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Kevin used to sing the song Fame when he was a child, it was from a movie that he had only seen once, but it was the show that was spun off from that movie that Kevin was addicted to. He would sit glued to the television for the full hour it was on, thinking ‘that’s going to be me someday!’



His brothers used to make fun of him. They called him a day dreamer, ‘get your head out of your butt and do your home work!’ That’s what Jerald would say to him all the time as he would go on and on about wanting to be famous, living the life of a rock star and randomly bursting out into songs on tables like the kids in the show Fame did.



They never thought he would do it, but they were wrong.



He was doing it, slowly but surely.



The day after their little vacation they were met for the very first time with The wrath of Lou….they would see a lot more of those wraths before they parted ways but the first time just took them all by surprise.



Lou didn’t scream and yell at them, nor did he whip them and force them to do his laundry, as Brian so eloquently had re-enacted for the guys the night before. It was in his icy attitude to the guys that shocked them most. How quickly someone can turn from the father figure you were looking up to, to some generic business man who owned them. It was a horrible feeling, especially for Kevin who just shook his head after their morning meeting that day where Lou listed all the things that needed to be done and all the people they needed to mingle with.



One item on their agenda was a performance at a night club at 2 in the morning. The way Lou spit that out was so non-chalant as first Kevin thought he had just made a silly mistake, but later upon checking with Donna, he found out that it was truth. When he approached Lou about it, he was brushed out of the room as if he was a person who had accidentally roamed into the building.



After the meeting came the vocal rehearsal where things only got worse. No matter what they sang, no matter how many times they sang it, it was never good enough. Brian was flat, AJ was sharp, Howie wasn’t loud enough, Kevin wasn’t strong enough and Nick was just a mess. They were screamed at, told if they sang like that for an audition or for a performance people would boo them off the stage. The guy stormed out of the rehearsal hall and slammed the door and the boys had no idea what to do next.



Luckily, or unluckily as the case seemed to be, they didn’t have to ponder that too long because they were pulled over to the dance studio where they rehearsed over and over again the same three numbers. All it took was one mistake for them to be forced to do it all over again. Whether it was AJ accidentally missing a box step or Nick tripping over his own feet, it didn’t matter. They worked until they were sweating their butts off.



There was no lunch break that day, no break of any kind, when Kevin tried to complain about it saying could they just have at least a few minutes if nothing else than to at least go to the damn bathroom, he was reminded that he agreed on behalf of the boys to put in extra hours, so he took it like a man.



Right after dancing they were fitted for costumes, something catchy they could wear for their late night club performance. Their designer, who also at the time was their manager Donna, thought is was best to have them match. They finally agreed, well actually she finally agreed on leather jackets and denim jeans for them all. By this time, it was almost 5pm. Instead of being brought back home, they were ushered back into the studio to have another go round with the ‘you can do nothing right’ vocal coach.



They sang, he yelled, they sang some more. At 7 pm they ended the night back in the dance hall once again going over the routine for their little mini concert. They were all so tired; they were beyond complaining or whining. Unfortunately they weren’t beyond clumsiness. Kevin learned this the hard way as he carried Nick on his back up the never ending flight of stairs to the apartment.



Howie flicked on the light and walked over to the freezer, pulling out ice and some paper towels. Brian held the door opened for Kevin and Nick as they made their way in, Kevin gently letting Nick down onto the table as tears streamed down the kids face.



“Aw Nicky, I’m sure it’s not that bad.” Howie said walking over and handing Nick the ice.



“Take your shoe and your sock off Nick, so we can see what we’re dealing with okay?”



Nick nodded as he gently went for his shoe, grimacing in pain as he removed it. His ankle was swollen, all of them could tell just by looking at it. “Oh crap on a stick…um…what now?” Brian asked his cousin as he sat beside Nick gently rubbing his back.



“Now we ice it, that’s all, here ya go little man.” Kevin said gently applying the ice onto the swollen ankle which once again caused Nick to grimace in pain.



