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Author's Chapter Notes:
Updating a day early because I'm cool like that.

So without further ado, here's Howie and Kevin...

I never hear the word 'escape'
Without a quicker blood,
A sudden expectation,
A flying attitude.

I never hear of prisons broad
By soldiers battered down,
But I tug childish at my bars, --
Only to fail again!

“I Never Hear the Word Escape” by Emily Dickinson


~ 31 ~

The Blame Game


Howie felt an amazing sense of relief as he watched Tim and Nick drive away from the bedroom window. He was sad that Kevin had managed to get himself in the middle of all this trouble, but if it meant Nick was going to get the help he needed, it was a sacrifice he could live with. He only prayed that it wasn’t too late.

“He looked bad.” Kevin said as he sat on the bed.

Howie nodded and made his way next to his friend. It was clear Kevin really had no idea how badly injured their baby brother was. He also wasn’t sure he wanted him to understand the scope of what that meant and how close they were to losing him. Now that he was in the middle of hell, why stress him out even more? So instead he said, “I’m sorry you’re here but I’m glad Nick’s gone.”

“Did he hurt you at all?”

Howie wasn’t really sure how much he wanted to tell Kevin. Would mentioning the almost strangling thing really do much to help? So he decided to lie, “No, but he’s a loose cannon. He’s not exactly stable.” He then went on to explain exactly how they ended up in this mess in the first place including his great escape and eventual recapture.

After hearing the entire story, Kevin placed a loving arm on Howie’s shoulder, “It’s not your fault. How in the world could you have found help in the dark like that? Please don’t beat yourself up about it.” He bit on his bottom lip, “He seems really attached to Nick. He hasn’t tried anything with him, has he?”

“NO! Nothing like that, it’s more like a creepy family thing. His real family must have been the pits and judging from all the pill bottles, nuts as well!”

“Good…” Kevin seemed relieved as he shifted on the bed and winced at the pain it caused his ankle. “Maybe there will be police waiting at the hospital.”

“Brian and AJ you mean?”

Kevin nodded. “I’m sure they told the police he was going to be bringing me to the hospital.”

If Brian and AJ have been found.”

Kevin sighed, “We need to stay positive, D.”

“It’s hard to do that.”

“I know, but we have to try.” A small pause, “Have you looked around this room for a weapon of any kind, just in case we need one?”

“I was too pre-occupied worrying about Nick to really think about looking for weapons in here. I can’t believe I didn’t think to do that.” Again Howie felt like he had failed.

“No time like the present then!” Kevin tried to stand up, temporarily forgetting about his ankle as he fell to the floor. “SHIT!” He screamed. “I feel so God Damned Helpless!!” He banged his fist down on the ground in frustration.

Howie reached down and helped Kevin back on to the bed. “You’ve helped more in the last hour than I have been able to since we’ve gotten ourselves into this mess. You’ve probably saved Nick’s life and Brian and AJ’s too!”

“Maybe so, but it’s because of me that we’re all in this mess to begin with.”

“Kevin, this isn’t your fault.”

“Please don’t, Howie.” He put up his hand to silence his friend. “Anything you say isn’t going to change my mind. I got us all into this mess and so help me, I’m going to get us out of it.”

In all the years he had known Kevin, one thing was always true. Out of all the Backstreet Boys, he was by far the most stubborn. It was the part of his personality that annoyed most of the others but Howie felt it endearing. There was something about the way Kevin stood behind the things he said and did, that Howie really admired. Sometimes people mistook his behavior for that of a know it all, but the thing is, Kevin was nothing like that at all. He just cared deeply and intensely about everything with so much conviction, you couldn’t help but start feeling the same way just by osmosis. For instance, when he said those words, suddenly Howie felt for the first time since the van rolled over, that perhaps they were going to get out of this.

“Howie look around and see if you can find anything at all we might be able to use as weapons. If he comes back, maybe we can knock his ass out and make our escape.”

