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A lot can happen in six days. I've never really stopped to think about that before. There've been weeks when we've been on tour that I've complained that our schedule was so hectic that we barely had time to breathe, but I've never really considered just how much stuff happens in that amount of time. Having a six-day block of time missing from my memory, however, gives me a new appreciation (or perhaps that's depreciation?) of time. Six days. That's one hundred forty four hours. Or if you prefer it's eight thousand six hundred forty minutes. I don't even want to think about how many seconds that would be. My brain already hurts without trying to figure that one out.

In the past two hours (for those of you keeping track, that's one hundred twenty minutes) I've really developed a delightful new obsession. Playing the "What I Could do in Six Days" game.

Did you know that you could pick all the pepperoni off an entire pizza in under a minute (assuming you're skilled, of course)? Which means that I could have picked pepperoni off eight thousand six hundred forty pizzas during those six missing days. No, I don't honestly think that's what I was doing during that time, but it's the best scenario that I could come up with. The rest were not nearly as amusing.

I really didn't want to tell Brian or AJ (or anyone else for that matter), but it was really bothering me that I couldn't remember anything from that time. It scares me thinking about all the things that could have happened. My overactive imagination really hasn't helped. It's what made me start playing the stupid game.

I wonder how many times you could sing the alphabet song in six days. I really needed to stop playing this game.

I'm so glad that Brian stayed with me while the agents interviewed me. After they figured out that I didn't remember any of my captivity, they started questioning me about my assailant. Walters, of course, got really annoyed by the fact that I couldn't give a very detailed description.

He was big.

Really big.

Bigger than I am, anyway, and I'm really not a small man.

He also seemed to know exactly what he was doing because the first thing he'd done was punch me in the diaphragm so that I wouldn't be able to get enough air in to scream. And he'd rendered me defenseless in less than sixty seconds. Not that I'm a fighter or anything, but I like to think that without the element of surprise (and a really pesky shower curtain) that I would have been able to hold my own at least a little better than that. It's kind of embarrassing that I got taken down so easily. Of course I hadn't expected to be tackled while I was in the shower. Yeah that's why I didn't fight better. Hey, a guy can make excuses if he wants to.

I bet you could probably shampoo your hair a pretty good number of times in six days. I wonder if that would make your hair fall out or something though. Damn, I really have to stop this game.

Back to the guy. His hair color? Honestly I couldn't tell. It wasn't really my concern at the moment. I think it might have been dark, but I'm not sure. He could have been wearing a hat or something. How sad is it that I don't even know that much? I also couldn't ever get a look at his eyes. The curtain had made his image blurry enough that I couldn't even tell if he had any real distinguishing features. For all I know he had a tattoo of the state of Arkansas on his forehead. I kept that theory to myself though, cuz I knew Walters would give that same annoyed sigh.

Oh, the guy had big hands. And he carried a syringe filled with something that knocked me out really fast. Did that help at all?

Judging from the look on Walters' face, I'm going to have to answer that question with a hearty "no".

After what seemed like hours of going over the same questions with me feeling like a complete idiot because I couldn't give better answers, they finally seemed to be ready to quit for the night. "If you remember anything else," Harris rose from the chair and handed me a business card, "be sure to call right away. Day or night."

I wondered if he would be the one to answer or if I'd have to talk to Walters. Somehow I really didn't want to see what that man was like when he was woken up at 2 in the morning so I could tell him that the guy was wearing a black shirt. Which I think he was, now that I think about it, but I guess I didn't really pay that much attention to that either. Next time I get attacked I have to remember to try to get a better description. Not that I ever want to be attacked again or anything. But if it ever did happen again I wanted to be able to answer these questions without feeling like a moron.

Walters stepped closer to the bed and without even thinking about it I jerked back. A movement I instantly regretted as the pain flared up again. Stupid me. I don't even know why exactly I flinched like that. I know that he was a good guy, even if he was extremely grumpy.

Walters scowled but he reached out a hand. "Thank you for your time."

I took his hand to shake it and winced as he suddenly twisted my arm and peered at it closely.

"You have marks on your wrists," he informed me. Like I couldn't see that for myself? Okay, given I hadn't actually looked at my wrists, so I hadn't been aware of the marks, but still, I didn't need him telling me about my injuries. That's what the doctors were supposed to do. Not that they had yet. I looked to see what he was staring at. He reached over and took hold of my other wrist, pulling it closer. "On this one, too."

He was right. I had marks on my wrists. They looked sort of like bracelets except that the marks were at an angle so they weren't perfect rings. The marks were perfectly smooth lines. They weren't cuts, more like bruises. But that was kinda weird because someone hitting me wouldn't leave bruises like that. "Tied with wire," he muttered as he let my hands drop. I felt my face flush as I absorbed that new little tidbit of info. Thank you for more fodder for my overactive imagination to play around with.

