process of getting well, that they’d all become best friends for a long time.

“Thanks for everything,” Kevin said, “You guys have all been great about all of this. You’re probably the nicest group of people that I know.”

The band shrugged off the compliment. Kevin was just happy to know that the six men would be there for him, along with his own band mates and the three women who had recently come on board. Kevin’s confidence and assurance that he would get well quick all came back because had the support of at least thirteen people cheering him on. He couldn’t let them all down.
Chapter Eleven by sweet18_2003
Chapter Eleven

Kevin groaned as he hauled himself into his wheelchair and pushed himself out of his hospital room door. It was two months later, and it was finally the day that he’d been waiting for for so long. He was checking out. But he wasn’t happy. If anything, he was disappointed in himself and discouraged. His goal was to be walking out of the hospital. Instead, other than gaining some muscle, he wasn’t any better off than he’d been when he had come in. The only thing he could really do for himself was get in and out of his chair. To him, his limited capabilities were pathetic. His friends, on the other hand, thought that what he could do was great.

“So, are you excited about going back home to Florida?” Anna asked, walking beside him.

Kevin grunted in response. His house wasn’t exactly handicap accessible. That’s all he thought of himself as. A handicap freak. He had no idea how he was going to get around. It would be a near impossible task. He’d even had to swallow his pride and ask Anna the favor of moving in with him to help him out and around. She had willingly agreed without any hesitation. Kevin was thankful for that. Jaime was moving in with A.J and Stephanie with Nick anyway. They’d all arrived back to their home state the night before. Anna was the only one left in Virginia to be with Kevin and lend him a hand. He had attempted to ask Anna out on several occasions over the past few months, but she could see in his eyes that he still missed Kristin, although every day there was less and less longing in them. She knew that it wouldn’t be too much longer until they were dating. Anna was getting anxious for that moment to come.

“What’s wrong?” Anna asked him, sensing that he wasn’t as happy as he should be. He was leaving the hospital. She figured that that would be enough to better anybody’s mood.

“I didn’t meet my personal expectations for myself,” Kevin muttered, “Not even close to reaching my damned goal.”

“Which was?” Anna questioned. He hadn’t told anybody what, exactly, his goals were by the time he was released.

Kevin paused. He knew that he was being unreasonable, but months ago, he could do anything he wanted if he had put his mind to it. They had since reached the car that the Boys had bought for Anna. A little bright red two door civic. They’d bought Stephanie a green Mercedes and Jaime a black Eclipse. She opened the door on the passenger side for him.

“To walk out of here,” he replied softly.

Anna tried not to laugh at his expectations for himself as she watched Kevin lift himself out of his wheelchair and into the car, but couldn’t help but chuckle a little. She shut the door and walked around, climbing into the drivers seat and starting the car up. The laughter died down quickly though when she saw the way Kevin was glaring at her with his vibrant green eyes. Anna had to admit that their once bright color was dulling along with the depression that he was sinking into more and more with each day that passed.

“Kev, its only been two months. The doctor said at least six.”

“I know,” he grumbled, “Can’t blame me for hoping.” Anna sighed. She hated seeing him like this. She couldn’t say that she wasn’t used to it because she’d known Kevin for a full two days before the accident had even happened. In those two days, he hadn’t exactly been himself either. She didn’t know what the real Kevin was like. All she had was what the other guys had told her. He was fun to be around, but serious. He was mature, strong and positive, never giving up on anything. She had yet to see him be any one of those characteristics.

“Are you going to call that therapist that the doctor referred you to when we get back?” Anna asked.

Kevin just shrugged. To be honest, he wasn’t sure if he would or not. Since his two months of therapy hadn’t done much good anyway, he didn’t know what the point in it would be. He was about to just give up. It would be easier that way instead of struggling to improve and be disappointed by false hope.

“Kev,” Anna said, “Remember what the doctor said if you didn’t continue with it right away.”

“What are you,” Kevin snapped, whipping his head to the side to look at her, “My fucking mother?”

Anna decided not to take his comment to heart. She knew that he was going through a rough time at the moment. She merged onto the highway knowing that they had a long drive ahead of them.

“I’m sorry I yelled,” Kevin apologized after a few moments, “Just frustrated.”

“I know,” she replied.

Kevin said nothing and neither did Anna. She wasn’t sure what to say to him. He was vulnerable and anything she said could and might be the wrong thing. She didn’t need to upset him any more. He didn’t need the extra stress on him. Kevin was deep in thought wondering what his life had come to. It was if his mind had overtaken a foreign body that he was still getting used to. Ten minutes went by and neither had said a thing.

“I just don’t feel like it will do me any good.” He said out of nowhere, “If it hasn’t yet, why would it start?”

“What won’t?” Anna asked him, taking her eyes off of the road for a moment to look at him. He was still gorgeous, “What are you talking about?”

“Therapy,” he replied simply.

“You’ll never know unless you try,” Anna told him, “Would you rather try and possibly fail, or not try and never know?”

Kevin considered her point. It was actually really logical. He remembered when he used to be logical. Now, he didn’t think he knew how to be anymore. It scared him to know that Nick had more logic and reasoning than he did now. He never thought that the day would come when that happened.

“I guess I’ll give him a call tomorrow morning,” Kevin replied, “I’d hate to go backwards and reverse everything that I’d worked for.” He snorted a little at that because he knew that there wouldn’t be much to reverse. He looked over and saw Anna smiling.

He couldn’t help but smile too, something that he hadn’t done in weeks. It felt awkward, but good. With Anna’s encouragement and motavation, he knew that he couldn’t give up and let her down. Especially if he wanted to keep the odds in his favor for them dating. She deserved someone who tried, not a quitter. He’d already disappointed himself. There was no need to disappoint her, along with all of his other friends, as well.
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Jaime walked into the restaurant-sized kitchen at her new home and rummaged through the fridge looking for something to eat. It was her first full day in the mansion and she was still getting accustomed to where things were. One thing was for sure: the kitchen was the first place she’d learned to locate. With the way her appetite was lately, she couldn’t live without knowing how to get there from every corner of the house.

“Hey babe,” A.J. said, coming into the room and wrapping his arms around her waste, kissing her on the back of the neck. Jaime squirmed but his kisses felt good to her, “Looking for food again?”

“I’m hungry,” Jaime pouted, “Leave me alone.”

A.J. laughed at her getting grumpy over food but his eyes widened as she pulled out half of a chicken and three fourths of an apple pie. Setting it on the table, she pulled a fork out of a drawer and three asprin out of the Advil jar that was in another. She walked back to the fridge, grabbing a can of diet coke and sat down to devour her afternoon snack.

“Are you all right?” A.J. asked her with concern, sitting down at the table next to her. She nodded her head as she took a large bite of pie.

“Yeah,” she replied.

“You’ve been like this for a month. Always taking asprin, eating us out of house and home,” he joked.

Jaime looked up and scowled at him, “I’m fine,” she snapped, “I just don’t feel good lately.”

“Moody as all hell,” A.J. laughed

“I’m probably about to get my period,” she told him, “I’m about due.”

“You were two months ago and a month ago too,” he reminded her, “Should I make you a doctors appointment?”

Jaime shook her head, tearing off a piece of chicken from a leg. A.J. watched her in amusement. In all his life, he had never seen a girl attack food like that. She reminded him of a hungry wolf.

“This is normal for me,” she told him.

A.J’s eyes widened as he watched her pick the bones clean off of the chicken and practically lick the last crumbs off of the plate that the pie had been on.

“I’ll remember to thank my mom for bringing us dinner,” he laughed, knowing that his mother had stopped by before they’d arrived home to drop off some fresh groceries.

“Drop the sarcasm,” Jaime almost yelled, “You’re making me feel fat.”

A.J. choked a laugh back. Jaime was as far from fat as they came without looking unhealthy. She had the perfect body and curve.

“Baby,” he said, “I’m calling the doctor now. I think that it would be a good idea if you went.”

“But,”

A.J. held up a finger, a stern look on his face to stop her from arguing. It didn’t matter how much she tried to protest. He wasn’t going to cave in and tell her that he would drop it.

“Even if being irregular is normal for you, it wouldn’t hurt to see what’s up with that, in the very least.”

Jaime rolled her eyes. She was in a grumpy mood and didn’t feel like arguing with her boyfriend. It would end badly in her screaming at him. She didn’t want him to ever see that side of her.

“If I agree, then will you leave me alone?” she finally asked him and A.J. nodded, picking her plates up and putting them into the dishwasher.

“Ok then, call the damned doctor and lets get it over with.” She told him, “It’s a waste of time though because nothing is wrong with me other than the usual.”

A.J. smiled at her triumphantly and kissed her on the lips before walking to the phone and calling his physician. Jaime sighed, drumming her fingers on the table. She rolled her eyes as she listened to A.J. talking to a receptionist about her. By the sounds of it, her appointment was for later that day. She could hardly contain her excitement.

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“Home sweet home,” Anna called out, taking the house key from Kevin and unlocking the door, swinging it open.

Kevin raised an eyebrow as he sat looking up at his front door. After the near fifteen hour car ride, all he wanted to do was lye in his own bed in his own bedroom. He was already facing obsticals though and he wasn’t even inside the house yet.

“How the hell do you suppose I am going to get up those three steps?” he asked and he saw Anna’s face scrunch up, deep in thought.

“Do you have, like, a large piece of wood?”

“Huh?” Kevin asked, wondering what exactly she meant by “wood”

“A board,” Anna answered, being more specific with her choice of words.

Kevin shrugged, “I don’t know. Go inside the house and to the garage and see. The kitchen is straight through to the back and to the left. The garage is the door next to the stove.”

Anna ventured into his house to go into the garage and search for the hardware that she was looking for. Kevin waited, knowing that his life was going to be hard for the next few months. He wondered if he should sell his house for first floor apartment. It would definitely be easier for him. The alternative would be installing an elevator somewhere in his house. The problem with that was, he didn’t know where it would be put. Minutes later, Anna came through the door carrying a large board in her arms, struggling with it against her small frame.

“What are you going to do with that?” Kevin asked her.

Anna rolled her eyes. Were men always this clueless? Could he not see what her plan was? She placed one end of the board on the platform at the top of the steps and the other end on the ground.

“Now roll yourself up the ramp,” Anna commanded.

“That board is no more than a quarter inch thick,” Kevin protested, “It’ll snap beneath me.”

Anna shook her head, knowing that it wouldn’t, “Just try,” she convinced him, “You’ll be that much closer to being in your home.”

That was all it took for Kevin. He, with a slight hesitation, began to wheel himself up the ramp. In less than a minute, he was at the top with Anna, unharmed. Anna could see him breath a sigh of relief. But it was soon replaced with a look of concern. He had another challenge.

“I suppose you’re going to use the same idea to get me inside the house?” Kevin asked, knowing that it wouldn’t be quite so easy with the limited space which he had.

Anna nodded, placing the board part way on the platform. The other end was sticking up in the air inside the house, “Trust me.” She said when she saw the look that Kevin was giving her, “If you ever want us to be in a relationship, you’re going to have to trust my judgement. I’d never have you do anything that would hurt you in any way.”

Kevin knew that she was right. He had to trust her judgement. If he were well again, he knew that he would find her solutions well reasoned. Kevin started to go up the ramp once again and as he went up, the other end went down, leading him safely inside his home.

“Thank god that’s over with,” Kevin said after Anna was inside as well, and the door was shut, “I don’t think I’ll be leaving my house very often.”

Anna chuckled a little. She didn’t blame him. It would be a pain to have to go through that every time he left the place.

“As brilliant as your idea was,” Kevin began, “How will I get to my room?” he finished.

He could almost feel the comfort of his very own bed at that moment. He longed to be asleep in it.

“Um, until we figure out the alternative, I don’t think that will be happening. Do you have like, a guest room down here?”

Kevin nodded, not thrilled with the idea, but knew that he would have to deal until something else was figured out. He knew he’d have to adjust to living in his house that he’d had built for him before. It wasn’t made for how he was now.

“How about you just drag me up the steps and if I need to get down, I just slide or roll, either way,” Kevin suggested.

Anna started to laugh at his idea, “You’re really funny,” she said, not realizing that he wasn’t trying to be.

“I’m serious,” Kevin told her with a straight face, “How much more damage could I do?”

Anna rolled her eyes, “Kevin, just deal with living downstairs for now.” She told him, “I know it’s our house and you want to be able to do what you want, but remember why I came here?”

How could he forget? With a sigh, Kevin wheeled right past Anna and into the downstairs guest room, shutting the door behind him. He was tired and not in the mood to be bothered. Maybe after a few hours of rest, he would feel differently. In the meantime, Anna could give herself a tour of her new home.

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Jaime wished that the doctor would just hurry up. She and A.J. had been in the waiting room for over an hour and she’d gone through three issues of People and one of Cosmopolitan. She was sick of reading and taking relationship quizzes. To be honest, she as slightly nervous about the appointment. For some reason, she feared that the doctor would find something to be wrong with her. She blamed A.J. for getting her all worked up.

“Would you quit fidgeting?” A.J. laughed, “I thought that you were sure that nothing is wrong.”

“I am,” Jaime quickly answered.

A.J. grabbed her hand comfortingly and gently rubbed it with his fingers. He was getting impatient with the doctor too. Then again, he didn’t know what he expected. Every time he’d gone to see the man, he was running behind schedule.

A.J. watched the minute hand on the clock tick by slowly. He wished that they would hurry. Then again, he wished he would have taken Jaime’s word for it and known that she was okay. If this behavior was normal, then why couldn’t he accept it? He figured that it was because he cared about her and was worried. He was just working himself up, and probably for no reason.

Finally, after another drawn out forty minutes, a receptionist called Jaime’s name. Standing up, she looked at A.J. expectantly.

“Would you like me to go with you?” he asked her with a warm smile.

Jaime nodded, gazing into his chocolate eyes. She couldn’t get enough of them. They were so soft and warm. A.J. stood up and took her hand. Together, they walked into the doctors’ office.

“Please step onto he scale,” the woman instructed.

Jaime did as she was told as she was weighed and measured. The woman wrote some things down on a clipboard and led Jaime into a small room. A.J. took a seat in one of the chairs while Jaime hopped up onto the examining table. The nurse took her blood pressure and wrote more notes down.

“The doctor will be with you shortly,” she replied in monotone, and walked out of the room closing the door behind her.

“Friendly woman,” Jaime said sarcastically.

“Yeah,” A.J. replied, “She’s been here awhile. Hasn’t changed a bit.”

Jaime snorted. She wondered how the lady kept her job with her sour attitude. It amazed her how some people kept their professions.

“So,” A.J. said, “I guess Kev and Anna got back today.”

Jaime nodded, “I guess so. Kev is really depressed,” she said, stating the obvious, “I hope that it doesn’t last long.”

A.J. shrugged, “I don’t know if it will or not. I’ve personally never seen him like this before. It’s scaring me. We’re used to him taking charge. It’s just, odd having Brian be the one that does everything official,”

Jaime figured that it would be. Change was always awkward. She shivered slightly. She’d always hated doctors’ offices. They were always so cold and smelled like medicine. Sometimes, they were worse than hospitals because the space was small and confined compared to large and spread out.

Minutes later, a short balding man in his mid forties breezed into the room. He looked at Jaime, and then to A.J.

“How ya been?” he asked informally.

“All right,” A.J. replied, shaking the hand that had been thrust into his face, “Back home for a break.”

The doctor nodded, turning to Jaime, “I’m Dr. Parker,” he introduced.

“Hi,” she replied softly, intimidated slightly by the overly friendly man. She knew that if Stephanie were there, she would make a comment about him sniffing too much “happy gas”.

“So, what brings you here today,”

Jaime shrugged. She didn’t know what to tell the man since she didn’t see that there was a problem. A.J. took no time to jump in though when he could see that his girlfriend obviously wasn’t going to speak for herself.

“She’s had an enourmously encreased appetite,” he began, “She feels sick a lot, and takes asprin all day.”

Dr. Parker raised his eyes from his clipboard with one eyebrow raised slightly above the other. A.J saw the look and scolded himself for his poor usage of working.

“The recommended dosage every six hours,” he corrected himself, “But its been going on for a month or so. She’s moody and has missed at least two periods.” He finished off bluntly.

Jaime blushed slightly at A.J’s sharing of her personal details, “Missing is normal for me,” she told him, “It has been for years.”

“But everything else,” A.J. started to say.

“Are signs of getting a period,” Jaime completed his sentence, and then turned to the doctor, “We’re sorry for wasting your time. My boyfriend is just being paranoid. He’ll feel foolish in a few days.”

“Actually,” Dr Parker interrupted, “I’d like to run a few quick tests. The results will be ready in ten minutes.”

He handed her a cup, “I’m going to need a urine sample.”

Jaime hopped off of the table with shaking hands, her eyes wide with fright. She didn’t know why the doctor was suddenly so serious, but she knew that it must be more than what she thought. She was instructed to the bathroom, where she returned from less than a minute later, handing the doctor her bottle of pee, a b lank look in her eyes. Dr. Parker took it and left, telling them that he would return with the results soon.

“What do you think is wrong with me?” Jaime whispered, tears forming in her eyes, looking to A.J. for consolance.

A.J. motioned for her to come to him and she walked over, sitting in his lap. A.J. stroked her hair, kissing her forehead. She laid he head on his shoulder, not wanting to act like a baby, but she was truly afraid.

“I don’t know,” he told her honestly, “But we’re going to find out, and whatever it is, I’m going to be here for you and take care of you through it all.”

A.J. was trying hard not to show Jaime that he too, was worried. He had to stay strong for her during her weak moment.

“Aren’t you glad that I made you come now?” he asked her.

He could feel Jaime’s head nodding on his shoulder as he stroked her head, raking is fingers through her hair comfortingly.

The ten minutes that Dr. Parker was gone seemed like hours. Jaime dreaded knowing what was wrong, but knew when the doctor came through the door with his clipboard in hand, that it was time to find out. She sat up straight in A.J’s lap, wiping the tears away, trying to compose herself.

“Well, the test results prove what I suspected.” Dr. Parker started off saying.

“Am I going to die,” Jaime asked.

Dr. Parker broke out in to laughter, “No, nothing like that,” he told her, his eyes crinkling around the outer corners.

“Then what’s wrong with my girlfriend?” A.J. demanded, “Is it serious?”

“No, I wouldn’t exactly say that,” Dr. Parker replied, looking thoughtful, looking the nervous couple straight in the eye, “Jaime, you are about two months pregnant.”

Jaime’s eyes widened and she could feel A.J’s grip tightening around her a little. She didn’t know what to think of the news. She found it to be impossible.

“I…I can’t be pregnant,” she said, “I’m still a vir…” and then stopped her self, finishing lamely, “gin,” she whipped her head around to face A.J., “It couldn’t have happened that one time at the hotel, could it? That is the only time I’ve ever had sex, and we haven’t done it since then.”

“Very possible,” the doctor said, answering her question, “Congratulations.”

A startled look appeared on her face, but soon a huge smile broke out. She couldn’t he happier. A slow, unsure, lopsided grin came to A.J.s face as well. He hugged Jaime close to him.

“I’m going to be a father,” he whispered in her ear, “With the most amazing woman in the world.”
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Stephanie woke up to sunshine pouring through the windows of her new home. Stretching, she looked around. She was lying on white, silk sheets and a white bedspread overtop of her. It took her a moment to realize that she was living in Nick’s home now. Her home. She could definitely get used to living like royalty. Crawling out of bed, she wondered if she had actually slept the entire night through. She had been better about that lately, but still wasn’t getting her eight hours rest.

Stephanie padded through the room and across the hall into Nick’s home theatre knowing that she would find him there playing one of his game consoles. She was right. He was sitting in a huge sofa playing a football came on his huge one-hundred seventy-two inch TV screen.

“Goodmorning, dear,” she greeted, laughing when she saw he jumped a little. He quickly paused his game and turned around. Stephanie took that as an inventation to join him. She walked over and sat down next to him, cuddling into his side.

“Did you sleep well?” Nick asked.

Stephanie nodded, “Uh huh. I can’t remember the last time I slept so peacefully. I love your bed.”

“So do I,” Nick said with a laugh, “What do you think of my home? Good, average, horrible?”

Stephanie laughed at him, “What are you going to do if I say I hate it?” she asked him with a wink.

“Sell the place and let you pick out something that you’ll be happy with,” he answered with total honesty.

“Well, I think it’s above average,” she told him, “I love it.”

Stephanie laid her head on Nick’s hard chest, snickering a little at something that had just come to her mind. Nick pulled away and looked into her eyes, trying to read her thoughts.

“What?” he asked, when he gave up, knowing that he couldn’t.

“Well, we’re dating now, right?” She asked.

“For two months now,” he answered her.

“You’re going to have to get over not letting anybody see you shirtless,” she told him, “If I’m going to be your woman, than I wanna see the whole package.”

“You will,” Nick assured her, “Don’t worry. I’m just…really paranoid about people seeing me.”

“Why?” Stephanie asked incredulously.

A slight blush arose on Nick’s cheeks. He didn’t know how he was going to answer her question without sounding like a complete idiot. He looked into her eyes and cringed. He knew that look. It meant that she was expecting an answer from him right then and there.

“I have pudge,” Nick finally told her and she burst out laughing, “It’s not funny.” He said in defense.

“What pudge,” she asked, “You are hot. Believe it or not, you have a rather nice body.” She told him, “And I would like to see it this morning.”

Stephanie got up off of the couch and started to walk away. Nick held his arms out, wanting her to come back. He stuck his lip out when she didn’t, pouting slightly that he wasn’t going to get his way.

“Where are you going?” he asked her sadly.

“To the pool,” she answered, “I’ll be waiting for you. When you show up, it better be in nothing but bathing trunks.”

Stephanie left the room, disappearing from view. Nick sighed, knowing that she was going to get her way.
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The Boys sang into the large microphones, closing their eyes, singing from their hearts in the chorus of one of their new singles that would be on their new album. When Kevin’s solo came up, he sang with all that he had in him. He was tired and not in the mood that day. He knew that it was a horrible mindset to be in on the first day of recording. He stopped short when someone on the other side of the glass room was hand motioning for him to.

“What’s with you today?” Brian asked, turning to his cousin, “We’re in the recording studio…not singing in the shower.”

“For real,” Nick chimed in, “You sound like you have no soul at all. You sound monotone and dry. If we put this album out, it will be shit.”

“Thank you, Nick.” Kevin replied sarcastically, “I’m doing my best, okay.”

And to him, he was. He’d been home for a week, barely left his house, and was getting discouraged. He’d called the therapist and he came by every day for two hours to work with Kevin. He still wasn’t progressing.

“Come on,” Howie said, “Pull it together. We want to sound harmonious. Even during our chorus, you sound bland. Thank god for Nick’s voice standing out.”

“He’s right,” A.J. joined in, knowing that this was his chance to pick on Kevin. If everybody else was, then it wouldn’t be obvious that he was still on bad terms with him, “You normally sound great, but this new album ain’t gonna happen if you’re sounding like a dead beat. Wasn’t it your idea in the first place to start recording, since you refuse to tour like that?”

Kevin nodded, “I get the picture, guys,” he replied, “I’ll try harder, okay?”

All four men nodded in satisfaction and Brian gave the man thumbs up. In seconds, Kevin began singing his solo again. He tried to sing from his heart, but it just wasn’t coming from there. Instead, it was coming from an empty place inside of him. He even admitted that he sounded awful. It was just something else that he was losing his touch on. It wasn’t enough that he couldn’t walk, but he couldn’t even sing now either. He was cut short again, interrupted and cut short.

“You’re not hitting those notes low enough,” a voice came over the intercom, “Concentrate, Kevin.”

Kevin rolled his eyes, burring his hands in his arms. The thing was, he couldn’t concentrate. All that was on his mind was how he used to be. If it were back then, he was pretty sure that their singing would be almost flawless. The thing was, he was sure also that he would be picking up any of the others mistakes and pointing them out. They were at least getting a break from that.

“You know what?” Brian stated, “How about we wrap up for today. We’ve all worked fairly hard and maybe next time, all five of us will be in the right mindset to do this. It’s just not going to work unless we all are.”

“But the more we work, the sooner it will get done,” Nick whined.

Brian cast Nick a warning look and he quickly shut up. It wouldn’t do any good to keep recording all day if they wouldn’t even use any of the material that they’d worked on. Everybody agreed that waiting until another date and seeing how things went was the best idea anyways. As they were packing up their things, A.J. decided that it was the perfect opportunity to tell everybody his news.

“Hey,” he began, “You’ll never guess what I found out last week.”

“What?” Howie asked.

“Well, Jaime went to the doctor, and it turns out that she is pregnant.”

He got four blank, startled stares. He couldn’t tell if his friends were happy for him or upset. Nick was the first to speak.

“What are you going to do?” he asked, “I mean, aren’t you guys dating? And she is pregnant? She’s been sleeping around behind your back.”

Nick got dumbfounded stares from eight eyes and he wondered what he had said wrong. He always wondered why he got the look.

“I’m the father, Nick,” A.J. told him slowly, “It is my child.”

“Ohhh,” Nick replied, and A.J. rolled his eyes.

“She’s two months along,”

“Well, congratulations,” Brian said with a grin.

“We’re all happy for you both,” Howie said.

Kevin didn’t say anything. He was happy for A.J, despite the way he’d been treating him, yet he was jealous and upset. He and Anna weren’t even dating, yet even if they were, and they decided that they wanted to have kids, her getting pregnant from him would be impossible until, or unless he would walk again. Since he was paralyzed from the waist down, he couldn’t exactly get it up. He was impotent. Kevin quickly spun his chair around and wheeled himself out of the room before any of them could see the tears that were falling from his eyes
Chapter Twelve by sweet18_2003
Chapter Twelve

Kevin felt like screaming. Another two months had passed since he’d been home and all of the therapy that he’d gone through still wasn’t getting him anywhere. He was in the middle of another one of his sessions and all he felt was annoyance towards it all.

“Will this ever get me anywhere?” He asked Jake, his therapist, impatiently.

“Eventually,” Jake answered, “It just takes some patients a little longer than others. That’s all.”

Kevin rolled is eyes. He felt like he was working really hard to recover. He figured that he obviously wasn’t doing enough. If he was, wouldn’t he have made even the slightest progress by now?

“What more can I do to make it go quicker?” Kevin asked, “I’ll do anything you tell me,” he added desperately.

Jake chuckled good naturedly, “Unfortunately, there’s nothing more that you can do,” he informed the frustrated man, “You’re already doing the maximim. That’s how therapy works. Some start to improve right off while others, who work just as hard, if not harder, take much longer. You just have to wait for improvement to take its course on you. It takes time. Be patient.”

“It’s been four months,” Kevin said stubbornly.

“Believe it or not, four months isn’t even that long for something like this,” Jake explained.

Kevin rolled his eyes. He didn’t believe it. When you were used to walking for other thirty years, and were suddenly bound to a wheelchair, four months could seem like a lifetime in itself.

“I don’t want you to take this the wrong way,” Jake started, “Bu have you always been this negative?”

Kevin didn’t say anything. Was that really how people saw him as being lately? He supposed that he could see how he’d be perceived as that. The thought upset him. He was changing in every way possible.

“No,” he finally answered honestly, “I haven’t always been this way. In fact, I used to be the complete opposite.”

Jake continued to help Kevin with his leg exercises. He wished that he could feel something, anything. That would at least mean that he was improving to a certain extent. Instead, he felt nothing below the waist. It felt like there was nothing there at all. A feeling of emptiness. Kevin thought of himself as being incomplete. A major part of him was missing and half of the time, he expected to look down and see nothing there at all.

“Do you think that if it weren’t for your being so famous that you’d still be this angry?” Jake asked.

He had since finished Kevin’s leg exercises. Kevin’s eyes were closed so he didn’t even notice. He put great thought into the question because he honestly didn’t know the answer.

“I’m not sure,” he finally replied, “It would definitely be much easier to cope with fucking useless legs if I weren’t.”

“Care to explain?”

“I perform on stage, which requires dancing,”
Kevin told him, “Can’t exactly do that without legs that work,” he shook his head as if he were stating the obvious, but wondered if he were missing something by the amused look on Jake’s face, “What?” he asked in annoyance.

“You’d be amazed at what you could do in a wheelchair if you put your mind to it and tried.”

“I couldn’t dance with this thing,” Kevin grumbled stubbornly, his mind set insistently, “In case you haven’t noticed, some of our dances are really complex.”

Kevin could tell that Jake was getting irritated with his attitude, but he did a good job of hiding it.

“It’s not an impossible task,” Jake eventually replied, “You could do almost every one of those moves on stage with wheels that the others do on legs.”

Kevin looked thoughtful for a moment. Could he really lead a perfectly normal life? Was Jake right and he be able to tour in his temporary condition? He would love more than anything to be back out on stage. He began to smile at the possibilities, but then shook his head roughly. What was he thinking? Was he insane? There was no way in hell that he’d ever go out on stage in a wheelchair. The usual sour scowl was back on his face again.

“No,” he refused, “I can’t do that.”

“But you were thinking about it, weren’t you?” Jake asked him, a pleased look plastered to his face.

Kevin didn’t want to admit that he actually had been for a moment. He knew that he could not lie though. He despised the look on Jake’s face. It was so knowing, it was sickening.

“So what if I was?” Kevin challenged Jake, looking him square in the eye, “I had a temporary lapse of good judgment.”

“There goes your negative attitude again,” Jake teased, “You know, I really should get paid double for being your councelor too.”

“You’re trained to talk to people like me about our feelings,” Kevin growled through gritted teeth, “I think that you can leave for the day.”

Jake gave one curt nod, gathering his belongings. He decided that it would be a bad idea to bring up the fact that they still had twenty minutes left in their session. He could tell that he’d put Kevin into an even worse mood than he was in before.

“I’m sorry if I upset you,” Jake apologized, “I’ll be here tomorrow, same time. Maybe we can have a fresh start.

Kevin didn’t say anything as Jake let himself out of the house. He couldn’t believe he nerve of the man even thinking or suggesting he go out in stage in his current condition. It took Kevin a moment to notice that he was visibly shaking. Jake had really worked him up. Kevin closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths to try and get himself under control. Would his life ever be the same again?
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“Jaime, I really don’t think that you need that,” Stephanie exclaimed as her friend ordered an extra large portion of chili cheese fries, “All of your pigging out lately is beginning to show. At this rate, in another six months, you’ll be huge.”

Jaime grinned. If only Stephanie knew how true that comment was. Months ago, it would have made her paranoid, sending her into near starvation mode. She knew that it was normal while she was pregnant to be like this though, so she wasn’t worried. Neither Stephanie or Anna knew about her pregnancy. She was slightly afraid to tell them, worried about how they would react. After all, she’d only known A.J. for just under five months and she was for months along. It might not exactly look good to her friends. No matter how much Stephanie loved A.J, and the other Boys, getting one of her best friends pregnant after knowing her for a full three weeks as a huge way to get yourself murdered, or at least missing a few important body parts.

“I don’t care,” she replied, “I need it,” she added, hoping that her small hint would be enough to give away what was happening inside of her. It would be easier for them to stumble upon the right answer than for her to flat out tell them.

“No, you don’t need it,” Stephanie cracked.

The three friends continued to walk down the mall. Jaime wished that she wasn’t so nervous about telling her friends her news. She was happy. A.J. was happy. They were still together. She heard A.J. every night on the phone boasting about how he was about to become a father. She found it cute and sweet. But he’d made the guys swear not to tell their girlfriends. They’d obviously kept their promise, or else she would have heard it from one of them by now. As they were walking past a maternity shop, Jaime decided to comment on it. She hoped that it might target something somewhere in one of their heads.

“Those clothes are cute,” Jaime lied, “Lets go in and check them out.”

“James,” Stephanie said, raising an eyebrow, “I didn’t mean that you were fat. Jeez. Those are for fat pregnant ladies.”

“Stephanie,” Jaime said slowly, “You always say how Anna worries you, and me too on occasion. Well, right now, you both are worrying me.”

“Jaime, what are you talking about?” Anna asked.

She wasn’t in the mood to be guessing peoples minds. She was thinking about Kevin. She’d had to leave the house again for him to go through his therapy. He asked her for the first week if she could find somewhere to go for his two-hour sessions. It was to the point now where he didn’t have to ask. She automatically left ten minutes before the therapist’s arrival. Kevin had told her that he was embarrassed about what he went though and didn’t want her to have to see him that way. She told him that it wouldn’t changer her opinion of him, but for some reason, he strongly believed that if she saw what the therapist had to do for him, that she wouldn’t want to be with him, when that day did come.

“Lets see,” Jaime replied, “I have a big appetite. I need the food. I want to look at ugly ass maternity clothes. What ever could I be talking about?”

Stephanie and Anna looked at one another then shrugged. Jaime wondered if they were really clueless or just trying to avoid thinking of the unimaginable. Their friend actually about to become a mother.

“You might want to sit down for this,” Jaime said, walking over to a couch nearby. She couldn’t keep it a secret any longer. She wanted the support from her friends, or for them to at least just know. Keeping it inside was killing her.

Stephanie and Anna followed Jaime to the couch and sat down next to her. Their eyes were full of question and impatients for waiting for her to tell them what she was trying to get at.

“Well,” Jaime started off saying, “Back before we came here, me and A.J. kind of did something.”

“How soon before you came here?” Stephanie asked.

“Um, two months before…me and Aje had only been together for two weeks,” Jaime slowly said, “Anyways, when I got here, A.J. made me go to the doctor because of my strange behavior.”

“You don’t have cancer, do you?” Anna asked wide-eyed. She genuinely looked scared to death.

Jaime glared at her friends. They kept interrupting her. How did they expect her to tell them what was going on with her if she didn’t ever get the chance to tell them? She wondered if she should just wait the next four months and see if they figured it out by her size.

“Would you please just be quiet for two minutes so I can tell you,” Jaime demanded, “Jeez, this is hard enough as it is.”

Neither friend said anything, ready to listen without putting in another word until she was finished. They didn’t know what to think of Jaime acting the way she was. They hoped that it wasn’t serious.

“Okay, now that I finally have your complete attention,” Jaime hurridly said, wanting to just spit it out and get it over with, “It turns out that I was two months pregnant. I am four months pregnant now with A.J’s child.”

For a couple of minutes, neither saying anything. They were completely shocked by the news, not knowing what to think.

“Are you serious?” Anna finally asked.

Jaime nodded, hoping to get some positive feedback. She couldn’t tell if her friends were happy for her or disappointed in her.

“So that’s why you’re a little bigger,” Stephanie said out loud, “Makes since, I guess. But god, you pretty much got knocked up the day you met him.”

Jaime smiled. She wasn’t going to let Stephanie’s comment get her down. She had the support of A.J. He was sticking by her, which she found to be sweet and admirable. Especially since they hadn’t known each other that long. He was amazing, and genuinely wanted to be with her, and help her raise their baby.

“I’m happy for you,” Anna replied, giving her friend a big hug, “Congratulations, girl. You’ll make an awesome mom.”

“Yeah, congrats,” Stephanie repeated, “I have to admit, if you had to get pregnant, it couldn’t be with a better guy.”

After giving their friend their support and wishes for a successful next five months, Jaime turned to Anna.

“How is Kevin lately?” she asked

Anna shrugged. She didn’t know how she could put it without making him sound completely
hopeless. But he wasn’t positive at all. Nothing made him smile anymore. She had to wonder what he looked like when he did, because she had forgotten.

“He is down a lot,” she answered finally, with a sigh, “The therapy isn’t working yet, so he is getting discouraged.”

“Wow,” Jaime whispered, “I’m so sorry. I am sure that you living with him is helping out though.”

Anna gave a half smile. She wasn’t sure if she was or not. Half the time, she thought that she was, but the other half, she felt like she was in the way. Kevin though, told her that he wouldn’t be able to live without her assistance.

“Don’t worry,” Stephanie said with complete confidence, “He’ll snap out of his funk soon. Believe me, when he does, you’ll finally get to meet the real Kevin Richardson for the first time.”

Anna smiled in thanks to Stephanie trying to cheer here up. She just hoped that her friend was right about this. After all, she was right about everything else. But knowing her luck, this would be the one time that Steph would be wrong and Kevin wouldn’t be himself. He would be forever trapped in a depressing, negative mindset.
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“Hi baby,” A.J. said, coming up and nuzzling the back of Jaime’s neck with his nose, then kissed.

“Hey A.J.” she replied, spinning around to kiss him on the mouth.

“Did you have fun with your friends today?” he asked her, knowing that she’d gone out to the mall with them.

Jaime nodded, sitting down. She closed her eyes, slightly tired from being out and about all day. She kept thinking about her discussion with them about having a baby. Sometimes, it was even hard for her to believe herself.

“I told them about our baby,” she said as A.J. sat down next to her, handing her a glass of ice water with lemon.

“How did they take it,” he asked.

There was worry in his eyes. The Boys had known about the situation for months now. It was Jaime who was worried about how her friends would react. He prayed that it was good. He knew that without their content happiness, that it would upset his girlfriend, possibly harming the baby. He wanted his baby to be healthy. What proud parent wouldn’t?

“Pretty well,” Jaime answered him, taking a sip of the cool, refreshing water, “Better than I thought. In fact, they seemed pretty happy for me. Although, they take hints like a man would.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” A.J. asked, tickling her in the sides. Jaime squealed, scooting away a few inches. Since she’d become pregnant, she had developed ticklish spots. She’d never had them before.

“I was joking,” she defended, and A.J. let up. There was a twinkle in his eye, and she knew that he wasn’t mad about her sexist comment, “It’s just, I wanted to go in a maternity store, and they still didn’t get it.”

A.J. laughed softly. He could picture the whole day in his head. Jaime dropping hints at different points in the day and her friends still not understanding what it was all about. He knew that she had to tell them herself. If they had guessed, he knew that Stephanie, and probably Anna too, wouldn’t have been so reasonable and talked it out with Jaime. He was glad that everything was going smoothly.

Jaime looked over and saw A.J. just smiling at her, staring at her face. She scrunched her nose up, wondering why he was just gazing at her so intensely. It was making her wonder if there was something wrong with her.

“What?” she finally asked.

“Just looking at the most beautiful girl in the world,” A.J. commented, then lifted her shirt up, bending down to kiss her stomach, “Do you want to know if it’s a boy or girl, or it be a surprise?” he asked, “They said that we could find out on our next doctors visit, which is coming up pretty soon.

“Surprise,” Jaime said without hesitation, “The suspense will make it all the more exciting.”

A.J. couldn’t argue, although to him, it didn’t matter either way. As long as the baby was born healthy, he didn’t care which sex it would be. He just wanted to be able to love and take care of it.

“Okay,” A.J. whispered, “A surprise it shall be.”

Jaime giggled at A.J’s acting goofy. With a yawn, she laid her head down on A.J’s shoulder, deciding to take a nap. A.J. kissed her forehead, wrapping his arms tightly around her.

“I love you so much,” he whispered in her ear, for the first time ever.

Jaime’s eyes flew open. Had she heard A.J. right? She was pretty sure she had, but didn’t want to make a fool of herself if she had been conjuring up the whole thing in her head. She decided to take her chances.

“I love you too,” Jaime replied, and she truly meant it.
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Anna walked through the doors to the house and threw her bags down on the stairs. She roamed aimlessly though the downstairs searching for Kevin.

“Kev,” she called, “Kevin, I’m home.”

Anna walked around a little more, and then to the back yard, by the pool. She saw him sitting in his wheelchair ten feet from the edge. Anna smiled at the sight of him. He looked to be so deep in thought. Anna walked up beside him.

“Hey,” she softly said, “I’m back.”

Kevin looked up at her, showing her that he recognized she was there, a tight smile forming on his face. His eyes were so sad though and it shattered her heart to see him looking that way. She could tell that there was a lot on his mind. He looked back down and out across at the pool. He was quiet for a few minutes. Anna wondered what was going on in his mind.

“Anna,” he asked quietly, “Do you think I am a negative person?”

Anna bit her bottom lip. She didn’t know how she was going to answer the question. It had taken her by surprise. She knew that if she took to long to reply though, that Kevin would take it as an automatic “yes”

“I wouldn’t say negative,” she said slowly, “Just, upset.”

Kevin sighed. If Anna thought that he wasn’t exactly pleasant to be around, then what were the chances that she would actually agree to dating him? He hadn’t asked in over a month, but he was getting impatient. He wanted to know if he still stood a chance with her.

“Anna,” he said, “I’m completely over Kristin now. I know that I am. Please, would you be my girlfriend?”

Anna looked Kevin in the eye to try and read if he was still missing and longing for his ex. Kevin’s heart raced in anticipation for her answer. Anna wanted to date him more than anything. Kevin, on the other hand, was wondering if she would reject him again. If she did, it would mean one thing. She didn’t want to date someone who was disabled. His mind was set on that. Anna took a deep breath, ready to give Kevin her final answer to the question he’d been waiting for for months

“Yes,” she finally replied, “I’ll be your girlfriend.”

Anna saw Kevin’s eyes brighten at that moment, a huge smile formed on his face. He held his arms out and Anna willingly walked into them, loving the feel of being close to him. She’d been hugged by him before, but it felt more romantic, more special, since they were officially a couple now.

“Thank you,” Kevin murmured in her ear, “You’ve made me so happy.”

Anna smiled, hoping that Kevin’s high mood would stay, but had a feeling that it wouldn’t. Now she would have to be there for him more than ever.

