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Chapter Twenty Two

It was the last night of the tour, and Nick was nervous. It wasn’t so normal, for him to be this on edge. But this night felt different. It was the end of an era, though the fans wouldn’t know that just yet. Because of that though, he wanted to give them one last night to remember. And he planned to. He was dressed and had just gotten through with the makeup. He stood just behind the curtain at the stadium in Budokan. He sighed. It was frightening, picturing a life without performing, when he’d done nothing but that since before he’d even joined the Backstreet Boys. It was who he was. Without that, it felt like he didn’t need this disease to take his essence away, because he was doing it himself before it could.

There was just something to performing that gave him the biggest rush of a lifetime. Every time it felt like it was the first time. It never was able to get old for him, going out there, playing to the crowd. The crowd screaming in excitement was the biggest high he’d ever been able to find. It was far more addictive than the drugs or the alcohol ever could’ve dreamed of being. He wanted to kick himself for all those mistakes. He’d wasted so much time. It wasn’t till he realized it was all being taken from him to finally quit it all without a look back. There was so much not fair about it.

“Nick?” he heard Brian call, he smiled, coming back to reality. He was waiting with the dancers and the crew, his hair still a faded neon green. Nick grinned, in the past few nights Brian hadn’t managed to get it out completely yet.

He headed over, joining the circle. Brian’s arm came over his shoulder on his right, and Nick suddenly fought the urge to cry. This was the last time they’d do the prayer circle they’d been doing for the past twenty three years. Nick had always known it couldn’t last forever, nothing could. But the end was too soon. AJ’s arm wrapped over his shoulder from the left, and Nick swallowed it all back. He could dwell later. Now was the time to enjoy it as much as he could. Until his memories faded away, he knew he’d be holding on to this. He’d told them they could go on without him, but they it touched him that they decided not to. The five of them had an a farewell album they were going to record back home in the States, but this would be the last Backstreet Boys concert any of them would ever do.

“Lord we thank you for our final show…” Brian began. “And we ask we bless those here and help us put on a good show tonight. We ask that you keep us all healthy and happy, and help those who aren’t become so. Amen.” None of the others noticed it, but he saw Brian’s head lift up and meet his gaze a moment before everyone else’s.

They all put their hands in. Nick stared at Kevin, a permanent smile upon his face. “Backstreet!” They chanted. The circle of people dispersed. Everyone went off to do their various tasks. All that remained, standing in a circle reminiscent of the early days, were the five members of the group.

It felt right though, having the five of them for the last hurrah. That was part of the surprise. Nick had been able to convince Kevin that on his sole night off, he should join them on stage for the final concert. Even though he’d protested, Nick believed Kevin agreed with him. This was how it should end. As the music started, and the dancers ran out on the stage into place, Nick couldn’t help feeling somewhat content amongst the melancholy of it all. If there was a way to go out, as a group in terms of performing, he didn’t mind this. This would be the way he’d choose it. The five of them were together again. They were on top.

And despite everything, in that moment, they were happy.


“We love you Budokan! That’s right, there ain’t no party like a Carter party cause a Carter party don’t stop!” Nick screamed as after running out on the stage one last time. They already did two encores but he loved the rush so much he didn’t want to let it go. He didn’t know how he could stop it from being so, but he felt like he needed to hang on to this. He felt an arm grab him, forcing him to finally give up and go backstage.

“Nick…” AJ said laughing as the two headed back to the dressing room. “You were enjoying that way too much.”

“I know…but it’s…it’s not like I’m gonna get another chance. This is it.”

“But…but the doctors may find a way to help you.”

Now that AJ had come to accept what Nick had, he’d found something new to be in denial about. Nick’s chances at a recovery. He loved him, he really did. The problem was that it upset him more than anything to hear AJ say those words. While his friend thrived off of the idea the false hope provided, Nick on the other hand felt like it was killing him softly.


“Hey, you never know right?”

He cracked a smile, weak though it was. “Right.”

They headed backstage, back towards the dressing rooms. There, Nick would have a moment of peace away from the others. He needed some time alone to really absorb the fact that it was over. He knew they would still have that farewell album. Still, their performances as a group, all those years together singing at the drop of a dime, had come to an end. Nick walked towards his room, opened the door and closed it softly behind him. He sat in his chair, staring at the mirror before him on the wall.

At least now I can dye my hair back to normal, he mused. Suddenly, a big smile grew upon his tired looking face. His features lit up, and a sparkle appeared within his eyes. The concert had been fantastic, a good end to a crazy ride. He sighed.

In his mind, he could still hear the fans screaming “Backstreet Boys! Backstreet Boys!”


Sunlight seeped into his vision, momentarily blinding him. Nick awoke with a start, rolling over and falling to the cold floor of the room with a solid thud. Groaning, he rubbed his now sore head that had slammed into the nightstand on the way down. He tried to get up and found himself tangled within a massive mess of sheets. As he struggled to get free, he glanced around; he was faced with something he hadn’t expected.

