Fear Factor by mersey
Summary: One is always in control of himself. The other is always looking for answers. When roles were exchanged, could they help each other out and save themselves?
Categories: Fanfiction > Backstreet Boys Characters: Kevin, Nick, Group
Genres: Drama, Suspense
Warnings: None
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 22 Completed: No Word count: 53922 Read: 9334 Published: 03/23/05 Updated: 05/31/06

1. 1. House Call by mersey

2. 2 by mersey

3. 3 by mersey

4. 4 by mersey

5. 5 by mersey

6. 6 by mersey

7. 7 by mersey

8. 8 by mersey

9. 9 by mersey

10. 10 by mersey

11. 11 by mersey

12. 12 by mersey

13. 13 by mersey

14. 14 by mersey

15. 15 by mersey

16. 16 by mersey

17. 17 by mersey

18. chap 18 by mersey

19. 19 by mersey

20. 20: 3 Days Grace by mersey

21. And Then There Is Kevin by mersey

22. Against Time by mersey

1. House Call by mersey

1: House Call

Nick Carter couldn’t make up his mind. Should he go with the picture of him with the white top or the black one? To be quite honest, he didn’t really give much care, he had seen too many of his pictures in all kinds of poses that whether a slightly crooked smile or a slouched shoulder didn’t bother him much anymore. But Howie had made him promised that he would give his utmost attention to the pictures and picked his favorite. Put it this way Nicky, we never know when we’re gonna pose for an album sleeve as a group again so I don’t want you to look back and regret not picking the best, Howie had convinced him. Softly playing in the background was his copy of the final songs they had agreed to have in the album. He loved this part the most, listening to each song subconsciously and often wondering what would the fans think of it. His cell phone started to ring, disrupting his decision making process. He smirked when he saw the number. “You HAVE to help me.” Nick burst into giggles; Brian could be overly dramatic if he wanted to. “I see AJ’s keeping you busy.” “I should book myself in a hotel.” Brian sighed. “You should book yourself in a hotel.” Nick agreed. “Or get better luck and toss that coin and hit head.” “Yeah, I would be staying with you if I had gotten head. Now the question is, why would that make me lucky?” Nick laughed heartedly. “You’re as bad as AJ, I still think hotel would be the best choice.” “And yet you called me asking for my help.” Nick pointed out. Another sigh. “I know…have you decide which picture you want to use?” “Nope. I blame Howie for that.” Nick whined. “I’m sitting here scrutinizing every single detail, looking at every freaking angle and, did you know I look better on my right side than my left?” “He’s turned you into Mariah Carey? Wow, never underestimate the influence of Howie D.” Nick shuddered. “I need a break. What’s your problem?” “Well, AJ keep saying I should use the one of me in that brown jacket.” “So what’s the problem?” “The problem is, I look like a freaking hobbit in that one.” “Hey, they saved middle earth.” “You’re not helping.” “Okay, how about you email them to Leighanne and have Baylee pick one out for you?” “You’re making me leave the decision making that will either make or break my career to a two year old?” “It’s just a picture Bri.” Nick laughed. “Damn it, it’s Howie’s fault!” “Speaking of which, maybe we should just leave the decision making to him. He seems to-” Nick paused; someone had just slammed his door shut and he could hear a set of rushed footsteps coming towards him. “Nick? Hello?” Should he hide? Hang up on Brian and call 911? Grab a bat? What? The footsteps were deafening now, he knew another step and he would know who it was that had rudely barged into his house. “You didn’t lock your freaking door? What were you thinking? God damn it Nick, I could be a thief and you’re gonna be dead by now!” Nick rolled his eyes even though his heart was still beating like crazy. “Gotta go Brian, your cousin has decided to randomly barge into my house and give me one of his infamous Kevin speeches. Tell AJ to lock up, he might be next.” “Man, good luck.” “Yeah.” Kevin looked like he had not eaten a human for the past few weeks and now he was feasting on Nick. “It’s almost ten Kevin, what are you doing here?” Kevin nodded vigorously. “That’s right! It’s almost TEN and you didn’t even lock your front door! Jesus Nick, this isn’t Tampa, your house has no gates, there’s no guards nearby and you didn’t even turn on your alarm system!” Nick clenched his jaws and reminded himself that this was Kevin, he loved this guy, he shouldn’t give him a punch on the face. “And this is my house! You don’t get to barge in here and tell me how to run it!” Kevin closed his eyes and shook his head. Nick began to worry. Please don’t yell. Please don’t yell… When he opened up his eyes again, Kevin exhaled loud enough for Nick to hear it and then said, “We have to lock the doors.” He left Nick in his study room and bolted for the living room. “What the…” Nick ran after him, just in time to see Kevin locking the doors and punching the security code to activate his alarm system. “How did you-urgh, never mind!” “You gave me your security code before.” Kevin explained. “Which I shouldn’t have done by the way,” Nick pointed out. “since that’s the whole point of having one.” “Yeah I know, but you’re too trusting, that’s your problem.” Kevin said. Nick felt irritated again. “Kevin, mind telling me why you’re here and seem very interested in my alarm system?” Kevin combed his fingers through his newly cut hair and then looked at Nick. He thought he saw fear there. That alarmed Nick to no end. “Kev, what’s wrong?” “You got ice for this?” Kevin asked, pointing at his left eye. Nick squinted. “For your eye? Why? What’s wrong?” “If the fans know how bad your eyesight is, they wouldn’t be awing at how blue they are.” Kevin said. “Man shut up.” Nick grumbled as he left to get an ice pack from the kitchen. “Barge into my house, gave me a speech about alarms, ask for ice and then insult my eyes. Kevin really needs some wake up call. I should just give that injury prone right leg of his a kick and see how much that sucks.” Nick grabbed his pair of glasses in the study room on his way back to the living room. “Here.” “Thanks man.” Now that Nick had his glasses on, he could see a good bruise at the corner of his right eye. There was a little broken skin with a hint of blood on it. “Damn Kev, what did you do? Argue with a 16 year old?” “Ha, funny.” Nick rolled his eyes. “Well, are you gonna tell me or do I have to kick you out of my house?” “I got mugged okay?” “You what!” Nick was panicking now. Mugged? Kevin? OUR Kevin? Mighty Kev? No way! “Did you make a report? Did you have that cut checked? What?” “Nick, don’t have a cow please.” Kevin grumbled. “Cow? Don’t have a cow? I’m having a WHALE Kevin, you didn’t make a police report did you?” “No I didn’t, I-” “Kevin!” Nick groaned. “You have to make a report! The bastard is still out there!” “I’ll make it tomorrow okay Nick? I’m just too…” It dawned upon Nick that he had never seen Kevin this helpless before. Nick for one, wasn’t sure how to handle it. Think Nick think! This is Kevin, you know this guy your whole life! “Okay,” Nick breathed. “What you gonna do now?” “I don’t know,” Kevin shrugged. “sleep maybe.” “Sleep.” Nick said. Kevin nodded. “Yeah.” “You’re not driving anywhere tonight.” Kevin said nothing. “And just cause I love you, I’m gonna put some covers and pillows in the spare room. We’ll talk about this in the morning, deal?” Kevin shrugged. “Hey, it’s your house.” Nick nodded. “Damn straight.” When Nick was sure that Kevin had all the necessities he needed, he went around the house, making sure that everything was locked and secured. Howie made me vain and Kev’s making me paranoid, I swear this is a good year to release that album out. Once he was back into the study room, the same stack of pictures greeted him but he had no desire to start criticizing each and every one of them again. He picked up the cell phone and speed dial the number to the very person who would know what to do, he hoped.

2 by mersey

2: Reversing Roles

Nick didn’t make that call. At the third ring, he decided against it. He sank back into his chair, swiveling lazily as his gaze fell on the stack of pictures again. He picked on out in random. It was a group picture, a contender for the cover even though most likely, they wouldn’t even have their faces up front like they used to. It was a black and white photo with a hint of sepia effect to it. If you bend it to a certain angle, you’ll see them in tattered clothes with their faces covered in dirt, sweat and bruises, the sky dark and gloomy. Ahead of them, a stretch of endless road. And if you bend it on another angle, the picture will move, the sky turned blue but not perfectly clear, they were now standing in the middle of the road, their clothes no longer torn yet there wasn’t anything extravagant to it. Nick in particular, was laughing, looking to his right, where Kevin was. It was one of those laughs the fans would call ‘unguarded’ and it did feel that way. With the guys around him, there was nothing to hide. He decided he liked that picture of them. He liked the effect too. The boys had been through a lot but they still see that there are roads left to explore ahead of them. And while they were in a comfortable spot right then, in between of what was the past and what would be the future, hard times will always sneak up on them and gave them the reality check they all needed from time to time. Lost in thoughts, he finally wove his way back and realized it was past his bed time. They had to be at the rehearsal studio by ten and to wake up moody while Kevin was there would be unwise. He got up, switched the lights off and went up the stairs to his room. He paused though when he reached Kevin’s room and decided to enter it. It was dark and Nick wasn’t sure if Kevin was asleep yet but he decided to give it a shot. He went to the right side of the bed, where Kevin was and sat on the edge. “Kev.” “What?” “Great, you’re not asleep.” “Can’t sleep.” “I understand.” “Sure you do.” “I do.” Nick replied. “Those things I said about monsters under the bed…I wasn’t lying.” He heard Kevin snickered. “So anyway, I wanted to call Howie and tell him what happened.” Nick felt Kevin moved a little. “Did you?” “Nope.” Nick replied. “Wanna know why?” “Why Nick.” “Cause it’s not my place to tell.” There was a few seconds of silence before Kevin spoke again. “I will tell them.” “I’d like that.” Nick replied. “Cause Kev, it’s okay to feel weak sometimes.” “Weak?” “Yeah…or helpless, take your pick.” Nick said, shifting a little to try to see Kevin’s face in the dark. “I guess it’s easier to be me than you.” “It is?” Kevin said, a hint of tease in his voice. “Yeah…when they arrested me that day, I was too drunk to think straight Kev. It wasn’t until I felt that cold hard steel on my wrist and feeling trapped in that police car that I got a little sobered.” “And that’s why it’s easier being you? I don’t get it.” “Of course that’s not it you goon. I haven’t finish yet.” Nick said. “It’s like someone kicked me in the head or something…I felt this sudden rush of emotions in me, fear, helpless, weak, happy…so I cried. I’m telling you it’s easier being me cause I can cry. God forbid if they see Kevin Richardson cry.” “You sure you felt happy at that point too?” Kevin asked, almost to a point of whisper. The whole conversation was so intimate that nothing else exist in that room. To Kevin, it almost felt like he was in a confession booth. He wasn’t entirely sure who was the Father then though. “I did.” Nick nodded. “Man…I was so lost you had no idea. I’ve been hating myself for so long that I ended up embracing this side of me. I can’t even remember the name of that girl I argued with that night, but it was stupid. She wanted to leave and I wouldn’t let her. You don’t leave when I’m still around wanting to enjoy myself. Who are you anyway? I’m THE man, you listen to ME. I could get a woman ten times prettier than you are anyway. The things that came out of me that night…anyway…I was lost, I don’t know who I was anymore, I live for the moment and to hell with everything else. But in that police car…I begin to feel again, you know? I don’t have to act tough cause for once, I was really scared and helpless. And I thought, damn, I feel something. So I’m happy.” “And you cried.” Kevin said. Nick nodded. “I cried.” “So…you want me to cry?” Nick laughed. “No old man, I don’t want you to cry…I just want to tell you that it’s okay…everything will be all right.” “I know it will Nick. I just got mugged and yeah it shocked me…but I won’t lost myself, don’t worry.” “Then you will make that police report?” “Tomorrow morning.” “I’ll go with you.” “We have rehearsals tomorrow.” “That’s at 10. We can get out at 8 and still make it to the studio on time.” “Wow. Nick on time…don’t wanna miss that.” “Jerk.” Nick said as he got up from the bed and made his way out of the room. “Goodnight Kev.” “Hey Nick.” Nick was already standing outside of the door. The light was on, so Kevin could see him clearly. Nick was facing a dark room, trying to find Kevin’s silhouette. “Yeah?” “So when did you overcome that fear of those monsters under your bed?” Nick shrugged. “Remember that day when we found out FIRM screwed us? I went back home, lye in my bed for the longest time and decided there’re worst monsters out there that I’ve met and handled…this one under my bed is nothing.” “Just like that?” Kevin mused. “Just like that.” Nick smiled. “Night Kev, don’t let the monsters bite.” Nick lye on his bed recalling the conversation he just had with Kevin. There were many such ‘visits’ he was lucky enough to have experienced growing up with the guys, but that had been the first time that their roles took a reverse. He knew there was something Kevin wasn’t telling but he decided it wasn’t his place to probe. Kevin gave him room to come around and talked to him in the past, he figured he should do the same now. Hoping that he had made some sort of sense talking with Kevin that night, Nick fell into a deep sleep

3 by mersey

3: Can I Keep You?

Nick woke up to the smell of bacon and eggs and the warmth of toasts wafting from the kitchen. He stretched and yawn before slumping himself down by the dining table. Kevin was pouring them 2 glasses of orange juice before joining him. “I have to be honest Nick, I was looking for Tutty Fruity and hopefully a good carton of milk for breakfast.” Kevin said as he took a sip of the juice. “I didn’t know you do groceries.” “I don’t.” Nick said. “Marlena bought them.” “You know, I don’t appreciate surprises. Should I start worrying about you again or is this girl safe?” Nick took a bite of the bacon and was surprised it was crispy but not burnt. “She’s my cleaning lady, nice woman, like my mother.” Kevin raised his eyebrow. “I mean, she’s about my mother’s age, not that she’s as nice as my mother.” Kevin looked relieved and Nick had to laugh at that. After about a few seconds of silence, Kevin said, “So, you’re into older woman now?” Nick almost choked on his toast. He aimed the remaining of the triangle toast at Kevin, which landed perfectly on Kevin’s plate. “You suck.” “I know.” Kevin smiled. Nick rolled his eyes and started taking a bite of his egg. It was then that Nick stopped eating and looked at Kevin, until the man felt uncomfortable under his stares. “What’s wrong?” Kevin frowned. “Can I keep you?” Kevin rolled his eyes and threw the piece of toast back to Nick. “Get yourself a wife Nick, or better still, learn to cook something.” “I know how to cook.” “Dumping stuff into that oven of yours is not cooking.” “I get by.” Nick said. “Need to start eating healthy Nicky…don’t wait till it’s too late.” Nick started stabbing at his egg. “You’re not gonna give me one of your lectures are you Kev? Please don’t start with the smoking thing too.” Kevin finished his juice and burped, which wasn’t something he’d be surprised about. “I’m not; we have to start cleaning up and get the hell out.” “So…” Nick lingered, now playing with the melted yolk of the egg. “You’re gonna do it right?” “I promised you I would, didn’t I? If you behave, I’ll even let you read my report.” Nick snickered. “Like I wanna sit there and read ten pages of your boring report! Please Kev, I’m not that bored.” “It won’t be ten pages you drama queen.” Kevin teased. “But it’ll still be boring I bet.” - Nick tried to be oblivious to the stares that the entire police department seemed to be giving them as they waited for an officer to serve them. He wondered if Kevin noticed that little smirk the officer at the front desk gave when Kevin had told him he wanted to report a theft. Someone robbed you? The officer had asked, sounding surprised. Yes, Kevin replied short, I’d like to make a report about it. It felt like forever, just waiting there doing nothing. Kevin looked calm, just staring ahead and observing the busy scene in front of him. Nick on the other hand, was getting claustrophobic. He ended up fishing out his cell phone and started playing a game of Bejeweled. Officer Randy greeted them soon after and they were brought into a room that was covered in blinds. “I figured you’d feel much comfortable here than out there.” Officer Randy said, smiling. Nick figured the man could be around his father’s age although Randy was shorter, with auburn colored hair and a hint of a pouch belly. “Thank you, we appreciate that.” Kevin smiled. Randy sat facing them from across the table. “Where were you robbed Mr. Richardson?” “Kevin, please.” Kevin said. “At the parking lot near the ATM machine just outside Dean’s Café. “Oh? And when was this?” “Last night…about 9.” “Why didn’t you make a report straight away?” Nick waited for an answer, he knew Kevin was pausing for a good reason. He was about to tell Kevin that he could wait outside if it’d make him feel better but Kevin had stopped pausing. “I was hesitant…I figured I’m still alive and well, he only got a hundred in cash and some small change.” “What changed then?” Kevin smiled. “This kid over here, he made me promise to make a report.” “I just don’t want the guy to attack someone else.” Nick explained. “I don’t really mind he got a black eye out of it, he can handle that.” “Isn’t he nice?” Kevin joked. Randy laughed and nodded his head. “Ok well Kevin, I’ll need your driver’s license for record purposes and while I’m gone, I need you to write a detailed report of what happened. As detailed as you can remember.” Kevin gave him his driver’s license and once Randy left the room, Kevin held the form in his hands and stared at it for the longest time. “What are you doing?” Nick asked. “Reading.” “You might want to read and fill it in at the same time. It’s faster that way.” “Can’t rush stuff like these.” Nick sank back into his seat. He watched as Kevin finally let out a soft sigh and proceeded to fill the form and starting his report. Everything that is Kevin looked calm and concentrated. He wasn’t even trembling as the memories came back and he translated them into words. Nick remembered the time he was told to fill such forms. Right after he was arrested and released, they requested him to come to the police station for an official report. They told him if he would go as a willing party, they’d let him off easy. Nothing was easy though, that he learnt as he entered the headquarters. He was charged for resisting arrest from a police officer and as he wrote his particulars down, he remembered trembling so much that some of the particulars doesn’t seem to make sense even to him. “This is getting interesting Nick, you sure you don’t wanna read it when I’m done?” “What?” Kevin turned to look at him, a smile playing on his lips. “You were really out, weren’t you? Didn’t even hear a word that I said.” “Sure I do.” “Yeah? So what did I say?” “I don’t know. You gotta speak out louder Kev, you always love to mumble stuff.” “I said, I can’t remember shit.” Nick laughed nervously. “But you have excellent memory.” “I know. I mean, I know what happened, but I can’t remember how he looked like.” “Well, at least you remember it’s a he, which is a good thing. Imagine if it’s a she and you got that black eye.” “She could be a black belt at Karate though, that’d be excusable for the black eye right?” Nick laughed and let Kevin continue his report. “Will it help though?” Nick asked. “Hmmm?” Kevin asked, this time not turning around to look at him. “Will it help if you remember how he looks.” “Nope.” Kevin said, still writing. “I don’t expect to get my money back, but this is the right thing to do. You’re right, he could hurt somebody else.” Officer Randy came back right at that moment, along with a plain clothed officer whom Nick thought looked like those typical FBI agents he saw on television. “Kevin, I’m Mr. Weiss, Chief Inspector.” Kevin shake his hand and introduced Nick to him. “This is my brother, Nick.” Nick was surprised at how firm his handshake was. “I heard you were robbed last night, at the carpark near Dean’s Café?” “Yes, that’s a jist of it.” “Randy thought it sound familiar and consulted in me and I’m glad he brought it to my attention because we might need your help.” “My help?” Kevin asked, confused. “You said you were robbed at about 9 last night?” “Yes.” “This morning we received a call that a young woman was killed at the exact same car park you were attacked. Our forensic report came back and stated time of death to be about 9pm. You understand now that you could prove to be very helpful in our investigation.” “I was alone when he robbed me, I know because I yelled for help.” Kevin said. Nick didn’t even dare to look at Kevin, to see fear in the one person he had always looked for when he needed someone strong to tell him that he’ll be okay. This isn’t happening he thought. Kevin don’t yell for help. Kevin comes to help. That’s just…Kevin.

4 by mersey

4: Lies

Kevin didn’t tell the guys because the situation had changed. Nick chose not to say anything because he was still unsure of what had happened back in the police HQ. The tour rehearsal went in blur. There were a few times when he felt like just bursting out ‘Kevin got mugged last night and now he could be a witness to a murder he didn’t even know happened’, but of course he held that back. Surely it wasn’t this difficult for Kevin back then; when he decided to not interfere with Nick’s life and let him make the mistakes he needed to do in order to learn from them, right? “Okay that’s it, we’re having a break.” Brian announced right after they were done with Climbing The Walls. That wasn’t difficult for Nick at all since he wasn’t doing lead, it was difficult though, to join Kevin and Howie in harmony when he knew what was going on. Nobody seemed to protest Brian’s decision since they had been practicing non-stop for the past hour. Nick went straight for his Evian, leaning against the mirrored wall he had learnt to look into while they were rehearsing. It used to bother him much, looking at himself dance. Back then, he always felt miserable, seeing how well built the guys were and there he was, sticking out like a sore thumb. A scrawny kid with a big head. “I’ve decided on that hobbit picture for my solo shot.” Brian said as he approached Nick while wiping his sweat with a Winnie the Pooh towel. “Yeah? What gives?” “AJ said I looked good in that one too.” “Unless there’s a conspiracy going on.” Nick said, wiggling his eyebrows. “I should ask Kevin.” “Good luck.” Nick smirked. Brian raised an eyebrow. “Do I need one?” This is it, Nick thought, a chance he had been waiting for. Brian was there, he could tell him, he knew he could count on Brian for help. “Yo Nick! You got a stick on you?” AJ yelled from across the room. Nick bit his lips. “Yeah. In my bag.” He looked on as AJ went to his duffel bag and after dumping almost all the contents out, found the pack of cigarette he was looking for. He took one and placed everything back in. “Thanks man, I owe you one.” “Yeah.” Nick said, unsure if giving a poison to someone else is considered an act of giving. “All right ladies, I’m out for a smoke!” AJ made sure he yelled and left the studio. Howie and Kevin, who were talking, shook their head and decided to join Nick and Brian. “This smoking thing is getting out of hand.” Kevin said. “Someone should talk to him.” Howie agreed. Nick snickered. “Well, I’m definitely out.” “Instead of following his example, you should have talked to him against it.” Kevin pointed out. “I’m not following anybody Kevin, it’s my choice.” Nick said. “And until you caught either one of us blowing smoke in your face, don’t talk nothing.” “By the time one of you got cancer, there’ll be nothing to talk about Nick.” “Okay guys, we really don’t need to start arguing.” Howie said. Nick was looking too upset over a small matter and it was worrying Howie. Nick temper was something none of them would love to see, especially when the temper is directed to Kevin Richardson. “Yeah Kev, no one said nothing when you decide to wear skirts.” Brian shrugged. “Skirts don’t give me cancer.” Kevin replied. Nick smirked. “Yeah, it just makes us look gay.” “So what were you doing at Nick’s house last night Kev? Was it one of those Kevin’s random surprise spot checks?” Brian asked. Nick didn’t dare to look at Kevin, afraid of what he might see there. He wasn’t used to seeing Kevin lies. In fact, he had always looked up to him for the truth when everything else seemed to be one huge mass of lies. “I was driving and got sleepy.” Kevin replied short. “Did you give the kid a hard time Kev? I noticed Nick looked disturbed when you guys came in earlier.” Howie said. Nick wasn’t sure if Howie was joking or if he really noticed the confusion that Nick was trying to hide from everyone. He began to feel uneasy around them. There shouldn’t be any more secrets among them, not after what AJ went through. They promised. He promised. “Nah…I think he’s just shocked he actually had real food for breakfast.” Kevin joked. “I’m shock you even have real food Nick.” Brian teased. “Thanks to Marlena, and that’s the cleaning lady, not his girlfriend.” Kevin answered for Nick. The guys were laughing but Nick hardly found anything funny about that. He took another gulp of his drink before dropping it to the floor. “I’m gonna join AJ and have myself a cancer stick, yell when you need us okay.” Nick grabbed his pack of cigarette that AJ had conveniently placed on top of his bag and left. AJ was nowhere to be found. The car park was deserted, with about seven cars occupying various parking spots. Four of them belonged to the Backstreet Boys. He took one stick out and fished for his lighter in his pants and quickly lit it up. Taking a long, deep drag of the cigarette, he took his time to blow it out, along with those poisons, some of his worries. The Chief Inspector wanted Kevin to drop by his office again after rehearsals. Kevin said he’d go but Nick wasn’t sure if that was a quick way to bail out of there or if Kevin truly intend to keep his end of the promise. It was also highly disturbing to see pictures of where the murder took place and pictures of the dead woman, looking pale, blue and…dead. During the ride back, Kevin said not a word and Nick was thankful that he was behind the wheel, it gave him an excuse to not talk but concentrate on the road. But during one of the red stops, the silence grew too intense that he had to say something. It could have been you Kevin. I don’t think whoever this murderer is, was looking for a guy Nick. That didn’t stop whoever the asshole who mugged you. That’s different. What difference? That guy could be the murderer for all we know! He’d kill me already. I’m just saying I’m thankful you’re all right. Me too…just don’t tell the guys about this okay? Why not? I’ll tell them. Promise? Promise The door that Nick had came out from banged against the wall and a very furious Kevin Richardson was charging at him. Before Nick could react, Kevin had grabbed him by the shirt and pushed him back against the wall. His hand was pushed back and the cigarette hit him on his face before he lost the grip and dropped it on the floor. “WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?” Nick was too shock to say anything. Part of him was cursing for the burnt that his cigarette had marked on his cheek and another part of him was still trying to figure out what was going on. “YOU WERE GONNA TELL THEM, DIDN’T YOU? DIDN’T YOU!” Nick could feel Kevin’s anger dripping from his fingers and straight to his neck, where he was almost strangling him. But besides the obvious, Nick also felt the tremble in that grip, Kevin’s fear coursing through him. He also felt anger, but this he felt coming from him, not Kevin. When that anger finally took over, Nick found himself quickly pushing Kevin away, a feat that was once impossible for him when Kevin Richardson was involved. Now they stood almost head to head, shoulder to shoulder. Physically, Kevin wasn’t as terrifying as he used to be. What came out of his mouth still send shivers down his spine even though he wouldn’t admit to this fact to anyone. Kevin faltered a little but it was enough to shake him out of whatever mad trance he was in when he barged out and went after Nick like a raging bull. “What makes you so damn special huh Kevin?” Nick gritted, his voice low and hoarse. “What…what makes you think you’re better than everybody else? Was there supposed to be a code or something that I missed?” “What the fuck are you talking about?” Kevin groaned. “You think getting mugged is special Nick? You think I want this?” Nick smirked and shook his head, as if not believing those words came from Kevin. “You really have no idea do you?” “If you’re suddenly so smart Carter, then tell me what is it I’m not getting!” Kevin said, almost yelling again. “Pretending is so much better don’t you think so Kev? Doesn’t take much when it comes to you anyway…who would have thought you’re all scared and vulnerable in there? Especially when you were going on and on about my smoking.” Kevin stared at him, as if searching for the right words that could be found in those blues. Nick knew this look too well. It used to scare him. It was Kevin’s way of saying he’s trying to understand what’s going on in his head. This time it was different though. Kevin was looking at him for answers that weren’t there. “You won’t find any answers just looking at me Kev, cause I’m the one asking you right now. Or should I do the same? Look in your eyes and see if I can get in your head?” Nick didn’t look into those eyes though, he was mad, but it wasn’t enough for him to look. The things he could see reflected in those greens might just be too much for him to handle. Something Nick said must have knocked some sense in Kevin, because something changed, as if some unforeseen energy had delicately peel those madness off him and now standing in front of him was the old Kevin, calm and collected. “I want to help you Kev, trust me I really do.” Nick said when Kevin showed no signs of saying anything. “But it’s hard when you’re always on my case.” Nick thought he heard Kevin snorted, he wasn’t too sure. He shook his head and then stared at Nick again, as if he couldn’t believe what he had just said. When Nick showed no signs that he was joking around, Kevin gave him that look again, searching for something in his eyes. Or was he trying to say something? Nick thought. Kevin always has that effect on him, the one of confusion. You can never really tell sometimes. But there was something that Nick felt from the stare, something he wished he hadn’t detected, because after almost twelve years together, he knew what he felt was true. There were disappointment and betrayal in Kevin’s eyes. And it was meant only for Nick. It lasted for a mere second or two, but it doesn’t go unnoticed. “I’m sorry bro, I didn’t mean to start on the smoking thing back there.” Nick shrugged. “You’re just concerned Kevin, I get that. I guess I’m still not over what happened back at the police station. I worry for you Kev…this could be really serious.” Kevin nodded. “Look, I’ll go back there today like I promised, once I get a clear picture of what’s going down, I’ll tell the guys. Is that okay with you?” “Nah.” Nick shook his head. “I’m coming with you.” Kevin was about to say something when Nick cut him. “If you notice Kev, that’s not a question, that’s a statement. So you can’t say no.” “I was going to say, Nick, before you nicely cut me, that that would be nice.” Nick smirked and rolled his eyes. “Smart ass.” He rested his arm around Kevin’s shoulders, pulling him in as they started heading back towards the studio. “Hey Nick.” “Yeah?” “I’m sorry about that burn on your cheek.” “It doesn’t even hurt, don’t sweat about it.” “I’m not worried about that. We have a Rolling Stone photo shoot tomorrow, an ugly Nick could hurt my reputation.” “Oh you have a reputation now?” “I always have, where’ve you been?” “Wow, hello ego, I don’t think I’ve met you before.” “Hey Nick, I really am sorry about your cheek.” “Yeah, he said he’s sorry too.” Nick joked. “And I really wanna help you Kev, you know that right?” Kevin nodded. “I know you do. You love me.” “I love you.” Nick smiled. “So what did you tell Bri and D when you wanna come out here and kill me?” “I wanna kill Nick, be right back.” “Nice. And they didn’t even try to stop you.” “They said make it quick, not to hurt you too much, for old times sake.” As they walked back to the studio, deep in conversation and momentarily successful in pushing their impending fears to the back of their minds, both Kevin and Nick failed to see AJ appearing from a corner at the car park, taking his last puff before falling behind them, back to the studio.