“Babe,” Kevin said, “Would you mind getting me something to drink really quick? Please?”

Anna could tell that he felt bad about asking her the question and didn’t know why. He didn’t need to feel sorry.

“Sure,” she replied, going into the house and grabbing a can of Pepsi out of the fridge. She looked out the window, happy that it had cleared up. The only sign that it had rained was various puddles around the pool. Other than that, it was sunny and warm.

Going back outside carrying the can of Pepsi, Anna walked around the pool to hand it to Kevin. She heard the sound of something falling behind her. Anna looked back to see what it was, but her feet slipped out from under her as she fell, hitting her head hard on the concrete.

“Anna,” Kevin screamed as she slid into the pool, sinking slowly to the bottom of the twelve foot pool.

Kevin quickly wheeled himself to the edge, and saw blood slowly surfacing to the top. He felt as if he were going to be sick. Panic overcame him as he didn’t know what to do. Kevin wished more than anything that he could help his new girlfriend, but if he tired, he’d only end up killing both of them.

“Oh god,” he muttered.

He knew that time was running out fast. The
water surrounding her was turning darker by the second, and he knew that she was losing blood. Kevin’s adrenaline was rushing, but he couldn’t use it to help her. He knew he had to clear his mind and think. He had to think of something to save her before time ran out. She probably only had another three minutes, tops, before brain damage begun to set in. Nothing came.

“Help,” he yelled at the top of his lungs, his throat clogged with emotion and fright, “Someone help. Please, help me.”

Kevin continued to scream, hoping that somebody would hear his desperate pleas. Seconds later, he saw Nick jump his fence, rushing over to him. He wondered how the clumsy boy had gotten over the ten foot wall, but that was the least of his worries. Right now, he had to get Anna out of the pool.

“I was in the neighborhood and heard you yelling,” he said, “What’s the hell is wrong? I thought you were being robbed or something.”

Kevin was too shaken to speak, pointing to the pool. He hope that Nick was for once bright enough to use his common sense to see what was there, and if he did, knew what to do instead of just stare. Nick looked down and saw Anna. He took no time in knowing what had to be done, diving in and swimming swiftly to the bottom. Kevin watched, not taking his eyes off of them. He saw Nick scoop Anna up into his arms and quickly come back towards the surface. Seconds later, he was at the top again with Anna in his arms. Nick gently lifted her out of the pool, hopping out after her. Kevin looked at her, seeing that she’d turned a light shade of purple.

“Oh god,” he choked, “No, this can’t be happening. It can’t be.”

Nick ignored Kevin’s whimpers as he checked Anna’s pulse, doing CPR on her. Kevin couldn’t stand to watch, but he couldn’t force himself to look away either. For what seemed like hours, Nick continued to use CPR on Anna. Kevin felt like he was going to throw up when he saw water spilling from her mouth, knowing immideatly that she must have swallowed quite a bit. The sudden thought dawned on him that maybe she had drown, and it was too late. Nick wasn’t giving up though, and it surprised Kevin that he even knew hat he was doing. After a few more rounds, he could hear a choking noise, and saw Anna’s eyes open slowly. Kevin breathed a huge sigh of relief. Nick slowly helped Anna to sit up. She looked around, confused.

“What happened?” she asked, knowing that her chest was throbbing in pain, and so was her head.

“You slipped and fell into the pool.” Kevin explained as he watched Nick rush into the house.

“Oh.” She replied

Nick came back out with a rag, telling Anna to hold it to her head, guiding her hand to the place where she had hit.

“You feeling okay?” Nick asked her, and Anna nodded. Nick stood up, standing beside Kevin. Anna slowly tried to stand up too, a little wobbly at first, but quickly gained her balance.

“I’m sorry,” Kevin suddenly whispered. Anna looked at him confused. She could tell that Kevin was feeling incredibly guilty and she didn’t have the slightest clue as to why.

“You almost died because of me,” he elaborated.

“Kevin,” Anna said softly, “It’s not your fault.”

And to prove that she was being honest, she slowly wrapped her one free arm around him, kissing him on the lips softly.

Kevin nodded his head, “Yes, it is. If I weren’t paralyzed, it would have never happened. And if it had, I could have saved you myself.”

“You can’t help it that you’re in a wheelchair,” Anna told him, “That doesn’t put you at blame.”

“All that matters is that she is alive,” Nick said, “It doesn’t matter who saved her. Try to see that. It’s okay now.”

“No,” Kevin yelled, “It’s not okay. It never will be okay. I couldn’t even save my own girlfriend. Do you even know how shitty that makes me feel? That if you hadn’t been in the neighborhood, by some freakishly lucky chance, that Anna would have died because of me? I’m just worthless. Pathetic. I am in the way of everything.”

Kevin quickly wheeled himself into the house, slamming the door behind him. Anna felt bad that he felt so shameful on her behalf. She jumped when she felt Nick’s comforting, friendly arm around her shoulder. She honestly didn’t blame him for any of it, but she knew it would be a challenge getting Kevin to believe that and rid him of the guilt he was feeling.
Chapter Thirteen by sweet18_2003
Thanks to those of you who have been reviewing. It's because of you that I'm actually still posting this story. Although it is done, I don't know how much more I will be posting, cuz it seems not too many are interested. I'll get the email's of those who are though at least, so if I do get discouraged and decide not to post, I will email you the rest of what I have. Thanks again!

Chapter Thirteen

Anna lightly touched her head where she’d hit a little over a month and a half before. Nick had taken her to the hospital after Kevin had locked himself away inside the house. Nick figured that she needed to go in to make sure that she really was okay. She’d had to get seventeen stitches where she’d had a small cut. Her and Kevin were still together, and he was still holding himself responsible for her getting hurt. His newest accusation of himself was that if he had gotten his own drink, it would have never happened. Whatever way he looked at it, he still thought that it was entirely his fault. Anna still disagreed. She felt that nobody was to blame. She saw it as an accident and she had been saved. She didn’t care who had done it.

“Thinking about your near drowning again?” Stephanie asked her knowingly and Anna blushed. She thought about it a lot. She couldn’t help it.

“Yeah,” she replied, “Kevin, every day, apologizes for almost killing me, or letting me die. Whatever. Why won’t he just face it that he didn’t cause it?”

Stephanie shrugged, “Has to swallow his big male ego, or whatever ego he had left, because he couldn’t be the one to help.” She stated, “My Nicky was the hero though.” She grinned proudly at the fact that her blonde boyfriend had actually done something useful.

Anna frowned. Stephanie was so happy with Nick being the one to save the day, which was great. She, on the other hand, didn’t care who’d saved her. She wouldn’t have cared if it had been a twelve year old, or even a dog. She wasn’t giving Nick any special treatment over the other guys just because of what he had done. She was greatful and thankful, that was about it. Besides, there was no use making Kevin feel even worse by him thinking that she was rubbing it in his face. Plus, in his condition, he would probably get jealous.

“I’m glad you’re okay though,” Jaime piped up, “God, I can’t believe that we’re still talking about this. It’s old news.” She laughed.

The other two shrugged. Jaime was starting to getting bigger with every day that passed. She only had another three and a half months to go until she was due. She seemed to be excited, but things weren’t as good as they used to.

“Is A.J. still never around?” Anna asked her friend and Jaime nodded her head sadly, longing for her boyfriend and father of her child to still be supportive, “Do you know what happened?”

“He was fine until the day after my last checkup,” Jaime replied, “That was about a two weeks ago. I guess he just spooked. I mean, he was perfectly fine and then he started to never be home, and avoiding me when we both were. The doctor started going into detail about what would happen for the next few months. Maybe it was just too much for him to handle.”

Anna felt sorry for her friend. She had been so enthusiastic before her appointment. A.J. was pampering her left and right, doing everything for her, helping her, and making her relax so she didn’t stress. Now, she knew that Jaime had to do everything for herself if she wanted it done. AJ had at least been decent enough not to make her leave. From what Jaime had said, they were still living together, and still dating. He had just distanced himself from her a great deal.

“He’ll come around,” Stephanie said surly of herself, “I can tell you that he won’t stay like this for long.”

Jaime sighed. She hoped not. She missed A.J being there for her. She missed having loving arms to walk into and their talks at night about what they were going to name the baby and getting ready. Now, every night when she went to sleep, and every morning when she woke up, A.J wasn’t there to plan with her. He wasn’t there period, and it made her wonder if he would even be a part of her child’s life or leave her to raise the baby fatherless, kicking her out as soon as it was old enough to know that he was its daddy. So much was running through her head. She had no answers.

“Sounds like we’re both having relationship problems,” Anna said to Jaime, who smiled in appriciation of her friend trying to make her feel better, “You’re man is freaking out and getting cold feet because the big day is getting closer and mine is always down on himself and life in general.”

“And mine is perfect,” Stephanie boasted, “Who would have ever thought that Nick, of all people, would be the best boyfriend out of the three.”

“Steph, let it go,” Jaime scowled, “We’re happy for you and all, but some of us aren’t exactly having the best time in our own.”

“Okay, okay, I’ll knock it off,” Stephanie grinned. She was just happy that her relationship was staying strong and had for over five months now. Her and Nick had yet to fight. He was just too good-hearted and free spirited to get mad at despite his many blonde moments and lapses of common sense, “Don’t worry. Aje and Kev will be normal again.”

Anna hoped her friend was right, but had a feeling that this time she wouldn’t be. Kevin kept sinking lower and lower into depression, getting worse and worse. Anna was surprised that he hadn’t just given up yet, or maybe he had. She wasn’t sure. A.J. was being a typical male. There was a chance that he would regain his good judgment. A really good chance. Everything was becoming a disaster. She hoped that it would get
better though, instead of continuing to get worse.

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Jaime walked through the door to her house. The lights were off, which meant that A.J. was out again. She sighed. It would be another long night alone. She remembered a time when A.J. would be waiting up for her to get home. Walking over to the couch, she fell backwards, flipping on the TV, leaving the lights off. The darkness would fit her mood perfectly. A new episode of Seventh Heaven was premiering in five minutes and she figured she might as well watch it. It wasn’t like she would be doing anything else. Her fun for the day was over. She’d just seen her friends, so that was out. She knew that it was their time to spend with their boyfriends anyways.

Looking over next to her, she saw a photo of her and A.J. from when they’d only been together for a few weeks, which still sitting out on the coffee table. She wondered why A.J. had even bothered to leave it there. It was almost like he couldn’t stand looking at her, unless he felt more than he was showing. A picture of them together, to her, was a reminder of their happy days. Getting up, Jaime grabbed the picture, taking to a drawer and throwing it inside carelessly as if it meant nothing to her. She could swear she heard the glass shattering, but she didn’t really care. One more memory of them was hidden away as if it had never happend. If A.J. was going to be like that, then so would she. Two could play the game.

“Damn him,” Jaime muttered.

She was actually managing to hold back the tears that she knew were threatening to escape. She decided that was through crying over the treatment he was giving her. The anger and hostility towards him had faded. Now, she was just sad even though they were still together, technically. But they might as well have been living on different planets. Jaime had to wonder if A.J. would even notice if she packed up and left before he got home. She highly doubted it, and if he did, she doubted that he would care.

Sitting back down, she made it just on time to catch the beginning credits of the show. She found Simon to be hot, and maybe seeing him would make her feel better. The boy had gone from a nerdy little boy to mature and gorgeous, and he was more her age too. Exactly her age, to be precise. The thing was, she wanted A.J to love her again. She didn’t want anybody else.

Despite all her work on trying to act like what was happening wasn’t affecting her, she couldn’t help but let a few tears fall when she saw Simon and his girlfriend under the stars making out. She and A.J. had done that on occasion, with a picnic basket and blankets. Everything reminded her how they used to be and it was starting to irritate her. She wished that she could be brainwashed and forget her life with A.J. completely. It would be easier that way. She hurridly turned off the TV, not wanting to watch any more. She couldn’t stand it. Jaime just sat in the dark, staring off.

She was distracted when she heard a door close. She rolled her eyes. A.J. was home. He obviously didn’t realize that she was there. She heart footsteps walking across the tile floor of the kitchen. A light turned on beside her as keys were thrown onto the coffee table. A.J. walked around the couch to sit, but stopped short, freezing when he saw Jaime sitting there.

“Oh,” he said, at loss of words, obviously startled to see her there, “Um, hi.” He looked sideways, and drew back. He noticed that the picture of them was gone and wondered where it had went. He’d kept it there for a reason. He’d hoped that it would let Jaime know that he still cared.

Jaime just stared blankly past him not responding. She didn’t even notice that he’d noticed the small piece of décor that was missing. She couldn’t stand to look at his face. She knew that it would make her break down completely. She couldn’t let down her strong guard in front of him. It might give him the satisfaction of knowing that he was getting to her. It might not. She wasn’t going to take her chances though. This was the closest that she’d been to him in two weeks. She felt like it were the first time she’d ever met him. She was nervous.

“I’m, um, I’m gonna go upstairs.” He said, pointing to the ceiling. He could tell that Jaime was going to give him the cold shoulder, which he knew that he deserved greatly. He didn’t deserve her attention.

Jaime still said nothing, and he hesitantly begun walking away. Jaime could tell that he felt bad about the way he was acting, but obviously not bad enough to change. A.J paused once, looking behind him at Jaime still looking blankly ahead.

“A.J.” she called out weakly, “What happened between us?”

She had to know while she was up close and personal with him. She had to ask while it was on her mind and before she lost her nerve.

“Nothing,” A.J. answered a little too quickly and Jaime snorted, “I’ve just been really busy the past couple of weeks. It will get better soon.” He added, knowing that it probably wouldn’t. It was simple. He just wasn’t ready for this kind of responsibility when it came down to it.

Jaime rolled her eyes, forgetting that A.J. couldn’t see the look of complete disgust on her face. Busy her ass. What could he be busy with? The guys had tried on several occasions to record, but it just wasn’t working out. Kevin wasn’t into it in the way that he needed to be, and the other Boys putdowns was making it worse and worse. It was as if his whole soul was gone and had no passion for singing at all anymore, which was completely unlike him. Other than that, A.J. had nothing that he absolutely had to do that would keep him so busy. There weren’t photo shoots, there had only been one meeting, and they weren’t touring.

“I’ll try harder,” A.J. said lamely.

Again, Jaime said nothing. For some reason, his words meant nothing to her. He could say that he would try, but she knew that he wouldn’t really. He would continue with his ways no matter what he said.

“I love you,” he called out softly.

Jaime wondered if he meant it. He sounded like he did, but love didn’t ignore. Love was there for one another. She knew that she still loved him, despite everything, but at the same time, she hated him for leaving her alone like this.

“Love you too,” Jaime responded in monotone.

A.J. stood still for a few seconds, wondering if he should say something else to Jaime, but couldn’t think of anything. He quickly ran up the stairs without another word leaving Jaime sitting there stiffly with tears running down her cheeks.

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The four Backstreet Boys sat staring at one another, not knowing how to begin the conversation. Brian had taken it upon himself to call a meeting between just the four of them. He’d made everyone promise not to let word slip to Kevin about it, which told them that the idea of the meeting was to talk about him. A.J. had used it as an excuse to get out of the house by telling the truth. It was three days since his small conversation with Jaime. They hadn’t spoken since. He knew that she was in the house, but he hadn’t seen her.

“So,” Howie said, breaking the silence, “Um, what exactly did you want to talk about? I mean, we kind of have a guess, but, we kind of don’t”

“Well,” Brian replied after a long pause, “I guess to discuss some things and, unfortunately, my cousin.”

He shook his head sadly, hanging it low. In all the years they’d been together as family and a band, he’d never seen Kevin act quite like he had been for the past five and a half months. He was worried. He could sense that Kevin was beginning to slowly give up on all hope. That was completely unlike the man he knew.

“Well,” A.J. stated, “I think we can all agree that the album and recording for it is out of the question until Kev is ready to put forth some actual effort.”

Howie and Nick nodded in agreement. They’d tried on several attempts to make it work. Nothing they had was suitable to actually use. Brian hated to admit it, but he felt that forgetting the album entirely was what they had to do for the moment. The scary part was, getting the album out was more of an if rather than a when. If Kevin didn’t go back to his normal self, he couldn’t see it happening at all. He knew that they would all rather them fade out with a great last album than to put out something that would cost them respect and positive reviews. But even if that’s what they’d rather, it didn’t mean that they wanted it.

“Kevin better get off of this roller coaster of self pity,” Howie grumbled, “And he’d better do it mighty fast. We have things to do, fans to entertain for. We’ve come too damned far to just, vanish now.”

“I don’t blame him for not wanting to perform though,” Nick admitted, “I mean, well, you know.” He trailed off, not knowing what he wanted to say. He decided to shut his mouth before something stupid came out and he just rambled. Now wasn’t the time to do that.

“No, we don’t know, Nick,” Brian said, amused, wondering what was on Nick’s mind, “Tell us.”

Nick glared at the smirk on Brian’s face, knowing
that he was putting him on the spot to embarrass him and lighten the mood a little. Leave it to him to be the one who was called on to make people laugh.

“Well, would you guys want to be in a wheelchair, out on stage, after how you were before? I mean, everyone would be starting at you, feeling sorry for you. They’d be wondering what happened. Some would wonder if it were just for attention to gain publicity and shit like that. They’d think that nothing happened at all.”

Nick decided to stop talking before he dug himself a hole deep enough to go through the earth. He knew that some of the things he’d said could be taken as harsh, and even uncaring. He hadn’t meant it that way at all.

“Ole blonde boy here proves a valid point,” Brian said thoughtfully, “I mean, the media is always out looking for ways to ruin reputations. Who says that they wouldn’t make up some story if we actually decided…or Kevin decided he wanted to tour still? Anyways, we cant tour, we can’t record, we can’t do photo shoots and we can’t do meetings either, or very damn many of them. We can’t do interviews because they’d just want to talk to Kevin, and that’s not a good idea at this point. He wouldn’t want to do it anyways. We can’t make guest appearances either.”

The other three’s eyes widened. None of them really realized how much they actually do until Brian started listing off all of the things they had to give up for the time being. They knew that there was more too.

“So what can we do until Kevin is better, physically or mentally,” Howie asked aloud to nobody in particular.

“Just wait it out and see what happens,” Brian replied, “That’s all we really can do for right now.”

And they all knew that he was right. Waiting was their only option.
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Kevin drummed his pen on his notebook thinking of what he could write next. He was sitting in his bead, propped up against the headboard, a big fluffy feather pillow behind his back, writing a journal entry. He’d decided that it wouldn’t hurt to write down his thoughts and feelings. Who knew, it might even help him out a little and make him feel better. He smiled a tiny smile as he read over what he’d already written. A tear fell down his cheek though at the same time. He had so many people who cared about him and supported, yet he was screwing everything up. He was messing up the new album. He was determined to try harder though and make his part the best it could be and get it out in perfect shape. He had to. There was no choice in the matter. That wasn’t the only thing he had jeopardized though. He had almost messed up his relationship with Anna the day that it had started. He was messing up his therapy by constantly picking fights with Jake and sending him to leave early. He knew though that his temper was only causing things to become delayed and harming him, yet he continued to do it. A new thought came to his mind and he quickly jotted it down before he could forget. When the thought was down on paper, Kevin begun chewing on his pen cap, thinking up more to write. He had so much going on in his head, so much to get out that he’d been keeping in, but he didn’t know how to say it all when it came down to it. His thoughts were an unorganized jumble.

“Hi baby,” Anna said, walking into the room.

Kevin looked up startled, quickly shutting the notebook and stuffing it under his pillow, sliding beneath the covers to lay. Anna crawled in bed beside him, kissing him tenderly on the lips. It felt great. Kevin had to admit that she was being wonderful to him. She was always there for him and helped him in every way possible. He couldn’t believe that he’d ever thought that she would hold his disability against him when it came to dating. She was nothing like that.

“What were you doing?” she asked.

“I started a journal diary type thing,” Kevin told her, “Just an idea I had. It might not work though.”

“That’s good,” Anna praised him, “They’ve always helped me, even though I could never keep up with them for more than a month or two.” She laughed, “I always skipped a night, and one night turned into a week, and a week turned into never opening the damned thing again.”

Kevin chuckled, which made Anna smile wide. He realized that he’d been depriving her of his happy side. He knew that she had yet to really see it.

“Is Kevin laughing?” she teased, which made him smile even wider, “I could get used to seeing you like this, you know.” She said more seriously, but still with a light nature. She didn’t want to make him feel bad.

“I’m sorry, Anna,” Kevin said, “I have my good moments.” He sighed, looking deep into her dark brown eyes, “I really am trying to be happier.”

Anna reached a hand up and cupped the left side of his face in it, rubbing gently. She couldn’t imagine how he must feel. She wished she could say that she did, but it would be a lie. She didn’t want to lie to him.

“I know you are,” she replied softly, “Just know that however long it takes, I’m going to be here for you through the good and the bad.”

Kevin sighed. He still felt like such an invalid. He wasn’t hardly ever happy and there were more thoughts on his mind. Ones that had been there for months now, ever since A.J’s news about Jaime.

“Hey, Anna,” Kevin asked, “Do you want to have kids?”

Anna drew back in astonishment. The question had come out of nowhere. She didn’t know what had possessed him to even ask such a thing.

“No,” she said, “I mean, well yes.” She could see Kevin tense up greatly, and knew what was on his mind right away, “Not yet though. I’m not nearly ready. I wont be for another few years at least.” She saw Kevin relax a bit and didn’t know what to say to him. She knew that the subject of children was sensitive to him since he couldn’t help her to have any at the moment. That didn’t bother her though. She didn’t care how long it took, or if he could never get her pregnant. There was always the option of adoption open in her mind. In some senses, she’d rather that.

“ I love you, Kevin.” Anna said, “Don’t worry. No kids for a long while.”

“I love you too,” Kevin whispered.

Kevin pulled Anna in closely to him and she laid he head on his chest, closing her eyes. Kevin gently started stroking her hair, and begun singing to her. He figured he could use the practice while he was in a good mood. Anna sighed, content, and within minutes, she was in a deep sleep. Kevin dug under his pillow and grabbed the journal, ripping the pages out and folding it up. He would finish later. He gently moved Anna over as he lifted himself out of bed and into his wheelchair to put the papers away in his dresser drawer, under his underwear and socks. He closed the drawer and went back to his bed, hauling himself back into it and laying back down. He gently pulled Anna into him again, holding her closely. He kissed her forehead softly, thinking about what he had written. There was definitely a lot of emotion that had been put into it. A lot of feelings, frustration and hatred. He sighed. Maybe, one day, his entry would be published in a book. Possibly even one in the Chicken Soup series. He had a feeling that having others read what he’d went though might help a lot of people out who were in his situation. He wished that he’d had something insightful to read when he’d first been thrown into this situation. Maybe it would have helped him too. But now, he didn’t know if anything could.
Chapter Fourteen by sweet18_2003
Okay, so I definitely feel like I am wasting my time even posting this. Thanks to Ayleen (dancinpacer03) Anita and AJsSweety though. AJsSweety, email me through here so I can get your email address in case I don't post any more after this. That way, since you seem to think this is an alright story, I have a way to send you the rest of it (about 8 or 9chapters after this) Anyways, here is 14.

Chapter Fourteen

“That was brilliant, Kevin,” Brian complemented, “Think you can keep up the good work?”

Another two months had passed. Within the past week, Kevin’s mood had increased by a lot. He was brighter and happier all around. Nobody knew what had gotten into him but were glad that he’d finally decided to snap out of is depressed funk. Kevin had suggested recording and the guys had jumped on the opportunity before he could sink into a low state again. They had to take advantage of every chance they got to record while they knew that it would turn out good. What nobody knew was that Kevin’s positive outlook was fake and just a show so they didn’t suspect what he was really feeling deep down inside.

“Yes,” Kevin replied, “I have to keep it up. This album needs to be done by Tuesday at the very latest.”

Kevin got looks from all around that told him that the others thought he was insane. Nick raised an eyebrow and A.J. grunted. He couldn’t believe that Kevin was going to expect them to work to death to make up for time he’d caused them to lose in the first place.

“Kevin, that’s six days away,” Brian informed him, “You do realize that, right? I mean, weeks haven’t exactly gotten longer.”

“We can do it,” Kevin said with confidence, “We already have a good five songs completed. There’s seven or eight more. If we work extra hard, maybe eight hours a day times six, that’s forty eight hours, we should have no problem getting it done.”

“Whatever you say,” Howie replied, running a hand through his hair, “We’d better get back to work then.”

The group took a short fifteen minute break to refresh themselves. They knew that if they didn’t, their voices would become tired and they wouldn’t sound nearly as good as they would if they’d given their voices a chance to rest.

“There’s a special song I want to sing alone here,” Kevin said, “Maybe on the last day of recording. Something that I wrote to sing as a solo.”

“Wow,” Brian said, “Have you been working on it for long?”

“Probably for the past three weeks,” Kevin replied, “But when I record it, I’d like to do it alone. Kind of emotional, ya know?”

His friends stared at him in shock and he wondered why it came to such a surprise to them that he’d written something himself. It had been something that had meant to be a poem at first, but turned into a song the more that he wrote. The part that had taken him the longest was editing it. He felt that it was near perfect though. It was everything that he’d gone through and he wanted the world, their fans, to hear it. The thing was, he knew that he’d have to find someone else to sing it for him during shows when the Boys started touring again.

“Sure, no problem,” Brian answered, understanding completely. He knew what the song was most likely about and knew that it would be a struggle for him to sing it with the others
around, “I’m impressed though.”

Kevin shrugged, not knowing what to say. Brian wouldn’t be saying that after he heard the song. None of them would be. It brought tears to his own eyes when he read it over. He knew it would be worse for them. They would honestly understand what he’d been going through and feeling for the first time though.

“Okay, lets get back to work now,” Kevin stated out loud, “Lets try to do one more song before the end of the day.”

“Sounds good, boss,” Nick joked, “I’m ready to go home for the day. I need to sleep or something.”

The guys all laughed, knowing exactly why Nick was in such a big hurry to get home. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out. Kevin smiled tightly. He just wanted this album to be the very best that it could be and be out in stores within the next couple of months because the way things were going, it would be their last.

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Stephanie sighed in content happiness as she slid into the hot tub in her back yard. It was a cool day and she figured nothing would be better than lying in a pool of steaming hot water surrounding her.

“This is the life,” she murmured.

Stephanie closed her eyes. She knew that she could easily fall asleep. There was something soothing about the water bubbling up gently around her. She was completely relaxed. Just as she was almost in a deep sleep, Nick came running up, doing a cannon ball in the Olympic sized pool that was less than five feet from her. Icy cold water splashed in all directions, hitting her exposed body. Stephanie’s eyes flew open in shock, shivers running down her spine as the cold water dripped from her face, neck, and shoulders.

“Nickolas,” she screeched, “I’m going to kill you.”

Nick jumped out of the pool and hopped into the hot tub next to Stephanie, grinning impishly. Stephanie couldn’t believe how cute he thought that he was. To her, he was acting immature and selfish.

“The hot water feels better now,” he replied.

“But did you have to get me wet in the process?” she asked with a scowl, “I was almost asleep. Leave it to you though.”

A hurt look came over Nick’s eyes as he felt a sense of being unwanted at that particular moment. He started to get up and leave but Stephanie reached up and grabbed his hand, pulling him back down.

“You might as well stay and talk to me.” She offered, snuggling in close to his side, “And keep me warm after that stunt you just pulled.”

I’m sorry,” Nick apologized.

Stephanie laughed. He was so cute. Immature and childish, but he meant well, she knew.

“So, how is recording going?” Stephanie asked, knowing that they’d been gone a lot again to the studio.”

“Great, actually,” Nick said, “Kevin’s really pulled it together in the past couple of weeks. I think that maybe he’s actually started to deal with his paralysis and is through with being spiteful over it.”

Stephanie raised an eyebrow. The transition had been so sudden. It hadn’t been gradual at all, but rather pretty much happened over night. She didn’t honestly think that anybody could change that quickly. But maybe Kevin had just put his mind to it and decided that he didn’t want to be depressed anymore. Maybe he had actually figured that his chances of recovering quicker were more likely if he was positive. It was about time.

“When do you think the album will be out?”

“Kevin wants it to be out in stores in a few months, and is set on the recording being finished by Tuesday.”

“That’s only four days away,” Stephanie protested, “There’s no way you can finish recording an album in two weeks.”

“It’s getting done,” Nick said, “And surprisingly, it is turning out really well. We’re all working our asses off, but, we want to keep Kevin happy. He’s been down for so long that we just want to go along with what he wants.”

Stephanie just shrugged, sinking lower into the hot water to warm her upper body. She didn’t know how well the plan was going to work out. She wondered what was going on between the band. Why would Kevin want to try to record an entire album and complete it in such short time? It was great that he was working hard and singing good again, but something wasn’t right. Normally, he would want them to take their time and have the recording part take at least two months.

“As long as everything is okay,” Stephanie finally said out loud, “It’s about damn time.”

“Yeah,” Nick replied, a slight look of concern in his eyes, “Everything is going perfect. It couldn’t be better.”

Stephanie smiled. She wanted to believe Nick, but something about the way he’d said it wasn’t very convincing. She wished she knew what was going on, but decided that it was none of her business, either that, nobody knew and they were all on the same boat. She just hoped that Kevin stayed happy and didn’t sink into a low state again. As long as he was in high spirits, she believed everything actually could turn out to be okay.
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“So, you finished recording today?” Anna asked as she drove Kevin home from the recording studio.

“Yep,” Kevin said proudly, “It’s going to be our best album yet. I know it. We all worked hard.”

“I know that you did,” she told him with a smile.

They were quiet for a few minutes. Anna could tell that Kevin was exhausted. For the past half of a month, all he’d had time to do was record, go through therapy and sleep. He’d constantly been busy doing things that had to get done.

“I am so proud of you,” Anna stated, “You’ve really come a long way in the past couple of weeks. I know that the guy’s are happy with your change in direction. I just know we’re all happy that you are now.”

Kevin reached over and took Anna’s right hand in his, holding it lightly. He gave it a quick squeeze. He looked deep in to her eyes, taking in her beauty.

“Thanks,” he said softly, happy that the recording was over with. He knew that the other guys were glad that it was too, even though it had taken up all of their free time to do it. The album was complete. He wouldn’t have to worry about it not getting done at all now.

Anna turned off onto their street and two minutes later they were in the driveway. Kevin waited for Anna to get his chair out of the trunk. When it was next to him, he got into it, pushing himself up the ramps that were made permanent at his house.

“I need to go to the store,” Anna informed Kevin once they were inside, “Is there anything in particular that you want?”

Kevin shook his head, “Nope. Get whatever you want.”

“Kev, just tell me something to get and I will buy it,” Anna laughed, “That way, I don’t make something you’ll try to hide under the table until I am not looking.”

“Whatever you decide to get,” He said again.

Anna shook her head. Why did he have to be so stubborn? She pretty much knew what to get anyways. Same as every other week.

“I’ll be back in about an hour or so,” Anna told him, beginning to walk out the door.

“Hey, baby,” Kevin called, “Come here.”

Anna walked over to Kevin and he pulled her into his arms, kissing her passionately on the mouth. Anna drew back, a smile forming on her lips.

“What was that for, Prince Charming?” she asked.

Kevin said nothing, staring deeply into her eyes again. They were the prettiest color of dark brown.

“I love you so much, Anna,” he said softly, holding her closely “Please, don’t ever doubt my feelings for you.”

Anna looked at him strangely, "I'm just going to get groceries," she joked, "I love you too. I'll be back in about an hour, maybe a little longer.."

Kevin let go of her as she walked out the door. He sighed, pulling the journal entry he’d started out of his pocket. He needed to be alone to finish it. Writing down everything, it all came out quickly, flowing over the blank lines. He quickly ended the writing, realizing that it had come to just about two pages. It shocked him, yet he felt like he hadn’t written enough to express himself. Kevin set the papers on the kitchen table, ready for Anna to read it. With a sigh, he looked around the downstairs of his house before going over to the elevator that had been installed just weeks before and getting inside. He pressed the UP button to take him to his room. It was time for him to sleep.

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“Baby,” Anna called, struggling to carry three brown paper bags full of groceries, “I’m home.”

Anna walked into the kitchen and set the bags down on the counter wondering why Kevin wasn’t coming. She walked around and saw a piece of paper on the table. Walking over, Anna picked up the piece of paper, figuring that Kevin had probably gone out with the guys and was just telling her, but then saw how long it was, knowing that that wasn’t it after all. She looked around to make sure that Kevin wasn’t watching her as curiosity got the best of her. She knew that she was probably sticking her nose into business that wasn’t hers. She begun to read when she saw that he wasn’t anywhere to be seen.

Hey everyone.

Well, if you are reading this, then I guess it means I am no longer here and I carried through with my plan. I hate to do this to everyone, but my happy act was just so nobody would suspect anything. I guess in the last couple of weeks, I really have been calm about things though. It was only because I knew that it would only be a short time until I wouldn’t have to deal with the feelings of having no self worth and being a complete failure. I wanted to finish the album up because I knew it would be our last. I felt I owed it to the Guys and to the fans to put out one last album as a whole group. But please, continue touring without me. Replace me if you’d like. Keep my promise to Bluewave and have them tour with you guys again when you are ready.

Anna. You are the most beautiful person I know, inside and out. You’ve stayed so strong for me throughout everything and made my last few months so much happier. I love you so much. Don’t think that just because I am doing this that I don’t. It has nothing to do with you. It’s me. You are amazing. Thanks for giving me a chance. I just wish that we could have spent more time together or that I at least made you as happy as you’ve made me. I regret being such a sad soul for the majority of our relationship. I love you more than anything. Hopefully whoever you are with after me will appreciate you as much as I have and treats you as special as you are.

Brian. Well, little cousin…I guess that this proves it. You are a much strong person than I am, and I look up to you for that. I admire your strength. You’ve been through hell and back but you never let it get you down. I’m letting mine destroy me all together. It’s just the way it is. Thanks for helping me out when times were rough. Thanks for keeping things together for me and defending me. But most of all, thanks for being such great family. I love ya, cuz.

A.J. I’m sorry that we ended on such bad terms. We really never did make up completely and I regret that. I never meant to hurt you in any way, but I can see now that I did. I felt terrible and lived every day with the feeling of knowing that I’d caused someone who I care for a lot pain. You’re right though. I guess I am a hypocrite. You didn’t deserve what I was thinking. Even though I didn’t use words, I guess that it hurt just as much. Just know that I really do care and that I mean it when I say that I am sorry.

Nick. Good ole Nicky. You always knew how to keep things light, even the worst of the situations. I’m sorry that I got on you so much for everything. I did it way too much. You really are a funny guy though. I was just way too serious. Do me a favor and don’t change. Especially now. Everybody will need your humor to help them cope. I know it will be hard to be funny and clown around, but just try to. This sounds horrible, I know, but everybody will be grateful in the end. You’re a very talented kid. No, you’re a very talented young man.

Howie. You were also an inspiration to me. You always had such a soft, sweet nature to you. Hence the nickname. You’re very talented. All I can hope for is that you get to sing more solos. It’s a request I’d really like to have happen. Keep your head up. I know you’ve lost loved ones in your family and know that you’re a very sensitive person. Try not to get emotional though. Your tears aren’t worth crying over me. I don’t deserve it. Help Brian keep things running smoothly. You two are the most business-like and you can help each other.

Stephanie and Jaime. I never really got the chance to know you guys very well. All I know is that you’ve been great friends to Anna and she’ll need you now more than ever. Be there for her. I know she is weak and extremely sensitive. Good luck with your relationships with Nick and Aje. They think the world of you two. Believe me, they think you are something special…and Jaime, since I know you are rolling your eyes, A.J. doesn’t mean to treat you so badly right now. It’s just a phase. He talks about you all of the time. I wouldn’t lie.

To the fans. All I can say is thank you for your support. Thank you for helping us get where we are today. You’re the best that anyone could ever ask for. You’re amazing. I can’t give you enough gratitude.

To Jive. I have three words for you. GO FUCK YOURSELVES. Leave the rest of the band alone and quit trying to ruin them.

Here are a few lines from the solo that I wrote. It doesn’t matter who sings it at shows, or if it is done as a group. I just want it to be done. I guess it’s kind of like my last request. Anyways, here it goes:

No more pain
No more suffering
The end has come
I am finally at peace
No longer will I have to live
With knowing that I am not complete
Realizing I will never be the same again
This is goodbye
Take me away
I am free…

I want to thank all of you again for being such wonderful friends to me. It’s made making it as far as I have a whole lot easier, but I can only handle so much. I can only cope with the pain and overwhelming emotions for so long before I myself can’t handle it any more.. I am sorry. I love you all of you so much. Try to forgive me over time, although I know you’ll be angry and hate me at first. My very last request, or wish rather, please don’t forget me.

Love Always

Kevin

P.S. There is a journal entry in the top drawer of my dresser. Anna, please try to submit it to a book or magazine to be published. Maybe it will save a life. For me, its too late to be saved.


Anna’s head whipped up from the letter. Kevin’s suicide letter. Her eyes had been glued while she’d read the entire thing, but there was nothing left to read. She couldn’t believe it. She hadn’t seen any of it coming. She dropped the letter as she ran out of the front door.

“Kevin,” she screamed at the top of her lungs, tears coming out of her eyes quickly and falling hard, “Kevin.”

She ran around the yard, wondering if he was outside somewhere nearby. She couldn’t see any trace of him anywhere. Sprinting back into the house, she decided that if he was anywhere, he would be inside. Her first thought was to look in the basement. Running down the carpeted steps, she flipped on the light switch.

“Kevin,” she yelled, “Where are you. Kevin.”

Anna couldn’t find him anywhere as she looked in every corner, every room, every section of the basement. He wasn’t anywhere to be seen. Taking the steps two at a time, she was ready to take on round two of her search.

He couldn’t have gone through with it,” Anna muttered, then raised her voice to call out for him again, “KEVIN,” she yelled, her heart pounding in her chest, breath coming out short and quick.

Anna searched the entire downstairs, going from room to room, searching every closet and bathroom, not seeing Kevin anywhere. She wondered where he had gone, where he was. She ran out back to the pool to see if he was at the bottom. Rushing over to the side, she forced herself to look down. Nothing was there but a few leaves. Anna ran back into the house, whipping her head from side to side for any sign of her boyfriend.

“Kevin,” she shrieked, “Kevin.”

Anna began choking on her tears as she opened the door to the silver elevator. Kevin wasn’t in there either. She stepped inside, letting it take her to the second floor of the mansion. She couldn’t waste any time. Anna frantically ran around the top floor. It was her last hope. If he wasn’t upstairs, then he wouldn’t be anywhere that she could guess. There were a million places that he could have gone, and if she left the house, she might miss something.

“Kevin,” she yelled again, running into their bedroom, “Kevin,” she sobbed helplessly, looking in every direction.

Her heart stopped when she spotted his wheelchair sitting by the bathroom door empty. Anna’s whole body started to shake violently as she slowly and nervously walked over to the wheelchair. She touched the seat. It was cold, which meant that he hadn’t been sitting in it for a while. Anna walked into the bathroom, looking around cautiously. She was almost afraid to see what she would find. Slowly looking around, she spotted a lump in the shadows, coming half way out of the closet on the other side of the bathroom. Trembling, she quickly hurried over and the closer she that she got, she noticed that the lump was two legs emerging from the door that was half way open. Anna’s eyes widened as she opened her mouth to scream, but no sound came out. She felt sick and woozy, but forced herself to get closer.

“Kevin,” she cried softly, bending down, “Kevin,”

She gently touched his leg, forgetting that he couldn’t feel anything. His skin was cold to her touch. Anna stumbled backwards as she clamped her hands over her mouth tightly and screamed.
Chapter Fifteen by sweet18_2003
This is to Anastacia, AJsSweety, Anita and DancinPacer03. Thanks for letting me know how the story is going. There's only 7 or 8 more chapters after this (already complete) so I'll be posting ocasionally

Chapter Fifteen

Anna continued to scream as she saw Kevin lying completely still. She’d yet to see the rest of his body, but didn’t know if she wanted to. After she could no longer get any sound out, Anna quickly flipped on the light to the closet and flung the door open, scurrying inside. She closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths, preparing herself for what she might see when she looked down. Opening her eyes, she lowered her head and gasped, clamping her hands over her mouth again. Kevin was laying part way on his stomach, partly on his side. It was almost as if he were in a sleeping position, except for one thing. There was red blood everywhere. All over his clothes, the carpet, his skin. Anna fell to the ground in a kneeling position, taking his hand in hers.

“Kevin,” she cried out, “Can you hear me baby?”

Anna’s sobs grew louder when he didn’t respond. His form was stiff, lifeless, not moving a bit. His body was sprawled out. Anna searched the closet for what he could have used to harm himself with that would cause him to bleed so much. She looked all around, on Kevin’s other side, by his head. She found nothing. Anna rolled him over gently and gasped. Lying under him was a silver pistol. With wracking sobs of panic, Anna stood up quickly and ran out of the closet to retrieve the phone. With shaking hands, she quickly dialed 9-1-1. The phone hadn’t even run one full time before her call was answered.

“9-1-1. What’s your emergency?” a woman asked in a professional tone.

“My boyfriend,” Anna managed to get out, “Blood. Please help.”

“Mam, please calm down,” the woman said, “What happened.”

