Brothers by jess20
Past Featured StorySummary:

The boys come together when one of their own begins to struggle with fame, fortune and family - or lack thereof.

Categories: Fanfiction > Backstreet Boys Characters: Group, Nick
Genres: Drama
Warnings: None
Series: None
Chapters: 28 Completed: Yes Word count: 74503 Read: 62947 Published: 09/23/12 Updated: 04/26/14

1. Chapter 1 by jess20

2. Chapter 2 by jess20

3. Chapter 3 by jess20

4. Chapter 4 by jess20

5. Chapter 5 by jess20

6. Chapter 6 by jess20

7. Chapter 7 by jess20

8. Chapter 8 by jess20

9. Chapter 9 by jess20

10. Chapter 10 by jess20

11. Chapter 11 by jess20

12. Chapter 12 by jess20

13. Chapter 13 by jess20

14. Chapter 14 by jess20

15. Chapter 15 by jess20

16. Chapter 16 by jess20

17. Chapter 17 by jess20

18. Chapter 18 by jess20

19. Chapter 19 by jess20

20. Chapter 20 by jess20

21. Chapter 21 by jess20

22. Chapter 22 by jess20

23. Chapter 23 by jess20

24. Chapter 24 by jess20

25. Chapter 25 by jess20

26. Chapter 26 by jess20

27. Chapter 27 by jess20

28. Chapter 28 by jess20

Chapter 1 by jess20

Chapter One: Late Phone Calls.

So this is my first fanfic for about 6 years and my first one for BSB so I’m a bit of a novice. Be nice?
The soft hum was enough to stir me from my sleep. I groaned and blearily looked at my alarm clock. Three A.M? Who the hell is calling me at three A.M?

I reached for my cell and against my better judgement, answered it.



Oh, of course that’s who would be calling me at three A.M.

“Nick,” I groaned, shifting to the far end of the bed so as not to wake my sleeping wife. “It’s three A.M. What the hell?” My sleep addled brain was starting to pound and I found my eyes closing.

“Can you come get me?”

Great, he sounded completely wasted. Why was I surprised? His drunken face had been plastered all over the tabloids recently, reporters goading the youngest Backstreet Boy for his “party animal” ways and his lack of self control. Kristin and I would casually avoid any magazine or newspaper – it’s just not something we wanted to know about.

“Nick, get a cab.”

I hadn’t spoken to the kid in month and suddenly here he was, ringing me up, asking for a favour? Forget it! I was just about to hang up when I heard something that made me freeze. A sniffle.

“Please Kevin?” Was that a sob? I sat up in bed, suddenly nervous.

“Where are you Nick?”

“Kevin, I need you to come and pick me up!”

My heart began to pound. He sounded distressed.

“Kevin, please.” Ok that was definitely a sob, and another, and another.

“Nick,” I was suddenly wide awake. I jumped out of bed feeling agitated. “Where are you, buddy?”

The sobs got louder and the phone started to shake in my hand. “Kevin!”

“Nick! Where are you! Tell me where you are!” I was shouting barely aware that I had woken Kristen. She put on the light and looked on with concern.


Fuck! I wanted to scream! I was in New York and he was at a club in Florida. How the hell was I going to get him? My mind raced for a solution. Any solution that would have me down in Florida within the hour. Had they invented teleportation yet?

“Kevin, she hung up on me.”

I wasn’t paying attention to what he was saying; all I could hear was the sadness and pain in his voice. And then I had a light bulb moment. Howie was visiting Florida and was staying at AJ’s. I needed to call AJ and Howie.

The sobs from the phone were getting louder and faster and it was now becoming hard to discern what Nick was trying to say. I looked over at Kristen. Her eyes were wide and she looked frightened. I knew she could hear Nick – he was so loud.

“Nick, hey Nick, listen up ok buddy?” I tried to sound soothing but instead I was yelling. Nick’s breaths were coming out short and sharp and this worried me more than the crying. “I’m going to ring Howie to come get you ok? Nick, did you hear me?”

I got no confirmation that he had indeed heard me and instead what I received was more sobs. Have you ever heard someone cry, that heart breaking cry, where you can almost feel the pain that person must be going through? And as you hear them dissolve into a mess of sobs and moans, you can feel your own heart break, because all you want to do is take the pain away, but you can’t? And then you have that moment, when it becomes too much for you to handle and you can do nothing but add your tears to the mix? This was my moment.

“Nick, did you hear me?”

And then I heard the phone clatter and his sobs suddenly felt like they were coming from a distance. That’s when I lost it. I screamed his name over and over and Kristen, poor Kristen, could do nothing but add her own sniffles to the mix.

A moment of clarity suddenly hit me. Yelling on the phone to a distressed and delirious Nick would get me nowhere and before I knew what I had done, I pressed the end call button.

“Fuck! What did I do?” I turned to Kristen, not taking in her dishevelled appearance. “I hung up on him! Fuck!”

“Kevin,” her voice was soothing to me; it reached into my despair and brought me back. God I love her. “You need to ring Howie. Kevin! Ring Howie!”

I banged in Howie’s number and pressed the phone to my ear, my breath hitched.

Chapter 2 by jess20


Chapter 2: Springing into Action

Thank you all so much for the reviews! I hope this story make sense, sometimes it almost seems like my words run together like I'm talking really fast and it just doesn't make any coherent sense J Also just a note, this is set roughly in 2003 and I'm using a mixture of facts and my own imagination to get the story told. I hope that's acceptable.


The fuck? Who the fuck would be calling me at three-fifteen in the fucking morning? Luckily I was having another bout of insomnia tonight so I was already wide awake, just lying in my bed, but that didn't mean I couldn't be majorly pissed.  I grudgingly flipped my phone open and answered.

"The fuck?"


Oh, that's who'd be calling me.

"The fuck, Kevin?" I repeated.

"Why isn't Howie picking up his phone?"

"Maybe because it's three-thirty in the fucking morning. Could that have something to do with it?" I loved being sarcastic.

"You and Howie need to get Nick," he sounded flustered. Great, another Kevin episode.

"Tell him to get a cab."

I heard Kevin take in a shaky breath. "Something's wrong," his voice went up an octave at "wrong" and now he had my attention. "He's at the club Billboards. That's close to you yeah?"

"Kev, what's going on?" My interest peaked further when I heard Kristen in the background - I couldn't make out what she was saying, but she sounded upset.

"I don't know. But it's not good. He just phoned me. He was crying and..." I heard Kevin's voice break slightly and I immediately jumped out of bed, ignoring my nakedness and running to the guest room where Howie was sleeping.

"Okay, Kev, I'm getting Howie now. Billboards? We'll be there in fifteen minutes."

"Stay on the phone with me!"

I barged into Howie's room and switched on the light.


I groaned. Really loud. Like really, really loud. You know, to get the message across. Who in their right mind would wake someone up at three-twenty in the morning?

"Howie, wake up!"

Oh, yeah, that's who.

"No," I moaned. You know, just in case he didn't get the message the first time round. I buried my head in my pillow, trying to block out the insanely bright lights. Did AJ install search lights or something?

I felt the blankets being pulled off me and I could feel the angry little Puerto Rican man in me surge. This is until I looked up at AJ and horror set in instead.

"Dude! Put some clothes on!"

AJ ignored the statement and drew closer to my bed. Why? Why, I ask you, would he think it would be a good idea to awaken a sleeping man with his nakedness. Yes, because that's how he woke me and now I will never get back to sleep.

"We have a problem," he thrust his phone to me as if this would explain his nakedness. I just can't get over how naked he is. In my room.

"Does this problem involve you not finding any clothes?" I got out of bed, ignoring the phone, and handed him my robe. I didn't need it, you see, because like every other normal man in the world, I go to bed with boxers on.

"Howie!" Kevin's voice blasted through the phone.

"Is that Kevin?"

"We need to go to Billboards," AJ shoved the robe aside impatiently.

"What's wrong?" All this nakedness and impatience was beginning to appeal to my curiosity. Not to mention the mysterious phone call from Kevin.

"Nick's in trouble. We need to pick him up."

Nick's in trouble? According to the tabloids, that's nothing new. I plopped back down on the bed, my interest waning.

"Tell him to get a cab."

A muffled scream came from the phone and AJ thrust it into my hand. I had no choice but to put it up to my ear.


"You need to find him Howie."

His voice was enough to pull me out of my reluctance. This was not just another Kevin episode. This was serious.

"Ok, we're on our way."

"I'm going to ring him," and then he hung up.

"Let's go!" AJ snatched his phone out of my hand and made for the door.

"Are you going to put on some pants at least?" I yelled after him.


The car ride was torture. Howie has this habit of shaking his leg when he's nervous. He was rocking the whole damn car! The drive to Billboards from my house is only fifteen minutes, ten if there was no traffic, and there was no traffic. But I swear on everything that is holy, it felt like hours before we even reached the end of my street. Kevin rang Howie with news that he couldn't get a hold of Nick. Of course this meant that Howie's leg was now going into an epileptic fit. I suppose I should be grateful. At least he's not doing a Brian and vomiting all over my Mercedes.

"The more I think about it, the more worried I get," Howie said, glancing at me from the passenger seat. "I mean when does Nick ever call Kevin? And at three A.M as well?"

"Kevin said he sounded drunk. Maybe it was a drunk dial."

Dammit Howie! Now you got me worrying. And we were probably worrying over nothing. It wouldn't be the first time.


August 10, 1996.

"Did you check the hotel?"

"Yes Kevin," I sighed.

"Well maybe you should check again."

I rolled my eyes. "I'm telling you, he's not there!"

"Crap! We're going to miss the flight!"

"How about we just leave without him?" I suggested with a smirk on my face.

"And what will we tell his mother?" Howie asked dryly.

I shrugged. "She'll just pop out another Carter to make money off of." I got a round of glares for that one. But notice how they didn't disagree?

"Dammit, what if he's in trouble?"

Now that just made me angry. "He's not in trouble, he's just being a little shithead," I was growling. I growl when I get mad. Yes, growl. "All that "we're a big family" bullshit he was spewing last night? Yer, that was him buttering us up so he can get away with shit like this."

Again with the glaring.

"The hotel is a beach resort."

"Great deduction Rok," I sneered. I was in crabby mood. The bus driver was giving us sinister looks as we stood outside having this conversation and I was not looking forward to the lashing Lou was bound to give us for being late to the airport.

"Did anyone check the beach?"

We all looked at each other dumbly. I put my hands out in front of me defensively.

"My job was the hotel," I said as the three other guys hurried down in the direction of the beach. I reluctantly followed.

I couldn't wait to get my hands on Carter. I had known the kid for all of three years now and he still managed to get on my nerves. He was such a pain in the ass! And what's worse is the other guys only encouraged him! Kevin acted all fatherly, all protective like. Doesn't he know that he's just feeding into the kid's need for attention? It's not as if he's not getting enough across Europe. Howie was just as bad, but he was like the mother hen and I think that's more sickening than Kevin's thing. "I think you might be coming down with a cold, Nicky", "Why don't you lie down, Nicky", "Let me make you some hot tea, Nicky". Are you serious?

And then there was Brian. The Frick to Nick's Frack, Bonnie to Nick's Clyde, Sonny to Nick's Cher, and whatever other famous pair you can come up with. If anyone was guilty of pandering to Carter's every need, it was Brian. Everything they did, they did together.

Brian spotted him first. He was sitting on the sand, watching the waves come in. He looked completely out of it and I wondered if he got into my weed stash again. As we got closer however, I realised he wasn't high, he was just pensive. Yes, I said it. Nick was pensive. Stop the presses!

"Nick!" Uh oh, Kevin was mad.

He looked up and in that instant my murderous rage was stifled by the look on his face. Of course that was just for a minute, and then he opened his mouth.

"Hey guys!"

"Hey guys?" I mimicked. "We're late doofus."

He jumped up and looked down at his watch. "Oh sorry guys! I completely forgot the time."

And that look was back. You know the look I'm talking about? The "oh no I'm in trouble, I better put on a puppy dog face to get some pity" look. He's got that down to a T.

"That's alright, Nicky," Damn you Howie.

"What were you doing down here Frack?" Brian questioned.

"Just thinking," Nick shrugged, and of course Kevin had to ask.

"Thinking about what?" I knew that anger wouldn't last.

"Did you guys mean what you said last night? Are we really family?"

I just about lost it. Is this kid for real? Do they not see what he's doing here? How can they be so damn blind?

"For fuck's sake!" I all but screamed and started to head back to the bus. I never did hear their answer.



Chapter 3 by jess20
Author's Notes:

Review? Let me know if it's any good :)


Chapter 3: That Sound



We arrived at Billboards at twenty-five to four. I had thought that by now, people would be getting ready to go home. Apparently I've been away from the club scene for a little too long. AJ was fortunate enough to find a parking spot right in front of the club and as he manoeuvred his Mercedes in to the tight fit, my leg started shaking worse than ever. That's my nervous tick. Shaking my leg. AJ says it's weird. I say it's better than tearing holes in your shirt.

It had been a long time since I had been to Billboards and I had forgotten how big it was. It was a massive three storeys, each floor dedicated a different type of music genre. The first floor was dance and a quick search indicated to us that Nick was not on this level. The second floor was RnB, but again, no Nick. As we stepped out of the elevator and on to the third floor, rock music blasted out to us and we became hopeful. If Nick was on any floor, it would be this one. But a five minute search left us in despair.

"It's almost been an hour since Kevin got that phone call," AJ pointed out as we left the club, our ears ringing. "Maybe he left."

I shook my head. "Let's split up. Maybe he went to another club." I looked up and down the street, peering closely at the signs on the front of nearby clubs, hoping to read a name that sounded familiar.

"How about we just ring him?" AJ was losing patience again.

"Kevin already rang him," I reminded him. "He didn't pick up."

"Well maybe he'll pick up for me." AJ pulled out his phone and punched in Nick's number.

I half expected to hear Nirvana drifting faintly towards us from somewhere, you know, like in the movies? Like when one character goes missing and then on the search and rescue mission, someone has the idea to phone their cell and then the character's ringtone signals that he's somewhere close? Yer, that didn't happen.

AJ hung up in a puff of frustration. His frustration was amplified when two clubbers ran into him in their hurry to join what looked to be a gathering in one of the alleyways adjacent to Billboards. How did we not notice this gathering before? Whilst AJ was busy cursing the clubbers, my interest was piqued by a group of giggling girls who all but sprinted to join the gathering. Wait a minute. A crowd? Giggling girls? And was that a camera flash I just saw? Uh oh.

"Shit! AJ he's in the alley!"

I ran towards the alley, pushing people fiercely out of the way. All I could think was "shit, shit, shit". I pushed my way down the alley, ignoring the shouts of contempt, my heart suddenly in my throat because at that moment a new sound greeted my ears. One that I hadn't heard in over two years.


July 9, 2001

Carson Daly led us off the stage and we followed silently. Kevin strode beside me and I could hear him taking in shaky breaths. This had been hard on him. It had been hard on all of us.

"We've cleared out the Green Room," Carson said, opening the doors to let us in. We filed in, struck numb by the interview. We all gaped at him, not quite sure what to do now. I think we were waiting for some encouraging words. "I'll give you twenty, and then we'll do a backstage interview."

He left us standing in the Green Room like that. What a tool.

We all stood there for a minute, staring at the door dumbly. Nick was the first to move. He walked to the back of the room and took a seat in the corner. Brian and Kevin followed suit and took a chair each at the small coffee table in the middle of the room. I joined them.

"He'll be alright," I said it softly, but it felt like my voice was bouncing off the walls.

I didn't know what to say. No one did. So we just sat there in silence for what seemed like ages.

"Of course he will," Kevin said after a while. "This will be good for him. He'll come out a better man."

Brian nodded. "And we won't have to clean up his puke anymore, either." I smiled at him. He was trying to lighten the mood and I was grateful.

I glanced over at Nick in the corner. His was slumped in the chair, his head resting on its back, staring up at the ceiling. I was getting a bit worried. He hadn't spoken at all during the interview for TRL. He just sat there, staring off into nothingness, and playing with his cast. Nick has always been nervous going on tv, and I expected him to be a bit torn up over AJ's sudden decision to enter rehab, but I didn't expect him to go into total silence.

"You okay over there, Nicky?"

He didn't look up or even acknowledge that I had just spoken to him.


Trust Brian to get through to Nick. His head shot up from the chair and he looked around the room quickly before focusing on Brian.


"Howie asked you a question."

Nick turned to face me. He looked so sad, unshed tears filled his eyes and I was tempted to leave it. But I didn't.

"How are you doing?"

"My hand hurts." And that's when the tears fell. He leaned forward in his seat and covered his face with his one good hand.

Brian, Kevin and I just looked at each other helpless. We knew he wasn't crying because of his hand. If Nick was fourteen again this would be much easier. Whenever he cried, it only took one of us to be by his side to ease his pain. But now he was a twenty-one year old adult - as he liked to constantly remind us - and as he started to individuate from us, it became harder for us to know how to treat him.

But when the sobs came, age didn't seem to matter anymore. Kevin was in the seat next to Nick in an instant and, tears pouring down his own face, grabbed Nick by the shoulder and pulled him into a sidewards embrace. Nick didn't even attempt to protest; he simply laid his head on Kevin's shoulder and allowed himself to cry. In an instant, Brian was in the seat on Nick's other side and I sat on the floor by his feet. I allowed myself to be calmed by the gentle words Kevin whispered to Nick, over and over again.

It turns out, whether he's fourteen or twenty-one, Nick always found comfort and peace with us.


Chapter 4 by jess20
Author's Notes:

Thanks for all the reviews guys!


Chapter 4: Not So Angelic

I followed Howie through the crowd, and soon we were standing at the front, looking in horror at the scene that met us. In that moment I blocked out all sound; all the laughing that was coming from the crowd, the shouts and the jeers, the crying girls; all these noises I blocked out as I tried to comprehend what I was seeing. Nick was slumped against a dumpster, his chin lying on his chest. I could tell that he wasn't unconscious, but he wasn't exactly with it either. It was like he was in a state of ‘in-between'. That scared me.

He had his hair bundled up in his fists and it looked as if he was trying to rip chunks of it out. He was also mumbling something, and although I couldn't hear what it was exactly, I knew that it was the same phrase mumbled over and over again. It was practically impossible to discern anything coming out of his mouth that wasn't an anguished sob. And I mean anguished! Boy, did that sound make me want to get stone cold drunk. Happy thoughts, AJ. Go to your happy place.

I froze. I had no clue what to do. Luckily Howie took control of the situation. He knelt in front of Nick, cupping the blonde's face in his hands and lifting it up so that they were eye level. Nick didn't even seem to realise that Howie was right in front of him, that Howie was touching him. I wasn't dumb. I knew what was going on with Nick. That realisation forced me into action and I made to join Howie but all that noise and movement from the crowd suddenly came back to me. From just beside me, a flash of a camera went off. I was suddenly consumed with rage. I hadn't even realised I was angry until I had that guy's camera in my hands and slammed it to the ground. I stomped on it for good measure while the guy stood there yelling at me.

"Hey, what the hell? I'm not the one who gave him the drugs!"

I turned on him, breathing fire. "Who did?"

I could see the fear in his eyes and he instantly turned and pointed at a man standing a few people down. He was one of the assholes laughing at Nick. I was quick. I strode to him, grabbed him by the collar and pushed him up against the wall. It was satisfying to see that laugh die from his lips. It was an extra bonus when I saw the fear.

"What the fuck did you give him?" I was yelling. Man, was I pissed. I was dimly aware that the alley had now become camera flash central.

"Hey man, he asked for it!" He was stuttering. That made me feel good. I like feeling like a tough guy sometimes. So sue me.

"What did you give him?" I said it more calmly and deliberately this time. That act always freaked me out when my mum did it. Yelling I could handle, not this. Apparently the drug dealer felt the same way.

"Angel Dust, okay? Angel Dust! He took less than 5mg. He'll be fine!"

I let go of him, more from shock than anything else. I quickly recovered.

"You gave him PCP?" The guy looked relieved that I had let him go, so I guess it was kind of a shock  when I punched him. I would have gone for another round but I heard Howie yell out my name. So instead I just pushed him to the ground, his face bleeding, and made my way over to Howie and Nick. My rage was quickly replaced with concern.

Nick was a blubbering mess. I crouched down beside Howie and whispered, "He took PCP."

Howie swore. "That makes you hallucinate, doesn't it?" Howie's voice was strained. Yep, he was freaking out. "No wonder he's so out of it."

Out of it was an understatement. I'd call it something along the lines of completely fucked up. Howie had managed to get Nick to let go of his hair and I could see patches of blood where his hands had been. Howie was still keeping Nick's head up and the youngest Backstreet member had now wrapped his arms around Howie's neck, pulling him closer. His eyes would open and close sporadically. Howie seemed panicked.

"Okay, it's time to go," I said matter-of-factly, attempting to disentangle Nick from Howie. It was no small feat; Nick felt like he had grown Superman muscles or something. But when I finally had his arm in my grasp, Howie and I managed to get him standing. With no help from Nick of course, he was a dead weight. A dead, hysterically crying weight.

I anticipated a struggle to get out of that alleyway but the crowd parted like the Red Sea. Of course cameras were still flashing and I wanted to break every single one of them. We finally reached the car, and I helped Howie lower Nick into the backseat. I jumped into the driver's seat as Howie scrambled in behind Nick before I tore off, away from that God forsaken club. I watched in the rear-view mirror as Howie grabbed Nick's head and pushed it into his lap. Not sure what the purpose of that was. Maybe Howie thought his crotch would silence Nick's sobs. If anything, Howie's crotch would have made me cry harder.

"Jesus, how much crying can he do in one night?" Now that we had gotten out of there, I was starting to feel in control again. I had taken PCP before myself, more than what the drug dealer had told me Nick had taken. I was pretty sure Nick just needed to wait it out.

"AJ, where are you going? The hospital is in the other direction." Howie didn't seem to share my confidence however.

"The hospital will be crawling with tabloid shitheads," I said, pressing my foot down on the accelerator. "He'll be fine."

As if wanting to prove my point for me, Nick's sobs lessened and his breathing evened out. He was still mumbling though.

"What the fuck is he saying?" I asked as I drove down my street. With relief, I pulled into my driveway and put the car into park. I turned around to face my two bandmates.

Howie was looking down at Nick whose head was still in his lap. "He's saying ‘she hung up on me'."

At that, Nick's mumblings ceased and for a second I thought the worst, that maybe I had been wrong. But then bright blue eyes came up to meet us and for the first time all night they were clear and aware.

"Who hung up on you Nicky?" Howie asked softly, his hand lying on top of Nick's head.

Nick's tear stained face scrunched up and I was afraid that he would start crying again. But it seemed he finally had control over his emotions. The PCP was wearing off. Thank God.

"Nicky, who hung up on you?" Howie pressed.

He let out a shaky breath, "My mum."


Her smell was the best thing about waking up in the morning. That flowery scent that made my heart beat faster than if I was on a rollercoaster ride. I have now decided to steal her perfume and keep it in my pocket with me at all times. That's not creepy at all.

I rolled over and buried my face in her neck, breathing in that smell and thanking God with every fibre of my being for blessing me with this beautiful woman and her scent. I breathed her in deeper. I must have tickled her because she woke up giggling.

"Goodmorning, beautiful."

She smiled at me and it was the most gorgeous sight. If there is any person on this earth who has not seen Leighanne's smile, they are missing out.

"Morning," she yawned. Of course, they could probably do without the morning breath.

"Let's not go out today," I mumbled to her neck. "Let's stay in with Bay and snuggle all day."

She laughed, kissing the top of my head as she made her way out of bed - much to my dismay.

"You have that thing for the Foundation today remember?"

Crap! Was that today?

"I'll just cancel it," I looked at her pleadingly as she started to undress.

"Brian, this is important to you."

Leighanne was right. Today was the scheduled annual fundraiser for my foundation, Healthy Heart Club. I'd been looking forward to it all week; this foundation was my passion. But in that split second of laziness and, ok I'll admit it, horniness, I had completely forgotten.

"You're right," I conceded, rolling onto my stomach and burying my face into my pillow. I groaned. "Why do I have to be so passionate?"

Her laugh was sweet. "Well if you weren't, we wouldn't have had Baylee."

I looked up with a smirk on my face, just in time to see her wearing her own devilish grin before she walked, fully clothed, out of our bedroom. I groaned again, once more burying my face into my pillow before finally dragging myself out of bed. I dressed as the smell of French toast wafted to me from the kitchen. I dressed faster.

As I made my way downstairs, my favourite sound came out to greet me from the living room: my son's laughter. Leighanne had put our one year old in front of the television and he was now being entertained by the Telletubbies. I was not too thrilled with his choice in television programs. The Telletubbies creeped me out.

I kissed my son on top of the head and continued on into the kitchen where I knew Leighanne would be, preparing a breakfast plate for me. What I found instead was a smoke filled kitchen and Leighanne, completely oblivious to the burning bacon and eggs on the frying pan, reading a tabloid newspaper. How she could not smell the smoke was beyond me.


Her head shot up. She stared at me blankly before she finally took notice of her surroundings. She hurried to turn the stove off and then went to open a window. She began to flail her arms around dramatically and it made for a comical sight. I chuckled. When she was done, she glared at me as if I was the one that had almost burnt down the house. She walked over to where she had dropped the newspaper, grabbed it and thrust it into my hands.

"Page six," was all she said, her voice stern and serious, not at all like the sweet voice I knew so well.

I raised an eyebrow questioningly but complied to her command and flipped over to page six of the newspaper. My stomach instantly dropped.

The picture that jumped at me from page six made me gasp. The black and white photo showed a scene from what looked to be an alleyway. The giant dumpster was what had tipped me off.

AJ was the first person I noticed. How could I not notice him first? Those damn sunglasses and unconventional hairstyle. I'm sorry, but who wears sunglasses at night? At least I think it's night. It was kinda hard to tell with all the black and whiteness of the photo.

Anyway, AJ was at the fore of the scene and what he was doing in it was making me uneasy. At first I had thought he had relapsed. I mean here he was, in black and white, literally, holding this guy up by the scruff of his neck. AJ's mouth was opened menacingly which to me meant that he was yelling. So that was the first thing I saw: AJ in what looked to be a fight with another guy. So I thought maybe he had fallen off the wagon. That's not such an outlandish thought, right? But then as I looked closer at the picture, I realised that this was not an AJ problem, this was another issue altogether.

Behind AJ and the guy he was assaulting (well it's the truth isn't it?) was Howie, looking completely panic stricken, crouching over a blonde man, his face scrunched up and his body tense and agitated. If Howie and AJ hadn't been in the photo with him, I wouldn't have recognised Nick.

Before I could even comprehend what I had just seen, I was reading the article that accompanied the photo. The further my eyes travelled down the page, the more anxious I became. The article wasn't particularly detailed and that's what made it worse. I needed to talk to Kevin.

As if knowing what I was thinking, Leighanne silently handed me the cordless phone and I immediately punched in Kevin's home phone number.

I only had to wait two rings before the phone was answered.

"Hello?" It was Kristen.

"Kristen, it's Brian," I didn't mean to, but I had snapped.

"I'll get Kevin," they must have already heard.

"Brian, now's not a good time," Kevin sounded puffed when he came to the phone.

I ignored him. "What the hell happened to Nick?" Suddenly, I was hit with a bout of panic as I began to answer my own question with whatever scenario my mind came up with: cancer, drugs, alcohol, beatings, attempted suicide. The article only said that "Carter was incapacitated" and that "Mclean and Dorough arrived at the scene to assist their bandmate".

"Brian, I'll ring you when I get to Florida."

Holy shit, Kevin was going to Florida? I felt my stomach plummet even further.

"Kevin, what the hell is going on dammit?" I was working myself up into a frenzy. I was yelling and I was only dimly aware that Leighanne had left the kitchen.

"Look Brian," now he sounded angry. "I don't even know myself. That's why I'm going down there now." He took a deep breath and then said, "I'll ring you when I know more." And then he hung up.

I was left in the kitchen holding the phone to my ear, my mouth open and just looking all around stupid. That's how Leighanne found me when she walked back into the kitchen a moment later with Baylee in her arms.

"What's going on?"

I lowered the phone from my ear, blinked a couple of times and swallowed my panic.

"I think I have to go to Florida."


Not the best writing in this chapter, but would still love to know what you think!


Chapter 5 by jess20


Chapter 5: Buses, Trains and Nsync's Fans.

Oh. My. God.

I was in a shitload of agony and, just for the record, this is not whiny, sooky Nick speaking. This is ‘I'm twenty-three, I can deal with shit' Nick talking. So now that we've established that I'm not being a sook, I'll try and explain what I was feeling. Ok, here's the best I can do: Imagine you were run over by a bus, followed by a train, followed by a trampling by all four of Nsync's fans. That's the pain I felt. Okay, maybe I was sooking slightly.

At least I was in my comfy bed. Wait was this my bed? How did I get here? And what happened?

Shit! Note to self: don't think, it multiplies the pain by like a trillion. I'm just gonna lie here, with my eyes closed and try to ignore the rusty saw that was trying to cut into my brain. Yeah, that didn't work because just as I had come to that conclusion, a surge of hot pain shot across my forehead. I wanted to groan but I was afraid that would excite the throbbing so I clenched my teeth and waited for my agony to subside. After what seemed like forever, it did and I snuggled further down into the bed. Yeah, I'm not one for smart ideas. Moving, as it turns out, is like having a screwdriver plunged into your eye. This time I did groan. And as I did, I felt the bile rise in my throat. Uh oh.

Instinct took over and I forgot about the pain as the thought of me sleeping in a puke filled bed urged me to flip the sheets off my body. I hurried quickly towards where I knew my ensuite was located but instead I ran straight into a wall.

Okay, before you get into a big hurrah over this, let me just say that, in my defence, my eyes were still closed. Anyway, so I ran into a wall, bounced off, landed on the carpeted floor - wait, I don't have carpet - and threw up.

I wanted so much for that to be the end of it, but, as I lay exhausted next to my own mess, my brain and skull decided to have a nice fun game of tennis. And, you know just to add to my misery, there came a loud crash as, I can only presume in my haziness of pain, a door was slammed open.

"Son of a bitch, my carpet!"

That's when the pain in my head became too much. I felt the tears come before they even left my eyes. So that's where I stayed, on the floor, lying in my own vomit whilst the rusty saw made a stellar comeback. I was aware of someone whispering my name before I blacked out.

When I woke, the room was dark. Yes, you heard right. I was actually brave enough to open my eyes this time. My head had let up it would seem. I squinted in the darkness, looked to my right and just about had a heart attack.

 What the fuck was that thing? Was that a gargoyle? Was that a gargoyle shaped lamp? Oh shit, I was at AJ's.

Once I had established that a little demon monkey was not in fact watching me sleep, I turned on the lamp. The light blinded me momentarily and I could feel the return of that damned saw.

"Goodafternoon Nicky."

I nearly shat myself. Was that Howie standing at the end of my bed? It was kinda hard to tell what with all the stars that were twinkling across my eyes.

"Howie, that's creepy," I groaned, closing my eyes again, willing for the oncoming headache to give me a moment's rest. "Tylenol?"

"No way Nicky," Howie's voice felt closer and I felt a weight on the bed at my side.

I groaned again and turned around so my back was to him. If he wasn't in a sharing mood, then neither was I.

"I'm not giving you any drugs for at least another twenty-four hours."

What the fuck was he talking about? And why did he sound so pissed? And then it hit me. Oh crap.

I turned on my back again and looked at him guiltily. I tried to sit up but he put a hand on my chest and forced me back down.

"Last time you got up you ran into a wall and vomited all over AJ's carpet."

So that's what that smell was. And now that he had mentioned it, suddenly the whole room was filled with that smell. I began to gag. I sat up and this time Howie didn't try to stop me. He had a panicked look in his eyes and seemingly out of nowhere a bucket and he forced it onto my lap and into my hands just in time.

All that came up was yellowy gunk. I guess I didn't have anything left in my stomach to throw up. By the end all I was doing was dry heaving. I didn't remember much from last night - at least I think it was last night - except that I had one too many drinks and I smoked some weed with melted down ecstasy. At least that's what the guy at Billboards said it was. All this vomiting made me think I had a mad time last night. I wonder who I hooked up with.

So there I was, dry heaving when AJ came bursting into the room screaming about dry cleaning or something. I was pretty much finished by that point, but the smell coming from the bucket was pretty much overwhelming so I shoved it off my lap. Howie grabbed it before it tipped all over the bed. You go Howie.

My breathing was coming out in sharp and shallow breaths and I began to shake. This was not normal. No way could ecstasy do this to me the day after.

I lay down again and Howie covered me with the blankets, perhaps thinking I was cold. Suddenly I felt resentful towards him. Why is he mothering me? Where had he been for the past year? And why was he doing a better job of mothering me than my own mother? And what about AJ? And Kevin? And Brian? Where have they been for the past year? Why haven't they kept in touch? And what the hell happened last night, anyway, that I should be in AJ's house with AJ and Howie playing nurse with me? Why all the sudden interest in Nick? I felt angry and hurt all of a sudden. Where did that come from?

AJ had disappeared with the bucket. He had probably been given the unfortunate task of emptying out my puke. Serves him right for living just five blocks away from me and never coming over to check in.

He emerged from the adjoining bathroom with the empty bucket and a glass of water. Howie grabbed the water as AJ set the bucket down in front of me again, emptied. Howie brought the water up to my lips and motioned for me the drink some. I kept them firmly shut and stared furiously at him, still shaking.

"Nicky, you need to rinse your mouth out," Howie persuaded, his voice soothing, damn him.

"I can smell your breath from here, Nick," AJ chimed in.

As much as I hated to admit it, they were right. My mouth tasted like something had crawled down my throat and died. Cliché? Well that's the truth of it. It was likely to make me sick again so I lifted my head and took a careful sip from the glass Howie still held over me. I spat it back into the bucket in my lap and took another sip, this time swallowing it. I instantly felt better, my breathing evened out and my shaking slowly subsided. Did AJ's bathroom water contain some kind of magical healing properties?

"Better?" Why was Howie a better mother than my own mother? It made me want to cry. But instead I nodded. Suddenly I was overcome by this extreme exhaustion and my eyes started to close. At that same moment, a terrifying thought entered my mind. Panicked, exhaustion forgotten for that split second, I grabbed Howie's wrist as he took the bucket out of my lap. He looked at me inquisitively.

"Don't tell Kevin," I pleaded, before I gave in and gave in to my fatigue.


"Your flight leaves in two hours," Leighanne said from behind me. She was not happy, I could tell.

I placed the last pair of pants in my luggage and turned around to face her. She had Baylee in her arms and a sad look on her face.

"Thanks for booking the flight for me babe," I said, walking towards my family, kissing my son on the head and rubbing my wife's arms.

"You still can't get a hold of the others?"

I stepped back from her and sighed, rubbing my temples. "I don't understand it. Usually you can't separate Howie from his cell and AJ's always home nowadays. I guess they're really busy with Nick. It must be really bad."

"Don't jump to conclusions," Leighanne advised but it was too late for that.

There's this new phenomenon that I have discovered and it's called the internet. Apparently, the Backstreet Boys have a large online following. Who knew? Anyways, when I got off the phone with Kevin, I jumped on the internet because I thought that if Kevin wasn't going to give me any answers, and the newspaper didn't have jack, then maybe the dedicated and somewhat stalker-ish fans could fill me in. My first mistake was thinking that it would be a good idea. My second mistake was deluding myself into thinking the fans had any knowledge about anything. One forum board topic suggested Nick had established an illegal poker tournament, lost all his money, and decided the best thing to do was shoot up in an alleyway. The worst part about this was the poster claimed to have gotten the information from a friend of a friend of Kevin's.

So now that I have all these different scenarios in my head, I am determined to not rely on the internet for anything. Although I do hear it's pretty good for self-diagnosing medical conditions.

"Are you okay to do the fundraiser for me today?" I turned back to my luggage and zipped it up.

"Of course," she said, sighing deeply. That was her way of telling me she wanted me to ask what was wrong.

"What's wrong?" I pulled the luggage off my bed and turned to her again as she shifted Baylee on her hip.

She furrowed her brow. "You know I love Nick..."


"But, the others will be there with him. Do you really have to go?"

I frowned. She sounded so sad and just looking at her, with our son in her arms; she made me want to just shout ‘NO! I really don't have to go!' But I couldn't. Was I being irrational? Maybe I should stay and just wait for a phone call from Kevin. But I couldn't. I couldn't explain it, but I felt this panic within me that will not be quelled until I see Nick. So I smiled sadly at her.

"Yes, I really have to go."


Thanks for all the reviews guys! You've all been too kind! I'm a little paranoid about this but I hope my writing makes sense J


Chapter 6 by jess20


Chapter 6: Nerves

My nerves were being tested. I had spent the rest of the night sitting by the phone, waiting for a call from Howie or AJ, to let me know what the hell was going on. That call never came. By six-thirty, I was climbing the walls, so Kristen pressed the phone into my hands and insisted I call them instead. Up until that point, I hadn't even contemplated ringing them myself. But once I did, and received no answer, I was calling them every five minutes. By the time AJ answered his phone, it was seven in the morning and Kristen had booked me a flight to Florida.

When I asked AJ what had happened, he simply said that Nick was sleeping. At that point, I had felt myself relax slightly and was even beginning to regret booking the flight. But then AJ said that it would probably be best if I came down for a visit. That's when my heart stopped. That's when Nick's voice called out to me, pleading with me to come and pick him up. I gave AJ my flight details and started packing.

My nerves were being tested. My flight had been delayed by an hour so Kristen and I sat in the airport cafe waiting for the monitor to flash ‘Boarding' next to my flight number. I told Kristen she didn't have to wait with me, but she stayed anyway, like I knew she would. She tried to make small conversation, but I was distracted. Everywhere I looked, someone was reading a newspaper and it made me curious. Maybe there was something in the paper about Nick. Something that would give me more information than what AJ had given me. A woman at the table next to us had just brought out a tabloid magazine from her bag and my heart stopped as I noticed Nick's face on the top right hand side of the front page. I tried to get a closer look, but felt Kristen's hand take hold of my chin as she forced me eyes up to meet hers.

"Don't do this to yourself," was all she said.

My nerves were being tested. The pilot who was flying this plane must have been a snail in his former life. If I had wanted my trip to take this long, I would have driven to Florida. I tried to stay calm, but ended up making at least five bathroom trips by the time we finally landed. It took another twenty minutes before we could leave the plane and by that time I was in some serious need of a sedative. That was until I walked into the airport and found AJ waiting for me with a big smile on his face. For that moment, all my worries disappeared as I grabbed him into a hug and squeezed. My God did he look amazing. We pulled apart and I held him at arm's length, looking him up and down as if for the first time. And, in truth, it felt like that. I had only seen him a couple of times after he had gotten out of rehab, but just like Howie, I had, for the most part, lost contact with him. In two years a lot could change and AJ was a much healthier and happier version of the one I had seen last. Suddenly I was excited. In all my worry and stress over Nick, I had forgotten that I would be seeing my bandmates for the first time together in two years. It was almost enough to make me teary.

"Don't cry dude," AJ teased, but I could see the tears in his eyes too.

I laughed and boy did it feel good after the night I just had. I slung my arm around his shoulder and together we headed to the baggage pickup area.

"You don't have any hand luggage?" he asked, swinging his head around to survey the area we just left, looking for anything left behind.

"Nah," I said simply. "Just my normal luggage. It's cool if I stay with you?"

AJ nodded. "I've got ten bedrooms. You should have brought Kristen along. She could have taken another one."

We reached the baggage pickup area just in time to see the first lot of luggages make their way around the conveyor belt.

"You do know we're married right?" I said lightly, taking my arm away from his shoulder and studying the luggages, looking for the yellow ribbon Kristen had tied around the luggage handle. That was the only way I was gonna remember which luggage I took with me. "We sleep in the same bed."

"Oh yeah."

By the time the second lot of bags came around, I had calmed from the excitement of seeing AJ and my thoughts returned to Nick.

"What happened?"

AJ knew instantly what I was referring to and the happiness that had been evident on his face upon seeing me diminished in that instant.

"I'll tell you when -"

"No," I snapped, suddenly angry. I could not wait any longer. "Tell me now."

AJ shifted uncomfortably. "Not now, not here."

In the corner of my eye I spotted a yellow ribbon. I waited for the conveyor belt to bring the luggage to me so I could concentrate my efforts on staring AJ down.

"Why the hell not?"

"Because there are people around," AJ pointed out, staring pointedly at a young couple standing nearby who had their cameras out and were pointing at us.

I backed down for now. I grabbed my luggage off the conveyor belt and followed AJ as he led the way out of the airport. The Florida sun hit me hard. I had forgotten what the weather was like down here and I balked at the heat. I quickly recovered and followed AJ to his Mercedes. He grabbed my luggage off me, put it in the boot and motioned for me to get in the car.

I slid in the passenger seat while he opened the door to the driver's side. When we were both settled in, I turned to him. "Okay, what's going on?"

"I'm gonna -"

"Cut the crap, AJ," I damn near shouted. I couldn't take another minute.

"PCP," he held up his hands defensively. "He took PCP."

I sat in a dazed state, Nick's voice going through my head: "Kevin, please!"

My nerves were shot.


A/N:Thanks for all the reviews guys! It's great to get some feedback! 


Chapter 7 by jess20


A/N: Okay, so just a head's up: I don't know much about dates and that kind of stuff. I don't know where the guys were in 1995, most of my knowledge of the guys come from interviews and Wikipedia. So if you're sitting there wondering why I've gotten all the facts messed up, that's the reason LOL But if you do see something that is factually inaccurate, then please let me know for future reference. Thanks for the reviews!!

