CHAPTER TWO - INFORMATIVE
Mt.Sinani Hospital, days later
"This is bullshit man," AJ grumbled from beneath his hat. He adjusted his shades and tugged his hat down firmly onto his head.
"Shhh…" Kevin warned, ringing the bell for the receptionist. "I can't believe we have to wear a disguise to visit someone in the hospital," he whispered to Howie, who was closest to him.
Howie lowered the scarf, which was covering his lips and spoke. "I know, but it's the only way we can not be recognized," he explained, looking more at Nick than at AJ, who was to the left of them hiding behind flowers. AJ shook his head pitifully.
"Can I help you gentlemen?" the receptionist asked, when she finally came to the desk. She gave them uncertain glances, seeing as they were trying to cover their faces.
"Um…yeah, can you please tell me what room number Brian Littrell is in?" Kevin asked, trying to guise his voice in a more timid way.
Nick smiled gaily at her and barricaded his face once again behind the flowers. She smiled back. "I'm sorry sir, I can't give out that information," she said sadly.
AJ, who was standing behind Kevin released a sigh of anguish and tossed his arms in the air. "What do we have to do, sing for you?" he mumbled.
Kevin turned around and shot him a warning glance. "How do we get to see him then?" he asked, leaning over the counter and trying to charm her with his sexy smile.
"ID," she retorted flatly.
"Fuck!" AJ growled, "I didn't bring any with me."
Kevin frowned. "Ok, um… I'm Kevin," he whispered, whipping out his ID and trying to mock the grin he had in the picture. Howie came up beside him and flashed his ID as well, pulling down his scarf so she could see the rest of his face.
"This is Nick, and that's AJ," Kevin introduced, pointing to each of them. AJ raised his hat and grinned favorably at her.
She caught her breath and placed a hand over her heart. "You're…you're...the Backstreet Boys…" she gaped.
Howie nodded approvingly, "yup, that's us," he said.
"Well…then…go right up….it's … um…" She turned away from them to shimmy through the computer files for his room number, but continuously glanced up at them as if they would disappear if she blinked. "Room 335" she said in a breathy voice, evidently trying to sound more appealing to the boys.
"Thanks a lot, oh and, don't tell anyone we're here, ok?" Kevin requested, flashing her one more winning smile.
"Oh..ok," she managed to say.
With this somewhat valuable piece of information, they set off to find his room number. The long awaited trip to visit him had been postponed a number of times, for various reasons. Mostly on account that Kevin didn't want to go.
The first night he cried bitterly with Johnny in front of the others and again by himself later that night. Though he hadn't shared that with them, he knew they too were sentimental that day. At first he held it in, but worry swelled up in his chest and when he was filled to capacity inside, he let it out.
The next morning depression had him beat, he kept putting them off to go to the hospital, but they refused to go without him. He had to be convinced into going, saying that it would be good for him to face Brian, perhaps he wasn't as bad as he expected. Finally, with uncounted attempts, he decided to go.
But, walking down the hospital halls frightened him, and he felt day one being reiterated. He walked close behind them with an inplacable expression, fearing the worst. But, this wasn't the first time he had visited him in the hospital, the first time worked out fairly well, and Brian was back on his feet in no time. Sure, fairly well, is that way he was in here again?
He stopped short, as if frozen in place and watched the others joke around and laugh at each other as though nothing had happened. Nick whizzed around when he noticed Kevin was no longer following and stopped too. He knew what was wrong. "C'mon Kev," he said, pleading with his eyes.
"No, I don't want to go, you guys go ahead," he insisted.
Howie glanced back over his shoulder and sighed at him. "Come on Kevin. Don't do this to yourself." He looked at the group suffering along side him, inside anyway, and thought maybe he was overreacting to the situation. Nothing was wrong with Brian, if they were cool with it, then, why couldn't he?
"Hey Brian, knock, knock," Nick said peeping into his room and gently rapping his knuckles against the door.
"Nick?" a faint voice called.
"Yeah, can we come in?" he asked, seeking permission.
"Just move Nick," AJ interrupted, kicking open the door.
His room was highly scented with flowers, - which embellished his room. Though fluorescent in color, the patient, which they were sent to lay limply on his bed, looking besmirched around the eyes, as though he had suffered a severe head injury, but happiness shown about his face. He was heavily wrapped in bandages and gauze from underneath his arms down a little above his rib cage.
Kevin pushed up past Nick and AJ and frowned. This tattered weak figure, - he refused to believe, was Brian. "I see the fans found out your room number. It looks like a florist shop in here," Nick said looking around the room in awe. "I guess you won't be needing these," he grinned, dropping his flowers into a nearby trashcan.