And then suddenly Walters was practically in my face. Staring at my neck. He made a little "huh" sound and took hold of my head with both his hands. I felt my heart rate speed up and tried to pull back but he didn't let go. Instead, he tilted my head to the side so that he could get a less obstructed view of whatever it was he was looking at on my neck. Excuse me? Hello? Could just ask me to turn my head. I really didn't like that guy...

"We'll want to take photographs," Walters told his partner as he released me and started to walk away. Nice getting to know you, too, pal.

"You'll have to excuse my partner. He's not much of a people person," Harris smiled at me as he extended his hand to me. I was kind of hesitant to shake it after that last spectacle, but this guy seemed nice enough. I noticed that his eyes went to my neck and ended the handshake abruptly. Oh no. Not gonna do that again. My hand went up to protect my neck. "We'll be back tomorrow before you're released. We will want to take pictures of the bruises on your neck," he told me as he stepped back, seeming to realize that I wasn't really happy with his close proximity anymore.

I was being released tomorrow. Great! That meant that there probably wasn't anything too wrong with me. Weird how he knew that before I did though.

They wanted to take pictures of my neck. That was different. I'm pretty used to the picture thing, but why did they specifically want to take pictures of my neck? Bruises, I know, but the rest of me had a fair share of those too. More than a fair share, actually. I must have had a confused look on my face because Harris reached forward again, his hand hesitating over my skin, looking at me for permission to touch. I nodded warily, curiosity winning out over annoyance. I moved my hand away. "You have very precisely formed bruises right here," he touched my neck in the hollow just below my adam's apple, "and here," his hand moved to a spot a lot farther around toward the back of my neck. Precisely formed. So the others were very vague or something, I guess. Once they leave, I really should try to find a mirror. Then again maybe I wasn't ready to see the damage. "They're consistent with an attempted strangulation." I really wish you hadn't told me that, guy. Add another really disturbing image to my repertoire. "We'll want measurements of these here," he indicated the ones at the front, "to compare with our perp's thumbs...and these here..." I shook my head and pulled back. I got the idea.

"Are there any leads?" Brian asked quietly, speaking up for the first time since he'd told me that I'd been missing for six days. Six days! I wonder how many miles you could walk in six days. I shook my head. That was so not important. I needed to concentrate on what the agent was saying.

Harris' smile faded and he shook his head somberly. "So far we don't have much to go on. We've got some evidence that will help put him away when we find him," he assured me.

Wait. Back up a minute. The guy was still out there? He wasn't, like, in jail for kidnapping me? I suddenly felt really cold. I have no idea why I just assumed he'd been caught. Why would they have grilled me so many times for a description if they knew what he looked like? God, I'm really not thinking right today; I should have figured that out earlier. It just seemed to me that if I were here, relatively safe, that the guy must have been caught. Otherwise how had I gotten away? I really wish I could remember. "The uh...pictures and stuff. The bruises. They'll help you find him right? Like...a handprint or whatever?" I asked, trying to sound casual even though I wasn't really feeling calm about this at all. That guy was still out there. Somewhere. And I didn't even know what he looked like. He could be anyone. Anywhere. Okay, gotta stop thinking like that.

Harris smiled again, but this time it looked kind of fakey. "We'll get him." Right. Thanks. Really cleared everything up. "We'll be able to match up the size and shape of the bruises to his hands," he explained. "There's no way to find him based on that, but it will help make prosecuting him easier."


That made me feel much better. Really. And if you believe that...

Brian seemed to realize that I was starting to feel pretty agitated because he moved around to the side of the bed closer to me again and put his hand lightly on my shoulder. I don't know why but that really did calm me a little bit. Go figure. Brian Littrell, human security blanket.

"Your doctor said that you would be released some time in the morning, so we will be here early. Is that okay? Or would you rather we come to the hotel during the afternoon?"

The hotel. Despite Brian's protective hand on my shoulder the thought of going back to the hotel made my panic flags start waving again. I didn't want to go back there. Especially not if that guy was on the loose still. Brian's grip on my shoulder tightened a little, and I glanced up at him. He gave me an encouraging smile. Like I was a scared little kid.

Okay, I was being kind of a baby. That's really embarrassing. I forced the panic back down again. The hotel would be safe. Jack and Ed would be there apparently. And probably the other bodyguards on our staff. It would be okay. I could go back there. Right. Okay. Calm now.

"Here's fine," I blurted out. Okay maybe I wasn't that comfortable with the hotel idea yet.

As soon as the agents left, AJ came back into the room after his several hour trip to the cafeteria. I imagine he spent at least a portion of that sitting out in the hallway with Ed and Jack. He really should have gone back to the hotel. I felt bad that he'd waited around doing nothing for so long. Especially considering how tired he looked. I wondered if he had slept at all during those six days.

