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June 8, 2015

To say Nick was glad that their two year long tour would soon be coming to an end would be an understatement. He enjoyed the touring life, but there was nothing greater than finally being able to return back to your humble abode and try to live life as normal as you possibly can, being a Backstreet Boy… until they returned to the studio to do it all over again.

To add to that, the voices and thoughts he had or heard in his head were getting worse. He had realized that there was nothing he could do to escape it; it would come and go whenever, wherever, with really no trigger behind it. All he could do was plaster a smile on his face and try to continue to be the Nick Carter the fans knew and his brothers grew up with, but even that was getting harder with the passing days.

He had taken it upon himself to buy a book and begin writing down all the thoughts he was having and the words he was hearing, what was being said and by whom. He figured if he couldn’t stop it, he’d at least try to piece it together in hopes of understanding what it all meant. It was then that he made a sickening realization that although his “first episode” would technically be nearing a year, these thoughts and words actually predates it all; it was only recently that it was getting louder, more defined, harder to ignore.

He would come close, so many times, to just opening up to one of the fellas about what was going on with him; but doubts would quickly fill his mind and prevent him from going any further. How would he start it off? What exactly would he say? What would they say? What would they think? Perhaps tell him it was the pressure and stress of the tour that was finally bearing down on him. Maybe his insecurities were flaring up, but nothing that big brother Kev couldn’t fix. Or simply he was just lonely with his thoughts, and all he needed to do was return home to Lauren.

Maybe that’s all that it was? Maybe he was missing his wife a little too much during this touring cycle. But why did he find himself yearning for something more? Something that his fame, fortune, not even his fellow band brothers or wife could fill. Why did he still feel… lonely?

It’s ironic how fickle the Hollywood life can be. You’re surrounded by your legion of adoring fans, friends in high places, access to whatever your heart could ever desire, cash flow endless so you never know what it feels to be content, and scandals and promiscuity was your golden ticket to extending your fifteen minutes of fame; the more scandalous you were, the more relevant and notorious you’d be.

All this, yet you can still feel like a pebble amongst boulders; small, insignificant, and alone. The glamourous life is still just a life; and the adjective before it does not spare you of its ups, downs and in-betweens. He knew he could vent to any one of his brothers, close friends, or even wife about how he’s been feeling, but how can you expect someone to understand you when you can’t even understand yourself?

He knew he could talk to Kevin, the eldest of the four of them. With his years of wisdom, way of words and natural instinct of balance and sympathy; not to mention the fact that they had grown even closer, probably the closest they’ve ever been in the twenty plus years of knowing each other, and had finally managed to bridge the age gap between them two. But with Kevin’s sensibilities came his assurance and confidence in you; a heartfelt conversation, wise words given, a touch of reassurance and he sends you on your way to take on the world with a new outlook and confidence and belief that you can do it because he said so. Unfortunately with this situation, he would need more than that.

There was no doubt that he could easily talk to Howie. The two of them were probably now considered the best friends of the group. He wasn’t exactly sure when it happened, but years ago he found himself straying away from Brian, and growing closer to Howie. He had always been fond of the shorter man from when they first began; it was more than likely his pure heart and underlying ferocious tendencies, where just like Leo he was, if he set his sights on something he wanted enough, he was hungry and courageous to go out there and get it, that reeled him in. He was admirable, trustworthy, and loyal to the tee.

They were both empathetic towards one another, with people often mistaking their kindness for their weakness. When it came to the two of them, people wanted and wanted and continued to take, that when they had their fill or felt like you had nothing more left to offer or give, you were nothing but a fading memory to them. In Nick’s case, it was his parents with his stardom. In Howie’s case, it was the record label with his vocals. There was so much more to Howie than the world knew, and he was the privileged few that was blessed with Howie’s friendship and a bond like no other. But with that trust came the inevitable fear of failure… nothing scared him more than feeling like he let Sweet D down.

Then, there was Brian. The Rok. His Frick. His first best friend and the true older brother he never had. Back then there was not enough words to explain his best friend, or their friendship, and the undeniable, seemingly unbreakable bond they shared. Upon forming the group, they immediately took to one another, knowing it was more than shared interests that brought them together. He used to joke saying that they were brothers from other mothers, and that God made them best friends because he knew their moms couldn’t handle them as brothers; and then he just started begging Brian to have his mom adopt him.

Wherever Brian was, there was Nick, and vice versa. Nick was like a little lost pup following Brian around, wanting nothing more than to be accepted and always at his beck and call. But being that there was still an age gap nonetheless between them, Nick was seemingly oblivious to the fact that Brian would live out many of life’s firsts before him… graduation, marriage, family. After years of being inseparable, Nick didn’t know what to think of someone taking his place. That someone being on the set of their music video. That someone being a woman. That someone being a woman Brian met long after he and Nick were friends.

Call him a brat, but if there was one thing Nick couldn’t stand, it was sharing. He was the second oldest of five, and constantly had to share with his younger siblings because… well, they were young. Once he became famous, he had to share his income with his parents because it would “help their family live the American Dream”. Although he once again became one of five in the band, he was the youngest, and had immediately been dubbed the group’s heartthrob, and being that he finally did something for himself for once and chose joining the Backstreet Boys over the Mickey Mouse Club, he drank up the attention. They may have shared the limelight, but he constantly stole the show.