Brian smiled in favor at him. "Why are you guys wrapped up like that?" he asked, raising a suspicious eyebrow at the gang of bandits. Kevin whipped off the hat he was wearing and approached Brian's bedside cautiously. It killed him to see him in such a state, and never could I emphasize the feeling of visiting someone in the hospital. It's an eerie feeling of woe… uncanny woe.
The others looked on worried at Kevin standing there with his hat held tightly in his hands, thinking maybe they should leave them alone. Perhaps it was too much for Kevin to handle. He was uneasy on his way over there and had been since day one.
AJ held fast to the door handle with his back pressed up against it, just in case he had to make a hasty retreat,… a little scared himself to be there.
Kevin glared down at him with sad eyes, said, " you scared the hell outta me, Rok," before bending over slightly to hug him. Brian sat up a little to meet him halfway, and, with trembling hands, patted his back affectionately.
"It's gonna take a lot more than that to put me outta commission," he jested softly, letting go of him. Howie sighed, glad for the relief of tension and warily approached his bedside as well.
"How do you feel Rok?" he asked, grasping hands with his sickly friend, staring down at the region of gauze surrounding his upper half.
"Weak. But I'll be out of here in a few days or so," he informed, signaling for Nick and AJ to come closer.
"Don't ever do that to us again," AJ warned, shoving his hands deep into his pockets, fearful to touch him.
Brian smiled tiredly and rested a pale hand on his chest. "I won't," he promised, "I won't."
A few days later, Brian was transferred to rehabilitation, the hardest part was the road to recuperation, and various tests and cords projected from his chest, monitoring his heart rate.
He killed his mornings by reading get- well -soon cards and fan mail, which all the encouragement cogented him on the road to recovery. And religiously every day, Kevin was with him, keeping him company.
By his second day in rehab, he was feeling so much better again, he agreed to press conferences and interviews with him in the hospital, and even let a few fans come up and see him. Kevin didn't approve of the interviews all, but he kept silent. They would question him, and although he loved the fans, his feelings about Brian having another heart attack was strictly confidential. They were only doing this to him because he was Kevin Richardson, and his cousin was Brian Littrell.
A lively complexion replaced the previous cadaverous one, and he was more than healthy, which, (in short) day five he was released from the hospital.
Before he left though, a number of tests were run on him to confirm his health. Not a worry in the world, he was back and ready to face the world once again.
"Oh come on Johnny!" Brain whined, bouncing his basketball against the asphalt of the basketball court. The continuous thumping was sending Johnny off the deep end.
"No Brian. I don't care what you say."
He picked up his ball and attempted to spin it on his forefinger, but it rolled off into Johnny's arms. He gave him a warning glance and held onto it. "I've been outta the hospital for days now, I can't believe you cancelled the rest of the tour because of me, I'm fine!" he insisted, placing his hands on his hips tiredly.
Johnny leaned up against his car and frowned at Brian. "I admire your strength, but we aren't taking anymore chances. Trust me, I think the fans would rather see you up and singing than on your back throwing spasms on stage," Johnny warned jokingly about his previous experience, lifting his shades onto his forehead and looking up at the beautiful orange sky.
A northward cold breeze was blowing, so to prevent his baseball hat from flying off, Brian quickly flipped it around and sighed at Johnny, then held out his hands for the ball. "Comprende?" he asked, holding the ball up just out of reach from him in a playful manner.
"Gotcha," he said, jumping up and smacking the ball from his hands.
"Good boy. Now don't stay out too late, it's getting dark," Johnny teased, turning around and getting into his car.
"Yes dad," he joked, watching Johnny's car roll gradually off the court, then turning and rejoining Nick.
Brian played with free spirit; he hadn't yet received word from the doctors that anything was unjust with him. And anyway, he felt great. Shy though he was to expose his chest and reveal scars and stitch marks, he was perfectly comfortable with the fact that he had a heart condition. Had. If ever there had been a picture of health, Brian was it.
"Ok Nick, that's game, I've had it," Brian panted, resting his hands on his knees. Nick jumped up for a lay up but missed, and tucked the ball under his arm. The court lights had just flickered on simultaneously, giving them little light to continue to play.
"Oh, come on, that's not even 24 yet-" He caught himself rather quickly when he realized whom he was talking to and what he had just been through. Brian smiled exhaustedly under his half-slanted eyes at him. Nick frowned, disappointed. "Well, good game anyhow man," he complimented, patting him gently on the back.