I wonder what everyone else did during that time. If it had been me left behind while one of them was missing...I honestly don't know what I would have done. I would have gone completely crazy. That's just too weird thinking about them worrying about me like that. I wanted to ask how they did it, what they did while I was gone, but on the other hand I didn't want to sound all conceited or anything and assume that they were thinking of me the whole time or something. So I didn't ask.

"You should call home, dude," AJ said, handing his cellphone to me.

He was right. Geez, that should have been the first thing I'd done. Why hadn't I even thought of it? My doctor had even suggested calling my parents right before I'd said to call Brian. God, did my parents know I'd been missing? Did they know I'd been found? They had to be freaking out!

"Howie called them to tell them you were safe," AJ said, as if he could read my mind. "But you should really call them. They won't feel better until they hear from you yourself." I could understand that. I kind of needed to talk to Kevin for that same reason. Not to mention I was still completely confused by why he hadn't thought I'd want to see him. "You can just hit redial," AJ informed me as I flipped the phone open. He'd called them, too? How weird was that?

"Hello?" I heard my mom's voice less than a minute later. I suddenly didn't know what to say again. She sounded so freaked out. I was afraid that if I spoke I would freak out, too, and that would make her freak out more. "Hello?" she said again.

"Is it Nick?" I could hear my dad's voice in the background. I smiled. It was really good to hear their voices.

"Say something," Brian whispered into my ear. Right, that was probably a good idea.

"Mom," I finally managed to get out.

"It's Nick," I heard my mom announcing to whoever else was there. And pandemonium broke out back home.

I can't even really describe the next several minutes. It was one heck of a roller coaster ride. There was a round of everyone there having to talk to me and hear my voice, but I couldn't seem to say more than a couple words at a time. Part of that was that I was afraid that I was going to blurt out something really inappropriate (like "hey, guess what, I could have picked pepperoni off eight thousand six hundred forty pizzas in the last hundred and forty four hours!") and make them all really worry about me. Another part was that I was just too happy to hear their voices. It had been a while since I'd talked to all of them. When I'm on the road sometimes I don't call as much as I should. Next time I'm not going to wait for something bad to happen. I would call them at least once or twice a week. No matter what. The third part was that they were all just too excited and were talking enough for the both of us.

After that round was done, my dad got back on the phone and informed me that they would all be on the next flight out if I wanted. That kind of scared me. I didn't want them to come. Not that I didn't want to see them. I wanted that more than just about anything. But I didn't want them to see me like this. And I didn't want them here with that guy still on the loose. I didn't want to worry everyone and make them think I was still in danger or anything. I finally convinced him that I didn't want a big deal made and that I wanted things to go back to normal, but promised that I would come home on our next days off. That would also give me something to look forward to rather than focusing on what was happening here.

After we got that squared away, I talked to my mom for a while. And got a reality check on what the six days had been like for the others.

She and Aaron had been in Denver when my dad had gotten in touch with her that first night. He'd been contacted by the FBI about my disappearance, which had been ruled a kidnapping from the very beginning. They'd kept it out of the press at that point, so at least she hadn't found out that way. Could you imagine? So they'd flown home immediately and waited there for word. They waited for someone to call and tell them I was found. Mom said that she knew I hadn't been killed--she insists she would have felt it--but they were also prepared to get a ransom call for me.

On the fourth day someone in the press broke the story. No one is sure how the media caught wind of the situation since there hadn't been any announcements and the FBI had taken every precaution possible to keep the story out of the press. But someone somewhere must have leaked it. And so the media circus began.

Within hours of the original story--which apparently they'd even interrupted regularly scheduled programming for--people from all over the United States and even one from Mexico had called in to news stations, police stations, even the FBI to claim they had me hostage and were demanding money for my release. Calls flooded in with sightings of me everywhere from Alaska to New Zealand. Of course all of those turned out to be false leads, but it had been pretty horrifying to my family every time another report came in.

The worst call, my mom said, was one that came directly to the house. Since our number was unlisted, that one had scared them the most. Fortunately the FBI had set up equipment to trace calls and stuff, and the person was tracked down pretty fast. Turned out to be just a really bored idiot who thought it'd be funny. There are some pretty sick people out there.

The rest of the time, it sounds like my entire family had just sat around, waiting for the phone to ring. They hardly even spoke to each other. It's hard to imagine my family being so...quiet. It's just hard to imagine the whole situation at all. I'm still actually a bit numb to it, not quite believing it really happened.

I wonder if anyone has told the press that I've been found yet. I was not looking forward to the press conference that I was probably going to have to attend. The whole world would know that I didn't know a darn thing about what had happened to me. That'd be fun.

