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?”