Nick woke up early the next morning to find Alexis in his bed fully dressed with her arm draped over him.
“Brian?” he whispered. A soft groan came from where Brian lay on the floor, rubbing his sore back.
“Why is she in my bed?” Nick asked. Alexis woke up and smiled, sitting up before rubbing her eyes.
“Good morning.” she said.
“What happened? I thought you were staying with AJ?” Nick replied. Alexis exchanged looks with Brian and didn’t answer.
“Nick, I expect nothing but 100 percent out of you tomorrow. No excuses. We can’t have another incident like we did in Japan last tour.” Kevin scolded as Alexis watched.
“That was an accident.” Nick mumbled.
“Tripping on stage, breaking the drum kit and knocking over half the band isn’t a mistake, it is an embarrassment.” Kevin replied as Dave and a few others laughed.
She noticed during their down time Kevin seemed colder than usual, his eyes unforgiving. Nick sat in silence as he was picked apart.
“We might have to rework his diet again. He hasn’t lost any weight, he still looks chubby.” Dave added. Nick shifted uncomfortably and looked at his feet, his ears tinted red.
“He looks fine.” Alexis said, not realizing they could hear her. Both men glared at her and Alexis noticed Kevin didn’t seem himself.
“Nobody asked for your two cents. You don’t even belong here.” Kevin snapped coldly, pushing past her.
Later on at the hotel, Alexis spotted Nick at the bathroom mirror with his shirt lifted up, sucking his stomach in and frowning. He jumped when he saw her standing in the doorway.
“Nick, you look fine.” she smiled. He put his shirt down and sat on the toilet, sighing again.
“I am never good enough for them. Never. I feel like I will never be good enough for anyone because all I am is a huge screw up.” he confessed.
“You’re perfect to me. They only see what’s on the outside. For your height your weight is normal. You have thousands of girls at your feet every night…..they plaster your face on their walls….trust me, there are plenty who think you’re gorgeous.”
“Now let’s get going, everyone is heading downstairs for the bus.” Alexis said, ruffling his hair. Nick grinned at her, watching her leave.
“You coming?” Alexis called a bit later, knocking at the door.
“Sure, just need to drop the kids off at the pool.” Nick said, heading into the bathroom.
“Kevin, where is Nick?” Alexis asked once she got in the bus.
“He had a headache, he’s laying down.”
Alexis ignored the feeling in the pit of her stomach.
“Okay, I guess that is everyone. Time to head out!” Kevin said, clapping his hands together as the bus began moving. They were leaving New Jersey and headed to Ohio for the next stop, nearly a 4 hour drive. Everyone was pretty quiet during the ride so about an hour or two into the trip, Alexis went to go spend time with Nick…..but to her surprise he wasn’t on the bus.
“Brian, I thought Kevin said Nick was laying down in his bunk.” Alexis whispered. Brian followed her around the bus and helped her look, but they didn’t see any trace of Nick.
“Not this again.” Brian said, looking angry as he stormed to the front of the bus. He walked up to Kevin, his arms crossed until he looked up.
“What do you want?” Kevin hissed.
“We have to go back, Nick’s still at the hotel.”
“That’s impossible. I did a head count.” Kevin said, going back to his coffee. Brian slammed his hand on the table, startling him.
“Do another one.”
“You’re being very unreasonable. Nick’s in his bunk….”
“Don’t fucking do this, you asshole. I’m telling you- NICK IS NOT HERE. You left him behind AGAIN.” Brian shouted. Alexis watched in shock, Brian usually didn’t use such strong language, he was fuming.
“We are halfway there. We aren’t going back.”
Brian slammed Kevin into the wall and held him there, his face red.
“Okay, I guess we can make a detour.” Kevin said, sweat forming on his face.
“How the fuck did he mess up a head count? Alexis isn’t blonde and Nick doesn’t have boobs!” AJ commented once the bus had turned around.
“Nick would probably like to have boobs.” Alexis said as AJ snickered.
“He so would.”
“Would someone mind telling me what is going on? Why would Kevin lie about Nick being in his bunk? It doesn’t make sense….” Howie asked softly.
“Because he isn’t Kevin.” Alexis said. All the boys stared at her but she did not change her expression.
“How can it not be? He has to be Kevin. There is no possible way he can’t be.” Howie protested before leaving for the front of the bus.
“It would explain a lot.” Brian said, staring out the window. Sure it seemed like a logical explanation, but he doubted Alexis. Kevin didn’t act any different…..or did he?
The bus reached the hotel in New Jersey once more where they found Nick sitting outside, looking worried. Alexis led him to his bunk on the bus and they lay there quietly together until the bus moved again.
“You okay?” she asked, stroking the palm of his hand with her thumb. He smiled and rested his head on hers….Alexis felt warm and safe with him although the space was very tight.
“I’ll be fine. They’ve done this to me before.” Nick whispered.
“Brian mentioned that. Wanna talk about it?” she offered. He looked out the window again, his eyes searching.
“I was 13 or so…..we were in Europe….well, we were in some country. I think it was a part of France. Anyways, I was small so they were always forgetting me. This one time I got left behind….it was different. They didn’t come back for hours and hours. I didn’t know how to speak French or how to get back to them. Dave finally sent someone for me….I was scolded for the whole thing. Nobody seemed to be worried if I was okay or not.” Nick told her, wiping at his eye.
“Wow, that’s so sad. Didn’t you tell anyone?” Alexis said.
“Brian knows what really happened. That’s why he made them turn back. I am gonna be flat out honest with you…..I think they want to get rid of me.” Nick told her. She felt his hand trembling and noticed he was really crying now.
“I don’t understand why.”
“You will see. Something bad is coming…..and I don’t think we can do anything to keep it from happening.” Nick whispered. Alexis felt her breath catch in her throat. What did he mean by that? Whatever it was….she hoped they would be ready for it.