One thing Nick knew he’d never admit to anyone? Jordan Knight, lead singer of the eighties boyband New Kids on the Block –couldn’t sing. Not even slightly. It was a fact the Backstreet Boys had learned during their whirlwind combination tour that spouted off the two groups as headliners and fed off nostalgia. Unlike the formation of their group, NKOTB was put together solely based on looks. They weren’t the manufactured “real boy” that the Backstreet Boys had turned into. Still, Nick had come up with the idea of the Nick and Knight to start with mainly because he needed the attention. As proud as he was of his second solo album, I’m Taking Off – an album he felt was far superior than his first solo attempt, it got virtually no attention in the states. He didn’t regret a thing when it came to that album, not really. It simply sort of ate at him that while he was able to media blitz countries like Canada, Japan, Germany, etc., his home country pretended he didn’t exist as a solo artist.
This time, he had some attention going. Mainly because two years prior was the twentieth anniversary of the Backstreet Boys and they’d been touring their last album for the past year and a half. That was why VH1 had approached him with the idea of a small reality show when word got out he was marrying Lauren. He might’ve been able to go it alone and do better this time. But honestly, it didn’t feel like enough for him. Nick knew he needed a gimmick and someone who’d go along with it easily enough while leaving most of the creative control to him. So he’d scrolled down his list of contacts and it was like a light bulb went off over his head when he saw Jordan’s name.
Jordan was the type whose ego needed constant petting. Nick knew if he said the right things Jordan would be placated enough to go for it. Jordan’s solo career tanked every time, worse than Nick could imagine. So really he was the one who needed it more. But that wasn’t how Nick sold it to him. Instead he’d told the New Kid member how much he needed him. He told Jordan he was doing Nick the favor. In his mind, editing in the studio could fix the vocal problems. The tour itself would pull in fans of both groups. Not to mention this hadn’t been done in the boyband world yet, so it was new, interesting, people would want to talk about it. During live shows he’d look better which while not the point, it was an added bonus. Then after this was done Nick could work on a true solo album that launched off the buzz this created for him in a better spot than he would’ve been before.
Jordan was oblivious to all that however and signed on. They squeezed in recording while Nick filmed I Heart Nick Carter and during days off Nick had during his second US leg with the fellas. Nick worked with the producers on the lyrics and gave away credit to Jordan on a song or two. Most of the songs were written by the others. It was a safety net so he wasn’t wasting the songs he wanted to share on what was essentially a rebranding project. Most of the world still managed to associate him with the hot mess he was back in 2002. He might never be able to repair that but he knew he was going to try like hell.
What Nick hadn’t thought about however in all this was hearing Jordan sing, night after night, and having to smile through it. It’d been three years since NKOTBSB and he’d forgotten how bad it was. The only one in NKOTB who had any real vocal talent had been Joey. Joey had a superiority complex the size of Texas however which was why he hadn’t called him. He preferred Joey’s voice because his was an actual talent but, he couldn’t work around that ego. But the biggest problem was hearing Jordan go off key, hearing Jordan consistently get pitchy. It was wearing after spending twenty years with his friends, brothers really, in a group who could harmonize without music at the drop of a dime.
“Don’t stop till you get enough!”
Another thing was the bus. They’d agreed two busses beyond the bus for their band were unnecessary. It wasn’t going to be a long tour. Maybe two months top. It didn’t seem like the worst idea to share one. Hell Nick had shared a bus with Brian when he was first hooking up with Botox Barbie – his secret nickname for Leighanne, back in the day. He could handle this right?
“Touch me and I feel on fire, ain’t nothin’ like a love desire…”
It’s bad enough when he sings his own songs. Nick mused as he glared at Jordan from where he lay inside his bunk. I don’t think I can handle him mutilating Michael Jackson without getting fucking violent.
His phone buzzed in his hand and for once Nick was momentarily distracted from Mr. Pitchy. He clicked on his messages and immediately smiled once he saw who it was from. Lauren brought a peace to his life Nick once never thought was possible. He’d fallen hard for this girl ever since that blind date where she’d thought he was stuck up and full of himself. It took some time but slowly their relationship had developed and grown. He even did something Nick never thought he would do – get married. And cheesy as it was that day had been the happiest of his life. The two had gone on what they’d called a “temporary honeymoon” on a couple days off amidst his crazy tour schedule. Once he got home Nick planned to fulfill his promise for a second honeymoon by whisking her off to Tahiti. He couldn’t wait.
Nick hung up the phone and stuffed it back into his pocket before groaning tiredly as he pulled himself out of bed. Jordan and he had been friends during the NKOTBSB tour but a duo project seemed to push the limits. In all honesty it wasn’t ending soon enough. His partner was sort of needy, something he hadn’t known till now. He also seemed completely unaware as to what this project really was. Plastering on a smile he headed over to where Jordan sat at the tiny table as the bus continued to speed along the highway. A glance out the window showed it was raining and Nick could only guess as to where they were at. Not Canada, they hadn’t crossed the border yet. Maybe somewhere in Washington. He couldn’t remember if they’d done their concert in Seattle yet, the dates were beginning to blur. In interviews they’d say how they’ve wanted to collaborate together for years, but that was a line pushed by their PR. At least Nick thought it was. Maybe Jordan had called before this project. He couldn’t remember. Not that it mattered.
