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Author's Chapter Notes:

Thanks to the royal wedding for giving me a day off and chance to write this :)

Chapter 22 - Dig A Little Deeper

As luck would have it, Nick had quite a lot of free time to himself over the next couple of days. Although Mandy was a stay at home mom, she wasn’t one to sit around watching trashy daytime TV shows. Not that Nick thought this version of Mandy would be like that. From what he recalled, Mandy had always been an independent woman. Back in their previous life, she’d been the one working all the hours she could just to keep the roof over their heads whilst Nick had spent it almost as fast as she’d earned it. He shook his head in disgust at those memories. How could he have behaved so appallingly when he had a wife and family to look after? He wondered how she’d put up with him for as long as she had? He hadn’t deserved her back then, in fact, he hadn’t deserved anyone. He’d been a complete waste of space.

So whilst Mandy was helping out at school, Nick carried on with his research.

His eyes nearly popped out of his head when he got to the 2010 folder and saw that the boys had joined forces with the New Kids on the Block towards the end of that year. No fucking way! What the fuck! Apparently it had been just what they needed to boost their dwindling careers - their This Is Us album didn‘t do as well as they‘d hoped and the New Kids weren‘t getting far either. There had been a joint album in 2011 and even a global sell out tour. From the pictures and news articles he read, it had been phenomenal. Who’d have thought…I used to hate them with a passion and look at me there, all best buds with Donnie…fuck me!

But by the time he got to 2012, he saw that the two bands had gone their separate ways. It had been a once in a lifetime opportunity he’d been quoted as saying in a magazine. Yeah, right! But there was no doubt about it, the Backstreet pride was still well and truly alive, whether that was helped along by the joint venture or not, Nick didn‘t know. By the time he got to the end of the 2012 folder, he’d found out that he’d met Mandy at a wedding of all places; they’d immediately clicked and within a few months had married. Pictures showed the two of them looking smitten with each other whether they were snapped as they walked hand in hand, frolicking on the beach or eating out in a restaurant. It painted a much better picture than the one he remembered from the first time around. Back then, although he knew they’d had a happy beginning, his drug and drink problem had soon reared its ugly head. By the time their first child had been born, Nick was back using. He closed his eyes and shook his head, ashamed of the way he’d been back then. How could a husband and father act so appallingly? But at least those events had never happened in this alternate future. He was grateful for that and grateful to Kevin for being here for him all those years ago, to help him onto the correct path.

Nick pulled himself together and carried on reading, eager to see what else had happened during those years that were a mystery to him.

It was during their twentieth year together as a band that Kevin had come back. According to interviews on the website, Kevin had felt the pull to be back with his brothers and was grateful they’d not only left the door open for him to return, but welcomed him back with open arms. It was no secret that Kevin had been like a father figure to Nick during the early days of the band, and had continued his support once he‘d left, and to see that he’d returned, to actually see pictures of the five of them all together again, it almost brought tears to Nick’s eyes.

All five of them had come to realise that they could pursue their solo interests if they wanted. Kevin had a gained moderate success as an actor, whilst the others had their solo singing careers. But they all supported one another.

From then on, it looked as if they’d gone from strength to strength as a band. The workload wasn’t what it had been in the crazy days, all of them realising that it wasn’t about churning out album after album, but more about the quality. They weren’t being dictated to anymore and recorded the kind of music that was right for them. Also with every member of the band being married and having families now, there was also that to be taken into consideration.

“Honey, I’m home! Did you get the oven on like I asked?” called Mandy from somewhere in the house.

“Shit” Nick exclaimed and quickly switched off the computer and hurried downstairs. He’d been so pre-occupied that he’d completely forgot he was supposed to be starting dinner.

“Got carried away playing computer games again?” Mandy asked, but she wasn’t mad with him. I’m so lucky to have her.

“You know me so well!” Nick replied with a lopsided grin.

“I should think so too after eight years of marriage” she smiled and reached up to plant a kiss on his lips.

Nick wandered into the kitchen and began preparing dinner, smiling to himself at the thought of how domesticated he was now, not wanting to remember the time where dinner was a microwave burger, twenty cigarettes and washed down with a bottle or two of vodka.

“What are you smiling at?” Mandy teased, wrapping her arms around his waist as he stood at the open refrigerator.

“Just thinking about how lucky I am to have such a wonderful life” Nick turned and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close for a kiss.

They were soon interrupted by the kids running into the kitchen, complaining that they were hungry and asking when food was going to be ready, but Nick wouldn’t change what he had now for anything.

“How about we go out for McDonalds?” Nick offered. A bit of junk food once in a while never did anyone every harm, it wasn’t as if they ate there very often (not like the way Nick did when he was younger).

“Yay” they all called out whilst Mandy rolled her eyes at Nick.

“Come on babe, I’ll even buy you an ice cream sundae” Nick grinned.

“Deal” Mandy replied and they headed for the door.

Chapter End Notes:

Not much left of this story, but hope you are enjoying :)