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Chapter 23 - Progress

It was two days before Nick’s fortieth birthday and he still hadn’t spoken to AJ, Kevin, Brian or Howie. He didn’t want to make the first move and call them in case he said something out of character, but he knew it was only a matter of time before he came into contact with them. He wondered about other friends he might have. How would he react if someone approached him and he had no idea who they were?

But putting those worries aside, his delving into the past was paying off. He was pleasantly surprised at the amount of information (which may be considered useless to other people) he was able to find on the net. Of course it didn’t compare to actually living those experiences, but it was the best he could do under the circumstances.

One of the nice little surprises had been when he’d found out about the album the band put out containing previously unreleased songs - the songs which hadn’t made it to any of their other albums. From what he could ascertain, they’d put up a poll on the fan club asking fans to vote for their favourites. The list had been huge, as their back catalogue of songs probably matched, if not exceeded, the amount of material that had ended up on the albums they had released. Nick smiled as he read some of the fans comments about why certain songs should be picked. He himself had been annoyed that some of those songs hadn’t made it at the time, but that had been a management decision and not a band decision. Because of poor management decisions, songs like ‘Close My Eyes’, ‘Hologram’, ‘On Without You’ and ‘Forces of Nature’ (to name a few) had been overlooked. Thank goodness they had parted ways with them in 2010 and were able to take more control of their careers, instead of being dictated to all the time.

“Don’t forget you’re collecting the kids today, I have a hairdresser’s appointment” Mandy reminded Nick as she kissed him goodbye at the front door.

“See you later Daddy” the kids called and ran to the car, racing to see who won and therefore got to sit in the front with their Mom.

“Be good!” Nick called after them and waved as the car drove off. They really were exactly the same as they had been in his previous life. Of course they were better dressed and didn’t have to make do with charity shop finds in this incarnation, but they weren’t the stereotypical spoiled rich kids. They were just normal, happy children, which is exactly the way Nick liked it. He’d grown up in the dysfunctional family from hell, with parents who didn’t give a shit as long as he was bringing in the money and siblings who fought like cats and dogs. Nick had always been adamant that he wouldn’t end up repeating the mistakes of his own parents. And he was pleased to see that all this time travelling hadn’t changed his views on that.

So with the kids at school and Mandy volunteering for the morning and then going to the hairdressers in the afternoon, Nick was once again left to his own devices.

“So Kevin and Jen are still together” Nick murmured as he read up about the man who’d been more of a father than his own biological father “and they have a twelve year old boy called Morgan. He’s got Kev’s eyebrows, the poor kid!”

He also found out that Brian had married his old high school girlfriend. It was an interesting story and like something out of a romance novel. According to reports, Brian had been invited to his high school reunion and had shocked them all by actually turning up. They had all been sure he wouldn’t show, but he’d proved them all wrong. After getting over the fact that there was a celebrity at the party, Brian had been able to mingle like everyone else. But when Laura arrived at the party (she was late, having had to travel quite a distance to make it), Brian had eyes for no one else and it appeared Laura felt the same way. They were now married with two children, Leia and Ben and looked like the perfect all American family with their blonde hair and blue eyes. Nick wondered briefly what had happened to the girl Brian had been seeing before he ended up in the future? Had he finally realised what everyone else had been thinking…that she was a bitch! It was good to see his friend had found happiness at last.

Howie, the eternal bachelor, had eventually married at the age of forty. He and his wife Giselle met through her involvement with the band and had gradually fallen in love. They now had four children. Howie had always wanted a big family and Nick was happy to see that his friend finally had it.

And AJ…well he was the only one who’d kept in contact with Nick during the wasted years. Nick fully understood that back then, AJ wouldn’t have wanted to have brought his wife and kids to visit a drunken drug addict in a crappy trailer park, and therefore Nick hadn’t got to know Rhian and their girls Bella, Rosie and Alice (they’d been BIG Twilight fans and named them all after the characters in the books). But reading about them and looking at the photos, Nick could see that they were a really happy (if a little unconventional) looking family. The pair of them obviously allowed the girls to dress themselves and by the looks of it, the girls had their parent’s flair for the weird and wonderful.

Although Nick was happy to see that everything had turned out great for his friends, he just wished he’d never lost touch with them all those years ago…the first time around. How could he have become a stranger to the guys he’d always thought of as brothers? How could he have let friendships fall apart? He shuddered as he recalled those torturous years, those years when he had nothing and no one. Had he really lived them? Now that he was happy and healthy in this alternate 2020, he found it almost inconceivable that he would’ve chosen that appalling lifestyle. Who in their right mind would alienate everyone they loved and cherished? Who would be so stupid as to lose everything they’d worked for? Not this Nick Carter, that’s for sure.

“Shit, look at the time! I’ve been at this computer all day!” Nick exclaimed as he looked at the clock in the corner of the screen and saw that it was nearly three o’clock. It was time to collect his children from school and he couldn’t wait. He loved spending time with Jacob, Adam and Bethany. He felt as if he had a lot of making up to do, even though in actual fact, he didn’t have to at all. This Nick had never neglected his kids for drink and drugs. This Nick was the dad he’d always hoped he’d be.

Chapter End Notes:

Hope it made sense!  Thanks for reading.