History by DelphinaCarter
Summary: The year is 2011, and Kevin has been away from the Backstreet Boys since 2005. When he decides to throw himself back into things again and rejoin after taking a break, will the other boys welcome him back? Or will history repeat itself?

Categories: Fanfiction > Backstreet Boys Characters: AJ, Brian, Group, Howie, Kevin, Nick
Genres: Drama
Warnings: None
Series: None
Chapters: 22 Completed: Yes Word count: 34777 Read: 6025 Published: 02/19/21 Updated: 06/18/21

1. Prologue by DelphinaCarter

2. Chapter 1 by DelphinaCarter

3. Chapter 2 by DelphinaCarter

4. Chapter 3 by DelphinaCarter

5. Chapter 4 by DelphinaCarter

6. Chapter 5 by DelphinaCarter

7. Chapter 6 by DelphinaCarter

8. Chapter 7 by DelphinaCarter

9. Chapter 8 by DelphinaCarter

10. Chapter 9 by DelphinaCarter

11. Chapter 10 by DelphinaCarter

12. Chapter 11 by DelphinaCarter

13. Chapter 12 by DelphinaCarter

14. Chapter 13 by DelphinaCarter

15. Chapter 14 by DelphinaCarter

16. Chapter 15 by DelphinaCarter

17. Chapter 16 by DelphinaCarter

18. Chapter 17 by DelphinaCarter

19. Chapter 18 by DelphinaCarter

20. Chapter 19 by DelphinaCarter

21. Chapter 20 by DelphinaCarter

22. Chapter 21 by DelphinaCarter

Prologue by DelphinaCarter
"Kevin Richardson, longtime member of the Backstreet Boys… has left the band-”

“Backstreet Boys fans all over reeled as Kevin Richardson announced his departure…”

“Is this the end of the Backstreet Boys?

Kevin watched the TV, changing the channels over and over. All the music stations and entertainment stations reported the same.

“Do you think I'm doing the right thing, Kris?” he called from the living room. He could hear his wife's feet come towards him across the carpet in her fuzzy slippers that he'd given her for Valentine's Day last year.

Kristen walked into the room, putting her arms around her husband's waist from behind the couch. Kissing his cheek, she rested her head on his shoulder. She could tell he already regretted doing what he'd talked about for so long. He wanted a normal life. A quiet life. A life where they could start a family together like they both wanted. They’d been trying to but things kept getting in the way, like Kevin’s career with the Backstreet Boys. It didn’t leave much time to make babies. They barely had time off to have their wedding. Kevin looked at the wedding photos on the wall and smiled. All the guys had come, even Nick who showed up two hours late and had lost his luggage. He was happy to have them a part of his life but right now, Kevin just wanted to be Kevin.

“I can't tell you that, honey. You need to figure this out on your own.” she replied. Kevin nodded and shut off the television, kissing her back. She was right, even though he'd never tell her. He wasn't inspired anymore. He needed his space. The others had kind of made it clear at one point or another that they wanted to keep going and he wasn’t sure he had it in him right now.

They didn't need this old man to drag them down anymore.

It was time to set his little brothers free.

They'd all known it was coming when they had called a meeting about the next record. Well, some of them knew. Nick was always oblivious to most things.

“So what kind of sound should we go for this next album?” the manager asked everyone in the conference room. Nick was busy texting on his phone and Howie was fighting boredom.

“We should try something new…” Brian piped up. All of them seemed to agree… but Kevin. Kevin listened to them talking about doing country, rock, more R&B. More pop. Old school. Kevin listened and listened until he cleared his throat.

“Guys, maybe we should take a break.” Confusion swept the room. Nick set down his phone on the table.

“Like a bathroom break? I think that’s a great idea, I’ve had to go for the last ten minutes.” Brian asked innocently.

Everyone laughed but Kevin. Kevin almost laughed at him, but to him it wasn’t funny. Of course they had no intentions of taking a break. He knew that he was the only one who wasn't interested in moving forward right now. He didn't want to hold them back, when he was not inspired anymore. He was tired of all the fighting. The guys were at each other’s throats on the last tour for Never Gone and Kevin didn’t feel much like dealing with it again.

“No…what I mean is - well…” He could feel two of the four pairs of eyes staring at him shooting daggers. He cleared his throat and continued.

“I just think that we should rest for a little bit. We were at each other's throats last tour. Maybe a break is what we need.” Silence.

“Surely you all feel the same way?” Kevin asked, looking at everyone. Nobody spoke up. Nobody looked at him. He only took one look at the others to know that none of them felt as he did. He was on his own. The odd man out. The killjoy.

“We shouldn't stop now….this is a good time for us to keep going. Stopping now would not be a good idea. Think of your careers. You’ve been going strong for the last few years, you don’t want people to forget you.” the manager droned but Kevin put up his hand and interrupted him.

“Career? What about my family? My wife and I would like to start one. I want children, I want to spend some time with my wife. I want to try new things. I just don't feel inspired anymore. I need to be on my own for a while… “ Nick slammed his hand on the table and jumped up angrily, startling Howie.

“You're just going to walk?!? After everything we've been through?” he yelled, his face red. Nobody said anything. Not a word. Kevin put his head down. He knew Nick wouldn't take the news well. He knew none of them would.


“Whatever. Go ahead and leave. Leave like the others did. I don't fucking care…”

“Nick, don’t do this…” Brian called after him but it was too late. Nick started shouting, he and Kevin went back and forth for about two minutes before the younger of the two finally got his last words in.


Nick got up and stormed out, slamming the door behind him. Nobody spoke for a while. All of them were thinking the same thing. What were they going to do now?
Chapter 1 by DelphinaCarter
It was a lazy Sunday at the Richardson house. Kevin woke up and stretched, looking for his wife. He smelled something good cooking and smiled. She was up before him today. 


“Hi, honey.” 


“So you're finally awake then. I was wondering when you'd get up.” Kristin giggled, mixing the eggs in the bowl in front of her. Kevin kissed her on the cheek gently and smiled. It had taken a few years but he finally had the home life he wanted. Mason, their son was still asleep in the other room. 


“Well, you did keep me awake last night.” he whispered huskily, wiggling his eyebrows and making his wife laugh again. 


Kristen smiled back at him as his phone rang, but Kevin ignored it. 


Whatever it was could wait until after breakfast, couldn't it? 



“The Backstreet Boys have just announced their second cruise…”


Looking away from the computer, he smiled as he watched his son playing with their dog across the room. It was 2011 and just another day at home for him, but he still liked to keep up with what the other boys were doing from time to time. He still kept in touch with his little brothers when he could. He’d had dinner with them in Japan when they were on tour there and he was there at the same time. It was like old times. Especially when AJ had forgotten his wallet and Kevin offered to pay. After that dinner he found himself missing them even more than he did when he was doing Broadway or acting. 


He wasn't sure what to think about the fan cruise the guys were having. From what Brian said they were fun. He often missed the fans as well, whenever he got recognized in public he always felt happy, as if he was expecting them to just kind of forget he existed once he left. 


Luckily that wasn't the case when he found some of them at the grocery store once. They seemed really happy to see him and he was just as happy to see them. For him it was like seeing old friends. He looked at them and held their hands to say thank you to them for still being fans, something he had always done to make sure the fans knew that he appreciated them. 


“We miss you, Kevin. We wish you would come back.” the one girl had told him enthusiastically. He gave her a huge hug and they all took pictures together. He started thinking about how much he missed the fans again and performing. 


“Maybe one day,” he'd said with a sad smile. 


After the girls had walked away he couldn't stop thinking. As much as he'd tried to be normal again, as much as he tried to just be regular old Kevin- he couldn't avoid feeling the slightest bit empty. He missed the other boys. Seeing Brian at family gatherings once in a while wasn't the same. He tried to keep in touch, but Nick was always busy with some project aside from the occasional text. Howie would answer, but he'd always be in a rush. AJ would talk for a while on the phone but it would get awkward after a few minutes of silence and how are you doings. 


Did the other guys even miss him or was that just for interviews and for show? He wondered if he asked to come back, would they welcome him? Nick was angry at him for a while after he left. 




“Yes, sweetie? Is everything okay?” Kristin asked, noticing his expression. He looked lost. She hugged him and kissed him gently on the cheek.


“I’m okay, I was just thinking.” 


“What are you thinking about?” 


“You know that interview we saw once where AJ said the door was always open?”


“I do. You ask me about it every so often.” she answered. Kristin knew what he was about to ask her and had seen it coming for a while. He’d brought it up a few times because she and him both knew how much he missed the guys. He would get misty eyed and smile a sad smile while he remembered. How he missed performing and being a group together. Kevin would often look up what was going on with the boys on the computer, and then start reminiscing or want to call one of the guys. He would watch old videos every now and then that he'd taken on his video camera. Videos from tours long since over and buried in a box behind some things in the closet along with his old tour clothes that he kept. He'd look at them and miss them. Miss the fans. Miss performing. Broadway was fun, but it wasn't the same as a concert. Neither was acting. He was inspired to sing again. 


Even when he did the play Chicago in Japan, the guys had called him to come to dinner and he was so excited before he then realized exactly how much he missed spending time with his four little brothers. He thought of it often. He was happy when Nick had called him to listen to some songs from his solo work and how proud he sounded when he approved of them. He loved when AJ would call and ask what he thought of whatever project he was working on. It was almost like they missed him too.


Or did they?


“Do you think they mean it?” Kevin asked, coming out of his thoughts. Kristen chuckled because this was always how the conversation went. She knew how much he wanted to go back and wasn’t about to stop him, so she went along with it. Sometimes he would pick up the phone as if he wanted to call them but he always changed his mind. It didn’t seem like this was going to happen this time. She knew he was serious. 


“Well, I don't know. Maybe call them and ask?” 


Easier said than done. Kevin didn't much like to even make a phone call like that. How would it go? It would be very awkward. He’d left them hanging right before a new album with no direction and a lot of uncertainty. It seemed that they’d figured things out without him and he had almost wanted them to call him and tell him they needed him and he was making a mistake, but they never did. Kevin thought about how a conversation like this would go. 


Hey guys, sorry for being an asshole and ditching you but now I want to come back. 


No, that wouldn't do. 


“You could always ask Brian. He's coming to Mason’s birthday party.” Kristin suggested thoughtfully, and Kevin had to admit the idea had merit. Why hadn’t he thought of this? The party was a great opportunity to speak to someone.


This was perfect. He'd ask Brian.


Brian was family. He'd understand. 


Wouldn't he? 



“Thanks for coming.” Kevin said, shaking Brian’s hand when he arrived at the birthday party. 


“How are things? What have you been up to?” 


Brian smiled at Kevin and handed over the large box covered in wrapping paper as Baylee walked past, knowing Kevin was about to ask him something important. He could tell this about his cousin, he always hesitated before jumping into anything. 


“Well, it's been a while since we saw you…things have been a bit hectic with group plans and all that. I won't bore you.” Brian said, waiting for Kevin to just start talking about what he wanted to. Kevin didn’t say anything. 


Kevin and Brian went out to the backyard and each of them grabbed something to drink from a cooler by the pool. The kids were all splashing around and the water looked inviting while the adults enjoyed the barbecue under the hot July sun. 


“I saw you guys are doing a cruise again. I take it that the first one went well?” Kevin asked, still trying to make small talk while he thought of how to propose his question. 


Brian smiled and drank his beer. 


“You saw that randomly, or have you been keeping tabs?”  he chuckled softly. 


It was funny to see Kevin blushing, his ears turned a slight shade of red. 


“Sometimes I do, yes. I like to know what y'all are up to. I may have left but that group meant a lot to me. It's part of me…”


“Well, it's funny you say that because the whole time Nick kept saying that you'd never do a bunch of the stuff we get up to.”


“Did he now?” 


“He talks about you a lot.” 


Kevin smiled. He had been hoping that Brian would mention that because of how Nick reacted when he had announced to the others he was leaving the group for a while. Nick was the one he was most worried about accepting him. 


They talked for a while longer before Brian cleared his throat and took another beer. 


“So are we going to pretend to discuss Nick or did you have something to ask me?”


“I've been thinking-” Kevin started but his wife came over in a rush. 


“Someone needs to look after the grill, everyone's getting hungry.” Kristin interrupted, holding a plate of burger patties and smiling. Kevin and Brian moved to the patio, where he started to cook lunch. He tried to recollect his thoughts. 


“What were you going to say?” Brian asked.


Kevin started stoking the coals on the barbecue while it heated up and took another drink from his beer bottle. 


“I think I am ready to come back.” 


Brian looked genuinely confused, as if he had stared into the sun too long. 


“Come back?”


“I know I left you guys hanging, but I think I am ready to come back to the group with everyone’s blessing.”


Brian didn't say anything but dropped his beer bottle in surprise, causing everyone to look up and Leighanne to run over and fuss over her husband. 


Kevin wondered briefly if the others would also take this the same way and if they would really accept him back into the group. 


Today was definitely a interesting day. 
Chapter 2 by DelphinaCarter
Kevin was nervous as he walked up to the warehouse where he was told to meet the group that he was thinking of joining up with in Orlando after he had auditioned for Lou Pearlman the other day. He was told to come to this warehouse to sing with them to see how they sounded. Looking at the others from afar, he noticed that some of the other boys were very young. 

“Hello, Kevin. Glad you could make it.” Lou greeted him with a big smile. He patted Kevin on the back and Kevin smiled back at him, looking skeptically at the two teenagers across the room. 

“You didn’t tell me they were so young.” Kevin said, rubbing the back of his head with his hand. 

“I thought we should have a variety, and these boys had the best vocal talent of everyone we saw in auditions. I think you’ll fit right in once you get to know them. Give them a chance.” Lou said. Kevin finally went over to the others and introduced himself. 

“Hello, I’m Kevin.” 


“I’m AJ.” 

“Hi, I’m Nick.”

Kevin looked at them and they talked for a little while before they decided to sing a little something to see how they sounded together. When they finished everyone clapped. It was then that Kevin knew that the pieces fit together.

“That was perfect.” Kevin said, looking at the others. They spent a few days rehearsing some of their songs and dances and everyone seemed to be getting along well together. Everyone was happy with how things were going until it was pointed out that four members were not enough for what the group needed to accomplish. 

“There’s one problem though, boys. Most of your music that you will be singing for the performances are a five part harmony.” Lou pointed out. 

“We need another member.” 

“Yeah, I think five would be perfect. We just need one more.” Howie agreed. 

Lou came over to them and they all discussed options. They were planning to hold more auditions. Kevin didn’t like the fact that they were going to have to wait because from the sounds of things the guys had been waiting a while and gone through a few members before they even got him. Would it take just as long to find someone else to round out the group? Suddenly, it dawned on Kevin that his cousin could sing. He wondered if Lou would go for it even if he didn’t audition. 

“Hey, I think I know someone we could get.” 

“Is it someone you know from Disney World?” Johnny, one of their managers asked. 

“No, I have a cousin...his name is Brian. He sings gospel at church, and has great harmony, he has a voice like an angel. I bet if I asked him, he would do it.” Kevin suggested. He knew Brian wasn’t trying to break out into singing and had his sights set on college, but he knew Brian was a fit for this group. Something told him that Brian was the missing piece they needed.

“Get him on the phone and let me hear him sing.” Lou said to everyone’s surprise. Kevin knew Brian was in school so he called the school, who pulled Brian out of class. 

“What’s gong on that couldn’t wait until I was home?” Brian laughed when he found out that Kevin was on the other end of the line. 

“I want you to do me a favor. I need you to sing something for this guy Lou on the phone, he’s looking for a fifth member for the group I just signed with here in Florida. I think it would be a good opportunity for you, I know you can sing really well. Please do this for me.” Kevin begged. 

“I don’t know, cuz. Are you sure about all of this?” Brian asked. He sounded uneasy. Kevin managed to convince him to sing over the phone and Lou sent for him immediately. Everyone was so excited that they had found their fifth member. 

“So what is Brian like?” Nick asked Kevin when they were waiting for him to come down from Kentucky. Kevin didn’t really get along well with Nick in the beginning because of the age difference but he seemed like a nice kid. 

“He’s a little like me.” Kevin said. 

“I hope he’s as cool as you.” Nick replied. Kevin had to laugh. He and Nick had really grown close over the little time they spent together. Nick seemed to follow him like a lost puppy. He was the oldest in his family and didn’t really have anyone to look up to, so Kevin was happy to take on the role of big brother to the others. When Brian finally arrived he sang with them and it was like magic.

The Backstreet Boys had finally found the missing piece of the puzzle and were now complete. They’d go on to work hard for many years and be successful. 

Kevin sat in his office, looking at a photo album of some old pictures from that day the boys had become five. It was like forever ago, hard to believe the ride he had been on until six years ago when he had decided to stop. The last six years had also been an adventure but he was ready to start another one. He’d talk to Brian at the birthday party and get a feel out for how the others would take to him coming back to the band, surely they’d be happy and welcome him back. He was their big brother and they were definitely family. 

Family forever whether they wanted him back or not. 
Chapter 3 by DelphinaCarter
Leighanne ran over to Brian as soon as they heard the glass bottle smash. 

“Hey, sorry I'm late!” 

Kevin looked up to see Howie and Leigh at the back of the house. He'd totally forgotten that they'd invited them but here they were. 

“Husband, are you okay?” Leighanne asked again, because he hadn't answered her. Brian coughed uncomfortably and started shushing her, because he was annoyed. He didn't like being fussed over and she was embarrassing him by making a scene. 

“I'm fine, no worries. Kevin and I were just discussing some stuff. Seriously, I'm fine honey. I'll be fine.” he insisted, rolling his eyes when she wasn't looking. Shr eventually left him alone to everyone's relief.

He and Kevin exchanged looks and cleaned up the glass before Kevin went back to setting up the burgers on the grill.

"I hate when she's like that. Sorry about the mess." Brian apologized. Kevin put up his hand to let him know it was fine. 

“Did I miss something? You guys are quiet.” Howie asked. Nobody said anything, but Kevin closed the grill and grabbed another beer, handing one to Howie. Brian took one as well. 

“I asked Brian if I could come back to the group.” Kevin blurted. Howie still looked confused. 

“Come back? Like come back, come back? Are you sure?"

Kevin looked at the ground. If everyone was going to have this reaction, maybe it was better he didn't return. Maybe it was better if he just told them he was joking and to pretend that he didn't miss them as much as he did. Maybe he should just forget the whole thing and let everyone go on with their lives just as they had been for the past six years. They didn’t need him. 

“What brought this on?” Howie asked. For the first time ever in their lives, Howie seemed shocked to discover that Kevin was actually nervous. 

“Just a few things I’ve been thinking about. I feel inspired again. I want to make music again.” 

Brian and Howie stared and Kevin stared back, his eyes focused. 

“You're really serious about it, aren't you?” Brian asked. Kevin closed his eyes and took a breath because he’d been rehearsing this speech over in his head all morning since he decided to tell them at the barbecue. His mouth suddenly got dry and he took a drink before continuing. 

“I have just been thinking about a lot of stuff. I miss the stage. I miss singing and performing. I miss the fans. I just started thinking about all of it. Especially about how AJ said the door was open, so I decided the hell with it and just to ask you all what you felt. I really miss you guys. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make anyone uncomfortable.” 

