Past Life by rebellious_one
Summary: They say the past can come back to haunt you. When the past comes to tap Nick on his shoulder, he makes the grave mistake of looking back.

Who were you in your past life?
Categories: Fanfiction > Backstreet Boys Characters: Group, Nick
Genres: Action, Angst, Drama, Horror, Supernatural, Suspense
Warnings: Death, Graphic Violence, Violence
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 7 Completed: No Word count: 16171 Read: 13183 Published: 07/20/15 Updated: 01/28/18

1. Prologue by rebellious_one

2. Chapter 1 by rebellious_one

3. Chapter 2 by rebellious_one

4. Chapter 3 by rebellious_one

5. Chapter 4 by rebellious_one

6. Chapter 5 by rebellious_one

7. Chapter 6 by rebellious_one

Prologue by rebellious_one
Author's Notes:
The prologue starts off with dialogue from past interviews and self recordings.
1993: Backstage Interview

Interviewer: Here we are with the Backstreet Boys!
Kevin: Hey, wassup?!
Interviewer: Starting from over here, what’s your name buddy?
AJ: AJ
Interviewer: Full name.
AJ: AJ McLean
Brian: Brian Littrell… B-Rok!
Kevin: Kevin!
Interviewer: Kevin who?
Kevin: Kevin Richardson.
Howie: Howie D.
Nick: Nicky C., actually Nick Carter
Interviewer: And, uh… what are you guys planning on doing tonight? How many songs you gonna sing?
All: We’re gonna sing two and a half!
Interviewer: Two and a half songs? Why the half?
Nick: Because… that’s the intro!
Kevin: We don’t have much time, so… we’re gonna do what we can while we’re out there.
Nick: We wanna make them drool!
Interviewer: I think this was the guy here that they wanted the most! *camera zooms in on Nick* I don’t know why.

~*~*~*~

1997: All Access: Making Of Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)

Fatima: So what makes the Backstreet Boys? You have Kevin who’s like, the father of the group; he makes sure everything is running tight, everybody’s where they’re supposed to be at all times. Nick and Brian, who are like, the playful ones out of the group; Brian’s so silly, he makes everybody laugh. Jim Carey and Ace Ventura, they’re just ridiculous! And then you have Howie who’s the humble one out of the group. You know, Howie is… Howie is neutral, he stays neutral with everything. And AJ’s the rebel of the group I think… yeah, he’s the mac, he kinda does his own individual thing. We’re connected you know, and we just work really well together.

~*~*~*~

1998: Live with Regis & Kathy

Regis: And Nick, since you joined the group, you got your high school diploma? You joined at an early age right? You’re the youngest member of the group?
Nick: Yeah, 13, 14.
Kathy: So nice you finally accomplished something like that.
Nick: Yeah, its just I mean, being the fact that I’ve been, we’ve been together all this time, I never got to experience high school, but at the same time, I mean of course there’s things I always wish I could do, like play basketball on a team, you know, do the normal high school kid life, but at the same time I wouldn’t give this up for the world, I mean it's an opportunity of a lifetime.

~*~*~*~

2000: Diary Of The Backstreet Boys

Howie: Being in a group is a very unique situation. We definitely had to learn to balance the chemistry, to have that chemistry that could compliment each other, instead of work against each other. You know, AJ being the rebel type, Brian being the boy next door, me being the, I guess the Latino type, Nicky being the young heartthrob, and Kevin being the older brother. We had to get used to each other’s different personalities.

~*~*~*~

2005: UK Television Exclusive

Kevin: We took the break because it was much, much needed. AJ went into rehab, with 9/11 going on, we weren’t having as much fun anymore, we were burnt out, Brian needed some time, he just had a new baby boy. We all needed to do our own thing and breathe for a minute.

~*~*~*~

2013: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of Documentary

Brian: Shut the fuck up and let me talk!
Nick: No you shut the fuck up! You shut the fuck up! You shut the fuck up! I swear to God, don’t fucking talk to me that way!
Brian: I’ll talk to you however I want to talk to you!
Nick: You don’t get respect out of me that way! Don’t be a fucking dick like everyone knows you are! You understand what I’m saying?
Brian: You don’t want to hear it!
Nick: Don’t be a fucking dick! Don’t be a dick! Trust me, you don’t want it from me baby! Trust me!
Brian: Like I’m shaking!
Nick: I’m not afraid of you anymore!
Brian: Dude, what… you were afraid of me?!

~*~*~*~

2015: Movie Tickets Interview

Interviewer: Share with me a little bit, you guys are older now, so what challenges did that create for you?
AJ: In making the film I think honestly going back and kinda digging up some of our old past videos or old past feelings about Lou’s situation, going back and taking these hometown trips and really whatever it is, and really seeing where each of us came from. I think that was challenging, therapeutic, it brought us closer, it made us understand each other, and how we all kinda… tick.
Interviewer: So Nick, share with me about the brotherhood… how are you guys brothers?
Nick: It’s something kinda unexplainable, its kinda magical in a lot of ways. I don’t think that the people who sort of put us together really thought that this would ever happen, but that’s kinda the mystery of life and how things can happen. So, you know, we’re brothers because we love each other.

~*~*~*~

2015: End of “In A World Like This” Tour

Group: Hey, we’re the Backstreet Boys!
Howie: Hola! We’re reporting live all the way from Mexico! The very last stop of our…
AJ: Long ass!
Howie: Long butt tour, two years to be exact, but we wouldn’t have it any other way!
Brian: Our 20th Anniversary tour; go big or go home baby!
Howie: And it’s all thanks to you guys that we’ve been here this long, for keeping the Backstreet Pride alive, so this tour was all for you!
Kevin: But now that we’re finally done, what do we do now? What’s next for us fellas?
Nick: Lets do it all over again!
AJ: I don’t know… maybe another album, what do you guys think?
Kevin: I think we could whip something up…
Nick: We’re headed back into the studio baby!
Kevin: That’s right, we’ll be back in the studio, writing, producing, singing, doing it all over again, and we hope to give you more information on that and possibly a time frame for our NINTH album drop real soon!
Brian: Aww, c’mon Kev, don’t go building us up buttercup baby just to let us down; you know our time frame sucks!
AJ: Backstreet Time… blame Backstreet Time!
Kevin: That’s why “hope” and “possibly” were thrown into the mix.
Brian: But how are we gonna top this boys? I mean, this last album was our first under our own record label, it helped commemorate our 20 years together, we released a documentary in theaters… any more grand master plans Nick?
Nick: Of course! I always have plans!
Howie: Shouldn’t have asked that…
Nick: I’m thinking… one band. one island. five guys. five cameras. different pasts. all present. taking on the future. What happens when we stop being fake, and start getting real…
AJ: Sounds like if Survivor, The Blair Witch Project, and The Real World were to have a baby, it would be our new show. Oooh, that could be the name of our album and documentary… Project Survivors of The Real World!
Howie: Am I the only one thinking that the last person I’d like to be stuck on an island with is you Nick? No offense of course!
Nick: Ouch bro, where’s the love? I thought we were best friends… we’re brothers, till the end! I love you guys man!
Kevin: You see now, this is where I gotta cut the line! Thank you to all our fans again for coming to see ya boys this tour, we can’t wait to do it all again… stay tuned, and we’ll be seeing you all again real soon! Peace and love!

~*~*~*~

2015: Present Day

AJ: Hey my Skulleez, this is ya boy’s cam! We out here in the middle of… bumfuck nowhere. I seriously have no idea, and don’t remember where we are right now! This… is what happens… when you leave it up to the youngest to plan everything. Nick literally Google’d “isolated places in the US”, and boom… here we are… lets go see what the other fellas are up to… hey Rok, get over here buddy!
Brian: Wassup Bone diggity dawg!
AJ: Come and say hi to our fans!
Brian: Hey fans! We out here in Hinsdale County!
AJ: Leave it to these Kentucky guys to know where we are!
Brian: Speaking of Kentucky, where’s Kev… lets go get him in on this…
AJ: He’s probably hugging a tree and kissing the sides of these mountains.
Brian: Well, there’s Howie… hey Howie, what ya doing?
Howie: Shh… be quiet.
AJ: Why, what’s going on? Why are you hiding, and what are you looking at?
Howie: Nick…
Brian: Why are you looking at him?
AJ: Is he talking to himself? What is he doing?
Howie: I’m still trying to figure that out. We had gone from talking about amenities to him asking me how I used to catch rabbits when we seen a few wild ones hopping around. Next thing you know, he ventured out here and has been like this for the last ten minutes or so…
AJ: Why don’t you just ask him what he’s doing, Hey Nick!
Howie: Ugh, Aje!
AJ: What the hell are you doing over there dude?
Nick: What?
AJ: I said what are you doing over there, you’re freaking D out over here!
Howie: Really AJ?!
Brian: *whispers* Looks like he caught those rabbits.
Nick: Nothing, just caught our dinner…
AJ: You do realize that’s why we went grocery shopping on our way up here right?
Nick: I know, but I just wanted to see if I coul… what are you doing?
Brian: What, what is who doing?
Nick: Why are you guys all staring at me? Why do you have that, were you recording me?
AJ: Seriously? This was your idea dude… all of us would have a camera and we’d film ea-
Nick: Turn the camera off.
Brian: What’s the big deal?
Nick: TURN THE FUCKING CAMERA OFF!!!
Chapter 1 by rebellious_one
August 30th, 2012:

A slight rapt on the door caused Nick Carter’s head to snap up from its bent position; his concentration solely on his guitar where he was picking random chords, playing a medley of the songs they had not too long ago decided would be on the album.

