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Chapter Sixteen

"I hate how Nick drives. Good Lord, look at him. What's he got a leadfoot?" Brian grumbled. He was doing exactly 42. It was a 50 zone. I pressed my forehead against the window, and thought about putting my head through said window. It was very tempting. "He's speeding." Brian hadn't stopped complaining since we'd pulled out of Nick's driveway.

Brian also has the old-lady tendency to speed up, then slow down... speed up, then slow down... speed up, then slow down... So that you're left rocking in the passanger seat with the velocity of the car. Especially in traffic.

I watched longingly as Nick's blue convertible zipped through traffic.

When we got to LAX, Brian pulled his SUV up and dropped the valet keys into the waitin hands of the guys waiting to park the two cars in - wherever they park cars while their owners are gone. Storage? Do they have one of those rotating racks like the carpet at the Home Depot? I'd never really thought about it before.

I would've bet Howie would've known where they put the cars, though, so I didn't ask Brian. Even though I kinda wanted to.

Brian and I carried our carry-on bags across the walkway, security appearing out of no where and flanking our sides. We were following Nick and Howie -who looked like me- by about a dozen or so feet. Brian was still on Nick's driving safety habits. I was practicing my not listening skills.

Suddenly, I heard the shrill, high-pitched, unmistakable sound of a female scream.

The fans.

Nick's face broke into a grin that was something akin to turning on a lamp. I felt myself speed up to catch up with him. No way in hell was Carter beating me to those women again. As I rushed by him, I heard, "Howie...?" come from Brian, and I glanced back to see what Howie was doing, and realized he meant me.


D - the real D, the one who looked like me - had come to a complete stop.

Nick whipped his arms in the air at the top of the escalators - from the bottom of which the screams were issuing forth. His arms in the air like a V, Nick shouted down at them, "HEY EVERYBODY!! BACKSTREET'S BACK!" He grinned wildly as he began trotting down the escalator -- the up, might I add. He glanced back over his shoulder, the escalator carrying him back up to us as he stopped his trotting efforts. "J??" he called, "C'mon! There's sexy women to be viewed! CHOP CHOP."

Instinctively I started to move forward again.

Howie looked back at Brian and rolled his eyes. "Ay dios..." he muttered.

Both our eyes widened.

Brian raised his eyebrow. "You guys are being really weird today."

"ARRGGH!" Nick's cry echoed up the escalators, "CAREFUL LADIES! THERE'S ENOUGH NICK TO GO AROUND!!!"

Brian looked between us, "Is something going on?" He eyed Howie. "Are you drunk?"

Howie froze. "Um.. hung-hungover," he muttered.

My eyes widened. "Don't you dare start that rumor!" I snapped.

"What do you want me to say?" Howie snapped back.

"Something not going against all the hard work I've done over the last few months would be special!" I yelled.

"All the hard work you've -- BULL SHIT," Howie responded. He pointed my black-polished finger tips into my face, "Hard work, that's a load of crock."

"YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW!" I bellowed.

"YOU HAVE IT EASY!" he bellowed back.

Brian, whose head had been following between us like a ping-pong match, said, "Whoa whoa you guys, chill the heck out, what's going on?"

I looked at Brian and realized how odd we currently looked.

"I dunno, we've been fighting, I'm sorry," Howie said, "I've been a real asshole to Howie lately is all," he said. "I mean, Howie really does have it a lot harder than me."

"YOU? YOU? Harder than ME?" I growled, "WHAT THE HELL!?"

Brian blinked in confusion. "Actually, D- he said--"


Brian blinked.

Howie rolled his eyes, "I know I'm just such a drama queen little girl that some might start to think I have it worse than everyone else on the planet..."

"That's it," I snapped, "You're so paying for this." I started towards the escalator, following the sounds of Nick's delighted squeals.

"Yeah? Ohh thats scary, you're gonna get mobbed?" he snorted.

"Oh I've got far worse planned for you, you conceited Mexican prick."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

AJ walked up to Nick, wrapping an arm around his neck. A couple girls almost looked like I (well J) had just ruined the vision that was and is Nick Carter by wrapping my arm around his perfect bod. (Okay, I'll admit it. I am a little jealous of Nick. He's not very smart but he was born with height, looks, and an amazing voice.)

