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Author's Chapter Notes:
Surprise, surprise. I didn't meet my extended deadline from Mare's School of Deadlines. Guess I won't be graduating from that school anytime soon. Haha, but I finally did get this chapter finished. I ended up breaking one of my all time cardinal writing rules. I borrowed Carrie Underwood's song "So Small" and ever so nicely had Brian claim he wrote it. You'll understand what I'm talking about when you read the chap, but I gotta just apologize now. I never do that, but the song just seemed to fit with the chapter. Anyway this turned out to be my longest ITNC chapter yet, so I'm a bit excited about that. And somehow I managed to be nominated for a Felix Award. How did that happen? It's exciting though!:) Let me know what y'all think of the chapter!


Chapter 17:

He found the music calming as he allowed his fingers to strum over the guitar strings, a melodious remedy to the torment plaguing his soul. The notes flowed effortlessly from his finger tips and he sighed a slow, even breath. Brian closed his eyes, his mind wandering. He was exhausted and it hadn't helped that he hardly managed to get any sleep the night before. Too many repeating thoughts kept his mind on overload and he couldn't make sense of it all. Baylee was starting to ask questions, far too intuitive towards the fact that Brian seemed to have become almost a lifeless shell of what he used to be. He felt like a terrible father, constantly turning his son away and snapping at nearly every turn. But he couldn't blame Baylee's lack of understanding; the boy was far too young to comprehend it all and Brian knew there was no way to explain to him that his father was dying. It wasn't fair and it wasn't right.

Leighanne's mood had changed drastically within the past week. She blamed the hormones from the pregnancy, but Brian knew better. His wife seemed to be just as much on edge as he was, if not more. She watched him like a hawk, inquiring about his every move. Her persistance was suffocating and sometimes he wanted to just find a tiny place where he could hide and shut himself off from the rest of the world, but he had yet to find any solace from his misery. Late at night he would find himself watching his wife tumble through nightmare after nightmare and it made Brian sick to his stomach to know that he was the cause for so much pain and sadness in his family. What had he done to deserve such punishment?

Baylee had begged for him not to go that morning. In fact, the child had been so distraught when he tried to walk out the front door that Baylee threw himself on the hard floor of the foyer and proceeded to throw the worst tantrum Brian had ever seen his son engage in. It was uncharacteristic and Brian had paused briefly, almost considering to stay home and blow off what was planned for the studio that day, but he forced himself to swallow his irritation and stepped out the door, not once looking back at Baylee's rigid body. Normally he would have given the discipline Baylee was deserving of, but Brian just didn't have it in him. He felt terrible for leaving Leighanne to deal with their son's out of control behavior that morning; he just wanted to get to the studio and have a short period of time to himself to work out what was going through his mind before the others arrived.

He continued to slide his fingers over the strings, listening as each note echoed off the wall and bounced back at him. It all mixed together perfectly and the tone was soothing but he couldn't help the feeling of dread of slipping further beneath the emotional storm of depression. His head ached a dull pounding but it was the least of his worries. Somewhere in the back of his mind he could see a small antique clock ticking the precious seconds of his life away. It was an ominous reminder of how little time he possibly had left. There was so much more to life then this and Brian had never imagined he would reach such a sudden end in the winding path that had become his life.

'God...why is this happening?' he prayed silently, not once slipping from the rhythm that became a continuous string of notes. 'I'm a good man and I've tried to serve you well. I've never hurt anyone...not on purpose. What have I done to deserve this? What have I done?'

His throat clenched as he swallowed the sob that began to swell. 'I can't leave my family, God. They need me. Don't put them through this, not because of me. It's not fair.' Brian couldn't stop his shoulders from starting to tremble as he hunched over slightly and hugged the acoustic guitar closer to his body, forcing his hands to continue moving. He wasn't so sure he could stop the music from flowing even if he tried. 'I'm going to be a father again, God. You're blessing me with another beautiful child and you want to take it all away so quickly. Why would you want to take away such a blessing? My children haven't done anything to deserve this, to have their father taken away. This can't happen, not now. Not like this.'