“That's great, I know we miss you too...I'm sorry for freaking out. Of course we'd love to have you back. I mean that cuz. Right, Howie?” Brian said, patting Kevin on the back. Howie nodded in agreement. 

“I agree. AJ and Nick should be happy about it too. Nick talks about you all the time.” Howie said. Kevin gave them an unsure look. He kept thinking about Nick blowing up at him and it just played in his head any time that he even thought about Nick and talking to him. He didn’t want to see Nick angry at him again. He’d let him down and hated himself for it even though he knew he did what was right for himself at the time.  

"See. I told you." Brian agreed.

“Does he really?” Kevin asked. All he could think about was when he'd dropped the news on them in that conference room. He remembered it like it was yesterday. 

“I HATE YOU!!!” 

“Yeah he does. We all miss you, Kev. You're our big brother.” Howie said as Kevin went back to paying attention to his grill and flipped the hamburgers. Somehow Kevin didn’t think this was the same sentiment that Nick had, and it was then he knew he would have to get him alone to find out how he really felt. Even when he had performed with them one time years ago things were very awkward between him and Nick, he could only imagine what it would be like now. He knew Nick didn't hate him anymore but he knew how Nick felt about him leaving. 

All he thought about was Nick and how he knew he’d have to talk to him, to get him to be okay with him coming back before he went to the record label and officially reunited with the Backstreet Boys. The thought excited him and scared him to death at the same time. If Nick was okay with it, that would cement his decision and make him feel like he was making the right choice in returning. 

“Maybe I'd better talk to them too. I mean, Nick didn't speak to me for weeks...months after I left.”

Kevin didn’t notice the looks that Brian and Howie exchanged and the two of them felt it was better that way. Howie coughed and pretended to look at the burgers cooking on the grill, distracting Kevin with a discussion about barbecue pits. Brian wouldn’t have any of it and brought the conversation back. 

“So what are you going to do about Nick then?” 

“I should pay him a visit in Tennessee.” Kevin nodded thoughtfully. 

Brian sipped at his beer and went quiet. He'd known all too well about that, how Nick had thrown a fit and he'd watched Kevin chase after him outside. Nick played it off as if everything was okay at first but when they all realized Kevin really was gone…Nick was angry again. He'd cursed and cried until he was red in the face. Brian hadn't forgotten because he was the one who picked up the pieces after Kevin had gone. It had taken a couple hours to even get him out of the bathroom he’d locked himself in because he didn’t know how else to deal with it. The bathroom was Nick’s answer to most things he didn’t want to deal with. 

“I think that's a great idea.” Brian said with a smile, trying to pretend he wasn't worried. Part of him wondered if Kevin should even be going alone to see Nick because he wasn’t sure how it would go. Sure, Nick was generally over the whole situation, but it had been six years. How would he feel about Kevin coming back after making such a huge scene when he left? 

He only wondered how Kevin was going to convince him things were going to be fine. Everyone knew how Nick was. Brian just hoped that Kevin knew what he was getting himself into.

“So we are going to shoot the video in Nashville, yes?” 

Nick was half paying attention to his manager, Lori. They were discussing his new album and the music video for his single Burning Up. He was really proud of the album and didn't care if it even made it to number one. He just was happy to make solo music again. Being a Backstreet Boy was something he loved but he also loved doing his own thing as well. He was grateful for his bandmates allowing him the freedom to do that. 

“Sure, Lori. That sounds great.” 

His phone vibrated and he saw a text from Kevin, but he ignored it. He was in the middle of a meeting…it could wait. 

Kevin stared at the message he'd sent Nick, frowning. 

“You all right?” Kristen asked from across the living room. 

“I think Nick is ignoring me.” 

Nick usually answered him back right away but lately it seemed like he was avoiding him. Kevin didn't like to think that but the way everyone was acting he couldn't help but feel the slightest bit annoyed by the situation. 

“I'm sure he wouldn't. Maybe he's just busy.” 

Kevin nodded and continued to eat his lunch, thinking. 

“Leave me alone, I hate you!!!”

Nick's words echoed again and he shook them off. He was sure Nick would be okay with him wanting to come back. Brian and Howie seemed happy. Maybe he could just talk to AJ first and leave Nick for later. That would surely be better. 

Kevin went to see AJ in LA for lunch because it was easiest to get him that way. AJ was busily planning his wedding to Rochelle, a girl he’d been seeing for a few years. Kevin was really proud of him for finally taking that step and being serious about it this time. AJ seemed like he was in a good place in his life, sober and happy. 

“It’s really good to see you, Kev.” AJ said as they hugged before sitting down to eat dinner. They’d gone to a local burger place and ordered their food. Kevin got a beer but AJ didn’t, he ordered a Coke. 

“No beer for me,” he’d said with a chuckle. 

Kevin smiled and sipped at his drink as they talked. 

“I’m so happy for you and Rochelle. She seems like a great woman.”

“Thanks, I mean marriage scares the crap out of me. For real. Was it like that for you, or did you always know you wanted to marry Kris?"

“It was like that for me, but I know you’re making the right move. I can tell you’re really happy, Jay. Truly happy and it’s great.” Kevin smiled. Of all the people in the group, Kevin was the one AJ had to thank the most for being where he was today. If he hadn’t barged in his hotel room that day and staged the intervention he’d have overdosed that day. They’d exchanged so many words that afternoon and it was forever engraved in his brain. 


The words had stung, but in the end he’d gone to rehab and he thanked God every day that he had listened to his friend because he’d have never met his fiancé. Rochelle was a makeup artist and after working with her a few times, he’d managed to ask her on a date. They’d been together for a while before AJ had proposed to the surprise of everyone. Nobody thought that the band’s resident bad boy bachelor would ever settle down, but it was finally going to happen that year. 

“I have you to thank for a lot of it. It’s good to see you because we all miss you so much. Seriously.” AJ said. 

Kevin smiled again, digging into his French fries and dipping them in ketchup. 

“I’m so glad to hear you say that, because I’ve seen so many interviews where you mentioned the door was always open for me to come back.” 

“Well, I meant every word.” AJ replied, drinking his Coke. 

“That’s one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you….I want to come back to the group…”

AJ almost spilled his soda all over the table and Kevin laughed. It was just like Brian and Howie at the barbecue...would all of them react this way? He really wondered how Nick would react. Maybe he was making the wrong decision. 

“Look, if you guys don’t want me to come back, I completely understand.” he muttered. AJ’s eyes were going wild and Kevin seemed surprised that a smile played at the corners of his mouth. 

“What kind of a question is that? Of course you can come back!! I’m sure the other guys are going to be so stoked about it when we tell them!!” AJ said. This made Kevin happy but his mind once again turned to Nick and the fight they’d had when he left, the fact that his messages were getting ignored and that they had not spoken in months. Nick was always busy but it seemed like he was too busy to make time for his big brother. 

Kevin really hoped he could figure out a way to talk to him.
Chapter 4 by DelphinaCarter
"Hey, did you know the boys are in town for a show this week?" Kristin pointed out one evening during dinner when she caught Kevin on his laptop checking up on what the Backstreet Boys were doing. She often laughed and would tease him about it but she knew how much he missed them. He'd only been gone three years but he still kept in touch with them. They were currently on the Unbreakable Tour. 

"I did." Kevin grinned. 

"You're thinking of going to see them, aren't you?" his wife asked. They'd just finished dinner and were moving onto dessert. It wasn't anything special, just some vanilla ice cream and hot fudge. Kevin almost had to laugh because he had actually just finished thinking about dropping in and surprising them at their show in Los Angeles. 

"I dunno if they'd want to see me, I mean Nick was pretty mad at me when I left. We haven't spoken much in the last three years except for here and there. Don't you think it would be awkward if I just showed up?" 

“I can tell you want to go, honey. Why don’t you call one of them? Like Howie or something.” Kristin suggested. Kevin hadn’t talked to Howie in a while, he figured they could grab lunch or something while the boys were in town. So he did just that, he gave Howie a call and they met up for lunch at The Ivy in LA. There were some paparazzi around but they tended not to bother Kevin a whole lot, which he was happy about. He definitely did not miss them pushing their cameras in his face when he would go out and about. 

“Kev, it's so good to see you.” Howie greeted him, giving him a hug. Kevin had always gotten along well with Howie because he was near him in age, and was very grounded like he was. Not that the others weren’t, but he just had a good connection with Howie. 

“Thanks for coming out to lunch with me. I’m sorry I didn’t invite the others, I hope nobody was offended for not being included.” Kevin said as they sat down at the table. 

“Oh, AJ was a little upset but he’ll live. Besides, you and I don’t get to hang out by ourselves without the kids very often.” Howie chuckled. They ordered their food and went on with their conversation. They talked about all kinds of things but Kevin realized there was something he’d been wanting to tell Howie and hadn’t had a chance to yet. 

“Howie, I am sorry if this is bringing down the mood, but I just wanted to give you my condolences to you and your family with your dad passing over the summer.” 

Howie’s expression turned solemn and he looked down at the table. 

“Thank you. It’s been hard but we are getting by. Death is never easy to deal with. I know you lost your father right when you joined the group. How did you deal with it? I know he was sick with cancer too.” 

Kevin smiled sadly, remembering his father. He had gone home to Kentucky to help because his dad was very ill. Seeing his father so sick was the hardest thing he had ever dealt with in his entire life. 

“My family didn’t want me to come home because I was doing so well in Florida. My mom wanted me to keep going for my dream of acting and singing, so she would tell me he was fine until one day she said she didn’t want to worry me but my dad was not doing good. I drove home right away. She scolded me when I came home to help take care of my father. He had something wrong with his stomach and they didn’t tell me because they knew I would drop everything and come back. So I pulled up to the house and my dad met me at the door because he didn’t want me to know how badly he was doing. He was really sick.” 

Howie just nodded, listening to Kevin talk. 

“He was a lot sicker than he let on. So I ended up getting all my stuff and staying with him in Kentucky until he passed away some time later. The important thing to remember is that death does hurt, it is painful for us...but at least he is not suffering anymore. Your dad is up there with my dad and they are watching over us together, probably laughing at the shit their sons get up to.” Kevin said, sniffling. He wiped his eyes and so did Howie, who smiled at him and nodded through the tears. Kevin was happy he could give Howie some comfort because it was apparent he was still grieving. 

“Thanks for inviting me out, Kevin. You helped me a lot. Are you coming to our show tonight?” Howie asked, when they had paid for their food and hugged briefly. Howie seemed to be feeling much better and was smiling. 

“Oh, I don’t know. Don’t you think it would be a little strange without me on stage? I have not really seen you guys since I left.” Kevin said, thinking about Nick mostly and how angry he was when he walked out of the group meeting that morning. He could still hear his voice when he thought about that day. Even though he and Nick had gotten back on speaking terms somewhat, he still felt guilty. 

“I know what you’re thinking. You’re worried Nick will lash out if he sees you, aren’t you?” Howie pointed out. They walked away from the restaurant towards where Kevin had parked his car because Kevin had offered Howie a ride back to the hotel where the guys were staying near the Staples Center. 

“I don’t know how he will feel with me there. We are friendly, but you don’t know what he is thinking. You and I both know he isn’t afraid to speak his mind.” Kevin said, his hands in his pockets. 

Howie convinced him to come that night anyway and everyone backstage was so excited to see Kevin, All of the crew greeted him like he was still a member of the family. 

“Good to see you, buddy.” AJ said, hugging Kevin around the middle. Kevin hugged him back. 

“It’s good to see you too. You look great.” 

Brian was next and also hugged him, patting him on the back.

“Hey, cuz.” 

Kevin looked around and didn’t see Nick anywhere, he felt nervous. 

“Where is Nick?” 

“He’s been sick so we don’t know if he is up to perform all night tonight. We had to cancel yesterday’s show because he was so sick. So we wanted to ask you if maybe you wanted to come on stage and sing a song with us?” Brian asked. Kevin stared at them, so many thoughts going through his head because he was not expecting this at all. He hadn’t performed with them in about three years. He hadn’t been with them on stage in three years. He felt nervous and he didn’t know why. 

“This is kind of sudden. Did you ask Nick if he was okay with it?” 

Nobody could answer because Nick walked into the dressing room, coughing with a towel over his head and holding a cup of hot tea. He sipped at it and looked up at Kevin, confused. 

“Am I hallucinating or is that Kevin?” Nick asked, his voice a bit sore. 

Everyone laughed. 

“Hi, Nick. Are you feeling okay? You look flushed. I thought you were resting.” Brian asked. Nick rolled his eyes and coughed. 

“I am fine. We have a show to do.” 

“I’m sorry that you don’t feel good, but I’m happy to see you.” Kevin said, smiling at his cousin taking on the dad role of the group. He listened to Nick and Brian argue briefly about Nick not taking care of himself and resting. 

“I rested all day yesterday. I’m fine.” Nick said, before coughing again. He took a big drink of tea and wiped his nose on his arm. 

“Nick, the guys asked me if I wanted to sing a song with you tonight. Is that okay with you?” Kevin asked. The other three were silently watching the two of them. 

“Whatever. I don’t care. ” Nick said dully, flopping down on the couch and closing his eyes for a few minutes. Nick didn’t say much the rest of the time they had before the concert and Kevin felt bad for how sick he was. Nick had performed sick so many times before but he’d always powered through, throwing up backstage and acting like nothing was wrong when on stage. 

“Your opinion is important too.” Kevin said. 

“I really don’t care. Do whatever you guys want to do, I don’t feel good.” 

Kevin couldn’t help but feel awkward and as if he wasn’t welcome but he agreed to stay anyway and surprise the fans. Everyone ended up deciding to stop pressing Nick and they got Kevin set up to come on stage during the show. The song the boys chose for him to come out to was Shape Of My Heart. 

“Nick are you okay?” Kevin asked when he saw Nick dump a bottle of water on his head. He looked pale and sweaty, his eyes dark. He coughed and rubbed his face with a towel. 

“I’ll...I’ll be fine, just go on without me.” Nick croaked. He gave Kevin a thumbs up and Kevin continued warming up his voice a bit. It had been a little while since he sang and he felt rusty, but the other guys assured him he sounded great. They’d harmonized for a little bit before the show and it almost made Kevin cry to hear how they sounded together again. He felt so nervous as the music started and he licked his lips, adjusting his hat before the lights dimmed and the spotlight went on Brian. Brian started singing and Howie joined him. Kevin took a breath and walked out on the stage, singing as the crowd went absolutely insane seeing him there. He couldn’t hide his smile seeing the fans faces and their reactions to him singing with the other four Backstreet Boys again. His nerves went away and he hugged Brian before harmonizing with AJ. The girls in the front row were going wild. 

Dancing along to the music and continuing the song he felt something inside him stir up, he had forgotten how much he missed being with the other guys. Nick even ended up coming out and trying to sing for that song, so Kevin tried to make him laugh by lifting up his shirt and rubbing his hand on his stomach. Nick started laughing. The screams were deafening at that point and Kevin just stood on stage, dancing and feeling happy to be with his brothers again. Even though things had been awkward, he was glad he got to have that moment with them and hoped that eventually things between him and Nick would be okay. 

One day they would be. 
Chapter 5 by DelphinaCarter
“Guys, you’ve been asked to throw out the first pitch of the Red Sox game tomorrow, and we need to let them know if you’re up to doing it.”

Kevin looked around at the other guys during lunch and nobody said anything. AJ was still nursing a hangover from the previous night’s binge drinking so he was quiet. Nick was busily texting, Brian and Howie ate in silence. It was in the middle of summer of 2001 during the Black and Blue tour and everyone was getting on each other's nerves already.

“Do y’all want to do the pitch tomorrow?” Kevin asked, a bit louder than their manager had said. The manager gave an apologetic shrug.

“Sure,” Brian said brightly. Howie also agreed and then they all looked at the two youngest.

“Nick?” Kevin asked.

“Huh?” Nick said vacantly, still occupied with his phone.

“We are throwing out the first pitch at the baseball game tomorrow.”

Brian grabbed the phone out of Nick’s hand, and Nick started turning red in the face.

“Give it back.” Nick demanded. Kevin sighed in aggravation, rolling his eyes. He knew another fight was about to erupt.

“Can you answer our manager at your convenience, your Majesty?” Brian snapped. He and Nick went back and forth while Brian was playing keep away with Nick’s cell phone that was buzzing. Howie coughed and went to pay attention to the pretty waitress that brought their coffee even though he had a girlfriend. Eventually Brian gave up and handed Nick his phone back.

“Answer the question or I take it again.” Brian said. Nick sat for a few minutes, thinking as everyone watched.

“What was the question?” Nick asked, causing everyone but AJ to groan exasperatedly. Kevin wanted to make sure that everyone agreed before he told their manager it was fine.

“Sorry, Kevin. Yeah let’s do it.” Nick said finally.

“AJ? How about you?” Howie asked.

“Sure, let’s go. It will be fun.”

“I know it’s our day off. Are we all going to be okay with doing this on our day off and commit to it?” Kevin asked again, and everyone agreed. Something inside told him that it wasn’t going to go smoothly because nothing on the Black and Blue tour had so far. AJ had become such a problem and everyone was getting tired of each other to the point where there was not a lot of relaxed moments like today. They barely could be in the same room without arguing lately and Kevin was tired. They were all tired.

“Just tell them we are doing it.” Kevin said as he put sugar in his coffee and stirred it. The guys continued talking. That night after the concert everyone was feeling tired and they went back to the hotel to get some well deserved sleep for the next day. They had back to back shows in Boston so they were there a few days. Tomorrow was their day off.

“AJ, where are you going?” Kevin asked when he saw him heading out of the hotel lobby.


“Don’t stay up too late, remember we are doing that baseball game tomorrow and I want everyone to be ready on time to go to the stadium. Okay?”

“I got you. Don’t worry about me, buddy.” AJ said, waving brightly as he left. Kevin already knew what AJ was going to do before he did it and there was nothing he could do to convince him to stop. He hated seeing him destroy himself every night, hated to see the person he was turning into due to the drugs and alcohol. It killed him to see his little brother in that dark place. On more than one occasion he tried to talk to AJ and talk some sense into him but it had all failed. So that night when he saw AJ leave, one look at him told Kevin all he needed to know.

The next morning everyone was getting ready to go to the baseball stadium for the Red Sox opening day game. All the boys were down in the lobby and waiting but AJ was not there.

“Has anyone seen AJ?” Kevin asked. Everyone shrugged.

“He said he wasn’t coming.”

Kevin turned to their manager, feeling the anger rise inside himself. The baseball team was expecting all 5 Backstreet Boys and it had been announced that theyd all be there. They’d made a commitment. How could AJ be so damn stupid?

“He what?!” Kevin exclaimed angrily.

“Kevin...where are you going?” Brian called after him, but he’d gone to call AJ from the hotel phones in the lobby. AJ didn’t answer. Kevin was furious as he went up the elevator to AJ's hotel room, storming down the hallway. In the elevator he'd even tried to reach his band mate on his cell phone but it went to voice mail. He was not answering anybody.

"AJ, ARE YOU IN THERE?" he screamed, pounding on the door with his fist. There was no answer.

