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.”