Chapter 7: Sweet D

The newspaper lay on AJ's kitchen table, a mere metre away from me, Nick's face plastered on the front page. I turned it over so I wouldn't have to see it anymore and instead focused on Nick's cell phone which I gripped in my hand. I had found it near the dumpster in the alley and had the sense to pick it up before someone else got their hands on it. The screen was cracked and some of the buttons were missing from the keypad but it still worked. I knew this because at that very moment, I was going through his call list.

Now, I'm not one to snoop - I leave that to Kevin - but what Nick said last night about his mum got me curious. As far as I knew, Nick and Jane didn't get along anymore - in fact, they hardly spoke. So, I was a little surprised when Nick mentioned her.

Going through his phone now, my curiousity peaked further. Apparently, he had received one call from his mum at least every day for at least the past month. Maybe they had reconnected? Maybe they -

Before I could finish that thought, I heard a crash from upstairs. I shoved the phone in my pocket, groaned at the thought of having to tell AJ that Nick had thrown up all over his carpet again, and raced upstairs. I barged into Nick's room only to find him sitting on the bed, his back to me, his legs dangling off the side and his right hand in his hair, scratching.

"Nicky, what was that crash?"

"It was staring at me," his voice was croaky and he spoke in a monotonous tone.

Confused, I moved closer to the bed and noticed the gargoyle lamp lying broken on the floor. Well, I couldn't blame him. Who wants to wake up to that every morning? Besides our excessively tattooed friend of course.

"Why is there blood in my hair?" Nick had taken his hand away from his head and was looking intently at his fingernails. I peered over his shoulder and saw the dried blood that was stuck to his nails.

"You don't remember?" That was a stupid question. Of course he didn't remember. He was so fucked up last night I was surprised he was even able to string a sentence together.

He shook his head but stopped almost immediately, bringing his hand back up to massage his temple. I felt a wave of pity for him.


"Yeah," he said. "Do you have any Tylenol?"

I shook my head. "Not on me, but I'll see what AJ's got." I paused, watching him carefully as he stood from the bed, swayed a bit on the spot, and treaded around the broken lamp to the bathroom. He looked better than earlier, that was a given. He was still wearing the same clothes he had been wearing last night though. Neither AJ nor I wanted to undress him. We had taken off his shoes and socks and that was as far as either of us was willing to go. But like I said, besides that, he looked much better. He must have had a restful sleep this time, but he was still pale and I noticed that he was shaking a bit.

I was about to say something along the lines of ‘It's really great to see you Nicky. It's been too long. I've missed you', but I could feel a coldness coming from him which made me nervous. So I forsook the mushiness.

"I'm going to take a shower," he said, reaching the door to the bathroom. I noticed that he never once looked at me.

"Okay. Well AJ went to your house this morning and brought over your stuff," I pointed to the suitcases I had put on the other side of the room.

Nick's head snapped up as he looked at them with alarm. It was only then that he met my eyes with his own and I could see the horror displayed there.

"You went to my house?" Did I detect a hint of wariness? "How did you get in?"

I wasn't completely surprised by Nick's reaction. First, because Nick had spent the best part of the year locking us out of his life. Second, because according to AJ there was a big ‘For Sale' sign on the front gate. When he entered the house, all he found was three packed suitcases. No furniture, no bed, no anything. Just three packed suitcases. It looked like Nick was moving and that made no sense to us. Nick loved that house; it was right on the beach, it was spacious, and, according to him, it was the perfect ‘love shack'. Apparently, once he had sex with some girl on the living room floor and her screams echoed around the house. Perfect acoustics for love making, to hear him tell it. Whatever Nick.

"How'd you get in?"

I shook my head, distracted by my thoughts. "What?"

Nick was starting to get annoyed, but I could still sense his anxiety. "How did you get in my house? I locked it."

"We took the keys from your jeans," I shrugged, trying to play down his obvious discomfort, and mine own at admitting that I had put my hands way too close to his special area.

Nick's face turned red at an alarming speed. "What gave you the right to do that?"

I ignored the question, a liked miffed. What gave me the right? Oh, I don't know Nicky. Maybe getting up at four in the morning to drag your junkie ass home gave me that right. Or maybe it was years of looking after your sorry ass. I wanted to say all that, but instead I said, "Go have a shower Nicky. When you come down I'll have something for you to eat and we can talk about it."

I didn't give him a chance to reply. I briskly walked out the door, closing it softly behind me. I reclaimed my chair at the kitchen table, staring glumly at that damned newspaper (why hadn't we thrown it out?) and minutes later I heard the sound of the water system come to life and I surmised Nick had finally jumped in the shower.

I got up from my seat and started preparing a sandwich for Nick. As I was putting lettuce on the bread, something AJ had said to me last night came back to me.

"You could be his mother."

I didn't think anything of it until that very moment as I began to fuss over whether to put on tomato or not. I lurched away from the sandwich as though it had stung me. What exactly did he mean by that? Was he insinuating that I mother him? Or was he saying that I was feminine?

I berated myself for that thought for a second, realising that I needed some sleep. But it still niggled at me, so I thought of a solution.

"I'm gonna grow a beard," I said aloud, stroking my chin.

"What's this about a beard?"

I mustn't have heard the front door open because there standing in the kitchen, with a smirk on his face, was AJ, holding a suitcase in one hand. A second later, Kevin appeared, wearing a look I've seen too many times before. When he spotted me, though, his growl disappeared and a huge smile materialised on his face.

"Kevin," I strode towards him, the sandwich forgotten. We embraced and I couldn't help but let out a little laugh. Four out of the five Backstreet Boys were back under the same roof. If only Brian could be here, it would be just like old times. That made me happy. Except for the whole Nick taking PCP thing.

We parted and although he was still smiling, I could see a sadness in his eyes. AJ had told him.

We had planned on telling him together so we could both take the blunt force of Kevin's rage, but once AJ offered to pick him up from the airport, I knew he'd be the one to tell Kevin. I was slightly relieved.

"He's fine. He's having a shower," I assured him.

"He should be in the hospital," Kevin snapped. No more smiley Kevin.

"Did AJ tell you everything?" I asked, looking over at our bandmate who had set down the suitcase and had made his way over to the kitchen counter where he was surveying the half-made sandwich with a disgruntled expression.

"Yep," AJ replied for Kevin. "The house, the drugs, the vomiting, the mummy issues, everything."

"Yeah, about those ‘mummy issues'," I pulled out Nick's cell phone from my pocket.

"Is that his cell?" Kevin asked, peering at the cracked screen. "I thought he might have lost it."

"It was in the alley with him," I explained. "Anyway - "

Before I had time to continue, a buzzing went off and Kevin reached into his own pocket to retrieve his cell.

"Shit, it's Brian," he swore. "I forgot to call him back," and then he stalked out of the kitchen and into the living room to take the call.

I looked over at AJ who was still inspecting the sandwich. "That's for Nick."

"Fine with me," he replied dryly. "Too healthy for me anyway."

I laughed just as Kevin made his re-emergence.

"He's waiting for a flight to Florida," he informed us and both AJ and I grinned. Despite the circumstance for this reunion, we couldn't be anything but happy. It had been two years since we had all been together last and even though we needed the break, being away from each other for so long didn't feel right. "He said you guys haven't been answering your phones."

I almost slapped my head in a ‘duh' kind of moment. Usually I never go anywhere without my phone, but today, with playing nurse for Nick and all, I had left it in my bedroom, which I hadn't been in since AJ had yelled for me to get out of bed.

"Crap, my brother was meant to ring me," I swore. My brother John was supposed to call me today about meeting investors for Sweet D Inc. - our real estate business.

Kevin turned to AJ for his explanation. "I unplugged the phone," AJ shrugged.

Now that Kevin reminded me, I was itching to run upstairs.

 "So you were saying something about Nick's phone?" Too late.

I looked down at the phone which was still clutched in my hand, prioritising. I took a seat at the head of the kitchen table, with my back facing the door that linked the living room and kitchen. I motioned for the other two to sit down too. Kevin sat next to me, giving the newspaper on the table a dirty look, and AJ took the other end of the table.

"I went through his call list. His mum has been calling him every day for at least the past month."

Kevin furrowed his brow. "What?"

"Didn't she, like, disown him or something when he fired her?" This was the first time AJ was hearing about this too.

"Something's going on here," I said simply.

I could feel Kevin getting worked up next to me. "Whenever his mum is involved with his life, he always self-destructs," he said angrily.

 "We don't know what's going on," I tried to reason.

I'm sure Kevin would have spat if he was a lesser man. "I think I have a pretty good idea of what's going on," he growled. "She's fucking his life up and he's letting her."

"Guys," AJ hissed suddenly in an urgent manner. "I think he's coming down the stairs."

Kevin and I listened intently and sure enough we could hear the loud thumps of his footfalls. The three of us turned to watch the doorway, holding our breaths in anticipation, waiting for him to come through.

We didn't have to wait long.

He walked into the kitchen, noticing me and the incriminating cell phone in my hand first. Once his eyes fell on Kevin, however, he froze in his spot. A look overcame his features that I have seen many times before. This was the look Nick reserved only for Kevin. The ‘oh shit, I'm in trouble' look. Like I said, I've seen it many times before, and it had become such a frequent visitor to Nick's face that I couldn't recount half the reasons it had appeared in the first place. But there was this one time I will never forget. I always thought of it whenever I wanted to think of a time when Nick was still innocent. However, in that moment, as I stared at Nick, this memory suddenly seemed much more sinister.


January 10, 1996.

"I don't know why we had to leave so early," AJ complained as we all tumbled out of the cab.

"Because," Kevin began to explain patiently as he handed over cash to the driver, "in Germany, you can only stay until midnight if you're underage."

"You're lucky Germany lets seventeen and eighteen year olds into clubs at all," I scoffed. "At home, you wouldn't be able to get near a club, let alone in it! And then we'd have to take you to one of those lame underage clubs for your birthday instead."

Brian laughed and I ducked my head just as AJ took a swing at me. I stuck my tongue out at him and then lead the way back to the motel room we were all sharing. Lou said we were running short on funds so we needed to make a few sacrifices. One of these said sacrifices was sharing a family sized motel room - all five of us. It was a nightmare. There was only one queen sized bed and a bunk bed. Kevin and I claimed the bunks, perks for being the two eldest of the group - I got top, Kevin got bottom. Brian, AJ and Nick had to share the queen sized bed. None of us were particularly happy with the arrangement, but at least I got a bed to myself. According to AJ, Nick kicks in his sleep.

"Besides," Brian continued, "Nick should be the one complaining."

AJ laughed. "Ah, Rok, did you have a brain aneurism or something? All he did all day was complain."

AJ was right. When we announced to Nick that morning that we would be going out to a club to celebrate AJ's seventeenth birthday, he assumed ‘we' included him too. When Kevin corrected him, you could see the devastation. That look was quickly replaced with one of anger. For some reason - it probably had something to do with being a hormonal fifteen year old kid - Nick took this as a personal slight. He raged on about how we just didn't want to be around him anymore (to which AJ replied unhelpfully with ‘well yeah'), how life was unfair, and how he would be turning sixteen in a few weeks, why the hell not? Despite our efforts, Brian and I could not calm him. AJ made snide comments from the queen sized bed, once in a while sarcastically thanking Nick for making his birthday memorable. But when Kevin screamed that there was no way he'd even take Nick out in public if this was the way he was going to act, did Nick finally shut up. And he stayed in a sullen silence all day, through all the planned interviews and publicity stunts. 

We were closing in on our motel room and I reached into my pocket for the key. Kevin loped his arm around AJ's shoulders and I smiled warmly. What? Guys can be sentimental too.

"Happy birthday Aje," Kevin said. "Did you have a good time?"

AJ nodded, putting his own arm around Kevin's shoulders. "I did," he glowed. "Thanks guys."

"Naww," Brian pulled a face and began to fake cry as we reached the motel room. "A moment. God, it's beautiful!"

As I slid the key into the lock, I heard the unmistakable sound of Nick's laughter. I grinned and motioned for the others to come closer. They pressed their ears against the door, listening intently, identical smiles crossing their faces as the sound of Nick's hysterical laughter came out to us from inside the motel room.

"Looks like he's gotten over it," Kevin grinned.

I unlocked the door, opened it, and lead the way into the room, only to stop short a metre in when I noticed a cloud of smoke floating above the queen sized bed. I felt the others crowd in around me, Kevin pushing his way to the front. Together, we stared in dumb disbelief at Nick who was lying on the bed, laughing hysterically at the puffs of smoke that were coming out of his mouth - courtesy of the joint that he held between his fingers.

Nick didn't seem to notice us despite the fact we were standing mere metres away from him.  None of us moved, perhaps too stunned by the fact that a fourteen year old kid had somehow gotten his hands on weed.

I moved forward, thinking maybe I could defuse the bomb that I could see ticking away in Kevin's head. Before I had the chance however, AJ lunged past me and grabbed Nick by the collar of his shirt. It was safe to say Nick had finally noticed us - or at least he noticed AJ.

"You little shit!" AJ roared. "That was the last of my weed!"

The rest of us quickly snapped out of our haze. Kevin was the first to reach the two youngest Backstreet members now wrestling on the bed. Nick, obviously high, was still laughing, which only served to enrage AJ that much more. AJ kept shouting about how much that weed cost him and how he was saving it for later. Nick just laughed in his face.

Kevin pulled AJ off Nick, who instantly fell off and behind the bed. Kevin pushed AJ at Brian who caught him by the shoulders and held him firmly. Nick was still laughing.

"Fucking asshole!" AJ swore, trying unsuccessfully to escape Brian's hold.

Kevin's face had turned red, which was never a good sign. He pointed at AJ furiously. "Your weed?"

AJ switched his attention to Kevin, suddenly realising the mistake he had made in confronting Nick.

"We had a fucking discussion about this!" Kevin screamed, spittle flying onto AJ's face. He turned his head to Brian. "Take him outside and cool him off."

Brian pushed AJ out the door, but not before the younger of the two snarled, "Thanks for making my birthday memorable Nick."

To which Nick replied, still laughing, "It's not even your birthday anymore dickhead."

I shouldn't have laughed, but I did. AJ's face as he was pushed out of the door was priceless and Nick's laughter always had me joining in. But Kevin gave me a look. Kevin never gives me looks.


We couldn't see Nick - he was behind the bed - but we could hear him. As soon as Kevin shouted his name, that laughter turned quickly into, the only way I can describe it, a strangled gasp. Kind of like ‘hahaha-rrrrrrrggggggh'. It was enough to make me start laughing again. I noticed the joint on the bed and I went to pick it up, peering over the other side to find Nick staring up at me as he crouched, his eyes pleading with me. I stepped back - I wasn't going to be the bad guy here.

"Nick, get your ass off the floor!" Kevin snatched the joint off me in disgust, holding it between the tips of his fingers.

Slowly, Nick obliged. First, he peered over the bed, so we could only see his eyes and his mop of blonde hair, and then, when he had assessed the situation, he stood up.

I only caught it for a second because Nick ducked his head almost immediately, but there was that look on his face. The one that said ‘oh shit, I'm in trouble'. That was the look reserved for Kevin.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Kevin was furious.

"It was just one joint," Nick raised his eyes to look at me. That pleading look was back on his face. That just made Kevin angrier.

"Don't look at Howie!" he screamed, striding forward to meet Nick on the other side of the bed. "You're not talking to Howie! You're talking to me!"

"Kevin," I tried to settle him. I knew that in a year or so we'd be having a big laugh over this - or at least Brian and I would - but for now, Nick looked on the verge of tears and Kevin looked ready to do some serious damage. This was getting out of hand and I just couldn't find the humour in this situation anymore. "Kevin," I repeated slowly.

But Kevin ignored me, his sights set firmly on the squirming teenager who by all accounts was just about to pee his pants. No one liked going up against a pissed Kevin. Lucky for me, I never have and probably never will. That was another perk of being one of the eldest: Kevin couldn't claim ‘guardianship'.

"It's not a big deal! Mum lets me!" Nick's voice was rising, which only meant one of two things was going to happen. One, someone's nose was about to be broken, or two, Nick was gonna start bawling.

I hoped I would be wiping blood off the floor tonight.

There was silence for a minute as both Kevin and I comprehended what Nick just said. His mum lets him smoke weed? What?

Kevin quickly recovered. Still holding the joint, he thrust it in Nick's face. "Is this what you want? To smoke dope? What's next Nick? Coke?" Overreact much Kev? "Well go ahead then!" Kevin grabbed Nick's wrist, turned his hand over and pushed the joint into it.

Yep, there were those tears, just waiting to burst from those eyes in a dramatic display of teen angst.

Kevin had turned away, but Nick followed him, holding out the joint as if asking for Kevin to take it back.

"I'm sorry okay? You left me alone again. I always get left behind."

Ugh. The way he said it made me feel a little guilty.

Kevin turned back to Nick. "So that gives you reason to get high?"

"I'm not high!" Nick said. "I only smoked half a joint."

"I'm not dealing with this now." Kevin had gone from all furious to all quiet. Kevin is what AJ likes to call a ‘guilt-tripping enthusiast'. He threw one more look my way before stalking into the only bathroom in the motel room and slamming the door.

Nick stared after him, and then turned to me, those tears finally slipping.

"I'm sorry, Howie, okay? Mum lets me do it. I didn't think it mattered."

That made me sad. If it had been AJ or Brian that had claimed their mum lets them smoke pot, I would never have believed them. But knowing Jane Carter, I completely trusted that what Nick was saying was, unfortunately, the truth.

"Nicky, why don't you go to bed?" I was aware that AJ and Brian probably had their ears pressed against the door listening to everything that had gone on. "You can take my bunk tonight."

"Above from Kevin?" Nick was trying so hard to keep the tears in; you could hear it in his voice.

"Would you prefer to sleep next to AJ?" I reasoned, taking a step toward him when I noticed he was holding his breath, as though the next one he took might mean the end of his composure.

He shook his head. Poor kid must feel like everyone's against him.

"I'll swap with AJ," I said softly.

Nick opened his mouth and breathed. I hugged him before I had to witness any more tears.

I slept with Brian and Nick that night. Nick slept in the middle, his face buried in my arm with Brian's arm around him.

Just for the record, Nick does kick in his sleep.


Chapter 8 by jess20


Chapter 8: Anger

I stepped out of the shower and dried myself off. Wrapping the towel around my midsection, I opened the bathroom door and escaped its humidity. I entered the bedroom and walked around the broken lamp and the huge yellow stain on the carpet. I briskly strode over to the other side of the room where Howie had left my suitcases, grabbed one and dragged it to the bed. Opening it up, I grabbed the first piece of clothing I put my hands on.

When I was sure everything was on the right way, I lay down on the bed and closed my eyes, a headache forming. I was in so much trouble. I'd done the inevitable and fucked up massively - I mean more massively than normal. And that would have been fine if AJ and Howie didn't know. Who wants to bet they've told Kevin? AJ has the biggest mouth of anyone I've ever met and Howie was always on his phone, he probably let it slip. I remember telling them not to tell Kevin. I don't remember much, but I remember that.

And why the fuck do they care anyway? Howie acted all brotherly and caring when he came in. What a load of bullshit! If he really cared, where was he when all hell broke loose three months ago? And AJ? Are you serious? I don't think I've heard a word from him since he got out of rehab. I mean, I invited him to my house-warming party and he flat out refused. He lives five fucking blocks away from me and he can't come down? Here's an idea AJ, go fuck yourself.

They practically wanted nothing to do with me for the past two years and now all of a sudden it's hunky-dory, apple pie, we are family, Brady Bunch lovin' good times?

I was so angry, I could literally feel the anger build in my chest like a bubble about to burst. But I also felt so much despair. Everything in my life was so fucking wrong. My life was one huge mess. I was one huge mess.

Speaking of messes, what the hell happened last night? I can't remember anything past taking the ecstasy. I tried to remember, but the harder I tried, the more my head hurt. And not only did my head hurt, but so did my whole body. The shower did me good, granted. For one, I washed out the dried blood that had been stuck to my hair (what was up with that by the way?) and the hot water stilled my shakes. But my muscles felt all tense and strained, like I'd run a marathon. Which is weird, because I never run.

I got off the bed and went to sit beside the other two suitcases. I went through them both until I found what I was looking for: my notepad. Lately, I had taken to writing songs whenever I got into a mood. The kind of songs I wanted to write. Not the kind people tell me to write.

I flipped open the notepad just as my stomach gave a huge ass rumble. I was hungry. Remembering Howie had promised food, I chucked the notepad back into the suitcase and stood up. First thing's first: food and Tylenol.

I opened the bedroom door and walked out into the hallway. The staircase was only a few metres away from the bedroom so I couldn't get lost. I stopped at the top of the stairs and surveyed the wall along the staircase.

Yeah, this was definitely AJ's house. Who else do I know would put medieval church antiques on their walls? A large crucifix hung close to the landing. Now, I'm pretty sure AJ's not religious, so my guess is, he's going for the gothic look. To me, it is only acceptable to dress your house in Goth on Halloween. It's not Halloween.

As I walked down the stairs, I studied the other decorations he had put up. There were shields, crossed swords, little metal cut outs of dragons, and - dear God - more gargoyles. I reached the landing and found myself in the living room. It had been a long time since I had visited AJ's house, but I knew that the doorway that lead out of the living room lead into the kitchen. That's where I would find Howie and hopefully some food.

I strode in, hoping to appear confident. I didn't want any of them to know how fucked up my life really was at the moment. I was already trying to come up with explanations for the ‘For Sale' sign and the empty house AJ had obviously told Howie about. I needed to appear in control. My confidence vanished at the sight that greeted me from the kitchen however. Howie was there sitting at the table, a nervous look on his face. And he was holding something. Was that - that was my cell! What the hell Howie? First AJ breaks into my house, now Howie steals my cell? But that issue, one which I was most definitely going to address later, was put on the backburner when my real fear was realised: Kevin was sitting next to Howie, a pissed off look on his face. Oh, and AJ was there too.

Fuck! Kevin was here. In Florida. In AJ's house. In AJ's kitchen. Staring right at me. I'm in soooo much trouble. Who the fuck told him to come down anyway? I'm going to kill Howie. And AJ. But mostly Howie, because I asked him not tell Kevin and he did anyway. Sweet D my ass. Stealth D more like.

That anger I was talking about before resurged in me tenfold and I glared at the three of them once my initial shock had faded. There was that anger again, but there was also panic. What the hell was I going to do? What was I going to say?

"Look, it's Sleeping Beauty," AJ tried to ease the tension. I hated him for it.

I needed a distraction. I didn't want to deal with this. Not now, not ever. I would have turned around and marched right back upstairs, but I didn't want to seem like a coward. I noticed a plate on the kitchen counter and went to investigate, hoping that by ignoring them, they would take the hint and go away. Kevin could fuck off back to New York, Howie could quit the caring act, and AJ - well AJ I could use. I needed a place to stay and I was willing to suck it up for a couple of days until I got my shit sorted. What? That's not being mean or anything. That's being smart. Besides, he deserves it.

I was a bit disappointed to find that the plate contained a half-made sandwich. Figures. I heard the scraping of wood on tile. Someone had stood up and my guess was that it was Kevin. He liked standing up when he was about to yell. You can't be intimidating when you're sitting really. Although if anyone could pull it off, it would be Kevin.

My heart started to beat a little too fast for my liking. He was standing opposite me now, on the other side of the counter. I could feel his stare on me. I waited for him to say something.

A minute passed and I could feel my anxiety elevate as he stood there silently, staring at me. Fuck! Why was he just standing there? Why wasn't he saying anything? Why won't he speak to me? Why do I care?

I didn't have a choice. I tore my eyes away from the sandwich and looked him in the eyes. It was an intense couple of seconds as we both just looked at each other. I held my breath and I could feel Howie and AJ do the same.

Finally, he broke the silence. "What were you thinking Nick?" His voice was low, dangerously low.

I looked away again. I felt cornered, panicked. Suddenly, I was finding it difficult to swallow and something was building up in my chest, making it hard for me to breathe. I needed out.

I began to head for the door. I needed to get back to that bedroom, nice and secure. No Kevin, no Howie, no AJ. Just me and my notepad. And that broken lamp.

I felt Kevin's hand wrap around my wrist and he yanked me back. I was too tense for this shit. I lost my cool.

"Why are you here?" I shouted angrily, twisting my wrist so he was forced to let go. It felt good to shout. It was as if, with that one outburst, my nerves returned to normal. It was as though the louder I shouted, the more all the hurt, anger, and anxiety flew out of my body. I didn't want to stop shouting, and so, without waiting for a reply from Kevin, I walked towards Howie. He had stood up by this time, and I stopped mere millimetres away from him, trying to intimidate him. "I told you not to call him!" I felt betrayed by him, and I wanted him to know it.

Howie seemed unfazed by my behaviour, meeting my eyes with a sereneness that only he could possess. I suppose he has seen my tantrums enough times now that they've almost become boring for him.

"I didn't call him," he said calmly.

I wanted to call him out on his bullshit. I don't know why I was so convinced it was Howie that called Kevin. Maybe it was because I had asked him specifically not to say anything. Whatever the reason, I saw red when he denied it and I balled my fist. I saw AJ move closer to us in the corner of my eye, but it was Kevin who pulled me away.

"Dammit Nick," Kevin shouted, pushing me into his vacated chair. "You rang me!"

I stared at him dumbly. "That's crap!" I shouted. I wanted to get up from the chair, but suddenly I couldn't find the energy I needed.

Kevin's face was turning a light shade of red and his green eyes flared. See, this is why I didn't want to look right at him. It's like looking directly at the sun. He'll blind you.

"No, what's crap is you taking PCP and ringing me up in the middle of the fucking night!" I did what now? "Why am I here?" whoa, he was pissed. "Because when I get a phone call from you in the middle of the night, crying and asking me to come pick you up, I get on the next fucking plane to Florida to make sure you haven't landed yourself in the fucking hospital!"

Gee, sorry I asked.

Kevin's rage subdued my own, so I sat there, letting him scream, because I was too scared at that moment to answer back.

"Do you know what that shit does to you Nick? It fucks you up! Seriously Nick, what the fuck were you thinking? Were you thinking?"

I thought this was pretty hypocritical. It's not like Kevin hadn't done drugs before. I know he's done weed and I'm pretty sure he's taken at least one ecstasy pill in his day.

"How stupid can you be Nick?" Kevin was on a rampage, and yet again my intelligence was put on trial. "PCP can kill you!"

There was that PCP talk again. "I didn't take PCP," I said it a little too teenagey-like. "I took ecstasy!"

"Your drug dealer told me you took Angel Dust," AJ said from behind Kevin.

I nodded and looked at Kevin triumphantly. "See," I said, a little smug, my fear fading when I thought I'd won. "I told you!"

Kevin looked like he was severely constipated. I would have suggested that he go visit the bathroom but then AJ spoke up again.

"Nick," he sounded uncertain and a little nervous. "Angel Dust isn't ecstasy, it's PCP."

I stared at him in confusion, and then slowly shifted my eyes back onto Kevin. "No, it was ecstasy," I insisted, scared again.

AJ sighed and Howie bent his head, shaking it is slowly. Kevin's eyes had a different look in them now, no less angry, but different.

"How did you take it?" AJ asked.

I thought back to last night and the dealer. He had said that he had Angel Dust he needed to sell out by the end of the night. I told him I'd take twenty dollars worth. He was pissed that I didn't take more but sold it to me anyway.

"I smoked it with some weed," I admitted, a little embarrassed. "He said that he laced the weed with Angel Dust."

"Since when does anyone lace weed with ecstasy?" Kevin all but exploded. "Ecstasy is taken in tablet form Nick. God, how do you not know this?"

I swallowed a few times, suddenly doubting myself. I was 100 percent sure that I had taken ecstasy. When the guy said ‘Angel Dust', I thought that was just another type of ecstasy. Like, it had a more powerful concentration of some chemical. But now that I think about it, there was no way ecstasy could do what it did to me. Even now I could still feel the effects of it. I was pretty sure it would have been out of my system by now, especially since the dealer told me that I had taken a ‘pussy' amount.

Now I was terrified. What the hell had I done to myself? I didn't mean to take PCP. Oh shit, what the hell was going to happen to me? Kevin was right, that shit did fuck you up. I've heard stories.

My mind raced with all the possible things that could be happening to my body right now. Was the drug eating away at my brain? Would I wake up tomorrow thinking that the government was spying on me through the air-conditioning vents? I felt my head become woozy and I put a hand up to it.

"How did you not know what Angel Dust is?" Kevin was still screaming at me. I just wanted him to stop so I could think, so I could figure out what to do now that my body had PCP in it. "Nick!"

My nerves were already shot to hell and Kevin was just making it worse. I think Howie could see that because he put a hand on Kevin's shoulder, probably to calm him down. But no one was putting their hand on my shoulder.

"I'm not a fucking drug expert Kevin!" I screamed, startling myself and jumping from my seat. My head was still woozy but I managed to stay upright. I felt pressure build up in my body and panic overwhelmed me. "I'm not AJ!"

If I had been in a calmer state, I might have noticed the hurt look on AJ's face or the horror on Howie's.

"I thought I was taking ecstasy!" I insisted, my hand now in my hair, gripping it tightly. I scratched absentmindedly at the scabs on my scalp and there were tears on my face now. There was way too much adrenaline in my body.

That constipated look was back on Kevin's face. "Is that meant to make me feel better?"

I didn't know what to say so I turned to AJ who was now sitting back down and looking glumly at the table.

"I didn't know okay! I didn't know!" Oh my God, my heart was going to explode from my chest.

"What were you expecting?" Kevin snarled. He reached over to the table and picked up a newspaper that had been lying there. Until he had picked it up, I hadn't even noticed it. He unfolded it and shoved the front page under my nose. I stared in horror at the picture that met me.

It was me. I was leaning against a dumpster, looking up at the camera. I looked terrible. I was definitely crying in that picture. Shit.

I snatched the newspaper off Kevin to get a closer look. Probably not my best idea since it only reaffirmed my belief that I was a total fuck up. I couldn't stop staring at myself in the picture. It made the fucking front cover! And the headline read ‘Backstreet Boy found in the back streets, drunk". Wow, who writes this shit? At least they said drunk. I could handle that.

"Well?" Kevin was in my face again and I looked up from the paper.

I tried to remain calm. This was not looking good for me at all.

"What were you expecting Nick?"

I backed away from him, needing my personal space. "I wanted to have a good time!" Was that such a bad thing? "I wanted to have fun! Remember fun, Kevin?"

"And you need to take PCP to have fun?"

"Holy shit Kevin! I thought it was ecstasy!" I was shouting, looking to Howie for support. Don't know why. "If I had known what it was and that it would make me cry like a little girl, I wouldn't have taken the damn thing! I just wanted to have a good time for once!" I threw the paper back on the table in a dramatic display and it flew right into AJ's face. I hadn't meant that to happen, but I was a little happy to see him jump.

"What's going on Nick?" Howie's voice was so soft and calming.

"Nothing," I pleaded.

"You said ‘have a good time for once'. What's with that?"

Oh crap. I slipped up and now Kevin was looking at me differently. That's it, I needed to end this. I needed out.

"Has this got something to do with your mum?" Howie held up my cell phone which I had forgotten about in all this drama.

"You're going through my phone now too?" I was furious. "Who the fuck said you could do that?"

I made a grab for the cell but Howie jumped back out of my reach. Kevin, probably noticing the murderous look in my eyes, stepped between us.

"And what's with the ‘For Sale' sign on your house?" AJ stood up from the table again, apparently finding a new reason to jump out of his woe-is-me slump.

"Give me my phone!" I howled. I wondered how I was still up and standing. My heart was still playing drums against my chest and my head was in so much pain, there was no way I could handle another minute of this.

"Answer the questions Nicky," Howie said, still so calm. Damn him.

"I sold the house, big deal!" I screamed, stars dancing in my eyes. "I'm talking to my mum again, alright? Who else do I have to talk to?" I was struggling. I felt like I was going to faint. "You?" I pointed at AJ. "Five fucking blocks, AJ!" I reeled. I needed to get upstairs and back into bed. I needed to lie down and try and get my breathing under control. I needed to figure out why my heart was beating so damn loud and fast and why I felt like I was about to puke my lungs out. "Give me my phone!"

Howie strode past Kevin and handed me the phone. I was so relieved and dizzy that all I could do was grab it and stumble out of the kitchen. It was a nightmare walking back up those steps, but I finally got to bed. As I lay down, I swore at myself. I forgot to ask for Tylenol.


A/N: So I'm going overseas for three weeks and this will be my last update until I get back. Hope you all enjoy it. 


Chapter 9 by jess20

Chapter 9: Revelations

Leighanne had dropped me off at the airport and left. She had wanted to stay but I said there was no need. Truth be told, I needed the time alone. I wasted no time – I checked my luggage in and headed straight for the boarding gate. I took a seat on one of the chairs nearby as I waited for the announcement to board.

On the drive over, I had taken up calling Kevin, Howie and AJ in quick successions, one after the other. Not one of them answered. Leighanne suggested I call Nick directly to which I replied I didn’t want him to think I was checking up on him. Leighanne didn’t buy the excuse but she didn’t push the subject. The truth was, I was scared to call Nick. I hadn’t spoken to the kid in months – how was I to justify that over the phone? But Kevin, Howie and AJ weren’t picking up and I was feeling slightly panicky so I dialled Nick’s home number.

I was nervous as I waited for Nick to answer. What would he say to me? Would he be angry or would he be sad? Or worse, what if he didn’t care at all? Was he even in any state to answer the phone? I almost laughed at myself. I didn’t know why I was being so anxious – Nick would be happy to hear from me. He was always happy to hear from me.

He picked up the phone.

“Hello?” But that wasn’t Nick’s voice. That was a woman’s voice.

“Hi, is Nick there?” I asked politely, wondering if this woman was one of Nick’s nightly squeezes.

“No sorry, he doesn’t live here anymore.”

I felt my mouth drop involuntarily. “What do you mean? He only moved in a few months ago,” I spluttered, confused.

“The bank had to foreclose the house,” she sounded rushed. “Sorry sir, I have to go, I’m hosting an auction here.”

The line went dead – she had hung up. Brian stayed unmoving for a minute, his mouth open and his eyes wide in pure confusion and shock. Brian was snapped out of his daze by an elderly lady who kicked his leg accidentally on her way to sit down. Smiling quickly at her apology, he dialled Kevin’s number again. This time, his call was answered.


“Kevin, why haven’t you answered me? I’ve been ringing you, Howie and AJ for over an hour.”

“Sorry, we’ve been kinda busy,” he sounded annoyed, which only made me more annoyed.

“What’s going on? Is he okay?”

“He’s in the shower at the moment. He took PCP last night.”

I didn’t know what to say. Nick lost his house and he was on PCP? What the hell was going on?

“We’re at AJ’s,” Kevin continued when he was met by my silence. “Nick put his house on the market so he’s crashing here for a while.”

I stopped myself from correcting him. If Kevin thought Nick had put his house on the market, Nick must have told him so. I was not about to expose Nick, at least not until I had the chance to speak to him myself.

“I’m waiting for my plane,” was all I said.

“You’re flying here?” Kevin sounded surprised, as if the very notion of me hopping onto a plane was inconceivable.

“Yes,” I said slowly. “Could one of you pick me up from the airport when I arrive?”

“Sure, see you soon cuz.”


“You shouldn’t have screamed at him,” Howie said calmly, looking at Kevin in a reproaching manner. Only Howie can get away with that look.

“He took PCP!”

We had waited until we heard Nick’s door slam before we dared to move again. None of us were particularly pleased with how that mini-intervention had gone. I know I for one felt really, really uncomfortable – but that may have something more to do with my own insecurities.

“Kevin, he didn’t know,” Howie was always so calm and in control – I always liked that about him.

 “Look, to me it doesn’t matter what drug he took!” Kevin began to pace the length of the kitchen. “The point is he consciously made the decision to do drugs.”

Howie shook his head. “If he had taken ecstasy you wouldn’t be reacting this way,” he pushed.

“So we just let him do drugs? Is that it?”

“We can’t let him do anything. We’re not his parents and he’s twenty-three – he’s an adult now.”

 “An adult?” Kevin snorted and I wondered briefly if they had ever had a similar conversation about me. “Well he sure fooled me. And as for his parents?” he snorted again.

I couldn’t blame Kevin for his resentment towards Nick’s parents. Nick was all of twelve when he joined the Backstreet Boys and at first they were enthusiastic parents, following him everywhere on all the promotional stints and auditions. Even the first year of travelling overseas, they would take it in turns to travel with us. By the time Nick turned fifteen though, things changed. They became less enthusiastic about travelling and constantly made excuses for why they couldn’t accompany him on tour. So in case anyone was wondering, Nick plus no parental supervision equals chaos. And that’s when Kevin stepped up. There was no way he wanted to be the ‘dad’ to this kid, but someone had to and Kevin was the perfect fit. In a weird way, I was always so jealous of the relationship Kevin and Nick shared. I think that had to do with growing up without a dad or older brother who could teach me the ropes and all that. But I’ve recently come to realise that Nick needed that relationship with Kevin more than I did – after all, I had a loving mother and grandmother. But that’s not to say Kevin wouldn’t go all responsible on me either, but it was different with Nick somehow.

“Look,” Howie sighed. “All I’m saying is we should talk to him. He’s obviously going through something and screaming at him won’t help.” He paused, biting his lip, and then continued. “I think he might be upset with us.”

My mind went back to what had just transpired. “He said something about five blocks,” I said. I had been confused about that – what the hell did he mean, five blocks? Five blocks of legos? Did he want to play legos? Whatever he had meant, he was seriously peeved.

“I don’t know,” Kevin mumbled, suddenly looking deflated and tired. He took a seat at the table opposite me and sighed. “Howie’s right, I shouldn’t have screamed.” Howie took that as an opening to lay his hand on Kevin’s shoulder. “We need to figure this out. I can’t go through this again.”

I knew he was referring to my problems and it made me sad. “Nick’s not me,” I pointed out. “He might not have a problem.”

“AJ’s right,” Howie assured. “He might just be going through a rough patch.”

I remembered my ‘rough patch’.

“Well let’s hope it doesn’t last,” Kevin breathed.

But more importantly, I remembered the day when I decided to end it.


July 8, 2001

“Alex, just breathe sweetheart, just breathe.”

Thank God for me mum. If it wasn’t for her I would be back in bed crying my eyes out and waiting for death. Instead, here I was, being driven to the studio, my mum rubbing concentric circles on my back as I waited for death. It was a step up.

“I don’t know how I’m going to do this,” I gasped. I was bent forward in the back of the cab, my head in my hands. My breathing was shallow – I think I might be having another panic attack.

“They’ll understand,” she said softly. “They love you; they want what’s best for you.”

“We’re here,” the cabbie announced, pulling over to the studio where I knew my bandmates would be waiting.

“Do you want me to come with you?” she asked.

I wanted to scream yes but instead I said, “No. I need to do this by myself.”

That was the truth – no matter how much I was shitting my pants (figuratively people!) I knew this needed to be done on my own. It had to be just me and the guys.

I straightened up and took a deep breath. My mum squeezed my hand and I opened the door.

“I’ll be waiting here,” she called as I got out.

I bent forward and gave her a grim smile. “I won’t be long,” I said, feeling myself shake with anticipation and nerves.

I started towards the studio doors, dreading every step and feeling bile rise in my throat. I tried to psyche myself up: You can do this AJ. They’ll understand. They’re your brothers – they have to understand.

I reached the studio doors and pushed them open. I paused at the door when I saw them there. Kevin was standing right in front of me. I would bet any money he had been pacing. Howie was seated on one of the couches in the middle of the studio but stood up when I entered. Nick was pulling a few strings on a guitar and Brian was in the recording booth for some reason. Nick put down the guitar and Brian joined the rest of us as I walked further into the room.

“Hey guys.”

Dear Lord, I was nervous. I didn’t know what to say after that. Do I just plunge straight into it or do I small talk my way up to it? How does one do this sort of thing exactly?

“Hey AJ,” Howie went to stand beside Kevin. A united front? “How are you?”

I thought that was a pretty stupid question.

“I’m okay,” my voice was raspy and just hearing it made me want to burst out into tears. But I held it together – at least for now.

I noticed Brian was looking at me curiously and Nick wasn’t looking at me at all – just fiddling with his cast. Kevin just looked annoyed. It was that look on Kevin’s face that made me just blurt it out.

“I’m checking into rehab.” But I couldn’t just stop there. “I’ve booked a room at this rehab clinic in Arizona and mum’s flying out with me today.” My voice had broken somewhere in that announcement and I was fighting tears and sobs to get the rest out.

I didn’t know what else to say or do, so I stood there and waited for someone to say something.

“That’s great AJ,” Howie had enveloped me in a hug before I had time to process any of their reactions. He pulled away from me, tears in his eyes but a smile on his face. “You do what you need to.” He gripped my forearms tightly and I let out a shaky breath, feeling some of the tension escape me.

I never doubted for a second Howie would be so understanding – Howie was always understanding. Brian had edged his way closer and was waiting patiently for Howie to move aside.

“You get better Bone,” he said, a solemn look on his face. “We’ll wait for you. As long as you need.” He hugged me fiercely and pulled away, briskly walking behind the other guys. Howie still hovered.

I didn’t want to look at Kevin, so I turned to Nick. He was still playing with his cast but he finally looked up at me. He had tears on his cheeks and those damn sad eyes. He walked over to me and hugged me. There were no words. He tried to pull away but I held on. I needed to say something.

“I’m sorry you saw that,” I whispered in his ear, hoping he knew what I was referring to. When we pulled apart, he joined Brian.

Then there was only Kevin left. I hadn’t looked at him since I had spoken and I was scared out of my mind to look at him now. What had happened between us in that hotel room – I will never forget the look of disappointment and hurt in his eyes. But I needed to know that I could fix that, so I looked up at him expecting to see fury in his eyes. I was amazed to Kevin had more tears on his face than Nick had on his.

He walked slowly towards me, and I held my breath. Under his gaze I felt vulnerable, but I also felt loved. He shook his head at me and hugged me. It was the longest hug and it was what I needed. I didn’t bother hiding the tears then – they came.