“Only you can manage to sprain your ankle getting out of a van meathead!” Brian laughed, trying to lighten the mood in the room. It didn’t really work, no one was laughing.



“You think we need to bring him to the emergency room?” Howie asked Kevin as they looked at the ankle which was horribly swollen and bruising.



“No hospital!” The panicked look on Nick’s face was comical and sad all at the same time.



“But Nicky…you might need X-rays; I mean it could be broken.”



“No…my mom is going to kill me.” Nick shrieked now allowing himself to look at his own leg.



“She’s going to have to get in line buddy.”



“Brian!”



“What? It’s true, she needs to wait her time in line behind Lou and Donna and Johnny and everyone else for that matter.”



“I am such a loser.” Nick placed his hands on his face and shook his head.



“Why don’t you get the car Howie, and I’ll carry him down…”



“NOO I don’t want to go to the hospital!!”



“Nick, what if it’s broken?”



“Then it’s broken, I’m not going please. I hate the hospital and my mom and dad will kill me. We don’t have enough money to pay for this! And Lou will fire me!” He was talking so fast, he said it all in one huge anxious breath.



“Nicky calm down…it’s not big deal…we’ll go, get some x rays and then come back.”



“But I don’t want to Howie; I’ve never had to go to the hospital before.”



“Nick, I’m a pro at the hospital thing, it’s no sweat. You need to get that checked buddy, I’d hate it if they had to saw your foot off because you didn’t get it looked at.”



“Saw my FOOT OFF?”



“Nice Brian…very nice.”



“I’m being serious, if he doesn’t get it looked at and it’s broken they’ll end up hacking it off. We can’t have a one legged Backstreet Boy!” That made them all laugh to which Brian winked at Kevin.



Once again Kevin was taken aback at how natural his younger cousin was when it came to dealing with Nick. He looked over at the blonde who seemed to be calmer already, even smiling as he rubbed at his ankle.



“You know I’ll go with you Nick…I’ll stay with you the entire time if you want, but you do need to get it checked out.” Brian said lowering his head down so that he could look in Nick’s tear filled eyes.



Nick took in a deep sigh which was chocked by his tears, “Okay I guess, but my mom…”



“She’ll understand Nick; I’ll call her and tell her okay?”



“She’s going to be mad at me; she’ll probably not come home now.” Once again the words came out in hiccups of emotion which made Nick appear as the child he was. Kevin half smiled up at the boy while he held the ice pack on his ankle. He tried not to show how utterly annoyed and aggravated he was.



Now he couldn’t just take a hot bath and then go to bed like he had planned, he had to go sit in a dank, stinky emergency room all damn night only to have to get up at the crack of ass and have another day as bad as this one was. This wouldn’t have been his problem if the kid’s parents had been responsible and gotten home when they said they would. Part of him was tempted to just put Nick in a cab and send him alone with a sign reading Kevin’s babysitting service is closed for the night, be aware this one bites!



He could never do that though, would never do that. It wasn’t Nick’s fault he was just a kid who ALWAYS managed to get into trouble for one thing or another. Okay maybe the trouble part was Nick’s fault but, this was just an honest accident. It’s not like the kid purposely tried to hurt himself. Heck how many times had Kevin done the same thing when he was that young?



For once he didn’t mind having to call Jane because he was in a foul enough mood to tell her off if she started with anything. It was Lou he didn’t want to call. “Let Jane call Lou, why not? It’s her kid’s damn fault not mine,” Kevin almost said out loud, but luckily managed to catch himself before that happened.



“I really don’t want to go Kevin.” Nick said with pleading eyes.



Kevin reached over and wiped the tears off of Nick’s cheek with his thumb, “I know, but Brian is right…well half right. I mean we can’t take the chance that it’s broken and then what if it became infected or something?”



“I can move it though; I think it’s just a sprain.”



“But Nick, you can’t dance on it or anything, we have to get it checked out, if nothing else so this way Lou can’t force you to dance on it.”



Those words seemed to do the trick, in Nick’s eyes he saw a boy who had just gotten the long awaited pass out of gym class.