He shook his head as flashbacks of Nick came to his mind. It was the same problem, even though the medical condition was different, “Kevin, I’m not going to be able to carry you.”

“I know that, Howie. I’ll walk.”


“I’ll manage, even if I have to hop. We’re getting out of here.”

Howie smiled at his friend knowing full well he meant every word he just said so he began searching around the room for anything he could use to take down Tim. He liked the idea of injuring the guy more than having to resort to killing him. He was thankful for Kevin showing up so this way, he wouldn’t have to live with the guilt of taking someone’s life. He was fully prepared to do it though, if he had to.

He opened the closet door and was hit with a very strong scent of mothballs. The closet was very neat with every shirt put on a hanger and even some pants folded and stacked on a small table with a few pairs of shoes underneath. Howie pushed the clothes to the side and noticed some arrows standing upright in the corner. He pulled them out, “Look at these.”

“Is there a bow in there?”

Howie shook his head, “Not that I see.” He handed the three arrows to Kevin and then decided to look up on the top shelf to see if there was anything hidden like a gun or knife. There was a shoebox, but it only contained a few hand written notes, some pictures and what looked like a notebook. He put everything back except the notebook and threw it on the bed beside Kevin. “There’s nothing else we can use in the closet.”

As Howie moved from the closet to the dresser, Kevin decided to open the notebook.

“Weird, it looks like it could be one of his notebooks from junior high or something. It says random girl’s names and then she’s hot, I think she wanted me; I liked her, next to them. He seemed to really like this girl Annemarie. He wanted to marry her.”

Kevin placed the arrows on the floor and kicked them under the bed and then he placed the notebook under one of the pillows. “Nothing else?”

Howie was about to shake his head when he saw a piece of wood behind the dresser. He pulled it out, “This would work.”

Kevin nodded, “Do you think you’d be able to hit him with that?”

Maybe the old Howie would have said no. The Howie from only a day ago would have never been able to do something like that, but that one was gone. The new one had seen too much today. The new one understood what it felt like to fear for your life. Really fear that someone would kill you. “I can do it with no problem.” He said confidently.

“If he comes back, which I am hoping he won’t…but if we see that truck, you should stand by the door and once he comes in, hit him with all the force you can and then I can jab one of those arrows into his leg. That should slow him down long enough for the two of us to get the hell out of here.” Kevin paused after seeing the discouraging look on Howie’s face, “Let’s hope he doesn’t’ come back. Let’s hope the next car we see will be a police car.”

Howie nodded but deep in his heart, he knew he was going to see Tim again. Nothing had gone right for him so far today so he wasn’t really anticipating this to run as smoothly as Kevin thought it might and sure enough, within a few beats of his thoughts, there was the white truck slowly pulling up to the front door. He felt his heart beat quicken as he walked to the bedroom door with the piece of wood.

“That seemed a little too fast.” Howie said uncertainly.

Kevin placed his arm under the bed and pulled out one of the arrows. “You ready for this?” He asked. He sounded a little shaky which temporarily threw Howie off his game.

“Ready as I’ll ever be.”

Kevin nodded, “Remember, hit him as hard as you can and then run the hell out of here! I’ll stab him and then follow you!”

Howie was just about to argue with the last part about running out and leaving him behind when suddenly Kevin’s eyes grew wide as he glanced towards the window, “No….no…no…no.” He said over and over again.

That sparked Howie to look over at the window and there was Tim, carrying Nick over his shoulder, “Why? What the hell?” He glanced at Kevin, “What do we do now?”

Kevin was ignoring Howie as he stood up, eyes still peeled towards the window, temporarily forgetting the pain in his ankle, he hopped over to get a closer look.  “Something’s wrong…Howie…” the look of horror on his face scared Howie so badly, he dropped his weapon and joined Kevin at the window. “He’s not moving…something is wrong…” He repeated in a panic.

Howie placed a hand over his mouth as he felt a wave of emotion hit him. Nick’s arms were dangling down and swaying back and forth as Tim was walking towards the house. It was clear that their friend was not conscious as his body bopped with the movement of their captor’s walk, looking lifeless on Tim’s shoulders.

