Pulling his knees up to his chest, he wrapped his arms around them. He had heard once that if it was really cold, you should try to become as small as possible. It made sense, he supposed. He took a deep breath, shifting slightly in the wet grass. The storm was over, but the damage was done. His head had stopped bleeding a long time ago, and he should be lucky that he didn’t get hurt worse than that, but damn, did the situation suck. And why was he left here with Brian, while the other two had set out on a rescue mission? He wanted to be part of the action as well, and if anything, it might help to warm him up some.
But because Kevin felt responsible for everything, he had immediately declared that he and Howie should be the ones to look for Nick. They’d left the younger two in the melting snow and had quickly disappeared into the night.
Another bad idea.
Brian snapped him out of his thoughts as he groaned quietly and slowly opened his eyes. He had eventually pretty much passed out after the whole bus lifting thing and AJ hoped he didn’t necessarily remember the particular ordeal.
“How you doing?” he whispered urgently.
Brian gave him an exasperated look and rolled his eyes, “Still trapped underneath this frikkin thing, how’s it look like I’m doing?”
AJ nodded perplexed, but figured that if Brian was able to get snappy with him, it wouldn’t be so bad. “How are your legs?”
“Pretty much frozen by now,” the older singer sighed and shifted uncomfortably. That wasn’t such a surprise, considering everything about him looked uncomfortable. “They find Nick yet?”
And there went his confidence again, thanks a lot, Littrell. He looked down and shook his head, knowing very well that Brian couldn’t see him in the dark. Once again scenarios of Nick blown to a million different pieces flooded his mind and he bit his lip to keep control.
“You sure he wasn’t with you in the front?” AJ asked for the umpteenth time.
“Yes, AJ, I’m sure, believe me, I would have remembered,” Brian said, his voice wavering slightly, indicating he may not have been so sure after all. It was weird how nobody remembered where Nick had been on the bus. Once he had figured out they had to ride a bus together, the youngest member had pretty much hidden himself in a little corner he never came out. No one had bothered to check on him the entire trip; with the result that now no one knew where he could be. Still, if he hadn’t been blown to pieces in the front, if he had had the luck of being in the back when it all happened, then where the hell was he?
AJ stood up stiffly, and walked around the wreckage a few times to get a little warmer. He wished Brian could do the same. He’d told AJ he felt fine as long as he didn’t move.
AJ didn’t believe him. Sure, the cold was pretty much numbing everything in its grasp, but the constantly pained expression on the older man’s face told him everything he needed to know. From what he could see without touching Brian, there were some pretty ugly burns decorating his back, shoulders and chest. Brian was involved in most of the doom scenarios in his mind. He hoped Howie and Kevin came back soon.
“Would you please sit down, you’re making me dizzy,” Brian grumbled and AJ slowly lowered himself back down with a sigh.
“Just trying to keep warm,” he mumbled and ignored Brian’s glare, “God, I need something to do, I’m going crazy.”
“How do you think I feel?”
“Touché,” AJ sighed again and shivered, “Why is it so goddamn cold here?”
“Leave God out of it,” Brian muttered, closing his eyes, “He’s got nothing to do with this.’’
“Yeah, but still…”
“What’s that?” Brian interrupted, vaguely pointing into the distance, “They find us?”
AJ blinked, squinting his eyes as the beams of light hit his eyes. At first he thought it was a car. Right. A car in the middle of a field. Because cars did that, of course. Then he sighed.
“Nah, it’s just them,” he grumbled.
The beams of light slowly came closer, revealing a disappointed Kevin and an exhausted Howie. AJ didn’t even have to ask. He could practically read on their faces that they hadn’t found what they were looking for.
“Well, Nick is exactly… nowhere,” Howie announced nevertheless and AJ felt his heart drop.
“We found Toby though,” Kevin whispered and shook his head, “He… he didn’t make it.”
There was a heavy silence. Everybody looked at the ground, trying to fathom what Kevin’s words meant.
“But… but I was standing right next to him…” Brian frowned.
“We did find flashlights though,” Howie stated, ignoring Brian’s gloomy comment. “And a whole bunch of stuff. We tried to haul as much over to this place, but there’s still a lot left.”
“Right,” Kevin said, “Thank the heavens, there’s a lot of blankets and stuff, we don’t necessarily have to freeze our butts of anymore.”
Howie had begun unloading the large backpack he’d brought.
“Whoever thought we were going to Alaska instead of Orlando when he packed, I owe you my life.”
“That would be me,” AJ smirked, quickly wrapping himself in one of the blankets he’d packed in his suitcase that morning. “I always pack for all kinds of weather, don’t you guys know that by now?”
Kevin shook his head, “I’m just glad they didn’t get caught in the fire.”
The others nodded their agreement, “Oh, and jackpot!” Howie cried out, triumphantly holding up an assortment of candy and other snacks. “Apparently there was also one among us that thought we were gonna starve on our trip.”
“I’ll put my money on Nick,” AJ said, his smile faltering as he muttered the name of his bandmate. “Do you think we’ll find him?”
Kevin looked at him for a few seconds before answering, “I don’t know. We’ll have to do it soon, though.”
AJ swallowed and nodded. He was still cold. His clothes were wet and he could see the others were soaked as well.
He wrapped the blanket a little tighter around his frame, watching as Howie did his best to get a blanket around Brian without hurting him. It only worked half, as Brian’s legs were still trapped under the wreckage and soaking in the cold from the ground below. Observing Howie’s stiff movements, AJ frowned at the way the older member favored his right side, wincing every now and then.
For a moment, he’d believed that it was going to work out after all. They’d just stay there, like a bunch of campers with a campfire and marshmallows and scary stories. But at least two out of four needed doctors, and one was still missing without a trace.
But they’d make a plan later.