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Chapter Seventeen

Stephanie groaned as the hot water from her shower pounded against her bare skin. It felt so good to her. Nick and her had gone to their home to freshen up real quick and get a little rest. Neither of them had wanted to go, but everybody was taking rounds leaving the hospital for an hour or two.

“Hey babe,” Nick called, peeking into the shower. Stephanie jumped, letting out a little squeal. Nick had startled her.

“Nick!” she cried out.

“You almost done in there?” he asked, “I still have to get in there too ya know.” He stuck out his lip in a pout.

“Almost,” she replied, rinsing the shampoo from her hair.

“If ya don’t hurry up, I’m going to have to join you,” he winked at her. Stephanie rolled her eyes. Did guys ever think about anything besides being with a naked chick? She highly doubted it.

“Go for it,” she replied without much interest.

Nick paused for a minute, going deep into thought. Stephanie wondered what was so hard about her question that he had to think.

“I will next time,” he finally replied, “It will just be too distracting right now, and we are in a hurry to get back.”

Stephanie nodded her head. She preferred finishing up alone anyway. She wasn’t in the mood to have Nick groping her at that particular time. She had other more important things on her mind. More serious things. She closed her eyes to wash the rest of the shampoo out of her hair to prevent getting any in them.

“Not even going to try to persuade me?” Nick asked.

Stephanie opened her eyes. Nick’s head was still peering at her on her side of the navy shower curtain. Fury was beginning to take over her body.

“Nick,” she almost yelled, and she saw him cower back, “Just let it go today, okay? We don’t have to shower together every single day. Now leave.”

Nick realized that he had taken things a bit too far. He withdrew from the curtain to wait in the bedroom. He felt a little bit bad for pushing Stephanie. A few minutes later, he heard the water shutting off. Another few minutes later, she walked into the bedroom with a towel wrapped around her. She begun digging through her drawers for something clean to put on. Nick watched her in amusement.

“It’s all yours,” she informed him without looking back, “I’m done.”

Nick stood up and started walking into the bathroom, but stopped and looked back. He knew that he should say something.

“I’m sorry,” he lamely called out.

“Just drop it, Nickolas,” Stephanie told him, her voice chilly.

Nick stared at her and slowly walked into the bathroom, closing the door behind him. His ego had been bruised by her putting him off. He knew that he deserved it though. He was being insensitive in trying to forget his own misery for a few short minutes. He realized that he was wrong.

When Stephanie was sure that Nick was really gone, she stood up from looking in her drawers, pulling out an old pair of jeans and a long sleeved shirt. She quickly pulled the jeans over her hips and slid the shirt on and running down the steps.

Going into the kitchen, Stephanie searched the cupboards for something quick to eat, but nothing appealed to her. She really wasn’t all that hungry anyways. Closing the cupboard door, she sighed, slumping against a wall. She hated the way that things were going lately. She’d never felt so much emotion as she was right then in a long while. She’d hoped that she wouldn’t have to again. Leave it to Kevin though. Truthfully, Kevin of all people, she had thought, would be the least likely to do anything. She knew that it had come as a shock to everybody though. Nobody had seen it coming. Her thoughts, as well as everyone else’s, had been repetitions thought the last day and a half. Seeing something out of the corner of her eye, Stephanie looked up. Nick was standing in front of her now.

“I’m done,” he announced.

“That’s nice,” Stephanie replied, pulling away from the counter not meeting Nick’s gaze.

“Are you ready to head back?” he asked her.

Stephanie just nodded, walking towards the door. Nick grabbed his keys off of the counter, oblivious to Stephanie’s coolness. Opening the door, Stephanie slipped out under his arm, walking towards the car, ahead of him. She wasn’t upset with him anymore though. She just wasn’t in the mood for un-intellectual conversation. She wasn’t in the mood to joke with him good-naturedly and give smart ass comebacks to his lack of common sense and ditziness. She just wanted to get back to the hospital and wait with everybody else.

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Anna sat reading a magazine she’d picked up in the gift shop downstairs. Everybody had disappeared off to somewhere. Nick and Stephanie were still at their place, she assumed. They’d probably taken advantage of their opportunity alone. She really didn’t want to know. Jaime and A.J. had gone off to lunch in the cafeteria. Howie and Brian were probably walking around somewhere. She was alone in the small waiting room. There had still been no word on Kevin. She assumed that his condition remained unchanged. She was just glad that she’d had a few minutes with him. She was thankful that Angela had been so nice to her and let her stay for a few extra minutes. Anna wished that he could hold her though. That wasn’t even close to being possible at the moment though.

Anna realized when she’d finished an article that she didn’t remember anything about it. She knew that she’d read it, but her thoughts were elsewhere causing her to not quite comprehend it. Sighing, she threw the magazine onto the table next to her. She was restless. Her attention span couldn’t concentrate on any one thing for more than five minutes. Anna closed her eyes deciding to try and get some sleep. It would help to pass time. She tried to close her mind up to any thoughts to help her fall asleep quicker but it wasn’t working. Anna heard a door open and close again. She decided to ignore it. It was probably somebody there for someone else. She felt the person getting closer and then sitting down right next to her. She wondered why the stranger had to pick the seat right next to her. The personal space invader didn’t say anything and she felt claustrophobic at how close they were

“Hey,” a voice drawled. She could hear a slight loneliness in the voice on top of sadness.

