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Chapter Eight

“When are you going to tell everyone?”

Nick sighed; they’d been out all night, simply talking. Both coming to grips with the reality placed before them. After Nick said it, they initially tried to avoid the topic once they both calmed down. But when early morning came to greet them, they came back full circle to the reason Nick had called Kevin for a one on one to begin with. Even though he hadn’t planned to tell him, some part of him had wanted to since he first received the news himself. And in all honestly, it’d been the release he’d so desperately needed. The therapist had been right, not that he’d ever admit that to her anytime soon, if ever.

“I don’t know…when I need help I guess. When I can’t function myself.” He shoved his hands idly in his pockets, glancing up at the pink tinged sky.

“Any idea when that’ll happen?”

“Five, ten years. If I’m hella lucky, maybe longer. “ Nick glanced away, biting his lip. “Right now it’s at little shit, forgetting lyrics sometimes, or where I put stuff.”

Kevin raised a brow. “You’re forgetting lyrics?”

“Only the new stuff, I have to work harder on getting it to stick. That’s what made me go to the doctor’s in the first place. Our…Early Show fiasco, I blanked on the lyrics.”

“I can see why that would scare you…” Kevin eyed him, taking in the cast he was forced to wear for another week or so. “What accident caused the arm?”

Nick smirked a bit, trying not to laugh. “I got mad and my car window walked into the line of fire.”


“I was angry, really angry. Can you blame me? I’m just lucky it was a car that pissed me off, and not a person.”

Kevin simply nodded, his arm around Nick shoulders as they continued to walk. The sun was beginning to peek over the horizon, giving a golden rod along the New York City skyline. He glanced above at the fading stars, being reminded once more that that was exactly what he was. A fading star in the coming light. It was then he wished for what he knew had to be the millionth time, that it was Kevin who was his father. How different would his life had been if he was? Would he have wasted it the way he had otherwise?

“What are you thinking?”

Nick shrugged, not wanting to share his true thoughts. He always felt a bit self conscious when it came to telling Kevin the role he played in Nick’s life. It was an unspoken knowledge between the two, Kevin within the fatherly role, and with Nick wishing he was it in reality. “Just what I’m going to do. I know what I want to do, like…I want to leave a mark Kev, I just don’t know how.”

“Just try and make the best you can…with the other guys. It’s all you can do.” His voice trailed off, growing broken in tone.

“I know.”

“…You need to make peace with your family too. I know you don’t want to, and I know they don’t really deserve you, but I know you. You won’t be able to rest easy until you do.”

Nick kicked a pebble along the sidewalk, suddenly finding the ground far more interesting right then. He hated how the other man was always right. It seemed to be the rule of Backstreet: In terms of advice, Kevin was always right. “They don’t deserve to know, except maybe the twins. After everything, they should just find out when I’m too damn out of it to remember all the ways they abandoned me or fucked me over.”

“Maybe it’s time to settle it all. You know it is.”

A pause. “Why do you have to be right all the damn time?”

Kevin chuckled. “It’s a gift I’ve come to have over the years.”

Nick smiled a bit, feeling so at ease yet incredibly frustrated at the same time. His mind and body were a swirling tornado of mixed emotions. He wanted to rage. He wanted to cry. He wanted to laugh. He wanted to smile. He wanted to be himself and make it go away with a few jokes. He wanted to escape it all. Nick just wanted to be, but without all the complications it currently came with. “Why me? What did I do to deserve all this?”

Kevin swallowed hard, keeping his own emotions in check. “You didn’t do anything, it just happened. I can’t say anything to make it easier lil’ man. You don’t know how hard that is for me. It…it just happened. Only God knows why.”

“God hates me.”

“God doesn’t hate you Nick, He loves you.”

“Somehow, that doesn’t comfort me. “

Kevin finally stopped, grabbing Nick to do the same. Their eyes met. “Listen to me, I know this is hard. I know you’re scared. I am too, for you. I know how you are, and what you’re thinking. You’ve been blessed Nick, so much. God doesn’t hate you. I wish I had the answers to why this is happening to you. I wish I could take it away, solve it the way I did all your problems when you were fifteen and your biggest one was homesickness or a girl in your hotel room. I feel like I’m failing because something’s out to destroy you…and this time...” Kevin paused, regaining his composure. “…this time I can’t stop it.”

The two embraced for what Nick knew had to be the fiftieth time that night. Not that he minded. If anything, it soothed him. “You can’t fix everything.”

“And not everything is about trying to make you fail.”

Nick took a deep breath, trying to relax and failing. “Figures it would take this to make us learn those two things.” He joked weakly.

The two walked together once more, silence rising to greet them. Both were lost within pensive thoughts, trying so fiercely to come to grips that reality had to provide. Nick knew that Kevin was trying to be brave then, for his own sake. He appreciated it. In the end, it was so easy for Nick to break down now, to just let himself crumble. The stability Kevin so naturally provided was like a soothing drug for his pain. It was selfish, to want Kevin to push his own feelings aside because it made him feel better. Still, he couldn’t help himself.

“This is just so damn hard.”

“It’s never going to be easy anymore. I know accepting that won’t be easy, but you can fight it. Leave your mark behind, like you said you wanted to do. With the fellas, with music, with the world.”

