Oberhausen, Germany - 5:19 PM CET (9:19 AM PST (Pacific Standard Time) - US)
"I miss you, Daddy."
"I miss you, too J, very much."
"When are you coming home?"
Jordan was talking to AJ via webcam. They tried to do it at least once a week with their home office computer and AJ's laptop because Jordan had a hard time with not physically seeing his father for long periods of time. It was a good way for Jordan to cope with AJ being gone and it was a reliable means of communication for the three of them. He called at least twice a day depending on where they were and the time difference but sometimes, that wasn't enough.
"Soon, I promise," he said gently.
"Why can't you come home now, Daddy? Mommy misses you, too. And Bernie."
"I have to work, remember? With Uncle Nick, Uncle Brian, and Uncle Howie."
"Oh, yeah," he said sadly. "Tell them I say hi, okay?"
"Of course. Have you had breakfast yet?"
Jordan shook his head.
"Mommy will make you something. Go on. Get her for me will you, please?"
"Okay." Jordan disappeared from view and a few minutes later Kim sat down at the computer.
"Hey," AJ started.
Kim sighed. "You look like hell, Alex."
"Well, you look gorgeous," AJ countered, hoping to take the attention off of himself.
She ignored his compliment. "I'm serious."
"I know you are, but what am I?" he asked with a light chuckle.
"Are you okay? You're not stressing out or anything, are you?"
"I actually have a legit excuse this time. I think Nick gave me his stupid cold," he grumbled.
Kim frowned. "How are you feeling?"
"Like shit, thanks to Mr. D-Bag over here."
"Who, me? Hey, Kim," Nick said as he came on-screen.
"Go away, dude," AJ whined as he tried to push him away. "You already got me sick, have you come back to do more damage to my immune system?"
"No, I just wanted to say hi to the pretty lady you're conversing with."
AJ rolled his eyes. "Seriously Nick, I'm really not in the mood for you right now. Go bother someone else, before I sneeze on you...on purpose," he warned, getting agitated.
Nick didn't move. "Awww, c'mon, man! You wouldn't really do that...would you?"
"I'm n-not k-kidding..." He pitched forward as a sneeze exploded from him.
"Bless you," Kim said.
He smirked at Nick. "The next one's for you. Promise."
Nick shuddered visibly. "Fine. See ya, Kim, tell the mini-me that I said 'hey,' would you?"
"Of course, bye."
AJ waited until Nick was out of earshot before he continued. "Remind me to disinfect this later."
"We got done with soundcheck, like, twenty minutes ago. It went well."
"What did you get asked?"
"If I got any new tattoos or dogs."
He laughed. "No."
"That's good to know, I like to stay informed."
"Any plans for today?" AJ asked.
"Jordan has a playdate at Jeff's and Lindsey's with a few kids at 1."
"Sounds good. What are you gonna do?"
"I gotta go grocery shopping and stuff, nothing exciting." She shrugged.
"Oh, and like my schedule is exciting? Sleep, eat, perform, repeat. Airports, hotels, buses, in a different city every other day?"
Kim sighed. "I know, babe, I know."
AJ continued on his mini-rant. "Miles away from you and J for three more weeks?" Granted, I love doing this, but...I miss you, baby. I hope I haven't pushed you away." he said with a hint of sadness in his voice. "I didn't mean to hurt you. I always have to fuck everything up."
"I know, Alex. I miss you, too, so much. Don't worry, you'll be home soon and we'll figure this all out. Didn't I tell you that I forgave you? I know you're going through a lot, that you still have some unresolved issues to work through."
"Do me a favor, would you?" AJ asked.
"Can you make me an appointment with John for a few days after I get home?" Dr. Stehlik was AJ's psychiatrist. AJ had worked with him before on his family issues and he referred him to a grief counselor after his grandmother's death in 2001. He saw him every so often to check in, to keep him up to date on how things were going.
"Of course. Any time preference?"
"No, any time is fine."
Kim smiled. "I'm proud of you, I know how hard it is for you to ask for help. You'll get through this, we both will."
AJ nodded and yawned.
"Yeah. Had to be up at 8 to do some early press this morning."
"Well, how about I let you go, then? Go back to the hotel and rest before the show. Make sure you eat something, too. Something preferably healthy."
"Yes, dear," he said with a smirk and coughed a little. "Get J."
Kim got up and came back with Jordan so he could say goodbye.
"Hey, Jordan? I gotta go now, I'll call later though, okay? To say goodnight. I love you, buddy."
"Love you," he said shyly.
"Alright, baby, I love you so much. I'll call after the show."
"Okay, feel better, don't work too hard."
"I promise I won't. I love you both." He blew them kisses.
AJ disconnected the chat and packed up his laptop so he could head out to the rental van and back to the hotel. Once he got to his room, he ordered some soup and tea and took a short nap before going back to the arena.
9:25 PM CET (1:45 PM PST)
"I can't wait to take a shower," AJ coughed and swallowed. "I feel disgusting."
"I think we all do after sweating non-stop for two hours," Brian said knowingly. "You alright?"
"Yeah, throat hurts is all."
"I'm not surprised, you sang your little heart out tonight," he said with a laugh.
"Hey, I didn't say that you were any good," Brian joked.
"Shut up," AJ laughed which got him coughing again. "Damn." He drank a swig of water that was next to him and sighed. "When is the bus picking us up again?"
"Good, I'm gonna go shower real quick."