Anna opened he eyes, recognizing the voice. She looked to her side and saw Brian sitting there. She felt foolish for thinking that it was some sort of psycho stalker. She offered a weak smile.

“Hi,” she replied softly, “I thought that you were with Howie.”

Brian shrugged, “I was. He joined Aje and Jaime though. I wanted to get back up here. I guess that they all feel like them being up here won’t change things or make Kevin getting well happen any quicker.”

Anna somewhat agreed with his statement to a certain extent, but she wasn’t about to leave the waiting room unless it was on her way to see Kevin. She wanted to be as close as she could get to him at all times. She wasn’t about to leave.

“They are all worried too,” Anna replied, “Just because they’re not here at all times doesn’t mean anything.”

“I know,” Brian relied nonchalantly, “We all care so much about him and are afraid. I mean, we’ve been though practically everything together for the past ten years.”

Anna nodded. She could imagine that they had been. From what she’d read in articles and heard on TV in all the time that she’d been a fan before meeting them, she could tell that they were close. They were like brothers. One big non-blood related family who was always there for one another through the good and the bad. She admired them for it. They always seemed so caring and down to earth.

“I miss Kevin,” Anna said softly, somberly, out of nowhere.. She knew that if she had any tears left, she would be crying them at that moment, but she was dry. She couldn’t cry even if she tried. Her eyes stung and were bloodshot from all she’d done as it was.

“We all do,” Brian responded, reaching over to give her a hug. Anna willingly fell into his arms, putting her face in his shoulder. It felt so good to have a good friend holding her. She longed for it to be Kevin. What she didn’t know was that Brian needed the hug just as much as she had.

“I still can’t believe that we’re here because of this.” Brian said out loud, pulling gently away from the hug.

“Me neither,” Anna replied

She was wishing that she could tell him about her short encounter with Kevin. But she’d promised Angela that she wouldn’t. Guilt was gnawing at her for keeping the secret from Kevin’s cousin though. They sat in silence, looking around the drab room uncomfortably.

“Was Kevin really that depressed?” Brian asked, “You lived with him and were with him more than any of us for the past months. Was he really that bad off?”

Anna hesitated. She knew that Brian was looking for an answer that she couldn’t give him without lying about it. He deserved the truth.

“Yes,” she finally replied, “I saw him smile a total of three times since the car accident. It was getting better, sort of, but then the thing with me and the pool happened, and he went down hill from there again.”

Brian looked confused for a moment, but then a look of remembrance came over his face. After all, how could anybody forget that Nick, of all people, had done something intelligent?

“I guess I should have known without asking that he was,” Brian sighed, “I wish that all of this was a mix up, but I know that it’s not.”

“He’ll be okay though,” Anna said with confidence. She figured that as long as she didn’t tell him her source of information, she would be okay.

“What makes you think that?” Brian asked.

Anna looked over at him and noticed for the first time that he too had been crying earlier. She assumed that everyone probably had been.

“I just have a feeling,” she informed him, “Kev has so much going for him. Why else would his life have been spared twice now?”

Brian shrugged, seeing her point. It still didn’t help his mood any, and he could see cloudiness in her eyes and worry written on her face despite her confident act. Everybody knew that there was a possibility that Kevin’s condition would start to decline. He found it positive that his cousin had lived past the doctor’s life expectancy for him. To him though, that still didn’t mean anything. A lot could still happen. It had, after all, only been three days. Those three days had seemed like endless weeks.

“I hope you’re right,” Brian frowned, then turned to her, looking her straight in the eye, “You know, Kevin always talked about you.”

Anna drew back. She was taken by surprise that Kevin talked about her to his friends and band mates. Usually, guys had to keep their reputation up by acting like they didn’t really care about their girlfriend.

“Don’t look shocked,” Brian chuckled lightly, “Before you decided it was a good time to date, he went on and on about how great you were. When you told him that you would be his girlfriend, he bragged about you all the time and said that he didn’t deserve you. He thinks that you’re pretty special. Honestly, you’re the only thing that made him happy. If you weren’t in his life, I am pretty sure that he would have tried this much sooner.”

Anna listened to Brian intently. She wasn’t sure how to respond. She had no idea that Kevin had felt that way. He’d mostly been depressed around her. He was sweet, sure, but he was always down.

“So he was happy around you guys?” she questioned.

Brian shook his head sadly, “No. He was depressing. But when he talked about you, there was a little light in his eyes. He wasn’t really happy until we started recording up until we finished.”

“Kevin is a really important part of my life,” Anna brought up, “I wish that we’d started dating sooner.”

“You did the right thing though,” Brian cut her off.

Anna smiled in appriciation. Even though everybody had been on her side when Kevin had told her to stay out of his life, Brian’s words still made her feel good and not regret her decision.

“Honestly,” Anna continued, “If Kev never walked again, it wouldn’t make me love him any more or less. He’s a great person. I can’t wait to meet the real him. I hope his true self finds its way back.”

“Yeah,” Brian said, his voice trailed off a little, “You really haven’t met the real Kevin. He’s even greater than the side you’ve seen of him. When you do, you’ll be amazed. He will walk again though. He’s just having a tough time recovering. This set back wont help much. He will though. I’m sure of that.”

Anna breathed deep. She just then noticed that none of the others had returned yet. She was still alone in the room with Brian. It was really the first time she’d ever said more than two words to him him. He was a really nice person. She had a feeling that them talking was helping each other a lot.