“Thank you,” I whispered, scrunching up my eyes and trying not to make any girly sobbing noises.

“I am so proud of you.”

That’s all it took and boy did those girly sobbing noises come.


Long time no see. Reason? Life. If you’re interested I would love some reviews. If not, thanks for reading (or not reading, in which case this message is irrelevant lol) and now I’m off to continue working on my thesis.

Chapter 10 by jess20

Chapter 10: Heart and Soul

“So how’s Kristin?”

“She’s good,” I smiled at Howie. “She had an audition last week for this backup dancer gig.”

“That’s great!” Howie gushed. He looked excited at this bit of news. Knowing Howie – and I did – this was not conversational politeness but genuine happiness for me and Kristin.

“What about you?” I asked. “Anything new?”

I was eager to catch up with all my bandmates – it had been two years since I had really, properly spoken with any of them. Besides the occasional family gatherings where I would see Brian, I had really drifted away from everyone. There would be rare phone calls here and there, but people just grow up and grow apart. It was sad, but it was reality.

“I’ve been in business school,” he replied, his smile growing larger. “And I’m working with my brother. We’re setting up a real-estate company.”

I already knew this – I had had a phone conversation with Howie a month ago. It’s not like I had completely blocked the guys out.

“Oh yeah. How’s that going?” I wish I had sounded more excited.

“Really good. We’ve been purchasing condos all around Florida. I really think this is going to be a good investment. And I enjoy it too, so that’s a plus.”

I was happy for Howie. He was finding a life outside the group and had set up something that was all his own – he didn’t have to share his successes with four other guys anymore. It was what we all wanted. Brian had started a family, Nick had established a solo career, AJ had overcome his problems with alcohol and drug abuse, depression and anxiety, and I had a burgeoning career in Broadway musicals and theatre. Although we had never officially broken up the band, calling it a ‘break’ instead, in some ways it felt like the end to the Backstreet Boys.

“I wonder what’s taking them so long,” Howie suddenly said.

He was referring to AJ and Brian. When Nick left, the three of us –AJ, Howie and myself – just hung around AJ’s kitchen catching up and reminiscing on old times. Howie – the master of all things culinary – magicked up some mean burgers and that’s how we spent the rest of the afternoon. Nick hadn’t reappeared and none of us were too keen to go up and see him so we let him be and continued with the reminiscing. I noticed quite quickly that the dynamic between us was different. I wasn’t completely surprised – we had all grown up and spent time apart from one another. It might take a while for us to get back into our natural groove. Sometime around six, when we considered ordering pizza and going up to Nick’s room to get his order, Brian called saying that he was at baggage claim and would be waiting for one of us to pick him up. AJ volunteered again and that just left me and Howie. We decided to wait until AJ and Brian returned before we ordered pizza. That was over an hour ago.

“Probably stuck in traffic,” I replied. I wasn’t worried but I did hope they arrived soon – I didn’t want to run out of things to say to Howie. That had never been a problem before but like I said, the dynamic had changed and we were still getting used to it.

“Yeah probably,” Howie said wistfully and I wondered if he shared my concerns.

We sat in silence for a moment, not sure what to say next, and I feared that my concerns were in fact reality. And then we heard the front door open and we both let out a breath of relief.

“They’re here,” I said. I was sure Howie had already deducted that very same fact for himself, but I felt like I needed to say something.

We both stood as AJ wheeled in a luggage, placing it next to mine, followed by a dishevelled looking Brian. I instantly walked over to him and wrapped my arms around him.

“Hey cuz,” I said, pulling away and smiling softly.

“Hey Brian,” Howie moved past me and enveloped my cousin as well.

“Lord, it’s so great to see you all,” Brian breathed, a look of wonder on his face, as though he never thought this day would come.

“The Backstreet Boys all under one roof again,” Howie said softly.

In that moment it finally hit us: we were together again for the first time in two years! Suddenly I was overwhelmed by an outpour of feelings and slowly, my eyes filled.

I looked around at the others and could tell they felt the same way I did. We had spent so long apart – brothers should never be away from eachother for too long. It was unnatural.

I wanted to freeze in that moment, take it all in – the love, the joy, everything – but we were not here for that.

“Did AJ fill you in?” I asked Brian.

He nodded his head. “I don’t get it,” he said. “What’s going on with him?”

“He wouldn’t say,” AJ said. “Not really.”

“It’s got something to do with Jane,” I said abruptly. As soon as Howie informed me of the number of calls Nick was receiving from his mum, I knew she had something to do with his out of control behaviour. She had a habit of taking advantage of her oldest son and Nick was always left hurting when he finally came to that realisation.

 “Where is he?” Brian asked, turning around as if expecting Nick to be standing right behind him.

“Upstairs,” AJ directed. “First door on the left. Ask him what kind of pizza he wants.”

Brian left the kitchen quickly but I was too busy fuming over Jane to notice. I briefly wondered what she had done this time. Maybe she had written another tell-all book.


November 20th, 1998

“Nick!” I banged on his hotel room door with my fist. “Nick open this damn door!”

Normally I would be concerned of disturbing the hotel guests but there was little chance that they could hear me over Nirvana blasting at max volume from Nick’s room.

“Nick!” In my frustration I was willing to kick the door in, but luckily Nick opened up just in time.

He opened the door a bare inch, turned around and flopped on his bed. I headed straight for the portable radio on the table and switched it with exaggerated hand movements to convey my anger to the eighteen year old. It didn’t matter though because he was lying on his bed with his eyes closed.

“What the hell Nick?” I all but screamed, walking back to the open door and closing it so I could yell at him in peace. “That damn music can be heard all around the hotel.”

“So?” Nick was in one of his moods again, that was plain to see.

“So,” I said hotly, not wanting to deal with a hormonal teenager. “I just got reamed a new one by the hotel manager!”

Nick didn’t reply, he just lay there, silent and with his eyes closed. I stood staring at him filled with rage and annoyed at his lack of giving a shit. But something wasn’t right about him – something more than just being a hormonal teenager. Usually he would argue with me, tell me I was being anal or old. But he did none of that and that made me worried and curious. So I let go of some of my anger and annoyance and approached the bed.

“What’s going on Nick?” I asked, my voice suddenly calmer.

“Nothing,” he mumbled, placing a hand over his face.

“Are you sick?”


“Is everyone okay at home?”


“Is Angel well?”





“Yes!” he shot up, taking me by surprise, and turned his back to me as he sat with his legs over the side of the bed. “I said everyone is fine!”

“Then what’s going on?” I asked with authority.

“Nothing!” Nick huffed.

I walked around to the other side of the bed and sat beside him. I was close but not close enough that he would feel uncomfortable or that I was invading his personal space.

“If you’re feeling homesick, I can maybe organise you to go back to Florida for a couple of days,” I suggested, thinking about all the times Nick would become physically ill from anxiety when he was away from home too long.

“God, Kevin, I’m not a kid anymore!”

I wanted to disagree with that statement but I didn’t want to aggravate him further.

“Nick, you gotta tell me what’s going on buddy because obviously there is something going on,” I pushed.

He remained silent so I asked the question I had deliberately been holding back.

“How’s mum?”

Nick’s reaction was all I needed to confirm that whatever was going on right now with Nick, his mum was at the centre of it. I had noticed a bit of friction between Nick and Jane over the past few weeks. She had been on tour with us for the first time in a long time and at first it had made Nick so happy, but then his mood shifted slightly. I knew that at the time I should have said something to him, should have asked him if everything was okay.

Nick jumped up from the bed and began to pace in front of me. The anxiety was radiating off him and was starting to make me nervous. When he turned to face me it was not anger and hesitance that I saw in his eyes but fear and guilt.

“I tried to talk her out of it,” he said, stopping his pacing to stand in front of me. “I told her I didn’t want her to do it! But she’s going to do it anyway and now you and Brian and Howie and AJ are going to be mad at me and I don’t know what to do! It’s going to be so embarrassing and she wants me to do an introduction!”

His sudden shift in behaviour alarmed me. He went from all angsty, moody, ‘leave me alone’ Nick to anxious, rambling, scared out of his mind Nick. What was worse was I had no clue what he was going on about.

“Nick, calm down buddy,” I stood up and placed a hand on his shoulder hoping that would calm him. “Just breathe, okay?”

Nick nodded, following my instructions and, slowly, the wild look on his face lessened.

“Now, tell me everything,” but when I saw his anxiety levels rise again, I added quickly. “slowly.”

“My mum,” Nick started. “She’s releasing a tell-all book on me and the group.”

I didn’t know what to say. I certainly wasn’t expecting this bit of news. Nick was watching me anxiously, waiting for a reaction.

“It’s mostly about me,” Nick continued. “But it has some Backstreet stuff in there too.”

My shock was subsiding and I could feel my anger rise in me again. What right did Jane Carter have to write a tell-all book about the Backstreet Boys? She had not approached us to ask for our approval. She had not even given us a heads-up.

“Kevin?” Nick looked terrified and I knew I had to approach this sensitively.

“When is it being released?”

Nick looked down at his shoes. “Next week,” he said softly, almost ashamedly.

“Next week!” I hadn’t meant to sound so angry, but the truth of the matter was, I was furious! “Why am I just hearing about it now?”

Nick flinched and I instantly felt guilty.

“She only told me a couple of weeks ago,” he said defensively. “I thought I could talk her out of it by now.”

“Have you read it?” I asked more calmly, retaking my seat on his bed.

He shook his head. “Only the blurb,” he admitted. “I flicked through the book. There’s only one chapter on the group. Two at the most.”

I sighed. “That’s not the point Nick,” I said glumly as he took a seat beside me.

“I know,” he mumbled. “She wants me to write an introduction. That’s the only reason she told me in the first place. Her agent thinks it’ll sell more copies that way.”

“Do you have a copy on you?”

He leaned forward and pulled the first drawer of his bedside table open. From there he retrieved an average sized manuscript. I looked at the cover in distaste. The photo of Nick was one I recognised instantly – it was from a publicity shoot we had done back in Germany. But that wasn’t what had made me recoil in horror.

“’The Heart and Soul of Nick Carter’?”

Nick moaned and leaned forward, covering his face with his hands.

“If people don’t think I’m gay yet, they will after this,” he grimaced.

“Can I take this?” I asked, flipping through the manuscript.

“Nick looked up at me in horror. “Why?”

“Because I want to read it,” I said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world – and it was.

“Why?” he asked again.

“I want to know what she says,” I said honestly. “Maybe it’s not as bad as you think. Besides, I want to have read it when we tell the others.”

Nick jumped off the bed, startling me. “NO!” he all but screamed. “AJ will kill me!”

“They’re going to find out about it sooner or later,” I reasoned, standing from the bed and travelling towards the door. I wanted to start reading as soon as possible. “It’s better that they know before the book comes out.”

“Kevin, we’re not going to stop it,” he said it with such defeat and I was tempted to hug him but I stopped myself. “It’s going to come out and I have to write an introduction.”

I sighed, placing my hand on the doorknob, itching to get out. “I’ll talk to the guys by myself,” I thought I’d give him some reprieve. It wasn’t his fault his mum was doing this.

I had opened the door and was about to step out when Nick spoke again.

“I never believed them, you know.”

“Believed who Nick?”

“Everyone. When they said she was a stage mum, I never believed it. But she is, isn’t she?”

I knew he was looking for a specific answer – that answer being ‘no’. But I didn’t want to lie to him, not this time. In my anger towards Jane I felt vengeful – I wanted Nick to finally see who she really was. After all the crap she’s pulled throughout the years, he’s still stuck by her, forgiven her even after all the disappointments and empty promises – it almost made me sick. Maybe now was the time the veil was pulled back from Nick’s eyes.

“Just relax tonight, Little Man,” I said instead noting the disappointment in Nick’s eyes. “We have a big day tomorrow.” And I left.



I looked up at AJ. I was so lost in my memories that I had completely zoned out, not even noticing when AJ had asked me a question.


“What type of pizza topping?” AJ had a phone in his hand, ready to hit dial as soon as Brian came down from Nick’s room.

“Oh, whatever,” I said, waving my hand. “I’m not really hungry.”

Before AJ could answer, Brian came rushing into the kitchen with a puzzled look on his face.

“What does he want?” AJ asked.

“He’s not up there,” Brian said, annoyance creeping into his voice.

“Did you look in the right room?” Howie asked.

“Well, his stuff is there,” Brian replied, his puzzled expression giving way to an angry one.

I could feel my blood begin to boil.



A/N: Thanks for the feedback, to those of you who reviewed. I always love to get feedback! Hope you all liked this chapter!

Chapter 11 by jess20
A/N I haven’t updated this story in like a year! Here’s the thing, if anyone is interested. I had a very busy/horrible/great year – it was all over the place. My grandmother passed away which affected my performance on my thesis. So I had to go part-time on my thesis. I’m having a lot of family dramas at the moment (the matriarch passed and now everyone is fighting like cats and dogs) and I’ve just been so stressed with that and the thesis. But I also went overseas again! So yer, as I said, busy/horrible/great. I totally understand if people are done with this story, but I thought I’d give it another try. Half of it was written when I released chapter ten and the other half was written only recently (you can probably tell where the split is). Hopefully, there is still some interest. Anyways, on to the show.

Chapter 11:

When I woke up, my head was still pounding and I had a sick feeling in my stomach. I almost left the bedroom to go on a Tylenol hunt when I remembered what happened downstairs and my anger resurged. I stomped back to the bed and reclaimed the notepad I had dropped earlier – the notepad I reserved for my song writing. Opening to a new page, I let my anger out. The lyrics I wrote were truly beautiful, let me tell you. They went something along the lines of: ‘Fuck you Kevin, Fuck you Howie, Fuck you AJ’ and just for good measure ‘Double fuck you Kevin’. When I was done, I felt a little better. The sick feeling in my stomach had disappeared and my headache had lessened considerably. But I was beginning to get restless.

I don’t know why I hadn’t noticed it before, but suddenly the sounds of laughter came to me from downstairs. This only served to make me angry again and intensify my restlessness.

I need to get out!

I contemplated sneaking out the bedroom window and climbing down the gutter, but that was cowardly. I’m not their prisoner and if I want to leave I will leave! I wasn’t scared of them. That’s what I told myself at least.

I briefly toyed around with the idea of just walking out the front door. Telling them ‘hey guys, I’m going out and there’s nothing you can do about it’, but then memories from my childhood of Kevin grabbing me in a headlock resurfaced. Besides, I couldn’t face them right now – not after what just happened.

So sneaking out the window wasn’t going to work and neither was just walking out the front door like everything was peachy. I would have to compromise: I would sneak out the front door.

I walked to the door and pressed my ear against it. I don’t know why I did that since their laughter was so loud that anyone within a five block radius could have heard them. I slowly turned the doorknob and inched the door open, trying to be as silent as possible. I froze when the door gave out a small moan, holding my breath and expecting to be caught out. But when the laughing from downstairs continued, I knew I was safe and opened the door wide, slipping through. I treaded downstairs on the tips of my toes, willing for the non-existence of a trick step. When I reached the bottom, I made sure to stay close to the walls, silently weaving and ducking through the living room until I reached the front door. I was like a freaking ninja.

As I opened the door and escaped into freedom, I couldn’t resist: “Douchebags.”


Kevin’s yell made me jump but it was the silence that answered him that made me nervous. Suddenly all these ‘what if’ thoughts jumped in my head and my nervousness quickly changed to anxiety.

Ok, remember what Dr. Gellar said, AJ, deep breaths and rational thoughts.

He’s probably dead. Drank himself silly, passed out and drowned in his own vomit.

Ok, so not a great start to the whole rational thinking idea.

“I’m going to call the police,” Kevin snapped me out of my “rational thoughts”.

“What for?” I asked.

“Don’t you think that’s being a bit dramatic Kev?”

“No Brian, I don’t think that’s being a little dramatic,” uh oh Kevin was mimicking. Never a good sign. “He’s walking around with PCP in his system.”

“And what are the police going to do exactly?” Howie asked. “Lock him up for the night?”

“Bring him back here?” Kevin retorted.

“Not if they give him a drug test and find the PCP in his system,” Howie shot back.

“We should go looking for him,” I suggested. I was worried, I admit it. I really wasn’t too concerned at first, but that was until Nick came downstairs and we had our mini-intervention.

Howie shook his head. “No, he just needs space,” he said calmly. “He’ll be fine.”

Kevin had the most stupid look on his face when Howie said that. “He’s walking around with PCP in his system and he’s probably off to another bar!”

“You saw his face when he found out he took PCP,” Howie objected. “He was horrified. If I know Nicky he’ll be too paranoid to take even a sip of a beer.”

Howie was right. Nick could be incredibly paranoid about these kinds of things. When news about Mad Cow Disease reached America, he refused to eat beef for a whole month.
“He’ll be fine. If we go after him, he’ll never trust us again.”

It was funny how time changes things. When we first took Nick back to my place Howie was freaking out and I was pretty confident he’d be fine. It was the other way around now.

“Who cares?” Kevin all but screamed. “I mean, does he even trust us now? Why should he?” Kevin was getting emotional again, I could hear it in his voice – it was getting all wet and everything. “I mean when was the last time any of you spoke to him? Like a proper conversation?”

Well this had taken an unexpected turn.

“Brian?” he turned to Brian suddenly, questioningly.

Brian looked violated. “Why is it always me?” he demanded angrily.

“Frick and Frack right?” it slipped out of my mouth, but now that Kevin had said it, I was slightly resentful of Brian for ignoring Nick. That kid loved Brian – it must have torn him all which way not to speak to Brian at least once a month.

“What about you?” Brian turned on me viciously. “What do you live, like, two blocks away from him? You can’t take a five minute drive to visit?”


“Five blocks,” I whispered. It had hit me: that’s what Nick had been shouting about. We only lived five blocks apart and we hadn’t seen each other in months. I was just as guilty, if not more so, than Brian. Suddenly there was a bad taste in my mouth.

“And what about you?” Brian directed at Kevin. “Big brother right? You were the first person he called last night!” Was that jealousy? “Where have you been?”

“There is no point in blaming one another,” Howie to the rescue. “We’ve all been crap friends.” Way to console, D.

I walked over to the kitchen table and collapsed on a chair. We had been crap friends. But not just to Nick – to each other. We always said in interviews we were like brothers, closer than our own family sometimes. Family shouldn’t do this shit to one another.

Kevin sat down opposite me and Howie beside me. Brian seemed too agitated to sit.

“So we won’t go after him,” Kevin said quietly. “Give him some space.”

Howie nodded.

“I can’t go through this again.”

I winced. They didn’t want to go through this again. Because I had put them through it the first time.

“I just don’t get how it got this bad and we never knew,” Howie said. “I mean, how did it get this bad?”

How did it get this bad? When I was in rehab, Dr Gellar told me that we all have habits and sometimes they might seem like a good, enjoyable thing, but most times they’re not. Habits can make you feel safe – like a comfort blanket. My habits had become my comfort blanket – I drank when I was sad, snorted coke when I felt anxious. It all felt good at the time, it felt safe. But I didn’t realise the damage it was doing.

So, how did it get this bad? It got this bad through habit. And we all learn our habits from somewhere.


March 5, 1998

I pounded on the bathroom door. “For fuck’s sake, Howie, how long are you going to take?”

“Give him some time. He’s only been in there for forty minutes,” Brian laughed from the couch in the living room of our suite.

“He better be ready soon,” I huffed, abandoning my crusade on the bathroom door and going over to sit with Brian.

“And Nick better be ready now!” I screamed in the direction of Nick’s bedroom.

“I’m looking for underwear!” Nick screamed back.

Brian and I made faces at each other.

“Gross,” I said just as the door to the suite opened and Kevin walked in, carrying two bags of KFC.

“Yummy!” I shouted, jumping up from the couch, grabbing one of the bags from him and rummaging through it.

“Not for you,” Kevin stole the bag back and dumped them both on the coffee table in front of Brian. “You’re going out. This is for me and Brian.”

“No fair,” I whined, but when I glanced down at my wristwatch, food was the last thing on my mind. “HOWIE! NICK!”

A door slammed open and Nick came stumbling in, zipping up his fly.

“I’m here!” he panted, looking flushed. “I looked everywhere for that spare underwear but I couldn’t find it.”

“What are you wearing then?”

“Oh gross Kev, don’t ask him that!” I shuddered.

Nick smirked. “Brian had a new pair sticking out of his luggage.”

Brian wrinkled his nose. “Nick!”

“I’ll give them back,” Nick said, rolling his eyes as if Brian was being overdramatic and he then proceeded to put on socks.

“You can keep them,” Brian said. “Next time buy your own damn underwear.”

Nick beamed. “Thanks Frick. Hey Aje, don’t you think we should leave soon? It’s eleven-thirty already.”

I glared at him but didn’t reply.

“He’s probably applying another layer of foundation,” Brian laughed, referring to Howie’s insane amount of time in the bathroom. He bit into a chicken leg and slapped Nick’s hand away when he tried to reach for some fries.

“Only one layer of foundation for me Littrell.”
Howie waltzed in, cool as anything. I wanted to smack him.
“Gosh AJ, we’re running a bit late aren’t we?”

Yep, I’m gonna smack him.

“Hey not the face!”

“Calm down AJ,” Kevin laughed. “What’s the hurry?”

“We’ve been cooped up here all day,” I snapped, watching Nick tie up his shoelaces – at a snail’s rate. “I want to try out this new club and you have to get there early because it fills up fast.”

“Ready!” Nick announced.

“Thank fuck,” I cried. “Let’s go!”

I headed towards the door, Howie and Nick followed me closely.

“Hey guys, wait up a minute,” Kevin called after us.
I groaned – loudly. Was I ever going to leave this God forsaken suite?

“You better hurry Kev,” Nick said. “AJ might pop an aneurism.”

I was too frustrated to take any notice of Nick.

“We have an interview at nine tomorrow so don’t stay out too late,” Kevin instructed. “And don’t drink too much. AJ, Nick, I’m looking at you.”

“Yeah great,” I said turning my back on him and opened the door, escaping into freedom.

We took a taxi down to the club. We were held up at the door because the security personnel weren’t convinced that Nick was eighteen even though he had his ID and he had the same stupid bowl haircut in the picture as he has now. When we were finally in, Howie made a beeline for the bar, pushing his way through the crowded club and bopping his head idiotically to the dance music the DJ was playing. I noticed a cute girl sitting by herself on one of the couches they had on the side of the dance floor. I made my way over to her, leaving Nick standing at the door by himself. As I got closer, I realised she might not know English – I was in Quebec after all.

“Hey gorgeous,” I said in my Barry White voice.

She looked very unimpressed. “Pass,” she said simply, standing up from her seat and moving away.

“Ouch,” I muttered, feeling my face flush. “Not to worry, the night is still young.” I headed off to find another girl.

I want to say that the night improved for me, but I’d be lying. I only racked up a total of three phone numbers (not that I was gonna call them or anything) but I mostly got blown off – one girl claimed she was a lesbian but I distinctly remember her sucking the faces off at least two guys before I made a move and then continued to feel up another guy while I was standing less than four feet away from her. Meanwhile, Howie had made out with five girls – okay one, but that was one more than me! What the hell?

I ended up at the bar drinking a Jack Daniels and wallowing in self pity – my forte. Sometime after my third drink, Nick came out of nowhere and slapped me on the back of my head playfully. I swatted at him as he took the stool next to me.

“Check out D,” he laughed, pointing over to where Howie was now tongue wrestling with a blonde.

I shook my head. “Man, how come he gets all the girls?” I asked bitterly.

“He’s the Latin Loverrrrrrr,” Nick purred out the R and I swallowed the last of my Jack. This was not the night I was hoping for. Suddenly, an idea popped in my head – a way to get me out of this rotten mood.

“Wanna do shots?” I asked Nick.

Nick looked uncertain. “I haven’t done shots before,” he said awkwardly.

“You mean you lived above a bar most of your life and you never had a shot?” I teased. If I knew anything about Nick, it was that the easiest way to get him to do what you want is to tease him into it. “You’re like eighteen, dude,” I laughed. “Bit slow, aren’t ya?”

It had the intended effect I wanted. His face turned red and he puffed out his chest.

“Nah man, just haven’t felt the need,” he replied
casually. “But I can totally drink you under the table.”

I smirked. “Prove it.”

Half an hour later, I was feeling much better. A few shots left me giddy and a tad more confident. Nick, on the other hand, wanting to prove himself, was bent over the bar, breathing heavily. I slapped him on the back.

“Who knew you were such a good drinking buddy,” I glowered, slightly proud. I had made a man out of him.

“I don’t feel so good,” he mumbled, a hand over his mouth.

I laughed again. “Have another, it gets better,” I shoved another shot in his face, but he shook his head.

Nick was starting to bore me. I wanted to try my luck with the ladies again. I started to get up from my seat when Howie came over, a girl on his arm.

“Hey guys,” he grinned. “This is Clar- what’s wrong with Nick?”

“That’s a strange name,” I laughed as the girl gave me her hand.

“AJ, what’s wrong with Nick?” Howie asked again, tapping Nick on the shoulder as he now had his face on the bar, his arms wrapped around his head.

“He’s a lightweight,” I said, noticing as Howie’s girl detached herself from him and started to lean on me. Take that D.

“Lightweight?” Howie suddenly noticed the shot glasses that littered the bar. “AJ what the hell, man? We have an interview tomorrow morning!”

I shrugged and turned my attention to the girl whose name turned out to be Clarissa. We started to flirt and I completely lost track of what was going on beside me as I turned my full attention to Clarissa.

We were just about to lock lips when Howie grabbed me roughly by the collar and forced me away from her.

“We’re leaving,” he said. “Help me with Nick.”

“Nah man, you guys go, I’m good,” I said, trying to turn back to Clarissa who had a miffed look on her face.

“Sorry darling,” Howie said addressing Clarissa. “AJ still hasn’t gotten over his herpes yet.”

Clarissa’s mouth shot open, she gasped, gave me a dirty glare and walked off in a huff.

I turned to Howie. “The fuck D?”

Howie looked livid – Howie is never livid. “You gave Nick shots?” he said.

“I didn’t force them down his throat,” my high had gone, the shots had done their job and Howie had undone all their hard work.

“No, you pressured him into it, right?” Howie turned back to Nick who was now sitting up straight in his seat, his eyes wide open and his throat working furiously as his mouth opened and closed sporadically.

“Howie, I don’t feel so good,” Nick said, ending his sentence with a gag.

“Alright, we’re going now,” Howie said and helped Nick to his feet. Together they made their way past the dancing people and towards the exit. I followed begrudgingly, no longer wanting to stay in this club anyways. What a dive.

When we got out, Howie flagged down a taxi. The ride back was awful. Nick starting blowing chunks halfway through. The taxi driver was not impressed. Howie promised him that we’d pay for the dry cleaning. I thought the vomit was an improvement to the decor of the taxi and the taxi driver should have thanked us.

When we reached the hotel, Howie paid the man and gave him his number for dry cleaning services. We helped Nick through the doors of the hotel, his vomit lingering on his clothes and his breath, and into the elevator. When the elevator doors opened on our floor, he made a mad dash for our suite.

We ran after him and Howie got the key out, ready to open the door, but apparently Nick couldn’t wait that long. He started banging on the door, his cheeks blown up as he tried to keep another round of puke inside.

Howie opened the door and Nick ran inside and to the bathroom. Howie ran in after him and I stepped inside to see Kevin and Brian standing outside their bedroom doors looking confused and a little alarmed.

“What the hell is going on?” Kevin demanded as the sound of retching came out to greet us from the bathroom.

“Nick is a lightweight,” I huffed, still annoyed at Howie.
“What?” Brian rubbed his eyes.

I pointed to the bathroom.

Kevin stormed over to the bathroom, took one look inside, wrinkled his nose and turned back to face me.

“What happened?” he asked.

“I think he drank too much,” I replied, making my way to my own bedroom, suddenly so tired. Nick would be okay. He had a great time. This was just a little hitch in a great night and he’ll recognise that.

As I passed the bathroom, I peered in. Nick was bent over the toilet, his hair slicked back. Howie sat on the bathtub next to the toilet, his hand on Nick’s back. When he saw me, he stood up.

“AJ!” he yelled when I walked past. He walked out of the bathroom, passing the vomit baton to Brian who took his place. “What were you thinking?”

“You did this?” Kevin looked murderous. “We have an interview tomorrow morning! How is he supposed to do an interview hung over?”

“He’ll be fine,” I said, never stopping to address them. My bedroom was only a few feet away now and suddenly I was tired. “He had as much drinks as I did and I’m fine.”

“He’s never done shots before!” Howie said.

“Shots?” Kevin was coming after me, I could hear his steps. “What shots?” yep, there he is. Grabbing my arm and stopping me.

“Vodka,” I answered, tuning to face them. I didn’t know what the big deal was.

“He’s eighteen!” Kevin was beginning to shriek.

“It’s legal here,” I reminded him.

“I don’t care!”

“Whatever, I’m going to bed,” I wriggled my wrist out of Kevin’s grip and opened my bedroom door.

“And next time, get your own girl!”


Ok, so if you’re still interested let me know. If you have lost the plot completely because it’s been ages since last chapter, I will post a reminder of what’s been happening if there is a chapter 12. Thanks for reading and hope to see some feedback.
Chapter 12 by jess20
A/N: Thanks so much to Jujube and KimberlyCan for reviewing! KimberlyCan I accidentally deleted your review when I was editing the last chapter but thanks so much for your kind words! Jujube, thanks for the encouragement! Hopefully this chapter gets some love too lol.

As promised, though, I am going to recap the story so far because I have been aware for a long time. So far: AJ and Howie found Nick in an alleyway completely out of his mind from PCP. The boys reunite at AJ’s place where Nick is now staying. Brian finds out that the bank foreclosed Nick’s house and Howie found out that Nick has been in contact with his mum, Jane, again. They tried giving Nick a mini-intervention, as they thought Nick might be heading the way of AJ, but what they didn’t know was that Nick had meant to take ecstasy and not PCP. The intervention was a disaster and Nick decides to skip out on AJ’s. He’s mad at them for not keeping in touch with him over their hiatus. Then there are those snapshots of the past which, hopefully, will make sense at the end. Whew! That’s it! Enjoy this chapter!

Chapter 12: Blood and Water.

I didn't know where I was going or what I’d do when I got there but the freedom felt nice. Breathing in the fresh night air after staying cooped up in AJ’s house of horrors felt better than nice – it felt like the best thing in the world. I was almost giddy. I had escaped! But that giddiness did not last long. I still had a headache, my stomach was still queasy and to top it off, I was shit scared. The type of scared where all I wanted to do was crawl under my covers and pretend the world didn’t exist and that I would never have to leave my bed ever again. In that moment I wanted to turn around and go back to AJ’s, beg for Kevin, Howie and AJ’s forgiveness and ask them to never leave me again. But that thought just made me angry again. I shouldn’t have to be the one to apologise! They were the ones that ignored me, treated me like I didn’t exist, made me feel like my one REAL family didn’t give a damn about me! They should be apologising to me! Instead Kevin comes all the way here to shout at me. No ‘I missed you Nick’, no ‘How’s it going little man?’ Nope, just shouts and screams. Who does that? Just comes all that way to scream at a person? Kevin, that’s who. He probably enjoyed it too. Just because I accidentally took some PCP...

Speaking of which... I was about to start freaking out again. What the hell had I done to myself? I am such a freaking loser. How do you accidentally take PCP? I’d been doing ecstasy for about six months now, how did I not know that you don’t smoke it? How can I be this stupid? Kevin and Howie used to say to me a lot that I should use my head more. AJ used to say I was semi-retarded. I think AJ may have been right.

I wonder what it was doing to my body. Would I wake up with an extra toe? Could drugs do that? Maybe the reason why my heart felt like it was gonna pop out of my chest before in the kitchen was because of the drugs. Yep, I was officially freaking out. I wanted Kevin.

NO! I did not just say that! Shut up Nick, you semi-retard! If Kevin had just asked instead of yelling at me...But he had asked, hadn’t he? I was the one who turned aggressive – like I always do. It’s because I am so angry at him – at all of them! They should have been here for me! Especially when my mum...

Oh God, my mum. I need a drink.

My feet must have known, because suddenly I was far from AJ’s and standing outside a liquor store. I looked through the window of the store and at the rows of bottles lining the shelves inside.

God, I really need a drink.


“So how long are you going to stay?” Leighanne was mad.

“I’m not sure, babe, a couple of days?” I said.

“A couple of days?” she was definitely not impressed.

“It’s only a couple of days,” I whispered that into the receiver. I didn’t want the other guys to think that Leighanne would have a problem with me being away for that long. They already think I’m whipped.

“Maybe we should come down then,” she suggested.

“No need,” that wouldn’t put me in her good books. “It’s really crowded here at the moment and I want to stay in the house with the guys so we can be here for Nick.” It wasn’t a total lie; I did want to be here for Nick. But AJ had plenty of room for Leighanne and Baylee to stay. Truth was, Leighanne being here would only cause more problems. Nick didn’t like her and I was scared them being in close proximity to eachother would only serve to push Nick further down the path I was scared he was already heading down.

“Right,” yep, I would be sleeping on the couch for the next year. “You know he’s not your responsibility right? Not anymore.”

I sighed. “I know, but he is my brother.”

“Your friend.”

I hated when she did that. Sometimes I didn’t know if she did it because she didn’t like the guys – Nick in particular – or because she wanted ‘sole custody’ of me. Great, Nick was getting into my head.

“Look, I’ll be home in a couple of days,” I sighed. “Kiss Baylee for me.”

“Of course,” she said and swiftly hung up on me.

I stood there for a good thirty seconds with the phone still attached to my ear. I swallowed my anger. She had a right to be mad. Right?

“Everything good Rok?”

I jumped, tearing the phone from my ear. I hoped AJ hadn’t heard the conversation.

“All good,” I said, turning to smile at him.

“Leighanne not happy?”

Why did he have to say that? Now I was mad at him.

“No!” I huffed and AJ raised his hands defensively.

“Just asking,” he turned and left me in the living room where I had made the call.

I felt like shit. I was mad! Mad at Leighanne for that ‘friends’ remark, mad at AJ for knowing Leighanne too well, mad at Kevin and Howie because I could, and mad at Nick for dragging me into this mess. This was HIS mess! Not mine! His mess did not equate to my mess. Not anymore. Just like Leighanne said.

God help me! Who was I kidding? Nick would always drag me into his mess. Leighanne was fed up with it and to be honest so was I! But I had an obligation to Nick. I’ve had an obligation to Nick since he was fifteen.


October 18, 1995

I knocked on the door.

“Come in!”

I pushed the door open and Kevin and Howie followed in after me.

I stood in the doorway, uncertain of the situation I was about to be a part of. I felt Howie and Kevin crowd in around me and together, the three of us took in what was in front of us.

In the boardroom on one side of a long table sat Lou, AJ’s mum, Denise, and the Backstreet lawyer, Jon Silverman. On the other side of the table sat Jane Carter and a man that I could only assume could be her lawyer.

“Sit down boys,” Lou waved us in. I sat at the head of the table, unsure of what was going to happen. Kevin and Howie took seats either side of me.

“What’s going on Lou?” Kevin asked.

“We have a situation boys,” Lou didn’t look pleased. In fact, he looked downright pissed.

“Where’s AJ and Nicky?” Howie asked.

“AJ and Nick are still underage,” Lou began. “AJ’s mum preferred he sit out of this meeting.”

I waited for Lou to expand, perhaps explain where Nick was.

“Jon represents the interests of all five boys,” Lou continued. “He is here for your counsel.”

“Counsel?” I asked, confused. I looked at Denise who sat sombrely beside Lou. I then looked at Jane. She seemed nervous, fidgety even.

“Mrs. Carter wants to make change to the group,” Lou was being elusive.

“Changes?” Kevin looked abruptly at Jane. “What changes?”

Jane cleared her throat. “I think it’s time for Nick to pursue a solo career.”

What did she just say? I shook my head, not out of disagreement, but because I sincerely thought I had heard her wrong.

“What?” I was going to say ‘excuse me?’ but Kevin’s abrupt and snarky reply would do.

“He’s been in this group for two years now,” Jane was blushing. “I think he’ll have more success as a solo artist.”

“I’ve told you Jane,” Lou huffed. “Their careers will take off any day now. We’ve made arrangements. We’re in talks to have them flown to Sweden to-“

“Mrs. Carter is aware of these arrangements you’ve made,” Jane’s lawyer looked slimy. Like he hadn’t washed in a few days. “She’s not convinced. She wants Nick to leave the Backstreet Boys,” did he just say that name with disdain? “And break out on his own. She’s his mother and his manager. It is her right.”

“He is being stifled in this group,” Jane expanded. “Put in the back. Having to share the spotlight with four other boys. Two practically double his age!”

“Double?!” Kevin yelled it, looking astounded.

“What about Nicky?” Howie demanded, pushing back his chair as if to stand, ignoring the slight aimed at him. “Does he agree with this?”

Jane did not respond and neither did her lawyer.

“Of course he didn’t!” Denise looked furious. “He doesn’t even know you’re doing this, does he?”

“He’ll thank me!” Jane snarled back at Denise. “When he’s outshining the others, he’ll thank me!”

“He doesn’t want to leave!” I protested, my heart beating furiously. They couldn’t take Nick away from us!

“Do you know this personally?” Jon looked interested.

“Yes!” I thought I had yelled it, the word sound so loud, but Howie and Kevin had added their voices to mine.

“There has to be something we can do,” Kevin was looking straight at Lou, completely ignoring Jane and her slimy lawyer. “We all signed contracts.”

“Which are still binding,” Jon added. “But Nick’s contract, like AJ’s, is only standing if he is accompanied at all times by his guardian.”

“If his guardian can no longer travel with him, he is under no obligation,” Lou said, giving Jane a dirty look as he did.

“And what the hell is wrong with you?” Kevin demanded, staring menacingly at Jane. “You seem fine to travel to me.”

“I have four other kids at home,” she said, almost innocently. “It’ll be easier on the family if Nick was home.”

“Bull crap!” Did that just come out of Howie’s mouth?

“What about Mr. Carter?” I asked desperately.

“He’s running the retirement home,” Jane replied. “He has no time to work and take care of the kids.”

“And what are you going to tell your son?” Denise asked. “What are you going to say to him when you drag him away from this group?”

“What I say to my son is not your concern Denise,” Jane shot back. “Maybe take care of your own son before looking out for mine. What colour is AJ’s hair now? That’s a lost boy, that one!”

Denise looked furious. “How you became a mother is beyond me!” she all but shrieked.

“Ladies!” Jon put his hands up to simmer the situation.
“There is another way,” Lou looked shifty – a look I had come to be familiar with.

Everyone quieted. Even Jane looked curious. Looked as though Lou and Jon had discussed this beforehand.

“What’s the other way?” Howie asked quickly.

Jon shifted in his chair, looking slightly uncomfortable. “Nick has a separate guardian for when he is on tour and travelling.”

Kevin, Howie and I sat there for a moment. We each looked at each other, thinking the same thing.

“Great!” Kevin smiled. “Problem solved! Lou can be Nick’s guardian!”

“Um, I’m sorry,” Jane looked absolutely horrified. “No way is this happening.”

Lou looked at Kevin and I had an unsettling feeling. “I can’t do that,” he said. “Can you imagine what that looks like? Music producer owns boyband member?”

“Then what?” I asked, feeling dejected.

“Excuse me!” Jane was beside herself. She stood up, as did her lawyer beside. “This is not happening!”

“It will happen!” Lou turned to her, looking vicious. “Because if you don’t sign the papers giving these boys guardianship of Nick while on tour I will personally sue you for breach of contract. Even if I don’t have a case, your son will be finished in the industry! I will make sure of it!”

What in HOLY HELL just happened?

Howie and Kevin jumped from their seats.

“What?” Howie looked petrified. “No. No, no, no. I can’t be his guardian.”

“What the hell are you talking about Lou?” Kevin sounded scared.

I was numb.

Jon pulled a briefcase from under the table and set it on the table. He opened it and pulled out three bundles of documents which he slid across the table for each of us.
“Those are legal documents,” Jon explained. “If you sign them, Nick will be your responsibility on tour until he reaches the age of eighteen.”

I looked down at the document, not quite knowing what I was looking at. I looked up at Denise. She looked just as shocked. I then looked at Jane. She looked deflated.
Lou stood up, grabbed the documents back and walked around to Jane. He set the documents down on the table in front of her and handed her a pen.

“Sign here,” Lou said sternly. “It’s all legit.”

The slimy lawyer snapped one of the documents from the table and took a few minutes to skim through it. I held my breath, not knowing what was happening.

“It’s as he says,” the lawyer told Jane. “The three boys get guardianship of Nick until he turns eighteen. But only while they’re on the road.”

Jane’s face turned to fury. “You’re forcing my hand!” she spat at Lou. “You’re dictating what I do with my son.”
“Please,” Lou snarled, pushing the pen towards Jane. “I’m going to make you millions.”

There was a standoff happening. Lou was staring down Jane and Jane was staring down Lou. Let me reiterate: What in the HOLY HELL is happening?

Finally, Jane snatched the pen from Lou and signed all three documents. When she had finished, she threw the pen at Lou who ducked it. She stood up again and marched towards the door, her lawyer following.

“They better be BIG Pearlman,” she said, her voice sounding dangerous. “They better be bigger than The Beatles.” And with that she left.

That left Lou, Jon, Denise, Kevin, Howie and me. There was complete silence and complete stillness for a full minute before Kevin put his hands to his head.

“What the hell just happened?”

“Nick stays in the group only on the condition that the three of you,” Jon pointed at the Kevin, Howie and me, “claim guardianship of him while on tour.”

“I’m only twenty-two,” Howie murmured. “Brian’s only twenty!”

“Why can’t Denise do it?” I asked, feeling light-headed and unstable.