That wasn’t going to happen, even though Nick wouldn’t be able to dance, Lou would still make sure the kid showed up to all the rehearsals. He wasn’t about to say that now though. No, now was a time of consoling, holding hands and saying everything would be all right.



“But…”



“Nicky…listen to Kevin.” Howie said in a sickly sweet tone. You could tell he was trying too hard to be calm. He was probably as frustrated as Kevin was.



“Okay but call my mom first because she might not want me to go.”



Kevin was trying his hardest not to lose his patience, the selfish side of him staring at the clock on the wall and thinking about how tired he was going to be come the morning. “I will call from the hospital Nick, come on let’s go.”



“NO! Kevin she might not want me to go, I’d rather talk to her first okay?”



Kevin put a chair by the phone and then picked Nick up and carried him over and sat him down, “You want me to talk first little man?” Happily Nick shook his head.



He was glad, maybe he’d be able to avoid the she devil completely, and maybe she would tell Nick to go the hospital himself or better yet NOT to go at all. Kevin felt guilty thinking like that, he knew he’d be getting a glare from his mom if she was here. Although if his mom was here and saw the way he was being worked she probably would have had it out with Lou herself and scored them all a few days off. Suddenly and unexplainably, the worst feeling of homesickness hit him. He wanted to usher Nick off the phone just so he could call home.



“Hi mom…I know it’s late…sorry….but,” Kevin looked over at Nick as he twirled the phone chord in his hand and bit at his bottom lip as he talked to his mother. He looked absolutely horrified to tell her anything.



He heard his young friend take in a deep breath, Kevin recognized this breath all too well, it usually came right before the tears did and sure enough he was right, “I had an accident mom…I fell out of the van and well…my foot is swollen, I think I sprained my ankle.”



Kevin found himself glancing at his cousin as they all eavesdropped on the conversation. He was met with a shake of his head, a shake of pure disgust directed at Jane Carter. It was at that point Kevin realized he wasn’t going to have to go to the hospital with Nick after all. Jane was going to brush it off. Like she brushed Nick off all the time.



“Yes it hurts….no…I can move it…it’s swollen though…Kevin wants me to go to the hospital but I know we can’t afford it…medicine to help the pain…I think so…”



Nick tried moving his ankle as he talked slowly moving it around in circles. Kevin knew it wasn’t broken at all, just a bad sprain but still the responsible person his parents had taught him to be said that the kid needed to go get x rays just to make sure.



“What about Lou though…Kevin said that if for nothing else we should go so this way Lou wouldn’t make me dance.” The boy’s face grew panicked now, “NO mom you don’t understand he won’t care…he’ll make me!”



A new batch of tears started to fall from his eyes which he tried to shield from the guys, now that he was fully aware they were all listening in. “Will you call Lou and talk to him?” Now He glanced over towards Kevin, “Yeah he’s standing right here…”



Those words made Kevin’s heart sink. Nick held out the phone, “She wants to talk to you.”



Kevin nodded and took the phone, ‘just don’t lose your temper’ he chanted to himself not exactly sure what he would hear from the other end of the line.



“Hi Jane.”



“Is he okay Kevin or is this just because he’s missing home?”



If Nick weren’t sitting there staring up at him with those big blue puppy dog eyes, he might have decided to lay into her right then and there, but instead he calmly smiled at the blonde in question then said, “No, fell out of the van on the way home and his ankle is looking pretty bad.”



“Damn that kid! He needs to watch what he’s doing…he said he can move it right?”



“Yes he can move it.”



“Okay well we’re going to skip the hospital, if it doesn’t look like the swelling has gone down by tomorrow though would you mind taking him Kevin?”



“Jane the only problem is Lou, we have to be at the studio by 8, he’s not going to let me leave to take Nick to the emergency room.”



Jane paused for a few seconds, “True but maybe if he saw the ankle he would have someone else take him…and who knows he might even pay for it.” Jane cackled a nervous cackle but once again that just enraged Kevin. “Anyway I’m sorry you have to deal with yet another crisis my son is having…for now I told him to take some aspirin and leave his foot up iced. We’re going to be home day after tomorrow and then I’ll bring him in for the full work up.”