So here he was, sizing up Brian’s new flame, but internally knowing he could never compete. And there was Leighanne, like the new lover she was moving into Brian’s life with a hatred for dogs, pushing Nick to the side and ultimately giving Brian an ultimatum; her or the dog. But good ole Brian didn’t need a companion, he needed a partner for life. Regardless, with the persistence of a German Shepard, Nick stuck around, pursued and latched on. Little did he know, he was pushing Brian further into Leighanne’s needy arms.

Brian began investing into his personal home life more than his Backstreet life; he hardly had time for Nick, but promised he would make time. There Brian was, throwing the stick, and loyal Nick still at his beck and call, going out to fetch it. Only difference was, when he returned, no one was there. So he waited. And waited. Perked up when Brian acknowledged him. Sulked when he was forgotten. Waited. Waited. Until eventually, he grew up and moved on from waiting for people who didn’t have time for him in their lives. And then he learned that Howie knew how to balance his personal life and his different sides of family.

Of course everything came to a head between him on Brian that day in the office, and thankfully a lot had been settled between the two of them; a lot of unsaid words and ill feelings that predated the mounting tension and vocal issues. And although Brian was the one that came to him first to apologize, there was no denying the shift their bond had continued to endure; they were better, but they were not the same.

But there was one thing Nick knew for sure, and that thought was comforting enough. If he needed Brian for anything, he would push everything aside, regardless of the change, and be there for him. He was the group’s spiritual soundboard and strength, and although he had his flaws just like everyone else and had his moments, he would always try to end everything with bringing out the best of that person, which in turn brought the best version of himself back out. He knew how to find cracks and holes in someone and their life and fill it with God; he is what the world sorely needs.

But having that said, don’t ever place Brian in a situation that challenges his faith and morals. Sometimes his beliefs and righteousness tends to overshadow sympathy, which in turn transitions into a slight weakness of his that causes him to retreat. He’d rather not be brought down with you into the hole you dug for yourself; he’s more of the innocent bystander that will talk you to step away from the cliff edge and hope and pray there will be a happy ending to this.

And finally, AJ, who’s just… AJ. What can you say about the man who was your partner in crime in taking a bite from the same poisonous apple? No one would probably understand him more than Bone. The two youngest, they were kings, they were gods, they were international sex symbols. They were rebels without a cause, with too much to fight for, and not enough will to fight against. It would be the two of them to have succumbed to the lack of self-worth, the pressure of self-discipline, and the struggles of self-indulgence.

Being that they were only two years apart, they bumped heads more often than not. It was normally a pissing contest between them; who got the most lead vocals, who was really the lead singer, who knew the most when it came to notes and harmonizing, who was best Backstreet Boy. They both had so much to prove to others, neglecting the fact that the only person they had to prove themselves to were… themselves, and in that had easily lost sight of who they were.

AJ had once said it’s easy to lose sight of who you are when you’re in a group of people, and boy did Nick know that to be true. With no room for you to be yourself, you were constantly changing yourself to be everything everyone else wanted you to be… and with people wanting more and never satisfied, you just were never good enough.

AJ lived to make people happy. Being an only child raised by his mother and grandparents, he thrived on being accepted and acknowledged and you could easily mold and shape him to be whatever you wanted, as long as you wanted him and liked him in the end.

Nick, on the other hand, was sadly used to people molding him to what they saw fit, with their end goal being to reap what he sowed. He just thrived on being his own person, whoever that was, changing to adapt to every and any situation. Drugs and alcohol proved to be the only thing that calmed their erratic minds, numbed their aching hearts and eased their restless souls. For once they weren’t giving, but rather taking, which, unconsciously, led them back to giving a lot more than just their fame and money.

They were drowning in an endless sea of hopelessness and self-hatred, but Kevin was their raft. He managed to pull them up and had served as a reminder that when all seems lost, you still have your brothers to cling to. AJ had cleaned up before Nick, but during that time he no longer saw their bond as sibling rivalry, for he had grown a deep, newfound respect for the man who was only two years older than him; serving as an inspiration and a positive enabler, that if AJ could do it, then so could he!

He had his own special bond with each member, each playing a different role in his life. He probably had the utmost respect for AJ, and admires him way more than he lets people on to believe. Being the talker of the group, he knew he could easily open up to the heavily tattooed man, and that he would understand him completely. Where does he fall short in doing that?

AJ is the polar opposite of Brian… whereas Brian would be on the outside watching and waiting for this trainwreck to crash, AJ would be the first (and probably only) one to jump on it, doing what he can to help stop it, but if all else fails, he’s willing to accept your guys’ inevitable fate of crashing, together, because Lord knows he won’t let you go down alone. And that’s what he loved most about that man… his love for humanity and undying loyalty towards people completely overshadows himself; he knows how to easily put others before himself, but that’s what scared him.

Sighing heavily, Nick resumed scribbling down everything he was thinking and feeling; opting to keep it all to himself, for the sake of the guys of course, and depending on the book to be his only confidant.