The Lonely One
14: NEVER ALONE
Nick lie on his back staring up at the night sky. The bright twinkles of stars winked down at him and bathed his face in light.
* * * * *
He turned his head slightly to glance at Zanell lying beside him, her arms wrapped about his body and her head resting against his shoulder. He lightly kissed her face and his heart pounded in his chest as she smiled at the contact of his lips. Her blue eyes flickered open for a second as she moved to make herself more comfortable upon his shoulder.
“You awake beautiful?” Nick whispered as he kissed her on the cheek.
“Yeah,” she replied softly. Her eyes opened again and focused upon his face and then looked past him at the stars. “Everything is so pretty on this planet.”
“Not as pretty as what came from your planet,” Nick contradicted as he smoothed her hair out.
She smiled up at him regretfully. “I really had better be going now,” Zanell said for the tenth time, giving him one last kiss. “And so should you. Didn’t you want to speak to the guys?”
“It can wait,” Nick said lazily as he pulled Zanell close to him again. He wrapped his arms about her body and smiled as he closed his eyes and nuzzled his face against her shoulder.
“Nick…” Zanell whispered as he tried to plant kisses upon her neck. She gently pushed him away and straightened her clothes. “I really have to go.”
“Don’t,” Nick said refusing to allow his hands to leave her. “Stay. Just for a little longer.”
“Nick, if I could I would stay here with you, but I can’t because my people need me.”
Nick pouted slightly and Zanell clasped his face in her hands to give him a final soft kiss on the mouth. “You’re so cute when you do that.” She smiled at him. “I’ll be back soon.”
“Promise?” Nick asked, clasping her hands and kissing them.
Nick stared up at the door in front of him. He had wanted to prolong this conversation for the largest amount of time that he possible could, but he had to face it sooner or later.
He had to face what could be the end of Backstreet. Even though the Ersnai had gone, who was saying that the boys wouldn’t be off the same opinion? Who was saying that they wouldn’t want Backstreet Boys to end?
The door in front of him suddenly opened and Brian stared out at him curiously. “You gonna stay out here all night?” he asked, tilting his head and smiling.
Nick forced himself to smile back and shook his head. Slowly he stepped up and followed Brian into the house.
Here goes nothing…
“Did Zanell get away all right?” Brian asked as he led Nick to the lounge.
Nick smiled at the thought of her. “Yeah and she promised she’d come back to see me soon. How’s Leighanne?”
“Fine,” Brian said smiling at the thought of his wife. “She’s just taken Tyke and Litty to the vet. You take a seat in here and I’ll be back in a sec,” Brian said, pushing Nick towards a chair.
As he stepped into the lounge he saw them all waiting for him, smiling their greetings. Howie and Kevin were sat on the couch and flicking through magazines and AJ was seated in Brian’s big, spongy armchair.
“Hey Nick,” AJ said. He waved a toy panda at Nick that Brian had brought for his baby. “Isn’t this cute?”
“Very cute,” Nick agreed as he slowly sat down on another armchair.
“You look worried,” Howie said frowning as he tilted his head. “What’s up?”
“Nothing,” Nick whispered.
He saw Howie exchange a nervous look with Kevin and the others, but he avoided meeting any of their gazes as he nervously fiddled with his hands. He had been so happy when he had rescued them all, but now that joy seemed to be rapidly disappearing. He knew what they were going to say, that with wives and families and girlfriends, they didn’t want to continue as the band anymore. He knew it and he couldn’t bear it…
“How’s Zanell?” AJ asked, trying to lighten the mood.
“She’s fine,” Nick said miserably. ‘And also probably a few light years away by now…’
“She’ll be back. She always is,” Howie said. “And she adores you. She didn’t stop believing that you would come for us when Zator had us all locked up.”
“Present for you, Nick,” Brian suddenly said.
Nick turned his had and saw that Brian was standing in the doorway, a huge chocolate cake resting on a plate in his hands.
“W – what’s that for?” he stammered.