Anna didn’t know how she was supposed to calm down. Her boyfriend was bleeding and she was panicking. What did the lady expect? She knew she had to try to give more detail though if she expected help.

“My boyfriend. He…he shot himself.” Anna choked, “Please help him. Please.”

“We’ll send somebody right out,” the woman said.

She asked Anna for directions to their house and she explained as best she could under the circumstances. Her mind was a jumble and she couldn’t think clearly at all. Minutes later, Anna was off of the phone. She ran back to Kevin to check on him. She hadn’t noticed before, but he was a pasty white. Not knowing weather to stay with Kevin or to go downstairs and wait for the ambulance. Anna decided to wait on the ambulance. She couldn’t help Kevin and there really wasn’t anything that could be done. She ran down the steps and outside to wait on the front porch.

What seemed like hours later, Anna heard sirens. She quickly stood up and watched as an ambulance sped into the driveway. Two paramedics hopped out, grabbing supplies and rushing to the door. Anna opened it for them and followed them in, running up the stairs after them. She needed to be there to see what was happening to her boyfriend. She didn’t know what to think. She hadn’t seen this coming at all and wondered if it meant that she was a bad girlfriend.

“Where is he?” one of the men asked.

Anna pushed past them and they followed her into the bedroom, through the bathroom and across to the closet. The men hurridly went around Anna when they saw Kevin lying down. They knelt down, checking his vitals and saying things that Anna didn’t understand. It was all medical talk. She didn’t know what any of it meant and it scared her.

“Is…is he alive?” Anna asked quietly.

Getting no answer, Anna started to sob, standing back. She knew if she got any closer that she’d just be in the way of things. The other man suddenly stood up and ran out of the room. Anna wondered where he was going. Taking a few small steps forward, Anna looked inside to see Kevin. He had an oxygen mask on his face and I’V’s already attached to his body. There were gauze pads on his chest where the bullet was to stop the bleeding. His clothes had been torn to give the paramedics easier access to him.

“What happened?” the paramedic, who was still in the closet with Kevin, asked sternly. He looked up at Anna and she didn’t know if his eyes were accusing her of shooting him herself or not. She decided that it was all in her head.

“I went to the store,” Anna said quietly, “Everything was fine. When I got home, he was…he wouldn’t answer. I was looking for him and…he was…he…” she couldn’t get the rest out.

“Has he been suffering from depression?” the man asked.

“Yes, he was in deep depression for about seven months or so. That was after a car accident that landed him paralyzed. He was okay though for the past couple of weeks.” Anna explained, tears streaming her face.

The paramedic nodded, knowing that the girl was going into a minor shock. He’d seen this before. The person who’d found their loved one became calm instead of the freaking out state when they first arrived.

“It’s very common for people who are suicidal to go from depressed to fine right before the plan on ending their lives.” The paramedic explained, “Not many people know that though. They think that the person just isn’t depressed any longer.”

Anna looked down in shame. She felt responsible for not noticing the signs that were leading up to this event. She wished that she’d paid better attention. She honestly thought though that Kevin was finally beginning to deal with his limited abilities. Suddenly, the paramedic who’d disappeared ran back in with a stretcher under his arms. He laid it out on the ground beside Kevin and Anna was thankful for their bedroom-sized walk in closet. The two men gently but quickly and efficiently lifted Kevin up onto the stretcher, rolling it across the room.

“Would it be easier to use the elevator?” Anna asked, worried that if they tried to roll Kevin down the winding flight of stairs that it would just hurt him worse.

“Lead us there,” the one man said. Anna got a glimpse of his nametag. It read Joshua.

Anna led them there and they rode down on it. The doors opened and they men were off out the front door loading Kevin up inside of the ambulance. Before Anna ran out after then, she picked up the note off of the ground, and fled out the door after then. Joshua started the ambulance while the other ran back inside to gather up their equipment. Anna stood helplessly wanting to know what was going on with Kevin. The other man flew out of the house, slamming the door shut behind him.

“Would you like a ride to the hospital?” he asked Anna as he hopped into the back of the vehical.

Anna nodded and he held out his hand, pulling her up inside. He pulled the door shut behind him as Anna sat on a bench along the side watching. The ambulance turned is lights and sirens on and sped out of the driveway.

“Is he going to live?” Anna asked. “He’s alive right now,” the paramedic answered, “But it doesn’t look good. The bullet barely missed his heart. He’s critical.”

Anna gulped, tears forming in her eyes. She knew that she had to stay composed in order to stay in the ambulance with Kevin. But the paramedic’s words lingered in the air. It didn’t sound like they had much hope for him. His words, she knew, would haunt her until she knew anything more.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Anna sat in the waiting room. She was alone. Wrapping her arms around herself, she rubbed her own arms to keep warm. She wasn’t sure if the room really was cold of if it was the fear of wondering how Kevin was that was making her feel that way. Suddenly, six people bounded into the room. Anna looked up and saw the other four Boys and her friends.

“We were called by the doctor,” Brian explained, “He wouldn’t tell us anything though. What the hell happened?”

“Kevin,” she replied somberly, knowing that she wouldn’t be able to get anything else out.

The large group all sat down in the surrounding seats. They looked scared, and Anna knew that once they found out what had happened, why Kevin was back in the hospital, that it would make things even worse.

“What about Kevin?” Brian prodded, wanting to get to the bottom of why they had been called upon so urgently.

“He…he tried to kill himself,” Anna choked out. Saying it aloud made the situation all the more real to her. She looked up and saw the eyes of each individual person around her widen with shock. They looked startled and in disbelief. The air was full of a sense of shock as nobody spoke, as they all tried to take in what they were hearing. But when the silence was broken, more than one of the Boys started speaking at once.

“No,” Howie stated roughly, as if he was accusing her of lying, his eyes full of fear and filling with tears, “No he didn’t

“Kevin wouldn’t do that,” Brian said, shaking his head, refusing to believe it, “He would never sink that low. He’d never do anything like that. I know him.”

Stephanie and Jaime’s hands clasped their mouths as they begun to cry. The other men had tears of disbelief forming in their eyes. They were speechless, none knowing what to say, how to act, what to do.

“He did,” she insisted in monotone, pulling the note of her pocket and handing it over to Brian. He unfolded it and everybody gathered around him to read it. Jaime started to cry as she backed away and sat down. Stephanie turned an unusual shade of white and she could see that she was struggling not to break down. Tears started to fall down each of the Boys faces as they each finished up the letter. Brian folded it, looking ahead blankly as he handed it back to Anna. He couldn’t believe that Kevin had actually gone through with trying to kill himself.

“Oh god,” Nick choked out in panic, “Fuck no. No, no, no.” he repeated over and over again, shaking his head roughly from side to side, tears streaming down his face. He refused to believe that the letter was real.

“He was fine earlier today,” Brian commented, going into a slight state of shock, swallowing the large lump that had formed in his throat, “We finished recording and he gave each one of us a hug and said that…” Brian trailed off as his head whipped up, “Oh god, how could we not have seen it?” “Seen what?” Nick asked, his voice shaking slightly, the tears still falling, “Kev was fine today. He has been for weeks now.”

Brian shook his head roughly. One of the last comments that he’d said to them stuck out in his mind. He had looked right past it though because at the time, he’d seen nothing wrong with it at all.

“Guys, remember what Kevin said to us? That it had been great recording with us and that the album would be the best yet.”

The guys all thought for a moment, and then each one remembered. The comment had struck Howie to be a bit odd, but he hadn’t read into it. He figured that it’d just been a figure of speech.

“Oh my god,” Anna cried, “He said something
weird to me too. I didn’t think anything of it. I should have though.”

“What was it?” A.J. asked her.

“He said, ‘I love you so much. Never forget how much you mean to me,’ I should have known that something was wrong. I mean, I was just going to the grocery store. And when I asked him what he wanted me to get, he said he didn’t want anything special.” Anna sped talked.

Everything was making sense now. His happy mood. His weird comments. He’d been planning this for a while now. Anna put her face in her hands. She hoped that nobody blamed her for missing the signs.

“It looks like none of us saw it coming,” Howie stated somberly, “If we had, lord knows that we would have stopped it.”

Everybody nodded in agreement. Anna was relieved that they weren’t singling her out just because she lived with him. They all equally blamed themselves as well. She still didn’t know anything new on him, but wished that she did.

“What’s his condition?” Stephanie asked, reading her friends thought

“Stable but critical,” Anna told them in monotone.

The group sighed. A.J. closed his eyes to try and stop the fresh batch of tears that he knew was coming. He knew that part of the reason Kevin had done this was because he felt like he hated him. A.J didn’t hate him at all. Sure, he was upset with him, but now he just felt bad. Maybe if he’d spoken to the man, and acted like a decent human being towards his band mate in the past months, then he wouldn’t have tried to attempt such an unthinkable thing. A.J. looked over to Jaime. He hadn’t been treating her fairly either. He’d left her alone for the past three and a half months of her pregnancy. He’d treated her like a leper. It wasn’t because he didn’t care, because he love her more than anything and he couldn’t wait to have their child. He had just started thinking about how drastically his life would be changed and it had scared him. He knew how that he had been very foolish. He smiled at the sight of his girlfriend. She was so pretty even when she was upset. He knew that he had a challenge though in getting her to forgive him. He hoped she did, but knew that he wouldn’t deserve it.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Anna looked up started as a man in a white lab coat walked into the room. She looked around and saw that everybody else but Brian had fallen asleep. She’d predicted that it would be that way.

“Are you the friends and family of Mr. Richardson?” the doctor asked.

“Yes, we are,” Brian piped up, “How is he?”

“Kevin just got out of surgery to stop the internal bleeding which he was suffering. There is quite a bit of damage.”

The doctor paused to let the two people comprehend everything he’d said so far. Nick was coming out of his sleep and caught the last half of what the doctor had to say. What he heard, he didn’t like one bit.

“What’s his condition now?” Anna asked, “Has it changed any?”

The doctor shook his head sadly, “He’s still critical and is in a coma. Beings that he is paralyzed, it will make his recovery all the more difficult, if he recovers. The paralysis has weakened him.”

“Wait, wait, wait,” Brian said, holding up his hand to stop the man from speaking, “What do you mean by IF he recovers?”

“To be bluntly honest, his condition doesn’t look good. I’d be very surprised if he lived past tomorrow.”

Anna gasped. She’d heard it from the paramedics already, but for some reason, hearing it from the doctor made her believe it. She could see Brian gripping the sides of his chair to the point where his knuckles were turning white. He started gulping in the air, trying to prevent hyperventalation. Nick sat up in a daze, not catching much of what the doctor had said.

“Kev died?” he asked in alarm, his voice filled with sleep.

“No,” The doctor replied, “He’s alive, for now.”

Brian gave his best friend a murderous look. He wished that the boy wouldn’t speak without thinking first. Kevin’s prognosis was hard as it was. Nobody needed Nick speaking what he thought he’d heard to make thinks worse.

“Nick,” Brian stated, “For Kevin, just shut the fuck up.”

Nick looked wounded as he cowered back in his seat. Anna could tell that he was pouting. It was hard to believe that this was the same guy who’d saved her life. He was back to his blonde side.

“When can I see him?” Anna asked the doctor before he decided to leave. She knew how doctors worked. It could be days before she saw him again.

“At least not for a couple of days,” The doctor replied, “He wouldn’t be able to handle visitors at the risk of infection.”

“But what if he doesn’t make it?” Brian asked, his voice full of fury, “What if Kevin doesn’t wake up? What if he dies overnight?”

The doctor shrugged, “It doesn’t change anything. What if by some miracle he recovers. What if he does a turn around? You wouldn’t want to set him back, would you?” he challenged them.

Brian and Anna both sighed at the same time. He could see that he was right. Anna just wanted to see her boyfriend. The last sight she’d had of him, he’d been pale, all color drained from his complexion. His eyes were rolled into the back of his head and his body had been coated with his own blood. She wondered how he hadn’t died instantly, but liked to hope that there was a reason why he was still alive.

After a couple of minutes of nobody saying a thing, the doctor walked out of the waiting room. The door closed behind him. After Brian was sure that the man was out of hearing range, he spoke.

“I don’t like him,” he drawled in his southern accent, “There is something about him that doesn’t seem right and his attitude bites.”

Anna couldn’t agree any more. The man did have a sense about him that told her that Kevin would be better off in another’s hands. She knew that there was absolutely nothing that they could do about it though.

“I hope Kevin is okay,” Nick weakly called out. Anna looked over and his arms were wrapped around himself. He was rocking himself back and forth.

“Me to,” Brian replied and it surprised Anna when he didn’t say, “He will be” Brian was normally a confident person. She supposed that this would be one time when he wasn’t, “Those lyrics that he wrote…” Brian’s voice trailed off, “I had no idea he felt that way. It was overpowering. It’s no wonder he wanted to record that song alone. But jeez, I really had no clue he was in such pain.”

“Me neither,” Anna said softly, “I knew he was, but not to that extent. And our blindness to it all could have possibly cost him his life.”

A.J. woke up with a violent jolt. He’d just had a nightmare about Kevin. He’d seen the whole thing happen. He’d tried to stop him from pulling the trigger, but he had been frozen in one place. Kevin couldn’t hear him or see him. He was just there to witness Kevin’s execution of himself.

Wiping the sweat off of his forehead, he looked around and could tell that it was the middle of the night. Everybody was fast asleep. He looked over to Jaime. She looked peaceful when she was asleep. He couldn’t even see the pain etched on her face that he’d caused. Getting up, A.J. walked over to her, picking her up and sitting down, cradling her in his arms. Jaime’s eyes fluttered open and she looked up at him, jumping a little, then struggling out of his grasp.

“What do you want?” she whispered, but he could catch the coldness that was in her voice. He winced before replying.

“I just wanted to hold you,” he answered truthfully.

Jaime snorted, backing away from him as much as she found possible. A.J. tried to take her hand, but she pulled away.

“Please, come with me,” he quietly said, “Let’s talk.”

A,.J. stood up waiting for Jaime to join him. She rolled her eyes, but she stood up and followed him out of the waiting room and into the empty hallway.

“So?” she asked impatiently.

“I don’t know how to say this,” A.J. started, “I’m really sorry for how I treated you. I know that it was wrong of me. You didn’t deserve it. I just got scared. What I didn’t think about was how scared you must be feeling too. I know I’ve left you alone for a good portion of your pregnancy, but, I’d like to go through the rest of it with you, like it should be.”

Jaime looked skeptical. A.J reached out to touch her stomach and she drew back. When she saw the tenderness in his eyes though, something inside of her melted and she let him. It was, after all, his child too.

“What made you change your mind?” Jaime asked.

“Honestly, this whole thing with Kevin. It made me realize that anything could happen at any time. It got my head screwed on straight. It made me realize again the things that were important and realize that I’d been treating the most important thing unfairly. It made me think of a lot of things. How I would feel if I lost you. And it wasn’t my mind that needed to be changed. I wanted to be a part of this all along. I just needed to have a boost to get myself back in the right mental mind setting.”

“It took Kevin attempting, well, you know, for you to realize this?” Jaime asked, her anger growing again.

“Yes,” A.J. admitted, “I am sorry that it took this, but I want to be there for you again, and our baby.”

Jaime didn’t know what to tell him. She wanted him in her life more than anything, but she was afraid that he would leave her again after a few weeks. After things were better, or possibly worse than ever.

“I wont leave you again,” he told her, taking her arms and pulling her into him to embrace her, “Please, believe me. Please forgive me and lets give it another chance. Please.”

Jaime sighed. She looked up into his eyes and saw sincerity in them. She knew that they would need each other through this ordeal, and she wanted to be a part of his life forever.

“Okay,” she replied, “I’ll give it another shot. But if you mess up again, it’s over for good.”

A.J. smiled a quick smile despite the reason they were in the hospital. She’d just made a small part of him happier. Jaime offered a sad smile back. She hoped that she was making the right choice. She figured that he did deserve a second chance though. What could it hurt?
Chapter Sixteen by sweet18_2003
Chapter Sixteen

Brian sat silently holding the cassette tape, which held a copy of their entire new album. He’d gone to the recording studio to ask for a copy so he could hear Kevin’s solo. He had to hear the entire thing, and hear all of the words. Now, he wished that he hadn’t. He words were haunting him. Kevin’s voice had been so calm and eerie. His body shook as a shiver went down his spine.

“Hey Bri,” Howie stated, walking into the waiting room followed by everyone else. They’d all gone for a quick walk around the hospital while Brian ran his errand.

“Hi,” he replied in monotone.

“What’s that in your hand,” A.J. asked with curiosity. He was smart enough to know that it was obviously what was causing Brian’s quietness.

“The album,” Brian answered simply.

The guys raised their eyebrows as they sat down. Anna quietly walked off to a far corner so that she could be alone. She had done nothing but cry since she’d found Kevin. She was still crying at that moment. She was tired and worn out, but she couldn’t sleep. She’d already tried that.

“Why do you have the album?” Nick asked, “Is it out in stores already? That was really fast. It only took, like, a day.”

Nobody answered Nick’s question. They weren’t in the mood to deal with his stupidity at that moment. Nick looked around waiting for an answer, but soon figured out that he wasn’t going to get one. He sighed.

“I wanted to listen to Kev’s solo,” he finally answered Nick’s first question, “After reading the few lines he left, I had to listen to it in whole.”

Nobody said a thing, waiting for Brian to finish. A.J. wanted to hear the song as well, but was too afraid to ask. It wasn’t because he thought that Brian would say no. It was because he had a feeling that he wouldn’t like what he would hear. The depressing words on paper was enough. Hearing them out loud would be way too much for him to handle. He wasn’t going to deny it.

“It’s a great song, but depressing. It’s nothing like we’ve ever recorded before. It’s not our style at all.”

“Why do you say that?” Stephanie asked somberly, “What exactly do you consider to be your style?”

“Not this,” Brian answered, holding the tape up, “This is…its really slow and his words are…chilling. I mean, we’ve put out a sad song or two, but nothing this bad. I’ve never heard a song this upsetting.”

“So what are you saying?” Howie asked, wondering why Brian was bringing all of this up.

Brian was silent for a moment. Kevin wanting his song to be heard was his last request, but it didn’t feel right. It was a hard decision to make, but something was telling him to go with his own instincts.

“I don’t think that we should perform it,” Brian stated, knowing that he was going against the wishes of the person that he cared about most.

“We have to,” Nick stated, “Kevin wanted us to do it. He put it in his letter. We have to give him his wish.”

“Nick, Kevin is still alive though,” Brian replied, “And if you could hear it, then you would realize why I think that it’s a bad idea.”

“But he wanted us to do it,” Howie nearly yelled, “Dead or alive, he wanted his feelings and pains expressed. He wanted the world to know about it. Shouldn’t we give him that?”

“D’s right,” Nick said, “Kevin was…I mean is a best friend to us. He’s taken care of us, been there to lend a hand. He’s helped us out through everything. Shouldn’t we do something for him now?”

Brian shook his head, “No,” he said roughly, “I…it’s not a good idea. I mean, the song is suicidal, for god sake. We can’t let fans hear that kind of material. Who knows what will happen with that. Besides, Kev wanted one of US to sing the song. Who would want to it?”

Again, the Boys were silent. Deep down, they knew that Brian was right. They couldn’t perform a song that was based on their friend’s suicidal thoughts. It would be morbid and disrespectful. The lines that they’d all read were pretty upsetting. The thing was, that’s all any of them knew of the song. Any of them except for Brian.

“How bad was it?” A.J. finally asked quietly, knowing that they would all have to find out sooner or later. He preferred it be later. He didn’t know if he could deal with anything else like that so soon.

Brian handed the tape over to A.J, “Here, listen for yourself,” he said, “But I don’t want to be around. I can’t handle listening to it again. Once was already too much as it is. The part that is in the letter is nothing compared to the rest.”

“Is it really that bad?” Howie asked.

He couldn’t imagine Brian not being able to listen to a song that his own cousin wrote. They were extremely close. He figured that the song must have shaken him up pretty much if he wanted nothing to do with it. Brian nodded, closing his eyes to trap his tears. He wished that he knew if Kevin was going to be okay or not. Even though the doctor said his chances weren’t good, Brian still wondered. A.J. slowly took the tape out of Brian’s outstretched hand. He looked at it if it were venomous.

“Well, do you want to go find somewhere to listen to it?” A.J. asked everyone, making up his mind, standing up, “Follow me if you do.”

Howie, Nick and Stephanie all stood up to chase after A.J. They all had a bad feeling that hearing the last track on the album would change their lives though.

“Aren’t you going to go too?” Brian asked Anna and Jaime.

Anna shook her head, sniffling, “I’ll hear it sooner or later. I don’t want to yet though. I’m not ready.”

She was still having vivid pictures running through her head of Kevin lying so still in the closet. She couldn’t erase the words he’d written from her mind. She didn’t want to hear them in her mind too.

“I…I don’t want to either,” Jaime stuttered.

Kevin’s letter had scared her a lot. It really made her think about a lot of things. Kevin’s attempt surprised her because he’d seemed like the least likely to ever do something like that. She guessed that’s the reason why everybody looked right past all of the signs that had pretty much been slapping them in the face. The thought just hadn’t even crossed their mind. They’d all thought that the strong, self-assured man was still in there somewhere. They’d all been wrong though. They’d all been fooled into believing something that wasn’t true.

“I don’t blame you,” he said, shivering, “Take my advice. Don’t. Especially you, Anna. I regret letting my curiosity get the best of me. It’s going to give me nightmares now for a really long time.” Anna stared at him blankly. Him telling her not to listen to it made her wonder what was so horrible about it. She knew, yet, she wondered if there was more to it than she was telling herself. She was tempted to find her other friends. At least with them, she’d have some support when she broke down, and she knew that she would. She knew that if she were alone when she listened to it, she’d lose total control of herself.

“I hope he makes it,” Anna said aloud, softly.

It had been less than twenty-four hours since she’d found him. This proved that a lot could happen in a day. Even if Kevin did survive, she knew that it still wouldn’t make everything okay.

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Jaime walked around the maternity floor looking in the window to the nursery at all of the newborn babies. She hadn’t been able to deal with the depressing mood that was in the air that had been lingering around, so she’d walked out deciding that she’d find something on a happier note to do for a little while. She smiled at the tiny little people on the other side of the glass wall. It was hard to believe that in a month and a half, her own baby would be there.

Jaime jumped when she felt a pair of strong arms circling around her waist. She looked back and saw A.J.

“I thought I might find you here,” he said, “Nobody knew where you’d gone off to. This was the first place I thought of.”

Jaime smiled. He knew her too well. It was obvious that despite their time apart, he had paid attention to her.

“So, how bad was Kevin’s song,” she asked, remembering that the majority of the group had ventured off to listen to it.

A.J. got really quiet remembering the words all over again. He wished that he hadn’t listened. Brian was right. They couldn’t perform it. If it hadn’t been for the fact that the song had been written for a purpose, then maybe it would have been all right. But since it was, it would be too hard on them to sing it. Another thing Brian was right about was that it wasn’t their style at all. The way it was sung and the words were completely unlike them.

“It’s extremely upsetting.” A.J. said, at loss of words to describe it, “I don’t know how or why he’d even write it.”

“So you wouldn’t recommend it to me or Anna to hear?” she asked, looking into his eyes to try and get some answers.

“No,” he replied harshly, then spoke in a kinder tone, “I mean, no. Even Stephanie froze up and turned pale, and she seems to be the strong one of you three girls.”

“That’s because she is,” Jaime replied lamely.

Jaime sighed, looking back into the room. She could see one of the babies crying, his face contorted into one of agony. She wondered if he were hungry or just wanted his mother. She wondered how she would know what her baby wanted. She wondered how she would know a lot of things. Jaime wasn’t sure if she was really ready to have the baby or not. There was still so much that she had to learn and so much to do to prepare and so little time to do it. She just wanted to be the best mother that she could be.

“Alex,” she said softly, “Please promise me that you won’t ever do anything like what Kevin did.”

A.J. spun her around to look at her and saw that tears were falling from her eyes. He pulled her in close to him, kissing the top of her head.

“Why would you ever say a thing like that?” he asked, “What would possess you to ask something like that?”

“This whole thing with Kevin. If he’d do it, then anybody is capable. Please…don’t leave me alone. Don’t leave me and our child alone.”

“Baby, I’m not going anywhere,” A.J. assured her, “I swear, I’m going to be right here.”

“You’ve already left once,” Jaime sobbed, “I’m afraid that you will again, only for good this time.”

“I said I was sorry,” A.J. said, “It was wrong of me, I know that now. It won’t happen again. I was foolish before.”

Jaime didn’t reply. If it hadn’t been for Kevin trying to kill himself, then the thought of losing A.J. in the same way wouldn’t have even crossed her mind. Every time he was the slightest bit down, every time anybody was, she would automatically think that they were going to do something. Suddenly, Jaime saw immense pain filling A.J’s face.

“God, why did this have to happen?” he asked, sobs wracking his body, “Why?” he repeated, feeling partially responsible for Kevin’s downfall.

Jaime pulled A.J. close to her, hugging him tightly to try and calm the man down. She had no answers to his questions though. She didn’t know why it had happened other than Kevin saying that he couldn’t deal with things anymore. She sighed. So much for getting her mind off of things.

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Anna looked around cautiously before quickly slipping into the ICU. The doctors had kept her out for over a day now and she wouldn’t take ‘no’ to seeing Kevin one more time. She was going to take things into her own hands. She had to see him and that’s exactly what she was going to do. She figured that just maybe being able to see him would make her see that he wasn’t as bad as the doctor was telling her and her friends the whole time.

Anna silently walked around, hoping that she wouldn’t be noticed. She looked from bed to bed wondering when she would find Kevin. She wondered if he was even in ICU, or if they’d taken him somewhere else.

“Can I help you miss,” A woman asked, causing Anna to jump. She spun around and faced a young nurse who looked to be I her mid twenties.

“I’m just visiting my boyfriend,” Anna softly said, wiping a tear from her eye. The nurse gave her a soft smile and walked away. Anna breathed a sigh of relief that she hadn’t been questioned any further. Anna knew she would have slipped.

Anna took a deep breath before venturing off further into the room. The beeps of machinery echoed throughout the room, which was so silent otherwise that it was bone chilling. Anna saw the way some of the people looked and swallowed hard. She knew that the majority had just come out of surgery. They looked terrible though. There were nurses doing rounds at every bedside to check on the patients. Anna zigzagged through the scattered rows of beds and didn’t see Kevin once. She sighed in defeat, wondering where he could be. Looking around, one last time, she was about to give up with something caught her eye. Doing a double take, Anna saw a small room in the back corner with the door open a crack. Quickly walking over, she saw windows surrounding the room. With her heart accelerating, Anna reached it, peering inside. There was a nurse by the bed tending to somebody, but she was standing in the way, covering their face. When the nurse turned around to leave, Anna quickly ducked behind a cart, waiting until the lady closed the door and disappeared from view. Doing a quick look around, she stood up and opened the door, slipping inside. She sure hoped that it was Kevin. If not, she would feel foolish. Closing the door behind her, Anna noticed IV’s in various places. She could hear the bleeping of a heart monitor, a buzzing of something else. Slowly walking up to the bed, she recognized the black hair and strong facial bone structure of the persons face before she got there, knowing that it was definitely Kevin. Anna wondered why he was in a small room by himself. She wondered if it was just because he was famous, or because the doctor had been right and Kevin was really bad off. Walking closer, Anna could see that he’d been changed into one of the cheesy paper hospital gowns. There was a thin blanket covering him, his arms on top of it laying at his sides. Anna looked down at him. He looked the same as he always had to her. He looked as if he were just sleeping, and he was. He was in a deep, comatose sleep. Anna reached out and took his hand in hers, rubbing it softly.

“Hi baby,” she said softly.

Anna wasn’t sure what else to say. She wasn’t even sure if he could hear her. She looked around, his heart monitor catching her eye. The signal looked to be weak, but it was there. That was good enough for her. As long as it at least stayed the same for the time being, getting stronger over time, she would be able to stay positive.

“I love you so much,” she spoke, “I don’t know why you had to try to do such a stupid thing.”

Anna’s voice trailed off. Actually seeing Kevin was helping her out a little. She could see though why he was in a room by himself. His condition, although it didn’t look it from appearance, was worse than the others. Besides, he was in a coma. The others were just recovering from surgery. They would wake up within a few hours and be taken to their very own hospital room. Nobody knew when Kevin would wake up. He would be staying right there for a very long time.

“Everybody misses you,” Anna said, speaking again, “We’re all worried sick. Please don’t die on us. You’ve gone through so much already. You haven’t made it this far for nothing.”

Anna sighed. She felt foolish. She felt as if she were talking to herself. Talking to thin air. She was surprised that she hadn’t been caught yet. She was, after all, going against hospital policy and breaking several rules.

“I had to sneak in here to see you,” Anna said with a small laugh, looking down and seeing Kevin completely unresponsive, “If that doesn’t tell ya how much I care, I don’t know what will. If I get caught and am banned from the hospital for this, you’ll know what happened if I don’t come back for a long while.”

Anna didn’t know what else to say to the man, so she just stood, holding his hand and looking at him. He looked so peaceful and beautiful to her. She hadn’t seen him look so relaxed as he did then ever. She hated that he looked that way for the first time to her under the circumstances. When he woke up though, she knew that she’d see him look just as relaxed. Anna was so into watching Kevin that she didn’t even hear the door opening behind her.

“What’s going on in here?” a voice asked sternly.

Anna whipped around. She was face to face with the nurse she’d encountered earlier before she’d found him.

“It…this is my boyfriend,” she explained.

Anna saw sympathy fill the young woman’s eyes. She knew that she was felt sorry for. It wasn’t every day that your boyfriend was in ICU for something like what Kevin was there for. “I know I shouldn’t be here,” Anna quickly stated, beginning to panic, “I had to see him though.”

“I understand,” the nurse replied kindly, “But I can’t let you stay. I could lose my job. You understand that, right?”

Anna nodded. She supposed that she could. She wouldn’t want the nice nurse to lose her job because of her.

“Can I at least say goodbye?” Anna asked.

“Yes, but make it quick.” The nurse said, “Within a few days, if Mr. Richardson is still doing okay, then you can visit him as much as you like…within reason, that is. That is, the visitor rules are ten minutes every hour during visiting hours, which are six in the morning until ten at night.”

Anna smiled tightly. That didn’t help her at the moment. She turned her head to look back at Kevin. She realized that she hadn’t let go of his hand the entire time. She squeezed it lightly.

“I have to go now,” she said, “I’ll be back by your side as soon as I can though. I promise. I love you, Kevin.” She looked back at the nurse, who was waiting patiently behind her to escort her out, “Bye baby.”

Anna bent down and lightly kissed Kevin’s forehead. Letting go of his hand, she looked down at him one last time before turning around and walking out of the room. The nurse followed closely behind her, closing the door tightly.

“I’m sorry that I had to do that,” she apologized, “If it were up to me, I would have let you stay. I have to follow Dr. Newton’s orders though.”

“Is that Kevin’s doctor?” she asked.

The nurse nodded, “I’m Angela, by the way,” she said.

“I’m Anna,” Anna told her, “From your point of
view, do you think that Kevin will make it?”

Angela sighed, biting her lip a little. Anna wasn’t sure if Angela didn’t want to give her bad news, or was thinking on how to answer.

“Technically, I’m not authorized to give out information based on patients. That’s the doctor’s call. But from what I see several times every day, in my opinion, if he weren’t going to make it, then he wouldn’t still be alive.”

Anna breathed a sigh of relief. Angela’s confidence meant the world to her. She looked over and saw the girl looking at her seriously. Anna had a question that she was dying to ask. It’d been on her mind constantly since Kevin had been stated to be in a coma.

“Kevin’s months of therapy,” she began, worry on her face, “Will he have to start all over again if and when he does wake up?”

Angela shook her head, “We’ll have a physical therapist coming in to work with him while he is here. In a coma or not, he’ll need it. Especially since he’s got two things going against him now. It will help to keep him from becoming stiff.”

Anna was glad that Kevin’s hard work wouldn’t be for nothing. He was still strong and built on the upper portion of his body. She knew though that without a little bit of something, his muscle would disappear. His life’s worth of hard work would be gone. Anna hoped that Kevin wasn’t asleep for long or else he would get to that point, and he’d become even more depressed.

“Don’t tell anybody that I told you what I did,” Angela said, “I’m not supposed to, but, I have a lot more contact with the patients than Newton does. I see what goes on. He, to be bluntly honest, doesn’t see the majority of the things that go on in here.”

“I promise that I wont,” Anna replied, knowing that she would have to keep it. There were six people who would want to know how Kevin was, but she would have to keep her mouth shut despite how anxious she would be to tell them what she knew.

“You also have to not tell anybody that you saw him,” the nurse added, “Everybody will get their chance sooner or later. It’s better not to get everyone worked up. Besides, if it leaks out and gets to Newton, which it will. Somebody will slip. Anyways, it could get all of you banned from the hospital.”

Anna nodded. It was one thing more added to the list of things that she’d have to keep from the other people that cared about Kevin. She knew she could do it though, as much as she thought that they deserved to know. She knew that he would be okay, or probably would be.

“Thank you,” Anna said to Angela when they’d reached the doors exiting ICU, “It meant a lot to me to see him.”

“Your welcome,” Angela replied with a warm smile, “I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot of each other in the next few weeks, or even months possibly. If you need anything, just let me know. I work second shift here, so you’ll know when to find me.”

Anna gave a small smile, thanking her again and leaving. She had a feeling that she’d just made a friend in the nurse. Her kind words stuck in Anna’s head as she walked back to the waiting room to rejoin everyone else. Now all she’d have to do was think of an excuse for her being absent for so long because she knew that somebody would ask
Chapter Seventeen by sweet18_2003
Chapter Seventeen

Stephanie groaned as the hot water from her shower pounded against her bare skin. It felt so good to her. Nick and her had gone to their home to freshen up real quick and get a little rest. Neither of them had wanted to go, but everybody was taking rounds leaving the hospital for an hour or two.

“Hey babe,” Nick called, peeking into the shower. Stephanie jumped, letting out a little squeal. Nick had startled her.

“Nick!” she cried out.

“You almost done in there?” he asked, “I still have to get in there too ya know.” He stuck out his lip in a pout.

“Almost,” she replied, rinsing the shampoo from her hair.

“If ya don’t hurry up, I’m going to have to join you,” he winked at her. Stephanie rolled her eyes. Did guys ever think about anything besides being with a naked chick? She highly doubted it.

“Go for it,” she replied without much interest.

Nick paused for a minute, going deep into thought. Stephanie wondered what was so hard about her question that he had to think.

“I will next time,” he finally replied, “It will just be too distracting right now, and we are in a hurry to get back.”

Stephanie nodded her head. She preferred finishing up alone anyway. She wasn’t in the mood to have Nick groping her at that particular time. She had other more important things on her mind. More serious things. She closed her eyes to wash the rest of the shampoo out of her hair to prevent getting any in them.

“Not even going to try to persuade me?” Nick asked.

Stephanie opened her eyes. Nick’s head was still peering at her on her side of the navy shower curtain. Fury was beginning to take over her body.

“Nick,” she almost yelled, and she saw him cower back, “Just let it go today, okay? We don’t have to shower together every single day. Now leave.”

Nick realized that he had taken things a bit too far. He withdrew from the curtain to wait in the bedroom. He felt a little bit bad for pushing Stephanie. A few minutes later, he heard the water shutting off. Another few minutes later, she walked into the bedroom with a towel wrapped around her. She begun digging through her drawers for something clean to put on. Nick watched her in amusement.

“It’s all yours,” she informed him without looking back, “I’m done.”

Nick stood up and started walking into the bathroom, but stopped and looked back. He knew that he should say something.

“I’m sorry,” he lamely called out.

“Just drop it, Nickolas,” Stephanie told him, her voice chilly.

Nick stared at her and slowly walked into the bathroom, closing the door behind him. His ego had been bruised by her putting him off. He knew that he deserved it though. He was being insensitive in trying to forget his own misery for a few short minutes. He realized that he was wrong.

When Stephanie was sure that Nick was really gone, she stood up from looking in her drawers, pulling out an old pair of jeans and a long sleeved shirt. She quickly pulled the jeans over her hips and slid the shirt on and running down the steps.

Going into the kitchen, Stephanie searched the cupboards for something quick to eat, but nothing appealed to her. She really wasn’t all that hungry anyways. Closing the cupboard door, she sighed, slumping against a wall. She hated the way that things were going lately. She’d never felt so much emotion as she was right then in a long while. She’d hoped that she wouldn’t have to again. Leave it to Kevin though. Truthfully, Kevin of all people, she had thought, would be the least likely to do anything. She knew that it had come as a shock to everybody though. Nobody had seen it coming. Her thoughts, as well as everyone else’s, had been repetitions thought the last day and a half. Seeing something out of the corner of her eye, Stephanie looked up. Nick was standing in front of her now.

“I’m done,” he announced.

“That’s nice,” Stephanie replied, pulling away from the counter not meeting Nick’s gaze.

“Are you ready to head back?” he asked her.

Stephanie just nodded, walking towards the door. Nick grabbed his keys off of the counter, oblivious to Stephanie’s coolness. Opening the door, Stephanie slipped out under his arm, walking towards the car, ahead of him. She wasn’t upset with him anymore though. She just wasn’t in the mood for un-intellectual conversation. She wasn’t in the mood to joke with him good-naturedly and give smart ass comebacks to his lack of common sense and ditziness. She just wanted to get back to the hospital and wait with everybody else.

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Anna sat reading a magazine she’d picked up in the gift shop downstairs. Everybody had disappeared off to somewhere. Nick and Stephanie were still at their place, she assumed. They’d probably taken advantage of their opportunity alone. She really didn’t want to know. Jaime and A.J. had gone off to lunch in the cafeteria. Howie and Brian were probably walking around somewhere. She was alone in the small waiting room. There had still been no word on Kevin. She assumed that his condition remained unchanged. She was just glad that she’d had a few minutes with him. She was thankful that Angela had been so nice to her and let her stay for a few extra minutes. Anna wished that he could hold her though. That wasn’t even close to being possible at the moment though.

Anna realized when she’d finished an article that she didn’t remember anything about it. She knew that she’d read it, but her thoughts were elsewhere causing her to not quite comprehend it. Sighing, she threw the magazine onto the table next to her. She was restless. Her attention span couldn’t concentrate on any one thing for more than five minutes. Anna closed her eyes deciding to try and get some sleep. It would help to pass time. She tried to close her mind up to any thoughts to help her fall asleep quicker but it wasn’t working. Anna heard a door open and close again. She decided to ignore it. It was probably somebody there for someone else. She felt the person getting closer and then sitting down right next to her. She wondered why the stranger had to pick the seat right next to her. The personal space invader didn’t say anything and she felt claustrophobic at how close they were

“Hey,” a voice drawled. She could hear a slight loneliness in the voice on top of sadness.

Anna opened he eyes, recognizing the voice. She looked to her side and saw Brian sitting there. She felt foolish for thinking that it was some sort of psycho stalker. She offered a weak smile.

“Hi,” she replied softly, “I thought that you were with Howie.”

Brian shrugged, “I was. He joined Aje and Jaime though. I wanted to get back up here. I guess that they all feel like them being up here won’t change things or make Kevin getting well happen any quicker.”

Anna somewhat agreed with his statement to a certain extent, but she wasn’t about to leave the waiting room unless it was on her way to see Kevin. She wanted to be as close as she could get to him at all times. She wasn’t about to leave.

“They are all worried too,” Anna replied, “Just because they’re not here at all times doesn’t mean anything.”

“I know,” Brian relied nonchalantly, “We all care so much about him and are afraid. I mean, we’ve been though practically everything together for the past ten years.”

Anna nodded. She could imagine that they had been. From what she’d read in articles and heard on TV in all the time that she’d been a fan before meeting them, she could tell that they were close. They were like brothers. One big non-blood related family who was always there for one another through the good and the bad. She admired them for it. They always seemed so caring and down to earth.

“I miss Kevin,” Anna said softly, somberly, out of nowhere.. She knew that if she had any tears left, she would be crying them at that moment, but she was dry. She couldn’t cry even if she tried. Her eyes stung and were bloodshot from all she’d done as it was.

“We all do,” Brian responded, reaching over to give her a hug. Anna willingly fell into his arms, putting her face in his shoulder. It felt so good to have a good friend holding her. She longed for it to be Kevin. What she didn’t know was that Brian needed the hug just as much as she had.

“I still can’t believe that we’re here because of this.” Brian said out loud, pulling gently away from the hug.

“Me neither,” Anna replied

She was wishing that she could tell him about her short encounter with Kevin. But she’d promised Angela that she wouldn’t. Guilt was gnawing at her for keeping the secret from Kevin’s cousin though. They sat in silence, looking around the drab room uncomfortably.

“Was Kevin really that depressed?” Brian asked, “You lived with him and were with him more than any of us for the past months. Was he really that bad off?”

Anna hesitated. She knew that Brian was looking for an answer that she couldn’t give him without lying about it. He deserved the truth.

“Yes,” she finally replied, “I saw him smile a total of three times since the car accident. It was getting better, sort of, but then the thing with me and the pool happened, and he went down hill from there again.”

Brian looked confused for a moment, but then a look of remembrance came over his face. After all, how could anybody forget that Nick, of all people, had done something intelligent?

“I guess I should have known without asking that he was,” Brian sighed, “I wish that all of this was a mix up, but I know that it’s not.”