5 by mersey

5: Change

Kevin wasn’t sure when it all changed; to point to a specific date or event would be impossible. He remembered one thing was for certain though, it shocked and hurt him when it did. He would eventually learn, the hard way, that changes occurred every second around him, they were subtle at first but when it finally hit him in the face, it hurt like a mother. There was an incident that still etched in his memories, one that he didn’t think he could ever forget. It was another one of those eye opening event that knocked him out of nowhere, waking him up to the changes that was happening, it shouldn’t be any different than the others, but it mattered to him. They were on their Millennium tour and immediately, everyone felt the changes. Kevin and Brian were newly weds, both still in their honeymoon phase. Kristin and Leighanne stayed with the tour almost 90% of the time. The album was doing much better than they would ever imagined, people were putting them on a new pedestal, the icons of the inbetween was what their manager used to call them. Album in 1999 and a tour that entered 2000. AJ, Nick and Howie brought their girlfriends on tour, everyone was happy. That was until he overheard a heated telephone conversation between Nick and his mother. He had never heard Nick so angry before. Sure the kid could wrestle anyone when he was mad, but this was different somehow. It was another kind of anger, something that Kevin had to admit, felt alien to him. Naturally, he felt the need to come forward and made sure if everything was all right. And later that night, it was exactly what he did. The concert had been brilliant even though they were already slightly under the weather. When Kevin knocked on Nick’s hotel room that night, he was in between getting dressed up, ready to prowl the night life and making himself a peanut butter jelly sandwich. “I’m going with AJ and Tony, you don’t have to worry Kev.” Nick said as he buttoned up his black shirt, not waiting for Kevin to even ask. “And the girlfriends?” Kevin asked as he made himself a sandwich. “I don’t know about AJ but I’m going alone.” “Oh?” “We had a fight, she left.” Kevin nodded knowingly. That wasn’t the first time it happened and Kevin had used up all the advices he thought would make a difference for Nick. Now he just nod and moved on to another subject. “I came cause I wanted to know if everything is all right with you.” Nick immediately paused, leaving the 2 top buttons undone. “With me? Of course, it’s just a fight Kevin, we’ll talk when she’s cool.” Suddenly, the sandwich doesn’t seem so appealing to him anymore. He placed it back on the small counter and tried to find the right words to say. “I overheard you talking with your mom earlier today. I just want to make sure you’re all right.” Nick’s demeanor changed for a second, it was as if he was mad at himself for being caught in a situation he didn’t want to be in. He smiled soon after though, but Kevin knew it was too late. He also wondered how many times Nick had used that smile to hide everything else. “You know how it is Kev, it’s nothing to worry about.” “But I do worry.” Kevin said. “I’ve always looked after you, after this group, I need to know when there’s something wrong.” “Kevin, I’m nineteen, you can’t look after me like how you used to. And you don’t NEED to know when there’s something wrong all the time, it’s not your problem.” “If it’s going to affect the group, it is my problem Nick,” Kevin stressed. “I always know when something’s up, you hiding it from me will do no good for anybody.” Nick was shaking his head, disbelieving what he had just heard. Kevin also noticed he was getting red on the face, a sign that his temper was about to flare. “Well if you ALWAYS know something’s up Kev, then why are you here asking me if I’m all right? You know what your problem is Kevin? You’re ALWAYS on my case and you know why? Cause I’m the freaking baby! Well newsflash Kev, I’m not 12 anymore, I can THINK and actually make decisions on my own. And this might surprise you, but I listen and see things you know. If you really want to look out for all of us, why don’t you make your next house call to AJ and ask him how he’s handling his alcohol cause he won’t hear nothing from me!” They came back before midnight, that was their curfew back then. Kevin knew this because he was wide awake in his room, unable to find a wink of sleep. He had been weighing the situations since what felt like forever. He wondered if he’ll ever know when it was the right time to step in or when to just back off and let them do their own mistakes. It was tough, throughout the years they spent together on the road, Kevin had lost count on the number of times when it became so bad for Nick that he’ll end up looking for him, not for a solution, just a shoulder to cry on. And it was a role Kevin learned to appreciate even more as time passed by. He was no longer the problem solver, just a shoulder. So when he found himself once again pacing in the waiting room of the LAPD Headquarters, cussing the situation he had led himself into while Nick sat calmly with his arms stretched on the table, he knew another change had just slapped him in the face.

6 by mersey

6: He’s My Brother

“Hey Kev.” Kevin paused midway, turning back to look at Nick whose calm features was annoying the crap out of him. “What.” “You think they have peanut butter and jelly down here?” Kevin only managed an amused look before the Chief Inspector they met earlier, Mr. Weiss, entered the room. He looked rather disturbed in Nick’s opinion but he wasn’t about to ask. “Kevin, I’d like you to work with our sketch artist right now.” Kevin looked unsure about it, in fact, he looked uncomfortable at the thought of working with a sketch artist. “I’ll do whatever you want me to, but I have to tell you not to put too much hope in this, I hardly see that guy, it was dark.” Mr. Weiss just smiled knowingly and opened the door and called for Randy, the officer they met earlier. Nick watched intently as Randy escorted Kevin into another room while the Chief Inspector went to talk to someone else out there, where police officers were working on reports, bringing in another criminal or about to start another shift patrolling the neighborhood. Nick wondered if he should just wait in the room or hang around somewhere out there. It felt like forever, just sitting there, no knowing what to do. Part of him was afraid to go out there, to be aware of the eyes staring at him from every corner. Another part of him was unsure if it was all right to have this huge room to himself. His throat felt dry all of a sudden and the small vending machine at the corner in the room felt tempting to him. He didn’t know why but being in a police station was nerve wrecking. After summing up his courage, he got up and got himself a drink. It was free too. “Enjoying your wait here Mr. Carter?” Nick turned around and found Mr. Weiss standing in the middle of the room. When the heck did he come in? “Nerve wrecking actually.” Nick smiled. Mr. Weiss didn’t seem to find anything amusing and didn’t return the smile. “You should know I guess, you’re very familiar with police stations.” That caught Nick by surprise. Was he referring to his arrests? Where did that come from? “Can’t really say I’m familiar with it,” Nick replied calmly. “I’m just worried about Kevin.” “Isn’t he the oldest in Backstreet Boys?” “Yes he is.” “So you don’t have to worry for him.” “Being old doesn’t have anything to do with worrying about him Mr. Weiss. He’s my brother you know, something this huge happens, it worries me.” “Does he worries about you?” “Yes, all the time.” “Ah, because you tend to get yourself into sticky situations.” Mr. Weiss said. “I personally would like to see you in jail Mr. Carter, for your DUI.” Nick almost dropped his drink. “I’m doing community service.” “And you think that settles the problem?” “That was the sentence I got Mr. Weiss, and frankly, it’s none of your business.” “When my teenage son is lying in a coma because some drunk ass college kid decided to ram his car and almost killed him, it becomes my problem, Nick.” “I’m not the guy who put your son in coma.” “What’s the difference between you and that punk ass? Nothing. But you’re a celebrity so I guess community service works for your schedule.” Nick was at a lost for words. Is this really happening to him? From the outside looking in, they’d think they were having a normal chat. You couldn’t tell from the man’s body language that he was about to strangle the life out of him. The Chief Inspector looked as composed as he always been. “Lost for words now? I thought so.” He smirked and walked away. Before he left the room, Mr. Weiss paused and turned to face him again. “Most visitors have to wait in the waiting bench right outside the receptionist area Nick, but I guess you’re special enough to stay. If I’m not this desperate for Kevin’s help, I would have kick you out of here myself.” Before he could even understand what had just transpired earlier, his cell phone rang. It was AJ. AJ was right after all, he thought. “That guy just called you a drunkard AJ, you’re not gonna do anything about it?” “Nah, he’s right.” “He’s NOT right! You’re not a drunkard. You worked for this for 2 ˝ years now!” “I know.” “Just say it man, I’ll beat him to a pulp!” “And then what Nick? Get yourself arrested for assault? Give people more reason to think you really hit people?” “I didn’t hit nobody.” “I know.” “This is so unfair.” “Well, unfair for your case. Fair for mine.” “There’s nothing fair for what that asshole said.” “The root of the matter is Kaos, I abuse alcohol, no matter how sober I get, I am still an alcoholic.” “Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic?” “Something like that.” “That’s messed up.” “I know.” “Hey AJ, sup?” “Hey, you ok man?” “Me?” “Yeah.” Nick inhaled and let it out in one huge sigh. “I’m fine, why?” “Nah, you sound like you’re about to cry or something.” Nick laughed but it didn’t come off the way he wanted it. It was fake. “Just tired dude.” “Well, anyway, guess who’s free tonight?” “Hmmm…the roadie?” “Nah, roadie’s busy. But I’m free!” Nick made an exaggerated gasp. “No way! AJ McLean is FREE?” “Yup, I’m free and because I rock, I’m going to accompany your lonely self for dinner tonight. Your treat. How does that sound?” “That actually sounds great.” Nick replied, secretly wanting to tell him how lousy he was feeling right then. He really wanted to tell someone about what’s been going on with Kevin, but he knew the last thing he’d do is break his promise, especially when that promise is to Kevin. He had done a lot for him, breaking his promise wasn’t exactly the way to say thank you. “Damn, something must really be bothering you.” “Yeah? What gives?” “Gee I dunno…treating me to dinner without whining comes to mind.” “It’s cool bro…you’re a great buddy.” “Aww, so I’m your buddy now huh? I think I’ve just climbed Nick’s corporate ladder a notch.” “I think you have.” Nick snickered. “Great, so you’ll come pick me up at 8 sharp.” “Now that’s asking too much. I don’t feel like driving tonight, come pick me up.” “You’re no fun. Fine, 8pm, don’t be late.” “K. Hey AJ?” “Yeah?” “You think people will ever see past your rehab thing and not mention it ever again?” “That’s random but I’ll answer it for you cause you ask awesome questions.” Nick laughed. “Honestly Nicky? I’ll be dead and six feet under and people will still talk about it. I might have that on my tombstone too.” With that answer still ringing in his head, everything else went in a blur. When Kevin finally came back, he looked disturbed. That immediately throw any personal demons in him to the back of his mind. “Kev, you all right?” Kevin smiled. “I’m good.” “How did it go?” “Good.” “So you remember his face?” “Not exactly.” “Oh.” Nick said, unsure of what to say exactly. “Nick?” “Yeah?” “I think we can go home now.” “You sure?” “I just need to see Mr. Weiss again and then we’re off.” Nick really didn’t want to see that man again. For a police officer, he sure doesn’t have an open mind. It would be so easy to just tell Kevin that he’d wait in the car, totally avoiding the Chief Inspector, but this wasn’t about him. It was about Kevin, and being there for him. “Okay.” Mr. Weiss was in his room, looking over a bundle of files of lord knows what. “Ah, Kevin, I was told the sketch went very well. Thank you so much for helping us.” “I’m still not sure what I did to help, but I guess everything is good as long as we get a face.” “And a we face we got today, thanks to you.” “Does this mean I’m free now? I have nothing else to do with this thing right?” “For now, no. But we’ll need you to go through a line up once we get hold of this guy.” “Okay sure, I can do that.” “But before you go, I need you to sign some legal stuff over at the main counter. It’s a procedure basically putting everything in black and white that you’ve come down today to meet the sketch artist for this case.” Kevin nodded, freedom just another step away. “Sure, I’ll do that. Thank you again for helping me out.” As they shook hands, Nick watched the exchange between two men. He wondered if anyone would look at him that way and see past his mistakes. “Hey Kev, you go right ahead, I’ll catch up with you.” Nick said as Kevin left the office. “Believe it or not, they gave me some PB&J, wanna thank the man.” Kevin shook his head in amusement. “See you in the car.” Once Kevin was far from earshot, he turned back to the Chief Inspector. He had busied himself in his work again, not acknowledging his presence at all. “Mr. Weiss, for what it’s worth, I just want to say I’m sorry, about your son. I hope he’ll get better soon.” There was a long pause. The Chief Inspector went about his work as if he was never in the room. “Well, thanks for taking good care of Kevin, I appreciate it. Bye.” Nick was another step away to leaving his office when the Chief Inspector spoke. “My son is paralyzed from the neck down Mr. Carter, his life will never be the same again if he wakes up. So your sorry worth shit as far as I’m concerned. If you really wanna do me a favor, next time we call your friend over, don’t tag along.” Kevin was behind the wheel, something Nick was grateful for. He didn’t think he could drive straight after that. “For someone who got peanut butter jelly sandwich, you sure look sad.” Kevin said. Nick buckled up and rolled the window down. He needed fresh air. “How did you describe the guy Kev? I thought you never really saw him.” “We’ll talk about that when I drop you back home ok?” “Kevin, AJ asked me out for dinner tonight.” Kevin laughed as he pulled out of the driveway. “You make it sound like he asked you out for a date.” “Dude, you have to stop reading those slash fanfics.” Nick groaned. “I don’t.” Kevin laughed. “And no worries, I intend to go back home tonight, so you can still hear my little story and make it in time for dinner with AJ.” “Cool. I hate to cancel on him, I won’t hear the end of it tomorrow.”

7 by mersey

7: Andy Myers

To be honest, Kevin didn’t want to spend the night alone. The first thing he did when he came back home was to turn on all the lights in the house, made sure everything was locked and headed straight for a quick shower. He feared if he put that off any longer, he might not find the courage to take a shower at all. He made a quick call to his wife who was on location filming yet another independent movie in Kentucky. This time around, he wasn’t as worried when his wife was away in another city. She was staying with the Richardsons and keeping his mother company at the same time. Fortunately for him, Kristin was too tired to notice any strain in his voice. It was a quick, he knew he would break down if he had made it any longer than it was. Still not ready to sleep the rest of the night away, he headed to the kitchen and made himself a cup of coffee. The house was too silent for his liking so he made his way to the living room, turned on the television to some random channel and took a sip of his drink. The news was on. Great, drink coffee, that will put you to sleep, Kevin thought, disgusted. He needed to get a grip on himself, being this scared was entirely alien for him. Nick had been very understanding, much to Kevin’s surprise. Sometimes, he really did feel that he was underestimating the young man. It took a lot to finally come to terms with the fact that Nick didn’t need to be told what he should or should not do. There was no need to explain in detail why things should be done a certain way or in this case, why, he couldn’t tell the others about his problem. He had even played with the thought of sleeping over at his house again for the night, since they had another rehearsal the next day but that was cancelled when he found out Nick was going out for dinner with AJ. To openly say that he could stay there and look after the house while he was out of dinner doesn’t seem like something he’d do. Nick would have seen right through him. The meeting with the sketch artist was a whole new experience for him too. For one, Andy, the sketch artist, looked no older than Nick. In fact, they had the same physique, only that Andy had a shock of black jet hair that was even longer than Nick’s. His eyes were green, Kevin remembered that because he had stared at the young man for the longest time when he finally showed him what he had sketched. The first thing Kevin noticed when he entered Andy Myers’ room was the orange painted walls. It was mind boggling to see a room so bright exists in a police headquarters. There were colorful paintings mounted on the walls, some looked to be the works of professionals while others could be the jobs of five year old kids. He noticed the set of letter blocks lying on a rainbow and clouds carpet. A mount of toys stuffed in a wheeled box was pushed to the side. The room seemed to be divided into many small private areas. There was a pair of lush, comfortable looking beige single couch in the middle of the room, facing each other, a coffee table separating them in the middle. At another corner, a coloring table with a much bigger chair facing each other. But the one that caught his attention was the classic high noon tea chairs along with the classic looking table, pushed to a corner furthest in the room and facing the window. Andy appeared behind the beige couch, shocking Kevin in the process, with two pencils stuck behind his ear and a sketchbook in his hand. “Hi, sorry, dropped my eraser.” Andy smiled before extending his hand to Kevin. “Andy Myers.” Kevin smiled and accepted the handshake. “Ke-” “Kevin Richardson, I know.” Andy cut in. “My cousin’s a fan, oh, and I am contractually bound to keep this on the dl, so don’t worry.” Kevin exhaled rather loudly than he had expected. “Thanks, I don’t want words to go out about this.” “No problem,” Andy replied. “I also want to say it’s an honor to meet you, despite the circumstance and all…you’re my first celebrity encounter.” Kevin smiled, trying to hold his laugh in. This kid is a ball of energy. “Well then, thank you for not screaming.” Kevin joked. “And you’re funny, this should be a breeze.” Andy said. “I’m not quite sure about that Mr. Myers-” “Andy, please, call me Andy.” “Okay, Andy, I’m not sure if I’ll be a big help at all. It was dark and he came out of nowhere. Next thing I know, he had backed me up against my car, hit me in the eye and everywhere else and ran away with my wallet.” “It’s ok Kevin, don’t worry about that.” Andy said. “Lets take a sit first, I can’t draw when I’m standing, not very good at balance at all. Lets see, how about that spot over there?” It was the spot that had Kevin’s attention. “Sure, I like that one.” Once seated, Andy placed the sketchbook on his lap and started sketching. Kevin tried peeking but couldn’t see anything from where he was. “So, what car do you drive Kevin?” “Well, I was driving my Escalade when it happened.” “What were you doing there that night?” “Had my dinner and then decided to stop by the ATM machine to draw some cash.” “Ah…so anyway, did you know that the word ‘crap’ is now included in the Webster dictionary? I didn’t even know it wasn’t a word before.” Andy said, stealing a glance up at Kevin, smiled, and went back to his sketching. “Oh? I didn’t know that.” Kevin replied, still unsure if this was supposed to happen. Shouldn’t he be asking about how the mugger looks like? “Yeah, next thing you know, they’ll add ‘dawg’ in it too.” “Ah, I used that word too often myself.” “By the way, congrats on the new album. I know it’s sucky something like this happened when you’re supposed to be all hyped about the album but I’m sure this will go away soon enough.” Andy said. “Thanks. I really hope I can get this out of the way fast.” Kevin replied. “Not to sound rude or anything Andy, but shouldn’t you ask me about how this guy looks?” “Ok well, what does he looks like?” Kevin pondered on it for a while. That was the problem, Kevin couldn’t remember the face even if his life depended on it. Everything just happened so fast. “I don’t think I can give you anything specific Andy…everything just-” “Happens so fast?” “Right.” “Did you come here alone Kevin?” “No…with my brother, Nick.” “As in Nick Carter?” “Yeah well, he’s not my brother as in a Richardson, but he might as well be.” “I can’t believe we have Nick Carter in this place. He’s lucky Marsha is on patrol right now.” “Why is that?” “She’s a huge fan. Always come in belting out some random songs of yours. She’s crazy over Nick.” “Ah, that would have been the highlight of his day though.” Kevin joked. “This is much easier don’t you think? Talking about what happened doesn’t help at all.” Andy said. “It is, but I’m not sure how this is going to help though.” Andy looked over and smiled. “It does, a lot…all I have to do is tap in the right places.” Kevin wasn’t sure if he understood what that meant, but he was too confused to even try. “There ya go…that’s your mugger.” Kevin blinked the thoughts away, purposely drinking the hot coffee in a hurry so that the burn on his tongue could wake him up to what was going on now. News nowadays has nothing uplifting to report. It had been awhile now and they were still going on about the latest uproar in Iraq. They were interviewing a US soldier stationed there, he couldn’t be any older than 27. That felt wrong in so many ways. It also put things in perspective for him. Why was he so afraid when this soldier is facing with something as fearsome as war? The worst was finally over for him, all he had to do was identify the man in a line up and that should be a breeze, especially after seeing the portrait of the man looking back at him. The missing puzzles that were gone before had now come rushing back to him. Everything was clear, it all made sense. Why had he blocked those memories before, he had no idea. “It’s the fear,” Andy had explained. “We humans in general, tend to instantly block out the things we don’t want to see in hope to find out that it didn’t really happen, maybe it was just something that our heads were messing with us. But 90% of the time, those things are real, your fear is real.” “But it still doesn’t explain how you could sketch this from nothing!” Kevin exclaimed, still amazed by the picture. Within that few minutes with Kevin, Andy had managed to draw the dark parking lot, his car, a man in jeans and hooded sweater pinning him against the car. A small picture right below it, was a front view sketch of a man, he looked as if he was growling, his set of eyes staring right back at him. That was the face of the man who had looked him in the eyes as he grabbed for his shirt and demanded Kevin for his wallet. “Are you psychic?” Andy laughed. “No, I’m not, that’d be cool though.” “Then how?” “Years mastering the art of profiling, a bit of psychiatrist, human behavior, the works…I learnt how to tap into someone’s mind and from what they said, I could figure out a face or a scene.” “How old are you?” Andy laughed again. “I’m 26 Kevin, but I’ve been in this line for 6 years now.” Must be a gifted kid, Kevin thought. “I’m still not sure if I’m following you though Andy.” “That’s okay, most people don’t. I’m not the only sketcher out there who can do this, so I wasn’t born with a rare gift or whatever, although that’d help in my reputation department back in College. You see, when a witness is overcome by fear, they tend to forget what they really saw. And when someone asked them, are they wearing a blue cap? Now, in reality, the person might not even be wearing a cap but the ‘image’ was offered to them and they see it in their mind and could easily said yes they do. It messed a lot of things up, you’d be surprise to know that 80% of the time, witness’ eye accounts are wrong.” Kevin swallowed everything in. This was definitely something new to him too. “And talking to me about random stuff actually helps?” “Yes, a lot. There’s a lot more than what the eyes capture. For instance, you’re looking at me right now, your attention is to me, we’re too deep in conversation that you might not even realize there’s someone else in this room. Your eyes capture this movement from the corner of your eyes but you weren’t aware of them. What I do Kevin, is paint the bigger picture. Well, sketch the bigger picture. It’s hard to explain really, I don’t expect you to understand everything just enough to let you know, that it can be done.” “No, I don’t think I can understand that even if I want to. But I trust that it works, cause I remember him now.” Kevin said, pointing to the picture. “You’re a great witness to work with you know that? I could easily figure out the more outstanding features of this guy just by shaking your hand and introducing myself.” Andy complimented. “In fact, I need to add a bit more to that drawing.” Kevin passed the sketchbook back to the young man and stared out the window. How bizarre was this? There was a bird dropping right outside the widow sill. “So what did you have for dinner that night?” “Pasta…mushroom pasta in creamy white sauce. Delicious meal.” “I bet it’d go down very well with a glass of champagne.” “It does, but I was driving, so I had a glass of water.” “That’s nice too. I’d go with Coke though, I’m crazy for that drink.” Kevin smiled, nodding. “Okay lets see…added some trees, a bit of the supermarket from the side.” The background was lightly sketched in pencil, to bring out the dark effect of the night. Some areas looked darker than the others but nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary. “I see more chatting gives you some trees, a quarter of a supermarket and some very good shading.” Kevin joked. Andy laughed. “Sometimes that’s just what it do…make the picture more real.” Kevin got out of Andy Myers’ office thinking Nick would never believe what had just happened. He couldn’t wait to see the bewilderment in his brother’s face. Priceless, he bet. Kevin got pulled back to the present by the ringing of his cell phone. The news was over, replaced now by some Colgate commercial. He still couldn’t figure out how a woman in bikini has anything to do with how effective a toothpaste works. It was Nick on the line. “Oh great you’re not asleep yet.” Kevin stole a glance at the clock hanging at the wall above the television. “It’s only nine thirty Nick.” “Well, I can never tell these days, your old body might want to retire early ya know?” “Aww too bad for you then bro, this old body has a lot more gas to outrun you any time.” Nick laughed. “I had a great time at dinner with AJ.” “Hey what you do on your dates out is none of my business bro.” “Ha ha, not funny!” “So no troubles then?” Kevin asked. He couldn’t help it, when it come to those two, he had to ask, no matter how much he knew they could take care of themselves. It’s not them he didn’t trust, it’s the people around them. “Nope. A few paparazzi as always, but they weren’t being annoying so half the time I didn’t even remember they were there. I think you’ll see pictures of two Backstreet Boys smoking though.” “That’s okay I guess. So long you got that tummy filled.” “I’m actually quite relieved.” “About?” “I don’t have to hide about my smoking anymore. I mean, I know it’s not a good habit and yes, I’m trying to cut down on those, but it’s nice to not bother you know? I’m a smoker and unless your name is Kevin and you have a problem with me, you can take it to someone who cares.” “That’s AJ talk right there.” “Ugh, I know, he’s rubbing off on me, the dick.” “I think it’s kinda cute.” “Shut up.” “It is cute.” Kevin laughed. “Anyhoo, I called cause I was wondering if you could come pick me up tomorrow for rehearsal.” “You do realize you can still drive right?” “I know, I just don’t feel like going alone. And I figured if you’re driving, I could catch some Zs on our way there.” “The little one is getting smarter these days.” “Yeah, better watch that butt of yours grandpa.” Kevin sighed. There was no winning with this guy. “Goodbye Nick.” “Night night Kevin.” Back to drinking his final gulp of coffee, the Colgate commercial just ended. A rerun of Friends was about to air. Kevin still had his thoughts on Nick. It brought him back to the conversation they had back in his house. Kevin had told him about Andy Myers and what he could do by just talking with him about random stuff. To Kevin’s surprise, Nick showed no signs of bewilderment at all. In fact, he was excited. “Wow, I saw that on Oprah once dawg, it was so cool! Totally blew me away! This lady could do pretty much what Andy Myers did for you. She helped this couple to find their missing daughter who was kidnapped by some psycho. Damn Kevin, that must have been so awesome for you!” Two things came to Kevin then. First, Nick knew of such things? And second, he watched Oprah? Kevin switched off the television when he found himself yawning. The anxieties now draining away, he finally acknowledged how tired he was. He decided to head straight for his room. An early night could do some good after all.

8 by mersey

8

When AJ checked his watch five minutes ago, they still had an hour before the meeting would commence. In fact, Kevin and Nick had not even arrived yet and the last thing he expected to see barging through the conference room was Johnny Wright himself. A very pissed off Johnny Wright. Johnny hates to wait on people so he was known to arrive at meetings right on the dot and expected everyone to be accounted for by then. Therefore, his early arrival raised some eyebrows in the room, which for now, only consisted of Brian, Howie and AJ. “Where’s Kevin and Nick?”Pissed off was an understatement. Johnny was furious. “They still got an hour left Johnny.”Howie replied. “What’s wrong?”Brian asked. AJ saw a copy of the Enquirer on the Manager’s hand and quickly stepped in. “Yeah Johnny, if you’re mad cause of some pictures they run of me and Nick from last night then no worries about it all right. We were just smoking and Nick wasn’t even drinking.” Brian was annoyed, probably not believing that their manager could get mad over some stupid paparazzi shots. “I don’t think a few shots of them having dinner and smoking would ruin our career Johnny.” “Yes I know that. But I don’t appreciate being kept in the dark about something like this and only to find out from a stupid tabloid paper!”He slammed the papers down on the table, and on the front page, splashed in bold, the words ‘Backstreet Influence the downfall of Nick Carter?’ There were pictures of AJ and Nick having dinner and a few more of them making their way back to Aj’s car, both smoking. While AJ looked like his normal self, Nick looked disheveled somehow and they caught him with a frown, his eyes downward, as if lost in his own thoughts. But that wasn’t what shocked him. Another set of pictures were also splashed across the front page. It was taken the day before, in the morning. AJ could tell because he remembered both Kevin and Nick wore the same attire. Two of the pictures showed them entering the LAPD Headquarters while the second set showed Kevin exiting first and went straight to his car. As always with Kevin, he could get away with murder with that calm poise. Another few pictures were captures of Nick walking out, looking distraught. The tabloid talked about how it was left to Kevin to take care of Nick, probably even being forced or dumped into it. They made it clear for everyone to see that Brian and Howie were missing in action, saying that the relationship left between Nick and the two 'saint Backstreets’ were the ones they were contractually bound to. So that left Nick with one true friend left. AJ McLean, and he was just the right person to lead Nick to the correct path. And that had violent spats of sarcasm in it. The article ended with this : Rehab is just a phone call away kid. “Why were they at the police station yesterday?”Howie asked. “That’s what I’d like to know!”Johnny exclaimed. “I thought the whole DUI thing is over.”Brian said. “Why didn’t they say anything?” AJ wasn’t sure himself, but he had a feeling it had something to do with the entire incident at the parking lot the day before. The overheard conversation that had AJ guessing. That was partly the reason why he had asked Nick out to dinner. And he had come so close to the truth when Nick held back. He knew something was up then. He just never thought it’d be that serious. “You think this is serious, whatever it is?”Howie asked. “If it involves the police, it has to be serious.”Johnny said. “Look, lets not get riled up over this. We should wait for them and give them a chance to explain.”AJ said. “I’m sure they have a perfect reason for this.” “I hope so. I’d hate to know we’re keeping secrets from each other again.”Brian said. AJ sighed. He could tell hell was just around the corner. ---- Nick had not stop humming random songs ever since they entered Jive’s infamous headquarter. Kevin watched in amusement at the sudden change of demeanor of the young man ever since he had told him back in the car, on their way to the meeting, that he would be telling the guys and management about the whole mugging incident. “No more hiding.” “Good, cause this secret is killing me.” “I’m sorry I got you into this.” “I’ll do it again in a heartbeat, you know that.” “Awww that’s so sweet.” “Shut up...you did the same for me, for like a million times already.” “Wow, that much huh?” “I never really say thank you, did I?” “Wasn’t looking for one. I know you’re grateful.” “Yeah well, thank you man, I mean it.” As they entered the elevator, Kevin realized how relieved he was that Nick was there with him. Being in an enclosed area alone seemed scary now. You could do nothing if someone were to rob you in an elevator. And trapped with someone who could throw a mean punch or worse, armed, wasn’t something Kevin would want to experience. Nick’s giggles distracted him, which again, was something he was grateful for. He needed to stop imagining the worst. “Should I even ask why?”Kevin sighed. “If you’re curious to know why.”Nick giggled again. “Does it have anything to do with me?” “Kinda.” “Kinda?” “Kinda.” “Ok why?” “Can you imagine the looks on the guys when you said you got mugged?”Nick laughed. “Man, priceless I’m telling ya.” “I’m glad you’re enjoying this Nick.” “I’m glad too.”Nick laughed. The elevator stopped, the door opened and Kevin rushed past Nick, glad that he was out in the open once again. “What’s the rush? I didn’t even fart in there.” Kevin ignored the remark, waving for Nick to hurry up. “We’ve ten minutes left and I plan to grab a drink before meeting starts.” “Okay so, are you planning to tell them before or after the meeting?”Nick asked as he tried to catch up with Kevin’s long strides. “How about during the meeting?” “Is that a good idea?” “We’re talking about scheduling stuff now, so I gotta give them a head up if they need me back for the line up.” “Smart.” “Of course.” “Apparently smug too.”Nick snorted as he stopped on his track, waiting for Kevin to push the conference room door open. Something seemed out of place, Nick thought. A conference room with only minutes away from a meeting never had been so quiet before. Kevin took a double take at the plaque on the door. It showed Conference Room 4. He knew he had the right room, but there was no one there, except for The Enquirer sprawled carelessly on the table. He watched as Nick walked pass him and went straight to pick the paper up, whistling carelessly. “You sure we got the right room Kev?” Kevin walked in after him, already fishing out his cell phone to give one of the guys a call. “I’m calling Howie,”He said, already auto dialing his number. “this should be right though, I know Brian repeat it for me last night and called me old man.” Something had caught Nick’s attention and Kevin sure hope it wasn’t another new Jane article. And for some reason, Howie wasn’t answering his call. “Kev,”Nick waved for his attention. Kevin motioned him to give him a second, he was going to try Brian. “No, Kevin, look.” Nick held the front page of the tabloid paper for him to see. He heard Brian’s voice going ‘Cous where are you?’ but he was too preoccupied to answer. Shit.