“Because AJ will turn eighteen in one year,” Lou explained. “She will no longer need to be on the road with him if she doesn’t want to.”

“You’ll be with him all the time,” Jon said. “It’s really no responsibility. Just make sure he does what he’s told.”
Kevin snorted. “This is whack,” he said.

“Listen boys,” Lou’s voice had taken a sterner tone. “Time to grow up. You’re in the business now and you need Nick. He might be a little shit but he brings in the young girls and he has one of the best pop voices of his age. So, here’s the deal. No Nick in the Backstreet Boys? Then no Backstreet Boys. Got it?”

I felt like I was about to cry.

“Lou, that’s a bit-“

“Denise, this goes for AJ too, so it is in your best interest that these boys do what they are told.”

Howie took a step closer to Lou. “You threatened to ruin Nicky’s career and now you’re threatening to ruin all of our careers?”

“That’s the way business works son,” Lou shrugged. He just shrugged!

“Give me the papers,” Kevin looked destroyed, emotionally and mentally. He looked as if he was about to break down. “I’ll sign the damn papers.”

“Good man,” Lou looked pleased, damn him. He slid one document over to Kevin and tossed him the pen that Jane had thrown at him.

Kevin bent down to sign. “Just so we’re clear,” he straightened back up before signing. “You can destroy my career for all I care! But you using a fifteen year old kid like that?” he puffed. “If I don’t sign this, then I might as well condemn that kid to a life in hell. Because that what living with Jane Carter after this would be like.”

He signed it and tossed it back to Lou. Lou, in turn, tossed the remaining documents to Howie and me. Howie screwed his eyes closed and looked to Kevin who now sat slumped in his seat. Howie bent over the table and he too signed his name.

He handed the pen to me.


I didn’t know who had said my name. I didn’t care. I wasn’t ready for this. I loved Nick, but I couldn’t be his guardian. So why did I sign the damn thing?

“I’ll have these processed,” Jon collected the documents and returned them, now signed, back to his briefcase. “We’ll let you know.” And with that, he walked out the room.

“You did a good thing boys,” Lou smiled, following Jon.
Howie fell in the seat beside me. We all just sat there. What the hell had we gotten ourselves into? We had just signed to be the parent of a fifteen year old kid.

“Nick can’t know.”

“What?” Howie had tears in his eyes and I realised I had them too.

“Nick can’t know about this,” Kevin repeated.

“Honey,” Denise was still with us. I hadn’t noticed. “He’s going to find out.”

Kevin shook his head. “No, I mean he can’t know about his mum,” he clarified. “He can’t know what this has all been about.” Kevin’s voice was breaking. “He can’t know this was because of money. Because his mum wants money. Because Lou wants money.”

Howie nodded, as did I.

“And AJ,” Kevin looked at Denise earnestly. “He can’t know either.”

Denise looked confused and I was too. Why couldn’t we tell AJ?

“Please, Denise,” Kevin pleaded.

“Okay sweetheart,” she said. “I won’t tell him. He’ll never know from me.”

Soon after, she left. We needed her to leave. It needed to just be the three of us for a while. So there we sat, trying so hard not to give in to the panic that was threatening to consume us. There we sat, wallowing in the fact that we had just become the parents of fifteen year old Nick Carter.


Please let me know how you think it’s going so far! Lots of love xx
Chapter 13 by jess20
AN: Thanks so much for the reviews! Thanks to KimberlyCan, libragurl and nycki02! Loving the feedback and want to say thanks so much for keeping up with the story even after such a long break!

Chapter Thirteen: Day Off

Brian and AJ had gone to bed just after midnight. AJ was getting anxious. He kept bouncing his knees up and down and whenever he thought no one was paying attention, he would focus on his breathing. I sympathised with him – after everything he had been through, this was the last thing he needed: the worry of one of his closest friends making the same mistakes he had made.

Brian went up with AJ. He hadn’t been in a good mood since he got off the phone with Leighanne. Granted, he hadn’t been in the best moods before then either, but after that call, he was even more sullen. I was not surprised. I knew Leighanne wouldn’t be happy to hear that Brian was staying for a couple of nights. So that left Kevin and me, sitting at the kitchen table and taking in as much caffeine as possible to stay awake.

Kevin was being silent – more so than usual. When AJ and Brian went to bed, he made a call to Kristin, the hour be damned. When he had returned, his demeanour mirrored that of Brian’s. I was curious as to why. I knew Kristin would have no problem with Kevin being Florida for a week or so, so it had to be something else.

“You should go to bed, D,” Kevin said, the first words he had spoken to me in an hour. “You haven’t had a proper sleep since this whole...shit happened.”

I shook my head. “I want to be here when Nick gets back.” In truth, I was scared what Kevin might do to Nick if I wasn’t there to stop it.

“If he even comes back,” Kevin muttered.

“He’ll be back,” I assured. “All his stuff’s here.”

Kevin didn’t look convinced. “Once the sun is up, I’m going over to his,” he said. “And if he still hasn’t shown up by nine, I’m calling the cops.”

I looked at my watch. It was three-thirty. Hurry up Nicky!

“What do you plan on doing, Kev?” I asked. I felt it might have come across as a little too aggressive, but Kevin had that look in his eyes – the ‘I’m gonna beat this kid bloody for making me worry’ look.

“I plan on setting him straight,” Kevin replied as if that explained everything.

“Because that had worked so well last time,” I said it sarcastically, annoyed at Kevin’s response.

“Is there something you want to say to me Howie?” Kevin looked taken aback by my attitude. I didn’t blame him – I had gone from reassuring to snarky in less than a minute.

“I just don’t think shouting at him is the right way to go,” I replied.

“I didn’t shout at him,” Kevin objected.

“No,” I agreed. “But you were intimidating. You were demanding and aggressive. Nicky’s only going to react to that in a way that he’s used to – yelling, screaming and punching.”

“What am I supposed to do Howie?” oh no, Kevin’s voice had broken. “How am I supposed to react to him taking PCP?”

“Maybe we should try to understand what’s been going on with him in the past couple of years,” I suggested softly. “Maybe it’s about trying to get back that trust. He’s mad at us,” it was plain to see. “And if we just scream at him that’s only going to push him further down the path he’s already on.”

“It worked with AJ,” Kevin sounded defeated.

“No, you telling him you wanted nothing to do with him anymore is what worked,” I corrected. “And if you do that with Nick – well, AJ had his mum. Who does Nick have?”

Kevin looked as if he were battling with my words in his head.

“What’s happening with Nick is different than what was going on with AJ,” I continued. “AJ had a support base. He had us, he had his mum. No one has really been in contact with him for two years. I don’t know what’s going on with Jane, but –“

“Bob divorced her,” Kevin interrupted.

“What?” This was news to me.

“Bob divorced Jane,” Kevin repeated.

“When?” I spluttered.

“I only found out today,” Kevin said. “When I rang Kristin before. Apparently they divorced a year ago.”

That explained the mood change after he had taken the call. “How come I haven’t heard about this?”

“Because no one knew,” Kevin said. “Kristin found out on a website today. Apparently Jane contacted a tabloid trying to explain Nick’s behaviour away with the divorce.”

I sat there looking down at the cup of coffee I nursed in my hands, suddenly not knowing what to say. All I could think was ‘that poor kid’.

“I was going to, you know,” Kevin said softly.

I looked up. “What?”

“I was going to,” Kevin repeated. “I was going to tell him ‘no more’.” There was that break in his voice again. “I was going to tell him I don’t want to know him anymore.”

“And now?”

“You’re right D,” Kevin looked exhausted. “It won’t work on him like it did on AJ.”


July 7, 2001

“Kevin, slow down!”

“Shut up Brian!”

“It was just a baseball game! Can’t you let it go?”

“No, Nick! He promised he’d be there!”

I looked out the window as Kevin sped down the main road. The other cars seemed to be going at a snail’s pace compared to the one we were in.

“Kevin! SLOW DOWN!”

Kevin didn’t take any notice of his cousin and I glanced at him from my position in the front passenger seat. Kevin was outraged. He was going to do some serious damage. I was in no mood to stop him. This needed to happen.

“Nick, put your seatbelt on!” Brian yelled from the backseat. There was a click.

“What’s the plan Kev?” I asked.

“Enough’s enough,” Kevin growled as our hotel came into view. “This ends today.” He pulled up at the front of the hotel and we all got out. He gave the keys to the valet and rushed inside.

“Can’t we just talk about this first?” Brian asked as Kevin went straight for the stairs, bypassing the elevators.

“There’s nothing to talk about Brian,” Kevin said as he took the stairs two at a time.

“Yeah? What are you going to do? Just let it go!” Nick shouted. “Why do you have to be such a jackass?”

Kevin ignored the insult. I turned to Nick who was lagging behind the rest of us and stopped him from going further up the stairs.

“Nick, go back to your room,” I said. “You don’t want to see this.”

He just growled and pushed past me.

When we made it to AJ’s floor, Kevin and Brian were waiting for us. I found that a bit odd. Considering the pace Kevin was going, I would have thought he would head straight for AJ’s room.

“I need to know you got my back,” Kevin said in a low voice, the fire in his eyes never lessening. “We need to be in this together.”

“I can’t be a part of this,” Brian shook his head. “It’s wrong.”

“No,” I said, making it quite clear that I was with Kevin on this. “What’s wrong, Brian, is if we ignore it any longer. We should have done this ages ago. He needs to know that he can’t continue like this.”

“Howie’s right,” Kevin said, a bit more softly now. “This is not about some stupid baseball game or him missing recording sessions anymore. This is about the person he has become. About what those things are doing to him!”

Brian swallowed, looking uncertain.

“Rok, this needs to happen,” I pushed and slowly he nodded.

“Nick,” Kevin turned to the youngest. “Are you in or are you out?”

Nick looked flushed, his mouth slightly open. He raised his hands and clutched them in fists in his hair. He looked slightly panicked.

“Kevin, just think about this...”

That seemed to send Kevin off again and he turned around and marched to AJ’s room.

Quickly forgetting about Nick, Brian and I followed closely behind Kevin. When we reached AJ’s room, the door was slightly open. This did not surprise me, but it did make me uneasy.

“AJ!” Kevin slammed the door open and stormed inside, taking in the hotel room which mirrored the set up of a one bedroom apartment: there was a kitchenette, a small living room, a bathroom and a bedroom. Kevin headed straight for the bedroom, AJ appearing to be nowhere else. “AJ!” he attempted to open it but when he found it locked he banged on the door. “AJ open this damn door!”

There was silence for a millisecond and then Kevin started banging furiously again. That uneasy feeling was starting to intensify. Why hadn’t he answered yet? Maybe he couldn’t answer? Maybe he was unconscious. Just when I was convinced he was dead, a shout came at us from the other side of the door.

“Go away!”

“Open this door!” Kevin screamed back.

“Fuck off!”

Kevin’s face contorted in rage and before I knew what was happening, Kevin’s foot had impacted with the door and we had entry into the bedroom. I will never forget the scene in front of me in that moment and judging by the look on Kevin’s face, neither would he.

AJ lay on his bed, completely and utterly high. Fast food wrappers littered the floors but that was nothing new. What struck me was the amount of prescription and illegal drugs that sat on the bedside table and the empty bottles of alcohol that were scattered across the room. Thinking back to how the kitchen and living room looked, I realised this is where AJ did all his drinking and drugs. This wasn’t good.

Upon our entry, AJ tumbled out of bed and stood up. He was only wearing his undies. I tried not to notice the tourniquet that was still tied around his arm.

“What the FUCK?”

“Where the hell were you today?” Kevin shouted, walking further into the room and standing just arm’s length away from AJ.

“It’s my day off,” AJ screamed back.

“You promised to be there!”

“No, you TOLD me to be there!”

There was silence as Kevin stared down AJ.

“Kevin,” I don’t think anyone but me heard Brian’s soft call. I looked over at him. His eyes were wide and he looked absolutely petrified. He stood with his back to the wall, leaning on it as if for support. I shook my head at him – this needed to happen.

The stare-off ended when AJ lay back down on the bed. That’s all Kevin needed to completely set him off.

“What the fuck is going on here?” he picked up a bottle from the bed. “What is this?” he turned to the bedside table and picked up what I was sure was a clear plastic pouch filled with cocaine. “Is this who you are now?”

AJ sat back up and attempted to reach for the pouch, but Kevin held it away.

“That’s mine!” AJ’s screamed.

Kevin hurled the bottle he was still holding across the room with such strength that it crashed against the wall. There was a strangled scream from behind me and I turned just in time to see a flurry of movement and Nick’s form leaving the room.

“GET OUT!” AJ screamed, suddenly lunging at Kevin.

Kevin simply pushed AJ’s small frame back on the bed and threw the pouch of cocaine on top of him.

“If I walk out that door, we’re done!” Kevin growled. “You are DONE!”

“I hate you!” AJ spat. “Get. The. Fuck. Out!”

Kevin turned his back on AJ and stalked past Brian and me. Reaching the doorway, he paused for just a second and then, surprising all of us in the room, probably even himself, he threw his fist into the wall. He turned around.

“You are dead to me,” he said before walking out.

Brian and I stood there, looking at AJ. I hoped he would ask for help, start crying and telling me he’s found the error of his ways. But instead all he did was sit up, stare at us and then when he thought we had just planted ourselves in the room, he picked up another beer bottle and threw it in our direction. It landed at Brian’s feet. That’s all I needed. I turned my back on him and walked out.

I found Nick standing in the living room, the door to the hotel room open. Kevin had left. Nick was standing there with the most pathetic look on his face. His hands were in his hair and his eyes were wet.

“Howie?” he asked uncertainly.

I didn’t have time to console him. I wanted to get out of that room as fast as I could. I had to mourn a friend.

“I told you to go back to your room, Nick,” I said, as I passed him by and walked out.


A/N: So I hope you all enjoyed that! Please feel free to leave me critiques if something is off! Next chapter there will be no flashback, just so I can get the story moving. I want to finish this story sometime in the next year lol Thanks again to those who have reviewed and those who have read! xxx
Chapter 14 by jess20
A/N: Thanks to libragurl and Mare x3 for reviewing! Libragurl, thanks so much for the encouragement! I squealed a little when I read your review! Haha. Mare, thanks for giving this story another go! I was hoping you would (you reading my story is like JK Rowling reading my old HP fanfics lol) but would have understood if you gave up! I will be post a new chapter regularly (hopefully two a week, but if not than definitely one a week unless my thesis decides to be a bitch). I want to finish this story VERY soon as I have two projects at the moment that remain unfinished (my thesis and this) and I want at least one finished haha.

Chapter Fourteen: You’ve been served.

Sleep did not come easy for me. When it did come, it didn’t last. I gave up on the prospect of having a good night’s sleep somewhere around six. Instead, I tried calling Nick on his cell. There was no answer to the call, just like the other three-hundred times I tried that night. Eventually I gave up on that too and simply lay in bed worrying and thinking of all the ways I had failed in my duty as a big brother. We all had failed in truth – me, Brian, Howie and Kevin – but I was more to blame. Five damn blocks! That was all that separated us. All I needed to do was hop in my car and drive less than fifteen minutes. How hard was that? All I had to do was check up on him; make sure he was doing okay. So why hadn’t I?

By eight, I finally came to the realisation that laying around and brooding would not help find Nick any faster. I put on a pair of pants and headed out. On my way downstairs, I passed Nick’s room. I was disappointed to see that he had not returned. I found Howie and Kevin in the living room.

“He’s not back yet.” It wasn’t a question. I knew he hadn’t returned yet – I had made Howie promise me to wake me if he came back.

Howie shook his head. He looked terrible – they both did. They sat side by side on the couch, staring intently at the front door. They each had large rings around their eyes and judging by the empty coffee pot sitting on my coffee table, those rings were well earned – neither one had slept. Suddenly I felt guilty. I should have sat up with them.

“Rok still asleep?” I asked taking a seat in the armchair beside the couch.

Kevin shook his head. “Went to Nick’s house,” he said.

“How come?”

“To see if Nick turned up there,” Howie said “Kevin was gonna go. But Brian said he needed the walk.”

“If he’s not back by the time Brian gets back, I-“ Kevin never finished that sentence as he was cut off by the sound of someone ringing the doorbell.

We all jumped up from our seats and I bolted to the door.

“Nick! Thank Go...” But it wasn’t Nick who was standing at the door. “Who are you?” I asked abruptly, severely disappointed. The man standing on my doorstep was close to six foot. He wore dark sunglasses that complemented his black suit.

“Alexander James Mclean?” the man asked.


He pulled out an envelope from the inside of his jacket and handed it to me. I took it from him as his next words came.

“You’ve been served.”

My mouth just about fell open. It would have been comical had it not been so serious.

“What?” I ripped open the envelope and started reading. I instantly felt weak.

“AJ?” Kevin’s voice from behind me made me look back up to the man that had come to serve me legal documents, but he had left the front door and was getting into his car.

“AJ?” Kevin again. “What’s wrong?”

I turned to face him and Howie who both had worried looks on their faces. I wordlessly handed Kevin the letter then, not waiting for him to process what it said, I walked back into the living room and collapsed on the couch.

“You smashed someone’s camera?” Kevin didn’t sound angry, just surprised.

Remember when I said that sometimes I like to act like a tough guy? And then I said ‘so sue me’? I didn’t think anyone would actually do it!

Howie took the letter from Kevin and skimmed through it himself as Kevin went to stand in front of me. I sat on the couch, my face in my hands, a mix of emotions consuming me: shame, sad, anger, worry.

“That’s not like you J,” Kevin said, his voice soft and understanding. I had expected something different, but it didn’t surprise me – Kevin having a go at me for being a little confrontational was calling the kettle black.

“I know,” I muttered into my hands.

“So why did you do it?”

I looked up. Kevin had a sad look on his face. Howie looked annoyed, but judging by the way he flung the letter on the coffee table, I gathered he wasn’t annoyed at me.

“Because that...douche was taking pictures of Nick,” I said it fiercely, suddenly feeling not so ashamed. I don’t regret what I had done. That guy, and the other douches taking pictures, was having fun at Nick’s expense. I would do it again if it meant spearing Nick from any public humiliation.

Kevin simply nodded at my response and took a seat beside me.

“What am I gonna do Kev?” I asked, suddenly sounding so defeated.

“We’ll get you a lawyer,” he replied. “Settle outside of court.”

“It’s not that bad J,” Howie assured.

“Then how come I feel like complete and utter shit?” did that just come out of my mouth?

Kevin draped an arm around my shoulders and squeezed. “I’m so proud of you buddy,” by the way he said it, I knew he was being truthful. “You’re just worried about Nick. All this bullshit,” he waved at the discarded letter, “is easily sorted. You were doing so well before all this. Think about that.”

I looked at Howie. He gave me an encouraging smile but behind that smile I could see an uneasiness. He knew Kevin was wrong. He knew that I wasn’t doing as well as Kevin thought I was. That’s why Howie was here in the first place, before all this shit with Nick happened.

I hadn’t brought it up to Kevin or Brian – the reason Howie had come to visit. I hadn’t even brought it up to Howie since Nick arrived. I’d been so focused on Nick that I had almost forgotten about it myself. Now all I wanted so badly was to tell Kevin. And I was just about to when a creaking sound came from the front door as it was pushed open. Kevin, Howie and I watched anxiously as Nick stepped into the house.


Nick attempted to make an escape upstairs, but I stopped him before he could, blocking his way by standing between him and the staircase. I made sure to keep some space between us; I didn’t want to appear confrontational. I looked at him intently as he resigned to the fact that I was not about to get out of his way. He was looking down at the floor and when I didn’t say anything, he looked up, but not at me – he averted his eyes, looking anywhere other than at me.

“Where have you been Nick?” I asked, keeping my voice even and non-aggressive just like Howie had advised. I also tried to not jump to conclusions. Again like Howie said, Nick wouldn’t have gotten wasted after what happened to him. He’d be too freaked out to even go near alcohol or drugs. But the worry was creeping in and I was an emotional guy: I told Howie I wouldn’t react to Nick like I had to AJ, but I often let my emotions run things.

“Out,” his voice was gravelly, almost as if he’d been screaming for the past few hours.

“Where did you sleep?” The more he refused to meet my eyes the more I was becoming suspicious that he’d gotten wasted and spent the night on the streets.

When he didn’t answer, I felt as if my suspicions were confirmed. I stepped closer to him. He took a step back. In the corner of my eye I could see that Howie and AJ had gotten up from the couch and were watching us tentatively.


“I was out okay!” that’s when he looked at me. His eyes were red and for a second I thought the worst: alcohol, weed, ecstasy, coke, heroin. But I couldn’t smell alcohol on his breath when he yelled at me and he looked lucid. He wasn’t on anything. But he did look terrible. On one side of his face he had small indentations as if he had pressed that side of his face against pebbles. His hair was tousled and the collar of his shirt was a little torn. I didn’t want to jump to conclusions based on that alone – Nick’s clothing was usually always in disarray.

I put my hands out in front of me in a defensive position. “We were just worried, little man,” I thought maybe the old nickname would calm him and bring a little of our old older brother/younger brother dynamic back that we had lost in the past two years.

“Whatever,” he snorted. “Can I go now?”

“Can we just talk Nicky?” Howie asked. “Everyone came down to see you.”

Nick turned red, breathed in, and puffed himself up as if ready for a fight. But he didn’t move and he shifted his eyes away from me again.

“Yeah right,” was all he said.

It was in that moment, with those two words, that everything hit me. I finally realised that this was not a ‘party too hard’ situation, this was not some regular twenty-three year old who took the fame and fortune lifestyle too far. Something was seriously up. And those eyes weren’t red for no reason.

“Nick, I haven’t seen you in a while-“ I started, under the impression that maybe if I owned up to my faults, this would go a long ways in mending our relationship. But I was halted by a ringing.

Nick shoved his hand in his pocket and retrieved his cell. He looked at the caller ID and pressed a button. He had hung up on the caller.

“And last night I was out of line,” so says Howie. “If we just talk about –“

There was that ringing again. Nick shoved his hand back into his pocket more violently this time and didn’t even look at the caller ID before rejecting the call.

I tried again, noting the frustration in Nick’s face. “If we just talk about it, maybe whatever is –“

The phone went off again and again he rejected it. He looked up at me, waiting for me to continue. I took this as a sign that he was willing to talk after all.

“I mean, maybe I can help,” I finished dumbly.

“Help?” Nick asked furiously. “Now you want to hel – FUCK!” Before I knew that it was ringing again, Nick had thrown his phone clear across the room where it hit the wall. It did little damage to the phone though and the ringing continued incessantly. It was almost as if the sound was making Nick unhinged. He almost ran towards the phone where he then proceeded to stomp on it until the ringing faded into silence.

AJ, Howie and I could do no more than watch in complete shock.

“Nick,” Howie walked towards Nick tentatively when the younger man had finished stomping on his phone.

Nick looked at Howie for a second as if just realising what had happened. I wondered if perhaps maybe he honestly didn’t know what had just happened and what he had done.

“Howie...” Nick put his right hand on his forehead, his eyes wide, his voice shaky.

“Let’s sit down,” Howie suggested.

“Nick?” a new voice entered the scene. I turned to find Brian standing in the doorway, a look of horror on his face.

Nick’s face lit up for the briefest of seconds before he remembered that Brian hadn’t been in touch with him either. Probably the biggest betrayal he felt.

Nick turned away from Brian and spoke to Howie.

“I gotta go,” he said, backing away towards the stairs. “I...I need to go sleep...or....or something...”


“Kaos, let’s talk about this.”

“Nick, come on, little man. It’s going to be okay,” I really wanted it to be.

All he did was shake his head, turn around and rush upstairs. There was silence between the remaining four of us as we absorbed what had just happened.

“I’m gonna go speak to him,” I don’t know why, but I didn’t expect that to come from Brian.

“Just give it a couple of minutes,” I said, still staring at the staircase.

“Should we call a doctor?” AJ sounded scared.

“No,” I said quickly, turning away from the staircase to look at AJ.

“But –“

“He’s going through something here AJ,” Howie said. “He’s going through a rough time. But we’re here now. He’s not sick. He’s just upset.”

“That’s not ‘just upset’ Howie,” Brian objected. “That’s more than ‘just upset’.”

“What if he...” AJ didn’t continue, but I knew what he was thinking.

“Having a rough patch in life doesn’t mean he’s going to do anything drastic,” I snapped, somehow offended by what AJ was insinuating. “We’ve all been where’s he is. He just needs a little help.”

“I agree,” Howie said. “If he was in that frame of mind, he wouldn’t have cared that he had taken PCP instead of ecstasy,” Howie, always thinking. “If he was in that frame of mind, he wouldn’t have come back here. My guess is he’s lonely, feels betrayed, and is angry that we haven’t kept in touch and is scared of what’s going on – whatever it is that’s going on.”

Brian made a noise as though he was about to speak but thought better of it.

“Brian?” I pushed.

He just shook his head.

“We found out that Bob and Jane got a divorce,” Howie continued. “It would explain why his mum is in contact with him a lot lately. I would take a bet that that was her on the phone just before.” He pointed at the phone that Nick had left on the floor. By the state of the thing, there was no way we would ever know that for sure unless Nick himself told us: the phone was completely broken.

There was silence again as everyone took in Howie’s words. If there was anything I was certain of, it was that Nick would not do something like that.


A/N: Okay so this chapter was a little too dramatic and angsty lol. I kind of put the last bit in there (the insinuation that Nick might want to do something drastic) because I felt like this was a bit dark and people’s minds would go there naturally. I dunno, maybe it’s not dark at all, but I didn’t want THAT to be an option. It really didn’t fit in the chapter very well but I felt I had t put it there.

Anyways, let me know how you think this chapter went. I will have a new chapter again within the next few days! It’s like 42 degrees Celsius everyday this week so I’m gonna be parked in front of the aircon writing. Thanks! xxx
Chapter 15 by jess20
A/N: Thanks to nycki02, Mare, Jujube, libragurl, KimberlyCan and PaulaKTBA for the reviews! Feeling very loved! Hope you all enjoy this next chapter!

Chapter Fifteen: Who knew there were beaches in Germany?

Yep, it was official: I had lost it. Like, completely lost it. Like Woody Allen marrying his step-daughter lost it. Okay, maybe not that bad, but that’s what it probably looked like to the guys.

When I reached my bedroom, I collapsed on the bed face first, a range of emotions flowing through me: anger, shame, guilt and, most of all, embarrassment. I always let my anger get the best of me! Why couldn’t I just turn the phone off like a normal person instead of smashing it like some kind of maniac? I could just hear Kevin in my mind: ‘you let your anger get the best of you’ or ‘why don’t you grow up and face these things like an adult’. But he hadn’t said any of those things, had he? He wanted to talk it out – they all had. They had offered to help me out even though they didn’t know how bad everything had become. Why hadn’t I taken them up on their offer? Because I was angry, that’s why. I wanted them to see what it feels like to be ignored and pushed aside.

I sat up and grabbed my notepad. I looked over the words I had written last night: Fuck Kevin, Fuck AJ, Fuck Howie. I added Fuck Brian in there for good measure. I was so excited to see him downstairs. So excited and so relieved because I knew with him there maybe I could go back to normal and all this shit would go away. But then I remembered he was just as bad as the others – he hadn’t called or asked how I was doing. No, he was too busy with his family.

After that, I had calmed down considerably, so I turned a new page in my notebook and started playing around with lyrics I had in mind for a while. It was a love song, but not romantic love – more like friendly love or whatever. But when my thoughts shifted to last night, my mood changed again. What a shit night!

When I arrived at the liquor store, all I wanted was to go inside, buy a big bottle of Jack and sit on the beach drinking. I did end up sitting on the beach drinking but it was Coke I ended up drinking, not Jack. Coca-Cola just to be clear. I always loved the beach – it made me calm and clear headed, or at least as clear headed as I would ever be. It was around about midnight when I decided I should probably head back to AJ’s. They obviously noticed by then that I was missing (I was getting calls from them non-stop) and if I just casually walk in as if nothing was wrong, that would piss them off which is what I was going for. Eventually, if I ignore them long enough, they’ll be begging me to talk to them. I just wanted them to feel how I felt – teach them a lesson.

So I had rubbed the sand off my pants and was heading back to AJ’s when my phone went off. I looked at the caller ID expecting to see AJ’s number, but instead it showed a number that I thought I wouldn’t see in a while, especially not after the last time it showed up on my caller ID.

I had toyed with the idea of rejecting the call but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, so, like a chum, I had answered it. Big mistake.

“Hi mum,” I said into the phone, suddenly feeling nervous.

“Nickolas,” I would always remember her voice as sounding desperate in that moment. “Baby, how are you? I saw in the papers what happened.”

I groaned inwardly. “It’s fine mum,” I said. “Really.”

“No it’s not,” I was surprised by that: a comment that would suggest a caring, affectionate mother coming in to console her son. Maybe she would apologise for hanging up on me the last time we spoke too. “But that’s okay honey, because I made it better.”

I had become suspicious at that point. “How?” I stopped walking at that moment and stood on the sidewalk, my heart thumping as suddenly the motherly image of Jane disappeared. What had she done and why?

“I told them about our divorce.”

“You told who?”

“An online tabloid.”

There it is. That’s the what and why right there in three words.

“Why?” I spluttered.

“Because I wanted to set the record straight,” what record? “You were having problems adjusting to our divorce.”

“No I’m not!” a lie. “You had no right, mum!”

“I was helping you,” she sounded affronted as if somehow I was the one that had caused her all this grief. “Now,” her voice had switched from offended to a ‘now you owe me a favour’ tone. “Maybe you can help me out...”

I wanted to scream. I couldn’t believe where this was heading already.

“I can’t do that anymore,” I said.

“Yes you can.”

I pinched the bridge of my nose, feeling a headache coming on.

“No, I can’t.”

There was silence for a minute and it began to scare me.


She muttered something and I couldn’t quite get it.


“Ungrateful!” she had screamed it into the phone. “Ungrateful! That’s what you are! Ungrateful!”

My stomach dropped. “No, mum, I really can’t,” I said, feeling desperate. “I...I’m not doing good...financially,” I didn’t want to have to admit it.

“Bullshit!” she screamed. “Nothing but a no good cash co-“

I had hung up on her then. I NEVER wanted to hear those words again. I had turned the phone off, shoved it into my pocket and started walking again but this time away from AJ’s house. I needed somewhere safe to go. I ended up going back to my place. The problem, as I had soon found out, was that the bank had changed the locks to the doors and none of my keys worked. So I had spent the rest of the night sleeping on my front porch, my face pressed against the concrete. When I awoke, I had a massive headache. I decided to head back to AJ’s, for whatever reason. I had turned my phone back on, again for whatever reason, and had arrived at AJ’s just in time to see some fancy pants douche leave in a fancy pants douche’s car.

And now I’m here, back in AJ’s house of horrors. When I think back the conversation with my mum, I knew she was sick – she had to be. There was always that sense that I was just a business opportunity for her, but lately she had gone too far. She had never called me a cash cow before.

God, who was I kidding? Where else would BJ have learned that word?


August 9, 1996

It was our last night in Germany. I hated that. We were staying at a hotel that was right on the beach. Who knew Germany had beaches? I sure didn’t! It was perfect! Lou had booked this hotel specially for me, he said. Kevin snorted but I bet that’s only because he’s jealous. If Lou had booked a place just for Kevin, we’d be out in the stick somewhere. In the hillbilly part of Germany. Thank God I was Lou’s favourite.

Anyways, we got back to our hotel pretty early because we had a flight the next morning. We also started this tradition in Sweden where on the last night in every country all the guys would have dinner and a movie together. I always enjoyed that! Even more so because the guys, except AJ, usually let me pick the movies. That really pissed AJ off!

So after dinner, Brian had rented Die Hard and we were gonna watch it in Howie and AJ’s room because they had the bigger TV. But I needed to make a quick stop in the room I shared with Brian first.

“We’ll start it without you,” Howie warned.

“So long as I don’t miss ‘yippee ki-yay motherfucker’,” I ducked as Kevin took a swing at my head.

I ran into my room and bounced on my bed over to the other side where the phone was. Lou said we could make all the calls we wanted. He’s been really cool that Lou. The buses he gets us are so big and sometimes we even ride around in limos!

Anyway, I was making a call. To mum. I hadn’t seen her since May and I was feeling a little homesick. She explained to me that she couldn’t be on the road with me all the time because of Angel and Aaron, but they could have done without her for a bit. But I figured Europe is fair enough, but in America she could bring them along too. So when we arrive in LA and I was hoping that they’d meet me at the airport. Because we were shooting our new music video there and I thought it’s be cool if they were there to see it.

I dialled my home number and got a strange beeping noise. Crap on a stick. I always forget to put in the international code. Okay, this time we’re in business.


“Hi BJ!” I was excited to hear my little sister’s voice. She and I used to be so close when I was back at home.

“Oh, hi Nick,” I was a bit put off by her tone but didn’t think too much of it.

“How are you?”

“I’m good.”

I didn’t know what to say after that. How did it become so hard to talk to BJ?

“Where’s mum?” I asked.

“She’s working with Aaron,” BJ replied.


“No, singing.”


“I’ll get her.”

“Thanks Beej.”

I pulled the phone away from my ear as she slammed the receiver down on something, making a loud noise. I heard her walk away and then:


Cash cow? What the hell was that? Did she mean me? Well duh Nick. You’re on the phone remember?


“Hi mum,” my mood lightened.

“Hello handsome,” I loved when she called me that – don’t tell the guys though. “Last night in Germany huh?”

“Yeah,” I also loved when she remembered my schedule. “You helping Aaron with his vocals?”

“He’ll be as good as you soon,” mum said.

“Maybe he can start touring with us too,” I laughed.

“Is there something you wanted honey?” Was she already trying to get me off the phone?

“I was wondering,” I started, a little nervous. “Could you meet me at the airport when I get home? At LA?”

There was an uncomfortable silence and I already knew her answer before she replied.

“I can’t sweetie. Dad’s working in the retirement village and I need to keep an eye on Angel and Aaron.”

“Can’t you bring them with you?” I asked hopefully.

“I’m sorry sweetie, but Aaron is being difficult and if I bring the twins along, I’ll need to bring Leslie and BJ too and that’s too much trouble.”

There was a sour taste in my mouth. “I was hoping you’d come watch us film our music video,” I pushed, feeling a little crappy. “Kevin’s parents will be there, and Brian’s and Howie’s too. Even AJ’s mum will be there.”

“Another time, I promise,” she sounded sincere, so why didn’t I believe her? Because she’s been saying the same thing for the last three months.

“Okay,” I knew there was no point in arguing. Eventually she would get sick of the moping and tell me that I was a ‘big boy’ and that I could handle myself just fine.

“Look honey, I’ve got to go,” already? “I can’t wait to give you a big hug and kiss when you get home. I love you so much, my darling.”

“I love you too mum.”

I hung up. I sat on the bed for a few minutes, swallowing as if I had a tonne of saliva in my mouth all of a sudden. I tried to compose myself but I felt so lonely and down that all I wanted to do was curl up in bed and forget that I had even bothered to call. But the guys were waiting for me and I didn’t want them to think anything was wrong – AJ would call me a big baby if he knew how much I wanted my mum here and how much I missed home. So I got off the bed and left the room. When I reached AJ and Howie’s room I knocked and waited until Brian opened the door.

“Just in time Nick,” he said, back flipping his way back inside the room.

“Dear God Brian, can you NOT?”

“You’re gonna break your back doing that!”

“Can you guys shut up? This is actually a good movie – finally Nick shows some taste.”

“Shut up AJ,” I said as I walked in and pounced on one of the beds next to Howie. “What did I miss?”

“Nothing,” Kevin replied. “Just the boring part.”

Brian was sitting on the floor in front of the TV, bobbing his head up and down to the music that Argyle was listening to on the screen. AJ was sitting next to him, playing an invisible guitar. They both booed when the scene changed. Kevin was sitting on the other bed, hogging the bowl of popcorn.

Halfway through the movie, I had forgotten about the call with my mum until ‘yippee ki-yay motherfucker’ happened. I don’t know why that made me think back to the call, but it did and that sour taste in my mouth returned. But there was something that I just didn’t understand. Nothing my mum did was out of the ordinary – didn’t mean I couldn’t be bummed out though – but it was something BJ had said. What did it mean?

“Hey guys?” I asked, speaking over the shooting of guns on the TV.

When no one answered, I tried again.


“What is it Nicky?”

“What does ‘cash cow’ mean?” It was an innocent enough question. So why did Kevin look at me like that?

“It’s got to do with business,” Howie began, always so knowledgeable. “When that business has a customer that they can make a lot of money off of, they call that customer a ‘cash cow’.”

I swallowed, feeling slightly unwell. “Oh,” was all I said.

Did someone turn up the heating in here? Why was it so hot?

“Nick,” I looked at Kevin and blinked rapidly. I think there was something in my eyes. “How’s your mum?”

I turned away from him. I hadn’t told him I had gone to call my mum. Ever since Kevin had become my so called ‘guardian’ he thinks he knows everything!

By the end of the movie, I still felt like shit. Even Brian and AJ flinging popcorn everywhere couldn’t get me out of my crappy mood.

“We’re family,” I don’t know where that came from. I wish I could take it back. Guys weren’t meant to get soppy with one another. Not only that, but I had gone from feeling sorry for myself to claiming that the four guys I had only known for four years were my family. That was a massive switch in thoughts with no logical links between the two. What the hell was wrong with my brain?

There was silence and then Howie had me in a headlock and was mussing my hair. I felt Brian pounce on my back. Somewhere above us I heard AJ growl, “Seriously?” And off on the other bed, Kevin said what I needed to hear:

“Yeah little man, we’re family.”


A/N: So as always, let me know what you think! Please note that I do not edit lol I’m hoping to get another chapter in by the weekend if not earlier but I should also donate some of my time to my thesis as well. Thanks so much for reading! Btw, that flashback is kinda related to the flashback in chapter two but it really isn’t pivotal to know that and doesn’t really effect the story if you don’t know that. Oooh, also kinda connected this chapter to my other BSB story which I thought was pretty nifty lol

Chapter 16 by jess20
Chapter Sixteen: Making Strides

Nick used to love me. Not THAT kind of love, you perverts! No, the ‘I worship the ground you walk on’ kind of love. He was like my own personal fan club before there was my own personal fan club. I get why he latched onto me though: Kevin was too strict with him sometimes; Howie could be too meek at times preferring not to jump on couches and prank the band; and AJ could be a little too mean – nothing bad, but when they were younger, I think it made AJ feel tough or cool to tease Nick a little. So then there was me: B-Rok. I was goofy, quirky, funny and, let’s be honest, fun. That’s not me being up myself or anything, I just had more fun than the other guys. But I think the main reason Nick latched on was because I was immature. I was only five years older than Nick, but being five years older than a teenager in age is the equivalent of being ten years older in maturity. Usually that’s the case, but not for me. So we had tonnes of fun together! And just as he loved following me around, I loved that he was following me around. Not only did we have goofy times together, but I also got to teach him how to play basketball and even the guitar! He was in every way the little brother I never had. We were Frick and Frack.

But when I got engaged to Leighanne, something happened. I don’t know if Nick expected me to goof around with him forever or something, but it was like our whole dynamic changed. I think Nick blames Leighanne. It’s not her fault. I was bound to grow up sometime. And it wasn’t like I had stopped being my loveable, quirky, funny self. But Nick did blame Leighanne. He also didn’t like her. It wasn’t as though it was completely unwarranted, I guess. Leighanne is eleven years older than Nick and she made no bones about how she felt about him: immature, childish and, if I allowed him to be, a bad influence. She actually said once that if I wasn’t careful, I would get swept up in his idiocy. Nick was not pleased with that, but she did have a point. Only a few seconds before she had said that, we were jumping on the furniture acting like zoo animals.

After I got married, Nick would purposely avoid me whenever Leighanne was around. I knew he wasn’t ignoring me, just Leighanne, but how was I meant to feel about that? My best friend hated my wife and that caused tension. So I guess it was a natural progression of things that when the band went on hiatus, so did my friendship with Nick. He never contacted me and I just thought he wanted it that way. That was until we locked eyes for the first time in two years after he had smashed the holy hell out of his phone.

When he looked at me, I knew: he was angry at me. I never thought I’d see the day. Did I feel guilty? Okay, maybe a little. But I was angry too! The kid took no responsibility for anything! I bet he expected me to call him and he never had to dial a number. But I was willing to let that go because it was obvious that the last thing Nick needed was me lecturing him on responsibilities.

After Nick ran upstairs, I took Kevin’s advice and waited a while before I went up to speak to Nick. In that time I learned that his parents had divorced. I wondered if this was connected to Nick losing his house, but I didn’t bring that up. In fact, I had gone out my way to ensure that secret was kept. When I woke up this morning it was to find Kevin ready to walk out the door and to Nick’s house. Fearing that Kevin might bump into the woman I had talked to on the phone, I offered to go instead. AJ gave me the directions to Nick’s house – I had never been. When I got there, there was a big ‘For Sale’ sign on his front lawn. Over the sign was placed a large sticker that read ‘Sold’. The auction went well by the looks of it. I went up to the front door and tried to peer inside through the windows, but there was hardly any light within to make out much. Nick wasn’t here, that much I knew.

Now heading up the stairs to talk to him, I wondered what I would actually say and how I would say it. Should I really be doing this now anyway? After that freak out downstairs, is it wise to bring up something that might set him off again? And how would I bring it up? How to you bring up something that personal with someone you haven’t spoken to in two years? How do you even start a conversation with someone you haven’t spoken to in two years?

I knocked on his door and when he didn’t answer I opened it anyway, hoping that he was decent. He was lying on his stomach on the bed. He had been writing in a notepad before he quickly shut it when I entered. He looked at me with an alarmed look on his face and if I had to guess, I would say I had an identical look on my face too.

“Hey Frack,” that’s it Brian, start chummy. Maybe he’ll ease into it. “Can I come in?”