"What the fuck is your problem? You don't need me. Just go. I'm not going." came AJ's muffled voice from behind the door. Kevin was shaking because he was so angry, all he could see was red at that point so he threw his weight against the door and broke it, trying to get into the room. At that time all he wanted to do was throttle AJ for being so selfish and obnoxious to everyone. There were so many things leading up to today and things had finally reached a head. Kevin had enough.

"What the hell? I said I'm not fucking going. Are you psychotic?" AJ shouted.

"We made a fucking commitment, Jay. You promised all of us you were coming. They're expecting five fucking Backstreet Boys there. Not four. Your ass is going. Get out here. " Kevin screamed from the hallway. He'd gotten past one door and then was trying to get through the second one that AJ had locked. Kevin could hear him inside the room.

"I don't fucking care."

"I'm so fucking sick of this shit, AJ. All of us are. We can't keep doing this all the time. You need to take care of yourself…"

"You're not my father. I don't need you to tell me what to do. You do it to me all the goddamn time. You do it to Nick. Fuck off. I'll fucking quit. I'm out of here." AJ yelled back.

"I can't do this anymore. You're fucking dead to me!" Kevin screamed through tears. He hated saying that to his little brother, but it needed to be done. AJ needed a push to get help. He needed to want to help himself or they were going to lose him.

After the fight and Kevin had broken the hotel room door, Kevin had gone back downstairs to tell everyone that AJ wasn't coming. He was ready to quit the group but management convinced him to go to rehab instead and they postponed the rest of the tour while he received treatment. It was hard on everyone but they all had Kevin to thank for giving AJ the wake up call he needed to get his life back on track.

Kevin was thankful he couldn't get in the second door to AJ's room.
Chapter 6 by DelphinaCarter
Kristen walked into the kitchen to see her husband on the computer, a cup of coffee next to him. It was late at night. He usually did not stay up late but he seemed to be deep in thought.

“Are you okay, babe?”

“Yeah, I’m just looking at flights to Nashville.”

She smiled at him and kissed him on the cheek, draping her arms around his neck from behind him.

“You’re thinking about surprising Nick, aren’t you?”

Kevin kissed her back and continued his computer search. She had a way of knowing what he was thinking even without him telling her.

“I read that he’s filming his music video and I was thinking of popping in to say hello since he’s been too busy to answer my texts.” 

Kevin had been secretly watching Nick’s twitter page, noticing that Nick had made an announcement that he was looking for fans to be a part of the music video. He figured this was as good of a time as any to talk to him, he’d rather be face to face and these days Nick was never in LA unless the group was doing something together. He eventually booked the flight and the next thing he knew he was packing a carry on to fly to Nashville, Tennessee. Nick had been living in Tennessee for a few years, since he’d decided getting out of LA was better for his sobriety and personal health. Kevin was very impressed at how serious Nick was about his health now but a big part was owed to his girlfriend Lauren Kitt. Lauren and Nick had been seeing each other for a couple of years and Nick seemed happy. Lauren turned a lot of things around for Nick and being healthy was one of them as she was into fitness. 

“Hi, Lauren.” Kevin said when she picked him up at the airport. He was happy that Lauren had offered to pick him up when he told her he was coming. He had decided not to tell Nick ahead of time he was visiting and kept it a surprise. Lauren was happy to play along. 

“It’s so good to see you.” Lauren said, hugging him. Kevin looked around for Nick, not that he expected him to be there. 

“Nick didn’t come.” 

“He’s on set at the shoot but I can bring you by there if you want. I was going to go there anyway. He’s filming for Burning Up. He’ll be so happy to see you. Does he know you’re coming?” Lauren asked. Kevin coughed, watching the trees outside of the window. He’d never told Nick he was coming because he wanted it to be a surprise but he had texted Lauren because he figured he could surprise him at home before the video shoot. However, this would be great too. On a video set Nick was less likely to be moody because he was working. 

“No, he doesn’t know I am coming, but I want to talk to him because I had something important to talk about and I didn’t want to do it on the phone.” Kevin replied. They pulled into the parking lot of where the video shoot was and sat in the car for a few minutes, Kevin looking nervous. He wasn’t even sure why. All he was going to do was 

discuss coming back to the group. How hard could it be?

“Nick, please don’t be mad. I’m doing what is best for me right now. I thought you would understand.” 


“Kevin?” Lauren said suddenly, as Nick’s voice echoed in his head. He shook it away and smiled at her. She was looking at him in concern and he smiled to reassure her. 

“Sorry. I was just thinking.” 

“You’re nervous, aren’t you?” Lauren asked in surprise. 

As much as he didnt want to admit it, he was nervous. He hadn’t seen Nick in a while or talked to him since they’d spoken briefly on the phone once about his solo music and he hoped this would go well, because it would make or break him coming back to the group. He didn’t know what he was going to do if Nick reacted poorly to his visit, because he was not expecting to be welcomed with open arms.

“You won’t know unless you go in. I’ll go first if it would make you feel better, and you can follow me.” Lauren offered. Kevin was happy she was so thoughtful. 

After sitting in the car for a few moments, Kevin finally got the nerve to get out of the car and head into the building where he saw people setting up for filming. It looked like a club scene, with many extras. Nobody seemed to notice him because it was dark inside and Kevin was thankful for that.

“Hi, baby.” 

Kevin heard Nick greet Lauren a couple doors away. He sounded like he was in a good mood as he kissed his girlfriend and they talked for a moment. Kevin let him talk to her for a bit before he decided to stand in the doorway. 

Nick looked good, Kevin knew about his continued weight loss since he had been keeping up with things. He'd visited then once on the Unbreakable tour and had told him how proud of him he was. Nick's hair was spiked up and he wore a white shirt with black pants. A striped tie was draped around his neck, not tied properly but just dangling. It took him several moments before he noticed Kevin in the doorway watching Lauren help him tie his tie. When he finally did, his eyes opened wide. 


Nick’s angry voice echoed in his head and he kept thinking about that fight. He suddenly envisioned Nick getting angry and throwing him out, Lauren holding him back as he swung at him. This image was destroyed by Nick hugging him and shaking his hand.

“Hey, this is a surprise! It’s so good to see you, buddy.” Nick said with a big smile. Kevin felt a wave of relief wash over him but he was still very cautious. 

“It’s good to see you too. I hope you don’t mind me dropping in but this was kind of a spontaneous decision.” Kevin smiled back. Nick continued talking while Lauren helped him tie his tie. 

“Really? How did you even know I was here? Sorry about not answering your texts the other day, dude. I was in a meeting and forgot to reply.” 

"It's okay. I happened to read that you were going to be shooting a video here so I decided to drop by." Kevin laughed, he was definitely relieved that Nick seemed happy to see him. Nick waved his hand to a chair as he got ready for the shoot and they started talking about all kinds of things. They talked about Lauren, and Kevin’s wife and kids. Nick started to ask about Masons birthday party. 

“Kris missed you at the barbecue, I know you were busy but we would have loved to have you there.” Kevin pointed out. Kristen had told Kevin to send him her love as well. Nick and his wife had always gotten along and Kevin was happy that things had not turned out like they had with Brian and his wife with Nick. It was not a secret that Nick didn’t care for her, he was never subtle about it. 

“Tell her I said sorry about that. Was doing promo for the album. You know how it gets. Things have been going really good. I’m sorry I missed the birthday party. How is the little guy doing?” Nick replied. He sat across from Kevin and drank out of a bottle of water that was sitting next to him. 

“Mason is doing great, thanks. Everything’s great.” 

The conversation continued but Kevin couldn’t bring up the question just yet. He didn't know how to even begin. 

“Okay, so are we going to keep making small talk, or did you come here for a reason? Because you’ve never come to visit me unless it was something serious going on.” 

Kevin almost laughed because Nick was more intuitive than he took him for and he was constantly forgetting that. He had forgotten all of the boys were that way, because everyone seemed to know what he wanted to discuss before he started to discuss it. 

“Okay, little man...you caught me.” Kevin said, a small smile playing at his lips. 

“I haven’t heard that name in a while, Kev. I miss you.” Nick said.

“You’ll always be my little man.” Kevin replied wistfully. A flash of the 11 year old boy he knew when he first joined Backstreet flashed before his eyes and he smiled. 

“Hi, I’m Nick.” the teenager said with a big, toothy grin. Kevin hadn't expected to see such a young kid there.

“Kevin.”  he said, holding out his hand. 

They smiled at each other and Kevin cleared his throat.

“Nick, the reason I came here was because….”

Suddenly a woman came into the room, wearing a simple shirt and jeans. Kevin sighed. It was his manager, Lori. 

“They’re ready for you on set, Nick.” 

“Sure thing, I’m coming now.” Nick said. He shrugged apologetically. 

Nick finished getting ready and Kevin knew they weren’t going to finish their conversation. This was not the way he hoped things would go and if Nick was so busy, would he ever have time to talk?”

“You can hang out if you like, and watch the shoot.” Nick offered as somewhat of an apology,

“I’ll just go back to the hotel and take a nap. Maybe we can try tomorrow?” Kevin said, shaking his head. Nick looked slightly disappointed.

“Yeah, tomorrow.” 

With that, he walked out of the dressing room and left Kevin to his thoughts. 
Chapter 7 by DelphinaCarter
Kevin took a taxi to the hotel he was staying at which wasn’t far from where Nick lived in Franklin. He supposed he could have just asked to stay at Nick’s house, but he didn't want to intrude and wasn’t sure how Nick would react to him being there. Part of him felt Nick wouldn’t mind, because Nick seemed like he had grown up a lot since they last spent time together. However, on the other hand all he could think about was their fight….


“Nick, please listen…” 

He got to the hotel, thinking things over and decided he would stay there instead...just in case the conversation with Nick took a turn for the worst. He also texted Nick to let him know he was staying in the area and invited him out for dinner. Once he settled into his room, Kevin took a nap until he got a text from Nick.

Would you like to come to dinner at the house? Lauren insists on having you over...hope I’m not bothering you. She says she’d rather cook for us then have us eat out. Hope that is okay.

Kevin decided this would be a perfect time to talk, Nick surely would have more time and be more comfortable at his house. He agreed and got ready to go, then took another cab to Nick’s home. 

Nick’s house was in a suburban type neighborhood, vastly different from where Kevin lived in LA. It was very quiet. The house was two stories with a wrap around porch, a swing out front. It was different from the houses Nick had in the past, houses by the beach and near the party spots.

“Kevin, I’m so glad you could make it for dinner. Come on in. Nick’s in the shower.” Lauren smiled when she came to the door, a well fed pug at her feet. Kevin recognized Nick’s dog right away and the dog seemed to remember him because he was friendly. 

“Hey, Nacho.” Kevin said, bending down to pet the dog. Nacho sniffed his hand and barked, wagging his tail as Lauren beamed at them. 

“Nick couldn’t stop talking about you yesterday, he was so happy to see you on set. You should have stayed to watch.” Lauren said when she closed the door behind them and led Kevin towards the living room. The house was decorated, but it was very cozy and you could tell someone lived there. Pictures lined the walls along with some of the Backstreet Boys various awards that Nick had displayed. A trophy case lined one wall of the living room. Kevin looked around and took everything in. The house definitely represented that Nick had grown up. 

“I didn’t want to intrude. There’s a reason I came down here, Lauren. I want to talk to him about something kind of important and I want his opinion….I felt it was better to talk in person.” 

“It’s not anything serious, is it?” Lauren asked with concern. 

“Oh, no. Nothing like that. Just group stuff.” Kevin laughed. They sat down in the living room on the large brown leather couch. A MTV moon man sat on the coffee table, and Kevin smiled at it. Lauren brought him a drink while he waited for Nick to finish in the bathroom. 

“You and Nick have been together for a while now, haven’t you?” Kevin said after Lauren sat down on the couch across from him. She was very pretty, tall with long dark hair and blue eyes. She definitely seemed like Nick’s type. Kevin had met Lauren before, when he had gone out to dinner with the boys in Japan on the This Is Us tour. He didn't tell any of them that he kept up with what the group was doing after the night he sang with them on the Unbreakable tour. After that night he had realized how much he missed all of them, and now was as good of a time as any to come back. The guys were between albums right now and figuring out what they wanted to do. 

“Yes, we have.” Lauren beamed. 

“Do you think you’ll be getting married anytime soon?” Kevin asked with a hopeful smile. Lauren started blushing. Kevin liked to see that they were in love and it was so obvious that this girl was good for Nick. Judging by how things were going, they were going pretty serious between them. 

“I’d love to someday, but I don’t want to rush things. You know how Nick is...he’s got a mind of his own. He’s a free spirit. I want him to be ready before we go further.” Lauren explained, looking up at the noise they heard coming towards the room. 

Staring off towards the living room doorway as they heard footsteps in the hall, Kevin smiled. She had hit the nail on the head, Nick was definitely a free spirit. 

“I know exactly what you mean.” 

“Hey, Kev. Sorry I kept you waiting.” Nick said suddenly, walking into the room. Kevin stood up and they hugged, Nick smiling the whole time. He was wearing a grey Tampa Bay Buccaneers shirt and red sweatpants. Lauren excused herself to go check on dinner, and Nick took the empty place on the couch. He sipped at a cup of coffee. 

“This is a nice house, very quiet neighborhood.” Kevin told him, suddenly feeling nervous again as he rubbed his hand across the couch cushion. He still did not even know why, but Nick seemed so happy and he didn’t want to upset him. 

“We like it. It’s a good place for me, away from all the parties and toxic people. It's very peaceful here.” 

"How did the video shoot go?" 

"It was great. The fans had a blast, I had a blast. I can't wait for everyone to see it. It's got such a fun sexy club vibe which is what the director was going for." Nick said. 

Kevin nodded and let Nick talk, going over in his head what he was going to say to Nick about returning to the group. All he had to do was start talking but he just couldn't get it out. Thankfully, Nick brought the conversation back to him. 

“So what was it that you wanted to talk to me about yesterday?” Nick asked. Kevin opened his mouth to speak but Lauren appeared in the doorway.

“Dinner is ready.” 

The three of them moved into the dining area, a simple room just off the kitchen with brown wood chairs and a large table. A chandelier hung over them, providing a warm glow. 

“I hope you don’t mind eating here instead of going to a restaurant. Lauren has been into cooking at home these days. She’s been trying to teach me, but you know how I am at cooking. I suck.” Nick chuckled, digging into his plate and chewing softly. 

“He almost burned the kitchen down.” Lauren laughed. 

“Did not.” 

“I’m sure it’s delicious.” Kevin chuckled. He remembered the time Nick had tried to microwave Pop Tarts and had almost set fire to his apartment. Nick was not known for being domestic so it was a nice change to see him learning. 

They ate and made small talk, mostly about how things were going with Kevin’s Broadway stint and his kids, Nick’s solo material, and their pets. They finished dinner and were about to move onto dessert, a chocolate cake Lauren had made. They were sitting around having coffee when Nick spoke again. Kevin was thankful that he didn’t have to start another round of conversation. 

“So what did you want to talk to me about?” Nick asked suddenly, when Lauren excused herself to get dessert from the kitchen. 

Kevin coughed, almost dropping his cup of coffee. 

“Well...this is kind of hard.” he said. Nick’s eyes narrowed in concern, a million thoughts going through his mind. Kevin could tell it was going a mile a minute and almost laughed at the look of pure confusion on his face.

"Is everything okay? Nick asked. 

“Don’t worry, it’s nothing bad. I just wanted to ask you about-“ 

Nick’s phone started to ring and he made a face, raising a finger to excuse himself. Kevin sighed, thinking he would never get to talk to Nick at this rate if he kept getting interrupted. 

“Hi, Lori...hang on a sec, I was in the middle of dinner. Yeah...I went over those yesterday.” Nick said, mouthing that he was sorry before he got up from the table. 

Kevin sighed and went back to drinking his coffee, watching Nick walk out of the room as Lauren came in carrying the cake.

“Sorry, about that...it’s his manager- Lori. Must be important.” she said as she cut Kevin and herself a slice. They could hear Nick talking from the next room, it did sound like something important. Kevin started eating just to occupy himself because he was starting to get frustrated. 

“What did you want to talk to Nick about, anyway?” Lauren asked casually. 

“I want to come back to the group but I wanted to talk to him first and make sure he was okay with it.” Kevin whispered as he kept an eye on the doorway. Lauren seemed happy when he mentioned this and it made him feel a bit less nervous. 

“I’m sure he would be really happy, he always tells me how much he misses you and how he misses how the group used to be. When I told him to invite you to dinner he was so excited. Practically beaming. I’m sure he would love you to come back.” 

“I just hope you’re right about that.” Kevin muttered as he looked at the doorway where Nick was still talking...hoping he would get to talk to him soon without any more interruptions. 
Chapter 8 by DelphinaCarter
It was 2004...Nick’s 24th birthday and the guys were in LA recording for their new album together. The other four Backstreet Boys had decided to buy Nick presents and just do something small at the recording studio because Nick had said he didn’t want to throw a huge party or anything that year. Kevin was happy he had decided to be low key because he could see that Nick looked troubled a lot lately, with his health and his relationship with the girl he was seeing at the time, Paris Hilton. None of the guys particularly cared for her because they all knew Nick was just a toy to her, a name she could attach to hers. They weren’t sure if she even loved him, but Nick had fallen head over heels and it definitely was not a good situation for anybody. They were not good for each other. Paris influenced Nick to go to parties where he would get drunk or do stupid things and the guys were getting a little annoyed by him. It was like AJ all over again minus the drug abuse. So Kevin decided to try and help him with a different approach, not exactly by breaking doors down or anything but maybe a little helpful advice. 

“Happy Birthday!” Kevin said when Nick walked into the recording studio that morning, holding a cup of coffee. It was unusual for him to be on time but that day he seemed a little off. He didn’t look happy. He gave Kevin a half hearted smile and sat down while they waited for the others to get there. 

“Are you all right?” Kevin asked. Nick's body language said he was not happy at all.

Nick sipped at his coffee and shrugged, taking off his sunglasses and putting them in his pocket. His eyes were red as if he'd spent time crying before he came to the recording studio. He sat there quietly for a minute as if he were thinking up a lie to cover for the fact he was clearly upset.

“I’ll be okay....I mean, it’s my birthday. What could be better than spending it with you guys?” Nick scoffed. 

Kevin felt so bad that Nick felt this way and he didn't say anything. He just looked at the floor. 

“Sorry, I didn’t mean it the way I came out….” he quickly apologized when he saw Kevin's expression. 

Kevin didn’t say anything, he just let Nick talk. Nobody else was there but the two of them. 

“It’s just...I’m 24. I thought I’d be somewhere else in my life right now. Not being on a leash and being led around like someone’s trained poodle. Her people aren’t my people. They were born into this whole other world that I don’t belong in. I grew up living in the back of a pickup truck on a mattress, sleeping outside because we didn’t have a place to live. She grew up in a mansion and always had money, had servants and all kinds of shit. What does she see in me? I’m a loser, Kevin. The only reason I’m on time to work today is because I had a huge fight with her this morning. I can’t do anything right, Kev. Why doesn’t she love me?” Nick asked, his eyes watering. 

“I’m sure she does, Nick. You can’t think like that, you're not the problem. There's plenty of people who love you and care about you.” Kevin said softly. He put an arm around Nick and hugged him but Nick shrugged him off, his eyes watering.

