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A/N: Thanks so much to Jujube and KimberlyCan for reviewing! KimberlyCan I accidentally deleted your review when I was editing the last chapter but thanks so much for your kind words! Jujube, thanks for the encouragement! Hopefully this chapter gets some love too lol.

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

Chapter 12: Blood and Water.

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

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

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

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

Oh God, my mum. I need a drink.

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

God, I really need a drink.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Your friend.”

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

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

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

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

“Everything good Rok?”

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

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

“Leighanne not happy?”

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

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

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

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

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


October 18, 1995

I knocked on the door.

“Come in!”

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

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

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

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

“What’s going on Lou?” Kevin asked.

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

“Where’s AJ and Nicky?” Howie asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jane did not respond and neither did her lawyer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Then what?” I asked, feeling dejected.

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

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

What in HOLY HELL just happened?

Howie and Kevin jumped from their seats.

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

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

I was numb.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What the hell just happened?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

I felt like I was about to cry.

“Lou, that’s a bit-“

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He handed the pen to me.


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

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

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

“Nick can’t know.”

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

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

“Honey,” Denise was still with us. I hadn’t noticed. “He’s going to find out.”

Kevin shook his head. “No, I mean he can’t know about his mum,” he clarified. “He can’t know what this has all been about.” Kevin’s voice was breaking. “He can’t know this was because of money. Because his mum wants money. Because Lou wants money.”

Howie nodded, as did I.

“And AJ,” Kevin looked at Denise earnestly. “He can’t know either.”

Denise looked confused and I was too. Why couldn’t we tell AJ?

“Please, Denise,” Kevin pleaded.

“Okay sweetheart,” she said. “I won’t tell him. He’ll never know from me.”

Soon after, she left. We needed her to leave. It needed to just be the three of us for a while. So there we sat, trying so hard not to give in to the panic that was threatening to consume us. There we sat, wallowing in the fact that we had just become the parents of fifteen year old Nick Carter.


Please let me know how you think it’s going so far! Lots of love xx