After that sobering conversation with my mom, there was another round of me talking to absolutely everyone else and assuring them that I was alive and well and would be coming home to visit soon.

By the time I got off the phone with my family, AJ had totally fallen asleep in the visitor's chair. I had Brian wake him and tell him that he should go back to the hotel to sleep in a real bed. I told Brian he should go, too, even though I was terrified at the prospect of being left alone. He saw right through me, as usual, and said that he wasn't leaving without me. He can always read me like that. Sometimes it's a little annoying because he'll call me on it every time he catches me trying to hide something from him, but other times it makes my life a lot easier. I really didn't want to look like a wimp and ask him to stay, but hey, if he wanted to insist on staying that was a completely different story.

So Jack escorted AJ back to the hospital and left Ed to watch over Brian and I. I wondered if Ed was just supposed to stay awake all night or what. I thought about inviting him to come sit in the visitor's chair or something, but he had one of the nurses bring him a chair so he could sit outside the door and keep anyone and everyone else away. Except my doctor of course.

She finally decided to make another appearance and finally gave me the complete rundown of what they knew about my condition. As soon as she showed up, Brian returned to security blanket duty, hand on my shoulder, being all protective of me again.

All in all there wasn't much physically wrong with me. I was a bit on the dehydrated side, had a mild concussion, and my entire body was pretty much covered in welts and bruises. That's not much wrong? You should try it sometime, Dr. Lincoln. But the good side of her diagnosis was that I would have a complete recovery--there probably wouldn't even be any permanent scarring--and I was going to be able to get out of the hospital in the morning. They just wanted to keep me overnight for observation.

Unfortunately that was the good portion of what she had to tell me. The bad news...well...it was pretty bad. She gave me lots and lots of new fodder for that game I'd been playing. Gave me lots of ideas I never would have come up with in a million years. Ideas I really wish she hadn't given me because now I couldn't get them out of my head.

See, it turns out the doctors were able to establish why I couldn't remember anything of the past six days. Seems they drew blood when I first was brought in to the emergency room so that they could run some tests on it. Including a tox screen. Dr. Lincoln indicated that if I'd been brought in any later the tests probably wouldn't have turned up anything, but as they got to me in time, they found minute traces of flunitrazepam. Try saying that three times fast.

Of course that meant absolutely nothing to me. I probably wouldn't have asked, but Brian did that for me.

Flunitrazepam. Better known as Rohypnol. Commonly referred to as the date rape drug. See, that's something I really would never have thought about. Things like that don't happen. Well, not to me anyway. I felt really sick at the thought. From the way Brian's hand tightened on my shoulder enough that I was starting to worry that his fingerprints would be embedded into my skin like the ones on my neck I figured that he was as freaked out as me at that prospect.

Except for his hand, though, he didn't react at all, which is probably good because I think if he had freaked out even a little, I would have lost it completely. As it was, I was having trouble focusing on the rest of what she was saying. My mind was now playing an even worse version of 'the game'.

I made myself listen as she explained that Rohypnol was a powerful sedative known for causing "blackouts" or memory loss for anywhere from 8 to 24 hours depending on the person's tolerance, the dosage taken, and whether there was alcohol involved or not. Generally it's pretty hard to trace, I guess. By the mere fact that they had been able to detect it at all meant that I had probably been given a dosage less than two hours before the blood was drawn. She guessed that I had probably been kept sedated with that stuff during the entire time I was held captive. It was likely that I wasn't actually unconscious for that whole amount of time, and that I could maybe start to remember bits and pieces of what happened. But I shouldn't count on it. And odds were good that if I did remember, the memories would come in the form of nightmares and it would be pretty hard to determine what was real and what wasn't. Makes it real tempting to go to sleep, doesn't it?

Considering the results of the tox screen and the fact that it had been obvious that I'd sustained a "nasty" beating--like there's any other kind?--they had done a complete exam in the ER. Trying to collect evidence and make sure I wasn't...damaged. God, that is just so humiliating.

Brian never said a word, but I could tell he was getting more and more frustrated and angry as he listened to Dr. Lincoln describe their findings. Which didn't take long as they really didn't find anything. There was nothing conclusive one way or the other. Nothing to say that I had been...assaulted, nothing to say I hadn't been. Thank you muscle relaxant qualities of Rohypnol. I think I'll choose to assume that nothing happened.

I wasn't raped.

I wasn't.

I would know, wouldn't I? That's just too horrifying a thing to have happen and not remember it. No matter what drugs were involved. I'd know. I'm sure of it. So it didn't happen. I may have eternally bad luck, but something like that would never happen to me.

That didn't really stop me from thinking about the possibility though.

A lot can happen in six days.