Nick felt bad for Kevin. It wasn’t Kevin’s intentions to keep it a secret. He just needed time to himself before he could face the rest and tell them the truth. In fact, Nick suspected, had it not been for the fact that Kevin had chosen to go straight to Nick’s house instead of driving back home alone, Nick would be out of the loop too. And Nick completely understood why the other guys were mad at Kevin. He could tell, there were fears in their eyes, insecurities and worries that edged every anger. Perhaps that was why, he actually felt relieved that their reaction was one of anger and not plain ignorance. It showed that they still care. “How bad is it Kev?” Howie asked calmly after fifteen minutes of non-stop bantering. Everyone had finally settled down, realizing that all talking at once wouldn’t help the matter. Even Johnny had stopped pacing the room and took a seat with them. “We got a suspect. I was there yesterday to meet the sketch artist. They’re now looking for the suspect and I’ll have to go back for a line up and that’s it.” Kevin explained. “And how did Nick get into this mess?” Johnny asked. “I went over to his house the night I got mugged.” Kevin explained, as always, making eye contact with everyone in the room. That was more than what Nick could say about himself. He could never look at someone right in the eye, even when he wasn’t to be blame and was defending himself. “Call it panic or whatever, but I didn’t feel like going back home to an empty house and Nick’s just happen to be nearby.” Brian snorted. “Figures. They make Nick looked like the troubled one in this paper.” “I told Nick on our way here that I was going to tell you guys today. Weg and Jive need to know about this cause they’ll need me for the line up one of these days and it’s going to affect our schedules. I’m sorry you guys had to find out from this.” Kevin said. “I didn’t even see them.” Nick said. “See who?” AJ asked. “Paparazzi.” “Of course bro. If you had seen them, you’re gonna make Jive make a statement so fast, they can’t even say ‘cheese!’” “So what do we do now?” Brian asked. “Release a statement, we gotta straighten things up ASAP, God knows Nick doesn’t need anymore rumors going around.” AJ said. “We can’t do that.” Johnny said reluctantly. “We have to run by the people who’re handling Kevin’s case. If they allow us to make a statement, we will, if not, we’ll have to keep it to ourselves first.” Nick nodded. No one could really tell what was going on in his head. His expression didn’t show much. In fact, it was weird to see him this collected. AJ had a rough idea though, because he had seen that troubled look on Nick the night before. Kevin reached out to touch his hand, Nick didn’t even realized that until he felt the soft squeeze. Kevin had never looked this serious before. “I’m sorry.” Nick raised his eyebrow, surprised by the apology. “Damn Kevin, what are you sorry for? I’m sorry you have to go through this bro. I’m sorry you have to keep it from the rest of the guys that must be tough for you. But we’ll all get through this, as always.” “I’m sorry I got you in the tabloid again, all for the wrong reasons.” Kevin explained. Brian giggled, brightening up the moody conference room. “Are you kidding me? Once they found out what really happened, Nick’s gonna be the new hero! Lil bro accompanied Kevin to the police station. Aww, that’s cuddle factor right there.” Everyone snorted at Brian but the grins on their faces took away a lot of tension from Kevin. “Besides,” Nick shrugged. “I looked good in red.”
Brian knew something was definitely wrong when Kevin had someone following him wherever he goes. At first he shrugged it off, convincing himself that it was just his over imaginative mind doing an overdrive. Now he wasn’t so sure. This was the third time he waited for someone else to go on a toilet break before he announced he was going too. Coincidence much? He didn’t think so. So he dished out a plan. “Yo Rok, I know you meant well with this get together dinner thing, but I think we’ve been followed.” AJ said as he shoved another forkful of spaghetti. “I won’t worry too much about it. Who would want to put up a picture of ALL of us having dinner together in the tabloids? They want us fighting each other.” “All they need is a picture where we’re frowning and Nick looking bad and they’ll get a story.” Nick smiled and munched on his chicken wing. “And we all know that will never happen.” Kevin snickered. “Yeah?” Nick nodded and swallowed. “Cause it’s really hard to get a bad picture of me when I’m having chicken wings.” “Bless the chicken wings!” AJ laughed. Brian took a sip of his drink and pushed his empty plate aside. “So guys, we need to talk.” “Happy conversation please, my chicken wings doesn’t like serious talks.” “I don’t think this will happy happy Nick.” Kevin said. “You know we need to talk about this.” Nick sighed. “It’s not that serious guys. Kevin pretty much got the suspect down to a T. They’ll catch this guy soon enough and then Kev’s gonna go for the line up and that’s it, case close.” “And meanwhile, tabloids will be hounding you down because of those stupid pictures earlier today.” Brian reminded him. “So? It’s not a big deal, they’ll get tired of it soon enough. Besides, I doubt it will last long, once Kev identify the dude, we’re home free.” “The deal is, you’re gonna tell us if it’s too much for you, right?” Howie said, looking at Nick. Nick took another bite of his chicken wings before taking a sip of his drink. “Hey, I’m not the problem here, really. The deal is, are you okay Kevin?” Kevin almost dropped his fork. That came out of nowhere. “Of course I am. Just a bit pissed this has to be out there. And wrongfully told.” “You can bunk off at my house tonight if you want, I can do with a little company.” Nick said. “I’m okay. It’s over. I’m just worried what those people at the headquarters will say about the tabloid thing. They might want to keep this on the down low.” AJ laughed. “Nothing is dl when it comes to Backstreet Boys, they should know this is coming one way or another.” “Well, we’ll find out from Johnny tomorrow. And then we’ll go from there.” Brian said. “I hope this gets resolved quickly.” “Man, if I were mugged, I’m not sure what the fuck I’m gonna do.” AJ said. “Don’t put yourself in a situation where you CAN get mugged.” Kevin said. “And that my brothers, is the lesson for tonight.” “And with that, I’m going to excuse myself to the men’s room.” Howie smiled, making a beeline to the room. Brian giggled. “Man, how long was he holding that one?” “Not a good conversation to have with chicken wings.” Nick pointed out. “That looks yummy.” Nick grinned. “It is.” Brian playfully pouted. “This is where you go ‘wanna have some Bri Bri?’” “Fine, but just a little bit cause I’m still a growing kid and needs more food than you.” AJ grabbed one and placed it on his plate. “Me too, I’m a growing kid, thanks Nick.” Nick looked at his plate. One chicken wing left. “Kevin, you’re not getting any.” “I’ll stick to my salad, thanks.” “That chicken stick looks yummy.” Nick said, peering over Kevin’s bowl of salad. “Okay, and this is where I go ‘back off my dinner’.” “You’re no fun.” Nick said before grabbing his last chicken wing. Howie sauntered back to the table, in a frown. “Hey Kev, did you know a woman was killed near where you were mugged? On the SAME day!” Kevin almost choked on his food. How had he managed to forget about that? Great, now they would think that he was hiding something from them still. “Where did you hear that?” “Was on the news. And yeah, they installed TV in the men’s room now.” “Cool! Gotta check it out.” AJ said. “You didn’t know about this Kev?” Brian asked, even though he had his suspicions that Kevin already did. Nick couldn’t bluff if his life depended on it. “It gets interesting,” Howie said. “she was the secretary to John Klass, the guy who’s running for Mayor. His first public speech is like in a week’s time.” Kevin felt his stomach roared.
9 by mersey

9

The ‘talk down’never happened. At first Kevin thought it was because the rest of the guys with the exception of Nick, realized that doing that would be too easy for the paparazzi to start clicking away and get their hot stories on the stands the next morning. But Kevin noticed, while explaining himself and ordering a cup of hot coffee for everyone (or hot chocolate for Nick and Brian), that they understood. Perhaps they didn’t want him to run away and keep things to himself like before. Perhaps this was a sign that they were here to support him. “I’m just glad you didn’t see anything Kevin.”Brian had said. Kevin wasn’t too sure about that though. “I could have saved her life if I had.” “Or you might just ended up being killed yourself.”Howie said. “Sorry Kev, this might sound selfish, but I’m glad you didn’t see it too.” It was a frustrating night for the paparazzi in the end. Nick even had the cheek to smirk at a group of them as they passed by. Brian decided to stay with Nick that night and Nick had even invited Kevin to stay the night with them when he dropped them both on his way back. Nick thought no one noticed this, but lately, he had been finding ways and means not to drive. He made a mental note to ask the young man about that when the time was right. “I’m gonna head home tonight guys. I forgot to water the plants Kris had been planting on our backyard. Thanks to Brian.” “Hey, embrace the greens!”Brian joked. “Some environmentalist you are!” “Well my wife is not always at home, so we’re pretty much killing plants rather than growing them at this point. And hiring a maid to water the plants would be a bit too much don’t you think?” For some reason, that got Nick laughing. “I would hire a maid to take care of me.” Kevin almost lose control of his vehicle while Brian raised his eyebrow. “Take care of you?” Nick nodded and then realized what he had just said and started shaking his head. “NO! NO! I don’t mean take care as in, THAT take care...you know, take care?” “Nick, either you’re trying to say ‘babysitter’which I think is going too far, no matter we call you baby all the time, or you’re going for ‘housekeeper’, which I think is the right term to use.”Kevin pointed out. “Housekeeper, the lady who keeps the house clean and do your laundry, that housekeeper.”Brian explained. Nick rolled his eyes. “I know what a housekeeper is! Besides, what’s the difference between a housekeeper and a maid?” “For one thing,”Brian said, looking serious. “The spelling.” Nick nodded, looking at Brian as if he had grown another head. “Right, thanks for pointing out the obvious.” “Maid stays with you and take care of the house 24/7. Housekeeper comes once or twice a week.”Kevin explained. “You know, I can see where the brains of your family went to.”Nick said. “And you can see where the good looks of our family went to.”Brian grinned. Nick reached out to smack Brian but he was quick to dodge away. “Shut up.” “Ok boys, we’re here.” They said their goodbyes and Kevin soon found himself parking his car on the front porch and entering into a dark, empty house. “Time to face your demons Kevin.”He said firmly, knowing fully well there was nothing there waiting to jump on him, just his fear gnawing its way deeper into his guts. - By the time Kevin woke up early morning the next day, he had somewhat regained confidence in himself. He even managed to sleep without waking up in sweats in the middle of the night. This, he felt, had rejuvenated him. He looked forward to yet another meeting, this time with the group of people responsible for their online fan club. On his way to Jive’s HQ, he decided to call Nick to see if he and Brian needed a ride. He wondered if Brian would smell something amiss if Nick asked him to drive them there. Nick loves to drive rather than being driven, this, the guys knew ever since he earned his driving license. It’s about knowing you’re in control Kevin. Everything else in my life I have people controlling my every move. Driving is the one freedom I have. He wondered if this means that Nick had no freedom whatsoever now. Still, it was a price he had to pay. “Hey cous, make it short, we’re late and I can’t find my shoes.” “Brian? Why are you answering Nick’s calls?” “Because someone misplaced the car keys!”Brian said, raising his voice a little as if to make sure that Nick heard him. “And you can’t find your shoes.”Kevin said. “I swear this place is haunted. Things move around on its own here.” Kevin didn’t even realize that he was smiling until he caught himself staring back at his reflection from the rearview mirror. “Face it Brian, you’re as messy as Nick is when you’re on your own.” “No I’m telling you Kevin, we need to introduce Nick to a homemaker before we starts touring. He still have boxes full of stuff mounting in one of his spare rooms.” “Take that up to Howie, he’ll know what to do.”Kevin said as he stopped for a red light. I FOUND THE KEYS! I want my shoes back! Kevin laughed, listening to the banters that was going around on the other line. “Okay Kev, I gotta go now, if we’re late, ain’t my fault.” “So Nick’s driving you there?” “No, I’m driving. He’s still half asleep.” “Ok, see you guys then.” Seeing that he was going to be early and most probably would spend his free time reading the papers and glancing at his watch every five minutes, Kevin decided to make a stopover at an eatery and buy breakfast for everyone. He found Subway and figured it was healthy enough to make do. There was hardly any crowd that morning so Kevin ended up breezing through his orders. Assorted sandwich for AJ, Brian and Howie and club salad for him and Nick. He also planned on finding some peanut butter and jelly sandwich over at Jive’s cafeteria. By the time he reached the parking lot, he still had half an hour to his advantage. And judging by the easy traffic so far, he calculated that he would be there in ten minutes give or take red stops. Placing the food carefully on the seat next to him, he noticed from the side that someone was approaching him. The man looked like he was rushing and for some reason, Kevin felt his heart pace faster. As if on reflex, he quickly got out of the car to face the man. He looked exactly the way he did that night. The gray shirt hidden under the black sweater, the bill of his black cap pulled low. His gray pants and white sneakers. Those eyes. Green. The only difference was, there was a sense of...lost...in those eyes. “I need you not to start screaming.”He said calmly from where he was standing. Kevin wondered if he had screamed on the first attack. He couldn’t see himself screaming, for some reason. It just felt too feminine for him. Then again, he was also the first to cry at movies. “Why shouldn’t I?”Kevin said, knowing fully well this man would be asking for trouble if he dared to even touch him in broad daylight. “How dare you even come looking for me.” “You shouldn’t have gone to the police!”The man was agitated, and distracted most of the time, constantly studying around him to make sure they were alone. “You mugged me you bastard! I can’t even believe you come back looking for me. What kind of a mugger are you?” “Is it safe?”The man asked, ignoring Kevin’s question. Kevin looked around. “It was until you showed up.” The man looked confused for a few seconds before it dawned upon him that Kevin had misunderstood his question. “Look, all I want to know if the thing is safe. Did you hand it over to the police?” Now it was Kevin’s turn to frown in confusion. What thing? “Look, you stole my wallet, I didn’t have anything with me to hand over to the police!”Kevin said, his voice already raised a notch. “You know what, you might have shocked me that night but if you think you can do that again today, think again.” The man shook his head, furious at Kevin. “Listen to what I’m saying NOW. I hit you to save your life! Didn’t you hear me whisper to you to keep it safe and that I’ll come back for it?” Now it was Kevin’s turn to get upset. What was this man on? “What the fuck are you talking about! You hit me and ran away with my wallet you son of a bitch! You didn’t fucking save my life! Whatever it is you think I have, I don’t!” “Look Kevin-” “How did you know my name!” “I got your wallet.” “You stole it from me! That’s all there is to it!” “Look, did you hear about Sarah Damien? The woman who was murdered near where I attacked you?” Kevin nodded. “I read it on the news and I should really hit you right about now!” The man held his hands up and took a step back. “Wait, hear me out, please. You know it’s a high profile case, seeing that politicians are now involved.” “Where are you going with this?” “Look, it’s not safe to talk here-” “I’m not going anywhere with you.” “You don’t have to.”The man said. “Look, you were wearing a black leather jacket that night. I slipped a memory stick in your left pocket and told you to keep it safe and that I’ll come back for you. You didn’t remember all these?” Kevin frowned. He did? All Kevin could remember was being hit on the face and being shoved against his car and feeling a hand grabbing for his wallet in his pocket. The man, seeing that Kevin was lost in memory, shook his head and said, “Look, it doesn’t matter. Go back and look for it. If it’s there, then I’m telling you the truth. Once you found it, there’s a video file in there, take a look at it and then you’ll understand everything. I’ll call you again. I’m sorry I had to get you involved Kevin. You were just there.” The man started walking away with his head down, trying to be discreet. Kevin was still lost at the whole encounter that he found himself just staring at the man as he disappeared behind a corner of a building. He shivered involuntarily, looking around the car park to ensure that no one had witnessed that little confrontation. Satisfied with what he saw, he climbed back into the car and started the engine. Locking the door and fastening his seatbelt, he hit the gas pedal and drove onto the incoming street. His leather jacket. He had left it at Nick’s.

10 by mersey

10

Kevin was restless. He had been trying to call both Nick and Brian but none of his calls were answered. And he was wondering if it was just him or if traffic lights went red at every single stop when time mattered the most to him. Yet at another red stop, Kevin tried calling Nick again. Again, it ended up with his called being transferred to his voicemail. “Shit!”Kevin yelled in frustration. What if something happened? What if the bad guys knew about the memory stick? What if they had a detecting device on it and knew where it was kept? He decided to call Howie. The traffic turned green and Kevin stepped on the gas pedal and sped his way. “Yes Kevin.” “D, are you at Jive now?” “Yup. What’s wrong?” “Good. Are Brian and Nick there yet?” “Yeah. But Nick’s taking his nap after saying something about you going to kill him. Brian’s on the phone with Leigh since forever now.” “Okay good...good...I’ll be there in a few, I stopped to buy breakfast for you guys.” “That’s great, we’re starving.” “Oh, AJ’s there?” “Yup, we’re all accounted for, except for you.” “Okay sorry, see you guys later.” “Later!” - When Kevin entered the meeting room, it felt weird to see the guys going about doing their own thing while there he was, his life turned around and inside out. It also made him calm, to see the guys blissfully unaware of the possible danger Kevin had managed to get himself into. He sighed. Knowing a promise is a promise no matter what. He knew at the end of that meeting, he had to tell them what happened. Nick strutted into the room with a mug of tea in his hands. He was softly blowing at the hot steam when the sight of Kevin startled him. The mug almost falling from his grasp. It spilled a little on his arms, which resulted in a slew of vulgarities from him. “Shit! Fuck! Damn it!” “That’s it baby, let it roll!”AJ laughed as he passed by. Kevin walked up to him and carefully grabbed the mug from his hands. “Am I that scary this morning?” “Thanks.”Nick said quickly, now waving his burnt right hand as if the action had some kind of healing effect. Howie, who had just gotten off his phone, came up to them. “What happened?” “Spilled my tea.”Nick groaned. “Fuck that’s hot.” “You know Nick, the way you said it, people would think there’s a hot blonde, blue eyed girl in this room with really long legs who just passed you by.”AJ said as he sat comfortably by the conference table. “Glad I’m amusing you AJ.”Nick groaned. Brian who had just came from the pantry room with a mug of tea himself, shook his head as he pat Nick on the shoulder. “What did I say back there?” “I’m going to spill my tea.”Nick grumbled. “You cursed me.” Brian giggled and took a sip of his drink. “Hey Kev...I heard you got us breakfast.” “Yeah, it’s by the table. You three get sandwiches.” “How about me?”Nick asked. “We’re getting salad.”Kevin smiled. “And it’s not vegetarian salad.” Nick grinned. “That’s good enough. I need my meat.” “I know.”Kevin replied. “Now, go sit, I’ll take some ice to cool that burn down.” Leaving the hungry Backstreet Boys in the meeting room, Kevin went to the joint pantry room Johnny was, surprisingly, in there, getting himself a quick fix of coffee. “Hey Kevin, good, you’re here.”Johnny said as he stirred his drink. “I have to talk to you.” “Yeah? What about?”Kevin asked, grabbing a zip lock bag and heading for the fridge. “We called CI Weiss and met with an agreement.”Johnny started. “Yeah? Is it good?”Placing the zip lock bag under the ice maker, he pressed the button and ice cubes started filling up the bag. “We can’t make any official statements for as long as their investigation is on going.”Johnny explained. “Is that so?” “Yes. And they agreed to keep all your info confidential. No one has to know you’re somewhat involved in the on going investigation of the woman’s death.” Kevin secured the bag and finally looked at Johnny. “Well then, so everything’s cool?” “They said if it makes it look like you and Nick were there because of his DUI thing, it’s best to leave it at that.” Kevin frowned. “And what do you think of that Johnny? You really think it’s okay to let those stupid tabloids keep drilling dirt on Nick? He’s had enough of those shit, you know that.” “I don’t like it one bit Kevin. But I’m here sitting ducks. Make them think it was Nick’s DUI or make them believe Kevin is up to something. And since the killer is still out there and telling the truth might have you killed, I’m going with this.” Kevin is the damage controller in the group. That was in fact, another one of his many nicknames the guys had made up for him. It was one of the responsibilities that Kevin took willingly and with a lot of pride put in it. He was told by friends of his father, that Jerald Richardson was known for someone who took responsibility for everyone else around him. Kevin had always prided himself in the traits that connected him with his dad. It’s simple things like this that drive him to work everyday. Now that title was about to be broken. “Nick will understand Kevin,”Johnny said when Kevin had stayed silent. “he wouldn’t want any danger to come to you.” “I gotta go, Nick managed to spill his drink and burnt himself.” “Some things never change,”Johnny said. “Like a klutzy Nick Carter.” Nick was picking at his salad when Kevin returned. He sat on the coffee table facing Nick and motioned for him to stretch his hand out. “Is it that horrible?”Kevin asked, looking at the still full bowl of salad. Nick didn’t even cringe when Kevin plopped the ice bag on his hand. “It is when you see them with those sandwich.”Nick said. “Wanna know something they don’t?”Kevin whispered. “What?”Nick grinned. “I requested to cut down on the mayonnaise and all the fat stuff in the sandwich.” Nick’s grin grew wider. “Nice.” “Hey, is that my jacket you’re wearing?” “What? Oh!”Nick exclaimed. “Yeah, that’s why I spilled my drink when I saw you.” “Cause you wore my jacket?” “I thought you’d be mad at me. I didn’t mean it though. I was cleaning the room for Brian and I saw your jacket so I took it to my room and placed it next to my jacket. And this morning, we overslept so I had to rush and well...” Kevin turned to look at Brian. “I see he managed to find his shoes.” “Yeah, it was under his bed.”Nick snickered. “I think fatherhood is messing with his memory.” “I’ll say.” “So...you’re not mad?” “No, I’m not.”Kevin said. “Actually I’m glad you bring it here.” “Oh?” “Yeah. Put your hand in the left pocket, tell me if you find something in there.” Nick did as told and pulled out a small black casing. “It’s a memory stick.” “You know what that is?”Kevin asked, surprised. “Yeah, I have one of these with me everywhere I go.”Nick said as he pulled out one from the pocket of his pants. It was attached together with a bunch of keys. “You know how to use this thing?” “Yeah. It’s like a diskette or a blank CD. But this small thing here can hold thousands of files and it’s tiny, good for traveling.”Nick explained. “Ok cool. Can you help me check this one out? After the meeting.” “Yeah sure. I have my laptop, we can take a look at it later.” “Take a look at what?”Howie asked as he walked over and sat next to Nick. “Kevin has a memory stick and doesn’t know how to use it.”Nick laughed. “Memory stick?”Brian frowned as he came over to take a look at it. “I’m only familiar with joystick, the one that comes along with Nintendo sometimes.” “I know a whole different stick altogether.”AJ grinned. “Keep it to yourself J.”Howie laughed. “So why do you have it when you don’t know how to use it Kev?”Brian asked. Kevin sighed. This was when their lives were about to change. Kevin only hope they wouldn’t regret going through this with him. “It’s not mine.” Kevin looked around, making sure no one else was in the room before he spoke again. “I cant tell you guys right now, I mean, not here, but after the meeting, I promise I’ll tell everything.” “You’re scaring me.”Nick frowned. “You’re worrying me.”Brian said. “You’re making me way too excited.”AJ added. “You got me at memory stick.”Howie said, looking at the small device and still not having the slightest clue as to what it was. - The meeting had dragged on for what felt like ages. Kevin wasn’t even half listening as two representatives working on their official site explained their plans on how the fan club would go about and their primary functions. Several times Johnny had given him looks, thinking that Kevin was unhappy about how things were dealt with the police. Kevin wished it was that simple. He wondered if he had made the wrong decision in reporting the mugging to the police. If the guy wasn’t really a bad guy and that he’s life was in danger, Kevin just helped to make things worst. The man didn’t even say when he was going to contact Kevin again. Does that mean he had to sit around and just wait for the call that might never come? Would he have to keep looking over his shoulders and expected to find him standing there, telling him more than he needed to know? How in the world did Kevin manage to get himself into so much trouble? All he wanted was to cash out some money! “Okay gentlemen, if there’s nothing else, I’d like to wrap this meeting up.”Johnny announced as he arranged the stack of sheets in front of him. The sound startled Kevin, who was immediately brought back to the present. “Well? Anything?” A series of ‘no’, ‘don’t think so’, ‘I think that’s it’ could be heard. Johnny nodded his head. “Thanks Shirley and David for your presentation. We’ll KIV this matter for another four weeks before we see you again with the latest updates.” Once Shirley and David left the office, Johnny looked at the five gentlemen he felt he had known for his entire life. “Gentlemen, I’ve talked to all of you individually about Kevin’s mugging incident and how he’s currently helping out the police in the murder investigation. While I do understand that Kevin has nothing to hide from them and that this matter will most likely go away in a week or two, I’d like all of us to exercise caution. We have to keep this to ourselves for now, so until then, if you’re approached by any interviewers or tabloid magazines to talk about those misleading pictures in the Enquirer, please refrain yourself from saying anything about the mugging or the murder.” “But we can tell them that the whole me and Howie not being Nick’s true friends a crap of bull right?”Brian asked. “Yes, that you can say. It’s tarnishing your good image and making the group look bad, so yeah, you can do that.” “We got it Johnny.”Howie said. “Don’t worry about it.” “I know I can count on you guys.”Johnny said. “If that’s the case, then we can all go back home now. There’s practice starting tomorrow morning.” Once Johnny started to stand up, Kevin called out for the manager. “Is this room available for us to use? We’re thinking of going through the set list for our upcoming shows so we can get straight to performance practice tomorrow.” Johnny looked pleased. Anything that showed how hardworking and dedicated the boys are towards the group would please Johnny Wright. “Yeah, take your time. I’ll inform Julie at front desk to keep this room booked as long as you’re in there.” “Thanks man.” Once Johnny left, Kevin made sure that ‘meeting in progress’ sign was up on the door before locking it. He didn’t close the blinds so that from the outside, it would look as if they were having serious discussions that were related to the group. It would also serve as a warning should anyone wanted to come in. “Well Kev, we’re all here now.”AJ said. “In this locked room.”Brian said. “With no place left to go.”Nick added. “That’s a line from Incomplete.”Howie pointed out. “Yeah, AJ’s.”Nick said. “By the way Brian, crap of bull?”AJ asked. “Yeah, what’s wrong with that?” “Nothing, except it’s bull of crap.”Howie said. “That sounds funny to me.”Nick said. “Everything sounds funny when we’re conversating Nick.”Brian pointed out. “Yeah, it’s comprehendable like that.”Howie added. “Shut up.” Kevin shook his head and returned to his seat. “Can we settle at bullshit then?” “That sounds nice.”AJ agreed. “And simple.”Brian claimed. “Great, now what is it you wanted to tell us Kevin? And no bullshitting around.”Nick said. AJ laughed at bullshitting. “I met my mugger at the parking lot at Subway.” “What did I tell you about no bullshitting around?”Nick frowned. “I’m not bullshitting you.”Kevin said calmly, aware of the glass panel window. “I was about to drive off when he came to me.” Everyone was looking at him with confused, worried eyes. “Thank God you’re okay. You’re okay right?”Brian asked. “I’m fine.”Kevin said. And so Kevin retold the little encounter he had earlier with the mugger and how the memory stick had came to his possession. By the time Kevin was done telling them everything, the guys were practically shaking their heads disbeliefs. “So...you’re saying, he’s a good guy?”Nick asked. “I’m not sure about that for now.”Kevin said. “For all I know, he’s messing with me.” “He could be the killer.”Howie pointed out. “I don’t know D, I’m gonna have to check again what time the woman was murdered.” “And he asked you to take a look at the memory stick?”Brian asked. “Yeah.” “And he expects you to sit on your ass and wait for him to contact you again?”AJ frowned. “That’s about it.” Everyone went silent again before Nick spoke up. “I think we should just watch whatever is in this memory stick.” “Wait,”Kevin said. “whatever it is that is in that thing, chances are, it holds dangerous knowledge. And if it’s such a huge secret, you’ll walk out of this room with that secret on your shoulder. So I’m going to say right now, that I’ll be perfectly fine if you chose not to watch it. In fact, I think that’s the wisest choice to make.” “Nah, I’m in.”AJ said in a heartbeat. “Me too.”Nick said. “Plus, I’m the only one who knows how to open this thing.” Brian laughed. “Yeah, I’m in. But if it’s something gross like child porn, I’ll be out of here before I even said gotta go!” “Howie?”Kevin asked. “You know I’m in no matter what.”Howie smiled. “Go ahead Nicky, open that sucker up.” “Okay Howard, that just sounds porn ish.”AJ pointed out. “Everything is porn ish with you J.” The guys crowded around Nick as he opened the small casing and took out the memory stick carefully. Sticking the end of it into the USB slot on his laptop, the guys looked on as he clicked on more buttons in an attempt to open the files. “Damn Nick, whatever it is you’re doing, it looks cool.”Howie said. “I feel like I’m in that movie, The Net.”Brian said. “I wish there’s Sandra Bullock in this one though.” “Nah, we look like we’re in that movie, Hackers. Kick ass.”AJ said. “Actually, this is like putting a CD or a diskette into your computer and opening it up.”Nick pointed out. “Nothing genius about it.” “That just makes us look stupid.”Kevin mumbled. “Okay here we go.”Nick said as the screen showed the contents of the memory stick. “Hmmm...there’s only one file here Kev...and it’s a mpeg format...that means it’s a video.” “Brian?”AJ called. “Yeah?” “In case this is child porn, get yourself ready to bolt out of here bro.” “I don’t think the man would be so stupid to pass something as disturbing as that to a total stranger J.”Howie said. Nick double clicked on the file and waited for the media player to pop up. The video lasted not more than 2 minutes, but what it showed had left everyone numbed and shocked. Tonight, all of them would sleep in fear, if sleep ever come at all.