He opened his eyes, numb to the tears that slipped down his cheeks, and stared up at the ceiling. 'I'm not ready to die God. I've got so much more to do, so much more to give. I want to watch my children grow up. I want to love and grow old with my wife. This is too soon. I'll do anything God, anything to change this. Please. I'm begging you.'

But the answer he was searching for just wasn't there, only the the melodious tune that was birthed from his soul.


"Why praise the Lord if this isn't a sight for sore eyes!"

Nick looked up and withheld a groan of annoyance towards the obnoxious cackling approaching steadily. He watched AJ and Howie moving towards him with quick strides, all the while he stared in wonder at the hyperactivity that seemed to be coursing through AJ's system. Howie held his own expression of bewilderment, but he smiled in greeting all the same and offered a small shrug. Nick rolled his eyes and pushed himself away from the wall he leaned against. "What's his issue?" he asked with uncertainty, noting AJ's sometimes eccentric behavior had a way of popping out at the oddest of times, but AJ seemed to have gone off the deep end that morning. Again Howie shrugged.

"Top o' the mornin' to ya Nick!" AJ said with an enthused toothy grin.

"He's been this way since I picked him up," Howie answered simply. "So your guess is as good as mine."

"Freak," Nick mumbled as AJ tread only a few steps ahead.

"I heard that," AJ replied, but he kept his pace and they heard him mutter something about how lovely of a morning it was.

"I think he's finally gone psychotic," Nick suggested.

"I think you might be right," Howie agreed with a smirk. "At you're least not the one who had to ride in the same car here with him."

AJ stopped and turned to face the two men. His lips pursed into a thin line of arrogance and he crossed his arms over his chest. "You're the one who offered. So stop whining D, because it doesn't look good on you."

"No AJ, you misunderstood me. I wasn't whining, just informing. I'm trying to figure out how you woke up with some sort of mental illness when you were somewhat normal yesterday. And I stress "somewhat" quite a bit."

Nick snickered while AJ stood there dumbfounded. He had to admit, it wasn't often Howie was able to leave AJ without a word to say, but it was rather refreshing when it did occur. Howie was more quick witted with his quips then he tended to receive credit for. Then again that was just one of the traits that made Howie who he was and Nick wouldn't ever wish the man to change. "Where's Kev?" he asked as they continued to move forward again.

"I talked to him on the way here," Howie answered. "He said he would be a little late. Something about an appointment he and Kristin couldn't miss, but he wouldn't say what it was for."

"Odd..." Nick mumbled, following AJ inside.

"My thoughts exactly," Howie returned.

"Ah, good morning Mr. Carter, Mr. Dorough, and Mr. McLean," a pleasant greeting echoed to their left as they stepped forth into the main lobby of the recording building they had all become well accustomed to since the beginning creation of the album. They turned to see the receptionist, Sandra, rise to her feet and offer them a welcoming smile as she so often did for anyone who walked through the door. "You all are rather early. Mr. Littrell is already waiting for you in Studio B."

"Thank you Sandra," Howie replied and led the other two forward. "Guess we're not the only ones who are early."

"I figured Brian would be the last to show up this morning," AJ said as they stepped through a closed door and entered a long hallway. "Seems odd behavior runs in the family."

"Speak for yourself Mr. Psycho," Nick retorted.

"Shut up you midget monkey fucker."

"All hail the king."

Howie glared at them both. "I have a great idea. How about both of you shut up?"

AJ's lips parted as he prepared to snap back but Howie quickly held up a hand to silence him and Nick as well. He kept his hand poised, pointing to the door that was cracked open slightly, and it was then that they heard what had stopped Howie in mid step. The flowing notes of an acoustic guitar wafted faintly into the hallway, accompanied only by the soulful vocals of the man hidden within. Carefully Howie pressed the door open further and they leaned in to hear more clearly. Brian's back was to the door, unaware of the sudden addition to the occupancy of the room, but he continued to sing nonetheless.