“Jesus Christ, I hope he’s not dead. He looks dead. He’s not dead, he can’t be. Jesus Christ…” Howie was saying the words as if he was reciting the Lord’s Prayer. When they heard the front door open, they both went back to the bed, Kevin losing his balance and falling onto it and Howie taking the arrow Kevin was going to use to impale Tim and kicking it under the bed just as the bedroom door swung open with such force it fell off the hinges.

Howie stood straight up when the door hit the floor, “What happened?” He asked just as Tim took Nick and threw him onto the ground. “What did you do to him?” Howie screamed when he saw Nick had a swollen face. He started to approach Tim letting his anger get the best of him.

“Don’t even come closer, Howie! I am so angry right now. You don’t want to make it worse!!” He answered with foot at the ready, “I swear I’ll kick him to death right now if you don’t back the hell up!” 

That made Howie stop as Kevin got himself down on the floor to try to aide his friend, placing his arm under Nick’s head and examining his face, he looked up at Tim, “Why did you do this to him?”

“He’s a liar just like you!” He said through gritted teeth, “I should do the same thing to you! I hate liars!! Now I have to rethink everything!” He had his fists balled up and punched the wall, “I should have listened to you!” He was saying over and over again as he continued to hit and kick at the wall as if he was a five year old having a full-fledged tantrum.

Kevin wasn’t paying attention to Tim at all, his sole focus was Nick. Howie however, was thinking about that piece of wood not that far out of arms reach. While Tim was distracted, maybe he could hit him and then reach under the bed, grab an arrow and stab him right in the heart with it. He was sure he was angry enough to do it. It really was just a matter of timing, but Tim suddenly stopped as if a button was pressed.

“Oh dear, I can’t believe I broke my door. Good thing my dad is dead because he would be so pissed off!” He said this to Howie as if they were best friends and nothing had just happened.

“Why did you do that to Nick?” Howie didn’t even recognize his own voice it was so full of contempt.

Tim looked down at Nick, “He lied to me.” His voice so full of hurt he actually started to cry. “You all did… and now I don’t know what I’m supposed to do about that.”

“How did we lie?” Kevin said, trying to sound calm, but Howie knew he was not calm at all. He was one step away from biting this guy’s head off or having a complete nervous breakdown. He knew because he felt the same exact way. 

Tim let out a sigh, “I need to go and think about this for a little bit. I’ll be back. Do not leave this room, believe me, you don’t want to make me mad. I’m already kind of mad now.” He then walked close to Kevin and Nick, Howie almost went for the arrow, but stopped when Tim stooped down and gingerly pet Nick’s head, “I’m sorry I had to do that to you little buddy. I had no choice, he told me to do it.” He then turned to Howie and nodded before walking out into the living room.

Howie joined his friends on the floor sitting beside Nick and letting out a frustrated sigh. He wanted to just scream but bit his bottom lip instead. “We have to get out of here, Howie. We have to get him out of here.” Kevin said as he glanced down at their unconscious friend who was starting to stir slightly.

“What do you think happened?”

Kevin shook his head, “I have no idea. I want to know who told him to do this to Nick?”

Howie felt a chill, “I don’t think we want to know the answer to that question, Kevin.” He looked out of the space the door used to occupy to see Tim pacing back and forth, talking to himself, “I don’t think we want to know…” He said again as goose bumps traveled up his arms and neck.

“We’re running out of time.” Kevin whispered as Nick let out a small moan.

Howie looked down at Nick one last time and then at Kevin, “Not if I can help it!” He said winking at Kevin and then standing up.

“Where are you going? Howie come back here!” Kevin pleaded but Howie ignored him as he continued out the bedroom door to confront Tim and end this nightmare once and for all.


Chapter End Notes:
As always I love to hear what you think and hope you're still enjoying this as it winds down and comes to an end. I'll be back tomorrow with another chapter! :O)