Brian stood upright and coughed into his hand. "You know I let you win right?" he asked Nick, snatching the ball away from him.
"Whatever Rok," he sassed, wiping sweat from his brow as they started for the car.
Brian eyed the car a few yards away and said, "I'll race you to the car," he challenged, railed up to go. Nick had a childish demeanor across his handsome lips, but it immediately faded.
"Uh, no man…" he rejected, frowning again at the sight of Brian coughing once more, heavily this time. He glanced up at Nick and shook his head.
"I'm fine…quit treating me like a friggin' health case," he teased, yet in a serious manner, before coughing into his hands again. He was making a sickening hacking sound every time he did it.
Upon approaching his car, he switched the ball under his left arm and dug deep into his pocket for the car keys, and raised them to the court light. He was searching for the correct key, when he begun to stare suspiciously at his hand. He squinted at it, then brought it closer.
Tiny splats of red dotted his palm. Raising his brows in alarm, he looked down at his basketball with smudged streaks of red on it as well. "Nick, does this look like blood to you?" he asked. Nick, who was waiting patently on the passanger side, came around in a no- rush fashion.
"Lemmie see," he instructed grabbing hold of his wrist and pulling it toward him. He eyed it scrupulously and shrugged.
"Look, it's all over the ball too…" Brain held up the ball for him to see.
"Nah, probably just something the ball picked up on the court."
They shrugged it off and got into the car. After strapping on his seatbelt, Brian coughed, actually, he hacked heavily one more time into his hand and touched the steering wheel. This time he scowled at the bigger blotches of red on his palm.
"Ahh! What's on this ball?! It's all over my hand now!" he screamed, tossing it disgustedly onto the backseat.
He wiped his hands onto his pants and started up the car, unconsciously licking blood from his lips.
For the beginning part of the night, Brian slept easy in his condo, glad to have his head resting on his very own pillow, and not on the hard hospital one.
Though he longed for the love to perform, Johnny insisted that they cancel all further tours. He appreciated their concern for his health, but he didn't appreciate the fact that everyone was treating him like a child. He was a grown damn man, and no one should have the authority to try and assume his capabilities. He didn't need help, he was fine, Dr. St. Clair promised his health. Which he had now.
Though he slept soundly, peace of mind, just before daybreak he found himself dreaming.
He was walking down the street with his jacket zipped up. In his dream it looked more like New York City than Florida, skyscrapers braking the gray clouds.
The streets were jam packed with people, going every which way in fairly large overcoats, carbon dioxide vaporizing as it emerged from their lips, heads bent downward, moving at quick pace, as though in a hurry to get somewhere.
Brian was among these people, going God knows where. He was strolling along looking at the concerned faces of everyone, not too friendly at all, so instead of smiling hello, he walked along with them, and said not a word. Suddenly, as though paused, everyone stopped and froze in their spots. Brian halted as well and looked around at everyone frozen in his or her position.
The crumbs the old man on the bench was throwing to the pigeons froze in their scattered situation. Men and women's feet hovered slightly above the pavement, about to bring it down for another step, and children's head's were bent upwards, looking at their adults holding tightly onto their little hands.
Then just as quickly as they had frozen, they unfroze and fell to the streets.
Brian was the only one glancing around in alarm. It seemed that everyone had just- died. Bodies cluttering the streets like ants. Confused, Brian stepped over bodies lying pale, eyes closed, in the weirdest of positions. A still breeze blew through the location, and as it gradually thickened to a thick fog, Brian found himself roaming a cemetery.
A young man lay bent over a tombstone in a sleep -like stage as the people on the streets. Flowers lay scattered just of out reach from his fingertips, but he was bent over at the mid section on the tombstone.
Scared out of his mind, he begun screaming for help, but no one was answering him. He was alone- the entire world was dead.
As dreams go, it didn't have to make any sense to scare you out of your mind. Brian awoke in a cold sweat screaming with his eyes peeled open. For a brief moment, he sat in his bed breathing heavily with his hand holding onto his head, trying hard to figure out what his dream meant.
It didn't make any sense, but it felt so real. He could feel the fog on his skin, and see the bodies laying still around him everytime he closed his eyes, but when he opened them again, he was staring at his room.
What did it mean? Further more why was he still remembering it so vividly? They say dreams are implements of yet to come, a past experience, or something you were musing over during the day. Or, it could have just been indigestion.
Without giving it second thought, he got up and drove across town; perhaps Kevin could help him with this one.