"Whatcha got if you got love/ The kind that you just wanna give away/ It's ok to open up/ Go ahead and let the light shine through/ I know it's hard on a rainy day/ You wanna shut the world out/ And just be left alone/ But don't run out on your faith..."

Howie slipped inside the room, followed quietly by AJ and Nick who had set their bickering aside and were listening just as intently. There was no denying their friend's withdrawn form or the way he seemed to be struggling to produce the words from his mouth. It was uncertain whether he just didn't have the energy to create what he was so determined to do or if the cause was hidden deeper, but it took the three aback all the same.

"Sometimes that mountain you've been climbing/ Is just a grain of sand/ What you've been out there searching for forever/ Is in your hands/ And when you figure out love is all that matters after all/ It sure makes everything else/ Seem so small... It's so easy to get lost inside/ A problem that seems so big at the time/ It's like a river that's so wide/ It swallows you whole/ While you're sittin' 'round thinking about what you can't change/ And worryin' about all the wrong things/ Time's flying by/ Moving so fast/ You better make it count/ 'Cause you can't get it back...

"Sometimes that mountain you've been climbing/ Is just a grain of sand/ What you've been out there searchin' for forever/ Is in your hands/ Oh/ And when you figure out love is all that matters after all/ It sure makes everything else/ Seem so small..." Brian heaved a deep breath as he leaned forward slightly on the stool he sat upon, his mind spinning under the intensity of the anger coursing through his system and the helplessness of it all. He felt the tears pooling further beneath his closed eyelids, but he pressed on, heaving another breath. "Sometimes that mountain you've been climbing/ Is just a grain of sand/ What you've been out there searching for forever/ Is in your hands/ Oh/ And when you figure out love is all that matters after all/ It sure makes everything else/ Oh it sure makes everything else/ Seem so small..."

"Damn..." AJ whispered before he could stop the word from escaping past his lips. They watched as Brian twisted on the stool to face them, the guitar slipping from his grasp and slamming against the floor with an ear cringing screech.

"How long have you guys been standing there?" Brian demanded in embarrassment as he recovered from the initial shock and stooped down to pick up the guitar.

"Long enough to hear the whole song," Nick answered timidly, unsure how to read the glare reflecting in Brian's hazy blue eyes. "Dude, where did that come from?"

"It's nothing," Brian said out of distraction as he busied himself in stowing the guitar back in its protective case. He kept his feet firmly planted against the floor and refused to turn back around to face the three pairs of eyes drilling him for an explanation in silence.

"Brian, that song was amazing. How can you say it's nothing?" Howie questioned in surprise.

"Because that's exactly what it is, Howie. It's a meaningless song that has been on my mind for a couple of weeks. You guys weren't supposed to hear it."

"Well I'm glad we did," AJ stated. "You need to record that song."

Brian shook his head, dismissing the suggestion as if it were a foreign idea he would never begin to consider. "I don't want to record it," he mustered and sank down into one of the few chairs placed in the room. He could still feel the heat from his bandmates stares, but he kept his eyes trained solely on the floor around his feet. "It's not that big of a deal. It means nothing. Just a bunch of cruddy lyrics."

"You're a horrible liar," AJ scuffed, studying the dejection etched across Brian's face. There was no denying the way Brian's shoulders seemed to slump forward in defeat and his demeanor was so withdrawn that AJ hardly recognized the man sitting before him. It shouldn't have surprised him that Brian had been so quick to decide against the suggestion without giving it thought. Brian had become less and less willing to agree to things as time passed on and his absence of energy to even care was becoming more apparent. Still, AJ couldn't help but press the subject further. "What are you so afraid of?"

"I'm not afraid of anything Aje-"

"Like I said, you are a horrible liar."