AJ went into the shower room with some clean clothes and got in. He immediately relaxed once the hot water began to massage his weary frame. He couldn't believe how tired he felt, he just wanted to take some NyQuil and go to sleep. 'Wait...gotta call Kim first. Then bed, thank God.' He could care less if it was in a crappy hotel bed or his bunk on the tour bus at this point. He got out and changed, then waited for the bus to get them. Their next stop was in Luxembourg the next day.
AJ was in the back room on the bus with the TV on. He always liked to be alone when he made phone calls home or when he talked to his friends out on the road, especially since he was around people all day. He just wanted a private moment with Kim and/or Jordan to bring him back down to reality, the ever-present reminder that being a Backstreet Boy was his day job and he was a husband and father first. He had struggled with that when the Boys went back on tour in 2005 for their Never Gone album. He didn't have just Kim anymore at that point, he had a baby at home and realized that family was his priority over his job or being 'AJ.' He had to learn how to be a family man while being halfway across the world from them, and most of the time it worked out.
"Hey, you. How was the show?"
"Great, I love Germany. We always get a lot of love when we perform here."
"Good. How are you holding up?"
"Not much better. Throat hurts like a bitch and I'm really tired," he said with a sigh.
"I'm sorry. I hope you didn't over do it. Your health's been taking quite a few hits lately."
"I didn't, or at least I tried not to. This sucks." He coughed.
"Is it after 11 there? You should go to bed, baby."
"Yeah, but I wanted to call. I promised you that I would."
"You're so sweet, you could have just went to sleep and would've understood."
"I know. I love you."
"I love you, too. Now, go to bed," she said gently.
"No buts. I'll tell Jordan you said goodnight. Go get some sleep, you have another show tomorrow."
"I think I know my own schedule, Kim," he said with a laugh. "I'm going, goodnight, baby. Love you."
"Alright, I love you. I hope you feel better. You need to start taking Airborne, seriously."
AJ laughed. "Thanks, me, too. Bye."
AJ hung up and went into the bathroom to take some NyQuil. He had already changed clothes, so, he headed to his bunk.
"Care to join me in burning the midnight oil?" Nick asked as he headed in the opposite direction toward the back room.
"No, dude. I feel like hell, I'm going to bed."
"My bad. Well, goodnight."
AJ climbed in and got comfortable. He felt drowsy in about ten minutes, feeling the cold medicine's effects as he fell into a deep sleep.
10:13 AM CET
He groaned but didn't move as his curtain was pulled open, the bright light infiltrating his dark oasis.
"What?" he mumbled.
"Show's canceled," Nick said.
"Why?" he asked, sitting up a little.
"A fire broke out somehow at the arena so we're going to our next stop."
"Oh. That sucks. Is that all?" He tried to be more concerned about the situation but was just too tired to do anything but sleep. He could worry about the canceled show later.
"'Kay. Goodnight." He lay back down and closed his eyes. "Shut the curtain, would you?"
Nick did and walked away. AJ went back to resting for a couple more hours before he was woken up again.
"Yeah?" he asked.
"We're gonna stop for some food, you want some?" It was Howie this time.
"Are you sure? It's Mickey D's, your favorite."
AJ thought about it for a second. "Erm...no. Can you get me a strawberry milkshake though? My throat kills. I'll get my wallet—"
"I got it. You okay?"
"Yeah. I'm just gonna try and sleep to nip this in the bud, we don't need a repeat of a month ago."
"Right. We'll be stopping soon, so, I'll get it ASAP."
AJ lay back down and grabbed his phone that was beside him. He sent a text to Kim.
Hey, just woke up. Show in Luxembourg is canceled, I'll explain later.
Kim: Hi. Why is it canceled? You can tell me now. Are you okay? She was worried that he'd gotten worse and they had to cancel for his sake.
AJ: A fire broke out at the arena, we're going to Belgium now. I'm okay, still feeling crappy.
Kim: Oh. Wow. You guys are okay though, right? Sorry you're still sick. :(
AJ: We're fine. Happened before we got there. Thanks. :/
Kim: Okay, good.
AJ: Were you asleep? I didn't mean to wake you. Isn't it like after 4 AM there?
Kim: You're fine, I was awake. Just missing you. Yeah, it is. lol
AJ: Awww...I miss you too baby. Get some sleep okay? I'm always home, remember? Love you. xoxoxo
Kim: :) Okay. Love you, too, goodnight.
AJ shut his phone and just tried to relax under the blankets. His head was starting to hurt slightly and he cursed under his breath. 'I'm gonna kill Nick...' He groaned.
"Hey, dude," Brian said as he passed his bunk. "Are you gonna get up today? It's past noon you know."
AJ just turned away and coughed.
"Dang, you are having the worst luck lately health-wise. Are you gonna be okay for the show?"
"Oh, yeah, it's just Nick's cold that got to me is all," he said, brushing it off.
"Well, hopefully the buck stops here. God knows we don't need to be canceling anymore shows." Brian looked at AJ. "No offense."
"Alright. I think we're stopping now. Do you want anything?"
"No, Howie's getting me a milkshake."
"Ooh, how'd you convince him to do that?"
"I offered to pay, but he insisted on getting it. I'm not hungry."
"Okay, we'll be back in a few minutes."
"You comin', AJ?" Nick asked.
"No, you guys go ahead."
He shrugged. "Suit yourself."
Once AJ was alone, he lay back and thought about what Kim had said to him yesterday. "No stressing out, no stressing out, it's all good. I'll be home soon enough. I just hope I can hold out until then," he said to himself.
Don't forget to review! :D