In Pieces – Chapter 2

Ashleigh looked at herself in the mirror as she got ready for the concert that night. A week can pass fairly quickly, and Ashleigh still didn’t feel at all prepared. Not that she would have felt any more prepared if the concert had been a year away.

As she fought with her hair-straightener, she mentally cursed Joey for even suggesting that they go to a Backstreet Boys concert, much less actually buy front row tickets. Backstreet Boys concerts were something that Ashleigh had pushed to the back of her mind, never to be thought about. It had taken her years before she had been able to listen to their CDs again without losing herself inside old memories, she didn’t think that a concert would actually reach that point. Not when she was actually seeing Nick’s face, in person, and unable to reach out and touch him…

“All ready?” Matt asked, startling Ashleigh as he interrupted her thoughts. He was standing in the doorway of their washroom, smiling as he watched his fiancée fuss with her hair.

“Just about.” Ashleigh replied, smoothing over one last piece of her hair. She reached up above her to unplug the device and twirled around to face Matt. “How do I look?” She grinned.

“Gorgeous, as always.” He replied, kissing her forehead. “You’d better not let one of the Backstreet Boys see you, or I’ll have some competition.” He laughed.

Ashleigh bit her lip after hearing that. Instead of responding to him she just hugged him tightly, trying to push any thoughts of Nick out of her mind.

Returning her hug, Matt chuckled. “You know, I didn’t even know they were still touring.”

Ashleigh gulping, wanting nothing more than for this conversation and evening to be over. “Yeah, neither did I.”

Half an hour later, Ashleigh and Joey were speeding down the highway, on their way to the Target Centre. Joey had decided it was a good idea to blast the Black and Blue album all the way there, which made Ashleigh feel sick to her stomach.

Perhaps all Backstreet Boys albums weren’t safe after all.

“Can you turn this CD off?” Ashleigh asked bitterly, needing to raise her voice to he heard above the music.

Joey rolled her eyes, but complied as the beginning notes of “The Answer To Our Life” began. “What’s wrong, Ash? That’s your favourite song.” She asked, hoping that Ashleigh wasn’t starting to get cold feet about going to the concert.

“I can’t listen to that shit.” She said, feeling annoyed that Joey would think this was a good idea in the first place. Joey had been around after her whirlwind romance. She knew that Ashleigh didn’t like to talk about Nick, Backstreet Boys or anything to do with that summer.

“Come on. It’s just a concert.” Joey reasoned, thinking that Ashleigh was getting much too emotional. She’d never been able to get over Nick, so Joey figured that seeing him might give her the closure that she needed. Especially before she got married.

“It is not just a concert.” Ashleigh spat, irritated that her friend didn’t seem to understand the implications of going to a Backstreet Boys concert. To Ashleigh, going to the concert meant admitting to herself that the summer had happened. That they had followed the Backstreet Boys around, that she and Nick had…

“It is just a concert.” Joey said sternly. “Don’t make this more than it is.” She continued, her tone softening. Ashleigh had always had a flair for drama and blowing things out of proportion. “All we’re doing is having fun for nostalgias sake. That’s it.” She smiled.

Ashleigh nodded, sighing. Joey was right, this meant nothing. She was over analyzing things again, just as she always tended to do.

Just as they had so many years before, the girls entered the arena. However this time, it wasn’t full of merchandise and crowds of teenage girls. The teenage girls who had once been fans had now grown up and matured away from squealing at the t-shirt booth. The attitude was much more relaxed than rampant.

Ashleigh wasn’t sure how she felt about this switch in attitude. Sure, she had been apprehensive about the concert, but she’d also expected it to be what she remembered, the fact that no one was screaming and everyone seemed calmer almost scared her. This was all new to her, it was something foreign, something she didn’t know. Neither of the two of them knew how to act at a concert other than over hyped and under composed . Glancing at each other they stood in front of a t-shirt booth.

“We should get t-shirts.” Joey suggested, her eyes grazing over the small selection.

“You don’t think we have enough already?” Ashleigh questioned, smiling at that thought. There had been a time when all of their attire had been covered with the Backstreet Boys. Whether it was an actual concert tshirt, or a sharpie marker taken to an old pair of jeans, nearly everything had Nick, Brian, Kevin, Howie and AJs names or faced gracing it.

“Do you still own any of it?” Joey challenged, knowing full well what Ashleigh’s answer would be.

“There’s a box in my garage.” She admitted sheepishly. After that summer, the posters that graced her walls had all come down and were replaced with less heart wrenching memorabilia.

Joey smirked, knowing that Ashleigh had been lying back then when she had said she’d burnt everything with Nick’s face on it. “So, let’s get new ones! Come on, these are cute.” Joey said, pointing towards a black tank top that had “Backstreet Boys” written across it in the same font used on the Unbreakable album. “We could get different coloured golf shirts and wear them underneath.” She suggested.

Ashleigh sighed, knowing she wasn’t going to be able to deny her friend the pleasure of buying another piece of useless clothing. “Can I get a pink one?” She asked, admitting defeat.

“You have to get a pink one.” Joey responded, paying for two of the tank tops. “Consider it my gift to you for actually agreeing to come.” She grinned handing one of the shirts to Ashleigh.

“You wouldn’t have let me say no.” Ashleigh responded, laughing. She had to admit, that while she was ridiculously nervous, she was having fun reliving old memories with Joey.

“But at least I didn’t have to drag you kicking and screaming.” Joey winked, as the two girls walked into the arena. This time, instead of commenting on how they could nearly touch the ceiling, the girls marveled at how close they were to the stage. It definitely was a new era of Backstreet Boys fandom. While floor tickets used to be a pipe dream, now they were easily attainable to any fan that bought tickets the day they went on sale.

“This is so cool. We’re going to be those girls that reach out and get their hands touched.” Joey stated, not able to take her eyes off the stage.

“You talk like we’ve never done that before.” Ashleigh said, rolling her eyes.

Joey grinned and turned to her friend. “I thought you wanted to pretend like it never happened.” She challenged, reading Ashleigh previous thoughts.

Ashleigh turned pink. “I don’t know.” She replied, unsure of what to think or say. Being back at the venue certainly did bring back a lot of memories that Ashleigh had initially thought she’d wanted to forget. Now, she wasn’t quite sure what she wanted or thought about the whole situation.

Not that it mattered. Her thoughts came to a crashing halt when all the lights in the arena went dim. The opening notes to “Any Other Way” began to play.

Once this happened, the once calm crowd grew louder and louder. Joey cheered right along with the rest of them and looked over at Ashleigh, who was standing silently, surveying the venue. After being nudged by her friend, Ashleigh joined the rest of the screaming girls; half because she was excited and half because she wasn’t sure what else she could really do at that moment.

One pyrotechnic went off and the crowd screamed louder. A second pyrotechnic went off, the crowd grew louder still.

Backstreet Boys! Backstreet Boys!!

A third pyrotechnic went off, and there they were in all their glory. They stood silently for a moment, and Ashleigh felt as though she was going to fall over. For there was Nick, a mere ten feet or less away from here, the closest he’d been in eight years. It was one thing for her to listen to his music and see his face on television. But here he was, in the flesh, standing right in front of her staring pout into the crowd as though he didn’t know where he was or who was before him.

After about ten seconds, the music started up again and the four boys split off in all directions as Nick began to sing the opening lines.

There you go caught you crashin’ my dreams again just when I’m trying to get over you…

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