Anna lightly touched her head where she’d hit a little over a month and a half before. Nick had taken her to the hospital after Kevin had locked himself away inside the house. Nick figured that she needed to go in to make sure that she really was okay. She’d had to get seventeen stitches where she’d had a small cut. Her and Kevin were still together, and he was still holding himself responsible for her getting hurt. His newest accusation of himself was that if he had gotten his own drink, it would have never happened. Whatever way he looked at it, he still thought that it was entirely his fault. Anna still disagreed. She felt that nobody was to blame. She saw it as an accident and she had been saved. She didn’t care who had done it.
“Thinking about your near drowning again?” Stephanie asked her knowingly and Anna blushed. She thought about it a lot. She couldn’t help it.
“Yeah,” she replied, “Kevin, every day, apologizes for almost killing me, or letting me die. Whatever. Why won’t he just face it that he didn’t cause it?”
Stephanie shrugged, “Has to swallow his big male ego, or whatever ego he had left, because he couldn’t be the one to help.” She stated, “My Nicky was the hero though.” She grinned proudly at the fact that her blonde boyfriend had actually done something useful.
Anna frowned. Stephanie was so happy with Nick being the one to save the day, which was great. She, on the other hand, didn’t care who’d saved her. She wouldn’t have cared if it had been a twelve year old, or even a dog. She wasn’t giving Nick any special treatment over the other guys just because of what he had done. She was greatful and thankful, that was about it. Besides, there was no use making Kevin feel even worse by him thinking that she was rubbing it in his face. Plus, in his condition, he would probably get jealous.
“I’m glad you’re okay though,” Jaime piped up, “God, I can’t believe that we’re still talking about this. It’s old news.” She laughed.
The other two shrugged. Jaime was starting to getting bigger with every day that passed. She only had another three and a half months to go until she was due. She seemed to be excited, but things weren’t as good as they used to.
“Is A.J. still never around?” Anna asked her friend and Jaime nodded her head sadly, longing for her boyfriend and father of her child to still be supportive, “Do you know what happened?”
“He was fine until the day after my last checkup,” Jaime replied, “That was about a two weeks ago. I guess he just spooked. I mean, he was perfectly fine and then he started to never be home, and avoiding me when we both were. The doctor started going into detail about what would happen for the next few months. Maybe it was just too much for him to handle.”
Anna felt sorry for her friend. She had been so enthusiastic before her appointment. A.J. was pampering her left and right, doing everything for her, helping her, and making her relax so she didn’t stress. Now, she knew that Jaime had to do everything for herself if she wanted it done. AJ had at least been decent enough not to make her leave. From what Jaime had said, they were still living together, and still dating. He had just distanced himself from her a great deal.
“He’ll come around,” Stephanie said surly of herself, “I can tell you that he won’t stay like this for long.”
Jaime sighed. She hoped not. She missed A.J being there for her. She missed having loving arms to walk into and their talks at night about what they were going to name the baby and getting ready. Now, every night when she went to sleep, and every morning when she woke up, A.J wasn’t there to plan with her. He wasn’t there period, and it made her wonder if he would even be a part of her child’s life or leave her to raise the baby fatherless, kicking her out as soon as it was old enough to know that he was its daddy. So much was running through her head. She had no answers.
“Sounds like we’re both having relationship problems,” Anna said to Jaime, who smiled in appriciation of her friend trying to make her feel better, “You’re man is freaking out and getting cold feet because the big day is getting closer and mine is always down on himself and life in general.”
“And mine is perfect,” Stephanie boasted, “Who would have ever thought that Nick, of all people, would be the best boyfriend out of the three.”
“Steph, let it go,” Jaime scowled, “We’re happy for you and all, but some of us aren’t exactly having the best time in our own.”
“Okay, okay, I’ll knock it off,” Stephanie grinned. She was just happy that her relationship was staying strong and had for over five months now. Her and Nick had yet to fight. He was just too good-hearted and free spirited to get mad at despite his many blonde moments and lapses of common sense, “Don’t worry. Aje and Kev will be normal again.”
Anna hoped her friend was right, but had a feeling that this time she wouldn’t be. Kevin kept sinking lower and lower into depression, getting worse and worse. Anna was surprised that he hadn’t just given up yet, or maybe he had. She wasn’t sure. A.J. was being a typical male. There was a chance that he would regain his good judgment. A really good chance. Everything was becoming a disaster. She hoped that it would get
better though, instead of continuing to get worse.
