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Lexie woke a few hours later in her hospital room not knowing how she got there. Her Uncle John was there in a chair in the corner.


"Hey, Tiger" he smiled, walking over to the bed.


"What happened?" she asked weakly.


"They gave you a sedative."


"Jesus, Uncle John." She sighed, rubbing her head. "They must think I'm nuts."


"No, no one thinks you're nuts." he smiled.


"God, I just flipped out about AJ." She sighed heavily. "I don't know why, it just happened."


"I'm betting you've got some real issues." John admitted to her.


"I don't give a rat's ass."


"I know, I know." He soothed her. "You want me to get your Mom and Dad?"


"What time is it? Are they still here?"


"They went to get a bite to eat. I said I'd sit with you. AJ isn't here, he's upstairs with his son."


"That's fine, I don't expect him to ever come around me again."


"Why not?"


"Because he probably thinks I'm nuts."


"Lex, no one thinks you're nuts." He laughed at her.


"I guess that makes me the only one." She sighed, flopping back into the bed. The nurses brought her dinner, which she forced John to try first. He sat on the end of her bed, made jokes about the food, and had her laughing in no time.


"There's a happy sound." Howie smiled as he came into the room.


"Dad." She nodded as she reached out for a hug.


"Where's mom?"


"She went home to relieve Polly with the boys."


"I'm sorry, Dad." She sighed.


"It's all right honey."


"Are they still going to do the transplant?"


"Yes. Lexie there is something I need to tell you."


"What? What's wrong?"


"It's little Alex, he's taking a turn for the worse."


"Oh no! We've got to hurry! Shit, and I was just downstairs flipping out."


"Lexie, it's not your fault!" Howie demanded. "They'll be prepping you early in the morning, it's gonna happen a little faster than planned."


"That's fine, I don't care. Can I see him?"


"Who? AJ?" John asked.


"No, Alex."


"I don't think so, they aren't letting anyone in except his parents." Howie said.


"Poor little guy." She sighed.


Howie and John were kicked out after visiting hours and left Lexie alone in her room awaiting tomorrow's transplant. She changed into her pajamas and slippers and went to bed under doctor's orders. She woke several times during the night and finally was unable to get back to sleep. She got up to use the bathroom around one a.m.


Her curiosity got the best of her and she padded out of her room and down the hall to the pediatric ward. It was nearly 2 a.m. when she rounded the corner and saw Nick Carter sitting in the hall. He head was down in his hands as she walked up in her PJ's and robe. She looked at the name on the room across from him, "McLean, A."


"Nick? Nick Carter?" she asked quietly.


He looked up in surprise.


"I'm Lexie, Lexie Dorough."


He jumped to his feet, sticking out his hand. She shook it, half-marveling how the light caught in his hair, as it lay down his back in a long ponytail. He seemed huge standing in front of her. His fine tailored dark blue suit was rumpled from a long day in and out of the hospital with AJ. He absently smoothed a hand over his head, although not a hair was out of place.


"Hi, yeah I know." Nick said.


"How is he?"


"Pretty sick."


"Are his parents here?"


"Just AJ. He won't leave the room."


"Do you think I could go in there?" she asked.


"You'll need a mask and gloves and everything." He said, indicating to the trays by the door.


"Thanks." She said, letting go of his hand.


She donned a gown and mask, stuck the gloves in her pocket, and went in. It was dark and all she could see was the light illuminating the baby and AJ with his head on the bed. She reached over and laid a hand on his shoulder. He woke slowly and then got to his feet when he realized who it was.


"I'm sorry, I'm sorry." She said, whispering.


"No, no, it's all right." He said.


"I'm so sorry about today."


"It's all right."


"No, I'm really sorry."


"It's fine, really. I don't blame you." He said, looking at the ground.


"I didn't mean those things I said." she said, "Honest."


"It's all right." She just nodded in agreement. He shook his head at her with a sad little smile.


"What?" she asked.


"It's just you're a lot like Howie." He said.


"Yeah, I usually pass as a Dorough until I open my mouth and then this crap just flies out." She said, exasperated at herself. She heard him laugh quietly.


"You were better off with him." AJ said.


Lexie was stunned and didn't know what to say. AJ never gave her a chance to reply, he just turned and sat back down by the bed and looked at his son. Lexie just left the room, unable to decide what to say or do next to him. Nick was still there when she came out.


"How is he?" Nick asked as he walked over to her, towering over her.


"I don't know." She sighed, pulling off the mask and gown. "Are you going to be here all night?"


"Probably." He nodded.


"If you see my Dad, Howie, could you let him know I came by?" she said.


"Yeah, sure." He nodded.


"He said he was coming by before he saw me off to surgery."


"Okay."


"Thanks." She nodded, turning to walk away.


"When all of this is over? Are you still going to be around?" Nick asked to her back, but she never answered. Then again, she wasn't quite sure she heard what she thought she heard.



She had asked the doctors to play her special CD for her as she went under. It was a one of kind recording of three of her favorite all time songs. Her Dad sang and recorded all of them for her and sent them to her at school. The last thing she remembered was the distant strains of "Unchained Melody" and her father's voice lilting putting her to sleep.


"We should've brought the boys." Leah said, pacing in front of Brian and Kevin. "They should've seen her. Tyler is just so upset."


"No, I didn't want Lexie to get upset again. You know how Tyler can make her cry." Howie sighed.


"Was she all right?" Leah asked for the hundredth time.


"She was fine. They were playing her CD and she seemed very relaxed." Howie said.


Leah was starting to get upset herself. Howie knew she had her doubts about letting Lexie getting involved with AJ and the Backstreet Boys. Leah had been there in the early days when Lexie used to beg him to call AJ, to take her to the studio to meet him and take her to video shoots. She would cry these hysterical fits, like yesterday, until she would just cry herself to sleep. Howie had told himself a million times over the years that she would get over it and he tried to convince himself she had. Once the adoption was over, they were going to wait to get married, but when Leah became pregnant the wedding plans got pushed up. Lexie and Leah got along famously and Lexie was very involved in the wedding and pregnancy. Leah refused to have it any other way. She made special time for Lexie when she was pregnant, even at times standing him up to be with her. She's just a little girl, Leah told him, and someone had to be there for her. Leah loved her so much; it could be no one but her.


Leah was hell bent and determined to make Lexie happy and to see what she saw yesterday had made her crazed. She had wanted to kill AJ; convinced he had said something or done something to hurt her. In all the years, Leah had abided by Howie's wishes to keep Lexie from all things AJ and BSB.


"I can't stand this." Leah snapped and headed out of the waiting room door.


"Aren't you going after her?" Brian asked.


"I think I'll be safer in here." Howie smiled. "She's just anxious. She's just gonna go blow off some steam."


"She is really upset with AJ." Kevin said.


"Well, we don't know what really happened between them. Lexie was really sorry that she said anything." Howie said.


"That's what Nick said." Brian said.


"I know, I heard." Howie nodded.


"You seem really calm." Kevin said.


"I'm not." Howie half smiled. "I can barely stand this myself."



Lexie woke without really feeling any pain. Her eyes fluttered open in the recovery room and she found her Uncle John peering over at her.


"Hey, kiddo. We gotta quit meeting like this." He joked quietly. She only reached out for him.


"Am I okay?" she asked.


"You're just fine, sweetie. I promise." He said, smoothing her hair from her face.


"I'm sorry, Dad, I'm really sorry." She whispered as she fell back to sleep.


"It's all right, baby." John said, tears glistening in his eyes. "I'm here for you."

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