“You already are,” he said in a deadpan sort of voice.

I looked down at my feet. He was right, I was over the threshold. I walked over to the foot of the bed and looked down at him. I really looked at him. It was the first time I’d seen him in two years. He hadn’t changed much – same height, weight, still had blonde hair – but the little he had changed made a difference. His eyes had aged. There was a sadness there that I knew that I had contributed to, even if it was only a little.

“I missed ya, dawg,” and I did. In fact, I didn’t know how much I really missed him, missed all of them, until I was standing in that living room watching Nick break down – like the good old days.

Nick sat up and I braced myself, not knowing what to expect but definitely not expecting what came next.

“I missed you too Frick.” I felt all the tension leave my body, that is until he said, “But I can’t speak to you right now.”

I took a step back from the bed, more out of surprise than anything else.


“No, Brian, I seriously can’t talk to you right now,” he said, averting his eyes. “Can you just leave?”

I stood there for a minute staring at him and then turned my back on him. I had reached the door when a burst of anger escaped from me.

“You know Nick, you could have rang me up some time,” I blurted. “You could have picked up the phone and dialled. I would have answered. So don’t act as if you’re so innocent.”

He didn’t say anything. Perhaps he knew I was right.

“And if it’s any consolation,” I said it almost sarcastically. “I hardly kept in touch with the other guys too.”

When he still refused to say anything, I said, “I know about your house.”

That got the effect I wanted. His eyes snapped towards me in a heartbeat and he instantly looked suspicious and nervous all at once.

“Yeah, I sold it,” he said.

“No, you lost it,” I said, staring at him unblinkingly.

He gave a nervous laugh and stood from the bed. “What are you talking about, dude?” His casual tone was not going to fool me.

“I’m talking about the bank lady I spoke to on the phone yesterday who had auctioned off your house,” Nick was fast, faster than I remembered, as he ran to close the door. I continued. “I’m talking about the fact that the bank took your home.”

“Brian, you cannot tell anyone!” Nick looked panicked. “I’ve got it sorted.”

I snorted. “Yeah, it really looks like it,” he said. “Where were you planning on living?”

When he didn’t answer I came to the horrible conclusion that he hadn’t thought that far ahead.

“Jesus, Nick,” If I were Catholic I would be going to confession.

“I’ve got it sorted,” he repeated, trying to stare me down, but that wasn’t going to work on me either. “I was going to rent an apartment.”

I shook my head but decided to move to a more pressing issue. “And what happened that the bank had to take your house?”

He looked away again.

“Nick, are you having financial problems?” it was a delicate question, but one I had to ask.

Still, he remained silent.

“If you talk to Howi-“


“Nick, Howie’s good with money and business,” I pushed, my voice soft. “If you’re going through some hard times, he can help.”

He went to sit back down on the bed and I decided to try something else.

“Nick, everyone is here for you,” I said kindly. “I left my wife and kid to be here and Kevin left Kristin. You taking PCP accidentally? Maybe that was God’s will. So that we can all be here together. Again. For you.”

He rolled his eyes, but I didn’t take offence, I was happy to see some of his old attitude back.

“Speak to Howie?”

Slowly, Nick nodded. “Okay,” he said and I smiled.


Kevin had contacted my lawyer for me. I didn’t mind – the less I had to directly deal with any of this, the better off I’d be. The lawyer had in turn contacted Juan Pellegrino’s lawyer. Yes, Juan Pellegrino. That was his name. Not a bad name, mind you. But a pain in the ass trying to say. I might just call him Pelli for short.

Anyway, the lawyer set up a meet with Pelli and his lawyer. Pelli, it seemed, was willing to settle out of court. This made me suspicious. Obviously Pelli knew who I was – he had sent some guy to drop a letter off to my house, so of course he knew who I was – and I couldn’t help but think that if I’d been some other average Joe, you know without the millions in his bank account, Pelli would have let it go.

The meet was at Pelli’s lawyer’s office at two this afternoon. I pushed for it to be as soon as possible. Like a bandaid right? But I instantly regretted it – I felt like I was gonna throw up a leg. The waiting was terrible. At twelve o’clock, Kevin and Howie offered to take me to lunch as Brian was still up in Nick’s room which, by the way, kinda pissed me off but that’s going on the backburner. I refused and instead did what I know I should not do in a time of extreme stress: retreated to my bedroom and sat with my thoughts. It didn’t take long before I could feel my brain eating away at itself, so I decided to return to an old safety blanket. NOT that safety blanket for those of you who like to jump to conclusions. No, I’m speaking about a good old fashioned ‘mum talk’.

She picked up on the third ring.


“Hi mum.”

“Alex, baby, how are you?” she sounded happy to hear me, but there was nothing new in that.

“I’m good,” it was a lie.

“You’re lying,” she said. “Are you worried about Nick? I saw what happened in the papers.”

“He’s just going through some stuff,” I replied, not really wanting to talk about Nick at that moment. “He’s staying with me.”

“Is that wise Alex?”

I was taken aback by the question – I would have thought mum would have applauded me for taking in Nick.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, the papers said Nick was drunk,” she said slowly. “And knowing Nick, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was more than alcohol he was taking. I don’t think you should be around him right now.”

For some reason I felt myself get mad. “He needs to be here,” I said simply. “All the guys are here to help him through.”

“Then why don’t you come stay with me for a while and let Kevin, Howie and Brian deal with Nick?”

Deal with Nick? No one was dealing with Nick.

“I want to be here for him,” I said trying to stow the attitude.

“And what if you are tempted?” she asked and as soon as she did I instantly regretted calling her.

“That’s not going to happen,” I said through clenched teeth. It dawned on me that it was probably not a good idea to tell her why Howie had come to stay initially.

“How do you know that?” my mum was pushing it like she had no faith in me. Another reason not to tell her why Howie came to visit.

“Mum, it’s not going to happen! Look I gotta go. I have to be somewhere,” yeah, a lawyer’s office.

“Alex, all I’m saying is...”

“I know what you’re saying mum,” I didn’t say it unfairly or unkindly. “But I really have to go. I’ll speak to you soon,” and before she had a chance to stop me, I said “I love you,” and hung up.

I took a moment to simmer down. I knew all my mum was doing was trying to help me but the way she spoke about Nick just made me so angry. She had even insinuated that I just turn my back on him! I couldn’t so that! Not again! He was my baby brother and it was about time that I started acting like his big brother.

When we were younger, I used to rag on him a lot. He was so gullible and emotional, it didn’t take long for me to wind him up or get him to do what I wanted. Despite all the shit I gave him, he still looked up to me like I was the cool big brother. Bad-ass AJ. A lot of the time, though, I had no patience for him and when he wasn’t trying to impress me we would constantly butt heads. Looking back on it now, I wish I had been more patient with him, especially when it came to his family.


20th April, 1996

“Nick stop sulking.”

“Does he even know how?”

“Shut up AJ.”

“Can’t you speak to Lou, Kev? He’ll listen to you.”

“I already have, buddy. He’s not letting up.”

We were in the green room of a Swedish television studio. Nick was sulking – as per usual. Kevin and Howie were trying to lighten him up but they should have realised that once the kid started whining, there was little anyone could do to stop him.

I watched the exchange from my spot on the couch. All five of us had just been told that the scheduled break that we were meant to have in a week would be postponed an extra month so that we could fit in interviews, picture shoots, and publicity. No one was happy about it, least of all me. But do you see me making such a stink?

“But I was meant to go home,” Nick whined. “I haven’t seen my family in months!”

“You’ll see them in another month, Nicky,” Howie assured.

“That’s not the point!” Nick screamed – yes, he screamed. “We were told we could go home!”

“Getting sick of us already Frack?” Brian joked.

Nick ignored him.

“I want to go home,” his voice was lower, but the danger was still in his tone.

“We all do Nick,” Kevin replied. “But we can’t and we all have to deal with it. So stop.”

Nick looked like he was about to explode again.

“He just wants to get out of working,” I quipped, knowing I was only adding fuel to the fire. Sometimes it was just too easy.

I watched as everyone turned to me. Kevin gave me a dirty look and Howie gave me a ‘what the fuck?’ look. But my comment seemed to have calmed down Nick. He looked deflated – not the reaction I was hoping to get out of him. He walked over to me and then flopped down on the couch beside me. I was a little confused. He put his arm around my neck and for a second I thought he was giving me a hug – that was until he started pummelling my head with his other fist.

“What the fu – KEVIN!”


Kevin grabbed Nick’s arm before he could try to punch me again but he still had his other arm around my neck and when Kevin tried to pull him away, he tightened his grip around my neck.

“Nick, let go!” Howie screamed, rushing forward and pulling on Nick’s other arm.

“GET HIM OFF ME!” I bellowed, coughing in between words.


I don’t know how they managed it, but Kevin and Howie finally pulled Nick away. He hadn’t been squeezing too tightly around my neck only enough to make me cough, but my head was pounding now from all the punches the little bastard landed.

I looked up. Kevin had his arms around Nick’s waist and was pulling him back. Howie grabbing onto the kid’s flailing arms. I stood up to retaliate but I felt a tug on the back of my collar: Brian was pulling me back.

I watched as Nick stopped struggling.

“Are you calm?” Kevin demanded.

“Yeah,” Nick said simply.

Howie and Kevin let him go and, surprisingly, he didn’t make a go for me.

“Take a walk Nick,” Kevin said fiercely.

“What? Why should I have to –“


Nick headed for the door, grumbling the whole way. He slammed the door on his way out. Brian quickly went after him.

“Why’d you have to say that AJ?” Kevin asked, anger in his eyes.

“It’s true though,” I defended.

“He really misses his family,” Howie said.

“Of course you’d be on his side!” I scowled. “Don’t worry about me, I just have a concussion!”

“You set him off!” Kevin said exasperated.

“Whatever,” I turned away from them and sat back on the couch. I wasn’t going to let them make me feel guilty over this.


A/N: Hi guys! Thanks to Mare, KimberlyCan and libragurl for the reviews! I overestimated my ability to work in this weather. It’s been 42-45C the past few days and I have done no work on my thesis but I promised that I would get this chapter in by the weekend so priorities first, right? Haha Hope you all enjoyed that chapter! I should have one out again by Wednesday. I know I am slowing down a bit but I promise I will not make you wait longer than a week between chapters! Thanks again to those that read and reviewed!!
Chapter 17 by jess20
Chapter Seventeen: Waking up

Nick never used to come to me for help. It was always Brian or Kevin he’d turn to for advice or comfort. (Although, in all fairness, sometimes he used me to help him get out of tight spots with Kevin.) When he used to get in fights with the other guys, I would always be the one to approach him, to explain what he did wrong and how he could fix it. I didn’t just do that with him, mind you, I did that with whoever chucked a fit. It was just that most of the time, that person was Nick.

I don’t think he felt uncomfortable talking to me, I just think he liked it when I initiated the conversation. I also think he hated to ask me for things that would make him feel weak. For example, he loved coming over to hang with my family during the holidays but he would rather be caught dead than ask me outright. Instead he would insinuate that is what he wanted and then wait for me to ask him.

So when Kevin took AJ to his meeting with the guy AJ had ‘assaulted’ and his lawyer, I was a little more than surprised when Nick came down the stairs, Brian following closely behind, and said outright “Howie, I need your help.”

I didn’t know what to say. All I did was nod and after a few seconds I followed that nod with an ‘Of course, Nicky’. Secretly I felt my heart swell. I could remember only one time Nick had attempted to take comfort in me when there were others he could have gone to instead.


20th May, 1997

I was woken from my fevered sleep by the sound of a woman screaming outside my hotel room. I thought maybe the guys had brought back a woman with them from the clubs, but when I looked over at the bedside table I knew that couldn’t be true: it was only 7pm, they wouldn’t have left yet.

I became a little concerned. I was used to women screaming, just not outside my hotel room and usually not screaming bloody murder. I stumbled out of bed, dizzy enough that I might have fallen over had I not leaned again the bedside table and waited a few seconds for my head to straighten up. I walked to the door and pulled it open, stepping out into the hallway.

A couple of doors down hotel security were trying to restrain a middle-aged woman who had a knife in her hand. One of the security personnel had his arms wrapped around her waist and was lifting her off the ground, the other was trying to grab her wrists but dodging and weaving his limbs away from her as she erratically tried to swipe him with the knife.

Suddenly I heard commotion down the other end of the hallway and I turned my head to see two more security guards running towards the woman with Lou trailing behind, breathing heavily. The security guards passed me quickly and Lou yelled out “Boys, get back inside your rooms!”

It was only then that I noticed Kevin, AJ and Brian poking their heads out of their own rooms to see what the commotion was all about. It took only another second to realise that Nick hadn’t poked his head of his room and it was a second after that that I realised that the crazy woman with the knife was standing right outside Nick’s room.

“Lou, where’s Nicky?” I sounded terrible and I felt just as bad but it occurred to me that Nick could be in a worse condition.

Lou was watching the confrontation from only a few steps away from me, but he didn’t answer. I turned back just in time to see that finally the knife was knocked from the woman’s hand and the security guards were handcuffing her. She was still screaming something fierce, so two of the security guards lifted her off the ground and carried her away.

“What the hell was that?” Kevin demanded as the others came to join me and Lou.

Lou looked troubled.

“Nick called security,” he explained. “Apparently she was shoving the knife underneath his door.”

“What?” Brian yelled, running the few feet to Nick’s room and knocking on the door.

AJ, Kevin and Lou followed, as did I, just much slower and moving more closer to the wall.

“Nick! Open up!” Kevin yelled as Brian screamed “Frack! Are you okay?”

Nick’s voice came to us from inside the room. “Is she gone?”

“Yeah Nick,” Kevin said, sounding relieved.

The door opened and there stood Nick, shaking slightly but otherwise fine.

“Dude, are you alright?” AJ asked, concerned.

“Yeah,” Nick nodded and apparently that was all the confirmation Lou needed because he quickly excused himself, stating that he needed to “deal with this mess”.

“Are you sure you’re okay Nick?” Brian asked.

“Yeah, just a bit shaken up, but I’m fine,” he said. “Really,” he added for good measure.

“Okay, well if you’re sure,” Kevin said cautiously.

Nick nodded. “I’m sure,” he said. “But I might skip tonight.” When he saw us giving him weird looks, he added, “Honestly, I just need to chill after that.”

Unsatisfied but unwilling to push it, we started heading back to our own rooms. Brian remained behind. As I was closing my door, I heard a snippet of their conversation.

“Do you want me to stay back tonight?” Brian asked.

“No,” Nick said. “Seriously Frick. I’m fine!”

I climbed back into bed thinking that that Nick really just needed to take a relaxing night off.

The next time I woke, it was to a knock on my door. I squinted at the bedside clock and found it was eleven-thirty. I groaned. I was feeling much better but still, all I wanted to do was sleep. I got out of bed and stumbled to the door.

I should have expected to find Nick there – he was the only one that would be knocking on my door – but I was still surprised.


He stood there, holding a bottle of coke, two packets of chips and a bag of popcorn.

“I thought we could watch a movie,” he said.

I gave him a sideways glance, nodded and stepped aside so he could come in. He put the food on the end of my bed and sat cross-legged next to it. I only had the one bed – queen-sized – so I sat down beside him.

“What movie do you wanna watch?” I asked, not really wanting to watch any movie but I was getting the feeling that Nick wasn’t as alright as he had claimed.

“What do you have?” he asked.

“I only have one,” I said, getting off the bed and walking to my luggage. “It’s a Latin American movie.”

“Cool,” Nick said. I thought that was strange. He NEVER wanted to watch any of my Latin American movies.

“It’s in Spanish,” I warned, grabbing the video from the luggage and showing him.

“That’s okay,” Nick replied. “We’ll put on the subtitles.”

“I thought you hate reading movies,” I said as I went to put the video in the VCR.

“Not all the time,” Nick said evasively. I was getting the impression that Nick didn’t want to be alone.

When I had the movie in the VCR and up on the TV screen, I circled back to the bed and lay down, propping myself up with a pillow to see the screen over my body. Nick remained at the end of the bed, sitting cross-legged.

Neither of us had touched the food Nick brought. I didn’t think I could keep it down but what was Nick’s excuse? I had a feeling what it might have been.

I reached forward and poked him in the back.

“Crazy today huh?” I asked, trying to sound casual.

He chuckled, not taking his eyes away from the TV. “Yeah,” he said. “Crazy.”

There was a moment of silence as I tried to figure out what to say next.

“Do you think they will all be like that?” he asked, turning around to face me, his face sombre.

I sat up a bit higher and squeezed his arm reassuringly. “Of course not Nicky,” I said with such conviction it seemed to relax him.

“Good,” was all he said. He turned back to watch the movie.

The next time I woke up, it was to a kick to my shin.

I kicked him back.


A/N: Thanks so much to libragurl, Mare and nycki02 for the reviews! I really appreciate it!! Hopefully this chapter wasn’t too cheesy but I can’t resist a good Howie/Nick bromance. It is also much shorter than the others, but that's because next chapter has no flashback and will be moving the story along with POVs from Kevin and Nick. Hope to get a new chapter in by this time next week.
Chapter 18 by jess20
Chapter Eighteen: The Truth Comes Out

I couldn’t believe I had gone from completely sealed off and broody to wanting to spill me guts and ask Howie for help. I was just plain embarrassed. I had really wanted to handle all of this on my own. You know, be a man, a grown-up, responsible. Standing in front of Howie now, with Brian behind me making sure I didn’t make a run for it, I knew I had failed.

“What can I do Nicky?” Howie asked.

We were back in the kitchen where they had tried to talk to me when I first woke up. Howie had been cooking what looked to be burritos. Brian told me that it was just us three in the house because Kevin and AJ had gone out for lunch.

When I asked him for help, Howie had dropped what he was doing almost instantly and sat down at the kitchen table.

“I’m...” I was having trouble trying to find the right words to answer Howie’s question. I knew I had to tell the whole story but I didn’t know how to start. I was about to try again when Brian’s cell phone went off. He quietly excused himself. I watched him go, not because it was particularly exciting but because I didn’t want to face Howie again. Maybe it wasn’t too late to back out.

“Nick, come sit down,” Howie wasn’t going to let me escape, not now that I’d finally asked him for his help. So I sat down across from him and put my hands on the table.

“What’s going on Nick?” Howie asked again.

“I...” I cleared my throat and pushed forward. “I’m having some money problems.”

Howie nodded, no judgement on his face or in his eyes. “Is that why you sold the house?” he asked.

I instantly felt my face turn red. I looked down at my hands – I knew having them on the table there would be useful.

“I didn’t sell my house,” I admitted quietly. “The bank took it,” and just to emphasise my predicament and maybe because I was feeling really sorry for myself, I added, “and I don’t know where I’m supposed to go.”

He didn’t say anything but I could just imagine what he was thinking. Something along the lines of ‘What a messed up kid, always getting into trouble’.

“How did that happen?” Howie asked, his voice steady and even, betraying nothing.

“I’ve...” Dear Lord, Carter, not now! Don’t you dear tear up! Don’t be more pathetic than you already are.

“It’s okay Nicky,” he reached across the table and squeezed my hand. “You’ll be okay.” I wasn’t exactly sure how he knew that, but I was slightly reassured. “As long as I’m around, you’ll always have a roof over your head.”

I looked up at that, surprised and, just to add confusion to the mix, surprised at my reaction of surprise. I mean, what did I expect him to say? Get out? I don’t want to know you anymore? Howie has always been supportive of me. Always. But still, the past two years did happen and if he was so supportive where was he?

“Why?” I asked. “You’ve ignored me since we went on break. You hardly called.” Suddenly I felt that my relationship with Howie was more important than my money issues. Because my relationship with Howie – with any of them – is always more important than my money issues.

Howie sighed and pulled his hand away from mine. I stopped breathing for a second as I thought maybe I had reminded Howie of why he had ignored me in the first place and he would decide after all that I was not worth the trouble.

“I’ve been a crappy friend,” he sighed finally. “But so have you.”

Well that was honest.

“You’ve been pushing me out of your life,” he said sadly. “When we first went on hiatus, it was like you wanted to individuate yourself. And that’s fine – you were becoming your own person. But it felt like you didn’t want us in your life anymore.”

He was right. When we went on break, I did everything to separate myself from the guys, even once going so far as going to meetings with Jive to talk about doing a solo album. It turned out falling out of contact with Brian was easy – he was too focused on his family to care about me and I didn’t want to call just in case Leighanne answered. Anytime I spoke to Kevin, it would turn into an argument or him giving me a lecture. After a while, I just stopped taking his calls and he stopped calling altogether. AJ only lives five blocks away from where I lived, but even so, I expected him to come to me, not the other way around. And Howie. Howie had called in the beginning. I was rude, abrupt and always in a hurry to get off the phone. And like Kevin, he quickly stopped calling altogether. But when everyone stopped calling, I was angry with them, because they’re the ones that are meant to call me, they’re my big brothers, and they have to check up on me, not the other way around. That’s what I thought.

“But Nick,” Howie continued. “It wasn’t just you. I hardly kept in touch with any of the guys.”

“That’s what Brian said too,” I replied quietly and then much louder, “I invited you to my housewarming party!” That was true too. I didn’t completely push them out.

“Which I honestly couldn’t come to,” Howie said sincerely. “I’ve been very busy with my brother at the moment.”

“But you were down here visiting AJ and you didn’t even let me know!”

It looked as if Howie was avoiding my eyes for the first time since we started this conversation.

“Nick trust me when I say that the reason I didn’t tell you has nothing to do with our relationship,” he seemed sincere but he also seemed nervous.


“Nick, trust me on this one,” he looked at me earnestly.

I nodded, trusting him fully but slightly curious.

Howie cleared his throat. “All you ever need to know is that I love you, bro. I never want to not have you, and any of the other guys, in my life.”

It took me a second to figure out what the hell he just said but when I did I smiled. I felt so relieved and so happy for the first time in such a long time I felt like bursting out into tears. I had Sweet D back. I’m never gonna let him go again!

“I love you too Howie,” I said, getting out of my chair, extending my body over the table and giving him a sloppy kiss on his cheek.

He laughed as he wiped away my saliva. “Never thought I’d miss that,” he said, and then his face turned sombre. “Now, Nicky, tell me everything. What happened to your money?”

I sat back down, the fluffy moment had passed and I didn’t even have time to reflect on it or even just soak it in. Howie wanted to get straight to business.

“I got a letter in the mail three months ago saying that the bank was going to take my house,” I said, my happy feelings doing an amazing disappearing act. I was back to feeling shitty and pathetic.

“But there were notices before then right?”

I nodded. “Yeah, they gave me three notices to pay off my debts,” I said.

“Okay, the house is gone,” Howie was getting all pragmatic. “There’s no use in crying over it anymore.”

My jaw dropped.

“I told you Nick,” he said when he saw my face. “You’ll always have a roof over your head as long as I’m around.”


“What we really need to do now,” Howie just completely ignored my attempt to get emotional, “is figure out where your money went and how we can get it back.”

Getting it back was not likely to happen D.

“Did you make bad investments?” Howie asked. “Did you buy pricey things that you didn’t need?”

I shrugged. “No on the investments,” I said truthfully. “But yeah to the pricey things.”

“Okay,” Howie said slowly. “So we can return those pricey things right?”

I shook my head slowly, a little afraid. “Most of that has been repossessed by the bank too.”

Howie’s reaction would have been funny if the situation hadn’t been so freaking awful.

“Nick, how much money do you currently have?” he asked it slowly and cautiously as though he was afraid to find the answer.

I gulped. “Just over ten thousand,” I said, bowing my head in shame.

Howie made a gurgling noise like he had a tube of toothpaste poured down his throat.

“Ten thousand?” he spluttered. “What happened?”

“I over-spent,” I said. “Parties, food, alcohol, clothes, furniture, cars, limos...”

“That’s it?” Howie asked, raising an eyebrow in suspicion.

I swallowed. I had to tell. He’d been through my phone, he probably already suspected.

“A year ago my parents got divorced,” it came out of my mouth and as soon as it did I felt a weight lift.

“I know Nicky,” Howie said gently. “Your mum spoke to –“

I nodded, cutting him off. I didn’t want to think about how fast that piece of news was going around. “BJ, Leslie, Angel and Aaron took my dad’s side,” I continued, my head still bowed. “He got custody of Angel and Aaron.” I paused, swallowing thickly. “He took the house and all their assets,” I looked up at D, begging for him to understand. “She had nothing.”

Howie at such a sad look in his eyes and it made me want to cry.

“How much money did you give her?” he asked.

“I bought her a house,” I said evasively.

“But how much money did you give her?” Howie pressed.

Suddenly I was scared. Really scared. I didn’t want to admit what I had done because it was so irresponsible and so naive.

“Please Howie,” I pleaded. “Don’t tell Kevin. Please! Please, D? Oh God, Kevin can’t know...”

Howie looked alarmed, maybe because now there were tears on my face and I was starting to hyperventilate.

“Okay, Nicky,” he said, grabbing onto my hands again. “I promise. It’ll just be between you and me. Just take a deep breath and calm down.”

I did what he said. I took in a deep breath and nodded, showing that I was calm or at least calmer.

“Okay,” Howie looked relieved. “Just between me and you, what happened?”

It was so hard to say the next few words. “I gave her access to my bank account,” I said.

Howie’s facial expression remained the same. I guess he was in shock. I was a little proud I still had that effect. When he didn’t speak for a while I continued.

“But I cut her off three months ago when the bank told me they were taking the house,” I said quickly. “She still keeps calling me for money though.”

“Would you have stayed with your dad?”

Where did that question come from?

“D, did you hear what I said about my mum?”

“Yeah,” he said it somewhat dismissively as if everything I had told him no longer mattered. “But Nick, you lost the house. Would you have stayed with you dad?”

I shook my head.

“Why not?” he asked.

And just like that all Nick Carter’s shameful and terrible secrets come rolling out.

“Because he said that if I helped mum, he wants nothing to do with me,” I choked, hearing my voice break.

“What about friends?” Howie pushed, seemingly unaware that I was slowly breaking down. “Would you have stayed with friends?”

“Howie...can we stop now?” I felt like all the air had been sucked out of the room.

“You said you had parties,” Howie was determined. “So you have friends. Would you have stayed with one of them?”

“Howie...” the tears were falling freely and my heart started to hurt.

Howie got up from his seat, circled around the table and came to sit next to me. He forced me around in my seat so that we were sitting face to face. I avoided eye contact because I was embarrassed to be crying and ashamed of what I knew I was about to admit.

“Would you have stayed with friends?” Howie asked again, reaching over to grab the back of my neck.


“Why not Nicky?” he asked sadly, like he knew what the answer would be.

“Because...” I sniffled and held back a sob. “Because they stopped being my friends when I stopped having money to give them...”

I couldn’t hold the sobs in then. Everything I had been hiding, not only from the guys but from myself, had just been poured out in one sitting. I was such a fucking loser! I knew it, my family knew it, my friends knew it, Howie now knew it and soon the other guys would know it too.

Howie pushed me forward by the back of my neck and soon my face lay in the nook between Howie’s jaw and shoulder. I squeezed him tightly, not realising how much I wanted and needed this for so long.


Before we left for AJ’s meeting, I rang Kristin. AJ was up in his room, Nick and Brian were up in Nick’s and Howie decided to make burritos so I took the opportunity to find a quiet place in the house to talk to my wife. I just really, really wanted to talk to her.

It didn’t take long for me to tear up and let all my fears and worries out. I told her everything, everything about Nick and my suspicions about his mum and my fears that he was going down the same path as AJ. I told her everything about AJ and my concerns that he was going back to that dark place he used to be stuck in. I cried and expressed to her my feelings of guilt and shame. She listened patiently and when I was done she said, quite calmly and in no uncertain terms, to suck it up. She said I needed to be strong because Nick was going through something tough and although he would never admit it, he needed me and I needed to be strong for him. She said that all AJ needed was my support, to know I was proud of him and that I loved him.

Now, in the waiting room of Juan Pellegrino’s lawyer’s office I looked over at AJ and his lawyer and smiled. Kristin was amazing. She got me, better than anyone. She was my rock and reminded me of who I was when I sometimes forget.

“He’s ready for you now,” the receptionist at the desk called out to us and AJ and I followed AJ’s lawyer, George Gonzales, into Pellegrino’s lawyer’s office.

They sat at a small rectangular conference table in the middle of the large office. Judging by their attire, I guessed that the lawyer was the stuffy looking man in the suit and the kid with the baseball jersey was Pellegrino. Shit, that kid couldn’t have been older than Nick.

“Please take a seat,” Pellegrino’s lawyer, Don Smith – I guess they thought John was a little too cliché – didn’t even bother to stand up to greet us. He gave me a dirty look though, as if I shouldn’t even be there.

We sat down, AJ between me and Gonzales.

“My client is willing to settle,” Don Smith said.

“How much?” Gonzales was getting straight to business.

“Two and a half grand,” Pellegrino had a cocky look on his face and a snide grin on his lips. His lawyer gave him a stern look.

“Two and a half?!” AJ exclaimed. “That piece of shit was not worth that much!”

Smith cocked an eyebrow and pushed a piece of paper towards AJ and Gonzales. “No, the camera cost six hundred and seventy five dollars,” he said, pointing to a figure.

“But I had pictures on that camera!” Gonzales butts in again. “Photos of my sister’s wedding! They can’t be replaced!”

“Well you should have made copies then, shouldn’t you?” I sneered. “It’s not AJ’s fault you didn’t take the photos off the camera.” I was given a very sour look by Gonzales. I was told by him that under no circumstances was I to talk – I was just AJ’s witness. But I couldn’t stop myself.

“Maybe my client would have made copies if he knew he would be attacked by Mr. McLean here,” Smith shot back.

Gonzales sat up straight. “What are you trying to do here Don?” he asked dryly. “You trying to swindle my client?”

“Not at all, George,” Don Smith shot back. “Those were precious memories. Memories that my client can’t replace.”

“Then take us to court,” I blurted, receiving an incredulous look from AJ.

Smith smiled. “I don’t think you want that, Mr. Richardson,” I was not surprised he knew my name. “Mr. McLean did a stint in rehab didn’t he? Wouldn’t look very good if he is sued for violent behaviour. Imagine the headlines: Backstreet Boy falls off wagon. Even if they don’t connect it to drugs, just think what this will do to the already fractured image of the once on top, all forgotten Backstreet Boys?”

I was fuming.

“Not to mention what’s been going on with that train wreck Nick Carter.”

Pellegrino looked ecstatic and all I wanted to do was throttle him with the Smith’s entrails.

“This is low, Don,” Gonzales was breathing fire.

“This is business George,” Smith fired back.

“We’ll go to court!” I said again loudly, standing up and ready to leave.

“No,” AJ said, grabbing onto my arm. “I’ll settle. I’ll pay the two and a half grand.”

I looked down at him incredulously. “AJ, you don’t have to –“

AJ still had his hand gripped around my arm. “No, I know,” he said. “But I’ll settle.”

When the paperwork had been drawn up and everything was signed, we started to leave the office. Before we made it to the door, I heard Pellegrino sing, “Backstreet’s back, ALRIGHT!” It took all my restraint to ignore him.

The ride back to AJ’s was quiet. I didn’t know what to say. I thought back to Kris’ words, that all AJ really needed was my support and love. So I leaned across to him and gave him a sideways hug. When I let him go, he nodded, like that’s all he ever needed.

When we arrived at his house, I went to open the door, but before I could get out he grabbed my arm. I turned to him.

“I think we should do another album,” he said. “I want to do another album.”


AN: So. Much. Drah-MAH. Lol Hope you all enjoyed that chapter. Should be back with another one this time next week, maybe a bit later, say Wednesday-ish because I have a deadline to get to this Friday so I might be a bit late. Thanks so much to KimberlyCan, Mare and PaulaKTBPA! I really appreciate all the reviews I get and hope to see more! Also should quickly mention that in my story Nick never did a solo album and this story will come to a close before they even start working on their next album xxx
Chapter 19 by jess20
Chapter Nineteen: Sue Lou

I stood behind Nick, ready to tackle him if he thought about backing out. But he didn’t. He asked Howie for help and I was so relieved when he did. Finally! Some progress! I had fully intended on sitting with them and hearing what Howie had to say. But more importantly, I was more curious as to what Nick had to say. Beside his admission that he was struggling with money, he hadn’t really revealed much and I wanted to know the full story. I guess I would have to find out Nick’s story another way because just as Nick was gonna spill, Leighanne called. I couldn’t not take it – I hadn’t talked to her since she hung up on me.

I quietly excused myself and left the kitchen, taking the stairs two at a time as I ran up to my bedroom.

“Hey babe,” I answered the phone.

“Hi baby,” her voice was soft and full of love – she’d forgiven me.

“How are you?” I asked. “How’s Bay?”

“He misses you,” she said. “We both do.”

“I miss you too,” I said truthfully.

There was a pause and I didn’t know what to say next or what to expect from her.

“I’m sorry about last night,” she said finally.

“What?” I was so surprised – Leighanne never apologised.

“I’m sorry,” I’m sure it pained her to say it a second time and I couldn’t help but smile. “I was just upset.”

“I know,” I said.

“It’s just that,” she sighed heavily. “When he does stupid stuff like that, it looks bad on you.”

She had a point.

“He doesn’t do it on purpose,” I assured. “He’s just going through something.”

Another sigh. “Yeah, I know,” she said. “Kristin called. Told me about his parents.”

“It’s more than that,” I wondered how much I should tell her. “There’s a lot of crap in his life at the moment.”

“Then stay,” she said simply.


“Stay,” she repeated. “Only a week though,” she quickly put in.

“Why?” I asked curious where this change of mind came from.

“He needs you,” she said. “We’ll be okay. And we’ll see you in a week.”

“I love you,” I gushed.

“I know,” she replied. “I love you too.”

We stayed talking for the next hour, my thoughts completely drifting away from Nick and his problems. I was content talking to my wife and when she put Baylee on the phone all I wanted to do was take back what I had said about staying here for Nick. I wanted to see my son! When she came back on the phone, I restrained myself. A week wasn’t that long after all. We continued to talk about everything and nothing.

I was momentarily distracted by the sound of a car pulling into AJ’s driveway. I went to the window which, fortunately, looked out onto the front of the house. AJ’s car was sitting in the driveway. Kevin and AJ were back.

“Brian? Did you hear me?”

“Huh?” I asked as I looked down into the car to see AJ and Kevin just sitting there talking.

“I want you to ring me every morning and night,” she said.

“Of course, babe,” I replied more out of instinct than anything else as I thought maybe I should warn Nick and Howie that the others were back so they could continue their conversation somewhere more private. “Look, hun, I got to go.”

“Oh, alright,” she sounded upset.

“But I’ll ring you tonight,” I said quickly. “I love you.”

“Love you too.”

I let her hang up first so she didn’t think I was trying to get rid of her. Once she did hang up though I was bounding out the room and down the stairs.

I found them sitting eating burritos. They were quietly talking and when they noticed me they stopped. Nick had red eyes and I knew something major had gone down.

“They’re back,” I announced. “Just thought you should know if you want to continue the conversation in private.”

“I think we’re done for now,” Howie said, looking at Nick for confirmation.

“And I’ve finished eating,” Nick said, pushing his plate aside, a half eaten burrito still on it. “I might go upstairs for a bit.”

“Okay Nicky,” Howie said, standing up and taking Nick and his own plate to the kitchen bench top. “We’ll talk later.”

Nick nodded and left. When I heard an upstairs door closing I turned to Howie.

“So?” I asked. “What did he say?”

“I’m gonna help him out,” Howie said, not really answering my question.

“Yeah, but what did you talk about?”

There was movement at the front of the house and we heard the front door open and footsteps coming closer.

“Later,” Howie said as Kevin and AJ walked in.



I let go of his arm. Kevin was looking at me like I had just sprouted a second head. I got a little nervous and intimidated, like I had said something wrong and now he was gonna lecture me on it.
“What?” I asked back defensively.

“What did you say?” he asked, closing the car door and repositioning himself in his seat so that his body was facing towards me.

“I said I want to do another album,” I repeated. “Another Backstreet Boys album.”

“Where is this coming from?”

Good question, Kev. In all honesty, I had no idea where this had come from. It hadn’t even entered my mind until I was in that skeazy lawyer’s office listening him tell me how he was gonna ruin my career.

“Is this for the money?” he asked sympathetically, as if I needed reminding that I was now two and a half grand down.

“No,” it was an honest answer. “I just miss it.”


“Everything,” I expanded, and as I said it I became to realise that I really had missed it. I missed everything. “I miss you guys. I miss singing. I miss the fans. I miss the concerts. I miss the music.”

He looked at me carefully. “Are you up for this again?”

I was touched by the concern but annoyed at the lack of faith. “Yeah, I am,” I said. “I need this.”

He sat there staring at me for a full minute. I could almost see the cogs in his head turning as he thought what I said through.

“The thing is, Aje,” he finally said. “I don’t know if I’m up for it.”

My heart leaped into my throat. “Are you thinking of quitting?” I asked, very scared and anxious.

“I don’t know,” he said. “It hadn’t really occurred to me.”

Oh shit, did I just give him ideas?

He must have read my mind because he quickly said, “I mean, I haven’t really thought about it because I just kinda lived as if this hiatus would never end. I guess it never occurred to me that we’d get out of the hiatus.”


“But it’s something to think about. Doing another album,” he said. “While we’re all together, we should have a serious talk about our future.”

A serious talk about our future. Usually when we have those talks, it ends in disagreements, arguing, sometimes hurt feelings and at least one threat from one of us that we would just quit the band altogether. But we’d only had a couple of those ‘serious talk about our future’ talks since we hit it big. The most recent of those talks happened just after I got out of rehab and for once everyone was in agreement: we needed a break. But that time no one was threatening to leave and it felt like all we needed was some down time and then we’d be back.

“Let’s go in,” Kevin said, taking his hand away from my shoulder and reopening the car door to let himself out.

He shut the door behind him and I sat there for a full minute, thinking about the other time after we had hit it big that we had one of those future talks. That time it felt like we were at the end of everything. It felt like we were gonna lose everything.


6 May, 1998

Our team of lawyers left the room leaving just the five us there to make a decision. We all sat spread around the conference table. We sat in silence for a few minutes contemplating our choices. Whoever spoke first would be initiating the talk that would forever decide our future as a successful boy band.

“Whatever we decide, it has to be unanimous,” Kevin was the one to start. I knew it would be him.

He looked around at each of us as we all nodded our heads. Rok was a bit hesitant, but finally, he too nodded.

“So, what does everyone think?”

“What do you think Kevin?” I asked.

He sighed, closed his eyes for a second and then opened them again. He looked directly at Brian to answer my question.

“I think we should take the money,” he said. “I think we should settle.”

Brian didn’t look too happy.

“No, we have to take them to court,” he said fiercely. “No way am I settling with that man!”

“If we don’t settle Brian, we could be losing months, maybe even years in court,” Kevin tried to reason. “We’ll be losing more money. We’ll be performing less, have less time with the fans, we’ll need to put future albums on hold.”

Brian shook his head. “I don’t care,” he said. “It’s not about the money and it’s not about the music, it’s about what he did to us! We can’t let that go!”

Kevin huffed. “Dragging this out will only make things worse,” he said. “For us, for the fans and for you!”

“What do you ‘for me?’” Brian almost hissed it out.

“If we want a successful career, we need to move on,” Kevin said. “And you need to let the hurt go.”

“Let the hurt go?” Brian seethed.

“Yes Brian,” Kevin said loudly. “Let the hurt go.”

“How can you say that?”

“Quite easily actually.”

“If it wasn’t for me, he’d still be stealing from us,” Brian was furious.

“And we’re grateful,” Kevin said. “That’s why Howie, AJ and I have joined the lawsuit. You were right. But now it’s time to end it.”

Brian looked about ready to flip.

“Look,” Howie jumped in, ever the negotiator. “Both ways of dealing with Lou have merit...”

“Dear Lord Howie,” Brian snapped. “Pick a side for once, will you?”

Howie looked indignant. “Fine,” he said coolly. “I think we should settle.”


“I’m with Kevin on this one,” Howie repeated. “We should settle. They’re offering us a lot and our contract with Lou will be officially terminated. It’s an easy exit.”

Brian opened his mouth to object but Howie continued.

“Besides, the things I’ve heard, Lou isn’t going to get away with everything. A lot of people are mad at him.”

“AJ?” Brian turned to me hotly.

I felt like a spotlight was shone on my face. Everyone was looking at me.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I’m thinking.”

“This will ruin us Brian!”

“So what Kevin?” Brian snapped. “It’s not about our careers! It’s about justice!”

“So what?” Kevin asked. “What if Howie, AJ and I think settling is a good idea? What are you going to do, take Lou to court by yourself?”

“I started this by myself!”

“Yeah, without telling us!”

Brian didn’t have an answer for that.

“We decided that we would back each other up on this decision,” Howie broke in. “If the majority votes one way, we’re all in on that decision.”

“No,” Brian said. “That’s not what unanimous means Howie! It means we all have to agree!”

I was scared to speak up and ruin my friendship with these guys, but I didn’t want to ruin my career over some slime ball like Lou Pearlman either, so I said, “I think we should settle.”

Brian looked furious and he turned on me.

“You too huh?” he said. “Does no one care what he did to us?”

“Of course we care Brian,” Howie said.

“Really D?” suddenly he stood up from his seat and began pacing. “He stole from us! He was paid as the SIXTH member of the band! He was making millions while we were doing all the work and earning nothing.”

“Brian sit down,” Kevin said calmly.


“Sit down!” Kevin stood up and banged his hands on the table. “We either discuss this rationally and calmly or we don’t discuss it at all. I am NOT going to sit in court for months on end because you have some score to settle. The three of us want to settle and if you’re not okay with that, if that really bothers you, then you do your own damn thing!”

No Kevin! Don’t say that! We have to do this altogether. We have to stay united or we won’t make it.