11 by mersey

11

A/n: Hi girls! First of all, I’m so sorry for updating you guys with a blank page. I realized it was some technical glitch the site was having, thanks to everyone who left a review and point this out to me. I was having a minor freak out attack cause I didn’t have back up for a few of the chapters. Thanks to Mare who sat through my freak out session with me and helped to find them for me, lmao. Like I said mare, you’re my savior, lol. So here it is again In case such a thing happened again, you can check out my website for updates. I’m posting this story there too as a back up (yup, learnt a valuable lesson, lol). Here’s the addy: http://unveiledtots.pitas.com

Nick wasn’t proud of what he had done, but it took two crushed sleeping pills mixed in a mug of hot chocolate to finally put Kevin to sleep. Brian didn’t know of the secret concoction and Nick wasn’t about to tell him. That would only end up with Brian asking him how those pills came into his possession. This in turn, would create a whole new drama in his house, something he wasn’t looking forward to having. Especially not right then. He pulled the comforter up so that it covered Kevin right up to his chest, before clicking off the lamp. Perhaps tomorrow, they would all wake up with a clear head and come up with the best solution to the problem at hand. Leaving the door slightly ajar, Nick passed the second guest room, where Brian was. He overheard his conversation with Leigh, trying his best to explain why he wouldn’t be flying off to be home by the weekend as promised. Nick knew Brian hated lying to his wife, especially when Nick figured Brian needed her support the most. When Brian saw him standing at the door, Nick signaled that he was going to bed and went straight to his bedroom. Slipping under the covers, he turned off the lamp and stared into the darkness. He had always hated the dark. It drove him crazy when he couldn’t see anything in front of him. But that night, darkness was a welcome guest. Hopefully in darkness, the horrifying scenes he had seen on that video would finally go away. But there they were. He had strayed for only a few seconds, letting his mind not think about anything in particular, and it was all it took for flashes of the scene to make its way back to the front, showing things that he had been desperate to forget. Nick knew the place well. In fact, the guys and he had gone there the night before for a late dinner. When he had gone there by himself numerous times, he would slip from the backdoor and out to the back alley, where he could take his cigarette break without having pictures of him doing that posted on various websites by the next day. The video was shaky at times; whoever was behind the camera was obviously scared for his life; in fear of being caught. It had started with a zoom in on the name of the restaurant, with voices in the background. And then the video moved to the right, to a group of people talking. There were six men talking. All of them in expensive suits with properly combed hair and looking very business like. Nick could still hear the heavy breathing of the person behind the camera, the fear this person must have gone through and the risk this person faced just to get footage of what felt like nothing more than a bunch of guys deep in conversation. Nick understood that a negotiation was taking place. Four men against two. And then it happened, out of nowhere, unexpected. Nick saw himself back in the conference room, sitting right in the middle while the guys crowded around him, his eyes fixated on the screen, his body as if chained to some invisible locks. He watched as one of the men, the one who was wearing a hat, went back to the door and stood there, guarding the exit, another man, who looked like he could be running the show, moved from the crowd and lit a cigarette, as the remaining two men, one with shocking white hair and the other with a shaved head, drew out their guns and shot the other two men in the head. Nick saw movement from the corner of his eyes. Knew that Brian and AJ were the first to look away. Howie had sunk back in his seat and Kevin was telling him to stop the video. He couldn’t stop though. He couldn’t move. He watched as the men hid their guns in their jackets in one slick motion and moved away from the bodies. He watched as they returned into the restaurant as if nothing had happened. He watched as the person behind the camera came out of hiding and quickly went up to the bodies, forever imprinting the image of the two dead men with a bullet hole each in their heads, in his mind. The screen went blank. “That’s John Klass.” Howie whispered his disbelief. “That’s the guy who’s running for Mayor.” Nick looked up for the first time, away from the black screen. “What are you talking about?” Kevin slumped back on his chair, drawing the wheeled chair nearer to him. “The man who was smoking, that’s John Klass, the guy who is running for Mayor.” “Whose secretary happened to be murdered two days ago. The man by the door and the bald guy work for him.” Brian said. “What about the guy with the white hair?” Nick asked. “Don’t know him.” Brian shrugged. “The secretary…she could be the person who took this video.” AJ said. “Maybe that’s why she was killed. Maybe someone found out what she was doing.” Howie said. “And somehow, she managed to pass the video to my mugger who passed it to me.” Kevin finished off their thoughts. Silence encompassed the conference room for a few tense seconds. This had just turned into a whole different ball game. “No, she got killed trying to negotiate a deal with them.” Nick said all of a sudden. It got the interest of all the guys at once. “What makes you think that?” Kevin asked. “Cause a video camera requires a tape, or a huge ass memory card.” Nick explained. “Still not getting it.” Howie said after no one said anything. “Video camera don’t use memory sticks, chances are, she was using a tape, or a memory card since memory carsd can only keep 15 minutes worth of video footage max. But never a memory stick. So maybe, she was threatened into giving up the tape, which she did, but she knew they might just kill her off-” “So she saved a copy into this memory stick!” Brian finished for him. “Right!” Nick cried. “But it still doesn’t explain how your mugger got it Kev.” AJ said. “Maybe she passed it to him incase something went wrong.” Kevin suggested. “But why gave it to you though? Why didn’t he just surrender it to the police?” Howie pointed out. “I don’t know…maybe that’s what he’s gonna tell me when he calls.” Nick nodded even though he wasn’t quite sure if he understood everything. “And when will that be?” “…you hear me?” Nick blinked. Brian was standing right next to his bed, the lines on his forehead creased as he frowned in worry. “What?” “You spaced out on me man.” “I was thinking.” “Looks like it’s hurting you.” Brian joked. “It is.” Nick frowned, subconsciously rubbing his temple. Brian sat the edge of the bed. Nick had never seen Brian age that much in a day. Even when they were at each other’s throats four years ago, he had never looked this bad. “I know what we saw today was…terrible. But we can’t let it consume us.” “It’s just there Brian. Every time I stop thinking, I’ll see it.” “You’re not alone buddy.” “Do you know how to make it stop?” “Well,” Brian stretched. “When I see it in my head, I see the whole thing, the video, that media player you opened it with. So I’ll see that stop button, and made myself click on it. It stopped.” Nick smiled. “That’s cool.” “Try that the next time you see it.” “I will.” Nick said. “I wonder how AJ and Howie are holding up.” Brian yawned. “I wouldn’t worry too much. Howie called, he’s sleeping over at AJ’s.” “You can sleep here if you want, there’s room for the both of us.” Nick said, secretly hoping that Brian would. Maybe talking would help him forget. “Got an extra pillow?” Nick pat the extra pillow next to him. “Awesome.” Brian practically jumped next to Nick and settled in. “Your mattress is way better than the one in the guestroom.” “That’s an old one, from my house in Tampa.” “I like this one better.” “Fine, next time you sleepover, I’ll take the guestroom.” “I know you love me.” There was a short moment of silence, where Brian adjusted himself comfortably and Nick was on his sidekick, replying to a message from AJ, who had just sent a random topless picture of a woman with the words ‘sweet dreams tonight’. “Bri?” “Hmmm…” “How come Kevin doesn’t just surrender that stupid thing to the police? It’d be off our hands and done with.” “I don’t know Nick…I guess he was feeling a little bit guilty for reporting him to the police in the first place. The guy is obviously trying to save his own butt. Ever wonder if he was there and actually saw her get killed?” Nick shrugged even though he did think about everything all the time now. “I don’t know Brian…if he was her back up plan, wouldn’t she want him to be far away from her when she met those bad people?” Brian sighed. “I don’t know what to think anymore.” “Her name is Sarah Felding.” Brian turned sideways, his eyes trying to find Nick in the dark. “Who?” “The woman…the one who got killed, her name was Sarah Felding.” “How did you know that?” “It was n the papers remember? And the news. I was following up on the case and did some reading.” “Oh. That’s good…I think we should all do that…find out more about everything.” “She’s 25.” Nick said again. “One shot to the head, just like those two…” There were no words to reply to that, so Brian kept his silence. “Brian, we’re so fucked.” And with those final words, silence and darkness accompanied them, but it was knowing that they were there for each other, side by side, that became their comfort blanket, lulling them to a deep, dreamless sleep. Nick woke up the next morning with the gentle tapping of Brian’s fingers on his shoulder. “Hey, you awake?” Brian whispered. “Yeah.” Nick croaked; his morning voice deep and unclear. “Why are you whispering?” “Shhh!” Brian continued, already bright eyed. Nick also had the suspicions that Brian was fresh from a shower. Was he late? “What time is it?” “7, and be quiet, Kevin’s sleeping.” “Brian,” Nick said and then paused, realizing he was still ‘loud’. He rolled his eyes and whispered, “I don’t think Kevin will hear us even if we talk normally.” Brian shook his head and told him to stay put. He tip toed towards the door, which amused Nick even more, and quietly locked the door. He tip toed back towards Nick and sat on the edge of the bed as close as he could get to him. “Howie just called. He said Johnny tried calling Kevin but he couldn’t get an answer.” Nick scratched his head. “I switched the damn thing off. Figured he could use all the sleep he could get.” Brian nodded. “Good…so anyway, Johnny said that police guy…Inspector Weiss?” Nick cringed at the mention of the name, and then recovered himself and nodded. “Yeah, him.” “He said they found Kevin’s mugger.” Nick’s eyes grew wide. He wasn’t sure if he should smile and be happy about it or be disappointed. What if he was really innocent? “I’m guessing they want Kevin down at the HQ to identify him in a line up?” “Sorta.” Brian cringed. “Sorta?” “They need Kevin to identify his body.” “WHAT!” “Shhhhh!!!!!” Brian whispered loudly, almost jumping out of bed as if he was caught red handed. “Shit! Ok, sorry.” Nick whispered. “What!” “He was shot too. In a motel room not far from here. And get this…he’s a photographer, working for the LA Times.” “Oh my God, Brian, maybe he was supposed to expose those bastards!” “But something scared him away. Maybe that’s why he was too desperate, he planted that thing on the next guy he saw.” “And that’s Kevin.” Nick said. “Yes, Kevin.” “Then why aren’t we waking him up and telling him all this?” Brian sighed. This time, his shoulders started to slouch, as if the invisible burdens were heaving down on him. On all of them. “I think we should let him sleep in for a while longer. Practice is cancelled because he needs to go down to the HQ and all. I figured any extra amount of sleep he could get, he should take it.” Nick nodded. He understood. They were living on borrowed times now. hope ya like! ;)

12 by mersey

12

A/n: Hi again! As always, I’d like to thank you girls who took time to review; knowing that you like what I have so far is always a nice thing.

Nick sat on the bench facing the reception counter and tried to concentrate on the message AJ had just left him on his sidekick. Around him, the hectic atmosphere of LA’s Police Department played out like a distant buzz in his ears. No one paid attention to him and that was exactly how he wanted things to be. Nick knew from then on, he had to be with Kevin whenever he was required to come to the headquarters. Nick was the cover up, the alternate story that the tabloids and paparazzi would have a field day with pictures and articles spawned from webs of lies. As long as Kevin’s real intentions of being anywhere near a police department was kept under wraps, Nick was willing to take one for the team. How can you spell a pretty girl with two letters? Nick smirked. Ho While waiting for AJ’s reply, Nick decided to look up and did some neck movement to release the strains on his neck from staring down for a long time. It was bad timing when he saw Chief Inspector Weiss walking towards him, their eyes met. His strides slowed and eventually stopped in front of him. “Why are you here?” Weiss asked; his voice low, almost as if spitting on him, while his body language showed him at ease. Nick stole a glance across the busy open area and on to a room where Kevin was in, waiting for Weiss to make an appearance. He knew Kevin could see them from there. “Waiting for Kevin.” Nick smiled. “I know that.” Weiss said impatiently. “I meant, why are you here? When I told you I didn’t want you around. Another Backstreet Boy could come with him.” “Well, I’m the one with a DUI on my record. I’m here so the media won’t have a field day with Kevin.” Nick said. “You know, if word got out that he’s here for the Susan Felding’s case, everyone would have more on their plate to handle.” Weiss smirked. “So you’re taking the bad rep.” “I’m sure you’re happy to know that.” “I am.” “Great.” Nick smiled. His sidekick vibrated and Nick waved it around. “I’ll just wait here, like every other normal visitor then.” “You do that.” Weiss said and left. It was AJ. I said ‘pretty girls’ not ‘sluts’ you numb nuts. And the answer is QT. Get it? Cutey? - Kevin was beside himself. As if last night’s unveiling of the video wasn’t hard enough for him to swallow, he had to wake up and find out the only person who could shed some light to this string of nightmares he was in, was found dead; and probably from the same people who had killed those two men and Sarah Felding. Sitting alone in what was supposed to be an interrogation room, it finally hit Kevin that everything he had seen for the past few days had been REAL. And the terror set in when he realized he had roped all the guys into his mess. He gazed outside, hoping Nick was all right by himself out there. Kevin could tell that it killed Nick to be in a police station, not to mention now he had to do it to cover Kevin’s behind. And as much as Kevin hated having to put his little brother in that position, he had to. Inspector Weiss had stopped by to talk to Nick, their conversation would remain a mystery to Kevin. He eyed the man as he made his way into the room and greeted Kevin with that cordial smile and handshake. “Kevin,” Weiss said, offering a handshake. “I’m sorry you have to come here under such circumstances.” “I understand.” “Would you like to identify the body now? Or would you like a few moments by yourself?” “Let’s just do it now. No point in holding this back any longer.” “Great. Come with me.” Kevin stole a glance over at Nick, who was in time to look up and found him coming out of the room. There was a look that only both of them shared and understood, the kind of look that all five of them learned to see in situations where words would not do.I’m with you. They passed by Andy Myers’ room and down a corridor and two flights of stairs before Kevin was greeted with the Morgue. The place was cold and chilling. Kevin could smell the lingering smell of blood, raw skin and the nauseating smell of something rotten. He stood still in the middle of the room while Inspector Weiss went ahead and talked to one of the attendants there. They exchanged a few words before the man pulled open one of the many storage bins and revealed a covered body. Kevin moved forward. “Are you ready?” Kevin nodded. Inspector Weiss nodded and the man pulled down the cover and revealed his mugger. He was exactly how he remembered him back in the car park a day ago. Except that he was much paler, had a bullet hole in the middle of his forehead and very dead. Kevin looked away as flashes of memories came back to him; that pleading look in his eyes as he explained himself back at the car park. He felt the bile rising up into his throat but Kevin forced himself to stay calm. There was nothing to puke about. It was just a body. Just a body. “Is that him?” Kevin nodded. “Yes…it’s him.” “Are you sure? No doubts at all?” “No doubts. It’s him.” “Okay, let’s get out of here and take some fresh air.” Kevin wasn’t about to argue with that. They left the morgue and went back to the interrogation room he was in earlier. Passing by Andy Myers’ room, he saw him sitting by one of the kids’ corners, laughing with a young boy not older than eleven. He saw Nick, busy punching away on his sidekick. As he entered the room, the strong aroma of black coffee hit him. He didn’t remember smelling black coffee when he was in there earlier. “Take a seat Kevin, and have a drink.” Inspector Weiss said, pouring a cup and passing it to him. “Thanks.” Inspector Weiss nodded and smiled before taking a seat, facing him. “His name is Michael Hamann. 26 years old, worked for LA Times as a photographer. He was a good friend of Sarah Felding, the woman who was murdered near where you were mugged.” Kevin nodded. It was time to get some dirt. “Do you think he killed Sarah?” Inspector Weiss studied Kevin for awhile, which made him a little uneasy, before he replied. “He doesn’t have a motive. They were good friends, there were a few eyewitness saying they were seen having dinner together at a nearby restaurant. If you want to kill someone, you wouldn’t spend hours having dinner with her, in a public place, would you?” Kevin nodded. “I guess you’re right…besides, why would he mug me right after killing someone?” “That’s another thing that has me stumped Kevin.” Inspector Weiss said. “Michael Hamann was paid very highly for his work with the LA Times, plus, he had an independent studio and worked freelance on the side. He didn’t need to go around mugging a celebrity.” Kevin stayed silent, still unsure if he should tell him about the encounter with Michael Hamann just the day before. “And he was killed the same way Sarah Felding was. We’re seeing a pattern here.” “But it still doesn’t make sense why he would go and mug me. I have nothing to do with anything.” Inspector Weiss drew out an A4 brown envelope from his jacket and took out Kevin’s wallet. “We found this in the jacket he was wearing; seems like everything is still in there, along with your $200 cash and a receipt from your last ATM withdrawal.” He returned the wallet to Kevin. “You might want to check if there’s anything else missing in there.” “That won’t be necessary. I have nothing of much value in here except for my driver’s license and the cash.” Yes I’ve been driving without my license for the last three days, don’t you even start with me. “If that’s the case, we’re done for now. I just need you to sign these forms for me. It’s to show that you have seen and identified the body.” Kevin nodded and started signing on all four pages. “One last question if you don’t mind?” “Sure.” Kevin said as he started signing the last page. “Are you sure he said nothing to you when he attacked you that night? Anything that would be a clue to say that he was staging the whole mugging thing?” This is it, Kevin thought. He could tell him about that car park incident from the night before. It was now or never. Kevin found himself shaking his head. “All he did was shock me with his attack, started punching me and yelled at me for my wallet.” Inspector Weiss nodded, sighing as if in resignation. “Well then, if that’s the case, we have nothing more to do here Kevin. I would however advise you to stay in touch, in case something new comes up.” “Am I involved in this murder case?” “I’d like to say no, but when Michael Hamann attacked you that night, you were already added into the equation.” How do you know when a ghost is about to faint? Nick smirked at the question. Sending him weird riddles wasn’t what he had in mind when he told AJ he needed some kind of entertainment while waiting for Kevin to be done. He could already imagine Brian sitting next to him, egging him on. He tried to come up with a quick comeback but more often than not, Nick found himself stumped by the tense energy he got from just being in a police station. When it sees you, wakakakaka! “I see you have your hands full.” Nick was so startled by the unexpected intrusion that he dropped the sidekick. “Jesus Kevin!” Kevin knelt down and grabbed the device and handed it back to Nick, who was still rubbing away at his chest. “Man, I’m sorry bro; I didn’t mean to scare you.” “Scare me? Please!” Nick smirked. “Startled yes, scared, definitely not.” Kevin wasn’t convinced and Nick knew it. He bet he looked as pale as a sheet right about now. Damn that’s the answer! Pale as a sheet! “Okay whatever; the fact that you’re visibly shaken right now doesn’t-” “Kevin please, I’m all right.” Nick smiled, which wasn’t really convincing when he was trembling. “Look…can we leave now?” “Yeah, we can leave, let’s go.” Kevin placed his arm across his shoulder and let it rest there as they walked out of the building and into the open car park. Nick was feeling much better once they were out there; the trembling that Kevin could feel on his body was slowly dissipating. “I’m telling Johnny that we’re not going to use you just to save my butt anymore Nick.” “Kevin…I was startled okay? Shock…it’s no biggie.” Nick protested. Other people would say big deal, Nick say biggie. How could Kevin not feel overprotective about him? “It is a biggie Nick. I hate knowing we’re all using you.” “Dude Kev, first of all, you’re not using me.” Nick said. “I want to do this, this helps.” “This is not helping Nick.” “It is! I’m helping you out. I feel useful this way. It makes me feel…important. I hate just standing around and do nothing, it’ll kill me.” “I don’t want you to get hurt cause of this. Any of you. This is really some serious shit I’m in to.” “No shit Kevin.” Nick snorted. “I know that. We know that. And we’re in this no matter what you say. So shut up already.” “You realize people are dead and we could end up like them too.” Kevin pointed out. Flashes of the two dead men froze in Nick’s mind. Picture the button and turn it off! “I know Kevin, and we’re not gonna end up like them. Now could you please just act cool, I know the paparazzi are out there taking shots of us, I’m wearing this hot pink shirt not for nothing okay?” - It was difficult for Howie to concentrate when he knew Brian was nearby, on the phone, lying his way through Kristin. It was even harder to know how easy it sounded for Brian to pull a fast answer to every question Kristin had. She would be very upset once she found out the truth, but Howie had to take on Kevin’s side in this one. He knew if it was him, he’d keep it away from his wife too, should he have one later in life. “I’m just glad I didn’t pick up that call.” AJ whispered next to him. Howie nodded. “Kevin probably turned his cell phone off, you know; didn’t want to wake up the dead.” Howie stared at him tiredly until AJ waved his hands as if in surrender. “Fine, fine, lame ass joke Alex.” “Don’t you even think about telling that joke when Nick’s around.” Howie warned. AJ groaned. “I swear Nick is a baby sometimes.” “So…what have we got so far?” Howie asked as he studied the newspaper clippings he had managed to compile together. AJ was still facing the laptop and surfing for information online, a task that Howie had willingly let AJ handle. “Well,” AJ said as he rubbed his palms together. “We know there was no news or announcements on the obituary section about the death of those 2 men. Identities still a mystery as of right now.” “Which means someone came back to stash away the bodies.” Howie said, and then as an afterthought, added, “Somewhere.” “Right, and John Klass is going to have his first speech in two days. Obviously he’s playing dirty and his secretary decided to expose him.” “Thing is,” Howie said. “How far is he getting support from? Obviously we can’t trust the owners of that restaurant.” “Ugh…I can’t believe we had dinner there.” AJ shuddered. “Me too.” Howie said. “Now at least we know two of his campaign workers are with him. What we don’t know is the identity of that other man in the video.” “One of the guys who shot those two guys. The one with the shocking white hair.” AJ said. “Yeah him. We have no clue who the heck he is. We’ve gone through all of John Klass’ campaign workers, his immediate supporters, his family, friends…everyone and anyone connected to him that we can find info on. He’s not there.” “Did we find anything on John Klass himself? Any dirt on him?” AJ asked. “Nope.” Howie sighed. “Unfortunately, John Klass looks like a saint next to his fellow competitor. His plans so far received a lot of support.” “Great!” AJ groaned. “We can’t trust anybody.” Right at that moment, Brian managed to finally convince Kristin that her husband was doing fine alone in the house and the slamming of car doors right outside the porch signaled that both Kevin and Nick had returned. “How did it go Kev?” Howie asked as Kevin walked past him and carelessly threw his wallet on the table. “Awful.” Kevin said, going straight to the kitchen and grabbing himself a can of coke. When he returned to the table where the guys had obviously busied themselves with rounding up as much information as they could about the mess they found themselves in, Nick was already grabbing for Kevin’s wallet, going through every pocket with his eyes wide in anticipation. He laughed when he saw a small old picture of the Backstreet Boys on their first show at Disneyland. Kevin had totally forgotten about that. “Did they say if they think this guy is connected to the murder like we think he did?” Brian asked. Kevin nodded. “They can’t find a motive why Michael Hamann…the mugger, would want to rob me when he’s highly paid by the LA Times. They know something’s wrong with that picture.” “Don’t you think it’s best that you just tell them about what this Michael guy told you and wash your hands clean of this problem?” Brian asked. “You think it’d be that easy?” Kevin asked. “Why do you think he didn’t go straight to the police? Why randomly hit someone and pass the memory stick to that person? John Klass knows people; he’ll have us tracked down sooner or later.” “Ok guys I’m sorry, we just got back from the LAPD and I had the most traumatic experience of just sitting there and enduring AJ’s lame riddles, and Rok, I know you played a part in that too. So please, to lighten up the mood a little, Kevin, could you please amuse me with the reason behind this funny looking key in your wallet?” Kevin stared at the small key Nick was holding in his hand. “Now, now Kevin, what does LAPL means?” Howie grinned. “Sounds like a strip club to me.” Nick laughed. “Everything sounds like a strip club to you.” AJ pointed out. “That key doesn’t belong to me.” Kevin said. “Put it back Nick, the police might have put it there by mistake. I’ll just return it -” “Police don’t make mistakes like that Kevin.” Howie said. “Every item held by the police would be labeled. This key doesn’t have a label on it.” “What if it belonged to Michael Hamann?” Brian asked. “It’s still not mine. So again, I’ll return it to them tomorrow, first thing in the morning. In fact, I’m going to call Inspector Weiss right now.” Kevin said as he got up to make the phone call. “No, Kevin, wait!” Nick cried, rushing over to stop him. “Look,” Nick placed the key on Kevin’s palm, the other side up. “He marked your name on the key Kevin, whatever this thing opens; he wants you to have it.”

13 by mersey

13

A/n: Hi again! I just want to say a huge, huge thank you for all the reviews, you girls crack me up, lol. Thanks to Mare again for the edited chap!

