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AJ was very pissed off. Three weeks later, and everything was falling apart again. How could that happen so consistently? He should have seen it happen, probably. But he didn’t. He hadn’t necessarily been in Orlando the last few weeks. Sure, he wanted to stay and support his friend, but life goes on. He had other commitments, other things to finish.

A Backstreet Life never stood still.

He’d spent Christmas at home, with his family. And for the first time in years, he’d been able to really appreciate the quality time with his wife and daughter.

That’s what bus crashes did with you, he figured. They made you value the little things all that much more. But all the while, he’d been thinking about Brian and how he was forced to spend Christmas in the hospital; the one place he hated more than anything on the planet.

He’d only had time to visit once, right before Christmas. It had been fairly awkward and he remembered he was actually glad to leave. Although the explanation was quite understandable, it was still unsettling to experience Brian in the mood he was in constantly these days. He blatantly refused to listen to anyone and didn’t accept help. Actually, he didn’t accept a lot of things.

And it pissed AJ off.

He squinted angrily, standing in the hallway, snorting as he saw Leighanne leave the room with a sad expression. He rolled his eyes, not having to guess what happened.

“Did he yell?” he grumbled, looking at her straightly.

She shrugged, watching the floor. AJ could see her thinking of an excuse and was quite disappointed when all she had to offer was, “Well, you know. He’s going through a tough period.”

“That doesn’t give him the right, Leighanne,” he snorted.

She didn’t answer, just looked at him for a minute longer before brushing past. He sighed. People that went into that roomed either got ignored, or yelled at.

He was sick and tired of it. Of seeing Leighanne slowly crack under the pressure. Brian, on the other hand, seemingly had no idea of what he was doing to her, to everybody.

And although this was definitely not the right time to enter, considering Brian had just yelled at his wife to leave him the hell alone, AJ went in anyway. If Brian was going to continue feeling sorry for himself all day, he could do it while AJ was there. He made a mental note not to let Brian send him off. He did not take time out of his schedule for that.

The room was fairly cold and AJ felt a shiver go down his spine. He felt his heart sink further down his stomach as he saw Brian sitting in bed, staring at the window with the same unreadable expression he’d been wearing for the past three weeks. Although the pneumonia had gone away for the most part, AJ thought his friend looked worse than ever.

Brian’s eyes shot his way for just a second when he entered, before returning their stare to the window. AJ sat down on a chair at the far end of the bed. He took a deep breath, copying Brian’s stubborn behavior.

They sat in silence for a long time, while AJ studied the patterns on the ceiling, on the wall, on the floor and even on the bed sheets. All the time, Brian pretended he didn’t even know AJ was there. AJ felt the anger slowly boiling inside him. What was he supposed to do? Yell? Beg his friend to finally look at him and tell him what was going on in that stubborn head of his? Was he supposed to get on his knees and ask Brian not to give up like this? Was that his job?


He remembered what his job had been a month ago, in that cold, dark, hellish field. His only job had been to keep Brian alive, even if Brian himself didn’t want that. That had been his job. He’d valued his friend’s life, maybe even more than his own at that point. He’d done everything he could. He’d hold him in his arms, he’d shook him awake, he’d kept track of his heartbeat and his breathing. He’d talked to him about anything and everything, just so he knew that Brian was listening and not dying.

And now here they were. The worst was over. They had all survived the ordeal. The surgery went as well as could be expected. They could continue with their lives now, even if it was not in the way they used to be.

And Brian downright refused.

It pissed AJ off more than anything ever could.

“So are we ever going to talk, or what?” AJ grumbled lowly, watching with slight satisfaction when Brian jumped at the sudden sound of his voice. The older man’s face twitched slightly, but he kept his firm gaze on the window, not acknowledging the other presence in the room.

“Dude come on,” AJ said, leaning forward, a little closer to the other singer, “It’s been three weeks, you gotta get out of bed eventually.”

Brian’s eyes narrowed and he slowly turned his head towards AJ. AJ smirked; mission accomplished. He saw Brian clench his jaw and prepared for the oncoming wave of yelling. People in this room would either leave voluntarily after tiring of being ignored, or Brian would eventually yell at them until they left. He would say all the things that he knew would hurt them most.

He was a dick like that. He could be very nice most of the time, but would get ultimately venomous sometimes.

AJ had experienced the last quite a few times actually. Whenever Brian wanted you to back off when you got too close, he would just create this giant gap between you by only using his words. They were often mean, poisonous and exactly hitting the sore spots that you never wanted to notice. It was a defense mechanism that was worse than anything else. The doctor’s labeled it as depression. Not very uncommon in cases like this.

But AJ was prepared.

“Get out?” Brian growled in a slow voice, his nostrils flaring dangerously, “How?” He looked at him with fiery eyes, daring him to say the unsaid words that hung in the air.

“Well, you could give it a try,” AJ explained, “I mean, the wheel chair is right there, I can go along, if you like.”

Brian looked at him as if that was the most ridiculous idea he’d ever heard, “Fuck you,” he spat and AJ’s eyebrows shot up in surprise; he’d expected yelling at this point.

“No! No, of course. You just keep sitting there Brian. Just keep feeling sorry for yourself. Meanwhile, the world moves on,” AJ said, throwing his hands up as he stood up from his chair. Who was the one yelling now?

“Fuck the world too,” Brian mumbled, returning his stare to the window.

“You sound like a fucking teenager,” AJ hissed, “What are you gonna do, huh? Stay here for the rest of your life? What about all those other people? Ever think about them? No. No, you just stay here, think about the crap you’re going through.”

Brian scoffed, “You telling me you’re going through the same thing? Last time I checked, you walked on two legs. You have no idea what I’m going through.”

AJ shook his head. This was déjà vu all over again, really. He remembered a similar situation when they had eventually been forced to talk about Brian’s voice issues after Nick had blown up about it. Brian had made sure that they knew that they had no idea what it was like. That they wouldn’t understand, no matter how much he talked to them about it.

And that was the problem.

He didn’t talk about it.

AJ sighed, sitting down again. “I may not know what it’s like, but nobody ever will if you keep shutting everybody out. It doesn’t work like that, Rok.”

Brian looked at him as he used the old nickname, his eyes fuming. “I’ll decide if it works or not,” he grumbled lowly.

AJ scoffed incredulously, “No you don’t. It’s not your decision. You have responsibilities, Brian. There are people that count on you. People that would love to help you if you give them a chance. Don’t you even care anymore?” Brian shrugged, once again turning his gaze to the window, trying to block everything out. AJ stood up, deciding he’d had enough.

“Fine,” he growled, “Be like that. Be the stubborn fuck you always are. There’s a meeting tomorrow. Cause the rest of us do have to look to the future. Maybe we’ll just continue as a foursome then.”

“Fuck you.”

“What do you care?”

“I don’t!”

“Good! Me neither!” AJ said loudly as he walked out.

Breathing heavily he marched down the hallways, realizing he’d let himself be send away after all.

AJ was very pissed off.