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.