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August 30th, 2012:

A slight rapt on the door caused Nick Carter’s head to snap up from its bent position; his concentration solely on his guitar where he was picking random chords, playing a medley of the songs they had not too long ago decided would be on the album.

Sighing heavily, he placed his guitar on down on his hotel bed and maneuvered his laptop and small keyboard away from him as he rose from the bed to open his door. Without looking through the peephole, he immediately tugged the door open, revealing Brian Littrell, who was standing there with his two hands shoved nervously into his pockets.

“Hey…” Brian muttered, rather sheepishly, having the hardest time maintaining eye contact with him. “mind if I come in?”

Nick forced a slight smirk as he opened the door further and held it with a shrug, “Sure… don’t mind the mess.”

“You know I never did.” he cracked dryly as he walked in and immediately seated himself on the bed, fingers dancing across the keyboard he now sat in front of, “Still working?”

“Nah, just messing around.”

Brian nodded, “Okay… I was hoping I wasn’t interrupting you with anything…”

“You’re not…” Nick’s voice pitched in puzzlement, trying to gauge him without seeming to come across straight forward. “Not to be rude, but… what would you be interrupting me with?” he asked cautiously; their argument still so fresh in his mind, he didn’t want to strike another chord with the man.

Brian sighed, struggling to find the words to start the inevitable reason why he had came in the first place. “God Nick, I have so much things to say, and I have no idea where to start…” There was a lengthy pause, and right when Nick was about to fill the silence, he continued, “I guess I should start with an apology, seeing as how I never formally gave one.”


“I was way out of line… I got so worked up, felt like everyone was against me and I just wasn’t being heard. Then you and I kept going up and up with each other, and I got so tired of feeling talked over, that I… I just snapped. And it was so easy. There was just that nagging feeling in me, and the amounting emotions didn’t help. But you were right… I should’ve NEVER talked to you like that, because I would never get your respect that way…” he scoffed, “you’d think I’d know that, being your best friend and all…”

Nick swallowed hard listening to Brian laying it out on the table. Twenty years together, and he could still never get used to one of his brothers bearing themselves in front of him. “Well…”

“Which brings me to think…” now Brian was staring off, a dazed look haunting his features. “being your best friend… Jordan and Pippen… I haven’t been a good captain, been failing even worse as a best friend. All this time I thought I was the player being benched. Like Jordan, feeling like maybe I’ve ran my time out here on the team… then tonight you made me realize that you guys weren’t benching me… I was just choosing not to play the game at all.”

Nick’s head immediately snapped up to find his older brother in silent tears, trying in vain to fight it back, but they had already burned their tracks and left their marks. “I’ve been thinking of ways to bow out gracefully without…” he choked “without having to truly tell you guys my reason of leaving. Maybe I could’ve been like Kev and say that I wasn’t feeling it anymore, and I could… slip away to do something else I was good at, because Lord knows it wasn’t singing anymore. I needed that… confidence again, that assurance, you know?” A pause. “I knew you guys could hear it, but some… delusional part in my mind convinced me that I was getting away with it because none of you guys really said anything. Until you called me out on it tonight that is.”

“Bri, I’m sorr-”

“For what? What are you sorry for? For being right? For telling me the truth? For not being a coward?” Brian smiled bitterly through his tears and shook his head, “For being a best friend and helping me?”

Nick’s mouth hung agape, confusion twisting his face. Where was Brian going with this? He literally threatened Brian tonight, how was that him being a helpful best friend?!

“When you had your issues, with your drinking and all that, I was nowhere to be found… I didn’t want to be associated with that… that image you were painting for yourself, and being that we were Frick and Frack, it would have only been a matter of time before that image would’ve drug the both of us down. I was in denial, I didn’t want to face it, I didn’t say anything because it was your life! It was only tonight that I realized that I hadn’t been a brother, a best friend… hell, a friend at all during those moments of your life. I had became a stranger watching a trainwreck about to happen… instead of jumping on the train with you to help you stop it.”

Nick jumped at the sudden movement of Brian rising from his bed, sauntering over to the sliding door that led out to the balcony, staring out into the vast darkness and the glittering city lights. “You know, AJ had Kevin with his struggles… hell, I had you tonight with my issues, and in that moment I realized… you didn’t have any of us there for you.” He turned around to stare deep into Nick’s eyes; the one thing he avoided and dreaded to do. “And I’m so sorry for that Nick.”

Although Brian had done most of the talking since he stepped into his hotel room, Nick figured it’d be best for him to remain silent and let Brian have his moment of letting it all out. “When you said you weren’t afraid of me anymore, I was confused at first… not once had we ever threatened each other, or rose a fist towards one another, we were always able to talk things out. But these past few years our talking diminished into our differences just blowing over the next day. I’m probably taking this in a way you didn’t intend, but when you said you weren’t afraid of me anymore, maybe you meant you weren’t afraid to finally let me go, as I had done to you all these years… from since I was with Leighanne.”

He walked over to Nick and placed a comforting hand upon his shoulder, massaging it with light squeezes. “Thank you Nick… for always being there for me, even when I wasn’t there for you. Thank you for believing in me when I was starting to lose faith and belief in myself. Thank you for jumping on this train with me.”

Nick worried at his bottom lip, fighting the emotions coursing through him, truly at a loss of words. For the first time in a long time, Brian finally smiled and released his grip to pat him on his back before he started making his way towards the door to take his leave.

“You know…” he chuckled with a smirk as he held the door open, “they always say what is Pippen without Jordan… and it’s funny because we found out… Pippen emerged from Jordan’s shadow after he left… and that’s exactly what you did tonight.” Pausing, he took a deep breath in and flashed his infamous warm, knowing smile, “But this Jordan will always need Pippen.” and with that, he left and closed the door behind him.