“It’s a present,” Brian said simply as he placed the cake down on the table in front of Nick. “We all helped to bake it.”
“I did the icing!” Howie said.
Nick leant forward and his eyes watered slightly as his eyes traced the chocolate squiggly letters that had been written upon the cake.
THANK YOU NICK. LOVE YOUR BROTHERS B H K A
“You didn’t have to do this,” he whispered.
Brian placed an arm about him and smiled at him. “’Course we did! We had to thank you somehow! You went through so much for us!”
‘Because I love you guys!’ Nick thought dismally. They were his family and Zator had proved that he needed them. He couldn’t bear to lose them…
“Nick, what’s wrong?” Howie asked softly.
Nick looked up and saw that the others had crowded about him in concern. He felt his skin tingling slightly as a tear slid down his face.
"You guys aren't really leaving the band are you?" he asked, his voice trembling slightly.
The others stared at him in shock and Brian clasped his hands. “Is that what you think this is about?”
"No! We’re not leaving!" AJ said fiercely.
“Never!” Howie agreed.
“What about you, Brian? It'll be tough with you being a father…” Nick said remembering the Ersnai’s words before.
Brian sighed slightly. “Nick, I love what we do as a group, but I really want to have a family with Leighanne. I'm not leaving the group, but I'm going to have to take time out at least when the baby is born to give him a good start in life. After that, we'll have to see… if the going is too hard then I might have to…”
“But it shouldn't come to that,” Howie said. “We'll make sure we have lots of breaks in the schedule so that you can cope. Maybe we'll have to slow things down and stop doing so much touring but I think we'll manage."
"Nick, this won't go on forever and you know that, but if and when we do split, we're all still gonna be friends. And I'm sure we'll do projects together again,” Brian said. “And I intend to continue with Backstreet Boys for as long as I possibly can. Even if I have to wait years to go back on tour again, I’ll wait that long because I love what we do.”
Nick smiled weakly. “I thought you might all leave like the Ersnai did.”
“Don’t compare us to that filth!” Kevin said. “We’re not that bad!”
“I’m not leaving Nick,” Brian said. “Only if I find it impossible, will I leave the band and I’m certain it won’t come to it. I mean, I have you guys to help out. I am not going to leave. Backstreet Boys is forever.”
"And the super hero stuff?" Nick asked, his eyes shining with hope.
"We can't let you have all the fun can we?" AJ said with a grin.
“And someone has to keep an eye on you and Zanell to stop you from eloping! Your mom would go nuts if we let you run off with some girl from another planet!” Howie said with a laugh.
"Yeah, and I need to make the world safe for my adorable little boy!" Brian agreed.
Nick smiled and found himself falling into Brian’s arms in relief. He sniffed slightly and half choked back a sob.
“Nicky, don’t be so worried,” AJ said, patting him on the shoulder.
“You’re not alone,” Kevin added.
“Whatever happens in the future Nick, we’re always going to be friends. You’re never going to be alone,” Brian whispered. “Okay?”
Nick nodded and smiled as he pulled away from Brian. Backstreet Boys wasn’t over and he knew that Brian as determined to make it work with his family and career. Nick wasn’t going to be alone in the music business, or more importantly his life. He had Zanell and he had his friends. He wasn’t alone…
“Come on, let’s eat this cake!” Brian said. “You get to cut it Frack!”
Nick grinned as he took the knife from the table and sunk it into the thick cake, bringing a cheer from his friends. AJ pulled some party poppers from his pockets and immediately set them off about the room.
Brian gave Nick another friendly hug and then raised his arms to gain the attention of the others. “Hey since the Ersnai are gone, I think now is the time to say this.”
“Say what?” Kevin asked.
“Backstreet’s back all right!” Brian sang.
Nick laughed as he took a bite of chocolate cake while Brian fumbled about for a Backstreet Boys CD. He watched his friends dancing about the room and cheering him for defeating Zator.
He wasn’t alone.
And he never would be.
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