“Nobody loves me because I'm a fucking loser. Happy fucking birthday to me.” he said dejectedly, crossing his arms and sighing. 

Kevin reached inside his own coat pocket and pulled out his present for Nick, wrapped in silver wrapping paper. 

“I was going to give this to you later at dinner, but I think that you could use it now.” Kevin told him. Nick wiped his eyes and took it, holding it for a moment and staring at it as if it were going to unwrap itself. He and Kevin sat there in silence before Nick finally began to unwrap the present. It was a book. Nick seemed confused.

“What is this for?” Nick asked as he looked up at him. 

"It's a book to help you, I thought you could use some positivity in your life. You are so down on yourself all the time and I want you to remember that we care about you and we love you. You're my baby brother and I'll always care about you." Kevin replied, smiling as he tried not to tear up. 

Nick hugged Kevin, who took this as a thank you for the gift. He didn't say much else because the others arrived and he stuffed the book into his coat pocket, pretending that nothing had happened, even when Paris showed up to the recording studio with paparazzi and a birthday cake. Everyone would have really enjoyed the gesture except that Paris had her own face put on the cake. Nick looked like he wanted to hide under the table. He later told Kevin thank you again for trying to cheer him up with the book. 

Kevin didn't even think Nick would actually read the book but he knew Nick appreciated just simply being shown someone cared about him. 

Some years later, Kevin had been watching Nick on Dr. Phil and was incredibly touched to see that Nick had read the book and regarded it as one of his most prized possessions. He still had it and credited it for helping him when he needed it most. 

“I didn’t know you gave him that book for his birthday. I remember you telling me that you couldn’t think of a present to give him. Did you end up deciding on that?” Kristin asked as she sat next to Kevin on the living room couch. 

“He was going through such a hard time at the time that I thought he needed something to lift his spirits. He was so hard on himself and so negative that I worried he was going to end up like AJ. Nick wasn’t as bad off as AJ was with the alcohol as far as I know, but the problem was there. So I gave him that book thinking maybe it would save him. I guess I was right. Look at him now. He’s healthy and he’s making good choices.” Kevin smiled as he watched Nick speak. Kevin was happy he helped Nick get a second chance and hoped that eventually he would give him a second chance too.
Chapter 9 by DelphinaCarter
“So have you talked to Nick yet?” Brian asked, getting right to the point before they exchanged pleasantries. 

Kevin almost chuckled as he talked to his cousin on the phone, Brian always had a knack for being blunt about things. 

“No. I went to dinner at his house but he got busy with a phone call and had to excuse himself.” he explained. 

“Oh. Well I went to talk to management and they said you coming back would not be a problem. They’d love to discuss things as soon as we have time, before it’s time for our cruise. In fact, they want to invite you to come as a guest.” Brian said as if he were still trying to process it all happening. Kevin raised his eyebrows, he wasn’t expecting the new management to be so accepting of him and a possible return. He was surprised that Brian had talked to them already because he wasn’t expecting any of the guys to want him back. He wondered why he thought that way, but chalked it up to him simply being nervous and his anxiety over it all trying to talk himself out of it. Maybe that was why talking to Nick was so important. If Nick didn’t think this was a good idea it would confirm his fears that maybe they didn't need him after all. 

“Is that so? Who said that, Jen?” Kevin asked. 

It wasn’t a secret that Kevin didn’t approve of the current BSB manager...he had heard of her having a fling with AJ and wasn’t sure if this was true, but the boys often joked about her being a hands on manager. She seemed very young, as was the company that managed them...Wonderful Union. 

“Yes, they think that a surprise visit from you would be great for the fans. She wants to have a meeting with all of us to go over everything because we need to go over themes and stuff anyway. The themes are going to be announced soon.” Brian explained. 

“That sounds great.” Kevin lied. The thought of a meeting with everyone gave him anxiety and he almost told Brian to forget the whole thing because it would be so awkward. 

“You don’t sound excited.” Brian pointed out. 

“Well, all of this depends on Nick. I really want his blessing to come back before I come to any meetings or cruises, but he’s so busy.” 

"I see. Why is it so important to you that Nick is okay with this anyway? He's not the boss, it shouldn't matter." Brian muttered. 

There was a long pause and Kevin smiled because he could literally hear the gears turning in his cousin’s head. Brian was great at solving things, he was the brains behind their lawsuit against Lou Pearlman. He pushed the issue of them not getting their full paychecks and if it wasn’t for him, they’d never have gotten out of their contract. Kevin was thankful for his cousin in many ways but that was just one of them. He was practically a brother to him.

"Brian, I asked the four of you. It wouldn't be fair if I didn't consider his opinion too. He's a member of the group just like you are. I'd rather talk to him about it."

“I know….why don’t you come anyway and you can still talk to Nick about it? We will all be together and I think it would be good in case there is an issue between you two still.” Brian suggested. Kevin did not like this idea because he knew right away Nick would not appreciate being the last one to know that he was coming back. He knew how this would go because it had happened before...when they all had a meeting concerning Nick and his solo record and what would happen with the group’s future should he leave. He was late and thought they were plotting to kick him out of the band, and only calmed down after they all talked to him. Nick did not control his emotions well and they all knew it. 

“No, I don’t want to overwhelm him. He’s going to think we all met privately without him and are ganging up on him. You know how he is with his anxiety. He’s going to feel betrayed.” Kevin pointed out. 

“Hmm, well how are you going to talk to him then? Catch him between interviews or something? The cruise is in two months, I’d get him while you’re still in Nashville. Like tonight. I know you want to get his blessing but if you don't we might just move forward, it's not like he let us give our blessings when he did his first solo record." Brian told him, bitterness hanging on the last words. Kevin was quiet for a moment because he knew how Brian felt when it came to Nick's solo career. 

"I'm just saying, consider what I said." Brian added. 

Kevin nodded, trying to think of a way to get together where they would not be interrupted by Nick’s manager or anyone else. Nick seemed so busy, maybe he was too busy for him. In a way Kevin was proud of him, because the first time Nick went solo the guys were at a point in their lives where they were beginning to be burnt out, and there was a lot of pressure from the label to release more music. However, they were starting to lose their inspiration. Kevin remembered how they took a bit of a break and let Nick do his solo thing. 

"This is just something that I need to do for myself. I’m not leaving the band...I wish you guys would see it the way that I do.”  Nick explained to Kevin one day after another fight with Brian. Nick didn't understand why Brian was so angry over the solo album, but it had come as a surprise to everyone. Some of the guys felt that Nick had blindsided them with it. Nick hadn't talked to them much about any of it and they felt a little betrayed. 

“I totally understand wanting to venture off on your own.”  Kevin offered. He knew more than anyone. 

Nick’s face scrunched up and he laughed.

“Can you tell Brian, because he was pretty pissed at me during that meeting. He barely talked to me after and stopped answering my texts. I'm sorry I didn't talk to you guys, this is just something I need to do on my own for a little bit." he explained. 

Kevin smiled back because he knew how stubborn his cousin was especially when it came to Nick and the future of the group. All of them were pretty certain that Nick was going to leave them high and dry. Personally at this point, Kevin didn’t really care either way because he was getting burnt out. They all were. He was welcoming any type of break he could get at the time. 

“He just needs some time. ” Kevin said thoughtfully. 

Nick stared off out the window and sighed.

“I don’t want the band to break up, Kevin. You guys are my family.” 

Kevin understood at the time more than any of the guys how Nick felt but he never told him.

Kevin decided to pick up the phone and call him to get together before he got tied up with any more of his solo work or group things. It was now or never. 
Chapter 10 by DelphinaCarter
“I can’t believe we have our own private plane.” Nick said excitedly as he looked up at the jet sitting on the runway for them to take their 100 hour tour. They were about to make history as the first band to travel to 8 countries in 100 hours and set a Guinness World record. Everybody was very excited for this trip and promo for the Black and Blue album. 

“Well, it’s not technically ours, we are just renting it...but it’s pretty dang cool.” Kevin agreed. When everyone got in the plane they explored it and found out that the beds were kind of small, but there was a huge bed in the back of the plane. 

“I get dibs on the bed!!” AJ yelled excitedly when he saw it. He went to jump in the bed but Kevin put a hand in front of him to block him. 

“I don’t think so. Why don’t we take turns, or we could share.” Kevin said, and AJ’s smile slid right off of his face. Everyone sighed because they knew what was going to happen. 

“Are you crazy? I’m not sharing a bed with Nick. He farts under the covers and then puts the blanket over my head.” Howie complained as Nick laughed and high fived Brian. Howie rolled his eyes because nine times out of ten he was the victim of Nick’s pranks. 

“Let’s play Mario Kart for the bed.” Nick said, pulling out the Nintendo 64 from his duffel bag. A collection of groans from the other guys meant that nobody was interested in the competition. 

“That’s not a fair fight, Nick. We all know you will win that one.” AJ scoffed as Nick   pouted. 

“Hey, that’s not true. Last time we played I totally kicked his ass.” Brian pointed out. 

“Did not.” Nick protested, sticking his tongue out and punching Brian playfully in the arm. Brian hit him back. 

“Did too.” Brian said, sticking out his own tongue back at Nick in retaliation. He shoved Nick and the two of them started wrestling. Kevin sighed.

“Okay, if we are done being children...I have a better way to decide. I’m the oldest and I get dibs.” Kevin said, and everyone disapproved immediately. As the first couple countries came and went, the boys grew more and more tired. They would catch quick naps on the sofa or in chairs. Nick was starting to get restless, rolling on the floor up and down the aisles of the airplane and playing songs on the stereo. AJ was watching him and cracking up, Howie was looking at him and secretly hoping he didn’t get bored. When Nick got bored he usually resorted to picking on him. Kevin on the other hand was not too pleased. He wanted to sleep and didn’t feel like getting up so he tried to sleep in the chair, but nothing seemed to work. His head hurt and his eyes were tired. Everyone was being so loud. 

“Will you sit down? What happened to you and Brian playing video games? I’m trying to take a nap.” Kevin called to him irritably. He didn’t want to admit that sometimes he found Nick quite amusing but today was not one of those times. 

“Sorry, Kev. I’m just so bored. I think Brian’s sleeping anyway.” Nick complained. 

“Go be bored somewhere else, then.” Kevin said, briefly wondering if Brian had snuck to the back and claimed the bed to himself since nobody was paying attention. 

Nick shrugged and got up off the floor, heading off to find Brian. It was quiet once again and Kevin smiled, relishing in his success. He finally fell asleep for a little bit but his headache woke him back up. Kevin was surprised at how quiet it was, and he didn’t see any of the guys around. Where could they have gone? It wasn’t like they could leave the plane, so Kevin got up and looked for them. There were some radio DJs traveling with them but they were doing their own thing in the conference room, talking amongst themselves and planning out interviews. Kevin walked further back into the plane, passing by more couches. 

“Where is everybody at?” he wondered. 

He suddenly realized he already knew. He knew exactly where they’d gone. 

Kevin grabbed his camera that he had been using along the trip to take photos and brought it with him to the back of the plane where he found the other four Backstreet Boys in the king sized bed, all asleep. He smiled at them and took a few pictures, and decided not to wake anyone up. 

"Kevin?" Nick asked sleepily, with one eye open. Kevin laughed because he forgot to turn the flash off on his camera. It must have woken Nick up, who was usually a very heavy sleeper. 

“I just wondered where you all went. I didn’t mean to bother anybody.” Kevin whispered. 

“What are you doing here? I wanted the marshmallows all to myself. You can’t have it, because I found this one and it’s mine.” Nick told him, clutching a pillow in his hand. Kevin realized that Nick was dreaming and had no idea he was even in the room. 

“Sorry, I know how much you wanted it. You can have it.” Kevin said, going along with it and trying not to laugh. 

“Thanks Kevin. You’re the best.” Nick mumbled drowsily, both eyes closed as he buried his face back into the other pillow, which was actually the same one Brian was using. Brian stirred next to him, completely oblivious to the conversation as he snored lightly. He didn’t care that Nick had stolen half of his pillow. Kevin took a couple more pictures and let everyone sleep. 

Later that day when they returned to the plane after another long few hours in another country, Kevin sat down next to Nick as they were taking off. He was smiling. 

“Hey.” Kevin waved, because Nick had headphones on, listening to his CD player on the couch. The faint sound of some kind of rap music blared from them when he took them off. 

“What’s up?” Nick asked. Kevin handed him a bag of large marshmallows. Nick looked at it in confusion. 

“I had someone get these for you earlier today.” Kevin explained even though he didn’t ask why or how. Nick laughed and opened the bag. 

“How did you know I had a craving for these like, all day? I don’t know why, but I just really wanted marshmallows for some reason.” Nick replied with a grin on his face, popping one in his mouth and chewing. He offered the bag to Kevin, who took one. 

“Just a feeling, I guess.” Kevin shrugged. 

“These are really good. Thank you.”  Nick said with his mouth full. Kevin patted him on the back and left him to his music, strolling to the back of the plane where he spied the empty bed. He decided to take a nap there while nobody was occupying it, at least for a hour or so before they landed in the next country. The promo tour was so hectic that the guys took whatever naps they could in between and wondered if there would ever be a time when things would slow down and they could stop to enjoy just being themselves and have a regular life again. It would be a few years before that would happen, but for now he just took things as they came. 
Chapter 11 by DelphinaCarter
“It was great having you for dinner, Kevin. I’m sorry Nick kept gettting interrupted.” Lauren said as she showed Kevin out. Nick was still on the phone with his manager and ended up not coming back to the dinner table.

“Thank you, the food was great. Do you think Nick would be up to go fishing with me tomorrow morning? I know it’s last minute but I need to talk to him before the group goes forward with any plans for me to go back. I don’t want him to be the last one to know because you and I both know how that is going to go.” Kevin asked, feeling defeated that he still hadn’t talked to Nick about returning. At least if they were out fishing or hiking Nick wouldn’t have cell phone service and they wouldn’t have any interruptions. Now that he knew that he was worried over nothing, Kevin had a feeling this would be an easy conversation from here….at least he hoped it would be anyway. With Nick it was always difficult to tell because his mood sometimes changed so rapidly.

“I don’t see it being a problem-” Lauren started, but Nick appeared next to her in the doorway.

“Sorry about all of that, I was hoping I wasn’t too late to say goodbye. You’re leaving already?”

“It’s okay, Nick. I know you have album stuff and all that. Since you’re here, how would you feel about going hiking or something tomorrow? Since I’m going home tomorrow night.”

Nick paused for a few moments, deep in thought about something. Kevin watched curiously. He wondered why Nick was hesitant to accept his invitation.

“Sure thing, Kev. We haven’t hung out in a long time, I can come pick you up if you want. What time should I come to the hotel?”

“I hope first thing in the morning is not too early...like 7?” Kevin asked.

“That sounds good. I will set an alarm, no problem.”

Lauren was giving Nick a look as if he had grown two heads before she laughed. Both of them knew Nick did not like to get up early.

“What? I can get up early.” Nick protested, his arms crossed.

Kevin laughed, “You’re not known for being an early riser. Never have been.”

“You’re one to talk, you love to sleep in!”

Lauren laughed at the two of them as they continued their banter before Kevin agreed to text Nick the address to the hotel just as the taxi pulled up to the house. He went back to the hotel, feeling a bit nervous again because he was finally going to talk to Nick, the moment he’d been waiting for this whole time. Now that they were going to be together without any interruptions, he went over what he was going to say in his head a few times the next morning before Nick came to pick him up. He was dressed down in a t shirt and sweatpants, since they were just hiking. While he waited for Nick, he went downstairs to get some breakfast since the hotel offered it for free with his stay. He had a cup of coffee and just finished it when Nick texted him that he was in the lobby. Nick was dressed down too, wearing the almost same thing he was wearing the day before with the addition of a Tampa Bay Buccaneers hat.

“You look like you just woke up. Do you need to stop for coffee or something?” Kevin commented when he saw how tired he was as they got into the car.

“Yeah, we can stop. I was just up late last night talking to my manager and working on some things because she called me again after you left. We are working on some tour dates and stuff but it’s clashing with the group dates and the cruise.”

“I bet it is hard to juggle both at the same time. How do you manage?” Kevin asked while they were in the drive thru waiting for the coffee Nick ordered.

“Sometimes it’s a bit of a struggle because I want the guys and management to be okay with me doing my side project and cutting into group things. I always talk things over with them first so they don’t think that I am ditching them completely. Their feelings matter.” Nick said, choosing his words carefully. Kevin grew silent after the last sentence, feeling guilty that he hadn’t discussed leaving with anyone but management. He knew that Nick felt betrayed and so did the other guys. Looking back, he knew he would have handled things different because of how it affected all of them. He wasn’t just a coworker to them. He was family and they were family to him. He had taken them for granted even though he knew he had every right to time away for himself. Kevin had beaten himself up so many times over the years for leaving and had almost convinced himself he didn’t deserve the chance to come back because he felt so guilty.

They finally left the Starbucks and went on their way to the hiking trails up in the mountains.

“I’m glad you asked me up here, it’s a beautiful day. Not too hot.” Nick commented as the two of them stretched for a few moments before heading up the trail. They planned to hike for an hour or two and then turn around to come back to the car. They’d brought some water and snacks, Nick had stopped on the way and picked them up after Kevin asked if he had brought water.

“Same as always, I always forget to bring important shit. I’m sorry, Kev. I wasn’t thinking.” Nick apologized as Kevin patted him on the shoulder.

“It’s fine. We kind of planned this last minute.”

They didn’t talk a whole lot the way going up, other than small talk until they stopped to have some water.

“So are you going to eve tell me why you came to see me?” Nick asked when they stopped again to have the snacks they brought. It wasn’t much, just some granola bars. Kevin froze for a minute because even though he’d been rehearsing in his head what he was going to say to Nick he wasn’t ready.

“You were right when you asked me if it was something important back at your video shoot, Nick. This is important but it’s hard for me and I don’t know where to begin.” Kevin explained, taking a bite of the granola bar and washing it down with the bottle of water in his other hand. They were sitting on a rock overlooking the forest, and the view was beautiful.

“Is everything okay?” Nick asked in concern.

“Everything is fine, Nick. It’s nothing like that. Tell me something, do you remember when I decided to leave the group and we all had that meeting?” Kevin sighed, still trying to find the words he wanted. Nick looked at the ground, thinking. He didn’t look like he was happy to remember that day.

“I know how upset you were then and I think about it a lot.” Kevin confessed. Nick looked up at him.

“It wasn’t you that I was upset at, really.”


“I seem to remember it a bit differently, you yelled at me and told me never to talk to you again.” Kevin said softly, hearing Nick’s voice echoing in his head.

“Well, yeah...I did say that. It’s just- I really wasn’t mad at you specifically. I just thought the band was going to break up, I felt that I was going to lose my family. I was mad because you never really talked to us or anything, and I blamed myself for you leaving. I’m sorry if I ever made you think it was your fault. It wasn’t. I was being selfish at the time. I was going through some shit and I took it out on you.” Nick sighed, fixing his hat.