Kevin couldn’t sleep. He kept flipping the key that had his name on it, in his hand. The last time he checked, it was already two in the morning. It almost killed him, not knowing what LAPL meant and what the key would open. All he knew was, it had to hold some kind of answer to all the madness that he didn’t even chose to be in. Earlier that night, when everyone had somewhat calmed down and could think rationally, they had came to a conclusion that Michael Hamann knew John Klass’ men were on to him and the secret was no longer safe. He needed to somehow pass it down to Kevin without risking them finding out and putting Kevin in danger. He knew once they got a hold of him, he would be a dead man and his house would be ransacked. The only way to disconnect himself from the key was to make it look like it didn’t even belong to him. Maybe that’s why the police assumed that key had been in your wallet all along. They wouldn’t think it was planted if your name was on there, Howie had told him. Kevin sighed softly and let the key rest on his chest. AJ had taken the initiative of parting with one of his many necklaces and keeping the skull pendant in his pocket, giving the necklace to him to attach the key there. This way, it’ll stay with you wherever you go. Kevin had also noticed that the key was labeled ‘47’, so they figured that it probably opened a door (or something else) that had 47 on it. They had also spent hours on the Internet, hoping to find what exactly LAPL stood for. Brian actually managed to find a strip club called LAP Leisure, straying both AJ and Nick off course for a while. The bed creaked and Kevin stayed still for a second, not wanting his cover blown. He had been so good at pretending to be asleep just to satisfy his worried brother. Seeing that no other movement was made, he turned his head slowly to the left, finding that dark silhouette sleeping next to him. Hearing his soft snores, Kevin let out a soft sigh of relief. Brian, Howie and AJ had taken up each of the guest rooms in the house and since all of them were single beds and Nick was the youngest, it all came down to the same old game. Oldest gets to pick first, leaving the youngest whatever was left behind and Kevin felt connected with Nick in that way, because he was the youngest in his family. Come on little man, you’re bunking with me I seriously don’t feel good. Will Kristin mind? Nick, shut up. Kevin couldn’t get a wink of sleep even if he wanted to. He had hoped that Nick would find sleep first so that he could stay up all night without anyone worrying about him. But Nick had other ideas. He left the light on his side of the bed on and pulled out his sidekick. Kevin knew he could stay on that thing for hours. He often wondered who in their right mind would entertain him at those ungodly hours. So Kevin pretended to sleep, sleeping on his side facing Nick just to make it seem that he had nothing to hide. Soon enough, he heard him stifle a yawn, the light went off and he fell asleep. And Kevin was free again, to let his mind roam into the darkness, wishing he had the answer to the madness that was now looming in them all. God, what the hell is LAPL?! “I GOT IT! I GOT IT!” The first thing Kevin felt when he heard AJ yelling at almost 4 in the morning was Nick bolting out of the bed and switching on the lamp on his side, panic written all over his face. “Nick, it’s AJ.” Kevin said as he got out of bed and raised his arms as if to say everything is fine. “Calm down, it’s just AJ.” Kevin saw Nick blush before he got that mad look on his face; one of anger and frustration. “Hey now, go to bed, let me handle this.” “No, I wanna see why he’s yelling like a mad man out there.” Nick said, rushing pass Kevin and opening the door. AJ was on his way to Kevin’s room and grinned when he saw Nick standing there, hair sticking out in all directions. “Nick dude, I found out what LAPL stands for!” Whatever frustration Nick had immediately left him. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “You what?” Kevin appeared next. “AJ why aren’t you asleep?” “Kevin, I know what LAPL stands for!” AJ cried. “It was right there in front of our faces and we didn’t even realize it!” By then, Brian and Howie were already out of their rooms and demanding the same reason for the intrusion. “I need coffee for this.” Brian stated as he climbed down the stairs. “I have a feeling we’ll be up all night.” At seven in the morning, Kevin found himself sitting on the sofa in his living room with Sponge Bob on mute playing on the TV. Howie had taken up residence on a two seater to his right. Brian cuddled himself on a single couch to his left while AJ slept on the carpeted floor, his hand almost touching Nick’s dangling right hand, from where he was fast asleep on the same couch as Kevin. He wished time would pass by slower for them; they needed all the sleep they could get before the day officially started. He knew it was going to be a hectic one for them all. “See, I knew somehow, LA should stand for Los Angeles, the trick was finding out what PL stands for.” AJ said. “And you found what the trick was?” Howie said. “Yes I did!” AJ cried. “So spill.” Brian urged. “It’s public library! Los Angeles Public Library!” AJ almost squealed. “Oh man, of course! That key could open one of the lockers there!” Nick said excitedly. They could almost see the light now. “It’s a long shot, but my bet is, I got the correct answer.” AJ shrugged. “Ok good, this means, I’m dropping by the library tomorrow to check it out.” Kevin said, determined. “You mean today? It’s almost 5 Kevin.” Brian pointed out. “And we drank coffee.” AJ stretched in his sleep and accidentally touched Nick’s hand. He let out a soft groan and looked up to see what was in his way. He reached up and pulled at Nick’s fingers until the young man got irritated and shifted, bringing his arm up over his forehead and resting it there. AJ’s gaze fell on Kevin and he gave him a smirk before falling back asleep. Kevin shifted a little to his side, took another sip of his now cold coffee and continued watching Sponge Bob making a fool out of himself. - The argument of the day was to figure out how a Backstreet Boy or two, casually walk into a public library and not expect to be spotted by random fans? “I have to go; he left that key to me.” Kevin said. “Then I’ll go with you.” Brian offered. “No you can’t.” AJ said. “Leigh and Baylee are flying down to meet you, remember?” “They are?” “She called you last night when you were in my room looking for your shoes.” AJ said. Nick snickered. “Whatever is wrong with you and your shoes Brian?” Brian smiled sheepishly, scratching his head. “Yeah…it’s going to be a quick one, lunch for two hours and then she’s back on the plane.” “Wait guys, we still have to see Johnny…we gotta come up with something to tell him. We’re supposed to have that practice today.” Nick said. If the situation was different, AJ would have said something about Nick remembering a meeting. Kevin groaned. He couldn’t wait until practice to go to the library. What if someone knew? What if someone found whatever it was that needed to be found before Kevin got there? “I’ll go, leave the negotiations to me.” Howie volunteered. “Well that means I’m going with Kevin.” Nick declared. “And how did you come to that conclusion?” Brian asked. “Well, Howie can’t go in there alone and expect Johnny to just agree with whatever he says. Even Donald Trump comes to a negotiation with a back up plan.” Nick said. “And that’s where I come in.” AJ said, finally seeing what Nick meant. “Cause God forbid you put Nick in there to talk with Johnny.” - Armed with caps and dressed in baggy clothing, Kevin and Nick jogged up the baby steps to the main entrance of the LA Public Library. With Kevin carrying a back pack and duffel slung over Nick’s shoulder, they looked like any ordinary library goers. “I’m not sure if we can pull this off Kevin. Do we even know where the locker is?” Nick asked. “Heck, it has been years since I stepped into one.” “We’ll be okay, don’t look so nervous.” Kevin said as they entered the air conditioned library. There were a couple of signs showing directions to different places in the library and Kevin spotted the one that said ‘lockers’ without any difficulties at all. “Lockers, turn left.” There weren’t that many people as far as Nick could tell and the locker area was, fortunately, empty. “No one’s here…we can do this quickly now.” Kevin said. “We’re looking for number forty-seven.” Nick found 34 staring back at him. In a few seconds, he figured out that the numbers grew bigger starting from the left all the way to the right and up the next level. “I found it!” “Great, now, less excited please.” Kevin smirked. “Oh yeah, sorry.” Nick whispered. “And less suspicious.” “Okay Kevin, shut the heck up.” Kevin took the chain off from his neck and retrieved the key. He pushed it into the key hole and gave it a firm left turn. There was a soft click before the small locker opened. Kevin looked at Nick, unsure if he was excited or scared for what he was about to see. “I hate cliffies, just open the dang thing and take a look.” Nick urged. When it was finally wide enough for them to look inside, to their dismay, they found a story book. A nursery rhyme book. “What the hell.” Nick sighed. Kevin opened the book, hoping against all hope that there was a clue in there. They couldn’t be wrong. What else could LAPL stand for! There was a sticky note on the first page, with this written in black ink : P 12 P 4 L 9 W6 W7 MH “Great, he fucking left us some code to crack!” Kevin whispered his frustration. “I can’t do this anymore. What does he think this is? Some sick mind game?” “What makes you think that’s from him?” Nick asked, studying the piece of paper. “MH is Michael Hamann. And the fact that the handwriting belongs to an adult and it’s stuck here in a kid’s book…it makes sense.” Kevin said. “You’re right Kev, it’s from him, and we got the right place.” “We just have no fucking clue what the fuck those things are supposed to say.” Kevin spat. Nick went silent, just staring at the piece of paper, hoping that it’d make some sense. “Come on Nick, we should go. We can probably solve this at home, with the guys.” “Wait Kevin, we don’t have a library card.” “We’re not borrowing anything.” “What if the clue is in this book? We need it. There has got to be some-” Nick stopped in his track, his attention back to the piece of paper. “Okay Nick you’re scaring me. What is it?” “I think…I think I know what this is Kev.” Nick said although still sounding unsure. “You do?” “Yeah…here, hold this for me.” Nick said, passing the note to Kevin as Nick held the rather heavy and big book in his hands. “Okay…the first P…what number is it again?” “12.” Kevin said. “I’m still not sure where this is going.” Nick nodded his head and started flipping the book. “Remember Julie? The tutor we used to have while on tour?” “The one Brian had a huge crush on?” “Yes that one.” Nick smiled. “See, I hated comprehension and she loved making me do it-” “Nick, is this going somewhere buddy?” “Yes it is, so stop interrupting me.” Nick said. “So anyway, in some of the questions, they required you to read a sentence from one of the paragraphs and then try to rewrite that sentence using your own words. Or sometimes, she made me find a word in the essay and write down the meaning of that word or an alternative word for it.” Nick found the page he was looking for and looked up at Kevin, smiling. “P 12 stands for Page 12.” Kevin’s eyes widened. He quickly went back to the note. “ P4 is…paragraph.” Nick grinned. “You learn fast, young padawan.” Index finger on the page, Nick counted out loud each paragraph and stopped at the fourth. “Good to know something came out of those lessons.” “I’m glad I came instead of AJ then…he was always too busy staring at her boobs.” Nick laughed. “We probably would start panicking and get the heck out of here.” “Okay, what’s next?” Nick asked. “L 9.” Kevin said. “That’s Line 9.” Nick said and started counting down the lines on paragraph four until his finger stopped at nine. “W 6 W 7.” Kevin said, this time not waiting for Nick to prompt him. “Word 6 and 7.” Nick said. “Johnny lay in bed and look up to the ceiling and said, ‘oh I wish I could be a star in the sky so I can grant-” “You don’t have to read the entire thing you know.” Kevin cut in. “But it’s the interesting part.” Nick said. “You didn’t even read the story you dick.” Kevin groaned. “Word 6 and 7 Nicky.” “Fine.” Nick sighed exaggeratedly and started counting. Look up As if on reflex, both Kevin and Nick looked up. “Are we supposed to check out that light?” Nick asked, puzzled. “Cause there is no way in hell we’re going to be able to reach that without someone busting their ass.” “I don’t think Michael could reach up there without getting his ass busted himself.” Kevin said. “Great, another stupid clue.” Nick grumbled. “Maybe he wants us to start praying for our lives.” “No wait.” Kevin said as his attention went back to the locker. “What if…” He reached his hand inside the locker and started to touch the roof of the locker. “Did you find something?” Nick asked, almost too excitedly. “I think I did.” Kevin said, as he grabbed for what felt like an envelope taped to the roof of the locker. “Envelope.” “Open it quick.” Nick urged him. The envelope was too light to contain any sort of paper, which for some reason, came as a disappointment to Kevin. He needed answers and a letter explaining what was happening, just that would be appreciated. Instead, a mini CD slid out. “Kevin if that’s another video of someone being shot-” “You don’t have to see this.” Kevin said. “I’ll look at it and tell you afterward.” Nick thought about it. He honestly didn’t think he could live to watch another person killed and knowing it wasn’t just another Hollywood production. Yet another part of him knew taking a step back is like letting your friend free fall as you watch. He promised he’d be a part of this mess and give all the support Kevin needed to pull through, he wasn’t about to break that promise now. “I saw a book café area at the other corner back there; we can take a seat and look at it together. I have my laptop with me.” “Wait, are you sure about this?” Kevin asked, frowning. “Yes, I’m sure.” Nick said. “If it’s another…killing…we can spare this from the other guys.” Kevin didn’t say anything but nodded. He knew words were unnecessary then. There was nothing he could say to change Nick’s mind, and secretly, Kevin was glad he wasn’t about to watch it all alone.

14 by mersey

14

A/n: Congratulations everyone who break the code faster than Nick and Kevin, lmao. It wasnt that hard really, cause I'm not good at making codes, lmao! Those English lessons in school helped though, lmao. Okay, so here's the next chapter for you! I think there will be most probably 1 or 2 more chapters before we wrap things up. But nothing is certain yet, lmao. As always, THANK YOU for taking the time out to review! It really really means a lot! :)

“Before we take a look at this, I just want to say thank you for everything.” Kevin said. The book café was crowded. Groups of people from all different walks of life gathered with friends as they drank and discussed a project or a book they borrowed. For a short moment, as Kevin studied his surroundings to make sure it was safe to watch the video, he felt jealous. He wanted the carefree life they had and the reason to laugh and smile again without having this constant fear nagging at the back of his mind. But that jealousy left him as soon as it entered, knowing fully well that it wouldn’t bring him anywhere closer to solving the problem at hand. “You don’t have to thank me, you know that. You’d be totally up on my case if things were reversed.” Kevin nodded. “I know. But you’ve been really helpful, well, extra helpful with the whole covering my butt up from the tabloids to solving that little riddle.” “All in a day of the life of a Backstreet boy.” Nick joked. “When we say we’re brothers, we really mean it.” “I’m glad.” Kevin said as he shook the uneasy feeling off. “Well, let’s do this.” Nick nodded and went on to click open the video file. Nick passed the right ear piece to Kevin while he took the left. Michael Hamann was sitting on the edge of a bed, in what looked like a motel room. He was wearing that same outfit when Kevin found him in the car park. There was fear so intense in his eyes that it made Kevin shudder involuntarily. Chief Inspector Weiss I trust that it is you who is watching this tape right now, or else chances are, no one will find out the truth, and Kevin Richardson would probably be in a huge mess right now, if not dead. Kevin closed his eyes and tried to swallow that huge lump that now seemed to restrict his air way. Nick’s hand on his shoulder made him looked at the screen again. It also means that I’m dead by the way and chances are, you’ve found me and returned Kevin’s wallet to him. That would be the only way he’d find this video. I do believe Kevin had handed to you a memory stick that holds all the answers to Sarah Felding’s murder…and mine. This video serves as a stand in witness; for I know I won’t see the day this matter will be put on trial. Kevin clicked the stop button. “Wait Kevin, we should watch this entire thing.” Nick said. “It’s just him talking about what he knew Nick. It’s the evidence,” Kevin explained. “And I know now my job is to send this plus that memory stick, over to Inspector Weiss, you heard him.” “You’re going to go, like, now?” Nick asked. He watched as Kevin ejected the small CD out and placed it back in the envelope. He placed it in the pocket under his jacket. “Right now,” Kevin nodded. “Get this over and done with.” Nick nodded and started to pack his stuff. His hands were visibly shaking. “Okay, let me just pack this stuff and we’ll-” “You’re not coming with me, not this time.” Kevin said. Nick stopped in his tracks, frowning as he looked up at Kevin. “What do you mean I’m not going? I always go with you to the police.” “Not this time bro,” Kevin said. “I have something else I need you to do.” “What could possibly be more important than this?” Nick argued. Kevin placed his hands on Nick’s shoulder, trying to calm him down. “Remember I had a picture of all of us in my wallet?” “Yeah.” “I’m not taking any risks Nick, and chances are, whoever killed Michael Hamann, could have gone through everything in the room including whatever was on him. If that happened, they would want to make sure all angles are covered. We could be one of the many angles they might want to look into, see if we’re a part of this whole mess.” “You think they know we know?” “I don’t know Nick, but I need you to go get Brian, put Leigh and Baylee on a plane and wait for me at Jive. You guys should be safe there.” “And you?” “I’ll be at the police station so I’ll be safe.” Kevin assured him. “Once this lands on Weiss’ hands, we’re home free.” Nick nodded, still unsure if they were making the right decision. He hated the idea of being separated. “Come on, I’ll put you in a cab before I go.” Nick grabbed his duffle bag, slung it across his shoulder and held on to the strap as if it was his lifeline. He really didn’t feel like taking a cab all alone. Outside, the day looked like any normal day. People walked by, the streets were busy, roadside vendors selling hot dogs and pretzels, calling out to passersby to try them. Nick felt as if he was in a twilight zone. No one knew and no one cared. “Nick, I need you to calm down and concentrate okay? You’re going to be all right. Just go to Brian and then drive back to Jive, where D and J are. I will be back.” It didn’t take long for a cab to pass by and Kevin wasted no time in flagging it down. He told the cab driver where to go and even opened the backdoor for Nick. “Look, if things go wrong…if someone should approached you or any of the guys…tell them you know nothing okay? Tell them you know something’s up with me but I never told any of you guys anything. Do that for me okay?” “Kevin I-” “Nick, please.” His eyes felt misty but he blinked the tears away. “Just come back okay?” Kevin smiled. “You know I will.” - Officer Randy, the man who had first taken Kevin’s mugging report, was at the main reception counter, the very place Kevin and Nick had first approached to lodge the report. He immediately recognized him and smiled. “Mr. Richardson, what can I do for you today?” “Hi Randy, please call me Kevin.” Randy laughed. “Of course, of course. What can I do for you today Kevin?” “I’m here to see Inspector Weiss. Is he in?” “Oh, you just missed him by a few minutes. Is it important?” “It is. And I really need to see him urgently. Will he be back?” “I believe so. His shift doesn’t end till eleven tonight.” Randy replied. “How urgent is urgent?” “Very.” Kevin replied. “I have some info on Sarah Felding’s case, And Michael Hamann.” Randy nodded. “Okay you know what, I’m going to call him right now and see if he can talk with you.” “Thanks, I’d really appreciate that.” Kevin looked around the busy headquarters, watching as police officers kept coming through the entrance with people handcuffed. Some officers were taking a break and cracking jokes while munching on doughnuts and drinking hot coffee in a Styrofoam cup. “Kevin?” Randy called. “He’s on the line.” “Okay, thanks.” “Kevin, what’s the urgency?” “I have something that you’d like to look at. It’s something Michael Hamann left me.” “Something that he left you?” “It’s a video…two of them actually.” Kevin said, finding it hard to explain such a complicated thing over the phone. “He wants you to have it. It will definitely help you with the case.” “Michael Hamann left you two videos that he wanted me to have?” “Yes…it’s a long story. But I believe it’s enough to help you close the case.” “Okay I tell you what, why don’t you ask Randy to send you up to see my Chief? I’m working closely on the case with him. You can trust him as much as you can trust me. I’ll get back as soon as I can.” “If you say so. Who should I look for again?” “Chief Matthew Lee. He should be in.” “Okay I’ll do just that. Thanks.” “No thank you for coming forward.” Kevin passed the phone to Randy and waited as he returned it to its original place. “He told me to see Chief Matthew Lee.” “Okay, you want to walk straight up this way and take that stairs to the second floor. Turn left and you’ll see his office. Oh, and you’ll need this.” Randy said as he handed him a visitor’s pass. “Thanks Randy.” “Oh, he might still be in a meeting in another room, so if he’s not there, just go in and wait for him. I’ll get Felicia to inform him that you’re waiting.” “Felicia?” “Our receptionist on the second floor.” “Oh, thanks again Randy.” “Anytime man.” - Kevin had a few difficulties in finding the office but with his visitor’s pass safely hanging around his neck, he managed to ask around and found it. He went straight to the window and took in the scene of the world outside from where he was. Soon, he kept telling himself. Soon, this will all be over. He heard the door creak open and turned to face the man who had just entered the room. “Mr. Kevin Richardson right?” Kevin swallowed hard. “Mr. Matthew Lee?” “Yes, I understand Inspector Weiss sent you to see me?” “Yes.” The man smiled and motioned for Kevin to take a seat. “I heard you have something that will help us in the Sarah Felding case.” Kevin mentally told himself to calm down. If he played his cards right, he could get himself out of this mess. He smiled nervously. “Well, here’s the thing.” - Nick felt sick to his stomach. Time seemed to stand still as he felt himself frozen on the spot; Brian’s panicked voice now nothing more than a distant echo. Kevin’s voice kept ringing in his head, telling him that he could do this, that he shouldn’t panic, but Kevin was wrong. Nothing was all right and he couldn’t do this. The room felt like it was closing in on him. Everywhere around him, chaos ensued. His stomach felt like it was being squeezed from the inside, the contents now making its way up to his throat. “Oh God.” He managed, before he clamped his mouth shut and made a dash for the restroom, leaving Brian to face everyone alone. He made it to the empty cubicle before he emptied the contents of his stomach. When he finally felt it was safe to get up, he did so with disgust as he flushed the evidence away. He walked out of the cubicle and rinsed his mouth out, before taking a good look at his own reflection. How did things get so messed up? He started pacing the spacious restroom, back and forth, trying to figure out what to do next. Where could Howie and AJ be? How can they never have showed up at Jive? Should he send Brian home to Atlanta before it was too late? Should he call Kevin or wait for his call? Where should he go? They didn’t even have a back up plan, did they? Nick felt the tears now trickling down his cheeks and he brushed them off the back of his hand furiously. What did he know anyway, he was just a kid! He heard himself scoff; a twenty five year old is no kid. He should know how to handle this situation. He groaned loudly. Who was he kidding? He had no idea how to handle it at all. Brian entered the restroom with both his hands shoved deep in the pockets of his jeans. The worried frowns back on his face. It was a stark difference from the smiling and laughing Brian as he kissed his wife goodbye and made faces to his son as they boarded the plane. “I called Kevin.” Nick stopped pacing. “Did you tell him?” Brian shook his head. “He never answered his phone.” “Oh God Brian…please tell me he’s okay.” “He might have turned off his cell since he probably was talking with the police.” Nick shook his head. “Kevin wouldn’t totally severe any kind of connection from us, especially not now.” Brian walked further into the rest room until he could touch Nick’s shoulder and gave it a little reassuring squeeze. “Think we should go and get Kev? Maybe we can make a report about D and AJ even though technically we need to wait for twenty four hours before lodging a missing persons report.” “I don’t care Brian, I’m done waiting around. Let’s go get Kevin.” Nick said, surprised by his own decision. Where did that come from? “Johnny won’t let us off that easy.” Brian pointed out. “Now that Howie and AJ are missing…how long has it been since we left Kevin’s house?” Nick looked at his watch, almost six. They had gone their separate ways at around noon. “About six hours now.” Nick said. “Brian, they can’t just attack Howie and AJ in broad daylight.” “And no one can corner them in a back alley…they were driving.” Brian said. “Unless Howie and AJ stopped by somewhere and got out of their car…buying lunch perhaps?” Nick suggested. “Nick, I honestly don’t know what to do, but I do know discussing it in a restroom won’t help much.” “I know another way out of this building. We just need to get the heck away from Johnny.” Nick said. “Okay, where do we need to be?” Nick smirked. “There’s a flight of stairs right at the end of this floor, it’ll lead us to the fire escape route and straight to parking lot.” “We can pull that off right? Come on buddy, how about it, you and me, like the old times?” - “Why is it that when we are in a rush there’s always a traffic jam?” Brian groaned as he started tapping his fingers on the wheel furiously. He had been redialing Kevin’s number for awhile now but it was always busy. Both Howie’s and AJ’s sent him to their voicemails. Frustrated, he turned to look at what Nick was doing when there was no reply from him at all. He had that laptop of his opened. “What are you doing there bud?” Nick didn’t even look up. “Trying to find Howie and AJ.” “Through the net? Did you plant some detecting device on all of us when we weren’t looking?” Nick smirked. “Why go to that extreme when we have the secret service?” “We do?” Nick nodded. He turned the laptop sideways so Brian could see the screen. “Look at this one.” Nick pointed. Howie & AJ stopped by my workplace today! Brian’s eyes grew wide. “You got to love Live Daily Brian, even though they scare me most of the time.” Nick clicked on the thread and read the post. Brian was still beside himself. He kept looking back at the road, making sure the light didn’t turn green. “Did she say where she was working?” Brian asked. “Burger King.” Nick replied. “And she mentioned them walking back to the car with two men she didn’t recognize. They were in suits.” “Ask her which BK, Nick. Those guys could be John Klass’ men.” “I would if I had registered to this thing Rok.” “You didn’t?” “You think I did?” “AJ did.” “He what!” “He did.” “The bastard! He made me promise not to register!” “Well…I’m sure some girls asked that…you just got to sieve through that thread.” Nick shook his head. “No, this is even better…this girl has pictures.” “Wow…” Brian exclaimed. “And she got it online this quick.” “Digi cam I bet…or cellphone.” Nick said as he clicked on the first picture. It was a picture of her and Howie, and while no one would have guessed it, Nick could see the fear in Howie’s eyes. The picture was very clear and rather big; it didn’t take Nick that long to notice one of the men in suits standing in the background, to the left, looking very pissed. “Brian look, that’s the guy we saw in the video, the one who was guarding the door. I can remember that face even in the dark.” The traffic turned green. Brian stepped on the gas pedal, knowing that every second that passed mattered even more now. - The first thing Nick looked for once they parked at the visitor’s parking area of the LAPD was Kevin’s car. He was delighted to see that it was still there. “Great, Kevin’s car is still here Brian.” “Oh thank the Lord!” Brian cried. “Lets get this done quickly and then we can-” Brian was cut off when his cell phone started to ring. One look at the number and his body hunched. “Hello Johnny.” Nick grimaced. “Yeah…we kinda…sorta…” Nick signaled for Brian to get off the phone quickly. “No we didn’t mean to just up and leave like that…no see…” Nick showed his watch. “Wait, Johnny, hold on a sec okay? Just a second…no I won’t hang up on you!” Brian groaned and looked at Nick. “I’ll handle this with him. I think he needs to know what’s going on too. I’ll catch up with you.” Nick groaned. He didn’t feel like seeing John Weiss alone. “Fine, just make it quick.” Brian just waved him off as he got back into the car to shield his eyes from the afternoon sun and went back to facing the wrath of Johnny Wright. - The first person Nick saw when he entered the building was John Weiss himself. He looked tired and seemed to have just entered the building himself, which puzzled the blonde. He saw Nick and even though he didn’t do it, Nick could almost feel John Weiss’ urge of rolling his eyes at the sight of him. As if his presence there just made his bad day worse. “As always Mr. Carter, visitor’s seats are over there.” John Weiss said, pointing to the lone bench. “I’m looking for Kevin actually. He came here looking for you.” “I know, but I wasn’t around and he talked to my Chief who called me to say that Kevin left.” Nick frowned. “He left?” “That’s what I said.” “But his car is still parked outside.” John Weiss groaned. “Maybe he came back again, who knows?” “I need to see him.” “Fine, I don’t have time for this.” John Weiss asked the police officer on duty at the front desk for a visitor’s pass and handed it over to Nick. “Walk straight up this way, take those stairs to the second floor, turn left, you won’t miss it.” “Thanks.” “Tell Kevin, whatever videos he has; he can let the Chief have them. I’ll get into it as soon as I can.” Nick just nodded and hurried up the stairs. Perhaps this Chief whom John Weiss spoke about could help them. Perhaps this Chief wouldn’t be so judgmental. He knocked on the door three times before the impatience in him made him turn the door knob and enter. To his surprise, there was no one there. Nick wondered if he had been in the wrong office in the first place, but the name plate on the door said Chief Matthew Lee. Should there be two Chiefs in the first place? He looked at his watch and realized that time was wasting away. He knew he had no choice but to talk to John Weiss himself, and hopefully get him to listen without throwing sarcasm every five seconds. “Ugh, screw this!” He was about to leave when he paused and backed up his pace. He had stepped on something. Bending down, he realized it was a broken silver chain that looked like the one AJ had given Kevin. You can get this anywhere Nick...doesn't mean anything! “Great, now I’m being paranoid.” Nick said out loud. He looked around and decided to place the chain on the desk. It was then that Nick saw it and felt as if his heart had just plummeted from the hundredth floor and went splattering to the ground. Chief Matthew Lee was the man with the shocking white hair in the video.

15 by mersey
15

A/n: Hi everyone! First of all, apologies for the late update. I had a minor block for this chapter and had like, 3 versions written for it, lmao. But I finally managed to clear those up so here is the final product. I would like to thank all 8 of you who reviewed chapter 14. Please check out my replies to your reviews. If there’s one thing Chaos’ site win over others, it’s this opportunity to communicate between readers and writers. I luff it!

Pps: Um…this chapter might end with you going ‘huh?’…sorry about that, things will be cleared up in the next chapter.