Brian sighed, looking to both Howie and Nick, but he received the same questioning looks. "I really don't want to get into this right now..."

"Maybe you need to. You wrote an amazing song that we just happened to walk in on you singing. If we're telling you it's good enough that it should be put on disc, then why are you so afraid to share it?"

Brian rubbed at his temples, annoyed at their persistence. They wouldn't understand, even if he tried to explain it. It seemed none of them understood a single thing when it came to his predicament, except for the fact that he was a frail sickly man and they were sure to be quick to point that out with every move he made. But it didn't make a difference. They could say they understood all they wanted, but Brian was tired of their pestering. He wanted it all to go away and he just wanted to be happy with whatever time he had left. Maybe that's what they couldn't understand... "It's personal," he mumbled quietly, hoping his reluctance would put an end to the conversation.

AJ's eyes narrowed as he continued to stare at Brian, contemplating the man carefully. "It's time you start realizing that anything personal that happens to you is personal to us also because we are still here supporting you and the sooner you realize that we aren't going anywhere, the sooner you can stop making things so hard on yourself."

Silence, infamous in its own respect, infested the studio. Nick cleared his throat, chancing a side glance towards Howie who appeared just as perplexed. AJ and Brian stared one another down, creating an almost insecure disdain towards the other; Nick wasn't sure what to make of it. "So um, yeah...how about those Cardinals?" he questioned hesitantly, his voice slicing through the dense silence.

AJ blinked, shaking his head as he broke his stare away from Brian. "Isn't baseball season over?" he questioned dully.

"Yeah, but at least you're not glaring at Brian anymore as if you are getting ready to murder him," Nick shrugged, hating the way Brian adverted his sight away once more. "Besides, I was talking football. You know...Arizona Cardinals?"

AJ held up a finger in thought but paused, considering Nick's seriousness. "You really give me a headache sometimes, Carter. After all these years, I still don't understand you."

Nick grinned in a coyish manner. "Thanks for the compliment."

"I'm not sure I would consider that a compliment," Brian muttered.

Nick shrugged. "You and AJ both need to stop PMS'ing."

"Duly noted."

"Something tells me this is going to be a long day," Howie spoke up, finally moving further into the room. He looked around, and receiving no response other then the once again thickening silence, he sat down and rubbed tenderly at his temples. "A very long day indeed."


Howie was beaming from within the recording booth and rightfully so. For the past hour and a half he had been crammed up in the small space, headphones nearly glued to his head as he poured whatever he had into the material they were producing that afternoon. Brian wasn't so sure he had ever seen Howie appear so pleased with his accomplishments as he did right then, but Brian couldn't blame him. There was hardly more that could be said other then the fact that Howie sounded amazing and his vocals were so soulful it sent chills along Brian's spine. Howie deserved it though. He was a man with alot of talent and not enough recognition, at least not the amount that he had worked so hard to achieve for so many years.

"Alright Howie. We're gonna take that from the top one more time and then give you guys a break," the engineer instructed over the intercom as he adjusted a few knobs on the sound board and prepared to cue the music. When Howie gave an enthused thumbs up, the man chuckled and the sound played over the speakers once more.

"You're being too quiet," Kevin noted casually as he leaned back in his seat and stole a quick glance in Brian's direction. He raised his eyebrows in question and waited for an answer.

"I thought I was supposed to be listening right now," Brian replied.

"Well, yes. BUt you're being unusually quiet and you've hardly had a thing to say regarding the material we've worked on so far. It's kind of hard not to notice, especially when you were so adamant about how important it was that we do this today."

"I know what you're thinking Kev, but I'm fine."

Kevin looked unconvinced as he sat up a little straighter and turned to his cousin. There was something hidden in the man's stormy eyes, which only stirred Kevin's reserved unease. He couldn't place the feeling, but it was there. "You're lying to me," he said carefully. "What are you holding back?"