“You said you hated me, Nick. You have to understand how much that really hurt me because I thought I was just doing what was right for myself. I mean, I am sure you can understand now having gone and done your own thing too. Sometimes we just need to do things. I needed to get inspired again. I needed to start a family. Surely you can relate with how things are going between you and Lauren-“ Kevin said, but Nick’s face grew tense.

“How can you sit there and assume I would leave like you did? I would have had the decency to talk to you all about it before springing a meeting on us. Is this why you wanted to talk to me? You came all the way here to start this same fucking arguement? Don’t you have anything else better to do with your time?” Nick snapped. He looked at the ground, his chest heaving because he was trying not to upset himself. He knew he didn't mean the last part but he'd been bottling it up for a while. Kevin could see that and he put a hand on Nick's shoulder.

"Nick, I know we never really had a real conversation about that day, but I wasn't here to talk to you about that. Your feelings do matter to me. So much that I booked a flight here on a whim because I didn't want to talk to you about this on the phone. Doesn't that mean something to you? " Kevin asked calmly. Nick sighed and drank from his water bottle, listening.

“I’m sorry for blowing up at you. I just have a lot going on right now.”

“Look, if it makes you feel better….I agree the way I did things was kind of shitty. That’s why I came to talk to you. I didn’t want this to happen again when you and I have been on pretty good terms.” Kevin said.

“What’s going on? You’re not like, dying from cancer or something- are you? I don’t think I can handle that right now, Kev. Just spit it out already.” Nick begged.

“I want to come back to the group, and I wanted to ask for your blessing. I’ve been thinking and I feel inspired to make music again, Nick. I miss you guys. I miss being together and traveling, I miss seeing our fans….I just miss it.”

Kevin stopped talking when Nick didn’t have anything to say. He was half expecting Nick to yell again but he looked at the ground. The two of them got up and decided to head back to the car since they’d been walking for quite a while.

“Nick, are you okay? You have been quiet.” Kevin asked when they were crossing a stream in the woods going downhill. Nick turned around and saw how anxious Kevin looked and chuckled.

“I’ve never seen you nervous before.” Nick commented, smiling.

“I was afraid to come talk to you, Nick. Afraid because we’ve had a lot of history and last time I did a group thing you didn’t seem so thrilled about it. I just want you to understand that this isn’t like a one time performance like that night you were sick in LA. This is a true comeback. I had to convince myself that this is what I’ve been missing all this time. It’s scary for me. Didn’t you feel scared going out on your little solo tour?” Kevin confessed.

“First of all, it wasn’t a little solo tour…” Nick said irritably. Kevin put a hand up to stop him before he started yelling.

“You know what I mean, Nick. Weren’t you afraid when you came back and did the group thing again? How was that for you?”

Nick stopped walking, and crossed his arms as he thought for a few minutes before he began to walk again.

“I was terrified. Brian was just so angry when I left. He didn’t speak to me for a whole year after I told them I recorded that album. Did you know that? He was my best friend, Kevin. He wouldn’t even look at me when I came back from doing my tour. Did you think that is what I was going to do to you? I’m not like him. I love him and all, but he’s kind of changed. Things changed between me and him when he had a kid. I guess that I was angry at you because I thought I was going to lose you too. You’ve been like a big brother to me…like a dad almost. I was afraid you were going to leave me like everyone else.” Nick said softly. His eyes were watering and Kevin didn’t say anything, he just hugged him. Kevin knew that the strained relationship between Nick and Brian hit Nick hardest and he hated that. They’d gotten better but there were times when Nick really missed how the two of them used to be. Kevin chalked it up to the fact that Brian was simply five years older and ready to grow up, while Nick wasn’t. Nick was still figuring himself out but it seemed like he was starting to settle down. Maybe things were different now.

“I know how hard that probably was for you, because I know the two of you were close. I think that it was just something that happens when we get older, but he still cares about you like I do. We all care about you. If I didn’t care about what you thought, I wouldn’t have asked you how you felt about me wanting to come back to the group. If you aren’t comfortable with it, you can absolutely tell me. It won’t make or break my decision but we can work it out so that we are all comfortable with it.” Kevin promised. Nick didn’t say anything, he just nodded.

The two of them got to the car, feeling tired and sore after their hike...and it was late in the afternoon. Nick drove Kevin back to the hotel and still hadn’t said anything about what Kevin had told him. Kevin was feeling like he should speak up but Nick beat him to it.

“Look, I don’t want to keep you from something that you want to do. You wouldn’t do that to me, so if you really need my blessing this is it. I think you coming back would be good for all of us. I mean it.” Nick said suddenly.

“Do you mean that?” Kevin asked. Nick didn’t say anything else, but he hugged him.

“Yes. You’re a Backstreet Boy forever. You’re stuck with us for life.” Nick laughed. Kevin smiled, feeling relieved that things had turned out okay after all. He and Nick said goodbye and he went back to California feeling good about things, at least for now.
Chapter 12 by DelphinaCarter
Kevin wondered why Nick was calling a meeting because he usually didn’t, but drove down to their management’s offices in LA after he got the phone call anyway. Luckily he didn’t live very far from there. It was 2002 and anything could happen, there were rumors amongst the guys that Nick was planning to go solo but nobody had really discussed it with Nick himself. He was kind of hush hush when it came to that because he’d been approached by management in the past to do solo music and had declined then. 

“So do any of you know what’s going on?” Kevin asked when he got to the conference room and saw Brian, Howie and AJ sitting at the table. They were all quiet. 

“Not a clue.” Brian said. He didn’t look too happy, whatever it was. 

“You don’t think he’s quitting or something, do you?” Howie wondered, drinking his coffee he had in front of him. 

“Hmm, I hadn’t considered that. Why would he quit the group, though? He was the one angry when he thought that AJ was leaving. No, I don’t think that’s what he is doing.” Kevin said. 

“Yeah, I don’t think so either.” AJ agreed thoughtfully. The four of them stopped talking when Nick walked in with their managers and greeted everyone before they all sat at the table. Nick folded his hands in front of him and was quiet, not smiling or anything so Kevin took that as the situation was a serious matter and didn’t question it anymore. 

“So what is this all about?” Brian asked right away before anyone even started talking. Judging by his tone he was not pleased. 

“We are getting to that, Brian-“ 

“Johnny, we are no longer with you, so I don’t see a need for you to be at this meeting in the first place. I was just told to come here. Nick, what is this about? Why the big production? Why didn’t you just talk to us? Johnny and these guys are not with us anymore.” Brian snapped. Kevin gave him a look but shrugged because he just didn’t know what else to say. Everyone knew that Brian didn’t like Johnny since all the stuff with Lou and Trans Continental Records went down, and he wasn’t happy when they stayed with The Firm, Johnny’s company. It wasn’t a secret that Brian didn’t trust him either. Everyone was confused as to why Johnny was even there. They were in the process of hiring new management and had parted ways with Johnny very recently. 

It surprised everyone when Nick spoke because up until then he wouldn’t even look anyone in the eyes. He stood up and took a shaky breath before addressing the room as if he were very nervous. 

“We have ended things with Johnny as a group, and this is true. However, I called the meeting because I wanted to discuss something with all of you. I have stayed on with The Firm on my own as a solo artist.” 

Nobody said anything, but you could certainly feel the tension in the room after Nick sat back down. Kevin watched to see if Brian would speak up but he was intently staring down at the table, his chest heaving a little bit as if he was trying to calm down his temper. Kevin could see that Brian was about to burst. The room was silent. 

“The reason Nick brought all of us here together is because he wanted to let you know what was going on and he didn’t want to blindside anyone when he started to record the album in March.” Johnny said.

“March? I thought we were tossing around ideas for the next album.” Howie asked, not able to stay quiet anymore. 

“We can still work on the new album ideas too. I just wanted to touch base and talk to you guys before we made any group decisions. I’m going to be recording in Stockholm so I won’t be in the country for a little bit and I didn’t want to just go and not say anything. You guys are my brothers and I want you to be a part of this too.” Nick smiled, looking towards the others across the table for support but nobody spoke up. AJ was texting on his phone and Howie had gone back to paying attention to his coffee. Brian was busy stewing and it appeared he was trying to burn a hole into the conference table with his eyes. 

“I appreciate that you talked to us.” Kevin offered, smiling back. 

“That’s great you’re recording in Sweden, Nick.” Howie said even though it looked like he wasn’t paying attention. 

“Yeah, I am working with some pretty cool people-“ Nick started before he was cut off. 

“So you are staying with Johnny even though we all talked about how bad it was when they were managing us, Nick? Are you fucking stupid?” Brian blurted out. All eyes were back on him again. Kevin tugged on Brian’s arm to get him to sit back down but Brian pushed him away. He whispered for him to back off, but it got ignored. 

“I’m stupid? What are you talking about?” Nick asked, blinking at him. 

“You know exactly what I’m talking about, Nick. You’re leaving us after you got all pissy when AJ threatened to walk!” Brian shouted. Everyone looked at AJ but he just shrugged. Nick was becoming more frustrated. 

“They offered me a contract and I took it. The record company wants to work with me on a solo album, I felt it’s the right time to do it. I’m not leaving the band. Just doing my own thing for a little bit. That’s why I wanted to talk to you guys, because like I said- you’re my family.” Nick said as calmly as he could. His face was starting to turn red and Kevin knew a fight was brewing. 

“Family? You went behind our fucking backs and signed with Johnny, Nick. I’m supposed to overlook that?” Brian shot back. Nick stood up, his face getting red. 

“That’s not what happened, Brian. I’m not going anywhere. If you would just listen-“ he started, raising his voice. 

“I’ve heard enough.” Brian said, before walking out of the room and slamming the door behind him. Nick slammed his hand down on the table, holding his temple in frustration. 

"So fucking stupid." Nick muttered. 

“I don’t understand why he’s so pissed.” AJ shrugged, going back to his phone. Kevin ended up excusing himself and went to look for Brian, who was waiting for the elevator. He still looked angry. 

“Did he send you out here after me?” Brian asked, his hands in his pockets. 

“No, but I wanted to see if you were okay. Why does him doing solo music upset you so much? He said he’s not leaving the group.” 

“You wouldn’t understand, Kevin. It’s not even the solo music. I just think he’s making a mistake staying with Johnny after he helped me sue him and Lou. He knows what they’re like and he’s letting them manage his solo stuff.” 

“I see. I still think that you’re being a little hard on him.” Kevin said. 

“You're siding with him? I’m just looking out for him.” Brian protested. They got in the elevator and went downstairs. 

“Well, he’s not a kid anymore. Sometimes I forget that too, but he’s an adult now and we need to be supportive of his decisions even if we think he’s making a mistake. He has to learn.” Kevin pointed out, and Brian nodded silently. 

"So do you think he's making a mistake?" Brian asked finally. 

"I don't think it's a good idea, but you and I both know telling him he can't do something only makes him want to try more." Kevin said with a small laugh. Brian laughed and nodded again. 

Kevin left with Brian and gave him a ride to his hotel where he was staying because he didn’t live in LA. 

“You going to be okay, Brian?” Kevin asked. Brian nodded, but he still seemed a little upset. 

“I don't know…maybe. I am just kind of steamed right now. Thanks for listening.” Brian said before getting out of the car. Kevin watched as he walked away, hoping that their talk helped and would steer Brian away from the anger he had towards Nick. He would have a talk with Nick later just to see if he was okay too. Kevin could understand why Nick wanted to venture out on his own, he often confided in him how he was getting tired of being the cute boybander and being stuck in a box. Kevin sometimes wished he could do something on his own too, but now it wasn’t in the cards for him. 

One day it would be. 
Chapter 13 by DelphinaCarter
Kevin thought about his visit with Nick all the way back to Los Angeles the next day, and how Nick seemed like he was hiding how he truly felt. He never pressed Nick about it because he didn’t want to create any new tension between them, and figured that whatever it was would eventually come to light anyway.

“You’re awfully quiet, honey. Did your trip go okay?” Kristin asked when she had picked him up from the airport. She and Kevin were alone in the car, as Mason was left home with a sitter.

“Oh, it went just fine. We had a good time.I’m just tired from the flight, I guess.” Kevin smiled. Kristin looked at him skeptically. She knew better of her husband and that he, much like Nick...was not a good liar.

“Well, I am.”

“Did you and Nick have an argument?”

“Not exactly. I visited his video shoot, then had dinner with him and his girlfriend Lauren. Then yesterday we went hiking and we talked. I told him everything. He was okay with me coming back to the group, but I just feel like he was holding back or something. Like he was hiding something.” Kevin said, watching the traffic go by.

“I’m sure you are just being a big worry wort as usual. By the way, when we get home you should call Brian. He was trying to call you but you hadn’t landed yet and your phone was off.” Kristin laughed as they finally pulled into the driveway at home. She went to talk to Mason’s sitter and Kevin went out to the backyard to call Brian.

“Hey, Kev. How was your flight?” Brian asked when he picked up the phone.

“It was fine, I just got home.”

“Did you talk to Nick? Jenn was asking if I had heard anything because she wants to have a meeting with all five of us before the cruise is finalized.” Brian said, jumping right into what he wanted. Kevin had to laugh because he knew that his cousin was eager to find out what happened with Nick in Tennessee, but he wondered why Brian didn’t just ask Nick directly. He supposed that it was likely because they were not as close as they once were.

“Yes, I talked to him. When does she want to have this meeting?” Kevin asked to avoid any further questioning.

A few days later, Kevin parked in the parking garage where the Backstreet Boys management was. He started to press the button for the elevator and stopped before staring at the ground and genuinely wondering what the hell he was even doing there. Did he really want to throw himself into all of the craziness again? He remembered when he had decided to leave and he was so tired, he wondered if it was really okay to do this and go back out on the road when Mason was so young and he was planning on more children with Kristin. He wondered if the guys would mind if he brought his family along, because nobody seemed to have an issue with Brian and his wife and Baylee coming. He was just really deep in thought and didn’t even notice anyone walking up behind him.

“Hey, cuz!”

Kevin turned around to greet Brian, who’d been standing behind him. They shook hands and hugged briefly.

“I guess we are the first ones here?” Kevin wondered, staring at the elevator button again.

“No, I think Howie is upstairs already. Did you just get here?” Brian smiled. Kevin wasn’t listening, but he was silently coaching himself because doubt had creeped into his mind and told him again he was making a mistake. Maybe he would pretend he didn’t feel well and go back to the car. It was going to be weird seeing everyone together again in the same room.

“You seem distracted, are you okay?” Brian asked, noticing his expression.

“Nothing.” Kevin lied.

“Oh come on, Kevin. You’re just about as bad of a liar as Nick is. What’s wrong, I thought this was what you wanted. You wanted to come back to the group and everyone is okay with it.”

“It’s not that. I guess...I guess I just wonder if I’m doing the right thing here.” Kevin said, rubbing the back of his head with his hand and sighing.

“Kevin, I have known you my whole life and I’ve never seen you wrestle with something as much as this. All that matters is what you want. If you don’t want to do this, you can leave and I can make something up to tell everyone upstairs. If you want to do it, we can go up together and you can face it head on. I support you either way.” Brian replied, patting him on the back. Kevin nodded and pressed the button on the elevator, stepping on when the door opened. AJ and Howie were already upstairs in the conference room. Everyone greeted Kevin and it seemed to be going well until Kevin scanned the room adn noticed Nick was not there yet.

“I guess Nick is running late?” Kevin asked after he looked around again.

“Not sure, and I texted him. I haven’t heard from him since this morning.” AJ said with a shrug.

“I’m sure he’s just late, like when he was late to your wedding.” Brian offered when Kevin looked at the door.

“He was four hours late to my wedding, Brian. That’s not exactly comforting.” Kevin laughed. He wondered if something really was delaying Nick or if Nick just simply didn’t want to show up because he actually wasn’t okay with him coming back to the group.

Some of the management team filed into the room not long after, greeting Kevin and shaking his hand before everyone sat down.

“Where is Nick?” Jen asked, when the boys had all sat down at the table.

“He’s not here and nobody has heard from him yet, Jen.” Brian said. Just then, the door opened and Nick walked in looking a little frazzled as if he had run up a flight of stairs.

“So sorry I’m late, my cab was stuck behind this tractor trailer and everything was backed up coming from my hotel.” Nick said breathlessly. Brian gave Kevin a look as if to tease him for overthinking.

“Great, now that everyone’s here we can get started. I wanted to hold this meeting so that we could talk about Kevin coming back and how we want to go about doing this because we do have things planned for the rest of the year already. Kevin, our original idea was to let you come as a guest on the cruise for one of the or something like that. How do you feel about the cruise?” Jen asked. All eyes turned to him.

“I...uh…” Kevin stammered. He hadn’t thought about any of this yet. What was he even doing there? He was disrupting everything. He could feel Nick looking at him from the side of the table where he had sat next to Howie.

“Maybe not the whole cruise, it’s a lot to get thrown into.” Howie pointed out. Kevin smiled at Howie, grateful that someone understood. They didn’t know how the fans would react to any of this because he’d been gone so long. It was definitely going to be awkward for everyone, not just him or the other guys.

‘Yeah, we could have him as a surprise guest or something. Like at one of the parties.” Brian agreed. Kevin wasn’t opposed to this idea, at least he wouldn’t feel obligated to be there the whole time. He didn’t know what the cruise was like, but he had heard things from AJ from time to time. It seemed like fun but he wasn’t sure how to feel about the whole thing just yet.

“Don’t you have, like a beach party or something? That might be fun. Plus i can just fly to the island and surprise everyone there.” Kevin suggested.

“I like that idea. Plus the ship is still going to be there for the deck party that night so we could have him come.” Nick said, catching Kevin off guard. Nick smiled at him. Kevin started to feel more at ease. They continued the discussion and everyone was pretty much on the same page when it came to the themes for the cruise and cruise planning. Kevin guessed he had been nervous for no reason, after all everyone was older and a bit more mature now so it helped a lot.

“So how are we going to officially announce Kevin is back?” Jen asked at one point. They’d spent the last hour talking about the cruise and now it was time to discuss the rest of the NKOTBSB tour and how to go about recording the album.

“I think it should be at one of our shows. Maybe the one in LA? Go big or go home. The fans will go insane. I can’t wait to see their reactions.” AJ laughed. The whole idea seemed surreal to Kevin because he couldn’t believe he was sitting here at the table with all the guys again discussing their future. He privately wondered what was going through everyone else’s minds, were they as excited or nervous as he was? What did they think? Were they all really okay with this?

“What if I just came and did a surprise appearance to see just how people will react first, you still have more of the tour to go. We could announce my return at another show.” Kevin suggested. He kept trying to catch Nick’s eye but he seemed determined to look at everything and everyone but him.

“Oh, that’s a great idea. What about in London when we are taping it? I think that would be better than just doing it at one show.” AJ pointed out.

“I think we should announce the new album and stuff at that show too.” Howie agreed.

“Okay, we can always discuss this more in detail in a little bit when the cruise comes closer. Didn’t you want to talk about some things too, Nick? You told me last night on the phone you wanted to discuss some stuff about your tour and go over tour dates. Did you get those finalized with Lori?” Jen said suddenly. Nick had zoned out and jumped when he heard his name.

“Oh, uhm- it’s not important. I can talk about that another time. We are still working the dates out.” Nick said shyly, looking down at the table. He eyed Brian for a moment and went back to looking at the table.