Sighing heavily, he placed his guitar on down on his hotel bed and maneuvered his laptop and small keyboard away from him as he rose from the bed to open his door. Without looking through the peephole, he immediately tugged the door open, revealing Brian Littrell, who was standing there with his two hands shoved nervously into his pockets.

“Hey…” Brian muttered, rather sheepishly, having the hardest time maintaining eye contact with him. “mind if I come in?”

Nick forced a slight smirk as he opened the door further and held it with a shrug, “Sure… don’t mind the mess.”

“You know I never did.” he cracked dryly as he walked in and immediately seated himself on the bed, fingers dancing across the keyboard he now sat in front of, “Still working?”

“Nah, just messing around.”

Brian nodded, “Okay… I was hoping I wasn’t interrupting you with anything…”

“You’re not…” Nick’s voice pitched in puzzlement, trying to gauge him without seeming to come across straight forward. “Not to be rude, but… what would you be interrupting me with?” he asked cautiously; their argument still so fresh in his mind, he didn’t want to strike another chord with the man.

Brian sighed, struggling to find the words to start the inevitable reason why he had came in the first place. “God Nick, I have so much things to say, and I have no idea where to start…” There was a lengthy pause, and right when Nick was about to fill the silence, he continued, “I guess I should start with an apology, seeing as how I never formally gave one.”

“Brian…”

“I was way out of line… I got so worked up, felt like everyone was against me and I just wasn’t being heard. Then you and I kept going up and up with each other, and I got so tired of feeling talked over, that I… I just snapped. And it was so easy. There was just that nagging feeling in me, and the amounting emotions didn’t help. But you were right… I should’ve NEVER talked to you like that, because I would never get your respect that way…” he scoffed, “you’d think I’d know that, being your best friend and all…”

Nick swallowed hard listening to Brian laying it out on the table. Twenty years together, and he could still never get used to one of his brothers bearing themselves in front of him. “Well…”

“Which brings me to think…” now Brian was staring off, a dazed look haunting his features. “being your best friend… Jordan and Pippen… I haven’t been a good captain, been failing even worse as a best friend. All this time I thought I was the player being benched. Like Jordan, feeling like maybe I’ve ran my time out here on the team… then tonight you made me realize that you guys weren’t benching me… I was just choosing not to play the game at all.”

Nick’s head immediately snapped up to find his older brother in silent tears, trying in vain to fight it back, but they had already burned their tracks and left their marks. “I’ve been thinking of ways to bow out gracefully without…” he choked “without having to truly tell you guys my reason of leaving. Maybe I could’ve been like Kev and say that I wasn’t feeling it anymore, and I could… slip away to do something else I was good at, because Lord knows it wasn’t singing anymore. I needed that… confidence again, that assurance, you know?” A pause. “I knew you guys could hear it, but some… delusional part in my mind convinced me that I was getting away with it because none of you guys really said anything. Until you called me out on it tonight that is.”

“Bri, I’m sorr-”

“For what? What are you sorry for? For being right? For telling me the truth? For not being a coward?” Brian smiled bitterly through his tears and shook his head, “For being a best friend and helping me?”

Nick’s mouth hung agape, confusion twisting his face. Where was Brian going with this? He literally threatened Brian tonight, how was that him being a helpful best friend?!

“When you had your issues, with your drinking and all that, I was nowhere to be found… I didn’t want to be associated with that… that image you were painting for yourself, and being that we were Frick and Frack, it would have only been a matter of time before that image would’ve drug the both of us down. I was in denial, I didn’t want to face it, I didn’t say anything because it was your life! It was only tonight that I realized that I hadn’t been a brother, a best friend… hell, a friend at all during those moments of your life. I had became a stranger watching a trainwreck about to happen… instead of jumping on the train with you to help you stop it.”

Nick jumped at the sudden movement of Brian rising from his bed, sauntering over to the sliding door that led out to the balcony, staring out into the vast darkness and the glittering city lights. “You know, AJ had Kevin with his struggles… hell, I had you tonight with my issues, and in that moment I realized… you didn’t have any of us there for you.” He turned around to stare deep into Nick’s eyes; the one thing he avoided and dreaded to do. “And I’m so sorry for that Nick.”

Although Brian had done most of the talking since he stepped into his hotel room, Nick figured it’d be best for him to remain silent and let Brian have his moment of letting it all out. “When you said you weren’t afraid of me anymore, I was confused at first… not once had we ever threatened each other, or rose a fist towards one another, we were always able to talk things out. But these past few years our talking diminished into our differences just blowing over the next day. I’m probably taking this in a way you didn’t intend, but when you said you weren’t afraid of me anymore, maybe you meant you weren’t afraid to finally let me go, as I had done to you all these years… from since I was with Leighanne.”

He walked over to Nick and placed a comforting hand upon his shoulder, massaging it with light squeezes. “Thank you Nick… for always being there for me, even when I wasn’t there for you. Thank you for believing in me when I was starting to lose faith and belief in myself. Thank you for jumping on this train with me.”

Nick worried at his bottom lip, fighting the emotions coursing through him, truly at a loss of words. For the first time in a long time, Brian finally smiled and released his grip to pat him on his back before he started making his way towards the door to take his leave.

“You know…” he chuckled with a smirk as he held the door open, “they always say what is Pippen without Jordan… and it’s funny because we found out… Pippen emerged from Jordan’s shadow after he left… and that’s exactly what you did tonight.” Pausing, he took a deep breath in and flashed his infamous warm, knowing smile, “But this Jordan will always need Pippen.” and with that, he left and closed the door behind him.
Chapter 2 by rebellious_one
October 2014 - Backstreet Cruise: Halloween Night

“C’mon boys, we’re gonna be late!”

“When are we ever on time?”

“We look absolutely ridiculous… someone remind me who’s idea this was again?”

“I don’t know, but I think we got this backwards… I feel like AJ should’ve been Dorothy, and you should’ve been the Scarecrow!”

“And why is that?”

“Well, AJ’s about that life, and you should’ve been Scarecrow because… he was looking for a brain.”

“Ha-ha, very funny Howard!”

“I wouldn’t have mind wearing the dress, at least my dick would’ve been able to breathe… this shit is making my balls itch!”

“Where the hell is Kevin?!”

Nick, Brian, Howie and AJ were all gathered outside of their cabins, surrounded by their security team and management, getting ready to head to the deck where they would be kicking off their Halloween themed party.

“You look… so ridiculous dawg!” Brian said as he twirled his fingers through Nick’s ponytail wig.

Nick immediately turned towards the older member and grabbed him in a smothering hug, “OH MY GOD BRIAN!!! You’re my favorite Backstreet Boy!” he squealed in a high pitch voice. “I wanna have your babies! Give me a kiss!”

As Brian tried to wrestle the nuisance away, Kevin finally emerged from his room, taking in the scene before him, “Nick, stop trying to molest Brian.”

The group groaned in relief at the appearance of the last member. “Finally! We’re always late to our own damn parties!”

“Ain’t nobody else had to paint their whole face with this green shit, that’s why I took so long!” Kevin explained in his defense, to which Howie, being Howard, didn’t say anything. He began shying away from AJ, who was now trying to poke at his shiny, green face. “It ain’t dried yet.”

“Dude, if Slash and Shrek were to have a baby, this is what it’d looked like.” AJ joked.

“You did NOT just call me a fucking ogre AJ.”

“Well, yeah… what else is green?”

“The Hulk!” Nick chimed in.

“Anyway…” Howie finally spoke up, “can we make our way out to the deck now please? I’m sure they’re all wondering where the hell we are!”

“My, my, look who has a heart, and to think we didn’t even see the Wizard yet!” Nick cracked in amazement as he linked his arm with Howie’s and began singing, “We’re off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz…”

Aside from being “Backstreet” late, the party went on without a hitch; their group costume causing an absolute uproar, and of course the highlight being Nick dressed up as Dorothy (to which they were completely unsure if the fans got more of a kick out of seeing Nick as Dorothy, or seeing Nick in a dress period). And although he loved the extra attention he was garnering from his costume, Nick couldn’t wait to remove it all and return out to the crowd, who was still raging on. He immediately situated himself behind the turntable, spinning out his remixed version of their original song “Everybody” and Ozzy Osbourne’s track “Crazy Train”.

“Ooooh I know ya’ll know this song…” AJ hyped up on the mic as he made his way around the stage. “I want everyone out on the fucking dance floor, put your hands up and give it up for my boy Nicky Nick on the ones and twos… because we’re about to get FUCKING CRAZY!!!”

Nick smirked as he watched the crowd feed off the music he was spinning out, and the energy AJ was stirring up. This is what he lived for, not only the attention, but watching how people absolutely submerged themselves within the music and got lost in it. It brought him back to his childhood days, where he would lock himself in his room, listen to the likes of Journey and enter another world where everything was how he could possibly want it to be.

