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.