“Nick…” Brian started, but Nick shook his head.

“I don’t have things finalized yet, sorry.” Nick replied. He was definitely acting a little strange. When they got out of the meeting, Kevin heard Nick talking to Jen just outside of the conference room.

“Jen, I wish you hadn’t put me on the spot like that. The meeting was about Kevin, not about me.” Nick whispered irritably, crossing his arms.

“Well, I thought it was a good time to talk about your tour since we were all there together. I don’t think Kevin would have minded,” Jen explained.

“I just don’t want to hurt his feelings. I know he’s nervous about all this and I’m not sure how to deal with it myself. I’ll have another meeting to talk about my own stuff. I was late. It would have looked bad if I made the meeting about me too.”

Kevin walked away and went downstairs to his car, thinking about what Nick had said. He hoped maybe things would be better and less awkward by the time the cruise came along.
Chapter 14 by DelphinaCarter
“Looking good there, cuz.” Brian commented in the doorway where he watched Kevin getting ready for his wedding. Kevin was really excited to finally be married to his fiancé Kristin after being together for so many years and he was ready to make her his forever. 

“You clean up pretty damn good yourself, cuz.” Kevin chuckled as he fixed his tie. He wasn’t feeling very nervous but more so excited. All the guests were there and everything was set for the big day, well except for one. 

“Is everyone here?” Kevin asked when he and Brian had left the room and started walking down the hall towards the main room where the wedding was taking place. 

“Well, funny story about that….you see…” Brian chuckled nervously. Kevin sighed because he already knew. Something was going wrong already. 

“Nick isn’t here. Nobody knows where he is and he’s not answering his phone.” Brian said. Kevin was disappointed but he kind of expected something like this to happen because Nick was always late. He always had some sort of excuse, and Kevin wondered what the excuse would be this time. They’d talked a couple of days ago and Nick had promised he would be on time, but Kevin didn’t hold his breath. He hated that he felt that way about Nick, but as he had gotten older the worse it seemed he had gotten. He’d fallen into a bad crowd and was starting to get some questionable habits. The other guys all noticed him changing and it wasn’t for the better. Kevin and Brian just exchanged looks because they both had the same thoughts. The two of them went into the hall and walked up towards the front of the aisle where the other two present members of the Backstreet Boys all were sitting wearing suits. AJ looked up at Brian when he saw him come over. 

“Did you tell him?” AJ blurted. Brian and Howie looked annoyed. 

“You weren’t supposed to say anything! Don’t you listen?” Howie whispered angrily, elbowing AJ in the arm.

“Tell me what? That Nick isn’t here? I think I would have figured it out eventually, Jay.” Kevin sighed, laughing as he rolled his eyes. 

“Has anyone heard from him? He promised me that he was going to be here. I don't know what is so hard for him to just keep his promises, I've had it with him!” 

"I think you're being a bit hard on him. I don't think he did this on purpose." Howie said. Kevin looked at the others but nobody said anything. Brian shrugged and so did the other two. 

"Nick's notoriously late to everything, Kevin….but that doesn't change the fact that you're not perfect either. You've been late to things too lots of times. You can't hold him to that when you don't even do it yourself." Howie added. Kevin hated that he was right. 

The ceremony was about to start, so Kevin told them to go ahead with it even though Nick was unaccounted for because he didn’t want to hold everyone else up. It was a beautiful ceremony and Kristin looked breathtaking, so beautiful that when she walked down the aisle towards him he couldn’t hold back his smile. He teared up during their vows to each other and by the time they kissed, he was full on crying. There was not a dry eye in the room. Kevin and Kristin left the church and went out to their limo that was to take them to the reception nearby. 

“I didn’t see Nick there, I am guessing that he didn’t make it? Leighanne was telling me when she helped me get ready.” Kristin asked in the limo. They shared some champagne during the ride. 

“I’m kind of pissed at him, actually, he promised he'd be here and he's not here." Kevin said with a sigh. He took a drink of champagne and rubbed the corners of his eyes along his nose. 

"Don't be too hard on him, honey. I'm sure that it isn't his fault." Kristin said, rubbing his shoulder. She put her head on his shoulder and smiled as he kissed her on the top of her head. 

"Howie said the same thing. I just don't understand why he does shit like this all the time, though. Is he ever going to grow up?" he wondered. 

Kristin laughed and he gave her a confused expression. 

"He's only 21, Kevin. I think you forget how young he is sometimes. You aren't always perfect either. Remember our first date? You were an hour and a half late and I almost left." 

Kevin hated that she was right and he was being a hypocrite. 

“I wasn’t that late.” 

Kristin gave him a skeptical look and the two of them laughed as the limousine pulled up to the reception hall. 

"All right, I was pretty late." Kevin laughed as he kissed her again. He and Kristin went inside and they were announced as husband and wife. Everyone cheered and the music started playing. 

"Have you heard anything from him yet?" Kevin asked Brian when he saw him by the buffet table looking over the spread.

"He's over talking to AJ. He rode here with me and Leighanne. I think something about missing his plane. He was really upset about missing the ceremony, he thinks you are pissed at him so try not to yell at him too much." Brian whispered as he piled some food on his plate. 

"I wasn't planning on yelling at him. However, when he commits to something I expect him to honor his promises. I don't think that's too much to ask." Kevin argued before privately feeling bad that he was so angry at Nick for being late. 

"I'm just asking, take it easy on him. Don't make him feel worse than he already does." Brian cautioned. 

Nick seemed like he was out of place, because he was wearing shorts and sneakers. He saw Kevin and started panicking. 

"I already know what you're going to say. I'm so sorry. I'm really sorry for being late…." Nick started when he saw Kevin. He immediately started to stumble over his words apologizing because he was flustered. Kevin almost laughed. 

"You're…you're not mad?" Nick said suddenly when he saw Kevin smiling. Kevin hugged him and offered him a drink. 

"No. Things happen, I am just glad you are okay Nick. We were all worried about you. What happened?" 

"I overslept and missed my flight. So I had to book a private plane just to make it here, because there were no other flights that I could have taken." 

"A private plane? How much did that cost you?" Kevin laughed. Nick laughed and took a drink of champagne. 

"You don't wanna know." he muttered, following Kevin to where Kristin was so he could greet her as well. The party went on pretty late and Kevin and Kristin flew to Italy for their honeymoon. 

"I'm glad he made it. It wouldn't have been right not to have all of your friends there." Kristin said thoughtfully. 

"As much as he pisses me off, you're right. It wouldn't have been the same without him. I guess I just give him a hard time because he's like family and we practically raised him." Kevin chuckled. He kissed his new wife and smiled. 

"I suppose raising him was good practice for the children we are going to have?" Kristin laughed. 

"I guess you are right about that."

The two of them laughed and kissed again, as their plane continued on to Italy where they'd start the first night of their marriage and hopefully many more to come after. 
Chapter 15 by DelphinaCarter
“Are you almost packed, sweetie?” Kristin asked from the doorway of their bedroom, watching Kevin choose clothes to put in the large suitcase on his bed. 

“I think I’m over packing, I keep putting stuff into this suitcase and taking stuff out. It’s not like I’m going on the whole cruise with them, I’m just meeting them in the Bahamas for the beach party and their one deck party.” Kevin said, folding some shorts and placing them inside the suitcase. 

“I think you’re not just over packing but you’re overthinking it too. Are you still thinking about Nick?” 

Kevin sat down on the bed and sighed, he hadn’t heard from any of the guys since their conference meeting and he wasn’t sure how to take that. He supposed they’d get to talking once they were in the Bahamas because they’d planned to have lunch or dinner together. 

“Kind of, I guess I’m still having doubts if I’m doing the right thing throwing myself back into all of this again. It’s been six years. That isn’t too long, is it? I don’t know if Nick is actually okay with me coming back either, I think he just didn’t want to hurt my feelings. He’s done that before.” Kevin explained. 

“Baby, you’re going to be fine. I’m sure Nick is happy you’re coming back. He always looks up to you. The fans miss you, remember those ones you told me that you ran into at the grocery store? You were so happy when you got home that you couldn’t stop smiling. You still keep up with what the guys are doing, I know how much you miss them.  I think it’s great that they’re welcoming you back like this. You just need to stop being such a worry wart.” Kristin laughed as she sat down next to him and kissed him on the cheek.

“I suppose you are right. Maybe I’m worried for nothing.” Kevin chuckled. 

“There’s no ‘suppose’ in this equation. You need to relax. I’m right because I’m your wife. The wife is always right.” Kristin teased as she laughed at him. 

“We’ll see about that,” Kevin laughed, moving her onto the bed and climbing on top of her, kissing her. They kissed for a long time, cuddling and simply enjoying each other’s company. Kevin definitely felt a bit more relaxed afterwards. 

“Thanks for making me feel better.” 

“I told you before, the wife is always right.” Kristin winked. 

Kevin didn’t even know why he felt nervous when he flew to the Bahamas but he did. He had a nice hotel room and knew the guys wouldn’t be there until the next day so he did his best to relax the night before. In the morning he headed down to the beach from the hotel. He could hear the guys talking and the crowd cheering, his stomach did a couple of flips before he let himself be seen. 

“We love you, Kevin!!! We miss you!!!!” 

Kevin smiled at the couple of fans that yelled to him as he passed by and waved at them. They made him feel a bit more comfortable while he walked up to the stage. He could hear the guys speaking to the crowd. He also couldn’t believe that none of the cruisers knew he was coming and that they had managed to keep it all a secret, because he knew how good the fans were at finding things out. His return to the band was a well guarded secret so for now everyone was making jokes about the five microphones being on stage until the girls started screaming. More and more people noticed that he was there, and he finally walked up the stairs. The sound was deafening, even louder than during the Unbreakable Tour when he’d joined the boys on stage for two songs. As Kevin looked out over the crowd full of fans he simply smiled. He missed this. In that moment he knew he was making the right decision. 

After the beach party where the guys entertained the crowd with games and stories, Kevin went to go and get ready to join the rest of the Backstreet Boys for a short dinner before they all got ready for the evening. The cruise had activities planned but Kevin didn't know they were, he just knew he was going to the deck party that night that had a prom theme. They ate on one of the boys balconies of their cabin. It was small but they seemed to enjoy themselves. It felt like old times. 

"So is this cruise like going to be like an annual thing? It seems like y'all have a good time." Kevin asked, taking a drink from his glass of champagne. 

"I'm kind of excited for the prom tonight since I didn't go to my high school prom." Nick said. 

"That's right, you and AJ didn't get to do that. That should be fun, I’m looking forward to it." Kevin smiled. 

"Wait until you see our suits." AJ winked as he and Nick laughed. 

Kevin had to laugh when he saw Nick in the bright orange tuxedo, the same one that Jim Carrey wore in the movie Dumb and Dumber. AJ wore the one that Harry had on in the same movie. Nick’s hair was a mess as well. 

“You look ridiculous in that, Nick. I’m surprised that you didn’t get Brian to wear the blue one, the two of you used to watch that movie all the time.” Kevin teased. Nick looked wistfully at Brian and then blushed as he stared at the floor. He muttered something before looking to see if Brian was in earshot and then whispered to Kevin. 

“Brian wouldn’t do it. We had an argument the other day so I asked AJ to.” 

Kevin opened his mouth to say something to Nick, but they were being told to go out on stage so he followed them out. It was a great party. Kevin had such a fun time mingling with the guys and the fans too. He had one of them as his prom date that management had chosen at random and they shared a dance together. Kevin finally managed to get Brian on his own for a couple of minutes when the party was starting to wind down. 

"Hey, is everything okay with you and Nick?" he asked, tapping Brian on the shoulder. Brian glanced over at Nick, who was doing some kind of dance across the deck. 

"Why do you ask that? Everything is fine...if you're talking about why I didn't wear the tux he wanted me to wear, he's just being dramatic. You know how Nick is. Are you having a good time? It's like old times, isn't it?" Brian said, taking a drink from the cup he was holding. They'd been dancing a lot, doing various line dances and were very thirsty. 

"Sorry, I just was concerned. I'm not trying to pry. I just noticed that things were a little awkward between you two." Kevin pointed out. 

"I promise, it's okay. This isn't like last time we were in the Bahamas doing that concert. Just have fun and don't worry about it. The fans seem to be happy about you being here."

Kevin remembered when they had all gone down here to do a performance years ago, it was their first time here. They'd all been tired and cranky. This time was definitely different since he'd been away from things. Everyone seemed more relaxed and things weren't tense like they were when he left the group. He could see himself fitting back in perfectly now. 

"That they do, cousin. That they do. I wish we could tell them now." Kevin smiled as he picked up a drink as well. They clinked their glasses together and drank until the cups were both empty. He was sad when it was time to go and so were the fans, but he knew he would see everyone again soon. 
Chapter 16 by DelphinaCarter
It was Brian’s wedding day and everyone seemed to be in good spirits, except for Nick. Or at least it seemed that way. Kevin was the first one to notice something was off at the ceremony when he saw Nick drinking. He wasn’t 21 yet and Kevin wondered how he’d even gotten ahold of any kind of liquor but he wasn’t surprised. He made a mental note to keep an eye on him during the evening. 

"Has anyone seen Nick?" Kevin asked Brian when they were talking over some finger foods. Brian didn't answer right away, he kind of rolled his eyes. 

"No idea. Why are you looking for him anyway? He's kinda ruining the party. Leighanne already complained about it." Brian replied with a shrug. 

"Last time I checked, he was your best friend." Kevin said. Brian picked up a grape off of his plate and tossed it into his mouth. He didn't say much of anything besides mumbling that friends should support their friends' marriages.

Kevin shook his head at his cousin and began looking for Nick again. He finally found him in another room off the main reception hall, sitting by himself. He wiped his eyes quickly when he spotted Kevin walking in. The room was in disarray as if someone had thrown a fit. 

“Nick, are you okay? I was wondering where you went off to.” 

“Am I really a bad friend, Kevin?” Nick asked, his words slurring a little bit. He wasn’t very drunk but it was obvious he had something to drink. Kevin sat down next to him and he wiped his eyes to hide the fact that he’d been crying. 

“No. I’m sure Brian doesn’t think you are either.” 

“I don’t hate her, if that’s what he told you. He told you that, didn’t he?” 

Kevin shrugged and didn’t say anything. He didn’t know how to answer that because Brian had told him in the past that he thought Nick hated his girlfriend but until now it hadn’t really come up in conversation. 

“It’s like this, Kev. I don’t hate her, I don’t think she likes me. She doesn’t like us hanging out. She doesn’t try to talk to me or anything. I just feel like he rushed into this for whatever reason and I just had a bad feeling. So the other day we were talking and we had this huge fight. He thinks it’s because I wasn’t his best man, but it’s not that either. I...I don’t know what it is anymore.” Nick sighed, pouting. He went to drink out of the champagne glass he was holding but it was empty. 

“Where did my drink go?” 

Kevin had to stop himself from laughing. 

“Let’s- here. Give me the glass. Let’s just take that and put it over here. Come on. We can get you some cake or something.” Kevin said. He took the empty glass from Nick and helped him up. 

“I don’t want cake. I think I would just rather go back to the hotel room.” Nick told him with his head down. Kevin ended up getting him to at least have some cake and pose for some group pictures but even after Nick seemed upset. His expression said everything. 

“Can you get there by yourself, or do you need me to help you?” Kevin asked. Nick didn’t look that drunk but he was wobbling so Kevin didn’t trust him on his own. 

“I’m cool.” Nick assured him, although Kevin was not convinced. He led him back to his hotel room and helped him into bed. 

“I’m gonna go back to the reception, if you are okay to be here by yourself.” Kevin said once Nick settled in. 

“Kevin, I’m not- um….I’m not jealous of Brian.” Nick said suddenly. 

Kevin sat down on the edge of the bed, listening. He knew that Nick wasn’t jealous but he figured Nick had reached some sort of epiphany while he was drinking earlier and maybe he just felt bad for behaving the way he was at the reception. Everyone knew Nick and Leighanne didn’t get along. This wasn’t a secret. It wasn’t for lack of trying. Nick tried to get along with her but for some reason his attempts to be friendly backfired. As a result, it put a strain on his friendship with Brian to the point where they were not as close anymore. It left Nick with a broken heart. Nick didn’t even have to tell anyone, anyone with a brain could see that something had changed between him and Brian. 

“I don’t think anyone thinks that, kiddo. Just get some rest. You don’t feel well.” Kevin said softly as Nick smiled.

“Do you think I’ll ever be in love like Brian and his wife are, or like you and Kris are?” 

Nick whispered. 

“I mean-You’re still young. You got plenty of time, love isn’t something to rush into. Everyone feels it differently. I thought you didn’t want to get married or anything like that? That’s what you’ve told the press before.” Kevin pointed out. 

“Do you want to be a dad, Kevin?” Nick asked. 

“Someday, yes. Kristin and I haven’t really discussed it much because of how busy the group is, but one day I’d like to slow things down and have a family. I know children make you feel awkward, Nick. I know you’ve said you don’t want kids. Sorry if I’m making you uncomfortable.” 

Nick sat up in bed, resting against the headboard and picking at the hem of his shirt. 

“I did say that. The truth is, I dunno what I want. I guess sometimes I feel like I want to be like you guys but there’s times where I want to be on my own. I guess I’m still figuring things out. Besides, I don’t think I’m cut out to be a dad or father figure or anything like that, Kev. I think I just want to find someone that understands me and loves me for me. Kinda like you guys...or like I thought Brian did- but with boobs.”

“So you want a female version of Brian?” Kevin laughed, ruffling Nick’s hair as he laughed too. 

“Don’t tell him I said that. He’ll get a complex. ” Nick blushed. 

“Get some sleep, okay? No more drinking.” Kevin said, smiling as he headed for the door of the hotel room. 

“Thanks, Kevin. I’m sorry for being a brat.”

“It’s okay, little man.” 

Kevin smiled again and closed the door, heading back to the reception and hoping nobody had noticed that he and Nick left. He didn’t think anyone would, because Brian and Leighanne were dancing to some song blaring over the speakers. Everyone was having a good time. Kevin managed to enjoy himself as he settled in and danced with Kristin. 

“Everything okay, sweetie?” Kristin asked when they were in the middle of a slow dance. 

“Just thinking about Nick. He was kind of upset before.” Kevin explained, kissing her cheek as she put her head on his shoulder. 

“I’m sure he’ll be fine. I’m glad you were there for him. You’re going to be a great dad someday.” Kristin said. 

“You think so? I was hoping one day we could start a family, but I didn’t know if you’d be into that. We never really talked about having children before.” 

“I know you have a busy schedule but we could work on it. I just see how you are with these guys, with Nick...and I can tell that being a dad is what you want. Being a parent is what I want too.” 

The two of them leaned in and kissed each other gently, her arms around her husband’s neck. 

“One day we will. I love you.”  Kristin whispered. 

“I love you.” Kevin said back. The two of them continued dancing, wondering when their turn would be. 
Chapter 17 by DelphinaCarter
Kevin arrived at the venue where AJ's wedding reception was being held along with Kristin feeling happy. None of them ever thought that AJ was going to walk down the aisle considering his past with women and how many times he had previously been engaged. It was December, but it wasn’t freezing because they were in southern California.