He knew exactly what the fans meant when they said that their music saved them, in one way or another, because Lord knew that’s what other artists music did for him on his homefront. There was nothing he wanted more than to go out and give back to others what he got from music; be the one responsible for finding themselves through him. He thrived on bringing out the different angles and emotions of a human being, all through music, and he couldn’t imagine his life being any other way.

“What do you want Nickolas?”

Nick’s head immediately snapped up, hearing the haunting voice of his mother. His eyes glazed over; no one but his brothers and the crowd were still in front of him. He continued to stare out, the voice having been so clear, but resumed spinning out music.

“Whatever you decide, I’m telling you this once… don’t you fuck this up for me! You’re doing this for your family, we’re relying on you.”

Nick shook his head, desperately trying to get that voice, get those words out of his head. He didn’t know where this was coming from, why he could all of a sudden hear the words he came to drown out and the voice he hid from all these years. He hadn’t been drinking that much… had he?

“What the hell is this Nick?! Where’s the rest of your check?! Did you spend it all already?!”

“I knew this was gonna happen, what made you think this was ever gonna work? You should’ve gone with Disney.”

“What do you mean you guys LEFT Lou?! Where the fuck is the money gonna come from now Nickolas?! I’m not paying shit for you to run around with four other guys! It’s over, wake the fuck up!”


Nick slammed his fist down upon the turntable, causing the music to abruptly stop. His eyes widened in shock and horror, hoping his little tantrum didn’t interrupt and catch the attention of everyone there. Thankfully, AJ had filled the silence with his talking, continuing to hype the crowd up even more. He quickly glanced around, no one seeming to have noticed his little tirade either. Sighing heavily, he quickly motioned for their resident DJ to take over and excused himself.

“Whoa Nick, where you rushing off to?” Howie asked as he watched Nick rush past them.

“Gonna cool off a bit… this crowd’s got it hot up in here!” he quickly filled in, hoping that would be enough.

Howie simply nodded, but otherwise had let him go. He knew that his bodyguard was trailing him not far behind, but thankfully the fans seemed oblivious to his wandering. He wasn’t sure where he was going, or what he would do once he got to wherever he was headed; all he knew was that he needed time to himself to clarify what the hell had just happened.

“Turning in already boss?” his bodyguard finally broke the silence.

Snapping out of his trance, he finally took in his surroundings, finding them to be standing right outside of his cabin; he hadn’t realized they had been walking that long in silence. “Yeah… ain’t hanging on as long as I used to.”

He chuckled, “You’re telling this to me? Some people have all the luck in the world! Rest up bro.”

“Make sure those guys don’t have too much fun without me! And please, for the love of God, don’t let AJ lose his clothes!” Nick tried to joke as he retreated into his cabin.

Silence. Once again. Who knew it could be so deafening. His gut clenched and his heart rate elevated; maybe coming here wasn’t such a good idea. Now that he was here, by himself in silence, what if he heard those voices again? Maybe he should’ve stayed out there and continued to drown his thoughts out with noise.

Sighing heavily, he sat on his bed and flopped back, closing his eyes and rubbing his two hands over his face. It wouldn’t have mattered being out there… he still heard her voice loud and clear over the music. With nothing else to do, he fell asleep fitfully.
Chapter 3 by rebellious_one
June 8, 2015

To say Nick was glad that their two year long tour would soon be coming to an end would be an understatement. He enjoyed the touring life, but there was nothing greater than finally being able to return back to your humble abode and try to live life as normal as you possibly can, being a Backstreet Boy… until they returned to the studio to do it all over again.

To add to that, the voices and thoughts he had or heard in his head were getting worse. He had realized that there was nothing he could do to escape it; it would come and go whenever, wherever, with really no trigger behind it. All he could do was plaster a smile on his face and try to continue to be the Nick Carter the fans knew and his brothers grew up with, but even that was getting harder with the passing days.

He had taken it upon himself to buy a book and begin writing down all the thoughts he was having and the words he was hearing, what was being said and by whom. He figured if he couldn’t stop it, he’d at least try to piece it together in hopes of understanding what it all meant. It was then that he made a sickening realization that although his “first episode” would technically be nearing a year, these thoughts and words actually predates it all; it was only recently that it was getting louder, more defined, harder to ignore.

He would come close, so many times, to just opening up to one of the fellas about what was going on with him; but doubts would quickly fill his mind and prevent him from going any further. How would he start it off? What exactly would he say? What would they say? What would they think? Perhaps tell him it was the pressure and stress of the tour that was finally bearing down on him. Maybe his insecurities were flaring up, but nothing that big brother Kev couldn’t fix. Or simply he was just lonely with his thoughts, and all he needed to do was return home to Lauren.

Maybe that’s all that it was? Maybe he was missing his wife a little too much during this touring cycle. But why did he find himself yearning for something more? Something that his fame, fortune, not even his fellow band brothers or wife could fill. Why did he still feel… lonely?

It’s ironic how fickle the Hollywood life can be. You’re surrounded by your legion of adoring fans, friends in high places, access to whatever your heart could ever desire, cash flow endless so you never know what it feels to be content, and scandals and promiscuity was your golden ticket to extending your fifteen minutes of fame; the more scandalous you were, the more relevant and notorious you’d be.

All this, yet you can still feel like a pebble amongst boulders; small, insignificant, and alone. The glamourous life is still just a life; and the adjective before it does not spare you of its ups, downs and in-betweens. He knew he could vent to any one of his brothers, close friends, or even wife about how he’s been feeling, but how can you expect someone to understand you when you can’t even understand yourself?

He knew he could talk to Kevin, the eldest of the four of them. With his years of wisdom, way of words and natural instinct of balance and sympathy; not to mention the fact that they had grown even closer, probably the closest they’ve ever been in the twenty plus years of knowing each other, and had finally managed to bridge the age gap between them two. But with Kevin’s sensibilities came his assurance and confidence in you; a heartfelt conversation, wise words given, a touch of reassurance and he sends you on your way to take on the world with a new outlook and confidence and belief that you can do it because he said so. Unfortunately with this situation, he would need more than that.

There was no doubt that he could easily talk to Howie. The two of them were probably now considered the best friends of the group. He wasn’t exactly sure when it happened, but years ago he found himself straying away from Brian, and growing closer to Howie. He had always been fond of the shorter man from when they first began; it was more than likely his pure heart and underlying ferocious tendencies, where just like Leo he was, if he set his sights on something he wanted enough, he was hungry and courageous to go out there and get it, that reeled him in. He was admirable, trustworthy, and loyal to the tee.

They were both empathetic towards one another, with people often mistaking their kindness for their weakness. When it came to the two of them, people wanted and wanted and continued to take, that when they had their fill or felt like you had nothing more left to offer or give, you were nothing but a fading memory to them. In Nick’s case, it was his parents with his stardom. In Howie’s case, it was the record label with his vocals. There was so much more to Howie than the world knew, and he was the privileged few that was blessed with Howie’s friendship and a bond like no other. But with that trust came the inevitable fear of failure… nothing scared him more than feeling like he let Sweet D down.

Then, there was Brian. The Rok. His Frick. His first best friend and the true older brother he never had. Back then there was not enough words to explain his best friend, or their friendship, and the undeniable, seemingly unbreakable bond they shared. Upon forming the group, they immediately took to one another, knowing it was more than shared interests that brought them together. He used to joke saying that they were brothers from other mothers, and that God made them best friends because he knew their moms couldn’t handle them as brothers; and then he just started begging Brian to have his mom adopt him.

Wherever Brian was, there was Nick, and vice versa. Nick was like a little lost pup following Brian around, wanting nothing more than to be accepted and always at his beck and call. But being that there was still an age gap nonetheless between them, Nick was seemingly oblivious to the fact that Brian would live out many of life’s firsts before him… graduation, marriage, family. After years of being inseparable, Nick didn’t know what to think of someone taking his place. That someone being on the set of their music video. That someone being a woman. That someone being a woman Brian met long after he and Nick were friends.

Call him a brat, but if there was one thing Nick couldn’t stand, it was sharing. He was the second oldest of five, and constantly had to share with his younger siblings because… well, they were young. Once he became famous, he had to share his income with his parents because it would “help their family live the American Dream”. Although he once again became one of five in the band, he was the youngest, and had immediately been dubbed the group’s heartthrob, and being that he finally did something for himself for once and chose joining the Backstreet Boys over the Mickey Mouse Club, he drank up the attention. They may have shared the limelight, but he constantly stole the show.

So here he was, sizing up Brian’s new flame, but internally knowing he could never compete. And there was Leighanne, like the new lover she was moving into Brian’s life with a hatred for dogs, pushing Nick to the side and ultimately giving Brian an ultimatum; her or the dog. But good ole Brian didn’t need a companion, he needed a partner for life. Regardless, with the persistence of a German Shepard, Nick stuck around, pursued and latched on. Little did he know, he was pushing Brian further into Leighanne’s needy arms.

Brian began investing into his personal home life more than his Backstreet life; he hardly had time for Nick, but promised he would make time. There Brian was, throwing the stick, and loyal Nick still at his beck and call, going out to fetch it. Only difference was, when he returned, no one was there. So he waited. And waited. Perked up when Brian acknowledged him. Sulked when he was forgotten. Waited. Waited. Until eventually, he grew up and moved on from waiting for people who didn’t have time for him in their lives. And then he learned that Howie knew how to balance his personal life and his different sides of family.