Aren’t we supposed to still be in Japan? The tour had ended a couple days before, but they’d decided to stay a week after to just bond together. Even though it wasn’t the last time any of them would see each other, it certainly had felt like one last time. Kevin had been the only one to leave, as he had obligations with the show he was doing.

So why was he here? He was met with a familiar vision, the apartment he’d come to love once. Before the destructive end of a relationship he hadn’t been ready to move to the next level. So why was he back here? Nick knew he had probably forgotten leaving Japan, seeing himself here had answered that question, as frustrating as it was. He knew he’d have to call AJ or Brian later and ask how long they’d been back. The apartment still looked the same, airy and attractive with various shades of browns and blacks. The biggest difference was the lack of any pictures featuring the two of them together. At one point, her room had been filled with them.

Why Lauren though? Why was he even here?

It’d been almost two years now since they’d broken up. Almost a year since he’d been diagnosed as well. Not that that was an anniversary he wanted to celebrate. Neither was, actually. Nick stood, finding himself to be wearing nothing but a pair of boxers sitting low upon his hips. He swallowed back hard, trying to figure out just what happened and how the heck he’d gotten there.

“Nick?” He heard her soft voice call. “Are you up?”

“Fuck a duck…” He muttered, trying now to find his clothes. They were nowhere to be seen in his immediate vision.


“I’ll…be down in a second…” Finally spotting his pants almost completely obscured by the blankets he’d tossed off before falling from the bed, he almost did a victory dance. Reaching inside, he grabbed his cell phone and bolted for the bathroom. Once inside, he shut the door, once again trying to process his situation.

I’m in Lauren’s apartment, wearing nothing but boxers, and woke up in her bed. I have no idea what the hell happened cause I can’t fucking remember it. What the HELL do I do?

So he did what he’d do anytime he was stuck. He called Brian.


“Geeze Nick, you wanna make me deaf?” He replied amidst a yawn.

“Sorry! It’s just I have a situation!”

“You always have a situation. I think you’re the reason I’m going bald.” He joked.

“Got the green out of your hair yet?”

“Yes, it took me about a week after we got home though…hey, your situation? I can hear you laughing at me!”

“How long have we been back?”

“About a week and a half…Nick are you okay?”

“I’m fine.” He sat on the toilet seat, feeling more awkward with every moment. “Look, I’m at Lauren’s…”

“Don’t you think getting back with her is a bad idea? With, well you know-”

He ran his free hand tiredly through his ruffled hair. Nick suddenly wondered if he’d dyed it back to blonde yet. He couldn’t remember and he hadn’t looked in the mirror. It felt utterly strange not having a clue about something like that.

“Yeah I know it’s not a good idea!”

“So why are you there?”

“I don’t know! That’s the problem! I don’t fucking know!”

He could hear some noises from Leighanne and Baylee in the background. Nick smiled a bit. He needed to go visit Baylee again and bond with him while he still could. It might help him relax too. “Wait, so you don’t know why you’re there?”

“No! I woke up, almost completely nude in her bed. Last I remember was a couple days before we left fucking Japan!”

A knock came at the door. Nick groaned. Could this morning get any worse? Or for that matter, could it get any more complicated? Why did his life always have to attract the weird, strange, and randomness most people never had to deal with? He’d never understand.

“What do I do?!” He hissed into the phone. Brian was his buddy. Brian almost always knew the answer. When he didn’t, that was when Kevin knew them.

“You’re going to have to tell her. Explain. She’ll have to understand you didn’t realize what you were doing. Whatever that was.”

“I can’t do that!” He almost screamed, forgetting just for a moment she was waiting on the other side of the door. Nick couldn’t handle this, this was too complicated. All he wanted was simple. Was that really too much to ask for, given everything he was forced to deal with?

“Nick, what are you doing in there?”

“I haven’t even told my family yet!” he whispered anxiously.

“You’re going to have to tell her something. At least with the truth, she’ll be more understanding. You knew you couldn’t hide this forever.”

“But…” Nick felt like screaming and throwing his phone at the wall. He always felt destructive lately.

Suicide would’ve been way damn easier.

“Why do you always have to make sense?!” He whined, instead of saying what he really thought. Kevin telling the others what he’d said before had them on edge enough.

“Sorry buddy.”

The door opened just as he shut the phone. He stared up at Lauren, still wearing nothing but his boxers, sitting on the toilet looking utterly panicked. She was as beautiful as ever, and part of him still missed her. He missed her knowing it could never again happen, and not just because they wanted different things this time. She raised a brow, holding a steaming cup of coffee.

“What the heck are you doing?”

He gave a sheepish grin, having no idea of what to say. “Hi Lauren.”
Chapter End Notes:
Okay, so here's the deal. I've got projects and finals coming. Then, once I'm past that... I'm going on the BSB Cruise in two weeks! *squeals*

So, I basically have no idea if I'll be able to manage an update between now and then. I'm going to try, but I make no promises lol. Just a heads up.

Also, once again, thank you for all the support this story has gotten. I really appreciate it! :)