Jaime walked through the door to her house. The lights were off, which meant that A.J. was out again. She sighed. It would be another long night alone. She remembered a time when A.J. would be waiting up for her to get home. Walking over to the couch, she fell backwards, flipping on the TV, leaving the lights off. The darkness would fit her mood perfectly. A new episode of Seventh Heaven was premiering in five minutes and she figured she might as well watch it. It wasn’t like she would be doing anything else. Her fun for the day was over. She’d just seen her friends, so that was out. She knew that it was their time to spend with their boyfriends anyways.
Looking over next to her, she saw a photo of her and A.J. from when they’d only been together for a few weeks, which still sitting out on the coffee table. She wondered why A.J. had even bothered to leave it there. It was almost like he couldn’t stand looking at her, unless he felt more than he was showing. A picture of them together, to her, was a reminder of their happy days. Getting up, Jaime grabbed the picture, taking to a drawer and throwing it inside carelessly as if it meant nothing to her. She could swear she heard the glass shattering, but she didn’t really care. One more memory of them was hidden away as if it had never happend. If A.J. was going to be like that, then so would she. Two could play the game.
“Damn him,” Jaime muttered.
She was actually managing to hold back the tears that she knew were threatening to escape. She decided that was through crying over the treatment he was giving her. The anger and hostility towards him had faded. Now, she was just sad even though they were still together, technically. But they might as well have been living on different planets. Jaime had to wonder if A.J. would even notice if she packed up and left before he got home. She highly doubted it, and if he did, she doubted that he would care.
Sitting back down, she made it just on time to catch the beginning credits of the show. She found Simon to be hot, and maybe seeing him would make her feel better. The boy had gone from a nerdy little boy to mature and gorgeous, and he was more her age too. Exactly her age, to be precise. The thing was, she wanted A.J to love her again. She didn’t want anybody else.
Despite all her work on trying to act like what was happening wasn’t affecting her, she couldn’t help but let a few tears fall when she saw Simon and his girlfriend under the stars making out. She and A.J. had done that on occasion, with a picnic basket and blankets. Everything reminded her how they used to be and it was starting to irritate her. She wished that she could be brainwashed and forget her life with A.J. completely. It would be easier that way. She hurridly turned off the TV, not wanting to watch any more. She couldn’t stand it. Jaime just sat in the dark, staring off.
She was distracted when she heard a door close. She rolled her eyes. A.J. was home. He obviously didn’t realize that she was there. She heart footsteps walking across the tile floor of the kitchen. A light turned on beside her as keys were thrown onto the coffee table. A.J. walked around the couch to sit, but stopped short, freezing when he saw Jaime sitting there.
“Oh,” he said, at loss of words, obviously startled to see her there, “Um, hi.” He looked sideways, and drew back. He noticed that the picture of them was gone and wondered where it had went. He’d kept it there for a reason. He’d hoped that it would let Jaime know that he still cared.
Jaime just stared blankly past him not responding. She didn’t even notice that he’d noticed the small piece of décor that was missing. She couldn’t stand to look at his face. She knew that it would make her break down completely. She couldn’t let down her strong guard in front of him. It might give him the satisfaction of knowing that he was getting to her. It might not. She wasn’t going to take her chances though. This was the closest that she’d been to him in two weeks. She felt like it were the first time she’d ever met him. She was nervous.
“I’m, um, I’m gonna go upstairs.” He said, pointing to the ceiling. He could tell that Jaime was going to give him the cold shoulder, which he knew that he deserved greatly. He didn’t deserve her attention.
Jaime still said nothing, and he hesitantly begun walking away. Jaime could tell that he felt bad about the way he was acting, but obviously not bad enough to change. A.J paused once, looking behind him at Jaime still looking blankly ahead.
“A.J.” she called out weakly, “What happened between us?”
She had to know while she was up close and personal with him. She had to ask while it was on her mind and before she lost her nerve.
“Nothing,” A.J. answered a little too quickly and Jaime snorted, “I’ve just been really busy the past couple of weeks. It will get better soon.” He added, knowing that it probably wouldn’t. It was simple. He just wasn’t ready for this kind of responsibility when it came down to it.
Jaime rolled her eyes, forgetting that A.J. couldn’t see the look of complete disgust on her face. Busy her ass. What could he be busy with? The guys had tried on several occasions to record, but it just wasn’t working out. Kevin wasn’t into it in the way that he needed to be, and the other Boys putdowns was making it worse and worse. It was as if his whole soul was gone and had no passion for singing at all anymore, which was completely unlike him. Other than that, A.J. had nothing that he absolutely had to do that would keep him so busy. There weren’t photo shoots, there had only been one meeting, and they weren’t touring.