“I’m just so hurt that he would do something like this,” Brian said, frustrated, “He knew that he had so many close friends behind him that were there for him, and he still did it. We’re all hurt.”

Anna knew how he felt. She, too, was hurt. She’d thought that their relationship was strong enough for him to make it. She’d thought that everything was okay. The whole ordeal confused her.

“I know I am,” she admitted, “When Kevin wakes up, I hope that I don’t suddenly become angry and yell. That won’t exactly make things better. Right now, I am scared still. I’m upset. But when I am face to face with him, only because I love,” Anna suddenly stopped at the word “love” She did love Kevin, but it was the first time she’d openly admitted it, “Only because I love him and care that I’ll yell because I’ll just be so relieved that he’s alive, but enraged that he almost wasn’t. Does that make sense at all, or am I rambling on and on?”

“Perfectly,” Brian said, understanding exactly what she had meant, “I know how you feel. I think that we’ll all be yelling at him.”

The two sat in silence for a few minutes. Anna was out of things to say.

“Well, I’m going to go walk around some more,” Brian stated, standing up, “Thanks for the talk. I needed it. I mean, the guys and I have been talking, but for some reason, speaking with you was different.”

Anna stood up too, “Yeah, it was helpful. I feel like a big weight has been lifted off of me.”

Brian wrapped his arms around Anna in another hug. When he pulled back, his eyes caught hers. Hypnotized by them, Brian leaned down and kissed Anna right on the lips. Anna struggled to pull away, feeling violated, but he kept his lips firmly against hers. Helpless, Anna jerked away hard, a look of hurt in her eyes. Brian stood, looking stunned for a moment, not realizing what he’d just done. Anna continued to look at him with betrail in her eyes. It took Brian a moment to realize what had happened.

“Oh god,” he cried, running a hand through his short brown hair, “I’m so sorry Anna.” He stumbled over his words, “God, I’m sorry.”

“You know I’m with Kevin,” she answered shrilly, “We were just talking about our relationship.”

“I know,” Brian said, “I…we…our” he stuttered, not knowing how to explain, “Our talk. I was just caught up in the moment of my grief. I wasn’t thinking clearly. I swear to you.”

Anna cringed. Her boyfriend was in a coma and his cousin had just kissed her. She knew that it meant nothing and that what he said was completely true. His grief had caused his actions. He hadn’t realized what he was doing until after it was too late. But still, she felt dirty, even though she couldn’t control what he did.

“If Kevin ever finds out…” Brian s voice broke off, “Wow. Kevin can’t ever find out. He won’t.”

Anna nodded. Brian truly looked frightened by what he’d just done. She knew that Kevin wouldn’t find out from her once he was awake. Not only would it cause problems between him and his cousin, but it would also cause issues on trust between him and her. Especially since he’d been the next step past unconscious when it had happened. No, Kevin definitely couldn’t find out. After all, she hadn’t wanted it to happen. Anna tried not to wretch. She found Brian to be very attractive, but seeing him in any other way besides a friend scared her. Besides, if her and Kevin ever got married, he would be related to her in some way.

“I…I have to go,” Brian said, backing up into the door. His eyes were still wide with shock. He spun around and pulled the door open, darting out of it. He quickly disappeared around a corner as the door shut slowly behind him.

Anna stood still, stunned. She couldn’t believe what had just taken place in the past two minutes. Near tears, because she felt like she’d just cheated on Kevin, Anna ran from the room towards the bathroom to wash away the feeling of Brian’s lips against hers. She hoped that it worked, but didn’t know if it really would or not.

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“Anna,” Jaime asked, staring at her friend with
interest, “Are you okay?”

Anna had been staring off into space ever since she’d arrived back at the waiting room. When her and A.J. had returned, everybody but Brian was there. She’d left Anna lone for a while, but now she was really beginning to worry her. Stephanie came and walked over, sitting on the opposite side of Anna.

“Hey,” she said, shaking her friend lightly.

Anna slowly looked over. Her face was pale, looking as if she’d just seen a ghost. Her friends looked at each other, wondering what had happened to her.

“Now that we got your attention,” Stephanie stated, “What’s up with you today? We come back and, well, you look like crap.”

Anna stared at her friend blankly, ignoring her bluntness. She didn’t know what to tell them. Just a couple of hours before, she’d been in the middle of something she shouldn’t have. She wanted to tell them, because they were her best friends, but the more people who knew, the worse of her and Brian would both be. She didn’t want to cause problems among him and the guys.

“Something’s on your mind,” Jaime stated, “Spill.”

Anna looked around. Nobody was talking really. She didn’t want the others to overhear what she was saying. With a sigh, she stood up.

“If you want to know, come out into the hall,” she said

Jaime and Stephanie looked at one another before getting up and scurrying out the door after her out into the hall. Anna walked down the narrow hall a little ways, her friends at her heels. When she finally stopped, Jaime was the first to speak.

“Ok, now what is wrong?” she asked.

Anna closed her eyes and took a deep breath. The image re-entered her brain though, and her eyes flew open. She hoped that she didn’t have that picture in her head every time she shut them.

“Me and Brian talked,” Anna began, “We just talked about our feelings about Kevin being here.”

“So?” Stephanie asked, “What’s the big deal about that?”

Anna saw Jaime elbow Stephanie. She assumed that it was for her being a smart ass again.

