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Years later…

“Brian, come cover me from behind!”

“Dude, where are you?”

“I’m right here!”

“I can’t see you!”

“Man, if you don’t get your ass over here I’m gonna…” before Nick could finish his sentence, he was shot and killed. “die.”

“This game sucks.” Brian grumbled as he tossed the controller down.

“What do you mean it sucks? This is the best action packed game out there Bri.” Nick replied as he opened the console to take the game out. “You just gotta learn how to play.”

“Well excuse me oh great game freak!” Brian laughed. “I find it hard to play when you’re playing the game through the character’s eyes and the joystick goes whacko on you.”

“Stop trying to make up excuses Bri, just face the fact that you suck at games.”

“Oh yeah? Pop in that basketball game and we’ll see how much I suck. I’ll whoop your ass boy.”

“Ooh, is that a challenge?”

“Why don’t we up the stakes and make it a bet… nothing less than $50.”

“You’re so on!”

Nick popped in the game and they both fell silent as they waited for the game to load. AJ groaned when he heard weird noises and cheering coming from the duo who was seated in front of the TV.

“Nick…” AJ mumbled out and waited for a response, to which he didn’t get. “Nick…” he mumbled out a little louder, but Nick still ignored him. “Nick!” he practically shouted this time.

“What?” Nick snapped back, never breaking his concentration away from the game.

“Can you guys please take your games elsewhere, like Brian’s room?”

“This is my room too AJ, why can’t we just stay here?”

“Because I seriously don’t feel good and would like to get a little rest before we leave, but it’s nearly impossible with you two in here making so much damn noise.”

“Well, why don’t you go in Brian’s room and sleep there?”

AJ had no desire or energy to fight with him, so instead of retaliating, he angrily pushed himself up off his bed and stormed out of the room, making sure to slam the door closed behind him. He had forgotten to ask Brian for his room key, but he didn’t want to go back and ask for it, so instead he continued his journey to the room and just hoped that Howie was inside to open the door for him. Before he was able to reach the room, he was stopped by Kevin who had just stepped out of his room.

“Jay!” Kevin called out.

AJ sighed heavily as he turned to face Kevin, “Yeah?”

“Where you going man? I was just going to your room to see if you and Nick were ready to leave.”

“Ready to leave?” AJ repeated in exasperation. “Why the hell are we leaving so early?”

“Just got off the phone with Eric, he said that they’re running ahead of schedule and are actually ready for us.”

“You have got to be kidding me.” AJ groaned as he let himself fall against the wall.

Kevin stared at AJ in concern, “Hey man, are you alright?”

“Just peachy!” AJ replied in sarcasm as he pushed himself up from the wall and began to make his way back to his room. “Why do you ask?”

“You look flushed.” Kevin said as he made his way over to AJ. Before AJ could protest, Kevin reached his hand out and had placed it on his forehead. “You’re burning up man.”

“I’m fine.” AJ sighed as he moved away from Kevin’s hand. “Just wanted to get some sleep is all. Maybe I’ll get some sleep on the way there and I’ll feel better.”

“Jay, if you want we can just go and you can stay here to rest yourself up. We’ll tell them that you’re not feeling well.”

“No, it’s fine Kevin, really… I’ll just try to get some sleep on the way there. I’ll go and tell Nick and Brian to get ready.” and with that AJ trekked back to his own room, pulling out his card key and opening his door.

Upon entering the room, AJ sighed as he realized that both Brian and Nick would refuse to tear their concentration away from the game. They both were too wrapped up in trying to beat each other. “Shut the game off and go get ready.” AJ said as he flopped down on his bed.

“I thought we agreed that you’d go and stay in Brian’s room.” was Nick’s response.

“This isn’t about me staying in Brian’s room, it’s about you two shutting the damn game off and getting ready to leave.”

To Nick’s dismay, Brian paused the game. “Get ready to leave? I thought we had another hour or so?”

“Change of plans. Eric called Kevin and said that they were ready and waiting for us.”

Both Brian and Nick moaned in protest as they shut the game off and began to wrap the controllers up to put it away. “So, I believe you owe me $50.” Brian said with a smile.

“Bullshit!” Nick exclaimed, “We didn’t even get to finish the game, so that doesn’t count.”

“I was in the lead for the longest dude.”

“We’ll continue this when we get back.”

“Please, for the love of god, shutup and go get ready!” AJ snapped.

Both Nick and Brian fell silent and just stared at AJ, who was laying listless on the bed. Without saying another word, Brian walked out of the room, leaving Nick alone with AJ. Nick didn’t even move, he just remained standing there, staring down at AJ. “Are you on your period or something?” Nick scorned.

AJ sighed heavily, he knew he was being an ass, but he really didn’t feel good. “Look Nick, I’m sorry it’s just… I really don’t feel good and I’m agitated because we’re leaving earlier than scheduled.”

Nick’s glare slowly began to soften as he realized for the first time that AJ did look like shit. “Why don’t you just stay back then?”

“You know Eric’s rules… I have to be in my deathbed in order for him to let me stay back.”

“Fuck Eric’s rules, you do look like you’re in your deathbed.”

“I’m glad you finally noticed.”

“I’m sorry Jay.”

“Don’t worry about it.” AJ replied as he pushed himself up off the bed. “Just go get ready man, I’ll meet you downstairs.”


“Are you okay AJ?” Kevin asked as their car pulled into the radio studio.

AJ cracked his eyes open from behind his sunglasses, seeing that they reached their destination rather quickly. “I’m fine.” he lied. The truth was, he had an abnormal fever of 108.9 and he felt extremely weak, but he didn’t want the other guys to know and worry about him.

Slowly AJ got out the car, trying to hide the fact that he felt sick and languid and he tried his best to hold and keep his composure, but it was getting harder with every minute that passed by. He shied away from the sunlight that seemed to be blaring down on them, burning his eyes and his flesh. He felt his sweat dripping down his face and his whole body, a pleasant cool feeling for only a moment. He could see people approaching them, talking to them, trying to usher them into the studio, but he couldn’t bring his body to obey what his mind was instructing him to do. He finally took a step forward, and before he knew what was happening, his eyes rolled into the back of his eyes and he was engulfed in darkness.

“AJ!” Nick shouted as he ran over to AJ’s crumbling body. He winced when he heard AJ’s body hit the ground, making a sickening crack upon impact.

Everyone began to crowd around Nick, who now had AJ’s head propped up in his lap. “GET THE FUCK OUTTA THE WAY!” Nick shouted as he tried to get people to back away from them.

Kevin, along with an onslaught of bodyguards fought their way through the crowd and made it to Nick and AJ. As the bodyguards began to push the crowd away, Kevin knelt down beside AJ and Nick.

“What happened?” Kevin asked as he began to look AJ’s unconscious form over.

“I… I don’t know.” Nick stuttered. “He was walking behind me and the next thing I knew he just collapsed.”

Kevin lifted AJ’s limp body a bit and noticed that Nick’s jeans were covered in blood. “Nick, what happened?”

Nick looked down and noticed for the first time that his jeans were soaked in blood. “Shit, he must be bleeding from the back of his head.”

Kevin placed his hand in the back of AJ’s head and tried to apply pressure the best he could. He looked up at the crowd that still surrounded them, snapping pictures and trying to get closer. Their bodyguards were trying their best to hold the crowd back and away, but they had to radio for more help. Brian and Howie were busy fighting through the crowd, trying to get everyone out of their way so they could see what had happened to AJ.