“How? How can I make everyone remember me for something other than the way my brain’s gonna rot?” Nick demanded, a new burst of anger rising.

“Your solo album, you said you put it off for the new group album right? Go back to it. Make one last album with the guys too. Make that green foundation you’ve been wanting to do. Go out there, and do everything you wanted to do. No regrets. Even if there are…” Kevin smiled sadly, “You won’t remember them.”

Another round of silence as Nick was thrust back into his thoughts. All he’d been thinking about was how to say goodbye to the few he loved. Could he really find a way to say goodbye to the world as well? Could he really make this into something where he finally would leave his mark? He glanced up at ever rising sun. The hotel could be seen just a couple blocks away cast in a mix of shadows and light as the sky changed hues. “Kevin…”


“Why do you always have to make so much sense?”

The two simply laughed, and right then, it felt good to do so.


As Nick walked through the halls, he realized he really wasn’t tired. Insomnia was slipping in his life more and more. Whether or not that was just yet another problem to add to the list, or if he was just afraid to waste more time by sleeping, he wasn’t sure. So rather than head back to his hotel room, he decided to do something different.

The day itself was going to be a flashback to simpler days, and part of his plan to fool them all into thinking he was okay once more. He was going to take Kevin’s advice on how to keep the others from questioning him too much. To act as normal and carefree as he could. It would throw them all off their current track of concern, and maybe even fool Brian. He needed the escape that the fellas not knowing provided. It was distraction from reality, all of it. Distraction for him in that moment, and what he hoped to be memories that distracted them in the future from the helpless man Nick would one day become.

So, he decided to start with the easiest one to rile up.

Nick smirked as he stood over Howie, sleeping in his hotel room. It hadn’t taken much to get a key from the girl down stairs. All he had to do was turn on the Carter charm, give her a smirk and then a smile, and bam! He had a hotel key for Howie’s room. He debated how he wanted to wake him up, for Nick had a gift for pranking Howie in every way imaginable over the years. However, he wanted to bond with him that day, since they had it off. It was part of Nick’s plan to make up for all the stuff he’d put them through over the years.

In the end, he decided to go with the classics.

He leaned over Howie, who looked so peaceful in his rest. Nick knew, that really, Howie was just begging to be awoken deep down inside. He leaned over, got really close to his face…and licked it as slobbery as he could. Howie’s eyes shot open, and he reached for Nick angrily as he dodged out of the way.

“Damn dude you still taste like hot sauce!”


“Good morning Howie!” He grinned cheekily.

“You are a dead man walking!” Howie leapt off the bed, trying to grab Nick furiously.

“Shit!” Nick ran out of the room, with Howie in hot pursuit wearing only boxers.

“I’m gonna keeeeeeeeeeeel you!”

“Calm down! I just wanted to bond!”

“Oh we’re gonna bond alright! Get back here Carter!” Nick slammed the buttons on the elevator at the end of the hall. With a glance back, he saw Howie was getting too close so he dodged to the right. AJ stepped off the elevator when it opened, only to be shoved back into it by Howie as he passed. Nick was enjoying himself as he giggled running away from Howie. Telling Kevin, as painful as it’d been had taken a huge weight off his chest. It made him able to give the others the memories he wanted to before his mind went. It allowed him to let go and have fun. To give him the moments where he actually let himself forget about his crippling disease.

That was if Howie didn’t kill him first.

“Howie, now just calm down. Come on, people would kill to have me lick them!”

“Well now I’m gonna kill you for licking me awake. How’s that for fun irony!”

“Aren’t you supposed to be Sweet D?!” Nick cried as he made another random turn, heading for the stairs.

“Not around you!”

“Come on! It was funny!”

“It’s gonna be funny when I go Puerto Rican on your ass!”

Brian was humming as he walked down the halls, a breakfast tray in hand from downstairs. He looked to be in a better mood than the day before. Perhaps it was simply because he thought it was a nice day out. Maybe it was because he thought Kevin would straighten out whatever was wrong with Nick. Nick wouldn’t be able to find out actually, cause in his flee from Howie, he chanced a glance backwards to see the closeness of his pursuer. Because of this, he hadn’t seen Brian until he tripped. He flew forward, landing on Brian and causing the tray of food to fly through the air. Orange juice, cereal, and grapefruit rained upon them happily. Nick gave a cheesy grin at Brian as his face dripped with orange juice, his hair now matted against his forehead. Brian stared at Nick, bits of frosted flakes sprinkled along his thinning hair.

“Good morning Brian!”

Brian cracked up, pushing Nick off him playfully. “Do I want to know?”

“Um…I’m innocent. That’s all you need to know.” The two stood and Nick ducked behind the shorter man. His actions were playful as Howie headed their way.

“Why do I not believe that?”

“Oh come on Frick! I’m always innocent!” The two laughed as Nick put a slice of grapefruit on Brian’s head. “You look yummy by the way.”

“I’m magically delicious!” The two cracked themselves up even more. Even Howie, in his blind rage, was forced to stop and laugh when he caught sight of the two blondes.

Nick for the moment, felt completely content for the first since he’d been diagnosed.