“When he was about to leave again…he…he did something bad,” Anna said, her breathing becoming shaky. “Anna,” Stephanie said, shaking her head, “Even Brian cusses sometimes,” she joked, having no idea what had really gone on.

“Would you fucking listen and let me finish?” Anna asked incredulously, her voice full of annoyance for her friends not listening, “Brian kissed me. He…he…it wasn’t supposed to happen, but he wasn’t thinking and next thing I know, he’s in my face.”

Jaime stepped back in shock as Stephanie’s eyes widened in disbelief. She wondered if her friends would even believe her. After all, everybody thought that Brian never did wrong. Kissing his own cousins girlfriend while he wasn’t even close to being conscious was definitely wrong.

“Are…are you sure that you weren’t dreaming?” Stephanie asked, “I mean, you could have been dreaming and then woke up and he was in the room with you.”

Anna shook her head, her curls bouncing. She wished that was it, but she could still feel the aftertaste of his mouth against hers. Again, she tried not to gag. She tried not to cry. She loved Brian as a friend. But again, the fact that she was involved in a relationship made things worse. Maybe if she weren’t, she would have enjoyed the kiss. After all, Brian and Howie were both still single.

“Brian took off after it happened. He totally freaked out,” Anna informed them, “As I said, I don’t think he even realized what he’d done until after it was way past too late to stop himself.”

Her friends still looked at her like they thought she were crazy. She knew that she wasn’t though. She wished that she’d had it on tape to prove to them that it really had happened. Anna wondered if by some small chance, there was a hidden camera in the waiting room.

Just then, Brian walked around the corner. Three pairs of eyes turned to look at him as he stopped short, his mind going blank at the sight of Anna. He couldn’t face her after what he’d done.

“Oops,” he said, “I, um, I forgot something in the cafeteria, I think. I, um, I am going to go check,” he stammered

Brian turned back around and walked quickly away, disappearing again from view. Anna looked at her friends.

“Now do you believe me?” she asked, “He was the only one not in the waiting room with us and when he saw me, he spooked.”

Stephanie looked thoughtful for a moment. The point Anna proved was a valid one. Maybe something really had happened. She was obviously shaken up over it. Suddenly, she doubted that it was just a dream.

“I can’t understand why Brian would do that,” Jaime said, “Talk about betraying Kevin.”

Anna rubbed her eyes. Suddenly, she was extremely tired and longed to just go to sleep.

“You should go home and rest,” Jaime said, looking her friend up and down, “The rest of us will be here in case that doctor comes out.”

“No,” Anna argued, “I need to stay here, for Kevin. I can’t just leave. Especially not so soon.”

“Anna, you’ll feel better,” Stephanie said, “You need to go home for a few hours. It will help you to relax.”

Anna knew that her friend was right. She was stressed lately with Kevin being there and Brian’s kiss. She wondered if maybe she went home for a few hours if it would help to release some tension.

“Just for a little while,” Jaime said, giving Anna a small, light push towards the elevator that was across the hall.

“No,” Anna said hesitantly, wanting to leave, yet not wanting to, “I can’t”

Stephanie pushed the down arrow on the elevator. “Just for a few hours,” she stated

The doors opened. Jaime and Stephanie both gave Anna a light shove inside. She stumbled, catching her balance. She looked at her friends, trying to get out, but they wouldn’t budge from their spot right on the other side.

“I don’t want to...”

“Just for an hour, at least,” Jaime yelled as the doors shut.

Anna sighed, watching her friends slowly disappear from her view. She figured that they were just doing what they thought was in her best interest. She felt guilty for leaving Kevin, but maybe it would restore her rational thinking and clear her mind a bit. Maybe it would get her mind off of what had happened between her and Brian. She was going to return though very shortly. Anna told herself that she was just going to go home for long enough to sleep for a couple of hours. That was all she really needed. The doors opened and Anna whipped out her cell phone to call a cab to pick her up. Dialing the number that was easy to remember, she ordered a taxi and hung up. In less than twenty minutes, they would be there to take her away from the building that held nothing but bad memories for her for a little while.

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The six members of Bluewave rushed into the waiting room, breathless. Looking around, they all spotted the members of Backstreet Boys along with Jaime and Stephanie against the far wall.

“What happened?” Michael asked, running over to them, the others following. They all took seats.

Everyone looked up, realizing who the six men were. Looks of question and curiosity came over their faces.

“What are you doing here?” A.J. asked, “Dude, how do…how did?” he stuttered, wondering how they even knew what had happened.

“We got a phone call from Kev,” Ryan answered, “Nobody picked up, but he left a message saying that he would be leaving and that you guys would take care of us once the tour started back up.”

“We found it to be strange,” Cody remarked, “So Bryan called your management to see what happened. It was hell convincing them of who we were, but we finally got it through to them, so they told us where to find you. They wouldn’t tell us what happened though. We came as soon as we could.”

“We’ve been here for about three days now,” Brian said with a sigh.

He found it nice how the band had come to see how things were. He realized that they hadn’t done the best job on keeping up with No Authority’s member. He knew that Howie and Danny talked occasionally, but other than that, nobody was really made a point to see how Tommy was doing. Brian knew though that they would have if it weren’t for Kevin’s few landings in the hospital himself.

“So what happened?” Erik asked, “I mean, we know about Kevin’s car accident. Is it complications due to that?”

