The Survival Guide to Being a Backstreet Boy by freedomwriter
1. C is for Cooperation by freedomwriter
1978

He ran through the woods with Harold hot on his heels They screamed loudly and bounded between the trees without a care in the world. Harold was chasing him, getting closer every second, which he found astonishing given that the other boy was about a head shorter than him, even though they were roughly the same age. His cousin wasn’t often pleased with the never-ending taunts about his height and he made sure to make up for what he lacked in stature, with what he had in agility.

Kevin took a quick left turn and hid behind one of the many thick and old trees these woods had to offer.

Biting his lip, he watched Harold skid to a stop, confused as he looked around to see where he had gone.

Kevin smiled broadly, grabbing one of the low-hanging arms of the tree and hoisting himself up without much trouble He expertly placed his foot on the branch and climbed higher and higher, until eventually, he was looking down on the top of Harold’s head.

“Hey butthead!” he yelled and Harold whirled around, looking up to face his cousin.

“That’s cheating!” he screamed at him, running to the tree and embracing the bark demonstratively.

“Nuh-uh,” Kevin said, sticking out his tongue as he sat down about nine foot above the other boy, letting his legs dangle in the air.

“I am so telling grandpa that you climbed a tree,” Harold scoffed, leaning against the tree now with his back and looking up at Kevin.

“Then I’mma tell himd that you ditched your little brother to play with me,” Kevin shrugged and grinned down on him evilly.

Harold laughed, “Like he hasn’t already told them himself,” he said, shaking his head.

“Yeah right,” Kevin responded, “He knows like, five words.”

“He’s three, Kevin,” Harold informed.

“Well, he still talks like a baby,” Kevin said, feeling overly confident up there out of Harold’s reach.

“He knows more words than you,” Harold said as he too placed a hand on the lowest arm of the tree and hoisted himself up.

“Don’t come up here,” Kevin warned, getting to his feet, “You’ll get stuck.”

Harold halted, squinting at him, “You think I can’t climb a tree?”

“Just saying,” his cousin responded, “I’ve climbed way more trees than you have.”

Harold didn’t listen, instead grabbed the branch above him and setting a foot in one of the holes in the bark where Kevin ad been in the same position not five minutes earlier. Kevin frowned. He knew these woods like the back of his hand, even though he was just seven. He had climbed almost all the climbable trees in the area and here Harold thought he could just do the same. Kevin looked up at the branch above him; he wasn’t in any circumstance allowed to climb any higher than the roof of the house, but Harold was on his way up to catch him.

With renowned confidence, he wrapped an arm around the branch and pulled himself up. He’d never been up this high, and his heart was beating in his throat as he placed his feet on another branch. The branches were getting thinner as he got higher and higher. He finally noticed Harold had stopped climbing and was staring up at his cousin with a hint of fear in his eyes. Kevin smiled down at him, glad he’d won after all.

“Let’s go back to the house,” Harold said, sulking as he slowly and carefully made his way back down.

“Ha, I totally beat you!” Kevin grinned his victory.

“Oh yeah?” Harold said, not looking at him as he placed his feet on the lowest branch again, “You get down then.”

Kevin bit his lip, looking down. The ground was far away and he felt a little bit nauseous. Hugging the tree tightly, he reached down with one foot, searching for a lower branch. The branch creaked dangerously, giving way to his leg and he quickly pulled his foot back up, swallowing nervously. Below him, he saw Harold jumping down, landing in a crouched position and looking up at his cousin in concern.

“You okay, Kev?” he asked.

“I am fine,” Kevin replied stubbornly. This time, he reached out his other foot, and triumphantly found a branch that was strong enough to hold his weight. “Do you know how many of these trees I’ve been in?” He said arrogantly, reaching down again while still holding on to the trunk.

“Yeah sure,” Harold replied with a sigh, “You’re the master tree climber.”

“And you know it.”

“We gotta hurry up and get back before Brian waddles up to Mom and she wonders why I’m not with him.”

Kevin nodded quickly, lowering his foot on a particularly out of reach branch. He saw Harold looking up at him impatiently and hurriedly shifted his weight down. First, he heard the branch break, splinters flying around his feet and then he heard Harold yell his name.

