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Chapter 9: Revelations

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

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

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

He picked up the phone.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

“What’s going on? Is he okay?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sure, see you soon cuz.”


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

“He took PCP!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I remembered my ‘rough patch’.

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

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


July 8, 2001

“Alex, just breathe sweetheart, just breathe.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hey guys.”

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

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

I thought that was a pretty stupid question.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I am so proud of you.”

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


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