Howie shook his head. He wished that was all that it was. If complications were all that Kevin was facing, then he would be set at the moment.

“He was really depressed about not being able to walk and feeling helpless,” he replied, “So he shot himself.”

Bluewave drew back in astonishment. Howie knew that they didn’t want to believe a word of it by the looks on their faces. Ryan, Michael and Cody had paled by a few shades, the others were just speechless.

“Wow,” Erik replied, finally managing to get words out, “When we got the message, we figured that he just dropped out of the group and you guys were continuing without him.”

The other five guys nodded in agreement. Their prediction hadn’t been nearly as bad as what had really happened.

“Is…what…how,” Bryan stuttered, trying to get a question out, but not knowing what to ask.

“He’s in a coma,” Nick replied, knowing what Bryan was trying to ask. He sighed, “He’s been in one for three days and hasn’t woken up once.”

A.J. looked at Nick as if he’d just said the dumbest thing in the world. Nick looked back at him with innocence.

“Nah, Nick. You think? I mean, who knew that people in comas didn’t wake up and then fall back into them several times a day.” he retorted

Nick looked at A.J. confused, then blushed a little as he realized what he had said. Everybody in the room continued to stare at Nick as if he were an interesting species of something other than human.

“Anyways,” Michael said, deciding to get the attention off of the humiliated blonde boy, “Where is Anna? She’s the only one out of all of you that isn’t here. Does she know yet?”

“Yeah, where is Anna?” Howie asked, “I haven’t seen her in a few hours now. In fact, it’s been quite a while.”

Jaime and Stephanie looked to one another. They were obviously the only ones who knew where she was.

“I thought that you told them,” Jaime muttered to Stephanie.

“I thought you did,” she evenly replied

The two continued to argue a little about who told who where Anna had gone and the small mix-up.

“Would somebody please tell us,” A.J. asked, irritably, “I mean, obviously the two ladies know. Would you mind sharing?.

“Oh, yeah,” Jaime replied, snapping out of the argument, “Steph and I had her go to her house for a while to rest. She was stressing and completely worn, and was the only one of us who hadn’t left. We told her to just go and sleep for a few hours and then come back.”

Brian blushed slightly, knowing that he was partly the reason why Anna was tense and stressed. He wondered if anybody knew yet. If they did, he was sure that somebody would have confronted him about it.

“Poor thing,” A.J. muttered, “I mean, sure, us guys have been around Kevin for over a decade now. But to have your boyfriend…damn. It’s affecting all of us.”

“Her and Kevin were dating?” Cody asked, obviously surprised by the news, “Last I knew, she wouldn’t go out with him.”

“They have been for a little while. Not too long though,” Howie informed him, “Maybe three or four months, I’m thinking.” He shrugged, “Honestly, I haven’t been keeping track.”

“We could tell that Kevin liked her,” Cody stated, “I’m glad that the finally got together and I’m even more glad that he lived though everything.”

Nobody said anything for a long while. There was really only so much you could say when somebody that you were close to was hospitalized for something serious. Bluewave felt like them being their and showing their support and that they cared was enough, even if they didn’t talk. None of them wanted to say the wrong thing and make the people who were really close to Kevin feel worse yet.

“Thanks for coming,” Brian stated softly, “We all really appreciate it. I mean, gosh, we only toured together for a few days. It means a lot.” “No problem,” Alex shrugged, “We all wanted to come. Ya’ll were great towards us while we were touring with you. Kevin is a great guy. We’re behind him one hundred percent of the way praying he recover quickly.”

Brian smiled, the others thanking Bluewave with their eyes. The kind members of the new group would never fully know just how thankful they really were for them being there. The only thing that could actually brighten the day would for Kevin to wake up and the whole nightmare be put behind them.
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Anna sighed as she unlocked the door to her house and stepped inside. She looked around feeling emptiness as she closed the door behind her. It felt so odd being there without Kevin in the other room. It wasn’t the same. This was the first time she’d been home since what had happened three days ago. She would still be at the hospital if she hadn’t been forced to leave.

“Home sweet home,” she muttered bitterly.

Anna felt as if she were intruding even though she lived there. It had been Kevin’s mansion long before she’d moved in.

Walking into the living room, she fell back onto the leather couch, turning on the television. Flipping though the channels, nothing interested her. Finally, she threw the remote down, deciding to just watch some HBO movie that was about half-way though, muting the TV. It wasn’t like she was going to pay any attention anyways. She knew that she should probably try to get some sleep, but didn’t want to for fear that she’d sleep for longer than she wanted to. She only planned on being gone for an hour tops.

Anna jumped when she heard the phone ring, the sudden loud noise startling her. Slowly getting up, she grabbed the phone off of the table next to her, cautiously turning it on and slowly bringing it to her ear. She felt as if she were answering a complete strangers phone.

“Hello?” she asked

“Hello, is Kevin in please?” a male voice answered immediately without any hesitation.

Anna winced. Whoever it was sounded like he was extremely irritated with Kevin for some reason.

“No, he isn’t,” Anna replied, trying to be as polite as she could, “May I take a message?”

“Yes,” the man demanded, “Tell him that Jake called. Kevin has missed his last four therapy sessions. There has been no answer at the door or the house.”

Anna cringed. She’d forgotten to cancel Kevin’s therapy for the time being. Now she was being forced to speak to the very irate man on the other end of the phone. She wondered what she was going to tell him. She opened her mouth to blurt out some random excuse, but everything that she came up with sounded lame.

