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Brian was weary when he finally reached home. It was 11pm, and he was surprised to find Leighanne still awake.
“What happened with Nick?” her lips were drawn in a serious line.
“Nick was diagnosed with tuberculosis and he was transferred to the ICU.” Brian relayed the details to her.
Leighanne stared at him in shock, her lips opening and closing, but no words coming out. She was too stunned to speak as Brian went into the dressing room to change.
After a few minutes, Brian came out of the dressing room wearing boxers and a t-shirt he bought as a souvenir from the Philippines when he was on tour there the last time.
He joined Leighanne and cuddled under the comforter as he tried to shape mentally in his mind the events that happened in the past week.
“I guess this has been the most frustrating week in my life.” Brian told Leighanne, but it seemed that he was talking more to his feelings.
Even while touring, he had never felt as stressed and as desperate as this.
“I know you’ve been having a hard time, hun.” Leighanne told him sitting up in her side of the bed and pulling out pictures from a drawer in her side table.
“I even see it in the pictures we took this past week, and even last week.” Leighanne told him while showing him pictures they took.
Brian looked at a picture of him and Nick taken last week, before the car accident even took place. They were playing billiards with Nick sporting a weird but funny pose while Brian was just standing there, leaning on the pool table with a quiver in his already frail smile.
He looked away impulsively, feeling ashamed of himself.
He had no right to be that way, he had no right to be depressed, but he could not hide that foreboding and lonely feeling inside him.
He looked at the next picture, a picture of him with Leighanne and Baylee. Baylee was in Leighanne’s arms, and they both smiled happily at the camera man, while he was looking down, a terrible picture, indeed.
He tried to ignore the urge to cry, but it didn’t matter anymore, he had been hiding his feelings for too long.
Even Leighanne had realized that he, Brian, was not himself anymore. She had realized that Brian’s usually happy and jovial attitude was replaced by a serious, sad, and grim-looking behavior, which was reinforced by the feelings that emerged after he learned about Nick’s accident.
Brian returned the pictures to her as he felt a stray tear go down his face.
Brian gave Leighanne a weak smile as she patted his back soothingly.
She took his hand in hers and squeezed it.
Brian finally broke the silence and told her, “We’re still a family, right? So as long as we’re still a family, we could conquer anything together.” he squeezed her hand back.
“Yeah.” Leighanne kissed his cheek and finally lay down again on her side of the bed.
“I’m sleeping now. It’s actually late, you know.” Leighanne looked at him one more time before turning off her lamp.
“Yeah.” Brian shifted his position in the bed and turned off his light.
He lay there in silence before he was drifted to sleep.

It was 10am and Brian was in the ICU of St. Phils Hospital to visit Nick.
“What room is Nick Carter on?” he enquired at a nurse sitting in the reception.
Fortunately, the nurse who was in-charge for that hour wasn’t the same blond nurse he’d seen the night before.
“Nick Carter is in room 2a.” she replied while pointing to a slightly ajar door near the ICU’s reception.
“Thanks.” Brian thanked her as he turned to walk where she was pointing.

He entered room 2a to find Nick chatting pleasantly with his brother, Aaron and his sister, Bobbie Jean. He saw that the coming of his siblings lightened up his mood.
“Hey Brian.” Nick greeted him with a big smirk on his face.
“Hey Nick, how you doing?” Brian asked as BJ and Aaron stepped aside to give way to him.
“Fine and awful at the same time.” Nick gave him a timid smile.
“Say, Brian, what’s up with the other boys?” Aaron turned to face him.
“They’re doing fine.” Brian replied tightly as he felt his breathing constrict.
Brian wanted to talk to Nick alone, but he couldn’t do it with Aaron and BJ listening to their conversation.
As if on cue, BJ laid a comforting hand on Nick’s right hand – the hand with a tube from the dextrose running through it.
“We gotta go, Nick, but we promise we’re going to visit you again.” BJ told him sweetly.
“You better.” Nick pointed his index finger at them as they turned to leave.
As soon as the door closed behind them, Brian decided to ask Nick the question that had been pondering in his mind for so long.
“Have any of the other boys passed by?” Brian asked Nick as he searched for an answer.
“AJ passed by yesterday, but aside from him, none.”
Brian then decided to get to the point.
“I’m gonna be gone for a few days this week.” he told Nick uncertainly, not knowing what his reaction will be.
“Why?” Nick’s eyes reflected his confusion.
“To record, silly.” Brian ruffled his hair as Nick managed to give a light punch in his stomach.
“Ouch.” Brian exaggerated as he staggered backwards and laughed at the same time.
Nick laughed at Brian’s humorous act.
The laughter quickly subsided as fast as it started.
Both of them became silent as each of them thought about what to say to the other.
Finally, Nick decided to express his feelings to Brian, “I was so… so scared when they told me I had tuberculosis.” he looked up at Brian, his eyes stinging from the tears he cried, “with my condition now, I thought…. I… I won’t make it.”
Nick burst into tears at his statement.
Brian patted his hand, knowing he was going through a hard time.
“Don’t worry.” Brian comforted, even the sound of his voice made Nick smile a little in his morose state.
“I went through a situation similar to yours when I had my open heart surgery. Remember?” Brian smiled encouragingly.
Nick shifted his position uncomfortable. He suddenly felt guilty as he remembered listening to Leighanne’s story.
“Brian was in a good mood while we talked, but when the gurney came to take him down to the surgery room, he burst into tears.”
“Yeah, I remember.” Nick muttered as a tear fell down his cheek.
He hadn’t visited Brain while he was confined in the hospital before and after the surgery and seeing him visit him everyday made him even guiltier.
He was reluctant at first but finally decided to share this thought with Brian.
“That’s all of the past, Nick, there’s nothing to apologize about.” Brian told him after his confession, “We always care about you and we’re always here for you, even when we don’t visit you regularly.”
Nick’s tears stopped flowing at what he said, he already knew it in his mind but he felt it was more of a confirmation.
“Before the surgery came, I planted this thought in my heart: that even when you guys didn’t visit me, you still cared for me.” Nick smiled at this statement.
He didn’t need to have the positive assurance of the doctors that he would get better. All he needed was his band mates’ reassurance that they cared about him, and that was all for now.
Nick hugged Brian tightly as tears of hope glistened in his eyes.