“He’ll be okay though,” Anna said with confidence. She figured that as long as she didn’t tell him her source of information, she would be okay.

“What makes you think that?” Brian asked.

Anna looked over at him and noticed for the first time that he too had been crying earlier. She assumed that everyone probably had been.

“I just have a feeling,” she informed him, “Kev has so much going for him. Why else would his life have been spared twice now?”

Brian shrugged, seeing her point. It still didn’t help his mood any, and he could see cloudiness in her eyes and worry written on her face despite her confident act. Everybody knew that there was a possibility that Kevin’s condition would start to decline. He found it positive that his cousin had lived past the doctor’s life expectancy for him. To him though, that still didn’t mean anything. A lot could still happen. It had, after all, only been three days. Those three days had seemed like endless weeks.

“I hope you’re right,” Brian frowned, then turned to her, looking her straight in the eye, “You know, Kevin always talked about you.”

Anna drew back. She was taken by surprise that Kevin talked about her to his friends and band mates. Usually, guys had to keep their reputation up by acting like they didn’t really care about their girlfriend.

“Don’t look shocked,” Brian chuckled lightly, “Before you decided it was a good time to date, he went on and on about how great you were. When you told him that you would be his girlfriend, he bragged about you all the time and said that he didn’t deserve you. He thinks that you’re pretty special. Honestly, you’re the only thing that made him happy. If you weren’t in his life, I am pretty sure that he would have tried this much sooner.”

Anna listened to Brian intently. She wasn’t sure how to respond. She had no idea that Kevin had felt that way. He’d mostly been depressed around her. He was sweet, sure, but he was always down.

“So he was happy around you guys?” she questioned.

Brian shook his head sadly, “No. He was depressing. But when he talked about you, there was a little light in his eyes. He wasn’t really happy until we started recording up until we finished.”

“Kevin is a really important part of my life,” Anna brought up, “I wish that we’d started dating sooner.”

“You did the right thing though,” Brian cut her off.

Anna smiled in appriciation. Even though everybody had been on her side when Kevin had told her to stay out of his life, Brian’s words still made her feel good and not regret her decision.

“Honestly,” Anna continued, “If Kev never walked again, it wouldn’t make me love him any more or less. He’s a great person. I can’t wait to meet the real him. I hope his true self finds its way back.”

“Yeah,” Brian said, his voice trailed off a little, “You really haven’t met the real Kevin. He’s even greater than the side you’ve seen of him. When you do, you’ll be amazed. He will walk again though. He’s just having a tough time recovering. This set back wont help much. He will though. I’m sure of that.”

Anna breathed deep. She just then noticed that none of the others had returned yet. She was still alone in the room with Brian. It was really the first time she’d ever said more than two words to him him. He was a really nice person. She had a feeling that them talking was helping each other a lot.

“I’m just so hurt that he would do something like this,” Brian said, frustrated, “He knew that he had so many close friends behind him that were there for him, and he still did it. We’re all hurt.”

Anna knew how he felt. She, too, was hurt. She’d thought that their relationship was strong enough for him to make it. She’d thought that everything was okay. The whole ordeal confused her.

“I know I am,” she admitted, “When Kevin wakes up, I hope that I don’t suddenly become angry and yell. That won’t exactly make things better. Right now, I am scared still. I’m upset. But when I am face to face with him, only because I love,” Anna suddenly stopped at the word “love” She did love Kevin, but it was the first time she’d openly admitted it, “Only because I love him and care that I’ll yell because I’ll just be so relieved that he’s alive, but enraged that he almost wasn’t. Does that make sense at all, or am I rambling on and on?”

“Perfectly,” Brian said, understanding exactly what she had meant, “I know how you feel. I think that we’ll all be yelling at him.”

The two sat in silence for a few minutes. Anna was out of things to say.

“Well, I’m going to go walk around some more,” Brian stated, standing up, “Thanks for the talk. I needed it. I mean, the guys and I have been talking, but for some reason, speaking with you was different.”

Anna stood up too, “Yeah, it was helpful. I feel like a big weight has been lifted off of me.”

Brian wrapped his arms around Anna in another hug. When he pulled back, his eyes caught hers. Hypnotized by them, Brian leaned down and kissed Anna right on the lips. Anna struggled to pull away, feeling violated, but he kept his lips firmly against hers. Helpless, Anna jerked away hard, a look of hurt in her eyes. Brian stood, looking stunned for a moment, not realizing what he’d just done. Anna continued to look at him with betrail in her eyes. It took Brian a moment to realize what had happened.

“Oh god,” he cried, running a hand through his short brown hair, “I’m so sorry Anna.” He stumbled over his words, “God, I’m sorry.”

“You know I’m with Kevin,” she answered shrilly, “We were just talking about our relationship.”

“I know,” Brian said, “I…we…our” he stuttered, not knowing how to explain, “Our talk. I was just caught up in the moment of my grief. I wasn’t thinking clearly. I swear to you.”

Anna cringed. Her boyfriend was in a coma and his cousin had just kissed her. She knew that it meant nothing and that what he said was completely true. His grief had caused his actions. He hadn’t realized what he was doing until after it was too late. But still, she felt dirty, even though she couldn’t control what he did.

“If Kevin ever finds out…” Brian s voice broke off, “Wow. Kevin can’t ever find out. He won’t.”

Anna nodded. Brian truly looked frightened by what he’d just done. She knew that Kevin wouldn’t find out from her once he was awake. Not only would it cause problems between him and his cousin, but it would also cause issues on trust between him and her. Especially since he’d been the next step past unconscious when it had happened. No, Kevin definitely couldn’t find out. After all, she hadn’t wanted it to happen. Anna tried not to wretch. She found Brian to be very attractive, but seeing him in any other way besides a friend scared her. Besides, if her and Kevin ever got married, he would be related to her in some way.

“I…I have to go,” Brian said, backing up into the door. His eyes were still wide with shock. He spun around and pulled the door open, darting out of it. He quickly disappeared around a corner as the door shut slowly behind him.

Anna stood still, stunned. She couldn’t believe what had just taken place in the past two minutes. Near tears, because she felt like she’d just cheated on Kevin, Anna ran from the room towards the bathroom to wash away the feeling of Brian’s lips against hers. She hoped that it worked, but didn’t know if it really would or not.

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“Anna,” Jaime asked, staring at her friend with
interest, “Are you okay?”

Anna had been staring off into space ever since she’d arrived back at the waiting room. When her and A.J. had returned, everybody but Brian was there. She’d left Anna lone for a while, but now she was really beginning to worry her. Stephanie came and walked over, sitting on the opposite side of Anna.

“Hey,” she said, shaking her friend lightly.

Anna slowly looked over. Her face was pale, looking as if she’d just seen a ghost. Her friends looked at each other, wondering what had happened to her.

“Now that we got your attention,” Stephanie stated, “What’s up with you today? We come back and, well, you look like crap.”

Anna stared at her friend blankly, ignoring her bluntness. She didn’t know what to tell them. Just a couple of hours before, she’d been in the middle of something she shouldn’t have. She wanted to tell them, because they were her best friends, but the more people who knew, the worse of her and Brian would both be. She didn’t want to cause problems among him and the guys.

“Something’s on your mind,” Jaime stated, “Spill.”

Anna looked around. Nobody was talking really. She didn’t want the others to overhear what she was saying. With a sigh, she stood up.

“If you want to know, come out into the hall,” she said

Jaime and Stephanie looked at one another before getting up and scurrying out the door after her out into the hall. Anna walked down the narrow hall a little ways, her friends at her heels. When she finally stopped, Jaime was the first to speak.

“Ok, now what is wrong?” she asked.

Anna closed her eyes and took a deep breath. The image re-entered her brain though, and her eyes flew open. She hoped that she didn’t have that picture in her head every time she shut them.

“Me and Brian talked,” Anna began, “We just talked about our feelings about Kevin being here.”

“So?” Stephanie asked, “What’s the big deal about that?”

Anna saw Jaime elbow Stephanie. She assumed that it was for her being a smart ass again.

“When he was about to leave again…he…he did something bad,” Anna said, her breathing becoming shaky. “Anna,” Stephanie said, shaking her head, “Even Brian cusses sometimes,” she joked, having no idea what had really gone on.

“Would you fucking listen and let me finish?” Anna asked incredulously, her voice full of annoyance for her friends not listening, “Brian kissed me. He…he…it wasn’t supposed to happen, but he wasn’t thinking and next thing I know, he’s in my face.”

Jaime stepped back in shock as Stephanie’s eyes widened in disbelief. She wondered if her friends would even believe her. After all, everybody thought that Brian never did wrong. Kissing his own cousins girlfriend while he wasn’t even close to being conscious was definitely wrong.

“Are…are you sure that you weren’t dreaming?” Stephanie asked, “I mean, you could have been dreaming and then woke up and he was in the room with you.”

Anna shook her head, her curls bouncing. She wished that was it, but she could still feel the aftertaste of his mouth against hers. Again, she tried not to gag. She tried not to cry. She loved Brian as a friend. But again, the fact that she was involved in a relationship made things worse. Maybe if she weren’t, she would have enjoyed the kiss. After all, Brian and Howie were both still single.

“Brian took off after it happened. He totally freaked out,” Anna informed them, “As I said, I don’t think he even realized what he’d done until after it was way past too late to stop himself.”

Her friends still looked at her like they thought she were crazy. She knew that she wasn’t though. She wished that she’d had it on tape to prove to them that it really had happened. Anna wondered if by some small chance, there was a hidden camera in the waiting room.

Just then, Brian walked around the corner. Three pairs of eyes turned to look at him as he stopped short, his mind going blank at the sight of Anna. He couldn’t face her after what he’d done.

“Oops,” he said, “I, um, I forgot something in the cafeteria, I think. I, um, I am going to go check,” he stammered

Brian turned back around and walked quickly away, disappearing again from view. Anna looked at her friends.

“Now do you believe me?” she asked, “He was the only one not in the waiting room with us and when he saw me, he spooked.”

Stephanie looked thoughtful for a moment. The point Anna proved was a valid one. Maybe something really had happened. She was obviously shaken up over it. Suddenly, she doubted that it was just a dream.

“I can’t understand why Brian would do that,” Jaime said, “Talk about betraying Kevin.”

Anna rubbed her eyes. Suddenly, she was extremely tired and longed to just go to sleep.

“You should go home and rest,” Jaime said, looking her friend up and down, “The rest of us will be here in case that doctor comes out.”

“No,” Anna argued, “I need to stay here, for Kevin. I can’t just leave. Especially not so soon.”

“Anna, you’ll feel better,” Stephanie said, “You need to go home for a few hours. It will help you to relax.”

Anna knew that her friend was right. She was stressed lately with Kevin being there and Brian’s kiss. She wondered if maybe she went home for a few hours if it would help to release some tension.

“Just for a little while,” Jaime said, giving Anna a small, light push towards the elevator that was across the hall.

“No,” Anna said hesitantly, wanting to leave, yet not wanting to, “I can’t”

Stephanie pushed the down arrow on the elevator. “Just for a few hours,” she stated

The doors opened. Jaime and Stephanie both gave Anna a light shove inside. She stumbled, catching her balance. She looked at her friends, trying to get out, but they wouldn’t budge from their spot right on the other side.

“I don’t want to...”

“Just for an hour, at least,” Jaime yelled as the doors shut.

Anna sighed, watching her friends slowly disappear from her view. She figured that they were just doing what they thought was in her best interest. She felt guilty for leaving Kevin, but maybe it would restore her rational thinking and clear her mind a bit. Maybe it would get her mind off of what had happened between her and Brian. She was going to return though very shortly. Anna told herself that she was just going to go home for long enough to sleep for a couple of hours. That was all she really needed. The doors opened and Anna whipped out her cell phone to call a cab to pick her up. Dialing the number that was easy to remember, she ordered a taxi and hung up. In less than twenty minutes, they would be there to take her away from the building that held nothing but bad memories for her for a little while.

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The six members of Bluewave rushed into the waiting room, breathless. Looking around, they all spotted the members of Backstreet Boys along with Jaime and Stephanie against the far wall.

“What happened?” Michael asked, running over to them, the others following. They all took seats.

Everyone looked up, realizing who the six men were. Looks of question and curiosity came over their faces.

“What are you doing here?” A.J. asked, “Dude, how do…how did?” he stuttered, wondering how they even knew what had happened.

“We got a phone call from Kev,” Ryan answered, “Nobody picked up, but he left a message saying that he would be leaving and that you guys would take care of us once the tour started back up.”

“We found it to be strange,” Cody remarked, “So Bryan called your management to see what happened. It was hell convincing them of who we were, but we finally got it through to them, so they told us where to find you. They wouldn’t tell us what happened though. We came as soon as we could.”

“We’ve been here for about three days now,” Brian said with a sigh.

He found it nice how the band had come to see how things were. He realized that they hadn’t done the best job on keeping up with No Authority’s member. He knew that Howie and Danny talked occasionally, but other than that, nobody was really made a point to see how Tommy was doing. Brian knew though that they would have if it weren’t for Kevin’s few landings in the hospital himself.

“So what happened?” Erik asked, “I mean, we know about Kevin’s car accident. Is it complications due to that?”

Howie shook his head. He wished that was all that it was. If complications were all that Kevin was facing, then he would be set at the moment.

“He was really depressed about not being able to walk and feeling helpless,” he replied, “So he shot himself.”

Bluewave drew back in astonishment. Howie knew that they didn’t want to believe a word of it by the looks on their faces. Ryan, Michael and Cody had paled by a few shades, the others were just speechless.

“Wow,” Erik replied, finally managing to get words out, “When we got the message, we figured that he just dropped out of the group and you guys were continuing without him.”

The other five guys nodded in agreement. Their prediction hadn’t been nearly as bad as what had really happened.

“Is…what…how,” Bryan stuttered, trying to get a question out, but not knowing what to ask.

“He’s in a coma,” Nick replied, knowing what Bryan was trying to ask. He sighed, “He’s been in one for three days and hasn’t woken up once.”

A.J. looked at Nick as if he’d just said the dumbest thing in the world. Nick looked back at him with innocence.

“Nah, Nick. You think? I mean, who knew that people in comas didn’t wake up and then fall back into them several times a day.” he retorted

Nick looked at A.J. confused, then blushed a little as he realized what he had said. Everybody in the room continued to stare at Nick as if he were an interesting species of something other than human.

“Anyways,” Michael said, deciding to get the attention off of the humiliated blonde boy, “Where is Anna? She’s the only one out of all of you that isn’t here. Does she know yet?”

“Yeah, where is Anna?” Howie asked, “I haven’t seen her in a few hours now. In fact, it’s been quite a while.”

Jaime and Stephanie looked to one another. They were obviously the only ones who knew where she was.

“I thought that you told them,” Jaime muttered to Stephanie.

“I thought you did,” she evenly replied

The two continued to argue a little about who told who where Anna had gone and the small mix-up.

“Would somebody please tell us,” A.J. asked, irritably, “I mean, obviously the two ladies know. Would you mind sharing?.

“Oh, yeah,” Jaime replied, snapping out of the argument, “Steph and I had her go to her house for a while to rest. She was stressing and completely worn, and was the only one of us who hadn’t left. We told her to just go and sleep for a few hours and then come back.”

Brian blushed slightly, knowing that he was partly the reason why Anna was tense and stressed. He wondered if anybody knew yet. If they did, he was sure that somebody would have confronted him about it.

“Poor thing,” A.J. muttered, “I mean, sure, us guys have been around Kevin for over a decade now. But to have your boyfriend…damn. It’s affecting all of us.”

“Her and Kevin were dating?” Cody asked, obviously surprised by the news, “Last I knew, she wouldn’t go out with him.”

“They have been for a little while. Not too long though,” Howie informed him, “Maybe three or four months, I’m thinking.” He shrugged, “Honestly, I haven’t been keeping track.”

“We could tell that Kevin liked her,” Cody stated, “I’m glad that the finally got together and I’m even more glad that he lived though everything.”

Nobody said anything for a long while. There was really only so much you could say when somebody that you were close to was hospitalized for something serious. Bluewave felt like them being their and showing their support and that they cared was enough, even if they didn’t talk. None of them wanted to say the wrong thing and make the people who were really close to Kevin feel worse yet.

“Thanks for coming,” Brian stated softly, “We all really appreciate it. I mean, gosh, we only toured together for a few days. It means a lot.” “No problem,” Alex shrugged, “We all wanted to come. Ya’ll were great towards us while we were touring with you. Kevin is a great guy. We’re behind him one hundred percent of the way praying he recover quickly.”

Brian smiled, the others thanking Bluewave with their eyes. The kind members of the new group would never fully know just how thankful they really were for them being there. The only thing that could actually brighten the day would for Kevin to wake up and the whole nightmare be put behind them.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Anna sighed as she unlocked the door to her house and stepped inside. She looked around feeling emptiness as she closed the door behind her. It felt so odd being there without Kevin in the other room. It wasn’t the same. This was the first time she’d been home since what had happened three days ago. She would still be at the hospital if she hadn’t been forced to leave.

“Home sweet home,” she muttered bitterly.

Anna felt as if she were intruding even though she lived there. It had been Kevin’s mansion long before she’d moved in.

Walking into the living room, she fell back onto the leather couch, turning on the television. Flipping though the channels, nothing interested her. Finally, she threw the remote down, deciding to just watch some HBO movie that was about half-way though, muting the TV. It wasn’t like she was going to pay any attention anyways. She knew that she should probably try to get some sleep, but didn’t want to for fear that she’d sleep for longer than she wanted to. She only planned on being gone for an hour tops.

Anna jumped when she heard the phone ring, the sudden loud noise startling her. Slowly getting up, she grabbed the phone off of the table next to her, cautiously turning it on and slowly bringing it to her ear. She felt as if she were answering a complete strangers phone.

“Hello?” she asked

“Hello, is Kevin in please?” a male voice answered immediately without any hesitation.

Anna winced. Whoever it was sounded like he was extremely irritated with Kevin for some reason.

“No, he isn’t,” Anna replied, trying to be as polite as she could, “May I take a message?”

“Yes,” the man demanded, “Tell him that Jake called. Kevin has missed his last four therapy sessions. There has been no answer at the door or the house.”

Anna cringed. She’d forgotten to cancel Kevin’s therapy for the time being. Now she was being forced to speak to the very irate man on the other end of the phone. She wondered what she was going to tell him. She opened her mouth to blurt out some random excuse, but everything that she came up with sounded lame.

“I’m sorry about that,” she finally spoke up, “He hasn’t been around to make the sessions.”

Jake grunted in disgust and Anna knew that her reply hadn’t been what he was looking for. She didn’t care though. She was tired, in a bad mood, and her boyfriend was a comatose paraplegic.

“Tell him that if he is going to give up now, that he is not what I thought he was. If he is going to hide, that he is weak.”

Fire built up in Anna at Jake’s words. She couldn’t believe that he had the nerve to say something like that. Without thinking, Anna screamed at him, telling him everything, informing him of why Kevin wasn’t able to make his sessions.

“You have some nerve,” she yelled, “First of all, Kevin is too good for a big headed therapist like you. Secondly, he shot himself because he was so down on himself. He couldn’t make your little appointments for the past few days because he is in the hospital, in a coma.”

Anna was breathing heavily by the time that she was through with yelling at the man. He said nothing, and Anna wondered if he had hung up or even heard what she’d said. After her breathing returned to normal, she then realized exactly what she had done. She’d told Jake everything. The Boys didn’t want anybody outside of their circle of friends to know and she’d gone and slipped up. She hoped that Jake could be trusted with the information.

“Wow,” he finally replied, his tone of disbelief. It was kinder now, “I...I’m sorry. I had no idea.”

“You’re right.” Anna replied, “You really didn’t. You’d better not tell anybody. If I hear any mention of Kevin’s breakdown on the news, I will know exactly who to track down and I have connections who can do so much worse to you than I could…and they would too. Nobody betrays our friends.”

“Of course,” Jake replied, his voice shaking slightly from the angry girls threat, “ It’s between you and me. Um, just give me a call when he is awake and ready for therapy again.”

“I’ll do that,” Anna told him.

She crossed her fingers. If Kevin didn’t ask specifically for Jake, then she would take it upon herself to find him somebody better for him. Her Kevin deserved the best. He didn’t deserve to have a guy who jumped to conclusions and thought that Kevin was a quitter. Sure, he’d become frustrated and sunk into a low state of mind, but if it weren’t for his mental illness over the past few months, he would never give up and quit therapy. She knew that for a fact.

“Well, give everybody my best wishes,” Jake said.

“Okay,” Anna replied, “Bye.”

“Bye.”

Anna hung up the phone quickly before Jake could say anything more to her. It was the first time she’d actually ever spoken to the man and she had a severe disliking towards his attitude.

Suddenly, Anna was extremely tired. Her eyes burned and her eyelids kept drooping. She knew that she had to sleep. Her internal clock, she figured, would awaken her in a couple of hours at the most. Getting up from the couch, she slowly trudged up the stairs. She stopped when she saw Kevin’s wheelchair sitting in the middle of the floor. A few tears fell from her face as she quickly walked past it and into their bedroom.

Pulling the bedspread down, Anna crawled beneath the covers and closed her eyes. She was in a deep sleep before she even had time to think of anything else.
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Jaime tapped her foot nervously on the floor as A.J. checked her in for her doctors’ appointment. He walked quietly over to her and took one of her hands in his. He noticed her nervous habit and laughed.

“Would you cut it out?” he asked, “Everything is going to be fine.”

“But you haven’t been to an appointment with me in so long,” Jaime mentioned, and A.J. winced, “It just feels kind of weird since I’ve gone through most of these alone.”

A.J. looked wounded by her comment. He wondered if Jaime even wanted him there with her. He wanted to be though, because it was his baby too and he wanted to be there for both it and it’s mother. He wanted to try to make up for the months that he’d been a foolish idiot.

“Do you want me to go back with the others?” he asked, his lip sticking out in a little pout, “I mean, if you do, I can leave now.” The couple had been lucky enough to get an appointment with one day’s notice. After Anna had left for home, A.J. had called Jaime’s doctor to schedule her seventh month check up. She was a good two or three weeks late, but he figured now was better than never. Besides, she was getting extremely close to the due date and it was especially important that they take extra precautions. Since they were already in the hospital for Kevin, A.J. figured that he could take his girlfriend to another wing of the hospital to be checked out. With much persuasion and bribery, A.J. finally got Jaime an appointment for the next day. The next day had rolled around and there they were.

“No,” Jaime cried out, “You’d so better not leave me again Alexander James. I need you here.”

A.J. laughed softly and Jaime glared at him wondering what he found to be so funny. She didn’t see anything humorous with the thought of him leaving her again.

“I was joking,” he told her, “I want to be here. Besides, I promised you four days ago that I wouldn’t ever leave you again. I meant that.”

Jaime’s hard features melted as she leaned forward to kiss A.J lightly on the lips. He had to be the sweetest guy she knew. Sure, he had his flaws, but when he was having his good days, she couldn’t ask for anybody better.

“Jaime,” a nurse called out.

Jaime and A.J. both stood up and walked towards the nurse. She smiled at the almost new parents, leading them into one of the offices.

“Dr. Parker will be with you shortly,” the nurse informed them.

Jaime began to snicker a little, trying to wipe
the smile off of her face. A.J. looked at her funny.

“What,” he asked.

“Just remembering the woman with the dry personality,” she responded.

A.J. laughed a little too at the remembrance of the woman who had been less than friendly. But soon his good mood died, and Jaime’s did as well seconds later as they sat solemnly looking at one another.

“Wow,” A.J. finally said, “This is the first time I have actually laughed since Kevin’s been here. I feel guilty because he’s almost as bad off as they come and it only happened for days ago. Here I am laughing.”

A.J. wished more than anything that Kevin would wake up. He wanted to apologize for how cold and rude he’d been to the man in his last months awake. He hadn’t been friendly towards the older man in a good eight months. He hoped that Kevin would forgive him. Kevin doing what he’d done made A.J. realize that their fight had been petty. All it had done was bruise his own pride. Their friendship had lasted for a really long time and when he’d almost lost that friend, it had really made him think about how stupid he was being. A.J knew that he wasn’t mad at Kevin any longer. He was mad at himself for being such a horrible friend. Kevin shooting himself had made him open his eyes and change his way of thinking for the better.

“I know how you feel,” Jaime replied after a long minute, interrupting A.J’s thoughts, “I feel guilty laughing too.” She sighed, “I wonder if Anna’s come back yet.”

A.J. shrugged just as Dr. Parker walked into the room.

“Sorry I’m late,” he called, “I had a delivery to do that I was called in to late last night.”

He paused as he shut the door, staring at A.J as if noticing him sitting in the room for the first time.

“I see that the father decided to come along this time,” he said.

His voice was full of smiles and A.J. wondered if the man ever was unhappy. He also wondered how much Alyssa told him about her and A.J’s time apart. “He came to his senses,” Jaime said, telling A.J. that she’d clued the doctor in on the whole thing.

“I told you that he would,” Dr. Parker replied, “If you’ll come with me now, we’ll do an ultrasound to see how things are going.”

Jaime grinned at A.J. as she hopped off of the examining table and followed the doctor out of the room. A.J. got out of his chair, following them. He pulled Jaime slightly back to walk with him.

“Why would you tell him about our short falling out?” he asked, his voice a little bit harsh.

“What else am I supposed to say when he walks in, asks where the father is, and then I start to bawl?”

“You’re pregnant. It’s normal,” A.J. retorted, “Now he most likely thinks that I’m some sort of creep.”

“Just drop it, A.J,” Jaime warned.

“This isn’t over yet,” A.J. told her firmly, “Dr. Parker isn’t a psychologist. It isn’t his business where I was or what was going on.”

They were just entering the room where Jaime would have her ultrasound. Alyssa lay down on the table without being told to do so. She knew the procedure well at this point. She’d been doing it for eight months now. The doctor did his business as A.J. took Jaime’s hand in his, watching the screen in awe as the faint image of their baby showed up.

“Is…is that…” A.J. asked, speechless. The last time he’d seen the screen, the child on it had been so tiny and couldn’t even be recognized as human really.

Jaime nodded, leaning up herself to get a glimpse of the screen. The baby had grown so much in the past couple of months.

“I can’t believe we created something so beautiful,” A.J. gasped.

His words melted Jaime’s heart. She couldn’t believe so either. His words shocked her because she never pictured him being the sentimental type. He really had matured a lot in their time apart.

“Would you like to know the sex?” Dr. Parker asked.

Jaime and A.J. looked to one another, talking it over quietly. It was tempting to want to know, but they were only one month away.

“We want to be surprised next month,” Jaime answered

Dr. Parker nodded in approval, “Well, the baby looks healthy. Everything is going good. The next time I see you will be in the delivery room.”

Dr. Parker left the room. A.J. smiled at Jaime and she could read the excitement in his eyes. He picked her up and spun her around the room. Jaime squealed a little.

“Are you ready?” he asked her, setting her down and staring deeply into her eyes.

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” she replied, then bit her lip nervously, “You?” she asked him.

“Of course I am,” A.J. answered with pride and confidence.

His answer couldn’t have made Jaime happier because she believed that he was being truthful. In a little over a month, she would be a mother. Her and A.J. still had a lot of preparing to do, but she knew that it would get done on time. In a little over a month, her and A.J. would both be starting a brand new chapter in their lives and she couldn’t wait for it to really begin.

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Anna squinted as she opened her eyes. Sun poured into the room, blinding her for a split second. Groggily, she sat up and looked at the clock, staring at it in confusing, wondering if the electricity had gone out some time during her slumber.

“I only slept for half an hour?” she said aloud.

It felt like she’d slept for longer than that. She actually felt extremely well rested and wasn’t the least bit exhausted any longer. Anna wondered how a short half hour could affect her for the better in so little time.

Crawling out of bed, Anna walked over to the dresser, combing her hair a little. She had kept her promise to her friends by going home for an hour. Now it was time she went back to the hospital to wait to wait for word on Kevin. Jaime and Stephanie couldn’t be mad at her for coming back.

Sprinting down the stairs, she grabbed her cell phone, off of the counter, making a run for the door, calling for a cab on her way out. She stopped though when she looked down at her phone and saw the date. November 5th? That couldn’t be right. If it was, then it meant that she’d slept for exactly three days. Running to the TV, Anna turned it on to CNN to check the date that was always posted at the bottom of the screen. It too said November 5th. Anna quickly turned off the TV. What if Kevin had woken up in the days that she’d been away? What if he’d died suddenly? Panic overcame her as she dialed the number to have a cab sent to her. She told them it was an emergency and twelve minutes later, a cab was in the driveway. She paid the driver and he sped off in the direction of the hospital.

When the driver pulled up to the front entrance, Anna jumped out before the vehicle was completely stopped and fled to the elevator, pressing the up button.

“I can’t believe I did this,” she muttered to herself as she stepped into the elevator. When the doors opened again on her floor, she pushed past people who were in front of her, running to the waiting room just on time to see that Dr. Newton was there and hear what he was saying.

“Kevin, surprisingly, is doing rather well for his condition,” he said, “I don’t see why you all wouldn’t be able to pay him a quick visit.”

“I can see Kevin?” Anna asked, stepping into the room.

“Anna,” Jaime said in surprise, standing up and walking over, giving her friend a big hug, “Where the hell have you been?”

“I’ve been sleeping this whole time,” Anna replied as she hugged the entire group of people. When she was finished, she turned to Dr. Newton, “I can see Kevin now?” she asked.

Dr. Newton nodded and Anna smiled.

“Each of you can go in for five minutes.”

“Do you mind if I go first?” A.J. asked Anna, “I mean, I know you’re his girlfriend, but there is something I need to say to him, even if he is asleep.”

“Sure,” Anna told him, “Go ahead.”

“Follow me,” Dr. Newton said, and A.J. got up and followed the doctor into the ICU and to the small room that Kevin was in, “Five minutes,” he said, and stepped outside, waiting for A.J.

A.J. slowly walked over to Kevin’s bed. Had it really only been six days since they’d finished recording and he’d been there? A.J. felt like it had been months. To him, Kevin looked completely normal. It was hard to believe that nobody knew when the thirty-three year old would wake up.

“Hey there, big brother,” A.J. said softly, finding his voice, “It’s me, A.J. I’m sure your just thrilled to have me here.”

A.J. looked around the room. It was such a boring color and there was nothing there besides IV’s, machinery and the bed that Kevin was lying in.

“Look,” A.J. said, deciding to get to the point, “I am really sorry for how I’ve treated you. I’m just sorry that it took this for me to forgive you. I want ya to know that you’re like a brother and father to me, so please, wake up. Please don’t leave us without you because I need you. We all do.”

A.J. noticed that he’d begun to cry. He was happy that he finally got to see Kevin though. To be honest, he had begun to wonder if Kevin was even there. Seeing him was proof that he was.

“Time is up,” Dr. Newton said, and A.J. looked behind him seeing the doctor was now in the room.

“Do you not have anything better to do with your time?” A.J. said quietly, figuring that the answer was ‘no’ since he had time to watch all of them for five minutes while they visited their good friend, then turned back to Kevin, “I’ll see you soon.”

A.J. turned around and followed Dr. Newton out of the ICU and back to the waiting room. He sat down, relieved that he’d gotten off of his chest what had been bugging him the whole time. Once Kevin woke up, he would go into more depth with him exactly how sorry he was.

“Who’s next?” Dr. Newton asked.

The large group looked at one another. Nobody wanted to jump at the opportunity and look selfish.

“Anna, how about you go?” Brian asked, not looking at her

“Yeah, Anna.” Stephanie said, “You go next.”

Anna shrugged, as everyone else said that she should be the next to see Kevin. She stood up and followed the doctor, taking the same route as he’d just gone on with A.J. The doctor led her to Kevin’s room and she followed as if she had no idea where she was going.

“Five minutes,” he told her.

Anna rolled her eyes as she stepped into the room with her boyfriend again. She scurried over to his bed, wanting to make the most of the short time she would have with him.

“Hi honey,” she said, taking his hand in hers. The feel of his skin against hers made her feel more relaxed, “I’m back. I told you that I would be.”

She looked up at Kevin’s heart monitor. It was the same as it had been the last time. Weak, but there.

“Please wake up soon. I’m so lonely without you. I just want you back. I miss you, even if you were always sad. You were doing so great with everything. You have so much more to get back to. You have…”

Anna was cut off by the sudden shrill scream of a machine. Whipping her head in every direction, Anna noticed out of the corner of her eye that it was his heart monitor. It had gone completely flat line.

Anna backed away, grasping her throat because she couldn’t barley breath, her breaths coming out in short chokes. She tried to scream for help, but no sound would come out of her mouth. Dr. Newton ran into the room with nurses behind him carrying what Anna recognized as crash carts. Tears welled up in her eyes and she began to shake uncontrollably, panic overcoming her, as they plugged them in and thrust electricity through Kevin’s body to try and get his heart pumping again. She saw his body jolt violently with every time they pumped a new charge through him, yelling medical terms. After three tries, Anna saw that his heart monitor showed a weak signal as the nurses stood, watching him for a moment. Kevin’s new-found heartbeat stayed steady for a few minutes. He had been revived.

“That was a close call,” Dr. Newton said, “I want all of you,” he added, pointing at the nurses, “To keep a close eye on this man for the next forty eight hours. We’ll need you close by in case this happens again.”

The nurses nodded, and left, knowing that they had other patients to take care of and tend to.

“You’ll need to leave now,” he told Anna, his voice kind and full of sympathy towards her, “Until we know for sure that he’ll be okay permanently, he wont be able to have visitors again.”

Anna nodded, trying to calm herself down. Her breathing was still somewhat ragged, tears were still falling from her eyes. It had been a close call. She’d almost lost Kevin and what scared her was that the doctor thought that it could happen again and if it did, they might not be able to bring him back next time.
Chapter EIghteen by sweet18_2003
Chapter Eighteen

“Where do you want me to put this, babe?” A.J. asked, holding up a little yellow stuffed bear.

Jaime looked at it, wondering where it would look best. She scrunched her nose up in concentration.

“I guess you should put it in the crib for now,” she finally told him

She made a mental note to move it before the baby arrived home. She didn’t want to take any chances on it suffocating with the stuffed animal in the crib with it.

A.J. walked over to the crib and gently placed the bear inside at the foot of it. He smiled at Jaime, taking a look around the room. It wasn’t nearly done yet, but they were making progress. They’d decided on the color yellow as the theme since they didn’t know the sex of the baby yet and that color was neutral.

It was a little over a month later. A month since what had happened with Kevin. A.J. remembered that day very vividly. He remembered Anna rushing back into the waiting room in hysterics, collapsing into a chair. Seconds later, Dr. Newton came in behind her. He’d explained everything that had happened. Everybody started sobbing, he thought he might have even gone into a mild shock. He had, after all, seen Kevin less than ten minutes before it had happened. When Dr. Newton had informed them that Kevin had been revived though, that’s when all of the tension in the room had been released, for the most part. The same thought had been in the back of everybody’s mind though and could be read on each of their faces. Would it happen again?

A.J. closed his eyes, taking in a deep breath to calm himself down. Every time he thought about it, he got worked up, which he knew wasn’t healthy. He was trying not to think a bout it, but it was hard not to. Instead, he tried to think about his baby, which was due in just three weeks.

“Are you okay?” Jaime asked him, touching his arm lightly.

A.J. jumped a little and looked over at his girlfriend and saw concern written on her face. His troubled thoughts must have shown though. A.J. scolded himself for worrying Jaime. Worrying was the last thing that she needed to be doing so late into her pregnancy. He knew that it could cause complications or problems. It wouldn’t be healthy for their baby.

“Yeah,” A.J. replied, smiling brightly at her, “I’m fine.”

Kevin’s heart hadn’t stopped again though in the past month and everybody came and went from the hospital now. They figured that there wasn’t really much they could do just
by being there, so went on with their regular lives. Everybody was still sad that he hadn’t woken up yet, and since Kevin could have visitors again, they all went every day to see him.

“Alex,” Jaime called, waving a hand in front of his face, “Hey, Aje.”

A.J. looked over to her, distracted, a look of confusion on his handsome face. He felt as if he had missed something. “What are you thinking about?” she asked him softly once she knew that she had his full attention.

“Nothing,” A.J. replied too quickly and Jaime looked at him skeptically, “I mean, nothing, baby. Everything is fine.”

“Alexander James,” Jaime scolded, putting her hands on her hips, “I know something’s bugging you. Please tell me what it is. I want to be able to help you if possible.”

“Kevin,” A.J. replied simply.

He hoped that Jaime wouldn’t be mad for stressing over Kevin again. She had told him she didn’t want him thinking of something that wasn’t likely to happen again. He knew that it upset her as well though. No matter now much she tried to hide that she wasn’t letting it get to her, for the babies sake, he knew that it still was.

“Aje,” Jaime said as she pounded a nail into the wall to hand a print of a picture up, “It happened a month ago,”

“I know,” A.J. replied sullenly, “But god…if I’d been there just…ten minutes later, then it would have been me that was there when it happened. I…that would have completely destroyed me.”

“I know baby,” Jaime replied, standing on her toes to hang the picture, “But Kevin is okay…I mean…he’s alive.”

A.J. sighed, wondering why he was the only one still shaken by this and having nightmares. He knew that everybody cared just as much as he did about Kevin. He supposed that it was because they’d almost lost Kevin, and he still felt guilty about the terms he and his friend had ended under.

Suddenly, Jaime dropped the hammer she was holding, about to pound another hole in the wall, her eyes wide with shock.

“What is it?” A.J. asked, rushing to her side, wrapping an arm around her waist in concern. He stared into her eyes and could sense that something wasn’t right, “Jaime, what is it?” he asked again.”

“I think that my water just broke,” Jaime gasped, looking down and seeing a small puddle of water forming on the ground below her.

A.J’s eyes widened as he took in a deep breath. He didn’t know what to do beings this was his first time in this situation. He wasn’t ready quite yet. The baby wasn’t due for another three weeks. There was still a lot of preparing to do.

“A.J.” Jaime said in panic, “I’m having the baby.”

Doing the first thing he could think of, A.J. scooped Jaime off of her feet, carrying her down the stairs hurridly. He tripped over the last step, catching his balance at the last second.

“Careful,” Jaime scolded, “Do you want to kill us?”

A.J. didn’t say anything to Jaime’s sarcastic remark. He ran through the front door and out to the driveway to the car, opening the door and laying her gently in the back seat. He quickly ran back inside to grab his cell phone and sprinted outside again, locking the door and jumping into the drivers seat. He started the car and backed out with one hand, calling the doctor with the other. A.J. lifted the phone to his ear as the car lurched forward, speeding down the road towards the hospital where she would be going into labor at. Jaime had begun having contractions, attempting to do everything she had learned in her Lamaze classes. She could barley hear what A.J. was saying on the phone. Minutes later, A.J. hung up, carelessly tossing the phone into the front passenger seat next to him.

“Dr. Parker will be waiting for us at the hospital,” he told her gently, reaching back with one hand and rubbing her leg, hoping to comfort her.

Jaime just nodded in response, knowing that she wouldn’t be able to speak. This was it. She was about to have their baby. There was no reversing anything now. In just hours, their lives would be changed forever.

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Howie drummed his fingers on the table as he listened to the phone ring over and over again. It had been a long while since him and Danny had spoken and he wanted to catch up with things. With a sigh, Howie was about to hang up the phone when somebody finally answered, their breath heavy.

“Hello?”

“Hey, Danny,” Howie responded, “What’s up?”

“Oh, hey D. Not much. Just walked in the door. We all went to visit Tommy at his house.”

Howie was relieved to hear that Tommy was at home. That meant that for the most part, he was probably doing okay. If he wasn’t, he’d still be in the hospital or worse, unless put into a hospice program. He still had yet to hear any word of their break and what was going on with them on the news. Howie continued to wonder how they had done it.

“That’s great,” Howie answered, “Sorry I haven’t called in so long. Things have been hectic.”

“I hear ya,” Danny replied with a chuckle, “We’ve all lost track of time visiting with Tommy and accompanying him when he has chemo sessions.”

“Yeah,” Howie responded with longing in his voice, “Things have taken a turn for the worse with us.”

“Wow,” Danny said, “What happened? And how is Kevin doing these days? It’s been almost nine months since we’ve spoken.”

Howie paused, taking in a deep breath. He hadn’t really talked about Kevin outside of his group of friends, which included the guys, the three girls and Bluewave. He wasn’t sure how comfortable he was speaking of it around anybody else, but Danny had been a good friend to him. Howie sighed, contemplating how he was going to word what he wanted to say. He wanted to find the most delicate way possible to tell Danny what had happened.

“Kevin isn’t well at all,” he finally answered, “He’s worse off than he was before, actually.”

Danny let out a low whistle, not knowing quite what to say. Things with Tommy were better. He found it unfair that Kevin couldn’t have the same luck. Danny was sure that by now, the strong man he’d toured with for a couple of months would be walking again. By Howie’s response though, he was sure that he wasn’t.

“I’m sorry,” he stated, “Do you mind telling me what…I mean, what’s going on with him?”

Howie didn’t know what to say. What Kevin had gone through sounded harsh spoken out loud, but there really was no other way to put it. What had happened was unpleasant. There was no way to make it sound anything but.

“Kev was extremely depressed,” Howie started, “He couldn’t cope with being paralyzed. He was so down on himself and since he wasn’t making immediate progress with therapy, he was even more discouraged. About a month ago, he…he…” Howie began to choke on his words as emotion built up inside of him.