“What do you think Nick?” Howie asked.

I had almost forgotten Nick was in the room. He had been silent the whole time, sitting at the far end of the table. He looked surprised that someone had finally spoken to him.

“Oh, so now you want my opinion?” he asked sarcastically.

“Nick, this is a group decision,” Kevin said. “You’re in the group.”

“Guess you should have thought about that when you all decided to sue Lou,” he sneered.

Brian had stopped pacing, but didn’t sit down like Kevin had suggested. He stood looking at Nick.

“You could have sued too Nick,” he said, but his voice was a little softer.

“Why?” he said and suddenly I felt uncomfortable. “What’s the point?”

“Because he stole from us!” Brian said exasperated, as if we didn’t get that already.

“I don’t want to sue him,” Nick said and I bowed my head, not wanting to know what was going through Nick’s head. I was scared of what I mind find there.

“So now you want to settle too?” Brian asked furiously.

Nick looked defeated. “I just want all this to go away,” he said. I detected a little hesitance in his voice. He didn’t want Brian to hate him. “He was good to us.”

Howie shook his head and Kevin closed his eyes. I watched Brian’s face fall.

“Frack, he was never good to us,” he said, his fire gone.

Nick didn’t reply, just sat silently, all emotion gone from his face. Seeing Nick like that almost made me change my mind.

“What’s it going to be Brian?” Kevin finally asked. “The four of us want to settle. It has to be unanimous.”

Brian flopped down in his seat again.

“Fine,” he said forcefully. “Fine.”


AN: Another chapter done and dusted. Thankyou all for such all the wonderful reviews on the last chapter. Thanks to PaulaKTBPA, libragurl, KeepThisSecret, emeraldbecca1991 and Mare! Hopefully you enjoyed this chapter too. I should be back with another one this time next week! Thanks for reading!
Chapter 20 by jess20
Chapter Twenty: Ch-ch-changes

“So how’d it go?” I asked, watching as AJ pulled out a chair and slumped into it. Kevin went over to the kitchen counter where I had put Nick’s unfinished burrito. He inspected it before noticing the other plate of untouched burritos. He grabbed one and went to sit at the table with AJ. I joined them there.

“I’m starving,” Kevin mumbled, taking a large bite from his burrito.

“Don’t tell Nick that,” Brian said, leaning against the kitchen counter. “I told him you guys went out for lunch.” After a few questioning stares he explained. “I didn’t know if you wanted him to know about all this, J.”

AJ nodded. “Yeah, good call Rok,” he sighed.

“So, what happened?” I asked again.

“I settled,” AJ said.

“How much?” Brian asked.

AJ looked over at Kevin as if asking permission to continue.

“Two and a half grand,” AJ admitted.

“Two and a half?!” Brian exclaimed. “What were you thin-“

Brian would have continued if it was not for the look Kevin gave him and the groan that escaped from AJ’s lips.

“I know Brian,” AJ said. “Okay, I know. But it’s a small price to pay.”

“What do you mean?” I asked curiously.

“That scumbag lawyer threatened him,” Kevin put down his half finished burrito.

“How did he threaten you?” I asked AJ alarmed.

“He just said that he would have no problems with destroying our career,” AJ said.

“And you believed him?” I asked sceptically.

AJ nodded. “I mean, come on,” he said. “We’ve been forgotten. And a large part of that is because of me,” he put his hand up when he saw us about to object. “I can admit it, it’s okay. But we have been forgotten. In the past year, the only news on us has been about Nick’s night time adventures. And then I get sued for violence and what does that do to the band? We’ll look like a train wreck. Is that what we want to be known for?”

“You didn’t have to settle for us,” I said compassionately.

“I did it for me,” AJ looked straight at me, unashamed. “I did it for the group. I did it for Nick.”

He paused and then turned to Brian.

“You were right to hide this from him,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going on with him but I know it’s big. And I don’t want him to take this on because he will.”

“Or maybe he’ll be grateful,” Kevin said.

“If it was up to me, none of you would know,” he said. “Don’t tell him, okay?”

We all nodded. Just one more secret for me to keep.

AJ took in a deep breath. “There’s something else,” he said and this time he definitely looked at Kevin to get the older man’s approval. When Kevin nodded his head, AJ continued. “I want to do another album.”



Everyone looked at me, alarmed.

“Um, I mean,” I cleared my throat. My over the top enthusiasm was definitely suspicious. “I mean, I think that would be a really good idea.”

“Well Howie’s in,” Brian laughed.

Everyone looked away from me and I breathed a sigh of relief and AJ began to give his reasons for wanting to do another album. Personally, I was not opposed to doing another album, but I wasn’t exactly dying to do one either. The business with my brother was finally going somewhere and I had something that was all my own. But another album is the perfect opportunity for Nicky to get back on top with his finances.

I refocused my attention as Brian was speaking.

“I need to speak to Leighanne,” he said. “But I don’t see why not.”

I looked over at Kevin.


“I don’t know,” he said. “I’ll need to talk it over with Kristin.”

“But she’d be cool with it, won’t she be?” I asked. I knew the answer to that question: Kristin would definitely be cool with it. Kevin’s wife was always incredibly supportive. If he wanted to do it, she would back him up all the way. But when Kevin refused to look me in the eye when he answered that question, I knew it wasn’t Kristin that would be hesitant about another album.

“I don’t know,” he said again, picking his burrito back up and taking a bite.

“Well I don’t think we should tell Nick until we’re all in,” Brian said.

“We’re keeping a fair bit from him already don’t you think?” I asked.

“And what if we get his hopes up and then one of us pulls out? He’ll be pissed.”

“Doubtful,” AJ said. “The way he’s been acting, he wants nothing to do with us. He’s just here because he’s got nowhere to go.”

I cocked an eyebrow. “Did he tell you that?”

AJ shook his head. “No, but why else is he still here?”

“Maybe he does want to do another album,” I suggested. “I think he does. I think it would be good for him.”

“Do you know something we don’t D?” AJ asked curiously.

I shook my head. “I just had a talk with him that’s all.”

“I thought you were the one that talked to him?” Kevin asked, swallowing his bite and looking over at Brian.

“I did,” Brian said. “But then we came down and he talked to Howie.”

Everyone looked over at me again.

“What did he say?” Kevin asked.

“You should talk to him,” I said simply.

“You’re not going to tell us what he said?” AJ asked.

I shook my head again. “That’s for him to tell you.”


I shouldn’t have walked away without that burrito. I was starving. I hadn’t eaten since before all this shit went down. But I didn’t want to stay there when Kevin got back. I don’t know why he still intimidates me, it makes no sense. I’m a man now, not some twelve year old kid. We’re almost the same height and it’s not like I need him to take care of me anymore. I didn’t need his approval anymore – but that’s not how I really feel. It’s like I want him to be proud of me. I want it more from him than I do from my own father. It probably had something to do with the fact that he was there for me when my father wasn’t. There are so many memories and as I opened my notebook to a new page and started writing notes to a new (yes, I’m starting all over again) song, I couldn’t help but think of one that always made me smile.


22 June, 1993

What in the holy hell just happened? One minute I was doing a vocal warm-up and the next minute...SHIT! What the FREAK just happened? This was NOT normal!

I opened my mouth and tried saying my name and it happened again! It wasn’t like this an hour ago, it wasn’t even like this ten minutes ago. I did have a sore throat this morning and a tingling sensation there also, but I thought I was coming down with a cold. Not this. And what the hell did it mean? Was it going to be like this forever? More importantly, what was I gonna tell the guys? They’re gonna kick me out of the band for sure.

“Hey Nick,” Brian poked his head into the bathroom. “Everyone’s waiting.”

I opened my mouth out of habit to say ‘okay’ but quickly closed it without saying anything and nodded instead. Brian left leaving me by myself again in front of the mirror.

I had to go out but I needed a plan and fast! So I came up with the most obvious one: don’t speak at all. Inhaling deeply (through my nose, because no way are these lips parting) I stepped out of the bathroom and joined the other guys and Donna Wright in the hall she had reserved for us to practice in.

“Great, we’re all here!” Donna exclaimed, clapping her hands together and smiling broadly. “Let’s get into position then boys!”

We all took our positions. AJ, Howie and Brian lined up in a row and Kevin and I stood behind them. Donna strode over to a radio player that had been plugged into the wall and inserted a tape. She pressed play and the first notes of the song began.

“Ok boys,” Donna walked back over to us and placed her hands on her hips. “Here we go.”

We had already begun the moves we had practiced over and over again. We were meant to sing at a middle school next week and Donna wanted us to be super prepared. As AJ started singing, I mouthed the backup vocals with the rest of the guys. The song finished without anyone noticing all I did was mime.

“Brilliant!” Donna clapped her hands enthusiastically. “That was perfect guys! Let’s do the next one.”

She walked back over to the radio player and switched the tape over to the other side. When the song started playing, I started to panic. I had one whole verse to myself in this song! I nearly forgot we were doing this one at all.

We started moving to the music and I tried to act normal. But the panic grew as the song progressed and we were getting closer to my verse. If I opened my mouth and attempted to sing, everyone would know and they’d kick me out of the band! I mean, we’d only really known each other less than a year – Brian less than two months – why would they want to keep me in at all?

Oh my God, here it comes. Here’s me verse. Right after Brian finishes with the chorus. And...

“Nick! You missed your part honey,” Donna didn’t look very impressed. She stopped the music and rewound the tape. “Let’s begin from the start.”

The other guys gave me weird looks, not angry or mad or anything, just a little impatient.

The song started again and again we moved to the music. I shouldn’t have let Donna start the song again, I should have mimed that I was unable to speak.

“Nick!” Donna really didn’t look impressed. She turned the music off again. “What is going on?”

The other guys turned to look at me and I felt cornered. So I opened my mouth, pointed a finger towards it and shrugged.

“You lost your voice?” Howie asked suspiciously.

I nodded.

“We heard you warming up you voice fifteen minutes ago,” Donna said.

I shrugged again, feeling my face go red. I was looking for the exits. There was only one door on the far side of the hall. Maybe if I run for it and leave them all here, they’ll think I’m sick and leave it at that.

“Yeah, stop playing around Nick,” Brian said.

I shook my head to let them know that I wasn’t playing around.

“How could you lose your voice so suddenly?” AJ asked. “You’re lying.”

I shook my head fiercely.

“Nick, enough!” Donna was getting madder. “Lou won’t be happy.”

That’s when the panic escalated. Lou was professional and everything. He wouldn’t put up with my refusal to sing for long. Mum said that I needed to be just as professional and always put on my best performance because otherwise I could be replaced.

“Are you ready to try again?” Donna almost barked it out – kind of a shift from the encouraging manager she had appeared to be just moments ago.

I didn’t know exactly how to answer that question, so I just stared at her.


No not good! Not even a little bit good!

She put the music back on and everyone started dancing again. My moves were shaky and completely not ‘alluring’ and ‘enticing’ as Donna and Lou liked to say.

There comes that verse again.

“NICK!” Donna didn’t even bother turning the music off this time. “What the hell is going on?”

They were all looking at me and Donna looked so mad! I needed to get away from all of them, so I did just that. I ran into the bathroom.

I started pacing the length of the bathroom. I needed to call my mum! She would know what to do. She could take me to the doctor and he could give me a new voice box or something. They can do that right? But it would have to be a voice box that had a good sound. But then I’d need new vocal chords too. I don’t think we have enough money for that – actually I know we don’t have enough money for that. What was I going to do? This group was my ticket to making my family happy! I was going to become rich and then everything would be good again!


The voice came from the door of the bathroom. Kevin was standing there. How did I not notice him enter?

I stood staring at him, petrified. He knew! How did he know?

“What’s going on Nick?” maybe he didn’t know.

I opened my mouth, pointed my finger to it and shrugged.

“You didn’t lose your voice,” he wasn’t angry or annoyed.

I nodded earnestly and then when I thought that might look as if I was agreeing with him, I shook my head instead.

“No,” he said again. “You didn’t lose your voice. It’s cracked, isn’t it?”

How the HELL did he know?

I shook my head. No way was I admitting it. All he would do was run and tell Donna and then Donna would tell Lou and then I’d be out.

“Yeah it is,” Kevin smiled. “Go on, speak.”

I shook my head fiercely.

“It’s okay, you know,” he said. “Every guy goes through it.”

I just stared at him.

“When my voice broke I spoke liiikkkee thIII----isss,” his imitation made me laugh. And my laugh cracked.

I looked at him in horror, my hand over my mouth.

He laughed. “Don’t worry about it,” he said. “It happens to every guy.”

I opened my mouth to speak but then thought better of it. I don’t think I could trust him fully yet – even if he did buy me ice-cream that one time.

“It’s okay, Nick,” Kevin assured. “I won’t laugh.”

I breathed in deeply, not sure if I still trusted him. He obviously knew and there was no denying it really. But if I spoke and he heard it for himself, there’d be no turning back.

“What if it stays like this forever?” it was just embarrassing.

“It won’t,” Kevin smiled – at least he didn’t laugh.

“Yeah, but what if it does?”

“Nick, it won’t.”

“Yeah but –“

“Nick! I told you, every guy goes through it,” he paused, suddenly looking uncomfortable. “Didn’t your dad ever give you ‘the talk’?”

When I just stared blankly back, his face got all red.

“You know,” he insisted. “The ‘talk’?”

It suddenly hit me what he was talking about and I inwardly shuddered. We had an all boy’s assembly in my last year of elementary school. They had talked to us in detail (way too much detail) about...well about everything. After I got over the initial shock of what Kevin had just asked me, I decided that if I was going to be embarrassed by this whole voice cracking situation, why should I be alone?

“Oh yeah, the talk,” I said and his face brightened. “Yeah, dad gave me ‘the talk’. About not eating too much chocolate because then I might break out,” it was great seeing his face fall. “Do you think that’s why my voice is cracking?”

Kevin groaned. “No, Nick,” he said uncomfortably. “When a boy –“

“GOD, NO!” I didn’t care how I sounded, he was actually going to give me the talk! I just wanted to see him squirm but he was just gonna plunge right in there. “I know what ‘the talk’ is. Please don’t tell me about changes or anything.”

“Oh thank God,” he sighed. “Why did you pretend you didn’t know then?”

“I was just playing,” I said, a little grossed out. “Why do you think you’re the best person to give me ‘the talk’ anyways and why were you about to give me ‘the talk’?”

Kevin opened his mouth but nothing came out. So we both stood there awkwardly, trying to forget what the hell just happened.

“Are you alright?” he finally asked.

“Are you sure it will go away?” I asked.

He nodded. “Yeah,” he said. “It’ll only last a couple of months.”

“A couple of months?!” I exclaimed, feeling the panic grow again.

“It’ll get better,” Kevin said. “And then you’ll stop sounding like a girl when you sing.”

I ignored that and asked the next question. “Willit change the way I sing?”

“Only that your voice will be deeper,” Kevin said.

“But what if Lou kicks me out?” I asked.

Kevin laughed again.

“He won’t,” he said. “Lou is aware that you’re not going to stay thirteen forever. He knows you have to grow.”

That made me feel a little better.

“Come on,” he walked towards me and put his hand on my back. “I’ll make up an excuse for you – say you vomited or something. That way we can tell Donna in private.”

I groaned. “Do we have to tell her?”

“Yes,” Kevin said. “You can’t mime the words to the song next week and she’s going to notice a change in your voice.”

“I am NOT going to be singing until my voice goes back to normal,” I said.

“It’s not that noticeable,” Kevin said. “Besides, I’m sure we can work something out.”

He led me out of the bathroom and towards my fate.


AN: Yay for new chapter! Thanks for reading. Again, a new chapter should be up this time next week. Hope you all enjoyed it and a special thankyou to emeraldbecca1991, Mare, KeepThisSecret, KimberlyCan and sj2429! I always love reviews so thank you so much guys! Makes my day when I see one! xxx
Chapter 21 by jess20
Author's Notes:
AJ & Howie
A/N: Hi everyone! So a couple things before I start this chapter:

1. From now on, I will be posting a note at the beginning of each chapter, letting everyone know whose POV you will be reading from. So, for example, in this chapter we have POVs from AJ first and then Howie. So at the beginning of each chapter I’m simply going to write AJ & Howie. That tells you who you’ll be reading and in what order. Thanks to Lynzer4 for the suggestion! I will also be going back over my earlier chapters and doing it to them too.
2. This chapter has adult themes, specifically in the flashback scene. I suggest something, although it is not made explicit and I do not outright mention it. If I haven’t scared you away, happy readings!

Chapter Twenty-One: Making Plans and Being Spontaneous

Kevin finished his burrito, stretched and stood up.

“I’m wiped,” he said. “I haven’t slept since I arrived.”

“Yeah,” Howie piped up. “Sleep sounds good.”

Howie went to lead the way out of the kitchen, but Kevin stopped him.

“Oh hey, we should go out for dinner tonight,” he said.

“I don’t know Kev,” I said hesitantly.

“It’ll be good to get out, J,” he rebutted. “Tell Nick. We’ll see you guys tonight at seven.”

With that he left. Howie nodded his approval at the suggestion and then followed his older bandmate out of the kitchen.

“Well it was nice of them to ask,” Brian said sarcastically. It was just him and I left in the kitchen now. “But Kevin’s right,” he added. “It’ll be good to get out.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Locking yourself up and away from the real world is not helpful,” Brian insisted.

I nodded. He was right. No matter how shitty I felt right now and no matter how much I just wanted to lock myself in my bedroom, crawl into bed and forget about this shit-storm, in the long run it would do me no good. It would only lead me back into that life of anxiety and depression, of drugs and alcohol.

“You’re right,” I admitted. “It will be good to get out.”

“Why don’t you go up and tell Nick our plans,” Brian suggested.

Before I could answer him, my cell started ringing. I flipped it open and inspected the caller ID.

“It’s my mum,” I moaned.

“Why is she calling you on your cell?” Brian inquired.

“I still haven’t plugged the phone back in,” I said sheepishly. “I’m really lazy okay? I haven’t even cleaned up Nick’s damn cell from the living room.”

Brian just smirked, obviously entertained. I let the phone ring out.

“What were you saying, Rok?”

“I said you should go up and tell Nick our plans for tonight,” he repeated.

“I think you should do that,” I said.

“Howie’s right, you know,” Brian said. “You need to talk to him.”

I didn’t say anything to that.

“Are you scared or something?” Brian asked.

I didn’t say anything to that either. Was I scared? Yes. I was terrified. Because out of all the guys, I should have been there for Nick and I wasn’t. I could have just checked up on him once a week, I could have prevented what he had done to himself. So was I scared? Abso-fucking-lutely. Talking to him would be like facing my faults. I don’t think I can do that.

And then there was that other thing I didn’t want to face: my mum. Who had just decided to ring again.

“Why aren’t you picking it up?” Brian asked. “You guys had a fight?”

I didn’t wait for it to ring out, I hung up.

“She just annoyed me earlier,” I said. “I need some space.”

“Oh, okay,” Brian said cautiously. “Anyway, Nick-“

My cell phone rang again. Fed up, I didn’t even look at the number before I hung up. It was then that I gained the courage I needed to face one of my fears today.

“You know what Brian?” I suddenly had adrenaline pumping through my veins. “I will speak to Nick.”

I stood up from my seat and before Brian could say anything I was marching up the stairs to the second floor. It was like something had come over me that gave me the strength to finally face Nick. I knew that if I stopped for even a second to contemplate this change in me, I would back out. I guess that’s what made me barge into his bedroom without so much as knocking.

“It wasn’t me!”

I probably should have rethought the whole no knocking, barging in thing. He was only lying on the bed writing in a notepad – remind me to tease him about keeping a diary when everything returns to normal – but God knows what he might have been doing instead. Flashes of that time I walked in on him ‘exploring his body’ went through my mind and I inwardly shuddered. To be fair though, he was only like thirteen or fourteen at the time.

“What wasn’t you, Kaos?” I asked playfully, hoping to lessen the tension I knew was coming. Kind of like a pre-emptive strike.

His guilty look had me worried for a second. What had he done? I saw his eyes flicker to the space next to his bed. I went to inspect what he had glanced at and saw my gargoyle shaped lamp smashed into pieces on the floor. I was so relieved it wasn’t a bottle of alcohol or a tub of pills that I didn’t care about the lamp.

“I’ll pay for it,” he said quickly.

I laughed. “That’s okay,” I said. “I didn’t like it much anyway.” It was a lie. That thing was freaking amazing.

We just stayed there staring at each other after that. There was that tension I was talking about and now I was really regretting being so spontaneous before. I wanted to inch out but he was staring at me, expecting me to talk. What the hell was I up here for in the first place?

I started to panic. I had nothing to say. I had forgotten why I was here in the first place. But Nick wouldn’t stop looking at me so I had to say something.

“Want to come to the video rental store with me?”

Why, AJ? Why would you want to prolong this torture?

Nick nodded. “Okay.”

Say what?

“I’ll meet you downstairs in fifteen,” he said.

I left his bedroom feeling a little nervous. I didn’t want to be left alone with Nick! Why the hell did I offer such a stupid thing? I had absolutely no intentions whatsoever of renting a movie, so how the hell did that come out of my mouth? And more importantly, why had Nick taken me up on the offer? I thought he hated me. Wasn’t he just screaming my head off last night?

Brian had migrated to the living room where he was currently parked in front of the TV watching a western.

“How’d it go?” he asked me, turning the TV on mute.

“Huh?” I flopped down beside him on the couch.

“Did he say yes to dinner?”

Oh yeah. That’s why I was up there.

“I didn’t ask,” I admitted. “I kinda got sidetracked.”

Brian had a questioning look on his face. “What happened?” he asked.

“I asked him if he wanted to go to the movie rental store instead,” I said.

Brian’s eyebrows shot up. “First you didn’t even want to talk to him and now you’re going out alone with him,” he whistled. “Moving fast there J,” he laughed.

“Brian,” I could hear the panic in my voice. “I can’t go with him.”

“Why not?” Brian asked, the fun in his voice gone.

I took in a deep breath and voiced what I had been trying to avoid. “Because it’s my fault.”

Brian looked confused. “What is?” he asked.

“All this,” I waved my hands around as if that explained anything. “What happened to Nick.”

Brian looked almost mad. “Wow, that’s incredibly self-centred of you,” he said.

That was not the reaction I was expecting. “What?” I asked, stunned.

“That’s really egotistical of you,” Brian repeated.


“You think you’re the cause of this?” he waved his hands around, mimicking me. “He did this to himself.”

I shook my head. “I could have check on him,” I objected.

“Is that you’re responsibility?” Brian shot back. “I didn’t check up on him either. Why aren’t you blaming me?”

“Because you live in Georgia!” I exclaimed. “And I only live five blocks away!”

“Big deal,” he said. “I could have easily picked up the phone.”

“But the drugs and the alcohol,” I was begging for him to understand. “I did that to him.”

There was moment in which all Brian did was stare at me and then quite suddenly, he burst out laughing.

“Brian!” I was a little offended. Here I am, pouring my heart out and Brian is laughing at me!

“I’m sorry J,” Brian said, calming down, although letting out a few chuckles here and there. “It’s just...I mean, have you ever met the Carter family?”

He had a point.

“That kid was drinking when he was eight,” Brian continued in a much more serious tone.

“Remember when I got him plastered that one time?” my mind once again flashed back to that incident in Canada in 1998. “In Canada?”

“Yeah, I remember that,” Brian said simply. “So what?”

“So what?!” I exclaimed. “I got him drunk! He was drunk for the first time ever!”

Brian sighed. “You know what AJ,” he said, “if it wasn’t with you, it would have been with someone else. Or even maybe just him – alone. He grew up in a culture of drinking, he was bound to end up there.”

I contemplated that for a minute before Brian continued.

“But the truth is you’re just as much to blame as the rest of us,” he said softly. “But the person here who is really at fault, is Nick himself.”

“That’s not fair Brian,” a voice came from the stairs.

I jumped, so scared that it was Nick and we were caught out. But it was only Howie.

“I thought you went for a nap?” I asked.

He ignored me and strode over to us. “That wasn’t fair,” he repeated.

“I think it was pretty fair,” Brian said. “He has to take responsibility for what he’s done.”

Howie nodded. “I agree, but I don’t think blaming him for anything is particularly helpful.”

“Look at the mess he’s gotten himself into,” Brian blurted. “Of course it’s his fault! The drugs, the alcohol, the partying, the house...”

“The house?” I asked. “Didn’t he sell the house?”

Brian looked at me, a little embarrassed. Apparently Brian and Howie were privy to something that I just wasn’t aware of.

“Oh, stop being so sanctimonious Brian,” did that actually come out of Howie’s mouth? “You act like you don’t even care.”

“Of course I care!” Brian jumped up from his seat. “That’s why I’m here. That’s why I argued with my wife – so I could stay here for him. But I am NOT going to just sit back and act as if he’s not to blame for any of this.”

“How about you reserve some judgement until you know the whole story?” Howie asked calmly.

“Whole story?” Brian asked. “What whole story? All I know is that his parents divorced,” he gave me a side-long look before continuing, “and he’s got that other problem. That’s all he’s told me.”

“Well he’s not gonna tell you much more if you blame him for everything,” Howie said.

“Well why don’t you tell me the whole story then?”

“Because it’s not my place.”

There was a rush of footsteps heading down the stairs and we all turned to see Nick jump onto the landing. When he saw Brian and Howie there, poised in what was sure to look like a confrontation, he seemed embarrassed.

“Did I interrupt something?” he asked.

“No Nicky,” Howie said quickly.

“Nope,” Brian mimicked.

“Okay then,” Nick said. I noticed that he was much more comfortable around Brian and Howie now then when I saw him with them last. This gave me a little bit of hope.

He turned to me. “Did you want to go?” he asked cautiously.

I looked over at Brian who nodded encouragingly and Howie, who looked pleasantly surprised.

I gulped. “Sure Kaos,” I said, standing up and grabbing my car keys off the hook on the wall near the front door. “Let’s go.”

When AJ and Nick left, I turned back to Brian.

“Everything will turn out in the end,” I said. “And you’ll have your answers.”

He looked over at me.

“I do care about him, you know,” he said.

I nodded. I shouldn’t have claimed otherwise. “I know,” I assured.

“The thing is, Howie,” he looked sad. “I’m just so angry at him. And a lot of it is resentment.”

“What do you resent?” I asked.

Brian shrugged, a sudden sadness overcoming him. He collapsed on the couch.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I guess I resent that he took me away from Leighanne and Baylee. That he’s so irresponsible and selfish.”

I could tell there was more.

“What else?” I pushed, going to sit beside him.

He shrugged again. “He didn’t call me!”

I looked at him quizzically and he continued.

“He called Kevin,” he explained.

I quickly realised what he was saying: he was talking about the night we found Nick. “He was completely out of it,” I said.

Brian shook his head. “Yeah he was, but he still wanted to call Kevin,” he said. “He wanted to call Kevin instead of me.”

I didn’t know what say. Brian and Nick had a special relationship that none of us could quite understand. They really took to each other the moment they met. I guess what Brian was feeling now was something similar to how Nick must have felt when Leighanne came into the picture.

“He used to come to me for everything,” Brian continued. “How did we get so estranged?”

“He’s coming around,” I said. “It’s going to take time. Not just with you, but with all of us. We all have healing to do and not just with him.”

“We’ve done so much for him, he doesn’t even know,” Brian said.

That made me a little mad. “We didn’t do what we did – we don’t do what we do – to get thanked,” I said to him.

“No, I know,” Brian said quickly. “But when he looks at me like I’m the last person in the world he wants to see, I can’t help but think what I’ve done for him and how ungrateful he is.”

“He can’t be grateful for things he doesn’t know about,” I said firmly.

“I think he knows,” Brian said.

I turned to look at him, confused.

“Knows what exactly?” I asked.

“About Lou.”

My body froze. “What about Lou?” I asked him cautiously, incredibly scared of where this was going.

Brian looked at me nervously. “Do you think he knows?” was all he asked.

I shook my head. “No,” I said angrily. “And he’s never going to know.”


30th May, 1998

Kevin, Brian and I stepped out of the police station, more nervous than when we stepped in. We began walking down the street.

“I hope we did the right thing,” Brian said after a few minutes had passed.

“We did the right thing,” Kevin assured.

“We should have done it sooner,” I said and they both looked at me sadly. They knew I was right.

“I wonder what will happen now,” Brian pondered.

“They’re going to talk to Nick,” Kevin said. “They did say they would keep us out of it. Tell him they got an anonymous tip.”

“I don’t think he’ll say anything,” Brian said.

“We had to do it anyway,” I said. “We should have done it when AJ first told us.”

“We don’t actually know if it’s true though,” Brian pointed out. “I know this is not the point, but Nick never denied or confirmed it.”

“You’re right, Bri,” Kevin said. “Lou is a slimeball, but that doesn’t mean he did that.”

“No,” I agreed. “But it is kind of suss. I mean Nick would go over there for sleepovers – just him and Lou. And having us call him Big Poppa? Even if he didn’t do it, he was still really inappropriate.”

“Yeah, you’re right D,” Kevin nodded. “I’m just glad he’s finally out of our lives. We can move on now, now that we’ve settled.”

“We can’t move on, not until the police have interviewed Nick,” I pointed out.

There was a silence as we thought about that. The detective we had spoken to informed us they would interview Nick within the week. It was going to be a very long week for the three of us.

“I hope we did the right thing,” Brian repeated.

“We should have done it sooner,” I said.


A/N: Another chapter up and another chapter closer to finishing. Thanks to everyone who read and reviewed! Thanks to PaulaKTBPA, Lynzer4, KimberlyCan, KeepThisSecret, Mare and emeraldbecca1991. I cannot believe I have 75 reviews!! That is so awesome so thanks to everyone! Love getting all the feedback! Again, I should be back with another chapter this time next week. In the meantime, wish me luck because I am writing another chapter for my thesis on cannibalism and it is slightly grossing me out. Haha Much love.
Chapter 22 by jess20
Author's Notes:
AJ & Kevin
A/N: WARNING: Extreme fluffiness and angst and soap opera-ness bull! Yep, this story has taken a plunge lol I had written this chapter ages ago and had wanted to change it around so it wasn’t so unbelievably corny but I’m sticking with it because I wrote it and I’m not going to erase it after all the hand cramps I got from it. There’s also the issue of me finishing my thesis and if I rewrite this whole chapter, then I’m taking time away from my thesis. And if I do rewrite the whole chapter I won’t be meeting my once a week deadline and if I stop meeting that deadline, I might get lazy. So here’s the most embarrassing chapter ever written by anyone ever. Lol. Please don’t judge me too harshly. Also this is a crazy long chapter. Enjoy.

Chapter Twenty-Two: Thank God for Maria

The drive to the movie rental store was only five minutes, but it felt like so much longer. Nick and I sat in silence. I opened and closed my mouth several times during the trip, wanting to say something but not knowing what. The only thing that punctuated the silence was the vibrations coming from my phone in my pocket. As soon as I entered the parking lot of the movie rental store and parked, I switched off the phone impatiently – it was only my mum.

Nick was out of the car and walking into the store before I had a chance to unbuckle my seatbelt. I went in after him. As I walked into the movie rental store, I was hit with a full blast of the aircon. Why was it that all these video rental joints turn up the airconditioning to max? Did they think the videos would melt or something?

I found Nick in the action aisle. He had a copy of Die Hard in his hands. I snorted.

“You’d think you know the words off by heart now,” I said playfully.

He put the video back down on the shelf and continued down the aisle.

“I was just joking Nick,” I said, quickly picking the video back up. Holy shit! When did this kid get so sensitive? Oh yeah, that’s right. Always.

“That’s okay,” he said. “I have it at ho-“

He stopped suddenly, his face red. He was about to say ‘home’. My mind flashed back to Brian and Howie’s heated discussion. I was starting to get the impression there was more to the ‘selling my house’ story than I knew.

“Ok then,” I said, putting the video back down and following him. “Well, you can pick any two videos you want anyway. They have a special – four for ten bucks.”

“Cool,” he said and then slunk off to the drama section – probably a metaphor for his life.

I spent the rest of my time there listening to the music on the radio over the loudspeaker and picking my two movies: Full Metal Jacket and Titanic. We met up again at the check out counter where we stood in a line behind a couple of teenage girls, waiting for the bald headed man serving to pick up his pace.

“What’d you get?” I asked, peering at the two videos clutched in his hands.

He showed them to me.

“Caddyshack,” I chuckled at that one and then I read the title of the other video. “Requiem for a Dream?” The fuck? That choice freaked me the hell out! No way was I gonna let Nick – down in the dumps, just took Angel Dust Nick – watch a drug filled, sanity questioning movie like that! “Oh shit a brick!” I exclaimed, making the two teenage girls in front of us step slightly away from us. “I forgot. Brian wanted me to rent that new X-men movie,” he didn’t, I just had to figure out a way to get that crazy ass movie away from Nick. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was a good movie. But still, crazy ass.

I snatched the video out of his hand and before he could object and hurried off to put it away. As I started to search for this new X-men movie, the radio playing over the speaker started playing As Long As You Love Me. A smile formed on my lips and I began to sing along with it. Finding the video, I made my way back to the line to find that Nick was no longer there. And neither was the guy who was at the checkout.

“What the hell?” I blurted.

The two teenage girls turned to glare at me. “Your idiot friend just stole a movie,” one of the girls said.

“What?” I didn’t even bother waiting for an answer, I ran out of the store.

I looked for the car, expecting to see Nick standing there, but he wasn’t. I turned my head left and right and finally spotted him standing on the sidewalk, being yelled at by that bald guy. I ran up to them.

“What’s going on?” I asked, alarmed. I could guess though. Nick had the incriminating video in his hand and the guy was having a full blown spaz attack.

“This guy tried to steal one of my videos!” the guy screamed. “He’s a thief! A thief! I want you to come back to the store so I can call the cops!”

I looked at Nick for his reaction. His mouth was half open and his face was pale. His brow was furrowed and his lip was quivering. Fuck, what the hell happened?

“No, it was just a mistake,” I said quickly, prying the video from Nick’s hands. “Look, he just forgot he had it, really.”

“How do you just forget that you’re holding something?” the guy spat.

“Look,” I said earnestly. “It was an accident, I swear.” I turned to Nick. “Right Nick?” I prodded.

Nick simply nodded.

I pushed the video into the guy’s hands. “I’m really sorry,” I said. “Honest to God, it was a mistake.”

The guy looked like he was about to blow a gasket.

“If I see you in my store again...”

“You’ll never see our faces near here again,” I promised sincerely. Like I wanted to even come back to this place. Fuck, he’d probably have my face and Nick’s plastered all over the freaking joint.

The guy only humphed and strode away. I turned back to Nick and put on a grin despite the fact that I was very, very nervous.

“If you like Caddyshack that much, I’ll buy it for you,” I joked. When all he did was stare open-mouthed at me, I became serious. “What was that about Kaos?” I asked, using the old nickname.

Nick just shook his head and kneaded his eyes with the heel of his palms.

“AJ...” he groaned.

There was laughter coming from behind us and I turned to look as the two teenage girls that were standing in line ahead of us exit the movie rental store. Nick looked at them and gulped, looking uncomfortable.

“Do you wanna talk in the car?” I asked, fully expecting him to say no.

“I’m sorry J,” he said.

“No need to be sorry dude,” I said, putting my hand on his back and steering him towards the car. “It was just an accident.” I knew that it was an accident. Nick would never steal. Besides my marijuana that is.

When we were back in the car, I turned to face him again. He stared straight ahead.

“Nick, what happened man?” I asked. “You don’t steal.”

He perched his elbow on the side of the door and held onto his head as if he were in pain.

“I think I’m going crazy, J,” he said. He sounded so distressed and thinking about what has happened to him over the past couple of days, I couldn’t blame him.

“You’re not going crazy,” I said. “It was just an accident.” I paused and watched as he closed his eyes, his frown deepening. “Why don’t you tell me what happened?”

He took in a deep breath. “They...they were playing As Long As You Love Me on the radio,” I nodded and he continued. “And those two girls in front of us in line? They started talking shit.”

I sighed. “Nick, you know not to listen to rubbish,” I said, just imagining what they were saying.

Nick shook his head and looked at me. There were tears in his eyes but they had not fallen. Thank God.

“They were saying stuff like ‘Who even cares about the Backstreet Boys anymore?’ and ‘Isn’t one of them dead or something?’”

I briefly wondered if they thought I was the one that was dead.

“And ‘They’re all forty, how are they even relevant anymore?’”

“Nick,” I sighed again. “Not everyone is gonna be a fan,” I said. “You know this.”

“But I just thought...I just didn’t think my career would be over at twenty-three,” he choked, turning back to the front.

I wanted so much to tell him his career wasn’t over yet and that we might be making another album in the future. But if Kevin decided against it, then what?

“So, you had a little freak out and you ran out of there with the video still in your hand,” I summarised. “How does that make you crazy?”

“Because...” that was definitely a crack in his voice. “Because why am I feeling like this?” he turned to me again, his eyes begging. “Why do I care? It was just a silly little thing, and I went all PMS. I don’t understand it. Do you think the drugs did something to my brain?”

I would have laughed if this whole situation didn’t make me feel so sad.

“No Nick,” I said honestly. “The drugs didn’t do anything to your brain. You didn’t take enough for it to do any permanent damage and it should be out of your system by now.”

“Then what’s wrong with me?” at that question, I felt the guilt creep back inside me. If I had gone over to his house anytime in the past year or two he wouldn’t be having these ridiculous thoughts.

“There’s nothing wrong with you, Nick,” I said, feeling my eyes become wet. “Everything’s just been happening at once,” he looked at me suspiciously so I quickly said, “Howie mentioned you have some personal issues, but he didn’t say anything I hadn’t already figured out,” at that he relaxed so I continued. “So everything has just happened all at once and you’re feeling it.” I paused and then said, “You’re feeling too much. But that’s okay. All you need to do is take a step back and talk to us. We’re here for you.”

A single tear slipped down Nick’s face and he swiped at it impatiently. “I should have come to see you,” he said quietly.

“I should have come to see you too,” I acknowledged. “I was scared. I knew you were having all these parties and I didn’t want to get...tempted.”

He looked up at me in surprise. Evidently he hadn’t thought that was an option.

“But I still should have come around,” I continued. “Five blocks, right?”

“I’m sorry, J,” he had more tears coming down his face now. “I didn’t think about th-“

“That’s okay Nick,” I said honestly.

“I really wanted to go over to see you,” Nick said. “But it felt like you didn’t want to see me anymore.”

I shook my head fervently. “Nick, you, Kevin, Brian and Howie are my brothers,” I said firmly. “You’re my baby bro, bro, and I will always want you and the other guys in my life.”

“But you and Howie...”

I knew he would bring that up.

“I’ll explain tonight,” I said simply.

“Tonight?” he asked.

“We’re all going out for dinner tonight in,” I looked down at radio clock in the car and almost gasped. “An hour. Shit. We better get moving.”

I turned the key in the ignition and the car came to life.

“No one told me we were eating out tonight,” Nick said, wiping his face, visibly calmer than he was when we got into the car.

“I’m telling you now, kid,” I said, pulling out of the parking lot.

There was a silence again, not an awkward silence, but still a silence.

“You know I would never turn you away,” I said sincerely, glancing over at him. “Never. I’ll always be here for you,” to make the point I gripped his shoulder with one hand while the other stayed on the steering wheel. “What else are big brothers for?”


I had the best dream! It involved Kristin in some slinky red underwear, chocolate, whipped cream and a king sized bed. I woke up to the sound of kissing noises. It took me a while to figure out the kissing noises were coming from my mouth. I got too invested in the dream, which my drenched-in-drool pillow can attest to. Needless to say I was more than a little disappointed to wake to an empty bed and a bedroom that looked like AJ might be using it for a torture chamber. What the frick, J? The wardrobe had freaking spikes on it. I’m not entirely sure if that thing by the wall was meant to be a desk or the rack. And on the bedside table, there was freaking gargoyle lamp just staring at me. The kind of girls AJ must be having sex with...

I picked up my watch from the bedside table where I had placed it before going to sleep. It was six-thirty. Shit. I had to be ready in a half hour for dinner. I did not want to be late. I got out of bed, searched through my luggage for some fresh underwear and a nice outfit and headed for the shower. I started to undress the moment I stepped inside the ensuite. I was stinky and I was sweaty. I had literally not showered in two days. I was disgusting.

I stepped in the shower and let the water pour over me. I closed my eyes and tried to revisit my dream but the details were now sketchy and I’d put the water on too cold. Instead, I turned my mind to something less fun: the group. Did I really want to go back and do another album? No, not really. Kristin and I have been talking about kids. She wants to wait – her career and everything – but I was already in my thirties and I didn’t want to wait too long. What if she decides she wants a baby when I’m on the other side of the world?

Having kids is something I’ve always really wanted, probably not as much as Brian, but still, who doesn’t want kids? And I think I’ve had pretty good practice with AJ and Nick. But Kristin keeps reminding me that kids aren’t just fun and games and all I’d have to do is scream once in a while. And that it will be nothing like what it was with AJ and Nick. She once said that this time I would have real responsibility. She didn’t say that again when I told her how much I resented her saying that. I took responsibility of AJ and Nick, more than I should have. Given, AJ grew up much faster than Nick did and AJ did have his mum with him the entire time he was underage. But Nick was definitely a handful. Those damn hormones when he was going through puberty. He would always take it out on me for some reason. He would always joke around with Howie and have fun with Brian, but when it came to me, it was like we were constantly at war. Except when something big happened and then suddenly I was the go to guy. Howie, Brian and I all had legal guardianship of Nick, but it was me that took the responsibility. Every time.

I stepped out of the shower and dried myself off. Apparently the water was on too cold because I sneezed. I hope I wasn’t getting sick.

Great. Sick, shower, Nick. Perfect combination to trigger that memory.


10 June, 1996

Did someone just turn on the light?