“I’ll try harder,” A.J. said lamely.
Again, Jaime said nothing. For some reason, his words meant nothing to her. He could say that he would try, but she knew that he wouldn’t really. He would continue with his ways no matter what he said.
“I love you,” he called out softly.
Jaime wondered if he meant it. He sounded like he did, but love didn’t ignore. Love was there for one another. She knew that she still loved him, despite everything, but at the same time, she hated him for leaving her alone like this.
“Love you too,” Jaime responded in monotone.
A.J. stood still for a few seconds, wondering if he should say something else to Jaime, but couldn’t think of anything. He quickly ran up the stairs without another word leaving Jaime sitting there stiffly with tears running down her cheeks.
The four Backstreet Boys sat staring at one another, not knowing how to begin the conversation. Brian had taken it upon himself to call a meeting between just the four of them. He’d made everyone promise not to let word slip to Kevin about it, which told them that the idea of the meeting was to talk about him. A.J. had used it as an excuse to get out of the house by telling the truth. It was three days since his small conversation with Jaime. They hadn’t spoken since. He knew that she was in the house, but he hadn’t seen her.
“So,” Howie said, breaking the silence, “Um, what exactly did you want to talk about? I mean, we kind of have a guess, but, we kind of don’t”
“Well,” Brian replied after a long pause, “I guess to discuss some things and, unfortunately, my cousin.”
He shook his head sadly, hanging it low. In all the years they’d been together as family and a band, he’d never seen Kevin act quite like he had been for the past five and a half months. He was worried. He could sense that Kevin was beginning to slowly give up on all hope. That was completely unlike the man he knew.
“Well,” A.J. stated, “I think we can all agree that the album and recording for it is out of the question until Kev is ready to put forth some actual effort.”
Howie and Nick nodded in agreement. They’d tried on several attempts to make it work. Nothing they had was suitable to actually use. Brian hated to admit it, but he felt that forgetting the album entirely was what they had to do for the moment. The scary part was, getting the album out was more of an if rather than a when. If Kevin didn’t go back to his normal self, he couldn’t see it happening at all. He knew that they would all rather them fade out with a great last album than to put out something that would cost them respect and positive reviews. But even if that’s what they’d rather, it didn’t mean that they wanted it.
“Kevin better get off of this roller coaster of self pity,” Howie grumbled, “And he’d better do it mighty fast. We have things to do, fans to entertain for. We’ve come too damned far to just, vanish now.”
“I don’t blame him for not wanting to perform though,” Nick admitted, “I mean, well, you know.” He trailed off, not knowing what he wanted to say. He decided to shut his mouth before something stupid came out and he just rambled. Now wasn’t the time to do that.
“No, we don’t know, Nick,” Brian said, amused, wondering what was on Nick’s mind, “Tell us.”
Nick glared at the smirk on Brian’s face, knowing
that he was putting him on the spot to embarrass him and lighten the mood a little. Leave it to him to be the one who was called on to make people laugh.
“Well, would you guys want to be in a wheelchair, out on stage, after how you were before? I mean, everyone would be starting at you, feeling sorry for you. They’d be wondering what happened. Some would wonder if it were just for attention to gain publicity and shit like that. They’d think that nothing happened at all.”
Nick decided to stop talking before he dug himself a hole deep enough to go through the earth. He knew that some of the things he’d said could be taken as harsh, and even uncaring. He hadn’t meant it that way at all.
“Ole blonde boy here proves a valid point,” Brian said thoughtfully, “I mean, the media is always out looking for ways to ruin reputations. Who says that they wouldn’t make up some story if we actually decided…or Kevin decided he wanted to tour still? Anyways, we cant tour, we can’t record, we can’t do photo shoots and we can’t do meetings either, or very damn many of them. We can’t do interviews because they’d just want to talk to Kevin, and that’s not a good idea at this point. He wouldn’t want to do it anyways. We can’t make guest appearances either.”
The other three’s eyes widened. None of them really realized how much they actually do until Brian started listing off all of the things they had to give up for the time being. They knew that there was more too.
“So what can we do until Kevin is better, physically or mentally,” Howie asked aloud to nobody in particular.
“Just wait it out and see what happens,” Brian replied, “That’s all we really can do for right now.”
And they all knew that he was right. Waiting was their only option.
