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Author's Chapter Notes:
Hey everyone! Sorry for the delay in this chapter, I’ve been busy with work and visiting the boys in Vegas during the week. Jet lag is not my friend. Hope you all enjoy this chapter!!!
After finding out that the managers did not care about their health or well being, Brian and Nick grew tighter than before Nick had confessed he was gay. Nick had fainted during rehearsals in July and Brian kept him company in the hospital...staying through the night even though it turned out he was simply dehydrated and exhausted. Nick ended up taking a four day break from the rehearsals while the other boys went back to work harder than ever as if it were a punishment for Nick being tired. Nobody seemed to see what Brian saw in Lou, the others only saw the warm and friendly side of their manager, Brian knew he would need more support and started to talk to Leighanne more, long phone calls where he would rant to her about things he was finding out and what he wanted to do about it when he was able to. Nick was definitely on his mind as well. The feelings that rose during their kiss had gone to hide once Nick wasn’t around.

All of this was making him anxious and putting stress on his body to the point where the chest pain was more frequent.

“So when are you going to see a doctor?” Leighanne asked one night after Brian told her he was heading to bed early. They had been talking for only a half hour, and he was trying to make excuses for himself by saying they had rehearsal early.

“When we have time off, I can see if-“

“No, you need to see a doctor. You cannot keep putting your health on hold for those people. They don’t care about you, you told me yourself how they were practically salivating at the fact y’all could earn them so much money. Aren’t you being hypocritical?” Leighanne interrupted him.

Privately, Brian agreed he was being a hypocrite. But what could he do?

There simply wasn’t enough time for it all.

Finally August came and the boys were gearing up to release their first album in the United States, “Backstreet’s Back”. They were all excited for it and had a lot of press and promo in New York for the whole release, including signings in New York.

“Nick, you’re rooming with AJ. Howie, you’re rooming with Kevin…” Johnny started telling the boys when they got to their hotel.

“AJ?” Nick asked in confusion.

“Yes...Brian is bringing a guest.”

Leighanne walked into the lobby carrying a suitcase followed by Brian, and Nick’s eyes darkened. Brian had made his choice. He had chosen Leighanne and although Nick knew Brian was in denial, some part of him was hoping that he wouldn’t stay with her.

When they got up to their rooms, Nick slammed the door and flopped onto his bed dramatically, as AJ walked in a few minutes later.

“What’s eating you?” AJ asked, throwing his bag on the floor.

“I thought we weren’t allowed to bring any girlfriends or whatever. Didn’t the label say nobody was supposed to know we had them or something?” Nick sighed. How could Brian do this when they were supposed to be rooming together and teaming up to take down their manager? They were going to save the group together.

“I guess they let him do it. Come on, don’t you wanna be my roomie?” AJ said, planting a big wet kiss on Nick’s face as he wriggled away. Nick wiped his cheek and acted like he was disgusted by it because as of this moment, only Brian knew his secret and he planned to keep it that way. With this press tour, things were about to take off and Nick wanted to make sure that nothing screwed it up.

He would put his feelings to the side for now and that would be good enough.

It had to be. At least that was the lie that he told himself.

“How do you like the view, baby?” Brian asked when he saw Leighanne by the window looking out at the street below.

“It’s great, but I really think you should have seen a doctor during your couple days off instead of fighting to get me to come to New York with you.” Leighanne said thoughtfully.

Brian looked at the floor, sighing. Nick had been pushing him to go to a doctor as well but he was ignoring both of them because he simply did not have time. Or rather that was the excuse he told himself. The thought of going to the doctor made him anxious on top of everything else that was going on, the stuff he was uncovering about Lou and about the album release. He was already under a lot of stress and it put stress on his chest to the point where even the pain killers were not helping him anymore. He knew he couldn’t keep putting it off but he had to, or at least that was what he decided. The group was first, he was second and it had always been that way.

Brian held Leighanne’s waist and kissed her on the cheek, holding her and hoping that it would all work out for the best.

“So what do you want to do tonight? We don’t start any interviews until tomorrow morning...we could hit up some clubs or something.” AJ asked, watching Nick play his game boy in bed. They’d taken naps and were getting bored quickly.

“Jay, this isn’t Europe. I’m not old enough to go clubbing and neither are you. You’re only 19.” Nick said, not looking up from his video game.

AJ scoffed, looking annoyed that he couldn’t drink here.

“I bet I could still get some beer if I bribed someone to get it for me. You in?”

Nick was about to answer and tell AJ that it was a bad idea when a knock came at the door. It was unexpected and abrupt because Kevin was out with Howie shopping, Brian had his girlfriend there and their management was at meetings. Who would be knocking at this time in the evening?

“You get it.” AJ said, tossing a pillow at Nick’s head as he ducked. He walked over to the door and hoped maybe it was Brian, saying he was bored with his girlfriend and wanted to hang out for a while.

Nick was shocked to see Leighanne at the door…..without Brian.

“Brian’s not here, if you’re looking for him.” Nick said without thinking. Leighanne laughed, motioning for Nick to come out into the hallway and he obliged, shutting the door behind him. He was really nervous because Leighanne knew that Nick didn’t like her, and she didn’t seem to like him very much. This was the first time they’d even really talked without either yelling or without Brian in the room other than greeting each other in passing.

“Nick? Can I talk to you about something...but not here, in private?” Leighanne asked as if she’d spent some time thinking about coming over to see him.

Nick nodded and followed her down the hallway. His heart was thumping from nerves, was she about to tell him to fuck off? Was she going to tell him she didn’t want him to hang out with Brian anymore?

“So what’s up?” Nick asked when Leighanne made sure nobody was there to listen to their conversation.

“I’m worried about Brian. Has he told you about any chest pain he’s having?”

Nick thought back to the bus and at the hotel, at the video shoot when Brian thought he wasn’t paying attention. Brian was definitely uncomfortable and hiding it.

“He’s been hiding something from me, but won’t tell me what’s wrong. When I ask him, he gets angry and pushes me away.”

“Yeah he does that to me too. What do you think it is?” Nick sighed.

He followed Leighanne down the hallway and they stopped at the end where there was a big window near the elevators.

“I think he’s getting sick and it’s because your management won’t give y’all time off. Brian told me you were in the hospital. I don’t want to see him end up in there because he is too proud to admit that he needs to put himself first. Do you think there is any way we could put our differences in the past and convince Brian to go see a cardiologist? We both care about him and there is strength in numbers.” Leighanne said, taking his hand. Nick blushed and looked down at it because he was so uncomfortable. How could he convince the girl that was stealing Brian away that he was now on her side? How could he put his feelings to the side for their relationship?

It definitely seemed that Leighanne Wallace loved Brian and he didn’t love her back, and Nick almost felt sorry for her because she had no idea. As far as Leighanne knew they were both falling in love. Nick knew what she didn’t, that he was not in love with her whatsoever.

“All right, I’ll try talking to him too.” Nick agreed, and they shook hands. Nick hoped that this truce would last but deep down he sensed that joining forces with Leighanne was only going to complicate his friendship with Brian further.