“Kevin, wake up.”

Someone was shaking me. Who in their right mind would be shaking me awake after the long ass day we’ve had? And do not tell me that it’s already seven because I’m a hundred percent sure I just went to bed.

“Kevin, wake up!”

The shaking became more vigorous and the voice louder. I cracked open an eye and looked up at the blurry face of my cousin. I was gonna kill him.

“G’way,” I mumbled. Okay, so I would kill him when I have more energy and not half asleep.

“Kevin!” Brian sounded frantic and that made me open both eyes now. “Something’s wrong with Nick and I have no freaking clue what to do.”

I sat up and squinted my eyes in the light.

“What’s wrong with him?” I asked, half expecting this to be another prank.

“He won’t stop shaking and he feels really hot,” Brian said, stepping away from the bed to give me room. “He’s completely out of it.”

“Brian, is this another one of your jokes?”

“Kevin!” Brian looked panicked – this was not a joke. “He went to bed early because he didn’t feel well last night, remember?”

I did remember. He went to bed as soon as we walked through the door after a magazine shoot. Howie wanted to go and explore the streets of Austria a little more, but Nick flat out refused, which I found odd.

“Okay,” I said, nodding. “It’s probably just a fever. You should just let him sweat it out, Bri.”

Brian shook his head. “No, this is worse,” he said. “I know what a normal fever looks like Kev and this is not it.”

I furrowed my brow. Sometimes Brian had a penchant for the dramatics.

“Fine, show me,” I sighed.

I got out of bed, wearing only my boxers, and followed Brian out of my room and down the hall to the one that Brian shared with Nick.

We walked into Brian and Nick’s room and almost instantly I was hit with the smell of sickness.

“Did he vomit?” I asked Brian, switching on the light to the room.

“He must have done it when I came to get you,” Brian said, hurrying to Nick’s side.

Nick was lying in bed, his eyes squeezed shut and whole body shaking violently. He didn’t appear to be cold though, because his blankets, covered in vomit, were coming off the bed.

“Nick?” I leaned over him and put my hand on his forehead. I instantly retrieved it. He was burning something serious.

“C...c...ol...d,” it escaped his lips, barely audible.

In that moment I knew Brian wasn’t exaggerating. This was not a normal fever.

“Brian,” I was wide awake now. “Grab some clean sheets and blankets and put it over him.”

Brian ran over to the wardrobe and pulled out a set of clean sheets and a blanket. I pulled the old vomity ones from Nick’s bed and put the new ones on him.

“Brian, do we have a thermometer?” I asked, putting my hand on Nick’s forehead again as he began to fight with the sheets.

“Howie has one,” Brian said, getting my drift and leaving the room.

I left Nick and went into the bathroom the two guys shared. I found a washcloth, wet it and hurried back to Nick. The new sheets and blanket I had put on him were now falling off the bed like the old ones were. I picked them up and placed them back on him. I then sat beside him and placed the washcloth on his forehead just as Brian ran back in with Howie hot on his tail.

“I’ve got a thermometer,” Howie said quickly and giving it to me.

I took it and turned to Nick. “Nick, open your mouth,” I said softly, patting his hair which was drenched in sweat and water.

Nick, whether unwilling to or unable to, kept his mouth shut but I could hear his teeth clanging against each other. He was freezing.

“Nick,” I said more loudly. “Open your mouth!”

Nick opened his eyes and it was clear to me that he had absolutely no idea what was going on. He looked up at me, shaking uncontrollably and not exactly seeing me.

“Nick,” I said again, taking the washcloth off his face – alarmed to find that the cloth was no longer wet – and pulling him up into a sitting position. It took all my strength to do that. The kid had grown so much in the past six months – he was nearly as tall as me! And not only that, but his shaking was making it hard for me to coordinate his body.

“,” he looked as if he was becoming aware.

“Yeah, Nick,” I said. “Open your mouth for me okay, little man?”

“C...c...cold,” he repeated.

“I know, just open your mouth,” I was surprised when he did. He never does what I tell him to do. Small steps I guess.

I put the thermometer in his mouth and ignored the fact that his teeth were now clattering against the plastic stick in his mouth.

“What the hell?” AJ walked in, rubbing at his eyes. “What’s going on?”

The thermometer beeped and I took it out of Nick’s mouth and lowered him back on the bed. I looked at the temperature and nearly fainted.

“Shit!” I actually screamed it. “He’s got a 106 temperature!”


“Oh my God, we have to call an ambulance!”

“Kevin, what do we do?!”

I had no freaking clue!


I was completely frozen. A 106 degree temperature was dangerous. Way dangerous! So many things could go wrong.

“Call an ambulance!” I shouted and AJ ran out of the room.

I sat with Nick and held his hand, not knowing what else to do. Brian stood beside us, his face flushed and scared looking. Howie went to sit by Nick’s other side. AJ ran back into the room, brandishing a phone in his hand like it was a gun. He gave it to me.


“Hello, sir, can you tell me what is going on?” the lady on the phone had a strong Austrian accent, but her English was perfect. Thank God.

“My friend,” I said quickly. “He has a fever of 106 fahrenheit.”

“Okay, sir, I have dispatched an ambulance to your location,” she sounded calm. How could she sound calm? “But I need you to bring his temperature down.”

I shook my head, feeling frantic. “I tried,” I said. “I put a washcloth on his face. It came off dry!”

“He’s too hot for that,” the lady said. “That’s not going to be enough to bring the temperature down. You need to get him in a bath.”

I stood up instantly. She had just given me a task and I was going to do it. I ran into the bathroom again and looked inside.

“We don’t have a bathtub,” I said, frustrated. “Just a shower.”

“That’s okay,” she said. “That will work. Now listen to me very carefully,” I pressed the phone against my ear, not wanting to miss anything. “Take off his clothes – except his underwear – and put the water on warm. Not cold! Warm. Then, make up a clean bed for him, lots of blankets. After that, I need you to take his temperature again. Have you got that?”

“Yes,” I said shaking, feeling my heart pound. “How long does he stay in the shower for?”

“Five minutes should be enough and the ambulance should be there by then,” she said. “Sir, what is your name?”

“Kevin,” I said quickly, slightly annoyed that she was making nice now.

“Okay, Kevin,” she said slowly. “Listen to me because this is important. Your friend’s temperature needs to go down. It is very high and it can cause brain damage.”

I froze, my breath taken from my lungs.

“Kevin,” she brought me back. “Don’t hang up. I’ll be waiting here for you when you need me.”

“Okay,” I said quickly, hurrying back into the bedroom. “I’m going to do it now.”

I placed the phone on the bedside table and swallowed my fear. I had no time for fear now.

“Howie, help me with Nick in the bathroom,” I snapped. “Brian and AJ, I need you to redo his bed. Lots of sheets and blankets. Make sure he’ll be warm.”

There was nodding from all around and I grabbed Nick up in my arms and shuffled into the bathroom as fast as I could. He clung onto me but he was totally unaware of what was happening. I preferred it that way. I sat him down on the toilet and held him upright so that he wouldn’t fall off.

“Howie, help me take off his clothes,” I said quickly, unbuttoning Nick’s pyjama top.

“What did she say?” Howie asked urgently as he started to work on Nick’s pants.

“She said we need to get his temperature down because it might cause brain damage,” I said, not bothering to look at Howie for a reaction. I had no time for emotions. If I did, I wouldn’t do what needed to be done.

“Brain damage?” Howie yelped.

I had gotten Nick’s shirt off but he had a singlet underneath.

“I need your help with the singlet,” I said to Howie matter of factly.

He was still working on the pants. He had gotten them to Nick’s knees and was struggling.

“Howie, hurry up!”

“Nearly there,” Howie said and in just a few seconds – too many seconds if you ask me – Nick’s pants were off.


Nick’s head was lolling to the side but he now was apparently more aware of what was going on.

“Lift up your arms for me, Nick,” I said, grabbing at his singlet and trying to pull it over his head. There was no use. He was too weak. Howie grabbed at Nick’s arms and lifted them above his head. I was able to take the singlet off completely.

“Wha...’ya” Nick asked again, sounding slightly more panicked. He was just in his underwear after all.

“You just need to have a shower, that’s all,” I said softly and then I looked at Howie and said, “Put the shower on. Warm.”

He nodded and started to fiddle with the faucets on the shower.

“I...I d...don’t wan...want a sh...shower,” Nick’s eyes had opened now and he was aware that he was partly naked. He looked completely horrified but too weak to do anything about it.

“It’s ready,” Howie informed.

I took Nick by the arms and made him stand. I didn’t know how this was gonna work. He couldn’t stand up by himself, he was holding on to me – or more appropriately, I was holding him up, he had no strength whatsoever. How was he supposed to stand in a shower without falling and breaking his neck? He couldn’t sit – there wasn’t enough room in there.

“Howie, help me,” I said and Howie came and took Nick’s other arm.

“What now?” Howie asked as we stood in front of the shower, the curtain pulled back and the water flowing down.

“We get him in,” I said.

I started to edge Nick closer to the foot of the shower.

“No!” he started to struggle against us. “No! Please Kevin! No! I don’t want it!”

I tried to ignore him and I pushed him forward, Howie following my lead.

“There’s no way he can stand in there by himself,” Howie said, holding Nick back before I had a chance to get him in.

“What do you suggest?!” I screamed, so much for no emotions.

Howie looked about to cry. “I don’t know!” he screamed back.

I looked at Nick, wearing near nothing. His head had dropped to my shoulder, more relaxed now that he thought he’d gotten out of it, but still shaking really bad.

I looked down at him with next to no clothes on and then I looked down at myself with next to no clothes on.

“Have you got him?” I asked Howie, unsure that I what I was about to do would be viewed as innocent but knowing that I had no other option.

“Yeah,” Howie said.

I let go of Nick and stepped into the shower. Howie had gotten the temperature right. It wasn’t hot and it wasn’t cold – it was perfect.

I turned to look at Howie and Nick, my hair dripping. I went to pull it out of the way and then reached for Nick’s arm.

The moment Nick felt the water touch his arm, he began to struggle again.

“No!” he shouted. “I don’t want to Kevin!”

Howie helped me pull him into the shower. He never stopped struggling, but I wrapped my hands around his waist and held him firmly. Howie, to his credit, grabbed Nick’s flailing arms and in the process got soaked himself.

“NO!” Nick shouted, his breathing heavy and his whole body shaking. “NO! NO! Let me go! It’s cold! It’s too cold!”

Howie had the worst look on his face, like he had killed someone or something. I’m sure my face looked identical.

Nick struggled against Howie, pulling his hands back and forward, but Howie never let go.

“It’s okay Nicky,” he said soothingly. “We’re gonna make you better.”

“No! Let me go! Please! I’m sorry! Let me go!”

After a while, Nick stopped struggling and lay his head against my chest. It was becoming harder to keep him up. We were both so wet and I was having a hard time keeping my grip. In the end, the five minutes couldn’t have come any sooner. Howie helped me take Nick out of the shower and sit him back on the toilet.

We hadn’t noticed, but Brian and AJ had returned sometime in that five minutes and stood watching us.

“AJ, grab the thermometer,” I said, helping Howie to dry Nick’s hair. “Brian, grab some clean pyjamas for Nick.”

AJ and Brian left the room again. I knelt in front of Nick, leaving a big pool of water underneath me on the tiles. I felt his skin and was pleased with what I felt.

“How do you feel, little man?” I asked.

He opened his eyes and it looked to me like the fever had left them.

“Better,” he said, still shivering, though less violently.

AJ came back in with the thermometer. He handed it to me.

“Nick, open your mouth okay?” I said.

He did it and I put the thermometer in. I continued to help Howie dry him off. Brian came back with a new pair of PJs and a new set of underwear.

“What about his undies?” Howie asked uncomfortably.

I looked down at his underwear. They were drenched.

“I’m not touching it,” I said quickly, feeling a lot calmer now that I was sure Nick would be fine. I looked over at Brian.

“No freaking way,” he said.

“Nicky?” Howie reached over and gently patted Nick’s face. “Can you change by yourself?”

Nick looked up but his answer was cut off by the beeping of the thermometer. I quickly took it out of his mouth and looked at the temperature. I nearly cried.

“It’s 99 degrees,” I said. “Thank God!”

I stood up and hurried out, remembering.

“Hello?” I spoke into the phone, tears now in my eyes.

“Kevin?” the lady answered quickly. “How did it go?”

“He’s temperature is 99,” I said, taking a deep breath. Then I laughed, the tears leaving my eyes.

“Good,” the lady said, her voice still as calm as before, but with a lift to it.

“Thank you much,” I said, wiping the tears away from my eyes. “I don’t know how to thank you.”

“Just doing my job,” she said. “Besides, you were the one that did the work. You saved your friend’s life today.”

I walked back over to the bathroom and stood in the doorway as the other guys began to argue over who was gonna take dress Nick, the sound of sirens making their way to me from outside.

“What’s your name?” I asked the lady.

“Maria,” she said.

“Thank you Maria,” I smiled, seeing Nick stand up – with Howie’s help –, snatch the clean pair of undies weakly from Brian’s hand and wrap a towel around his middle.

“You are very welcome,” she said, before hanging up.

I watched as Howie held the towel while Brian held Nick up so he could change underwear. I laughed when Nick pathetically flung the undies at AJ.

Thank God for Maria.


A/N: If you’re reading this, this means that you braved the horrible chapter and you might be considering sticking with this story. Yay you! If you’re reading this because it’s much more exciting (and less embarrassing) then what happened in that chapter, then thanks for sticking around this long lol Please feel free to take the piss out of me LOL

Thanks to those who reviewed last chapter, namely Mare, libragurl, KimberlyCan, KeepThisSecret and PaulaKTBPA. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have posted this chapter so you only have yourselves to blame LOL I’m joking of course! Thanks so much for the encouragement guys! Means a lot!
Chapter 23 by jess20
Author's Notes:
Howie, Nick & Brian
Chapter Twenty-Three: Dinner

Dinner was at this cool little alleyway restaurant. Very trendy. I said it was my shout, mostly because I knew Nick couldn’t spare the money and if I was going to pay for him, it would look suss if I didn’t pay for anyone else.

We settled into a little booth at the back of the restaurant. I was wedged between Nick and AJ but it wasn’t uncomfortable. What was more uncomfortable was the tension I could feel between Nick and Kevin and to a much lesser extent, Brian and Nick. In fact, there was a tension that kind of emanated around the table – I guess we were still getting used to each other’s presence again.

“Let’s see what looks good,” AJ picked up a menu and leafed through it.

“Nothing too expensive J,” I quickly said.

“You can afford it, Trump Junior,” AJ said.

“Trump Junior?” I asked with half a grin on my face. “I hope that doesn’t stick.”

“I feel like risotto,” Brian said, taking his own menu from the pile on the table.

“The lamb looks good,” Kevin noted.

“What about you Nick?” I asked, looking over. “What are you gonna get?”

Nick shrugged, no menu in his hands or open before him. “Pizza.”

AJ laughed. “Never change, Kaos,” he said.

I looked over AJ’s shoulder at the menu but he snapped it shut before I could get a good look.

“Guys, I want to tell you something before we order,” AJ’s laugh had faded and his face was serious.

“What is it J?” Kevin asked, shutting his own menu, obviously sensing a change in the atmosphere. Brian and Nick looked up too. Nick looked curious - that is as optimistic as I’d seen him this whole time I’ve been here – and Brian looked worried.

I knew what was coming. It was why I was here in the first place.

“About a week ago...” AJ was nervous. His eyes were flicking all over the place, never landing on any of our faces. “About a week ago I...”

“You what AJ?” Brian didn’t seem to have any patience.

“I was feeling really...shit,” I looked down at the table as he continued. “And I...I was having a hard time and I was lonely and sad and...”

He finally looked at each of us and I looked up from the table long enough to give him a reassuring smile before turning my attention back to the table.

“And I bought a drink,” he finished.

There was silence. I looked up at him, knowing this was not the end of the story and silently urging him to continue.

“How did it taste?” Kevin asked finally.

AJ looked at him in shock and so did I. Kevin had said it so calmly and emotionless, very unlike himself.

“Well,” AJ shifted in his seat. “I didn’t actually drink it.”

Brian let out a burst of laughter. “What?” he exclaimed. “That’s great J!”

AJ shook his head fiercely. “No, it’s not,” he said. “I bought alcohol, Rok, how is that great?”

“Because you didn’t drink it,” Kevin answered him. “You resisted the temptation. That’s a HUGE thing!”

AJ shook his head. “No, I didn’t,” he insisted. “I didn’t resist the temptation. I bought alcohol with the intention of drinking it.”

“What stopped you?” Brian asked. “What stopped you from drinking it?”

“I got home and I put it on my coffee table and I looked at it,” AJ said, his voice small and quiet. “And then I picked up the phone and I called D.”

Brian and Kevin looked over at me.

“That’s why you were staying over at J’s?” Kevin asked.

I nodded.

“He called, I came,” I said simply. “It was just a slip up. Nothing big.”

“Nothing big to you Howie,” AJ said, almost indignantly. “But it’s a big thing to me!”

“Yeah, it is a big thing,” I agreed. “It’s a huge thing!” he looked disappointed, so I continued. “You made the choice to ring me up and fight your demons! You’re right, that is huge!”

AJ shook his head. “That’s not what I meant...”

“Everyone has slip ups J,” Kevin said. “It’s called being human.”

“The point is, you fought it and you beat it,” I said. “All this says to me is that you’re getting stronger. I’ve been saying that ever since I got here!”

“How does it make me stronger?” AJ asked. This would be the millionth time we’ve had this conversation but now that I had Kevin and Brian with me, maybe I could finally get through to him.

“Because setbacks are really just learning curves,” Brian put in. “You had a setback, a moment of weakness, but you fought through it. Next time, it’ll be easier.”

“Howie and Brian are right, J,” Kevin put in. “You’re stronger because of this.”

AJ smiled.

“Can I take your order?”

A pretty waitress was standing at our table, looking down at us and unaware that she had interrupted a very personal conversation.

“Uh,” I was caught off guard, as were the others.

“Your order?” the waitress repeated.

“Right,” Brian said, coming to first. “Can I have the risotto?”

“And you sir?” the waitress asked, looking at Kevin.

Kevin, on the other hand, did not appear to be aware that the waitress had spoken to him. He was staring slightly to the left of me.

“Where’s Nick?” he asked.

I looked to my left. How did I not notice Nick had left during our conversation?


I looked into the bathroom mirror and breathed out slowly. There was some guy taking a piss behind me. He had no shame whatsoever. His pants were down at his ankles. I tried to avoid looking at his bare cheeks that were reflected in the mirror.

I turned the faucet to the sink on and cupped my hands under the water. I splashed the water on my face and enjoyed the feeling of it dripping down and off my skin. I took in another deep breath and looked back in the mirror. The guy who had been peeing butt naked at the urinal was now standing next to me, washing his hands. He looked at me in the mirror closely and I started to feel a little nervous.

“Do I know you from somewhere?” he asked, turning the water off and shaking it from his hands.

“Don’t think so,” I said, not really in the mood for the ‘Oh, you’re a Backstreet Boy’ talk.

“Must have a common face,” the guy shrugged, drying his hands with some paper towels now.

“Must have,” I said, smiling softly.

“Huh,” the guy dropped the paper towels in a little waste basket and walked out.

I looked back at myself in the mirror. I looked so tired. I rubbed my eyes and looked back at myself. Great, now my eyes are red and wet. It looks like I’ve been crying, which, in all honesty, is what I feel like doing anyways.

I can’t believe AJ bought a drink! Okay, so he didn’t drink any, but he had bought one! God, I don’t think I can do the whole AJ/rehab thing again – it was too hard the first time. He said he was feeling like shit when he bought it – why would he feel like shit? AJ was awesome! AJ’s always been awesome! They all are awesome. Why would they ever feel like that? I was the one that should feel like shit – because I am shit. I couldn’t sit there and listen to him go on about his troubles so I left.

I looked hard into my own eyes. I stared at the green and I stared at the black and the white. A drop of water ran down my cheek and now I’m not sure if that’s from the water I splashed on my face or a tear.


“He’s probably just in the bathroom,” I said casually.

Howie nodded. “Yeah,” he agreed. “He pees like a race horse.”

“We’ll just wait until he comes back and then we’ll order,” AJ said to the waitress, who nodded politely and left.

There was a silence. “He’s fine, you know,” AJ said suddenly. “I mean, he will be fine. I talked to him and he’s gonna be fine. Now that we’re all here anyway.”

“I leave at the end of the week,” I said.

“That’s okay,” Howie said. “I’ll be here.”

“And he can stay at mine for however long he needs,” AJ put in.

“Plus, we won’t be apart long if we do another album,” Howie said eagerly.

“You’re really excited for this new album, hey D?” I said.

“Well,” he looked at Kevin uncertainly. “If we’re all in.”

We all looked at Kevin, waiting for him to tell us what he’d decided, if he had decided anything.

“Have you all spoken with him?” was what he said instead.

“What?” I asked.

He nodded towards Nick’s empty seat. “Have you all reconciled with Nick?”

Howie and AJ nodded slowly, looking a little uncomfortable. I didn’t make a move. What had I done with Nick? Surely it wasn’t reconciling? I just gave him a little speech about how he didn’t bother to call and tell him how maybe him doing Angel Dust was fate, and then telling him that he should speak to Howie.

“Brian?” Kevin looked at me. I could tell he was sad.

“I spoke to him,” I said, not wanting to admit that my relationship with Nick wasn’t as mended as his relationship with Howie and now AJ was.

“He’s coming around Kev,” Howie said. “He wants to speak to you.”

Kevin nodded. “I never should have stopped calling,” he said quietly.

Howie shook his head, but I didn’t hear what he had to say. I was up and out of my seat in seconds and seconds after that I was striding towards the bathroom.

He was standing in front of the mirror looking at himself with such intensity I thought maybe he was trying to break the glass with his mind.


I startled him. He jumped and turned towards me looking alarmed.

“Are you okay?” I asked him when he recognised me and settled down.

“Yeah,” he said, but I knew he wasn’t.

I strode further into the bathroom and stood right in front of him.

“You’re gonna be okay, Nick,” I said, wrapping my arms around him and holding on tightly. I felt his arms around me too. In the past, we might have had a deep conversation about our relationship, but for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to have one with him now. For the time being, a hug would have to do, but for Nick, a hug is really all he needs.


11 August, 1996

“Home sweet home!” AJ flung his arms in the air as he stepped off the plane.

“Not yet, J,” I said. “We’re only in California.”

“Still on American soil,” he said.

“True,” I replied, lifting my carryon luggage up and following Kevin, Howie and Nick towards the terminal.

We made our way to the baggage claim area and waited for the conveyor to start.

“Okay boys,” Lou met us there, a smile on his face. “We’re shooting our first music video tomorrow, so get rested. You have drivers waiting outside for you and I’ve booked out a suite at the Marriot.”

“Wow, Lou!” AJ looked ecstatic. “That’s so cool! How did you get that?”

“I have connections,” he winked at us. “Nine A.M sharp tomorrow boys. Enough time for you to sleep in and have breakfast. We’ll meet you in the hotel lobby at nine. Got it?”

We all nodded and watched as he left.

“Wow!” AJ turned to the rest of us. “A suite at the Marriot! How cool is that?”

“He must be more successful than we thought,” Howie said. “This is it guys. This is our chance.”

“We’re gonna be big!” AJ said as the first round of bags made their way around. “I can feel it!”

“Don’t get too excited,” Kevin warned. “Europe is one thing, but the US is something else entirely.”

“Stop being such a downer,” I said, poking my elbow into my cousin’s ribs.

“Just being realistic,” he said.

“What do you think Nick?” I asked. “Do you think we’ll make it big?”

The blonde shrugged, his eyes a little faraway as if he wasn’t really with us. “I don’t know,” he said. “But what if we don’t make it big? What happens then?”

“Don’t listen to Kevin, Nicky,” Howie said. “Think positive and positive things will happen.”

“I want a girl with big breasts, I want a girl with big breasts, I want a girl with big breasts,” AJ muttered.

“I said think positive thoughts, not unrealistic ones,” Howie laughed.

We made it to the Marriot an hour and a half later. The suite was gorgeous. Lou must have signed other talents to his company because there was no way that he could have afforded this with us being his only client.

“There are only four bedrooms,” AJ groaned. “Two of us have to double up.”

“Not it!” Kevin and Howie shouted together and then raced to have the master bedroom.

“Rok?” AJ looked at me with pleading eyes.

“God, AJ, want to make it any more obvious?” Nick pouted. “I am standing right here.”

I laughed. “I’ll share with Nick,” I said.

“What if I don’t want to share?” Nick snapped. “How come I always have to share? Why can’t you share for once?” he looked at AJ, clearly angry.

“You’re the youngest,” AJ said matter-of-factly.

“So what?!” he exclaimed and I was shocked to see that he was actually and legitimately getting upset over this. “I’m only younger than you by like two years. It’s not fair!”

“Someone has to share with little Nicky,” AJ said in a sing song sort of way, clearly losing his patience with Nick. “Little itty bitty Nicky needs a guardian.”

“Shut up!” Nick screamed.

“What the hell is going on?” Kevin and Howie walked back towards us.

“This little shit is having a hissy fit because he doesn’t want to share a room with Rok,” AJ said quickly.

“No,” Nick jumped in. “I don’t want to share a room with anyone.”

“What? After all that talk in Germany about being family and staying together and all that shit? I thought you’d be jumping for joy to share with someone,” AJ was deliberately stirring Nick up, I could see that. Lately Nick had been going through some major mood changes – like major – and AJ seems to have lost all patience with him, conveniently forgetting that only a few years back we had to deal with the same thing from him.

“I’ll share with AJ,” I said, putting my hand on Nick’s shoulder.

“No, we already agreed that I was going to have a room to myself!” AJ said. Now I knew for certain that he was only doing it to spite Nick.

“Two people have to share!” Kevin said loudly. “Nick, stop being a brat and share with Brian. You love sharing with Brian.”

Nick turned to Kevin angrily. “No, I always share! It’s not fair!”

“You are the youngest Nick,” Kevin said, matter-of-factly.

“ARGH!” Nick shouted and I could see a tantrum coming on. “So what?! I’m sixteen! I don’t need to share with anyone! And why do you always get the master bedroom anyways? That’s not fair! How come I never get the master bedroom? How come Howie doesn’t get the master bedroom?”

“I got it this time,” Howie piped up, looking a little affronted.

“Nick what the hell?!” Kevin exclaimed. “Why are you being so difficult?”

I stepped closer to Nick, just in case I needed to restrain him at the last second. Along with the mood changes, he has picked up the habit of throwing punches willy-nilly.

“Because it’s not fair!” Nick exclaimed. “Why does it always happen to me?! Why don’t you force AJ to sleep with Brian?”

Kevin didn’t say anything for a minute, just staring pensively at Nick and we all waited with baited breath to see what would happen next.

“AJ, you can share with me,” he said finally. “And Nick can take the master bedroom.”

“Hey, that was mine!” Howie said indignantly.

“I am NOT sharing with you,” AJ said, folding his arms across his chest.

“You share with me or you sleep on the couch,” Kevin said, on the verge of screaming.

“What?!” AJ did scream. “How is that fair?!”

“Enough AJ,” Kevin said, his voice dangerously low. “Howie, are you okay with Nick taking the master bedroom?”

Howie looked at Kevin and then looked at Nick. “Yeah, that’s fine,” he said. “But you owe me one kid,” he said at Nick.

Nick nodded and then made his exit towards the master bedroom, not saying a word.

“This is bullshit Kevin!” AJ said. “I’ll share with Howie then.”

“I don’t want you in my bedroom,” Howie said.

“Why the hell not?!”

“You were goading him!” Howie said. “You couldn’t compromise?”

“I don’t see you offering to double up,” AJ said.

“He gave up the master bedroom,” Kevin said. “Nick is right, though. He always shares with someone and that someone is always Brian so let’s give them a break tonight.” Kevin’s eyes softened. “What do you say J?”

“I say this is bullshit,” AJ swore, before walking off to sit in a huff before the TV.

Kevin, Howie and I were left standing there, a look of exhaustion on each of our faces.

“What was that about?” Howie asked quietly so AJ couldn’t hear.

“I don’t know,” I said truthfully. “Nick just went nuts.”

“I think I have an idea,” Kevin said. “But I think you should go talk to him.”

“Me?” I asked when he pointed at me. “But I don’t know what’s wrong.”

“You remember in Germany? The night we watched Die Hard?” Kevin asked.

Howie and I nodded.

“The night before we left,” Kevin said. “Nick said we’re family?”

Howie and I nodded again, waiting for this to make sense.

“Well,” Kevin continued. “He asked us what ‘cash cow’ meant. Remember?”

I nodded, still not quite getting it, but Howie seemed to have caught on.

“He made a call to his mum before that,” the Latino said.

“What?” I asked, a little confused.

Kevin sighed. “I think maybe something happened on the phone,” he explained. “Nick overheard someone call him a cash cow or something. Maybe someone said it to him, maybe one of his sisters or something.”

“He’s been crabby and down the whole way home,” Howie said.

I shook my head. If what Kevin speculated was true, all I wanted to do is ring my own mother up and tell her how much I love and appreciate her.

“I’ll go talk to him,” I said, breaking away from Kevin and Howie and walking towards the master bedroom.

I knocked on the door and when I didn’t get an answer, I turned the door knob. It was locked.

“Nick, it’s Brian,” I said through the door. “Can I come in?”

I heard shuffling in the room and then the door unlocking. More shuffling before I opened the door.

He was lying on the bed, headphones in his ears. He had his eyes closed and was moving his foot to the beat on his walkman.

I sat down on the bed beside him. It was a nice room: king sized bed, large screen TV, couches, coffee table and an en suite.

“Awesome room,” I said.

He kept his eyes closed and his headphones on. I reached forward and grabbed at them. He opened his eyes in alarm but let me take the headphones off anyway.

“I said, awesome room,” I repeated.

“Yeah,” he said. “It’s dope.”

“Can I ask you a question?” I asked.

“You already have,” Nick said and I could tell that his mood had lightened.

“Why did you ask about cash cows?”

Nick looked shocked that I had asked that question. He slowly sat up.

“I...I was just curious,” he said.

“Where did you hear it?” I asked.

“TV,” he said simply. He was lying.

“You’re lying,” I said.

“No I’m not!” he said defensively.

“Yes you are,” I objected.

He didn’t say anything, he just sat there, looking as if all the energy had been taken out of him. I stared at him unwaveringly.

“I haven’t even made that much money yet anyway,” he finally said.

I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t very well tell him that his family were not those kind of people when I knew first hand that they were. He looked so sad, so I did the one thing that I knew would, for at least a moment, take away some of that sadness: I hugged him.


A/N: So close to the end of this story now! Thanks to everyone who reviewed: KimberlyCan, Kyrie, KeepThisSecret, emeraldbecca1991 and Mare. Thanks for reading and reviewing and being so supportive! Especially after last chapter lol Thanks again! xx
Chapter 24 by jess20
Author's Notes:
Howie & AJ
Chapter Twenty-Four: Break-Downs and Break-Ins.

It didn’t take long for Brian to come back to the table with Nick. No one said anything – Nick didn’t mention why he suddenly made a sweet escape to the bathroom and AJ, Kevin and I didn’t ask. As soon as he sat down, Brian clapped his hands together and said “Shall we order?”

Dinner wasn’t nearly as fun as it used to be back in the day. It was much more civil, much more grown up. There was still a nervous feeling between us, like we were just settling back in. It gave me unnerved me but it also gave me hope – maybe we could salvage the magic. Nick hardly spoke, which didn’t surprise me. I was floored that he was still standing after the day he had. But it wasn’t just that he was obviously exhausted. He hadn’t spoken to Kevin and that caused more tension around the table.

It was in the middle of a conversation about football that I heard more than two words from him at a time. He nudged me softly in the ribs. This was something meant only for me, and I sidled closer to him so that he could whisper in confidence.

“Is AJ going to be okay?”

I smiled.

“Yeah, Nicky,” I said softly, pausing slightly to make sure the others were still deeply involved in their conversation. “He’s going to be fine. Nothing to worry about.”

“Good,” he said. “Because I don’t think I can go through that again.”

I nodded, knowing exactly what he meant.


9 July, 2001

We stood by the back door of the TRL studio, waiting for our cars to be brought around. The backstage interview was even worse without the fans than it was with the fans. The first interview we had with TRL discussing AJ’s entry into rehab had been with the fans, so we had to hold in a lot of what we were feeling. The backstage interview, there were no fans and somehow it was like their absence gave us an excuse to be more open with our emotions and thoughts. I shudder to think that that interview would air.

“So I guess this is goodbye,” Brian said, looking at each of us in turn.

“Only for a month,” I said. “And then AJ gets out and it’ll be business as usual.”

“Unless he thinks he needs more time,” Brian said.

“Yeah,” I said softly.

“Will he need more time?” Nick asked, his eyes still wet from the interview.

“We’re just going to have to wait and see,” Kevin said, wiping at his own eyes.

“When do you leave?” I asked Brian.

He and Kevin had cleaned out their hotel rooms and their luggages were waiting in the car for them.

“I fly out at nine tonight,” Brian answered.

“And you?” I asked Kevin.

“Ten-thirty,” he said. “Kristin’s meeting me in Kentucky. It’ll be good to get away.”

The sound of a car approaching made me turn away from them. The car I had rented parked on the street opposite the TRL building. The driver, a valet, got out and waved at us.

“Looks like we’re off,” I said, turning to Nick. I was driving the two of us back to our hotel, neither of us had decided what we were going to do or go after the interview. I guess my only destination was home.

“Well, take care brother,” Brian wrapped his arms around me and hugged me tight while Kevin and Nick embraced much the same way.

“See you in a month,” I said, breaking away from him.

Brian went to Nick and I went to Kevin.

“I’ll see you soon,” Kevin said to me, hugging me.

“I need a break anyway,” I said lightly.

“Call me if you need anything,” he said as we broke apart.

I nodded.

“Ready?” I asked Nick as he and Brian separated.

He nodded and with one final glance at our brothers, we ran across the street, took the keys from the valet and were in the car and driving towards our hotel in minutes, me behind the wheel.

It was quiet in the car and for the first time I hated the silence. All it did was make me think back to the interview and back to AJ. More importantly, it gave me the chance to feel and I have tried so hard not to feel. And what I was feeling now was not something I wanted to explore while Nick was in the car. So I forced conversation.

“He’ll be okay,” I said to Nick. He was silently looking out the car window, watching the buildings flash by. Every now and then a tear would trickle down his face, but he would ignore them and continue looking out. “Did you hear me Nicky?” I asked when he didn’t say anything. “He’ll be okay. He’s getting the help he needs.”

“How do you know he’ll be okay?” Nick asked, looking over at me.

“I know,” I said firmly.

Maybe that was enough for him, because he turned back to look out of the window. But that wasn’t enough for me. I needed him to speak. I needed him to be angry or sad – I needed him to need me at that moment because suddenly I was in a confined space, with nothing to help me escape from my emotions. And I don’t do well with emotions. I try my hardest to never show too much emotion especially in interviews but even to the guys. But there were times when hiding my emotions became too difficult, especially if I didn’t have a distraction. I needed a distraction. Nicky was a good distraction, even if it did entail a discussion about his feelings on the matter. At least they weren’t my feelings.

“How’s your hand?”

He looked down at his casted arm.

“Hurts,” he said simply. “I’ll just take a couple of pain killers when we get back.”

“Didn’t you take some this morning?” I asked.

“Yeah, two,” he replied.

“Well do you think it’s a good idea to take more?”

“It hurts, Howie,” he said.

“I’m sure it’s not that bad,” I said.

“It is.”

“I just don’t think it’s a good idea,” I said, honestly. “They have codeine in them.”


“So, that’s pretty strong stuff.”

“Good,” Nick said, not looking away from the window. “Because my hand hurts a lot.”

“I really don’t think it hurts that much, Nicky,” I said.

“How would you know?” he asked, but there was no fire in his voice.

“If it really hurts that much I’ll take you to the ER,” I suggested.

“I don’t need to go to the ER,” Nick said, finally turning around to face me. “I’ll be fine if I take a couple of those painkillers.”

“I don’t think you should,” I pushed.

“Well it’s not your decision anyway,” Nick said hotly.

“Your hand does not hurt that much and you know it,” I said, angry. “Don’t take those pills Nick.”

“How would you know how much my hand hurts?” he asked, raising his voice.

“Because you broke your hand a week ago!” I said. “The doctor said you’d only be having twinges after that long.”

Nick humphed and turned away again.

“I’m going to take the painkillers anyway,” he mumbled.

I should have never opened my mouth. I should have been content with the silence.

“Nick, just don’t take the painkillers,” I said, my voice rising slightly.

“What the hell, Howie?” Nick’s voice was raised too. “It’s none of your business anyway.”

“Damn it Nick!” I banged my hands on the steering wheel. I was getting frustrated. Why couldn’t he just do what he was told like when he was younger? “You think you’re the only one who’s worried about AJ?” I demanded. “You think you’re the only one who’s hurting here?”

“They’re for my hand Howie!” Nick exclaimed, a little alarmed at my outburst.

I ignored him.

“We’re all hurting here Nick,” I continued, but my voice was by no means any softer. “And it hurts a lot but you don’t just start taking pills whenever something bad happens. How do you think AJ got into this mess in the first place?”

“I won’t take them then, okay!” Nick exclaimed and for some reason that made me angrier.

I pulled the car over and put it in park in front of a little shop selling vintage furniture. I turned to him.

“So you won’t take them this time,” I shrugged sarcastically. “How about next time when I’m not around? Huh, Nick? What about then?”

Nick opened his mouth to reply, but I cut him off.

“If you do to us what AJ did...” Suddenly it was way too hot and I turned to roll down the window. “If you do to us what AJ did, I...” I stopped again. It felt like my whole body temperature had just risen by ten degrees. My eyes felt particularly hot. “If you do to me what AJ did, I’ll never forgive you Nicky. I never will.”

“Okay,” Nick said quickly, tears running down his face at a much quicker pace than before. “I’ll never do that to you, I promise. But please, Howie, don’t cry.”

I was confused for a minute before I felt my own tears on my face. A tear dripped from my nose and onto my lap. I looked at the little water stain on my pants in surprise.


Halfway through dinner, I opened my phone and checked my missed calls. Thirteen missed calls from my mother. I groaned.

“What’s up J?” Brian asked, a forkful of risotto halfway to his mouth.

“My mum called me thirteen times,” I said, shutting my phone off and putting it back in my pocket.

“What does she want?” Kevin asked.
I shrugged. “Who knows,” I said.

“Well, why don’t you call her back?”

“Yeah,” I sighed. “When we get back I’ll give her a ring.” I couldn’t keep ignoring my mum and I guess she thought she was only trying to help me by suggesting I kick Nick out of my house.

The rest of dinner was uneventful. We ate, we spoke, we ate, we spoke. No one mentioned my little relapse again. I have a feeling they might be saving that for a one on one session. It was nine at night by the time we finished dinner and paid the bill – well actually Howie paid the bill. It was dark outside and quite warm and for some reason I felt like getting an ice-cream. But instead we all piled back into my car and headed home. The first thing I did when I parked my car in my driveway was take out my phone.

“I’ll meet you guys inside,” I said, handing the keys to my house to Kevin. “I’m going to ring my mum.”

I dialled her number as the guys exited my car. It only took half a ring for her to answer.

“Alex, thank God!” she sounded flustered.

“Hi mum,” I said in a sour tone, wanting her to know I was still upset.

“Alex, there’s something you need to know...”

We were interrupted by a loud rapping on my car window. I jumped in alarm and turned to see Brian looking panicked. I rolled down the window quickly.

“Mum, hold on for a sec,” I said into the phone and then to Brian, “What’s wrong Rok?”

“You have to come,” he said. He said it quietly but urgently. “I think someone is in your house.”


“Shhh, come on!”

“Mum I got to go, I’ll ring you back tomorrow,” I said and before she could answer, I hung up. I got out of the car quickly, closed the door – careful not to slam it – and rushed over to the other guys who were standing on my front porch looking nervously at the house.

There was definitely someone in there. The lights were on – and they were definitely switched off when we left – and I could see someone’s silhouette flicking past the front window every now and then.

“Did you lock the house?” Kevin asked me quietly.

“Yeah,” I said, inspecting the front door. It looked untouched. I tried the handle. It was still locked. “It’s locked,” I said. “How did they get in?”

“Is that broken glass?” Howie asked, looking down at the ground.

I looked down. In the darkness it was hard to tell but sure enough broken glass scattered the ground. I looked up trying to find the source.

“There!” Brian said, pointing to a small hole that had been made into the window pane of the front door.

I peered through the hole. There was a rock lying in my hallway but whoever was in there was not in my line of sight.

“Okay, we need to call the cops,” Howie said, taking out his phone.

“I have a silent alarm,” I said. “They’re probably on their way over right now.”

“Still,” Howie said, punching in 911.

“What do we do if he comes out?” I asked Kevin.


Kevin was cut off from replying by the sound of breaking glass and a scream. A mere second later, that scream was followed by inaudible shouts with a few choice swear words thrown in and more smashing sounds.

Suddenly, before I was able to comprehend if the voice belonged to a male or female, Nick lunged his hand through the hole in my door’s window pane, felt around and opened the front door from the inside.

“Nick!” Kevin shouted as the blonde ran into the house. Kevin hardly paused before he ran after Nick and not knowing exactly what to do, I followed.

The first thing I noticed was that my house was a complete mess. The couch had been cut into, the television and stereo lay on the ground, my medieval antiques that hung from the walls were broken on the floor and my vases were smashed.

But the shock I felt at seeing all that paled in comparison to what I felt when I laid my eyes on the perpetrator. I looked over at Nick who stood in front of the person who had just broken into my home.

“Mum!” he exclaimed. “What are you doing here?”


