I remember it pretty clearly, which is surprising considering every day on a tour tends to run together after a while. It gets pretty boring out on the road, especially when there's no one out there with you.
Of course I'm not ever completely alone. I usually have my laptop with me. It's a close connection to home. Email, IM and all that fun stuff. However sometimes the time difference can get to you, and you end up surfing the internet at three in the morning, because, well, there's nothing better to do, okay?
You know that saying “Nothing good ever happens after two a.m.?” Well it's true. Two in the morning is when things start to get weird. The fun part of the night is over, and at that point you're just sitting around wondering why the heck you haven't gone to sleep yet. Which most of the time in my case is either because of jet lag, or because I can hear AJ in the hotel room next to me.
I'll leave the details of the noise up to your imagination.
Around two is when I'll get bored playing those silly games, get bored with YouTube and end up with a Google search box that says “Backstreet Boys” in it.
This is never a good idea.
Sure, it brings up the usual things. A couple of music videos, a Wikipedia article (that I swear I don't edit on a monthly basis) and some pictures. Those things are all boring. I've seen them all before. At three in the morning, the only really interesting things are the fan sites.
Our fans are intense. They spend a lot of time making beautiful websites with a lot of info that sometimes I myself am not even up to date on. Their opinions are really passionate and really interesting to read.
The problem is that it can be hard to find good fansites unless you know exactly where to look. The best thing to do, I've found, is to check the links section of a good site. They usually know where to go to get more information.
That's how I found Absolute Chaos.
First of all, I really only the clicked on it because of the name. Because, come on, that's a pretty cool name for a site. It also sums up our fans perfectly. I didn't expect it to be an archive of fictional stories written about all of us, that's for sure.
I didn't even know this kind of thing existed, to be honest. I mean, I knew that people wrote their own stories about Harry Potter and Star Wars, but us? Who would want to write about us? Were our lives really that interesting to some people?
Actually, it didn't really seem like it because most of the stories seemed to have us in a crazy love triangle with some made up people or another bizarre situation. Which wasn't at all what our lives were like. In fact, while I scrolled through the most recent page on the site I didn't see one story with a summary that said “five guys (now four) tour the world and are bored out of their skull a lot of the time”. But I suppose real life isn't as interesting.
Anyway, the most recent page had a lot of stories on it and for about ten minutes or so I was content enough just reading the summaries and looking at the banners. Most of the banners were pictures of Nick and some random girl, which I suppose was actually pretty close to the story of his life.
The one story that caught my eye didn't have a banner. It was simply named after one of our songs (actually most of the stories were) and had a short description. All it told me about the plot was that Brian was engaged and he would begin to fall in love with Nick's new girlfriend. Unsuspecting Sunday Afternoon, it was called.
Since this was something that didn't sound like it would happen in a million years, I found myself reading it. At first it was because the premise was so ridiculous that I had to see what it was all about. I think it was about five chapters in that I actually started to root for Brian and Leslie and found myself actually enjoying it.
I will admit I skipped over any scene containing sex because that really wasn't something I wanted to read about. Not that Nick's fictional girlfriend cheating on a fictional version of Brian while a fictional Leighanne acts like a bridezilla isn't something I particularly would want to read... but like I said, three in the morning does strange things to people.
I couldn't believe how into it I was getting. In fact, I reached a major milestone in the story, when Leslie and Brian finally confess their feelings to each other and actually caught myself holding my breath.
And then there was a knock on my hotel room door. Those guys always have the worst timing!
“Do you know what time it is?” I asked irritably as I stood face to face with AJ.
“Um, three thirty...” he said sheepishly. “Dude, I know, I'm sorry, but I really need to borrow a condom.”
I raised my eyebrow. “Really AJ? Really?”
“Well, I thought I would ask now instead of knocking on your door buck naked. You know Howie, it's good to be prepared,” he said with a slight nod.
I just shook my head. “I don't even know if I have any, but you can check in my suitcase.” I opened the door wider to let him into the room and sat back down at the desk in front of my laptop. “Why didn't you just borrow one from Nick?”