“I’m sorry about that,” she finally spoke up, “He hasn’t been around to make the sessions.”

Jake grunted in disgust and Anna knew that her reply hadn’t been what he was looking for. She didn’t care though. She was tired, in a bad mood, and her boyfriend was a comatose paraplegic.

“Tell him that if he is going to give up now, that he is not what I thought he was. If he is going to hide, that he is weak.”

Fire built up in Anna at Jake’s words. She couldn’t believe that he had the nerve to say something like that. Without thinking, Anna screamed at him, telling him everything, informing him of why Kevin wasn’t able to make his sessions.

“You have some nerve,” she yelled, “First of all, Kevin is too good for a big headed therapist like you. Secondly, he shot himself because he was so down on himself. He couldn’t make your little appointments for the past few days because he is in the hospital, in a coma.”

Anna was breathing heavily by the time that she was through with yelling at the man. He said nothing, and Anna wondered if he had hung up or even heard what she’d said. After her breathing returned to normal, she then realized exactly what she had done. She’d told Jake everything. The Boys didn’t want anybody outside of their circle of friends to know and she’d gone and slipped up. She hoped that Jake could be trusted with the information.

“Wow,” he finally replied, his tone of disbelief. It was kinder now, “I...I’m sorry. I had no idea.”

“You’re right.” Anna replied, “You really didn’t. You’d better not tell anybody. If I hear any mention of Kevin’s breakdown on the news, I will know exactly who to track down and I have connections who can do so much worse to you than I could…and they would too. Nobody betrays our friends.”

“Of course,” Jake replied, his voice shaking slightly from the angry girls threat, “ It’s between you and me. Um, just give me a call when he is awake and ready for therapy again.”

“I’ll do that,” Anna told him.

She crossed her fingers. If Kevin didn’t ask specifically for Jake, then she would take it upon herself to find him somebody better for him. Her Kevin deserved the best. He didn’t deserve to have a guy who jumped to conclusions and thought that Kevin was a quitter. Sure, he’d become frustrated and sunk into a low state of mind, but if it weren’t for his mental illness over the past few months, he would never give up and quit therapy. She knew that for a fact.

“Well, give everybody my best wishes,” Jake said.

“Okay,” Anna replied, “Bye.”

“Bye.”

Anna hung up the phone quickly before Jake could say anything more to her. It was the first time she’d actually ever spoken to the man and she had a severe disliking towards his attitude.

Suddenly, Anna was extremely tired. Her eyes burned and her eyelids kept drooping. She knew that she had to sleep. Her internal clock, she figured, would awaken her in a couple of hours at the most. Getting up from the couch, she slowly trudged up the stairs. She stopped when she saw Kevin’s wheelchair sitting in the middle of the floor. A few tears fell from her face as she quickly walked past it and into their bedroom.

Pulling the bedspread down, Anna crawled beneath the covers and closed her eyes. She was in a deep sleep before she even had time to think of anything else.
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Jaime tapped her foot nervously on the floor as A.J. checked her in for her doctors’ appointment. He walked quietly over to her and took one of her hands in his. He noticed her nervous habit and laughed.

“Would you cut it out?” he asked, “Everything is going to be fine.”

“But you haven’t been to an appointment with me in so long,” Jaime mentioned, and A.J. winced, “It just feels kind of weird since I’ve gone through most of these alone.”

A.J. looked wounded by her comment. He wondered if Jaime even wanted him there with her. He wanted to be though, because it was his baby too and he wanted to be there for both it and it’s mother. He wanted to try to make up for the months that he’d been a foolish idiot.

“Do you want me to go back with the others?” he asked, his lip sticking out in a little pout, “I mean, if you do, I can leave now.” The couple had been lucky enough to get an appointment with one day’s notice. After Anna had left for home, A.J. had called Jaime’s doctor to schedule her seventh month check up. She was a good two or three weeks late, but he figured now was better than never. Besides, she was getting extremely close to the due date and it was especially important that they take extra precautions. Since they were already in the hospital for Kevin, A.J. figured that he could take his girlfriend to another wing of the hospital to be checked out. With much persuasion and bribery, A.J. finally got Jaime an appointment for the next day. The next day had rolled around and there they were.

“No,” Jaime cried out, “You’d so better not leave me again Alexander James. I need you here.”

A.J. laughed softly and Jaime glared at him wondering what he found to be so funny. She didn’t see anything humorous with the thought of him leaving her again.

“I was joking,” he told her, “I want to be here. Besides, I promised you four days ago that I wouldn’t ever leave you again. I meant that.”

Jaime’s hard features melted as she leaned forward to kiss A.J lightly on the lips. He had to be the sweetest guy she knew. Sure, he had his flaws, but when he was having his good days, she couldn’t ask for anybody better.

“Jaime,” a nurse called out.

Jaime and A.J. both stood up and walked towards the nurse. She smiled at the almost new parents, leading them into one of the offices.

“Dr. Parker will be with you shortly,” the nurse informed them.

Jaime began to snicker a little, trying to wipe
the smile off of her face. A.J. looked at her funny.

“What,” he asked.

“Just remembering the woman with the dry personality,” she responded.

A.J. laughed a little too at the remembrance of the woman who had been less than friendly. But soon his good mood died, and Jaime’s did as well seconds later as they sat solemnly looking at one another.