“He what?” Danny asked without thinking, then cringed when he realized that he was pushing the emotional man to speak.

“He tried to kill himself.”

“What?” Danny asked in disbelief

“He shot himself in the chest.” Howie said again, only with ease this time, “Anna found him…”

“Who’s Anna?” Danny interrupted. “Kevin’s girlfriend. Anyways, she found him. If she hadn’t when she did, god, I don’t even want to think about what would have happened.”

“I’m so sorry,” Danny softly stated, “What, I mean how, I mean is he…” he stuttered, not knowing the correct question to ask.

“He’s alive,” Howie informed him, knowing what the man was trying to get at, “He’s in a coma though. He fell into one when he arrived at the hospital. His heart stopped once, but they managed to bring him back, thank God.”

There were a few minutes of complete silence. Danny didn’t know how to reply to the incident. Howie didn’t know what else to say either. It was a sensitive subject for him and had definitely struck a soft spot in him.

“Is there anything that any of us can do?” Danny finally asked, “We can come down there for a few days or…whatever you need.”

Howie shook his head as he answered, “No,” then paused, “If you want to visit, you’re more than welcome to, but, honestly, nothing can be done as of yet. We’re all just waiting for him to wake up.”

“I understand. Actually, Tommy shouldn’t leave, since his chemo is right here. We don’t want to leave him. If you need anything at all though, don’t hesitate to call us, okay?”

“Okay,” Howie agreed, “Same goes for you.”

“I think we have everything under control here,” Danny laughed, “I gotta go though. I’ll call soon.”

“Okay,” Howie responded, “Sounds fair. Talk to ya later.”

“Yep, later.” Danny replied.

Howie hung up the phone. He was happy that things with Tommy were going good. It made him glad that at least one of them was having good luck. He wondered though when Kevin’s turn for having the luck would come. So far, in the past year now, almost, he’d had nothing but bad.

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Brian walked slowly into the ICU where Kevin was still stationed. He’d been there so much lately that he felt he could probably find it blindfolded without a problem. He sighed, walking freely into the room as if he owned the place. His cousin was in there, after all. Every time he went to visit Kevin, Brian begun to have panic attacks at the thought of his heart stopping again with him right there with him. But before anything could happen, Brian always managed to calm himself down. Nothing had happened in a month now. Nothing would. He had to stay positive of that, for his sake as well as Kevin’s.

Before he knew it, Brian had reached his cousin. He sighed. For some reason, he was really depressed that day and down on things. He didn’t know why either. He felt so guilty for what had happened with Kevin’s girlfriend still. He hated keeping it all inside. He wondered if somehow, somewhere, Kevin knew though. Part of him hoped that he did, but part didn’t. He knew Kevin. He would take it partly out on Anna, and she hadn’t wanted anything to do with it. She had been caught in the middle of something at a
vulnerable moment for him. If it had been Stephanie or Jaime, he would have done the same thing to them. He was sure of that.

“Hey, Kev,” Brian said softly, hoping that if Kevin could by some chance hear him, that he wouldn’t catch the sadness in his voice. It wouldn’t help him any, “How’s it going?”

He closed his eyes and winced as he drew in a deep breath. It physically and emotionally pained him to watch the person who was so close to him lye there completely unresponsive. “Man, I wish you’d snap out of that damn coma you’re in,” Brian laughed nervously, unsure of what to say. He felt like he was talking to himself. It felt weird to be speaking to somebody without getting answers in response, “We all miss you so much. It’s not the same without you really being here. Nothing is.”

Looking around the room, Brian tried to think of something else to say. Something else that was supportive. He suddenly remembered that Dr. Newton had told all of them that Kevin could in fact hear every word people said to him. He’d also said that with support and encouragement from people he cared about, it would better his chances of waking up from the coma sooner.

“Bluewave has come by a few times to check on you,” he told him, “They’re really concerned and worried. You wouldn’t believe how great they are. They’re here for you. We all are. Remember that.”

Brian chewed on the inside of his lip. He wanted to tell Kevin about what happened so badly. He wanted to get if off of his chest. He knew that he would feel better if he told somebody. So far, he hadn’t told anyone. He knew that the other guys would give him grief for it and criticize him for it telling him what he already knew. That what he’d done was wrong. He didn’t want to deal with that. Taking a deep breath, looking around the room to make sure he was definitely alone to avoid somebody overhearing, Brian decided to spill.

“Listen, Kev,” he started, “The only reason I’m telling you this is because you’re asleep. If you were awake and could respond, God knows there would be no way you’d ever hear this from me. Anyways, when you were first brought here, well, Anna and I talked about how we were feeling. It was really emotional for us, and, well, I guess I got caught up in it all. Something happened, and well, it’s not her fault at all. She tried to push me away. See, I kind of kissed her.”

Brian stopped, looking down at the peaceful friend of his. He already felt better for saying the words out loud for the first time. He knew though, that he still wouldn’t be able to be near Anna, even with his troubled thoughts out now.

“I’m really sorry Kev,” Brian stated, “I…I didn’t even realize that I was doing it until she jerked away. It even took a moment then to fully comprehend what I’d done. If you hear this, and wake up and remember, please don’t take it out on her. Please realize that I wasn’t in the right state of mind.”

Brian sighed. Who was he kidding? Sure, he felt a little better. He knew, though, that to feel completely free of the burden he’d brought upon himself, that he’d have to talk to somebody who could talk back. Someone who wouldn’t take sides. The question was, who would that be? The guys all knew that Kevin and Anna were together. Of course they’d take Kevin or Anna’s side. They wouldn’t really care if Brian had lost his mind or not. Bluewave probably would too, just because he’d done it with Kevin in a coma and they knew that him and Anna were together. Stephanie would be sarcastic and who knows what she would do to him. The thought of her threatening to use her baseball bat on Kristin when they’d first met stuck out in his mind. No, she definitely wasn’t the person to talk to about passionately kissing one of her best friends the girlfriend of one of his best friends, and worse yet, family members. That left one person. Jaime. Brian said goodbye to Kevin and went out to search for her. He just hoped that she would be reasonable. If not, then he was out of luck.
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Anna walked through the sliding glass doors of the hospital and headed toward the elevator. She missed Kevin and had in intense longing to be near him again for the second time that day. She couldn’t get enough of being near him since his heart had stopped momentarily weeks before. The incident had scared her because she had been holding his hand when it had happened. The fact that he’d been brought back to life though told her that he wasn’t ready to give up. Anna drew in a shaky breath, remembering the horror of it all. Every time she visited Kevin, the fear of it happening again overcame her. Every time she left, she breathed a sigh of relief that he was still breathing on his own.

Stepping onto the chrome elevator, Anna pressed the button, which would lead her to the sixth floor, to Kevin. There were two doctors inside with her conversing about a burn victim. By the way they were talking, it sounded serious. She hoped that whoever it was would turn out okay, for the sake of saving the family and friends grief. The doors opened on the forth floor and the two men stepped out, leaving Anna alone. They closed again and ventured upward two more floors. As soon as they opened, Anna was out. She hated elevators with a passion.

Power walking towards the ICU, she saw Brian walking out. They glanced at one another for a split second before Brian looked towards the ground to avoid making eye contact as they passed. Anna sighed. It had been like that between them ever since he’d kissed her a month earlier. She hated the feeling. It was uncomfortable and awkward. She wanted them to be friends. Stopping in her tracks, Anna decided to try and put an end to it.

“Brian,” she called, turning around to see him slipping around a corner. It appeared that he wasn’t going to stop, “Brian,” she yelled again, running after him.

As she rounded the corner, she saw him anxiously awaiting the elevator doors to open. Sprinting at him, she reached him just on time as they slid open.

“Brian,” she called out.

Brian glanced at her as he proceeded to step inside, but Anna grabbed his arm, pulling him out. He lost his balance slightly, but caught it as the doors closed without him inside the elevator to take him away to safety. He was trapped now.

“You’re going to talk to me,” Anna demanded, placing her hands on her hips, “I’m sick of these hide and seek games.”

Brian looked past her and she wondered why he wouldn’t even look at her. If anything, she should be the one avoiding him.

“So,” Anna said, taking him by the arm and leading him into the waiting room. She pushed him onto a chair, “Tell me, why are you avoiding me? What the fuck did I ever do to you?”

Brian adverted his gaze away from Anna again. He didn’t do anything for a long moment. When he did, his answer was just a small shrug of his shoulders. Anna groaned, rolling her eyes. It was going to be like pulling teeth trying to get Brian to talk to her. She wouldn’t leave him alone until he did though.

“Answer me,” Anna nearly yelled, “I’m sick of this. My boyfriend is still in a coma after fucking shooting himself because of depression from being paralyzed, which would have never happened if I’d have just gone out with him in the first place. You’re avoiding me with every chance that we’re around one another. I’m stressing out over all of this shit. Just be a decent human being and talk to me.”

Anna was crying visibly, her body shaking. She didn’t know what was wrong with her, or even why she cared so much. She did though, and it had nothing to do with the fact that she liked him as more than a friend. Brian stared at her as she broke down into sobs. He felt bad, but didn’t know what to say.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, just so he’d have said something, “I…I don’t know how to act since what happened. It’s just…weird.”

“No shit,” Anna spat sarcastically, “But I’m managing to act normal. Believe me, all of this is really hard on me. I’m probably harming myself by not showing how I’m feeling. I’m trying to stay composed, but inside, I’m a complete mess.”

Brian nodded. He could relate. He was glad that Kevin was alive, but to him, that wasn’t good enough. He wanted Kevin to be awake too. He personally didn’t care if they never toured again as long as Kevin woke up.

“Just act the way that you used to,” Anna said in frustration, “I’m trying to, and guess what? It’s working.”

“I can’t,” Brian said quietly, “I…I can’t do that.”

Anna let out a low growl. At that moment, having Stephanie’s wit, sarcasm and brilliant comebacks would be useful to her. She didn’t know what to say though and Brian wasn’t making things any easier.

“Every time I look at you, I remember what I did,” Brian said, “And I’m ashamed of it. I’m embarrassed. I wish that I could forget all of it.”

Anna looked thoughtful. His comment had struck up an idea in her. She wasn’t sure if she would tell him or not, but it would definitely help him to forget and make things easier and cause less tension between everyone. If all she had to do was worry about Kevin, then that would be great and she’d have one of her friends back.

“What?” Brian asked, knowing that the wheels were turning up in her head, “What’s your idea?”

“Wellll,” Anna said, her voice trailing off. She was almost positive that Brian would never try her suggestion.

“I’ll try anything,” He pleaded, “Tell me what it is. I’m a miserable person and it will help both of us.”

“I was thinking that maybe,” Anna begun, “And don’t say I’m crazy, but if you were hypnotized…”

“Are you out of your mind?” Brian asked her incredulously, cutting the girl off, “What…I mean, hypnotized? Isn’t that dangerous?”

“No,” Anna said, “It’s completely safe. And, you can have it done so that the only thing effective is your memory of you kissing me.”

Brian’s eyes widened in panic as he looked around, whipping his head from side to side violently.

“Shhh,” he scolded, still watching his surroundings wearily, “Not so loud.”

Anna laughed at his paranoia. It wasn’t as if anybody actually cared about what they were talking about. Whoever was in the area was going about their own business, not paying the least bit of attention to them.

Brian didn’t exactly like her idea. He’d seen what it did to people on TV. While he was put to sleep, whoever hypnotist could do whatever he wanted to mess with his mind and how he acted.

“It’s just a thought,” Anna told him, “I mean, it’s the only thing that will work besides giving yourself amnesia.”

“Fine,” Brian sighed, “I’ll check in to it tomorrow.”

If he was going to do it, then he would no longer need to talk to Jaime about the incident. He wouldn’t have any memory of anything to do with it anyways in a few days. He still felt uncomfortable being around Anna. He was happy to know that would change also.

“Well,” Brian said, shifting from foot to foot, “I gotta go. I’ll talk to ya later and let you know what’s going on with me being brain washed.”

Anna waved, as Brian bolted from her. She shook her head, laughing quietly. So far, nothing had changed. Hopefully, her suggestion would work. She’d hate to be blamed for something going wrong. Something told her though that things would go better than she thought though.
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“What are the plans for today?” Stephanie asked Nick, looking up from the latest issue of Cosmopolitan. That month’s issue had nude journalists. She figured that if she didn’t pay attention to Nick, she just might go to find the men taking up four whole pages. They looked delicious.

“I dunno,” Nick answered, not taking his eyes off of the football game that was on TV, “Go to a movie, I guess.”

Stephanie rolled her eyes. She wondered if Nick had even really heard her question or just answered subconsciously. He was absolutely no help when it came to watching sports.

“Okay then,” she replied sarcastically, “We’ll go whenever the last three quarters of the game are over.”

Nick looked up at her blankly telling her that her hypothesis was correct. He really hadn’t been listening to a word she’d said. She shook her head in disgust. Men were pathetic pigs.

“Huh?” Nick asked, proving her point even more.

“I asked what you wanted to do today,” she informed him, “I mean, we hardly ever go out together. I thought we could today.”

Nick shrugged, looking back at the TV, “It doesn’t matter, babe,” he answered, “You choose. As long as I’m with you, I’ll be happy.”

Stephanie rolled her eyes at his line. Sure, he was sweet, but he could be a little more original. She wasn’t sure if he had the brain capacity to think up something on his own though.

“Well, are you going to get off of your ass so we can go out?” she asked him.

Nick looked at her, “Oh, uh, yeah,” he responded, “After this play.”

Stephanie plopped down on the couch, crossing her arms. One play would mean five minutes. She watched the game half-heartedly. Minutes later, the play was over and Nick was yelling at the TV. She guessed that something had happened that hadn’t made him too happy. Standing up, Nick turned off the TV, surprising her. He really had meant it when he’d told her only one last play.

“Okay,” he said, “Let me grab my wallet and lets go.”

He ran into the kitchen to grab his wallet and ran back out to join Stephanie when the phone ran.

“Let me get that real quick,” Nick said, grabbing the phone and bringing it to his ear, “Hello?”

There was silence on the other end as Stephanie watched his face turn into one of shock and disbelief.

“What’s wrong?” she asked and Nick held up a finger to his lips telling her to be quiet for a minute while he spoke to whoever it was?

There was a moment of silence and Stephanie was getting impatient wondering who was on the other line. She hoped that whoever it was wasn’t delivering bad news. By the look on his face, she wasn’t so sure.

“Wow, I haven’t heard from you in so long,” Nick finally said, running a hand through his blonde hair. A small, unsure smile formed on his lips, “What’s been up with you lately?”

Stephanie couldn’t stand the anxiety of wondering whom he was talking to. She kept trying to put her head up to the phone to listen in and try to figure it out. Nick kept pulling away though giving her disapproving looks.

“That’s awesome,” Nick replied to something the mystery person said, “Yeah, yeah. Everything is good here,”

There was a pause. Stephanie folded her arms across her chest. She wished that Nick would hurry up and get off of the phone. They had places to go.

“Oh, yeah,” she heard Nick say, “That hasn’t exactly been good. That’s not all of it though…Sure, I guess that would be aight.” Stephanie rolled her eyes and begun tapping her foot. Nick held up his finger telling her that he was almost done. She sighed loudly in disgust as she plopped down onto a chair. She started playing with the fringe off of a placemat to entertain herself while Nick kept her waiting.

“Sure, okay,” Nick said, “Okay. You too, I guess...Yeah, bye.”

Nick clicked the phone off and threw it onto the counter. Stephanie looked up at him, anger in her eyes. Nick still looked stunned. Taking a deep breath, he smiled brightly at her.

“Ready to go?”

“Who was that?” Stephanie asked, getting right to the point as she stood up.

“An old f…not really a fri…somebody I haven’t talked to in a few years.” Nick stuttered. He didn’t know exactly what to call the person who’d called.

“Oh?” Stephanie asked, raising an eyebrow, as she looked into her purse to pull out some chapstick, “Does this person have a name? I mean, most people kind of do.”

“Amanda,” Nick replied casually, “Most people know her by Willa though.”

Stephanie’s eyes shot up at Nick, fire blazing in them, “What the fuck does that bitch want?” was the first thing out of her mouth.

Nick laughed, “I…I don’t know. I haven’t spoken with her since we broke up. It came as a shock to me.”

“She wants something,” Stephanie said knowingly, “She’s up to no good at all. I know it. I’m always right too.”

“Probably,” Nick admitted, “C’mon. Let’s go.”

Stephanie shook her head, “Uh-uh. No. That whore hurt you really badly a few years ago. I don’t want you speaking to her. She’s capable of anything.”

Nick chuckled at the fact that his small girlfriend was trying to protect him from his ex girlfriend. He found it sweet. To be honest though, he wasn’t so sure that it was a bad idea.

“Okay,” Nick agreed, “She called to mainly say that she heard about Kevin being paralyzed and that she was sorry about it.”

Stephanie rolled her eyes and grunted. She didn’t even know the woman, but she found it typical of her to do something so low as to use Kevin’s accident as an excuse to get back to Nick.

“What,” Nick asked, confusing in his eyes. Stephanie also found the confused look typical for Nick.

“Nicky, Kevin’s accident happened almost nine months ago now.” Stephanie said, “Don’t you find it a bit odd that she’s calling about it now. That bitch wants something from you.”

Nick’s eyes widened. He hadn’t really thought about that. Stephanie brought out a good point. And the second thing that Kevin had done hadn’t gone public. Very few knew about it. Willa was excluded from those few. So why was she calling almost a year later?

“You worry me,” Stephanie said, shaking her head, “Use your brain for these things, okay? Now lets get the hell out of here.”

Nick nodded, slightly hurt by her comment. He decided to leave out one small detail. Willa was coming over in two days to talk with him and catch up. He’d be sure to tell her that he didn’t want to talk to her ever again. He could see now that she was up to no good. He wondered how he could have been so blind to her sneaky ways. He knew that he would have to find a way to get Stephanie out of the house for a short time while she was there or else things would not end well. Especially not for him for lying about not speaking to her ever again. As far as he was concerned though, he wouldn’t after this one time. After all, nothing would happen except for small talk. How hard could it be to get away with it?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sweat beaded Jaime’s forehead as her contractions grew closer and closer together. A.J. rushed up to her side, grabbing her hand and squeezing it lightly.

“I just called everyone. They’re on their way,” he informed her, and she just nodded, “You’re doing great, babe.”

“I just want this thing out of me,” she breathed heavily, “God, this is beginning to really suck.”

A.J. laughed lightly. If he could, he’d trade places with her at that moment. She looked to be in complete discomfort. He hated seeing his girl that way. A nurse walked into the delivery room to check on Jaime.

“You’re ready,” she informed her, “The doctor isn’t here yet. He’s running a little behind. Would you like an epidural or go natural? We can get that out of the way in case he doesn’t make it. Our team knows what they’re doing without Dr. Parker here. Don’t worry. You’re in good hands.”

Jaime’s eyes widened. Was this woman serious? Why would anybody in their right mind want to go natural? And why was she talking so much? She found the woman’s perkiness to be a little out of place.

“Epidural,” she whispered out.

The nurse drew out a long needle and A.J stared at it for a long moment in disbelief. He didn’t want them to stick his girlfriend with it. He didn’t want them to hurt her. The needle looked like it would.

“Um, do you have anything smaller?” A.J. asked her nervously.

He looked down at Jaime. She wasn’t paying the least bit of attention to what was going on. She was completely oblivious to the size of the needle that the nurse was going to inject into her spine.

Then nurse laughed, “I’m sorry sir, but no.” she saw the worry in his eyes, “Don’t worry. Jaime won’t feel a thing. Believe me, this is the least of her worries.”

A.J. looked skeptical. He winced as he watched the nurse inject the six-inch needle into Jaime’s lower spine. He knew that within minutes, she wouldn’t be able to feel a thing.

“Sorry I’m late,” Dr. Parker yelled, rushing into the delivery room as he slid on rubber gloves, “Was with a patient upstairs.”

Jaime didn’t care where the hell he was. She just wanted to get this over with. She was in discomfort. Her contractions were extremely close, and from what the nurse had said, she was definitely ready. Pain started to shoot through her. A.J. could tell by the look on her face that she wasn’t enjoying herself. He didn’t let go of her hand at all.

“It’s going to be okay, honey,” he told her, “Don’t worry. I’m right here next you you.”

“Okay, Jaime,” Dr. Parker said, lifting up her
hospital gown and exposing her to the team of nurses, “I want you to push.”

Jaime did as told, tears running down her cheeks. She screamed in pain, wondering how long this would take. She’d already been at the hospital for eight hours having contractions. She hoped that this would be the quick part.

“Push harder next time,” Dr. Parker coached her.

Jaime pushed as hard as she could, screaming in agony. She was choking on her tears now.

“It’s okay baby,” A.J. told her, “I love you. I’m right here. I love you so much.”

Jaime turned her head to the side, “You can rot in hell,” she growled, “You did this to me, you bastard.”

A.J. drew back in astonishment at her words. They’d hurt his feelings a lot. He wondered what he’d done wrong. All he was trying to do was support her and she didn’t even appriciate it.

“Don’t worry,” a nurse said, coming up next to him, “That’s quite common, actually. When the delivery is done, she won’t remember a word she said to you.

A.J. offered a smile. He sure as hell hoped not. He wouldn’t forget the things she’d said to him though. He knew that there was more to come.

“I can see the head,” the doctor said, “C’mon Jaime, keep pushing.”

A.J. watched, not letting go of Jaime once. He could see the top of his child’s head. Excitement shot through his entire body like jolts of electricity.

“Harder, Jaime,” Dr. Parker coached, “You’re doing wonderful.”

Jaime cried out as she dug her nails into A.J’s hand. He winced in pain, but didn’t let it bother him. He knew that she was going though so much worse. A sudden thought came to him though. Why was she in so much pain? Shouldn’t the epidural have kicked in by now?

“I hate you, you fucking bastard,” Jaime screeched, her voice demonic, “You should have stayed away. Me and the baby would have been better off without you.”

A single tear slid down A.J’s cheek. Her words had been harsh, cutting through him like dagars. He wondered if she meant that part. A.J. watched as more tears fell. He watched as more and more of his child was exposed. More tears started to fall. The rest of the delivery went by in a blur. A.J. didn’t remember hearing anything clearly. He’d heard noises, but it had sounded muffled. He watched as the babies arms came out, then its torso, lastly its legs. Tears of hurt as well as joy came down his face. As soon as the baby was completely free, he snapped back into reality.

“It’s all over, Jaime,” Dr. Parker told her, “Great job.”

Jaime breathed a heavy sigh of relief, a smile settling on her face. Sweat glistened from her forehead. She slumped back in exhaustion. She didn’t have any clue that going into labor would be so much work or take so much out of her. A nurse took the baby from his hands and wrapped it in a blanket. Jaime reached her arms out for the baby and the nurse gently placed it in Jaime’s arms. A.J. went up by her side, wrapping one arm around her, and gently touching his baby with his other hand, smiling at the sight of his very own child. It had wisps of thin, dark brown fuzz covering its head. He couldn’t look at Jaime though without completely breaking down though. He was wondering if Jaime’s words were true and they would be better off without him in their lives. A.J. could hear Jaime sobbing lightly from tears of happiness. Sighing, A.J. wiped his own tears of grief away for the time being and smiled as he looked down at his beautiful baby girl.
Chapter Nineteen by sweet18_2003
Chapter Nineteen
A.J. sat next to Jaime cradling their daughter in his arms, rocking her gently. He looked next to him at Jaime sleeping peacefully in the bed next to him. The whole group was just outside the room anxiously waiting to get in to see them. Jaime needed her rest though, so the doctor said that they could visit once she woke up. The labor had exhausted her.

A.J. sighed, looking down at his daughter again. She was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen next to Jaime. They’d decided to name her Lauren Nicole. When the nurse had asked for a last name, Jaime had automatically told her McLean. That had shocked A.J. They weren’t married, and had different last names. He’d figured that she would say her name because she was the mother. Her reasoning had been that if they eventually got married, then Lauren would already have his last name without the hassles of having it legally changed afterwards. A.J. felt like it was a privilege to him for her to request that. He knew that one day, they would get married. He wasn’t sure when that would be though. Her words from the hours before stuck out in his mind. What if she really did think that they’d be better off without him? What if Jaime planned on taking Lauren and leaving once she was out of the hospital? He’d wanted to talk to her about that, but as soon as they’d been transferred to Jaime’s own private room, she’d been out like a light and sleeping ever since. A.J. was thrilled to be a father. The only thing that he regretted was the fact that Kevin hadn’t woken up and waiting right outside the door with everybody else. He was still in a coma and missed the most important day of his life. He wondered if Jaime would have had the baby on time, in three weeks, if Kevin would’ve been awake by then.

A.J. noticed Jaime’s eyelids begin to flutter slightly as her eyes slowly opened. She looked up at him, still slightly groggy. A.J. took her hand and squeezed it, smiling down at her.

“Hi, baby,” she said quietly, looking around the unfamiliar room, “How long did I sleep for?”

“About six hours,” A.J. informed her.

A.J. helped her put her bed into a sitting position and handed Lauren over to her. Jaime took her willingly, holding her against her chest. The baby was still fast asleep. She’d woken up for a total of five minutes, but that was all.

“She’s gorgeous, isn’t she?” Jaime asked, kissing Lauren on her forehead.

A.J. nodded, “She’s beautiful, just like her mother.”

“She has your eyes and nose,” Jaime commented, giving A.J. a boost of pride, “And same shade of hair.”

“Poor thing if she looks like me,” A.J. laughed, “She has your mouth and ears,” he added.

“If she looks like you, she’ll be lucky.” Jaime said with honesty, “Because you look amazingly good.”

A.J. laughed softly. He didn’t think so, but then again, he didn’t exactly consider himself good looking.

“Everyone’s outside waiting to see you,” A.J. told her, “They’re all overly anxious. Dr. Parker told them they’d have to wait until you woke up until they were able to come in though.

Jaime smiled, then sighed. She was happy that the labor was over with. It had been long and painful. She wondered why the epidural hadn’t completely worked. It didn’t matter now though. It was too late to go back and make it work.

“Let them in,” she told him, “They’ve waited long enough, I suppose.” She wasn’t in the mood to share Lauren with anybody yet. She knew though, that she would have to get used to it. Everybody loved newborn babies. This was just the beginning of all of the attention her and Lauren would be getting.

“Jaime, baby,” A.J. said, distracting her from her thoughts, “I need to talk to you about something first.”

“Oh?” Jaime asked.

She was not liking the sound of his voice at that moment. It sounded like it was serious. She wanted to avoid that kind of conversation. She was afraid that he’d decide that he didn’t want a child after all and wanted nothing to do with either of their lives. He’d decided that once. She was afraid that he would decide that again every time he wanted to talk.

“See,” he began, looking down and rubbing her hand in between his, “While you were in delivery, you said some things that were really hurtful.”

Jaime looked at him in complete confusion. He realized then that she really had no idea what he was talking about. He decided to finish the conversation anyways. He thought that maybe once she heard it, she’d remember.

“Yeah,” he said, looking up and meeting her eyes, “First of all, you told me to rot in hell,”

He could see Jaime’s eyes grow wide in disbelief. She obviously didn’t have a clue as to what he was talking about.

“That was fine though,” A.J. said, “What upset me was when you told me that you wished I would have stayed away. You even said that you and Lauren would be better off without me.” A.J. took in a deep breath to compose himself and keep the new tears from falling at the memory of her words, “Is…is that true? Did you mean what you said? If you did…I…I.” He choked, not able to finish his sentence.

“I’d never tell you that,” Jaime whispered, visibly upset, “I...I would never say that to you.”

“You did,” A.J. argued, “I was doing a lot of thinking about it. The nurses said you wouldn’t remember any of it, but, still…if you didn’t mean it….” His voice trailed off, longing in it.

“Aje, I need you,” Jaime told him, “I want you here. I don’t want you to leave me again. Whatever I said, I don’t remember and sure as hell didn’t mean it.”

A.J. smiled, breathing a sigh of relief. He leaned over to kiss her just as Brian burst into the room without knocking, the others behind him, peering over his shoulder to get a look for themselves at the new baby..

“We heard ya’ll talking in here, so decided that it was okay for us to come in,” He drawled.

“Yeah, come on in everyone,” Jaime said, waving them into the room.

The group filed in, in anticipation wanting to see how the new mother was feeling and the newest member of the group.

“Baby!!!” Nick yelled in excitement as he bounded into the room and charged at Jaime and Lauren. Jaime drew back in horror, clutching her child close to her to protect it.

“Stay away from my child, Nick,” she warned.

Nick skidded to a stop, sticking his bottom lip out in a hurt pout. He hadn’t meant to give her the wrong impression and imply danger.

“Awww, he’s harmless,” Brian joked with a laugh, patting Nick on the back, “He’s just a big ole kid himself.”

Nick shrugged away from Brian, uncomfortable. A.J. chuckled at the helpless expression on Nick’s face. He knew that the youngest Boy hadn’t meant any harm, but he had been a little overly hyper. He didn’t blame Jaime for wanting to protect Lauren from the oversized child.

“How are you feeling?” Anna asked Jaime, not even being able to begin to imagine what she was feeling like.

“Eh,” Jaime replied, “Could feel better, I supposed. I’m a little nauseous and exhausted. Other than that, I feel good. Would you like to hold her?”

Anna nodded, carefully taking Lauren out of Jaime’s arms. Her breath caught in her throat. Holding the small infant made her want one of her own. That was near impossible though at the moment. She didn’t know if her or Kevin were really ready yet anyways, weather Kevin were awake or not.

“She is so precious,” Anna breathed.

Jaime and A.J. both smiled at each other in pride. Jaime couldn’t believe that she had been with A.J. for nine whole months already. She couldn’t believe that she’d gone through an entire pregnancy and it was over now. Time went by way to quickly lately. She wished that it would go slower sometimes.

“What’s her name?” Anna asked “Lauren Nicole McLean,” Jaime answered

The group surrounded Anna as she rocked the baby. She thought that it was the most perfect name for the infant. Her heart swelled slightly in jealousy of her friend. She wanted to have kids, she realized. That wouldn’t be possible until Kevin woke up though, if he ever did. She wasn’t about to give up on him though. She wanted to be with him, and was determined to wait for as long as it took.

“I wanna hold her,” Nick whined, breaking the silent, peaceful setting that was in the room.

Jaime looked at A.J. nervously, unsure of what to say. She was terrified for Nick to hold Lauren after the way he’d pounced at them minutes before. A.J. laughed, shaking his head. He leaned in to whisper something in her ear.

“It’ll be fine,” he said quietly, “He doesn’t intend to harm her.”

Jaime sighed, forcing a bright, cheery smile on her face. She loved Nick as a friend, but his hyperness made her fear for Lauren’s life.

“Go ahead,” she said, hoping that Nick couldn’t read that she was less than thrilled about it.

Jaime watched like a hawk as Anna handed the newborn over in to Nick’s arms. He took her gently, as if she were porcelain. Surprisingly, Nick was extremely good with her, handling her like a professional. She felt bad for doubting the blonde. He rocked the sleeping baby in his arms lightly before handing her over to Stephanie.

“I want one,” he told her as he laid Lauren gently into his girlfriends arms, “Let’s try to have a baby of our own.”

Stephanie snorted, and the others laughed at her attitude towards Nick’s request, “Precious, but not quite yet, k Carter.”

Nick shrugged, figuring he’d at least given it a shot. He’d give Stephanie another few months before asking again when she’d be ready to have children. All Nick knew was that Stephanie was the one he wanted to bear his children.

The rest of the group took turns holding Lauren for a few minutes each, before the last person handed her back to the proud, beaming mother. This was her and A.J’s big day, one they’d waited for, for almost nine months. Jaime had been slightly worried when her water had broke, that Lauren would have slight birth defects as a result of her being born a full three weeks early. She was perfectly healthy though, and Jaime couldn’t be happier.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Anna took a deep breath as she pushed open the door to where Kevin was lying, still in the separate room alone, off in the corner. She smiled lightly and softly at the sight of him. Every time she came to visit him, she could have sworn that the man was just sleeping. His looks hadn’t changed a bit over the past forty days that he’d been in a coma. He still had the exact same expression on his face, one of peace. The only thing that had changed was that she could tell his muscles were losing slight definition, but nothing that was drastic. She knew that therapists were going into his room every day to work with him, with weights and such even, doing all of the movements for him. Anna guessed that what they were doing was helping out significantly.

She stood in the doorway for a moment, just staring at Kevin before walking up to his bedside. She looked down at his handsome face and smiled as a tear fell down her cheek. Anna wondered if her boyfriend would ever wake up. The events a couple of hours prior had let her overly emotional, something she’d not been in a long while. Just seeing Jamie and A.J. together, so happy and with a new addition to their family made her long for the same thing though.

With a sigh, Anna took Kevin’s hand in hers, rubbing her thumb in circles over it. She wished that he would move...show any signs of life other than breathing. He had yet to do so though, and Anna wondered when he would. If he did, she would be more confident that it was more likely that he would wake up. Anna hated to think this way, but she felt almost like Kevin was dead...he wasn’t really there, living. It was hard for her to consider someone in a coma to be among the living, but the heart monitor was proof that he was. The beeping of several machines still echoed throughout the room. IV’s fed him, and injected medication into him every so often. She choked back on a sob, once again feeling like all of this was her fault, starting from Kevin becoming paralyzed in the first place. It was as if he wasn’t even really there at all.

Anna drew in a deep, sharp breath to compose herself a little. She knew that Kevin could hear her, and feel her presence. He just could not respond to her. He didn’t need to be catching bad, negative vibes from her. That would only do him more damage, and prolong his healing. Anna didn’t want to be responsible for any setbacks. She stated at his handsome, perfect features once more before speaking to the most genuine, sweetest, most beautiful man she’d ever met or laid eyes upon.

“Hi Kevin...baby,” she started, her voice quavering a bit, but she got it under control quickly, “It’s me...Anna.”

She stopped, looking continuing to stare at him. She took her free hand, brushing an invisible hair off of his face, stroking his cheek lovingly.

“I miss you a lot...you have no idea how much,” she spoke again, “I wish that you would come back to me...” she paused, cringing at her wording, “To us, I mean. We all miss you so much. I love you, and want you back.”

Another pause as she looked up at the heart monitor. She hadn’t noticed before, but it seemed to have strengthened from the last time she’d seen him. It definitely had over the past few weeks. There was no doubt about that.

“Jaime had her baby today...a little girl,” she told him, “She’s a beautiful little thing. Jaime and A.J. are doing great too. They named her Lauren Nicole.” Anna smiled, “They wished that you would have been awake by the time she was born, but hey...there will be plenty of time for you to see her after you wake up, right?”

Anna could feel her voice start to shake, so she stopped speaking for a moment, swallowing hard. She hoped that there would be plenty of time for Kevin to see Lauren.

“So much has happened since all of this. Nothing is the same anymore, baby.” Tears started to fall down Anna’s face as she once again thought of the whole situation, and she didn’t even try to stop them this time around, “I...I hold myself responsible for all of this happening to you. I am so sorry. I hope when you wake up, you can forgive me. If you can’t, I understand though.”
Anna closed her eyes, looking up at the clock above her as the seconds ticked away all to quickly. Her time allowed to be with Kevin had increased to ten minute intervals, but she only had three minutes left.

“You know,” she said, looking back at her deeply sleeping boyfriend, drying a tear away with her shirt sleeve, “I feel like I say the same things over and over to you every time I come. I can’t stress enough though how much you are loved and missed by all of us. Please wake up soon. I...I need you in my life.” Anna finished before bending down and kissing Kevin’s forehead, “I’ll be back later, okay honey?” Anna gave Kevin’s hand a small squeeze before reluctantly letting go. She took one step back, looking at Kevin one last time before slowly turning around and walking out of the room, looking behind her once at her sleeping prince. How simple it would be if she could just kiss him and he awaken, like Aurora in Sleeping Beauty. But things were so much more complicated than that in real life. In real life, things were not like a fairy tale

.*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Stephanie smiled as she walked into her house with five plastic grocery bags lining each arm. She hummed a song to herself that she’d just heard on the radio by No Doubt, walking in to the kitchen to set the bags down and start unloading them and putting stuff into the fridge. Jaime and A.J. had left the hospital the day before, taking little Lauren to her new home. She was two days old, and more beautiful than when she’d been on the planet for only hours.

Spinning in circles as she unpacked the groceries, she made up her own dance moves to the song, breaking out into a ballad. She figured she might as well make the best of doing shopping for food. Nick had begged her to go by some stuff, even though they had enough to last them until the end of the year. She stopped singing though, freezing in place when she thought she heard voices. Listening carefully, she guessed that it was probably all in her head, for she heard nothing for a long moment. With a shrug, Stephanie started moving again, just wanting to get unloading everything over with. But she heard it again...a female laughing. Stephanie knew that she wasn’t hearing things. Setting down the carton of eggs, she made her way into the den, where Nick always wrote his music at. She slowly rounded the corner, peering into the den. She saw Nick sitting, facing the door, and the back of a woman’s head, her long hair cascading down her back. Stephanie cleared her throat. Nick looked up, his eyes filling with panic, as if he were in the middle of a guilty act. The woman turned around and Stephanie immediately recognized her.

“Nick,” she asked, her voice falsely sugar coated, “Sweetie...what is going on here?”

Nick stood up, walking over to Stephanie, laughing nervously. He wrapped an arm around her, leading her stiff body into the room.

“Baby...this is, um, Willa,” he stumbled on his words, “Willa, this is my girlfriend, Stephanie.” Nick turned to his girlfriend, “Willa wanted to come and talk...I told you about her phone call a couple of days ago.”

“I remember, and so I see she showed up,” Stephanie said in monotone, her eyes shooting daggers at the woman who’d hurt Nick so badly years before.

Nick sat down, pulling Stephanie in to his lap, hoping that it was enough to show that nothing had been going on with him and his ex. He realized that the situation did not look good, especially since he’d asked Stephanie to leave, for he’d been expecting Willa’s arrival.

“She just wanted to check up on Kevin,” Nick said, “Um..to see how he is doing. I was explaining the latest situation.”

“Yes, I just was so worried about him when I heard,” Willa piped up, doing a good job of keeping a concerned look in her eyes. She was great at acting.

“Mmm hmm,” Stephanie replied skeptically, raising an eyebrow, “Like I believe that.” Stephanie seethed, “Funny how she suddenly cares,” she turned her head to face Nick, “She wants something...look at the obvious.”

Nick laughed uncomfortably, gently removing Stephanie from his lap. He could feel tight tension in the room that kept growing. He stood up.

“I’m going to get something to drink,” he informed the two women, “Do you want anything?”

“I’m fine, thanks,” Willa replied.

“My baseball bat,” Stephanie muttered under her breath as Nick gave her a warning look.

"Talk, and try to get along," Nick asked of them, "I'll be right back," he added, and then exited the room,

Stephanie sat back down on the seat that Nick had left. The two women glared at one another for a long moment. It was apparent that Willa was only keeping up the sweet act for Nick. She was now showing her true colors. The ones that Stephanie always knew her to have. She was finally face to face with the woman she most wanted to take a swing at for all she’d put Nick through before she’d met him.

“What do you really want?’ Stephanie asked, her tone harsh.

“To get Nickolas back, of course,” she stated bluntly, not even trying to hide it, “I need him, until I can make some more money.”

Stephanie glared at the woman sitting in front of her. She was flat out admitting that she was only using the blonde, vulnerable, gullible boy for his fame and fortune. Nick was obviously the only one who could not see through her transparent ways.

“Nick is my boyfriend now, got it?” Stephanie warned, her eyes narrowing at the woman. Her glare was full of hate.

“We’ll see about that,” Willa seethed with a smirk, “The only reason he’s going out with you is because he isn’t over me yet, but gave up on me taking him back. He’s just in it with you for the sex, since he is deprived in that area.”

“He’s been over you, and loves me now,” Stephanie said with confidence, but the demonic woman’s words cut through her like knives, “He would never take your skanky ass back.”

Willa was about to reply, but Nick walked in. He sat down next to Stephanie, grinning cheesily at both of them.

“How did you two get along?” he asked.

“Great,” Willa replied perkily, “Your girlfriend is such a sweetheart.”

“That’s why I love her,” Nick said, pulling Stephanie in close to him in a one armed, sideways hug.

“Peachy,” Stephanie answered with sarcasm, crossing her arms over her chest.

She couldn’t believe how quickly the woman could chance personalities. It was like a chameleon changed colors. Stephanie wished that Nick could see what she was all about. It would take more than her telling him though. Stephanie wondered what had happened to her pointing out the obvious days before. Nick had seen her points clearly then. He obviously had forgotten. Willa may have gotten away with fooling Nick this time, but she was determined to make him see what the evil woman from hell was all about, if it was the last thing that she did.
Chapter Twenty by sweet18_2003
Chapter Twenty

“Jaime, help me,” A.J. called from Lauren’s room, panic in his voice, “Please, come quickly. I need you.”.

The couple had brought their daughter home the day before. A.J. had worked through the night to finish decorating the room and adding the final touches as Jaime rested, so that it was complete for Lauren. It was halfway through the next day, and A.J. had come to the realization already that he hadn’t the slightest clue what he was doing when it came to fathering. He figured it might have helped if he’d been there for Jaime through the majority of her pregnancy. He was sure that they’d learned this kind of thing in the la maze classes or something.