“Day after tomorrow?”



“Yes, but it might be three days since we’re getting in late. Thank you so much Kevin for everything.”



Kevin looked down at Nick and ruffled his hair, “No problem Jane…but there’s still Lou and what happens tomorrow?”



“I’ll call Lou first thing in the morning and explain to him what happened…I’m sure he’ll let Nick sit out, if he doesn’t promise you’ll call me Kevin okay?”



For once she sounded like a real parent protective of her son, “I will don’t worry.”



“Okay good, can you pass the phone back to Nicky please?”



“Sure thing.” Kevin passed the phone over to Nick and smiled once more. Secretly happy he could continue with his night’s plans.



“Okay mom…I love you too…” Nick paused to look up at Kevin and smile, “I will…okay bye.” When he was done with the phone he handed it back to Kevin, “She said that I don’t have to go to the emergency room.”



“I know squirt, I’m going to give you some aspirin and then lay you on the couch where you can sleep with your leg up, but I want you to promise me that if the pain gets too bad you’ll let me know okay?”



Nick nodded and once again Kevin ruffled his hair.



“I’ll bring him to the couch….want me to Nick?” Brian asked ready to throw the kid over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.



“No Bri, I’ll do it why don’t you go into the bedroom and grab my extra pillow off my bed.”



“If everyone is okay now I’m hitting the sack guys I’m beat…you need anything Nicky?” Howie asked through the beginning of a contagious yawn that then bounced into the mouths of the other guys as well.



Nick shook his head so Howie looked at Kevin for permission to leave, it made Kevin laugh. “Night D.” he figured that would work.



“Night guys.”



“All right little man here we go,” Kevin said scooping Nick up in his arms and bringing him over to the couch.



“You know I could have probably walked.”



“I know but better to just stay off the thing for the night.” He gently placed Nick on the couch and propped his leg up using the sofa cushions. “Here’s some aspirin hang on while I get you some water.”



“Kay.”



By now Brian was back in the living room with the extra pillow entertaining Nick by once again pretending to be Lou. “Now young man how many times do I have to tell you to watch where you are walking, you know now that means that I have to eat you right? So what are you waiting for? Get in my belly!” Brian started gnawing at Nick’s stomach which had the kid roaring with laughter.



“Here ya go kiddo, some water for you.”



“Well aren’t you the little prince Nick, my cousin waits on no one. This is a big deal maybe you should mark it down on your calendar or something.”



“Shut up Brian…maybe I don’t wait on you because I don’t like you!”



Once again Nick laughed. Kevin was proud of himself for not showing his anger and frustration and most importantly not taking it out on Nick like he had done so many times.



“Okay well if the young prince is comfy I am going to go hop in the shower then what do you say Nickers? You up for some TV after that?”



“Sure Brian.”



“Okay catch you later then!”



Brian stuck his tongue out at his cousin as he ran towards the bathroom. He knew he should have called dibbs on a hot shower first but at least this gave him some down time to watch TV and out his feet up.



“Kev?”



“Yes?” He asked as he plopped himself on the recliner.



“I just wanted to say I’m sorry for all of this and thanks for not getting mad at me.”



“It wasn’t your fault Nick, poop happens.”



“Did you just say poop happens?” Nick asked very amused by the self editing.



“Okay shit happens you happy?”



“Yes, I also wanted to say thanks for being my big brother these last few weeks. I’m going to miss you.”



“It’s not like I’ll never see you again.”



“I know but still it was fun living here with you guys.”



Kevin smiled, “Same here.”



Suddenly his head turned to the sound of the song Fame as it blared on the TV.



“Can we watch this Kevin? I love this show; I try to catch reruns as much as possible.”



Kevin looked over at the blonde who was almost ten years younger then he was but yet who he had more in common with then most people his own age. They were going to have a special bond the two of them, he figured it out right then and there as they sat and watched Fame.

Have a Happy Fourth of July!!
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