Of course everything came to a head between him on Brian that day in the office, and thankfully a lot had been settled between the two of them; a lot of unsaid words and ill feelings that predated the mounting tension and vocal issues. And although Brian was the one that came to him first to apologize, there was no denying the shift their bond had continued to endure; they were better, but they were not the same.

But there was one thing Nick knew for sure, and that thought was comforting enough. If he needed Brian for anything, he would push everything aside, regardless of the change, and be there for him. He was the group’s spiritual soundboard and strength, and although he had his flaws just like everyone else and had his moments, he would always try to end everything with bringing out the best of that person, which in turn brought the best version of himself back out. He knew how to find cracks and holes in someone and their life and fill it with God; he is what the world sorely needs.

But having that said, don’t ever place Brian in a situation that challenges his faith and morals. Sometimes his beliefs and righteousness tends to overshadow sympathy, which in turn transitions into a slight weakness of his that causes him to retreat. He’d rather not be brought down with you into the hole you dug for yourself; he’s more of the innocent bystander that will talk you to step away from the cliff edge and hope and pray there will be a happy ending to this.

And finally, AJ, who’s just… AJ. What can you say about the man who was your partner in crime in taking a bite from the same poisonous apple? No one would probably understand him more than Bone. The two youngest, they were kings, they were gods, they were international sex symbols. They were rebels without a cause, with too much to fight for, and not enough will to fight against. It would be the two of them to have succumbed to the lack of self-worth, the pressure of self-discipline, and the struggles of self-indulgence.

Being that they were only two years apart, they bumped heads more often than not. It was normally a pissing contest between them; who got the most lead vocals, who was really the lead singer, who knew the most when it came to notes and harmonizing, who was best Backstreet Boy. They both had so much to prove to others, neglecting the fact that the only person they had to prove themselves to were… themselves, and in that had easily lost sight of who they were.

AJ had once said it’s easy to lose sight of who you are when you’re in a group of people, and boy did Nick know that to be true. With no room for you to be yourself, you were constantly changing yourself to be everything everyone else wanted you to be… and with people wanting more and never satisfied, you just were never good enough.

AJ lived to make people happy. Being an only child raised by his mother and grandparents, he thrived on being accepted and acknowledged and you could easily mold and shape him to be whatever you wanted, as long as you wanted him and liked him in the end.

Nick, on the other hand, was sadly used to people molding him to what they saw fit, with their end goal being to reap what he sowed. He just thrived on being his own person, whoever that was, changing to adapt to every and any situation. Drugs and alcohol proved to be the only thing that calmed their erratic minds, numbed their aching hearts and eased their restless souls. For once they weren’t giving, but rather taking, which, unconsciously, led them back to giving a lot more than just their fame and money.

They were drowning in an endless sea of hopelessness and self-hatred, but Kevin was their raft. He managed to pull them up and had served as a reminder that when all seems lost, you still have your brothers to cling to. AJ had cleaned up before Nick, but during that time he no longer saw their bond as sibling rivalry, for he had grown a deep, newfound respect for the man who was only two years older than him; serving as an inspiration and a positive enabler, that if AJ could do it, then so could he!

He had his own special bond with each member, each playing a different role in his life. He probably had the utmost respect for AJ, and admires him way more than he lets people on to believe. Being the talker of the group, he knew he could easily open up to the heavily tattooed man, and that he would understand him completely. Where does he fall short in doing that?

AJ is the polar opposite of Brian… whereas Brian would be on the outside watching and waiting for this trainwreck to crash, AJ would be the first (and probably only) one to jump on it, doing what he can to help stop it, but if all else fails, he’s willing to accept your guys’ inevitable fate of crashing, together, because Lord knows he won’t let you go down alone. And that’s what he loved most about that man… his love for humanity and undying loyalty towards people completely overshadows himself; he knows how to easily put others before himself, but that’s what scared him.

Sighing heavily, Nick resumed scribbling down everything he was thinking and feeling; opting to keep it all to himself, for the sake of the guys of course, and depending on the book to be his only confidant.
Chapter 4 by rebellious_one
June 28, 2015 - The End Of “In A World Like This” Tour

“So, did you hear the good news?”

“That you’ll be coming home real soon to me and I get to have you all to myself? Yeah, I knew that.”

Nick laughed and shook his head; was it possible to love this woman even more than he already does? “Well, besides that… you haven’t seen anything on the internet or heard anything from anybody…”

“Apparently not if you have to sit there and interrogate me.” Lauren replied sweetly.

“I’m not interrogating you! But I will be now in asking you what you’re doing over there.”

Nick peered into the screen of his phone, seeing that his wife was sitting crossed-leg on their bed, shuffling through what he assumed were documents. They were FaceTiming each other, with Lauren having her phone situated on their bed while Nick was laying on his hotel bed, holding his phone above his face.

“Going through some of the mail… I was sent this sample of this new supplement called… fujiKale, and they’re asking me if I’d be interested in being their spokeswoman and appearing in their commercial.” She held a bag up to the camera.

Nick squinted as he read the words on the bag, “Organic… kale powder. What the hell? What’s organic about anything that’s in powder form? Whatever happened to a vegetable just being organic in itself?”

Lauren shrugged as she opened the bag and sniffed it, “I love kale, and it says here I can mix it with water, make a shake with it, add it to any of my meals… beats having to go through all the prepara-” she cut herself off in the middle of her explanation, just staring into the camera.

Nick stared back, wondering why she had fallen silent all of a sudden and just staring at him, “What?”

“I know what you’re doing Nickolas Gene Carter…”

“What?! What am I doing?! I’m just a confused man, trying to understand how a powdered vegetable is organic.”

“You weren’t trying to change the subject on the good news you have yet to tell me?”

“Change the subject…” Nick repeated, his voice laced with puzzlement, “oooh, of course I wasn’t, I just got wrapped up in what you were telling me. But as for the good news, thanks to our lovely fans, VH1 has agreed to sign us on for a second season!”

Lauren’s eyes widened in shock, “You’re kidding me!”

“Yup, the petition worked! I’m telling you, you want something done, leave it to our fans, they always make sure their voices are heard! Gotta love their loyalty!”

“Oh my god… wow, I was not…” she was truly at a loss for words, “I was not expecting that, that’s great news sweetie!”

Nick sighed as he pushed himself up off the bed and made his way into the bathroom, “Yup, and even better since we’re done with this tour, so it’ll be easier come filming.” he propped his phone up on the sink and began to pull out his toiletries to shave.

“Well, what would this season be about? Did they contact you themselves or was it something you heard through the grapevine?”

“They contacted me… said it’ll focus more on our life ever after and how everything settled after the wedding and tour.”

“And, what exactly would our happily ever after be Mr. Carter?” Lauren asked seductively with a smirk.

“Sex, definitely the sex! For some reason, it’s sooo much better after you put a ring on it!”

“Nickolas!”

“No I’m serious!” Nick laughed as he began to slather shaving cream on the lower part of his face. “It’s like, ooh, who’s that beast chick on the cover of Women’s Fitness? Lauren Kitt-Carter? Wife of Backstreet Boy Nick Carter? Say whaaaaat?!”

“Oh really…”

“How did he land that?! And man, look at that ass! I’d wanna tap that! But guess what, they can’t! Why?! Because it’s mines... Lauren Kitt-Carter is mines!”

“This ass was always yours Carter, ring or not.”

“Ooooh,” Nick shivered and moaned, “I like the way you strung the words ‘ass’, ‘yours’, and ‘Carter” all together in one sentence. Say it again. Slowly.”

Lauren rolled her eyes and laughed, “Anywayyy… what are your plans for tonight? Looks like you’re getting ready to head out somewhere.”

Nick tilted his head back, deciding to start shaving at the nape of his neck. “We’re going out to dinner, as a celebratory thing with the whole team. Wish you were here with me… we’d be going out to enjoy some authentic enchiladas…”

“Yeah, but instead I’ll be enjoying some green eggs and ham all by my lonesome.” she pouted in a little kid’s voice.

“Don’t worry baby, I’ll be home real soon to enj- shit!”

Lauren’s head immediately snapped up from what she was reading, “What’s wrong? What happened?”

Nick seethed, quickly placing his hand over his throat, “Just nicked my neck. Let me call you back real quick.”

“Are you okay?” Lauren’s look of shock upon hearing his exclamation turned into a look of concern. “Must be pretty serious if you have to call me back.”

Nick shook his head, hand still covering the wound. “Nah, not serious, I’m just gonna finish getting ready then I’ll call you back before we head out.”

“Alright, love you baby.”

“Love you too, bye.”

Once the FaceTime screen closed out on his phone, Nick gently pried his hand away from his throat, not wanting his wife to see the resulting injury of his accident prone self. “Shit!” he muttered as a fresh bead of blood oozed out; he must’ve cut himself a little deeper than he thought.

Reaching out to grab one of the hand towels, his eyes found itself transfixed with the sight of his own blood on his hands. As he grabbed the towel, he fell into a trance with seeing his bright red blood stain the starch white towel. It was a beautiful contrast.