“Hello, Kevin. So nice to see you again.” Lauren smiled at him when he greeted her. Nick was on her arm, looking as if he was bored. Kevin understood why, it was because he never cared for weddings much. 

“It’s nice to see you both as well. Is Nick okay? He didn’t say a whole lot.” Kevin said when they hugged. Nick had excused himself so they decided to talk for a little bit. 

“Nick’s fine, you know how he is about weddings.” Lauren chuckled. 

“Oh, I know. He hasn’t mentioned anything about me coming back to the group or anything like that, has he?” Kevin asked. Lauren shook her head, looking in the direction Nick had gone and shrugging her shoulders. AJ’s wedding went beautifully and the reception was a great party. Everyone seemed to be having such a good time mingling and talking. The guys even sang as AJ and his new wife Rochelle took to the dance floor for their first dance. 

“Congratulations, brother. I’m so happy I was able to see this. I can tell how much you love this woman.” Kevin said, hugging AJ when he saw him. AJ looked so happy that he was glowing. 

“Thanks, bro. I am glad you and Kris could come. I couldn’t have a Backstreet wedding without all five of us here, now could I? It wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t invite you. Now that four of us are hitched, Nick’s next.” AJ laughed. Looking at Nick, Kevin knew that this wasn’t going through his mind whatsoever. Nick didn’t like the subject of marriage because of the way his parents' marriage was turning out with the divorce and separation, the way his family had split up kind of left him cynical about the whole idea. Yet when Kevin had visited him in Tennessee and saw how Nick acted around Lauren, he could tell that the two of them were comfortable around each other. Maybe not ready for marriage comfortable, but at least comfortable where Nick didn’t feel like running away at the first sign of a real commitment like he usually did. He had good reason though because he didn't always have good luck when it came to dating. 

“Having a good time?” Kevin asked when he sat down at the table next to Nick, who was finishing a glass of champagne and watching everyone dancing. 

“Yeah, actually...I am.” Nick smiled. 

“I haven’t really gotten to talk to you since that conference meeting. I just wanted to-“ Kevin started, but Nick held up his hand so he stopped talking. 

“Look, I didn’t want to talk about this stuff today because it’s AJ’s day. I don’t want to take anything away from him- but since you want to discuss it….” Nick interrupted. Kevin sighed and finished his own drink. He felt bad now for even bringing it up at all. 

"I didn't know what to think about you wanting to come back at first because of how I reacted when you left. I was angry at you for a long time. I just was going through a bunch of shit at the time too and I took it out on you. It was wrong of me, and I'm sorry." Nick said. 

"Nick, you don't have to apologize. You’re right, we shouldn't be talking about this today. I’m sorry for bringing it up.” Kevin agreed until Nick interrupted him. 

"No, let me get this out because I need to. The thing is….you meant a lot to me. You and the guys are my family, you saved me in more ways than I can count. You have been basically another dad to me. So when you left…I guess, I- I dunno. I felt kind of like you were abandoning me, so instead of talking to you- I shut you out. I’ve been going to therapy for a while now and I guess I tend to do this to a lot of people, so I’m sorry. I hope you weren’t going to reconsider coming back because of me.” 

Kevin listened to Nick talk, not blaming himself for the first time for his little brother feeling this way….but instead proud of him for growing. Nick had definitely grown up. 

“If we are being completely honest with each other, yes. I did reconsider but everyone told me I was being a worrywart for nothing. I’m glad you told me the truth.” 

"I am sorry if I ever made you second guess coming back. I'm sorry for giving you the cold shoulder. I didn't mean it. I just didn't know how to deal with everything." Nick said, stopping to take a drink. He licked his lips and looked down, rubbing the back of his head with his hand. 

"I don't know what to say," Kevin said softly. 

"You helped me a lot. Especially when you gave me that book. I know I never told you." Nick replied as they watched AJ dancing with Rochelle. Kevin smiled at them. 

"The one I gave you for your birthday, I remember. I’m glad that it helped you. I know it didn't make sense at the time, but I felt like you were a little lost after your breakup and needed some positivity in your life. Did you ever find it?" Kevin asked. 

Lauren came over to them and put her arms around Nick, kissing his cheek. He smiled. 

"I think I did." 

“What are you two talking about?” Lauren asked. 

“Nothing, nothing bad anyway.” Nick replied innocently. Lauren looked skeptically at Nick, her eyebrow raised.

“Baby, I mean it. Everything is fine.” Nick laughed. 

“I think you owe me a dance, buster.” Lauren said. Nick stood up and kissed his girlfriend. 

“I suppose that I do. Kevin and I were just talking,” 

“Go on ahead, Nick. Have some fun.” Kevin chuckled with a smile. 

Kevin smiled back at Nick, and he knew that things would be okay. He was a bit relieved that there wouldn’t be any tension between the two of them. Lauren led Nick away to have a dance and Brian came over to the table carrying a plate with some cake on it. 

“So, I guess you two settled things?” Brian asked, licking some frosting off of the tip of his finger. 

“I think I was just worried for nothing.” Kevin laughed. He wanted to ask Nick what was going on between him and Brian, but he decided that was a conversation for another day and wasn’t about to ask Brian about it. He already knew what Brian would say, that Nick was simply being dramatic. Something told Kevin there was more to it than that. 

“Don’t tell Leigh that I snuck another piece of cake. She’ll rip me a new one for it. I’m supposed to be on a diet.” Brian said suddenly, making Kevin laugh. 

“I won’t tell her, don’t worry.” 

“I’m glad everything’s fine though, cause I didn’t want to go into recording another album with Nick being all pissy.” Brian said.

“What are you talking about? What is going on with you two?” Kevin asked before he could stop himself. 

"Just what happens when people have different priorities." 

With that, Brian took his cake to hide from Leighanne elsewhere and Kevin was left feeling confused. He was just happy that he and Nick were okay and he could go into all of this knowing that all of his brothers were happy with his decision. 

He just wondered how everyone else would take the news. 
Chapter 18 by DelphinaCarter
Kevin awoke the day of the Minnesota concert in 1998 feeling tired, not more tired than he usually did because he didn’t usually sleep well on the tour bus to begin with. He got up and immediately tripped, falling on the floor of the bus and swearing. 

“Oh, sorry….I thought I picked those up.” Nick commented casually as he walked past, picking up his sneaker from the floor. 

“Goddamn it, Nick. I thought we told you to clean up your crap. Didn’t Brian tell you?” Kevin said as Nick helped him up. Nick shrugged, chucking the sneaker into his bunk across from Kevin’s. 

“Probably before I threw my shoes at him. I don’t remember.” 

Kevin rolled his eyes at the 18 year old who was testing his patience today and just chose to ignore him for now. They all ate dry cereal for breakfast because Nick finished the milk the day before, as Brian pointed out. This sparked another argument between Nick and Kevin until AJ told both of them to shut the fuck up. Nobody talked very much until Howie walked towards the front of the bus on his cell phone with a serious expression on his face. 

“Okay, Dad. I’ll try to be on the first flight out. Okay. Yes. Thank you. See you soon.” he said before hanging up. 

“What’s going on?” Brian asked, raising an eyebrow. 

Howie sat down next to him, rubbing his head and sighing as his eyes watered. He looked as if he was about to cry. 

“What happened, D?” AJ asked. 

“My sister Caroline is not doing well, her Lupus has taken a bad turn and she doesn't have long. The whole family is flying out to North Carolina to make final arrangements….and...to say goodbye.” 

“Oh, I’m so sorry. Is there anything we can do?” Kevin offered when Howie shook his head, crying in front of them. Kevin’s eyes watered and he put a hand on Howie’s shoulder. He knew exactly what he was feeling having lost his father a few years ago. Howie’s sister had been sick for quite some time and was in and out of the hospital so they all kind of anticipated this happening again, however it was still a bit of a shock that she was currently on her deathbed. As the conversation continued, Howie got more and more upset before he finally stood up. 

“I hate to do this, but I am going to have to leave to fly there. I want to meet up with my family. I know the show is tomorrow and it’s last minute, but I have to be there with them. I’m sure all of you understand but I’m worried management won’t like me just taking off like this.” Howie said tearfully. 

“You need to go to be with your sister. I’m sure management can figure something else out. Don’t even worry about them, fuck them. We are just dollar signs to them anyway.” Brian offered as they were interrupted by noises coming from Nick’s game boy. Brian was in a heated battle with management over their money anyway and the other boys all knew that he loved pissing them off. Everyone but Howie rolled their eyes. They ignored him and continued discussing Howie’s sister. 

“I just don’t know what to do.” Howie sniffed.

“Go and be with your family. Like Brian said, management can deal with it. You need to be with them.” Kevin told him, patting Howie on the back. Howie wiped his eyes and sighed. 

“Okay, I’ll go pack and then get a cab to the airport. Thanks for understanding, guys. I’ll call you when I get there.” Howie said before heading to the back of the bus to grab his overnight bag out of his bunk. 

“Nick, that was a little rude to turn on your game when Howie was talking. Don’t you realize how serious this is? His sister is very sick.” Kevin said, turning around to scold Nick before he realized he was talking to an empty chair. Nick had gone somewhere on the bus and left them to finish their breakfast, although none of them did. Howie ended up leaving and they canceled their concert. They knew fans would be disappointed, not to mention management was not happy...but Howie needed to be there for his family at the time. 

“So do you think he made it there okay? He hasn’t called.” Brian pointed out when he, Kevin and AJ were in the back of the bus watching a movie. Nick was sitting with them fully engrossed in playing Legend of Zelda and not paying attention to anyone. 

“I’m sure he’s just getting settled over there. He’ll call.” AJ said. Nick’s game was starting to drown out their conversation. Brian could see that Kevin was annoyed and he looked at him to tell him to leave Nick be, but his cousin was not having it. 

“Nick, don’t you care about anything but that stupid game of yours?” Kevin asked, almost shouting. 

“Huh? I’m sure Howie’s fine.” Nick said, barely looking up. Kevin rolled his eyes in exasperation because he was getting frustrated. 

“You don’t need to yell at him, he’s not bothering anybody. Let him play his stupid game. I don’t wanna listen to you two bitching the rest of the night.” AJ said. 

“I’m not bothering anybody. Besides, Zelda isn’t stupid and I’m close to beating it so leave me alone. You’re not my dad.” Nick snapped moodily. 

Kevin felt the anger rise up inside of himself, and he could feel Brian looking at him. Brian was waiting for him to blow up. Brian said nothing. Kevin looked at him for help but he shook his head and shrugged as if to say if he was on his own. 

“You should care. Howie’s our brother. He’s going through a hard time.” Kevin said calmly, his voice shaking a little bit as a result of trying to stay calm.

“I never said I don’t care about Howie. Why would you fucking say that?”

“Well, I mean you haven’t acted like you do since Howie told us about his sister. You do this all the time, Nick.” Kevin replied. 

Nick didn’t say anything, he rolled his eyes and started to head towards his bunk. 

“I can’t believe him. He can be so thoughtless sometimes.” Kevin sighed, sinking back into the couch cushions. AJ got up to go to the bathroom and left him and Brian alone. 

“He can be, but he’s just 18. You’re being kinda hard on him, sorry to inform you.” Brian pointed out. 

“I’m just looking out for him, unlike you. You’re supposed to be his guardian. I don’t see you saying anything to him. You just let him do whatever he wants.” 

“That’s where you and I are different. Yeah, I’m his guardian right now- but that doesn’t mean I dictate what to do. I’m supposed to watch over him, not parent him. He isn’t perfect and neither are you, Kevin. Nick has never been good at showing emotion when it’s appropriate and you know that. He’s a teenager. Teenagers are moody. We’ve known him for six years now, I would think you know his mood swings. He probably just doesn’t know how to deal with all of this and that video game is his only way to. I wish I had a distraction like that myself. Maybe you just need to lay off him a little bit, you’ve been going at him all day. Also, we haven’t any word that anything happened yet so I think Nick’s fine right now.” 

Kevin was surprised at Brian and his attitude towards the whole thing. Sure, Nick was 18 but he wasn’t a child anymore. All Kevin wanted was for the boy to have a little more responsibility and respect for others. As time went on that day, Kevin felt a little bad for picking at Nick so much, and when they got the phone call from Howie that his sister had passed away, he decided that he would be the one to talk to Nick. Nick was hiding in his bunk, reading a Spider Man comic book with his flashlight. 

“Hey, kiddo. Reading anything good?” Kevin asked after he knocked on the wall above Nick’s bunk to get his attention. 

“Come to yell at me some more?” Nick asked moodily. 

“I’m sorry about that. I just sometimes forget you’re a teenager. I came to tell you that Howie called.” 

Nick set the flashlight down and sat up in his bunk, his hair falling in his face. He stopped to push it back again, his eyes wide. 

“Is everything okay?” 

“He didn’t…..Howie didn’t make it in time. His sister passed away.” Kevin said shakily, his eyes watering. They all knew Howie’s family pretty well from when the band first started out because they would go over there for dinner after band rehearsal and for holidays when they couldn’t go home to their family. Howie’s mom and AJ’s mom were always kind to the other guys in the group. 

“Wow. I hope Howie is feeling okay. I know he was really close to….to Caroline.” Nick whispered. Kevin stood there and watched Nick’s eyes well up before Nick wiped them to hide the fact that he was upset. Nick was always around Howie’s family in the group’s early days because his mom would let him sleep over rather than coming back and forth to bring Nick to rehearsals in Orlando so in a way Howie’s family was his family too. 

“Nick, I-“ 

Nick surprised him by coming out of the bunk and hugging him, tears spilling down his face. He cried for a few minutes before speaking. 

“I’m so sorry. I didn’t- I didn’t know h-how to d-deal with it, and-“ 

“No, I’m sorry for yelling at you earlier. I know you and Howie are close. I know how much you miss your own sisters.” Kevin interrupted. He held Nick close, his hand on the back of Nick’s head. 

“I don’t know what I would do if something would happen to one of my sisters. I really don't. I miss my family, Kevin.” Nick sobbed. 

"It's okay, little man. I miss mine too." 

The two of them cried together for a while before they went to bed. When Howie came back from visiting his family, everyone made sure to try to make him feel loved and to try to keep him in good spirits. The tour continued, the five of them tighter than before. Kevin was grateful they all had each other. 
Chapter 19 by DelphinaCarter
Nick was looking forward to his solo tour for some time now and it was crazy to him that it was already January and time to go on the road. Sure, he loved touring with the other boys but it was just something about doing his own music that he liked too. He loved having freedom to create and entertain on his own terms without having to vote on things or wait on other people. As that was, when Nick kicked off his solo tour for I’m Taking Off on his birthday he was in great spirits. 

Nick was whistling as he went around grabbing clothes, throwing them into a suitcase in no particular way. Kevin used to get on his case for how he packed, but he always said that folding stuff in a suitcase was a waste of time because he wasn’t going to put it in a drawer anyway. Suddenly, Nick heard the Skype ringtone coming from his laptop so he answered it. 

“Hey there, little man!” Kevin’s voice came over the speaker. Nick smiled at him and sat down at the desk in the corner of his room. 

“Hey, Kev.” 

“I just wanted to wish you a happy birthday and good luck tonight.” 

“Thank you, you’re the first one to call me. I guess everyone else is busy.” Nick blushed, acting like he wasn’t a little hurt the other guys in the group hadn’t really called him. Lauren had gotten him some cupcakes though so it wasn’t all bad. As Nick thought of a lie to pretend he was happy, his phone buzzed with a text from AJ. It made Nick feel a little better. 

“Hey, it happens. I am sorry I couldn’t make it to this show, but Kris and I send our love. Maybe I’ll catch you another time. I’d love to hear your new music.” Kevin replied over the speaker. Nick was happy to hear this as well because Kevin’s opinion meant more than he let on and he hated that he never told Kevin how he felt. The truth was, he was afraid to disappoint him. Kevin was in a way like a father to him, more than his own had been. His dad had never supported his music career since the days when he was in the talent competitions in Florida. Nick had even given him his winnings from the first big competition he had entered, feeling so proud that he helped buy his family an air conditioner. His dad didn’t really seem to care though and Nick was disappointed. He kept at what he did because he thought he was helping his family. As he got older, Nick realized he was really doing what he did because he loved it and his family never appreciated it. 

“Thanks, Kevin. If you wanna come to any shows, let me know and I can get you in. I’ll talk to you later. Thanks for calling.” Nick smiled before getting off of Skype. He went back to packing, thinking about Kevin coming back to the group. Nick was incredibly happy for everything happening with the band right now, but part of him just was uneasy about change. He had always felt this way about anything new, especially about dating Lauren. He was in love with her and that scared him because he was afraid she would leave. People leaving was something Nick had never been good with and that was why he blew up at Kevin when he left. Thankfully they were on good terms again.     One day he’d tell Kevin the truth. 

"You're kind of quiet," Lauren pointed out as she walked into their bedroom, watching him dress. The two of them were preparing to fly to Las Vegas from their home in Tennesee for an event Nick was holding during the afternoon and the show that night. 

"I was just thinking about some stuff. Ready to go?" Nick smiled, walking over to his girlfriend and kissing her. It was going to be a good night for sure. Nick decided to forget about everything and just have a good time. 

"I've been waiting on you, birthday boy." Lauren giggled. Nick kissed her again and they picked up their bags to head out. 

“Have a good trip, sweetie.” Kristen said as she kissed Kevin goodbye a couple of days later. Kevin snickered to himself as he got into the taxi cab because he was going to surprise Nick on the road. Nick had no clue that Kevin was coming but he’d booked a flight anyway and was now on the way to the airport for a flight to South Carolina. He had let Lauren know of course because he needed some information on where they were staying and whatnot but he was excited. 

“I’ll call you when I get there.” Kevin had told his wife, kissing her back. As the cab pulled into LAX airport, Keivn’s phone buzzed with a text from Lauren.

“Kevin, I hate to do this last minute and I hope you haven't boarded your plane yet….but it’s not a good idea to come see Nick right now.”

Kevin got out of the cab and called her immediately. 

“Hi, Lauren. Is everything okay? I just got to the airport.” Kevin asked, heading towards the check in counter. He could hear noise in the background but it was muffled. 

“I don’t think it’s a good time for you to come out here. Nick found out his sister passed away.” Lauren half whispered. Kevin’s heart dropped to his stomach, knowing Nick’s sisters were pretty young considering Nick himself was 32. 

“What happened?” 

“Nobody really knows details yet, but his brother called him to tell him about Leslie. It was Leslie. I- I know you wanted to surprise Nick but he’s not in any state to see anyone right now. I don’t even know if he’s going ahead with the concert tonight. He’s shut himself in the bathroom and won’t talk to any of us.” Lauren sniffed, on the verge of tears. Kevin started tearing up as well. 

“Well, maybe I should come out there anyway. It sounds like you both need some company.” Kevin offered. He heard more muffled noises, including someone crying and a door closing before Lauren sniffed again. 

“I appreciate it, but I think it’s better if you stay there. You can try to call a bit later if you like. He’s not talking to anybody right now. I can’t get him to come out of the bathroom, I don’t know what to do. He’s been like this for hours since Aaron called.” 