Kevin's condo; 12: 30AM
Early though it was, Howie was already over at Kevin's house, as well as the others, messing around on his drum set. Nick was completely off beat to what AJ was bleating out, and Howie was laughing hysterically at the two.
Kevin was in the kitchen finishing his breakfast when Brian came over. He sat across the table from Kevin, giving his dream in full detail.
"I'm telling you Kevin, I know it's just a dream, but it's weird isn't it? Like how the whole world just died on me like that," he said, shuddering.
Kevin said nothing, but licked the syrup off his mustache. "Then last night, when I was playing ball with Nick, I could have sworn I saw blood on the basketball."
Kevin laughed at him slightly. "Are you hallucinating? It's just a dream. But maybe you should be more careful…" though he said it himself, "It was just a dream," he took it rather seriously upon himself.
Brian just got out the hospital; the last thing he wanted was to hear about things like that. "Whatever man. Hey, give me a minute will you? I forgot to check my messages last night," Brian said, pulling his cell phone from his pant pocket.
Kevin shrugged and got up to put away his dishes, trying hard to block the sounds of an off beat drummer and an out of tune singer.
Brian crossed his feet and listened carefully to his messages being repeated to him on the cellular.
"Shut-up guys!" he yelled aggravated, straining to hear over the noise the others were making. Nothing major, he was just about to click off when he heard the last message from Dr. St. Claire requesting to see him at the hospital immediately this morning.
Her voice was worried and stern, with an extremely serious tone to it. He clicked off and dropped the phone back into his pocket. "Uh oh," he said softly.
"What?" Kevin asked curiously, turning his attention away from the dishes he was washing to look at him.
"Dr. St.Clair wants to see me this morning. Probably got my test results back or something," he stated calmly.
"Sound serious?" Kevin questioned.
"No," he lied.
Kevin turned away again and finished rinsing off the last dish. "Want me to drive you over there?" he volunteered, drying his hands on his shirt.
Brian tried to cover his troubled emotions by forging a carefree smile. "Sure."
If he was perfectly healthy, then why was worry cluttering up his chest like an inflatable rubber raft in a sardine can? Dr. St.Clair promised him health, so what could she possibly say to him that sounded so important? He felt great, it was probably good news and he miss-interpreted her worried voice for a tired one. Still, he sat uneasy and deadly quiet in the passenger seat of Kevin's F1-50.
"You Ok Rok?" Kevin asked, getting out of his truck.
"Yeah," Brian replied, joining up with him up front. He shoved his hands into his pockets and together they started slowly to the hospital doors.
"I feel kinda uneasy Rok, I mean, if there's nothing wrong with you, then why's she callin'?" he asked, looking on worriedly at him.
Brian shrugged. "I dunno. Probably to confirm my health. But look, quit worrying about it, I feel fine, there can't be anything wrong with me." But he didn't know he was that he was lying more to himself than to Kevin.
"If you say so," he retorted, playfully locking him in a half nelson.
Kevin waited patiently in the waiting room reading a magazine, and trying to cover his face. Glancing uneasily at his watch, he sighed and continued to shimmy through it, peering over it on occasion to see if anyone was coming. Brian had been in there with the doctors for over forty-five minutes now, and he was more than worried, as he sat there trying to block out his ominous feelings. Slowly but surely, he thought. Slowly but surely.
Ten minutes later, Brian came running into the waiting room with his shirt clenched tightly in his hands screaming out Kevin's name. Two nurses followed closely behind him, begging him to come back. Kevin shot his head up in alarm at Brian running through the hospital without his shirt.
"What's wrong Rok?" he asked excitedly, standing up. When Brian got closer he noticed tears rolling down his cheeks, expression of fear on his face. Kevin was immediately alarmed.
When Brian got up to him, he dropped onto his knees pulling Kevin down by the shirt crying on him. "What's wrong? Brian, what's going on?" he asked frantically, falling back on the tile. "Kevin! Kevin!" he screamed over and over again, tugging on his shirt. By now the nurses had caught up to him, and stood hovering over them, looking down frightened at Brian. Tears gushed from his eyes, bawling like a baby.
"Kevin! They … they.. just told me! They just told me!" he screamed, crying hysterically.
"Told you what, Brian!?" Kevin screamed back, grabbing his hands, which so eagerly tugged at his shirt.
"I'm dying Kevin! I'm dying!!" he cried.
He needn't say anymore. Kevin felt a sharp tug at his heart and he found himself living a nightmare, a nightmare he so long avoided but had finally caught up to him. His eyes blurred and heart sank as he held onto Brian's quivering body, sulking like mad.