John Weiss knew something wasn’t right as he sat on his desk, staring at the reports that doesn’t seem to make much sense. They had hit a block in the Sarah Felding case and he couldn’t handle being in denial much longer. He thought they finally got the break they desperately needed when Kevin called him about some videos that Michael Hamann supposedly had left to him. Evidence of some sort, he was sure of it. It had got him driving back to the office as soon as he could, not wanting to miss out on this new lead, only to be disappointed that it had been a false alarm. Still, it puzzled him at how determined Kevin sounded earlier. Maybe Matthew didn’t look at it thoroughly. Maybe he missed out on a major clue, whatever those videos were about. “Ah damn it.” He sighed and dragged himself out of his chair. Stretching a little, he decided to ask Matthew Lee for the videos and see it for himself. Perhaps while he was there, he could find out what was it that had Nick Carter rushing down to see Kevin, who was supposed to be gone by then anyway. He passed by the front desk, where Officer Randy was stationed. “Hey Chief! Are you going to Chief Lee’s office?” “Yeah.” “Okay, could you remind the kid that he has to return the visitor’s pass on his way out later? Kevin forgot to return his.” John Weiss raised an eyebrow. “He did?” “Yeah. I was gone for a few minutes earlier on so I guess no one reminded him when he left.” “Maybe he hadn’t leave.” John Weiss said. Randy snorted. “Good one.” John wasn’t sure what that was about but decided to brush it off for now. “By the way Randy, when you said, the kid, you were referring to Nick Carter right?” “Yeah, that would be him.” “He’s not a kid anymore. You realized he’s 25 right?” “Oh I didn’t mean by age Chief. Just one look in his eyes and you know he’s still very much a kid. Nice kid that boy…sits and wait, never complains and always playing around with that side kick of his.” John decided not to say anything to that, knowing he would just get riled up and ended up arguing with the fellow officer. He walked away and towards the flight the stairs. Nice my ass. No nice kid would get drunk and then be that irresponsible to drive! Once on the second floor, he went straight for the door, passing by a few other officers without as much as a nod. “Gentlemen-” There was no one there except for Nick Carter, who almost jumped a feet high at his unannounced arrival. He thought he saw fear in his eyes. Or maybe guilt, he wasn’t too sure. “Where are they?” “Um…” Nick stammered. “There was nobody in here when I came in. I…I thought of waiting incase they’d come back but I guess I’ll just go wait at the bench, Brian’s waiting for me.” He rushed out of the room before John could even say anything. Dismissing his odd behavior, he called Matthew Lee using the office phone. He sat down on the swivel chair and looked around, trying to find a CD or a video tape that Kevin had brought in. There was none of those except for a visitor’s pass. Great, did the blonde one forget this too? “Chief Lee.” “It’s me.” “Yeah?” “Listen, I’d like to watch those videos Kevin Richardson passed to you. I’m in your office right now cause I didn’t know you left; so anyway, can you just tell me where I can find them?” “Well…” “Are you busy?” “Just driving.” Matthew Lee said, sounding distracted. “Look, I’m sure it’s on the desk somewhere, just look around for it.” “Okay I will. Thanks man.” “Yeah.” It shouldn’t be too hard to find a video tape or a CD in plain sight right? Where else could it- “That son of a bitch!” In frustration, he bolted out of the room and practically flew down the flight of stairs. He found Nick at the front desk, struggling to get his visitor’s pass over his head. “Hey, wait up!” John yelled across the room. Nick turned and again, he looked as if he was caught doing something wrong. He quickly shoved the pass to Randy and made a beeline for the exit, not waiting for John. “Hey, I said wait!” Nick Carter was dashing to the car park as John tried to catch up with him. He slowed down when he saw Nick started to look around for something. “Freaking lied to me!” John grumbled under his breath as he started running. There was no sign Kevin’s car anywhere, in fact, the black SUV was the only car parked at the visitor’s area. And not surprisingly, there was no Brian in sight too. And it was obvious to John that Nick was lying about waiting at the visitor’s bench. He was trying to make a quick dash! “Hey! Don’t you dare move!” John yelled as he increased his pace. Nick Carter didn’t seem to regard any of his instructions. He had climbed back in into his car and was starting the engine. By the time he reached there, Nick was already on reverse and about to speed away. “You won’t get away with this!” John yelled and then ran back to the other side of the parking lot, where the undercover police car was parked. He was going to chase down Nick Carter, if that’s the last thing he’d do. The first thing that Nick decided to do was to run back to Brian and tell him what he had just discovered. He hurried back down the stairs and passed the main desk, almost forgetting to return the visitor’s pass before making a beeline to the car park. All that time, Chief Inspector John Weiss was on his trail. Michael Hamann was wrong after all. They could trust no one. Not even John Weiss. He was Matthew Lee’s partner, in any case, they might just be working together! He was feeling sick in the stomach again, to a point where it felt like as if he had to throw up right there at the main steps of LAPD. But the thought of being chased by a man who already was hating his guts prevented him from doing just that. He made a run for the black SUV and swung open the driver’s door. “Brian there’s-” Brian wasn’t there. He closed the door and looked around. The visitor’s car park was nowhere near crowded, there was only one other person there then, and the man was about to speed off in his bike. There was no signs of Kevin’s Escalade. He felt a sense of failure. Not only had he managed to lose Brian, he was late to realize that Kevin was in great danger too. But it also meant that Matthew Lee was still around when they arrived and somehow, had managed to get Brian and Kevin to co-operate to follow him out of there, right under LAPD’s nose. He decided if he acted fast, he would still be in time to get his brothers back. Nick climbed back into his car and locked the door. John Weiss was yelling at him now. He knew he had nowhere to go but to find the guys before John Weiss realized that he knew the truth and called Matthew Lee up to kill the guys. He stepped on the gas pedal, took off and never looked back. There was one place Nick was sure he had to go to find the guys. The last place they’d think he would look for them – John Klass’ office, where it was constantly busy with supporters working their butts off for his campaign to notice that something strange was going on. - John Weiss was hot on Nick Carter’s trail. So far, he was doing good at being inconspicuous. Judging by the way the young man was driving, it was safe to say that he knew where his next destination was. He exited the main road and went for the high road, where hardly any vehicles passed through. “Where are you heading to kid?” John Weiss said out loud as he kept at a safe distance. Either Nick was really oblivious of the fact that he was being followed or he was leading John to some kind of trap. “Why would he have anything to do with this case anyway?” John said out loud again. “He’s got no motives at all.” Then again, the videos were missing from Matthew Lee’s office, and Nick was alone in there. And he did look suspicious. “But why would he take those evidence? It’s not like he’ll gain anything from it…unless…” Unless he was threatened? The screeching of a speeding car passing by pulled him back to the matter at hand. The driver was definitely going over the speed limit. He wished he could bust the person’s ass and put him to jail. Nobody else’s child have to die if they could just put drivers like them behind the bars. The white Mercedes was driving really close to Nick’s car and John even thought, for a split second, that there was no way that Nick could control the wheel should even the slightest contact occurred between the two. It all happened in slow motion, like in the movies. He saw a gloved hand coming out of the white Mercedes. He didn’t even notice the black gun until he saw the sparks of orange and the loud ‘pop’ sound as the trigger was pulled. The white Mercedes sped away as Nick’s car swayed uncontrollably, almost in zig zags. “Jesus!” John shifted gear and sped to where Nick’s car was. He was too anxious to get to him that a little miscalculation was all it took for both cars to collide in the middle of the road, leaving John to fend for his own life instead of worrying about Nick’s. The last thing he saw was a black silhouette coming towards Nick’s car and the last thing he felt was a sharp pain to his neck before he succumbed to darkness. - Johnny Wright knew that something wasn’t right with the picture he was seeing now. Everyone else was telling him that everything was all right but he wasn’t buying that. He had recounted the day’s event many times in his head, and every time, nothing ever adds up. “Guys look,” Johnny said once again. The room had been too quiet ever since his last attempt at conversation went downhill. “there’re only the six of us now in this room, granted that Nick is well…incapable of talking, you know we can trust each other right?” Kevin was the first one to show any kind of reaction. Brian was still busy rubbing the palm of his hand against Nick, perhaps hoping that the action could somehow wake him up. Howie was zoning off while AJ was busy biting his fingernails, chipping the black nail polish as he did so. “There is nothing to talk about Johnny.” Kevin sighed. “And about Nick…I’d rather we talk about it when he’s awake.” “There’re more than just Nick we need to talk about and all of you know what I mean. Now I’m on your side, but you have to tell me what’s going on.” “As oppose to whose side?” Howie asked unexpectedly. Ah finally out of the zone. “The side you guys seem to be afraid of.” Johnny replied. “Look, I would still be in the dark if it hadn’t been for what Brian told me when I called him this evening. After all that he told me, you’re not going to turn it around and tell me those were just lies.” “Fine, what is it that don’t seem to add up for you Johnny?” AJ asked in between biting his nails. “Well,” Johnny said as he leaned forward, hands clasped together in front of him. The only other sound in the room would be the beeping of the heart monitor, studiously keeping watch on the rise and fall of Nick’s heart rate. “for starters, you and Howie were supposed to be at Jive by two, but neither of you showed up. And then Nick and Brian came and started to panic when they found out both of you weren’t there. And to make things worst, they snuck out of Jive in the middle of our frantic search for you both. And how about when I called Brian and found out the whole thing about Kevin going to the police because of some videos a dead guy passed on to him? By the way, you hung up on me in the middle of me talking to you Brian, and then you stopped answering my calls and got me all panicked.” “I think we got it Johnny.” Brian frowned, as if to say that he had heard enough. “But I’m not done yet.” Johnny said instead. “I couldn’t get hold of any of you and here I was at Jive, unsure of what my next step to do. Do I call the police? Should I start making statements? What do I tell all the people we’re supposed to meet today to kick start rehearsals for your upcoming tour. Of course, I didn’t get to do all those cause next thing I know, we got a phone call that Nick here, was involved in a road accident, oh and get this, he was DUI too, and this time, there’s a casualty involved. Now tell me, do you honestly think that I would settle with ‘all right’?” Kevin left his gaze from Johnny and took another good look at his little brother now lying unconscious in the hospital bed. It would have been a normal sight to look at when you visit someone in the hospital, if not for the handcuff that was clutched on his left wrist and the other latched on the hand grip at the side of the bed. The police officer on guard right outside the room didn’t make him feel any better. “Johnny, we need you somewhere else right now. Urgent.” Lenni, the group’s PR, called out from the door. Kevin noticed she stole a glance over at Nick, the worried lines on her forehead seemed to age her by a few years. Johnny sighed in frustration. He was so close to having the guys open up to him. “I’ll be back, don’t move.” AJ seemed amused by that order. It sound like something you’d tell to a five year old. “Guys…I think he’s waking up now.” Brian exclaimed as he quickly pulled the blanket that was covering Nick from the waist down and covered the handcuff from view. He knew it would be a matter of time before Nick found out but Brian was willing to buy any amount of time just to put that off. Howie moved closer to the bed, his heart feeling heavier now than ever before. He had been telling himself that they could pull through this, that they’d get the break they needed and put everything behind them, but that hope seemed to be thinning faster every second. He watched Kevin rushing to the other side of the bed, carefully holding on to Nick’s hand as he gently pushed the blonde locks away from his eyes. That’s it baby, open your eyes. Yet another test for the five of them to face together. Looking at how twisted it had gone so far, Howie could only pray that they find a way out and survive this one.

16 by mersey
16

A/n: Hello again J I apologize for this rather late update, I wasn’t too sure where to leave this chapter at so I was going back and forth with my decision, lol. It ended kinda abruptly I think. Tell me if you find it confusing ok? And thank you much for all your reviews! Nikki, I do have a mailing list for my site. For some reason I can’t add the direct links here, lol...so this is the address : http://www.angelfire.com/weird2/mersey/mailinglist.html Oh and p.s. this chapter is unedited, lol. Mare was going to edit it for me but I had been very fickle about this chapter that it took me longer than it should to put this up. So apologies for the mistakes ;)

Earlier that day… “Well here’s the thing…” Kevin stalled, hoping to buy some time while his brain tried to come up with something quick to cover himself. He wished AJ were there, he always seem to come up with quick replies that for some reason, made sense. “You’re here to hand over some videos that Mr. Hamann supposedly passed to you.” “Yeah…well…” Kevin held on to the visitor’s pass still hanging around his neck as if it was his lifeline. “Did you watch those videos Kevin?” Matthew Lee walked over in confident strides, like a lion studying his pray, waiting for just the right moment to attack. “You mean the one he gave me?” Well duh Kevin. “Unless there’s a video that someone else gave you, I’m saying yes, the one that Michael Hamann passed to you.” “No I didn’t.” Kevin said as he smoothly took off the visitor’s pass, in hope that his casual reactions will stir the man off to another direction. “How did you know it’s from him then?” Kevin cleared his throat, placed the visitor’s pass on the desk and said, “He left a note.” “I see…and in that note, he told you to hand it over to John Weiss?” “Yeah.” “You want to know what I think Kevin?” “What?” Kevin asked, hoping that he looked and sound confident enough. Matthew Lee bent down, his face now inches to his ear that Kevin could hear his deep, steady breath. “I think you’re lying.” Kevin turned to face him. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Matthew Lee just smiled and went back to his seat. “Okay then, where are these videos?” “It’s in my car.” “You know, lying doesn’t suit you.” “I’m not. I’ll get it now. You can even come down and follow me if you want.” Matthew Lee sighed and nodded his head. He got up from his seat and approached Kevin again. “Stand up young man.” Kevin did as told and even though they were of the same height, Kevin couldn’t help but feel small. That was when his eyes went to the key that was still hanging on the necklace around his neck. “You might want to take that off before you lied.” Matthew said. “I was the one who went through your wallet. I remember this key.” He grabbed hold of it and in one swift motion, pulled it off. Other than a slight sting to the back of his neck, Kevin stood his ground. Matthew shoved the key into his pocket and dropped the chain behind. “Now why would a locker key be hanging on your neck?” “That has nothing to do with anything.” Kevin said firmly. “How do a dead man, send a message to someone? Obviously he wasn’t alive when you found those videos. I never really did think about that key until we got your call today. It all made sense now.” Kevin didn’t know what to do. Was it even possible to continue this lie? “Well, where were we? Oh yeah, you said the videos are in your car. I have a feeling you have it right here with you. But that’s okay, we need to take a ride anyway.” “Where are you taking me?” Matthew Lee laughed. “No, you’re driving Kevin. And you’ll just drive where I tell you to go, that’s all you need to know. Oh, but before we go, I think you’d like to know something else.” “I don’t think there’s anything I’d like to know from you.” “Even if it concerns your friends Howie and AJ?” Kevin almost caved in and he knew Matthew Lee knew that too. He tried to swallow the huge lump that seemed to be restricting his airway. “What about them?” “Lets just say a few friends of mine caught up with them on their way to Jive. Johnny won’t be too happy now that they’re a no show.” “You’re lying.” Kevin spat. “Maybe. Maybe not.” Matthew Lee smiled again. “Here’s the deal Kevin. We’re going to your car, and you’re going to drive us out of here. One false move and I’ll have my friends off one of them, I still haven’t made up my mind which Backstreet Boy that would be.” Kevin almost jumped when a phone started to ring. It wasn’t his. Matthew Lee placed his gun on the desk, facing Kevin. His fingers firmly on the trigger. “One false move and you’re dead.” He never left his stare on Kevin as he answered the call. “Yeah…oh?…good…I’ll take it from here.” He got off the phone and placed the gun back in the holster. “That was a very interesting call. Come on Kevin, someone’s waiting for us at the car park. Now remember what I said earlier, one false move is all it takes.” Kevin nodded and walked out of the room with Matthew Lee right behind him. He was about to back the same way he had came from when he felt a hard tugged to his arm. “Not that way. Turn left.” Kevin did as told and realized they were taking a secluded way out. It looked like a fire escape route. It led them to an underground parking lot, where the police cars were. Matthew Lee said his casual hi and small chat all the way until they were out and straight to the visitor’s parking lot. That was when Kevin saw Brian’s car. “Look Kevin, your cousin’s here.” Matthew mocked. “And Nick should be here too, my little birdie told me. Aren’t you glad?” Brian was on the phone, Kevin could see that now. Part of him wished that his cousin would realize what was going on and hopefully send the message across to whoever it was he was talking to and get some help. “Hey Brian.” Matthew Lee chirped as they approached him. Brian quickly hang up the phone and frowned. “We’re going to take a little ride. Where’s Nicky?” Brian stole a glance over at Kevin, there were fears there that reflected his own. “He’s not here.” “Ah, do lying run in the family?” “Nick’s not there.” Brian said again. “My little birdy said otherwise.” “Your little birdy is wrong.” Brian stressed. “I don’t think so.” Matthew smirked. “Well, we can’t wait for him, I’ll just have to think of something else for the kid. Come on now, get into Kevin’s car, we have a ride to take.” “You won’t get away with this!” Brian exclaimed. “We’re out here Brian and no one has yet to stop me. If you ask me, I say, I am getting away with this.” “I’m not going anywhere with you. I’ll just scream all I want and you’ll have no way to get me.” Matthew sighed and rolled his eyes. “Kevin, would you care to explain to your cousin why you have no choice but to follow me and not make any problems?” Kevin took a deep breath, resignation drawn on his face. It was painful to look at his cousin, who was so determined to fight this man, not knowing what was really happening. “They have Howie and AJ.” “I know that.” Brian gritted. Kevin raised an eyebrow. “Nick and I figured that much.” “Well then, you might also want to figure out that if you refuse to come with me, I’ll just make a phone call and have one of them shot.” Brian said nothing, there was still that defiance in his eyes that almost killed Kevin. Here he was, ready to give in to anything this man said, and there was his cousin, standing firmly on his ground. “Brian, please.” Kevin choked. Brian looked at him in disbelief. Kevin wanted to tell him, if anything good would come out of this, it’d be leaving Nick behind. As long as one of them was still free, there was a way out. There was still hope for the rest of them. “Well then, lets go, I’m sure Howie and AJ couldn’t wait to see you both.” - As Kevin made another late turn to the left, following Matthew’s instructions, his mind was still jumbled with what he could do to get them out of this mess. Pulling a hero and going off course wasn’t a choice now that Matthew was at the backseat with Brian, a gun aimed at him ever since they left the parking lot. He couldn’t risk getting Brian hurt. The ride had been filled with uncomfortable silence for what felt like forever. He would often steal glances from the rearview mirror to check on Brian. The last time he did, Brian looked the same as he had been since he was forced into the backseat. Rigid and cold. It wasn’t until they had exited the busy road and was on their way to a high road when Matthew’s cell phone rang. Kevin made sure to keep an ear on the one sided conversation. “Chief Lee.” “Yeah?” “Well…” “Just driving…look, I’m sure it’s on the desk somewhere, just look around for it.” “Yeah.” The call ended abruptly and Kevin noticed he made a phone call right after that. Again, it didn’t seem to help since Matthew never once mentioned a name. “He’s still there, I need you to handle that end for me.” “That would work.” “Yes, as long as it didn’t look suspicious.” “Get rid of that one too. It’s becoming a huge problem.” “Just like we talked about.” “Are you sending someone to take Nick too?” Brian asked, surprising Kevin. There was no air in his voice, it sounded like any normal question one would ask. “No, he’s got nothing that is of my interest.” “Good, cause he really has nothing.” “Now, now, Brian, I didn’t say I’m not going to hurt him though, did I?” “If you hurt him I swear I’ll-” “You’ll what Brian? Right now, you have to worry about yourself and Kevin here, cause last I check, this gun is still loaded and pointing at you.” That seemed to do the trick, because Kevin saw his cousin shrinking back to his seat and staring out the window. The rest of the ride was spent in silence again and Matthew hardly gave Kevin any directions since they were on the highway, there was only one way to go, and that was straight ahead. He drove for about another fifteen minutes when Kevin noticed a black Mercedes was following them from a distance. This was when he truly felt panic sinking in. What if they were going to kill them right there? No one would notice because there was no one else there with them. “Ok, see that sign board ahead?” Matthew said all of a sudden. Kevin squinted. It warned of a sharp turn ahead. “Yeah.” “Stop there.” “We’re in the middle of a freaking highway!” “And you’re going to stop by that sign board.” Matthew stressed. Kevin noticed the black car slowed down once he did. When he finally stopped at the side of the road, it pulled to a stop right behind them. “Okay, now, hand me those 2 tapes, I know you have them.” “I need to know where’re AJ and Howie and what are you going to do with Nick!” “I don’t think you have the right to ask me such questions seeing that my gun is still pointing at Brian right now.” “You think I’m stupid? You’re going to kill us once I give you what I have! We saw those tapes, you’re not going to let us go.” Matthew sighed, already impatient. “I’m not that stupid. I still have a case to run. If you or any of the Backstreet boys die, it’ll be a huge deal, especially if they died from a bullet to the head.” “I don’t believe that you’re going to let us go just like that.” Kevin said. “Believe what you want, either way, you’re giving me those tapes now!” “Tell us where the guys are first!” Brian exclaimed. “I’ll tell once you hand me those tapes. This is not a negotiation boys.” Kevin finally took out the envelope that contained the CD and the memory stick. He passed it to Matthew, knowing that the very things that will ensure their safety were about to be given to the very people who would kill them. “Nice. I was expecting video tapes, seems like I need to catch up on these technologies crap.” Kevin said nothing and Brian was still staring out the tinted window, probably wanting to not remember of the fact that he still had a gun shoved to his ribs. “Okay, listen carefully.” Matthew said once he slipped the envelope into the pocket of his jacket. “I can’t touch you because you’re a damn Backstreet Boys, but I can still watch your every move. I’m very good at that. This is what will happen. I’m going to destroy these evidence, no one will speak of it again, I’m clearing you off this case so you can go ahead and do what you do best, sing. If I ever hear a little birdie tells me you’re planning ways to break this little deal, you will be sure the next headline will be about your deaths. All five of you.” “You still haven’t tell us where the guys are.” Brian said. “Just like you, the rest of them should be on their way back to Jive. They took the same ride as you are right now. And these rides, they never happen. You understand?” Kevin nodded. “Good, now remember, we’re everywhere, and we’re watching.” With that, Matthew Lee walked out of the car. He paused once he was outside and knocked on Kevin’s window. Reluctantly, Kevin pulled it down. “By the way, you might want to turn back and drive back down the highway. Nick’s ride didn’t turn as smoothly as yours and the other two did.” Kevin’s eyes went wide in shock. What does that mean! “You son of a bitch!” Matthew smiled and shook his head. “Remember what I said Kevin, one wrong move and you’re gone.” “If something happened to Nick I’ll-” “Enough Kev, drive back down and get Nick!” Brian yelled at the backseat, already motioning him to get out of there. Kevin could still hear Matthew laughing at them as he started the engine again and made a turn back down the road. “Brian, call Howie, check if they’re safe.” Kevin said. Brian didn’t need to be told twice. He was already on the phone as Kevin sped on his way to find Nick… -- “That’s it baby, you’re doing great, just a little bit more.” Kevin said, almost whispering, as he watched Nick struggled with himself to open his eyes. When it finally seemed like Nick had settled down and knew where he was, a rush of emotions went through him. First it was the annoyed groan of being woken up and then the panic of recalling what had happened to confusion of realizing that all four of them were with him when they shouldn’t. “How are you feeling baby?” Brian asked, the lines of concern etched on his forehead. “Like a bad hangover…you shouldn’t be here.” Nick croaked. “We’re here, you’re not dreaming.” AJ said. “You were in a car accident Nicky.” Howie said, as if that explained the reason why they were still there in the first place. Nick shook his head. “No…someone shot me…while I was driving.” Kevin looked at Howie, both puzzled. AJ was already moving to reach the clip board at the end of the bed. Brian saw that Nick was about to raise his right hand again. He figured Nick was still too weak to comprehend a lot of things that were going on then, especially about the handcuff, and the possibility of hitting someone on the road and causing death. Especially not if that someone is Jason Weiss himself. He squeezed the firm hold he had on Nick’s hand now, wanting to keep it there for a while longer. “Nicky, you weren’t shot baby. There is no bullet wound on you.

17 by mersey
Chapter 17

A/n: Hi everyone! I know I’m seriously late with this update, I sincerely apologize if I kept you waiting. I know Azalea did…sorry for pulling a mare on you buddy! Lol…I truly appreciate all the reviews, you guys have been so kind! I replied to all reviews from chapter 16 so check them out okay? I’m so glad I finally get to finish this chapter, I had a rough time channeling the guys, lol.

Nick stared at Brian as if he had grown a second head. “I know when I was shot Brian.” “I’m sorry Nick.” It was all that Brian could say. He wouldn’t put it pass him that Nick was telling the truth. After all the madness they had all went through, he was sure Nick wasn’t delusional, but it was also difficult to explain to the young man what had happened when he was still feeling that weak. “We’re here for Mr. Carter.” Kevin turned at the sound of the voice. Matthew Lee was showing his LAPD badge to the police guarding Nick’s room, he was accompanied by Andy Myers, the sketch artist. Oh God, not him. He’s a nice kid! “We need to get a statement from him ASAP.” Kevin turned back to Nick, his eyes showing a hint of panic. “Nicky listen to me, I want you to pretend that you’re asleep, can you do that?” Nick’s eyes grew wide with question. “I promise you that we’ll tell you everything by tonight. Right now, I don’t want them to ask you questions. Do you trust me?” Kevin was whispering so softly that it somehow scared AJ. And Matthew Lee looked mad. To outsiders, it seemed like Matthew was distraught over losing one of his men, but AJ knew better. Matthew Lee was pissed that Nick had survived. “Nick please, close your eyes.” Kevin coaxed again. The footsteps were coming closer and the only thing separating Matthew Lee from seeing that Nick was awake was Kevin’s body. He couldn’t say anything else while Matthew Lee was within earshot but his eyes was still begging for Nick to trust him. “Mr. Richardson, if you don’t mind moving out, I need to speak to Mr. Carter.” Nick closed his eyes and within seconds, he looked as if he was peaceful, caught in a deep sleep. “He’s still not awake yet.” Kevin said after clearing his throat. “I was just saying goodbye, we’re leaving.” “Well, he won’t be any good if he’s still unconscious now.” Matthew Lee said. “I need to ask some questions from all of you, lets go outside and let your friend here rest.” Kevin didn’t miss the sarcasm either. “Of course.” Kevin said curtly and motioned everyone to leave the room. “Mr. Myers, you can stay here and look out for Carter. In case he wakes up.” It took a lot, but Kevin managed not to scoff at that. He didn’t want Andy to find out the truth. But it also means Andy is not bad. Brian was hesitant to leave Nick alone with a stranger, he couldn’t trust anyone out of their circle but he had to play along. Somehow, he knew they couldn’t afford to make another mistake, no matter if it was a small one. Nick tried to relax his body and not think too much, he couldn’t let the guys down and blow whatever cover it was that Kevin was trying to pull off. He heard the shuffles of footfalls filing out of the room. Soon it was back to silence. He fought with himself if he should open his eyes and check if he could see anything from his bed but the sudden shift of footfalls in his room made him stop. Was someone else still in his room? Nick, don’t open your eyes. Look, I know you’re awake, I caught Kevin talking to you earlier. I can help you guys. Get Kevin to call me okay. After that, Nick didn’t hear anything else. He knew though that Andy Myers was still around, he could feel his presence in the room. It felt like forever just lying there and pretending to be asleep when the person in the room knew he was faking it. And then he heard it again, the familiar voices of the other guys coming back to his room. “Did he even move a muscle?” Matthew Lee asked. “No. He’s fast asleep.” Andy Myers said. “Lets go then, we’ll come back later.” “Stay in touch boys.” Kevin didn’t even bother to hide his disgust and totally ignored the man. The entire ‘talk’ was nothing but Matthew Lee’s way of refreshing his threats to them. Andy Myers approached him and passed a sketch. “Hey, I’m sorry, my fingers tend to um…take a life of its own when I’m not doing anything.” Kevin took the sketch, which was the side view of Nick, lying in the hospital room. “I realized it’s intrusive of me to sketch that, so I’m giving it to you.” Kevin nodded. “Thanks.” “No problem…I’m sorry about your friend, I hope he’ll recover soon.” Andy smiled and quickly walked out of the room. Kevin thought that was odd. He was expecting Andy to hate Nick, especially for causing the death of one of his colleagues. Once they were sure that Matthew Lee was out of earshot, Brian pat Nick’s shoulder lightly and told him that it was safe for him to wake up. “Andy Myers knew I was faking my sleep.” Nick said the moment he opened his eyes. “What makes you think that?” Kevin asked. “He told me.” Nick said. “I didn’t open my eyes…he told me not to, and said he saw us talking and he wants to help. He wants you to give him a call Kevin.” “Me?” “That’s what he said.” “How am I supposed to do that? I don’t even have a number.” “Well that’s weird.” AJ thought. “Are you sure he didn’t give you his number Nick?” Brian asked. Nick shook his head. “I assumed you have it.” “Nope, I don’t have his number, I don’t think calling LAPD and asking for him for no apparent reason would be wise.” Kevin said. “Wait, he did give you that sketch.” Howie reminded him. “You mean this?” Kevin asked, waving the sketch of Nick faking his sleep. “Hey, I know where you’re going with this Howie.” Howie winked. “He couldn’t just give you his card when Matthew Lee was here and saying it out loud for Nick to remember is never safe. Nick might forget.” “I definitely would.” Nick confessed. Kevin studied the sketch as everyone else except Nick hovered to take a look. Everything seemed to be normal until he found Andy Myers’ signature at the right hand corner of the sketch. He had signed the sketch like any normal artist would, only that below his name, was a set of numbers that Kevin believed was the number to his cell phone. “I know this will sound weird, but I trust this man and believe he’s really trying to help us.” Kevin said. “Let me think this over before I call him.” “Good, because right now, I want you guys to explain to me what the fuck is going on.” Nick said. Kevin offered a small smile and explained everything. Going back to the day when he left the library to find John Weiss only to end up meeting Matthew Lee and realizing that he was one of the men in the video that Michael Hamann had secretly given him. Howie and AJ explained of their encounter with John Klass’ men while on their way to Jive’s HQ and being threatened to stop their meddling with the case. And then Brian explaining what happened to him and Kevin. Meanwhile, Nick lay in bed and calmly listened. “You mean, they expected us to live the rest of our lives with them watching our every move?” Nick asked. Howie bit his lips. “We don’t think they’re going to watch us for that long Nicky.” Nick frowned. “What do you mean?” “They’re gonna kill us and make it look like a bloody accident or something.” AJ spat. “Catch us off guard and kill us off.” Brian added. “The only thing that stopped them from killing us earlier is our ‘celebrity’ status.” Kevin said. “Putting a bullet in our heads will cause more problems for them.” There was a tensed silence for a few seconds that felt like hours before Kevin finally found the courage to speak up. “Nick, something happened when you lost control of your car.” “Kevin I swear I’m telling you guys the truth. A black car drove by me and I didn’t even see it coming until I heard the shot and felt a pain to my side. It wasn’t an accident Kevin.” “We know that baby,” Kevin said. “did you know John Weiss was following you?” Nick shook his head. “He was after me at the car park but I drove out so fast I didn’t even bother to see if I was followed.” “Well, he did.” Kevin paused. “ And when you lost control of your car, you hit his car and…the crash was bad Nick…he died instantly.” This time, they got a reaction from Nick. Confusion, panic, remorse. “Oh my God…Kevin, I didn’t know.” “Nick, the reason why there’s a police officer guarding your room is cause this is already a huge case. We didn’t want to alarm you earlier, but…” Brian couldn’t find the words to tell Nick. He unveiled the side of the blanket that was covering the handcuff and tugged at his wrist a little to get his attention. “Oh God no…It wasn’t my fault, I was shot!” Nick cried. “Nick,” Kevin said, now holding down Nick’s shoulder when he tried to get up. “I believe you, we believe you. But you have to calm down and listen to the rest of the story okay baby?” “Kevin I swear I didn’t even know he was following me! And I didn’t just lose control of the car, I was-” “There’s no bullet wound on your body.” AJ cut in. “But your blood test result said that you were heavily drunk and they found this anti-depressant drug Cipramil in the mix.” “What!” Nick cried. “I don’t use that stuff, you know that’d be stupid of me, especially after all-” “We believe you Nicky.” Howie assured him. “Just listen okay buddy?” “Nick, we…” Kevin couldn’t finish his sentence; he felt the tears brimming in his eyes and couldn’t hold it back. Nick was taken aback by the sudden meltdown and then realized that even Brian, AJ and Howie were crying at this point. He felt the veins in his wrist throbbed painfully, the handcuff seemed to be choking it tighter every second. “What happened Kevin.” Nick asked, his own voice almost betraying him. “We almost lost you Nicky…you overdosed on Cipramil, it gave a bad reaction when mixed with alcohol.” “You were blue when we found you.” Brian cried. “We thought we were late and that you were gone.” Now Nick understood why he felt like he had woken up to the worst hangover of his life. But it still wasn’t making any sense. He had lost consciousness the moment he felt the impact of his car crashing against something. The pain from the gunshot was enough to black him out. “We were told that you were driving under the influence and mixing alcohol with self-medication. You lost control of your car and it caused the accident and killed John Weiss.” Howie explained. “Do you believe that?” Nick asked, now his own tears were spilling. AJ shook his head. “We believe that someone pumped the alcohol and those pills in you while you were unconscious. To make it look like you were drunk and heavily drugged while driving.” “Look, you said you were shot right?” Kevin asked. Nick nodded as he tried to stop himself from crying. It never solved anything anyway. “I know that happened, I wasn’t just some fucked up imagination.” “You said someone drove by you and shot you right?” Kevin asked. Nick nodded. “Okay, there’s just one more thing we need to do to confirm our suspicions.” Kevin stood up and went to the left side of Nick’s bed. “Trust me on this one okay?” Nick nodded. “I need to take off your hospital gown for a bit. Just the top.” Nick said nothing so Kevin helped him up while Howie untied the strings at the back and Kevin carefully pulled the top down. Brian and AJ stood next to each other, trying not to gasp when they saw the dark bruises on his back, probably from the impact of the crash itself. “Can you raise your arm a little?” “Sure if it isn’t handcuffed to the bed.” Nick said grimly. “Right of course.” Kevin bit his lips, feeling stupid for the slip up. “Just as far as you can lift it then.” Nick sighed and did as told. Kevin quickly inspected the area near Nick’s chest and found a tender spot that had a fresh black and blue bruise. He softly pressed on it. “Jesus Kevin, are you trying to kill me!” Nick jumped as the touch sent fresh pain to his body. “Sorry.” Kevin apologized as he helped Nick pulled the top back again and Howie proceeded to tie the strings back. “Nicky, I think you were shot by blanks. There’s a bruise on your side, just under your chest.” “Which we bet will not appear on the doctor’s report.” AJ grumbled. “You think the doctors are in this too?” Nick asked. “Either that or John Klass will have his men alter the reports.” Brian said. “Or threaten the doctors with something.” Howie added. “The list just goes on.” Nick sighed, again his eyes caught sight of the silver handcuff. How could he get out of this one, he wondered. “It’s just my words against theirs. We can’t prove to anyone that I was shot by blanks.” “Well excuse me Nickolas, I take offend to that. While you were busy on the road being a solo rockstar, I was at home being productive by watching tv most of the time. And my favorite show happens to be CSI thank you very much.” AJ exclaimed. Nick frowned. “What is he trying to say?” Johnny was making his way back into the room. Kevin bet that anyone on the same floor as them could hear him from miles away. He felt sorry for the person who was at the receiving end of that lecture. He knew that they all were about to have their second serving at that soon. He smiled at Nick, assuring him that what AJ said was a good thing. “It means Nick, that AJ here is going to pull off some tricks and help you have concrete prove that you were shot by blanks.” Nick was surprised and hopeful. He doubted a tv show could help but he wanted to believe in it. He needed to believe that it could happen. “Johnny is one pissed off man, I suggest you pull off that faking sleep again so we don’t have to explain much to him.” Nick wasn’t about to argue with that. He wasn’t ready to confront Johnny. Faking sleep wouldn’t be so bad. And so for the second time that day, he closed his eyes. It appeared that closing his eyes weren’t bad at all. While he half listened to the guys pulling off some believable tales to feed Johnny and stopped him from asking too many questions, Nick also had the time to think things through. He believed that there was a bigger force at play, that there was a reason why it had to be Kevin who was at the wrong place at the wrong time that fateful night when he thought he was mugged. It all made sense to him now. The moment Kevin’s path crossed Michael Hamann’s, they were all brought together to play an important part in exposing John Klass and his men’s secrets. And Nick wasn’t about to waste it by sitting around and waiting to be killed. The moment Johnny Wright was called by Lenni again to face another problem that had arose, Nick woke up from his fake sleep with a grin. “Guys, I have an idea, and we only have one shot at it.”