AJ continued to rummage through my suitcase. Somehow, I didn't think he was going to find what he was looking for. I was pretty sure everything I had was used up when Leigh was with me a few weeks ago. “I tried. He's asleep.”
“That's never stopped you before.”
“He threw a shoe at the door,” AJ said seriously, looking up from his expedition. “I'm pretty sure he's just pissed off because...just because.”
AJ changed the subject quickly and I didn't pry. He and Nick were either best bros or in some kind of mindless squabble. They're the fourteen year old girls of the group.
“You have nothing,” he finally said, putting his hands in his pockets and standing up.
“Sorry,” I replied, not looking away from the computer screen.
“Whatever, she's probably asleep by now anyway. I missed my chance, man!” He walked up behind me, but I didn't notice until it was too late. “Dude... what are you reading? Fan fiction? We really need to get Leigh back out on the road!” he laughed.
“I was bored.” I had not other explanation.
AJ leaned over and continued to read a little bit of the story over my shoulder. “Oh, and you picked Brian porn, out of all things? You could have at least picked a story about yourself.”
“There wasn't much to choose from. They're mostly about Nick.”
AJ laughed again. “Of course they are. That little shit.”
Under any normal circumstances, it would have been extremely embarrassing that AJ had caught me reading fan fiction. However, in the early hours of the morning, I didn't care that much. In fact, I really wanted to know how this whole Leslie and Brian situation was going to play out. And what was going to happen when Nick found out!
Sue me, I'm a sucker for teen dramas, okay? I've done a pretty good job at keeping that side of me hidden.
AJ continued to read over my shoulder as I finished the chapter. When I finally got down to the bottom of the page to click 'next', I looked back at him.
“You can't just read behind my shoulder all night,” I said, feeling annoyed. I hate it when people creep behind my shoulder! It really bothers me and it probably stems from having so many pranks pulled on me in the early days. “Are you out or do you want to know what happens with Leslie and Brian?”
AJ didn't even think twice before pulling up the other chair. We were silent as we read the next chapter, but as soon as we got down to the bottom, AJ's eyes were wide.
“Dude, how could Brian ever be this cruel? He'd never do something like that to Leigh.”
“It's fiction, AJ.”
“Her Brian is way off.”
I shook my head. “You know, fiction Leighanne isn't even close to how she is in real life, so really, the justification is pretty sound.”
AJ still wasn't buying it. “Honestly, Howie, if you're going to go that route, then I don't see why Leslie is justified in cheating on Nick. Because, and this is really fucking weird for me to say, he's head over heels in love with her. He'd never do that to her.”
He's right, that was a weird thing for him to say. Then again, what wasn't weird about this? I was just about to refute his claims, and tell him that he couldn't come midway into a story and start making all these judgements when there was another loud banging on my door.
AJ and I exchanged a look before I got up to answer it. Speak of the devil, I was face to face with the victim himself.
“Will you keep it down? I'm tryin' to sleep!” Nick said angrily, and then peered over top of me and into the room. “Oh. AJ's here. Well that explains everything.”
“Cram it, Carter,” AJ said, turning his attention away from Nick and back to the computer screen. “You're about to get yours anyway.”
“What's that supposed to mean?”
“Your girlfriend's getting her mack on with another guy.”
Nick looked puzzled. “I don't have a girlfriend, what the hell site said that?” he said, walking over to AJ. Looking over his shoulder, he laughed. “You guys are reading fan fiction? Fuck, I'm out of here. Keep it down, ladies.”
He was halfway out the door, but AJ just couldn't keep his mouth shut. “It's with Brian.”
Nick stopped in his tracks. “Brian? My girl is cheating on me with Brian? Yeah right! More like the other way around!”
I gave Nick a look. “So you're sleeping with Leighanne now?”
I swear he pouted a little. “No.” He walked back into the room and sat down in my chair. “For real? With Brian? Go to the next chapter.”
I sighed and closed the hotel room door. “Get out of my spot Nick.”
“There aren't anymore chairs! I'm not standing, you guys woke me up!”
