“I am really worried about Nick, you guys….” Howie said as the guys left rehearsal late that night. Nick had messed up almost every song…he tried doing the wrong choreography for Everybody and sang the extra verse that most fans didn’t know about.
“I don’t know what happened…he was fine before yesterday. Lauren said he acted like he didn’t know her.” Brian agreed.
“I hope he isn’t using again. He just lost all that weight and was doing so well. I don’t want him to go back there again.” he added with a sigh. Nick walked behind the two of them and they dropped their voices to a whisper.
“What are we gonna do about tour??? He doesn’t remember anything.” Howie asked.
“He keeps asking for Kevin…maybe he is the reason for this little breakdown Nick is having.” Brian replied. He did not look forward to calling his cousin in to help, especially about Nick.
“Maybe you should talk to him, it couldn’t hurt.” AJ added, appearing next to him. Brian invited Nick to his hotel room that night to watch movies together. He was supposed to show up at seven, but he showed up at 6:30….it was not like him to be early or on time for anything.
Nick stood outside of Brian’s room for a good ten minutes before he knocked…he wasn’t sure why he was nervous, but he was terrified. He thought about the Brian he had known back when he was 13…and this one was completely different. This Brian was tired…grumpy…almost acting like a father rather than his friend. Nick was happy to be treated like an adult…but things had changed somehow.
“Come on in, Nick.” Brian said warmly. He was on the phone as he held the door open, smiling. Nick sat down on the leather couch, listening.
“I will call you later….Uncle Nick and I are hanging out…yes…I can’t wait to see you too, kiddo.”
Nick wondered how he could be an uncle as Brian got off of the phone.
“Bay says he misses you.” Brian said, walking over with a bowl of popcorn.
“Who?” Nick asked.
“Haha, Nick….you know who Baylee is…you’re such a kidder.”
“Baylee? What kind of name is that?” Nick asked with a straight face. Brian stared at him, his mouth hanging open stupidly.
“Nick….I can see forgetting choreography. I can even see maybe not remembering Lauren…..but how do you forget my son?” Brian demanded. Nick’s eyes watered, feeling terrible.
“I….I’m sorry…” he said in barely a whisper. Brian opened his mouth to say something but didn’t.
“Nick….I’m sorry. I guess I am just tired…we all are. Jenn has us so busy these days I never see my family much like I used to. We are all stressed….are you all right? You have been acting different lately and we are all worried about you.” Brian said after a moment.
“I’m fine. I guess I am just nervous.” Nick admitted.
“About the wedding? Nick…when Leighanne and I got married I felt the same way. It’s a big step, but I think you made the right choice this time around. Lauren is a great match for you.”
“She is? But I…”
“I know it is hard after what you went through with your family, Nick. I know you will be fine.” Brian said, turning on the TV.
“Brian…can I ask you something?”
“Why did we change all of the songs? I mean….we just learned them…” Nick said, shifting in his couch cushion. Brian sat still for a while, thinking.
“Nick, what songs? We have been rehearsing for about two weeks now…what is wrong with you?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.
“I need a drink…” Nick muttered in a frustrated tone. He knew this only made him look more crazy to Brian, but he didn’t care.
“How about a cup of coffee?” Brian offered, trying to ignore him. Nick’s eyes lit up and he smiled.
“Coffee?! You mean I am allowed to have it?” he asked, jumping up from his seat and following Brian.
“Uh….yeah…” Brian said as he poured Nick a cup. Not adding anything…Nick excitedly took a large gulp from it. Brian watched him with a worried yet amused expression.
“Blech!!!” Nick said, promptly spitting it out.
“Nick….I didn’t know you drank black coffee.” Brian said, laughing at him. Nick looked at him in confusion and Brian took the cup from him…adding milk and sugar.
“Try it now.” he offered. Nick took a sip and he wondered why his mom and Kevin had not allowed him to drink it.
“Thanks, Bri. I guess I am just feeling lost lately.” Nick replied. He wished he knew why things were so different….the guys had changed…Brian had a son. It was a lot to take in.
“Everything will work out.”
“Why did Kevin leave?” Nick blurted out suddenly. Brian looked away as if it were a sore subject.
“You don’t remember? God, it was a few years ago…it hasn’t been that long-”
“Tell me….where is he?” Nick begged.
“Kevin left, Nick…..”
“Like on a trip?”
“Where did he go?” Nick asked, sounding like a child.
“Kevin left the group.” Brian explained bitterly.
“He left because of you.”