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Author's Chapter Notes:

Last chapter, hope you like it, sorry for the delay!

Chapter 24 - Birthday Surprises

“Happy fortieth birthday” Mandy murmured into her husband’s ear as she lay next to him in bed.

“Uh” Nick mumbled, half asleep.

But he wasn’t half asleep for long as Mandy wriggled up close to him.

“Mmm” he sighed, wide awake and making the most of the fact that the kids were still sound asleep.

Gone were the days of spending all day in bed, as anyone with kids can confirm, and an hour later they were both up and showered.

Mandy hadn’t let slip any special birthday plans, but Nick knew she was planning something. She had to be. The Mandy he knew would never let a special occasion pass by without some sort of celebration. Even in their past life when money was short, she always made the effort. Once again Nick wondered how he’d been lucky enough to end up with her. They way he’d behaved in the past made him shudder once again; thank goodness he’d been given this second chance.

“So…what are we doing today?” Nick asked hopefully as he pulled on his jeans.

“What makes you think we’re doing anything?” she replied playfully.

“Because I know you, you have to have got something organised” Nick gave her that lopsided smile which still had the ability to send the women crazy (or so he’d read on one of those fan sites he’d been browsing).

“Nick Carter, you are not going to charm anything out of me!” she retorted and walked out of the bedroom before he could wrangle the details out of her.

He headed towards the stairs after her, hoping he’d still get a chance to persuade her to divulge the details, but his plans were crushed when he heard a bedroom door opening and little feet running towards him.

“Happy Birthday Daddy” Bethany, his youngest child, ran up to him and handed him a birthday card she’d made herself (with a little help). It was covered in all shades of glitter, a huge rainbow and writing he could barely decipher, but Nick cherished it more than he would some shop bought card.

“Come here and give me a kiss” Nick scooped her up into his arms and peppered little kisses on her cheeks as he carried her down the stairs. He placed the card on the fireplace and then went into the kitchen where Mandy was preparing breakfast. They were soon joined by Jacob and Adam who sleepily wished their father a happy birthday before sitting at the table for breakfast.

“Shall we give Daddy his presents now? Or shall we make him wait?” Mandy asked the children.

“Now” they cheered.

“OK” she smiled and left the room, returning a few moments later with brightly wrapped gifts.


In the time he’d been back, Nick had yet to see the boys…or anyone else from his past life for that matter (not that he‘d miss some of those former acquaintances, it was good riddance as far as they were concerned). He’d had a few text messages wishing him a happy birthday, but that was it. He didn’t know how he’d react when he actually saw them again. From the research he’d done, they were very much still together and seemed as close as ever, but was that the real story? Were they still like the brothers they’d always professed to be, or had time caused them to drift apart? He desperately wanted the chance to find out. He’d been more or less cooped up in the house since he’d returned to the future and was getting restless. The only reason he hadn’t done anything sooner was that he didn’t want to look stupid by not knowing anything about the past few years. But now with everything he’d read up on, he felt confident that he could get by, so long as no one expected too much from him!

After a lazy morning watching cartoons with the kids, the Carter family went out to their local McDonald’s for lunch. Twice in one week, what a treat!

“Is this my birthday treat?” Nick teased as he threw a fry into his mouth.

“Will you quit it! I’ve told you, my lips are sealed about any possible birthday surprises” Mandy grinned and stole one of his fries.

“Ah, so there is a surprise. I knew it!” Nick smirked.

“You are so annoying, even after all these years” she laughed.

“But you love me” he teased “so what‘s the surprise?”

“All I’ll say is that we’re going out at eight” Mandy replied.


By eight o’clock they were ready to go out, Mandy was still keeping quiet about where they were going, but Nick had to admit that he kind of liked the element of surprise.

“Night kids, love you, be good for Stacey” Mandy warned good naturedly. Stacey had been babysitting for a couple of years and knew how to handle them. Although this Nick had never met her before, he thought he put on a good enough show of being familiar with who she was.

“Go and enjoy yourselves, they’ll be fine…won’t you?” Stacey turned to the kids who were once again engrossed in the latest Disney film.

“Night Mom, night Dad” they called distractedly.

A horn beeped outside and Nick and Mandy hurried out the door to the waiting car. Neither of them was going to be driving tonight.

Half an hour later they pulled up along a roadside.

“What are we doing stopping here?” Nick asked.

“Trust me OK” Mandy replied as she pulled a scarf out of her bag and tied it around Nick’s eyes, making sure he couldn’t peek out from underneath.

“Is this really necessary?” he asked, although he didn’t mind going along with whatever she had planned. He kind of liked the idea of being blindfolded in the back seat of a car with a beautiful woman taking charge. Gutter brain, like that’s gonna happen right here, right now!

“It’ll be worth it” she teased and ran her hand down his chest.

The car started up again and they drove for a few more minutes, before reaching the secret destination.

“Here we are” Mandy stated the obvious as she opened the car door and climbed out “I’ll come round and help you, don’t want you having another accident”

“Can I take this off yet?” Nick raised his hand to the scarf.

“I’ll take it off when I’m ready” Mandy slapped his hand away and guided him where she wanted him to go.

“I feel stupid” he moaned as his wife led the way.

“Anyone would think I was torturing you” she chastised.

He heard hushed voices as they walked up a couple of steps, and then everything went quiet.

“Nearly there” Mandy advised and guided him into the building. All Nick could make out was that they were walking on thick carpet. “Now stand here and I’ll take off the blindfold”

She reached up and slowly untied the scarf, making him wait to see wherever they were.

