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So everybody, everywhere
Don't be afraid, don't have no fear
Gonna tell the world, make it understand
As long as there be music
We'll be coming back again

-Backstreet Boys 'Everybody'

The seatbelt sign is a little bitch. Especially when I spent the whole day so far unable to sit still.

Because you know where we were? We were on a fucking plane. To Milwaukee . To our first fucking tour date since the break had been over.

And for once, all five of us were on the same flight. That never happened! I mean, okay, that happened a lot. But not when we were all going to tour. Usually we just met up at the first date. We didn't all fly there together.

But this time we did. I felt like I was fifteen again! Except older and hotter and more experienced with women. But still!

“Kevin,” I said, leaning over to him. “Kevin, Kevin, Kevin, Kevin...”

“What?” he asked, not even looking up from his book.

“We're going back on tour,” I said, taking a sip of my coke and chewing on the straw.

“Oh, is that where we're going? I wasn't aware.”

Kevin was no fun. I don't think anyone else was as excited as me. Well, maybe AJ was. But he was being really quiet, just sitting in his seat and reading a book.

Actually, all of them were reading books. How could they be doing that? Why read a book? Real life is so much better! What kind of book could they be reading that would be better than what we were living? I didn't want to distract myself for one second!

“Milwaukee ,” I sang to myself. I could tell Kevin was getting annoyed, but I didn't care. Deal with it, Kevin! You're the one who chose the seat beside me, you knew what you were getting into. “Milwaukee Washingtoooooooon.”

Kevin sighed really loudly and I just giggled, squirming in my seat. I couldn't wait for the plane to land and for the car to take us to the venue. I couldn't wait to stand out on the empty stage and look around at all the seats we would fill. I couldn't wait for those seats to be filled and for the crowd to be chanting for us.

“Backstreet Boys, Backstreet Boys, Backstreet Boys...”

Just imagining it got my heart pumping and adrenaline surging throughout my body. The show tonight was going to be my best yet. I could feel it.

“Kevin,” I said again, leaning over to him. “Are you excited.”

“Yes, Nick,” he said, not looking up from his book. “I'm excited.”

I pouted a bit and chewed on one of my ice cubes from my drink. He didn't seem excited.

But he was old and no one would be screaming for him anyway.


We got to the venue early that afternoon. I took a deep breath as we stepped inside, and another one as I stepped out onto the empty stage.

There was nothing like looking out at an empty stadium. Nothing like knowing that it would soon be filled with fans who were there to see us. It was a little bit humbling. What was so special about the five of us? It was crazy to think that thousands of girls would be here just to see us.

“Glad to be back, D?” AJ asked, walking out onto the empty stage and slinging an arm around my shoulder.

I looked up at him. His eyes were clear and not hidden behind sunglasses. His hair was bleached, but it was starting to grow out. He looked calm and had a smile on his face.

The last time we'd done a show this wasn't how he'd looked. Was I glad to be back? Yeah, of course I was. But looking up at AJ, the thing I was happiest about was that he was glad to be back. That he was happy about anything and it looked real and genuine.

I didn't know if seeing him like that was something I'd ever get used to. I didn't want to take it for granted. After the past couple of years, he was lucky to be here. Lucky things hadn't gotten worse for him and lucky that he'd been able to get some help and that that help had actually helped him.

I gulped because my stream of consciousness was getting to be a little bit too much. Then I realised that I hadn't actually answered his question.

“Yeah, AJ,” I smiled, looking back out at the empty stadium. “I'm glad to be back.”

“Me too.”


My heart was pounding as we stood backstage. The house lights were down and the crowd was screaming. Leighanne was clinging to me, grinning and chanting along with the crowd. I loved how much she acted like a fan and supported our group. It was the best kind of motivation – I loved our fans, but she was the only woman I ever wanted to scream for me.

“Are you ready?” she whispered to me, rubbing my arm.

Ready? Yeah. Instead of starting our show with a bang we'd decided on something a little different. Something to acknowledge the fans for waiting around for us. So that they could know how grateful we were to them for allowing us to take the break when it was needed the most.

I nodded. “Yeah,” I said, taking a deep breath and kissing her on the forehead. “Gotta go,” I sang, winking at her as I let go and walked towards the stage.

Another deep breath and I prepared myself to step back out on the stage. For the fans to get their first glimpse of me since the lights had come on and we'd been on TRL.

They screamed of course. They probably weren't expecting to see me. If they'd seen the show before, they were expecting the first notes of Larger Than Life to start playing and for us to pop out of the bottom of the stage.

Instead they got me.

“Good evening, Milwaukee!” I said, and of course they screamed even louder. If that was possible.

“Before the show starts there's someone who would like to come out here and say a few words. Is that alright with you?”

More screams.

“Alright!” I sang, walking off the stage.

I tapped AJ on the hand, who was waiting in the wings. “You're up,” I said with a grin, feeling adrenaline rushing through my system. There was nothing like being on stage. Nothing. I wouldn't say it was the best feeling in the world, but it certainly was the most different. It energized me.

I was glad to be back. Eager to get on with the show.

“Thanks,” he said, grinning at me and walking out.

“Knock 'em dead!” I called after him, but I don't think he heard me. How could he? If they'd screamed loud for me, there was no word for how loud they were once they saw AJ.


I felt my chest tighten as I watched AJ from the side of the stage. I wasn't close enough to actually see, but I suspected he had tears in his eyes. I knew him well enough to know what he sounded like when he was choked up.

At least, I used to. And I was glad that he was familiar to me again.

I almost couldn't believe that I'd broken down his door just five weeks ago. And yet, of course I could. Because if I hadn't done that, where would we be now? Would we be in Europe for the next leg?

Something worse?

I couldn't let myself think about that. Not now. Not when he looked so genuinely happy to be back.

“Milwauuuukee,” he said, and the crowd continued to scream. At this point they couldn't get any louder.

I looked over at the other guys. Howie, Brian and Nick were all standing with me, watching AJ address the crowd.

“Man it is good to be back,” AJ started, his voice cracking a little bit. Truer words had never been spoken. I couldn't wait to get out on stage, but that wasn't the best part of this day. This was. Right now.

“I'm trying not to cry.” I would have laughed a little bit if I wasn't trying so hard as well. I glanced over at the others. I could tell Brian and Howie were feeling the same way. Nick? Well, he didn't really get emotional. But he was standing there watching, bouncing on his feel a little.

“I thank you all for the support, the love and letting me do what I had to do to get myself, myself, see my speech is still screwed up, back.”

I gulped, forcing the tears down my throat. I heard Howie choke back a sob and I looked over as Brian placed a supportive hand on his shoulder.

Nick kept bouncing on his feet, his fists clenched together. I could tell he was eager to get back on stage. Because this was what he lived for, and the past six weeks must have killed him. Hell, I knew they were hard on him. They were hard on all of us.

But that was behind us now. We'd get on with the show. Many shows, I hoped.

As far as I was concerned, our story was far from over.
Chapter End Notes:
Thanks everyone for reading. Sorry for taking so long to finish this x