He looked up when he felt my burning stare. I cleared my throat, “Eat it,” I grumbled warningly. He shoved the fry into his mouth, but not before giving me an annoyed look.
“You are not my mother,” he said slowly.
I sighed, taking a bite out of my own food. I hadn’t seen him this nervous in almost a year; it surely didn’t predict anything good. It didn’t help that the performance would be broadcasted in theatres all over the world.
How did we end up in theatres?
I had known from the start that the movie would change a lot and had initially been afraid it would completely destroy the image of the teenage boyband we had had since day one. But it hadn’t, and if it had, the reactions were predominantly positive. When I had first announced the idea of a movie to the public, I had received disbelieving remarks. So you wanna be relevant again? Making a glitter glamour promo movie? Instead it had become a raw and even dark piece, eventually revolving around Lou Pearlman’s betrayal and Brian’s voice struggle.
I looked at him as he did his best to avoid all stares casually directed his way every now and then. I must have seen the movie about sixty times, and I still couldn’t believe he’d agreed to keep the voice issue in there. Don’t get me wrong, it had taken a pretty deal of convincing, but I had expected my cousin to just pull a veto and be done with it. Instead he’d listened carefully to what everyone had to say and was eventually ultimately convinced by Stephen’s silver tongue that said the movie wouldn’t be remotely real if we left such a big part out. And so a whole new collection of material had become available and I had been taken aback by the frustration and rawness I saw in it. In the end, we had all selected the footage we found essential, but had left the final decision on what to include with Brian.
I was proud of how he handled it.
We had spent the last couple of weeks cautiously gauging the public’s reaction. I had seen shock and confusion. A bit of relief as well, and I had figured out that the fan base had known for years that something was wrong already. But ultimately, I had seen a big source of support, just like I had expected. I was incredibly thankful for that and I knew Brian was as well.
But now it looked like we were back at square one as I watched his foot incessantly tap the floor underneath his chair in a nervous, uncontrollable way. He looked paler than I cared for and his plate was still full with what I now presumed was cold food. Damnit, I thought. I could understand why he was nervous now that his problems were laying bare ass in the open, but his nerves would often lead up to a bad performance.
I took a deep breath, reminding myself that he had done astoundingly well on the cruise a few months ago, even if that had been after three glasses of wine. His voice had been strong and unfaltering, and it had reminded me of old times and I had been so happy, so relieved. He had been too; it had given all of us so much hope for the future. I had learnt from Leighanne that there had been a period of almost four weeks in the summer where he hadn’t been able to talk at all and to see that he had not only found his voice back, but had improved it to the best of his abilities made me proud to be his bandmate.
But truth was; I hadn’t really heard him since the cruise and I knew his condition could change every other month, it seemed. I was more than a little worried for tonight.
The performance went better than I could have expected.
It was intimate, acoustic, nothing but our voices and a few guitars. Brian was next to me, incredibly tensed and I believe he had his eyes closed for most of the performance. I was intrigued by the way he focused all of his energy and concentration on nothing but his voice. And it worked; against every little bit of my expectation, it worked tremendously. I saw the relief and astonishment on the faces of the other three and knew they had had the same worries as I had. But it was all for nothing; Brian sounded stronger than he had done in I don’t know how long and the crowd in the theatre fed off of it, cheering him on as he went. It was lifting him up; it was lifting all of us up and I dared to hope for once that maybe this was the start to real improvement, that maybe, just maybe, the issue was finally resolving itself and we were finally rid of the nightmare that had followed us for so long.
Brian didn’t say a whole lot after the performance and made it clear that he would like to go back to the hotel; flop down on his bed and stay unconscious until tomorrow morning. The performance had taken a lot out of him, but I knew he was proud of it. I knew that he too had gotten sense of that small glint of hope that brew in all five of us. We knew now that he could take this thing and beat its ass. We saw a future again.
But it was stupid to think that way.
Because we should know by now that when things tended to start looking up, something would come and throw a wrench into everything, and we would end up worse than ever.