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Chapter Twenty-Four

Kevin grinned as he saw Anna walk in to the lobby of the hospital. After spending nearly a month in the hospital after awakening, he was finally aloud to go home. He’d checked out about an hour earlier and had been roaming the lobby while waiting for his girlfriend to get him. He knew that she would be late. She’d informed him of that, telling him she had a few errands to run before picking him up. Kevin didn’t care though. He was free to go home. His spirits were high and the only thing that would make the day better for him would have been walking out on his own two legs. However at the moment, not even that seemed too important to him.

Kevin could see Anna searching for him and waved one arm in the air to signal her down. Before long, she spotted him and was making her way towards him. Kevin couldn’t seem to wipe the smile off of his face, nor did he want to. It felt too good being happy, and he truly was just that. He wasn’t faking it this time.

“Hey sweetie,” Anna greeted once she was within three feet of him.

“Hey babe,” Kevin murmured, holding his arms outward to her. Anna walked right into the warm embrace, giving him a soft kiss on the mouth, “Thank’s for coming to get me.”

Anna laughed, “Well, I am your girlfriend, and we are living together. Would make sense, don’t you think?”

Kevin shrugged, chuckling lightly, “Yeah, well...”

His voice trailed off, suddenly at loss for words. He was nervous about going into the outside world, for he hadn’t been a part of it for months. He didn’t know what to expect, if anything had changed, or how people would react to him. And looking at Anna standing there made him nervous too. She looked so beautiful and so sweet. She was there for him, and for some reason that scared him. He didn’t know why, but Kevin didn’t know if he was quite ready to leave the safety and security of the hospital quite yet.

“You ready to get out of here and go home?” Anna asked

Home...the word sounded so nice, and Kevin found himself nodding, shaking away the thoughts of anxiety that were taking over his brain. Nothing was going to take away the excitement of the day. He would worry about how he was going to cope with everything else later when the time came and when, or maybe even if problems arose.

Anna took hold of the back handles of Kevin’s wheelchair and began to push him out of the hospital towards the parking lot. Anna had many questions for Kevin, as well as so much she wanted to say. She hoped that Kevin wasn’t disappointed that the house was exactly the same as it was before he’d gone in to the hospital. She’d barely spent any time there, therefore hadn’t had time to change anything or clean up.

Once in the car and out on the road, Anna spoke for the first time, distracting Kevin from what was obviously deep thought. He looked away from the beautiful scenery and to Anna, looking in to her brown eyes.

“So how did your counseling go today?” she asked him, knowing that he’d had a session earlier that morning. What was supposed to be his last.

Kevin shrugged, “Linda said that she thinks it would be beneficial for me to come back once a week for awhile. She thinks I still have some issues to work out. Emotional stuff.”

Anna pursed her lips. She felt Kevin was fine. She was with him a lot more than some therapist and knew him better. She couldn’t help but wonder if this Linda had a thing for Kevin. They were the same age, after all. But on the other hand, he was coming home...with her. Things still seemed great in their relationship. She was jealous, but not to the point of saying anything. At least not yet.

“I know, I know,” Kevin grumbled, “It’s bullshit. But at least I am being released.” he paused, “I guess another couple sessions couldn’t hurt. Just to be on the safe side. To make sure I am completely in my right mind.”

Anna found his comment odd, but decided not to say anything. Ever since his sessions, he’d put more thought in to everything. He was deeper, more serious. She wondered if it was having more of a negative effect than anything. Her own bout with counseling had been nothing but negative to her. Finally, for one session, she just didn’t show up because of how low the woman had made her feel. It seemed it was having the same effect on Kevin now.

Nothing more was said the rest of the way to the house. Once there, Anna helped Kevin in to the place and settled in to the living room on the leather sofa. He sighed, wishing he could just relax, but his whole day was planned out for him already.

‘What time is this Richard due here?” he asked Anna.

“In half hour,” she replied looking at her watch, “Yeah, about half an hour.”

Richard was Kevin’s new physical therapist. The doctor thought that it would help Kevin more in the long run if he started immediately, giving him a high recommendation. They’d tried to get Jake back, but he’d refused, saying that he absolutely would not help somebody who’d tried to take the easy way out to begin with. Kevin wasn’t devastated by any means. He’d always thought Jake to be an egotistical ass anyways. He just hoped that the new guy wasn’t worse yet. If that was the case, he would be screwed.

“Great,” Kevin said, but smiled, “At least I am home though.”

Anna smiled back, bending down to hug him and give him a soft, long kiss on the lips. He longed for more, but Anna was already straightening up. She rubbed his cheek
affectionately, looking into his green eyes.

“I guess I’ll leave for a couple hours while you have your session.” she told him, knowing the ritual. He was embarrassed still, so she would leave him alone. It made her nervous, but knew she’d have to trust him. Now was the perfect time to start, “Richard has permission to just come on in, so don’t be startled. You aren’t being robbed.”