"I'm not holding anything back," Brian answered. "I'm just sitting here doing what I'm supposed to be doing. I don't see anything wrong with that."

"Nothing is wrong with that. I'm just concerned about you."

Brian forced a small smile. "I'm fine," he repeated. "You have nothing to be worried about."

Somehow Kevin still didn't believe him, but he let the short conversation drop and he stared forward again. There was something in Brian's voice, the way he sounded so resigned from where he sat, that made Kevin's skin crawl. He didn't like it one bit, yet he found himself unable to do a thing about it. Brian was stubborn and as always he was refusing to speak a single word about what was going through his mind, even when the pain and fear was evident upon his face. "I wish I could believe that," he mumbled in return. "Bri, you know you can talk to me if you need to."

"I appreciate the sentimental offer, but there's nothing I need to talk about."

"Not even your song?"

Brian's forehead creased in frustration as he turned to stare at his cousin. It shouldn't have surprised him that Kevin had found out about the confrontation from earlier. AJ had made it very apparent that he wasn't pleased with Brian's reluctance to agree to their suggestion and it was a given that AJ wouldn't keep his mouth shut regarding the matter. "AJ told you about that, huh?" he spoke evenly.

"Briefly," Kevin answered with a small nod.

"I'm not recording it."

"He told me that also."

"Then it doesn't need to be brought up."

"You want to tell me why you are so against it?"



"Please Kevin. Respect me enough to leave well enough alone."

Kevin opened his mouth to protest but relented towards the irritation reflecting in Brian's eyes. He just didn't understand it and right then Brian wasn't giving him a moment of a chance to even begin to try to understand it. The opportunity to press the matter further ended as the music playing over the speakers in the room faded and Howie stepped from the recording booth. Kevin looked up, unhearing as Howie discussed the outcome of the short recording with the engineer before turning to AJ and Nick for their dual opinions. It wasn't until Nick was standing in front of him waving a hand in his face that Kevin realized the attention had been turned on him. He blinked up at Nick in a blank manner, hardly noticing the humored smirks both AJ and Brian held. "What...?" he drawled slowly.

"You know, you might want to get your brain scanned," Nick told him seriously. He stepped back, crossing him arms over his chest in a very precise manner. "I think you may be suffering from Alzheimer's Disease because I've been standing here trying to get your attention for over a minute."

"Getting old must really suck," AJ agreed.

Kevin frowned at the two. "Very funny."

"Don't worry Kev, we'll still support you. Even after we've stuck you in a nice nursing home."

"You're aware I can still knock the crud out of ya, right?"

"With that girlish grin you've had on your face all day, I'm not so sure..." AJ trailed thoughtfully.

Howie chuckled as Kevin's frowned deepend. "Aje does have a point. You have been acting a little overly, um, how should I put it...joyful?"

"You got laid this morning!" Nick snickered. "Didn't you? That's why you were late!"

Brian rolled his eyes. "Don't even answer that," he groaned. "He said the same thing to me the other day."

"But that's because it was the truth! You admitted it!" Nick pointed out.

"Catalina, Nick. Catalina."

"Wasn't that the name of the imaginary girlfriend Nick used to have back in the day?" AJ piped with a cackle of enjoyment. The spark of embarrassment was immediate upon Nick's face and AJ enjoyed feeding off of that. "Why yes, I do believe it was."

"We aren't talking about me, we are talking about Kevin. Focus AJ!" Nick tried to divert the subject, his cheeks turning a deep shade of crimson as Brian grinned with satisfaction.

"Aw, c'mon Nicky. Tell us about Catalina again."

"Shut up."

"Seriously though," Howie interrupted, turning back to Kevin before the bickering could escalate further. "You never did say why you were late this morning."

"Kris and I had an appointment with a doctor," Kevin replied as he rose from his chair and turned his back to the group.

"They finally decide you were dying from old age?" Nick blurted.

"Mind elaborating a little?" AJ questioned bluntly as he slammed his foot down upon the toe of Nick's shoe.