Seconds later, Jaime came rushing into the room, or waddling slightly, an effect of just giving birth a couple of days prior. There was worry on her flushed face, her breathing coming out slightly heavy. A.J. realized the urgency in his voice probably had caused her false anticipation.

“What is it?” Jaime asked, her voice full of concern, her eyes showing signs of worry, “Is Lauren alright?” was the first thing that came to mind..

“I don’t know how to change a diaper,” A.J. muttered, holding up a fresh diaper as Lauren’s bare bottom lay against the changing station. A rolled up used one sat next to her.

Jaime shook her head, laughing slightly. Her heart rate was slowly returning to normal. Lauren lay, smiling up at her father, no harm had come to her at all other than her father being clueless. Jaime walked over to her daughter, grabbing the diaper out of A.J’s hands, wiping her bottom with a wet wipe then putting the diaper on Lauren in one swift, professional movement..

“If you’re going to be a father, you’re gonna have to learn how to do these things,” Jaime joked, taking the used bundle of mess and gently placing it in to the small yellow garbage can a few feet away from them.

A.J. smiled shyly, a blush creeping up on to his cheeks, “Maybe you could teach me how to do these things?” he asked, “Since I never have had any experience before or practice...and kinda missed it all...training and stuff.”

Jaime giggled at how cute he was. Changing a diaper, to her, was self explanatory. A.J, on the other hand, was making it sound like it was a quantum physics experiment

“Now who’s fault is that?” she joked, then saw sadness and regret fill A.J’s eyes. She felt bad for laying a guilt trip on something they’d put behind them, “Sure, I’ll teach ya...next time she needs changed,” Jaime smiled, picking Lauren up and rocking the now sleeping baby, “God, she’s so good...never hardly cries.”

“Shhh,” A.J. scolded, “Don’t say that. It’ll jinx us into a baby that cries all of the time.” he joked lightly, “I never knew that parenthood could feel so good and...well, rewarding and honoring.”

“Me neither,” Jaime whispered, “I never imagined I would be a mother at this age...but I am, and I would never turn back for anything. It really is a great feeling.”

There were a few minutes of silence as the new parents stared lovingly at their baby. Soon, their eyes met. Jaime wished that she and A.J. were married. Then it would be like they were a real family. Sure, they lived together, but to her, it wasn’t enough. She wanted more. She wanted to wake up every morning knowing that she was married to the most amazing man ever to be created, a gorgeous ring as proof. She placed Lauren back in to the crip, placing a soft, fuzzy blanket on top of her body to keep her warm.

Tilting her head to one side, Jaime could sense that something was on A.J’s mind by reading his brown eyes. She wondered why he appeared to be so troubled, the worst possible scenarios coming to mind as she looked at the far away look in his eyes.

“What is it?” she asked softly, reaching up and placing a hand lovingly and comfortingly on his strong left bicep.

A.J. shrugged, making Jaime know that he hadn’t been so far out of it. His face showed traces of pain and some regret and remorse.

“I...I just was hoping that Kevin would have woken up by the time that we had Lauren,” he explained, “It’s not the same as it would have been if he were awake and well. He’s missed so damn much...including one of the most important days of my life.”

Sympathy filled Jaime’s eyes. She wished too that Kevin had been awake to witness her and A.J’s little miracle. It surly wouldn’t be the same when he woke up as it would have been if he’d been conscious. So much time had passed since Kevin’s suicide attempt. Sure, a little under a month and a half wasn’t that much time, but a lot could happen in so little time. Their lives were very much proof of that.

She walked over to A.J and pulled him in to her arms. He graciously accepted as she hugged him tightly, feeling his thin, muscular body tremble in her grasp. She couldn’t imagine how hard it must be on him knowing that his best friend of over a decade was hurt. It was hard on her, and she’d known him for just under a year.

“He’ll wake up eventually,” Jaime stated soothingly, trying to encourage her distraught boyfriend, although she said it through gritted teeth, hoping that this was true, “He’ll wake up sooner or later. I can feel it.”

“We don’t know that for sure though,” A.J. wept, sighing dramatically, “How can we be so sure of that when nothing is one hundred percent certain? The doctors haven’t even given us any hope to hold on to of the chances being decent.”

Jaime said nothing, looking over the edge of the crib at her sleeping daughter. She didn’t know how anything was certain. The fact of the matter was that nothing was. So Jaime said nothing, not wanting to convince AJ with false hope. All she could do was wonder how old Lauren would be when, thinking on a positive note, Kevin did wake up. All they could do was hope and pray for the best to happen, and that their friend would awaken within a very short time.

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Anna once again walked in to the isolated room that Kevin was so soundly asleep in. She sighed, looking at him, then eyeing his body up and down. The therapy during his comatose state had done him wonders. It didn’t appear that he’d lost all that much of his muscle definition, although it was evident that once he woke up, he’d have to work to gain back some of what he had lost. Anna walked over to his bedside, sitting on a chair that was next to it. She took his hand in hers, rubbing it gently. Anna watched his chest slowly rise and fall. It showed her proof enough that he was still living. Because of him looking the exact same since he’d come it, Anna honestly was in a toss up between believing he really was alive or had long since passed. So every time she was in doubt, all she did was look for any sort of breathing pattern and she had all the convincing she needed that he was still with her, in some way.

“Hi again, sweetie,” Anna softly, “Not much new going on here,” she told him, “I just wanted to come and see you.”

She continued to hold his hand, staring at his strong, masculine features. She longed to stare in to his green eyes again. He had the most beautiful shade of green eyes, like emeralds, only softer. She hadn’t seen the true shade in so long. They’d lost their shine due to depression, turning into a dull shade. Now, his eyes were closed constantly and the memory of how his eyes had once looked was beginning to fade. She missed staring in to them. She missed cuddling up next to him on their king sized bed right before falling asleep then waking up in his strong arms. She missed the feel of his lips against hers, returning the passionate kisses with the same eagerness as her own. She missed everything about him. Anna would rather Kevin be alive, awake and paralyzed for the rest of his life than to not have him at all. That was how she felt though...like she didn’t have him in her life at all. He was alive, yet he wasn’t. He was there in the flesh, yet he wasn’t. If there was one thing that Anna refused to do though, that was to give up on him. She wanted Kevin in her life romantically, and if that meant waiting until he woke up and was alert, they by all means, she was gong to do it.

“ I know I tell you this every day, but I miss you so much,” she stated, trying to hold her tears back. She had to stay strong for him. Breaking down in to tears would not help matters. If anything, it would make things worse. She sniffled, knowing that her voice was about to start rising, “God, why’d you have to go and do this? Were things really that bad, Kevin? Seriously, was your life really so bad that you wanted to end it?”

She paused, not even trying to hold back her tears anymore. She’d stayed strong for so long, but was lonely without him there to carry on a conversation with, and to feel his skin against hers. In a way, she felt as if this were all her fault. Since she lived with him, she felt that there could have been something to prevent any of this from happening. If only she’d paid better attention to the small details. It could have changed everything.

With a long sigh, Anna knew that this was all of her fault. If she hadn’t gone out with Nathan in the first place, Kevin, who she knew had been crazy for her, would never have left her house so angry. That’s when the whole thing had started. That’s when he’d become paralyzed and his happy, confident self had turned into something unknown to all of them. The thing was, nobody knew that she was still blaming herself for everything. They all thought that she’d let go of the guilty feelings, however that was not the case at all. Now, they were just bottled up so tight inside of her that it was making her ill to think about it all. As she looked back down at Kevin, she began to speak to him again, taming her tears to the best of her ability.

“You had so much going for you. You had an awesome career, potential to get well...four amazing friends. You had me...and I love you more than anything. If you’d just wake up and get well, you could have all of that again. You know we’re all here for you though, right?” Anna forced a smile, even though he couldn’t see it. She was remembering all of the good times they’d had prior to his comatose days, “If you’d just wake up again, you’d have everything going for you again. People love you, no matter what. You have a career waiting for you. You can still get well. You have all of us cheering you on. All you need to do is wake up...please, Kevin...baby. Please, wake up.”

Anna stifled a loud sob she could feel coming. She hated the fact that she was breaking down around him, but after keeping everything in, she needed to let it all out. She felt that nobody would understand all of the pressure that she was lying upon herself. She had constant stress headaches for nobody wanted to listen to her explain why it was her fault to begin with. Those were the same thoughts that kept pounding at her brain.

“Well...I’m going to go now. I’ll be back again tomorrow though. I promise,” she bent down and kissed Kevin’s forehead, brushing her lips gently against his skin, “See you soon, baby. I love you.”

She watched him for a few more moments, still holding his hand in hers. She was about to let go to leave when she felt the slightest movement of Kevin’s fingers curling lightly around hers.

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“Hey Steph, wanna go out to dinner tonight?” Nick asked, walking in to the room where his girlfriend was writing.

Stephanie tensed, but continued to work. It was the day after her encounter with Willa. Almost immediately after Nick had returned from getting drinks, she’d left, saying she was tired and going to sleep for the night. She trusted Nick enough to leave the woman alone with him. She didn’t want to cause a scene though, figuring she could spout off her feelings after the woman had gone. The thing was, the more that Stephanie thought about the fact that Nick was actually letting Willa into his life again after all she’d done to him, the angrier she’d gotten. So when Nick had come to join her in bed, she had pretended to already be asleep to avoid talking to him, and hadn’t been speaking to him since. It hadn’t been hard though either, beings she had tried as hard as she could to not see him, and succeeded...until that moment.

“Steph, did ya hear me?” Nick asked again.

Stephanie sighed, grabbing her notebook and pen, standing up an walking past him, slipping through the doorway and away from the man. Nick turned around, watching her walk away, confusion written on his face. He scratched his head, clueless, wondering what he’d done wrong. He took a few steps, chasing after her.

“Stephanie,” Nick called, “What’s wrong? We don’t have to go out if you don’t want to. It was just a suggestion.”

Stephanie continued to ignore Nick as she made her way in to the living room, plopping down on to the couch. She bent her knee and brought one leg up, resting the notebook on it, curling the other leg under her. She began to write again. She tried her best to block out the vision of Nick standing right in front of her as well as ignore his voice that kept interrupting her thoughts.

“Stephie”. He whined. “Why won’t you talk to me?”

Stephanie sighed in annoyance as she slammed the notebook down on to the couch. Swinging her legs over the edge, she stood up, walking away again, bound and determined to get rid of Nick for awhile. He was getting on her last nerve. Nick followed her again, just as determined as her, only his motive was to get her to speak with him. She continued to walk away with Nick trailing right at her heels.

“Stephanie,” Nick tried again.

Stephanie spun around glaring at him. Nick could tell that she was furious, but he hadn’t a clue as to why. It made no sense to him. As far as he was concerned, he had not done a thing wrong.

“Go away you little mutant”. She hissed. “Why don’t you just go stick your head up your ass and...and...and crap it back out.”

“ Huh”? He asked, tilting his head to one side, his expression saying that he was completely lost, “ How is that possible”?

“ Nick just shut up and be.......you. Or better yet, be normal for once,” She suggested in a huff,. “ The less you talk, the less chance there is that you have of losing anymore brain cells or lack there of.”

Nick just stared at Stephanie, his mouth hanging open. His brain was working on overdrive trying to figure out what she had meant.

“ Was that an insult”? Nick asked scratching his head in confusion. “Cuz it sure sounded like one.”

Stephanie just shook her head in disgust, turning away from Nick. She tried to walk away, but he grabbed her, spinning her around, holding on to her shoulders firmly yet gently to keep her in place. He stared at her for a moment, trying to read her eyes and search her soul to see what she was thinking, but she was keeping him out, making it impossible for him to find out anything.

“Honey, what’s this really about?” Nick asked softly, dismissing all of the cruel things she’d just spat off at him.

“Nothing,” Stephanie mumbled, trying to fight out of his grasp, but he wasn’t letting up.

“Please tell me?” Nick begged, “Let me know what I did wrong to make you so upset with me, so I can fix it.”

Stephanie sighed. She didn’t think she really needed to explain things, or had to if she didn’t want to speak to him. If Nick would just think and use his head for once, she was pretty sure that he could figure out why she was so perturbed with him. She looked in to his eyes, seeing that he really wanted to know. She decided to just let him know and get it over with so he would leave her in peace for awhile so she could calm herself.

“You,” she spat, “Willa...” she stuttered, not able to form complete sentences through her built up fury.

“Honey, I told you...Willa just wants to be friends and is concerned about Kevin.

Stephanie snorted, wanting to slap some sense in to Nick. He was too trusting of people...no exceptions. She wished that he thought more rationally and logically about things rather than always trying to see the best in people.

“You let that demonic bitch in to our house,” she nearly screamed, “After all she did to you, you practically welcome her in with open arms. How can you not see that she’s up to something?

Nick laughed. He pulled Stephanie in to a hug, and she thought that he was actually taking her words in to consideration. She was wrong.

“She was just worried about Kevin, so I informed her,” he grinned, feeling proud of himself over this fact.

Stephanie laughed bitterly, wondering if she’d ever convince Nick that Willa was not what she seemed underneath the surface. Willa had shown her true side to Stephanie when Nick had left the room. If only she could make Nick see that side somehow.

“Did it ever occur to you that she wants something out of you?” Stephanie screamed, “For ten months, Kevin was paralyzed, for almost two of those months, a coma. She had more than enough time to show her concerns. Yet she didn’t, until now.”

Nick shook his head, totally not buying in to her accusations of a woman whom should have been on his hate list for life. He could see that Stephanie was furious with him, however he felt she really had no real good reasons to be.

“People can change, Steph,” Nick said softly, “Don’t be jealous of a friend. That’s all she is. I love you. You’re my girlfriend....my one and only.”

This caused Stephanie to laugh loudly. His accusation cracked her up, as she found it hysterical. Shaking her head, Stephanie forced her laughter to die down so she could speak, knowing she was going to sound like she was speaking to a toddler. Sometimes though, with Nick, that’s exactly what needed to be done.

“Nick, I am not jealous of that woman,” Stephanie informed him, “What’s to be jealous of? She’s a whore, and a nasty one at that.”

“Then what’s this really about?” Nick questioned, realizing for the first time that Stephanie was no longer in his arms. She’d pulled away and was now standing a good five feet away from him, “If you’re not jealous of my befriending her, then what’s with the attitude?”

Nick knew that he was digging himself a hole in this relationship, but he had to know. He could tell that he was not on Stephanie, the love of his life’s, favorite people list but knew he could fix that with a little romance and sincerity.

“She is after something,” Stephanie cried in frustration, “Have you not been listening to me this entire time, you bone head.”

“She’s not after anything,” Nick said, “She was before...yes, but not this time. She is not stupid enough to try it again.”

Nick walked over and gave Stephanie a kiss on the lips, giving her an assured smile, which to her looked moronic and full of stupidity. He then walked away, telling her that their conversation was well past over.

“She is after something...your money,” Stephanie whispered, wishing she could tell him about what Willa had said. But even if she did, Nick would not believe her. His head was straight set on trusting the satanic woman, “You’re only going to end up hurt again, and when you do, I might not be here for you to fall back on.”
Chapter Twenty-One by sweet18_2003
Chapter Twenty-One

Kevin could hear her voice again...the voice of someone he knew so well. Anna. His Anna. It sounded as if he were inside of a tunnel, and she was yelling in to him, her words echoing around him, however the voice was clearer than before, although he’d heard it all along. He felt as if he hadn’t seen her in years, but rather only heard her voice, sounding distraught and sad. He wondered why her voice was always in monotone lately and why she kept putting things in past tense. The thought of something hurting her in any way upset him, as his thoughts automatically assumed something had gone wrong for her. But if that were the case, then why was he the one who could not remember seeing her and being with her? What if it were him whom there was something wrong with? And what? So many questions were running through Kevin’s mind and it was becoming more logical that it was him and not Anna. The question was, what had happened to him?

Upon hearing Anna’s trembling voice, knowing that she was crying, Kevin knew he had to give her a sign that he was there. He couldn’t open his eyes, or speak. He’d tried that many times before. He’d tried to move too, but knew that nothing ever happened. All he knew was that he hated hearing Anna so upset and distraught. He wished again that he had some answers. There was a pain in his chest, and he figured that it was from his heart breaking upon hearing his girl’s sobs. He just wished that he could wake up to tell Anna that everything would be okay. He wanted to hold her in his arms and kiss her, assuring her that he was still there for her, and always would be. That was not happening though. He wondered if it ever would.

Kevin also heard the trembling voices of his friends. Brian, Nick, Howie, Jaime, Stephanie and even A.J, whom he’d assumed was still upset with him, all sounded equally concerned. On more than one occasion, he’d heard screaming. Although he’d known it was coming from right next to him, it sounded distant. Far away. The scream was followed by pounding footsteps, which he was pretty sure was running. Afterwards, not long after, he heard other muffled voices which he did not recognize, speaking in a language that was foreign to him as his body was being jolted, painfully, violently, unmercifully.

From the words that were spoken by his friends, he knew that he was truly loved and cared for, and greatly missed. Most of every word said was stating how much they wish he’d wake up and that they were there for him. The words of encouragement made him want to try harder to wake up, and he did try. He was getting nowhere though. That alone both discouraged him and made him want to fight all at the same time. Then there was the occasional telling of how their day had gone. There was everyone telling him about Jaime having her baby and all about her and the cute things she did. He’d felt regret, wishing he could have been there for her and A.J. to experience what would be one of the proudest days of their lives. If he knew what was wrong with him, he thought that maybe he could have been there, had he fought hard enough to be there. The one that had disturbed him the most though was when Brian had told him he’d kissed his precious Anna. He figured though that it had been in a dream, for his cousin would never do something like that. If he did, Kevin knew he’d deck him right in the gut for it, knocking his wind out from fury. Besides, Brian was one to keep things proper. Moving in on his cousin’s girlfriend, or anyone’s for that matter, was strictly something he did not believe in doing. Therefore, he did not trust what his mind had heard. Then again, if he felt that was false, who was to say that him hearing the words that A.J and Jaime’s baby had been born was false too? He didn’t know and was so confused.

Feeling something soft and moist on his forehead, Kevin knew that Anna was kissing him again. He knew he’d do anything to return that kiss. Anything at all. It seemed that she was giving up all hope in him though. Which was why he had to give her a sign that he was still there. That he wasn’t brain dead and could hear and understand every word she was saying. He just couldn’t communicate back with her and show her this. Putting his mind to it, Kevin put all of his mind and soul in to giving Anna a sign. He knew that speaking was out of the question which only left moving an option. He didn’t know how to though. He felt stiff, as if he had been for ages. He remembered that he was paralyzed from the waist down, which limited his options and complicated things even further. Using all of his concentration, Kevin tried to give Anna’s had a light squeeze. He knew he’d done nothing though by getting no reaction from her. Feeling as if his heart rate was increasing, Kevin tried to calm himself down. He knew that if he wasn’t calm, he’d surely get nowhere. When he felt he was ready, Kevin tried again to give Anna a sign that he was there in more ways than she may have thought. He knew that something had happened when he felt his hand being dropped suddenly, and heard a light, startled gasp followed by hurried footsteps against the hard, cold floor. All he could do now was wait and see what happened, which was something he had become very used to.
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Anna fled through the hospital full speed in search of Kevin’s doctor, not thinking that she could pull aside any doctor to help make her search easier and have the man she was looking for paged. She hadn’t thought that she could have gotten one of the ICU nurses attention. Finding her friends to inform them of the news had also slipped her mind. Her mind was a jumble, her adrenaline pumping through her full force. Kevin had moved for the first time in months. In her mind, that had to mean something positive. It had to mean that he was making progress towards recovery and waking up.

Running up and down the halls of the hospital, she was not finding the man who’d been taking care of Kevin anywhere. She needed to find him. She needed to tell him and hear the words that she was hoping he’d speak. That her boyfriend, the man who meant the world to her was close to waking up. That he was going to be okay and that soon, his life would be back on track again.

Continuing her determined, desperate search, Anna’s head whipped from side to side as she ran so she didn’t miss anything or anyone. Tears of happiness had started to run down her cheeks. The whole situation was so surreal to her. After months of watching her beloved Kevin motionless and unresponsive to anything, he’d squeezed her hand, showing her the first real signs of life. Anna felt as if she were on cloud nine as she rounded a corner to search down another hallway. What she as well as all of the others had hoped and prayed for had finally happened. She then remembered that she was the only one who knew and couldn’t wait to tell them the hopefully great news. But first...she had...to find...the doctor. She kept hearing shouts for her to “slow down” and “stop running before she hurt someone,” but Anna ignored the requests keeping up on her quick paced journey.

Her legs were beginning to grow tired from the running, her lungs screaming for oxygen and for her to slow down, but she wasn’t about to do that. Her breaths were coming out heavy and pant like. Anna refused to stop though. Her personal comfort was far less important than what was going on with Kevin.

And finally, as if an angel had been looking down upon her, she saw Kevin’s doctor at the end of the long hallway speaking to another doctor. This caused her to pick up her pace as adrenaline set in full force before he disappeared from her sight and she lost him. Anna pushed through masses of people and wove around individuals scattered around the hall as if she were going through a maze. As she neared the man, she could feel her legs close to giving out on her from exhaustion. She only had a few more steps to go and then she was there right before the man who was supposed to make Kevin well again just as the other man was walking away. She was so tired that when she stopped, her body swayed a little before falling forward. The only place she had to catch a grip on was the doctor. Anna’s hands grabbed on to his white overcoat as she slid further to the ground in a dizzy spell. She dug her nails further in to his arm before she went completely down in attempt to support her as she tried to scramble to her feet. She looked up and saw a look of panic in the doctors eyes, possible fear even as he tried to back away, but she wasn’t letting her grip loosen any until she felt a pair of strong hands from behind her grabbing on to her still panting self and picking her up, pulling her firmly away from the authority figure. The doctor brushed himself off keeping a professional stance as Anna was let go. She swayed a little more but regained her balance knowing that she’d be fine. Her breath was still heavy though and she didn’t know if she’d be able to get any words out.

“Did you need anything, Anna?” the doctor asked, knowing each of Kevin’s friends names at this point from their constant visiting.

Anna opened her mouth to speak but nothing but a heaved wheeze came out. She gulped as best she could beings she’d discovered her mouth was dry and cotton like then tried again making little accomplishment from the last time.

“Kevin...” she got out, “He....m....he...”

The doctor held a hand up telling Anna to stop speaking and she did. He just looked at her as if trying to figure out what she was trying to sputter but finally gave up not having a clue.

“Calm down,” he told her, “Take in a few deep breaths to get yourself under control and then tell me.”

Anna did as she was told sucking in some breaths slowly and exhaling the same. She could soon feel her breathing and heart rate returning back to normal slowly. She closed her eyes letting the effects set in before opening them and trying again.

“Kevin just moved,” she stated quickly, “I was in his room talking to him and holding his hand and his hand wrapped around mine.”

The doctor looked at her, his face expressionless. He did not show excitement yet he didn’t look as if she should be discouraged either. She couldn’t tell if this news surprised him or not. She could not tell a thing and it was quickly causing her excitement to die down. She looked at him meeting his eyes for another moment before speaking when he still didn’t.

“Does that mean he’s close to waking up?” Anna asked boldly, her eyes full of hope.

The doctor hesitated, his eyes adverting to the left, away from hers, for the slightest second before his eyes met hers again. Anna swore her heart stopped at that moment by the look he had etched on his face and by his hesitation to speak.

“It could mean that,” he began giving Anna a glimmer of something to look forward to again for not more than a second, “It could also be just a reflex. Comatose patients sometimes do twitch or have slight movement every now and then.” he could see Anna’s shoulders slump as the news came as a blow to her, “I’m sorry,” the doctor said, his tone gentle, “It would be wrong of me to give you false hope when this could very well be nothing.”

“I understand,” Anna stated, forcing a tight, weak smile, “But there is a chance he’s close to waking up?” she asked him, wanting to hold on to
some encouragement, even if it was minimal.

“It’s hard to say at this point,” the doctor told her, “But yes, there is a chance that it’s a sign.”

Anna breathed a sigh of relief. She still had something to hold on to. Not all hope was lost. She refused to give up on Kevin. In her mind, Kevin was going to wake up, and soon.

“Thank you,” Anna said to the man standing before her.

The doctor nodded, giving Anna a pat on the back and slipped around her walking away. Anna stood still comprehending everything. She was torn between going back to Kevin to utter words of encouragement to him some more or going to find the others to tell them what she’d just experienced. Taking a moment to decide, Anna felt finding or calling the others was the fair and right thing to do first. Anna smiled at the memory of feeling Kevin’s hand wrap around her’s as she walked towards the waiting room where they all were whenever someone was at the hospital to see if anyone was there at that moment. It was a dream come true. Anna could almost feel his arms wrapped around her again and his lips on hers. She couldn’t hardly wait to experience it for real again, and Anna had a feeling it would be sooner than everyone thought. For the first time in what seemed like forever, Anna felt confident that everything was going to turn out okay.
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Stephanie scowled as she stared across the long table for sixteen in the restaurant that she, as well as the Boys, Anna, Jaime and Bluewave, were sitting at. She was staring at Willa, whom Nick had invited out on the outing meant for her and her friends...not demons who lurked around her boyfriend trying to destroy a relationship. Stephanie hated to admit it, but it was working. Willa was ruining her relationship with her constant being around and Nick defending her. Nick was quicker to believe that the woman had changed for the better than he was to believe Stephanie when she said that she hadn’t.

Sensing some tension in the room, Brian spoke, trying to break the silence that had taken over the majority of them while waiting for their entree’s to arrive. He looked around trying to find a topic of conversation to start. He stopped, his gaze falling upon Jaime and A.J. and smiled.

“Lauren sure is getting big,” he commented causing all other conversation to stop. Their attention was now on Brian and the happy couple.

“Yeah,” Jaime gushed, “She’s just shy of three weeks old and she’s about doubled in size already. It seems like just yesterday I was in labor with her.”

Willa turned her head to the side to face Jaime who was breast feeding the infant. She smiled sweetly at her. Jaime looked over and noticed the woman staring at her. She forced a smile back although it was a tight one. She too disliked Willa as well as everyone at the table except for Nick. She pitied Stephanie that her boyfriend had taken her back as a friend and knew what a hard time she was having coping with the burden of a change.

“May I hold her?” Willa asked, “She’s so precious.”

Jaime hesitated as she stared in to the woman’s eyes. She held Lauren closer to her chest wanting to protect her from all evil, and she did mean ALL. Willa reached out and put her skinny hands on the baby in attempt to hold her. Jaime tried to pull away but before she had time to react, her child was in the arms of Satan, being corrupt by it as they sat there. Her body tensed as she sat rigid, watching like a hawk to make sure no harm was done.

“You’re so lucky to have such a sweet daughter,” Willa cooed, her voice sugar coated. Jaime was seeing right through the act and wondered how she’d been stuck sitting next to her for the evening. She just smiled and shrugged in response. If she opened her mouth, Jaime knew that she would spat some words that would only cause trouble that she didn’t want to be responsible for.

Silence took over once more. The only person who was smiling at the table was Willa. Bluewave had begun carrying on their own conversation. A.J. was the one who’d invited them. The gang had kept in touch with the sixsome band, and they’d been great about checking up on the status of Kevin, but as for really hanging out, that was another story.

“Yep,” A.J. muttered in monotone, as if he weren’t fully in to the conversation, “She’s one in a million.” he boredly lay his head on the tabletop staring in to and through his glass of clear sparkling water.

Willa sensed the tension at the table. She rocked Lauren a little as she looked down at the sleeping baby. She held her for a second more before handing her back to her mother. Jaime took her quicky and gently, eager to get her back to safety. She made a mental note to bathe her child when they got home to disinfect her of anything Nick’s so-called friend may have given her.

“So, Anna...” Howie stated, bringing Anna out of her deep train of thought. She stared at him blankly, “You’ve been quiet tonight. What’s going on with you lately? Anything new and exciting happen?”

Anna bit her lip. She still hadn’t told anybody about Kevin. She’d gone in search of them to tell them, but then decided against it. If it was just a false alarm, then there would be a large group of disappointed people rather than just her alone. It was days later and nobody still knew about it and Kevin hadn’t moved again, or if he had, it had been while nobody was there. Anna looked around. All eyes were on her. She could feel herself starting to blush and knew she had to think of something to say.

“Um, not much,” she answered as everyone looked at their friend expectantly to go on, “Um. Just visiting Kevin every day...pretty much.” she stopped, deciding she had nothing to lose by telling them what had happened, “He moved slightly about ten days ago.”

At that moment time stopped. Everybody froze, the information taken as a shock to everybody. It had been the one thing that they’d been expecting to hear the least of anything else. Slowly though, everybody started to smile until their grins were wide and to their ears. Anna immediately felt like she could kick herself in the ass for letting the words slip. And then everyone started talking at once, their words making her heart break even more because the information meant nothing, but she was the only one who knew that.

“That’s so great,” Stephanie gushed, her smile wide.

“It’s about damn time,” A.J. stated

“Why didn’t you tell us sooner?” Howie asked

“Does that mean he’s close to waking up?” Cody asked

“I can’t believe it. After all these months, he shows signs that he’s alive still.” Brian drawled, “I swear, when that boy wakes up...”

His voice trailed off as he saw Anna holding up a hand telling them all to stop talking. She took in a deep breath. This was the kind of thing that she’d wanted to avoid by telling them. Her and her big mouth.

“He only moved that once though,” she told them and saw the smiles slowly fading, “I asked the doctor about it. He said that it could mean something, then again it could just be basic, simple reflexes and not mean a thing.” she shrugged, her eyes sad, “I’m guessing it was number two since he hasn’t moved again.”

The mood was again glum and somber. She wished she hadn’t said anything for about the tenth time. Now the information would be nagging at their minds and driving them crazy, just as it was her. Anna hoped that she didn’t go insane with stress, worry and the wondering of what would be.

“I’m so sorry,” Willa stated, her lip sticking out in a tiny pout, “That’s just awful.”

“Oh shove it,” Stephanie muttered, seeing past her sickening sweet act. That’s all it was. An act, and she hated her for it.

Stephanie looked over at Nick. His face showed depression over the fact that Kevin’s movement probably meant nothing. Willa must have noticed too because she placed a hand on his leg and put an arm around his shoulders pulling him in close.

“It’s gonna be okay,” she cooed, “He’ll wake up eventually. It might be today. It might be in a year, but he’ll wake up.”

Fire boiled in Stephanie’s veins at this. She felt sick to her stomach. She felt sick a lot lately, figuring it was due in part to Willa’s constantly being around and Nick taking her in. She could feel her body starting to shake and knew she couldn’t stay in the same room as Willa for one more second.

“Excuse me,” Stephanie stated, getting up from the table quickly when she saw Willa pulling him in to a hug and him accepting, “I need some fresh air.”

She started to walk away when she felt Nick’s hand grab hers. She turned around, fire and ice in her eyes as she glared at him, or rather past him.

“Want me to go with you?” he asked.

Stephanie shook her head.

“Can I get a kiss?”

Stephanie bent down and gave him a cold, distant peck on the lips before pulling away and walking quickly out of the restaurant. She didn’t see the look of confusion on his face at her attitude towards him. Stephanie turned her head once and saw Willa snuggling in to his side. She noticed Nick try to pull away but Willa didn’t let go and he didn’t try again. Tears stung her eyes as she exited the building. Once outside, she leaned against the brick wall and sunk to the concrete. Everything was going so wrong. She hoped that things got better, but had a feeling that before they did, if they did, things would only get worse.
Chapter Twenty-Two by sweet18_2003
yes, I know it has been way too long since I have updated. I've had serious writers block plus been so busy all summer. ANyways, here is the next chapter!

Chapter Twenty-Two

Stephanie woke up with stomach cramps bad enough to knock over a body builder. Bringing her knees upward, she hugged them close to her body in hopes to make the pain leave her body. When a wave of nausea hit her though, she knew that it would not be happening any time soon. Jumping out of bed, she rushed to the bathroom, making it to the toilet just on time to heave all the contents of her stomach in to it. When she was sure that she was done, she collapse onto the cool tile floor in exhaustion, not really feeling much better.

Reaching a hand up, she felt around for the handle on the toilet seat, fumbling around for a little before finally finding it. She pressed down, letting the chunky mess go down from the powerful suction. She hoped that she hadn’t woken Nick, as she could only imagine how noisy she must’ve been. She really wasn’t in the mood to deal with his concern. It annoyed her more than she could describe lately. She’d been feeling sickly now for awhile now, throwing up as a result of it for a little over three weeks. It had started pretty much the day after she’d walked out of the restaurant on Nick. He still had it set in his mind though that Willa’s intentions were good, still keeping her as a friend.

On top of the nauseating sickness spells, Stephanie had gained the slightest bit of weight. Her period was late, her breasts swollen and always tender and sore. She didn’t know what was with her, but had a pretty good guess. Stephanie was afraid to find out for sure though, which was why she had yet to take the home pregnancy test she’d bought two weeks ago. The thought of carrying around another life inside of her frightened her. She’d always been the one to preach about safe sex, or waiting until marriage when she very well could be pregnant with Nick’s kid, not even engaged. She’d never hear the end of it from Jaime or Anna. However Stephanie felt like now was the time to find out for sure. If she was, she could at least do something about it before it was too late, or talk things over with Nick and see what he wanted. Although due to the slight problems that they were having lately, a child was really the absolute last thing that they needed at the moment.

Taking a deep breath, Stephanie found the energy to roll over on to her other side and open the door to the sink cabinet, rummaging around behind a stack of fluffy hunter green bath towels and bottles of hair products until she found the thin, rectangular box that she was looking for. She was glad to know that Nick hadn’t found them. There was no use in freaking him out into a panic attack until she knew for sure herself.

As she carefully lifted the box up over the stack of towels, bringing it out, Stephanie closed the cabinet door. For a few long moments, she sat there frozen, clutching the box in her hand just staring down at it. She began to shake as she slowly opened the box, pulling out one of the two tests.

As she stood, Stephanie placed the box on top of the sink counter, holding the small single test in her tightly clenched fist. Peeling open the plastic wrapper, Stephanie plucked out the test with her finger tips, knowing that in the next few minutes her life could be changed. As she sat on the toilet, she waited until a flow of urine had started before holding the stick under the stream for the full recommended three seconds before placing the cap back over the end, lying it flat on the counter top next to the box.

The next five minutes had to have been the longest of Stephanie’s life. She kept pacing the length of the full size bathroom, denying herself the urge of look down at the progress of the test. She kept looking at the small clock on the wall, seeing that only a mere few seconds had passed since the last time she’d looked. When the minutes hand finally did reach the five minute mark, Stephanie was on the test like a dog on a piece of fresh meat. Looking down at the results box, sweat beaded Stephanie’s forehead.

“Two lines, two lines,” she muttered as she reached for the box, already forgetting absentmindedly what two lines meant. She accidently knocked it off of the counter, “SHIT” she cursed a little two loudly, bending over to retrieve the box. Bringing it up, she quickly scanned the side panel, reading it aloud, “One line means not pregnant and two lines means...” she stopped as her eyes grew wide, comprehending what was happening, “...pregnant.” she finished.

Stephanie didn’t remember much in the following moments after that as she blanked out, her breathing slowing down drastically, each breath she did take coming out hard. She didn’t even notice as Nick walked in to the bathroom, taking her gently into his grasp, shaking her slightly to snap her out of her daze.

“Steph,” he called, shaking a little harder, not noticing the vital clues of what had caused her current condition. He was becoming worried, thoughts of Kevin lying still and unresponsive in a coma coming to mind, “Stephanie?” he called louder.

Shaking her head, Stephanie suddenly snapped back in to reality, staring at Nick in confusion. She didn’t know how long she’d been spaced out for, but wondered when he’d come to join her not remembering a thing. That’s when she felt that she was holding something, glancing down at it in her stiff arm and everything came flooding back to her. She looked back up at Nick with wide eyes unable to speak.

“Are you okay, hun?” Nick asked, concern in his eyes, something she hadn’t seen in weeks...since Willa had come into his life again.

Stephanie didn’t know how to respond to his question. So she just lifted up the test, holding it out for Nick to take and read for himself. Nick took it, looking down at the oblong shaped white object in his hand with two small pink lines in the center of it. He raised and eyebrow, looking back at his girlfriend, completely clueless.

“What is it?” he asked, “Umm...I mean, what is it for?”

Stephanie rolled her eyes, “Look at the box,” she managed to get out, holding the box out for Nick to read for himself. Once again, his common sense had passed him by in a moment of importance.

Nick took the box, reading the front. It took a moment for him to comprehend what he was reading, but once he did, his breath caught in his throat. He looked back down at the test then at the box, matching up the results. He gulped as he looked back up at Stephanie, his face unreadable to her, making it impossible to know what he was
thinking.

“You’re pregnant?” he asked her, and she nodded her head in response, “You mean we’re going to have a baby?”

“That’s usually what being pregnant means,” Stephanie spat sarcastically, completely snapped from her funk now.

Nick’s face was still expressionless for a moment as he realized what this meant. It was then that a small smile started to creep on to his lips until it was a full blown grin. He pulled Stephanie in to his arms, spinning her around in circles in a large hug.

“Easy there,” she stated, a queasy feeling coming over her, hoping that she didn’t throw up again that morning.

“Oh, sorry,” Nick stated, setting her back down, but he was still smiling, “This is great...wonderful...fantastic.”

Stephanie looked in to his eyes and saw that he was genuinely excited, but she wanted to hear him say so himself in those words. She wanted the reassurance because she herself wasn’t sure if she thought it was such a good thing.

“So you’re happy? You’re not upset or disappointed?” she prodded.

“Not at all,” Nick stated, “I couldn’t be happier.”

He hugged her again and planted a passionate kiss on her lips. Stephanie smiled, thinking that maybe a new addition in their lives wouldn’t be so bad after all. In fact, it might make them close again. Stephanie looked into Nick’s eyes and saw adoration in them for her. He’d never looked so in love before and for a moment, Stephanie thought that he’d possibly even rid of Willa for good. It gave her hope that everything would be okay between them now. And she felt that there was a good chance that it would be.

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As Anna walked in to Kevin’s room, she stopped short when she saw that his therapist was there, gently moving his limbs back and forth, up and down. She stood in the doorway, unsure of if she should stick around and wait until the middle aged woman was done or come back later. She was about to make her decision when she was noticed.

“Hello, Anna,” Peggy, the therapist greeted with a smile, “Back again, I see.”

Anna smiled back as she entered the room. She neared Peggy and Kevin, observing the professional at work. It was only the third time she’d run in to the woman in the months Kevin lye comatose, however Peggy had learned her name and remembered it. She was a woman that Anna felt comfortable talking to, just like the young nurse who she’d encountered when she’d paid Kevin the visit which had not been allowed.

“How’s he doing today?” Anna asked, referring to his body condition. She could see just how much muscle he’d lost, but not all was gone. It still sickened her to see the rock hard body Kevin had worked so hard for almost completely deteriorated. If he ever woke, she hated to see his reaction when he got the first glimpse of what had happened to him.

“He’s staying limber, which is a good thing. As you know, once stiffness sets in, it is very difficult to reverse it. His muscle development is stable, and I’m doing my best to make sure he doesn’t lose any more.”

Anna gulped and nodded. Looking down at him, he looked younger and older at the same time. Younger and innocent because of his sleeping state, yet older due to the stress he’d faced in the last few months he was awake.

“I’ve been wanting to thank you for all that you’ve been doing for him,” Anna stated in appreciation, “If it weren’t for you...I don’t...I mean, well...he’d be even worse off than he already is...if that’s possible.”

“Believe me, it is very possible,” Peggy chuckled, “I’m almost done for the day, then I’ll leave you to visit with your boyfriend alone.”

Anna laughed, a bit uncomfortable. She wondered if it was that obvious that she wanted Peggy to be done already. Peggy didn’t seem to notice as she continued to do her job. Anna observed carefully, wondering if Kevin was ever released from the hospitals care, if it would be her job to learn how to care for his body and keep it healthy. Her thoughts must have gotten the better of her because she didn’t even notice Peggy packing up her supplies preparing to leave.

“I’ll see you around,” Peggy stated, “Have a good night.”

“Huh?” Anna asked, shaking her head as she noticed Peggy standing by the door, “Yeah, I’ll see you around.” she waved as the woman walked out of the door.

Anna sighed, turning back to Kevin. She secretly kicked herself for not asking the questions and inquiring about the things that had been on her mind. That was quickly off her mind though as she put her attention back on Kevin in front of her.

Sitting down on the chair next to his bed, Anna took Kevin’s hand in hers, rubbing it as she stared at him. She silently urged him to open his eyes, but knew that it wouldn’t do any good. Anna gave Kevin’s hand a light squeeze after gently kissing it and lying it back down on the bed next to him. She continued to hold his hand, staring down at his sleeping posture. She sighed, forcing a smile that nobody could see, but hoped that Kevin would somehow be able to sense it. Her smile faded though and a tear trickled down her cheek as the thoughts of living her life without him came to mind. She’d been thinking these thoughts a lot lately, negativity coming with the disappointment she faced every time she walked in to his room and saw that his prognosis had not changed. He’d moved, flinched and twitched minor movements a few more times than the first time three weeks ago, but the fact that he’d not awakened yet had taken away every glimmer of hope that Anna had had left, and the hopes of everyone else were slowly being taken away as well, if not already gone.