“What the fuck?!” he voiced out, shaking his head as if snapping out of a daze. Did he really just think his blood was… beautiful?

He turned on the faucet and plugged the drain, letting the water collect up in the sink. He dunk the stained hand towel into the water in attempt to clean off the blood, but once again he found himself staring. He watched as the water lapped up on his hands, trying in vain to wash away the crimson substance, but his blood was thicker. Before you knew it, the sink was filled to the brim with tainted water.

His attention no longer on trying to clean the towel, he scooped his hands into the sink-full of blood, the thick liquid pooling in his palms. The odor of it assaulted his senses, smelling and tasting that of sharp metal. His eyes glazed back up into the mirror, wanting to inspect the nick he made at his throat, assuming it had scabbed over. Tilting his head back, he watched in sick satisfaction as a new river of red pushed through, running down his collar bone and disappearing down his chest, immediately seeping through the cotton shirt he wore.

Bathe in it. Taste it. The thought nagged in his mind, and at this point he wasn’t sure if those words belonged to the numerous voices he would hear in his head or purely a thought on his own. He decided it didn’t matter as his hands now rose up to his face, his eyes falling shut as he began to rub the blood he had scooped up from the sink all over eyes, cheek, nose, mouth.

At first his lips remained purse as he painted himself, but slowly they parted open, curiosity enticing the cat as his tongue drew across his lips, sighing at the biting taste of tangy copper. Then, his eyes cracked open, droplets of blood clung to his lashes; striking blue piercing through angry red. Fire and ice. Love and hate. Peace and war. Innocence and guilt. The corners of his mouth tugged up into a fierce grin; he was a beautiful sight to see.

NICK?!?!

He snapped out of his trance at the sound of pounding at his door and someone shouting his name. His heart was racing erratically as he mind drifted back to what he was doing seconds ago, unsure of how he’d clean up all the blood, but as he glanced up in the mirror, he did a double take when he noticed… nothing there.

Breathing heavy, he reached up to touch his face, which was cleanly shaven. He now focused on his hands on his face through the mirror, bringing it down in front of him, staring at it as if it were foreign to him. Beyond his hands he now looked into the sink, which was clean as well. He grabbed the hand towel, only finding remnants of shaving cream streaked on it.

Looking back up to the mirror, he tilted his head back, seeing if he had really nicked his throat or if that was all in his head too. It was small, not even a cut really… just a small razor burn. “What the fuck…” he muttered to himself.

“Aye yo Nick, you alive in there or what man?!”

He quickly left the bathroom and made his way to the door, pulling it open without even looking, finding his bodyguard on the other side.

“You okay bro?” Mike questioned in concern, eyeing his friend up and down, “I was pounding at your door for the longest.”

“Yeah sorry, I was just in the bathroom.” Nick replied sheepishly as he rubbed the back of his neck, “I thought you could hear me saying I’d be out in a minute.”

“Well, I guess it goes to show you how soundproof these rooms really are.” Mike cracked as he nudged at him, as if asking if he understood his reference.

“I guess so, since uh… Hannah and I had a wild time in the bathroom, if you know what I mean…” Nick joked back, a sly grin on his face as he reached out and started wiping his hand on his bodyguard’s burly shoulder.

Mike immediately ducked and backed away, “Ugh bro, that’s disgusting… you ain’t right! Just hurry on with whatever you were doing, the fellas are at the restaurant already!”

Nick’s head shot up upon hearing that, “Seriously?”

“Yeah, they left like fifteen minutes ago. I’ve been trying to let you know man, why?”

He shook his head, “Nothing, I’ll be out in a little.” he replied as he retreated back into his room.

Was he really in the bathroom that long? And since when did the guys just leave him behind? Normally it’d be Howie or Kevin, hell even Brian would check on him, see if he were ready to go and they’d all leave together. But none of them came to check on him, not even a text or a phone call.

Now that he thought about it, why was this bothering him so much? They were grown men, who didn’t have to wait for each other, but during tours it’s what they normally did with Nick. He was more bothered with the fact that none of them had even contacted him, and just left without letting him know. If it weren’t for Mike, would he still be here at the hotel, waiting, while they assumed he wasn’t going to join them? Some friends they were being right now.

Grabbing his shirt off the back of his chair, he took off the one he was wearing and replaced it with the new one, vaguely remembering about his supposed “cut” during shaving. He still had to deal with what happened with that, and aside from documenting it, didn’t have a clue as to where to start with figuring it out. It was in his head, he knew that much, but… was he really going crazy?

He grabbed his phone and dialed Lauren’s number, adjusting it between his ear and shoulder to collect up his belongings as he waited for her to answer.

“How’s your neck?” Lauren answered on the third ring.

So he did tell her about cutting himself while he was shaving; it wasn’t all in his head. “Just turned out to be a razor burn. What are you doing?”

“Just got done making me something to eat, now I’m about to go feed Nacho. Speaking of which, you better be eating some nachos for me right now because this fujiKale tastes like something I’ll be getting over real fast.”

Nick chuckled as he tucked his room key into his wallet and slipped it into his pocket, “Yeah, powder that turns everything green… I don’t trust it. But I’m actually heading to the restaurant now… the stupid guys left me behind, so Mike and I will be heading up there now.”

“Aww,” Lauren cooed, “why does my baby sound all sad? Are you mad that they left you?”

“No, it’s just… they didn’t even tell me they were leaving is all. I just… I just can’t wait to get home to you.”

“I can’t wait too baby.” Nick could hear her smile as she said that, “Now, don’t be grumpy and have fun okay? Eat up for me and call me when you get back. Love you.”

Nick sighed and smiled, “Love you too.”
Chapter 5 by rebellious_one
“Well hello there sunshine, thanks for finally joining us!” Kevin joked as he watched their youngest brother saunter into the restaurant with Mike trailing behind him.

Nick glared at the group before him; he wasn’t sure why, but his anger continued to build up on their drive to the restaurant. He didn’t need them to wait around for him, it just would have been nice to have been told by them that they were leaving. And in that, he just felt left behind, by the four people he loved and trusted most; that’s what bothered him.

“Oh, hey Nick, you ready to go? Hey Nick, we’re leaving! Hey Nick, we’ll meet you at the restaurant!” Nick mocked as he approached the table. “Thanks for leaving me behind fellas!”

“Don’t be such a sourpatch kid, Mike had been at your door, knocking way before we left. Besides, we haven’t ordered anything yet.” was Kevin’s simple reply.

Nick rolled his eyes, “Yeah, like no one has phones that could’ve called or texted me?”

“Would you eat quesadillas if I ordered it?” Kevin decided to completely ignore his tantrum and change the subject, “We could share that appetizer, and they have house salsa and guacamole coming out soon too.”

Nick just shook his head and huffed, “Whatever man.” hr grumbled as he looked for an open seat to take.

Howie scooted his chair over to make room for the seething man to sit next to him, “Hey, are you really that mad at us?” he asked quietly.

He stayed silent for a while, as if thinking it over. “Nah dude, just sucked finding out that I was left behind and none of you guys even told me that ya’ll were leaving. A text would’ve been fine!”

“I’m sorry,” it would be Howie to be the only one to apologize, “Mike had gone to check on you and we were waiting outside for a while. When you didn’t answer, he said he’d wait up for you so we went ahead.”

“I was in the bathroom, I didn’t even hear him at the door.” Was he pouting?

Howie sighed, not knowing how to make his friend feel better. “But you’re right, one of us should’ve texted you. I’m sorry bud… do you forgive us?” he asked in a playful tone, batting his eyelashes.

Nick wanted so hard to remain mad at them, but being in Howie’s presence, he just couldn’t find the power to stay that way. “I forgive YOU… you’re the only one who apologized.”

Howie smirked, “Then that’s all that matter, because I’m the only one who matters!”

Nick huffed and tried desperately to hide the grin that was threatening to break out. One minute he was worked up, beyond furious at the four that sat before him, the next he found himself calming down, all thanks to Howie. His eyes wandered over the table, taking in each and every single person he was surrounded by. They were talking, laughing, drinking… even Howie had resumed talking to one of their management. And here Nick was, having came in with an attitude, sitting amongst a group of people, with no one to talk to. Now his calmness was turning into loneliness; he decided to bury his head in-between his menu and make himself look busy.

“Stop your fucking crying already Nick!”

Nick’s eyes widened as he popped his head up from behind the menu, immediately focusing on AJ, who was seated across from him. AJ hadn’t spoken to him like that, since… well, since they were young and constantly at each other’s throats. Where was this coming from?! “What the hell dude?!”

AJ trailed off in the middle of his conversation with their stylist when he heard Nick; he was the only one Nick would refer to as “dude”, so he was unsure if he was talking to him or not. He glanced over at him, and did a double take when he noticed blue eyes trained on him. “What happened?” he drawled out in confusion.

Oh god… he was hearing their fucking voices in his head now?! It was so loud and clear, he was sure that AJ had actually said those words to him, but the puzzled look on his face told him otherwise. How is supposed to correct this now that he’s got his attention? “You gonna share some of the chips and salsa over there or what? You’re hoggin’ it all man!” he laughed uneasily; it was the best lie he could think of on the spot.