Then he was weightless for about a second before landing roughly on his back.

All the air was sucked out of his lungs and he gasped like a fish on dry shore. He couldn’t move and stared up at the sky, dazed, before Harold came into his vision.

His eyes were as large as saucers and he looked scared beyond belief. “Kev? Are you okay?” he asked.

Kevin nodded, trying to see if he could at least move his head. Relieved, he sat up. “You said I had to come down quickly,” he smiled, but his voice shook.

Harold, pale as a sheet, frowned, “You didn’t have to take it that literally.” He shook his head.

===================

Now

With a weary sigh, Kevin Richardson hoisted his backpack a little higher as he watched the boat approach. It was hot as hell and the late July sun burned down on his head.

Next to him, Nick rhythmically bounced from one foot to another in a clear display of nervous, yet excited energy. A large portion of the show had been his idea in essence, and for weeks, months, it had been all he could talk about. Kevin watched him and regretted everything.

The original idea had been to drop Nick Carter on an island and make him compete with other celebrities in the classic Survivor storyline Kevin was sort of familiar with. But slowly, very slowly “and Kevin was still not sure about the actual method- Nick had been able to warp the premise in such a way that they all got involved.

And Kevin loved the wilderness, so it hadn’t been strange that Nick had presumed that the older man would absolutely love the idea of doing a survival TV program, but Kevin just wasn’t sure if it was a smart move career wise. So he’d opted to at least include some music into the program, and now he was left with the option to maybe have a small part that included music? He didn’t know, he hadn’t heard back from it.

Still, here he was, here they were, without having any idea of what to expect really. The white boat was almost at the pier now, and they’d have to go on, and be taken God knows where. On Kevin’s far right, he could see Howie seemed actually mortified by that idea. If there was one guy that didn’t like the wilderness, it was Howard Dorough, and Kevin couldn’t help but smile a little in his friend’s expense. But, because Howie seemed to always want to do anything to keep Nick happy, he’d gone along with the idea anyway.

Brian, however, had kicked up a storm when it slowly became apparent that this crazy, random idea was becoming a reality and everyone seemed to just be okay with it. Kevin watched his younger cousin’s stoic expression as they waited for the boat to arrive. Brian had once sworn never to participate in any reality program that had the potential to make a fool out of him or out of the fact that they were a boy band. He was too proud for that. But Kevin was also convinced that once Brian would get into the game, he would absolutely love it, because if there was one guy that was competitive to no end, it was Brian Littrell. So he’d just have to give it a chance.

Kevin was a bit more concerned about AJ, who, like Howie, was a total pleaser when it came to Nick, or to anybody for that matter. But AJ was definitely not built for survival in the wild. Especially his knees.

Kevin’s thoughts were wildly interrupted as the white boat pulled up to the pier, leaving a big splash of water right before the Backstreet Boys’ feet. Brian raised his eyebrows in a quiet huff, already totally undignified by the way he seemed to be treated. Kevin ignored him as he watched the young lady climb off of the boat, her short sleeves and glittering sunglasses perfectly appropriate for the beaming sun that was harshly burning onto Kevin’s neck. He knew he shouldn’t have gotten that haircut. But Kristin kept insisting that if he didn’t want his hair to be stuck in all kinds of trees, he better get rid of it.

Nick waited only a second before clumsily reaching forward and helping the woman onto the pier, smiling broadly as he stood next to her. Kevin believed there was a malignant glint in his eyes, as if he knew more than they did. Which, considering, he definitely did. Kevin felt the knot in his stomach tighten when he thought about how little he was actually prepared for this whole thing.

Just three weeks, he chanted to himself.

“Right,” the young woman said, clutching the clipboard in her hands and quickly looking each of the men up and down. Kevin wondered if she was younger than half his age. “Alright,” she repeated, looking down on her notes nervously, her blond, sleek ponytail dancing whenever she moved her head, “I don’t think we’ve officially met yet. My name’s Sarah Spang, I’ll be the production manager on scene,” she smiled briefly, looking each of them in the eye, “Welcome to one of the biggest adventures of your life!”


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