“If you can even hear me,” Anna started, her voice shaking, “I really, really miss you. I keep thinking you’re going to wake up, and everything will be okay again, but every day I come here, and you’re lying in the same position as the day before. I feel stupid for ever even thinking that you’re going to wake up...” her voice trailed off as she tried to compose herself and wipe away the stream of tears from her face, “I don’t want to give up on you, but I can’t help it,” then she muttered to herself, “Hell, you probably can’t even hear me.”

Anna spent a few more minutes with Kevin. She’d decided that talking to him was doing no good and only depressing her even further. Everybody’s visits and encouragement hadn’t done a bit of anything. All the care in the world and muttered words of encouragement wouldn’t awaken Kevin if they hadn’t yet. Anna truly believed that as she kissed Kevin’s forehead and let go of his hand, standing up.

“I love you,” she whispered, “Even if you don’t realize it.”

Anna looked at Kevin one last time before turning abruptly and leaving the room to go home. She walked down the halls of the hospital, a few last tears falling from her eyes as she decided that she wasn’t going to hold on to false hopes any longer. She’d visit Kevin, but not expect anything in return.

When she returned to what had used to be Kevin and her’s home, she rushed in through the doors upon hearing the phone ring. She threw her purse down, diving for the phone. Picking it up just before the answering machine came on, Anna was slightly out of breath.

“Hello,” Anna asked.

“Hello, is Anna there please?” came a male voice.

Anna froze, automatically thinking the deep voiced man was Nathan. Sweat beaded her forehead as she wondered how he’d gotten the number. After all the cruel things he’d said to her, she wanted nothing to do with the egotistical asshole.

“This is her.” Anna replied flatly.

“This is Doctor Newton,” he began.

Anna could have sworn that she quit breathing as the worst case scenarios came to mind. What if Kevin had been declared brain dead. What if he’d died while she’d been on her way home. Somehow though, she found her voice to be calm as she spoke to the man on the other end.

“What can I do for you?” she asked.

“Well, I have some good news for you. Kevin just woke up about twenty minutes ago and he’s asking for you.”

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Anna never sped so fast in her life as she did going back to the hospital. On top of it, she was making calls from her cell phone to let all of Kevin’s friends know what she’d recently found out. She smiled shakily as she continued to drive, hoping that it hadn’t been some sort of ludicrous day dream that she had mistaken for reality. Not only would she feel like a complete idiot upon returning to the hospital room that Kevin was in, but she’d have gotten everybody else in the middle of it and let them down as well.

Sliding in to the first parking spot she could find, Anna fled from her car without locking it, running with long strides in to the enormous brick building, taking the stairs up to the floor that Kevin was on. She continued to run until she bumped in to Dr. Newton who was just coming out of her boyfriends room.

“Anna,” he smiled, “I’m glad to see that you could make it, “Kevin’s awake, as you’ve already been told. He’s a little groggy, not completely alert, but the fact that he’s asked for you tells me that his memory is in tact.”

Anna smiled, wishing that he’s shut up already and allow her to make her way in to see her boyfriend before he others arrived. Once they did, her time with Kevin would be stolen by the attention of everybody else. Anna realized that she was acting selfish, but all she wanted was a few minutes alone with Kevin. This was proof that the phone call hadn’t been a dream or a joke. It was for real, the moment that Anna had been waiting for for so long. And no more than an hour before, she’d almost, no, she had given up all faith she’d held of him getting well, and now here she was standing about to see Kevin awake. The rest of what Dr. Newton said completely slipped past Anna, so she would never know if it was important or not. However the last sentence he spoke she understood and heard loud and clear.

“You may go in to see him now. Just be gentle.”

Anna smiled and pushed open the door, entering the room that Kevin was in. He was still flat on his back, the bed reclined just a couple of inches. He was staring straight ahead and Anna could feel tears of happiness starting to form in her eyes. She stopped in the middle of the room, just taking in the beautiful sight before her. Kevin must have heard her footsteps enter, or sensed her presence, because he turned to her, a shy smile forming on his lips.

“Hi,” he whispered.

“Hi.” Anna softly said back, unsure of what to do. She was nervous for some reason, yet excited. She didn’t know what to say now that she was being confronted with Kevin face to face. It was what she’d dreamed for, yet hadn’t prepared herself for because deep down, she didn’t really think it would happen.

Kevin smiled at Anna, he too at loss for words. He’d woken up, yet being in the hospital had surprised him. He wasn’t sure what had happened to him, but remembered many times Anna’s voice speaking to him. Seeing her frozen in an awkward state though make him wonder if she was happy to see him or if she’d found somebody else and didn’t know how to break it to him.

“Do you want to come closer?” Kevin asked, half joking, half serious.

Anna nodded, and before she knew it, she was in Kevin’s arms, hugging him. She wept tears of relief as his arms enveloped her in return in a tight embrace. She smothered him in kisses, him returning them. The reunion was a sweet one, and convinced Kevin that she’d waited for him though however long he’d not been there.

“My god, I missed you so much,” Anna cried, wiping her tears away for the fifth time that day. She pulled back slightly and noticed that Kevin’s eyes were also moist, “I...I missed you so much. I didn’t think I’d ever...that...” Anna sputtered, at loss for words, but Kevin understood what she was trying to say with ease.

“I missed you too,” he answered, then paused before asking, “What happened and how long was I...umm...gone?”

“A little over three months and you umm...I...” Anna paused, trying to find the most delicate way to tell Kevin, but then realized that there was no easy or even good way to tell him, “You tried to kill yourself.” she finally said, her voice barely audible, but Kevin had heard her.

“Oh, yeah,” was Kevin’s response, which had surprised her. With Anna saying the words, he remembered. The news didn’t shock him, “So I was in a coma for that long?”

Anna just nodded. An uncomfortable silence came over the couple. Kevin’s eyes shifted nervously from side to side. He was embarrassed to face the face of what he’d done. Anna just stared at him and he wasn’t sure what she was thinking. Her eyes showed so much care and concern, so much love. Yet he was afraid to know what was on her mind, knowing that eventually she’d speak it aloud.

“Why did you do it?” she asked, making him realize that time was now, “What were you thinking?” she added with a forced choke of emotion.

Kevin didn’t respond right away. He wasn’t sure how to respond. He scanned his quickly tiring brain for something to say, wanting to make up something, but knew in the end that the horrid truth was the best way to go.

“I just wanted a way out,” he finally said, “I didn’t want to deal with living like...I was anymore. It...it seemed the only way.” he saw Anna wince, “I never meant to put you through so much pain. I...I love you.”

“I love you too,” Anna whispered, “So much.”

Kevin held on to Anna’s hand as suddenly the door swung open, the other six piling in to the room in a heap as if they were a herd of cows. Their eyes widened at the same time at the sight before them as if not expecting it. One by one, the group ran to Kevin, taking turns hugging him. Anna could tell that he was quickly becoming worn out. He had, after all, just awoken from a deep sleep. But he was trying his best to stay with it and keep his eyes open.

“She wasn’t kidding,” Jaime muttered, holding Lauren in her arms, “You really, truly are awake.”

“You scared the fucking shit out of us, you ass,” AJ joked, hugging the man he looked up to. The man who had helped him so much through the years.

Kevin smiled sheepishly, doing nothing but shrug. The reunion was a bittersweet one between him and everybody else. He heard the same things over and over, yet it made him realize just how much he was cared about. He had only been conscious for about an hour, but already knew he’d been foolish to turn to attempted suicide to rid of his problems. He had seven people right there who would have been there for him through thick and thin and helped him. After a few more minutes of hugs and his friends repeating how much they’d missed him and how scared they were, Kevin felt he could no longer stay awake.

“I don’t want to be rude,” he muttered, his voice slightly raspy, “But I need to rest for a few hours.”

“Rest?” Nick laughed, “You just slept for three months, bro. You don’t need no fucking rest.”

Nick yelped when he felt a shark jab in his rips coming from AJ. He rubbed the spot, wondering what he’d said wrong. In his mind, Kevin had had enough rest. They all wanted to see him for awhile because they hadn’t really seen him in so long.

“Go ahead,” Howie stated, “Rest up. We’ll see you when you’re feeling a little better.”

Kevin smiled in appreciation as everybody hugged him goodbye slowly leaving the room. He could hear Nick’s voice whining about “Why do we have to leave?” as they all left. Anna stayed behind though, still in his arms.

“I suppose I should let you rest too,” she smiled weakly, “But at least I know you’re going to be...that you’re not going to be in a coma forever.”

She looked deep into his eyes. They were a bit clouded but still the gorgeous shade of green she’d dreamed of looking in to for so long. She bit her bottom lip, not wanting to leave him so soon, but knew she would if it was for his well being.

“Just for a few hours,” Kevin stated, his drowsiness setting in even more, “But I’d like a kiss before you go...something to dream about.”

Anna smiled as she leaned in to kiss his lips softly. Her heart beat full force in her chest, glad to see that his romantic side was still very much in tact.

“I love you, Kevin.” Anna said, gently pulling her hand out of his, getting up to leave.

“Love you..too...Anna.” Kevin replied, his eyes drooping. He was asleep less than five seconds later.

Anna smiled at him sleeping, her first real smile in so long. She watched him for a moment longer before turning to leave. Kevin needed his rest in peace. Now that he was awake, she had all the time in the world to be with him. She had hope for the future with Kevin, knowing that she wasn’t hardly ever going to let him out of her sight. He’d been away for too long. This was real though, and nothing could take away the high spirited mood she was in that day. Everything was actually looking up.
Authors NOte by sweet18_2003
I know I have been away for a loooong time...for some reason I haven't had any inspiration to write for the past 6 months or longer. However...the past week it has come back and I've been working hard on the next chapter to this story. It should be up in the next few days if all goes well. Hopefully I still have some readers out there, so be looking for the next chapter. It IS coming. I promise!!!
Chapter Twenty-Three by sweet18_2003
Chapter Twenty-Three

Anna smiled as she walked through the door to Kevin’s room. It was a week later and he was still in the hospital recovering from his most recent injuries. The past week had been rough, and the visits had to be kept minimal, so not much talking had been accomplished, however since Kevin’s recovery progress was coming along just about as good as could be expected, and starting that week, the visits were aloud to be made longer. Anna couldn’t wait, and hoped that it was one of her boyfriends good days and not one where he was groggy and not quite himself. Days where he was obviously doped up on some sort of medication and he wasn’t able to think fully clear. Anna hated those days because he was sweet and romantic with his words, but the next day he didn’t even remember what he’d said. Anna knew he meant it, though when he was rambling on, it was like a drunk person spilling their feelings without meaning too.

“Hey my love,” Kevin greeted with outstretched arms before she even had the chance to say anything herself.

Anna’s smile didn’t fade as she neared him, walking right in to his arms. She finished the long embrace with a soft kiss on the mouth before pulling away slightly, staring in to his eyes. They were clear and bright, meaning that it was a good day without the prescriptions which made him a bit loopy.

“You have the most gorgeous eyes,” she quickly made the excuse when she saw the odd look that Kevin was giving her, “They’re so pure...I missed looking in to them.”

Kevin blushed, buying the excuse, which was true, but not the full reason she’d been starring. Kevin didn’t know what she thought of his off days, and she wanted to keep it that way. There was no use upsetting him or making him self-conscious. She loved him all the same either way.

“So how are things with the guys and Stephanie and Jaime?” Anna questioned. Every time she had come to visit, the room had been empty of everyone but Kevin, obviously.

Kevin shrugged, “They come by for a little bit every day.” he replied, “I get the feeling that they are uncomfortable being near me after what I did.” His shoulders slumped and he lowered his eyes, “I suppose I don’t blame then, but I regret it. I wish that they could just see that and let the past be the past.”

Anna tried to hide a blush. It was obvious that they were thinking the same things as her, only she was hiding it from him. The silence said it all though as Kevin looked up at her face, watching her bite the corner of her bottom lip.

“You feel the same, don’t you?” he asked, hurt lingering in his soft voice.

Anna was quiet for another few moments. She didn’t want to lie to him but again, was so afraid of hurting him too and him getting angry with her. She didn’t know which was worst and what would bring the worst consequences. Anna scanned her brain quickly for be best way to tell him with honesty. Which would be hard considering the look he was giving her. It was full of love and adoration combined with confusion and hurt. All this coming from those soulful brilliant green eyes of his.

“It...its not so much being uncomfortable around you,” Anna tried to explain, pushing a strand of hair out of her eye and behind her ear. She looked downward to avoid his gaze. She realized that Kevin’s arms were still wrapped firmly around her, “I...it’s that I am terrified that you...you’ll try to...kill...well, you know...end your life again.”

Kevin sighed. He knew that it would be something alone those lines. He didn’t know what to say. He was slightly embarrassed that he no longer held her trust. That every time his girlfriend would look at him, she’d remember what he only wished she would forget. He wondered if she still even wanted to be with him, or if it would be too awkward. Kevin couldn’t picture his life without Anna in it. Suddenly he started to worry. Worry that now that he was awake, everyone in his life would leave him, thinking him to be a psycho. Everyone including Anna. The thought had never crossed his mind before. Not until then.

“I wish you’d just believe that I wouldn’t...” Kevin’s voice trailed off as A.J and Howie walked in to the room. The frown turned in to a forced smile when he saw them, not wanting them to suspect that anything was wrong. Anna in return didn’t reply to him. She knew that there would be more where that conversation came from later. Likely the next time they were alone. She was determined to set Kevin’s mind at ease of whatever what bothering him.

“Hey guys,” Kevin greeted the two best friends, “What’s happening?”

A.J. shrugged, avoiding complete eye contact with the elder man. Kevin sighed. A.J. hadn’t been acting completely normal around him in months. Since his first accident, to be exact. He couldn’t help but notice that nothing had really changed. He could feel his heart sink, feeling more than ever like he’d lost everything from his spontaneous selfish act months earlier.

“Hey Kev,” Howie returned the greeting after the uncomfortable silence, deciding to break it. He turned to Anna, “Hi Anna.” he turned back to Kevin, “How are you feeling today?”

“Better than most,” Kevin admitted, “Still achy, but I think I’m doing better.” He paused, concentrating for a moment before adding, “I feel better. I just wonder how much longer I’ll be cooped up in here.”

He had a sort of light heartedness in his voice, but they all could sense that he was impatient too. Ready to pick up with where he’d left off with life. Nobody knew when that would be however, so nobody said anything, not wanting to give their friend false hope.

“So anyways,” Howie’s voice trailed off in hopes to quickly change the subject, “Management wants to know when we’ll start touring again. Whenever it is, Bluewave will be the warm up band...possibly No Authority as well. It depends on how Tommy is doing. As for now, he’s in remission.”

Kevin didn’t say anything for a moment. He thought deeply, really considering the question whereas months ago he would have totally dismissed it as ridiculous. “I don’t know about touring.” He finally stated, “Part of me would still feel funny about going out there like this, but I do miss it. A lot. So if it comes up again, just tell them that we’re working it all out and will get back to them as soon as it is figured out.”

Howie nodded, understanding where Kevin was coming from, hoping that in the end he’d make the choice that they were all waiting for. A.J though still said nothing, not noting his input in the situation. Kevin couldn’t take it any longer. He needed to know what was eating away at his friend, because frankly, he couldn’t live having the man acting like he was a leper of some sorts.

“Howie, Anna, could I please speak to Aje alone?”

The two looked surprised but nodded, agreeing to leave two men for awhile. Anna gave Kevin a quick kiss before following Howie out of the room, closing the door behind them. A.J looked almost scared as Kevin turned his eyes to him.

‘What’s with you?” Kevin asked, cutting straight to the chase.

“Nothing,” A.J. lied, answering much too quickly.

“Bullshit,” Kevin answered, crossing his arms over his chest, “Ever since I’ve woken up, and hell, months before that, you’ve acted like the mere sight of me disgusts you. Not so much now, but you back away like I’m contagious.”

A.J. said nothing, for he felt there was nothing he could say. He’d been caught, and now he felt the need to explain all before Kevin continued to go on thinking that he hated him.

“I just feel so guilty for all of this,” A.J. said, “I’d acted so hostile towards you for so long. I feel that I drove you to do this to yourself. I regret how I treated you and would take it back if I could. I can’t though, and I feel it is best if I just stay back.”

Kevin sighed. True, A.J’s rejection had been part of what had made him go off the deep end, but saw no use in bringing it up. So in turn, he just said “I would have done it anyways. I was feeling so worthless that I felt it was the only way out. So eventually, I would have tried it anyways, weather it be a week later, a month or even six. I’m sure of that much.”

“I’m sorry for how I acted though. Not to dig up old graves, but I was just so pissed at you. You go and hypocrite me and then go off and do the same thing. My results have never hurt anybody as much as yours. And never landed me like...well, you know. Then when I read the note you left...I was so scared. I mean, I was worried I’d never get to talk to you again and tell you I’m sorry. All the anger I felt towards you vanished into worry. Which is why I say that nothing I ever did hurt anybody like this.”

“That’s where you’re wrong though,” Kevin muttered, remembering how hurt he’d been with A.J’s past, but quickly moved on before A.J. could ask for a repeat, “I know it was wrong of me. I’m sorry for that. But could you please forgive me? Could we please forget all of this past crap and call it even and be close again?”

A.J. didn’t know what to say. He didn’t want to seem like he was crawling to Kevin, giving in easily. Then again, Kevin had suffered enough with everything that had happened, including nearly a year of him being the worlds largest asshole towards the eldest. He missed his friend, and with the past events, he knew that anything could take him away in a matter of seconds, or any of them for that matter. A.J. didn’t want another day to pass with Kevin thinking that he was hated. If he did, next time it might be too late for A.J. to make things right and let Kevin know that there really were no more grudges to be held.

“I forgive ya,” A.J. stated, giving Kevin a hug
after making sure that nobody was looking. Kevin returned the hug willingly, feeling better about things already. But suddenly a thought struck Kevin that brought some of the stress back to him.

”For real this time?” Kevin asked, just to make sure, remembering the last time they’d had a conversation like this and the bitter ending outcome of it.

A.J. laughed, “Yeah, for real this time.”

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By the time Anna got back from the cafeteria, Howie had already returned and the rest of the gang was now there as well. They seemed to all be in the middle of a deep conversation, which Anna hated to interrupt or intrude upon without welcome. However she also couldn’t stand the thought of leaving Kevin any longer. Since he’d awakened, she felt as if she needed to be near him at all times, most of the time to make sure he didn’t slip away from her again. That was her worst fear, Kevin leaving her alone again for another series of long, torturous months. She couldn’t admit this to anybody, but she was afraid that he’d try to kill himself again. She wanted to trust him, but under the circumstances, she just couldn’t. Not yet, as painful as it was to admit that and as awful as it sounded.

Stephanie was the first to notice that she was back, her face brightening a little. She turned her head back to everybody else, her voice ringing out over Nick’s, who was most likely saying something stupid. Nobody really seemed to notice the interruption which told her that nobody was really paying attention to Nick in the first place.

“Oh my god, Anna’s here.” Stephanie stated, a hint of enthusiasm in her voice, which was a surprise. Normally her tone was nothing but full of sarcasm.

“Thank god,” Jaime complained playfully, “Now you can tell us this huge news you’ve been keeping from us since we all got here.”

Anna walked over to them slowly, a half smile on her face. Her eyes read confusion as she neared her friends. She immediately greeted Kevin with a kiss, as always before asking the question that was on her mind.

“What’s going on?”

“Don’t know,” A.j. mentioned, “The woman’s been keeping us in the dark since we all got here. She said we had to wait for your slow ass to get back,” he teased, then added after turning his attention back to Stephanie, “So now that Anna is here, would you please tell us what is going on, woman.”

Stephanie laughed quietly. She was nervous for some reason about telling them her news. She was afraid of how they’d react suddenly, worrying what they would all think of her. She had a good guess that they’d be happy, considering Jaime had already had her little girl. Then again, she was the ‘responsible’ one, preaching of safe sex and all that garbage that not even she’d been able to practice without getting her own little surprise.

“Well see, I umm,” she stuttered a little, “There’s going to be another new addition to the Backstreet family.” she told them, hoping that they’d catch on to the little hint. All she got was a series of blank stares. She sighed in exasperation when even Nick gave her a blank stare, “Me and Nick are um, contributing to it.” She got a few raised eyebrows in response as well as continued stares of blankness. She didn’t know how much obvious she could get without just coming out and saying it, which was what she was going to have to do. She took a deep breath before saying, “I’m pregnant.”

Nobody said anything and she wondered if she had to draw a picture for them...a detailed, graphic picture of a woman giving birth. She breathed a sigh of relief when the first person spoke of her news.

“That’s great,” Howie said with a smile, “Now little Lauren won’t grow up with nobody to play with.” he winced at how stupid he sounded.

“Congrats, you guys,” A.J. grinned, “Although, Nicky, you sure your child won’t be more mature than you?” he cracked, “More common sense. Just don’t drop it on its head and give you a run for your money on being blonde at heart.”

“Haha,” Nick rolled his eyes.

In the midst of all of this, Anna and Kevin exchanged sad smiles. Anna more than anything wanted a child of her own, and Kevin more than anything wanted to give her that. They all knew though that it wouldn’t be possible. At least not yet. Not for awhile, if ever. It was something that they’d have to live with. Anna broke the eye locked connection that she and Kevin had shared and forced an enthusiastic smile.

“I’m happy for ya,” she stated, “You’re going to be great parents.”

After all of the fuss over Stephanie and Nick was over, Kevin turned his gaze to Jaime who was holding Lauren still.

“Speaking of babies, who’s the little one over there?” Kevin asked, having forgotten that Jaime was pregnant before the latest horrific incident in his life.

“Oh,” Jaime smiled proudly, “This is Lauren Grace McLean.” she told him, “Me and A’J’s daughter. She took A.J’s last name...until we get married, eventually.”

Kevin’s face fell, “I really did miss a lot, didn’t I?” he asked regretfully, not able to grasp the thought that the world had gone by and so much had happened while he’d been asleep, “I can’t believe I missed one of the most important days of my best friends’ life. I’m sorry.”

A.J. shrugged, “Don’t worry about it,” he quickly replied before Kevin could feel worse, “All that matters is that you’re awake and here now and able to meet our daughter.”

Kevin dismissed the thought from his head, not wanting to dwell on the past and events he could not change. A.J. made a good point. All that mattered was that he was awake now and didn’t plan on missing anything more.

“Can I hold her?” Kevin asked

Jaime smiled and handed Lauren in to Kevin’s arms. Kevin smiled down at the curious, cooing infant, rocking her gently in his arms. She stared up at him with intent interest with her big blue eyes. He felt a shallow, sinking feeling in his heart. He so badly wanted this. A child of his own to raise. He wanted what Jaime had and Stephanie was about to have. He wasn’t exactly getting any younger, and who knew how long it would be before he and Anna could have children. All he knew was that he couldn’t imagine life without having his own. Bending down, Kevin kissed Lauren’s forehead. For now though, this was the closest he would have, and Kevin knew that it would just have to do.

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Along with waking up and getting better slowly came a series of other surprises, including counseling sessions with a hospital staffed psychologist. Kevin should have known that after trying to kill himself, he’d have to go to them after he was thinking more clearly. He knew that it was a precaution, just to make sure that he was in the right state of mind to be released, however Kevin already knew that he was. He would just have to convince the psychologist by the name of Linda Saunders of that.

So as he wheeled himself to her office on the other side of the hospital, being followed by a nurse to make sure he didn’t try to escape, Kevin was silently thinking of just how he could do that. The less sessions he’d have with this woman, the best. He wasn’t crazy. He didn’t belong there, in her office, being questioned about his supposed ‘sick’ mind. As soon as Kevin was in the office, the nurse closed the door behind him, leaving the two alone.

“Good morning...” Linda greeted, looking down at a folder on the table next to her, “Kevin. How are you today?”

Kevin tilted his head to one side, taking in the woman. She looked trustable enough in her navy business suit, freshly pressed. She had short black hair that was done in a mod style. Her eyes were dark brown, her skin a caramel color. She looked to be about his age. Kevin sighed, deciding that he could talk to this woman without being judged, solely on her appearance and soft tone.

“I’m doing well,” he told her, “And yourself?”

“Fine, thanks,” Linda answered, giving him a
smile, “It sure is a beautiful day outside today.” she stated, turning her head to the window.

It indeed was a beautiful day. The sun was out and bright, not a could in the sky. Kevin could almost feel the warm rays of sun beating down upon his body. He wondered when he’d have the chance to feel it for real. Not through a window.

“Yes,” Kevin replied wistfully, “Too bad I can’t go out and enjoy it. Everything is being held back from me and it just plain sucks.”

Linda laughed, “You can go out though. With supervision of course. Maybe this girlfriend of yours I’ve heard about can take you.”

Kevin raised an eyebrow skeptically. He knew that being released wasn’t going to be in his agenda any time soon. Therefore, he’d have to be cooped up for who knew how long. Suddenly, Kevin’s mood started to darken again. His life was being run for him. He had no control anymore over what happened. Any decision he wanted to make had to be approved with the consent of hospital staff. He felt like a toddler, always being told ‘no’.

“There’s a lovely courtyard down off of the first and second floor. They have some outdoor activities as well as a small trail. It’s like a mini park, just to get out and feel like you have a life again.”

Kevin shrugged, “Yeah, but I might try to take a run for it and leave this horrid place though,” Kevin didn’t say anything and neither did Linda. He could tell by the look on her face that she was waiting for him to go on, “I’ve been in here for months...before that, I was in here for awhile too, when the accident first happened that landed me paralyzed. I am sick to death of hospitals. Sick to death of having people hover over me all the damned time.”

He watched as Linda wrote some stuff down. Probably taking notes on him, as well as recording the conversation to pick up on little clues. He felt like a lab animal being cornered and tortured. There was nothing he could do to stop it. Just take it in and hope that if he was good, it would all end soon.

“Is that really what is bothering you?” Linda asked.

“Kind of, but it’s more complicated than that too. I mean, I’ve just felt so worthless through all of this. Like I don’t live up to everybody’s expectations. I disappoint them. Even Anna...my girlfriend. She wants kids...I can’t give her that. I feel like she is just sticking with me out of pity and that deep down, she wants better. I mean, she’s a wonderful girlfriend...I couldn’t ask for better. But she deserves more and better and I can’t give her what she deserves.” Kevin now had tears coming from his eyes, visibly upset as he spilled his feelings, “I guess that’s why I shot myself. Because I do nothing but disappoint everyone and without me around, maybe they would be better off and find somebody who could give them what they deserve.”

Kevin was beginning to realize that maybe counseling was what he needed. It took telling what was really on his mind, or rather a small portion of it, to fully see that. Now that he spoke though, there was so much more he wanted to say that couldn’t be said to the group. Just in the confidentiality of he room.

“I think that is enough for today,” Linda told Kevin, turning off the tape recorder, “See you back here in two days, same time?”

Kevin nodded. Linda got up and opened the door for him and Kevin left, wanting nothing more than to go up to his room and think more about what he wanted to say. Maybe once it was out, he himself would start to feel better and let go of the guilt he had burdened himself with deep down.

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Stephanie squeezed Nick’s hand. Her heart pounded in her chest slightly out of being nervous. The day she’d found out that she was pregnant, her and Nick had phoned up the doctors office. He’s scheduled an appointment for them for the following week. That day had come around quickly and they were now waiting in a room full of others, most of which were mothers who were much further along than Stephanie was.

“I wonder what’s taking so long,” Stephanie muttered, tapping her foot impatiently.

Nick laughed, not looking up from the car magazine he was reading. One he’d brought with him from home, in fact. Stephanie rolled her eyes, going back to the Pregnancy magazine she’d picked up off of a table nearby. She was trying to get some insight on what kinds of things to expect, but wasn’t really paying much attention to it. Her thoughts were on other things, such as finding out how far along she was, if the baby was in good shape and things she could do to ensure that nothing bad happened, or rather, make the possibility less likely. She knew that she wouldn’t be able to find this information out for months to come, but Stephanie was also anticipating finding out the sex of the baby. She was hoping for a girl, like Jaime had gotten. Since she’d seen how sweet the infant was, she’d since wanted a daughter to spoil. Nick however, wanted a boy. Someone to teach sports, take with him everywhere, and hope to follow in his footsteps as the new, baby “Backstreet Boy” to follow in daddy’s footsteps once daddy was too old to perform.

“Damnit,” Stephanie muttered, starting to bounce her leg impatiently, thrusting the magazine back down on to the table next to her with a loud slap, “It’s half an hour late...I want to get in and find out what’s going on with me and my baby.”

Nick rubbed Stephanie’s leg affectionately in hopes that his attempt to calm her down would work. She huffed in anger, pulling away from his touch. He never once looked up from the sporty cars in bright, glossy colors on the page. Stephanie couldn’t believe that he was putting a giant hunk of metal and parts ahead of her and their child.

Minutes later, a nurse opened the door, calling Stephanie’s name out. She got up quickly, rolling her eyes, but stopped herself. This was supposed to be a happy day. Not one where she held grudges and let the fact that the doctor was running behind put her in a foul mood all day. It was pointless

“Finally,” she muttered, a smile forming on her face as she walked towards the open door greeted by a friendly middle aged woman.

Nick didn’t notice that Stephanie had left until the door was almost closed. He closed his magazine and got up, tripping over himself in his attempt to get back to his girlfriend before he missed the entire appointment.

“Wait!” he called out with anxiety.

He made it to the door just on time before it closed completely, sticking his fingers though a crack to stop it. He sighed in relief and opened it up, finding Stephanie on a scale. He watched from behind as the nurse played with the doctors scale before she writ something down

“One thirty,” she told Stephanie, “Our records from your general family doctor shows that you’ve gained five pounds.”

Stephanie shrugged, knowing that it was likely just pregnancy weight. And even if it wasn’t, it was nothing to freak over. She stepped off of the scale and was startled when somebody took her hand. She turned and saw Nick standing next to her. She gave his hand a light squeeze and he smiled at her, excitement in his eyes. Together they followed the nurse in to a small room, where Stephanie was asked to sit on the examining table as she took her temperature, blood pressure and a series of other things.

“Doctor Jakobs will be with you shortly,” she informed them before leaving the two alone in the eerily quiet room. After a few more minutes of silence, and Nick fidgeting a little with different objects he found, he finally looked up at Stephanie.

“Nervous?” he asked lamely.

Stephanie shook her head but it slowly turned in to a full nod. She was nervous. This was something that would change both of their lives...forever. She took in a deep breath, taking on habits that she’d gotten from Nick by swinging her legs and tearing at the paper disposable sheet that lined the metal table.

“A little she admitted, but I am excited too. I just...hope I am fit to be a mother.” That was her main worry...that she’d end up a lousy parent.

“You’ll make an amazing mother. You love kids and they sure as hell love you.” Nick told her with sincere confidence.

Stephanie was about to reply but was cut short by a short, balding man entering the room. He wore a white coat over top a dressy collard shirt and wore black dress pants. Stephanie could only assume that this was her doctor. He introduced himself, proving her hypotheses correct.

“So, how are you feeling?” Dr. Jakobs asked first off, ready to take notes of whatever she said.

“A little weak,”Stephanie replied, “Wake up sick every morning and don’t feel the best all day, but good enough to go on with life. Ummm...sensitive to certain smells, which is both good and bad. And I am always hungry...”

“I can vouch for that one,” Nick cracked, interrupting her, “She eats all the weeks grocery’s in about three days.”

Dr. Jakobs gave Nick a strange look before shaking his head and turning away from him and back to Stephanie.

“All of that is normal,” he informed her, “Seems that you’re doing fine, however I’m going to take an ultrasound. It will let you know how far along you are and also the health, as you are probably aware.”

“Okay,” Stephanie agreed.

She and Nick were asked to follow the doctor to another room, where Stephanie was to lye down on another table. Dr. Jakobs lifted Stephanie’s shirt, which sent Nick into a jealous funk as he quickly went to her side and grabbed her hand, keeping it clear to his competition that Stephanie was all his. The doctor didn’t seem to notice as he rubbed a cold jelly like substance over Stephanie’s stomach and then placed an odd object on her. Seconds later an image appeared on the screen next to the bed. Stephanie gasped, able to barely make out what was to be her child. Nick scrunched up his nose, finding it to look like a worm or fish or something, but decided to keep his thoughts to himself.

“It’s too soon to really make anything out yet,” Dr. Jakobs replied, but the good news is everything does look normal. You’re just about a month along. Congratulations, you two.”

He let the new parents look at their child for a moment longer before turning off the screen and cleaning Stephanie up. He asked if they had any questions, which they didn’t before sending them to the front to make another appointment for the following month. Stephanie had hoped that she was further along than that, but then had to remember that so far, everything was okay. She hoped that it stayed that way. After all, she still had eight months to go. That was a long time, and anything was capable of happening.
Chapter Twenty-Four by sweet18_2003
Chapter Twenty-Four

Kevin grinned as he saw Anna walk in to the lobby of the hospital. After spending nearly a month in the hospital after awakening, he was finally aloud to go home. He’d checked out about an hour earlier and had been roaming the lobby while waiting for his girlfriend to get him. He knew that she would be late. She’d informed him of that, telling him she had a few errands to run before picking him up. Kevin didn’t care though. He was free to go home. His spirits were high and the only thing that would make the day better for him would have been walking out on his own two legs. However at the moment, not even that seemed too important to him.

Kevin could see Anna searching for him and waved one arm in the air to signal her down. Before long, she spotted him and was making her way towards him. Kevin couldn’t seem to wipe the smile off of his face, nor did he want to. It felt too good being happy, and he truly was just that. He wasn’t faking it this time.

“Hey sweetie,” Anna greeted once she was within three feet of him.

“Hey babe,” Kevin murmured, holding his arms outward to her. Anna walked right into the warm embrace, giving him a soft kiss on the mouth, “Thank’s for coming to get me.”

Anna laughed, “Well, I am your girlfriend, and we are living together. Would make sense, don’t you think?”

Kevin shrugged, chuckling lightly, “Yeah, well...”

His voice trailed off, suddenly at loss for words. He was nervous about going into the outside world, for he hadn’t been a part of it for months. He didn’t know what to expect, if anything had changed, or how people would react to him. And looking at Anna standing there made him nervous too. She looked so beautiful and so sweet. She was there for him, and for some reason that scared him. He didn’t know why, but Kevin didn’t know if he was quite ready to leave the safety and security of the hospital quite yet.

“You ready to get out of here and go home?” Anna asked

Home...the word sounded so nice, and Kevin found himself nodding, shaking away the thoughts of anxiety that were taking over his brain. Nothing was going to take away the excitement of the day. He would worry about how he was going to cope with everything else later when the time came and when, or maybe even if problems arose.

Anna took hold of the back handles of Kevin’s wheelchair and began to push him out of the hospital towards the parking lot. Anna had many questions for Kevin, as well as so much she wanted to say. She hoped that Kevin wasn’t disappointed that the house was exactly the same as it was before he’d gone in to the hospital. She’d barely spent any time there, therefore hadn’t had time to change anything or clean up.

Once in the car and out on the road, Anna spoke for the first time, distracting Kevin from what was obviously deep thought. He looked away from the beautiful scenery and to Anna, looking in to her brown eyes.

“So how did your counseling go today?” she asked him, knowing that he’d had a session earlier that morning. What was supposed to be his last.

Kevin shrugged, “Linda said that she thinks it would be beneficial for me to come back once a week for awhile. She thinks I still have some issues to work out. Emotional stuff.”

Anna pursed her lips. She felt Kevin was fine. She was with him a lot more than some therapist and knew him better. She couldn’t help but wonder if this Linda had a thing for Kevin. They were the same age, after all. But on the other hand, he was coming home...with her. Things still seemed great in their relationship. She was jealous, but not to the point of saying anything. At least not yet.

“I know, I know,” Kevin grumbled, “It’s bullshit. But at least I am being released.” he paused, “I guess another couple sessions couldn’t hurt. Just to be on the safe side. To make sure I am completely in my right mind.”

Anna found his comment odd, but decided not to say anything. Ever since his sessions, he’d put more thought in to everything. He was deeper, more serious. She wondered if it was having more of a negative effect than anything. Her own bout with counseling had been nothing but negative to her. Finally, for one session, she just didn’t show up because of how low the woman had made her feel. It seemed it was having the same effect on Kevin now.

Nothing more was said the rest of the way to the house. Once there, Anna helped Kevin in to the place and settled in to the living room on the leather sofa. He sighed, wishing he could just relax, but his whole day was planned out for him already.

‘What time is this Richard due here?” he asked Anna.

“In half hour,” she replied looking at her watch, “Yeah, about half an hour.”

Richard was Kevin’s new physical therapist. The doctor thought that it would help Kevin more in the long run if he started immediately, giving him a high recommendation. They’d tried to get Jake back, but he’d refused, saying that he absolutely would not help somebody who’d tried to take the easy way out to begin with. Kevin wasn’t devastated by any means. He’d always thought Jake to be an egotistical ass anyways. He just hoped that the new guy wasn’t worse yet. If that was the case, he would be screwed.

“Great,” Kevin said, but smiled, “At least I am home though.”

Anna smiled back, bending down to hug him and give him a soft, long kiss on the lips. He longed for more, but Anna was already straightening up. She rubbed his cheek
affectionately, looking into his green eyes.

“I guess I’ll leave for a couple hours while you have your session.” she told him, knowing the ritual. He was embarrassed still, so she would leave him alone. It made her nervous, but knew she’d have to trust him. Now was the perfect time to start, “Richard has permission to just come on in, so don’t be startled. You aren’t being robbed.”

Kevin laughed and blew Anna a kiss as she walked out of the room and out the door. He soon heard the car starting and knew she was gone. With a sigh, Kevin turned on the TV to watch something to make the time pass by quicker. And it worked. Before he knew it, the front door was opening. Seconds later, a tall, fit man was before him.

“You must be Kevin,” he greeted with a friendly smile, reaching out to shake his hand, “I’m Richard, as you’re probably already aware. I know all about you and your condition. It’s nice to finally meet you.”

“Likewise.” Kevin stated.

“Ready to get started?”

Taking a deep breath, Kevin nodded. He was, and felt things were going to be okay this time around. He had a more positive attitude and could already tell he had a better therapist. Now all he had was the hard stuff to get through, and he was more determined than ever to make sure that he did.

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At the sound of the doorbell ringing, Anna ran to get it. The last of the gang had arrived...Nick and Stephanie. Kevin had called everybody, asking them to meet him and Anna at their home that afternoon. He had ain important announcement to make that needed to be said immediately. Of course nobody argued with that. Their friend was happy, and if something was urgent to him, then of course they’d drop whatever they had planned to be there to hear him out.

It was a week later. Kevin had been having physical therapy every other day since. Richard had just left hours before and her boyfriend had wanted to get a start on the rest of their day. He figured this was the perfect way to start it.

“Hey guys,”Anna greeted, giving Stephanie a warm hug followed by giving Nick one, “Everybody else is already here. They’re in the living room talking. Not missing much of anything.”

“See, Nicky...I told you your slow ass would hold everything up,” Stephanie cracked, “You’re worse than I am.”

“Nothing has changed then,” Nick grinned, “I’ve been the late one since we started dating.” He acted as if he were proud of this fact.

Stephanie rolled her eyes and Anna laughed at the arguing couple. They were cute together. She let them in and closed the door, following them in to the living room. They walked in on Brian describing a new car that he was looking in to. Upon hearing the words ‘Porch,’ Nick’s eyes lit up as he quickly walked up to the others and sat down, including himself in on the conversation.

“Oh lord, here we go again,” Stephanie rolled her eyes, but was smiling despite herself, “When and if we ever land ourselves married, we’re going to own a garage full of cars and bikes and trucks. An acre of them, most likely.”

Anna laughed as they entered the room to join the rest of them. She made her seat on Kevin’s lap as he motioned for her to sit there. She knew that Kevin’s own garage full of classic cars and sports cars wouldn’t be put to use for awhile. He couldn’t drive and it was looking like it was unsure if he ever would be able to again or not. Sure, there was still a chance he’d walk again, but the more time that passed, the least likely it seemed it wold happen. Sure, he’d just come of a long coma, and was still recovering and getting used to things after waking up, but he’d been set back by a lot and would pretty much be starting from square one again. He didn’t know this and Anna didn’t have the heart to tell him that all of the work he’d done wouldn’t really count for anything now.

“You all can talk about your over-priced vehicles later,” Anna stated loudly in attempt to change the subject, “Let’s get to the reason we’re here.”

Kevin had refused to tell even her his news, knowing that out of excitement, she’d squeal and it would soon leak out to the entire group. He wanted everybody to know at the same time a decision he’d come to. Anna’s guesses had ranged anywhere from them moving into a one-story condo to putting him in a nursing home to be out of the way. She wondered if she was anywhere close.

“AH, yes, my impatient little one,” Kevin laughed and Anna stuck her bottom lip out in an imitation pout. He kissed her before continuing on, “Well, after much thinking over the past month or so, I’ve decided something. Something that I feel will be best for all of us. Something everyone’s been wanting.” he hinted.

“Pizza’s?” Nick asked, “Cuz I am starving.”

Stephanie reached over and smacked Nick over the back of the head. He quickly rubbed the spot, whimpering in pain, but didn’t say anything more.

“No, but we can do that later,” Kevin answered, “Anyways, I know it is something that all of you have been wanting, so I’ve already brought it up with management.”