“I have an idea. Tell him that I’m on the phone and see if he’ll talk to me,” Kevin said, composing himself quickly in case the plan worked so Nick didn’t hear that he was upset. Unfortunately, Nick wouldn’t come to the phone and Kevin felt horrible. He ended up going home, which surprised Kristin but she understood when he explained. 

“He wouldn’t even talk to me.” Kevin said when she made him a cup of coffee and they sat down at the kitchen table. 

“Maybe he just needs a little time.” Kristin replied, putting her hand over his. She squeezed it as they smiled at each other. 

“Nick, please talk to me.” Lauren called through the bathroom door for the umpteenth time. She felt bad for turning Kevin away earlier, but she knew Nick was not in any state to see anyone. He’d been on the bathroom floor for a few hours, not speaking to anyone since Aaron had called. He had a concert and meet and greet that evening and Nick’s manager was calling, asking if he was going to go through with it. Lauren had no way to answer any of the questions because Nick wouldn’t even speak to her.

On the other side of the door, Nick wiped his eyes. He was devastated over Leslie because she had died of a drug overdose with a young daughter. Nick didn’t want to talk to Lauren but he wanted to talk to someone so he dialed the first number that came up in his phone. 

“Hey, are you okay?” 

“I don’t know what to do, Kev. I’m supposed to do all that stuff tonight with fans and I just don’t think I’m up for it. I just keep thinking about Les-Leslie, and that it could have been me. It could have been me, Kevin. This is my fault. I should have helped her…..” Nick started, trying not to cry and failing at it. 

Kevin hated the way Nick would blame himself when things like this happened. Nick would either wallow or blame himself, even if there was nothing he could have done.

“Please don’t blame yourself. How could this be your fault?” Kevin asked gently. 

"I pus-pushed her away. Like I do to everyone. Like I did to Brian. Like I did to you. I make people go away." 

Kevin wished he was with him so he could wrap him in a hug because he heard the pain in Nick's voice. 

"You didn't push us away."

"What am I going to d-do?" 

"Nick, you are going to get off of the bathroom floor, wash up and make a decision about your concert. I know you don't want to disappoint your fans, but right now you are upset and if you need to take off, I'm sure they will understand. You need to take care of yourself." Kevin told him. Nick was silent for a few moments, sniffing again. 

"You're right, but what I need is to perform. I can't sit around here. Performing makes me happier than anything. I'm going to do the show. I will celebrate my sister's life through music. Thank you for talking to me." he said finally. Kevin smiled. 

"I'm glad I could help. I was going to come and surprise you but Lauren didn't think you'd be up for it right now." 

"She was right." Nick chuckled softly, half laughing and half still crying. 

"You can call me again later if you still need me. I'll keep my phone on me." Kevin promised. He was worried about Nick, but if seemed as if Nick had control of things now. 

"Thanks, bro." Nick said before they hung up. Kevin was happy that they were still on good terms because although none of them would admit, they still needed one another. They were brothers and always would be. 
Chapter 20 by DelphinaCarter
“Do you think I’m doing the right thing, honey?” Kevin asked as he looked over at his wife in the bed next to him. Kevin was having trouble getting to sleep knowing that the big meeting was tomorrow. He was meeting with the guys to tell them that he was leaving the band and he’d felt sick to his stomach all day to the point where he’d hardly eaten anything at dinner. 

“You know I can’t answer that for you, sweetie. Are you having second thoughts?” Kristen asked. Kevin leaned back, sighing deeply. 

“I-I don’t know. I’ve been with them for so long. It’s going to be weird. I am giving them my blessing to continue, but what if they don’t want to continue? I don’t want to ruin things for them. We’ve worked so hard to get to this point.” 

“So are you going to tell them you want to take a break? I know you said on the last tour you were all getting on each other’s nerves because everyone was tired. Maybe if you bring it up, they will tell you they feel the same way. This is about what you want. I want you to be completely sure you want to do this before you go into that meeting tomorrow, but I won’t be the one to decide it for you. Only you can do that.” Kristin said, kissing him gently on the shoulder. 

Kevin kissed her on the forehead, nodding as he thought back to the Never Gone tour. There were so many things going on during that tour, even while they were recording. It was getting to be too much for him. He wanted to start a family with Kristin. He wanted to try some acting. None of these things seemed possible to do while he was in the group because of their schedule, and he was just tired. He wasn’t inspired anymore to create music. Finally he decided that he was going to leave the group, or at the very least take a break. He knew it would hurt the guys but it was just something he had to do. 

“You’re right. I can’t let this drag out any more, I have to tell them. I’m going to tell them tomorrow. I called the meeting with everyone and our management, and I’m going to go through with it.” Kevin said. He kissed Kristin and they turned out the light, although he wasn’t able to sleep. Memories came and went throughout the night, memories with the other four guys that were basically family to him. Before he knew it, the sun was coming up. He decided to make a pot of coffee and fix breakfast for himself and his wife, so that by the time she came downstairs there was a plate of scrambled eggs and toast waiting for her. 

“Someone was up early.” Kristin smiled at him from the kitchen doorway wearing her nightgown and a robe. 

“Yeah, I couldn’t sleep. I gotta be down there by 11. My stomach is in knots.” Kevin replied, starting on the bacon. He was quiet during most of breakfast and had two cups of coffee before anyone spoke again. 

“I think it’s going to be fine. They’ll understand.” Kristin smiled, drinking her coffee. 

“I hope so.” he sighed. 

Kevin drove to the meeting with a weight in his stomach from anxiety, his heart pounding the whole way. He parked and headed inside, hoping he wasn’t the first one there. 

“Hey, cousin!” Brian said brightly, waving at him. Kevin didn’t smile, he looked at his feet. How was he going to go through with this? Maybe if he turned around really quickly and ran back to the car, nobody would question anything. He would turn around on one….two…..three…..

Why wasn’t he running? 

“Hi, Brian. Good to see you.” Kevin replied, hugging him. 

“I thought I was the first one here. I can’t wait to talk about the new album, how about you? I have so many ideas. I’ve been writing some music too.” Brian boasted, eager to make small talk before they went inside to discuss the album with their friends. 

Kevin looked at his feet again, feeling guilty. Brian eyed him curiously, as if he already knew what was coming but was deciding when to bring it up. Most of the guys knew after the Never Gone tour that Kevin was tired and in need of some time off, which they did end up getting. However none of them knew just what extent the time off Kevin needed was. He felt that he was dragging his little brothers down, that he was too old to be a Backstreet Boy anymore. He felt uninspired to create music for them. He wanted to start a family, and be free to do what he wanted. Being in the group wasn’t where he wanted to be anymore right now. Deep down, Kevin knew this day was going to come. He just didn’t think it would be today.

“That’s great, Bri. Really great.” Kevin sighed. 

“Are you okay?” Brian asked in concern. The two of them were interrupted by Nick bounding over to them and hugging them both, and Kevin was happy that he didn’t have to answer Brian’s question after all. Eventually the three of them got bored with making small talk and headed inside where AJ and Howie were sitting with some of their management. Nick looked around the room, a little confused. 

“What is our management doing here? I thought we were just going to talk about the album and shit.” Nick scoffed. 

“Something like that.” Kevin said, barely above a whisper. He took a breath and sat across from AJ, who smiled at him. They did end up tossing ideas for the next album around, like what kind of sound they were looking to go for and some other things. The whole time, Kevin was mentally coaching himself to speak up.

“You’re awfully quiet, Kevin.” their manager said suddenly. 

“Huh?” Kevin said, startled as he looked up to see everyone starting to stare at him. He blushed and coughed, rubbing the back of his head with his hand out of nerves. 

“We were talking about recording.” Howie offered, trying to get the conversation going again. Kevin felt like he was going to throw up. 

“Oh, yes. Right.” 

Kevin took a breath, he had to do it now. 

“I think we should take a break.” 

Everyone went silent, all eyes on Kevin. 

“Like a bathroom break? I think that’s a great idea, cause I’ve had to go for the last ten minutes.” Brian asked innocently, everyone laughing but Kevin. 

“No…what I mean is, well….” 

Everyone was staring at him, shooting daggers. Kevin hurriedly cleared his throat and continued. 

“I was just thinking we should rest for a little bit. We were at each other’s throats last tour. Maybe a break is just what we need.” he said. 

Silence again. 

“I’m sure you all feel the same way?” Kevin asked, looking around the table. Nobody was looking at him now. Nobody spoke up. He only needed one look at the others to know that he was alone in his thoughts and none of them shared his feelings whatsoever. His heart sank in his chest, he knew now what he had to do and he didn’t want to do it. He was always the odd man out and labeled as the killjoy, what was one more moment where he killed the mood? Kevin was tired of this game. 

“We shouldn’t stop now. This is a good time for the five of you to keep going. You are fresh in the public’s mind. Think of your careers, you don’t want your fans to forget you.” 

"I agree." Nick said, looking at Kevin as if he were challenging him. 

Kevin looked down at the table, annoyed that not even their manager was on his side, but he had expected as much. 

“Look, that sounds great and all….but what about what I want? My wife and I want a family. We want children. I want to spend some time with her. I want to try different things, because I don’t feel inspired to create music right now. I just need some time on my own for a little while.” Kevin said finally. 

"Brian didn't take time off for that." Nick half muttered under his breath. Brian mouthed for him to stop it and Nick rolled his eyes. 

“What are you saying, that you want to leave?” AJ asked, and Kevin could practically feel the burn from Nick’s eyes from across the table. Nick’s temper was definitely getting out of control. He hadn’t even said anything but everyone could see he was about to explode. 

"I just need to do my own thing. You have my blessing to keep going if you want to. I don't want to hold any of you back-" Kevin started before he was interrupted by Nick slamming his hand down so hard on the table that he startled Howie. 

"You're just going to walk….after everything we have been through?" Nick shouted, his face turning red. 

"Nick, it's not that simple." Kevin started. Brian began tugging on Nick's shirt but he was pushed away. 

"Nick, don't do this…." he said, but Nick ignored him. 

"Whatever. Go ahead and leave like the others did. I don't fucking care." Nick snapped as he stood up. 

"Nick, I love you guys very much but I want a family of my own. I just really need a break. Aren't you all tired too?" Kevin asked, his eyes shining with tears. He was trying to keep himself calm, but Nick just wasn't cooperating. 

"Y-You have no idea how I am feeling right now, Kevin. How long did you know you were going to do this, and you couldn't even fucking talk to us? I thought we were a family." Nick said shakily. 

"Please calm down for a minute and just try to understand where I'm coming from-" 


The door slammed and just like that, Nick was gone. Nobody spoke for a few moments after he left, Kevin kept looking at the door and hoping Nick would come back. 

"Kevin, if you want to take a break we all understand. He's just….he needs some time, that's all." Brian said suddenly. 

"Right, and if you ever want to come back the door is open." AJ agreed with a warm smile. Nick's words echoed in Kevin's head as the other three guys tried to be supportive. Kevin hated that Nick was so upset and part of him wanted to go after him, so he got up and went outside to see if maybe Nick hadn't left yet. 

"What the fuck do you want? I told you to not talk to me." Nick hissed, dropping his lighter and bending down to pick it up as he was trying to hide the fact he was crying. He lit his cigarette and started puffing, ignoring Kevin and just looking anywhere but at his eyes. 

"Nick, I just wanted to tell you that I never meant to hurt any of you. I just need to do what's best for myself. We will still keep in touch if you want to. You're still my little brother." Kevin called out to him. When Nick didn't say anything, Kevin turned to go back inside, looking at the ground and feeling horrible. Was he wrong for doing what was best for himself? If he wasn't into things anymore there was no reason for him to keep pushing forward. He knew this break was needed but he still felt guilty. 

Nick never responded to him but when Kevin walked away he could hear him starting to cry again and he felt terrible. 

"Did you guys talk?" Howie asked, appearing next to Kevin when he'd gone to his car. 

"No. He wouldn't talk to me. I don't want to leave you guys, but my heart is just not in it right now. It's not fair for me to drag all of you down if I am not feeling inspired.*

"You're absolutely right, but you're not dragging us down. If you need to take a break, take a break- but do it for yourself. We will always be here for you. Nick will come around. I'm sure he feels the same way. You know how he is." Howie offered, putting an arm around Kevin and smiling. Kevin felt a little better. 

"Thank you, D. I just hate seeing him upset like this. I can't help but feel guilty." 

"Don't. You do what's best for you." 

Kevin nodded and left to go home, the whole ride thinking about everything. Memories flashed before his eyes of his time with the group. While this chapter of his life was now over, he couldn't help but wonder what was behind the door that was open in front of him now. The future was a scary place but he was glad that he had chosen to take the new path and excited to see what would happen next. 
Chapter 21 by DelphinaCarter
Author's Notes:
The concert dialogue is taken directly out of this YouTube video.

“Today’s the day.” Kevin said to himself when he woke up and opened his eyes. That night, the Backstreet Boys were going to officially announce he was back in the group. Part of him wanted to be at the show in London where they were announcing it, but he felt like it was jinxing things. Kristin was even surprised he chose to stay home and watch the concert being streamed online. 

“Are you nervous?” Kristin asked from her position next to him in the bed. She leaned over and kissed his shoulder, before nuzzling into his arm.

“Kind of. I mean, I’m sure the fans will be happy about it but I am still nervous. You think the guys are nervous too?” 

“I’m sure they are. Did you and Nick ever get things out in the open? You told me that you and him talked but you didn’t really say a whole lot.” Kristin said, getting out of the bed and putting on her bathrobe. Kevin got up as well. 

“We did, I don’t think I need to worry about Nick and I anymore. He’s doing okay, since his sister passed by the way. I talked to him last night. We’ve been having chats a couple of times a week or when he feels that he needs to talk to someone. It’s been great for the both of us.” 

“That’s wonderful. I’m glad he has the four of you to help him. Let’s go eat. We have plenty of time before the live stream tonight, that is if you want to watch it live.” Kristin said, waving for Kevin to follow her to the kitchen. Kevin smiled at her. He wondered how he ever got so lucky. 

“You look deep in thought.” Brian pointed out when he saw Nick staring off into space that night. Nick had been pretty quiet all day. 

“Just thinking about the announcement tonight. I wish Kevin was here with us."

"I wish he was here too, but I can see why he didn't come. He's been so nervous about all of this that he almost backed out from coming back a couple of times." Brian chuckled. Nick looked at him in surprise and felt bad because he was sure that he was the reason Kevin felt that way. 

"I had no idea," he said softly. 

"Nick, I know what you're thinking and it's not just you. He was nervous to even talk to all of us about wanting to come back. Think about it. He's been gone six years and he's getting thrown back into things again. It's going to be very different for him now." Brian explained. Nick knew that Brian was right, he thought of how things were when they’d taken a break after Black and Blue and how nervous everyone was about how Never Gone was going to be. They were all worried about how the public would react, how things were going to be because everything had changed. They didn’t know at the time that it was their last tour with Kevin but things were definitely strained during that time on the road. Going into Unbreakable wasn’t any different, especially without Kevin. It was a huge adjustment for all of them. So Nick decided made a point that when Kevin was with them again to make him feel as welcome as possible. He decided to put aside his uneasiness about everything and help with the transition. 

“Everything okay in here, fellas?” AJ asked brightly as he walked into the dressing room. 

“Yeah, Nick and I were just wishing Kevin was here for his announcement.” Brian replied. 

“He told me last night he was going to watch from home with Kristin and Mason.” Nick said, thinking about their conversation the night before. 

“I know, I tried to convince him last week, but he wouldn’t have it. He said he’d jinx things if he was here.” AJ said, drinking from the cup of coffee he had in his hand. 

“I’m sure he’s just being nervous about nothing, as usual.” Howie chuckled from behind them. 

Nick smiled at the others, he wished Kevin was here but he knew there was a good reason behind his decision to not be in London. He couldn’t wait to get this over with and just tell the world he was back. 

“It’s almost time,” Kevin said as he and Kristin sat in front of Kevin’s laptop, watching the concert live stream of NKOTBSB in their kitchen. They had the laptop on the kitchen table. Mason was going to watch with them but because of the time zone he was napping, so it was just the two of them. Kevin and Kristin were enjoying the concert until the show stopped on the four BSB members. Kristin smiled at her husband, squeezing his hand that was folded into her own and shaking. It was happening. 

“Thank you guys so much. Thank you, thank you , thank you so much.” Brian said suddenly, smiling at Nick from where he was standing on the stage. Nick smiled, simply taking in the screams from the audience. It was almost deafening. 

“Listen, I don’t know if you know this, but you guys- not only you guys here but everyone watching all around the world tonight, you’ve been loving the Backstreet Boys for over 19 years.” Brian pointed out, taking a moment to listen to the roar of screams erupting even louder than before. 

“Yes.” AJ agreed.

“On the other side of the coin, you guys have been loving the New Kids On the Block for over 25 years.” 

The fans screamed louder still. 

“Those guys are awesome!” Howie said. 

“I just want to say from the bottom of my heart, I know I can speak for all nine of us on stage tonight….that we would not be here if it wasn’t for beautiful people just like you.” Brian said. 

Kevin squeezed Kristin’s hand back, smiling at her and kissing her briefly. His eyes went back to the computer monitor, listening to the fans screaming. He missed hearing that, being in the moment with all the fans watching and just going crazy. It was an incredible rush that he hadn’t found on the Broadway stage or anywhere else. 

“Hey Brian,” Nick said suddenly. 


“You said these beautiful people, right? These amazing fans here, right?” Nick asked innocently.

“Yes.” Brian smiled. 

“I think we should let them in on a little secret that we have.”

“What is that secret, Nick?” Brian asked, trying not to laugh while the screams nearly drowned them out. He and Nick smiled at each other, playing up the audience some more. 

“Since we love you all so much, especially London…we are going to come back in July to record the next Backstreet Boys album this year!!” 

Kevin took a breath and squeezed Kristin’s hand again.

“I wish they’d just fucking get on with telling them about me. This is killing me.” 

“I can see that, honey. You’re going to break my fingers.” Kristin giggled. 

“Sorry.” Kevin blushed. They kept listening to the live stream because Brian started to talk again, trying to speak over the intense screaming from the audience. 

“Wait, wait….because there’s two parts to that secret that we told you. Should we tell them?” Brian asked. 

“Go for it!!” Howie shouted. 

“No, HERE?” Nick interrupted. 

“AND KEVIN IS COMING BACK!!!!” Brian shouted. 

Kevin didn’t know why, but he closed his eyes. He was wondering what would happen, he knew they wouldn’t boo or anything but his heart was pounding in his chest. He was a little surprised that the screaming got so loud that they had to turn down the volume of the computer. Kristin kissed him on the cheek again. 

“Kevin is actually watching this on the website right now. On the count of three, we want you all to say Hi Kevin!” Howie shouted. Kevin opened his eyes and just listened, feeling tears coming when the audience yelled hello to him. 

After they turned off the laptop when the show ended, Kevin sat there in silence on the couch, his hands pressed together in front of his face as if he were praying. He was smiling. Simply happy and smiling because of how everything had worked out over the past few months. They were going to record an album in a few months as a five member group again. He was going to go on the road and perform again. He was going to be with his little brothers again. It was definitely going to be very different and he would have to adjust to life on the road once more, but he was looking forward to it. 

The five of them had a lot of history together and it was time to make some more. 

The End
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