"She's pregnant," Kevin answered simply.

"Come again?" AJ coughed.

Kevin chuckled quietly as he turned around once more. He couldn't help but to allow his mouth to twist into a grin. "Kristin is pregnant. We're going to have a baby."

Howie was at his side in a second, engulfing Kevin in a congratulatory embrace. "That's awesome Kev!" he praised amidst the older man's beaming pride.

"No shit?" Nick asked with a gaping mouth.

"Yeah. We had our suspicions after Kris took a test the other day, but we wanted to be absolutely positive, especially since we've been trying for so long," Kevin explained and there was no denying the pride waiting to burst forth.

Brian sat back in his seat, speechless, as AJ stepped forward to give Kevin a friendly pat on the back. Somewhere deep in his stomach a tight ball of anguish began to form uncomfortably towards his cousin's revelation. It was true that Kevin and Kristin had been trying for so long to start a family and the blessing had yet to be granted. And now hearing that Kevin would be becoming a father for the first time sent a mix of emotions through Brian's system. He didn't know whether to congratulate the man or let loose a sob of despair towards the news. He was happy for his cousin; he could find no reason to not be, but it gave him the awful reminder that he might not get the chance to witness the birth of his second child and now there would be another edition to his extended family. Brian bit down on his bottom lip, forcing the turmoil of emotions to remain tightly sealed.

Kevin paused, eying his cousin wearily. A small smile toyed at the corners of Brian's mouth, but his eyes were completely vacant. It went without words for the lack of response, but it seemed Kevin was the only one to notice the subtle change in Brian's demeanor and oddly enough hewas relieved to know that much as AJ patted him on the back once more. Kevin cleared his throat. "Now you guys know why I was late this morning," he said, "but this was the soonest date that an appointment could be scheduled."

"And you're apologizing why?" AJ mocked playfully.

"Because that's just me?" Kevin shrugged.

"You always have been rather anal retentive when it comes to being punctual."

"Don't worry Kev. Being late one time is not going to ruin your anal retentive reputation," Nick added smartly.

"Very funny little man."

"Little man? I'm practically taller then you!"

"But I will always be older and wiser."

"Notice you said older first?"

Kevin did the only thing he knew would silence Nick; he rolled his eyes and turned to look at Brian. The smile fell from his face and he frowned when he realized Brian was just as quiet and withdrawn as a few moments before. There was something stormy hidden deep in his eyes, but Brian refused to reveal the extent of the torment and without asking Kevin knew better then to even prod the subject. Instead he brought a hand up to run through his dark short untamed hair, subconsciously reminding himself he was due for another visit to the hair salon for a trim. "We need to talk about the album," Kevin said, holding back an impending frown as Brian continued to refuse to meet his stare. "Management has been pestering us for a while. Considering the situation, they are curious to know what we want to do when we finish recording the album."

There was a slight shuffling of feet as they all took designated seats around the room. 'Considering the situation'...that simple statement held so much more meaning then just that. It seemed that everything concerning the business of the group revolved around those three words now. 'Considering the situation'. Certainly they had all begun to think about the possibilities at one time or another over the past several months, but with great hesitancy. Whether they wanted to admit it or not though, it was something they had all wanted to avoid discussing because it was just another reminder of what was happening and what they were all afraid of happening.

"First we need to get the album completely recorded," AJ said in a gruff tone.

"Naturally," Kevin nodded. "But they want to know about afterwards. They were talking about moving the album release to a sooner date because..." His voice faded and he looked over to see Brian visibly wince at the unsaid indication.

"Makes sense," AJ shrugged quietly.

"What about promoting though?" Howie asked.

Brian grimaced at the way he said it, the way Howie brought up the delicate subject like the way they seemed to have to always walk on egg shells around him. He detested it more then they could have ever realized but he remained calm all the same. "I know what you guys are thinking," he started slowly, adverting his eyes to the floor at his feet. "There won't be a tour."