“Just tell us already,” A.J. whined, “We’re dying to know now. You’ve kept us all in suspense for long enough.”

“I’ve decided that it is time we start touring again.” Kevin quickly stated, closing his eyes to wait for the reaction. He got nothing for a long moment. Nothing but silence. He slowly opened his eyes again and got stares of surprise and blank looks, “Don’t everybody talk at once.” Kevin stated dryly, less than pleased with their reaction. He’d thought that the guys would be happy that he was thinking rationally and willing to give this a try.

“Um...” Howie started, “Wow. Umm...”

“You just took us by surprise,” Brian drawled, “Weren’t expecting anything close to that. I...” his voice trailed off.

It was seeming to Kevin that none of them really wanted to tour anymore. He wondered if they still wanted to be a band, or just quit and resign from being the Backstreet Boys. Here he thought he was doing something great, and was now thinking it was nothing so special after all.

“Sorry for bringing it up,” Kevin muttered, “It was a mistake, obviously.”

“No, no,” Anna quickly stated. “It’s great that you’re ready.”

“We’ve been waiting for you to speak those words for months,” Nick told his friend, “We just thought that you never would, so it was unexpected.”

“The blonde has a good point,” A.J. said, “We’re happy. We’re ready for this, and the fans are definitely ready for us to be back out there. So we can definitely start making arrangements?” Kevin nodded, “No changing your mind?” Kevin shook his head, his smile wide, “Alright. We’re going back out on the road!” Nick enthused.

Kevin smiled as Anna hugged him and gave him a warm kiss on the mouth, whispering into his ear, “I’m so proud of you.” Nothing could bring his mood down. It seemed that he was finally getting his life back on track, with the love and support of his friends. Things were going to be almost normal again. If only he’d had this attitude sooner, then it would have saved them all a lot of time and spared a lot of hurt and pain. Nothing could take back the past though, and all he could do was make the best of the future. And Kevin had every intent on doing that.

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“Come on. Get your lazy ass’s up and get practicing, guys. Break’s over,” Fatima, the boys dance instructor and choreographer instructed, her voice coming out loud, but there was a glimmer of teasing shining in her charcoal eyes, “You’ve only got six weeks until your first show and I want you boys looking great out there.”

Nick rolled his eyes at Brian, who tried to stifle a laugh he could feel coming up. The last thing he needed was to piss off Fatima. Kevin had only been out of the hospital for two weeks, this being their second practice since they’d had to postpone the tour. In fact, it was really their first time dancing since the last time that they’d been on stage.

“C’mon Tina,” Nick whined, shortening her name up a bit, “We’ve already practiced this stuff like, a gazillion times. We’ve already toured with it. We know what we’re doing...see?” he stated, picking up dancing where the music was. He did fine for a few steps, but soon his feet got in the way of each other and he did a few wrong moves before tripping over himself and tumbling to the ground.

The group laughed and the girls, who were watching from the side of the room, giggled, clapping their hands at him. Nick blushed as he picked himself back up. He even got a stare from Kevin across the room who was learning the dance moves with his own new choreographer, who was also wheelchair bound. The man was teaching him how to do the dance moves that could be closely accomplished on wheels, and what to do while the others were dancing that couldn’t, so it would look like part of the show without much thought. Kevin just shook his head and rolled his eyes at Nick’s clumsiness before putting his temporarily sidetracked attention back onto what he’d previously been doing prior to the interruption.

“My point exactly,” Fatima stated, making an example of the flushed Nick, “You’ve been out of practice for nearly a year. You need a little warming up to get back to where you should be. I’m only here to help you do that so you don’t make ass’s of yourself out on stage all being in different places at the same time. Now is anybody else going to argue?”

Nobody said a word as they all climbed to their feet, getting ready to start their practice again. Nobody said a word, knowing that the caramel colored woman was right. They needed to get ready and had a lot of work to do in the short time that they actually had before the already scheduled first show.

“They’re looking good,” Anna commented, not taking her eyes off of Kevin in the far distance. She was really speaking of him, who obviously needed more work than any of them.

Jaime rolled her eyes as she looked at her friend and followed her gaze. Stephanie just shook her head as she wondered if Anna would ever change. She was completely wrapped up and love struck by Kevin. She hadn’t changed yet though, so she seriously doubted it would ever happen.

“Like you’re really even paying attention to anybody but Kev,” Stephanie pointed out, causing the truth to come out when her friend turned a shade of crimson she hadn’t seen before, “Ha. I was right. I’m always right.”

This caused Anna to roll her eyes, but she said nothing. She had no comebacks to spout off, even though she knew the whole thing was all in fun. She actually took her eyes off of her own boyfriend though to view the others. She saw that they really were doing quite well.

“I can’t believe they’re going to tour again so soon,” Jaime commented, causing her two friends to look at her in confusion. She knew that she had to explain herself, “Well, I mean...when Kevin was first paralyzed, he refused to even think of possibly touring like he is. I never thought we’d see him actually practicing, ready and willing to go out on stage how he..well...is.” Jaime explained, then added quickly hoping that she hadn’t hurt Anna’s feelings, “Not to be cruel or anything.”

Anna didn’t seem to take offense. She just shrugged and smiled, turning her gaze back to Kevin, still working hard. She admired all of the work and effort he was putting in to this, and knew that the rest of the group was happy for his come around and change in attitude.”

“He’s definitely different since he’s woken up,” Anna admitted, hugging her knees close to her, “Instead of depressed and sad, he’s actually happy and in a rather good mood all of the time. It’s great. It’s like he...he has a new energy about him and is completely focused on getting well and working with what he has instead of pitying himself.”

Jaime and Stephanie nodded in agreement. What Anna said was true, and anybody could see it. His happiness wasn’t being faked or forced either, like it had been right before his suicide attempt. That too, was easy to tell.

There was only a month and a half until the first show. It seemed like a long time, but in reality, it was really a short amount of time with all the work and rehearsing that had to be squeezed in to it. They all knew that AJ, Brian, Nick and Howie would be prepared within no time. After all, they were just practicing what they already knew. What worried Anna though was if Kevin would be ready, for he was starting from scratch with hardly any time at all.
Chapter Twenty-Five by sweet18_2003
Chapter Twenty-Five

Stephanie smiled as she stepped out of the front doors of the doctors office. She reached her arms upward towards the clear, blue sky and breathed in the fresh air as she soaked in the warm springtime sun.

“This is the life,” Stephanie murmured, loving the feel of the heat reflecting off of her naturally pale skin complection.

Taking in another breath, she advanced a small step forward before racing down the twelve brick steps which led to the parking lot. She strode over to her white Convertible, hopping over the edge gracefully and in to the car. She shoved the key in to the ignition, putting the car in to drive and pulled out of the now almost empty parking lot.

It was a month and a half later and Stephanie was now three months pregnant. She hadn’t begun to show as of yet, or if she had, it was minimal, but had gained a few more pounds in water weight. Dr. Jakobs, had told her
informatively that that was a good sign and that so far, everything was looking good and the baby was perfectly healthy. Stephanie couldn’t have been happier with the news. The only thing that would have made the day better was if Nick had been able to go with her. He, as well as the rest of the guys though, had some business to take care of since Kevin had decided to give touring a try. Their first show was in three days. There was still a lot to be done and taken care of before the big day. Kevin had the most work of anyone beings he was still in a wheelchair and had hardly started learning the routines on wheels, or what he was capable of doing on wheels. She and the girls had sat in on one of the practices though, and Stephanie had to admit that he was catching on nicely and quickly. With Kevin’s recently chanced attitude, which had definitely been for the best, she gave it another two five hour sessions and he’d have every move to each dance down perfectly...almost more perfectly than what the others could already do on working legs. They’d all been out of practice in their dance routines but were already caught up again. Their taking almost a year off hardly showed. She knew that the fans were ecstatic that the group was about to finish off the tour and glad to know that the next album was complete, although on a slight hold for the time being. Either way, the news was phenomenal.

Merging on to the main road, Stephanie’s stomach rumbled in painful hunger. She placed a hand lightly on it, keeping the other firmly wrapped around the steering wheel as her eyes scanned the sides of the road for her options of something quick, tasty and most importantly, healthy, to eat. That was one major thing that had chanced in her since she’d found out about the new life being created inside of her. She had chanced her eating habits drastically. The last thing that she needed was a morbidly obese baby. With her normal fast food diet, that’s exactly what she knew would end up with if she kept that lifestyle up.

“Don’t worry, honey,” Stephanie muttered, her right hand still pressed on her belly as she continued to search for something to eat, “Mama’s gonna feed you soon.”

Not seeing anything other than typical fattening fast food joints for something quick, Stephanie finally pulled off in to the parking lot of the Golden Corral. She knew she had to eat something before she got home because of the half hour drive. Grabbing a book she’d bought earlier that morning for expecting mothers, Stephanie got out of her car and walked in to the deserted restaurant. She stopped at the hostess stand and waited patiently to be noticed and seated. After waiting for only a couple of minutes, a young girl turned to her and smiled brightly.

“How many are in your party today, ma’am?” she asked softly, telling Stephanie that the girl must have been kind of shy.

“Just myself,” Stephanie told her.

“Okay, follow me,” the girl replied, “My name’s Natalie and I’ll be showing you back to your table today..

Stephanie followed Natalie through a maze of tables and chairs, all of which were pretty much unoccupied. She thought nothing of it as she continued to follow the girl to the far side of the restaurant. Finally they stopped at a small table for two next to a large open window, brightening the area perfectly so that Stephanie could read more easily.

“It’ll be right here,” Natalie motioned. Stephanie sat down on one of the wooden, high back chairs, pulling herself under the table, “Your server will be Brad today. He’ll be right with you,” She paused and bit her lip shyly as if there were something more for her to say but didn’t know if she should or not. She released her lip from her teeth and opened her mouth to finally say something, “You can help yourself at the buffet whenever you’re ready.”

Stephanie thanked Natalie and she turned around, walking away at a comfortable pace. Stephanie chuckled, figuring that she was probably somewhat new to the job by her stiff, mechanical actions and her nervous posture. Stephanie knew that she probably could never do the job that Natalie held. It was too repetitious and dealing with the public in a restaurant she knew could be a bitch. She’d end up getting fired for sure for giving some poor old person a piece of her mind just because she was getting on her nerves.

Placing her book on the table, she stood up, making her way to the salad bar. Smells drifted over to her nostrils from the other buffet stations causing her to salivate. She forced herself to stick with the healthier selections though, tempting as it was not to. Grabbing a chilled plate off of t he top of the stack, she took the tongs out of the bin of salad, loading her plate up with the crisp, fresh lettuce. She t hen looked down at her plate, scrunching her nose up in distaste. Stephanie knew she’d have to add some sort of flavor to the plain tasting meal in order for her to stomach it. She hurriedly put a few spoon fulls of shredded cheese, shredded carrots, bacon bits and croutons on top of the leafy food before finishing it off by putting on a ladle of fat free Italian dressing.

“Perfect,” Stephanie stated, her stomach rumbling loudly in total agreeing as she made her way back to her seat, “Healthy for baby with flavor for me.”

She pulled her seat back out and sat down. Opening the book up to the first page, she stuck her nose in it, reading the information carefully. It wasn’t until she’d already read a couple of pages that she took the first bite of her meal and it was then that her server decided to show up for the first time since her arrival.

“Hello,” he greeted, “My name’s Brad. I’ll be taking care of you today. Can I get you anything to drink?”

Stephanie held up one finger telling him to hold on as she finished reading the short paragraph that she was on. When she did look up, she nearly choked on her salad, forcing the mouthful to go down with a hard swallow. The guy in which she was looking at had to have been the most gorgeous man she’d ever laid eyes upon. He stood around 5'10" and had the build of a god. He wasn’t thin but definitely not over weight either. He had just the right amount of muscle to tell her that he worked out, but not too much to where he looked like one of the gross body builders that were occasionally on TV. His hair was black and short, but long enough so that he could spike it in the front. And his eyes...his eyes were the most stunning shade of green. They were piercing in the way that they looked at you, as if they were trying to search your soul...read your mind. He didn’t smile. He seemed almost depressed and as if he were hiding a deep secret, giving him a mysterious nature. By his voice though, he seemed friendly and like he’d made a good friend.

Stephanie realized she’d zoned out in her gaping at the server...Brad, as he’d called himself. She shook her head roughly to clear it and opened her mouth to speak. She was mortified when nothing came out except for a small squeak. Brad still didn’t smile. He just looked at her patiently and with amusement. It was obvious that he was used to this kind of reaction over his looks, although he didn’t seem self centered and big-headed over it.

“I can come back when you’ve made a decision,” he offered.

Stephanie blushed. She wasn’t sure if he was making fun of her or genuinely being sincere. His face told nothing, but his eyes sparkled flirtatiously and playfully. She knew then that he’d only been joking with her. She decided he’d make a fun friend too, to anybody who knew him well.

“Jus...just di...diet coke, please,” Stephanie sputtered, forcing out a weak smile to follow.

Brad nodded once and turned to walk away to get her beverage. Stephanie watched as he left, noticing how tight his firm ass was as he rounded the corner in to what she guessed was the kitchen. She took in a shaky breath and forced herself to put her eyes back on her book.

“Don’t get all bent out of shape,” Stephanie muttered to herself, “It’s just a hot guy. Jeez...I acted like a love sick teen moron...the kind that act like fools around Nick...and I love Nick. It’s just a stupid attraction to a guy who serves at a buffet for a living.”

She took in a deep breath to compose her nerves. She was determined not to make a replay of her recent behavior. She had no reason to act so nervous. He was gorgeous, end of story. Guilt came over her for the butterfly feeling that was in her stomach. Sure, her and Nick were having slight problems over his befriending Willa, but she still loved the blonde and had enough confidence in him to hope that eventually he would see her for what she really was.

Flipping to the next page of her book, Stephanie forced herself to concentrate on the information that she knew was important and would be useful to her. She suddenly was in no hurry to get back home to her and Nick’s empty, lonely mansion. She had a couple of hours to kill before Nick would even be home. She figured she might as well stay out in public so she wouldn’t feel quite so lonely. Just moments later, Brad returned to the table, placing the drink down in front of her on top of a small napkin. She was totally oblivious to his presence until he spoke.

“Week by Week Guide for the Expecting Mother,” he recited the name of the thick book.

Stephanie jumped, startled. The book fell from her hands as she let out a small squeal. She looked up and saw Brad’s eyes twinkling down at her. He seemed almost pleased that he’d made her jump. All she did was stare up at him, no sarcastic comments coming to her mind quick enough for her to retort back at him. Her mind was mush, her tongue tied and heavy whenever he was nearby. It was completely unlike her to be this way and wondered if it was a weird side effect of pregnancy or if it really was because she was attracted to him in ways she knew she shouldn’t be.

“How far along are you?” he asked her with interest she knew wasn’t just being faked, “You’re figure is still killer, so you must be pretty early still.”

Stephanie just stared for another moment with her mouth hanging wide open. She caught herself in her trance though before she was completely gone. Stephanie took in a deep breath, determined to act like a normal human being for once since she’d arrived.

“Three months,” she managed to get out without a trace of a stutter, feeling calmer already and more confident around him.

Brad examined her for a moment. The way his eyes scanned her mad her uncomfortable yet she kind of liked it too all at the same time. She could tell that he was thinking something and was close to speaking.

“I don’t see a ring,” he observed, “Are you married?”

“I...I really don’t think that’s any of your business,” Stephanie told him boldly, although gave him silent credit for being intelligent enough to look for the small, minor details.

Brad just shrugged in response but he didn’t leave. He didn’t say anything else either though. He just stood there.

“Don’t you have a job to do?” Stephanie asked him with a raised eyebrow, realizing he hadn’t left her table in just about five minutes now.

Brad looked around the empty restaurant for a moment before looking back at her again. He still didn’t smile. His eyes still held mystery, which was driving her crazy trying to figure it out. She hated the effect that he was having on her, yet she wanted more.

“You’re my only table,” he commented, “Just trying to make conversation and be friendly since it’s so boring around here,” he paused again, “So, are you married, do you mind me asking.”

Stephanie raised an eyebrow, still not feeling as if this was any of his business. For the first time though, she noticed how sexy and husky his voice was, luring her in to tell him more than she really felt was necessary.

“No, not married,” she told him, folding the page she was on over and closing the book, setting it down on the table top in front of her.

“Engaged then?” Brad pressed.

Stephanie laughed, “You sure are persistent,” she teased, then added in response to his question, “No, not that either.”

Brad looked confused yet determined to figure this whole thing out. As determined as Stephanie was to figure out the mystery behind him by the time she left. His green eyes told her that he was thinking of the next possible exclamation.

“The father didn’t leave you, did he?” Brad asked, and Stephanie thought she saw anger in his eyes over the thought.

Stephanie didn’t reply to him at first. She thought that for her being a total stranger, Brad was getting a little too personal in the questions. Stephanie shrugged it off. The guy was obviously bored and just looking for someone to talk to to pass his time...a little too desperately, maybe.

“No, he didn’t leave,” Stephanie informed him, “We’re still together.”

Brad examined her closely with his piercing green eyes. She could tell that he was trying to read her mind again, leaving her feeling exposed and uncomfortable. She looked down, trying to hide her face beneath her long, blonde hair.

“You’re having problems,” he told her knowingly, “I can tell by your troubled face that something isn’t right.”

Stephanie opened her mouth to protest but decided against it, closing it again just as quickly. Brad was smart. He’d know if she lied to him. Therefore, Stephanie decided to spare both of them the trouble. He was bored. He would argue with her until he got the truth out of her because he obviously had the time to do that.

“Yeah, well, don’t all couples go through rough spots in their relationships?” Stephanie pointed out to him.

Brad shrugged, making Stephanie pleased to think that she’d proved a good point that he actually agreed with. It didn’t last very long though. Brad had already come up with something to argue back with.

“I wouldn’t know,” he interjected, “I’ve never been in a relationship long enough to find out.” Stephanie looked at him strangely waiting for him to explain. She couldn’t believe that this man had never been in a long term relationship before. Especially with the looks that he had and a personality to match, even if he was a little nosy, “I’m afraid of commitment,” he explained simply, “Always have been.”

Brad acted as if this was nothing and didn’t bother him but she could tell that there was more to it by the clouded look in his eyes. He’d dug beneath the surface with her. She had every right to do the same to him. Before she had the chance to though, he began to speak again, putting the attention and spotlight back on her.

“Mind telling me why you and your boyfriend are having problems?” he asked with interest.

Stephanie sighed. He just kept going. She wasn’t sure whether to answer or not. Then again, maybe he’d have some advice to give her on the subject, even if he really didn’t have the right to be told and had never been in her situation or anything close. Stephanie decided to take her chances and tell him. What could it hurt? Chances were she’d never eat there again, making it highly unlikely that she’d ever see him again anyways.

“His ex recently stepped back in to the picture. He’s very wealthy and before she was only after his money. Recently a friend of ours was hospitalized. She called months after, suddenly all concerned, or acting like it at least. I can see past her angelic act though. She want’s his money again. She told me so in private when he wasn’t around. He won’t believe me. He think’s I am jealous and she is innocent. So obviously, it’s causing problems between us.” Stephanie filled him in, making the long, grueling story as short as humanly possible.

Brad looked thoughtful for a moment and she could only imagine what was going on in his creative, brilliant mind. Suddenly Stephanie became fearful that just maybe she was over-reacting about the entire situation. After all, she trusted Nick loved her and wouldn’t let Satan’s puppet ruin their relationship.

“I can see where this would upset you,” Brad finally spoke, “It seems you’ve every right to feel how you do over the whole thing.”

This made Stephanie’s head whip up and over in his direction. She hadn’t expected him to see her point on things. She was at loss for words, unable to think of what to say next in response. All she’d prepared for was an argument to defend herself.

“Is he naturally wealthy by inheritance or is he famous in some way for something he’s done which made him rich on his own?”

Stephanie blushed slightly, “Rich is rich. I don’t see how it matters how he got that way. Besides, you wouldn’t believe me even if I did tell you.”

Brad crossed his arms over his chest and looked at her skeptically, “I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt,” he told her, “I trust you’re old enough to be past making up stories for attention.”

Stephanie smiled in thanks to this. She decided she might as well tell him. In a matter of months, the world would begin to know of her dating Nick anyways. They could only keep it on the down low for so long. They’d been lucky to keep it almost secret for this long anyways.

“Ever heard of the Backstreet Boys?” she asked, then felt like kicking herself for asking such a stupid question. Who hadn’t heard of the Backstreet Boys?

Brad nodded, his serious facial expression never changing. He was waiting for her to continue and she felt comfortable doing so. He didn’t make her feel judged or like an outright liar or even inadequate for mentioning a musical group most looked down upon.

“It’s Nick Carter...the blonde one....from that group,” she told him, holding her breath and waiting to hear his reaction.

“Cool,” Brad replied, “My little sister digs their music,” he paused, then said, “So his ex is after him again for his money, only he doesn’t believe you? Am I following?”

Stephanie nodded her head vigorously, excited that he believed her and was understanding where she was coming from, and especially that he’d listened to her so carefully. It astonished her that he didn’t think she’d lost her mind. She guessed that he must have read her thoughts again by his next comment.

“Under normal circumstances, I might have had a little doubt tucked away in the back of my mind. However, two weeks ago, I waited on Josh Hartnett. Therefore, it makes it much easier to take your word for it.”

“Ah,” was all Stephanie could think of to say.

“Anyways,” Brad replied, “I should probably get going and, um, let you eat.”

Stephanie looked down at her plate of salad, and she realized she’d barely touched it. She also realized that she wasn’t all that hungry any longer. Talking to Brad had filled her up, but in a good way. She looked at him strangely as he took out a pen and piece of paper and wrote something on it. He handed it to her.

“Here’s my number...in case you ever want to talk,” Brad explained his motives, “I’m a good listener...and alright at giving advice, I suppose.”

Stephanie looked down at the number, shaking her had and laughing softly to herself before looking back up at her server. “What is it with waiters hitting on me and my friends and giving us their numbers?” Now it was Brad’s turn to give her a strange look, which caused her to laugh a little more, “Never mind,” she told him, “It’s a long story.”

Brad just shrugged, pulling her bill out of his apron pocket and placed it on the table upside down. He hesitated as if he did not want to leave.

“Well, keep my offer in mind,” he told her, “Have a great afternoon.”

Brad turned and started to walk away. Stephanie’s brain raced with things she wanted to say to him. There was one question she wanted an answer to more than anything else, and her chance to ask was quickly slipping away.

“Brad,” she called and he turned around, question in his pure eyes, “Can you answer something for me?”

“Sure,” Brad answered, “Anything.”

“Why do you never smile?” Stephanie boldly asked.

Brad shrugged, not taking offense to the curious remark, “I guess it’s because I just don’t find much of anything worth smiling over.” he replied, then turned and walked away, disappearing from view, leaving Stephanie feeling sorry for him. She wondered how his life could be so bad that he didn’t find much of anything that would make him happy, he could be so friendly towards others. Stephanie knew that when she was in a sour mood, she was always a bitch, no exceptions.

Picking up her fork, Stephanie finished her salad while reading a few more pages of her book. When she’d almost cleared her plate, Stephanie closed the book and flipped the bill over. She closed her eyes and opened them again, not believing what she saw. All there was was a small piece of paper that said, It’s on me. Stephanie couldn’t figure out when he’d done it. The only time she could think of was when he’d gotten her drink for her. Stephanie felt guilty that he’d done such a generous thing, but knew that he was probably gone until she left the restaurant so she couldn’t protest. Pulling fifteen dollars out of her wallet, she placed it on the table, leaving him a generous tip before standing up and leaving the building. Since she’d been there, although it was still warm and sunny out, the sun had barely begun to set in the distance. She sighed and got in to her car, figuring that she and Nick would probably be getting home at just about the same time. Stephanie couldn’t wait to see him. They hadn’t seen much of each other in the past couple of weeks and she was looking forward to having him all to herself for the night.

Her thoughts got the best of her, and before she knew it, Stephanie was pulling in to her driveway with a grin plastered to her face. It soon faded though when a car she did not recognize was parked directly behind Nick’s. She grumbled to herself as she got out of the car and walked up to the house, letting her inside.

“Nick, I’m home,” she called out in boredom, upset that her plans were ruined.

Getting no response, Stephanie raised her eyebrow, wondering if he’d heard her. She wandered around their huge mansion in search for her boyfriend. If nothing else, she wanted to be able to tell him the news about their baby-to-be. She knew he’d want to hear about it. After all, he was a proud father, boasting to his friends and family over the news. Stephanie couldn’t help but smile at the thought of how cute he was telling everyone that he was going to be a daddy as she walked around the house, continuing her search for Nick.

“Nick?” she yelled again, still not getting any response.

Stephanie shook her head, automatically racing up to the bedroom. For a moment, the thought of what Anna must have gone though entered her mind of not getting a reply from Kevin and then finding his suicide note. Right away though, she found the thought absurd as her heartbeat quickly returned to normal. It would be just like him to have fallen asleep. When she reached the room though, she was disappointed to find it empty. There was only one place that she could think of that he would be. The built in studio that he and the guys practiced in sometimes. Taking no time, Stephanie started towards the studio, which was tucked away in the far back corner of the house in a soundproof room. Once there, she saw that the OCCUPIED light was turned off, telling her that it was okay for her to enter, and she did just that. She stepped in carefully, hoping that she wasn’t interrupting Nick in the middle of a practice or sudden brainstorming of a new song idea. She rounded the corner and saw Nick. His back was turned to her and he was talking to someone. Someone Stephanie knew all too well. It was obvious he’d been home for some time. One conclusion came to mind: Nick had lied to her about his whereabouts to have some alone time with his ex. She stopped, staring at Willa laughing softly at something Nick said and then her heart stopped in her chest for a moment in time as she watched them magnetically fall together in a passionate, steamy lip lock. Tears blinded Stephanie as she sniffled loudly. She saw Nick pull away and whip his head around, his eyes wide. What she saw in them, she did not know. Regret. Apologetic. Anger. Worry. A mix of all of them? It didn’t matter though. It didn’t change what she’d seen.

“I...It’s not what it looks like,” Nick started, but Stephanie cut him off, her voice shaking with fury and sadness, it coming out in nearly a mere whisper, seeing the smug, pleased look curling on to Willa’s lips from behind Nick..

“I trusted you, Nick,” she stated, hurt evident..

“Willa kissed me,” he tried to protest, “I...I love you, Steph.”.

It was too late though. Stephanie was already bolting out of the room, out of the house. She had to get away from there...from him. She couldn’t stand being in his presence for another minute. It was too painful. The thoughts that kept racing through her mind were how much she loved him and trusted him, and it had all been for nothing. She was having a child that was his, but it didn’t mean a thing.

Nick tried to chase after his girlfriend, but Willa held him back in her strong grasp, making it impossible for him to catch her, and then he heard a car starting, knowing that it was his Stephanie leaving. All he could think was that she had been right, and he regretted not believing her.

As Stephanie drove down the street, tears blinded her vision. It had hurt catching Nick with Willa alone in their house. It had hurt seeing them kiss. It had hurt that Nick had tried to defend himself in what was obviously a lie. What hurt the most though was that Nick hadn’t even tried to stop her.

What Stephanie didn’t know because she had left so abruptly, was that he really had tried to, but she’d already been gone before he’d had a fair chance to reach her.

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Jaime smiled softly at AJ from across the dimly lit table for two. He’d taken her out to a fancy, exquisite Italian restaurant which was probably costing him a small fortune. AJ had insisted though, despite Jaime’s trying to convince him that something much simpler and cheaper would have been perfectly fine. His excuse was that it was a special occasion, however Jaime knew that their one year anniversary wasn’t for another month. She figured that he wanted to celebrate eleven months for some strange reason, leaving it at that.

“It sure is a beautiful night,” Jaime commented, looking out of the window at the clear skies, the sun setting in the horizon beyond the waterfront by the restaurant, “I haven’t seen it like this in so long...” her voice trailed off longingly.

“Yes, it is beautiful,” AJ commented, taking Jaime’s hands in his from across the table, staring deep into her eyes. She wasn’t even sure if he’d caught just what she was talking about. He seemed oblivious to everything that was going on around them, “You’re beautiful.” he softly stated

Jaime blushed slightly, hiding it by looking down, letting her brown hair cover her face. She picked up her glass of sparkling white wine, swirling it around to distract herself. Although A.J. was completely wonderful, she still wasn’t used to the compliments. It wasn’t that her self esteem was low or anything, but never in her life had she ever had somebody so incredible and willing to try to make her feel special as well.

Jaime’s cheeks were still flushed when A.J. reached across the table, cupping her chin in his hand as he lifted her face up. Her eyes were forced to meet his again and she offered a sheepish, shy smile. A.J. felt his heart flutter. She was so cute when she was embarrassed. He loved everything about Jaime, yet felt that there were not enough ways to tell her and especially show her.

“Blushing?” A.J. teased, “What’s that for?”

Jaime shrugged, “I don’t know. I just...I don’t consider myself attractive. I don’t know what someone as gorgeous as you sees in someone like me.”

A.J. leaned across the table to give Jaime a sweet, soft kiss on her lips. He stayed leaned over, keeping himself propped up on his elbows as he stared at her, a smile on his face. If she only knew just what he saw in her, and she would by the end of the evening.

“I hope Lauren is okay,” Jaime said nervously as she nibbled on her bottom lip, partly out of concern, partly to change the subject and get the attention off of herself .

A.J. laughed again, “I’m sure she’s fine. After all, she’s with Brian and Howie...the two most responsible at the moment.”

“I know...” Jaime’s voice trailed off, “I’m just nervous. I mean, we’ve never left her behind before. It’s just a change, is all.”

The truth was though, as nervous as she was, she trusted Brian and Howie. Their daughter was safer with them than she was with Nick, by far. Although if it weren’t for Kevin still being paralyzed, she’d have left her with him and Anna before the others in a heartbeat. Something about Kevin gave her a sense of security.

“Understandable,” A.J. replied a few seconds later, “But hey, we get the night all to ourselves...the whole night.” he wiggled his eyebrows suggestively which caused Jaime to giggle.

“Horny old man,” she joked, “It’s that exactly that caused us to have a daughter in the first place. Don’t think we’re ready for another one quite yet.”

“But you wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.” A.J. stated knowingly, more as an observation than a question to assure him that this was true.

“No, I wouldn’t,” Jaime sighed with a soft smile on her face, answering anyways, “Not at all.”

The rest of the evening went by smoothly. The happy couple finished their meals and A.J. paid, tipping the server generously. They left the restaurant hand in hand, walking out to where the limo A.J. had rented out awaited them. The driver held the door open as A.J. helped Jaime step inside. He whispered something to the driver, who nodded, before climbing in after her. He took the seat next to his girlfriend. Jaime leaned in to him, breathing in the light scent of his cologne. The night was turning out to be extremely romantic...something that she needed and hadn’t really had since before Lauren had been created many months ago.

The limo started to move forward and was soon back out on the highway. Jaime sighed, not saying anything, and neither did A.J. She was sad to see the evening ending, as it had been so perfect. Jaime closed her eyes, suddenly tired. Without meaning to, she fell asleep as the limo moved on. A.J. tilt his head, looking down at her. He smiled, kissing her temple. She looked so peaceful and he hated to wake her. However, he knew he had to when the vehicle came to a stop. They’d reached their destination.

“Jaime, wake up,” he said softly, nudging the sleeping girl gently.

Jaime let out a small moan as she buried her face deeper in to A.J’s shoulder. He chuckled lightly, almost wishing he could just let her sleep, however knew that this was the night for his motives to take place.

“Jaime,” he said a little louder, nudging her again.

“Hmmm?” she groaned, her eyes opening slowly.

She looked around as if trying to remember where she was as she sat up. She looked out the window and saw a small park with benches on the outter side of a brick path. In the center of it was a fountain, shooting water high into the air. There was a light under it reflecting up the flow of water to give it a lit up, colored appearance. Every so often, the color would gradually change into another. As simple as the sight was, Jaime found it to be beautiful, and in a sense, breathtaking.

“Wow,” she murmured in awe, speechless.

“Do you like it?” A.J. asked hopefully as the door to the limo opened. A.J. stepped out before holding his hand out to Jaime. She took it and stepped out after him, the black dress she was wearing sliding down her legs to right above her knees.

“It’s gorgeous,” she breathed, “I thought...I thought the night was over and we were going back home.” she looked around a little longer at the few people who were still out walking around the path, “Where are we?” she inquired.

A.J. laughed, “Somewhere special. Let’s just leave it at that.”

Jaime nodded, satisfied with the answer. Hand in hand, the couple walked towards the fountain, merging on to the path. They walked around it several times before either of them spoke.

“Why did you bring me here?” Jaime whispered, afraid of she raised her voice just a little, that she’d break the magic spell that the place seemed to cast.

“You’re just full of questions, aren’t you?” A.J. teased. Jaime blushed and shrugged, “I just thought that rather than going back right after dinner, I’d surprise you and take you somewhere nice to finish the evening.”

“Thank you,” Jaime whispered.

The two did a few more laps around the fountain. Jaime couldn’t imagine how it would look if it was light out. To her, the small park wouldn’t be nearly as nice if it weren’t for the darkness, the only light coming from the fountain.

Suddenly, A.J. stopped, stepping in front of Jaime and moving aside close to the water. She could feel small drops splashing on to her, but she didn’t care. Her boyfriend looked deep in to her eyes, his breathing coming out hard and slow all of a sudden. Jaime’s heart started to pound as she became worried

“Are you okay baby?” she asked with concern filled eyes.

A.J. nodded, cupping her face in his hands and running his fingers through the underside of her long, brown hair. He brought her in for a kiss.

“Jaime,” he stated, “I love you so much. Ever since you’ve been in my life, it’s been so much happier and I have so much more to live for. You’ve given me so much, including an amazing daughter. I couldn’t imagine my life without you in it.”

Jaime gasped as he pulled out a small box from the inside of his tux pocket while kneeling down. Tears spilled from her eyes as she choked out the words, “Oh my god.” as what was happening started to sink in. He’d had it planned all along, and kept the secret well. He opened the box revealing a small, silver ring with an assortment of dainty diamonds in a unique pattern. A few passerby’s stopped and stared to see what was going on, but Jaime was oblivious to the several eyes that were on her.

“Jaime, will you marry me?”

Jaime’s eyes were wide with shock as she just stared, but she soon shook her head to clear it as she nodded her head vigorously un and down, the tears of happiness falling harder.

“Yes,” she managed to get out, “Yes, Alexander James McLean. I’ll marry you.”

A.J. grinned, letting out a huge sigh of relief as he slid the ring on to her finger, standing up and taking his now fiancé into his arms, spinning her in circles, smothering her in kisses. Jaime laughed and tears of happiness were now in his own eyes as claps came from around. Within seconds though, they were all gone, leaving the newly engaged couple alone. One thing was for sure, and that was that this had definitely become the best, and most romantic night of Jaime’s life, as well as one she’d never forget.

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“Okay guys, lets get ready,” one of the stage crew called out, “You’re on in five.”

Bluewave had just finished their part of the show fifteen minutes before. Just as promised, they were the opening act again, and took the offer graciously, even after the long wait. The group of six was doing just as great as before too, if not, better than ever. In the time off, for a few months, they did a mini tour going to schools around the country to try to promote themselves a bit more. They definitely had a bit more publicity, which was enough to help out any new group. When they’d found out that Kevin had awakened, the group had visited on their own time, glad to know that the man who’d been so kind to them was going to be okay.

As for No Authority, Tommy was still undergoing small doses of chemo treatments. He’d become ill again, going out of his remission. His condition worsened, but had improved. He was now it what was expected to be his last round of chemo before reaching remission for a second time. After that, the rest was left up to fate. Whether they toured or not again depended a lot on how well Tommy was dealing.

Kevin took a deep breath from his seat, watching as his fellow band members hustled around with last minute things to prepare for the show. He could hear the screams clearly coming from the other side of the stage. His heart beat rapidly in his chest, nervousness consuming most of his body. The day had finally come for them to have their first show since Kevin’s accident. He was excited, but part of him kept telling himself that he was not ready yet. That it was too soon to take this next step forward. It was too late to turn back though. The announcement had been made, tour places making way as he sat there. The fans had become hysteric with excitement when the word had gotten out. It was obvious that the show was going to be huge.

Anna walked over to him, kneeling down so that she was at eye level, which wasn’t far considering she wasn’t all that tall to begin with. She took his hand in hers, giving it a light squeeze, causing him to break out of his trance. He smiled at her slowly, unsurely.

“How’re you doing?” she asked.

There was concern in her eyes. Ever since he’d woken up, Anna worried that every time he got nervous or depressed over something, he’d try to kill himself again. She’d never forget the look in his eyes when he told her goodbye right before his first attempt. She was scared, and he knew it, promising not to ever do anything of the sorts again. She wanted to believe it, but was afraid.

“Alright,” Kevin answered with a sigh, “Just afraid of the outcome...” his voice trailed off and he paused, “I don’t want all eyes on me alone...or sympathy. I thought I was ready for this, but now...now, I’m not sure. Maybe this was a mistake.” he finished regretfully, adverting his eyes away from his girlfriend.

Anna sighed, hating it when he got down like this, “Kevin, sweetie...look at me,” she waited a second before repeating, “Look at me, Kev.” he slowly lifted his head, “It isn’t a mistake. You can do this. You’re totally ready and will do amazingly. I love you. I believe in you.”

Kevin smiled, bringing her hand up to his mouth and kissing it tenderly as he stared in to her eyes. He appreciated her so much.

“I love you too, Anna,” Kevin said softly, “Thank you for believing in me.”

Anna was about to reply but was cut off by the sounds of Stephanie stomping across the stage, fleeing quickly past with Nick running behind her at her heels in attempt to speak to her.

“Steph,” Nick pleaded, panic in his high pitched tone, “Talk to me. I love you. Please, give me the chance to explain.”

“I’m not going to,” she replied without turning around or stopping, “You went behind my back and...you...cheated on me with...Willa.”

There was a quaver in her voice, something that was rarely heard, which meant that she was either near tears or already there. Anna and Kevin both looked at one another wide eyed. They couldn’t believe what they were hearing in the shouting match between their friends.

“I told you, it was all her,” Nick attempted again, “I kicked her out right after you left. I promise you.”

“You’re promises mean nothing,” Stephanie spat, “Leave me alone.”

Stephanie quickened her pace and Nick slowly gave up, turning around. His eyes were sad, something that was not needed for the start of the tour. It seemed that more than one of them were facing issues. Things weren’t getting off to as good of a start as they all would have liked. One could hope that things got better in the next few minutes.

“I don’t get it,” Nick muttered to nobody in particular, “I...it’s been three days and she still won’t speak to me or look at me. I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Anna and Kevin watched as he sulked away to the other side of the stage to join the other three members of the band plus Jaime, who was holding Lauren in one arm, rocking her slowly.
Soon he was laughing, but something about it was forced and not fully in to what was going on. It was obvious that he missed his girlfriend.

“Two minutes,” the crew member announced.

“Well, here goes nothing,” Kevin stated aloud as he began to roll the wheelchair towards the others, who were warming up.

Anna got back up on to her feet and walked behind him, knowing that he was nervous by his tense posture. She hoped that he loosened up a bit before going out on stage or else he’d mess everything he’d worked for up. She prayed that he didn’t blow this first show, although she had to keep in mind that it was the first, and mistakes were bound to happen here and there.

“Everyone ready,” Brian asked, getting nods from all around, “Kevin, are you sure that you’re ready?” he asked

Kevin gulped and nodded, “Positive. As ready as I’ll ever be.” he replied.

He noticed that Stephanie had come up behind him, her arms crossed over her chest. She was on the opposite side of the circle as Nick, keeping her eyes out of contact with his and away from the direction that he was in.

“Before we go out,” A.J. stated, taking Jaime’s free hand in his, “We’ve got an announcement to make...a rather exciting one.”

All eyes went to the couple and A.J. looked at Jaime telling her that it was okay for her, and he wanted her to be the one to break the news. She smiled widely.

“We’re engaged!” she squealed in excitement.

She was greeted by a round of hugs from everybody, including Stephanie, who she could have sworn had a glimmer of sadness in her eyes. She’d barely heard her and Nick’s argument, but figured that was why her friend wasn’t more excited, or better yet, spouting off sarcastic comments and making fun. She wondered if maybe they should have waited to make the announcement after all.

Another final announcement was called out telling the Boys that it was time for them to take the stage. Excitement arose to an all time high backstage as it they were introduced and the intro was coming on. Screams became an all time deafening loud. Everyone looked around sharing smiles of anticipation, adrenaline rushing throughout their bodies, ready to take the stage and take action.

“Let’s get this show on the road,” A.J. stated enthusiastically, pumping a fist into the air as they lined up, running out on to the stage one by one, the singing beginning.

Kevin took a deep breath, knowing that he was ready. He pushed himself out onto the stage in his wheelchair with pride following the others, singing with all he had in him, for the first time since the accident. He knew that with a lot of time and hard work, he would be back on his feet again, but until then, he would have to make due with what he had. He was going to make it and take things one day at a time. Everything was going to be okay.

*Authors Note* This is the last chapter of this story. After finishing a few other of my stories, I will be writing a sequel though, so be looking for that! Please review and let me know what you thought. It would mean a lot! Thanks for reading!
This story archived at http://absolutechaos.net/viewstory.php?sid=2391