“Wow,” A.J. finally said, “This is the first time I have actually laughed since Kevin’s been here. I feel guilty because he’s almost as bad off as they come and it only happened for days ago. Here I am laughing.”

A.J. wished more than anything that Kevin would wake up. He wanted to apologize for how cold and rude he’d been to the man in his last months awake. He hadn’t been friendly towards the older man in a good eight months. He hoped that Kevin would forgive him. Kevin doing what he’d done made A.J. realize that their fight had been petty. All it had done was bruise his own pride. Their friendship had lasted for a really long time and when he’d almost lost that friend, it had really made him think about how stupid he was being. A.J knew that he wasn’t mad at Kevin any longer. He was mad at himself for being such a horrible friend. Kevin shooting himself had made him open his eyes and change his way of thinking for the better.

“I know how you feel,” Jaime replied after a long minute, interrupting A.J’s thoughts, “I feel guilty laughing too.” She sighed, “I wonder if Anna’s come back yet.”

A.J. shrugged just as Dr. Parker walked into the room.

“Sorry I’m late,” he called, “I had a delivery to do that I was called in to late last night.”

He paused as he shut the door, staring at A.J as if noticing him sitting in the room for the first time.

“I see that the father decided to come along this time,” he said.

His voice was full of smiles and A.J. wondered if the man ever was unhappy. He also wondered how much Alyssa told him about her and A.J’s time apart. “He came to his senses,” Jaime said, telling A.J. that she’d clued the doctor in on the whole thing.

“I told you that he would,” Dr. Parker replied, “If you’ll come with me now, we’ll do an ultrasound to see how things are going.”

Jaime grinned at A.J. as she hopped off of the examining table and followed the doctor out of the room. A.J. got out of his chair, following them. He pulled Jaime slightly back to walk with him.

“Why would you tell him about our short falling out?” he asked, his voice a little bit harsh.

“What else am I supposed to say when he walks in, asks where the father is, and then I start to bawl?”

“You’re pregnant. It’s normal,” A.J. retorted, “Now he most likely thinks that I’m some sort of creep.”

“Just drop it, A.J,” Jaime warned.

“This isn’t over yet,” A.J. told her firmly, “Dr. Parker isn’t a psychologist. It isn’t his business where I was or what was going on.”

They were just entering the room where Jaime would have her ultrasound. Alyssa lay down on the table without being told to do so. She knew the procedure well at this point. She’d been doing it for eight months now. The doctor did his business as A.J. took Jaime’s hand in his, watching the screen in awe as the faint image of their baby showed up.

“Is…is that…” A.J. asked, speechless. The last time he’d seen the screen, the child on it had been so tiny and couldn’t even be recognized as human really.

Jaime nodded, leaning up herself to get a glimpse of the screen. The baby had grown so much in the past couple of months.

“I can’t believe we created something so beautiful,” A.J. gasped.

His words melted Jaime’s heart. She couldn’t believe so either. His words shocked her because she never pictured him being the sentimental type. He really had matured a lot in their time apart.

“Would you like to know the sex?” Dr. Parker asked.

Jaime and A.J. looked to one another, talking it over quietly. It was tempting to want to know, but they were only one month away.

“We want to be surprised next month,” Jaime answered

Dr. Parker nodded in approval, “Well, the baby looks healthy. Everything is going good. The next time I see you will be in the delivery room.”

Dr. Parker left the room. A.J. smiled at Jaime and she could read the excitement in his eyes. He picked her up and spun her around the room. Jaime squealed a little.

“Are you ready?” he asked her, setting her down and staring deeply into her eyes.

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” she replied, then bit her lip nervously, “You?” she asked him.

“Of course I am,” A.J. answered with pride and confidence.

His answer couldn’t have made Jaime happier because she believed that he was being truthful. In a little over a month, she would be a mother. Her and A.J. still had a lot of preparing to do, but she knew that it would get done on time. In a little over a month, her and A.J. would both be starting a brand new chapter in their lives and she couldn’t wait for it to really begin.

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Anna squinted as she opened her eyes. Sun poured into the room, blinding her for a split second. Groggily, she sat up and looked at the clock, staring at it in confusing, wondering if the electricity had gone out some time during her slumber.

“I only slept for half an hour?” she said aloud.

It felt like she’d slept for longer than that. She actually felt extremely well rested and wasn’t the least bit exhausted any longer. Anna wondered how a short half hour could affect her for the better in so little time.

Crawling out of bed, Anna walked over to the dresser, combing her hair a little. She had kept her promise to her friends by going home for an hour. Now it was time she went back to the hospital to wait to wait for word on Kevin. Jaime and Stephanie couldn’t be mad at her for coming back.

Sprinting down the stairs, she grabbed her cell phone, off of the counter, making a run for the door, calling for a cab on her way out. She stopped though when she looked down at her phone and saw the date. November 5th? That couldn’t be right. If it was, then it meant that she’d slept for exactly three days. Running to the TV, Anna turned it on to CNN to check the date that was always posted at the bottom of the screen. It too said November 5th. Anna quickly turned off the TV. What if Kevin had woken up in the days that she’d been away? What if he’d died suddenly? Panic overcame her as she dialed the number to have a cab sent to her. She told them it was an emergency and twelve minutes later, a cab was in the driveway. She paid the driver and he sped off in the direction of the hospital.