"It's not that B," AJ immediately intervened with a tight shake of his head. "It's not that at all. I think it's unanimous that we all want to do another tour-"

"But?" Brian returned sharply, finally looking up.

"But," Kevin stressed, "We have to think about what's best for you."

Brian groaned, letting loose a sarcastic laugh of disbelief. "Didn't we just have this conversation a few weeks ago?" he retorted with a quick roll of his eyes. He looked to Nick and felt his glare tighten. "Are you gonna yell at me again like you did last time?"

Nick stared back blankly for a second before the understanding reflected in his eyes. "You're such a smartass," he snorted with a smirk.

"I was actually serious..." Brian mumbled.

"Brian, you need to think rationally about this. We all need to," Kevin sighed, already seeing the disaster capable of causing more devestation. He knew if he didn't do some quick damage control then there would be more of a mess to clean up then they were ready to handle. As it was, Brian's temper had become a ticking time bomb that had a tendency to off randomly and the way things were heading at that moment, Kevin was afraid they wouldn't be seeing Brian for a couple of weeks again like before. "You yourself cannot deny your physical limitations and I'll be damned if I agree to something that is only going to be even more detrimental to your health."

"You mean something that is only going to kill me faster?" Brian shot hatefully in return.

"That was a bit harsh B," AJ wheezed.

Brian gave him a glare of daggers. "It's my problem. I'll make fun of it however I see fit."

"I hardly think it's a laughing matter," Howie noted carefully.

"This is rediculous," Brian sighed as he hunched over in his chair and rested his head in his hands. He could already feel the familiar headache begin to pound and the painful stress radiate through out his body. "I'm sorry..."

"Reality sucks," Nick broke the silence a few seconds later and as they all looked up at him, they could see the evidence of his emotions being torn. "We can't deny the reality that this has changed everything though and we're going to just have to accept that. You need to accept that too B and that's what we're here for."

"Why do I feel like this is some sort of intervention meeting?" Brian said to noone in particular.

"Could you possibly be serious for one second?" Kevin snapped suddenly.

"I..." Brian trailed towards the harsh tone.

"Management is well aware of the limitations we have," Howie interrupted as he rose from his seat and paced several feet around the room to keep himself moving and occupied. The tension in the room had increased tenfold and he suddenly felt suffocated. "A good solution was thought of that I think will satisfy everybody and fulfill what it is we want to do, but on a safe level. And it's important that we take your health and safety into consideration Brian, because we don't want to risk any chance of something happening."

Brian nodded unwillingly, fiddling uneasily with his hands. "...What's the idea?"

"A short promo tour," Howie explained, looking at Kevin for support. "It won't be big, but it will be enough to prove that we're not just dumping the album out there without a care. Basically it'll consist of visits to some of the main stream states; here in California, New York, and so on. Some press appearances, a couple photo shoots, and some mini performances. It'll give us a way to interact with the fans for the last- ...well just to interact."

"You can say it Howie. For the last time."

"We don't know that right now B," AJ answered.

"Management was a little hesitant about the idea...we all were," Howie continued.

"What made them change their minds?" Brian whispered, feeling his heart drop into the pit of his stomach.

"Nick," Kevin stated seriously.

"Nick?" Brian repeated, looking to his younger friend.

"I argued on your behalf," Nick nodded with a shrug. "Um...your welcome."

"Listen Brian," Kevin said. "We don't have to do this if you don't want to. If you're not absolutely positive that you can handle it, then tell us right now and we'll understand without questioning it. The most important thing though is you."

The middle of Brian's forehead creased in thought as he considered the proposition and all of the implications that went along with it. The truth was he ached to set out on another tour and experience it for all it was worth when he knew he would possibly never get the chance to do it again, but the idea frightened him worse then he ever could have begun and he was afraid that was exactly what they say reflecting in his eyes. So without much more hesitation, Brian said the first thing that came to his mind. "Lets do it."