A/N: Thanks for reading! Thanks to KeepThisSecret, KimberlyCan, emeraldbecca1991, Mare and libragurl for your reviews! I say it every time and I mean it: I appreciate you all so much for reading and reviewing.
Chapter 25 by jess20
Author's Notes:
Nick & Kevin
Chapter Twenty-Five: It All Comes Out

It was the screams that tipped me off – the swearing and the yelling, it was like I was home again listening to my parents rip each other to pieces. I had my hand through the broken glass and opening the door in seconds. I didn’t want it to be true, but when I ran into AJ’s living room, there she stood, a vase in her hand no doubt wanting to add it to the collection of already broken things on AJ’s floor. The living room was a mess. The couch was torn open – what she had used I don’t know – vases were smashed on the floor, AJ’s TV was on the floor too but is had a massive hole in the middle of the screen like it had been kicked in. She had obviously ransacked the place and I could only assume she was looking for something valuable. But that couldn’t be it; my mum would never do something like that.

“Mum! What are you doing here?” I was horrified, completely embarrassed and deeply ashamed. I could feel the other guys crowd in behind me and that only made things worse. So I tried to block them out.

She looked surprised to see me there. Her mouth was slightly ajar and she stared at me. For a minute there I thought maybe she was going to drop the vase and embrace me, tears in her eyes, begging me to forgive her for what she had done and what she was currently doing. I really thought that was what she was going to do.

And then she threw the vase at me.

Someone grabbed me from behind and pulled me out of the way before it hit me. It sailed past me and crashed against the wall. I didn’t bother to see who had saved me from receiving a nasty cut on my face. I only had eyes for my mum.

“Mum!” I screamed, shocked, hurt and a little afraid.

“You asshole!” she squatted down on the ground and picked up something black. “You told me you were broke!” she stood back up and threw the black thing at me. This time, I didn’t need anyone to pull me out of the way, I dodged it.

“Mum!” I rushed over to her but stopped about a metre away. I put up my hands, palms out, hoping to come across as non-threatening. “Mum! Calm down! We can talk about this!”

“What’s there to talk about?” she screamed, rushing over to a photo frame hanging from the wall. I knew what she was going to do so I quickly grabbed her around the waist. She instantly started screaming, swearing and shrieking. “Get off me! Get off me!”

Alarmed, I let go. What the hell was going on here? She was acting like a psycho!

“You need to leave,” the voice behind me was angry, very angry.

I didn’t look away from her but she looked past me and towards the speaker.

“You!” she looked dangerous in that moment. “You did this! You did this to my son!”

She took the frame off the wall. I wanted to stop her but I couldn’t move. She took the frame and threw it. I watched it fly across the room and watched as Kevin dodged it.

“You need to leave now!” he yelled. “This is not your house!”

“You did this to him!” she screamed at him again. “You turned him against me!”

“Mum, he didn’t do anything!” I said, feeling my heart pound in my chest.

“Yes he did!” she was becoming frantic and out of control. She started to cry as she stomped her foot on the ground. There was a breaking noise and she leaned forward to pick something up, straightening again with a broken piece of glass in her hand. “You bastard! You turned my son against me!”

The others were screaming now. There were shouts of “calm down, Jane” and “the police are on their way”. I didn’t know what to do. She was holding the piece of glass in her hand as if it were a weapon. She was holding it so hard in fact that blood was dripping off her hand, over the glass and down on the floor. It occurred to me that whatever she thought Kevin had done might have made her mad enough to try and gut him. So I stepped in front of her so that I was blocking Kevin.

“You turned him against yourself, you crazy bitch!”

I ignored whoever said that.

“Mum, put it down,” I said. “What are you doing? Just put it down.”

“He did this to us,” she screamed. “You cut me off because of him!”

That made me angry. “No, I cut you off because you were sucking me dry!” I screamed. “You want money? Get a damn job!”

“See what they’ve done to you!” she screamed back, taking a step forward, the bloody piece of glass freaking me the hell out. “You chose them over me! You’ve always chosen them over me!”

“That’s not true!” I couldn’t believe she was saying this to me. “I gave you all my money! I don’t have any more left to give you!”

“Bullshit! You’re not broke! You’re living in a fucking mansion!” she waved the bloody piece of glass around the room.

“This is AJ’s house!” I exclaimed. “I lost my house because I gave all my money to you!”

“LIAR!” she hollered, throwing the glass at me. I didn’t dodge that time and if it hadn’t been for my mother’s shitty aim it probably would have hit me. Luckily, it landed about a foot away from Howie. “After everything I’ve done for you!” she continued, looking absolutely crazed. “This is how you repay me! I made you that money! It’s because of me you have millions! I did it! ME!”

I lost it then. I couldn’t deal with her shit anymore. I couldn’t deal with being made to feel like a bad guy after everything I had done to make sure she had been taken care of.

“GET OUT!” I screamed. I wanted it to sound threatening and dangerous, like how my dad used to sound when I did something wrong. But I just sounded all broken. “I don’t owe you anything! GET OUT!”

“You want me to get out?” she shrieked. “You want me to get out?!”

Before I could answer, she rushed across the room, past the other guys who looked like they had no clue what they should be doing, and over to the fallen TV. She picked it up and smashed it on the floor. And then she did it again and again and again. Pieces of plastic, glass, metal and wiring flew across the room.

I had my hands in my hair again – it seemed that was my new habit whenever I felt like I was losing my mind. I felt like tearing chunks of it out as if that was going to stop my mum from going bat shit crazy.


Two uniformed cops ran into the room, one holding a baton and the other holding a gun. I froze and so did everyone else, including my mother.

“What’s going on here?” one of the cop with the gun asked.

No one spoke.

“Whose house is this?”

“Mine,” AJ said quickly. “It’s mine.”

“Your silent alarm went off and we got two calls from the neighbours,” the cop said. “One said they saw a female break in.” He looked over at my mum then.

“No, they know me!” my mum said quickly, her voice suddenly sweet but anxious. “That’s my son!” she pointed to me.

“Is this true?” the cop with the baton asked.

I nodded, my heart still pounding and feeling more scared and anxious than I have been in a while.

“See,” my mum said. “It’s alright. I’m his mother.”

“You were breaking this man’s things,” the cop with the baton pointed out, motioning to AJ.

“I didn’t have a key,” my mum explained.

I looked over at AJ, Kevin, Brian and Howie. They each had a sour look on their faces. AJ was looking around his living room and I could see that he was on the verge of losing it. Oh my God, if he started drinking again it was going to be my entire fault. And Kevin looked livid. He looked scary. If he didn’t hate me before, he was going to hate me now. They all were. I had to make this right.

“So you broke into his house and trashed his stuff?” the cop with gun asked.

My mum remained silent. She looked at me, her eyes pleading with me, wanting me to give her an out.

I looked back and felt the first tear leave my eye. I wiped it away furiously. I knew what I had to do because AJ would never do it. He loved me too much to do it.

“She broke in,” I said, calmly, still staring at my mum. “And when we told her to leave, she threw stuff at us.” I pointed at the bloody piece of glass which Howie still stood by. “She threatened us with that,” I said.

“You bastard!” my mum looked furious. “You ungrateful little bastard!”

“And she did all this,” I didn’t hold my hand out to show them what I meant, they knew I meant the shithole that had become AJ’s living room.

“NO!” she screamed.

“You have the right to remain silent...”

When they cuffed her, she screamed at them and at me. When they had finished reading her the Miranda rights, she struggled against their hold. As they escorted her out the door, she tried to turn back to me.

“Nicky! Baby! I’m sorry honey! Don’t let them take me!”

I turned away from her.


I should have done more. I should have grabbed her and thrown her out. I shouldn’t have let it get that far. Now all I could do was stand there and watch as the cops dragged her out of AJ’s house.

“Nicky! Baby! I’m sorry honey! Don’t let them take me!”

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. What the hell just happened? Was this what was going on in Nick’s life for the past year? Why hadn’t I known about this?

“We’ll need you to come in tomorrow morning and give a statement,” one of the police officers said before exiting with his partner and Jane in cuffs.

“Look at my home!” AJ cried when the police had left, bending down to pick up the casing of his now destroyed TV. “My TV!”

“I’ll pay for everything AJ.”

I turned to Nick. I was getting used to the look that he had on his face.

“With what?” AJ said, sounding defeated not angry.

Nick looked horrified. He probably forgot that we heard everything he told his mother, including his financial situation.

“I’m gonna go,” he said softly, moving past us all and heading for the front door.

“Nick,” Howie called out, successfully stopping Nick in his tracks. “Where are you going? You have nowhere else to go.”

He had nowhere to go? Didn’t he buy another place? Surely he had the good sense to buy or rent another place. Unless he couldn’t afford it...but he wasn’t that broke was he?

“Don’t go Nick,” AJ said, dropping the TV casing. “I didn’t mean it like that.”

Nick couldn’t look at any of us. Instead he stared at a place just right of Brian.

“I’m sorry my mum did this to your house AJ,” he said, his voice shaky. I don’t know how she knew I was here. I’m sorry I’m such a fuck up and I’m sorry you all came down here.” He swallowed, took a deep breath and looked up at me. “I’m sorry I called you Kevin.”

He turned for the door again and walked out. I could have stopped him, I just didn’t know if I wanted to.

“What the fuck just happened?!” Brian screamed once it was just the four of us. “What is going on?!”

“I’m going after him,” Howie said, moving quickly for the door.

“No!” I leaped forth and pulled him back. “You need to tell us right now what the hell has been up with him!”

“I don’t know-“

“Cut the shit, Howie,” Brian snapped. “We have a right to know.”

“I want to know why she trashed my house!” AJ agreed.

Howie nodded. “Probably because she wanted money,” he said sadly.

In the next five minutes, Howie told us everything. He told us about Jane and Bob’s divorce and how Bob forced Nick to choose between him and Jane. He told us how Nick had been cut off from his siblings. He told us that his father had disowned him when he found out Nick had been giving money to Jane. Howie told us how Nick became alienated from his friends when he could no longer afford the glamorous celebrity lifestyle.

“And he’s broke,” Howie finished.

“How broke are we talking here?” AJ asked.

“Ten thousand in the bank,” Howie said. “That’s it.”

I felt gutted. Nick had earned millions! Millions that were all his! He earned that money from hard work and persistence and now he only had ten thousand?

I turned to Brian, expecting to see the shock on his face too. But there was nothing there.

“Did you know about this?” I demanded from him.

“Some of it,” he nodded solemnly. “I didn’t know it was this bad.”

Rage boiled in me. “You should have said something sooner!” I growled.

“He wanted his privacy!” Howie exclaimed.

“I can’t believe this!” I couldn’t keep my voice down. I was completely siezed with rage. “Why didn’t he tell me about this? I would have been there for him! I would have given him money!”

No one answered me. Maybe how I was behaving now was an indication of why Nick had hid everything from me.

“I’m going after him,” I said, running past the guys.

“You don’t even know where he is!” Brian shouted. “He could be in any bar around town!”

“He’s not in a bar,” I shouted back as I ran out the door.


16th March, 1993

“Can I get a mint choc-chip and...” I looked down at Nick. The blonde was looking greedily at all the flavours of ice-cream on display behind the glass counter. “Nick, what do you want?”

“Can I get two flavours?” he asked, excitement written all over his face as though he’d never had an ice-cream before.

“Sure,” I laughed.

“Can I get choc-chip and double chocolate?”

“That’s not really two flavours,” I pointed out while the girl serving us watched on in amusement.

“Yes it is,” Nick countered. “There’s double chocolate and there’s chocolate-chip. Different degrees of chocolate-ness. And one even has chips in it!”

I laughed again.

“Okay,” I said to the girl. “One choc-chip and one double chocolate and choc-chip.”

“Right away,” she said, and made herself busy.

“You having fun?” I asked the kid.

“I should have gotten strawberry,” he said after a minute and I grinned.

I was starting to like this kid. I’ll admit it, at first I hated the idea of being in the same group as a twelve year old and although he seemed committed, I didn’t really see us getting along. We were nine years apart and he was so immature about everything. But there were times when it kind of felt like he was growing on me.

“That’ll be seven dollars,” the girl came back with our ice-creams. Nick took them while I paid the girl.

We left the kiosk, licking at our ice-creams and enjoying the sun. Spring had finally arrived and Nick had been dying to go to the beach all winter but it just hadn’t been warm enough. So I thought I’d take him today – not to swim, but to walk on the sand and enjoy the sun. It was about time that I got to know the kid a bit better. We were going to be seeing a lot of each other after all.

“Let’s sit on the sand,” Nick suggested and before I could object, he ran ahead of me and plopped down on the beach, kicking off his shoes and rolling up his pants. He dug his feet into the sand and leaned back, using his elbow to prop himself up while using his other arm to hold his ice-cream. I really had no choice, so I joined him.

“I want to go in,” he sighed.

“It’ll be warm enough soon,” I said. “Brian likes the beach too so you can go with him.”

“What’s he like?”


He nodded.

“You’ll like him a lot,” I said truthfully. “He’s really energetic and he’s always doing silly stuff. But he’s got an amazing voice.”

“When’s he coming?” Nick asked, looking out at the ocean, finishing his ice-cream and rubbing his hand on his shirt.

“April sometime I think,” I said. “After he finishes his exams.”

He seemed to drift off after that, watching the waves while once in a while taking a lick of his ice-cream. This was the most peaceful I’d seen him in all the time I had known him. Given, that time was short, but still. He was always on the move, jumping up and down, pulling pranks on Howie, wrestling with AJ. One time I caught myself thinking that he might have ADHD or something. He had started to grow on me but he was also a massive pain in the butt. He was weird like that.

“So, you have four sisters right?” I asked after a long silence, my ice-cream now sitting contentedly in my stomach. “One set of twins?”

“Three sisters and a brother,” he responded, looking away from the water. He sat straight up and began to bury his legs in the sand.

“And you’re the oldest right?”


“That must be pretty cool,” I said. “I’m the youngest in my family.”

Nick shrugged. “I like being the oldest,” he said. “They all look up to me and that’s cool.”

There was a hesitance in his voice, an uncertainty that shouldn’t have been there.

“But?” I asked.

He shrugged again, still piling sand on top of his legs.

“I don’t like looking after them all the time,” he said quietly, as if ashamed.

“What do you mean?” I asked, interested.

“You know, babysitting and stuff,” he said. “I wish we could afford a babysitter.”

“Because your mum and dad both work, right?” I knew that Jane and Bob worked at a retirement home or something like that. I always thought they were put into day-care or had a nanny.

“Yeah,” Nick said. “I think we’re really poor. Mum and dad always fight about money. That’s why I have to take care of the others.”

I shook my head, not completely understanding. Weren’t his kid twins ten years younger than him?

“How old are the youngest?” I asked.

“Six,” he said. So six or seven years younger. I wasn’t too far off.

“So, they’re not too young,” I tried to find something not so wrong about what I was hearing. “I mean, you weren’t put in charge of them when you were six, right?”

He didn’t answer, just continued to pile sand on his legs. At this point, he was going to make a sandcastle right on top of himself.

“Were you?” I pushed, feeling slightly uneasy.

He shrugged again. “Not a lot,” he said. “Mum took time off work until they were two.”

I felt a little disgusted. I didn’t know Jane or Bob very well, so I wasn’t about to make assumptions of them based on a thirteen year old’s claims, but if this was true, I’m pretty sure it was illegal.

“You shouldn’t have been in charge of four kids,” I said. “Someone needed to be in charge of you.”

“I don’t need anyone in charge of me,” he huffed, breaking his legs free from the sand mountain he had created on top of them. “And it’s just because we can’t afford to pay for a babysitter. When we get rich and famous, everything will be different. You’ll see.”

I shifted awkwardly, the ice-cream in my stomach feeling a little uncomfortable now.

“Mum and dad won’t have to work that much and they’ll stop fighting all the time,” he said, looking back out at the water. “And I can make everyone happy again.”

I swallowed. What the hell was I to say to that? When I offered to take him out, I had not expected this.

“I love the beach,” he said finally after a few minutes of silence. “It makes me feel good.”


A/N: Sorry for the late update! I was trying to work out how to separate these last few chapters. When I get to the end, you’ll understand why I’m having a hard time figuring out how to structure them. I have about 3 or 4 chapters left.

Anyways, I was feeling bad about making Jane’s character a bitch and then that thing happened with Nick and I don’t feel so bad anymore LOL Thanks to everyone who read and reviewed! Thanks to Jujube x2, KeepThisSecret, KimberlyCan, Mare, PaulaKTBPA and libragurl! Always appreciate the reviews!
Chapter 26 by jess20
Author's Notes:
Kevin & Nick
Chapter Twenty-Six: Late Night Swims

There was a bonfire going on down the beach. A bunch of kids dancing, smoking, making out and all the rest. I passed by them, knowing Nick wouldn’t be among them. The lights from the street lamps and the fire the kids had lit were enough to battle the darkness of the night and I could see the coast for miles around as it circled the bay. Aside from the kids who had lit the bonfire, there weren’t much people on the beach and I was beginning to worry that I had been wrong and Nick had gone to a club or elsewhere. When the light of the bonfire began to dwindle away behind me and there was no sign of people anywhere, I picked up my pace. I knew I should have turned back – the odds of him being out here were getting slimmer by the second – but something pushed me into a run. I ran for what felt like mere seconds before I tripped on something. I caught myself before I landed flat on my face. Frustrated I looked down at what I had tripped on.

A pair of sneakers.

“The fuck?” I muttered to myself, taking a closer look. They were Nick’s size and they looked like something he would wear. I looked up and down the beach, trying to locate him. “Why the hell would he take off his shoes?”

And then it occurred to me. I looked out to the waves. At first I didn’t see anything and then he appeared, floating on the water.

“Nick!” I screamed, seized with terror. Before I knew it, I had kicked off my shoes and taken off my shirt. I ran into the water, going as fast as I could. The water was still but the closer I got to Nick, the deeper I got and the slower I became.

I was so close to him now, only a few feet away. He was floating on the water, his eyes closed and fully clothed. Oh my God. Was he even breathing? What had he done?


As soon as I called his name, he went under then re-emerged, splashing and coughing. I felt myself start to shake, not realising how much adrenaline had been in my body. I let out a shaky breath.

“Nick, you scared me,” I said, so relieved the thought of being mad at him just seemed so ridiculous. I was standing in just in front of him now, the water up to my chest.

“I’m sorry,” he said between coughs. “But I’m okay. You can go back to AJ’s.”

He never looked at me. His voice was calm but at the same time he sounded distressed. He kicked back and started floating on the water again.

I stood there for a minute, watching him. He looked so peaceful but so sad. I wasn’t about to let him stay here by himself but I was done arguing with him. So I did the one thing that would show him that I wasn’t going anywhere: I lay on my back and floated beside him.

We stayed there in silence for a few minutes and I wondered if he knew I was there beside him – his eyes had been closed since he lay back down.

“Why are you in the water?” I asked. “Why didn’t you stay on the sand?”

When he didn’t snap at me or seem surprised to hear my voice, I knew that he knew I was there with him and that I hadn’t left. He wanted me there just as much as I wanted to be there.

“It didn’t work,” he said.

I didn’t have to ask what didn’t work. Nick used to always come to the beach when he felt down; it’s what made me think to check the beach.

“Is this working?” I asked him.

A pause.

“Not really,” there was a break in his voice.

“Well maybe we should go back to AJ’s,” I suggested.

“I can’t go back there,” he said. He was quiet and I had to lift my head out of the water to hear him properly. “Not after what happened.”

“That’s not your fault,” I said. “And AJ knows that.”

He didn’t say anything, just continued to float there.

“I’m proud of you little man,” I said, hearing my own voice break as I realised the truth in what I had said. I was proud of him. So proud.

As soon as he heard it, he splashed around until he was standing up again. I followed his lead.

“God, Kevin, why do you have to do that?” he yelled, wading back towards shore.

I followed him. “Do what?” I asked, confused.

“Lie!” he shouted, not stopping. “Why do you have to lie?”

The water was up to our hips now. “I’m not lying,” I said calmly. “I am proud of you.”

“Bullshit!” he said, finally turning around to face me for the first time. “You’ve never been proud of me!”

“That’s not true,” I said, but he continued, ignoring me.

“And now suddenly you’re proud of me? When I’ve fucked up everything? I’m a complete fuck up and you don’t even know half of it!”

“I know everything,” I said, my voice a little raised now, not out of anger though. “Howie told us everything.” When Nick looked upset, I quickly said. “We made him. After what you and Jane were talking about, it had to come out.”

“Great,” he flung his arms up in the air and then let them crash into the water, splashing me. “So that makes you an even bigger liar!”

He went to turn around again but I pulled him back. Evidently I pulled too hard because he went crashing down into the water.

“What the hell?” he screamed when he resurfaced, spitting out mouthfuls of water.

“Just listen to me!” I exclaimed.

He stood back up, slicking his hair back and crossing his arms across his chest.

“I’m proud of you,” I repeated calmly. “And that’s not a lie.”

His arms dropped to his sides. “How can you say that after everything?” he asked, the break back in his voice.

“Because when I think of why you did what you did, how could I not be proud of you?” I said. “You risked everything for your mum. Sure, you made some not so smart choices. But at the end of the day you did it for family, love and loyalty. I couldn’t be more proud.”

He looked away. I wasn’t sure if those were tears on his face or water from the ocean.

“I had her arrested...”

“She pushed you to it,” I said firmly. “She broke into AJ’s house, broke all his things and tried to injure us. No one would blame you for it and maybe this will be the wakeup call she needs.”

“I really fucked up, Kev,” his lower lip was quivering now. “I really needed you.”

It was a rare thing for Nick to admit when he needed me. Usually he would go to great lengths to try and avoid it.

“I’m here now,” I said. “And mark my words, I will always be here to lift you up,” I paused as his eyes came back to meet mine. “We’ll get through this together. We’ll fix it.”

“I’m broke, Kev!” he exclaimed. “What am I meant to do? Get a job at a fast food joint? I have no qualifications! I’ve got nothing!”

I hesitated, but I knew what I had to say next. It was the only possible solution to Nick’s financial problems. It would mean I would have to wait another couple of years before I could start a family with Kristin, but I knew it was what I had to do.

“Not if we make another album,” I said.


“Is that something that you would want to do?”

“I...I,” he looked startled. “Do you want to make another album?”

“Nick, we never officially broke up,” I said. “We always said it was temporary. Being back together again feels right, doesn’t it?” I was only partly lying, but making another album needed to happen.

“What about the others?” he asked.

“They want to do it too,” I said, feeling my body begin to shiver.

“I...I would like to do another album,” Nick said hopefully, a little hesitant as if this was some kind of joke.

“Then that is something that we should all talk about,” I said. “But for now, let’s go back to AJ’s. We need to go to the police station tomorrow morning to fill in a statement and by the looks of you, you need some sleep.”

Nick looked a little nervous. “Everything is going to work out,” he said. “Isn’t it?”

I smiled a little and pulled him into a hug. “Of course it will, little man,” I said. “Of course it will.”


I didn’t sleep that night, at least that’s what it felt like. But Kevin shaking me awake and telling me to prepare to go to the police station would suggest otherwise. When he left, I realised I was lying with my notebook on my chest. When we had gotten back to AJ’s last night, the others had already gone to bed, the house was still a mess and a metal sheet hammered over the hole in the glass of the door.

My bedroom hadn’t been disturbed. I guess my mum hadn’t wondered upstairs. I was grateful for that at least. I showered, got the salt out of my hair and had every intention to go to bed. But when I flopped down on the mattress, my eyes already closed, I landed on something hard. I pulled it out from underneath me: it was my notebook, opened up to the last page I had written on. As I began to read the lyrics of the song I had started to compose, I was filled with new energy.

Now, the notebook on my chest held the finished product. I read it, sang it in my head and then sang it out loud, but softly, to myself. It was perfect. It was everything that I felt but it was more than that: it was a reminder of who I was. A Backstreet Boy.

“Nick!” Kevin screamed from downstairs. They were waiting for me.

I didn’t know how I was going to go down to the station and condemn my mother so publicly. I would have been filled with anxiety had I not been holding the notebook.

I quickly changed into fresh clothes, grabbed my notebook and dashed downstairs. They were in the kitchen which seemed to have fared better under my mother’s wrath than the living room. Howie and Brian were munching on pieces of toast. Kevin was gulping down a cup of coffee and AJ was sitting at the table, looking much worse than I had hoped.

“Hi guys,” I said, a little nervously.

“Nick,” Howie swallowed the piece he had in his mouth. “About last night, none of that was your fault. Everyone agrees.”

I shook my head. “It wasn’t my fault,” I admitted. “But I brought her here. AJ, I will pay you back for everything as soon as I can.”
“You didn’t bring her here Nick,” AJ said gently. “I should have answered my damn cell.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Your mum called my mum,” he explained. “Jane somehow got the impression we live know, permanently. My mum tried to ring me last night to warn me Jane was on her way.”

“Oh,” I felt ashamed for some reason.

“But it’s not your fault,” AJ repeated. “And insurance will cover everything.”

I didn’t know what to say.

“Come have some breakfast before we leave, Nick,” Brian said, pointing to a stack of toasts sitting in the middle of the kitchen table.

I went to sit beside him, placing the notebook in front of me. I ate three pieces of toast in a span of two minutes – it felt like I hadn’t eaten in years!

“Slow down there,” Brian laughed. “No one’s chasing you.”

I wiped my mouth and swallowed the last of my toast. Now was as good a time as ever.

“Guys...Kev, take a seat,” I said, pointing at the empty chairs. “I need to say something.”

Kevin sat down and they all looked at me nervously.

“You’re not gonna start apologising again Kaos, are you?” AJ said.

I ignored him. “I wrote a song,” I explained, picking up my notebook and holding it out. “I thought maybe we could record it for the new album.”

“Nothing’s been finalised yet Nicky,” Howie said quickly. “We have to be really cautious about saying anything for certain. Nothing is set in stone.”

I felt myself start to panic. Doing another album had to happen. It was the only thing that would get my life back on track – my relationship with the guys, my finances, my happiness, it all depended on this album. “But Kevin said...”

“Howie’s just talking from a business perspective,” Kevin said. “We’re doing another album. No doubt about it.”

“Oh,” I said, relieved. If Kev said we were going to do another album, we were going to do another album.

“So let’s hear this song then,” Brian said. “Do you have a guitar?”

“I don’t need one,” I said, standing from my seat and opening the notebook to the first page of the song.

“One man acapella group?” AJ teased.

“Something like that,” I smirked, feeling a little nervous and suddenly wondering if this was such a good idea. I hadn’t even put much thought into what I was about to do. What if they didn’t like it? What if they want nothing to do with it? What if they thought I was a complete idiot?

I looked down at the notebook again, rethinking this whole thing. Maybe I could get out of it.

“Maybe this isn’t such a good idea,” I said, feeling myself blush.

“Well now you’ve got us wanting to hear it,” Brian said. “Get on with it.”

“Yeah,” AJ chimed in. “I want to hear some tunes!”

“Just sing the song, Nick,” Kevin said, almost a little impatiently as if he thought I was being purposely modest.

Brian, Howie and AJ began to cheer and so I opened my mouth and started to sing.


A/N: So I know what you’re thinking: “who would have thought that Jess could be so unreliable and not post for two weeks without an explanation! Because she would never do that!” Lol! Sorry about the lack of updates! I am behind in my thesis and it’s been very stressful and when I stress I procrastinate which makes me stress more, so vicious circle thing. So behind on reading, writing and reviewing! Anyway, two chapters left!

Thanks to everyone who read and thanks to DelphinaCarter, KeepThisSecret, Mare, emeraldbecca1991 and libragurl for reviewing! Hoping to get the next chapter in soon!
Chapter 27 by jess20
Author's Notes:
Quick A/N: this one is structured differently and now I'm thinking this was the way to go all along lol. I might go back and change the other chapters so it's like this one. You'll get what I mean - it' only a slight change but I think it'd be a lot better.

Chapter Twenty-Seven: Long, Hard Road

When I’m down on my luck and I’m searching for my soul
When I’m feeling too much and I start to lose control
When I’m down so low that even enemies don’t wanna know
You still care for me, say a prayer for me, and I know...


7th August, 1993

What a fucked up, shit ass day. Donna and Johnny, I now realise, are complete shitheads! I should have been home today with my family but instead I was forced to stay in Florida practicing stupid dance moves. I should have been home!

“You’re going home on the weekend, Kev,” my cousin tried to console me.

“Shut up Brian,” I snapped. “And why the fuck did you invite the kids over?”

I was sitting on the couch in front of the TV in the apartment Brian, Howie and I had rented together. I had wanted to go straight to my bedroom but I knew if I did I would only end up sobbing into my pillow the entire night. Only Brian knew why I was not in the best of moods – he knew what day it was today. So why in all holy hell did he invite AJ and Nick to the apartment for?

“Keep your voice down!” Brian hissed, turning around to look into the kitchen where the other three guys were. “You need the company.”

“Oh really?” I snarled.

“Kev,” Brian now had a tear in his eye. “I know it’s tough. I miss him too...”

“Oh spare me,” I really didn’t want to hear it. “Do me a favour, Brian? Fuck off.”

I was being cruel. Brian was grieving too, my dad was his uncle after all. But I just couldn’t deal with him at the moment. So I switched on the TV and ignored him as he backed away.

I was left alone for a good ten minutes. I could hear them whispering in the kitchen – I mean, how could I not, the kitchen was freaking attached to the living room. Brian was probably telling them what day it was today. I couldn’t care less anymore and I ignored them, trying instead to focus on the news program on TV but finding myself slowly becoming consumed by the emptiness I had been feeling all day in the form of anger.

If I had been more aware of my surroundings instead of locked in my own head, I would have heard the “Nick! No!” But I didn’t. Or I did, but I didn’t really take notice. I should have. Maybe I could have stopped him.


I jumped off the couch, my hand on my head, staring down at a grinning thirteen year old who stood behind the couch, holding a strand of my hair between his fingers.

“You’ve got a whitey,” he said innocently.

“What?!” I spluttered.

“You’ve got a whitey,” he repeated, shoving the strand of hair in my face. It was indeed white.

“Nick, I’m gonna take you home, come on,” Howie called from somewhere behind Nick. I didn’t bother looking up; all I could do was stare at this kid in front of me who waved this white hair around as if he’d struck gold.

“You’re old,” he said, sticking out his tongue.

I smacked his hand out of my face, trying to contain my rage. Careful, Kev. They do bad things in prison to guys who murder kids.

“Get that out of my face,” I said, sitting back on the couch. I felt another sharp pain as he again pulled out another hair. I should know better than to have turned my back on him.

“Here’s another one,” he said.

“FUCK OFF!” I screamed. I could not deal with this! Not today! I just needed to grieve in peace.

“NICK!” Brian rushed forward and grabbed at Nick, but Nick pushed him off and came around to stand on the same side of the couch with me. I think he had a death wish.

“I’m sorry, Kev,” he said, his smile all gone now. “Here,” he bent forward. “You can pull out my hair if you want.”

I looked at him, absolutely bewildered and simultaneously annoyed.

“I’m not going to pull out your hair Nick,” I said, sitting back down again.

“Okay then,” he said, sadly and I almost felt bad for not pulling out his hair, but then I realised how ridiculous that is.

He turned around and I thought that would be the end of it. That was until he jumped on me, wrestling me on the couch, calling out “Whitey, whitey!”

It should have been a scream of rage that escaped my mouth, but it was laughter that did instead. Before I could think about stopping myself from having even the slightest bit of happiness on this fucked up, shit ass day, I was wrestling Nick back.

“Old man can fight!” Nick laughed.

“Let’s see how you like getting your hair pulled out,” I grinned.

He quickly got off me.

“Not my hair! It took me ages to get it this long,” he said.

“Well you better run fast then,” I laughed. “Five...” he looked at me, wondering what the hell I was talking about. “Four...” I cackled.

“Dude, you better run!” AJ laughed.

“He’ll pluck you bald, Nick!” Brian chimed in.


“Oh SHIT!” Nick finally got the idea and took off.

“ONE!” I shouted, racing after him.


Lifting me up like an angel when I hit the ground
Feel your arms all around me when I’m feeling down
Lift me up like an angel when I hit my low
When your arms are around me
I don’t wanna let you go


2nd December, 1998

The doorbell rang. Another relative with more food probably. Thank God for these countless relatives with their trays of food, otherwise I’d never eat.

“I’ll get it mama,” I said, bending down to kiss her. She sat at the kitchen table where she’d been sitting since the funeral. My dad was in the backyard – he needed the fresh air.

My mum only nodded at me as she stared straight ahead. She had become listless, non-caring, hollow. It had been three days since the funeral, but she never changed out of black. I was worried.

The doorbell rang again. My relatives were impatient people.

“I’m coming!” I shouted as I walked briskly towards the front door. When I opened it, I was speechless.

“Hi Howie,” Nick looked uncomfortable, nervous and fidgety.

“Nicky?” I asked disbelievingly. “What...what are you doing here?”

The other guys couldn’t get away from our schedule to come to the funeral. They had been in L.A while I was given leave.

“I...I thought maybe I could visit,” he swallowed, “I thought, if it’s okay with you, maybe I could go visit Caroline?”

I was hit with such emotion. I felt my knees buckle tears well in my eyes.

“Don’t worry about it,” Nick said quickly, looking ashamed. “I...I just thought...I’ll go...”

He turned around to leave but I stopped him.

“How are you here?” I asked, choking back the sobs. “How did you convince management?”

“I told them I had meningococcal,” he said sheepishly, giving a little smile.

I laughed, feeling a tear leave my eye.

“And they believed you?” I asked, disbelieving.

“I forged a doctor’s note,” he shrugged. “They wouldn’t dream about making me work – not after Brian...”

“Where are the others?” I asked, looking over his shoulder, expecting the others to be with him.

“They, ah,” he looked uncomfortable again. “They couldn’t come. It would look weird if suddenly we all came down with meningococcal.”

I laughed again. “Right.”

“Who’s at the door?” my mum screamed from inside.

“Oh, here,” he held out a bunch of flowers to me. I hadn’t even noticed him carrying them. They were carnations but when I looked closer I noticed there were actually two bunches but they were wrapped as one.

“One is for your mum,” he explained. “The other is for Caroline.”

“Nicky...” another wave of emotion overcame me.

“I’m sorry I missed the funeral,” Nick said, his own eyes tearing up. “I really liked her, you know? I really wanted to be there.”

I didn’t doubt it for a minute.

“Let’s go visit her,” I managed to say. “She’ll like the flowers.”

“Thank you,” he said quietly.

I shook my head and hugged him tightly, no longer bothering to hold back my tears. “No, Nicky,” I squeezed him, feeling so much love for him in that moment. “Thank you.”


When I’m lost along the way and I can’t face another day
If I stumble on the road and I can’t carry the load
If I lose my faith, my kindness, generosity
Would you hold my hand?
Say you understand my pain?


28th January, 1998

“Welcome back Brian!” Kevin’s smile was making me nauseated. Yes, it was his smile and not the fact that I just had open heart surgery only three weeks ago and I was already back at work.

“Thanks,” I said cheerfully, although all I wanted to do was stab him through the heart, make him undergo open heart surgery and then not show up when he’s in recovery. See how he likes it.

“We missed you Rok,” AJ said, grabbing me into a hug. When I flinched he pulled back quickly. “Did I hurt you?” he asked, worried.

No, it’s fine. It’s just the knife you forgot to take out of my back. “Just a bit sore,” I said instead, smiling.

“You should have taken at least another week off,” Howie said and I couldn’t help but think this was him wishing I hadn’t come back at all so he could take all the lead vocals.

“Where’s Nick?” I asked.

“Running late again,” AJ said.

“Speaking of the devil,” Howie said, looking towards the front door of the studio where Nick had just entered from.

“Sorry I’m late guys,” he said, walking up to us, carrying a big bag in one hand. He dropped the bag when he reached us and instantly grabbed me into a hug. I hugged back but not with as much energy as he hugged me with.

“What have you got there Nick?” Kevin asked curiously.

We broke apart.

“I’m really glad you’re back Frick,” Nick said and like with the others, I felt a bit of resentment towards him. He crouched down beside his dropped bag – a shopping bag – and pulled out what appeared to be a large heart shaped pillow. He handed it to me, slightly avoiding my eyes.

“What’s this?” I asked, a little annoyance in my voice.

“A gift,” he said simply.

“A gift?” I repeated snidely, feeling angry. I looked down at it. An envelope was pinned to it. “You think I want a gift?”

Nick looked hurt. “I...”

“I wanted you to come to the hospital,” I spat, clenching the pillow and staring vehemently at all of them. “I don’t want your gifts.” I threw the pillow, the envelope still attached, on the floor and stalked off.

The rest of the day the other guys were overly polite with me but would stay out of my way as much as possible. Nick didn’t approach me at all and the pillow Nick had given me stayed on the floor where I had thrown it. I kept looking at it, both angry at Nick’s gesture and curious to see what was inside the envelope. When it came to leave, they all said goodbye and left me alone in the studio. I was just about to follow but the pillow drew me towards it. Bending down, I picked it up, unpinned the envelope and opened it. It was a letter in Nick’s very untidy handwriting.

I bought you this heart so you’ll always remember how strong yours is.


It’s been a long hard road and it’s only just begun my friend
And this I know
You helped me carry the load
‘Cause you’re always down for...


9th August, 2001

“I don’t know if I can do this, mum,” I said nervously as we stood in front of the doors that would lead out into the real world. I had been here for a month – it was so peaceful and so heavenly, how will I cope without it?

“You’ll be fine Alex,” she wrapped her arm around me and steered me towards the exit.

“No,” I stopped again, trying to find an escape route back into rehab. Yes, I know how that sounds.

“Alex, look at me,” she was firm so I looked down at her. “You will be fine, honey. It’s normal to feel like this. But you’ll be fine. I promise you.”

I don’t know why, but my mum always had that calming effect over me. If she said everything was going to be fine, then everything was going to be fine.

“Okay,” I nodded. “Let’s go.” I took in a deep breath of air and walked out the doors of the rehab clinic.

“See?” she said once we were about a couple of feet away from the door. “Not too bad, was it?”

I shook my head but I could feel the anxiety come over me again so I concentrated on walking.

“Where’s the car?” I said, now just wanting to flee this place and go home.

“Just a couple more minutes.”

I looked straight ahead as we walked, trying to resist the urge to run. When we turned into the parking lot of the hospital that was parallel to the rehab clinic, I noticed something.

“What the hell is that?” I asked, squinting to try and get a better look at some guy who was holding a poster over his head. “Is that...Nick?”

It was. Nick was standing by my mum’s car, holding a large poster above his head that read, “It’s A Boy!”

I stopped in my tracks staring at him as he had this big dopey grin plastered to his face.

“They didn’t have any situation appropriate ones in the gift store,” he said and I burst out laughing, my anxiety gone.

“Oh my God, Kaos, what the hell?” I cackled, walking closer to him.

“I also bought you this,” he reached into his pocket and pulled out a pair of pink booties.

I couldn’t stop laughing. I took the booties from him and then the poster and held them, cracking up so that I had to hold on to my side as I was actually getting a stitch. My mum started laughing too and then Nick as well.

“I’m glad you like them,” he said.

Somewhere in the laughing, I had begun to cry. I pulled him into a hug, the booties and poster pressed between us.


A/N: Thanks to KeepThisSecret, emeraldbecca1991, Mare, libragurl, PaulaKTBA and KimberlyCan. Always, ALWAYS appreciate the feedback (it’s never a good idea, IMO, to stop thanking you for encouraging me!) So next chapter is the last one! Yay! Obviously the song was Lift Me Up (shout out to emeraldbecca1991 for figuring it out about five chapters back lol) and I know it wasn’t written by Nick but I somehow thought of him the first time I heard it. Also, no more flashbacks anymore! Thanks again!
Chapter 28 by jess20
Author's Notes:
Chapter Twenty-Eight: Brothers

I finished the song. It had been difficult singing in front of them all like that, especially when it looked like they weren’t too pleased with it. I probably shouldn’t have been looking for a reaction from them – it was my own fault.

“It’s okay if you don’t like it,” I said quickly when nobody made a move to share their thoughts.

Another pause. It looked like they were all zoned out, like I had bored them. I started to feel embarrassed again.

“We should just go now,” I said, turning away from them. I was feeling like shit again. I had thought, stupidly, that this would fix everything. Instead I had once again made a complete ass of myself.

“Nick,” Kevin’s voice was shaky. Was the song that bad that it had driven Kevin to tears?

“It’s okay, Kev,” I said. “I just thought it was something, but it obviously isn’t...”

“Nick, I loved it,” he said.

I turned back around in surprise. There was a tear running down Kevin’s face.

“What?” I asked, looking at the rest of them.

“That was amazing Nicky,” Howie said, standing up and nodding his head.

“Dude, you don’t even know...” AJ trailed off, his voice cracking. I guess I’ll never know what I don’t know.

“So...” I hesitated; I didn’t want to say what I was going to say next just in case this was all too good to be true. “You all like it?”

“Of course we do,” Howie said.

I looked at Brian. He hadn’t said anything.


He looked up at me. “Is that how you honestly feel?” he asked.

I nodded. “Yes,” I said simply.

“So do I,” he said, standing up. “That’s how I feel about you all.”

“Me too,” AJ said.

Howie nodded. “I feel the same way,” he said.

Kevin laughed. “The amount of headaches you guys have given me over the years,” he shook his head. “And still...”

“We’re brothers,” I blurted.

Brian nodded. “That’s right Nick,” he said. “We’re brothers.”

The End


A/N: That’s all folks! Thanks to Mare and PaulaKTBPA for reviewing! I want to thank every single person who reviewed, even if you only reviewed once! I want to say a HUGE thank you especially to Mare for being so inspirational and helpful throughout the whole thing (and she was the only person who reviewed every chapter which is pretty awesome *claps*).

So, again, thanks for reading!