When the driver pulled up to the front entrance, Anna jumped out before the vehicle was completely stopped and fled to the elevator, pressing the up button.

“I can’t believe I did this,” she muttered to herself as she stepped into the elevator. When the doors opened again on her floor, she pushed past people who were in front of her, running to the waiting room just on time to see that Dr. Newton was there and hear what he was saying.

“Kevin, surprisingly, is doing rather well for his condition,” he said, “I don’t see why you all wouldn’t be able to pay him a quick visit.”

“I can see Kevin?” Anna asked, stepping into the room.

“Anna,” Jaime said in surprise, standing up and walking over, giving her friend a big hug, “Where the hell have you been?”

“I’ve been sleeping this whole time,” Anna replied as she hugged the entire group of people. When she was finished, she turned to Dr. Newton, “I can see Kevin now?” she asked.

Dr. Newton nodded and Anna smiled.

“Each of you can go in for five minutes.”

“Do you mind if I go first?” A.J. asked Anna, “I mean, I know you’re his girlfriend, but there is something I need to say to him, even if he is asleep.”

“Sure,” Anna told him, “Go ahead.”

“Follow me,” Dr. Newton said, and A.J. got up and followed the doctor into the ICU and to the small room that Kevin was in, “Five minutes,” he said, and stepped outside, waiting for A.J.

A.J. slowly walked over to Kevin’s bed. Had it really only been six days since they’d finished recording and he’d been there? A.J. felt like it had been months. To him, Kevin looked completely normal. It was hard to believe that nobody knew when the thirty-three year old would wake up.

“Hey there, big brother,” A.J. said softly, finding his voice, “It’s me, A.J. I’m sure your just thrilled to have me here.”

A.J. looked around the room. It was such a boring color and there was nothing there besides IV’s, machinery and the bed that Kevin was lying in.

“Look,” A.J. said, deciding to get to the point, “I am really sorry for how I’ve treated you. I’m just sorry that it took this for me to forgive you. I want ya to know that you’re like a brother and father to me, so please, wake up. Please don’t leave us without you because I need you. We all do.”

A.J. noticed that he’d begun to cry. He was happy that he finally got to see Kevin though. To be honest, he had begun to wonder if Kevin was even there. Seeing him was proof that he was.

“Time is up,” Dr. Newton said, and A.J. looked behind him seeing the doctor was now in the room.

“Do you not have anything better to do with your time?” A.J. said quietly, figuring that the answer was ‘no’ since he had time to watch all of them for five minutes while they visited their good friend, then turned back to Kevin, “I’ll see you soon.”

A.J. turned around and followed Dr. Newton out of the ICU and back to the waiting room. He sat down, relieved that he’d gotten off of his chest what had been bugging him the whole time. Once Kevin woke up, he would go into more depth with him exactly how sorry he was.

“Who’s next?” Dr. Newton asked.

The large group looked at one another. Nobody wanted to jump at the opportunity and look selfish.

“Anna, how about you go?” Brian asked, not looking at her

“Yeah, Anna.” Stephanie said, “You go next.”

Anna shrugged, as everyone else said that she should be the next to see Kevin. She stood up and followed the doctor, taking the same route as he’d just gone on with A.J. The doctor led her to Kevin’s room and she followed as if she had no idea where she was going.

“Five minutes,” he told her.

Anna rolled her eyes as she stepped into the room with her boyfriend again. She scurried over to his bed, wanting to make the most of the short time she would have with him.

“Hi honey,” she said, taking his hand in hers. The feel of his skin against hers made her feel more relaxed, “I’m back. I told you that I would be.”

She looked up at Kevin’s heart monitor. It was the same as it had been the last time. Weak, but there.

“Please wake up soon. I’m so lonely without you. I just want you back. I miss you, even if you were always sad. You were doing so great with everything. You have so much more to get back to. You have…”

Anna was cut off by the sudden shrill scream of a machine. Whipping her head in every direction, Anna noticed out of the corner of her eye that it was his heart monitor. It had gone completely flat line.

Anna backed away, grasping her throat because she couldn’t barley breath, her breaths coming out in short chokes. She tried to scream for help, but no sound would come out of her mouth. Dr. Newton ran into the room with nurses behind him carrying what Anna recognized as crash carts. Tears welled up in her eyes and she began to shake uncontrollably, panic overcoming her, as they plugged them in and thrust electricity through Kevin’s body to try and get his heart pumping again. She saw his body jolt violently with every time they pumped a new charge through him, yelling medical terms. After three tries, Anna saw that his heart monitor showed a weak signal as the nurses stood, watching him for a moment. Kevin’s new-found heartbeat stayed steady for a few minutes. He had been revived.

“That was a close call,” Dr. Newton said, “I want all of you,” he added, pointing at the nurses, “To keep a close eye on this man for the next forty eight hours. We’ll need you close by in case this happens again.”

The nurses nodded, and left, knowing that they had other patients to take care of and tend to.

“You’ll need to leave now,” he told Anna, his voice kind and full of sympathy towards her, “Until we know for sure that he’ll be okay permanently, he wont be able to have visitors again.”

Anna nodded, trying to calm herself down. Her breathing was still somewhat ragged, tears were still falling from her eyes. It had been a close call. She’d almost lost Kevin and what scared her was that the doctor thought that it could happen again and if it did, they might not be able to bring him back next time.
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