Jordan turned his laptop towards Nick so he could see it better. A quick glance told him it was a letter from a record executive of some sort. “Hey, BMG in Japan emailed me back with what they thought after seeing our show in Vegas.”
He’d forgotten about that. Two nights ago they’d performed at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay Casino. He always loved Vegas. It was almost common knowledge to local fans that he’d usually be at the craps tables before the show. He’d see the tweets and know they knew. But usually they respected his time and left him be though sometimes he’d chuckle as they walked by as casually as possible. But this show he hadn’t been able to do that because he and Jordan after their real soundcheck (as in the one before the VIPs fans paid for) they’d had a meeting with BMG Japan representatives that Jordan had his management get in contact with weeks before. Without Nick’s knowledge. They’d gotten into a fight about it because Nick didn’t want to tour Japan. He didn’t need exposure there and selfish as it was, felt it wouldn’t help Jordan. Japan didn’t even remember who NKOTB were. NKOTBSB was the only BSB tour that didn’t go to Japan. It’d hurt, rather than helped there. Still, in the end Nick humored them, figuring the same would happen here.
“Yeah.” Jordan grinned. “They’re actually interested cause it’s different and new.”
Nick sighed and swallowed back the first response that came to mind. If I tour any longer with you I don’t know what’ll explode first: my head or my fucking ear drums.
What he’d said out loud was kinder by far. “I told you man, I’m touring worldwide with the fellas next year. We’re continuing the twentieth anniversary In A World Like This tour overseas.” They’d just finished their second North American leg. “And then after that we’re back in the studio. I don’t have the time.”
It was Jordan who sighed this time. “We can make it work. I could use more overseas exposure man.”
You’d need a miracle. He thought to himself. Unlike Jordan’s situation people cared who he was in the States. It was the media that needed to be wooed, and it’d work. In Japan that couldn’t be said for Jordan. Nick shrugged. “I tried to tell you before you invited them that October and November were all I could promise for touring the album. I’m sorry man.”
“Why can’t you push back the group tour?”
Is he fucking serious? “Because the group comes first. Yeah we give each other space for solo stuff but it works because we keep the group as priority one.” He resisted the urge to roll his eyes, smiling instead. “You know how it is.”
“Yeah I get it.” Though Jordan was pissed and they both knew it.
His phone rang as if on cue and Nick was incredibly thankful. He didn’t even care who it was but thankfully it was one of the fellas. Maybe that would help make the other man feel guilty. Or so he hoped. “Hello?”
“Hey little man.”
Nick snorted as Jordan rolled his eyes. He took that as a cue to turn down the volume a bit as he walked back towards his bunk. “I haven’t been little for almost twenty years Kev.”
“And I keep telling you you’ll always be to me. How’s the tour?”
He paused by the window and wondered yet again. Traffic had been horrible earlier and now it was like they were out in the middle of nowhere. Did we take a detour?
“Almost done. Missed you last night.” Nick realized as he said it that tonight was Seattle’s show, last night had been LA. AJ had come out to support him but Kevin had called two weeks before apologizing because Mason’s play was the same night.
“Don’t worry; I’m making it up to you. I’m on my way up.” Honking noises could be heard in the background as Nick found himself content to watch the rain through the window. It was letting up but the grey clouds and wooded surroundings formed a sort of beautiful dreariness in its own way.
“You are?” His voice couldn’t contain his excitement. Even with vanity projects it meant the world when his bandmates supported his solo work. Brian was the only one who hadn’t gone to a show despite their tour stopping in Atlanta but he tried not to think about it. “You fucking rock!”
Kevin laughed. “C’mon I wouldn’t miss-”
He never had a chance to finish his sentence. The bus swerved wildly and Nick lost hold of his phone as he tried to grab at the nearest sturdy object to keep his balance. Jordan screamed in the background as he flew out of his chair. Both men could hear the driver cry out as he struggled to get the massive vehicle back under control. In the end it was the stormy weather that had doomed them all. The road was slippery from all that rain and the tires couldn’t get enough traction. The road they’d been on was a narrow one, surrounded by wilderness as it went upwards. The bus rolled over the shoulder. He caught glimpses of how steep it was through the window as they kept going down. Nick tried to hold on to the bunk railings as best as he could getting slammed back and forth against the side. Windows exploded and glass rained down upon them.
He screamed as he shut his eyes to protect them from the flying shards.
Jordan’s body was tossed like a rag doll around the bus. It flailed around, completely unable to control the beating it got. Blood seemed to spray out like a geyser but he couldn’t see the source. The last thing Nick knew as he lost his grip, was being launched through one of the shattered windows. The bus finally ceased rolling as it came to a stop against a massive tree. Metal crunched immediately. His eyes were wide with fear as the ground raced up to meet him. He used his arms to try and protect himself though he knew it wouldn’t do him any good. His body crumbled against the ground and pain like nothing he’d ever experienced followed.
Then came blissful darkness and he knew nothing more.