The fact that Nick can go from angry to whiny in less than a second is the most irritating quality he possesses. More so than his love for practical jokes. You know that's true, because it's coming from me, Nick's main target.
“It's my hotel room!”
The three of us exchanged a look, and then looked over at the perfectly made bed I had yet to sleep in. We'd definitely all fit on there, and we'd probably be able to see the laptop better too. I could tell Nick and AJ were thinking the same thing.
“This doesn't leave this room,” AJ said, pointing at Nick and I.
Yeah, because I was just itching to share the story about the night I spent reading fan fiction with Nick and AJ with the world.
“Agreed,” Nick and I both said.
The three of us rushed over to the bed, AJ carrying the laptop. We sat down and continued to read. We were silent for the most part, except for when fictional AJ caught Brian and Leslie going at it. Which we actually didn't catch it at first because like I said before, we skipped over the sex. We actually had to go back and try to find that specific part.
“Dude!” Nick screeched. “Why aren't you going to tell me? I can't believe you aren't going to tell me! I'm in the dark and everyone knows! And look at how much of a love sick idiot I'm acting like. This is why I don't date girls for more than a week! Howie, AJ should tell me, right?”
“I'm not even in the story, Nick.”
“You're there. It's during the tour.”
AJ snorted. “Yeah, but you'd never know it.”
“I still think you should have told me.”
“Like it's my decision!” AJ huffed. “The author own all of us, dude. We do what she wants.”
Nick's eyes got wide. “That's a scary world to live in. A world that our fans control. I don't like it. And why am I the one who's getting screwed over in this story anyway? I thought all the fans loved me!”
“Nick will you just shut up so we can find out what happens?” That was me, because usually when I finally get angry Nick listens.
It was six in the morning when we'd finally reached the end of the story. Well, not exactly the end. The story hadn't been finished yet.
“Are you kidding? She left it there?” I said in disbelief.
“Yeah, she left it there,” AJ replied.
We both looked over at Nick.
“Brian is such a tool,” he muttered. “I'm so going to have sex with his wife.”
AJ rolled his eyes, but I just yawned. We'd stayed up the entire night reading the story, with no payoff. Next time I read a fanfic I'll make sure to check if it's been completed or not.
Not that there will be a next time or anything. And I definitely won't be checking back on Absolute Chaos to see if this one has been updated.
“I guess it's almost time to head downstairs for breakfast,” AJ said as he got off the bed. Nick nodded. The two of them left my room and I quickly got ready for a day full of press and a concert later on. My only hope was that I would have time for a nap in between.
Still, I was only the third person to make it down to the hotel restaurant. Brian and Leighanne were there before me.
“Morning,” Brian smiled, looking up from his menu. “Did you sleep well?”
“No, I was sort of jet lagged. I couldn't sleep,” I admitted, leaving out the rest.
“Yeah, neither could we,” Leighanne grinned. The two of them exchanged a look, and I just picked up my menu. Ten years later, and the two of them were still just like newlyweds.
AJ and Rachel were next to join us at the table. Nick didn't show up until after we'd already received our food.
“Morning,” Brian greeted Nick as he sat down next to him at the only free spot at the table.
Nick just shot Brian a little glare, and I had to look elsewhere to keep from laughing. It didn't take much to make Nick angry, especially when he had no sleep. He grabbed a piece of bacon off of Brian's plate and shoved it into his mouth.
“Hey, get your own!” Brian said, shoving Nick's hand away as he reached for another piece.
Nick ignored him and grabbed it anyway. “You don't even know, dude,” he said with his mouth full. “You don't even know.”
“What?” Brian asked, looking confused. Nick took the last piece of bacon from his plate. Leighanne just shrugged and went back to eating her food.
AJ and I made eye contact and laughed a little. “He's just tired,” I said, not wanting to go into the details of why Nick was projecting his anger at the fictional Brian on to the real one. I wish I could say that Nick got over it, but he stayed in a mood like that for two days.
That would be why I don't tell Nick and AJ when I'm reading fan fiction anymore.