AJ glanced down at the basket of chips that was placed more in front of him, “Oh, sorry dude, it’s just where they placed it…” he pushed the chips and bowl of salsa towards Nick, “it’s on the house, so they’ll be topping us off with more soon!”

“Ugh, I bet they don’t have anything on Ro’s mama’s salsa and guac!” Nick said as he sniffed the chip with salsa he held, trying to hold a conversation to smooth it all out. “She’d put this place outta business with her good cooking!”

AJ laughed, “Right? I’m telling you dude, I’mma open her up a restaurant back home!” he turned back to the stylist, “My mother-in-law, hands down, makes the best tamales ever!”

Nick internally sighed, glad he was able to get himself out of that awkward situation and divert AJ’s attention back to who he was originally talking to. He couldn’t believe that just happened, as if his whole shaving fiasco earlier wasn’t enough!

“I’ll talk to you however I want to talk to you.”

He heard Brian say, but as he looked over at him, he had rose from his seat, his phone tucked between his shoulder and his ear, walking away to talk to whoever it was on the other line. Probably Leighanne.

“Don’t be such a sourpatch kid.”

Looking over at Kevin, he was chatting it up with their security team, laughing at something one of them said. He watched him as he continued listening to the joking guards, picking up the last slice of quesadilla and eating it. So much for sharing Nick thought with a scoff as he glanced at Howie, who was busy giving his order to their waiter.

“You’re being… really annoying right now Nick.”

Hearing their negative words about him was getting him all worked up again. Thinking back to their younger years, he was nothing but a stupid blond child in their eyes. A spoiled brat in AJ’s eyes. An annoyingly needy friend in Brian’s eyes. An irritating pest in Howie’s eyes. A kid period in Kevin’s eyes.

“Don’t, stop it Nick, you’re not helping.”

“Shut up Nick!”

“You’re stupid.”

“Sit the fuck down, and show some fucking respect!”


They thought him to be weak and stupid, he would show them! For far too long he’s been taken advantage of, just laughed at, forgotten about, he’ll show them all what he’s really capable of.

“Like I’m shaking.”

They all underestimated him… he’ll give them a reason to fear him.

“A toast, to the end of our 20th Anniversary tour.”

Nick snapped out of his trance, eyes widening with the realization of his wicked thoughts. Breathing heavily, he looked around to find Kevin holding up his drink, leading the whole crew in a toast. Hell, did no one even notice that he hadn’t rose a glass to toast with all of them?

“I need to get out of here…” he muttered breathlessly.

Hearing mumbled words, Howie lowered his glass a bit and leaned over a bit towards Nick, “What’d you say?”

Nick looked up at Howie, hoping he hadn’t heard him, thinking of what he could say. “I said we need to get outta here… go vacation somewhere, relax, just the five of us!”

“Wasn’t this tour a vacation? I mean, I love flying, but I’d be completely okay NOT getting on another plane for the next two years!”

Nick shot him a look, trying to be his normal self, “Touring is NOT a vacation Howard! A vacation is when you escape everything, isolate yourself from every means of people contacting you about something work related…”

Howie shook his head and smiled, the kid was serious. “Lets just get home first and then we can discuss it. Weren’t you the one whining about how much you’re missing Lauren, but now we’re talking about flying off to somewhere remote?”

“Yeah, well… I’m in need of a vacation too, as we all are, so maybe that’s something we can do… after I see Lauren. Just the five of us.”

Howie nodded and just stared at Nick with uncertainty, smiling all the while. All his years of knowing him and watching him grow up, he’ll still never understand the kid. “Okay Nick.”

Nick smirked as he patted his older friend on the shoulder. Why was he pushing for them to do this anyway?

~*~*~*~

“I am seriously ready to knock the hell out… hot damn I am stuffed!” AJ voiced as he rubbed his distended stomach. “I think I’ve ate enough Mexican food to last me for the next few weeks!”

The boys all filed into the lobby of their hotel, followed by a few of their management. “Don’t go home telling Ro that, her momma will never make you tamales again!” Nick joked.

AJ moaned, “Ugh, don’t mention anything about food right now!”

Before they could reach the elevators to take them up to their floors, Jen’s voice brought them to a halt. “Okay guys, I know you’re gonna kill me for this, but I need you guys to do something before we all retire for the night.” They all groaned out collectively. “I know fellas, but it needs to be done! We need to shoot a vid real quick to put up on the website,” she continued on despite the protests, “it’s our last day here, we’re done with the tour, you guys need to thank the fans and I’d like to post it before midnight, so if we could hurry and get this done.”

“Why didn’t we do this before we went out for dinner?” Nick whined, stumbling over to the nearest seat and plopping down. “I feel like a stuffed turkey right now, and I know I’ll look even worse on camera!”

“We could’ve done this before we had gone to dinner, if we weren’t missing a fellow Backstreet Boy.” she snarked back.

Ouch. Well that answered that. “C’mon guys, it’ll be real quick, just thank the fans, tell them what you have planned next, sign off from the tour, then we can all go to sleep! Just… go stand by that wall for all I care, and I’ll start filming.”

Without another complaint, the five of them gathered in front of the wall near the elevators. Jen silenced the remaining staff who were around as she aimed her phone at them, “Annnd… go!”

“Hey, we’re the Backstreet Boys!”

“Hola!” Howie greeted in his native tongue, “We’re reporting live all the way from Mexico! The very last stop of our…”

“Long ass!” AJ quipped.

Howie could only chuckle and shake his head at his friend’s choice of words, “Long butt tour… two years to be exact, but we wouldn’t have it any other way!”

“Our 20th Anniversary tour, go big or go home baby!” Brian added.

Howie nodded in agreement, “And it’s all thanks to you guys that we’ve been here this long, for keeping the Backstreet Pride alive, so this tour was all for you!”

Kevin, who was standing a little further back from the group, in between AJ and Nick, clapped his hands down on their shoulders and leaned forward, “But now that we’re finally done, what do we do now? What’s next for us fellas?”

“Lets do it all over again!” Nick replied, but AJ’s response drowned him out.

“I don’t know… maybe another album, what do you guys think?”

Kevin pretended to ponder on that statement, shrugging his shoulders, “I think we could whip something up…”

“We’re headed back into the studio baby!” Nick exclaimed as he threw his arms out for emphasis.

Kevin glanced at Nick and nodded, “That’s right, we’ll be back in the studio, writing, producing, singing, doing it all over again, and we hope to give you more information on that and possibly a time frame for our NINTH” he held up nine fingers as the rest of the guys acted like they were counting their fingers, “album drop real soon!”

“Aww, c’mon Kev,” Brian voiced, “don’t go building us up buttercup baby just to let us down… you know our time frame sucks!”

“Backstreet Time… blame Backstreet Time!” AJ pointed out as Kevin answered his cousin, “That’s why ‘hope’ and ‘possibly’ were thrown into the mix.”

“But how are we gonna top this boys?” Brian continued on, asking no one in particular, “I mean, this last album was our first under our own record label, it helped commemorate our twenty years together, we released a documentary in theaters…” he looked over at Nick, “any more grand master plans Nick?”

At first Nick was staring off into the distance, as if pondering that question and wanting to say “what do you think?!” After a few seconds of silence, he smiled delightfully, “Of course! I always have plans!”

“Shouldn’t have asked that…” Howie muttered under his breath.

This was his opportunity to push for them to vacation in an isolated area, still unsure of why he wanted that so badly. “I’m thinking… one band. one island. five guys. five cameras. different pasts. all present. taking on the future. What happens we stop being fake, and start getting real…”

“Sounds like if Survivor, The Blair Witch Project, and the Real World were to have a baby, it would be our new show.” AJ added, eyes widening with a realization, “Oooh, that could be the name of our album and documentary… Project Survivors of The Real World!”

And, of course, the guys decided to not honor his discovery/joke with a response. “Am I the only one thinking that the last person I’d like to be stuck on an island with is you Nick?” Howie asked as he glanced over at him, “No offense of course!”

Of course, being the overdramatic one he was, Nick let out a fake gasp, “Ouch bro, where’s the love? I thought we were best friends…” weren’t they? “We’re brothers, till the end!” he tossed his arms playfully over their shoulders and reeled them all in close to him, “I love you guys man!”

Shaking his head, Kevin looked directly into the camera and sighed, “You see now, this is where I gotta cut the line!” he said as he jokingly fought Nick off of him and focused back at the camera. “Thank you to all our fans again for coming to see ya boys this tour, we can’t wait to do it all again… stay tuned, and we’ll be seeing you all again real soon! Peace and love!”

“And, we’re done!” Jen voiced as she stopped recording and slipped her phone into her pocket, smiling at them. “Thanks fellas, have a good night!”

Nick watched as everyone parted ways, with Kevin following the security team to god knows where, AJ and Brian going off to do god knows what, and Howie being the only one making his way to the elevator.

“Hold up!” Nick exclaimed as he quickly darted into the elevator cab, “What are you gonna do?”

Howie sighed as he pushed the button to their floor, watching the doors slide close, “No Nick, you cannot follow to bother me.”

“I just wanted to know what you were gonna be doing, jeez! Do I bother everybody that much?!” he grumbled as he leaned back against the wall, folding his arms across his chest in annoyance.