Kevin laughed and blew Anna a kiss as she walked out of the room and out the door. He soon heard the car starting and knew she was gone. With a sigh, Kevin turned on the TV to watch something to make the time pass by quicker. And it worked. Before he knew it, the front door was opening. Seconds later, a tall, fit man was before him.

“You must be Kevin,” he greeted with a friendly smile, reaching out to shake his hand, “I’m Richard, as you’re probably already aware. I know all about you and your condition. It’s nice to finally meet you.”

“Likewise.” Kevin stated.

“Ready to get started?”

Taking a deep breath, Kevin nodded. He was, and felt things were going to be okay this time around. He had a more positive attitude and could already tell he had a better therapist. Now all he had was the hard stuff to get through, and he was more determined than ever to make sure that he did.

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At the sound of the doorbell ringing, Anna ran to get it. The last of the gang had arrived...Nick and Stephanie. Kevin had called everybody, asking them to meet him and Anna at their home that afternoon. He had ain important announcement to make that needed to be said immediately. Of course nobody argued with that. Their friend was happy, and if something was urgent to him, then of course they’d drop whatever they had planned to be there to hear him out.

It was a week later. Kevin had been having physical therapy every other day since. Richard had just left hours before and her boyfriend had wanted to get a start on the rest of their day. He figured this was the perfect way to start it.

“Hey guys,”Anna greeted, giving Stephanie a warm hug followed by giving Nick one, “Everybody else is already here. They’re in the living room talking. Not missing much of anything.”

“See, Nicky...I told you your slow ass would hold everything up,” Stephanie cracked, “You’re worse than I am.”

“Nothing has changed then,” Nick grinned, “I’ve been the late one since we started dating.” He acted as if he were proud of this fact.

Stephanie rolled her eyes and Anna laughed at the arguing couple. They were cute together. She let them in and closed the door, following them in to the living room. They walked in on Brian describing a new car that he was looking in to. Upon hearing the words ‘Porch,’ Nick’s eyes lit up as he quickly walked up to the others and sat down, including himself in on the conversation.

“Oh lord, here we go again,” Stephanie rolled her eyes, but was smiling despite herself, “When and if we ever land ourselves married, we’re going to own a garage full of cars and bikes and trucks. An acre of them, most likely.”

Anna laughed as they entered the room to join the rest of them. She made her seat on Kevin’s lap as he motioned for her to sit there. She knew that Kevin’s own garage full of classic cars and sports cars wouldn’t be put to use for awhile. He couldn’t drive and it was looking like it was unsure if he ever would be able to again or not. Sure, there was still a chance he’d walk again, but the more time that passed, the least likely it seemed it wold happen. Sure, he’d just come of a long coma, and was still recovering and getting used to things after waking up, but he’d been set back by a lot and would pretty much be starting from square one again. He didn’t know this and Anna didn’t have the heart to tell him that all of the work he’d done wouldn’t really count for anything now.

“You all can talk about your over-priced vehicles later,” Anna stated loudly in attempt to change the subject, “Let’s get to the reason we’re here.”

Kevin had refused to tell even her his news, knowing that out of excitement, she’d squeal and it would soon leak out to the entire group. He wanted everybody to know at the same time a decision he’d come to. Anna’s guesses had ranged anywhere from them moving into a one-story condo to putting him in a nursing home to be out of the way. She wondered if she was anywhere close.

“AH, yes, my impatient little one,” Kevin laughed and Anna stuck her bottom lip out in an imitation pout. He kissed her before continuing on, “Well, after much thinking over the past month or so, I’ve decided something. Something that I feel will be best for all of us. Something everyone’s been wanting.” he hinted.

“Pizza’s?” Nick asked, “Cuz I am starving.”

Stephanie reached over and smacked Nick over the back of the head. He quickly rubbed the spot, whimpering in pain, but didn’t say anything more.

“No, but we can do that later,” Kevin answered, “Anyways, I know it is something that all of you have been wanting, so I’ve already brought it up with management.”

“Just tell us already,” A.J. whined, “We’re dying to know now. You’ve kept us all in suspense for long enough.”

“I’ve decided that it is time we start touring again.” Kevin quickly stated, closing his eyes to wait for the reaction. He got nothing for a long moment. Nothing but silence. He slowly opened his eyes again and got stares of surprise and blank looks, “Don’t everybody talk at once.” Kevin stated dryly, less than pleased with their reaction. He’d thought that the guys would be happy that he was thinking rationally and willing to give this a try.

“Um...” Howie started, “Wow. Umm...”

“You just took us by surprise,” Brian drawled, “Weren’t expecting anything close to that. I...” his voice trailed off.

It was seeming to Kevin that none of them really wanted to tour anymore. He wondered if they still wanted to be a band, or just quit and resign from being the Backstreet Boys. Here he thought he was doing something great, and was now thinking it was nothing so special after all.

“Sorry for bringing it up,” Kevin muttered, “It was a mistake, obviously.”

“No, no,” Anna quickly stated. “It’s great that you’re ready.”

“We’ve been waiting for you to speak those words for months,” Nick told his friend, “We just thought that you never would, so it was unexpected.”