"How-ie doin' ladies?" J said. I scowled. I hadn't used that line in awhile. I had given it up around the time of 'the wink.' Well...I hadn't given up 'the wink' cold turkey. It sometimes slipped out when I least expected it.

"Guess who's single and ready to mingle?" he shouted.

Nick's eyes widened. "NOT ME!" He turned to the fans and smiled. "But ya can still love me!" Again he threw his hands out, doing a horrible impersonation of Richard Nixon descending from the plane. The girls collectively 'aww-ed.'

"No, not Nick!" J said. "Aye crumb-bamba! It's me! C'mon ladies you know you want a piece of the D!"

The D? The D?!

I hit the escalator hard. Unfortunately it was the same one Nick had used, the up one. I struggled to gain momentum even as the thing was pushing me back up. Bri was on my heels still rambling.

"J, drinking is not the answer. Corinthians..."

I didn't hear what he said about Corinthians. A thousand angry bees swarmed my eardrums as I watched AJ take off my shirt.

Now, here's the thing. I might be last in the poll of favorite Backstreet Boys (it was pretty sad that Kev still beat me), but ladies did appreciate my body. Leigh always tells me that I actually get cuter as I get older. Of course, it's not without hard work. And lately I had been working hard. I had seen a picture of me from the summer before looking flabby in the gut. I had gotten my six-pack back. And the fans...the fans couldn't help but appreciate it.

"Can I have your number? Wanna touch this? Yeah, lower."

Nick was standing there, gawking, for once shuttered from the center of attention. Security was having a hell of a time keeping J (well, me) safe. My chest was getting sliced and diced by well manicured nails and I think a couple girls actually touched my junk. The grin on J's face had me seeing red. He swiveled his groin. I lowered my head and jumped the last ten steps off the escalator. I fell hard. The pain in my knee rendered me breathless. I curled up, bringing the leg to my chest and sucking in breath like a fish.

"J! Speak to me!"

Bri rolled me over on my back. "Is it your knee?"

"No it's my ass!" I hissed, holding the throbbing cap. "Yes, it's my knee!"

The crowd got quiet. I saw my own tennis shoes stop by my head.

"Are you okay?" J whispered.

"Fuck off, McLean!"

"McLean?" Nick and Bri said simultaneously.

Fifteen minutes later, I was sitting on the plane with my knee wrapped in ice. Brian had agreed to sit by me. AJ and Nick were sitting behind us. I was trying my best not to turn around and wrap my hands around my own throat. Leigh was going to shit if any of those pictures of me acting like a stripper came out.

"When we land, the first thing you gotta do is get that checked out," Bri said, cutting through my thoughts of mutiny.

"I know."

The pain had already subsided. Admittedly, I had overreacted. I had hit the side of the knee that gave the same jerk reaction as when you hit your funny bone. My knee had stopped twinging even before they had put the ice on it.

"Is there anything you want to tell me?" Bri said patiently. He was wearing a lime green shirt with Leigh's face on it. That wasn't so bad considering he always wore Wylee shirts. But this one had rhinestones. I wondered for a fleeting moment if it was a women's tee in disguise.

"Like what?"

"Like what you and Howie are smoking?"

"It's nothing."

Bri shook his head disbelievingly. He opened a package of airplane nuts. I watched him shove one up each nostril. He turned around.

"Hey Niccccccckkkk..."

That started a half hour nose nut fight between Frick and Frack. Luckily, it kept attention off of me and J. I buckled up and curled up in my seat.

They didn't call me Sleepy D for nothing. I was out before the flight attendant even went over oxygen instructions.

Unknown McLean Fact #16: When we hit it big in Europe early on, we had to spend a lot of time away from home. AJ had this stuffed animal and ratty blanket he carried in the bottom of his tiny nylon suitcase to keep from getting homesick. One time the suitcase didn't turn up at our stop and AJ freaked out. The airport swore that it had been scanned and sent through. Kevin ended up climbing into the luggage carousel and untangling it from a couple hooks it had gotten snagged on. It was the first time I had seen AJ cry. It certainly wasn't the last.