Kevin drummed his pen on his notebook thinking of what he could write next. He was sitting in his bead, propped up against the headboard, a big fluffy feather pillow behind his back, writing a journal entry. He’d decided that it wouldn’t hurt to write down his thoughts and feelings. Who knew, it might even help him out a little and make him feel better. He smiled a tiny smile as he read over what he’d already written. A tear fell down his cheek though at the same time. He had so many people who cared about him and supported, yet he was screwing everything up. He was messing up the new album. He was determined to try harder though and make his part the best it could be and get it out in perfect shape. He had to. There was no choice in the matter. That wasn’t the only thing he had jeopardized though. He had almost messed up his relationship with Anna the day that it had started. He was messing up his therapy by constantly picking fights with Jake and sending him to leave early. He knew though that his temper was only causing things to become delayed and harming him, yet he continued to do it. A new thought came to his mind and he quickly jotted it down before he could forget. When the thought was down on paper, Kevin begun chewing on his pen cap, thinking up more to write. He had so much going on in his head, so much to get out that he’d been keeping in, but he didn’t know how to say it all when it came down to it. His thoughts were an unorganized jumble.
“Hi baby,” Anna said, walking into the room.
Kevin looked up startled, quickly shutting the notebook and stuffing it under his pillow, sliding beneath the covers to lay. Anna crawled in bed beside him, kissing him tenderly on the lips. It felt great. Kevin had to admit that she was being wonderful to him. She was always there for him and helped him in every way possible. He couldn’t believe that he’d ever thought that she would hold his disability against him when it came to dating. She was nothing like that.
“What were you doing?” she asked.
“I started a journal diary type thing,” Kevin told her, “Just an idea I had. It might not work though.”
“That’s good,” Anna praised him, “They’ve always helped me, even though I could never keep up with them for more than a month or two.” She laughed, “I always skipped a night, and one night turned into a week, and a week turned into never opening the damned thing again.”
Kevin chuckled, which made Anna smile wide. He realized that he’d been depriving her of his happy side. He knew that she had yet to really see it.
“Is Kevin laughing?” she teased, which made him smile even wider, “I could get used to seeing you like this, you know.” She said more seriously, but still with a light nature. She didn’t want to make him feel bad.
“I’m sorry, Anna,” Kevin said, “I have my good moments.” He sighed, looking deep into her dark brown eyes, “I really am trying to be happier.”
Anna reached a hand up and cupped the left side of his face in it, rubbing gently. She couldn’t imagine how he must feel. She wished she could say that she did, but it would be a lie. She didn’t want to lie to him.
“I know you are,” she replied softly, “Just know that however long it takes, I’m going to be here for you through the good and the bad.”
Kevin sighed. He still felt like such an invalid. He wasn’t hardly ever happy and there were more thoughts on his mind. Ones that had been there for months now, ever since A.J’s news about Jaime.
“Hey, Anna,” Kevin asked, “Do you want to have kids?”
Anna drew back in astonishment. The question had come out of nowhere. She didn’t know what had possessed him to even ask such a thing.
“No,” she said, “I mean, well yes.” She could see Kevin tense up greatly, and knew what was on his mind right away, “Not yet though. I’m not nearly ready. I wont be for another few years at least.” She saw Kevin relax a bit and didn’t know what to say to him. She knew that the subject of children was sensitive to him since he couldn’t help her to have any at the moment. That didn’t bother her though. She didn’t care how long it took, or if he could never get her pregnant. There was always the option of adoption open in her mind. In some senses, she’d rather that.
“ I love you, Kevin.” Anna said, “Don’t worry. No kids for a long while.”
“I love you too,” Kevin whispered.
Kevin pulled Anna in closely to him and she laid he head on his chest, closing her eyes. Kevin gently started stroking her hair, and begun singing to her. He figured he could use the practice while he was in a good mood. Anna sighed, content, and within minutes, she was in a deep sleep. Kevin dug under his pillow and grabbed the journal, ripping the pages out and folding it up. He would finish later. He gently moved Anna over as he lifted himself out of bed and into his wheelchair to put the papers away in his dresser drawer, under his underwear and socks. He closed the drawer and went back to his bed, hauling himself back into it and laying back down. He gently pulled Anna into him again, holding her closely. He kissed her forehead softly, thinking about what he had written. There was definitely a lot of emotion that had been put into it. A lot of feelings, frustration and hatred. He sighed. Maybe, one day, his entry would be published in a book. Possibly even one in the Chicken Soup series. He had a feeling that having others read what he’d went though might help a lot of people out who were in his situation. He wished that he’d had something insightful to read when he’d first been thrown into this situation. Maybe it would have helped him too. But now, he didn’t know if anything could.