“Surprise!” called a room full (or what seemed like a room full) of people.

Nick blinked as his eyes adjusted to the light and grinned as he saw the faces of his four best friends and band mates, along with their wives and a bunch of other people he vaguely recognised from photos.

“Kev…AJ…Bri…Howie!” Nick exclaimed as he looked from one to the other, taking in their obvious happiness at being here to celebrate his birthday.

“Happy birthday” they all wished him before walking over to individually hug him. Nick didn’t want to let go, it felt so good to finally see them all again, to know that after all these years, they were still unbreakable, still shared that brotherly bond.

“So good to see you all” Nick stood looking them over, like he hadn’t seen them in years (which of course was the truth). He hadn’t seen Kevin since 2007, so seeing him in the flesh, at his fortieth birthday party, almost brought tears to his eyes.

Although nearing fifty, Kevin still had a physique that would make men half his age jealous. Howie had hardly changed either, and probably looked younger than the rest of them, despite being the second oldest. It was weird seeing Brian so bald! The last time Nick had seen him, he’d been trying everything to disguise his receding hair, but now it seemed that Brian had finally embraced the fact that he was balding. It seemed to suit him though. And AJ, always the most outrageous when it came to just about everything, was now sporting a shaved head and a purple goatee to go with the purple dress his wife was wearing!

“Alright then, are we just gonna stand here all night or are we gonna party!” AJ announced, causing everyone to laugh.

They began the evening with a delicious meal and lots of chattering around the room - which had been hired specially for the occasion and therefore closed to the public - before the music was turned up louder, the drinks started to flow and everyone began to mingle. Nick had opted for water with his meal, not sure whether it would be appropriate to have a drink given his previous circumstances, and deliberated over what to order from the bar now that the party was in full swing. His decision was made when AJ ordered two alcohol free beers and handed one to him.

“Remember the days when we partied all night on more than just this?” AJ asked, holding his bottle up “man, I’m so glad I’m not that asshole anymore”

“Me too” Nick agreed.

“I used to think I couldn’t enjoy a night out without it” AJ took a sip.

“Same here” Nick agreed.

“I’m proud of you both” Kevin appeared and smiled like a proud father as he spoke the words he’d said so often over the years.

Talking and laughing with his friends, Nick knew that everything was going to be alright, but he still wondered why this had happened? Why had he gone back in time? Why had he been given another chance? What caused him to return to the future? And now that he was here, was he here to stay? He just wished he had some answers.

“Your turn to get the drinks” AJ exclaimed, as he placed his empty bottle down on the table.

“Same again?” Nick asked.

“Make it a coke this time” AJ replied, but everyone else was having the same.

He strolled over to the bar and caught the attention of the bar tender who was fiddling around with the bottles in the fridge behind him.

I know him! But where from? Think Nick!

“What can I get you?” he asked.

“Two cokes, two beers and a JD and coke” Nick replied, his mind working overtime as he tried to remember where he knew this guy from. And then it came to him.

Ryan…the guy from Hobbs bar, that dump I used to go to. But what the hell is he doing here? Why would he work here and that dump? Not that it’s any of my business.

“Everything OK? You look a bit spooked” the bartender asked, concern in his voice.

“You just look like someone I used to know” Nick replied, figuring it couldn’t be the same guy. What were the chances of that!

“I’m glad to say you don’t look anything like the person I used to know” Ryan replied as he poured the beer.

“So you do know me?” Nick asked incredulously.

“I do” Ryan didn’t elaborate and carried on with the drinks.

What the fuck? This is just weird!

Nick stood there open mouthed for a moment, not sure what to say, if anything. He had questions he wanted answers to, but why would this guy know anything about it?

“What do you know?” Nick asked.

“I know that I made the right decision giving you another chance. You lost your way and needed someone to direct you towards the correct path. Everyone makes mistakes but you’d had more than your fair share of them. So I gave you the chance to fix things” Ryan shrugged as if it was nothing special.

“You…” Nick was lost for words “but…that’s not possible”

“You know it is, you’ve experienced it” he said, straight faced.

“But why me?” Nick murmured.

“Why not you? You had as much right to a second chance as anyone” Ryan replied.

“But…” Nick began.

“No questions, just enjoy it” Ryan said, putting an end to the matter.

“Well…thanks” Nick said. He knew it wasn’t enough, but what else could he say? He looked down, deep in thought for a moment, trying to think of something a bit more grateful sounding to sum up his feelings for what he‘d done, but when he looked up again, Ryan was gone. The drinks were sitting on the bar and Nick looked from side to side, looking for Ryan.

“Everything OK?” asked another bartender, a woman.

“Um…yeah sure. Where’s the guy who was just here…Ryan?” Nick asked.

“Who?” the bartender replied.

“Ryan, the barman with the dark hair and the funny accent. He was just here a moment ago” Nick explained.

“Sorry, no Ryan working here” she shrugged and walked away.

Well fuck me! What the hell was he? Where did he go?

Nick glanced over to where his wife was dancing with all the other Backstreet wives; he gave her a quick wave and a smile, happy to see she was having a good time. He really had struck it lucky, he had gone from a man down on his luck to a man who seemed to have everything. Who was he to question it? Miracles happened in all shapes and sizes, whether you were a religious person or not. He figured he should just consider himself one of the lucky ones. He’d wished he could rewind and that’s exactly what had happened, enabling him to put right the things which had once gone wrong.


Chapter End Notes:

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed as endings aren't really my strong point!