“The blonde has a good point,” A.J. said, “We’re happy. We’re ready for this, and the fans are definitely ready for us to be back out there. So we can definitely start making arrangements?” Kevin nodded, “No changing your mind?” Kevin shook his head, his smile wide, “Alright. We’re going back out on the road!” Nick enthused.

Kevin smiled as Anna hugged him and gave him a warm kiss on the mouth, whispering into his ear, “I’m so proud of you.” Nothing could bring his mood down. It seemed that he was finally getting his life back on track, with the love and support of his friends. Things were going to be almost normal again. If only he’d had this attitude sooner, then it would have saved them all a lot of time and spared a lot of hurt and pain. Nothing could take back the past though, and all he could do was make the best of the future. And Kevin had every intent on doing that.

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“Come on. Get your lazy ass’s up and get practicing, guys. Break’s over,” Fatima, the boys dance instructor and choreographer instructed, her voice coming out loud, but there was a glimmer of teasing shining in her charcoal eyes, “You’ve only got six weeks until your first show and I want you boys looking great out there.”

Nick rolled his eyes at Brian, who tried to stifle a laugh he could feel coming up. The last thing he needed was to piss off Fatima. Kevin had only been out of the hospital for two weeks, this being their second practice since they’d had to postpone the tour. In fact, it was really their first time dancing since the last time that they’d been on stage.

“C’mon Tina,” Nick whined, shortening her name up a bit, “We’ve already practiced this stuff like, a gazillion times. We’ve already toured with it. We know what we’re doing...see?” he stated, picking up dancing where the music was. He did fine for a few steps, but soon his feet got in the way of each other and he did a few wrong moves before tripping over himself and tumbling to the ground.

The group laughed and the girls, who were watching from the side of the room, giggled, clapping their hands at him. Nick blushed as he picked himself back up. He even got a stare from Kevin across the room who was learning the dance moves with his own new choreographer, who was also wheelchair bound. The man was teaching him how to do the dance moves that could be closely accomplished on wheels, and what to do while the others were dancing that couldn’t, so it would look like part of the show without much thought. Kevin just shook his head and rolled his eyes at Nick’s clumsiness before putting his temporarily sidetracked attention back onto what he’d previously been doing prior to the interruption.

“My point exactly,” Fatima stated, making an example of the flushed Nick, “You’ve been out of practice for nearly a year. You need a little warming up to get back to where you should be. I’m only here to help you do that so you don’t make ass’s of yourself out on stage all being in different places at the same time. Now is anybody else going to argue?”

Nobody said a word as they all climbed to their feet, getting ready to start their practice again. Nobody said a word, knowing that the caramel colored woman was right. They needed to get ready and had a lot of work to do in the short time that they actually had before the already scheduled first show.

“They’re looking good,” Anna commented, not taking her eyes off of Kevin in the far distance. She was really speaking of him, who obviously needed more work than any of them.

Jaime rolled her eyes as she looked at her friend and followed her gaze. Stephanie just shook her head as she wondered if Anna would ever change. She was completely wrapped up and love struck by Kevin. She hadn’t changed yet though, so she seriously doubted it would ever happen.

“Like you’re really even paying attention to anybody but Kev,” Stephanie pointed out, causing the truth to come out when her friend turned a shade of crimson she hadn’t seen before, “Ha. I was right. I’m always right.”

This caused Anna to roll her eyes, but she said nothing. She had no comebacks to spout off, even though she knew the whole thing was all in fun. She actually took her eyes off of her own boyfriend though to view the others. She saw that they really were doing quite well.

“I can’t believe they’re going to tour again so soon,” Jaime commented, causing her two friends to look at her in confusion. She knew that she had to explain herself, “Well, I mean...when Kevin was first paralyzed, he refused to even think of possibly touring like he is. I never thought we’d see him actually practicing, ready and willing to go out on stage how he..well...is.” Jaime explained, then added quickly hoping that she hadn’t hurt Anna’s feelings, “Not to be cruel or anything.”

Anna didn’t seem to take offense. She just shrugged and smiled, turning her gaze back to Kevin, still working hard. She admired all of the work and effort he was putting in to this, and knew that the rest of the group was happy for his come around and change in attitude.”

“He’s definitely different since he’s woken up,” Anna admitted, hugging her knees close to her, “Instead of depressed and sad, he’s actually happy and in a rather good mood all of the time. It’s great. It’s like he...he has a new energy about him and is completely focused on getting well and working with what he has instead of pitying himself.”

Jaime and Stephanie nodded in agreement. What Anna said was true, and anybody could see it. His happiness wasn’t being faked or forced either, like it had been right before his suicide attempt. That too, was easy to tell.

There was only a month and a half until the first show. It seemed like a long time, but in reality, it was really a short amount of time with all the work and rehearsing that had to be squeezed in to it. They all knew that AJ, Brian, Nick and Howie would be prepared within no time. After all, they were just practicing what they already knew. What worried Anna though was if Kevin would be ready, for he was starting from scratch with hardly any time at all.
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