Nick woke up feeling queasy and nauseous. He opened his eyes and found himself laying in a large bed….he wondered how he got from the bathroom to the bed. The sheets covering him were satin and it was then he realized he was naked. He shivered as he looked around the room, it was large and much nicer than the room he had passed out in. Did they move rooms overnight? He didn’t think the hotel was this nice.
“I am never taking beer from AJ again…” Nick mumbled as he woke up. He felt a hand moving on his chest and jumped as he spotted a woman laying next to him….her slender arm draped over his abdomen.
Nick’s eyes snapped open as he sat up straight. The woman was pretty, long black hair down past her shoulders. A horrified yelp escaped his lips as he tossed her off of his body….she toppled out of the bed and landed on the floor with a soft thud. Nick backed away from the bed, frightened as he stared….his body trembling.
“What the hell is wrong with you, Nick?” the woman asked…holding a sheet over her chest. Nick couldn’t answer….he tilted his head sideways and gaped at her…his mouth hanging open stupidly.
“You’re pretty.” he said, grinning.
“You’re not so bad yourself, Carter.” the woman said with a wry giggle as she walked towards him.
“Hey…who are you? Why are you in my room? Kevin said we can’t have girls in our rooms…and where is AJ?” Nick asked in confusion, running a hand through his hair. It didn’t feel right to him…..it felt shorter.
“Since when do you listen to Kevin? Did he call you from LA?” the woman laughed.
“Who are you?” Nick asked in panicked tones.
“Lauren, your girlfriend. What’s wrong with you?” she replied, looking at him with concern.
“I don’t know you…get out of my room!” Nick shouted. Lauren picked up her clothes, dressed quickly and left Nick to himself.
“What’s going on?” he asked aloud, feeling frustrated. He looked through his clothes but everything was so big. It was as if someone had switched all his suitcases, he couldn’t find any of his things.
“Nick? Are you okay in there?” a voice asked in the hallway. It sounded like Brian but the voice was a little different than Nick remembered.
“Yeah I’m fine….” Nick said, opening the door to see him standing there.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” Brian asked. Nick was shocked to see how Brian looked…he was almost the same but you could see he had aged gracefully.
“YOU’RE OLD!” Nick shouted in surprise without thinking.
“Nice observation, dumbass! Now let’s go, we have tour rehearsal.” Brian snapped, annoyed with him. Nick bounded after him down the hall, wondering how he was now taller than his best friend.
“How did you get so short?” Nick asked. Brian turned to him and shook his head as they went into the elevator.
“Nick, are you being serious or are you playing with me? Cause I am not amused right now. I am very tired and I’m not in the mood for this.” he said, yawning. Nick was puzzled. Brian wasn’t acting like he remembered…he was now grumpy and tired. The old Brian would have made jokes with him. Nick was quiet all the way to the dance studio where their rehearsal was.
“No mirrors today, guys.” the choreographer said, grinning. The others were standing there but Nick noticed that Kevin wasn’t in the room. He looked at AJ and Howie, they both appeared much older than when he saw them last. AJ was covered in piercing and tattoos, his nails painted black and wore eyeliner…and Howie hadn’t changed much, he was just older.
“Let’s practice the new songs first…” Brian said, sipping at his coffee.
“Aren’t we going to wait for Kevin?” Nick asked suddenly. The other guys stared as if he had two heads.
“Kevin? Nick….Kevin isn’t here. Since when do you want to talk to Kevin? I thought you weren’t talking to him.” AJ replied, laughing.
“Whoa! Kevin’s not here? I can stay up as late as I want?” Nick asked excitedly. Everyone laughed.
“Yeah even past midnight if you want to!” AJ joked.
“Haha, that was good….okay let’s get started.” Brian said. Music played form a stereo nearby. Nick didn’t recognize the song and couldn’t follow the dance steps, he looked on in confusion.
“Nick, come on, this is your verse.” Howie said impatiently.
“It is? I just realized that this song makes no sense. Shorty must live under a rock. She has no cable or radio….is Shorty Amish?” Nick asked as everyone laughed.
“Nick, seriously? Okay…let’s do I Want It That Way. I’m sure you know that one at least.” the choreographer suggested, sighing. Nick still didn’t know the song and when it was time to sing his part he froze, his eyes watering as they stared at him.
“Again?” Howie commented, shaking his head.
“Nick…tour is starting this week. Stop screwing up!” Brian scolded him.
“I….I….” Nick muttered as he looked at all the angry faces glaring at him and ran out of the room, sobbing.
“What the fuck just happened?” AJ asked as he left.
“I don’t know….do you think he’s doing drugs again?” Brian wondered.
“Whatever he’s on, that must be some fucked up shit.” AJ replied.
Nick ran and ran, wiping his face as he stumbled into the bathroom and leaned against the sink, sniffling. He felt so lost, his head hurt….he didn’t know what was going on and he was afraid. Nick splashed some water on his face and looked into the mirror. A loud gasp escaped his lips and he backed away, horror struck.
“What the-” he asked aloud. The reflection in the mirror didn’t match. He was much taller….about 6 feet….short hair that was darker. He ran a hand through it….his mouth hanging open in shock. A tattoo of a skull and crossbones was on his wrist. He wasn’t the scrawny, short teenager he had been anymore….he was looking at a man.