chap 18 by mersey
Chapter 18

A/n: Hi again! Thanks for the encouraging reviews for Chapter 17, as always, I really appreciate them! Here’s the next chap for you! I *think* I have one more chapter to go before I end this story. 2 more at the most unless I find another mess to stick the guys into, lmao. “It’s me.” “I was just wondering if you’d call at all.” “I need to be sure you’re clean.” “Well, do you think I am?” “I’m not sure yet.” “But you still call.” “I’m desperate.” “I’d imagine.” “What makes you think Nick’s innocent?” “I don’t at first. You have to understand that John Weiss was a good man, he had quite a reputation around here. His death is a great loss to us.” “I understand, I’m sorry too. What changed though?” “You know Officer Randy? He-” “Yeah, nice guy.” “Well, he and I got to talking yesterday after we found out about John’s death and he told me that something wasn’t right. He said Nick dropped by yesterday looking for you. He left in a hurry and almost forgot to return his visitor’s pass. Randy was on duty and he had to yell at him to stop and give it back at the counter he was at.” “Was John Weiss running after him?” “Yeah, Randy said he heard John Weiss calling out for someone to stop but he didn’t realize he was referring to Nick. He also told me that when Nick hurried over to the counter and returned the pass, he looked sober enough. He didn’t smell any alcohol on him and his eyes didn’t look glazed, two things that he should easily detect on him.” “Did Randy mention anything else?” “Well, not really. But while we were talking, we realized a lot was amiss. Nick came by definitely not drunk at all, I mean, if he was that drunk to the point of overdosing in between that time, someone here would have noticed and have him arrested. So during the course of his visit here until the crash happened, he was moving right? So when did he have time to overdose himself?” “You have dirty cops working with you. Nick and I just happened to find the truth and got mixed in this chaos.” “We can help.” “You’re getting yourself in a bad mix.” “Look, we weren’t hands on involved in this case so we have no idea how far this case has gone but you need us as much as we want to help you guys out. The only thing we ask is that no one must know of our involvement.” “I understand. We have some ideas and you have the resources. If you’re willing to do this, we have something that you and Randy can help us with.” - Beyond anything else, the one thing Nick had difficulties in facing, was pure humiliation. He learnt that the police officer had to be anywhere he went to once the cuffs were off and that meant leaving the bathroom door ajar while Brian gave him a sponge bath. Even Brian’s attempt at rationalizing about the zero chance of an injured man jumping off from the fifth floor of a tiny bathroom window didn’t deter the officer’s decision. Making his way back to the bed proved to be just as painful as getting out of it. He didn’t tell anyone but he had been holding back the much needed bathroom break until Brian came at about eight in the morning. The officers who rotated shifts in front of his room had no trouble in telling him how much they hated him. Nick sort of understood that, he did after all, killed their own ‘kind’. “Could you please hurry up, I need to be out there.” The police officer asked Brian, who was struggling to tie the strings of Nick’s hospital gown on his back. “It’s the last one, you can put that handcuff back on if you want.” Brian said, just as cold. “I need to see your hands first.” The officer said. Brian waved his hands up in the air. “See, nothing here. You want me to jump and see if I have a key stuck somewhere in my body?” “No that’s fine.” The officer spat before putting the handcuff back on and quickly left the room. Brian went ahead to put the IV bag to it’s original place and noticed that it needed a refill, whatever it was they were feeding Nick. He stole a glance at the IV needle buried somewhere under his skin and couldn’t help but cringe. But within a second, Brian had managed to transform back into the positive, smiling Brian that Nick desperately needed to see. “Okay, one more thing to do and you’re set.” Brian grinned. “And what is that?” Brian motioned him to give him a second and went digging into his bag. He pulled out a baby powder. “Dab some of this on your neck here…and some on your face there…” Nick couldn’t help but let out a soft chuckle. “There ya go, all pretty.” “You really came in well prepared.” “Well, I didn’t remember this one though. It was all Baylee’s idea.” “Oh?” “Yeah, he wanted to come along and I told him I’ll be busy giving Nicky a sponge bath to be watching him.” “You really are serious about not telling white lies to your son.” Brian nodded. “And then he said ‘well daddy, you need to bring my powder so Nicky will smell nice just like me’ and he grabbed his powder and dunk it into my bag.” “Like a basketball?” “Like a basketball.” Nick fell silent as Brian went ahead to fold up the hospital gown Nick had on the night before and placed it in the disposable bin at the corner of the room. Everything that goes out of the room had to be checked by the officer on duty. Brian wasn’t envying their job at all. “Have you send some securities over to your house Bri? Just to play safe.” “I have. You don’t worry about that.” “Of course I worry. I don’t want anything to happen to them. Is Leigh freaked out?” Brian laughed. “You know, I think she’s more afraid for all of us just cause we’re still here in this city where they pretty much can do anything.” Nick stared at the handcuff and said nothing for a few seconds. “Last night I wanted to roll over on my side and totally forgot I got this thing on. Made the loudest noise ever, must be a record or something.” “Did you hurt yourself?” Brian asked, worried. “It hurts like a mother.” Nick said. “But that’s not the reason I’m telling you this. I sorta yelled out in pain and nobody came to see if I was okay. You remember that time when I got hospitalized for dehydration? All I had to do was groan and someone will come in and make it all better. Now, I’m just another white trash who got so drunk and killed a good man.” Brian leaned his head to one side and reached out his hand to touch the tip of Nick’s chin. “Hey, why the negativity now? We’re getting out of this mess Nick, all of us. They’ll know the truth soon enough.” Nick said nothing, still afraid to meet Brian’s gaze. “Nicky, before you woke up, we almost give up. You should see Kevin then…he thought it was his fault that he lost the two videos that will stop all this madness. We all thought there was no way we could prove to anyone what these guys were doing. We thought we were all doomed, just waiting for the moment they’d strike and kill us off and make it look like one huge accident and everything will be well in their world again. But YOUR idea…baby…I wish all the critics and the haters in this world can see what a smart guy you truly are.” Nick smiled, already feeling better about himself. But it didn’t last long when he saw Matthew Lee walking towards his room. This time, he had come alone. Brian noticed him too and the smile was gone from his face. He wished the others were there with them too but he decided he had to make do. Nick needed assurance and Brian was going to give him one. Let the gnome handle this. “Are you ready for this?” Brian asked Nick. Nick nodded. “Yep. It’s now or never.” “How fitting Nick.” Nick let a small smile, careful to not let it be seen by the Chief. The moment Matthew Lee was let in by the officer, he proceeded to close the door and covered all the blinds. “Wow, didn’t know road killers get special treatments.” Nick scoffed. Matthew Lee’s only reaction was to smile and took out his notepad. “This is how things are going down. You’ll be released in two days, upon which a press conference will be held for you. You WILL go out there and confess to all the charges pressed against you. And then you’ll live in a nice cell until a verdict is passed. Failing to do this, will ensure untimely deaths of the entire Carter clan. Now while we’re all aware of the dramas going around in your family, I know you never wish death upon any of them. Especially not to your sisters and brother. Are we clear?” “You’re not getting away with this.” “You want to try out that theory? Be my guess.” Matthew Lee challenged before going for Brian. “As for the four of you, life needs to continue as normal. I will have eyes following your every move, never doubt that. One false move and I’ll kill your mothers and fathers, wives and…son.” Brian almost lost his cool, he could feel the rush as blood blushed his face. “I see I hit a nerve there Brian. You’re welcome to challenge that theory too if you want.” Brian already had his mouth half opened, ready to give the asshole a piece of his mind when Nick suddenly cried out in pain. Even Matthew Lee was caught off guard and turned his attention back to Nick, who had a contorted look on his face while his free hand clutched his chest. It resulted in the IV needle being pulled forcefully off of his arm and making a mixture of white liquid and drops of blood mess on the bed. “Brian…I…can’t…breathe…” Brian sprung into action. He stared at Matthew Lee, telling him that he meant business. “You better get some help before they get suspicious of what went on in this room.” Matthew Lee ran for the door and alerted the officer to get help. He kept looking back to see Nick looking paler by the second. His cuffed hand wanting desperately to be free and his free hand spreading spots of blood all over his hospital gown. “Deep breaths Nick, you can do it baby!” “I…can’t…” After what felt like forever, a doctor came rushing in with a nurse. Seeing the mess, he frowned and quickly ordered the nurse to come back with the necessary items to stop the bleeding. He took Nick by the arm and patiently guided him to a series of slow and controlled breathing until his breathing was back to normal. He then proceeded to check his blood pressure and temperature. The nurse did an excellent job at stopping the bleeding while everything was still going on. Brian stood by him and held on tight to his cuffed hand, assuring him that he wasn’t going anywhere. “You’re doing great Nick, just take it easy and everything should be okay.” The doctor said before looking at Brian and then at Matthew Lee. “Look, I understand you’re doing your work, but you’re agitating my patient to the point that he had a panic attack.” “I couldn’t care less if he’s having a heart attack doctor. He’s a drunkard who just killed another human being, I’m here making sure justice is done.” The doctor seemed to grow impatient with Matthew Lee and that was exactly what Brian had expected. “Chief, I don’t think I’m making myself clear enough to you. Lets talk in my room, we’re not going to let my patient have another attack from our discussion.” Once they had left, Brian turned his attention back to Nick. He looked exhausted. He pushed the strands of hair from his face and carefully wipe the sweat from his forehead. The nurse was replacing the IV bag with a new one. “You really did a number on your arm Nick.” She said as she tried looking for another vein that she could use. “This will sting for a bit okay?” Brian didn’t think that Nick even bothered about what little discomfort he was going to feel. He was beyond tired. It didn’t take long for the nurse to complete the procedure and had that white liquid pumping into Nick’s body again. “I’ll come back in an hour for his daily medications, till then, make sure he gets enough rest.” Brian said his thanks and watched as she walked out of the room. The police officers were changing shifts and Brian busied himself with the fresh pair of hospital gown and blanket that the nurse had stopped by to change. He knew Nick would rather have his help in that department than a stranger. “Brian, I think I’ll wear this one for now. We can change to a new one later tonight.” Nick said. “Are you sure?” “Yeah…I don’t want to have to call the police again to get me off this cuff. I’m too tired to do all that.” “I’m sorry you have to go through all that. Does it hurt?” Nick tried moving his arm a little and felt the pain was already numbing away. “Nah, but the blood sure scares the heck out of me.” Brian squeezed his shoulder lightly and motioned for him to lye back down as he pulled the new blanket up to his chest. “You pulled it off brilliantly Nicky, now the guys have more time to do what they gotta do while Matthew Lee is occupied.” Nick was already half asleep but offered a small smile. “I deserve…an Oscar for that…” The last thing he heard was Brian’s soft chuckles before he allowed himself to succumb to the bliss of sleep.

19 by mersey
Chapter 19

A/n: *waves* Hi again everyone! Wow, I seriously need to apologise for this late update. I wrote this chapter a few days ago and got a brain fart for the next chapter that I totally forgot to post this chapter up, lmao. I thought I already did it, hee. So yeah, here it is…I’m writing the next chapter so I hope the brain fart is truly gone now, lol. Oh, special shout out to Nijntje...hehe...sorry i kept you up but im truly flattered :) to all my regular reviewers...you have NO idea just how much this means to me :) i replied to all you guys, so check it out k? ;o)

1 minute to press conference “Is Kevin here yet?” Nick asked, his eyes darting around the crowded room, looking calm. No one knew what was going on inside him though; the small signs of an incoming panic attack still broiling. Howie caught hold of Nick’s arm and squeezed it just enough to catch his attention. “He will come Nicky, he just called Brian fifteen minutes ago.” “Well a lot can happen in fifteen minutes.” AJ said, as he too, looked around the room hoping to find Kevin. “Nice AJ.” Howie glared. “Nick really needed to hear that.” “I’m just saying that I understand. Kevin better get his ass here right now so I can stop worrying.” Brian walked in to the room after successfully dodging his way through the crowd. Where they were now, Howie couldn’t even tell who were working for John Klass. They couldn’t trust anyone. “Okay,” Brian said as he exhaled. “it’s safe with me for now, I’ll put it up whenever you give me that cue.” Nick nodded, unsure of what to say. There was no way that anyone would doubt him after seeing what they had planned but he also realized there was no room for error, they only get one shot. And for some reason, Nick felt as if he couldn’t pull this through unless he knew Kevin was there with him. He needed his brothers to be here, when he go out there and reveal everything. “Brian, can you try Kevin again? What’s taking so long?” Nick asked for what had seemed like the hundredth time for the guys. “It’s okay Nick, I just called him again like five minutes ago, he said he’s stuck in traffic.” “I have a song for that one.” AJ blurted. “You have a song for what?” Howie asked. “Stuck in traffic.” AJ said matter of factly. “I got stuck in traffic one time on my way to an AA meeting and I just got this sudden rush of thoughts about hooking up with some stash it was horrible.” “So…you create a song instead?” Nick smirked. “Atta boy! A song it is.” “Good, make that your drug and you’ll be fine.” Brian said, patting his shoulder lightly. They fell into yet another tensed silence as people around moved in and out of the room. Johnny for once, had been MIA. Last that Nick heard, he was trying to get in touch with Nick’s lawyer for some last minute advice, since the man himself was given the news earlier that day. Matthew Lee had made it his mission to make sure that none of them spilled of what was to come to anyone else. He knew if Johnny was given ample time about this press conference, he would be able to pull out some tricks to prevent Nick from having one. Nick didn’t feel so hot. “Are you sick?” Howie asked, already about to get the back of his hand on his forehead. Nick dodged away and snickered. “Did I say that out loud?” “You did kid.” AJ smirked. “Are you sure you’re up to this Nick? I mean, we can always ask your lawyer to straighten things out for you.” Brian offered. Nick shook his head. “I can’t put anyone at risk right now. He expects me to go out there and make a statement and that’s what I’m gonna do.” “Nick-” “Brian, for all we know, they have someone parked right outside your house right now and he’ll make one phone call and you’ll never see your wife and kid again.” Brian went numb. “He wants me to be out there, I can’t ruin his plan. Look, I promise you, by the time I break the news, the police will get him and John Klass so fast, he wouldn’t even know what hit him. He’s not gonna have any time to make a damn phone call.” Brian was about to say something when they heard someone calling out to Nick. It was Johnny Wright, with Nick’s attorney, Bryan Watts in tow. “Okay look, before you even say anything, could you at least please hear Bryan out?” Johnny exclaimed when he saw Nick’s dark mood rising. Nick said nothing and he took it as his one last chance to make him see why his rash decision to have a press conference was suicidal. He motioned Bryan to start. “You don’t have to do it Nick. I can go out there and make a statement on your behalf.” Nick shook his head. “I can do this myself.” “It’s going to get ugly out there, I don’t want you to feed yourself to the sharks! Look, investigations are still on going, you don’t have to say anything for now. Lets not rush into this Nick.” Johnny urged. “Johnny I freaking killed a man! I’m going out there and tell the damn truth and the law can do whatever they want with me.” Nick cried, forgetting they weren’t alone in the room. “You’ll clear my name from the drinking charges because I’m innocent about that, but nothing can change the fact that it was my car that hit him. He’s dead because of me.” Bryan came forward. “I know that Nick, but if you go out there, you’re giving prosecutors a lot to use against you in court.” Nick felt lost. He wished he could tell the truth. He wished they would all shut the hell up. He knew he was about to fly off the handle at that point; sometimes, he wondered if Johnny was really worried about him or what setbacks his actions was going to put on the group. “Hey guys, I think this is Nick’s decision, just let him do what he wants okay?” Brian interrupted. “Just this once, let him do what he wants.” No one got to say anything else, Matthew Lee came and swiftly took Nick away. The last thing Nick heard was AJ telling him that they would all be in the room, watching him on TV. He smiled and left. The conference hall was packed. He didn’t realized just how much the media cared about this. Anything to sell a story these days. “Just read from this and everything will work out fine for everyone.” Matthew Lee whispered to him as he passed the piece of paper to him. He didn’t even bother to look at it as they approached the podium. He stood next to Nick and instantly the flashes of light went off like fireworks. Except there was nothing to admire in those lights. When the crowd finally died down, Nick cleared his throat. He looked forward but saw nothing but this huge blinding spot – the effect of too much flashlights going off on him. “I have a statement I’d like to make and I just want everyone to know that what I’m going to say is the absolute truth. It sounds crazy but it’s not…” Nick took a deep breath, ready to crush the piece of paper that contained webs of lies. In his head, he saw the police officers coming forward and arresting Matthew Lee while everyone snapped the shocking moment and have it printed on the front page of all newspapers and tabloids. “The truth is…” Do as told and you’ll see Kevin again. Nick did a double take. He couldn’t believe what he was reading. He turned to Matthew Lee. He was looking at Nick as if everything was doing well. He even smiled at him. “Go ahead Nick, tell them.” He turned to the expectant crowd, everyone looking back at him, waiting for his next move. They have Kevin. They have Kevin. They have Kevin. Nick knew now what he had to do. He couldn’t take any chances now that the game had turned. He read through the first paragraph of the typed statement and found himself swallowing hard. This couldn’t be happening. “Nick, they’re waiting.” Matthew Lee whispered. Nick nodded, not even once did he look back to the crowd. This was it, his ‘truth’. “A week ago, after having too much to drink, I drove myself to Jive for a meeting. I was aware that I was…” Nick felt himself choked up. What if they already killed Kevin? “I was…under the influence of alcohol…” Didn’t Kevin said something about killing them off and make it look like an accident? “I lost control of my car while on the highway and I failed to prevent it from smashing into an incoming vehicle.” What if they made Kevin died in a road accident? -- Brian was pacing around the room. There was no one there except for the guys along with Johnny and Bryan. Howie and AJ were at a lost for words, this wasn’t in the plan. “This is not looking good Johnny.” Bryan said as he studied Nick. “He’s giving way too much info, the prosecutors are gonna have a field day if we file to retract that sentence. I thought he made it clear he wasn’t drunk.” “I don’t know what’s going on anymore!” Johnny exclaimed. “We should get him out of there.” “No!” Howie yelled almost instantly. “Something’s going on here. Why would he want us to prove his innocent and then went off and admit to the world that he was drinking!” Johnny questioned. “Maybe he told you that so you won’t hold him back, ever thought of that?” AJ said while his gaze was still fixed on the tv screen. Nick was struggling through his statement, his hands were trembling, he was fighting hard to control his tears, he could even see snots coming out of his nose. Nick was in a total mess. And what puzzled AJ the most was the fact that Nick didn’t carry out his plan. “Are you trying to tell me that he was drunk that day?” Johnny asked. “Did you get the doctor’s report?” AJ asked. “Didn’t it show you that his alcohol level in his blood was high?” “I know, but-” “But you think there’s a huge conspiracy going on and you think you can fix it.” AJ said. “Well there’s nothing to fix here Johnny.” AJ tuned out the heated conversation going on in the room, there was no point arguing now. He watched as Nick was being escorted off the podium. Matthew Lee boisterously putting the handcuffs on him. Two police officers had to lead Nick back because he almost passed out. There went one for the tabloids to print. “They’re taking Nick away.” AJ announced. Johnny and Bryan rushed to try and stop them. Perhaps Bryan could work out a plea for bail. Anything to keep Nick out of prison. The room fell silent as the three remaining Backstreet Boys faced each other. It seemed like no one dared to voice out their thoughts. But AJ doesn’t need to hear them, he knew they were all thinking of the same thing. John Klass had Kevin. The question on everyone’s mind was, did he hid him somewhere or killed him.

20: 3 Days Grace by mersey
20 : 3 Days Grace

A/n: Hi everyone! Firstly, I’d like to once again say a huge huge THANK YOU for all your reviews! I meant to finish this at chapter 20 but I think this will go on for a few more chapters, lol. Okay this chapter is rather confusing, lol. I’m trying to fill in the gaps for you and show you the exact events that took place prior to Nick’s press conference. To help make it less confusing, I’ve added excerpts from previous chapters before every new scene to help you along. And the events are told from the most recent to back from 3 days before, so you’re reading it backwards…the main purpose is once you’re done reading this chapter, it should be clear to you what happened but if it’s confusing you, do tell me okay? I’ll try to explain it to you in my next update.