Howie immediately looked over at his sulking friend, feeling bad for the way he came across, “You know I was just joking bro, you don’t bother me.” After a few moments of silence, he proceeded to answer Nick’s question, “I’m just gonna Skype Leigh, see my boys, and then probably turn in for the night. What are you gonna do?”

Nick shrugged, trying to fight off the building feeling of being unwanted and questioning his brothers’ loyalties. “I dunno, probably do the same… call Lauren, then head to bed.”

Howie continued to stare at him, “Are you okay Nick? I really didn’t mean for you to take my words that way, I was just kidding.”

Nick sighed, “I know you were, it’s okay.”

“I can’t help than to feel like I’m messing up left and right, with us leaving you here at the hotel and not telling you, and now with what I said.” he chuckled uneasily, “And with you just wanting… bonding time with all of us; we’re not having you feel left out are we?”

Nick focused on the numbers above; they were heading up to the twenty-fifth floor, and they were only passing the sixth floor now, weren’t hotel elevators faster than this? Why did this ride seem longer than it had to be, especially being stuck on it with Sweet D and his counselling ways, who seemed to be figuring him out all in that moment. He forced a laugh, “It’s not that serious bro, I was just being my crazy ole spoiled self throwing a temper tantrum… I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t right?” he tried to justify with a snort, rushing on before Howie could answer that, “And the whole vacation thing ain’t nothing more than that… which, come to think of it, I don’t know why I’d want to waste my vacation with you dinosaurs anyway, I should be sick of you all… which I am!”

Howie knew better than to take his explanation seriously; aside from knowing he wasn’t sick of them, he was truly baffled by his behavior as of recently. One minute he was pushing for them to vacation altogether, the next he remembered they were together for the last two years? He wasn’t sure what was going on in that blond head of his, but he decided not to pry too much. That’s the kind of person Nick was, he’d keep everything in to himself, to sort and figure things out on his own, which was definitely his strong sense of self-pride. But when all else fails, he’d retreat to lick his wounds, then come crawling out to those close, as if to seek out and ask where he went wrong. Howie knew he couldn’t push him, but to be there when he was ready. “I know you Nick… you just can’t get enough of us, just admit it! We’re your favorite band!”

“Uh, you must be confusing me with the egotistical one,” of course, he was referring to AJ, “I happen to fancy myself some Menudo!”

Howie cringed as he placed his hand over his heart, “Ouch, straight through my heart… and here I thought I was your token Latin lover!”

At hearing that, Nick couldn’t help than to laugh, “You know you are Howard, you’re my one and only… I would never cheat in our brolationship! I’m the avocado to your guacamole, you’re the diablo sauce to my chalupa, we’re tequila and lime, we just… go together!”

“I don’t know if I should be scared that we have what you call a brolationship, or upset that everything you referred us to was seemingly racist.” the doors slid open and they both stepped out onto their floor, “You truly are one of a kind Nick.”

“Racist would be a sombrero, a moustache, gardening and mowing lawns.” Nick pointed out.

Howie shook his head as they stopped outside of Nick’s room, “But all joking aside, I’m sorry again for tonight. And I may never know what’s going on in that head of yours, I think I’d be pretty scared, but… if you need someone to talk to Nick, you know where to find me bud. No matter the time, or where, or what I’m doing… I’m here for you kid.”

Nick looked down at the ground and smiled; no matter how old they get, they’ll always and forever still refer to him as kid. “Thanks D., I know.” he fished his room key out and opened his door as he watched Howie retreat to his room a few doors down. “You have a good night, and tell Leigh I said hi!”

“Will do. Good night bud.”

Upon entering his room, Nick was greeted by darkness. Sighing heavily, he closed the door behind him and leaned against it, closing his eyes and allowing himself to be claimed by the lonely pitch dark. Howie’s words rung through his mind: I may never know what’s going on in that head of yours, I think I’d be scared. How he wished he didn’t even know what was going on in his head, because he was truly scared.
Chapter 6 by rebellious_one
August 5, 2015 - Filming Of “I Love Nick Carter” Season Two


“Would we be opposed to having it at a restaurant? I know recreational places are out of the question… we’d have to deal with cleaning and clearing out of there at a certain time, and I’m just not about that.”


“We could, but… I’d want something a little more personal and private than being in a restaurant. But that’s just me!”


“No, no, and we can do whatever you want, this is for you.” Lauren assured with a smile as she opened her planner. “Well, what if we were to have it here? At our place? It could be indoor or outdoor, or both, we could look into placing a plexiglass flooring over the pool, I think that would be nice.”


Lauren, her sister, and a few of their friends were gathered at her residence, planning Alexandra’s baby shower. The producers of the show decided to make the planning effort as the trigger to the episode’s main topic, which was Nick and Lauren discussing and deciding on whether they were interested in having children or not.


“That would be nice,” Alexandra agreed, “but… Nick wouldn’t mind?”


“Nick wouldn’t mind what?”


All of their heads turned to address the new and sudden voice, to which they’re greeted by Nick who had entered the kitchen where they were gathered and planning. He had gone to meet up with a few Syfy network representatives to discuss his upcoming film that was in the works. He tossed his keys onto the counter and leaned over to give his wife a peck on the lips. “What would I not mind?” he asked softly to her.


“Well, we’re planning Alexandra’s baby shower, and I figured we could host it here. She wants something intimate and private and our place is big enough to accomodate.”


Nick’s eyes squinted as he continued to stare at her, as if oblivious to the other women in the kitchen. “Hmm, it depends.... will you be kicking me out for this day?”


Lauren chuckled and rolled her eyes, glancing over at her sister, “We were thinking both sexes could be there.”


“Then of course I don’t mind! Can’t say no to free food!”


“Really Nick?” she scolded playfully, slapping his butt as he walked past her.


Nick could only shrug as he grabbed a cup from the sink rack and made his way to the fridge, pulling out the gallon of orange juice and pouring himself a tall glass. “There’s not much men would get out of attending a baby shower other than the free food. Think about it, all those games like collecting clothespins whenever you say her name or the word ‘baby’, or those unscramble and nursery rhyme worksheets, we SUCK at those!”


“There’s some baby shower games for men to play, that doesn’t require my baby to think too much.” Lauren teased in a cooing voice.


Nick jokingly mocked her as he sat himself down across from the group, “I’m just saying, I’m a very competitive person, and I wouldn’t like losing to women who naturally have the upper hand in beating me in something.”


The women laughed at Nick’s claim. “Seems like you two would have a very interesting baby shower!”


Them, having a baby shower? Ha, yeah right! “When are you two thinking about having some little Carters running around anyway?” Alexandra pried.


Nick arched his eyebrow at her question. Him and Lauren… having a baby?! She couldn’t be serious. These women may not know him as well as his wife does, but Lauren must surely agree that they are nowhere near ready for a child. Her career of becoming an ambassador for wellness and fitness is taking off, he and the guys have plans of recapturing their glory days that show no signs of stopping; where was a baby to fit in all of this?!


He glanced over at Lauren, expecting her to answer her friend’s question. Instead, he found her staring at him, brows raised and shoulders shrugged, worrying at her bottom lip. “Well, uh…” she finally drawled out.


Oh, was she wanting him to answer that question?! “Us, having kids?!” he scoffed, “Not in the forecast anytime soon!” he missed the features immediately falling from Lauren’s face. “I mean, let’s face it, she married a big kid, we don’t need a bunch of whiny, snotty mini-me’s running around!” he laughed. “So good luck, and have fun with that life Alex, but that’s not the life I want.”


When nothing but silence was the only response he got, he looked around to find all eyes trained on him. Alexandra looked completely shocked, while Lauren’s sister looked horrified. Lauren on the other hand, was seething; her mouth slightly parted and a look of pure disbelief twisted with anger.


He jumped at the horrid sound of the chair scraping painfully across the marbled floor as Lauren pushed up from where she sat and stalked off. Having forgot about the VH1 production team that filled his home, the staff and cameramen peered out from behind the cameras, puzzled features etched across their faces as if pondering if they should stop filming, as the script had surely escalated.


Without excusing himself, he left them all behind in search for his wife, finding her in their bedroom. She was seated on the bed, her right leg bouncing up and down, breathing deeply in and out in attempts to calm herself.


“Did I say something wrong?” was all Nick asked as he wandered further into the room, breaking the painful silence.


He immediately shied in on himself when her head shot up, her eyes like daggers, piercing right through him. “I guess I really did marry a big kid, huh? You seriously gonna come and ask me that like you have no clue?! My husband, the one I actually married, wouldn’t have said that!”


“Well, you didn’t say anything to YOUR friend’s question, I felt like I was put on the spot! What did you want me to say?! It’s the next step to our ‘first comes love, then comes marriage, finally a baby in a baby carriage’?! Better yet, why don’t you tell me what YOU would have said, and why you never said anything in the first place?”


“I would have handled it a lot better than you, that’s for damn sure!” Lauren retorted as she shot up from the bed and marched over to the bedroom door, slamming it shut. “Responding with a simple ‘not right now’ wouldn’t have hurt, don’t you think?!”


“Like I said, I felt like I was put on the spot! You know how I am when I’m put under pressure; I don’t like that shit, and it’s like I have word vomit, I’ll say whatever to get out of it. You should’ve answered with that instead of waiting for me to answer… staring at me like you’re one of my fans.”


Wrong thing to say. Lauren folded her arms across her chest, her eyes narrowing into slits. “One. Of. Your. Fans? Nickolas Gene Carter, I am your wife goddamnit! You’ve not only degraded me by claiming what or who I married, but you’ve also humiliated me and my friends to be played out for the WORLD to see!”


“Don’t be so dramatic,” Nick rolled his eyes and muttered, “they edit and cut out what we don’t want before it airs.” a few tense seconds of silence ensued. “So tell me Lauren, what would you have said? How exactly would you have handled it ‘better than me’?! Because if I recall, there was nothing but silence and you staring at me, and I’m pretty sure your ‘better than me’ opportunity would have required actual words.”


Lauren simply shrugged as she waved her arms around in emphasis, “I would have told them it was something we talked about…” she stated matter-of-factly.


“But have we?” Nick shot back as he came to stand in front of her, “Have you and I really ever talked about the idea of having a child?”


“Nick, I’m not going through this with you, I don’t want to argue.” Lauren groaned, rolling her eyes. “Of course we’ve talked about it before!”


“Then what did I say? Do you remember what I’ve said, how I felt about having a child right now?”


She remained silent, as if processing his question and downloading a response. “Oh, so this doesn’t include me and what I want?”


Nick sighed heavily, “That is not what I’m saying, stop putting words in my mouth…”


“No, you’re completely right Nick...” she continued as she made her way back over to the bed; flopping down on it and mockingly patting the empty space next to her, “why don’t we sit down and talk about it? No, I’m sorry, since this is all about you, why don’t YOU sit down and tell me all about it? I’ll just sit here and listen!”


“If you’re gonna be a smartass about it…” he mumbled, but Lauren’s endless rant drowned him out.


“Another thing you’re right about, I guess I really did marry a big ass kid who doesn’t realize marriage involves two, not just one! So why don’t you tell me all that YOU want? Do you want have a child? Do you one day want to start a fam-”


“NO I DON’T WANT A FUCKING CHILD!!!” Nick roared, rendering Lauren completely silent. “Since you’re so fucking righteous and hell bent on living by our vows, why don’t you seem to remember, as my wife, the reasons why I wouldn’t want a child?” he cried, chest heaving and voice breathy.


“My parents weren’t the greatest role models in my life; they’re apart of the reason why it’s ingrained in my head that having children will just ruin everything in your life! As if sharing everything I have and I own with one person isn’t enough, I’d have to share it with some… other little thing that cries and fusses and fights to get everything they want! All they do is take, take, take…”


Lip trembling, Lauren only stared in silence as Nick now paced the room, back and forth in front of her. He was like a wild animal, a caged lion pacing back and forth, trained on its victim for revenge. There was no good in stopping him or talking over him, his behavior too erratic; so she just let him continue.


“Apparently that’s all they’re good for… taking what you give, taking what’s left, and when that’s not enough, taking all you have, and for what? To fill a dream that they might actually grow and fucking amount to something?! That they might actually want to pay you back one day?” It was in that moment that Lauren realized that her husband was speaking on behalf of his no-good, sad excuse for parents, down talking himself. “Why don’t you let me do us a favor and fucking spare us from the grief!”


Heavy breathing lingered between them; the greatest stare down of fiery eyes into stone cold ones. Nick sauntered over to their window, raking his hand through his hair as he propped his arm against the pane. “What ever made you think I’d even consider becoming a father when I’ve failed my own fucking siblings? One of them is fucking dead!” A maniacal chuckle, then a mutter “And they all agree I pretty much killed her.”


Nick turned sharply to find Lauren staring at him, unshed tears in her eyes. Was that pity?! Oh no no no no no, he will not be having any of that. “So tell me…” he started as he made his way over in four quick strides, standing in front of her. “Why, why, why Lauren… why are you pushing this on me?” bracing his hands against the bed, he leaned forward to peer into her eyes, “Do you want a child?”


Tears finally trickling down, Lauren responded with only four words. “Yes, I do want him.”


Wait. Him?! Did he just hear her right?! What did she mean "him"?! How he wanted to ask if he heard her right, what she meant by that, if she could repeat her words, but those four words rung clearly in his mind. Correction, just one word rung clear in his mind. Him.


Nick finally pushed away from the bed and stumbled backwards with the realization of it. Even after all he said, none of it would really matter now, would it? For what must have been months, Lauren had a him growing inside of her; and it was the perfect time to drop this bombshell on him, right? It was the main focus of what this episode was scripted to be; it’s what the show producers would want, what would gain more viewers.


The more he thought about it, the angrier he got; what was Lauren’s aim with this, what was her end game? How long was she going to keep this from him? So many questions, he didn’t know where to start. The tense silence was agonizingly drawn out, until Nick did the only thing his numb mind would allow him to do; he started to laugh.


“So that’s it?” he gestured his hands between him and her, “All of this and for what, only for what I’ve said and how I feel to not mean shit?! How long were you gonna keep this from me? Was this another way for you to drain me?!”


Lauren recoiled as if she had just been struck, “Another way?” she choked out, “How’s about this for another way?” she asked as she ripped her wedding ring off and threw it at him, not caring that it bounced off his chin and ricocheted to god knows where. She rose from the bed and stomped over to their dresser, ripping it open and rummaging through the contents.


The glinting of the ring on the bedroom floor caught Nick’s attention, causing him to shake himself out of his current, yet baffling stupor. Why is this on the ground? He wondered internally as he bent down to pick it up, looking up at his wife who was digging through the dresser, removing mounds of folded clothes. She must be looking for it, thinking she may have lost it in the dresser or something...


“Hey…” he called out softly, creeping up behind her and reaching out to put his hand on her shoulder, in hopes to turn her around and surprise her with the found ring by placing it back on her finger. Flailing hands immediately batted him away, the move so sudden he didn’t even realize she had turned so quickly to slap him away from her.


“Don’t fucking touch me Nickolas!” she sobbed, her hands balling into fists as she began to beat it into his chest to push him away from her. “Don’t. Fucking. Touch. Me!!”


Being that his wife actually worked out, and the fact that she caught him completely off guard with her actions, the pounding to his chest actually hurt. He desperately tried to catch her flying fists, but he noticed the more he tried to restrain her, the more aggressive she got. “Hey, hey, hey, calm down…” he tried to reason in a soothing voice, which only enraged her more.


“How dare you!” she screamed out, her free-flowing tears betraying her otherwise strong and assured voice, “How fucking dare you Nick! Don’t do this to me again… stop pretending to forget how you’ve hurt me!”


Again?! Nick immediately let her go, his hands flying up as if in surrender, his eyes wide like a deer caught in headlights. What did I do?! his mind raced to understand and piece everything together How did I hurt her?! I would NEVER put my hands on her…


Through the tears, Lauren stared at his bewildered expression, her anger transforming into a form of disgust. That’s been their life as of lately… they would fight, he would come back with no memory or recollection of what happened or what they were even arguing about, yet still apologize, and she would take him back. Well, not this time. After how he degraded her, his own wife, and his clear express of wanting nothing to do with his unborn son, there was just no coming back from that.


And that’s when it clicked. Oh god, oh god, it’s happened again! Hands still in the air, the ring fell from his grasp; he stumbled back as if being shoved at again, hyperventilating for air that seemed to have been sucked right out of the room. “Lauren, I…” What could he possibly say? Does he take this moment to try and explain to her all that he’s been going through and suffering as of late? Would she even understand, would she think he’s crazy? The question moreso being, would she even listen to him?


Panting heavily, Lauren raked her shaky hands through her tangled tresses, trying to calm her erratic heart. “You need help.”


Nick watched in silence as she walked into their closet, rolling out a suitcase and tossing it on the bed. “I have... nothing left in me Nick, to keep going through this with you.” She didn’t even bother folding her articles of clothing up to neatly place it in the suitcase, which the sight pained Nick even further, knowing she wanted nothing more than to be gone. Please don’t go couldn’t even be uttered from his lips.


“It’s been an endless cycle as of late, but…” throwing in the last of her clothes, she looked up at him, traces of tears completely gone “you will not continue to belittle me like this.”


Where will you go? “Where are you going?” God, he sounded pathetic. There were no options in his question, no consideration, refusal of realization.


“Don’t.” she whispered, eyes falling shut to prevent that lone tear from trickling down. “I’m going home.”


“This is your home.” he begged softly, “I’ll…”


“This was supposed to be our home… a home that I could come to, that I could hide in, that could… that could be my sanctuary that I felt safe in. But I don’t feel safe Nick, not while…”


You’re here. “I’ll leave.” he choked out, firm, cutting her words out. And with that, he walked out of the room; he couldn’t chance staying a second longer.


Everything was thrown into slow motion from that moment on. Shame clouded him as he entered the kitchen again; his sister-in-law, friends, set crew and producers all in the same position they had left them in. Eyes trailed and bore into him as he looked right back, reaching for an apology he could not bring himself to utter. Silence ensued as he grabbed his wallet off the counter and tucked it into his back pocket; as far as he was concerned, they all weren’t safe as long as he was there, and he didn’t question the sick satisfying thought of their potential fear of him.
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