“Is Kevin here yet?” Nick asked, his eyes darting around the crowded room, looking calm. No one knew what was going on inside him though; the small signs of an incoming panic attack still broiling. Howie caught hold of Nick’s arm and squeezed it just enough to catch his attention. “He will come Nicky, he just called Brian fifteen minutes ago.” 15 Minutes to Press Conference Brian was pacing the corridor, unsure of what to do. Something must have gone wrong, he knew it. He felt if he was in that room for another second, he would die from all the tension that the guys were boucing off each other. Where was Kevin when you need him? "Speak of the devil." He mumbled when his phone started to ring. It was Kevin. "For the love of God, where are you?" Brian looked around, it was safe to talk. "I can hold my...get your butt here quick, I swear Nick is only seconds away to a nervous breakdown." Brian let his guard down at the good news Kevin just told him. "Thank God." - “They’re taking Nick away.” AJ announced. Johnny and Bryan rushed to try and stop them. Perhaps Bryan could work out a plea for bail. Anything to keep Nick out of prison. The room fell silent as the three remaining Backstreet Boys faced each other. It seemed like no one dared to voice out their thoughts. But AJ doesn’t need to hear them, he knew they were all thinking of the same thing. John Klass had Kevin. The question on everyone’s mind was, did he hid him somewhere or killed him. 30 Minutes to Press Conference As promised, sure enough, Kevin found the A4 size envelope right under table No.4 of Jack's Cafe. It's a small diner located near the train station. Kevin was also thankful that the place was not hip enough for teenagers to hang out at. That would have caused him a lot of trouble. Taking his time, he took out the content and found 2 pieces of paper. One was the original result while the other was a copy, as promised. He folded the copy into half and shoved it into the pocket in his jacket while he placed the original back into the envelope. He scribbled a note and slot that in as well. He sealed the envelope and wrote the address and proceeded to stick the stamp. Always have backups. The morning air was refreshing and the moment he slipped the envelope into the mailbox, he felt exhilarated. Glancing at his watch, he realised he was running out of time. The guys must be wondering where he had been. As he walked his way back to the car, he decided to give Brian a call. Brian answered after the fourth ring. "Hey cous." Brian sounded pissed. "I'm on my way, hold your horses." Brian didn't seem to appreciate his little attempt at ligtening things up. Nick's near breakdown must have stressed Brian up. "Look, if I don't make it in time, just tell him to tell the truth. I have the results back from the lab. Randy did an awesome job, the CSI dude who helped said there is gunpowder residue on Nick's shirt. And not only that Bri, they found something else on his shirt that support our theory about the whole alcohol thing in his system. I have the results here with me." After ending the call, Kevin felt the need to fasten his pace. Nick obviously wanted him to be there when he had the press conference, perhaps, knowing that the rest of them would be nearby to lend their support, it'd make him feel much better. Plus, they were only minutes away from revealing the truth. After today, John Klass and his men will rot in prison and Nick will be free from all DUI charges and causing the death of John Weiss. Everything felt like they were going the way they had all planned it. That was until he unlocked his car to find one of John Klass' men sitting on the passenger seat waiting for him. Kevin knew then that he wouldn’t make it in time to see Nick. And chances are, Nick would be forced to lie through his statement. For the lack of a better word, Kevin knew they were fucked. - Brian nodded. “And then he said ‘well daddy, you need to bring my powder so Nicky will smell nice just like me’ and he grabbed his powder and dunk it into my bag.” “Like a basketball?” “Like a basketball.” 2 Days Ago Every movement Brian made felt robotic. His mind was racing a million thoughts at the same time, wanting to make sure he had everything he needed before he left. He guessed anything was bearable as long as he lost focus on the fact that his unhappy wife was still sitting at the edge of their bed, staring back at him. "Well, can we follow you back to LA?" He didn't know what to say, how to make it easier for the both of them. All he ever wished was for his family to be as close to him as possible now; Leigh and Baylee are his security blanket. But Brian also knew he had to make the wise choice and leave them behind. The farther away they were from him, the safer they would be . "Baby you know that's impossible." Brian said. "I told you i was lucky enough to fly back this morning, I cant stay long, I'm leaving tonight, and alone." The guys had convinced Brian to fly back home in one of Wright's private jet along with a couple of their bodyguards so that they could keep watch of the house while Brian was in LA. It wasn't difficult to convince Johnny to use the jet, it was however, when it comes to requesting for the two bodyguards. Kevin of course reasoned that news of Nick's accident would spark a lot of media attention and they wanted to make sure that Leigh and the baby are protected from unnecessary scenes. "No it's not impossible. All we have to do is pack and hop on that plane." Leighanne said as she picked a blue crayon for their son, who was preoccupied with a coloring book in the middle of the bed. Brian sighed and shoved another shirt into his bag. "You know it's much more complicated than that." "Brian, i can't sit here all day just worrying about you." "And i will not stop worrying about you and Baylee if you're with me in LA. It's too dangerous right now." Brian reasoned. "Besides, the guys and I agreed that we should take care of this on our own. We don't need to give them anymore reason to hurt anybody else that we love. You're safe here." Leighanne sighed again, knowing that her husband was right. "How is Nick?" "Good...he's got color back in his face." "I meant emotionally." Leigh said. "The whole DUI thing." "I know he didn't do it Leighanne, I'm going to do my best to clear his name...and everything else." It was then that Baylee lost interest in his color book and noticed that Brian was packing his bag. His son was also old enough to know what that means. Daddy is going away again. "Daddy, can I come?" Brian stopped his packing and looked up to his son, who was looking back at him expectantly. He smiled. "Aww not this time buddy, Daddy has to take care of Uncle Nick for awhile." At the mention of Nick's name, Baylee practically jumped off the bed and started pulling out his mini tour bag that he loved putting next to Brian's. Pretty much everything of Brian's now has a mini one for Baylee. "Nick will play with me!" Baylee squeal. He started belting out the chorus to I Just Want You To Know. I ja want you to woah I been tying to wet you go Brian stole a glance at his wife. He could tell by her look that she was expecting him to explain it to their son why they couldn't come with him this time around. "Baylee, I'm afraid Daddy can't take you for this one buddy." "No!" Baylee shake his head. "I want to play with Nicky!" Brian sighed and sat on the floor and patted his lap. Baylee dragged himself and sat on his lap. "Nicky is sick and Daddy is going to take care of him now...get him all showered and clean. Once he's all better, you can play with Nicky again okay?" "Well Daddy, then you need to bring my powder so Nicky will smell nice just like me." Baylee got up from his lap and quickly ran to the small wheeled box where he kept all his toys and came back with a small pack of baby powder in hand. Brian looked at his wife in amusement. "I have NO idea how that get in there." Leigh said. Baylee dunked the powder into Brian's bag and started to wipe his hands together in satisfaction. "Now you're ready Daddy." - “You have dirty cops working with you. Nick and I just happened to find the truth and got mixed in this chaos.” “We can help.” “You’re getting yourself in a bad mix.” “Look, we weren’t hands on involved in this case so we have no idea how far this case has gone but you need us as much as we want to help you guys out. The only thing we ask is that no one must know of our involvement.” “I understand. We have some ideas and you have the resources. If you’re willing to do this, we have something that you and Randy can help us with.” “So where do we come in and help?” Andy Myers asked almost too eagerly. "Okay I'm going to ask you this for the last time, are you sure you're willing to help?" "Kevin for the last time, the answer is yes." Kevin smiled. "Just making sure...any minute now Michael Lee will be leaving, he just gave the doctor here a call, so he'll be coming here to check on Nick again. We're going to try and stall him as long as we can. We need you to get online from Nick's laptop and have his memory stick that he attached on his keychain on standby. We believe they're now in LAPD's possession. I'll give you further instructions then." "Okay that will take sometime Kevin but I think we can pull it off since we're not taking away evidence from there." "Well, it'd be better if you can replace the memory stick with an identical one. The best would be replacing the laptop too but I know that's too much to ask." "Okay look, i'm sure there's a way, i'll have to check with Randy. I can tell you right now the memory stick is no biggy but the laptop is." “That’s okay, as long as we get the file stored there.” "Okay, we will work on that." "Good. There's another thing." "Speak." "I'm not good at this, I'll have to pass you to AJ." "Sure, and Kevin?" "Yeah?" "You're right, Lee just left." Kevin turned to face AJ, who was sitting next to him in the car. "Lee just left, all yours Grissom." AJ rolled his eyes and took over. "Hey man." "Hey AJ, what've you got for me my man?" "Well, Nick keeps saying that he was shot by a guy from a car that passed by him that day." "But he doesn't have any bullet wounds." "That's right. So we did our own body check on him to show him he wasn't shot, and we found a sorta roundish wound at the area where he said he was shot." "Did you take a picture?" "Yeah we did," AJ said, stealing a glance over at Howie at the backseat. He seemed preoccupied with his own little world. "I thought maybe-" "You want us to check for gunpowder residue." "For a blank bullet, yes." "Okay AJ, i'll be honest with you...what you asked for, they're almost impossible, but we'll do our best okay. Just...stall him as long as you can. And give us a heads up once he leaves the building." "Will do. Thanks bro, for everything." "Just doing the right thing man. Take care." "You too, bye." AJ didn't know why, but suddenly the car was getting too stuffy for his own liking. The hospital carpark was packed, Kevin had assured him that they wouldn't stick out like a sore thumb there. He turned to look at Howie again, who now had given him his utmost attention. "It's time Howie." Howie nodded. "Ditto." He moved to open the door but paused and turned back to look at them. "Try not to burn yourself in here, I'm out doing what I'm good at." "Spying?" AJ said, raising his eyebrow. "I didn't know that man is good at that." "Well," Kevin shrug. "he's Trump Jr. how do you think he always make sure he's top at his game?" - Brian squeezed his shoulder lightly and motioned for him to lye back down as he pulled the new blanket up to his chest. “You pulled it off brilliantly Nicky, now the guys have more time to do what they gotta do while Matthew Lee is occupied.” Nick was already half asleep but offered a small smile. “I deserve…an Oscar for that…” The last thing he heard was Brian’s soft chuckles before he allowed himself to succumb to the bliss of sleep. The moment Nick's eyes closed, the crease on his forehead disappeared. The look of pain that was just seconds ago visible to Brian, now ceased to exist. Nick looked peaceful in his sleep and Brian was thankful that God created such a habit called sleep. The best escape from reality. He walked further away from the bed, careful not to stir Nick from his sleep and after he was sure he wasn't within earshot of the police officer stationed outside the room, he speedialed the familiar number. The call was answered after the second ring. "D? He's in the doctor's office. Can you see him?" "Yeah, I'm nearby. I'll be keeping watch. How are you?" "I'm good. Nick's asleep." "Good, good. Okay, i should go...you're off duties now Littrell." Brian couldn't help but chuckle. All they need now are walky talkies. "Over and out!" - AJ had his laptop already logged online by the time Andy called back. "Wow, that was fast." Kevin said on the phone. "Good, that's good." AJ found himself biting his nails and stopped himself. Chipped black painted nails weren't really attractive. "Okay, do you have AIM account? Good...what's your sn?" Kevin turned to AJ and tapped his shoulder. "It's Andy Warhol." AJ had to laugh. "Good one Andy." He entered the SN and sent an invitation to chat. "I'm in." "What? Sex you up?" Kevin looked at AJ, frowning. "What? You gave me FIVE minutes to create a name, i just made one that's on top of my head!" AJ defended himself. "Yeah, that'd be AJ." Kevin said into the phone. "Okay, now i want you to look at the files on the desktop. There's one called 'smoopet'...yes, S,M,O,O,P,E,T..." AJ almost lost it. Only Nick. "Okay, send that one over." Kevin turned to AJ. "Ready to accept file." "Yes Kevin, I'm here staring at the screen, not going anywhere." Not seconds after that, he received the transfer and quickly saved it into his drive. "Okay, it's downloading. send the other one now, I can take 2 downloads at once." "Okay Andy, there's only one file in the memory stick, send that one over too...on it's way now J." "Ditto...okay, saving." "Andy, i need you to make the same copy into the original memory stick and then replace it with the one you brought along. This way, you have a copy and we have another." Kevin said as he took another glance around the carpark. Matthew Lee's car was still there and no signs of him. "Okay, transfers done." AJ announced. "We're good here Andy. Thanks for everything man. I look forward to the gunpowder result...you too buddy, take care." - Matthew Lee spent a good an hour in the doctor's office before he left to check on Nick again. Brian was on role too because he kept Matthew Lee entertained for another thirty minutes before the man left. And judging by the look on his face, he was nowhere near feeling better than when he first came. Howie hoped Kevin and AJ would pull another stall at the carpark to give Andy more time. "Kevin, he's on his way down." Cutting the phone call short, Howie let out a huge sigh of relief and walked back to Nick's room. His job is done for now. - 3 Days Ago The moment Johnny Wright was called by Lenni again to face another problem that had arose, Nick woke up from his fake sleep with a grin. “Guys, I have an idea, and we only have one shot at it.” Kevin shook his head. “I don’t see how, whatever your plan is, can convince anyone to believe our story Nick, I lost both the CD and the memory stick…it’s our only way out.” “Not exactly.” Nick said almost in a whisper. Only seconds ago, he felt as if he could leap out of bed and does the jiggy for his ‘little’ plan; but the thought of doing that now almost made him nauseous. “Remember the memory stick? Well, after we watched it, I made a copy-” Nick couldn’t finish his sentence, AJ had practically lunged on him in a huge hug and repeatedly claiming him a genius. He finished it off with a sloppy kiss on his cheek before letting Nick go. “God AJ…” Nick whined. “Someone clean his germs off me.” Brian was laughing softly as he reached out and wiped Nick’s cheek with his bare hand. “Honestly Nick, I think you liked it.” “I bet he does.” Howie added as he moved to sit at the edge of the bed and swiftly rested his hand on Nick’s leg. He started giving it light massages, as if it was the most natural thing to do. “Man, that feels good.” Nick smiled. “Okay guys, can we get back on topic?” Kevin asked. “Nick, how…when?” Nick shrugged. “Remember I told you I bring my memory stick with me everywhere I go right? I know if things screwed up, we need a back up plan.” “You’re a genius, have I told you that?” AJ said. “Only 13.5 times.” Brian said. “So yeah, I made a copy into my memory stick.” “Wait, that’s for the video we found in the memory stick…we didn’t have a copy for the CD though. We didn’t even finish the video.” Kevin said. “I have that backed up in my laptop Kevin.” Nick said. “While we were watching it, I ran the burner programme as well so it’ll make a copy as we watched. But it cut off where we stopped.” “A freaking genius!” AJ declared once again. “14 times now.” Brian kept count. “Great, this means we still have a chance to stop all these madness.” Howie said. “I say we go straight to the public with it.” “Not that easy D.” Nick interrupted. “My memory stick and laptop were in the car. I’m sure by now they’ve become LAPD’s property. And even if we get our hands on it, it’ll solve everything except my DUI charges. They found alcohol in my blood, how can I challenge that?” “No wait, calm down. Lets think this through.” Kevin said. “We need to get our hands on those two things and I think I know the right person to call.” “Andy?” Nick asked. “I did say I was going to give it a try right?” “How about Nicky’s problem?” Howie asked. “The alcohol was in his blood, and for once, I don’t think the doctors are behind this.” “And I do feel like I just wake up to the worst hangover of my life.” Nick admitted. “Like I said Nicky boy, leave that up to AJ.” AJ beamed. Brian smirked. “Oh yeah, what is this ingenious plan of yours McLean. Do enlighten us all.” AJ beamed even brighter if that was possible. “First, we need to take a good picture of that bruise before it disappears.” “I can do that.” Howie said without even stopping the massage. Nick was eternally grateful. “You bring camera everywhere you go Howie D?” Kevin teased. “No, but I do bring my cellphone everywhere.” Howie replied. “And it’s equipped with a 6.0 megapixel camera baby.” “I take it that means good.” Kevin said. “Good enough for a clear picture.” Howie replied. “Well, that’s taken care of. What’s your next big step Obi Wan?” Brian asked. “Retrieve the shirt we need.” AJ said, mimicking the star wars character. “And then get someone from the Crime lab who is clean, to process it for gunpowder residue. In this case, to find any traces of blank bullets. Trust me, it can be done.” “It still doesn’t explain the alcohol.” Kevin said. “That’s when we can come up with the theory that the alcohol was pumped into Nick’s stomach after the crash, when he was unconscious.” “Oh my God, that’s exactly what happened.” Nick shook his head. “I mean, how else could I have alcohol in me?”

And Then There Is Kevin by mersey

21: And Then There’s Kevin

A/n: Hi guys. I know, I deserve a few kicks for not updating this for so long. So I sincerely apologize for making you wait and will hold no grudges if you decide to stop reading. I shall make this short and not blabber. Thank you for waiting, I really really appreciate your patience.

“Get in Mr. Richardson, you and I are going for a ride.” There were a few things that Kevin was certain of as he got into his car with the stranger and pulled out of the parking lot. Their plan was screwed, Nick would be arrested by then and the fact that they knew where he would be that day meant they probably found out that Backstreet Boys had inside help. It also meant that Andy Myers and Officer Randy might be in huge trouble right now. “I believe you have something that I want Mr. Richardson.” Kevin stole a glance over to the stranger; he knew he had seen him somewhere but couldn’t figure out where. He also noticed that on a normal day, this stranger didn’t look threatening at all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Kevin said as he returned his focus to the road. “The gun powder result you have inside your jacket.” Kevin felt dizzy for a few seconds; his mind kept going back to the same question – how did they know? The man laughed, startling Kevin back to reality. “You know what Kevin, why don’t you keep that result for awhile, I’m not in a hurry. See, the plan was for me to take you for a heart to heart talk with John Klass, but we figured today is a big day for the Backstreet Boys. Nick Carter is turning himself in and the world needs to see his brothers having his back as always. You being the daddy and all…wont look good if you’re not there to show him some moral support right? Besides, Mr. Klass doesn’t want people to start asking questions.” Kevin stayed silent. He wasn’t sure how far this man was just lying through his teeth and if Kevin slipped, he might just give away information for free. “Anyway, I’m here cause we need to waste time. Nick needs to know that you’re in trouble so he’ll cave in and turn himself in instead of playing hero like you boys planned.” “Am I supposed to drive somewhere?” The man shrugged. “Not really…just keep to this road until I get my call.” “So you’re like my babysitter.” “Depends…are you a baby?” Kevin frowned, mad at himself for letting this man talk all over him. He needed some answers! “So, what do you get for doing this?” Kevin tried. The man smirked and shook his head. “You’re the smart one aren’t you? I know you’re curious and shit, you just have to wait till you meet John Klass, he’ll tell you everything.” “Are you going to kill us soon? Is that what you’re planning right now? You’re going to have Nick in jail and get some of your men finish him off and make it look like a fight? What about us? Get us in another road accident, is that it? Why don’t we just end it right now? I mean, we are on the road, I can just drive off a cliff!” Without warning, Kevin stepped on the gas pedal and sped. He wasn’t sure where that anger came from but at that moment, he didn’t think he would give a damn. “Slow down right now.” The man said calmly. “Why? I say we get this over and done with. Kill me first since I’m the oldest and all!” Kevin yelled under the screeching of the engine. “John Klass will love this plan I’m-” He didn’t see it coming but the man had made one swift move and Kevin felt a blinding pain on his chest. Struggling to calm himself down and willing for the pain to go away, he noticed that the man had expertly taken control of the wheel. “I also know how to kill someone by hitting the right spot on a person’s neck and unless you want me to put that into practice on you, don’t you dare pull a stunt like that again.” The man said. “Now, drive this car Mr. Richardson and shut the fuck up.” - It’s a creepy feeling, when you had to live every second of your life wondering if this is it, if that is the time that something will happen and in an instance, you’re a past tense. And then it gets frustrating, when you wondered what if no one knows what really happened and your death would forever remain one huge lie. The Backstreet Boys would be remembered for something that was untrue. AJ had been wondering about this ever since he stepped into the van, being escorted back to some hotel that Dave promised was undisclosed to anyone but them and selected few from JIVE. It was supposed to make him feel better but it didn’t. JIVE’s judgment has always been questionable. Their fans had proven time and again they know more about the Backstreet Boys than the Backstreet Boys themselves. John Klass is a powerful man in LA, he could get anything done by just thinking about them. No, nothing could comfort him right now. The van jerked suddenly, almost throwing AJ out of his seat saved for the safety belt Howie had reminded him to put on. That had surprised him for awhile; that Howie still had time to remind him about such things when he should be panicking. Weren’t anyone else panicking? They should. “Oh God, this could be it.” “Could be what?” “It.” AJ stressed, as if that would explain himself better. “For all we know, someone’s coming out of the car in front of us and are coming back here to shoot us all in the head while we’re sitting ducks thinking it’s just another random jerk this driver seems to make.” “AJ please.” Howie sighed. “You have to stop assuming things or you’ll go crazy.” “Maybe we should start assuming things even more Howie. Maybe we should really open our eyes and be on our guard rather than easily put our trust on these people.” “These people?” Howie whispered loudly. “These people are Brian, you know Brian don’t you? And there’s Drake, he drove us around during Black & Blue, remember him? There’s Drew, of course you know him, he’s your freaking bodyguard. And there’s Dave and Johnny at the back, you know them too. We can trust these people AJ now quit that!” “Well, okay then, why are we jerking every five minutes? I swear they paid Drake to do this on purpose and by the tenth jerk, someone will come out and pull a gun on us and-” “McLean I swear it’s your nerve working against you right now. We only had three jerks so far AJ. The first one cause some random person decided it’s nice to throw empty cans on the road. The second cause, what do you know, there’s a tiny pot hole on the road, bizarre I know. And the third one, buddy, is cause we’re on a red light.” Howie explained before pointing to the traffic light to their left. “See, the green man is blinking that means, vehicles must stop. Now we’re in a vehicle that is on the road, so…are you catching my drift here Alex?” “It’s not funny Howard.” “Of course it’s not.” “You’re afraid too.” “Yeah?” “Yeah.” “How so?” “The fact that you keep count on how many jerks we’ve had so far should say something about you dork.” Howie smiled. “Awww did Alex get Howie smiling again?” “He did and Howie shouldn’t smile, not when Kevin is MIA and Nick is…well…he’s…” “I’m worried about Nick, D.” AJ confessed. “God knows what they’re gonna do with him in…will he be in jail? Fuck, I don’t even know where they took them.” “I think right now he’s locked up at LAPD until they make arrangements for him. That asshole will be there to make sure he didn’t escape or something.” “Like he could.” AJ scoffed. “He’s sick D, I worry.” For once, Howie remained silent. The van jerked again as Drake stepped on the gas the moment the traffic light went green. “He’s going to sleep on that hard bed and worry himself to death about Kevin. That’s not a place for a sick person.” “I know this will sound cruel AJ, but at least we know he’s alive, for now.” Howie said, barely a whisper. AJ stared back at Howie, trying to read the expression on his face. There was guilt mixed with something else. “D…” “Before you said anything else, I’m just saying, you know, we have Kevin to worry too. We know where Nick is AJ, and they can’t kill him, at least not now, that’ll only make people suspicious of them even more. But Kevin…we don’t even know where he is, do we?” And then there is Kevin. AJ knew something had happened to him; it was the only reason why Nick had not went through as planned. Whatever it was that Nick had found out at the very last minute that day, it was enough to make their little brother sacrificed his own dignity and admitted to something he didn’t even do. “I understand D.” AJ said, giving him an assuring smile. “But I can’t leave it to chance and assume they won’t do something to Nick. They’re capable of doing anything right now.” The van jerked again. AJ held his breath until he realized they were stopping for another red light. Howie said nothing, both slowly drifting back to their own troubled thoughts. AJ forced himself to not listen to Johnny’s stressed voice as he softly but firmly, gave some instructions to the person on the other line. He ignored Dave’s soft tapping on the tinted window at the back. He drowned out the constant hissing of static emitting from Drew’s transmitter. Tried to not raise an eyebrow when Brian’s cell phone started to ring. And when he managed to finally push all of them out of his mind, he saw Nick collapsing soon after the so called press, and then, he imagined Kevin stuck in his seat, his car rammed into a wall somewhere out there. He was positive that Kevin had died too. “Hey.” AJ’s eyes flew open; silently grateful for the intrusion. Brian had turned around on his seat in front of them and was now looking at him and Howie. Brian was wearing a frown. AJ knew he wasn’t going to like this at all. “It’s Kevin.”

Against Time by mersey
Author's Notes:
Goodness, i know it's been months and months since i updated this thing. I'm so happy i got over my major writer's block though. My sincerest apologies to anyone who is still hanging on for an update and to see this story ends. I seriously had a hard time with ending it. The final chapter is coming up next and so far, it's doing well, I have 3 pages written, but lets not jinx it, lol. If you read this chapter, I thank you for waiting :)

22: Against Time

He was shot, that much he knew. In fact, it was the pain that had woken him up in the first place. He could hear someone prying the door open, probably the paramedics trying to get to him. He couldn’t even muster a smile but he felt so much better inside, knowing that he would be taken care of.

“He’s dead.”

That got his attention. Who’s dead, he wondered? But it didn’t take long for him to remember. He had collided on an incoming car when he lost control of his own. He felt the beginning of a panic attack coming. He just killed someone.

He forced his eyes to open wider, to clear the blurry image of the man who was checking on the other driver. A sudden blinding pain near his chest clued him in to the fact that he was too weak to even do that. He decided he should concentrate on something simpler for a start, like try to get the attention of the man who was now detaching his seatbelt.

“’Scuse me…”

“Shit…” Nick groaned. Why was the paramedic cussing? Was he bleeding too much? Was he in any trouble? “He’s dead, there’s nothing you can do for him! Come here and help me out with this one!”

“’Scuse me…”

“Damn it, he’s awake.”

“I can see that, now help me!”

Nick blinked a few more times; the cloud seemed to clear and the two men now crouching next to him came into focus. They were definitely not clad in paramedic gear. In fact, they were in expensive suits and one of them definitely looked familiar…

“Fuck!”

“What?”

“Just give me that!”

Without warning, the man now hovering over him swung whatever it was he was holding against his head. A blinding pain seared through his head and then it felt as if his head was burning. Everything was so woozy, he wondered if he had the time to even yell out in pain.

“You call that knocking someone out?”

“Well excuse me if this asshole has a thick head!”

“Move over, I’ll handle this!”

Everything was blurry again and he felt something trickling down his face; he didn’t need to be fully awake to know that he was bleeding. But now another panic was setting in; these people are not help.

“Stop struggling or I have to shoot you!”

The man grab him by his jaw and he felt something being pushed against his chest, it was enough to stop him from struggling further.

Next thing he knew, he felt something hard being shoved into his mouth and down his throat. He started gagging and tried to push the man off him but his movements only made his throat hurt more.

“Stop fucking move!” The man yelled at him.

His head was throbbing, his side was burning from the gunshot and now there was something being forced down his throat that the urge to throw up was too great. And when he thought nothing else could be any worst than that, he saw the other man unscrewing a glass bottle that contained yellow looking liquid.

Nick wondered if they were going to force kerosene down his throat and lit him up.

He froze when the liquid was poured into the funnel and down the tube and into his stomach. It burnt him from the inside and he felt his body giving up the fight. If he was going to be burnt to death, he wouldn’t want to sit around for it to happen. He willed for darkness to come and embrace it.

“Wake the hell up!” Someone was grabbing him by the front of his shirt.

Nick woke up gasping for air. His throat burnt and his head was still swimming with the remnants of his dream.

Only he realized it wasn’t a dream. He remembers now.

“Now, if you don’t mind, try not to start screaming and shouting in your sleep again, it’s fucking annoying for everyone else.”

He only managed a nod before he was being shoved against the wall carelessly. The pain on his head from the contact it made on the wall was the least of his problems. He welcomed the corner and pulled his knees close to his chest.

The man said nothing else and walked out of the cell, locking it behind him.

-

“Is he alright?” AJ asked Brian expectantly.

Brian shook his head and Howie almost lose the battle of trying to hold his stomach content down. “I…They don’t know.”

“What do you mean you don’t know!” AJ cried. “You were on the phone with him! And who’s they?”

“Did you say Kevin called Brian?” Johnny interrupted from the back. “Where is he?”

Brian shook his head. “No, no, it wasn’t Kevin who called. It was Keith, he said Kevin never made it back to the hotel. He tried calling his cellphone but he’s not answering it.”

“Wasn’t Keith supposed to come with him when Nick made the um, statement earlier?” Howie asked almost in a whisper.

“That was the plan,” Brian said. “I don’t understand…Kevin called earlier before Nick went out and he said he was on his way…I assumed Keith was with him.”

“It’s okay.” Johnny said, wanting everyone to stay calm. “I’ll get to the bottom of this.” He was already punching in numbers on his cellphone but Howie couldn’t care much who it was their manager was trying to get hold of. He doubt Johnny knew even half of the truth; not that it was the manager’s fault in the first place, for some reason, the five of them had done whatever it would take to keep the truth from everyone else until they know it was safe enough to tell. You can’t seem to trust anyone these days.

“What did Kev said earlier?” Howie asked almost in a whisper.

“He said he did what he’s supposed to do and was trying to get back in time before Nick makes his statement.”

AJ sunk deeper in his seat. “Apparently that didn’t happen.”

“Should we start worrying about Kev?” Brian asked as he chewed his lower lip.

“I’ve passed worrying and going to panic.” AJ declared.

“We need a plan.” Howie said.

“Like?” Brian asked. “So far, all our plans suck. Look where Nick ended up at, and now Kev’s missing. Are we still going to keep this between us?”

“As much as we know Johnny is on the good side, you know how he loves to make everything turn into one huge PR thing.” Howie said.

“So you’re saying we’re keeping this to ourselves.” AJ said. Howie nodded.

“What about the videos? We still have them, we can expose the son of a bitch ourselves.” Brian said.

“We agreed we’re not giving anything away until we know all five of us are safe.” AJ reminded him. “We don’t know if Nick and Kev are safe.”

“So what do you suggest we do? Keep quiet?” Brian asked. AJ and Howie looked at each other in silence, knowing that none of them know any better.

-

It felt like forever since Kevin had been driving aimlessly and his throat still hurt from whatever the idiot sitting next to him had done to him earlier. Kevin had never claimed to be the bravest and boldest of the bunch, but he’d never seen himself as someone who was helpless either. Lately, he had been doubting himself. The silly mugging incident unnerved him to the point where he didn’t want to be alone in an empty house and now, he had just been rendered helpless by a man in an expensive suit who couldn’t have been any older than he was.

He wondered if anyone had bothered to track him down now that he was sure they’d realized he was missing. He knew that between the five of them, they had made a pact to not reveal anything until everyone is accounted for. If that pact still stand, then the ball is still in John Klass’ court. The shrewd had read their game and was playing along. As long as John Klass has one Backstreet Boys under his mercy, he knew his secret was safe.

The ringing of a cellphone broke his thoughts away but Kevin knew it wasn’t his cellphone that was ringing. The idiot had made sure he was cut from all communications while they had their little ride.

Lord knows where they were heading now. Kevin wished they’d met with a dead end, just so he could stop driving. His shoulders were aching and his back was beginning to feel stiff. He wondered what had happened to Nick, if they’d really arrested him or had John Klass paid the entire LAPD to send him to a secret location. What would Johnny Wright do? Surely he wouldn’t just sit on his ass and thought the police are better at handling this, would he? And what would Howie, Brian and AJ do now? Pull out Plan Z?

“Someone wants to talk to you.”

As the idiot in the suit proceeded to prop the cellphone on the dashboard and turned on the loudspeaker, Kevin hoped, even for a second, that it was Nick on the other line, assuring him that he was safe and that he should just go ahead and expose the motherfucker.

“Kevin, I wish I’d the time to see you in person but I’m running late for an important meeting so this will do.”

“Who’s this?”

“Why I’m the man you’ve been wanting to meet Kevin. You and your little buddy have stirred quite a bit of a scare here lately and I must say I’m impressed. If you hadn’t been a damn celebrity, it’d be easier to dispose all of you but of course, it had to be the Backstreet Boys!”

“Yeah, tough.”

“Well I have you driving to nowhere next to a man with a gun and waiting for my instruction to shoot so I’d say you’re the one in the tough sit.” John Klass laughed. Kevin refrained himself from rolling his eyes. “And Nick’s not doing so well Kevin, I thought you’d like to know.”

“What did you do to him you son of a bitch!”

“Nothing. He’s locked up in LAPD. But I have to say, life behind bars doesn’t seem to agree with him.”

“If you hurt him, I-”

“Relax Kevin, he’s no good to you if you end up dead from a car crash.” John Klass laughed. “Now, I’ll let you see Nick in his cell just to let you see I haven’t touch the kid and in return, you have to do something for me.”

“I’m not doing anything until you get him out of there and clear his name!”

“You’re trying my patient Kevin, I don’t think you understand just how serious this is.”

Kevin found himself too overwhelmed with anger that he couldn’t find the words to yell back at the man.

“Tomorrow, you’re going to meet me at the theme park where I’ll be making an appearance to cut the ribbon and officially announce it’s grand opening and you’ll be there to hand over all the evidence. Once that is over and done with, Nick will be free from my men. I will not help him clear his name but it’s better than bringing back his body. It’s your choice Mr. Richardson, what have you?”

-

Nick was drifting in between sleep and waking when that familiar sensation in his stomach made him pushed himself up on the bed. He had been throwing up in the bucket they had provided him for the past hour now but now, with his stomach empty, he didn’t bother to even reach down for the bucket.

But while dry heaving wasn’t messy, it definitely hurt twice as much.

It was almost night by the way the cell was beginning to darken and the air was getting cold. He couldn’t help breaking out in cold sweat as his nervousness got the better of him. His head kept entertaining his troubled thoughts, most of which was worrying over the fate of his brothers.

Nick closed his eyes and tried to calm himself down, he didn’t think he could take another dry heave. It seemed to be working, he was drifting back to sleep even in his sitting upright position. He could hear the distant shrieking of the metal gate as it was pushed open, it was echoing in his head. He heard footsteps thudding, as if coming nearer, but he couldn’t really tell if this was true or just his drowsy head playing tricks on him. Truth be told, Nick didn’t really care, he just wanted to be blissfully asleep.

But sleep didn’t come for Nick. However, Kevin did.

-

He was pale, he smelled of vomit and sweat, his lips was parched and dry, his eyes were closed, but it was still his brother whom he was looking at in the flesh. It was Nick.

“Nicky.”

Kevin felt like doing a little dance when his eyes immediately flew wide open at the mention of his name. There was a second of disbelief and hesitance before that familiar smile was back on his face.

“Kevin.”

Nick tried to get out of bed but Kevin was faster. Within two steps, he was already by the bed and leaning down to hug his brother. Was it possible for someone to lose this much weight within a day? Or perhaps this had been going on ever since the accident? Had Kevin been so wrapped up in this confusing fight that he hadn’t noticed?

Nick was shivering and Kevin realized that he was too.

“You’re okay, thank God.” Nick whispered hoarsely.

“You don’t look well.”

“I’m good, they just chuck me in here and left me alone.”

“So no one touched you?”

“I think my vomit drove people away.”

“Charming Nick.”

“Is Brian with you Kev? How about AJ and D? Are they okay?”

“I’m going back to them after this, they still haven’t heard from me.”

Nick frowned. “Where were you earlier today?”

Kevin sighed. “Lets just say they found me before I got to you.”

Nick nodded.

“Look Nick, one of John Klass’ men is here with me, he’s waiting outside. He made me a deal.”

“You don’t deal with such people Kevin.”

“Hear me out please?”

Nick nodded. “Fine.”

“If I hand in all the evidence we have to him, he’ll let all of us go. But he wouldn’t help to clear your name about the accident thing.”

“And you’re going to take it?”

“I don’t want to bring you back in a body bag.”

“So I’m a pawn?”

“You’re a guarantee that I won’t trick them.”

Nick let out a dry cough and Kevin almost ran out to get help when he realized where they were. No one here would care if Nick vomits blood.

“They win then?”

Kevin shook his head. “I don’t care anymore Nick. I want you back, with us. I want all of us safe. I want all of us to get the fuck away from LA for good!”

“It’s not going to solve anything Kevin.”

“It’ll keep all of you alive. That’s what matters to me!”

“You can’t give up now Kevin.”

Kevin was livid. Who did Nick think he was? A superman? “Nick, this is not fighting over some evil lawyers or sponsors. We’re not dealing with the likes of Lou Pearlman. I can’t do this!”

“When are you supposed to meet him?”

“Tomorrow, at the theme park he’s opening for.”

“Then we still have time.”

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